What IS Healthy, Anyway? {Hint: It's FRESH Food!}

There is so much information available now on eating and foods in the “health industry,” but there are also many differing opinions. 

Even the “authorities” are at odds with each other, all taking different sides of the healthy eating fence. The conversation often goes like this: Eat less fat; hold on, eat more fats!  Eat meat; no wait, don’t eat meat!  Drink less caffeine; well actually, go ahead and drink it! 

It can be mentally exhausting and leaves us asking the big question, “OK, what really IS healthy?

It is common that everyone WILL have differences of opinions, beliefs, and ideas about what’s truly healthy – that’s what keeps us interesting! The problem is; it’s also quite confusing! 

Especially in this area: knowing what to eat and drink, and what NOT to consume for better health. 

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With the ultimate goal of better health for you and your family, I’d like to give you just a few tips to help you figure out what eating healthy looks like specifically for your family, and your needs!

  1. Though opinions differ, some basic things remain the same!
    There are some things that we’ve been eating since the beginning of time, like whole, unprocessed grains, fruit, vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats – this hasn’t changed with culture, society, or fads! Be wary of the “latest and greatest” new product, “food” or drink. If they really are new, chances are, they’re also artificially developed or processed. An avocado has been an avocado since the Great Flood. It’s a good method to use as a measuring stick when deciding what’s “healthy” to eat or drink.
     
  2. Balance is ALWAYS healthy!
    Going off-balance for the long-term is NOT! The problem with an extreme diet, plan or product (especially one that eliminates a whole food group or two!) is that a deficiency is bound to occur. A lot of times, it’s just not immediately apparent. Our bodies were designed with a specific need for all the food groups – the process of building our cells, which is replenishing what “life” takes out of us, requires all the proteins, nutrients, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that those different foods (prepared different ways) can give us!
     
  3. Is someone trying to sell you something?
    This is NOT to knock those who charge for things (we all gotta make a living!) but rather to get you thinking and examining the motives behind a celebrity endorsement, “doctor recommended” claim, or other less than truthful methods used to get you to buy that product or quick fix. Just ask yourself these screening questions before you buy based on emotion: Is this another “quick fix” or a step towards a true lifestyle change?

The vast amount of information available on this topic can be a benefit, but also tends to bring mass confusion. Once you figure out your family’s basic guidelines for what you consider a healthy lifestyle, you’ll be able to sift quickly through that information without getting overwhelmed.

Here at FRESH Start, we follow a simple guideline for healthy eating: the Mediterranean-style Food Plan.

Why? Because it's the plan most aligned with our simple values of FRESH foods, and a balanced view that includes all major food groups.

We teach realistic, balanced small steps in healthier habits to build a lasting lifestyle of health. 

For a beautiful handout on What’s REALLY Healthy, click here!  

This quick, easy to read, 3-page handout will help you pinpoint what foods you can, and should, enjoy for improved health!

Here are a few other articles we think you'll enjoy on this topic:

Best Healthy Cooking Magazines

How to Eat Clean

Cooking with Herbs

Cooking With Herbs - Making Health Taste Good!

Consuming a healthier diet doesn’t have to be doing away with tasty, vibrant foods and flavors. Herbs are the easiest way to use nature's ready-made flavor in your foods and keep them packed with healthy!

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How to make foods using herbs as flavoring:

  1. Change out commercial seasonings – Watch the for sodium, coloring and additives in ready-made spice mixes. Look for the ingredients to be only the spices on the label!
     
  2. Don’t Overdo It!  Combining too many strong flavors in one dish is sure to overpower your taste buds, making your dinner less enjoyable. As a general rule, keep it to 2 or so herbs per dish. Here are a few can’t-go-wrong pairs: parsley & rosemary, cumin & cilantro, and thyme & basil.
     
  3. Give your meat a powerful, natural flavor with fresh herbs – Bake or grilled chicken tastes great with rosemary, thyme, and cumin. Use peppercorns, bay leaves, and coriander seed with beef roasts.  Sprigs of thyme and chopped basil or oregano boost pastas.  Chop fresh herbs and sprinkle over meats while cooking. Want a stronger taste and smell? Add more fresh herbs just before serving!
     
  4. Herbs Make Great Marinades, Pastes & Dips! – Here’s a tasty rub combination that’s sure to please. Mash garlic into a fine pulp and stir in olive oil, lemon juice, chopped parsley, cilantro, basil or other leafy herb of your choice. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of sea salt. Drizzle over your meat before serving to boost the flavor even more. 
  5. Take a Trip Around the World! – Create ethnic themed dinners and combine herbs for dinners from around the globe. Please your palate with these combinations and create your own out of the endless possibilities.

Here’s a quick list of which herbs work best together:

Latin Dishes:  Mix cumin, crushed red pepper, coriander seeds, cilantro and a squeeze of lime to give it a zesty taste.

Indian Foods: Curry powder (combine turmeric and some of your other favorite flavors), paprika, and chili.

Middle Eastern Dinners: Parsely or cilantro, cumin, celery seed, cardamom.

German Dishes: Dill, parsley, and tarragon.

Italian Foods: Thyme, basil, fennel, garlic and oregano.

These are just a few of the many ways you can add pizazz to your meals and still keep them healthy. Packed with nutrients and healing elements, herbs actually make what you’re eating even healthier!

You can’t go wrong growing your own herbs, either. Don’t have the greenest thumb? No worries, herbs are one of the easiest plants to grow and they can fit in almost anywhere – in a small pot on the patio or even between flowers and plants in your garden.

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I’m always up for trying something new and healthy! We’d love to hear some of your favorite blends and experiences with growing your own herbs – share your favorites or tips with me and our other readers here on the blog or over on Facebook in our free support community!

Preparing Meals Ahead: A Simple Guide

Preparing Meals ahead of time is a key to success with the Fresh Start for Health program.

Once you've pre-determined your meal plan, you can easily move into preparing pieces of your meals (or even full meals) ahead of time.

Not only does this making this a weekly habit continue to pay off in terms of saved time and money, but you'll be miles down the road toward your healthy goals as well.

One of the most frequent concerns I’ve heard from my coaching clients over the past several years is about "not having enough time" to meal plan. I think people assume that making time to prepare fresh, whole foods is a time-intensive project. I'm going to help break that myth with you right now!

“I never have enough time to make healthy lunches or chop all those veggies.”

“How am I supposed to find the time to make all this fresh food when I work and have little ones at home?”

“I travel so much of the month. Where am I supposed to find the time to make even these small changes?”

 

I'm here to tell you, YOU CAN DO THIS!

 

Coaching Tip: To start small, just choose ONE of the ideas I'm sharing with you here to start doing to improve the quality of your weeknight meals - just ONE! Then, when that ONE has become a habit, move to the next ONE idea and make that a habit! One new idea at a time - over time - soon becomes several ideas, and soon, you're following a whole new way of doing weeknight meals after a few weeks of faithfully applying!

 

If you follow this simple guide to prepare some of the items in your meal plan ahead of the week, you'll save yourself a LOT of stress during the week!

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In our FREE Online Community I share specific points for how to prep ahead. One of the consistent reports I get back from my clients once they begin to DO this ACTION STEP is how much easier and doable eating Fresh is once they really dig in and prep portions of their meals ahead of time.

Here on the blog, I'm sharing a bit of the exact HOW you can establish this meal-prep healthy habit in your life! 

PREP AHEAD 101 with Directions:

Quinoa - 2x water as Quinoa, cook on the stove top at a rolling simmer for 20 minutes or in a Rice Cooker with a dash of salt

Brown Rice - 2x water as Rice, cook on the stove top over rolling simmer for 30-40 minutes or in a Rice Cooker

Steel Cut Oats - easy to make ahead for quick re-heat breakfasts! Here's the How To

Hard Boiled Eggs -Fill a pot with COLD water, lay eggs in the bottom, sprinkle in lots of salt—makes them more easily peel-able! Heat water to a boil, close lid and leave on a rolling boil WITHOUT REMOVING LID for 10 minutes. Remove pot to sink immediately, letting cold water run through to chill the eggs and stop the cooking process. 

Crock Pot soups or stews - SUPER simple to make ahead for two full dinners for a large family or a week full of healthy chicken, beans or beef main-dishes for a single person…the crock pot is a busy individuals life-saver when eating fresh! Try this plain shredded Chicken Crock Pot recipe to use creatively the rest of the week in dinners and lunches! I’d love to hear about your go-to crock pot meals in the comments below!

Veggie Prep - Make your own veggie tray or chop them up for healthy snacks. Chop up onions, tomatoes, cilantro and add a healthy dash of fresh LIME juice for an east fresh salsa. Chop root veggies ahead of time for a fast roasted veggies side dish any night of the week –place in a ziplock, add a dash of olive oil and herbs/spices of your choosing and shake thoroughly. Right before roasting in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes the night of your dinner, give another good shake!

Grill Chicken and/or Salmon to use as the protein in the next 2-3 dinners. You can chop them up, or shred the salmon for patties later in the week. Toss the chicken into a salad, gluten-free pasta or sauteed veggies and brown rice as a quick stir fry.

Pre-Bake Sweet Potatoes and Squash for easy quick-energy sides you can re-heat and enjoy later in the week - here's a 9 minute video on how to do this! 

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What do you think? Is this a realistic plan for you?

I’d love to hear about your meal-prepping experiences and frustrations.

What are your favorite make-ahead meals or dishes?

What day works best for you to do your meal prep…do you set aside a couple of hours on the weekend or weeknight? 

Share with me in the comments below!

Run If You Can, But If You Can’t…WALK!

I have so much admiration for runners.

In my mind, they rank right up there with Olympic athletes, professional sports players and marathon marvels! I mean, the PUSH they have for the goal is phenomenal. I love their stories, and to see them BURN as they push past the pain and reach their goal, and they reach it FAST! But can I admit something to you?

I’m so NOT a runner.

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I admire them from a distance.

A LOOOONNGG distance, because they run right past me in all their marvelous strength as I walk with my fur baby every morning. Their fabulous calves popping, their breath coming out in puffs, with a look of determination and purpose on their face. Meanwhile, I’m walking. I’m a brisk walker, and science says that counts for something, and in my walking, I’m hoping science is right.

I tried to become a runner once.  “They” told me I could do it, that anyone could run and that I just had to “work my way” up to it. Boy did I find out different. There was a real problem.

You see…I really don’t like self-inflicted pain!

This may not be the case for everyone, but for ME to train as a runner, I quickly figured out that it took PAIN. And lots of it! I suffer from chronic body pain, mainly from a lower-back genetic condition that affects me daily.

I  also deal with an autoimmune disease that weakens my body. So the running quickly inflamed and irritated conditions I had already been dealing with for a lifetime.

I pushed through it initially, but by the end of the second week, with no relief after using all the known methods of reducing the inflammation and treating my pain, I decided not to become a “runner” after all.

Disappointment in my “failure” soon took over…

You see, runners seem to have their own club, and they just…well, they “get” each other. They get to be part of 5ks and wear stickers on their cars that have secret runner’s codes. They wear cool bibs and branded t-shirts and fancy running shoes. They are in a league all their own. And for me to get invited to this elite group, I had to run! And I just couldn’t.

At first, I was operating in an ALL or NOTHING mentality…

Since I couldn’t run, I decided, I just wouldn’t bother being active at all. I had failed, so I shrunk back from fitness altogether for a time.

Don’t we often do that? Go all in or nothing with these things? Hebrews 12:1b talks about running our appointed race in “patient endurance” and “active persistence.”

So I couldn’t really RUN, but did that mean I was to sit down in a huff and not do ANYTHING active for my health?

No, I decided, “patient endurance” in my understanding spoke less of speed and MORE of tenacity.

“Active persistence” told me that hanging in for the long haul and doing it ACTIVELY was a good goal.

So I couldn’t run. I still can’t run. But I CAN walk.
 

So that is what I began doing.
 

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I parked further away in the parking lot and walked to the store. I walked the kids to the neighborhood park. I walked to my daughter’s school around the corner.

Then I began to feel stronger…and even a little more muscular! Yes, just walking!

Soon, I set a bigger goal for myself and committed to walking 30 days straight for a half-hour a day. I took off on my challenge, walking with my fur baby, my hubby, my daughter, my son…anyone who would walk with me!

Some days I walked for 45 minutes, sometimes, for an hour! I walked uphill, downhill, on pavement, on dirt trails. I walked early in the day (my personal favorite!) and late in the evenings.

And as I walked, I felt myself breathe better, feel better, and best of all, WANT to make other choices to live healthier!

As I write this, I’ve walked well past that original personal 30-Day challenge I set for myself…and I FEEL SO GREAT!

I’m not in any additional body pain, and in fact, have even seen my back pain diminish a bit!

My prayer life is stronger as I’ve had those powerful moments alone with God and nature as I walk.

My knees feel great, my weight has dropped a bit, my leg muscles (and even butt!) are LOOKING better than ever…and it’s all from walking.

Just walking.

I learned that even though I wanted to run, and run well, it just isn’t MY PERSONAL appointed race during this season of my life.

I still admire the runners as they pant past me in their awesome running shoes.

I still look to their secret society with a twinge of jealousy. But I am secure in my achievement as a walker. I know I am doing my very best right now as I walk every day.

As Hebrews taught me, I CAN and WILL walk briskly the appointed race set before me, and do it with patient endurance and active persistence!

FRESH Living Friends: What about you and your fitness story? We would love to hear your lessons learned and moments of joy in your personal fitness journey!  Share in the comments below!

Healing Adrenal Fatigue {A FRESH Look}

Introducing our guest blogger from the archives, Laura Williams, one of our beautiful alum of the FRESH Start Coaching Academy!

Laura is sharing her personal journey with how she is healing Adrenal Fatigue naturally. She resides in Alaska with her family and LOTS of natural beauty all around her. Please enjoy a little of her story today and then pass on the article...this story is going to help someone suffering from adrenal fatigue today!

Here's what she writes:

  Even though she resides in Alaska, Laura and Coach Bess got to meet in person a few years ago! 

Even though she resides in Alaska, Laura and Coach Bess got to meet in person a few years ago! 

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”                                                           - Matthew 11:28 (NASV)

With everything that is going on in the world around us today, it is hard to keep up.  We put so many unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our time.  By the time we get through the day we are exhausted from working, taking care of kids, preparing meals, laundry, cleaning the house, carpool, after school activities, homework, and church activities. 

This doesn’t even include the time we take for ourselves in prayer, meditation, bible reading, and exercise.  If you are like I used to be, most nights you fall into bed so weary that you don’t know how you will get up the next morning.  And then you can’t sleep…

A little about adrenal fatigue…

The adrenal glands sit at the top of your kidneys and are responsible for releasing hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) in response to stress.  Cortisol influences many functions in our body such as regulation of blood sugar, blood pressure, metabolism, and immune response.

During normal function our adrenals have their own “circadian rhythm” which gives us the highest cortisol levels at around 8am and the lowest at 4am. In times of increased stress our cortisol levels are at their highest and should return to normal once the stress has passed. With today’s current lifestyle many times this doesn’t happen and eventually the adrenal function is disrupted.

I was diagnosed with adrenal disruption almost three years ago and then adrenal fatigue two years ago. 

Some of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

Feeling tired all day, not wanting to wake up in the morning even when you got a good night’s sleep, being wide awake after 6pm and not being able to fall asleep, craving salty and sweet snacks, crashing in the afternoon (mine was at 3pm) and not being able to function without a nap or high amounts of caffeine. 

I was demonstrating all of the above symptoms. 

Barely making it thru the day, I would come home and take a nap before I could make dinner. After dinner it was all I could do to sit on the couch and watch TV with my family. 

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I remember being so hard on myself that I didn’t have the energy to get up and play with my children. 

I would often go up in my room and cry because I felt like I was such a bad mom to them. This made my resolve even stronger to get better so that I could be the mom my children deserved.

My journey to get healthy has not been easy.

God really had to get a hold of me about some things in my life. I feel like I was battling for my health on two fronts, both spiritual and physical. I had to learn to control myself and my eating habits as well as give God complete control of my life.

Before this time I would get up with a start in the morning and immediately be organizing my day in my mind. I would rush through my shower and spend my perfunctory time with God so I could check that off my to-do list each day. I realized this had to change. I started taking my thyroid medication (I also have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) first thing in the morning while I was still in bed and then I would then lay in bed meditate on God’s Word. 

I would speak scriptures in to my life about health.

One of my favorites was Isaiah 40: 29-31 which says,

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

This 10-15 minutes of time has become the most important time in my day.  God also spoke to me about how I had been dealing with things. 

I tend to be one of those people who wants to control everything in my life. (Can anyone relate?) I make lists, organize, and structured my day in hour by hour increments. The problem is, if things don’t go according to that plan, I would stress so badly and it would throw me completely off. 

Even though I thought I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do I realized that I left no time for Him to lead me during the day. There was no time to just sit and ponder a beautiful sunset or to help someone He put in my path. Once I learned to give God complete control I realized that I didn’t have to react when things didn’t happen as planned. This one concept has freed me more than any other that I have learned. By not being in a constant state of stress I was finally able to begin to heal.

The other thing I learned during this time was how important diet was in adrenal health.

To help correct this condition as naturally as possible, I began starting the day by taking a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Some people put it in a glass of water and add honey and cinnamon. I personally like the taste of vinegar and can drink it straight. ACV helps regulated blood sugar and helps restore premium stomach acid levels for proper digestion. 

My circadian rhythm was way off so I needed to help get my body back on track. I cut way down on my caffeine intake. I started taking methyl-B12 in the morning to “perk” myself up naturally. This really helped me during the day.

Falling asleep in the evening was difficult too, so I started taking “Natural Calm”, which is a magnesium drink, about an hour before bedtime.  Magnesium is such an important mineral that many people are deficient in.

It helps regulate blood sugar, bowel movements, and decreases our anxiety towards stress. It also calms us so we can sleep better. Natural ways to increase magnesium are by eating seaweed, flax seed, pumpkin seeds, and almond butter. In addition to these supplements I started eating better and decreased my intake of sugar, which can inhibit proper adrenal function.

I found that it is important when trying to heal adrenals is to not overdo it with the exercise. 

High intensity exercise is a problem because this puts even more stress on your adrenals. Taking the time to go for a nice easy walk and enjoy the scenery does wonders for your outlook on life. During my year-long healing I stopped making exercise another thing on my to-do list and started enjoying the beauty that God has placed around me.

I want to warn and reassure you that healing from adrenal fatigue is a lengthy process. I did not see big changes in how I was feeling overnight. It took me a full year to begin to feel normal again. But during that year God did an amazing work on me and my heart.

Since joining the FRESH Start Community I have been able to heal even more. Doing the FRESH Start 14-Day and 28-Day Challenges have really helped me stay on track in my eating, thinking, and get back in to more faithful exercise. 

Best Healthy Cooking Magazines

When I first started consciously cooking healthier for my family, I quickly found that I needed a flow of new ideas. 

The internet, with it's myriad of websites (like this beauty you are currently reading!) and resources (there's almost too many nowadays!) almost overwhelmed me into inaction.  Can anyone relate to "idea overwhelm?"

So, for my healthy cooking needs, I turned to the old friends I had been relying on for information for years...magazines!

From the time I was old enough to look at pictures, I have loved magazines. 

The smell, the feel of the slick pages that don't muss with my fingers, the pages and pages and pages full of vibrant colored-pictures,  and the unending flow of up-to-the minute information - all packed into those wonderful little mini-books! 

To this day, I still squeal with delight when the mail arrives, and A MAgazine is cushioned between all the bills stuffed into our mailbox!

Today in this post, I'm giving you the breakdown of my favorite healthy cooking magazines.  Hopefully you'll find that one or two of them suit your fancy as well!

Eating Well Magazine  

This is a monthly magazine that not only boasts dozens of new recipes and cooking tips each issue, but also publishes well-researched and easy-read health articles.  I usually gain at least 2-3 new practical recipes from each issue (the reason it's not more is because many of them are just too complicated or involved to make my busy-mom list!)  The well-rounded offerings from this magazine are great - whether your approach to healthy cooking is vegetarian, clean-eating, or any other type, this magazine has something you can use!

Whole Living Magazine 

This beauty of a magazine is from Martha Stewart's publishing, and is a great resource for those interested in the environmentally-friendly, sustainable approach on healthy cooking and eating.  It is also great for the whole-life aspect, as it teaches about greener living, including body care, home care, and more.

Healthy Cooking Magazine

I love the simplicity and focus of this magazine - "healthy cooking" is what it's called, so healthy cooking is what you get!  Fun recipe challenges and contests to enter, dozens of great recipes (from beginner cooks to gourmet!) and vibrant, easy-to-follow how-to's, this magazine is a close second place to my top pick...

...drumroll please....and now, my absolute TOP HEALTHY COOKING MAGAZINE!!!

Cooking Light Magazine

Where do I start?  This beautiful magazine is chock-FULL of clean and healthy, easy-to-cook, family-friendly, filling and satisfying recipes every month!  Want to make your comfort food favorites healthier?  You can find out how here!  Want to add some fast favorites to your family's collection? Now you can!  

There are also great shopping, meal planning, and cooking tips in every issue - all written to keep you happily cooking healthy for your family!

So there you have it, the best of the healthy cooking magazine best! 

Take your need to feed your family healthy, supply it with a steady flow of FRESH ideas and recipes, and you'll have one happy, healthy family! 

For more great resources like this to help keep cooking, eating and raising a healthy family, sign up for our totally free mailing list here!

Cooking Tips for an Easy Breezy Summer

Summer is a time for relaxing, making backyard memories, and experiencing plenty of outdoor activities with those you love.

The last thing you want is to be stuck inside, sweating over dinner in a hot house. Get outside, get cookin' the healthy way, and make dinnertime in your family easy as pie this summer with these quick tips from Coach Bess! 

I'm bringing you several tips to free yourself from your kitchen and lighten up your summertime meals!

Use your backyard grill, Instant Pot and Slow Cookers as you prepare meals...to free you from your kitchen this summer. There's also simple ways to cook 2 or so times a week for the whole week's meals...without the effort of making multiple mini-meals in neatly-lined up containers. You just choose a common "center" like grilled chicken or salmon, and then grill/prep plenty for more than one meal (using it different ways, of course!)

What are your favorite grilled dinners?

What about no-cook dishes, like ceviche and  chopped salads?

Here are some of my FRESH ideas for an easy entree tonight:

  • Kabobs - Whoever invented the pairing of small pieces of meat with delicious bits of veggies and/or fruit is a genius!  You can mix it up any way you like it with these: chicken, fresh pineapple chunks and red onion with a drizzle of honey is one of our family faves!  Use your imagination as you combine juicy meats with veggies or fruit flavors, and you've got dinner on a stick in this easy idea!
     
  • Fish on a plank - This one is much easier than it sounds - just soak cedar planks (you can find them at your grocer's) in cold water for about an hour, then place a seasoned fish section on the plank.  Grill it over medium heat for about 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily.  Serve the smoky-flavored fish with fresh fruit salsa or a citrus-y pico de gallo and brown rice for a delicious and easy meal.
     
  • Cook slow, low and steady - The key to keeping foods healthy on the grill (as well as juicy and delicious!) is to cook them slow and on low heat.  This cuts down on the danger of carcinogenic (cancer-promoting) elements forming from the cooking process.  Not to mention, cooking fish and chicken slow on low heat is the best way to insure a juicy entree, versus the dry variety!

Be sure to share your best summer cooking tips with us in our free FRESH Start community - I'd love to hear from you there! 

I'm always curious how our videos and articles help you in your family quest to eatFRESH and be healthier!  Feel free to ask any questions you might have for me, as I want to be sure to bring the tips and topics you want to hear more about!

Grilling Tips for Your Healthy Summer

It’s summer, and do you find yourself stepping outside to do some outdoor activity and a stomach-grumbling, appetite stimulating, scent wafts your way from somewhere in the neighborhood? 

Yep, that’s probably me, taking full advantage of the weather and getting my grill on!

Are you ready to get grilling this summer and you just need a few great grilling tips?Grilling is my ultimate favorite summertime dinner activity.  Around here, it’s a way to get the whole family outside more often, as they run and play while I lovingly turn chicken, or arrange veggie-loaded kabobs, or place fresh-soaked cedar planks loaded with delicious fish over the hot burners.

I’m not sure what I love more, the scent of charring deliciousness, or the fact that I’m not standing, sweating over a hot stove during the hottest time of the year

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There’s virtually no clean-up, and with the amount of cooking I do around this house with four kids, a hungry man and my own grown-up appetite, that’s important too!

I’ve discovered that just about everything edible known to man can be grilled, or roasted on a grill, or steamed in a foil packet, or slipped lovingly onto a skewer, or in SOME way, grilled!  Fruit, veggies, chicken, fish, seafood, lean meats, breads, and even lemons and spice bunches! It’s all game for the grill, it just takes imagination and inventiveness with those cast iron plates!

While I am by no means the top grill-expert (but alas, that title still belongs to the great Bobby Flay!) I have tried my hand at many a dish involving the trusty old grill, and I’ve gathered some great ideas over the years. 

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So here are some of my top tips for making this summer a grillin’ success in your own backyard!

  1. Use a gas grill – It’s mess-free, and much easier to manage the temperature as you cook your food.  If you prefer the scent of a charcoal grill, just add the cedar chip tray to give your food the desired smoky flavor.
     
  2. Start small, start easy – If you are new at it, start with easy dishes, like chicken tenders or hamburgers to learn temperatures and timing.  As your confidence grows, add new dishes, like grilled veggies and steaks.  It’s smarter to learn how to grill with something lower cost and easy than the hard way with a $15 steak!
     
  3. Mind the grill – While you are gaining your grilling medals, be sure to stay close to the grill, and check your food often (though you only need to touch or turn it once!) It’s not fun to get caught up doing something else and forget about the salmon, creating petrified dinner!
     
  4. Think outside the grill – You’d be surprised what you can grill, or how you can combine different food groups, and still achieve deliciousness!  Fruit with veggies, veggies with fish, citrus with fish, chicken with fruit, the list goes on!  I’ve even seen grilled salad in some new recipes!

Keep it fun, make it inventive, and your family will stay full – and in such a healthy way – with your grilling skills this summer!  

Let’s get grillin’ together!  Share your pics, recipes, ideas and experiences with me on my Facebook page, Coach Bess, or in our free community, as I bring you grilling info all summer long!

Delicious, Delightful H2O

Why do we need to drink more water? 

Every day, your body “loses” water through various ways, like elimination, sweating, and other normal bodily functions. And that’s just one of the reasons you need to drink more.

Your body is made up of about 60% water and desperately needs fresh water to properly hydrate your organs and fluid supplies.

Digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature are all functions of your body’s fluids. Giving your body the necessary amount of water ensures that these vital functions operate the way they were originally designed to!

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Ways Water Helps Your Body Stay Healthy

  • Increases Energy – Water speeds up/enables good digestion to help keep you from the afternoon deep fatigue that so many suffer from. 
  • Flushes Toxins – Rids your body of pollutants that can make you sleepy or sick. This means less trips to the doctor.
  • Keeps You Feeling Fuller – Trying to lose weight? Drink more water and you won’t be as strongly tempted to reach for those sugary snacks or chips.
  • Plumps Cells to Enable Good Working Condition of the Entire Body – The stronger the cells in our body, the healthier we are. Water helps keep all the cells in the body strong and functioning like they should.
  • Hydrates Skin Cells Improving Appearance – Want to stay looking young or get rid of some of the wrinkles? Drink more water.
  • Reduces or Eliminates Headaches – I had a beautiful client who loved her soda and energy drinks, and hardly ever drank water. She also had daily headaches. After 2 weeks of no soda or energy drinks, she was headache free. One day, she took a sip of what used to be her favorite soda and instantly got a headache. Her body was clean of the sugar and caffeine it had been used to, but when she put it back into her system with that one drink, it went into almost like a shock! Luckily, she knew what the problem was, immediately drank down a glass of water, and the headache disappeared.

Even armed with all these great reasons, drinking more water doesn't always come easy. Hey, I get it! Water by itself can be, well...BORING! It doesn’t have to be all blah and no fun, though.

Here are just a few ways you can get more water into your body and actually enjoy it!

Ideas to Make Drinking Water FUN!

  • Drink it Iced - add in fresh mint, cucumber and/or lemon slices for a healthy pick-me-up on taste AND a fresh dose of energy from the nutrients!
  • Drink it Hot – Add lemon and honey just like you would warm tea.
  • Set Up Accountability Challenges – Whether it’s with yourself or others, set up a little fun competition! Sometimes all it takes is knowing someone else might win to get you moving forward.
  • Have a Special "Water Only" Cup – Make it funky, colorful and fitting to your personality or favorite things.
  • Track Your Intake – There’s something about putting it on paper that pushes people to reach their goal. You’re oh so close only one more glass to go, so fill up a cup and drink it down. Accomplishment works wonders for motivation!
  • Get the Kids In on the Action – Many of the parents I work with say their kids don’t drink enough water. Because it’s always easier when you tell someone else to do it, I recommend they make it a priority to get their children to drink more water. Naturally, the parents drink more too. We all know kids learn better by watching than by parents just telling them what to do!

Today, I challenge you to drink 1 more glass of water than you usually do. If you find it difficult, try one of the ways above and see if it makes it easier!

If you have trouble with drinking enough water, I’d love to help you find a way that makes it easier. Head on over to my Coach Bess page on Facebook or join me in our free community and let’s talk!

If you’re a believer in the power of drinking water for your health, I’d love to hear some of your favorite ways to make drinking water more enjoyable too!

From my healthy kitchen to yours ~ Coach Bess

Health Benefits & Unusual Uses of Bananas

Whether it’s in smoothies, on top of a granola and yogurt parfait, in a fruit salad or eaten right out of the peel, bananas are a great addition to any healthy diet.

After a bit of research, it seems this bright and yummy fruit has even more benefits. Here are a few fun facts, benefits and uses for bananas that will make you want to buy even more of this sweet and versatile fruit.

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5 Banana Fun Facts:

  1. 100 billion bananas are eaten annually, making them the 4th largest agricultural product in the world. Only wheat, rice and corn are higher.
  2. Bananas may have been the Earth’s first fruit – they are found drawn in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
  3. Scientific name is musa spientum, which means “Fruit of the wise men”
  4. Bananas float! So do apples and watermelons.
  5. The starch in bananas turn to natural sugar as they ripen. The riper the banana the sweeter they taste.

5 Health Benefits of Bananas:

  1. Bananas can improve your mood! They contain th amino acid tryptophan plus Vitamin B6 that when combined produce serotonin, which naturally relieves depression.
  2. Lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and decreases the chance of getting cancer.
  3. Contain almost no fat and are very low in calories.
  4. High in Vitamin B6, fiber, potassium.
  5. Replenish carbs, glycogen and body fluids the body burns during physical activity. Great post workout snack!

Who’d Have Thought?

Even the peel of a banana has many convenient uses, so don’t throw that banana peel out just yet!  Use the inside of a banana peel to:

  • Ease skin irritations such as bug bits, poison ivy, burn and scrapes - Rub on bite or irritation to relieve itching and prevent swelling and infection.
  • Work splinters out of skin.
  • Remove warts - Rub for a few seconds every night for 2 weeks or so.
  • Whiten teeth - Rub peel on teeth for 2 minutes prior to brushing every night
  • Polish silver & shine houseplant leaves.
  • Cure a headache - Place peel on forehead.
  • Rid your garden of pests - Cut up peels and bury an inch or two around plants infested with aphids.
  • Help your garden grow – Great for composting and mulch too! Just dry peels and break up for mulch.
  • Keep chicken moist when roasting - Place peel, inside down, on top of chicken breasts

We may have just discovered some of the reasons so many “Go bananas!” over the banana!

Be sure to share these facts with your picky eaters – you never know it just might make bananas cool in their eyes and get them eating more of them!  

What other ways do you use bananas? Leave a comment below to let us know!

How to Eat Clean for Your Health!

So many of us are looking for the right methods of eating to get healthy, lose unwanted weight and even just to generally feel better

The bottom line is, we cannot get our health to our ultimate peak without eating clean and healthy.

We can exercise as much as you want, try all kinds of fixes, or take all kinds of supplements...however, if the food we choose to shop for, cook, and eat are not clean choices, then we just won’t be as healthy! 

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If we eat "crappy food," our bodies (and how we feel) will show it. On the other hand, if you eat whole, healthy and fresh foods, then your body, skin and soul will glow with health that gives you endless energy!

If you are looking to remove toxins from your diets and bodies, then the way to do that is to “eat clean.”  To do this, your focus should be on gaining overall wellness, not just losing weight. Avoid processed foods of all kinds, and eat only when you feel the hunger need, or 3-6 times per day.

Here are some ways to eat clean, get that glowing health, and FEEL great!

Eat Lots Of Plants

Eat food that is “as close as possible to the original way it was found.” 

Eat mostly foods that come from the ground, a tree, bush, plant or vine, and you’re covering the healthiest sources. The idea is to stay away from anything that humans (food corporations) have altered in any way.

It is so amazing, the incredible selection of good choices available to us from plants! Green, leafy choices and delightfully delicious root vegetables and squashes...colorful, vibrant veggies like brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans, celery, corn and carrots.

There's the tart goodness of citrus and the sweet taste of fruits like berries, melons, apples, cherries, bananas, and pineapples. There's avocado, tomatoes, and herbs galore. Lentils and beans and chickpeas and more! Onions, garlic and ginger root to flavor your dishes...spices and herbs to make them delicious!

This list of course, is only scratching the surface of the wonderful array of clean food from plants! Enjoy them abundantly and watch your energy soar.

Include Clean Meats & Lean Proteins

Eat meats that are whole and straight from the butcher. Avoid buying pre-packaged or processed meat products because they often include additives, antibiotics, and other harmful ingredients.

When possible, buy whole meats and grind them yourself, or ask the butcher to grind them in-store. One idea is to select a few turkey breasts and ask that the butcher grind them for you, instead of buying prepackaged ground turkey. Many butchers are more than willing to accommodate this special request.

Some examples of "clean meats" are wild-caught salmon (frozen is a great option!) organic chicken and other poultry (locally grown and harvested are even better!) cage-free, organic, grain-fed eggs and grass-fed red meat (antibiotic free, locally grown and harvested is even better) 

Enjoy Whole Grains

Unless you have found that you are sensitive to grains, it is balanced and healthy to eat and enjoy grains that are still complete and haven’t been broken down into “white” or processed versions.

For instance, stick to brown or wild rice, quinoa, oats, steel cut oats, farro, barley and other whole grains. There are many varieties of quinoa or rice pasta now as a gluten-free option to add grains into your diet. Grains are good for "brain-food" and eaten within balanced proportions, actually combats depression, fatigue and brain fog! 

Eat Lots of healthy fats

Clean fats are so necessary for your best health, and easier than ever to get into your diet! Like all the other food groups - in balance is best, and with healthy fats, a little goes a long way for your health!

Some examples of healthy fats you'll want to enjoy:

  • Olive oil & Coconut oil
  • Salmon and other clean seafood
  • Avocado
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Greek Yogurt & Kefir
  • Real Butter or Ghee

Become a Label Sleuth

Labels can be a tough one! Here's a couple tips to decipher them: read the nutrition label, NOT the front packaging of the product. Try to keep the ingredient list under 10-12 items (5 or under is BEST.) 

One example of the confusion of labels is: many types of breads at the store say they are whole grain, but if you look carefully at the ingredient list, white flour is the second ingredient after whole wheat flour!

Watch out also for “natural” or "naturally flavored" labels on food, as it is often a deceptive marketing term for a product with “healthy stuff” thrown in, but the bulk of the product is still processed flour or ingredients.

Eat Fewer Ingredients

Try not to purchase foods that have more than 10-12 ingredients in the ingredient list, and under 5 is the best, really. If you don’t recognize each and every ingredient, they are likely unhealthy ones. (This is a general rule though - sometimes, they are in such a tiny amount, that they aren't a problem.) Ultimately though, remember, if you can’t pronounce or place it, it probably shouldn’t go into your body!

Though the thought of eating clean may feel a bit overwhelming at first, taking these tips and applying them to your own life, even one at a time, will make such a difference in how you feel!  That great feeling and the excitement about how you look as unwanted weight drops off, will propel you to continue this lifestyle!

Take small steps toward these goals every day, and you’ll be making real, lasting progress.

Don’t beat yourself up for the choices you’ve made in the past, and yes, yesterday was the past! 

We all struggle with our habits, choices, and lifestyle – turn your trials into triumph with small daily healthy choices! Realize that it’s what you do the majority of time that counts, not one mess-up!

Whether you are a newbie at choosing healthier foods or a veteran clean-eater, I want to hear from you! Come join the other healthy life-changers over in our community at FRESH Start Online Community and share your experience with others just like you!

Why I Don't Exercise {Confessions of a Health Coach Part 2}

Well, I’m glad you’re here again, my friend, because I’ve got some more confessions to get off my chest! In the first post in this series, I got pretty personal with you, sharing that I struggle with this healthy lifestyle thing too, and that I really don’t care what you’re making for dinner tonight.  ;)

Today, I’m digging even deeper - you ready to hear it? I’m ready to spill! Let’s go...

Confession #5: I CARE DEEPLY about your health, but not much else

(meaning: I’m not criticizing your choices, weight, beliefs, fads, or anything else in your life!)

Just as I said in the first post in this series - I care SO MUCH about YOU, but not much about your choices! I don’t see you as “overweight” or “weak” or “sick” or “crazy” or anything else!

I just see YOU...beautiful, unique, wonderful YOU!

So I don’t care what eating plan you are following, drinks you are drinking, whether or not you are exercising, what habits you are keeping. I really don’t.

I DO care, though, about how you FEEL everyday, and about your HEALTH and WHOLENESS! (God put this calling on my heart when I was a wee thing, so it’s cool that I am actually able to have a career now in a calling that has been on my life since childhood.)

I have realized over my adult life that “ain’t nobody got time” to be trying to convince, control or criticize others in their FREEDOM OF CHOICE! (God gives us freedom of choice for a reason, who do we think we are to try and remove that same freedom from others?)

Here’s what we’re missing though…

Our choices are free for us to make, but the consequences of those choices are NOT free!

They cost us.

They cost our loved ones (think about how it affects the kids, grandkids, etc when someone in the family grows ill - there is a burden - financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically.)

The consequences to our choices COST EVERYONE we love and are surrounded by!

Heck, they even cost our community and our country - our medical system and personnel are under a tremendous burden - one they almost cannot continue to carry. And it is directly due to a nation of people leading a lifestyle and making lifestyle choices that have led to innumerable amounts of completely preventable (and reversible, many of them) diseases and conditions.

And the statistics say (based on our current way of eating, moving, living, etc as a country) that this situation is GRAVE and getting worse and must be considered seriously (though there isn’t much being done about it on a national level)...meanwhile the numbers for the upcoming diagnosis of obesity-related illnesses, cancer, diabetes Type 2, autoimmune diseases and mental illness are looming over us like a death sentence!

So what to do about all this? Well, that brings me to confession #6...

Confession #6: I’m overwhelmed too (by the over information + fundamental lifestyles & diets + judgy people)

It’s true! When I talk to people who are in discouraging situations with their health or I read new articles or stories of “how bad it’s getting” - I start to feel overwhelmed. And don’t even get me started on the conflicting studies and information being shared! One day, “this oil” is good for us - the next, it’s bad for us. One day, you SHOULD eat eggs, the next day, you shouldn’t. It’s CRAZY!

When people argue (online is where I see/hear this the most) about what supplement is best or what oil to use or whether bread is killing us or not, I RUN. I can’t do it. So my heart gets even bigger for you! Because if I feel this way, and this is what I DO and AM PASSIONATE about it - I can’t even imagine how overwhelming or discouraging it is for you to see the banter and debates. (Especially if you are genuinely looking for practical guidance or help on something!)

And let’s not even get into the fundamental lifestyles being taught/followed out there - I have always and will continue to believe one thing about a fundamental lifestyle - it is NOT sustainable for the long term, whole-family-friendly or even affordable for most of us! (Think $120 monthly supplement or powders or shakes PER PERSON - what family can sustain that? Not mine.)

But even if there is no supplement or other product purchase involved - who can sustain a “do NOT eat this, that, that, that or that or even TOUCH that or you’ll be sick or fat or dead!” (Of course I’m taking some liberty here on my dramatic storytelling - but you get the point I’m making, right?!)

How about this study for ya. It’s actually been proven that out of 1000 people of the population, only ONE has the personality or fortitude to stick with a fundamental lifestyle for their health long-term. ONE out of ONE THOUSAND. And I can tell you right now, I’m NOT that one! (It IS confession time, so, there ya go!)

OK and what about “judgy people?” And all the “advice” they so eagerly give? Before I get into this one too deep, I need you to know in full disclosure, that I WAS THAT JUDGY PERSON once upon a time!

Only after some humbling circumstances I endured (and terrible choices I made) over the years did I find freedom from operating in judgy-person mode...and I’m SO thankful too! Because I could NEVER be a health coach today or have built the FRESH Start movement from a place of pride or judgement.

So I’m not judging the judgy people with this post - I’m just letting you know that I “hear them too” and you and me, we’ve got to #1 make sure we’re not one of them and #2 let the words they speak and looks they give stream on down off our backs, like water off a duck’s back, as my mama would say.

So I hope that YOU discover exactly what I have found - that YOU are the BEST health coach and adviser for YOUR life and lifestyle choices!
— Coach Bess

Really, YOU ARE! You already have most of the answers you need either inside you or at a quick prayer’s notice - God gave us our gift of instinct for a reason.

If you know that you “feel better” when you eat eggs - EAT THEM and enjoy them. If you enjoy “this oil” over “that oil” and you are using less and less of it anyway (which, on a side note, should be the general goal here anyway - using less of the stuff!) then USE IT! If you feel better eating some meat rather than none or a slice of toast with your coffee in the morning (gasp!) then ENJOY IT.

YOU are the boss of you.

God made YOU TO BE! Yes! He gives free choice, but He also leads us - and He’ll let you know what to eat, what not to eat - just listen to that powerful small voice inside you that was saying all along that eating eggs felt good to you or cutting back on meats was a great improvement or dropping the extra sugars felt real FRESH.

Just LISTEN to YOUR voice and His voice, and try to tune out anything that brings overwhelm, stress, panic, confusion or discouragement!
— Coach Bess

Confession #7: I don’t “exercise”

I know, terrible thing for a health coach to confess to, right? Let me explain, though. It’s better than it sounds!

So I’ve been to fitness classes, taken online classes, followed Youtube videos or DVD’s and joined gyms. I’ve even had the “three free sessions” with a personal trainer when I first signed up at the gym. And I HATED IT. DREADED IT, actually!

But I found over the years that when I walk for miles a day or do a little meditation/yoga-type stretching or swim or hike in our gorgeous “back country” out here in the mountains, THAT I ENJOY IT IMMENSELY! Figuring this out has been a lifesaver and now I almost can’t even stand to let a day go by without my walk or a short hike.

It doesn’t feel like “working out” but it does get my heart pumping, my legs and glutes and core feeling the burn, and my gams toned! It DOES get me moving to do this, but it’s NOT a “workout” per se. And that’s exactly my point...why not FIND SOMETHING that brings you joy that also gets you moving intentionally and DAILY?

So as a health coach, my goal has been to help my precious clients (who I become quite protective of, think mama bear! haha) find a way to get moving more and get that good, heart-pumping purposeful daily movement in - but in a way that feels more like play or therapy or joy-giving than “join a gym” or “hire a trainer.”

Do you like to play tennis? THAT is a workout! Do you feel at home in the water? Start with 10 minutes or 2 laps! Do you enjoy nature? Walk, hike or climb hills and mountains...won’t feel like a workout AT ALL!

Oh and the more we can do our activity OUTSIDE the better that is for us! We kill like 5 birds with that stone (another saying from my good ol mama!)

Here’s what you’ll get from outside fitness:

  • Vitamin D for pain relief and healing benefits from the sun

  • Lungfuls of fresh air, clearing away brain fog

  • Mental clarity from being AWAY from technology and stresses of home

  • Benefits of the exercise itself to your brain, heart, blood and muscles

  • Social interaction, it’s so good for your spirit

  • Meditation moments with God and His gift of nature, lifting your soul

Now for full disclosure, I am NOT against gyms, trainers, classes or DVD’s - in fact I’m about to up my own fitness game this fall by joining my colleague and dear friend Trisch’s upcoming online class (she’s a Master T-Tapp Trainer and SO gracious as a teacher - I’m excited about this!) I’ve got personal friends who are trainers and have seen many people benefit from hiring them…

I just don’t think these “traditional” methods are the ONLY WAY or everyone’s way to create a lifestyle of fitness.
— Coach Bess

That is my goal...to help you find what kind of “exercise” BRINGS YOU JOY so that you’ll want to keep doing it, day after day and it won’t be such a dreaded chore.


NOW IT'S YOUR TURN!

Which of these confessions of mine have you experienced or can relate to? I’d love to hear your input in the comments below or in our free online community on Facebook.

And join me back here on the blog SOON - I’ll be posting my next few confessions to finish up this series next week!

Confessions of a Health Coach {Part One}

Can I get real with ya’ll for a minute?

Yes, I’m a Health Coach. NO, I’m not watching you through green-smoothie-colored glasses!

I’ve been a health coach for over 6 years now, and in this time, I have experienced a phenomenon. Sometimes, when people find out I’m a health coach, the interaction between us can become awkward with anything to do with food or exercise or anything “health.” I’m thinking it’s due to what is quite possibly preconceived notions - about what I actually care about in their life!

And I want to take a few minutes to clear this up! This will be fun...from my well-meaning heart to yours.

Confession #1: I'm NOT looking in your shopping cart! Or judging you for what’s in it.

Yes, that’s right! I actually DO NOT care what you’re putting in your cart.

And I'm certainly not criticizing what you do or do not provide for mealtime at your house!

I'm of the simple belief that we are all doing the best we can with what we know right now. And even if you're not, I'm not your mama and I'm pretty sure you're already aware of what you can do better (we're all adults here!) I'm only interested in holding myself accountable to my own goals and standards. Oh and of course, THOSE WHO HIRE ME to, I’ll keep them accountable too!

Full disclosure: I DO care (and deeply!) how you FEEL from what you eat every day - which is why I work so hard daily to do what I do. If this sounds contradictory, let me explain - I’m NOT interested in judging your choices, only in helping those who are ready with guidance in better eating! It’s WHY I spend hours researching natural healing, recipe testing, and creating resources and challenges and meal plans and programs to help those who are READY and want to make changes for the better in their eating.

Confession #2: I struggle too (with changing habits & making healthy lifestyle choices)

This is a lifelong struggle in a lot of ways for ALL OF US! I’d be lying if I acted like living like this (or teaching this lifestyle, for that matter!) is easy for anyone (especially when picky eaters, stubborn spouses, and multiple kids are in the mix!) I have noticed though, some things do get easier with time - and that’s a relief.

I struggle with the daily grind of the “extra work” that making better choices entails

 

I struggle with my weight within a 10-15 pound range (up and down, up and down UGH)

 

I struggle with OCD/anxiety tendencies - and all the “mind stuff” that it involves

 

I struggle with wondering if I’m being a “good enough” mom/wife/friend/daughter/caregiver/coach/sister/entrepreneur/Christian - can anyone relate? LOL

 

I struggle with LOVING sugar and anything made with sugar and anything you can add sugar to

 

I struggle with chronic pain (daily)

 

So yeah. I struggle too!

And if I’ve learned ANYTHING in my 6.5 years as a health coach - it’s that WE ARE ALL JUST DOING WHAT WE CAN. And we need to give OURSELVES and EACH OTHER waaaayyyy more grace than we do (I struggle with this too! haha)

Full disclosure: Some of my greatest personal struggles have been addictive behaviors.

I used to smoke cigarettes (been smoke-free since July 2009, praise God!) and was also addicted to the energy drinks and diet sodas that accompanied that habit.

I carried shame around that habit for the longest time...please find a way to dump that worthless shame if you are in the same cycle - it’s such a wasted a emotion (though a POWERFUL one!) and I wish someone would have said to me in 2009 what I’m saying to you now!

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

No matter what you are struggling with, leave those worthless emotions of guilt and shame behind and join me in the land of the redeemed and forgiven (Christ gives it freely, we just have to RECEIVE it!) You only get one life, let's make it AWESOME!

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Confession #3: I don’t care what you’re making or picking up for dinner

Yes, this is similar to confession #1. But different, so I want to specifically discuss the “dinner dilemma” - because it’s a REAL thing for us! (Any moms out there with me on this?) By end of day, we’re DONE. Tired. Over it.

Last thing we want to do is spend ANOTHER 45 minutes on our hurting and tired feet cooking, then watch the family inhale in 5 minutes our loving gift that was created with expensive ingredients, and designed with the last bit of sanity that’s clinging to our frazzled brains! Then get right back up and spend the next 20-30 minutes cleaning up the mess everyone leaves behind...Seriously?

So. I. GET. IT.

And exactly why I don’t judge! If tonight is a drive-through-sanity-keeper-choice - then mama, YOU DO YOU and I got absolutely no malice for ya!

Full disclosure: All I care about when it comes to your dinner choices is that YOU are happy with them!

This is seriously what I care about - that YOU feel happy with your choices - and I want to help you change that in a REALISTIC, practical way if it’s something you are ready to tackle! The meal planning/shopping/chopping/cooking part of what I do is my FAVE because I’ve committed these last 6 + years to developing a system for keeping dinner HEALTHY and SIMPLE and that WORKS for the busy family/working mama/budget buyer!

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Confession #4: My kids eat and drink junk food (and I do too)

Yup. We do.

Now, before you get too excited - let me explain. We eat a clean, veggie-based, lean meats, unprocessed, small-portioned type diet about 85% of the time. We drink a LOT of water. We drink homemade smoothies with veggies in them every day.

HOWEVER, we DO enjoy “junk food” like commercial, sugary coffee drinks or a small bowl of ice cream on our “treat day” every weekend. We enjoy candy or desserts during holidays, cake on birthdays and Abuelita’s amazing fried tacos and other traditional food when we visit her in Mexico. (We’re Mexican, ya’ll! Food is LIFE!) We enjoy a pastry or a bag of chips on occasion, too!

We believe in balance, and enjoying this life, and making merry with small servings, instead of overeating on the fun stuff! But we don’t believe in deprivation (we tried it and it didn’t work anyway) or a lot of NO NO NO’s. We believe in adding in the good stuff to squeeze out the not-so-good most of the time. And being ok with splurging the other times. It seems to be working, so it’s probably how we’ll continue this healthy living thing.


What about you, my friend? Do you see yourself in any of these confessions?

My heart as a health coach is to see you at peace with your choices, free of shame or guilt in them and making the BEST ONES YOU CAN with what you can afford/do/handle right now!

So I hope you let yourself off the hook of “attempted perfection” in this lifestyle, do what you can today (and celebrate that you did THAT!) and keep pursuing the BEST God has for you in your habits and choices and future! Because YOU DESERVE IT!

Come back to the blog Thursday, I’m publishing the second part of this fun post series! I’ll be confessing “why I don’t exercise” and “why I’m overwhelmed in this lifestyle too!” (gasp!)

Renewing Our Minds to Renew Our Bodies

Have you ever noticed that when you "change your mind" about something limiting or negative in your life, that it paves the way for your body and health to reflect that?

That's what I'm going to be sharing with you over the next couple of upcoming weeks here on the FRESH Start principle of Renewing Our Minds to Renew Our Bodies!

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So many of us have discovered {just as many authorities and professionals in the medical field have proven recently} that the roots of our healthy or unhealthy habits truly begin in the mind.

Is renewing our minds really important?

This month I’m sharing what has worked for me and for dozens of readers who’ve taken my workbook Fresh Start for Health to heart. Small groups across the United States are meeting together, some in Churches, some in community groups, working through each page and forming new healthy lifestyles as a result.

These principles may be ones you’ve heard in other places before but so many of you have shared that you hadn’t thought of applying them to your health!

The truth is that the power of the Holy Spirit combined with the promises of God’s Word in our lives is tremendous! We have the need for God to transform our lives right from the heart and then outward into the rest of our lives and habits.

This principle is the way to unleash the power of God in our lives & minds and as a result, see real change take place in our habits!
— Coach Bess

Watch this short video, where I’m sharing from my heart on this principle, as well as about my own experience of breaking free from old ways of thinking. 

Today…STEP ONE on the pathway to Renewing our Minds

As we delve into this topic it’s important to me that we recognize the basis for our ever renewing pathway to change. After a twisting-turning journey through recovering from a rough past including childhood abuse, healing from a limiting fundamentalist religious perspective, and then through serious health conditions, I’ve found that pure truth based on God’s Word is the only effective foundation.

Step One is to start here, with Ephesians 4:22-24. The entire passage is powerful. But the key point is this: “Strip yourselves of your former nature …be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind! Put on the NEW nature, the regenerated self!”

And Psalm 51:10 expands on that when David asks God for a new heart! Think of that! The ability of the God of the Universe to implant in us a new, pure, right-thinking-and-feeling heart!

We should start renewing our minds in our brokenness!

The bottom line is that God can begin to renew our mind when we come to him aware of our brokenness, lack of balance and great need for His power! Even after we’ve been walking in freedom and healing, sometimes we still find ourselves calling on Him to heal us.

This renewing process is a lifelong process of giving over our own thinking and accepting His Scriptural truth in its place.

My heart for you is that you’ll find renewed hope and deep healing in a new way.

And a boost on your own individual path to an ever-deeper walk with Christ…one in which you are free from past hurtful and harmful thinking patterns. Join us here on the blog in the upcoming weeks for new installments in our RENEWING YOUR MIND vlogging series! 

It is only as we allow our thinking and feeling to be totally transformed that the changes we make in our behavior—our eating, moving and other healthy habits—will begin to stick and become true lifestyle changes!
— Coach Bess

I’m so excited that you’re here… and hungry for deeper, long-lasting change. Come share your journey with me on my FRESH Start for Health FB Page or in our free Fresh Start Online Community group. It's a warm, loving group and we'd love to have you share about your own victories and struggles with renewing your mind. I’d love to share encouragement and hope with you personally!

Resources & Healthy Living Tools

As I share deeply this month on renewing our minds from my experience & research shared in the Fresh Start for Health workbook, I wanted to be sure that you knew how to get your own copy. Get your very own copy of the workbook on our Fresh Start STORE page…where you can purchase an e-book version for instant access or order a printed version to be mailed to your home! There are worksheets in each chapter that are perfect for individual study or small group discussion as well!

Please Contact us here at Fresh Start if you have any questions about the workbook, our coaching services or bringing these powerful principles to a church or community group near you!

Smash Your Excuses!

Hey y'all! Coach Bess here...earlier today, I shared a powerful preview on FB LIVE in our free online community of what I'll be bringing to our next FRESH Start 14 Day Challenge, called "Smash Your Excuses!" Ooohhhh it's gonna be a good one, y'all! (BTW, we'd love it if you joined us in that group where you can view the LIVEcast recording!)

We're dealing with the mindset stuff in this challenge...no worries, we'll still be eating FRESH and moving in FRESH ways through the experience, but we're going to zone in on WHAT STOPS US from seeing results and finding LASTING breakthrough in this part of our lives!

You can find out much more about this exciting online experience and even grab YOUR SPOT RIGHT HERE!

Here's some of what I shared earlier...

See the TARGET?

When I was a little girl, my dad taught me to use a bow and arrow - this is one of my fondest memories of my childhood on the farm in the mid-west! I still remember the smell of the sweet hay as he stacked 3 bales on top of each other, then placed a paper target on them for us kids to use for practice. Little did I know that learning to "target-shoot" with a bow and arrow in our farm's gigantic front yard would place powerful lifelong lessons on the inside of me!

And of all the things I learned from that activity with my dad, was his words "Keep your eye on the BULLSEYE!" 

What is your personal BULLSEYE in your healthy-lifestyle journey, my friend?

This is a good a time as any to revisit and renew your "TARGET" in this journey - for some, it's a goal to live free of side-effect causing medications or delivered from an addiction to food or some other substance. Maybe it's a weight loss goal - to look and feel your best! It could be that you are sick and tired of how you FEEL everyday - maybe you struggle with chronic pain, illness or fatigue.

Maybe it's all of the above! Either way, your personal goal to improve your life IS a GOOD TARGET and you are NOT alone in this desire to create change! You're also not alone in the common experience of starting new choices, then stopping. Or even of giving up before you hit the TARGET!

FOCUS ON THE BULLSEYE!

Yes, but HOW?

We've got ya! We're going to cover several winning keys during this Challenge! Ways that you can not only "Watch the BULLSEYE" in your healthy-living journey, but also breaking down the HOW behind this! 

If you are READY to experience BREAKTHROUGH in areas that have stopped your progress in the past around your daily choices for your healthier life...then JOIN US! You'll be so glad you did!

To find out much more about the "Smash Your Excuses" Challenge - visit HERE!

Fitness Made Easy for the Busy Woman {with Trainer Trisch!}

Our guest expert on this post is our own FRESH Start Coach Trisch Richardson, writing from her hobby farm in rural Indiana! Mom of nine kids (yes they're all hers!) and wife to husband Dallas, she is a busy woman herself - so this helpful article comes right from the horses' mouth! (pardon the pun LOL) Here's a little bit about her and the fitness method she has found WORKS for woman of all abilities, ages, and speed of life!

Whether you're a busy mom with little ones or a CEO, whether you're super active or unable to do much due to health issues, there is one thing we all have in common - we know we need to get moving to get healthy and fit.

Then you read an article that says to maintain your current size and fitness level, you need to work out an hour a day. If you want to lose weight/sizes/inches, you have to work out one and a half hours each day! (What???)

The tension comes when we can't fit in workouts, we don't have space for special equipment (or the kids keep running off with your hand and ankle weights!) or we hardly have enough energy to get dressed, let alone work out for an hour? 

That's where I found myself 10 years ago, the largest (and unhealthiest) I had ever been in my life.  

I was a size 22W, as close as I could tell, wearing mostly loose fitting maternity jumpers because nothing else fit. My baby was 3 ½ months old! I had been working out an hour a day, five days per week, and I had lost absolutely nothing. AND I was getting more and more tired, needing an hour nap about 1 ½ hours after working out. I was a busy homeschooling mama—I didn't have time for that!

I found the T-Tapp workout and that changed everything! Instead of an hour each day I was spending 15-20 minutes. Instead of needing a nap 1 ½ hours later, I not only didn't need the nap—I had more energy! Best part of all—I started losing inches!

Teresa and me 2015 Trisch R.jpg

But what in the world is T-Tapp?!

It's a method of movement that uses 5-7 muscles in each move, activating the muscle from both ends resulting in long, lean muscles - as well as efficient and optimal lymphatic pumping! The founder, Teresa Tapp, first created these moves to help women who were undergoing cancer treatments to better tolerate the treatments and minimize getting ill because of them. She also worked in the modeling industry for 20 years as a face developer, so she was able to “perfect” her method of movement to help our bodies—inside and out!

T-Tapp focuses more on inch loss, size loss and health and energy improvements than the scales.

My own story is a “weight doesn't tell the whole story” one! I lost 8 sizes - that's right! From a 22W to an 8, started healing my adrenals, my thyroid levels optimized - I do take a compounded thyroid but haven't had to increase my dosage since starting T-Tapp. My body has reshaped in amazing ways after birthing 10 BIG babies (biggest was 11 lbs 4 oz!) and even now at the edge of menopause, the hormonal fluff has caused me to gain only 1 size back. YET - I've only lost 30 lbs. Muscle density rocks!

As a busy woman with little time to exercise as well as being hypothyroid and adrenal challenged, I have a special place in my heart for those who, like me, are struggling to find the time and/or energy to get moving.

I joke that I am the Queen of Superslow and the Queen of Splitting Workouts! I often only do 10 minutes daily of some of the workouts because I've learned to listen to my body and there are some days that I need movement, but I know I can't push myself. T-Tapp even has a few seated workouts that are excellent for those “not much energy” days or when my hip used to bother me.

  Trisch & Her Beautiful Family

Trisch & Her Beautiful Family

I had a beautiful client who had a lot of stress she could do little about. She was gaining in spite of being gluten and casein free. She felt she had to do 15 minutes daily, but based on my own experience, I encouraged her to try just 3 moves daily. She was worried she wouldn't see inch loss, but as I explained to her, if your body is stressed - and yes, over-exercising can stress it - you won't see inch loss. At other times the body takes our new habits and efforts to get healthy and focuses on internal healing first - then it shows on the outside!

My client was able to do 3 moves on average of 4-5 days per week. The other days I had her focus on curling her core as she drove her boys to their therapy appointments or sat at her desk for her home business. In one month she lost 2 ½ inches off her waist alone! Over the next 6 months, doing no more than those 3 moves and curling the core, she lost 4 sizes!

No jumping around, no special equipment, easy on joints, no more than 10 to 20 minutes a day, and yes—you can get results even in a chair! Less really IS more with T-Tapp!  

You can find Trisch at http://beyouthfulnfit.com/ and on Facebook at Be Youthful N Fit

When Someone You Know is Grieving

Lately, so many precious hearts in my circle have been dealt painful, hard blows from life.

Whether it be fate, God's will, or pure chance matters not. The hardship, the loss exists. The grief, the heartache over it... the questions of why or how could this happen...the recovery (ooohhh how HARD is that word?!) as life must go on...yes, life does go on.

Whether it be death, illness, tremendous loss, betrayal, or heartbreak that has occurred...these precious hearts have to keep living.

And then, due to the intimacy that Facebook and other social media has created...due to the inevitable "touching" of our souls through the internet's waves...we are faced with the choice of reaching out, of saying something (but what to say? are words even GOOD enough?) and the choice of shrinking back behind the screen, in shock and horror of the levity of the blow they have been dealt! We are faced with the terrible situation of observing their experience from across the miles … and now, touching their pain.

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What have you done when this has happened? Do you find yourself in the same dilemma I have over and over?

Do I reach out and say something (though it could sound horribly trite!) and express the tears welling up in my eyes even as I read of their painful event? Do I quickly scroll past their post...reading on again to help avoid it and soften it and cover the initial shock with cute cat pics and funny FB memes?

This post is NOT a condemnation if you have scrolled past, neither a how-to for those of us still struggling over how to be a "friend" to those in hurt...

This is merely a post of my heart's grieving whisper out loud. I was pondering on this as a dear friend expressed earlier that today was her son's one-year anniversary of his passing...her beloved, adult, ONLY son. And as she expressed herself so authentically, so honestly she exposed her pain and grief, I was moved to tears - shaking, cleansing tears.

Because I cannot even imagine loss like that.

Then, I was moved to post a "hopefully comforting comment"  on her post...but that same, negative, nagging voice whispered...but what if you say the "wrong thing" to her...what if you comment and it only causes more pain? Or you sound stupid? Yada yada...the doubts went on.

Then I remembered a day in late June of 2000 - a hot and sticky summer day, when Juan and I were trembling and tears were streaming down our faces...we kissed her soft, fuzzy head and nuzzled her cheeks for the first and the last time...we tried to memorize the way her hands looked, so tiny yet so perfectly formed....we held her, even after her first squeak and last breath...and then, with gently nudging from the wise nurses, we reluctantly passed her wrapped, still body to them to be taken away.

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I had just birthed, and then we held her while she died, our first daughter, Sela. And then we went home. Home alone. The still, too quiet house where we laid in bed and I sobbed while he held me and stroked my hair. Home, where I was supposed to bring her. Home, to cook and clean and live like my baby, my daughter wasn't lying still and cold in the morgue. Home, where my milk came in and my breasts swelled and I couldn't suckle the baby my body was trying to feed.

And people said things.

Some said kind, thoughtful things. Some just cried with me and couldn't find "words" but spoke anyway. Some said thoughtless, sharp things better left unsaid, no matter the good intentions.

But I remember feeling that those who "said something" were still welcomed by my grieving heart...and that it made us human together. That they were trying (feebly though it may have been at times!) to feel with Juan and I...to be there.

They were sharing in our grief by entering it with us.

So this post is to encourage you...that when someone in your life is hurting, grieving, in pain...enter their space. Yes, it may feel awful or be awkward (especially at first!) and you may have nagging doubts about whether or not your "words" are helpful or comforting. But, from a mom who experienced loss and grief all those years ago...I am assuring you, that when you say something from a heart of kindness and a place of grace, your words will matter. Your heart will matter.

 Juan and Bess in happier moments in 2010 - a Testimony of Healing Through Loss

Juan and Bess in happier moments in 2010 - a Testimony of Healing Through Loss

If you have been struggling through something hard or have experienced loss, we want you to know that you are not alone. We support, love on and pray for each other in our FRESH Start community group (it's free) and we'd love to welcome you there. 

Books for Healthy Living (Coach Bess' Top Recommendations)

Sometimes digging into a good book resource on healthy living can be exactly what the doctor ordered!

Looking for natural answers to a chronic illness or condition? Open up ANY of Dr Mark Hyman's books, like The UltraSimple Diet or Ultraprevention or Ultrametabolism!

Need meal planning help to get the whole family on board with your healthy eating? Pick up a copy of Amy Hendel's book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families.

Trying to break out of an eating disorder, food addiction, or shame around your weight? Grab a copy of Lose It For Life by Dr Linda Mintle & Stephen Arterburn or pick up Lysa Terkeurst's Made to Crave or Lisa Bevere's You Are Not Your Weight.

With all there is to learn on this healthy living journey, ONE book is not enough! 

Choose from the multiple books out there and available to help you add healthy living tools and strategies to your toolbox! Or to help you overcome a mental block that may be holding you back from transformation.

books for healthy living

Some more of my personal favorites are:

NUTRITION

ANY books by Joy Bauer - like...

Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition
Food Cures

Food Bible by Judith Wills

Get the Sugar Out by Ann Louise Gittleman

FAITH/HEALTH CONNECTION

Your Whole Life by Carole Showalter

What the Bible Says About Healthy Living
by Rex Russel

And of course, our book, the FRESH Start for Health Workbook, by yours truly, Bess Blanco, is a fabulous combination of lifestyle change help on faith, beginning fitness, food and our mindset! You can find it here on this website or by clicking HERE.

Now, remember you can add these resources to your personal library little by little or even with a visit to your local library! I've found MANY of my awesome books (and this is only the smallest sampling) at yard sales, thrift stores and on discount websites online, gently used! 

What are YOUR favorite books on healthy living? We'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments below, or share them with us in our FRESH Start Online Community on Facebook! 

Every other Tuesday, we have a LIVE chat called #LetsTalkAboutitTuesday in our free healthy living support group on Facebook, and this video above was today's chat! You should join us to catch the next one!

Enjoy this helpful video, and be sure to subscribe to the FRESH Start for Health channel on Youtube to continue getting our healthy living tips and encouragement! 

Healthy hugs and belief in YOU ~ Coach Bess

”BooksForHealthyLiving”

Fast & Fresh Ways to Cook Healthy for Your Family

These are fast, fresh ways to make life a little easier for you as you prepare healthy family meals – and still stay on the right track with clean eating!

  1. Bake-fry your chicken or fish for an old-time favorite without all the added fat!  Use panko for crunchy, evenly baked crispness!  Dip chicken breast or fish in egg, soy milk, or greek yogurt, then roll in the crumbs to evenly coat.  Bake anywhere from 20-30 minutes (depending on thickness of filet) on a lightly sprayed pan in a 375 degree oven.
     
  2. Salsas make a great addition whether during cooking, or afterwards as a dip or garnish.  Heat it up with salsa verde, picante, freshly made pico, or fun fruity salsas!  (See our Healthy Recipes for fun salsa ideas!)
     
  3. Turn that salad into a filling dinner by loading it up with boiled eggs, avocado, quinoa. Try adding in a high-fiber food like beans or legumes, and high-protein choice, like grilled chicken or salmon! You can also "beef it up" by placing the salad into a wrap made with whole grain tortilla or into a whole grain pita!  
     
  4. Canned beans are just about as healthy as fresh-cooked, as long as they are rinsed thoroughly!  For a delicious quick treat, open a can of cannellini beans and add it to ½ cup chopped onions sautéed in 1-2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and fresh rosemary.  Season with a pinch of sea salt…all ingredients are wholesome, and this dish is easy and filling!
     
  5. Love chips and dip?  Try hummus and toasted pita or seed crackers, whole wheat crackers and salmon/whipped cream cheese spread, guacamole and whole wheat corn chips, or vegetable chips with Tzatziki sauce (made from Greek Yogurt) instead of chips.   You and your family can still get your crunch on, but be putting whole ingredients into your body! If you just can't get away from the chips, try to stay with whole grain versions, ones that are made with few ingredients (our family fave is On The Border Tortilla chips with my homemade pico salsa)
 
fast fresh ways to cook healthy family
 

It is possible to cook quick and fun dishes while keeping your family's diet in balance!  It just takes a little creativity and experimentation.  These tips should help you as you cook your way to better health – with your family!