I am going completely VEGAN for 2018!

It’s a VEGAN life for me in 2018!!!

You guys…I am SO excited to finally share one other huge adventure I am starting in 2018. As of 1/1/18, I have officially gone 100% Vegan. At first, I was going to just do this for the month of January, but then a few things happened (details below :)) and I decided…WHY NOT do a FULL year or maybe even more and SHARE it like I did for my run streak?!?!? ¬†Now, before I say anymore in this post-I need to lay a few things out there:

  1. I am NOT an anti-meat activist in any way shape or form and DO NOT and WILL NOT cast judgement on anyone who enjoys animal products…to each his/her own!

  2. I am NOT going to try to turn you all into Vegans, but…I would LOVE to have you guys try a “Meatless Monday” once a week and maybe just become a little bit more “mindful” of the foods you are eating and where they came from.

  3. I welcome ANYONE to jump in and try this with me. Vegan foods have been AMAZING so far and I am loving this so much-seriously, JOIN ME and don’t worry about what anyone else may say or think. ¬†If you are at all curious…JUST DO IT!

  4. I am NO expert. Everything I am doing with this is completely NEW to me. ¬†I have dabbled with a lot of different nutrition plans…especially ones made for athletes and guess what?!?!? ¬†They all relied heavily on MEAT and EGGS….so this is going to be uncharted territory for me, and I am not sure how it is going to work with my fitness routines. ¬†I also DO plan on picking back up on my lifting (weights) regime since I had pretty much put that on pause during the run streak, and will have to learn all about fueling my body vegan style to build muscle.

  5. I am going to likely have a lot of trial and error (recipes, proper fuel, how I feel, energy levels etc.) with this life change…all of which I plan to share with you-both here and on my Instagram-so FUN!

Now…for my very long WHY?!?!?!

Well, to be honest there are several reasons.¬†¬†First, is overall health, both inside and out (for me and animals :)). Second, is I love trying fun, new, challenging things. Third, I personally have never “loved” meat and have always been a little (no, actually a LOT :)) grossed out by seeing raw meat and all of the veins, parts etc. of meat. ¬†And…finally, Why not?!?! ¬†What is the worst thing that can happen and who knows I may LOVE it…right?!?!?!? RIGHT!

I think my feelings of weariness-avoidance ¬†towards consuming animal products actually subconsciously started when I was younger. ¬†I remember struggling with an internal nagging conflict/dislike towards meat as a kiddo, and I never could figure out why. ¬†Meat was kind of just a regular part of our life, so I never really thought there was any “different” ways of eating and ate meat/animal products daily. ¬†Our family dinners always included meat, family parties were centered around meat and animal products were just a ¬†‚Äúmain staple‚ÄĚ in my life. ¬†We certainly didn‚Äôt have any vegetarians in the family and no one even talked about “Vegan” back in the 70’s-80’s. ¬†If they did, we assumed they were just crazy “hippies” who were a bit unconventional, wore Birkenstocks, and were all total animal rights activists. NOT that I am saying there was anything wrong with Vegans in the 70’s and 80’s, that was all just our uneducated judgement/assumption back in the day. ¬†My brother and I often drank cow‚Äôs milk with breakfast and dinner while growing up, because milk has ‚Äúcalcium‚ÄĚ and that is what you are supposed to drink in order to grow big and strong, and feed your bones…right?!?!?!? Well, that is what most parents are led to believe (I even thought it was true-until I started researching it when we had our own kids). ¬†I learned that really, cow‚Äôs milk is meant for baby cows, just like breast milk is meant for infants. Kind of crazy when you think about that…but it does make so much sense to me now and we have cut way back on dairy with our kids in the last few years.

The word ‚Äúvegetarian‚ÄĚ never really entered my mind until my freshman year of college at the University of San Diego in 1996. ¬†I was 18 years old, living away from home for the first time, and ordering my own foods, cooking and navigating life on my own. I remember I was eating a salami sandwich in the school deli one day and my sando was stacked full of meat. ¬†It also had swiss cheese and an awesome top layer of fresh veggies on it. ¬†After two bites, I opened the sandwich and removed all of the salami. ¬†I don’t exactly know why, but that day, I simply liked the way the veggies and cheese tasted and felt the salami over powered my sandwich and I just didn’t want it. ¬† It got me thinking…why exactly do I put meat on all of my sandwiches? ¬†Then I started thinking about why I added chicken or beef to my veggie rice bowls, and shrimp to my stir fry dishes, and so on. ¬†I realized, it was because that’s what I had ALWAYS done…but it was not necessarily because I actually enjoyed it! ¬†From that day forward, I spent the majority of my freshman year of college a Vegetarian. ¬†I still ate other animal products like cheese, eggs and milk…but cut out all meat. ¬†It felt great. ¬†I actually enjoyed this lifestyle and¬†dabbled with vegetarianism, off and on for years. ¬†Yet, I never fully committed to it, likely because meat and the “importance of protein” always stayed so mainstream and I just felt like it was annoying to be the “vegetarian” in a group when we ate out or went to friends houses for dinner. ¬†I also was worried that I wasn’t providing my body enough nutrients if I didn’t eat meat. Finally, I just wasn‚Äôt in tune with my body like I am now, and simply didn’t really understand much about nutrition at that stage of my life.

Fast forward to about two months ago in the end of 2017. ¬†For many reasons, I became interested in exploring the world of vegetarianism again. ¬†This time though, I had already cut out almost all dairy and gluten (this was from when I had competed in an NPC fitness competition in 2015), so I started to think, why not try going fully Vegan this time around? I thought about it, but it just felt “too extreme” and I felt it would ¬†be “too hard” because lean meat and eggs are a main staple in my families diet. ¬†Yet, I also had a health reason to try it. ¬†I had some type of hormonal imbalance going on, and had not gotten a period in almost 3 years. I know you are all likely thinking this is b/c I work out and run so much, but every blood test and body fat test said that was not the case and it was just an unsolved mystery-not that I minded not having a period for awhile-lol :)) After trying several different things to jump-start my period, nothing was working. Hmmm, I thought…maybe I really should cut out ALL animal products (which would remove most (if not all) of the hormones pumped into my body from all of the animal products we eat) and that may re-set my body and do the trick?!?! ¬† So, in November, I cut out meat/eggs completely. ¬†It was hard at first (especially eggs), but I did it. ¬†Admittedly, I was still really uncertain about committing to veganism as a lifestyle, but I wanted to see what would happen. ¬†Kind of crazy guys, but guess what?!? That month, 3 weeks later, my period came back…and I was running/exersizing ¬†more than ever at this point (as it was the end of #run365withjen). ¬†Hmmm, I thought…maybe our food really IS causing more health problems that we all realize.

Then, one night in late December…I found¬†myself scrolling through documentaries on Netflix and randomly came across one called¬†Vegucated. ¬†I had heard of it, but never really watched any Vegan documentaries and honestly, don’t ¬†watch much TV at all. Yet, for some reason, I was watching TV that night, and this documentary peaked my interest. ¬†I had also recently started following vegan Instagram accounts and “Googling” vegan fitness plans and vegan athletes, so I thought this would be interesting. ¬†I was really intrigued to know what the vegan hype was about.¬†While I was watching “Vegucated” (a MUST SEE-seriously watch it when you have time- here is a link to the trailer: https://youtu.be/x18h4HYBLUc) that night, SO MUCH started to click in my mind. ¬†I started to truly connect to the plant-based lifestyle on a deeper level than just nutrition. That feeling, coupled with my growing curiosity in this lifestyle started to make me realize, I really did want to go full force vegan in 2018 for even more reasons that just overall health.¬†Those same familiar feelings that I subconsciously felt as a child came back out, but with a higher level of understanding and compassion. After the documentary ended, I watched another…”Forks Over Knives” (trailer link: https://youtu.be/O7ijukNzlUg¬†) and had the same crazy feelings of, “I HAVE ¬†TO GO FOR THIS” as I did with Vegucated.

¬†Honestly, I am still not quite sure what the heck to believe about our food. Yet, I can say this…look at what cutting out animal products did for me, (2) periods in 2 months after 3 straight years of absolutely no menstrual cycle (TMI-I know…but have to share as maybe this will help someone else going through the same thing :)). ¬†It could have also just been a complete coincidence that it came back when it did, but after reading/watching all of the info about the vegan lifestyle…I think it might have actually done something great to my insides.

So, with all of that rambling…I’m all IN on this vegan idea. ¬†I’m ready to make this a new part of my life…a new challenge/goal for 2018, and I am thrilled to share it with all of you. I have not eaten any animal products whatsoever and feel GREAT. ¬†This actually doesn’t feel like a short lived phase either, because I am loving how I feel so far…but who knows-I am still in the exploration stage and I am always open to new ideas. ¬†For now, I am committed to this goal for 2018 and I could not be more excited.¬†Plus, it was yet another thing that led me start this “lifestyle” blog which will include, food, fitness, fashion, mom life and more. ¬† I feel grateful to be on this path and can’t wait to see how this makes me feel after a year.¬†In the last few weeks, I‚Äôve watched a few other documentaries, read books, articles and immersed myself in learning everything I can about plant-based nutrition. ¬†The health benefits seem endless and I am loving what I am reading/learning. ¬†So far, being vegan isn’t as hard/limiting as society has made it out to be. Sure vegan life is unfamiliar to me, and has been slightly difficult at times-just like anything else you do for the first time, but overall it’s been AWESOME. ¬†I feel so good and it hasn’t been about deprivation, dieting or counting calories, it‚Äôs been about adding in foods my body loves and recognizes as actual food that it can easily process and use for fuel. ¬†Remember, food is fuel, energy, nourishment and YUMMY!!!!

¬†Many people may have a gut reaction to this and think, “Ugh, what exactly is left that you CAN actually eat?” which I totally can relate to (cause I kind of thought that myself when I first started)…but, I have to tell you-I have been eating tons of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and yes, even a little “Enjoy Life” Dairy Free dark chocolate (for all of you chocolate-holics). ¬†I have tried SO many new recipes already and am still learning all about this new lifestyle every day.

Whether you want to join me and jump into this 100%, because you have been thinking about it as well…OR take baby steps and incorporate more vegetables into your daily life, do a meatless Monday or simply eat a bit more healthy in 2018, it is completely up to you. There is absolutely no ‚Äúright‚ÄĚ way to eat, simply new and unique ways you can try as you incorporate more health into your diet. You have to find what works for you. Nutrition and health is a constant journey and a learning process. ¬†I am still unsure of where this adventure will lead me, but I am SO PUMPED. ¬†My family is also excited to start doing “Meatless Monday’s” with me. ¬†They do not want to give up meat completely and again THAT IS OK, I want them to do what feels right for them, just like I want you all to do what is right for YOU. ¬†Vegan lifestyle, here I come. ¬†I look forward to learning more and¬†sharing everything I learn on this journey with all of you.

Cheers to good HEALTH, trying new things and SHARING more in 2018.



and so…it begins.

A CUP OF JEN an intro… Hi guys. ¬†I am FINALLY doing this and I am really flipping excited, but nervous at the same time. ¬†I mean, I pretty much just blogged my “running life” away on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jenmaravillas¬†for an entire year (check out #run365withjen) but that was just me rambling daily about my goals and adventures in running and I plan to continue to post on my Instagram & Facebook, but this is a bit different more stories & in depth content. ¬†Throughout the year, I had so many people telling me I should just “start a blog” and I kind of giggled and blew it off. ¬†Yet, I have to say, when I did my final running post yesterday and Instagram made me “cut” my post into 3¬†separate posts (because it was too long :)) ¬†I KNEW it was time to really start this blog that I have been secretly dreaming about for years. ¬†Please bear with me as I get this started, because I really have no clue how to do this, but I know will figure it out along the way. ¬†I hope this blog is something that will bring you as much joy as a cup of coffee-one of my very favorite obsessions, which is where I came up with the name of my site. ¬†For all of my coffee loving people out there, you all know that feeling you get when you take that fist sip of coffee in the morning. ¬†Warmth, Bliss, Joy. Sharing coffee with a loved one or friend is like capturing happiness in a cup…hence I present “A Cup of Jen” to all of you…hoping this blog brings you lots of smiles and a place of connection.¬†

A tid bit about me…

I‚Äôm a¬†total¬†lover of people, health, fitness, blogs,¬†inspirational quotes,¬†social media, fashion, and just LIFE in general.¬† I have¬†learned and shared so much and felt a complete¬†sense of community over the past few years ¬†as the life of Social Media, Pinterest, Blogging, Vlogging and open sharing lifestyle has become quite the norm. ¬†While I openly admit, there are for sure extremely ugly sides to social media and open sharing, I¬†like to focus on the positive parts. ¬†Sharing goals, life’s highs & lows and everything in between can be fun. ¬†It’s a way we can all support each other through this crazy thing we all called LIFE. ¬†You see…I am huge believer in LIVING LIFE every. single. day. ¬†and¬†doing it with passion, purpose and POSITIVITY. ¬†I am not going ¬†to sugar coat it, life can be HARD…but seriously life can be SO beautiful most days, and I find that when I share¬†aspects of my life and dive into the¬†amazing lives of others…my heart is full.

Now…let me get to the meat and potatoes of this first post.

¬†My WHY…


When I visit other peoples social media sites or blogs, I love to know the stories of the people writing them.¬† There are often unique twists and turns, just like in my own life, and I enjoy seeing where the writers came from and where they are in their journey now.¬† As new “blogger” (did I just call myself that?!?), I now am starting to know how much goes into blogs (both time and courage) and I look forward putting in the work to share a tips, stories and adventures that might just help someone along the way. ¬†From this very first post, I can tell you on a personal level…I am SO excited because there are no “word count” limits and I can ramble and ramble on without someone telling me I have to cut down on my writing, because of a space limit. ¬†Not that I am saying each of my blog posts will be a NOVEL, but I want the space to be able to share anything at anytime without limits. ¬†Thats the other thing that motivated me to start this blog. ¬†I absolutely LOVED #run365withjen and setting a goal to run 2,017 miles in 365 days and sharing it with so many was SO FUN…but you know what? ¬†I found myself feeling limited at times. ¬†Like I could only share my life as a runner and that is truly only ONE very small piece of me. ¬†SO, my goal for 2018 is to start this blog which will be so much more of me. ¬†I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, Police Sergeant, Stella & Dot Stylist, Realtor, Fitness Enthusiast, Nutrition explorer, Adventure seeking, positive thinking, coffee loving person who simply LOVES LIFE.¬†Therefore, I have decided to share a bit of my life story here so that, if you want, you can find out how I got here and a bit about where I have been.¬† I would love to get to know you more, too, so feel free to leave an introduction and a link to your blog or social media accounts if you have one!

So where to start‚Ķ I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area (California) with parents of Irish-Italian Decent and the most awesome big brother a girl could ever dream of having. ¬†I fell in love with this one perfectly imperfect little life we are all given at a young age. ¬†I was born in 1978, 2 months early and was only 2 pounds 2 ounces at birth. ¬†Let’s just say the odds were stacked against me and my parents were told I wan’t going to live. ¬†Thankfully, I survived against those odds and became a stubborn, type A “Fighter” at a young age. ¬†When I say fighter, I don’t mean a boxer or wrestler or someone who likes to actually fight. ¬†What I mean is someone who is DETERMINED. ¬†I am someone who won’t take NO for an answer, and who wants to inspire others to do the same thing. ¬†You see guys, we ALL have the chance to do ANYTHING we want in this precious life…we just have to have the determination and commitment (aka “fight”) to stick with it. At age 23, I married my high school sweetheart and best friend Aram. After a couple years as an Event Planner and Substitute Teacher, ¬†I had landed my dream job (so I thought) as a Kindergarten school teacher. I was also doing personal training on the side, and thought this was “it” for me. ¬†I would teach, have babies and a white picket fence and live happily ever after. ¬†Not. So. Much. ¬†I had this nagging feeling inside of me that this wasn’t at all how my life should go, and I knew I couldn’t ignore it. ¬†After lots of ¬†discussion with my hubby, I decided to go after a secret passion of mine…Law Enforcement. ¬†Yep, I wanted to be a cop. ¬†Let me tell you all, this was WAY outside my comfort zone. This wasn’t my major in college, I didn’t join the military…in fact prior to the Police Academy…I had never; shined a boot, scaled an 8 foot wall, held a gun-done really ANYTHING law enforcement related. Yet, this “girly-girl” was intensely drawn to it and I decided to just GO FOR IT. ¬†This choice is still one of the best decisions I have made in my life. ¬†I overcome a lot of personal doubts, family doubts, public stereo types and crazy challenges…but I have never looked back. ¬†This year marks 15 years strong on this great profession and I look forward to what my future career path holds. Once I got my career started, we decided to have kids. ¬†Little did I know that being a mother would become my truest dream job and one that would TOP all of my life jobs. ¬†I went back to work after each child, but parenting is still my most important job. ¬†It is¬†admittedly¬†tough to balance it all (and believe me I have a LOT of help) but I absolutely LOVE being a Mommy and embrace all of the joys and stressors that come with it. ¬†Like being an Officer, parenting challenges me to learn, grow and do new things every day. ¬†They both allow me to work hard and be creative, and also give me the opportunity to serve others in a very meaningful way, which is most everything I ever wanted in a job. ¬†I am constantly learning and growing and can’t wait to share bits of this part of my life with you as well. On the personal passion side of things, I am a self proclaimed health and fitness NUT. ¬†I have run countless marathons, half marathons and even a 50 mile race (one and done-that was crazy). ¬†This past year (2017) I ran every single day for a total of 2,017 miles and I am always seeking a new challenge in the fitness department. ¬†I have competed in an NPC fitness competition (I can’t wait to do a “throw back” blog post about that crazy but fun experience at some point :)). ¬†I love to play tennis, go on walks with friends, go to the gym and pretty much do anything ACTIVE. I love the way it makes my body feel. ¬†Strong, confident, capable. ¬†I also LOVE to experiment with healthy recipes and am often posting fun new “health food finds” on my Instragram account. ¬†I am a Stella & Dot Stylist and love fashion and all things “girly” which is a complete 180 from my Police job, but becoming a stylist has provided me such a fun life balance. ¬†I love travel with family and friends and sharing new places with everyone. ¬†I love to work, try new things and share it all. ¬†I squeeze a LOT into every day and basically, I am hoping this turns into a place to document/share some of these passions even more. I am inspired to write this blog because my greatest passion is SHARING this one precious life with others and inspiring people who are dreaming of accomplishing anything to go for it. I am constantly saying ¬†“JUST DO IT” and I truly mean it. ¬†Why not? ¬†You will never know unless you TRY. ¬† I am hoping something in this blog at some point will inspire each of you in some way. ¬†If nothing else, I am hoping it will at least bring ¬†smile to your face or make you giggle, because you can relate to something I am sharing. My life is full of many of the same daily tests and trials any working parent might face ‚Äď too many things to do and not enough time, not enough sleep, a bad day, a bad day for one of the girls, a disagreement with my hubby ‚Äď but this website is not a place I will be sharing most of those struggles.¬† However, please don‚Äôt assume they aren‚Äôt there in my life just because you mostly see awesome mom time, fitness tips, healthy recipes, travel and fun family activities.¬† Here you will read about only a very small portion of what makes up my life,¬†but I can assure you my days are filled with many different kinds of moments both good and bad.¬† As lifestyle blogger, I try to be upfront about the image my blog produces which can’t possibly¬†include the full story and I hope this comes across in my posts.¬†I am far from perfect and that is OK, because NO ONE IS PERFECT and I like to celebrate our imperfections! What I really want you all to remember, and will try to share in different ways in my blog, is this, “A Positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, outcomes. ¬†It is a catalyst and it sparks EXTRAORDINARY results.” ¬†And…another one of my favorites that I share with my girls often is, it only takes a few moments to¬†turn a frown upside down and to go from¬†complete¬†grumpiness to complete gratitude.¬† I hope this blog will help us all do that when we want to change the course of our day, go after a new goal or simply change our life’s direction. ¬†Anything is possible…if you BELIEVE-COMMIT and WORK HARD. Happy 2018…today is the first blank page of a 365 page book. ¬†Write a good one! May this year turn your dreams into reality and all of your efforts into great achievements. ¬†


XO, Jen