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Lifestyle

Instant Pot Ground Beef Butternut Squash Stew


21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Recipe, Tosca Reno, Autumn Calabrese, Vanessa.fitness, vanessadotfit, vanessa.fit, vanessa mclaughlin
   my Instant Pot!
It may be the best small, kitchen appliance I've ever bought, and it's definitely in my top 10 kitchen gadgets. I meal prepped my breakfasts and lunches this week, but I purposely didn't prep my dinners, because I have an Instant Pot.
However, I did PLAN my dinners. On the menu for tonight: Ground Beef Butternut Squash Stew.......and I started with frozen beef!!!
To be fair, I did buy pre-cut butternut squash, but everything else, I just made tonight. From start to finish, it took 40 minutes!
Sharing the recipe with you:

21 Day Fix container equivalents:
1 Red
1 Green
INGREDIENTS
1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. raw, frozen, lean ground, beef
1 shallot minced as small as I could (because my husband doesn't like shallots)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes (low sodium)
1 cup low sodium, organic, beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 TBSP thyme
1 TBSP rosemary
1 tsp. sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1⁄4 cup chopped flat leaf parsely
PREPARATION
1. Turn on Instant Pot "sauté" function and heat olive oil.
2. Add shallot and bell pepper; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes until onions are translucent.
3. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
4. Add frozen beef, tomatoes, broth, squash, herbs, salt, and pepper.
5. Turn off sauté function.
6. Cover, turn QR valve to "sealing" and set to "pressure cook" for 25 minutes.
7. After 25 minutes, do a slow quick release, and let sit for about 5 minutes.
8. Uncover, remove bay leaf; serve topped with parsley.
9. If I had cauliflower rice, I would have topped it with the stew, but we ate it as is, with some sautéed spinach.. 
DELISH!!
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My January 2018 goals and how to set your own fitness goals!

Health and fitness goals, new year resolutions, successful resolutions, weightloss, Autumn Calabrese, Tosca Reno, Chalene Johnson,
Happy New Year! This month I wanted to share my personal health and fitness goals with you, as well as the process I use to select them. It will help hold me accountable as well!

To do this, all you need is a notebook, a computer, your phone, or you can even get fancy and use a fitness planner! Any of these will do. The goal setting process is the same.

Setting my January health and fitness goals. 

I’m always excited at the start of a new month. It is a fresh, new beginning. It doesn’t matter what happened last month or last year. Now is the time to look forward and create new possibilities.

Get excited!

Success always starts with a positive attitude. I like to start a new Inspiration Board at the beginning of each year. In the photo above you can see I’ve added only a few quotes and some photos of me when I was in really good shape. I will add to my Inspiration Board every single month (and will print off more copies if necessary).

Brainstorm ideas.

The first thing I do is grab some scrap paper and do a little brainstorming. I scribble and get messy and put my thoughts out on paper before I commit to anything.

One of the first questions I answer, on paper is: How am I doing RIGHT NOW?

I think about:
  1. What is my fitness level?
  2. Am I exercising regularly?
  3. Am I happy with my workout routine?
  4. How’s my nutrition?
  5. Do I need to lose a few pounds or just need to maintain my weight?
  6. How is the quality of my nutrition?
  7. Do I feel strong?
  8. Am I dealing with pain or any physical issues?

My raw and real “how I’m doing” list:
  • chronic knee pain (currently being diagnosed, possible meniscus tears in both knees)
  • feeling weak and inflexible
  • food quality for the most part is good – I’ve been eating lots of fresh veggies, following my autoimmune diet
  • I’m about 10 pounds over my happy weight
I want to stress that the “how I’m doing” list is not to make you feel guilty or bad. We are making a brand new start, and I firmly believe we all do our best under the circumstances. It is simply to honestly assess where you are so you can make simple changes for the place you are right now.

Then, based on my answers, I brainstorm a few specific goals I’d like to work on this month. Then I narrow the list down to between one and three health and fitness goals which will have the most impact.

My possible goals list:
  1. Lose 10 pounds
  2. Increase flexibility
  3. Increase strength
  4. Walk 10k steps daily
  5. Workout 6x a week
  6. Drink 100 ounces of water daily
  7. Stick to a weekly nutrition plan

Finalize my goals.

Next I look at the goals to see if they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. (SMART) If not, I’ll rewrite them.

My #2 and #3 goals (increase flexibility and increase strength) are clearly specific enough and measureable. Goals should be written in a way so you can answer “yes I reached my goal” or “no.”) To rewrite these, they would look like:
 - I want to be able to bend over and touch my hands with palms to the floor
 - I want to be able to do push ups on my toes for a whole minute without stopping
These are now measurable.

My #4 goal is not realistic for me. Other than showering and brushing my teeth, I don’t want to commit to doing ANYTHING every single day. What if I’m sick or hurt or traveling? I will rewrite this goal to allow for “life” happening.

Now I will transfer my final goals to my Fitness Planner.

You’ll notice I scribble in my planner. I do have nice handwriting when I slow down and take my time but I’d rather get my thoughts on paper in a quick and simple manner. Your planner, or the tracking system you use, is not an art project. Just. Write. It. Down. Messy is ok.

My January health and fitness goals.

Lose 10 pounds
Start my new 80 day workout program, and do the scheduled workouts (6x per week)
Walk 10k steps per day at least 5 days per week.

See the difference? These goals are specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic, and timely (for the month of January) FOR ME.

My fitness goal of 10,000 steps per day falls in line with the recommended amount, and a good start considering how I am doing at the moment. This is attainable for me. Be sure to set a goal that makes sense for YOU. Don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s. If 8k steps would be attainable for you, or some other number, then set that goal for yourself.

My "WHY."

Your “why” is the reason you keep going. Very specifically, why do you want to achieve your goals? Try to dig deep because your why will fuel you when the going gets tough.
My January "Why":
I hurt physically, have low energy, feel blah and not in the shape I want to be in. I want to be strong, healthy and active for myself and my family.

Identify potential obstacles.

What might get in the way of you reaching your goal? Being aware of the roadblocks is half the battle. I write these directly on the planner because I am pretty attuned to what my personal issues are, ha ha.
My January potential obstacles:
eating at night
food cravings and binges
losing my motivation
skipping my workout if I feel too tired
5 day NYC trip at the end of the month

Set a reward.

I always set a reward for myself if I achieve my goal or goals. I give myself a little leeway with the reward. If my goal was to lose 5 pounds but only lost 4 I ask myself:
  • Was I logging my food?
  • Was I eating healthy?
  • Was I exercising faithfully?
  • Do I feel like I tried my best?

If I feel I did my best, I will reward myself.
My January reward:
A massage along with a pedicure and spray tan.

Create an action plan.

Here’s where you break down your goals into simple action steps. Look at your list of goals and brainstorm different ways to make them happen. I do this on my scrap paper.

If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, some of the action steps might be:
  • find a nutrition and fitness plan to follow
  • journal/log your food
  • use a portion control eating style (like 21 Day Fix)
  • eat more green leafy vegetables and eat 5 servings of veggies daily
  • workout for 30 minutes daily
  • stop eating after dinner
  • dessert/wine only on the weekends
  • take 10,000 steps per day
  • drink 8 glasses of water daily
You get the idea. There are many, many actions you can take to help you lose 10 pounds.

You can also choose healthy habits that will address your potential obstacles. See how I have “stop eating after 8pm” on my list? That will address dreaded nighttime over-eating.

If you had to do ALL those things it would be intimidating, right? Thankfully you don’t have to. Pick just a few steps that will make the biggest difference.

My brainstorm:
log food in MyFitnessPal
10,000 steps per day (tracked on my fitness watch)
schedule workouts a week in advance
meditate daily
fill up water bottles the night before
stop eating after 8pm
meal plan each week
eat according to the plan - if it's not on the plan, don't eat it

My January healthy habits to track:
log food in MyFitnessPal
walk 10,000 steps 
do my planned workout
meditate (to keep me sane, lol – I use the Calm guided meditation app which is free)
stop eating after 8pm

The healthy habit tracker in my fitness planner is key because I can see at-a-glance how I’m doing. Lots of blank space and I need to step things up. Lots of check marks and I’m on track.

Can you see how my actions directly relate to my goals?
**It’s ok to change your goals/action steps. If after a few days, it's not working, CHANGE the goals or action steps!
Bottom line, this is your life, these are your goals, and YOU are in charge. Feel free to change things up as needed.

Now that I’ve shared my goals with you, I’d like to explain how I PLAN to achieve the goals. Setting them and writing them down is not enough. When will I do my action steps? How will I remember what they are? How will I know I’m on track? Read on….

Planning for success.

Here’s where planning is key… you must have a system to review your goals regularly, to schedule and track your actions steps, or nothing will change.

Here are the steps I take to plan a healthy month:
1. Schedule your workouts.
I usually plan my workouts a week at a time, and I choose my workouts according to my goals. I've been working out, so I'm ready for a more challenging workout, and I will be doing a new 80 day program, and daily activity (starting at 10,000 steps five days per week), will be the focus of my plan.
What workouts will you do each day?
I have a schedule of my workouts, and tracker sheets for how many reps I do, and weight I lifted. Sometimes I put a star or checkmark when I complete the daily workout. You can cross it off, color it in or whatever, but track your progress. Using a monthly workout calendar you can easily see at-a-glance if you are being consistent.

Note on my workouts: I schedule at least one rest day per week but it doesn’t mean I necessarily sit on my butt all day. Though it could! Rest is important. Also, my workouts are low impact. I modify any jumping or lunging because of my knee issues. Hopefully that will change as the year progresses.
When specifically will you workout?

This is where your phone or calendar comes in. Set a specific time, like an appointment, for your workouts. Phone alarms are perfect so you never forget. #NoExcuses Treat it like a doctor's appointment. You scheduled it in advance and you're going to keep it!

Create checklists to keep you on track.

I use a Weekly Success Checklist inside my Fitness Planner. It is just a listing of actions to take every week to help be a healthier you. For some of you they might be a normal and natural part of your week. For others, they are a nice reminder.

If you don't have a fitness planner, you can use a notebook, calendar, computer, or phone. Here are some steps to having a fabulously fit and healthy week…
Nourish Your Body
Plan meals for the week
Fill in your shopping list
Shop for groceries
Prep food for the week if desired (I rarely food prep anymore because my meals are very simple.)
Track your food and water daily
Move Your Body
Plan your workouts for the week
Track workouts daily
Believe in Yourself
Review your calendar for the upcoming week and prepare for challenges
Journal daily
Review your Monthly Goals, Inspiration Board and Before pages often to keep your goals in plain sight and stay motivated on your fitness journey.
Evaluate your week. What can you learn? What can you improve on? What was awesome?

Plan your meals and shopping day.

Meal planning is where many people just throw up their hands and say “it’s too hard!” Not it’s really not. You need time, maybe 30 minutes, to decide what you are going to eat next week. You need to put a time – on your calendar – when you will go to the grocery store.

I wrote all about my meal planning process in this blog post: Meal planning for successful weightloss

Meal prep? Yay or nay.

A note on meal prep: Depending on my upcoming week, I may barely meal prep. I work from home, and I teach some fitness classes and college courses. So, if I know the week will be busy, I'll prep, but if I'm going to be at home, I really don’t prep at all. PLUS, I keep my meals simple.

I’m smart about my cooking. I will make double portions or a large quantity of a recipe when it first appears on my menu. So if I’m serving chicken breasts on Monday, I will make double the quantity, and eat it for other meals during the week. I might may roast extra veggies or potatoes, or make extra turkey meatballs so I can have them for another meal.

This is a pretty simplistic and painless method of meal prep and it’s plenty of prep for all but the busiest of people.

However, if you like to cook all your food on the weekend and reheat it throughout the week, have at it. This blog post shares some meal prep methods and items that are easy to prepare ahead.
Track your food and workouts every single day.

This is where the daily pages in my Fitness Planner come in. I track my workouts or steps. I log my food. I identify potential roadblocks each day and I journal or write lessons I’ve learned each day. Sometimes I add goofy inspirational quotes or stickers. This habit helps me stay motivated and honest about my progress.
Don’t “accidentally” forget your healthy habits or tracking! Use reminders.

If you think you’ll forget to track your daily habits, or meal planning time, or workouts simply set a reminder on your phone. With a smart phone there is no excuse to forget anything! (Which is unfortunate because “I forgot” is one of my favorite excuses.)

So there you have it…my January goals and how and why I chose them. I also shared some tips on how to make those goals a reality by planning all the action steps to get there. Next month I’ll let you know whether or not I achieved my goals and why or why not. I’ll also show you my February goals.

You can use the same process I’ve outlined to set some amazing health and fitness goals for yourself. Wishing you a happy and healthy January!

I'd love to work with you, set health and fitness goals and help you achieve them! If you'd like more info on how you can do this, or to reserve a spot in one of my Fit Clubs, complete the form below.

Fill out my online form.
Use Wufoo integrations and get your data to your favorite apps.
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What are these Fit Clubs I'm always talking about?

My son came home from school Friday with news about his lunch. "Mom, you forgot to put peanut butter in my sandwich. But don't worry, I just ate the bread plain and I still had my milk."

I forgot to put the peanut butter between the two slices of bread. It wasn't the first time.

But let me back track for a minute and start by telling you that I have royally screwed up motherhood. I mean, the crisp magazine, shiny images of motherhood - THOSE are not my motherhood and they have always been lost on me.

I would make a ridiculously good real life transformation for Pottery Barn, but let's be honest... I don't pottery barn. The transformation would be lost on the McLaughlin boys.

I Target.  I Marshalls. I Kohls.
I DO NOT Pottery Barn.

Now combine that with the fact that:
I am the mom that needs to be reminded of every email at least 50 times.
I am the mom that has forgotten the field trip permission slip.
I am the mom that rarely gets to the bus stop with my teeth brushed or my hair combed.
I am the mom who refuses to put clothes away. I mean ever. Everyone gets a basket of clean clothes in their room. That's it.
I am the mom who will spray a dirty T-shirt with Fabreeze when my kids really, really just HAVE to wear it that day,.
I am the mom that tries really hard to get her kids to eat healthy but every once in awhile they they eat chicken nuggets and mac n cheese.
I am the mom that has had to run the washer about twice per load because I forget about it.
I am the mom that has a messy house, stains on the carpet, handprints all over the wall, and knicks on every wall in the house.
I am a mess of a mom and I AM DAMN PROUD OF IT.

For 14 years that I have been trying to navigate the ever roaring rip tides of parenting I have always felt like I was being swallowed alive by the tossing waves.

Until I realized...

My kids are turning out to be pretty damn good.

And so that's what I want to share.

Aside from looking like a train wreck 90% of the time- I am pretty darn MOM-FIDENT.


Why I Believe a my FIT CLUBS are NECESSARY...
1. I've learned that moderation is a heck of a lot more gratifying than deprivation.
2. I've learned that I am more patient when I make myself a priority.
3. I've learned that it is not selfish when I have some me time. My time is 6 am. Every day. No one comes near mama at 6 am.
4. I've learned that failing at motherhood is part of growing in motherhood.
5. I've learned that perfection is a myth.

Because let's face it. Life demands so much of you. But do you demand more for yourself?

More energy?  
More confidence?  
More strength?  
More accountability?  
More support?  
More of what makes you feel ALIVE? 
YOU deserve more. 
I am looking for women who:
  • Are willing to take 22-30 minutes a day to push play at home with a fitness program we select together.
  • Will follow a simple meal plan that is kid friendly and husband approved.
  • Will replace one meal with nutrient dense Shakeology.
  • Are sick of getting asked the question "What's for dinner?" and never having an answer.
  • Want to kick some of the bad habits such as- negative self talk to the curb.
  • Want to FEEL CONFIDENT at the parties, in the skinny jeans and the dresses sitting in the back of your closet. 
  • Are interested in a JUDGEMENT FREE environment to talk about the real life of moms.
What you will receive:
  • Daily support, accountability, and a close community of women like you.
  • An exclusive free downloadable app to track your fitness goals and check your progress.
  • 30 Days of Beachbody on Demand including programs like, Chalean Extreme, P90X3, T25, and Hammer and Chisel.
  • 30 day supply of nutrient dense Shakeology
  • Customizable meal plans, container portion control system and recipes as well as access to the Beachbody on Demand exlcusive: Fixate, a cooking show by Autumn Calabrese, creator of the 21 Day Fix. 
  • An opportunity to win $500 for submitting your results.
  • Me as your virtual coach.
Please note: 
This opportunity is open to 10 women who are willing to "selfishly" invest $4 a day in themselves in order to: 
1. Feel CONFIDENT in their skin- lose weight, tone, up, gain muscle (or all of the above)
2. Gain energy to keep up with the demanding to do list
3. Give up the guilt and and stop asking, "am I enough."

I know *GASP* how can I possibly invest $4 in myself is what you are asking yourself?
What if it doesn't work?

It works.
I guarantee it.
And I can speak from experience, this could potentially change your life.
As an online virtual health and fitness coach, a recovering lawyer, and a mom who's just kinda winging it, I am opening the doors to my next online fitness and nutrition accountability.
    In order to participate, please complete the application below so that I can message you and reserve your spot in my next Fit Club.
    Fill out my online form.
    Online contact and registration forms from Wufoo.
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