I Was Taught Strength

I’ve always known what strength a woman can have. I have a strong mother and I have strong grandmothers. I grew up learning from strong female teachers and have been blessed with strong female friends. They have all been role models to me, showing me the different forms strength can take, giving me a goal to set since I was only a toddler.

I had been a good little student with notebook and pen in hand, jotting notes on what strength looked like, yet with all the strong women I watched I did not possess genuine strength myself. I was a caterpillar in a cocoon, waiting for that all-consuming metamorphosis which would truly teach what strength was to me.

It was not until April 19, 2016 that I was taught what strength I carried myself.

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What Happened When I Wrote in a Gratitude Journal for a Week

I am an extremely grateful person and try to show appreciation every time a new blessing enters my life, but sometimes I find myself lacking in consideration of those blessings, especially the small things. Sometimes I even find myself vying after things I don’t possess or talents in which I am weak which ends in stress, insecurity, and frustration. I was intrigued, then, when one of my friends mentioned that she tracks gratitude every morning by writing a blessing on a slip of paper and burning it during her yoga sessions.

As I constantly am working to better myself, I thought tracking the things I feel gratitude towards might be a great stress-reliever as well as medium to truly expressing the joy I have with the world around me. In order to do so, I decided to try writing a gratitude journal. Here is how my first week went…

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4 Wise Tips on Preparing for Marriage After the Wedding

I know I’ve said it before, but here I am saying it again: the wedding is only the beginning of what should be the rest of your blissful married life. As husband and wife, you’ll be embarking on years of new adventures after the one day of festivities. Your wedding day is only a grain of sand in the grand beach of your entire life. It is best to prepare for life following the Big Day and not only the day itself.

I am a big believer that if you adequately prepare for something — that is, to prepare mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, all of the above — then your chances of success increase substantially. Though I know there will never be enough wisdom and information I can gain to fully prepare for marriage, I do feel I’ve gained a few gems of advice in which to set a firm foundation as a newlywed.

These four gems include advice on communication, clarification, adjustment, and agreement between both the husband and wife in order to have a happy marriage. They touch on possible challenges once you’re married and encourage you to invest in your partner following your vows. They are all examples of how G and I plan to enter our marriage, and I would love to share them with you!

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Cauliflower Fried Rice

I can barely lift my arms to write this post because of a great triceps workout yesterday. I’m suffering through though to bring the blogosphere one of my most healthy, simple, and desirable dinner options: cauliflower fried rice.

I wasn’t planning to make this dish until next week, but G was craving it and I wanted to oblige. As I wait for the broccoli to roast before moving forward with the rest of the stir fry, I’m sharing this healthy gem with you. With our running program beginning Monday, the need for meals packed with protein and good carbs is a must. Plus I LOVE fried rice but always feel so guilty after eating Chinese take-out due to the ridiculous grams of carbs and sometimes greasiness fried rice can have. So this recipe is a win-win-win in my book!

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Back to Basics from a Once-Upon-A-Time Runner

It happens to many runners: you start running, you push your body faster, you go farther, you dream about PRs and distance goals, you watch your intake meticulously, and suddenly you see possibilities you never had the courage to dream before. Then BOOM! Something stops you in your tracks. Perhaps you get hurt. Or you get busy. Or you burn out. And as quickly as you gained mileage, fitness, and confidence, it all disappears.

This was the case for me two years ago. In Spring of 2013 I began running. I was at the heaviest weight I’d ever been and knew I needed to do something to fight the Freshmen Twenty (plus an additional two years of college eating). I had never run prior and knew nothing of the sport, but I jumped head-first anyways. Joining a local running group, I trained for my first 5k. Following an extremely successful first race, I moved forward and trained for my first half marathon and completed this race only five months after I began pounding the ground in my running shoes. Not only did I lose more than fifty pounds during my first year in the sport, but I also gained a confidence I’d never felt and milestones I never believed I could achieve. When asked my hobbies, running was always my first response and I identified myself as a runner first and foremost.

Two years ago I completed the RunDisney Glass Slipper Challenge — a 10k and half marathon back-to-back in Orlando. However, upon my return home I hung up my shiny new medals along with my running shoes. It is about time for me to wipe the dust from the shoes though and hit restart on my running regimen.

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Strength Training to Become a Fit Bride

I hate to admit it but it has been some time since I’ve regularly hit the gym. I play volleyball twice a week and go to a spin class about once a month, but it has been a few months since I’ve actively gone to the gym to workout. The lack of sweat has become apparent now that the holidays are far behind me, and I’m starting to become uncomfortable in my clothes and self-esteem levels.

Instead of getting down and out, though, I have a cheerful solution: get back into the game!

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Hot Baked Chicken

I’ve been doing pretty well when it comes to tracking my intake and eating healthier meals now that the holiday season has waved goodbye. Though it is difficult to say no to desserts now that I don’t have the excuse of numerous baked goods appearing in the house, I balance my newly-found sweet cravings with a glass of wine each night becauseeeee heart health, right? And the necessity of a good Malbec after a long day — G and I have been hitting the gym every morning at 5:30am!

So, time for another healthy recipe that is a staple in my monthly meal plan. This week’s lunches are one of my personal favorite: hot baked chicken. For a girl who grew up having hot wings every Sunday paired with a juicy episode of Desperate Housewives, this healthier option brings back some great memories with my family. Plus, how can you go wrong serving this American classic?!

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Broccoli Ranch Chicken Casserole

Okay, truth time: over the holiday season I went way off on my healthy eating habits. I could use the excuse that my future MIL is an awesome baker, my mom made her famous Christmas candy (more than once), the holiday celebrations were numerous, or I was enjoying Life so much I didn’t care to count calories, BUT I won’t because in all honesty there is no excuse for completely falling off the wagon. I’m back in the grind now though — and hitting the ground running fast!

In the future, I will be adding a few healthy recipe choices which I use as staples in my meal planning each month. I have been eating 80/20 with high protein and low carb food choices. (80/20 because I still want to enjoy life and food is a big part of my enjoyment.) I’ll also share each recipe’s macro stats via MyFitnessPal, in case you are as interested as I am. 🙂

I am so excited to begin adding some healthy recipes to Uncorking Peonies! And I am even more excited to introduce a recipe which has warmed the tummies of G and myself multiple times since the New Year, because it’s just that good: Broccoli Ranch Chicken.

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Goals for 2018

How is it already 2018, friends?! This holiday season has been a whirlwind on my end, and I apologize for not staying up-to-date on my blogging — there has just been too much good happening that the Blogosphere was not on my mind! However, after spending so much time with family and friends over the past month, I am rejuvenated and rearing to go on all things Uncorking Peonies… I hope you’re ready for a lot of updates!

As always, though, with the new year also comes new goals, and I want to take a few minutes to state my 2018 Goals to help with accountability (and memory.) Unfortunately many of the goals I set for 2017 were not met to the extent I set them — I was a bit too enthusiastic in January 2017 — but I am very happy with how the year ended and what I was able to accomplish throughout the last year. Especially with so much change hitting me within one year!

For 2018, I am sticking to my tradition of not setting resolutions in this New Year, but rather setting goals. Even though this upcoming year is bringing quite a bit of change in itself, I want to continue to work to better myself every day I’m alive. So here are the goals I am setting for myself to accomplish within 2018:

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