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Meet Amanda Fager

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Amanda Fager lives in Southern Illinois with her husband, Adam, and three children. She’s a Diamond Coach for Beachbody, fitness enthusiast, amateur digital photographer, folk artist, ordained minister, foodie, and animal lover.

 

 

I believe that if we allow it, we can find beauty in everything. Our struggles determine our strength. I have learned to cultivate an appreciation for hidden beauty, and have greatly benefitted from my newfound perspective. I believe in hard work and dedication as the two most direct ways to achieve our goals.

By the end of her first pregnancy, Fager had reached 213lbs.

I actually had friends and family members that would see my scarred body & my loose skin, then proceed to tell me how horrible my body looked, how terrible they felt for me, etc. For years, I walked around feeling like a monster. I stopped engaging in the activities I loved the most and hid myself in my clothing and accessories. We live in a society that highly values feminine beauty, so I had this warped mentality that if I was not “beautiful”, AKA skinny, I was not worth anything at all. I broke down and had abdominoplasty, thinking that it would change my mindset, but it didn’t. My body wasn’t the problem. My mind was. While we need to be fit and healthy, it does not matter where we are physically if we can’t have our minds and hearts in a place of wellness. I like to stress to my clients that they have value and worth, regardless of where they are in their fitness journey. This is why I love my job and the 21 Day Fix program. We are able to deliver real results, but it’s a journey. There are so many wonderful emotional and mental breakthroughs that occur so that we come out feeling like rejuvenated, reinvented beings.

11889417_1481923042119380_9127915984565306955_nIf you’re ready to take control of your health, fill out the form below:

How to Pan Sear

pan searing 101

This cooking method, when done properly, ensures that your poultry, pork, and fish will have a crisp, delicate crust while maintaining a juicy, flavorful interior.

To pan sear, you will need:

A healthy oil that will stand up to higher temps (I prefer to use a small amount of olive oil or grapeseed oil -do not use extra virgin olive oil, since it will lose its integrity and degrade in high heat)

Your favorite type of fine flour, sifted.  Again, you only want to use a small amount.  Sprinkle on just enough to coat the meat, and dust or shake off excess.  You can add your favorite spices here, but be wary of those that may burn!

A pan that is heavy enough to hold in heat evenly, such as cast iron or stainless steel.

Patience

Tongs or metal flipper

Directions:

MISE EN PLACE This is a French term for “everything in its place”.  This will become your motto throughout this challenge!  When we have everything prepared and ready to go, we have an exponentially greater likelihood for a successful outcome.

Put a small amount of oil in your pan (just enough to coat the bottom and prevent sticking)

After your pan is on the stovetop, turn the burner to medium heat.  You do not need to char your food.  If you’re one of those people that cooks everything on high heat, just stop!  Seriously!  Slow down and enjoy the process, man!

You want to make sure that the oil has heated to a high enough temperature that it will sizzle when your meat hits it.  If your oil isn’t hot enough, it’ll just soak into your coating and you’re going to have a nasty, oily piece’o’meat.  Yuck!  You can test your oil with a droplet of water – if it sizzles, you’re ready.  If not, continue waiting.  This is about patience.  You can also try a second method, and this is to look for a LIGHT spurting of white smoke.  You don’t want it to be easily detected.  If you see a decent amount of white smoke, take your pan of the burner and let it cool, adjusting your heat to a lower setting.

Here’s the part that everyone messes up on, but you won’t, now that you know better:

Place your meat in the heated pan.  Leave it alone.  You’re only going to flip your meat ONCE before it’s done.  That’s it!

DO NOT take your pan off of the burner.  DO NOT force the meat to release itself from the pan.  If it’s sticking, it’s not done yet.

So, how will you know when it’s time to flip that sucker?  You will see that the meat has cooked about halfway through by observing that it has changed color about halfway up to the top half of the cut.  For instance, the bottom of your chicken will be white, the top half will be pink.  This is the best time to flip.  Again, if you have to fight it to pull it up, it’s not done yet.  Your meat will flip without sticking when it’s ready.  This process takes minutes.  You want the crust to be a paper bag brown.  This is the good stuff, right here.

Flip your meat at this point, and continue cooking until you no longer see raw bits around the edges and juices run clear.  Test with a meat thermometer, away from the bone (if any), and do so at the thickest part of the cut.

101 Ways to Use Shredded Chicken (that aren’t all soup and salad)

101 ways to use shredded chicken.pngA few months back, I had run a clean eating challenge which included the use of shredded chicken in multiple meals.

Since then, shredded chicken has become a staple item in our kitchen.  To break the monotony, I’ve compiled a list of recipes from around the ‘net that will offer variety & make any weeknight dinner a snap!

I typically make Salsa Verde Chicken, which always turns out juicy and delicious!  It’s so versatile, too! I’ve stumbled across a recipe that uses beer and cumin… that sounds pretty great, too!

Here‘s a link to the recipe, found on GimmeSomeOven.com.  Perfection.

Now that you have a base recipe, let’s look at the possibilities!  Remember, that you can certainly cook your chicken however you’d like.  Rotisserie leftovers would be great in these dishes, too!  Enjoy!

  1. Creamy Chicken Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole
  2. Top your shredded chicken with Mango Salsa!
  3. Chicken Pesto Salad
  4. Chicken Gyros
  5. Healthy Chicken Tamale Pizza
  6. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Sandwich
  7. Chicken Tortilla Soup
  8. Mexican Chicken Bake
  9. Crustless Chicken Quiche
  10. Chicken Tamale Pie
  11. Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Chicken
  12. Chicken and Garden Veggies Quinoa Skillet
  13. Asian Shredded Chicken
  14. Shredded Chicken with Ginger and Cilantro
  15. Shredded Chicken Salad with Mango Chile Salsa
  16. Creamed Chicken with Corn and Bacon Over Polenta
  17. Chicken Enchiladas
  18. Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
  19. White Chicken Chili
  20. Peanut Butter Vegetable Chicken Soup
  21. Chicken a la King
  22. Jen’s Jambalaya
  23. Greek Lemon Chicken Soup
  24. Spiced Couscous and Chicken
  25. Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas
  26. Pulled Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
  27. Throw it at someone you don’t like
  28. Chicken Tamales
  29. Cold Peanut Soba Noodles with Chicken
  30. Open-face Vietnamese Chicken Sandwiches
  31. Middle-Eastern Style Chicken, Veggies, and Rice
  32. Chocolate Chicken Mole
  33. Italian Chicken Pasta Salad
  34. Baked Gnocchi with Chicken
  35. Chicken Carbonara
  36. Chicken and Cheddar Souffle
  37. Chicken and Arugula Pita Pockets
  38. Thai Coconut Soup
  39. Single-Crust Chicken Pot Pie
  40. Lemon Pepper Chicken
  41. Hearty Spanish Soup
  42. Potato & Hatch Chile and Chicken Soup
  43. Green Curry Chicken
  44. Lime Soup
  45. Chicken with Escarole
  46. Gluten-Free Chicken Cacciatore
  47. Thai Steamed Chicken and Vegetables
  48. Toss it in with some Vodka Blush Sauce and bowtie noodles…
  49. …or some alfredo sauce made with cauliflower
  50. Chicken Pot Pie
  51. Italian Chicken Salad
  52. Sriracha Chicken Quesadillas
  53. Magic Chicken Pie
  54. Drizzle it with Magic Sauce
  55. Chicken Parm Casserole
  56. Southwestern Chicken Wraps
  57. Easy Green Pozole
  58. Cashew Chicken with Mushrooms & Green Beans
  59. Easy Red Pozole
  60. Chicken Nicoise Salad
  61. Cajun Chicken and Rice
  62. Chicken, Pesto, and Fried Egg Pizza
  63. Greek Lemon Soup with Chicken
  64. Chicken and Gruyere Turnovers
  65. Toss it with your favorite tortellini & sauce!
  66. Chicken and White BBQ Potatoes
  67. Tzatziki Chicken Salad
  68. Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh
  69. Chicken and Guacamole Tosatadas
  70. Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
  71. Chicken Fried Rice (light)
  72. Chicken and Goat Cheese Pizza with Fresh Herbs
  73. Add it to Butternut Squash Pizza with White Sauce, Spinach, and Goat Cheese
  74. Cobb Salad Tacos
  75. Potato, Chicken, and Fresh Pea Salad
  76. Chicken and Mushroom Panini
  77. Chicken, Red Grape, and Pesto Pizza
  78. Roasted Chicken and Bowtie Pasta Salad
  79. Chicken with Ginger and Green Onion Salt Dip
  80. Muffulettas
  81. Chicken Enchilada Stack
  82. Pita Salad with Cucumber, Fennel, and Chicken
  83. Chicken Chilaquiles
  84. Peanut-Sauced Chicken Pitas
  85. Quick Chicken and Dumplings
  86. Lemony Orzo-Veggie Salad with Chicken
  87. Cover them with this Creamy Mushroom Sauce
  88. Cheese Tortellini and Chicken Mushroom Casserole
  89. Chicken Crepes with Mole Amarillo
  90. Hot Chicken Salad Casserole
  91. Garlic Cashew and Chicken Casserole
  92. Chicken and Olive Tamale Pie
  93. Easy Chicken Tikka Masala
  94. Tandoori Spiced Chicken and Rice Bake
  95. Potluck Chicken Tetrazzini
  96. Chicken Taco Casserole
  97. Creamy Chicken-Broccoli Bake
  98. Chicken Caesar Lasagna
  99. Chicken and Stuffing Bake
  100. Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole
  101. Chicken Supreme Casserole

BONUS!  Corn and Chicken Chowder

 

 

*wreath by VectorStock

 

 

 

Nine Ways to Make Your 2016 Resolution Stick!

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If you’re one of the millions who’ve made a New Year’s resolution, congratulations!

Making the decision to change means that you recognize that something in your life can be better and this is a wonderful first step!

Before you go out into 2016 determined to be a different person, make certain that you have created a plan to reach your goals.

There’s no greater disappointment than feeling overwhelmed and quitting.

You can do this.  Here’s how:

Remember that you are the same person you were a day ago. But, work to make something just a little better today.  Whatever it was that you had done in your past can be moved forward from.  Seriously.  Your life is a narrative where all of the pages after this moment are completely blank, and you are the narrator.  YOU are in charge of your life, your actions.  No one else.  Remember that as you make every choice.  Did you mess up yesterday?  Find ways to rectify those mistakes with yourself first, and then take action!  You cannot make peace or change anything external until you have changed internally first.

Come up with a realistic plan that includes smaller, gradual changes.  It’s great to set a goal to save $1,000 this year or lose 20 pounds!  Truly!  However, if you’re not actively setting up steps to get yourself there, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.  Perhaps your first steps should be to take  $20 per week out of that paycheck and place it into a savings account or lose one pound per week.  That way, you’re not completely overwhelmed or leaving yourself deprived.  You’ll feel the momentum of your smaller actions grow in just a few weeks!

If you slip up, just start again… now! Was there a work party, filled with treats too tempting to pass.. and you had a moment of weakness… and, oops! Did you eat two or three days worth of your caloric allotment?  Maybe you found concert tickets that were wayyy more than you’d budgeted for, but it’s your favorite band.. and, and…  now you feel like a failure because you blew through your goals?  STOP.  Breathe.  Life happens!  While you are responsible for engaging in those activities, you also have control over what happens next!  Drink your water, put a little extra away in your next paycheck.   Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week; your chances of actually committing will decrease. Your next steps may have to reflect a bump in the road or alter to accommodate your new circumstances, but c‘est la vie!  There is no end date to your journey… well, you know what I mean (insert tasteless death joke here).

Be easy on yourself!  I cannot say this enough or with ample sincerity!  You are your own best friend, and ultimately, no one will love or take care of you like you! Let me ask you something: would you speak to a friend in the same manner with which you speak to yourself?  Most likely, the answer is no! We’re human, and as such, we’re hardwired for error.  Aim for an 80/20 balance in life.  Do the best you can, always, and remember that bad choices are normal, human, and will happen!  And, refer to the above point… you can always start again!

Habits are made and broken on Mondays… or Thursdays… or…?  Think about your routine and your mood changes throughout the week.  Write it all down if you have to.  Find what works best for you, and go with it.  Personally, I prefer to start a new habit on Monday.  This gives me several days to prepare mentally and physically for the weekend, plus allows me to experience one last weekend of bad choices to make me feel extra guilty before I start.  Perhaps it’s the Catholic upbringing, but it works for me! My point here is to get to know yourself well enough that you have a strong idea of what YOU need.  The process of change is very personal and completely different for everyone.  

Keep track of your progress. I cannot stress this enough.  Sometimes we feel like we’re treading water, doing tons of work with little-to-no results.  Change takes time and comes in so many different, and at times, unexpected forms!  For instance, I had set a weight loss goal for myself.  I was working hard, drinking half my body weight’s worth of ounces in water, eating right, and that scale would not budge!  My pants, however, told a different story, and were loosening up around my shrinking hips. Look for other measurements of success!  Those measurements could be anything from passing up something tempting to feeling more responsible and empowered!  It’s always a good idea to have a record of where you started from, so you can have an accurate assessment of what’s working… and what’s not!

Reward yourself.  Celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small or large.  Treat them all the same!  You should be proud of your efforts!  The reward doesn’t have to include food or spending money, but can be something as simple as taking part in your favorite activity, calling a supportive friend or family member, or having some quiet time to yourself.  The possibilities are endless because we are unique individuals!  Again, find what works for you!

Partner up.  Doing something alone can be empowering, but at times can feel alienating as well.  If you can’t find a close friend or loved one to jump on board with you, look for alternative solutions.  There are support systems for everything under the sun if you turn to social media!  Sometimes just having another person’s positive input or knowing that another can relate is enough to get us back on track.  No person is an island… we are social creatures and there are people out there that are going through what you are! (I personally run fitness support and accountability groups via Facebook.  If you’d like to learn more, leave a comment below or e-mail me at Amanda.C.Fager@gmail.com.)

Know your weaknesses and have a ‘plan b’.  This may actually be two in one, but they go hand-in-hand.  Knowing where the weak points are in your journey will empower you to come up with a fallback plan.  Life is full of plot twists, so having an idea of what you’re going to do if a bump in the road pops up will leave you in a better position to make the right decision.  Be prepared and you’ll be well on your way to meeting, and perhaps exceeding, those goals!

Now, go out into the world and be great!

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by Amanda Fager// Jan 4, 2016

15-Minute Meat Sauce

Who’s up for a quick and delicious meat sauce? This would be great served over spaghetti squash, and is the perfect weeknight family-pleasing dish! Make ahead tip: Bake your spaghetti squash up to three days prior to serving, and re-heat when ready to serve!

15-minute meat saucejpg

Portuguese Kale Soup

Pulled from Teambeachbody.com:

There are so many reasons to love this Portuguese-inspired kale and sausage soup. As with many soups, this recipe tastes even better on the second day. For that reason, we love this soup for meal prep. It makes enough for a whole week of lunches or dinners, and freezes well.

Portuguese-Kale-Soup_gvdofl

I have chosen to (hopefully) make life a little simpler by creating a 3×5 recipe card (front and back), which includes the nutritional information listed on Beachbody’s site. This is my first try, so feel free to add feedback in the comments section below!

portuguese Kale soup (front)

portuguese Kale soup (back)

Prep Day: Two Week Clean Eating Challenge

I hadn’t thought about sharing this part of my experience until this morning!  Whoopsies!

Sunday, October 11th.  Prep Day.  And, boy, do I mean day!  It’s a good thing I love being in the kitchen, because there was a decent amount of food prep.  Now, you’ll notice that this says “test run”.  I host clean eating challenge groups periodically, and feel that I should experience the curriculum first hand before asking others to participate.  You can send me a message by commenting below if you’re interested in joining!

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On Prep Day, I chopped and roasted veggies, prepared my proteins, and got the majority of foods ready for the next couple of days.

hard boiled eggs, roasted asparagus, roasted fennel and red onion, broiled grapefruit, riced cauliflower.

(l to r) hard boiled eggs, roasted asparagus, roasted fennel and red onion, broiled grapefruit, riced cauliflower.

I did get a little teary-eyed at one point…

shallots

…but it was well worth the effort and I was proud of my fridge when I was done!

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mise en place!

Two Week Clean Eating Challenge… Sans Coffee?

Water and I didn’t mix.  For about 17 years, I always had a cup of coffee in hand.  During that time, I had rampant UTI’s, poor memory, acne, and mental cloudiness.  It wasn’t until I hit 32 that I had chosen to give this “water thing” a go.  It was a challenge at first, but as I started to consume 64 ounces per day, then *WHOA*, a gallon (!)… my energy levels increased, my pore size was reduced, I stopped breaking out, my skin was soft and glowing, I could think clearly, my stress levels were reduced, no more urinary symptoms, my sleep quality improved, and my dark circles were reducing, not to mention that the pounds started melting off!

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In mid-August, I had a road trip to New York that has taken me nearly two months to recover from, since I ate CRAP and didn’t drink much water at all (in addition to having a hubby whose schedule now includes working the overnight shift).  With that one-two punch, my water intake had declined again, with some days being like those of the old me… coffee, yes… water, no.  My pores started to enlarge again, my face was puffy, I had more wrinkles, acne was creeping back in, urinary pain came back, energy levels decreased, and mental fuzzies were present again.  Well, I’m not having it.  None of it.  I love the taste of coffee and the warm feelings that I associate with it, but the truth is, I can live without it.  I can live so much healthier and happier without it.  Well, not totally without it; I’ll still have a cup every now and again, but nothing like before. We give so much power, emotional and otherwise, to food and drink.

When health becomes secondary to consumption, we have to wonder what’s really going on.

I have read tons of articles about sugar, and the havoc it wreaks on the body, how it creates the same neurological responses as cocaine, and creates dependency.  AND, it’s everywhere.  I’d decided that I didn’t like the way my body felt and so chose to re-boot my fitness journey with two weeks of clean eating without coffee.

last cup

My last cup of coffee for two weeks, so I chose a Toasted Graham Latte (half the syrup) from Starbucks. It was damn delicious & a great way to send myself off

Shakeology 101

Just what is in Shakeology? Check out this video by The Status Qu-WHOA Initiative for your dramatic reading and introduction to this superfood shake:

And just how do these magical ingredients find their way into Shakeology?

For those of you who prefer to read about it, here is the description from Shakeology.com:

What’s in Shakeology?
Protein and Essential Amino Acids to help build muscle and reduce food cravings*

Help build and repair muscles
Reduce hunger and food cravings
Promote healthy skin, hair, and nails
Chocolate and Greenberry Shakeology include whey protein isolate, an easily absorbable source of high-quality protein that’s ideal for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. Tropical Strawberry and Vegan Chocolate include high-quality plant proteins from brown rice, pea and other sources. Essential amino acids, found in these proteins, help the body repair muscle tissue and heal wounds; and reduce hunger pangs. The protein in all Shakeology products provides a highly bioavailable source of essential amino acids.

Prebiotics, Probiotics and Digestive Enzymes, which aid in improving digestion, regularity, and nutrient absorption*

Aids digestion
Support a healthy intestinal tract
Increase absorption of nutrients
Shakeology contains many ingredients that are beneficial to the digestive system.
Prebiotics, natural components of certain plants, help support the “friendly” bacteria in your digestive tract.
Probiotics are strains of live good bacteria that help with the digestive process. They assist the body in absorbing nutrients and minerals, bring an overall balance to the digestive tract, and help support the immune system.
Digestive enzymes, from sources such as pineapples and papayas, help your body break down food into its individual components, making the nutrients easier to absorb.

Adaptogens

Help promote a strong immune system
Help increase energy
Help protect the body from stress
Help balance endocrine hormones and the immune system
Adaptogens are special herbs that grow in harsh climates and conditions, at high elevations, atop mountains where the soil is rocky and oxygen in the air is thin. Because these plants have to adapt to harsh conditions, they have highly concentrated nutrients that can help your body cope with stress, provide energy, and maintain a strong immune system. Shakeology has a total of 9 adaptogens. Which is more than any other shake out there.

Antioxidants and phytonutrients (plant-sourced ingredients) may help maintain health*

Help neutralize harmful free radicals
Help decrease inflammation
Help maintain the immune system
Potentially decrease the risk of degenerative diseases
Many of Shakeology’s fruit and vegetable sources have been chosen for their high concentration of healthy natural substances known as phytonutrients, including flavonoids, polyphenols, anthocyanins, and catechins. These substances have antioxidant properties, meaning they help neutralize molecules known as free radicals, which damage cells and may contribute to the aging process. In laboratory tests, phytonutrients have shown promise in helping prevent a wide variety of degenerative conditions.

23 Vitamins and Minerals your body needs to function for optimal health*

Get a wide range of essential nutrients
Get your necessary vitamins every day
Make up for dietary deficiencies
Most of us don’t get the complete range of essential vitamins and minerals in our daily diets. Some important vitamins, such as vitamin C and the B vitamins, are water-soluble, meaning they’re flushed out of your body after a short time and need to be replenished regularly. Others, like vitamin E, can be difficult to get enough of in food. Shakeology Chocolate and Greenberry provide all these nutrients in an easy-to-take form, so you never have to worry. (Tropical Strawberry and Vegan Chocolate do not have the vitamin and mineral ingredients added.)

Click here to view the complete list of ingredients and nutritional facts for each flavor.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Warning: Processed in a facility that also processes soy, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, fish and shellfish. This product should be used as a dietary supplement only. Those with medical concerns should consult their physician prior to using this or any other dietary supplement.