jana beck

if you have a smart phone, download the “my fitness pal” app right now.

the boyfriend downloaded it onto my phone earlier this week, and my first thought was “why on earth did you put this on my phone? you KNOW i think counting calories is a sin.” so he said to just look at it, and if i didn’t like it, i could delete it.

turns out this app is my new best friend. now let me just be clear and say that never before in my life have i had the desire to count calories – that would be an awful existence – but this sheds a whole new light on calorie for me.

to get started, you simply enter your age, height, current weight, and what you would like your goal weight to be. then you specify if you just want to maintain your weight or how much you would like to lose a week [if you are into that sort of thing], and it gives you the amount of calories you should be eating each day to accomplish your goal.

each day, you track what you eat. it is the COOLEST thing. you just search for an item, like”in n’ out cheeseburger”, add it to your daily summary, and it tells you how many calories it is and how many you have left for the rest of the day. [fyi, a cheeseburger without spread is only 400 calories. not bad]. it get’s better. if you’re using your phone, you can scan barcodes of food items as well. isn’t that crazy? then you just have to punch in how much you had, and it figures out the rest.

it also gives you a daily summary, showing how much of certain nutrients you SHOULD consume, and how much you are actually consuming – which is way more important to me than knowing how many calories i am eating. this little app has taught me a lot about my eating habits. for example, i actually rarely eat too many calories. and i am really good at getting enough fat and sugar in my diet. however, i am apparently not very good at getting enough vitamins. imagine that. in fact, yesterday, i had NO vitamin c. so i got orange juice at the store today. [i would rather not come down with scurvy].

one more thing. you can also input your exercise. for example, yesterday i ran two 9-minute miles [wimpy. i know]. i punch it in, and it tells me how many calories i burned and factors that into my daily summary.

so if one of your goals for this year is to be healthier, which i imagine is on just about everyone’s list – it makes mine every year – you have got to try out this system. it works great if you can do it on you phone because chances are you generally have your phone with you. but if not, you can always make an account at i would also highly recommend doing it with a buddy: a significant other, sister, neighbor… that way, you can keep tabs on each other and keep each other motivated!

really. start right now. you can thank me later.


as you may or may not have noticed lately, i am kind of on a goal kick. it’s just that i am feeling super motivated at the moment. so instead of getting ahead of myself with this gung ho attitude i have at the present, i have decided to get organized.

now, before i continue, i have a disclaimer: i am no goal-making and keeping expert. ask anyone that knows me. but, with that being said, i have come up with a system that i feel really good about. in fact, it is already yielding results. and since it would be pretty selfish of me to keep all of my goal-accomplishing secrets to myself, i am going to share them all with you. ready?

1. grab a spare piece of scratch paper and start writing down your goals for the year. all of them. just rattle them off – however big or small they may be. just get an idea of what it is that you are hoping to accomplish. this is your rough draft.

jana beck

2. in a more permanent place – a handy notebook, your journal, planner, whatever it may be, make a more solid list. maybe buying 15 new pairs of shoes isn’t a very worthy goal. and since you haven’t gone for a run since high school, maybe you should start with a 5k instead of the marathon you put down earlier. there isn’t a limit to the number of goals you can accomplish in a year, just make sure you are being reasonable with yourself. i decided to write all of my resolutions for the year on the front page of a new journal – since journaling is something i want to do every day. just make sure your final draft of goals is somewhere where you can see it. often.

3. start getting specific. are the any specific dates or deadlines for your goals? for example, you want to run a 5k. maybe do a little research and pick out a race. then write the date next to your goal. trust me, you are about 20 times more likely to accomplish something if you give yourself a finish date. there have been studies. go through your list and see how many of your goals you can set a reasonable date for [it doesn’t have to be ALL of them].

4. break it down. what can you do every month to accomplish your goal? what about every week and every day? take each of your goals, or as many goals as you would like to focus on, and start finding things you can do on a monthy, weekly, and daily basis to accomplish them. start writing everything down. because i like to write in pen and hate scratching things out, i like to brainstorm on scratch paper, then transfer the final draft somewhere more permanent. in case you want an example of the break down, here you go: one of my big goals for the year is to really nurture my creativity. each month, i plan on completing a sewing project – whether it’s sewing a skirt from scratch or adding ruffles to a plain t-shirt. every week, i want to make sure i want to make time [at least one day] to paint. and every day [at least during the week] i want to put up a new blog post – it’s amazing how that really gets my creative juices going.

sound simple enough? that’s because it is! the hard part is getting it done. so how do we keep on track? to be honest, this is where i usually get lost. until now [at least hopefully].

i am a very visual person. that being the case, i thought it may be helpful to me to have a constant visual reminder of these daily, weekly and monthly goals. here is what i came up with.

jana laurene goal chart

pretty AND functional, right?

this is where i record all of my repetitive goals: things i should be doing EVERY day, like waking up by 7 and exercising. or things i should be doing EVERY week, like trying a new recipe and painting. it works great for me – everything is in one place and it is the perfect way for me to literally check in on my goals on a daily basis. it could also work as an awesome to-do list, if that’s the route you wanted to go. at the end of the week, i plan to tape it into my journal so i can track my progress from week to week.

i know my methods may not work for everyone, but i hope there is something here that you can use to get you motivated and to keep  that motivation going strong even after january.

and, as a little gift, i would be more than happy to share my goal chart with you. if you are on a teal kick, like me, you can simply drag the above version onto your desktop and print away [i print 2 per page].

UPDATE: because of the increasing requests i have had for a number of different colors, i decided to update the design of my goal chart and offer it in 6 fun color varieties. these goal charts are pdf files that can be customized to fit your needs. to view the new design and featured colors: click here.

Goal Chart

happy goal making [and keeping]!



jana laurene

jana laurene

this year, one of my biggest goals is to write in a journal every day. i bought this blank book at the bookstore on campus, and i haven’t missed a day yet!

in the front of the journal, i listed down some of the goals i have for this upcoming year. that way, every day when i go to journal i will have my resolutions staring me in the face, and i can check to see how i am doing.

sometimes, our resolutions for the year can be pretty broad. like “be healthy” or “nurture my creativity”. so after i made a pretty nice list of my general goals, i started to break them up into daily, weekly and monthly goals. so when it comes to nurturing creativity, i have a daily goal to blog, a weekly goal to paint, and a monthly goal to complete a sewing project. this approach might not be for everyone, but i have a good feeling about it for me.

tell me, what are some of your resolutions for the upcoming year? i would love to hear them!


chicken stuffed with mozzarella. tomatoes + spinach

stuffed chickenlucky for me, my mom is one of my faithful blog readers, i think i have 2 :) … so she was sure to see my list of resolutions for the new year, especially the goal to cook one meal a week – and she is holding me to it.

last night, i had a really good idea of what i wanted to make, but after browsing the for recipes and having no luck, i realized that i was going to have to do it without any help.

i am pleased to report that it turned out fabulous! here’s what i did [in case you can’t think of anything to make for dinner tomorrow].

first, i cut a few chicken breasts in half, so they were the same shape as the original piece of chicken, only half as thick. i laid all my pieces of chicken on a cookie sheet covered in tin foil.

then, on the center of each piece of chicken, place the mozzarella cheese, chopped spinach, and diced tomatoes and garlic (i sautéed mine separately just before because i like my tomatoes thoroughly cooked, but that step isn’t necessary for most normal people. i’m just not normal). stuff chicken as full as possible. then fold the chicken over, whichever way is easiest, and use toothpicks to hold chicken in place, if necessary. brush a mixture of olive oil, salt, and pepper on the outside of the chicken, both top and bottom. you could do this before you stuff the chicken too, now that i think about it.

bake at 425˚ for about 25 minutes.

a few minutes before my i pulled the chicken out of the oven, i spread the remaining tomato + garlic mixture over the top of each chicken breast. also, i wasn’t quite sure if the chicken was all the way done (especially on the bottom) so i cooked it on the stove for just a few more minutes in the pan i had used for the asparagus, just to be safe.

once the chicken is finished, remove toothpicks and enjoy!

hopefully i didn’t make it sound very difficult – it was actually really easy, and it only takes about an hour from start to finish unless you’re sadly slow at cooking like me. 

let me know if you try it and tell me how it turns out!

in case you were wondering, i served the chicken with red garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus sautéed in olive oil and one lemon’s worth of juice. [next time, i’ll use less lemon].

happy cooking!!
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dear new year,

here you are – my official list of resolutions. i’m planning on tacking this up somewhere that i will see it every day.


i have big things planned for you, 2009.


is it bad that i wrote, scanned, and blogged this from work?