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Chia Seed Pudding with Berry Jam

 “Chia seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans in ancient times. They prized them for their ability to provide sustainable energy…in fact, “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for strength.”(6)


Chia seed pudding is my second favorite breakfast! Chia seeds expand in your stomach to help keep you feeling full for hours. It’s a great way to mix up your breakfast routine, which for me usually consists of pastured eggs and veggies (my #1 favorite breakfast). But I can’t eat eggs everyday so this is one way I shake things up. It’s so easy to make and you can keep it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days so feel free to make it in bulk.


 Here are the nutritional benefits of my chia seed pudding recipe:

1. Chia seeds are a low carb, low calorie superfood with 11 grams of fiber in just 2 tablespoons!

2. Because chia seeds are a soluble fiber, they form a gelatin-like substance in the stomach (you will get a glimpse of this when you make the pudding) that acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are food for the probiotics (healthy bacteria) in your gut. (1)

3. The dietary fiber found in chia seeds helps to promote healthy, regular bowel movements.

4. Coconut milk contains insanely healthy, saturated fats in the form of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA’s) or Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s), which are easy to break down and don’t require a special enzyme for metabolism. They are converted to energy easily rather than being stored as fat. (2)  The MCT’s in coconut milk may reduce appetite, increase metabolism and help you lose belly fat. (3)

5. Collagen is the most important protein in connective tissue, skin, and bones. Collagen helps heal intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut), and restores the normal mucosal layer in the gut. (5)





For the Berry Jam…

  • 4 cups frozen raspberries or blueberries (or combination of both)
  • dash fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice

For the Chia Seed Pudding…


Make the jam by adding berries to a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat with a dash of salt. Heat for about 10 minutes to soften the berries. The berries will release a lot of water at this time, don’t worry they will thicken up by the end. After 10 minutes, add the chia seeds and stir. Continue stirring & simmering (lowering the heat if necessary) for another 10-15 minutes until most of the water evaporates and the berries have thickened into a jam consistency. Remove the berry jam from the heat, add the lemon juice and stir. Put jam in the refrigerator uncovered to cool.

Make the chia seed pudding by whisking all  the ingredients except the chia seeds in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the chia seeds, cover and then put in the fridge for 2-4 hours (or overnight) so the mixture thickens into a pudding consistency.

To serve, divide the chia pudding into 4 equal servings and spread the jam on top. Enjoy!

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Paleo “Latte” Recipe

First things first, I do not endorse drinking coffee or espresso every day, especially not in large quantities. According to Julia Ross in her book, The Mood Cure “caffeine inhibits the brain’s levels of antidepressant serotonin and sleep-inducing melatonin. It also depletes some of our most mood-vital nutrients: the B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and zinc. It also overstimulates and weakens the kidneys, pancreas, liver, stomach, intestines, heart, nervous system and adrenal glands.”

With this in mind, coffee and espresso can be healthful in small amounts, which is why I keep my serving sizes at 8 oz for coffee and 3 oz for espresso. Keep this in mind next time you order a Venti at Starbucks which is 20 ounces of coffee! I reserve drinking my lattes for Sunday mornings in bed and one other time per week when maybe I didn’t get enough sleep. When I do drink espresso, I try to add as much nutrient density as possible! This recipe is a dairy-free, paleo-approved, ketogenic latte that feels more like a meal! I am full for hours after drinking my Paleo Latte and usually skip breakfast all together.

Here is why my Paleo Latte is healthier than drinking coffee/espresso with cream and sugar:

1. Coconut oil is one of the healthiest saturated fats you can eat for so many reasons! Coconut oil is made up of mostly medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that go straight to the liver from the digestive track and can be used as a quick energy source. MCTs have also been shown to increase calorie burn over 24 hours by as much as 5%! (1)

2. Pasture-raised butter is high in fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, & K2, trace minerals, and CLA which helps build muscle rather than store fat. It is has the perfect balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fats. (2)

3. Pasture-raised egg yolks are packed full of heart protective vitamin K2, liver protective choline, & biotin for beautiful hair, skin, and nails.  (3)

4. Collagen is a nutrient missing in todays foods because we stopped eating the whole animal! Unless you want to eat all the tendons, ligaments, and other organs of the animals you eat, you will need to add collagen to your diet by drinking pastured bone broth or adding powdered collagen to your meals. Collagen is wonderful for digestion, bone and joint health, glowing skin, and hormone balance. (4)

5. Coconut milk is healthy and nutritious for many of the same reasons that coconut oil is, but it is very difficult to find “clean” coconut milk in the stores. So I order Aroy-D brand from Amazon because the only ingredient is coconut milk, and it is packaged in cardboard so there is no worries about BPA from the canning process. Next time you are at the store, read the labels for coconut milk, you will find things like locust bean gum and guar gum which can pose a problem for people with gut issues like me. (5)


Recipe for Paleo “Latte” (makes 2 lattes)

  • 6 ounces organic espresso (Coffee & espresso are two of the most heavily sprayed crops on the planet, so please buy organic!)
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted organic grass-fed or pasture-raised butter
  • 2 organic, pasture-raised egg yolks (they won’t cook, I promise)
  • 1 tbsp Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate
  • 1/4 tsp organic cinnamon (optional)
  • 2-6 tbsp Aroy-D coconut milk

*If you must have sweetener in your coffee, please add up to 1 tbsp of 100% pure maple syrup (a big no-no if you are on a ketogenic diet).


Put all ingredients except espresso in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the espresso in slowly from the top. Enjoy!

Note: If you are worried about getting Salmonella from raw eggs, don’t, it’s extremely rare. According to Dr. Mercola, raw egg yolks are extremely nutrient dense and the fact that they are uncooked means that all of their fat-soluble nutrients are in tact. Plus, most infected hens are conventionally raised, cage-free eggs. (By the way, cage free is a joke…this usually means they are stuffed into large barns instead of cages but do not have access to outdoors & are fed toxic grains.) The organic, pasture-raised, free roaming chickens have far less incidents of salmonella.


I would like to thank the Keto Diet Blog for the inspiration for this recipe! They have a great recipe on this website for Keto Coffee, but I tweaked it to fit my nutritional lifestyle. They use coffee instead of espresso so feel free to click on the link above and follow their recipe if you prefer coffee to espresso. I just love espresso and needed to make this one my own.




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Paleo Recipe: Resistant Starch Potato Salad

I get such a kick out of making healthy, Paleo/PHD food taste delicious! It is so hard trying to find recipes that fit into a busy lifestyle AND nourish the body. Besides being absolutely scrumptious, this recipe has so many nutritional benefits:

  1. It is high in healthy fats from the Primal Kitchen Mayo, which is made from avocado oil, the egg yolks, and the chopped avocado.
  2. Cooking and cooling white potatoes is a great way to form Resistant Starch. Resistant starch is a type of fiber that is resistant to digestion and makes it all the way to the large intestine intact to feed your beneficial bacteria.
  3. It uses German mustard, which calls for cider vinegar. I look for brands that use organic apple cider vinegar which has many healthy benefits.  Dr. Paul Jaminet suggests adding acids like vinegar to meals to help reduce the starch’s Glycemic Index.
  4. Avocados are high in fiber!
  5. Organic, pasture-raised eggs have yolks that contain nourishing, fat soluble nutrients like choline, & many other important vitamins and minerals.
  6. Because the potatoes are cooked and then cooled, their starches won’t spike your blood sugar, making this an appropriate salad for low carb diets, Paleo, and The Perfect Health Diet.


Ingredients, Serves 4-6:

  • 6 medium-sized organic potatoes, peeled & cut
  • 1/3 cup Primal Kitchen mayo
  • 3-4 Tbsp. gluten free, German mustard
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 4-6 soft boiled, pasture-raised eggs, chopped
  •  1-2 avocados, chopped (to be added just before consumption)


Boil potatoes until soft but not mushy. Drain the potatoes and then put them in the freezer for a few hours until very cold, or put in the refrigerator overnight. The resistant starch forms as they get cold so please don’t skip this step. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the avocado, and mix. Avocado gets brown rather quickly so I suggest adding it in shortly before consumption. This Resistant Starch Potato Salad will last in the refrigerator for 3-5 days if you don’t put the avocado in until last minute. Remember, starches are foods that are to be eaten with meals, not as snacks.

Please let me know how you liked this recipe. I always encourage honest & thoughtful criticism. If you like this Resistant Starch Potato Salad recipe, please share it on your favorite social media!


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What is Resistant Starch?

Resistant Starch is Good for You!

Resistant Starch (RS) seems to be the new buzzword in the nutrition world these days, and with good reason. I have been on a low-carb (50-100g NET cabs per day), Paleo diet for 6 years now and this has meant giving up starchy foods like potatoes in an effort to keep my blood sugars regulated and better my health. But the latest research is showing that there is a type of starch that is RESISTANT to digestion and therefore, does NOT spike your blood sugar.

Simply put, when you eat food it goes to your stomach to get broken down, and then travels to your small intestine where your body absorbs the nutrients (or toxins depending on what you ate) from the food. What ever isn’t used is passed into your large intestine (colon) and then excreted. Resistant starches are unique in that they pass through your stomach and small intestine without getting broken down, making them RESISTANT to digestion. They make it all the way to the large intestine in tact and feed your beneficial bacteria. Food that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut is called a prebiotic. (as opposed to probiotic which are the actual bacteria themselves).

The good bacteria in our gut need to outnumber the bad in order for humans to be healthy, so it is vital that we feed them. These healthy bacteria break down resistant starches into gases and short chain fatty acids (SCFA).  One of the SCFA is called butyrate (1) and it is the preferred fuel of the cells that line the colon (2). Butyrate also improves insulin sensitivity, improves the integrity and function of the gut, lowers the blood glucose response to food, reduces fasting blood sugar, increases satiety, and helps to expel “bad” bacteria (3).


Adding Resistant Starch to Your Diet

Resistant Starch can be found in many food sources like beans/legumes, starchy fruits & vegetables, whole grains, yams (white or yellow center, not the orange centered kind), cooked-and-cooled white potatoes, and cooked-and-cooled white rice. See a complete list of RS here.

Beans/legumes and whole grains are not included in the PALEO/Perfect Health Diet  (PHD) so those are out of the question for me. The richest sources of resistant starch for someone following a Paleo-style diet are raw potatoes, green bananas, plantains, tiger nuts, yams, cooked-and-cooled* white potatoes, and cooked-and-cooled* white rice.

Does this mean I can seriously eat potatoes again?!?! Just the thought of mashed potatoes without guilt makes me smile. But you do need to follow the rules here. The resistant starches in white rice and white potatoes aren’t formed until you make them very cold, so eating them fresh off the stovetop is NOT going to provide you with the prebiotic RS that is described here. Ripe bananas won’t have resistant starch either, they must be green. So how can Paleo/PHD people incorporate RS into their diets?

  • Cook organic white rice in pasture-raised bone broth, sea salt, and grass-fed butter. Then put it in the fridge and serve as a side dish with any meal.
  • Boil organic white potatoes and then make this resistant starch potato salad recipe  Eat along side any Paleo-approved protein.
  • Add green bananas or Bob’s Red Mill raw potato starch to smoothies.
  • Roast organic white potatoes and then put them in the refrigerator to cool. Eat them all week long with any meal.
  • Roast sliced Asian yams (white or yellow center, the orange-centered ones have been breed for sweetness and do not contain the same RS that yams do) (4) in coconut oil and sea salt until golden brown.
  • Roast yams in their skin, then remove the skins and place yams in a bowl while hot & mash/beat them with coconut milk, coconut oil or grass-fed butter, cinnamon, and a touch of maple syrup.
  • Buy a bag of Tiger Nuts and eat 1-2 handfuls with any meal


Closing Thoughts

In my experience, adding resistant starch was very difficult at first. I felt like I was committing a sin! I love science so I needed to prove to myself that eating cold potatoes wouldn’t spike my blood sugar. For several days I tested my blood sugar before eating, then again 30, 60, and 90 minutes after eating a PALEO/PHD style meal including resistant starch. I was very pleased with the results because my blood sugar never went over 120 and returned back to its normal range (80-100) within 90 minutes of eating. I didn’t gain any weight either which I was kind of nervous about because I hadn’t indulged in starchy foods on a daily basis in years.


Your Feedback

What has your experience been like with resistant starch? I would love to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly! Leave a comment and I will respond ASAP!



*cooked-and-cooled means that they need to be put in the freezer or the refrigerator after cooking for several hours until very cold, giving the resistant starches time to form. You will not get the resistant starch described in this article from hot potatoes and rice. After you have cooked-and-cooled your potatoes and rice, you may very gently reheat them if you wish, but understand that reheating to a high temperature will degrade the resistant starch. Instead of reheating, I recommend heating up some grass fed butter or bone broth and adding it to the cold mashed potatoes in order to add back a little warmth.



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Cooking with Healthy Fats

There is a lot of debate regarding which fats are healthy to cook with. Awhile back, I watched a video of the harsh processing and toxic chemicals, like bleach and hexane, that are used to make canola oil, something I used to cook with all the time. It made me realize I knew nothing about what makes oils & fats healthy to cook with, and what makes them unhealthy. After reading the research, it appears that saturated fats are the healthiest to cook with!


I was brought up in a world where saturated fats caused heart disease…how could this be?  It appears that saturated fats remain stable when exposed to high heat. Let me explain…

There are 3 types of fatty acids; saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. All oils and fats contain a combination of the 3 fatty acids, so how do you choose which oils and fats are best? When cooking, you want to choose oil that is mostly saturated fat so that it doesn’t oxidize while being heated.

Saturated fats are the most stable under heat, monounsaturated fats are fairly stable, and polyunsaturated fats are not stable at all. When saturated fats are heated up, they don’t oxidize like unsaturated fats do. Oxidation is when oils react with oxygen and create free radicals, which are very harmful to the human body

Coconut oil is the safest oil to cook with because it contains approximately 90% saturated fat! Among many other health benefits, coconut oil is safe to cook with and won’t oxidize when exposed to heat.

Butter comes in second place with 68% saturated fat…but be careful! You must choose GRASS-FED or PASTURE-RAISED butter in order to receive the health benefits. When animals eat toxins, they get stored in their fat, which is what butter is made from. So you need to choose butter from an animal that grazed on pastures their entire life in order for their fats to be healthy.

Fat reserved from animals like lard, tallow, and bacon fat contain mostly saturated fats as well, BUT only if they were pastured! If they were fed grains, corn, and soy, then there fats will be mostly polyunsaturated fats so steer clear.

Red Palm Oil is also made up of mostly saturated fats but be sure to buy brands that do not harm the orangutans!

Olive oil and avocado oil are mostly monounsaturated fats which makes them stable to cook with at VERY low temperatures. Heating them past 200 degrees causes oxidation. I would much rather play it safe and cook with saturated fats. But they are very healthy to eat raw in salad dressings.

Nut Oils & Peanut Oil tend to be mostly polyunsaturated fats and are not safe to cook with. The one exception is macadamia nut oil which is high in monounsaturated fats (like olive oil), but I still wouldn’t cook with it.

Industrialized seed and vegetable oils are highly processed and should be considered poison to the human body. I would not eat these oils raw, and I especially wouldn’t dare expose them to heat! I avoid these oils like the plague because they contain trans fats (partially hydrogenated), which are highly toxic to humans. Look at the ingredient labels of your packaged foods…you will be horrified at how many of the following seed and vegetable oils are in there:


  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Rice bran oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sesame oil.


So there you have it! Coconut oil, grass-fed butter, red palm oil, and pastured animal fats are the healthiest fats to cook with because they are high in saturated fats, making them stable under heat.

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How Important is it to Eat Organic Food and What is The Dirty Dozen?

Two questions I hear on a regular basis and so it’s time to address them. First, let’s define “organic.”  Organic foods can only be labeled by the USDA as such if they meet the following requirements:

  • Organic farms practice sustainable farming methods that enhance ecological harmony…meaning these farms are good for the earth!
  • Organic farms do not use antibiotics, growth hormones, conventional pesticides, or fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients like sewage sludge.
  • Organic farms do not use GMO’s (genetically modified organisms).

So how important is it to spend the extra money on organic produce and meat/poultry? Absolutely VITAL! It will keep you and your family safe from toxic chemicals and GMO’s.

One complaint I hear often is that organic foods are more expensive than conventionally grown foods. This is because organic farms require more effort and labor, so the price of the organic foods will be higher than the price of conventional foods. Plus, getting certified as USDA organic is quite expensive, so again, this adds onto the cost at the consumer’s end. But in my opinion, it it’s worth it! Pay higher prices for quality food now, or pay medical bills later!


What is the dirty dozen?

The Dirty dozen is a list of the 12 foods that are most heavily sprayed with poisonous herbicides and pesticides. This list is published and updated by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization that fights for our rights to a healthy food supply. The Dirty Dozen is a great place to start buying organic produce. Since these foods are so contaminated, you will reduce your toxic load significantly by switching over to the organic versions. The EWG also has a list of the Clean Fifteen, the produce that is least toxic and is considered safe to consume the conventional, inorganic versions.

In conclusion, organic produce and meat/poultry are worth the extra money, but if you are concerned with costs, start by purchasing the organic versions of the Dirty Dozen to get you started. Your body will thank you!


Blog Nutrition

Paleo Cilantro Lime Chicken Recipe

I love cooking healthy and delicious recipes and I am a BIG believer in eating REAL food. I love the Paleo diet because it is really just a guideline to eating foods that nourish your body, while eliminating foods that cause disease.  Besides being absolutely scrumptious, this Paleo recipe has so many health benefits it would be difficult to name them all! But here are just a few good reasons to nourish your body with this dish:


1. Cilantro is a chelating agent, meaning it binds to heavy metals that have built up in your body and helps you excrete them safely.

2. Avocado, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter are the healthiest fats you can eat.

3. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, but it must be paired with black pepper for proper absorption.

4. There are many colored vegetables in this dish. Each color represents a different nutrient that will make your body happy.

5. This dish adheres to the Paleo lifestyle because it is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, legume-free, low carb, organic, and non-GMO.


Ingredients, serves 4

4 boneless skinless free range chicken breasts (aprox. 4-6 oz for girls, 6-8 oz for guys)

3-4 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice

2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil ( I use Bariani EVOO because it it 100% pure)

Handful fresh organic cilantro

1/4 tsp Himilayan or Celtic sea salt


1.5 cups organic tomatoes, chopped (tomatoes are on the dirty dozen list so buy organic)

2 Tbs finely chopped red onion

3-5 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice

1/4 tsp Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt

Ground pepper to taste

1 large avocado

Handful of fresh organic cilantro


2 lbs broccoli, cut into small florets

1/2-1 Tbs organic garlic powder

1/2-1 Tbs organic turmeric

1/4-1/2 Tbs ground black pepper

1/4 Tbs Himilayan or Celtic Sea Salt

2-4 Tbs grass fed butter or extra virgin coconut oil



Marinate the chicken in lime juice, EVOO, cilantro and sea salt for 30-90 minutes at room temperature. Grill chicken on both sides (if you need to use cooking oil, use extra virgin coconut oil or red palm oil) over medium-high heat. I used a cast iron grill pan because cast iron is non-toxic cookware, but you could also throw the chicken on an outdoor grill.

To prepare the salsa, combine tomatoes, onion, lime juice, sea salt, ground black pepper and diced avocado in a bowl and stir gently so you don’t bruise the avocado. Serve the salsa over the chicken. Finish with fresh cilantro.

To prepare the broccoli, melt the coconut oil or grass fed butter and then transfer the melted oil to a large bowl.  Toss the broccoli in the bowl with the melted oil/butter, garlic powder, turmeric, black pepper and sea salt. I find I can use a lot less oil /butter by tossing in a bowl to coat rather than just dumping the broccoli in the oiled pan. Stir fry the coated broccoli for just a few minutes. You want the broccoli to be crisp, so don’t over-cook.





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Healthy Turkey Scramble Recipe (Paleo)

This recipe is great because it can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. It makes for a quick & healthy meal that’s high in nutrient dense protein, healthy fats, and high quality carbohydrates. What makes this dish so healthy?

  1. I use coconut oil, a high quality and naturally saturated oil that doesn’t change its chemical makeup under heat. This means that it is safe to heat up and eat! Highly processed, inflammatory oils like canola, soy, corn, peanut, vegetable, sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, grapeseed, etc…are very unstable when heated and can cause a ton of problems for the body. Not to mention the way they are processed is kind of scary so I stay AWAY from them. The only oils/fats that are safe to cook with are naturally saturated oils like grass-fed/pasture-raised butter & ghee, red palm oil, coconut oil, and lard reserved from grass-fed/pastured meats like bacon. I would like to stress here that the grass-fed/pasture-raised part is KEY! Fat from animals who graze on grass and insects on a pasture have very healthy fats for us to eat! Animals that are conventionally grown and fed soy, corn, and other grains that there bodies don’t know how to digest, have highly inflammatory fats.
  2. This recipe uses high quality proteins like pastured eggs and turkey. Protein is vital for muscle repair and weight-loss.
  3. Avocado is one of the healthiest fats you can eat! They are also high in fiber, heart healthy fats, and more potassium than a banana!
  4. ALL of the ingredients are REAL FOOD and can be eaten on the PALEO diet.

INGREDIENTS (4-6 servings):

1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

1 lb. Pasture Raised Ground Turkey (

1 Jalapeno Pepper, sliced thin

1 Organic Red Bell Pepper, coarsely chopped (MUST be organic because it’s on the Dirty Dozen List)

1 Onion, coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic

2-3 handfuls fresh organic baby spinach

8 Pasture Raises Eggs, beaten

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

1-2 Avocados

Fresh Cilantro



In a large pan, heat coconut oil and then brown the turkey. Drain any excess water. Add the jalapeno pepper, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Cook until they just start to soften,  but don’t over cook! You don’t want your veggies to be mushy. Add the spinach and cook until it is just wilted.  Add the eggs with sea salt and pepper to taste, and stir frequently while cooking so the eggs stay fluffy. Serve hot or cold with half an avocado and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

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Client Spotlight: Melissa Silva

My client Melissa Silva is a weight loss success story, losing 52 pounds! She is the client that defeated all odds, reaching her weight loss goal at one of the busiest and most difficult times in her life. If she can do it, YOU can do it. She’s a mom with a full time job, was in college full time the entire time, was dealing with the tragic loss of her brother, and somehow found time to exercise and eat healthy. WOW! Melissa offers sound advice for anyone who feels like it’s never the right time to start.




Q. How much weight did you lose and how long did it take you?

I have lost a total of 52 lbs. in approximately 8 months and I can happily say I reached my weight loss goal.

Q. How did you lose the weight?

I lost the weight by making myself a priority, working my butt off with my fabulous trainer Dara Mazzie three times a week for an hour at a time, doing cardio two days a week for 30 to 60 minutes on my own, joining the Weight Watchers online program, gaining support from my family, and never, ever giving up. There were many times when I thought I couldn’t do it.  When I first started training with Dara I was completely out of shape and had poor eating habits. I often thought about exercising and eating healthier in the past, but I was never able to stick to a plan for long. Scheduling sessions with Dara gave me the accountability and guidance that I needed. Once I started working out, I wanted to eat healthier too. The Weight Watchers online program allowed me to track what I was eating in an easy and convenient manner using my mobile phone.  The Weight Watchers Points System taught me that if I made healthier food choices, I could eat more throughout the day and never feel hungry.

Q. What obstacles did you face on your weight loss journey?

I began my weight loss journey perhaps at one of the busiest times in my life. I am a wife and mother of three children who are all active in sports. At the start of my journey, I was working fulltime (40 plus hours a week) which often included weekends, attending college with eight months left to complete my degree program, dealing with a tragic loss, and to top it off, it was soccer and wrestling season for my boys. I know, what was I thinking?  Needless to say, I had no idea how I was going to find the time to workout and prepare healthy meals on top of all of my other commitments. I also began my weight loss journey around the holiday season, which meant there was a lot of temptation to return to unhealthy eating habits and excuses to not exercise. Additionally, I struggled with hip and leg pain/injury as well as a fear of failing. Did I mention how out of shape I was?

Q. What helped you get past these obstacles?

Willpower, determination, support from family and friends, and hiring the best trainer were the biggest tools for me. To overcome the obstacle of my extremely busy life I had to use really good time management and often give up attending social events and forgo sleep. I had to prioritize what was really important to me. I made exercise and healthy eating a priority. I scheduled in exercise daily to ensure I fit it in. If I knew that I was going to be up late studying or doing homework, I would make sure that I worked out before I started. In addition, I learned to combine family time with exercise. I made the days that my sons had practice my cardio days by running around the field with my husband while our sons were practicing. As a family we go on bike rides, run at the beach, and play soccer.

Because of my extremely demanding schedule, I didn’t always have time to prepare healthy meals. I learned that eating out didn’t have to mean I had to make unhealthy choices. To stay within my daily Weight Watchers points, I looked up nearby restaurants’ nutrition information ahead of time and recorded the point values of items I liked to eat in my Weight Watchers app.  This way I had the information available at a moment’s notice. This also taught me a lot about portion control. I really had no idea about the amount of calories the food I was eating contained.  My husband and I often share meals now when we go out, this stops us both from over eating.  On Sunday’s, I pre-plan meals and prepare food so I always have a healthy option available during the week. The reason I chose the Weight Watcher program is because it is easy and I never feel deprived. It is not a diet program to me. It is my lifestyle now.

Q. Do you have any advice or tips for people who are struggling to lose weight and get fit?

Start now. It does not get easier if you wait and there will never be a right time. If possible, hire Dara Mazzie as your trainer.  Hiring Dara was the best decision that I made. She is so much more than a personal trainer. Dara is there to listen when I need to vent about my struggles as well as to motivate me. She has been my teacher, mentor, and cheerleader. She was there to hold me accountable, which was very important in the beginning and at times when I was struggling.

When I first started working out, I barely made it through the session. I thought to myself, how am I ever going to do this? I could barely do a push-up and had never even heard of a burpee! I would often look at Dara and say, “You want me to do what?!”  Hiring Dara took the guess-work out of exercising for me. I showed up and Dara told me what to do and how to do it.  I will admit there were times that I prayed almost the entire session asking God to help me make it through, but then there were times when I was so proud of myself when I performed an exercise that I couldn’t even imagine doing in the beginning.

I would also recommend joining the Weight Watchers online program. The program is easy, affordable, and convenient.  The program teaches you how to lose weight the right way.  There is an application for your mobile device that allows you to keep track of your points.  The application also has a scanner so you can scan the barcode of a product and it will give you the point value.  How simple is that! The Weight Watcher’s program has taught me how to keep the weight off.

Remember, every day is a fresh start. If you have days that you fall of your program, it is all right. Don’t beat yourself up. I have definitely made bad choices along my journey (still do).  I dust it off and start fresh with the next meal.

Q. How has your life changed since losing the weight?

I feel incredible and really enjoy being active with my family. A year ago my son and I were doing an exercise video together and I could not even make it through the video. A couple of months ago I took my son with me to one of Dara’s classes and he said, “Wow mom you did really good. I remember when you couldn’t even finish the video.”  That felt so good coming from him. I also graduated college this past June. We had family that we had not seen for a while in town for graduation.  They were amazed at my transformation. My aunt even felt inspired and went home and started exercising and eating healthy. It felt wonderful to be an inspiration to her.  I have to say, shopping for clothes is so much more fun too! I don’t have to worry about finding clothes that will hide my fat. I can buy clothes because I truly like them and feel great in them.

Q. What was surprising or unexpected about the weight loss process?

The most surprising aspect of my weight loss journey was that I actually met my weight loss goal and I am keeping the weight off. Deep down I truly didn’t think I was going to get there.  I didn’t know that I had it in me. I was surprised at how challenging it is to get started and stay motivated. Boy, did I work my butt off! Now I know why exercising is called working out!

I also found it surprising that once my muscles started developing, cardio became easier.  In the beginning I could barely stay on the elliptical for 15 minutes, now I am on it for an hour at a time.

I found it surprising on how much our lives are centered on food. Food is everywhere! I had to restrain how much I thought about food. I really learned a lot about myself in the process.

Q. What was your motivation to lose the weight? How did you stay focused?

My friend Michellen, began training with Dara and eating healthy.  She noticeably began losing weight over a period of time.  She shared tips with me, but I still didn’t exercise or eat healthy on a regular basis. Looking back now, I think I didn’t start taking it seriously because I was afraid of failing (part of my perfectionist syndrome). Later that year I experienced a tragic loss, which taught me that tomorrow is not guaranteed. I have three beautiful children and an amazing husband to live for. I wanted to do everything I could to make sure I was around for them. I also didn’t want my parents to lose another child. There are some things that are beyond our control, but living a healthy lifestyle was something I could control. I also wanted to be a good role model for my children. As I continued to watch my friend lose more and more weight, I was inspired. I thought, “Wow, if she is doing this maybe I can get in shape and lose the weight too.” My friend encouraged me and introduced me to Dara. I was truly blessed that I had a friend that was so inspiring and cared enough to help me begin my journey.

One aspect of my life that helped me stay focused on my weight loss goal was the fact that I had graduation coming up. I knew that there would be lots of pictures. I was tired of looking at myself in pictures and thinking what happened? Where did you go? It took me seventeen years to go back to school and earn my degree from when I graduated high school. I wanted to be happy and celebrate this moment and not feel depressed about my weight. It was so wonderful to take pictures with my family and friends and to not have to worry about how fat I was going to look in them. Now all I see is what a special day that was and how much I have accomplished.

Q. If you had to do it all again, would you have done anything differently?

Yes, I would have started sooner!  What was I waiting for?

Q. What is your fitness and nutrition like now that you are in maintenance mode?

I have learned that maintenance mode is tricky.  It is all about balance.  If I want to eat more of what I call “cheat meals,” I exercise more to maintain my weight.  If I want to exercise less, I eat better. My goal is to stay within five pounds of my goal weight. I have found that it is easier to eat better and exercise during the week because my week is so structured. The weekends are where I find myself sometimes struggling. Therefore, I plan my workouts during the week so if I miss one, I can make it up on the weekend.

Q. Can you share any other tips that helped you reach your weight-loss goals?

Yes! First, El Pollo Loco is a wonderful fast food restaurant that offers healthy and affordable choices. They have an entire “Under 500 Calories” menu and the food is delicious. When I am running short on time and have to eat out I often stop there. I can feed my family in a hurry and feel great about it. Also, I love Starbucks. I learned that I didn’t have to give up my favorite drink permanently. Instead of having a Grande Carmel Macchiatto seven days a week, I have a tall one on the weekends. This way I never feel deprived. Sara Lee has wonderful bread that has only 45 calories per slice and is delightful. Another staple in my refrigerator is Sargento’s 40 calories a slice cheese. I often make an egg and cheese or turkey and cheese sandwich when I need a fast meal. I carry around a piece of fruit or a Special K 100 calories or less protein bar in my purse. That way if I ever get hungry I always have a nutritious snack handy.