Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Paleo Blueberry Crisp

One thing I have been missing is a tasty dessert that's ok to consume. I've made Paleo chocolate chip cookies that are growing on me. I'm keeping them in the freezer when I want some dessert. Decided to try this blueberry crisp. I enjoy the topping. So I thought I could sub flour, oats, and refined sugar for different things, turns out I was right! So tasty. 


4 cups blueberries
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice 
1 tbsp honey
1 cup almond flour/meal
1 tbsp maple syrup plus more for drizzling
4 tbsp butter 
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon 
½ tsp salt

1. Put blueberries in 8x8 pan. Drizzle lemon juice and maple syrup lightly. Mix together. 
2. Mix rest of ingredients together. Spoon on with your fingers little chunks of topping. 
3. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes (my blueberries were frozen so it took longer). Watch every 10 minutes after 20 minute mark. 
4. Pull out when bubbling and topping browning slightly. 

Quite easy to make! 


I mentioned in my last blog post, that I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's auto-immune disease. What is that exactly? That was my thought when I got the news. Well, turns out, it's not very good, and it's also not that uncommon. I have had several blog posts (here, here, here) on issues I've dealt with, especially since having children. Some symptoms come and go but in the last few months, with added stress, my body just wasn't handling any of it well. Not handling it well to the point of concern for me. Feeling like you hate life, can barely keep from crying ALL day long, and don't have energy to workout weeks on end is probably not a good sign...especially because I haven't missed this many workouts willingly in about 14 years. When I would workout, the soreness was almost unbearable for 2-3 days no matter what exercises I would do. That's not normal either. These are only a few of my symptoms. So I reached out to a doctor that I respect and deals with issues like mine and got direction. Blood work confirmed her suspicions that I have this disease.

What does this mean? Well, it means my immune system is attacking my thyroid. Yikes. There are foreign invaders and my body is producing antibodies to destroy these things but it is in turn destroying my thyroid and causing a host of problems. If you know me at all then you know I am not a fan of being put on medication if I don't have to. Thankfully, I have Dr. Angela to help me wade the waters (like she has helped many others) of this and change diet aspects of my life to stop further damage. 

Right now I'm eating strictly Paleo. No grains, dairy or legumes right now. I track everything about my day. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to consume modern wheat safely ever again. That was a pretty daunting thing to realize the other week (tears definitely shed). But if this is the route I have to take, I trust God will give me the strength I need to walk this path. He is so far! I have been Paleo for over 2 weeks. I'm taking some supplements to help my condition as well and truthfully, it is helping. I'm feeling so much better already and am getting some needed energy back. I'm typically a peppy person and it's nice to feel some of the pep back 😃. 

I want to add in here that if you are a person experiencing issues with your body, keep searching for answers. You know when things aren't right. Hair thinning, excessive soreness, menstrual issues, emotional instability, the list sadly goes on....all these things are not right! I had to keep searching and thankfully there are becoming more doctors like Dr. Angela who are devoting their life's work to helping people without the use of conventional medicine and looking to the true source of problems, without masking it. So please, keep seeking, asking questions, and searching. 

Exercise is limited right now for me. I can only do light activities and definitely not heavy weights. I'm living out my intense workouts through training my clients 😉 ha. Instead of being gloomy about my food options, I'm excited to be researching and trying new recipes. I normally attempt Paleo lifestyle but with lots of add-inns on things I enjoy, so it's not a new concept for me. Only now it's paramount that I stay Paleo and find new indulgences within the guidelines. It's worth it to forego my wants and desires in order to stay in good health. I'm learning that God wants sacrifice from every area of my life, but He has a life for me better than I realize. I have to lean in and say "Your will, not mine" for His beauty to captivate me once again. Not eating bread or sugar-laden desserts is a small sacrifice on my part, in reality. It reminds me that this life is not about me and my wants. I give Him thanks for having a great doctor to trust and finding out what I needed to find out. I only hope that another part of my life can bring Him glory. 

BEST grain free pizza I've ever had! 

If you want to follow my grain free and Paleo lifestyle, IG and Facebook (Venia Fitness) are the best places to see what I'm doing everyday. The goal is to eat whole foods (aka God foods) and that's what I post food ideas of. Follow along! 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

When Life Hands you Lemons

It's been 4 months since I have written a blog post. I have only sat down a couple times to try to write but no words were formed. Sometimes you go through times in your life that challenge you, that punch you in the gut, but you catch your breath and keep moving. Other times there are things that happen that knock you down and change your life. The kind where you feel like you've been stepped on and left at the side of the road, alone. I think the latter is a good way to describe the last few months for me.

Kyle wrote a blog post a few weeks ago, announcing his departure from a company he started almost 7 years ago. The process of letting this go has been heart-wrenching for us. 

Rewind to over a year ago, and Kyle was approached by someone from Zipp, inquiring if he would be  interested in taking over the company because the owner was looking to retire. Little did we know, this would change pretty much our whole world a year later. 

When Kyle started J2, we were just beginning to figure out how deep we were in school debt and how we needed to change our family tree. But shortly after, I got pregnant with Abigail and at the height of a growing personal training business, began to stay home on the call to raise our kids. For the next 2 years we struggled. From financially to our marriage, we had it. Kyle was working his tail off from sunrise to well after sunset; I was raising our daughter at home. Even though he worked like crazy, we didn't make enough money. We went into more student loan debt because we couldn't pay the bills, and many months I worked with a very tight grocery budget; one month I only spent $70. When you grow a business, there's so much work and expenses that don't get paid for at the beginning. This is your investment, your sacrifice, so that one day your investment pays off. That is business ownership. Our marriage went through a really tough phase for a while and we sought counseling for help because Kyle was so immersed in having to work and I was lonely and frazzled. 

We told ourselves the climb would be worth it. This is what entrepeneurs do in the beginning. 

We sold Kyle's truck, went down to one car so we could manage him to work on the business and not go into more debt. I rode around on a bike with Abby for a while to go places or just stayed home while Kyle went to work, could drive to networking lunches, and have meetings with potential clients. 

My parents graciously loaned us their car for a while, so I could have something, while we worked to save money for another car. Then we felt called to sell our house and my parents again, graciously let us live at their house for a year and a half. We did all this to continue on our debt free journey and continue growing J2, so Kyle could focus on that and not find other work. 

During this time, God has grown our hearts to see that we need to love him and love others more. He has shown us the areas that need refined. Almost everyday I see how inadequate I am for this life. I see my demons and how He gives me grace and strength to overcome them for me. Over a year ago He called me to fast often, so I did. He has taught me new disciplines such as practicing silence (SO hard, amen?!). He called me to have a prayer partner to help grow my faith, seek wisdom, and challenge my dependency upon Him. He told me that the road was about to get bumpy and that I needed to cling to Him more than ever. I have

Fast forward to now. After making the climb these last 6-7 years, we walked away. Around this time in a growing business, it's typical to finally start reaping benefits from all the blood, sweat and tears. Not us. We had to walk away and leave that dream behind. We left with no payout and a lot of hurt. We stand with broken relationships and wounds that run so deep I can barely breathe at times. 

Some days I'm ok and some I'm just not. Some are filled with hope, and some are filled with tears. Some are filled with expectation of the future and some are filled with pain of the past. Perceptions I want so badly to change, miscommunication I want to clear up, good intentions I want to be made more clear, and it goes on, but it's too late. We have to move on.

In addition to all of this, I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's autoimmune disease. Now I start a year long journey with a doctor on Monday to help me figure out how to navigate this disease. My best friend's mom was hit by a car and almost died. Close friends of ours who discipled us our whole marriage moved across the country. Lemons

Even though the journey has been rough, I know God has not abandoned us. I know that He has given us nuggets of grace and peace. I know He is shielding us from things we can't even see. I know that He is putting people in our lives who are willing to step into our mess and just be with us, to grieve with us. I'm so thankful for that. 

Redemption and wholeness. That is the business God is about. It truly is His mission. I'm figuring out that this is the goal. I know He wants to redeem, restore, and make whole the things that are wrong. I'm not sure how long that will take, but I'll cling to Him. Being passionate and vulnerable is crazy hard because the fall is hard and the wounds drive deep. 

There are so many good things to praise God about. I praise Him that I'm writing this while sitting at my own house again; a house we love. A house that needs some TLC like me. A house that represents new chances and the potential to be even more beautiful. I thank Him that through each tough time, we have managed to pay down more student loan debt. I praise Him for Zipp. God provides, and we thought taking over this business wasn't going to happen, and we were ok with that. After continuing to pray and fast for a long time, God literally opened the door and made all the pieces fall into place within a very short time after that. We have amazing people who work there and so much potential for growth. Blackwood Creative is another praise. That's the new business we have started that is going to allow Kyle to continue pursuing his dreams. He is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate and talented in design, web, marketing, and leading projects. We are excited to see where it takes us, figuratively and hopefully geographically. I thank God for my parents. They continue to give to us and be there for us in profound ways. They truly love us and I'm beyond grateful for them. 

And I praise God for my husband. He is being stretched and growing more than we thought possible. We are continuing to learn how to balance our personalities together and grow more as husband and wife. I think God is refining things in him to raise him up as a stronger leader. A good friend said that it may be time to change the mentality of 'small business, pull-up your bootstraps and work from the basement,' to building a team surrounded by advisors who can lead him beyond that. Where you make more calculated and intentional decisions without just figuring things out as you go. A legal, spiritual, and godly business team of people who can advise and advocate for us the best decisions to set us up for success when growing a business. 

I thank God for my friends and my girls. They are sunshine on my cloudy days. I have amazing friends who are here for me and I can't describe the joy of raising my daughters. It is incredible and deeply meaningful. Friends who call me, pray with me, fast with me, let us use their lake house for a week. These people have helped hold me up and turn my face to Jesus. 

With all the lemons that have been handed to us, I know God's purpose was for us to make lemonade with them. To break through the tough skins, releasing the juice, and turning the tart flavor into something sweet. Each day that passes now, the more hopeful I am of the future once again. While we think we have taken some steps back in our minds, I do truly think God is saying, "Let's keep going together and I can't wait to surprise you around the corner, this is a new beginning." Stay tuned 😃

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

6 Ways to Fight Soreness

Since having babies, exercise affects my body differently. I have found that I get sore faster and longer than before children. Because I'm a researcher, I've been on a mission to find ways at relieving muscle soreness. Backing off of heavy weights for about the last 9 months has been one step, with doing a lot of stretching and restorative muscle work. I've still been lifting but felt I needed a break and focused more on Piyo, abs and cardio. Rotating different benefits (or utilizing all) and following these methods to reduce soreness is in your best interest to keep your body healthy and free from injury. 

1. Stretch

A flexible muscle has more strength potential and less of a chance for injury. When your muscles are more pliable, they have the ability to move more freely. Soreness is evidence of muscle tearing and tightening, so stretching helps heal the tears and loosen the muscle, which pull less on joints, bones, and nerves. Warming up lightly first, then ending with longer stretching time is proven to help reduce soreness.  

2. Hydrate

Our body is composed of 65-75% water and our muscles need a lot of it to function properly. Lack of water can cause muscle tightness, back pain, headaches, etc. We know how important water is and it's especially important when you exercise. 

3. Protein/extra supplementation 

When a muscle tears, it has to rebuild itself. This is the process of getting stronger. Protein is the building block that literally helps repair the muscle tears. This is achieved AFTER your workout. Most athletes use whey protein powder, eat a heavy meat meal, or eat higher protein foods to rebuild the tears more quickly, which reduces soreness. 

Another supplement I am personally testing out is Magnesium. This is a mineral the body needs to relax muscles and reduce spasms, cramps, etc. Magnesium also strengthens bones, lowers blood pressure, and keeps the heart rhythm steady. Lifting weights helps strengthens bones as well as your muscles, so fueling my body properly with vitamins and minerals it needs to ensure this, is important to me. 

4. Foam Rolling/Massage

Foam rolling is AMAZING and everyone should have one! It's another thing to have in the warm up and cool down phase of exercising. It helps warm up your muscles, work out tension, and aid in muscle healing. It's works the same as a massage, but you get to do the massaging. Professional massages are a great way to rid yourself of soreness and bring heal to those muscles. Both are great things to try and fit in regularly. Foam rollers are about $30 and last a long time. Definitely getting. Your money's worth even if you only use it twice, compared to paying for a massage. 

5. Hot Shower/Bath

Taking a hot shower is another way to keep blood flow moving to those muscles, healing them. The more blood that flows, the more the muscle stays warm and pliable. Taking one after a workout or the morning after, is a great way to reduce soreness. 

Taking a bath and maybe adding essential oils or Epsom salt can also relieve soreness. 

6. Muscle balance

A sign of muscle imbalance can be chronic soreness and pain. If you're a mom, you know that muscle imbalance can be reality. Picking up kids, nursing, holding a child on the same side of the body all the time, and carrying a car seat builds up a lot of muscles on the front of your body but not the backside. Back pain is all too common and a weakened core puts a lot of stress on certain organs, not to mention the spine. This pain can be reversed if we take time to strengthen key areas that provide muscle balance and prevents injuries. Strengthening your low and upper back helps support the spine and stomach muscles. It also improves posture. All these things can allieviate constant soreness, aches and pains. 

Combine all these elements on a regular or semi-regular basis, and your body will be taken care of with a noticeable difference in providing relief from muscle soreness. 

If you're having a chronic problem and you have pain that is unmanageable, please get checked out by a professional. Recently I thought I had a muscle problem and turns out it was a spinal issue in my low back. After trying each of these methods the pain would not subside and it was only through chiropractic treatments, icing, and resting, that the problem is resolved. Seeing a sports massage therapist would be a good option for finding answers, as well as a reliable chiropractor. And hopefully if they can't help, they would refer to another type of professional who could.

Since the minor injury, I've reassessed my own body and I'm currently trying to strengthen my muscle imbalances, supplement with magnesium each day, and try Epsom salt baths to prevent future injuries and relieve soreness. Hopefully adding those things will help! 

Monday, January 18, 2016


My husband and I are goal setters. We sit down at the new year, review last years goals and set new ones. Last year my husband started a new thing. He decided to pick one word to describe his intent for the year. He also picked a new one for this year (read it HERE).

I tagged along with his word for last year; focus. But this year I decided to own a word for myself. I prayed about it and as I started a new journal (I start new ones each year), I opened it up to find the word, Flourish. A friend, and leader in MOPS, gave me this journal this past summer. I have been anticipating writing in it and she wrote Flourish, describing it in the notebook. It was like a lightbulb went off...that's it! I'm so thankful God prompted Allison to write in it. 

Words have power. They speak life, or death. They can lift up or tear down. Grow, thrive, prosper. What words I desire to be true in life! So I do think that claiming a word and letting it be part of your story is a great thing. I'm excited to meditate on this word and see how God uses it in my life this year. I hope and pray that He grows me as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, and trainer.

One way I've been feeling a desire to grow is in prayer. "A particularly favorable environment" means I have to enter into relationships most likely, to flourish. What better environment to enter into than presence of God with prayer? I stumbled upon a blog that has free printables on praying scripture for the entire year. I'm on board (mercyisnew.com). Praying scripture over my family is something I desire, so diving into this is going to be fun, challenging, and no-doubt rewarding. 

Among prayer, I am also seeking out the relationships that bring peace to encourage me. Relationships that are focused on loving God and others. Relationships that challenge me to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I'm learning to recognize more what these people look like in my life. I'm excited to continue diving into these relationships. 

Do you have a word you're going to embrace for 2016? I hope and pray that God helps me flourish this year and I'm excited to see His work in my life. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

5 Tips for Setting Goals

New Years is here! With all this icy weather and being stuck inside, it's the perfect time to set goals for 2016. Want some help? Here are a few tips to guide you as you figure out what you want next year to look like. 

1. Think long term
Where do you want to be one year from now? When people plan their goals, it's typically measure by how many pounds want to be shed and the fastest way to get there. But by week 5 it's too tiring to workout another 6 days and the scale isn't producing faster results. 

My husband and I have been discussing ways for him to keep up an exercise routine long term. Unfortunately he doesn't have the same drive to exercise multiple times a week like me, but he would like to. So you are welcome to try what he is...setting a number of times to workout for the whole year. Maybe it amounts to once a week or 52 times as your goal. This will help instill the habit of long term health and not a short term sprint. Then next year you could increase to 2 or 3 times of exercise a week as your goal. This is especially good for people who set lofty goals each year and don't follow through after a few weeks. 52 workouts, at a once a week in a year, is better than 20 workouts in 4 weeks. 

2. Get Help
We all need help, ha, but seriously, it's time to reach out. Find a friend you can workout with, your spouse, start a blog, post on a social media outlet to let others know what you're doing, sign up for a fitness group, start a workout program that can be streamed or popped in the DVD player, or hire a trainer. When you learned how to cook, did you buy random ingredients and through something together without watching anyone do it? No. You probably watched a parent, friend, watched a cooking show, or looked up pictures and then they helped you make a recipe. Living a healthy life takes practice and help from others. Find what your "help" looks like and go for it! Your friend circle, neighborhood, stage of life, or finances may determine the type of help you seek out. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as you find what works for you. 

3. Think Simple
Let's start simplifying your goals into tangible ones that can be achieved. For example, this week you set a goal for not drinking a can of soda and getting at least 64 oz of water each day. Maybe it's more realistic to limit yourself to one can of soda a day or 3 a week. Then you keep that habit and add another, such as replacing an empty calorie food serving (like chips) with a fruit or vegetable once a day the next week. Set these goals according to your personal health and fitness long term goals. 

4. Go for a Challenge 
We tend to do what we are comfortable with, but if you want to take your fitness level up a notch, you're going to have to go out of your comfort zone. Maybe you lean towards a certain type of exercise and don't vary enough, that sweet tooth has crept in again, or you aren't managing your time well enough to eat healthy and exercise at all. Factor in a new workout plan to your routine, throw out all sweets for a couple weeks, and schedule time to reflect on your week and plan for the next on your calendar as an appointment. 

5. Budget Money 
Money towards fitness?? Who wants to do that?! Oh yeah, health nuts. Well, no not really (I think chronic dieters probably spend the most money). Be realistic with your budget and factor in trying out some new workout classes, purchasing hand weights, yearly gym membership, comfortable workout clothes and shoes, needing a babysitter to fit in a workout, seeing that personal trainer, or buying a workout dvd. There are a lot of fitness gimmicks, so stray from those and budget things that can have a lasting impact. Buying a set of weights will not go out of style. If you have a few sizes to lose, then a new pair of pants will be necessary. Maybe you have all the workout equipment you could need so budgeting rewards in makes more sense for you. I personally love massages and a new workout tank top. When you hit a goal, have a reward in place to keep motivating you. Just know that at some point you're probably going to have to purchase something fitness related and it's better to be prepared. 

So in all of this, don't forget to sit down and plan out your goals, ha. Put them on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, email them to your friends, and take steps towards achieving them. You can do this! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Food to Fight Hypoglycemia

In my last post, Managing Hypoglycemia, I went through some technical aspects about how the pancreas works with the rise/fall of blood glucose levels. I think it's important to show the differences in the diet and how it affects blood sugar levels. 

I'd really like to mirror what I used to eat and what I eat now. I thought I did "ok" but now I see the havoc I wreaked on my blood sugar. 

Used to eat:
Breakfast: bowl of honey bunches of oats or peanut butter and jelly toast (sometimes a couple eggs with it), or oatmeal
Snack: grapes or piece of fruit if possible 
Lunch: peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, fruit
---insert wanting to fall asleep---
Snack: cheez its and yogurt 
Dinner: some type of meat, bread, veggie
---craving dessert---

Now what I eat: 
Breakfast: eggs, meat, veggies or smoothie
Snack: nuts (and fruit sometimes)
Lunch: meat, fruit, veggie
----insert exercise typically----
Snack: juiced vegetable drink (sometimes will have a few nuts or cheese with it)
Dinner: meat, veggies, potatoes or fruit (meal I will eat a grain but not every day)

There's quite a contrast. The amount of grains I eat is drastically different. After breakfast, for what I used to eat, so many times I would get a fuzzy feeling that I couldn't shake. Some days I would be starving, irritable, have a hard time concentrating, and my hands would get shaky. That, my friends, was hypoglycemia. But then I battled it with eating more sugar. And once your body gets used to sugar, it craves it. 

Take a look at what I do now. Breakfast time I try to not have any grains and I don't eat much fruit unless a smoothie. It sets my day. No blood sugar dips and then feeling crummy. I also try to not eat grains during the day. Grains are empty calories and really mess with the blood sugar. I will eat some at dinner but they are paired with good protein so it doesn't affect me usually. Also notice how many vegetables I try to eat now. Vegetables are great for your blood sugar and of course the health of your whole body. When I juice, I feel amazing afterwards. 

So the main take away is this...changing your diet to have more meat, fruit, and vegetables will balance your blood sugar better than anything. The lack of blood sugar spikes and drops also means you'll maintain a healthier weight, slow the aging process, and keep your organs functioning optimally. 

Here's some meal ideas as examples of what I do...


Sweet potato, peppers, onion, sautéed  in coconut oil or olive oil. 

Kale, sweet potato, peppers, onions cooked in coconut oil and put on top of eggs. 

Omelet filled with sausage and veggies. 

Smoothies! Flaxseed, probiotic and hiding spinach inside. 

Veggies, eggs, and side of bacon. 


Ham, tomato, bacon, onion, mayo lettuce wrap. 

Salad with sausage, sweet potatoes, egg, cheese, onion, candied almonds. 

Zucchini noodles, sausage, onion, sautéed. 

BLT salad with egg and sweet potato. 


Carrot, tomato, cucumber juice. 

Juicing as an afternoon snack does great for me. 

Apple and cashews.

I try to set out a plate of veggies to snack on with my girls before dinner everyday. 


Grilled chicken fruit, salad. 

Homemade cheesy potato casserole, BBQ chicken cooked on the stove, Caesar salad. 


Crockpot chicken, mixed veggies steamed, sweet potato fries.

Pork chopsticks sautéed veggies, mashed potatoes. 

Fajita salad.

Cheese burger without a bun, fries, veggies.

Homemade chicken nuggets, steamed broccoli, apples.