Learning to Fuel Our Bodies Well

Fueling Bodies

Photo by Megan Hodges on Unsplash

About six months ago I was having a conversation with my chiropractor about my health and I had this MAJOR “Ah Ha” transformative moment! This was quite the powerful conversation!! You have to understand that I adore my chiropractor and he is an absolute gift from God for our lives. He is also an Italian from NYC and is one of the most out spoken people I have ever met while simultaneously being extremely wise and encouraging. Someday I will write an entire post about him because I have learned SO MUCH. Anyway, we were reviewing all the steps that Adrian and I have taken to reduce the chemicals that we use in our home (cleaning products, laundry, dish soap, etc.) and on our bodies (skincare, shampoos, makeup, etc.). These chemicals weaken our immune systems and cause all kinds of havoc in our bodies…especially mine. So my chiropractor gently and wisely prods me with this question, “Jen, you have done incredible things to remove chemicals from your home and with what you use on your bodies, BUT what about what you are putting IN your bodies? Mic drop! I could say nothing but humbly agree. While we have always maintained certain strict boundaries (zero processed foods, only drinking water, etc), we were not doing our best to fuel our bodies well. Our weight gain was a clear indicator of that fact.Breakfast.pngHis words rang in my mind for months, and God began to draw my heart toward change. Around the same time we were encouraged by several friends to watch a Netflix documentary called “What The Health.” I would highly recommend you check it out. Again God seemed to be using many things to draw our hearts toward change. My conviction going into 2018 was to proactively build nutrition into our meals and fuel our bodies well. Um what does that mean? What path is the right path? My thoughts exactly, lol!

I have learned a ton about nutrition since our journey to get healthy began back in 2010. The problem is there is this constant ongoing struggle in the media about which eating plan is actually healthy. Does anyone else get completely overwhelmed and frustrated by that? Seriously, most of the ways of eating healthy now weren’t even around back in 2010. Is it Gluten Free, Paleo, Weight Watchers, Keto, Whole30, Vegan, etc.??? Each with differing & conflicting methods claiming optimum health for our bodies. This is a stumbling block for many people who then just give up and instead do nothing and remain unhealthy. My position and best counsel is for you to learn to be aware of your own body and what YOUR BODY needs. When you eat a certain way do you feel good physically? Emotionally? Do you have more energy, sleep better, and feel more satisfied? For example when I eat gluten & dairy I tend to have some tummy troubles, cramping, etc. My body is communicating A LOT to me through those actions. When you eat a certain way are you healthier, stronger, and able to maintain a healthy weight?LUNCH.pngI credit much of my self-awareness as it relates to food to the 2 years we participated in the Weight Watcher program. The discipline of daily tracking, weekly meetings, and constant education about food, nutrition, exercise, etc. will benefit me the rest of my life. I have also learned a ton about my body through the multiple times we have participated in Whole30 (a 30 day detox).

I have learned that my body likes fuel every 2-3 hours all day long.

I have learned that as I am aging my body like gluten & dairy less and less and less.

I have learned that many times when I think I’m hungry I actually just need water.

I have learned that I am a better human, wife, friend, etc. when I am OFF sugar. Like for reals y’all!

I have learned that I need to plan ahead and be prepared for holidays, travel, and events in order to stay healthy.

I have learned that cooking is my biggest creative outlet.

I have learned that food is fuel.

I have learned that pretty food is more satisfying.DINNER.pngGoing back to basics on January 1st we joined our church by entering into a season of 40 days of Prayer & Fasting. We felt God’s leading to participate in a Daniel Fast as one portion of our personal fast. Don’t feel bad for us y’all we have been eating all the amazing meals in this post & more!! This fast has been a wonderful journey is more ways than one. We are doing our best to fuel our bodies well and are feeling absolutely FANTASTIC!! I’m so grateful for the love of God and the gentle prodding of my chiropractor to draw us toward greater wellness in 2018. Our journey towards wellness continues and I believe the BEST is yet to come!

I’d love to hear from you!!

What foods fuel your body well? Is your body trying to tell you something?  Are you listening to your body during this season and giving it what it needs to thrive?

Navigating the Holidays

December 14, 2016

Let’s be honest, December can be a train wreck for healthy living. Hectically busy schedules create an environment where compromise is a matter of survival, unfortunately in our lives often that compromise is related to our health. So, you’re running around shopping all day and grab a late meal from McDonalds, your starving tired and completely stressed to find the perfect gifts! Sooooo you order that extra-large french fry, you tell yourself you’ve earned that giant milkshake and about 3,000 calories later down that slippery slope you’re swimming in a sea of regret & shame. Has that happened to any of you? Or maybe you are planning your week and can’t find even 1 hour to squeeze in time to the gym with all the decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking, and parties. Oh, the parties, parties on every night of the weekend, meals with friends, white elephant gift exchanges galore! All the wonderful holidays foods that are so special we only make & indulge one time or year. This is such a hard time of year to navigate living a healthy lifestyle, don’t you agree?

A few years back I wrote a Holiday Confessions blog in which I shared a very thorough plan that we used for a healthy & meaningful holiday. Reading it again inspired me so check it out! I am a planner, I love to plan and always function better in life with a good solid plan. As I prepare for the holiday this year my energy & time are so stretched that my approach is simply to survive without gaining weight. This may be disappointing to some but I really believe it is best to be realistic about your expectations and build from there. That said we are making a few major changes that I want to share with you.

This year I am navigating the holidays by:

-Planning & cooking healthy whole food meals for the lunches & dinners we have at home.

-Eating breakfast smoothies each morning which maintains our healthy routine and controls our calories to between 250-300.

-Drinking water all day every day. We’ve been adding some lemon or grapefruit essential oils in our water which serves a gentle detox and tastes amazing. Message me for info on therapeutic-grade essential oils.

-I am not baking any cookies or pies this holiday. {GASP!!!} This is a MAJOR step I am doing intentionally as a healthy choice this holiday. Every year I bake upwards of 40 dozen cookies as gifts to family & friends, for parties, and to eat at home and have done so as long as I can remember. We have eaten much healthier this year and I don’t want to sabotage all our hard work and start off 2017 in a sugar hangover. Sorry friends & family but no cookies this year!

-Gifting homemade winter wellness gifts to friends & family rather than sweet treats. My heart to give & create remain in tack but this gift is healthy for all of us. Here’s a snap shot from Monday when I practiced a natural chest rub recipe I’m making.


-We are not buying any boxes of chocolates this Christmas. Let me explain, it had been a tradition for years in my family (Dad’s side) to buy a HUGE box of chocolates to share with friends who visit during the holidays. Well at various times in our marriage we have kept that tradition, but especially the last few years. Well inevitably I would eat a good amount, ok the majority of that box of chocolates. Yikes! Well not this year. We are controlling our environment by not buying chocolates.

-Making sure to not head into the big holiday meals starving! Ugh that is the worst because you eat everything in sight. So, we’ll eat a normal breakfast (smoothie in our case) and lunch and enjoy a wonderful meal while not being out of control.

-Enjoy the wonderful foods we love but NOT taking any home. I don’t plan to deprive myself of anything specific while we are eating the holiday meals but I’m going to control our home environment very strictly. This limits our unhealthy choices to one meal on one day rather than an entire week or eating crappy food. Also, I’ve shared in the past that I don’t do well when deprived, I end up obsessing about whatever it is and then overeat on it later.

What are your tips to navigate the holidays in a healthy way?

What are the foods you look forward to? What are the foods you could give up?

How do you remain active & moving during the busy season?

I’m praying you all have a wonderful & healthy Christmas & New Year! I am looking forward to starting 2017 off right with a 30-day challenge, more on that coming soon!

Old Fashioned Banana Bread

Old Fashioned Banana Bread

March 20, 2013

In Loving Memory to Mrs. Lula Streive & Vera-Jean Lipp

The People’s Church Cookbook “Our Heavenly Treasures”

There is nothing like a church cookbook! Really! A compilation of the best family recipes from the best cooks in an entire church body to be passed down generation after generation, Genius!  I collect cookbooks and especially love to come across old church cookbooks. I guess it must have become a trend to produce a cookbook in the 70’s to fundraise for different projects. Well my absolute favorite…..the one I go to for almost everything….is from the church I grew up in, The People’s Church in Sandusky, Ohio and the cookbook was appropriately titled “Our Heavenly Treasures”.  I’m doing some digging but I believe this cookbook was published in 1977 (the year I was born!) and it is truly filled with many treasures.

The banana bread recipe I am sharing with you today was inspired by a recipe submitted to this cookbook by Mrs. Lula Streive through Vera-Jean Lipp. Mrs. Lipp noted of Mrs. Streive; “She is our oldest church member at this time” and was “93 or 94 years old”. Now you know a recipe is good when it stands the test of time like this one! I’m titling this “Old Fashioned Banana Bread” because this recipe has been around so long. Also because of the simplicity of its ingredients, unlike other banana bread recipes I’ve seen, the bananas really are the focus and steal the show!

I have NEVER tasted banana bread like this, people request that I bring it everywhere I go. It is wonderful for gifts, freezes very well (if it lasts that long), and is BY FAR the most requested recipe of all the food I make.

Inspired by Mrs. Lula Streive’s recipe I have made a few personal touches! Here is what you will need:

5-6 Large & Ripe Bananas *I prefer 6 but it still turns out great with 5*

1 cup of sugar

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

1 egg

1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 cups Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour  *SIFTED*

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

*1 cup chopped nuts (optional)*

*1/4 cup flaxseed meal (optional) – This is a terrific way to boost the nutritional value!*

The cast of characters for the main event!

The cast of characters for the main event!

Step 1: Preheat oven to 275* then Mix the bananas & the sugar

Ripe bananas &  sugar!

Ripe bananas & sugar!

Step 2: Blend in the egg, vanilla, and butter

Egg, Vanilla, & Butter

Egg, Vanilla, & Butter

Wet ingredients mixed and ready to add the dry ingredients!

Wet ingredients mixed and ready to add the dry ingredients!

Before we go any further I need to talk to you about sifting. Sifting MUST NOT be skipped! I use my Grandma Wilhelm’s sifter that she used making her famous homemade bread. My husband tries to convince me to buy a newer model but there is nothing like Grandma’s blessing in my kitchen. I refuse to update! If you don’t own a sifter my best suggestion is to go buy one right away, lol. The sifter in this picture is packed full of our family baking history and I’m in love with it!

Our baking heritage!

Our baking heritage!

Step 3: Add all dry ingredients flour, baking soda, baking powder, & salt right into the sifter

Add all dry ingredients into the sifter.

Add all dry ingredients into the sifter.

Step 4: Sift dry ingredients and add 1/2 at a time into the wet ingredients. Mix well and sift the remaining 1/2 of the dry ingredients. IF you wanted to add nuts or flaxseed meal now would be the time to mix those in, we prefer ours without nuts. Flaxseed meal is best if added after the sifting as it maintains some of the seed and doesn’t sift well. Flaxseed meal is full of Omega-3 essential fatty acids and you wont even know they are in this recipe! Click this link to learn more about the nutritional impact of flaxseeds.

Sift 1/2 of the dry ingredients into wet ingredients at a time.

Sift 1/2 of the dry ingredients into wet ingredients at a time.

Add second half of dry ingredients and mix just until fully blended.

Add second half of dry ingredients and mix just until fully blended.

Step 5: Spray 2 baking pans and split the dough between them.

Spray 2 baking pans and split the dough between them evenly.

Getting the baking pans ready!

Step 6: Put in preheated 275* oven for 60-65 minutes or until the toothpic comes out clean.

275* for 60-65 minutes

275* for 60-65 minutes

Its a beautiful sight!

Its a beautiful sight!

The final product will be a big hit I quarantee it! I cut each loaf into 8 servings for a total of 16 servings. This bread freezes really well and is perfect for gifts and large gatherings….if it makes it that far. Take a peek at the final product…

Smells so good! The final product!

Smells so good! The final product!

I hope you enjoy this fantastic Old Fashioned Banana Bread recipe! Feel free to pass it along to your friends and family. Thank you Mrs. Lula Streive & Vera-Jean Lipp for sharing this amazing treasure with all of us!!!!

Planning for Healthy Travels

Planning for Healthy Travels

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This time of year begins the busy travel season for families. My husband and I love to travel and many of our fondest married memories are in far off places packed with lots of rest & relaxation. We are actually preparing for a 4 day trip this weekend and I thought I’d share some of my preparation tips with you!

When it comes to maintaining our healthy lifestyle, travel can also be kind of scary, BUT it doesn’t have to be!  Armed with a solid plan any vacation can be a healthy success without compromising the fun along the way. As I prepare for this trip, here is what has been on my mind.

Food & Water– 90% of our meals with be out at local restaurants. When going to restaurants normally we employ the strategy of looking at their website to plan ahead of time. This trip the restaurants are pre-chosen and out of our control so there will be no way to check the menu in advance. Here are my tips:

  1. Discuss sharing a meal in advance with your spouse or travel companion and agree on something you will both be satisfied with.
  2. Look for markings on the menu that indicate healthier options
  3. Keep snacks on hand so that you don’t go into the restaurant completely starving and with less self control. Pre-portion and throw in a bag or purse for easy access on the go. For some great snack ideas that that travel well check out Re-thinking Healthy Snacks: Crunchy & Salty!
  4. Enjoy local and seasonal items, request modifications when needed, and load up on veggies as you normally would at home. =D
  5. We will be going to an area that is near the ocean and I plan to enjoy some great fish that I don’t get often in Texas. Fish is a lower calorie protein when, grilled or broiled and not fried, that is a perfect travel choice.
  6. When staying in a hotel call ahead to find out if they offer continental breakfast and what healthy options are available. Starting the day making healthy choices always keeps me on track!
  7. Don’t forget to keep drinking your water! Save money on your trip by drinking water at meals, keep a case of water in the hotel, and take a bottle when on the go.


Pre-portioned grab & go snacks, some of our favorite teas, Organic Stevia, and some go to granola bars!

Pre-portioned grab & go snacks, some of our favorite teas, Organic Stevia, and some go to granola bars!

Activity – Traveling affords terrific opportunities to seek out different activities not available where we live. This trip for us has a specific focus and won’t allow much adventuring. So to fit in activity we have planned ahead, here’s my tips:

  1. Call the hotel ahead to find out what exercise facilities they have available. Our hotel this weekend offers an exercise room, as most do these days. It also offers an indoor heated swimming pool.
  2. Plan ahead by packing a couple workout outfits, tennis shoes, socks, swim suits, and any of your other favorite gear. Having it with you keeps you motivated and dispels any excuses.
  3. Look for a terrific parks, bike rentals & paths, tennis or basketball courts, places to go swimming where ever you travel this summer. Explore museums and other outings that will keep you moving.
  4. Plan activity into your travel. No matter what type of trip, no matter how tight the schedule or budget may be. It is so important to fuel your body with what it needs and be consistent with your active lifestyle.  Our plan for this trip is to squeeze in time at the gym and pool during before breakfast and at the end of each day. Even 20 minutes makes such a huge difference and is totally worth it!
I'm ready for activity! I've got my shoes, socks, workout gear, and swim suit packed!

I’m ready for activity! I’ve got my shoes, socks, workout gear, and swim suit packed!

Stay accountable – Travels don’t have to be the purpose to be derailed from a healthy lifestyle.  Keeping accountable with whatever plan you chose could be just the step that keeps you on track. Here are my tips.

  1. With our Weight Watchers plan we track everything that goes into our mouths on their really terrific website. Just in case we don’t have internet I’m packing a handy paper tracker! This is a fantastic accountability step to keep you aware of food choices and staying on track. There are tons of ways to track your food or caloric intake these days, tons of free apps for the phone and websites. When in doubt pack some paper & pen J
  2. Do you have friends that you stay accountable via phone, email, or Facebook? Why not check in while traveling? We are blessed to have many layers of accountability, here is a pic of us traveling at Christmas and attending a Weight Watchers meeting while in Ohio. It was the perfect boost to get us through the holiday.
  3. Ask friends and others on the journey to help you make a plan ahead of time that works for you! I talked to some terrific friends who understood the details of our travel and they gave me great insights I hadn’t thought of. What a blessing to have great healthy minded friends!
On our trip to Ohio in December we kept accountable by attending a local Weight Watchers Meeting. It was SO much fun!

On our trip to Ohio in December we kept accountable by attending a local Weight Watchers Meeting. It was SO much fun!

We are committed to our healthy lifestyle and continuing to honor God with the choices we make NO MATTER what life throws at us. With a plan in place, tools packed and ready, we are equipped to enjoy a wonderful trip. I hope you have found some of these tips helpful and will enjoy fun & healthy travels this season!

Re-thinking Healthy Snacks: Crunchy & Salty

Re-thinking Healthy Snacks: Crunchy & Salty

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Good Morning! I woke up this morning on a mission to tackle a snack project and I’m dying to tell you about some changes going on in our household. A few months ago we had an annual physical and our doctor challenged us to eat EVEN healthier??? How could that be? Doesn’t he know we have lost over 215 pounds as a couple! Well let me explain…

First let’s clarify what the word healthy means to my doctor & now to us. “Healthy” is a buzz word all over the place and means something totally different based on the source, which I find totally annoying. In making our food healthier we are referring to increasing its nutritional muscle: i.e. nutrients, protein, fiber, and healthy oils. In addition we are also factoring in how processed the item is, are the ingredients recognizable, is it packed full of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). Of course as we are also in the process of losing weight so I am considering how these snacks will impact our weight loss and measure up to the Weight Watchers program.

We are probably just like you; we get in a rut, and can eat the same things over and over again. Our snacks had fallen into this rut and really weren’t satisfying our cravings either! SO a reformation is in motion. Here are a few snacks we HAD been eating frequently.  Keep in mind these are still great tasting and great options for weight loss.

Pre-reformation Healthy Snacks

Pre-reformation Healthy Snacks

Popcorn Indiana Chipins (white cheddar, sea salt, jalapeno ranch & other varieties)

Fat 4g, Carbs 21 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 2g – WWP+ per 28g serving = 3

*gluten free, non-gmo, no preservatives


Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Whole Grain Cheddar

Fat 5g, Carbs 19g, Fiber 2g, Protein 4g – WWP+ per 30g serving = 4


Honey Maid Low Fat Honey Grahams

Fat 2g, Carbs 28g, Fiber 2g, Protein 2g – WWP+ per 35g (8 crackers) serving = 4

Next we have our go to snacks that we absolutely aren’t willing to compromise on! It is not a secret that the Pina family loves popcorn, kettle corn, & caramel corn! Here are 3 of our very favorites!

Must Have Popcorn!!!

Must Have Popcorn!!!


Popcorn Indiana Popcorn (movie theater, white cheddar, & other varieties)

Fat 12g, Carbs 13g, Fiber 3g, Protein 2g – WWP+ per 28g serving = 4

*gluten free, non-gmo, all natural ingredients, no preservatives


Colby’s Kettle Corn (salty sweet addiction, butter salt craving, cinnamon sugar sensation)

Fat 7g, Carbs 15g, Fiber 2g, Protein 2g – WWP+ per 28g serving = 3

*gluten free, non-gmo, all natural ingredients, no preservatives


Angie’s Delightfully Different (salted caramel & other varieties)

Fat 8g, Carbs 19g, Fiber 2g, Protein 1g  – WWP+ per 28g serving = 4

*gluten free, non-gmo, all natural ingredients, no preservatives

Snack bags, digital food scale, & bulk healthy snacks. Preparation IS everything!

Snack bags, digital food scale, & bulk healthy snacks. Preparation IS everything!

Branching out, being adventurous & trying lots of new things REQUIRES thinking outside the box and sometimes the continent! Some of my Asian friends introduced me to Edamame years ago but it never found its way into our regular routine…..until now! I dare you to spontaneously stop & ask me at ANY given moment and I’m very likely to be carrying a snack pack of Edamame (unless the bad is already empty;). Dry roasted Edamame is a crunchy & salty treat that packs a big nutritional punch. The 3 grams of fiber & 10 grams of protein keep me full longer. The large quantity you get with 28 grams keeps my hands busy and emotionally satisfied! I am absolutely in love.

Roasted peas, roasted corn original & chili lime, edamame, sunflower seeds & almonds! Yumminess!

Roasted peas, roasted corn original & chili lime, edamame, sunflower seeds & almonds! Yumminess!

Let’s face it; eating healthy does take work & creativity. We are always on the go and need our snacks to be convenient, portable, and not overly expensive. Plus they need to be pleasing to our taste buds, which is of course the ultimate test. Buying in bulk keeps the cost down and I can separate them into portion sizes that are suitable and ready to go when we need them. Here are some terrific options we have fallen in love with recently. We buy these in bulk at the local Sprouts Farmers Market but if you don’t live in the area and have access you can check any grocery store. I have even found several of these items at Big Lots!

Colorful snacks packing a large nutritional punch that are ready to go when we are!

Colorful snacks packing a large nutritional punch that are ready to go when we are!


Edamame- dry roasted & salted

Fat 4g, Carbs 10g, Fiber 3g, Protein 10g – WWP+ per 28g serving = 3

*two ingredients: soy bean & salt

*gluten free, non-gmo, all natural ingredients, no preservatives


Green Peas – dry roasted & salted

Fat 4g, Carbs 17g, Fiber 5g, Protein 8g – WWP+ per 34g serving = 3

*gluten free, no preservatives


Almonds (raw, roasted with cinnamon & sugar)

Fat 14g, Carbs 6g, Fiber 3g, Protein 6g – WWP+ per 28g serving = 5

*gluten free, non-gmo, all natural ingredients, no preservatives

Here is a wonderful & easy link to my favorite recipe for DIY Cinnamon & Sugar Roasted Almonds. *Note I cut the sugar back to 1/4 cup of each.


Pumpkins Seeds – salted in shell *nutritional facts for kernels only*

Fat 9g, Carbs 3g, Fiber 1g, Protein 6g – WWP+ per 19g/56 kernels serving = 3

*two ingredients: pumpkin seeds & salt

*gluten free, non-gmo, all natural ingredients, no preservatives


Toasted Corn (original, bbq, chili lime)

Fat 5g, Carbs 21g, Fiber 1g, Protein 2g – WWP+ per 28g serving = 3

*gluten free, *orginal has 2 ingredients and is non-gmo, all natural, no preservatives

*I’ll admit this one doesn’t have quite the nutritional impact of the above….but man are they good & a MUCH better alternative to fill the craving for tortilla chips, fritos, or doritos 😉

Now I’m all set and our snacks are ready to go for at least a month or more. It took me about 30 minutes to weigh & bag all those snacks. That was a 30 minutes well worth it let me tell you! Now when we are packing lunches, planning a day away from home, or even just craving crunchy & salty we are all set & ready to go! I hope you try & enjoy these healthy alternatives as much as we do!

Storage is a snap!

Storage is a snap!

***Please NOTE: All nutrutional information is based on the packaging we have in our home on this date. Please make sure to ALWAYS refer to the packages on the products you buy before consumption. If you are a Weight Watcher please ALWAYS calculate Pointsplus values based on the nutritional info on your packages. I have listed this information as a point of reference and discussion only.***




Out of Control?

Out of Control?

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Happy New Year to you! This is my first post of 2013 and some of you may know that I have had a series of medical issues for several months. So if I have or need an excuse for not writing more…it is due to my current health struggles. None the less I had something on my heart today to process & share.

Superbowl weekend. It may be the first big “Food Holiday” of 2013 and seems to be as fierce as ever. 2 years ago on this weekend I know doubt cooked and ate my fair share of 10,000 calories or more. 2 Years ago was of course before we started on this healthy journey. I love to entertain and food holidays provide a terrific outlet for the “hostess with the most-est” in me. 1 Year ago today I would have probably been having a panic attack at facing this food holiday. 1 Year ago I would have been on this journey for about 5 months. In the early part of this journey I struggled so much when we would go to people’s homes for parties or potlucks. I struggled emotionally with feeling out of control, or at least thinking I would be out of control around such a variety of unhealthy foods. I remember a distinct time we were driving on the way to a potluck dinner and due to circumstances I don’t even remember now, I didn’t know what food would be there and anxiety overshadowed me to the point that I literally had a panic attack. My sweet husband was driving nearly oblivious to the mountain of emotions raging inside my head which provoked this intense panic. We pulled the car over and he talked me down off the cliff I had built for myself emotionally.

That seems so long ago and yet the emotions still feel very real.  The feeling of being out of control has been a theme that comes up usually around food holidays for me. Why is that? Well in a normal week I will have purchased, cooked, and eaten all foods which have been 100% in my control. So approaching an occasion in which that percentage is significantly decreased tests the limits of my restraint. My self control around enormous amounts of high calorie, low nutrition, fatty, and sugar packed foods has over and over again been the determining factor for a backslide of whatever healthy eating plan I may be trying that day. Just typing those words rings with irony in my heart, why on earth would I have put for over 20 years those types of insignificant temporal items over my own health & well being???  That sounds like a blog for another day!

Today I am facing a major food holiday. This evening I will be attending a football trivia party where each guest brings a dish. Tomorrow I will head over to my Mother in Law’s home for a dinner in which I will be bringing a few items and we will enjoy the game with our family. Today I am armed with a lot more successful experiences and a plan. At this point I have survived many major food holidays and feel confident that I will face this one head on and come out alive & well. My perspective has changed which is my biggest asset. These events are NO longer about food, the power of food has been decreased, and these events are about the people. Getting to know people, meeting new people, sharing, loving & knowing people….isn’t that why we go to these parties? Well it wasn’t why I always did in the past…I went often to gorge myself on all the food I thought was so yummy.  Now my first priority is the people!

It’s not enough to just go there and focus on people. I have to have a plan to back me up. So here’s what I’ve done.

  1. For tonight’s party I am choosing to make an awesome but healthy dip and serve it with fresh cut veggies. My own dish is within my control and I am choosing to bring something I can feel good about eating.
  2. I have eaten normally all day and will eat a small dinner before going to the party. I have learned that going to these events starving does horrible things for my restraint. Eating a small dinner still allows me to nibble on a few items but also be able to maintain my self control.
  3. Position myself away from the food. I have no idea where the food will be at this home I have never been to BUT I know that if I sit hovering over my greatest temptations I WILL eventually give in. So I will position myself near people, packed full of conversation, and not directly over the food.
  4. Deprivation kills me every time. Did you notice in my plan that I am still planning to eat while there? It is NOT realistic and it is NOT emotionally healthy to think that I am going to go to this party and not eat anything at all, drink water all night, by the end of the party I’ll be binging in the corner with the greasiest item there! No, I have to plan to eat and enjoy myself.
  5. Choose wisely. At this point in my journey I value every calorie (point) I eat. So I may fill my plate with a few options, but then if I try something I don’t like I WON’T continue to eat it. I want to enjoy the foods I really really like and still stay in moderation.  I won’t put items on my plate that aren’t interesting or appealing to me. If I do eat something that isn’t wonderful I’ll politely set it aside and throw away later.
  6. Don’t beat myself up afterward. It doesn’t do me any good if I go over the calories (points) I planned on to hammer and hammer myself that night or the next day. Each new bite is a new chance to honor God with my body. So allowing me to be renewed and refocused with that truth is really helpful.
  7. Exercise. Let’s be honest this whole weight loss thing is all just a numbers game. So fitting in some exercise before and after this food filled weekend is a perfect way to combat any weight gain.
  8. Lastly to repeat my first point – making it about the people. Laugh, enjoy friends, and enjoy the game. I am not going to get so hung up on myself that I miss the opportunity to invest in relationships I cherish so much!

So before this big food holiday this is my perspective. I hope that it helped and encouraged many of you! Looking forward to an amazing 2013 together!

My Food for a Day!

My Food for a Day! – November 2, 2012

We have been on this journey long enough to endure lots of comments and feedback from well meaning friends and family. I’ve heard just about everything about healthy, fitness, and food but the one that always stands out as especially annoying and hilariously inaccurate is “You’re starving your body”. Hahahaha! It still cracks me up! Ok so once and for all I’m posting this to prove to the world that I probably eat more food in a day than most people and am still losing weight every week!

Our bodies are the most precious and amazing tool we will ever possess. This gift can be compared in its complexities to a machine such as an automobile. When we began this journey to getting physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy I would hear people say that I needed to listen to my body. Well I literally had NO idea what it meant to eat based on what my physical body needed since I have for YEARS made virtually all food choices based on emotions. I had to learn about this precious gift: my physical body and discover what it needed to not only function but thrive. This is the context to which I’ve also developed the concept of seeing food as fuel, such as gasoline for an automobile, rather than a way to process my emotions. Believe me that whole concept is a MAJOR work in progress and I do better on some days or weeks than others.

I discovered over time that my body likes fuel every few hours throughout the day. This is not necessarily part of the Weight Watchers program but my “machine” functions best when I do so. Eating this often allows me to never get a ravaging hunger that often leads to less self control and bad food choices. Having a plan also helps me manage my pointsplus (calories) and not exceed my limits each day. If you read my recent post “Top 10 Weight Loss Tips & Tricks” you may recall tip 10 which was “Have a Plan & Eat Often”. I outline in this post that I eat on the majority of days based on the following rough timeframe.

6:30 am-Breakfast


12:00 pm-Lunch

3:00 pm-Snack

5:30 pm-Dinner


So let’s take a look at my food consumption on a typical day!

6:35am – Breakfast – Total Pointsplus=4

Sara Lee 90 Cal English Muffin (2 pp), 1 egg cooked on a nonstick pan with just a spray of oil (2 pp), 1 cup of tomato, ½ cup cucumber, 1 cup fresh pineapple, 12 oz herbal tea with 1 packet of Stevia, about 48 oz of water.

9:20am – Snack – Total Pointsplus=3

1 Large banana, 1 Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt (2 pp), 2 Stevia packets, Light Whipped Cream (1 pp), about 24 oz of water.


AFTER: Smashed banana, Stevia, Greek Yogurt, topped with Whipped Cream! YUMMINESS!

12:20pm – Lunch – Total Pointsplus=7

2 slices of Sprouts Honey Whole Wheat Bread (3 pp), 4 thin slices of ham (2 pp), 1 pc of Bordon 2% American cheese (1 pp), 10 sprays of I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Spray, ½ cup homemade applesauce (1 pp), 1 cup grape tomatoes, about 48 oz of water.


AFTER: Hot Ham & Cheese on Honey Whole Wheat! Yumminess!

3:00pm – Snack – Total Pointsplus=4

Quaker Carmel Corn Rice Snack (3 pp), 1 Light String Cheese (1 pp), 2 cups of frozen red grapes, about 24 oz of water.

5:45pm – Dinner – Total Pointsplus=8

2 cups cooked zucchini cut in ribbons, 1 tsp olive oil (1 pp), Homemade Beef Spaghetti Sauce (5 pp), 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese (1 pp), 1 cranberry orange angel food cupcakes (1 pp), 2 Tbsp Light Whipped Cream (*0 pp), about 48 oz of water.

7:20pm – Snack – Total Pointsplus=4

38 oz. Kettle Corn, 12 oz of herbal tea, 1 Stevia packet, about 24 oz of water.

Total Daily Pointsplus Used = 29 + 1 Weekly Pointsplus = 30 Pointsplus used!

WOWOWOWOWOW! That’s plenty of food right? Do you still think I’m starving? Thanks everyone for following along today! I’d love your comments and feedback below. See you again soon!

Top 10 Weight Loss Tips & Tricks

Top 10 Weight Loss Tips & Tricks – November 1, 2012

Welcome to my new web page! I hope you will enjoy the new format and find it easy to use! Note the pages on top to review My Story and Pictures of our journey! Also note the categories listed on the left side which are convenient for quick reference to previous posts with recipes, food tips, inspiration, my journey, and exercise. If you had previously received my blog via email you WILL need to re-establish your email in the box to the left to continue to receive direct emails. Please let me know if you have ANY questions!

When you’ve lost over 100 pounds you get countless people asking you for tricks & tips! Well that is a good thing and I’m more than happy to share what I’ve learned over the last 14 months. Plus it is a good refresher for me going into a busy holiday season. Here are my Official Top 10 Tricks& Tips to live by!

1. Pray about committing this area of your life to God. God does care about this area of your life and He desires that you involve Him in the process. Allow Him to create change in this area of your life. Pray daily for strength and self control. Pray often for continued direction. Pray. Pray. Pray!

2. If you have more than 50 pounds to lose based on guidelines that your primary care physician should discuss with you then I strongly suggest joining a healthy weight loss program. I say this because if those of us (myself included) who have 50 pounds or more to lose could do it on our own we would have already! Start with talking to your doctor and then find a program that works for you. My husband and I chose Weight Watchers because it provided the structure, flexibility, accountability, and group support that we needed. There are many healthy programs available but the important thing is committing to a system that will work for you! Don’t try to do this alone!

3. Get 7-8 hours of sleep at night. I know this may seem odd to have at such a high importance but stress management begins with getting enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is critical to decision making and exhibiting self control. Don’t underestimate how major this component is to your success. Doing this may require cutting back certain activities to give sleep a higher priority. If so, DO it!

4. Drink lots of water. New studies show we should be drinking 8 oz of water for every hour that we are awake. I drink about 140 oz of water each day and that makes my body really happy. So many times we eat when all our bodies need is water.

5. Get moving! Exercise is not an option it is a requirement for healthy living and certainly for weight loss. Explore new activities and seek out expert help. The best decision we ever made in this journey was hiring a personal trainer who taught us about what was best for our bodies. She educated on us muscles, taught us tons of activities, and gave me the courage to try new things. My self confidence with exercise soared through the help of our personal trainer.

6. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I have eaten an average of 5 fruits and 5 vegetables each day for the last 14 years. Our Weight Watchers plan allows us to eat as many fruits & veggies as we want without penalty. That many fruits don’t work for all people but my body seems to like it. I try to eat a fruit & veggie or two at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The healthiest way to absorb vitamins and nutrients our bodies need is through consuming healthy foods. They also fill you up with fewer calories than other foods. If you are fruit or veggie challenged, as you begin to change your habits you will adjust and eventually begin to crave fruits& veggies.

7. Eat at home more. I know eating out is popular in our fast paced culture. I’m not saying you can’t eat out at all but eating at home allows you to have absolute control over what you are putting into your body. Think about eating at home more meals than you eat out.

8. Keep track of everything you put into your mouth. Yes I’m talking everything. Coffee creamer, spray butter, no cal sweeteners, etc. No matter what plan you chose this is a helpful tip. I keep track of everything….even if it doesn’t cost me any calories. Self awareness is what we are trying to learn and writing it down helps keep you accountable and aware of your choices. It also helps you keep track of your hunger patterns and what your body needs.

9. Measure! Measure! Measure! Don’t rely on guessing or on your own estimation. Invest in a good digital food scale, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. Even after 14 months there is nothing that I eat without measuring. We weigh meat, potatoes, popcorn, chips, well just about anything on our digital food scale. Accuracy is critical to weight loss and in this day and age there is no need to guess at anything. Measure!

10. Have a Plan & Eat often! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are key meals and NONE of them should be skipped. It is preferable to eat those meals sitting down at a table rather than in the car on the go. You will be more fulfilled emotionally if you give each meal time the respect your body needs. If you are out and about during a meal or snack time, Plan ahead! Take a snack in your purse or car that will help you maintain control when the munchies come. There is no doubt that physical hunger is a reoccurring biological cycle, so plan ahead for a healthy choice for the next time you’ll be hungry. Here’s my meal schedule on an average day:

a. 6:30 am-Breakfast

b. 9:30am-Snack

c. 12:00 pm-Lunch

d. 3:00 pm-Snack

e. 5:30 pm-Dinner

f. 7:00pm-Snack

There are so many more things I could list but these are the top 10 because I feel they have really sustained me through the last 14 months. I hope you have found them to be helpful!

Holiday Confessions!

Holiday Confessions! – Originally posted January 19, 2012

Reposted on September 29, 2012

I do fully realize that Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, & my birthday (January 8) are now long gone and we would all like to move on with this New Year 2012. However I felt it would be remiss if I didn’t communicate some interesting things that I learned passing through this time of year about myself and about this journey to becoming healthy.

Going into Thanksgiving we had been on this journey for about 3 solid months and our home “environment” was very much changed. If you read my recent blog entry “Targeting for Change” I talked at length about the stages of change based on a graph from Weight Watchers (if you haven’t read it you have to check it out cuz it is my favorite blog entry so far!). Well environment is the first and easiest area to facilitate change. Regarding food we no longer had anything in our refrigerator or cabinets that would not be good for our body. House environment under control, check!

When going out to eat we by this point had developed the routine of choosing a restaurant ahead of time, looking at the menu and nutritional info on said restaurant’s website, and pre-choosing our meal in advance. In this day and age all restaurants no matter how small, yes even Berry’s in Norwalk, OH, has a menu on their website. Not all have nutritional info but we have found we make better informed food choices if we minimally look at the menu from home first and come up with a game plan before entering into the restaurant. You know they pay marketing people millions of dollars on jingles, commercials, & menu pictures to ignite your taste buds and tempt you into all kinds of delicacies that are not good for you or your wallet. So our restaurant environment was under control as well, check!

That said I have to be honest and tell you that going into this holiday season was overwhelming to me as much of the environment phase that we have mastered would be tested and challenged. Thanksgiving is spent every year with my husband’s grandmother who is an amazing cook. She has been cooking since she was seven years old and had to pull a stool up to the stove top (not kidding). We split the cooking duties and my husband and I make the turkey, several sides, and usually one dessert. She does the ham, the rest of the sides, and several yummy desserts. This Thanksgiving we were armed with a plan. We discussed in advance the entire menu with his grandmother. This helped us prepare in two major ways. We could then plan to bring at least one side and a dessert that we would feel good about putting into our body. This also helped us determine what dishes we didn’t want to sacrifice for and what dishes we wanted to factor into our points (caloric intake) for that day. For instance there is always a traditional pasta salad on hand at any of our family gatherings. Though I like it and have eaten it in the past many times, this isn’t a “special” dish that we only get this time of year. Whereas his grandmother makes “The Best” stuffing this side of heaven (please don’t be offended Ohio family but I’ve converted) and I had to eat at least a cup of stuffing. This delicacy is only offered at Thanksgiving and Christmas so it was prioritized in my plate that day.

Our plan for Thanksgiving survival also included the following:

-We started our planning in prayer to ask for God’s help in preparing and making choices that would honor him.

-We made sure to eat breakfast, small snack, and lunch as we would normally so as to not go to dinner completely starving.
-We drank plenty of water all day including all evening at the event.
-We got plenty of rest that week and prioritized sleep even with family in town.
-We pre-choose the items including quantities that we were going to put into our bodies that day. We enjoyed the foods that we love including dessert and did not deprive ourselves while being in control.
-We brought a measuring cup and measured the food items such as stuffing, rice, potatoes, etc. just like we would in our home environment.
-We positioned ourselves at the end of the table furthest from the food so that we were not visually looking at food all night. This also allowed us to connect with family and enjoy the conversation with Thanksgiving.
-I know a lot of his grandmother’s recipes and I pre-calculated the calories for some of the dishes ahead of time so that I could be informed on what the values would be.
-We planned ahead that we would not take any food home, and if pressured only items that we could fit within our healthy routine.
-We went to the gym and exercised good all week and then the following weekend as we normally would.
-We attended our WW support group meeting faithfully which fostered encouragement and camaraderie. This is not a journey that you can walk alone through, we need people.

Long story short we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were successful in our plan and even got more activity with my husband’s Latin family spontaneously broke out the salsa dancing later that evening. It was one of the most fun holidays we have ever had. At our WW weigh in the Saturday following we both actually lost weight that week. All this planning may seem ridiculous or exaggerated to you but you have to understand the power that food has over me & others. It is a powerful addition like any other. I have been “dieting” in the past countless times and the holiday season has completely thrown me overboard. One compromise leads to another, then another, which leads to shame, regret, & humiliation. It is a slippery slope and I never want to under estimate its power again.

Thanksgiving laid the framework for the rest of the holiday season. With its success we maintained a similar plan at Christmas, New Years & my birthday. We didn’t deprive ourselves but made choices that would honor God. We cooked a lot, we made informed decisions when going out to eat, we exercised daily, and we loved on and enjoyed family. For so many years of my life my mind over the holidays has been consumed with food and followed by a New Year that began with shame & guilt. It is amazing how God ministered to my heart this season as I have allowed him into this area. My time with family was so much richer, my connection with the meaning of the holiday was so much more vivid, and my joy was complete as we got on the scale at our WW meeting and in the end both lost weight through it all.

Questions for you….

1. Can you relate to what I shared about feeling guilt and shame following a holiday?

2. What has been your biggest food struggle around the holidays?

3. What tips do you use to surviving the holiday?

4. What tips that I shared stood out to you that you might try?

5. Maybe you don’t have issues with food but you have friends or family that do. How can you use some of these tips to support them during your next get together?

Tips to add more Veggies to your Breakfast!

Tips to add more Veggies to your Breakfast! – April 18, 2012

I have been learning a lot about what my body needs to become physically healthy. It sounds ironic that I would be 35 years old and just now figuring this out. It took a total of 19 weeks of bed rest, June 2011 through January 2012, to cement in my thick skull how important it is to take care of my body. The way I see it healthy bodies are fueled by 4 things: eating healthy, regular exercise, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep. I’m sure there are many of other factors that may contribute but these are the main four that I am working on. So packing our meals with fresh vegetables has been a trick I’ve been mastering over the last 8 months now and I wanted to share some tips with you.

Tip 1:

Try to be intentional about adding at least one serving of vegetables to every meal of the day including your snacks. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) with my age, gender, and level of activity I should be consuming 2 cups of fruit & 3 cups of vegetables everyday to promote good health. Use this calculator from the CDC to determine your daily needed intake, I guarantee you will be shocked as I was! Plus my husband’s suggested veggie intake was significantly higher than mine! Check out this link to read an interesting article on Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables and this link will give you visual examples of several veggies and what the serving size looks like Examples of 1 cup serving.

Tip 2:

I have learned that if you’re going to be intentional about packing the menu with veggies it is going to take some planning & preparation. First we find that shopping weekly and buying only what we will eat in that week will help ensure freshness and the best taste possible. This goes for fruits as well but fresh produce doesn’t tend to stay as fresh past a week. Nutritional speaking fresh is best, frozen is ok, canned is better than nothing. However in the Pina household fresh veggies weekly is the only way we roll!

Tip 3:

Next I’ve learned to stay creative and try new things. My husband really wouldn’t go for it if I added a salad to every meal, believe me I tried and failed! I experiment ALOT and we like about 3 out of 4 recipes and we have tons of fun with it. Pinterest is my new best friend and allows me to explore tons of new recipes. Click here to follow me on Pinterest!

Tip 4:

Load up some of your family’s favorite dishes with extra veggies. This will add a huge nutritional impact and they don’t even realize it! For instance in our favorite ground turkey spaghetti sauce I double the onions, green peppers, and mushrooms for that extra veggie power! I also load up all of our sandwiches with extra vegetables such as cucumber slices, tomato, and spinach.

Tip 5:

When in doubt stuff the veggies! I’ve been known to put my ground turkey meatloaf in bell peppers (any color), tuna or chicken salad in tomatoes, pizza sauce & cheese in zucchini, and wild rice in acorn squash. Limitless possibilities my friends!

I have to admit that I personally find breakfast to be one of the hardest to pack veggies into, BUT not impossible. For the sake of space & time I’m going to share 3 of my favorite veggie packed breakfast ideas. These are all ones that we love & eat regularly!

First I’ll start with a Loaded Bagel Thin, here’s how I make them.

You’ll need the following:

Bagel thin (I like everything, whole wheat or plain for this)

Ripe avocado

Medium yellow onion


Salt & pepper

Next thinly slice the tomato, thinly slice the yellow onion, and cut the avocado in half & remove the seed.

Next prepare a nonstick pan by spraying a few sprays of olive oil on medium high heat.

Add onions to the pan and begin to soften & slightly caramelize on both sides

After 3 to 5 minutes the onions will be done and should look like this:

Scoop out avocado. Here is hint, if you carefully pre-slice prior to removing from the skin it will lay nice & clean on your bagel. *If you are watching your weight I highly recommend weighing the avocado on a food scale in grams. Often avocados vary in size and it makes a significant difference in calories or Weight Watcher PointsPlus*

Avocados are a great source of healthy oil but if you don’t like them I also recommend 1 oz of reduced fat cream cheese which is also really yummy! Next we build the bagel: First toasted bagel & add avocado. I doesn’t have to be perfect, I just lay the avocado out as evenly as possible.

Now time to add the onions & tomatoes.

 To finish salt & pepper to taste! Enjoy!

Topping bagel thins or English muffins with vegetables are a really great way to incorporate veggies into your day. The sky is the limit; roasted red peppers, grilled zucchini, or even sautéed mushrooms would also taste great!

The second favorite veggie packed breakfast in our home is the Green Smoothie! Ok I’ll admit I was slow to grab hold of the Green Smoothie trend but I’m totally on board over the last 2 months. Basically a green smoothie is a regular fruit smoothie that is loaded with tons of veggies – commonly with some green veggies such as raw spinach, kale or arugula. Believe it or not you SERIOUSLY can’t taste them at all. I want to caution you on this, as I’ve been researching green smoothie recipes some of them get really high in calorie count (or WWP+) so be careful what you put in these if you are watching your weight. *I also don’t choose to use this as a meal replacement but rather incorporate it into my daily points and the daily number of fruits I consume.*after tons of experimentation here is my favorite combination:

1 cup of ice cubes

2 cups raw spinach

1 large banana

1 cup strawberries

1/2 cup 1% milk (1 WWP+)

1 scoop protein powder (mine is 3 WWP+ but check your brand’s label because they all vary)

Load it all in the blender like so:

I blend it really well until it is smooth and creamy. Here is the final product!

Great way to pack in some great veggies. Have fun & experiment with all kinds of combinations of fruits & veggies. I also really like blueberries, oranges, and canned pumpkin!

Finally the last veggie packed breakfast I am going to share is my husband’s favorite. Basically any combination of sautéed, grilled, or roasted veggies & eggs. Adrian LOVES eggs for breakfast and could probably eat them every day. He has recently discovered egg whites in the container and loves how convenient they are to use. Here are some great combination ideas that could be made into an omelet, egg scramble, or a frittata.

Baby portabella mushrooms

Zucchini slices

Diced onion

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 cup of egg whites


Roasted red bell pepper

Roasted cauliflower

Diced red onion

1/2 cup of egg whites

This if the first of 4 blog posts with tips on packing veggies into our meals. I hope you were inspired to try some new things. I’d love to hear from you guys on what you find helps you eat more veggies. I’d love to hear some of your favorite breakfast recipes that are packed with veggies!