Food & Nutrition

Portion Control - Real Serving Sizes

Portion CONTROL. 

Mindless eating is one of the top reasons we struggle with the magnitude of the obesity epidemic we face in our country today. The expansion of our middles in the last few decades directly reflects the increase in the size of our plates and portions. It’s time to rein it in.

We now know that for many of us, habitual over eating is actually a “food addiction.” It is real, comparable in nature to any other substance abuse. The problem is that we need food to survive and the avoidance or weaning tactics used to deal with other types of substance abuse is not realistic in this case as a recovery method. This means, then, that to win the battle around food and its priority and purpose in our lives, it has to be fought in our minds and hearts. 

It has to be battled hand in hand with surrender to God and His better way, and the invitation by Him to renew our minds completely around our relationship with food.

If you struggle with over eating or controlling portions, remember that there is no need for shame, guilt, or other negative feelings directed toward yourself because of this struggle. 


Just like all the other issues we each face in our behaviors and habits, this particular one is another opportunity to re-evaluate where you currently stand. Ask God to take any feelings you may have of your own inadequacy, and replace them with the knowledge of His ability. Remember who you are to Him, you are His marvelous reflection! He wants you to be healthy and whole.

Now let’s move on to the “how” of cutting our portion sizes down and learning what a serving size really looks like!

We hear a lot about this topic in the health arena – but do we translate the information out there into how much we eat every day? 

Despite the vast amount of knowledge available to us on portion sizes and types, many of us are not following these very simple instructions in our diets. By applying this one change to our family nutritional habits, we would see a quick and noticeable difference in our weight and health! 

Here is some valuable information to help you decipher how much food you should (or shouldn’t) be eating every day.

According to the USDA, here is a general idea of what ONE portion is in each food group:

Breads, pasta, cereal, cooked grains

  • 1 slice of bread (looks like a CD case)

  • 1/2 a bagel (the size of a hockey puck)

  • 1 cup cereal (looks like two hands cupped together)

  • 1/2 cup cooked grain or pasta (one cupped palm)


  • 1 piece of fresh fruit (the size of a tennis ball)

  • 1/2 cup cut up fruit, raw, cooked, frozen, or canned (looks like 7 cotton balls)

  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (1/2 cupped handful)

  • 3/4 cup 100% fruit juice (5 ounces or so)


  • 1/2 cup cut up veggie, raw, cooked, frozen, or canned (looks like the bulb part of a light bulb)

  • 1/2 cup cooked, canned or frozen legumes

  • 1 cup leafy greens (2 handfuls)

  • 3/4 cup 100% vegetable juice (5 ounces or so)

Meat, chicken, or fish

  • 3-4 ounces (looks like a deck of cards or a checkbook)

  • 1 egg


  • 1 oz of cheese (looks like 2, 9-volt batteries)

  • 1/2 cup ice cream, cottage cheese or pudding (one rounded scoop)

  • 1 cup milk or yogurt


  • 1/3 cup (a small handful)

  • 1 tbsp nut butter (size of both your thumbs)

For a chart of serving sizes, click here!

Another important thing to establish is what is a portion size versus a serving size? 

The difference between the two can be so confusing! Being unclear on this is one of the reasons many of us end up eating much more than we should – we haven’t mastered really knowing “how much is too much!”

Let’s see if we can clear this up:

A portion is the amount of food you put on your plate. 

A serving is a specific amount of food defined by common measurements

For instance, a pancake “serving” is 4 inches, but a typical portion you might eat is 6 inches — or almost 1 ½ servings.  In liquid measurements, a serving is 8 ounces. Often, though, we pour double that amount, and don’t even think twice about it.

One way to combat unknowingly eating or drinking too much at one time, is to use visual cues for portion sizes – for example, a serving of fruit is the size of a baseball, one serving of cheese is the size of four dice, a computer mouse represents a serving of pasta, a deck of cards is the size of one serving of poultry or fish, and a hockey puck represents one serving of whole grains like rice.

Something else to watch for is plate size - plates used to be about 6-8 inches in width, encouraging the perfect amount of food portions per plate.  Nowadays though, “dinner” plates are more like 10-12 inches around, and encourage mindless amounts of food for our meals without us even realizing it!

A good idea is to put those larger dinner plates away, and pull out the salad or lunch plates. This visual cue will go far in halting overeating.

These simple strategies combined with the application of God’s Word in renewing your mind around portion control will bring powerful freedom and change in this area in your life - if you are interested in tackling this topic and more around the way you eat, grab a copy of our FRESH Start Workbook - we cover this in great detail with helpful aids in that book!

Top 10 FRESH Protein Foods {and How to Eat More!}

Why are proteins so important for your health?

Each cell in our body holds protein and we cannot live without it. Protein sustains our bodies by building and repairing tissues, and is an important part in the building of muscles and bones.

As Dr Mark Hyman explains - “Protein provides us with the building blocks of life—helping us make muscle, connective tissue, hair, blood, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and more. Clearly, it’s important that we’re eating enough of this essential macronutrient if we want to feel strong, energized, and healthy.”

OK, So how much should I be eating?

In recent years, an unbalanced view of protein has developed, partially due to the numerous fundamental diets that have risen in popularity, touting a diet of high protein as necessary for everything from bodybuilding to weight loss. It’s important to note in this article that here at FRESH Start, we are neither a diet nor a fundamental fitness plan - we believe in balance, individual intuition-led eating, and eating the amount of protein that YOU NEED for your particular goals and needs!

That said, there is a “suggested range” of daily protein intake that we need for just “normal living” …

- now, this is obviously for those who are either somewhat sedentary or not aggressively working out.

(So this would be different from someone who is bodybuilding, working out an hour or more daily, or even, like in my case, is deficient in protein due to a chronic illness, etc)

The general idea is that we need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

(Above paragraph taken from this article on Healthline. com)

No matter the amount you choose to eat for your needs, it is a good idea to eat it in small amounts throughout the day, as protein is a filling nutrient.

Combine Food Groups for better Results!

“Food combining,” or including some type of protein WITH healthy fibrous foods and a healthy fat with every meal or mini-meal is powerful for your nutritional needs. It’s been discovered that this helps the body to properly break down the food, and absorb more of the benefits, as well as stabilize our blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates from our foods provide the fuel and energy we need. Proteins are the building blocks of our cell structure. If carbohydrates are not available, the body will burn through the proteins and not ingest and put them to use properly.

The goal then, is to get more protein-rich foods in your body, more often, along with the other major food groups at the same time for optimal digestion!

Here’s a list of our top protein-rich foods, the nutritional benefits they contain, as well as ideas on how to eat more of them!

our top 10 FRESH proteins:

1. Chicken Breast

a 3.5 oz. chicken breast contains 30 grams protein - wow! - but they’re also full of phosphorus, an essential mineral that helps your teeth and bones, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system function

  • add grilled chicken to your salads

  • grill chicken and mangos for a yummy lettuce wrap

2. Salmon

high in essential fatty acids, and contains one of the highest protein loads in an animal protein - but also rich in B vitamins and selenium, 2 of the vitamins your body strongly needs for mental health

3. Eggs

versatile source of protein, rich in B-complex vitamin choline, which reduces inflammation

  • prepare a yummy omelet with veggies sauteed in a tsp of healthy fat, like olive or coconut oil for a power breakfast

  • keep a few boiled eggs in the refrigerator - add to salad or for a quick sandwich snack

4. Avocado

as well as lean protein, contain excess of 25 essential nutrients for your health, including vitamin A, B, C, E, & K, copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium AND is a healthy fat!

  • add sliced avocado to any sandwich or salad

  • serve sliced avocado along-side scrambled eggs

5. Beans & Legumes

high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Helps with weight management and to decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease

  • Make homemade hummus out of chickpeas

  • Add to salads or toss with veggies

  • Add black beans to taco meat

6. Greek Yogurt

yogurt and chia and blueberries cropped.jpg

high in protein (2x as much as regular yogurt!) has less lactic acid than other dairy, which makes it easier to digest and truly absorb the nutritional benefits to your body. (People who can’t digest other dairy can often digest Greek Yogurt with no problem.)

Greek Yogurt contains live microorganisms, or probiotics, which are good bacteria that we’re often deficient in. They are healing to your gut lining and help improve your immune system, and even, help reduce side effects of antibiotic treatments!

  • add 1/2 cup greek yogurt to your morning smoothie for a balanced, whole-food protein boost instead of processed powder

  • stir 1 Tbsp chia seeds into 1/2 cup as an energy-giving power snack

7. Nuts and Seeds

(example: Almonds, Cashews, and Chia Seeds)

As tiny as these nutritional powerhouses are, they contain a large amount of vitamins, minerals and fats in addition to digestible protein for your body’s needs! The fats in them are the right kind (in moderation of course) and help keep down inflammation, maintaining the normal structure of every cell in your body.

  • Sprinkle a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flaxseed over a yogurt parfait or in your daily smoothie for an energy boost!

  • Pre-portion 1 ounce of raw, lightly or unsalted nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts or cashews into little bags for quick grab and go power snacks!

8.Sirloin Steak

good source of protein and other vitamins and minerals such as  B12 and Zinc

  • serve in a quickie stir-fry with broccoli, green onion, soy sauce, & cooked brown rice

  • try it just seasoned and grilled with a baked sweet potato

9. Ground, Lean (93/7) Turkey and/or Beef

not only super high in hefty protein, but low on the “bad fats” and nutrient-packed with iron, other minerals, and vitamins B12 & D

  • grill patties and serve on a whole wheat bun or pita piled with veggies

  • make a low-sodium taco mix with black beans and sweet corn & serve in tacos al carbon (warmed, not fried) or over a lush green salad

10. Quinoa

Cilantro lemon  quinoa edited.jpg

contains all 9 essential amino acids (one of the only foods that does!) and is a great source of riboflavin

  • quinoa-stuffed vegetables

  • try it with maple syrup and nuts for a yummy breakfast or snack

  • spoon over a spinach salad for added crunchy, chewy vegetarian protein!

It just takes a little planning and creativity to include more of these lean proteins in your daily diet!

The possibilities are endless!

Share some of your favorite ideas and recipes for these foods by commenting on this post or visit us on our Facebook page to share!

Healthy Swap - Replacing Pasta with Healthier Options

We’ve been making small changes every week here in the FRESH Start Community in our #52weeksofhealthyhabits Experience and this week, our step was to Swap Out - buy and cook a veggie, quinoa or whole grain pasta for the ole plain-white version. You can join us in this FRESH, fun experience (free!) by clicking on the pic!

So what’s wrong with the white pasta we’ve eaten for years, anyway?

Well, it turns out, plenty.

In a nutshell, it’s nutritionally empty, turns into sugar once inside your system, and can actually be inflammatory to many who struggle with autoimmune, chronic illness, gut issues and food sensitivities. And with the vast variety of options now available, you are sure to find a better option for your family to continue to enjoy pasta!

Maybe you can relate…

“I have picky eaters in my house, I’m afraid they won’t like the healthier options.”

I can certainly relate! There are a couple texture-sensitive eaters in my family as well - but we’ve found that if we keep trying different versions, prepared in different ways, we can move past the distaste and find options that can be a regular go-to in our family meals!

pasta pic edited.jpg

One tip for picky eaters…

is to try different shaped pasta (for instance, in my family, they prefer skinny noodles, like thin spaghetti) AND to cook it al dente (cook until JUST done, prevents mushy texture.)


More Veggies From Pasta?

That’s right! You can add healthy fiber through vegetables into your next pasta dish with this light option - Veggie Pasta. There are many shapes available to cook with! My family didn’t even realize they were eating veggies the last couple of times I served this pasta in a FRESH side dish!


Eating Gluten-Free?

For a light, delicious gluten-free option (that doesn’t get gooey when cooked al dente) - this particular pasta is made from Quinoa, Brown and White Rice and Corn Flour. This brand makes a variety of pastas, including Penne, Macaroni Elbows, Thin Spaghetti and more.


Whole Grain is Still Great

Unless you need to be eating gluten-free for specific health issues, you can still gain a nutritional benefit from whole wheat pasta. Tip: make sure the brand you buy has this Whole Grain “stamp” on the packaging.

Bean threads are a fresh n’ fun option

Affordable, too!

Bean threads, made from mug bean starch, are an easy, healthy way to enjoy a lettuce wrap, or Asian-flavored dish. I serve these well-marinated in teriyaki or low-sodium soy sauce, as they are quite bland in flavor and need a flavor boost.


Rice noodles - light and fresh!

Another light option is rice noodles - these are literally made from two ingredients: rice and water. I use these healthy pasta-replacements in this spicy, delicious recipe.


What do you think of these suggestions?

Have you tried any of these alternatives yet?

Joy in us in the (free and fabulous) FRESH Start Club and tell us what’s your favorite swap out for plain white pasta.

Which Diet is Best? (Or How to Eat for Your Health!)

As a longtime health coach, I get asked a lot…

Is veganism or vegetarianism the BEST way to eat for good health? 

Is Paleo or Keto better? 

Is intermittent fasting the way to go? 

Would you suggest following the Whole 30?

What about Weight Watchers or South Beach or Nutrisystem or AIP or DASH?

(I know, there's a LOT of 'em...and I only JUST started naming diets from the looonnnggg list available!)

Here’s what we DO know about this…

… from years of research - both reading, studying and working with hundreds of people as a health coach! AND from our own tested and real-live experience...

The BEST way of eating FOR YOU is a way that is:


Meaning you can realistically continue to eat that way through all of life's crazy up's and down's! Following this one idea eliminates most strict diets that effectively "ban" one or more entire food groups (ie veganism or Keto)

...sustainable usually = well-balanced



…meaning eat the way that FEELS GOOD to your body and brain (ie you have increasingly more energy, lifted brain fog and your intuition agrees with it) 

One way to gauge this is to do an "elimination plan" for a few days...first, remove ANY commonly offensive foods like sugar, caffeine, meat, dairy, gluten etc... then, journal your body's reactions when you reintroduce each food group (be sure to re-intro one food at a time) 


…no matter which specific plan you choose to follow (or even if you are just following your own wisdom and intuition, which is often a powerful plan!) Please choose FRESH FOODS first! 


So even if you're cutting back on meat or even going towards a plant based diet, make sure to choose fresh foods.

If you are working to cut processed carbohydrates and even some of your grains out, make sure that the rest of your choices are as fresh and whole as possible. 

There's an interesting common denominator that I have found about these diet plans in my latest research for the new book I'm writing for you guys....and it's that although the diets are NOT found to be sustainable for a huge majority of participants, the CENTRAL ELEMENT that IS working within all these diets, is that people are more intentionally choosing fresh and whole foods, improving their health in the long run.

Interesting, right?!

Eating FRESH matters! And it's sustainable and balanced and easily customizable to your own intuitive wisdom and personal lifestyle needs!

Talk to me more about this either here in comments or in our warm, supportive community FRESH Start Club (there’s no cost to belong to the Club and we’d love to have you!)

For a quick-glance at an eating plan that is sustainable, personal and balanced for life - grab your copy of the FRESH Start Can-Eat List here or click on pic below!

10 FRESH Ways to Add More Veggies to Your Family’s Meals

A common problem many of our community members face is making sure they are getting enough vegetables (and fiber) in their diets. Especially for those with picky eaters in the family, this can be a big challenge in eating a well-balanced diet plan long-term.


The minimum amount of vegetables we should all be eating each day is 6-9 servings and yet so many times we don’t even get one or two in there. Adding veggies to your diet is easier than you might think - we’re giving you some realistic ideas that even the busiest family can use.

Here are 10 ideas you can try to get your family to eat more vegetables!

Plan & Prep Ahead of Time – Sometimes, it’s feeling like we have NO time (or energy) during the week that’s an obstacle to eating enough vegetables throughout the day. Take just a few minutes before the busyness of the week even starts, and make an effort to prepare veggies for quick use during the week. (Visit here for the convenient + free guide from Coach Bess on planning your weekly meals!)

Cut up and package your veggies in bags or containers ahead of time.

At meal time, pull them out and enjoy them with hummus or in a quick wrap. Or, make meal time easier with ready-cut vegetables, easily throw in a salad or cook into a dish. Another idea is to pre-bake or roast a pan of veggies and place in a glass storage container. Pull them out and reheat easily for a wonderful side dish later on!


Low-Sodium Soups – Many people don’t eat vegetables because they can’t get past the consistency of them. Try sipping your veggies in soup form by first cooking, then pureeing them into a soup. Or, you can make a broth-based version and cook vegetables to your desired personal texture. Make your own soups or look for low-sodium versions at the store. Tomato, Garden (mixed) Vegetable or Broccoli soup are just a few choices in a large array of them!

Don’t be Afraid to Try New Things – Once a week (or even month), pick a new vegetable you’ve never tried before. You can add it to a favorite recipe you already make or look for different ways to cook it. Even if you don’t like some of them, keep trying! I’m willing to bet you’ll find 1 or 2 (or more) veggies you DO enjoy!

Brighten Things Up – Add vegetables with lots of color to your plate, especially salads. Here are some colorful veggies that taste great and are full of vitamins and minerals your body needs. Liven things up a bit because when your food LOOKS good it tastes better too. Here are a few colorful ideas:

    • Acorn Squash

    • Red Cabbage

    • Cherry Tomatoes

    • Sweet Potatoes

    • Black Beans

    • Red, Orange, and Yellow Bell Peppers

    • Radishes

    • Watercress

Save Time – Fresh or frozen vegetables can be cooked quicker in the microwave if time is an issue that stops you from eating more veggies with dinner. You can steam them by adding them to a bowl with a bit of water for a quick side dish to any meal. Frozen veggies (make sure the label is the veggie ONLY and not other things added) are a great option when fresh is too costly or just not available.

Order Extra When Eating Out – Instead of a fried side dish or appetizer order a second veggie side or small salad when dining out.

Eat What’s In Season – To save money and get the best tasting veggies, buy and eat specific veggies when they are in season. Sprouts, Trader Joe’s and Farmers Markets often have a fresh selection of seasonal choices. Your regular grocer should as well, and often has organic or locally grown to choose from, sometimes at same or similar price.

Fresh is Best, but Frozen Is Good Too – If you can’t find fresh veggies or have picky eaters who prefer canned over fresh, meet them in the middle and buy frozen. Peas, corn, spinach, broccoli, snap peas, and even cauliflower rice - as well as other frozen veggies - are great additions to lots of meals and make for quick and easy side dishes.

Canned Veggies – While not the best choice, (always choose fresh or frozen first if possible) there are some canned veggies such as tomatoes, beans (kidney, garbanzo), etc. that are FRESH Start-approved to use in meals. If you’re picking battles and it means the only way to get vegetables into your family’s bellies, go for it. Just remember to buy reduced, low or no-sodium (salt) and rinse beans well before cooking!

Play Hide & Seek – Or just “hide!” If you’re like me, you’ve got picky eaters who sometimes just refuse to eat vegetables. It’s fun to find ways to hide them in foods they do like to eat. Examples are Smoothies, spaghetti sauce, chili, & muffins.

green smoothie kiwi.jpg

You don't have to try all of these at once. Pick one or two and begin putting those into action - small steps create lasting results! Before you know it, your body will be asking you to eat even more and you can add a few more ideas from the list.

Need some new ideas on how to make meals with more vegetables?

Here are a few quick & easy ones we think you might like:

Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes

How to Make Greens 3 Easy Ways

Grill Your Veggies for Healthy Benefits + Recipes

Then join the conversation in our FRESH Start Club and {free} #52weeksofhealthyhabits Experience for more good stuff on this, and other healthy-lifestyle small steps!

It's A Junk Food Jungle Out There {And How to Get Out!}

Common junk foods like most chips, snacks, sodas and sweets are the obvious offender to a weight loss goal and healthy diet…but what about those hidden food traps? There are so many! The deception is everywhere...from foods that are blatantly, falsely advertised as healthy, to everyday choices we thought were great options, but as we learn more and more about this, we realize they aren’t.

Junk Food Jungle 2.png

An even greater crime is that food marketers target kids!

Most children’s commercial foods have more added sugar, food coloring and additives and preservatives in them than they do nutritional benefits! Oh, like fruit juices. Orange, apple, grape…UGH – read the label! Huge sugar boobie traps.

Take fruit snacks as another example: there is not a fleck of fruit in them! Yogurts are another “Whhaaaatttt? I can’t believe it!” food. Watch those added sugar amounts, and check the nutrition amount...then choose the lower-sugar version, you can always flavor it with fruit, honey, or stevia on your own.

Beware of the bountiful amount of unhealthy foods our “wonderful” manufacturers offer us, even (and maybe especially) the ones marketed to those of us watching our diets and food labels. They are not always what they seem to be.

There is so much more about this in my book, FRESH Start for Health - where I share in a refreshingly simple and grace-based way…it’s a Junk food Jungle out there, but we’ve got a way to hack through and get out!

*Junk Food Jungle - How To Find Your Way Out*

Sometimes maneuvering the grocery store aisles without derailing the FRESH eating plan brings more stress than the thought of teaching your teenager to drive! (Pulled completely from personal experience here LOL!)

We head straight to the veggie & fruit section, only to run right into a stand FULL of candy plopped right in the middle of the bananas and pineapples (and some of it is disguised as NUTRITIOUS!)

We avoid the chips and crackers aisle just to find them screaming at us from a corner stand at the seafood section! Yes, it is a Junk food jungle and no one is safe from the false labeling & marketing slogans that convince you that kind of food is actually good for you (when many times, if food has a label, it isn’t!)

So how to get out of the grocery store (errr Jungle!) without too much harm?

First matter of business has to be setting yourself up for grocery shopping success before you leave the house. {Chapters 6 & 7 in the above-mentioned book give the low-down on exactly how to do this! My mission - and I DO choose to accept it - is to help you eat FRESH and get out of the junk food jungle!}

Part of the survival plan at the market is to go in with your armor...your shopping list!

Make a meal plan, and then put together your shopping list for that plan - before you ever leave your house! {Need an example of a family-friendly meal plan that is FRESH food to follow?}

One of the best ways to get out of the Jungle and still be on track is to always use a list, and always eat healthy before you go! Another tip if you truly struggle with temptation and need to pull back for a bit - use the new “pick up” services that most stores now offer. Win-win.

Here’s the TOP 5 sugar traps to watch out for in the store:

1.  Yogurt (especially the squeeze kind) – contains 15-27 grams of the white stuff (added sugar) per serving. Read closely also to see HOW they are sweetening the yogurt, and how many ingredients are in it. Try to purchase yogurt that lists 5 or under ingredients and have ideally less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

{FRESH Fix: Get low-sugar OR plain Greek yogurt instead and flavor with fruit, honey, etc – try to stick to under 7 grams per serving. The kind I buy my kids uses Stevia as the sweetener}

2. Cereal – This stuff is BAD…and it’s tough, because our kiddos think it’s GOOD. There is an entire aisle in the store with boxes and bags of it for a reason. (Demand!) However, when each “serving” of cereal is between 11-23 grams of sugar and kids usually eat 2 or more servings PER meal, we have a problem! Add in the milk, and its 11 grams of sugar PER 8 ounces. OUCH. Plus, there’s hardly any nutrition at all in this “food.”

{FRESH Fix: Choose homemade low-sugar granola instead, or whole grain varieties of store bought. Try to get away from cereal as a staple and turn it into more of a treat - only serving it on rare occasions.}

3. Juice boxes and other “kid-friendly” sugary drinks – There’s not enough nutritional benefit to these drinks to justify the sugar and chemical content, no matter what the package marketing says. Just steer clear of the TWO AISLES of packaged drinks in the store altogether.

{FRESH fix: Make homemade teas and real-fruit-infused water instead, there’s many varieties that are TASTY and with low to no sweetener! Try fruit-infused waters with fresh mint, and healthy homemade iced coffee drinks. We also occasionally have Truvia-sweetened PURE Crystal Light drinks. It’s a great treat choice, and is a “better” choice than aspartame-sweetened ones.}

4.  Granola bars and commercially prepared “breakfast” foods – Watch out! The 13-30 grams of sugar PER SERVING in these marketed-like-they’re-healthy choices will spike your kiddo’s blood sugar before the day even begins. Plus they contain little to no nutrition or, the nutrition found within is processed versions, bringing all kinds of complications with it.

{FRESH fix: Make homemade choices instead, or try these two FRESH Start-approved choices – Nature Valley Protein Bars (6 grams sugar) and Kashi (make sure to choose the under 10 grams sugar ones.}

5. Fruit snacks or roll-ups – there’s NO fruit in them. They are little expensive pieces of chemically-produced, gelatin-filled, sugar-laden blood spikers that do nothing for hunger but actually create a ravenous hunger driven by the spike in insulin in a child’s body. (Can you tell, I DON’T LIKE THESE at all!) They also promote dental cavities and other dental health issues.

{FRESH fix: Eat REAL fruit instead. Help your child rediscover what they LOVE about grapes, apples, bananas, kiwi, mangoes and dozens of other choices. Use creative and fun ways to enjoy them - make smoothies out of them that taste like ice cream, freeze the grapes, put fruit chunks on a kabob stick, cut pineapple into flower shapes, etc. Once you’ve helped their taste buds get reacquainted with fibrous sugar, they will begin asking for fruit again!}

Tell me in the comments below what your experience is in the Junk Food Jungle called the grocery store?

Is this an area you are working on changing?

Join the conversation in our FRESH Start Club for more about this oh-so-real challenge we all face!

How to Break off a Sugar Addiction

We all love sugar, don’t we? I do for sure! The problem is that as we continue to ‘love on’ sugar it quickly becomes a habit and THEN can become an addiction. For so long I thought I was crazy to think I was “addicted” to sugar. The truth is you and I are NOT crazy when we feel out of control of our consumption of sugar.

This week, we begin with a quick video where I share from my heart about our attachment to sugar – and how you may want to begin “breaking up” with it in your life!

Addicted to sugar...really?

Why am I addicted to sugar?

We consume sugar in more ways than just foods that we think of as “sweets.” We know that soda, candy bars and cake are made of sugar. We know that these are treats, these are things we don’t eat on a regular basis. These things are obviously low in nutritional value. But in today’s world many foods that are marketed to families and even directly to children are deceptively loaded with hidden sugars.

With this huge amount of sugar hiding in foods we commonly eat every day it is no wonder that so many of us are addicted to sugar.

The first step to tackle an addiction to sugar

The first step is simple yet cannot be emphasized enough. You must raise your OWN awareness of how much sugar you are consuming each meal or snack.

1. Look for SUGAR on the label and IGNORE all the other information there for now

2. Do some mental math…add up the grams in all the items you’ll be consuming for breakfast or a snack, in total

Did you know?

a teaspoon of sugar is 4.2 grams!

So if something contains 20 grams of sugar that is almost 5 TEASPOONS of sugar in that one serving! And pay attention to serving size. How many times do you actually drink just the 8 oz of orange juice?

What does this mean? How can we give ourselves a sugar reality check?

Back in the day when our grandparents were eating mostly whole foods and before packaged foods became the norm, their average sugar consumption was between 9-20 grams each day. Now the average American is averaging somewhere between 50 to 80 and 120 grams of sugar EVERY DAY. By comparison this is about 12 or 13 times our Grandparents consumption! And much of this is by accident. We’re consuming most of our sugar first from drinks {juices as well as the commonly known culprit soda and fancy coffees} and secondly, from hidden sugars in our foods.

{Have you noticed that diet mayonnaise, diet salad dressings and even spaghetti sauce has SUGAR as an added ingredient? It pays to read ALL labels to discover all the hidden sugar sneaking into our foods!)

No wonder we are sicker and struggling with so much chronic illness today! Sugar causes inflammation and wears down our immune system. The most current research even points to inflammation as the basis for most of our serious and troubling diseases including cancer, heart disease and even dementia & Alzheimer’s.

Before you panic that you no longer get to enjoy food…take it just one step at a time!

Start breaking up with our addiction to sugar

Today you’ve made a great start at becoming aware of how much sugar you and your family are consuming each day. You’re empowered to read labels and add up the math, along with a reality check about how things have changed in just a couple generations…since our Grandparent’s time.

Here’s a helpful tool to start tracking your sugar grams…

Download your own copy of the PDF by clicking on the picture! Track for 5 days and see what you find - then you can start reducing the sugar-laden foods where you see trends.

So now let me encourage you. Here at Fresh Start we believe in one change at a time. This way our changes become life-long healthy habits instead of just reactions to the newest fad about what’s healthy or good for us.

Your next step is to really begin to delve into educating yourself more about sugar. On our FRESH Start YouTube channel, there is a whole series of videos explaining all about sugar, sugar substitutes and how to withdraw off the large amount of sugar in the American diet.

Let's talk about this…

You’ll also receive so much more on creating your healthy lifestyle one realistic step at a time, by becoming a member of our free FRESH Start Club! It’s free, and the folks there are so warm and welcoming. Join us there and start taking your healthy-living journey one step at a time with friends.

A Healthy Gut Means a Healthy You

This guest post is written by our guest expert, Carl Mason, Fitness and Food Guru and longtime FRESH Start friend. Read on to learn this oh-so-important info about our guts and exactly how important it is to care properly for it, to ensure our overall health! You can find out more about Carl at the end of this article.

I say it often, “Your gut is the heart of your health.”

Just ponder that for a minute. Where does your body access nutrients that feed your cells? Where does nutrient absorption take place for your muscles, your brain, all your organs? Where are toxins isolated and expelled to prevent you harm? It all happens in the gut.

The gut is more than your stomach. It is a very complex, strategically functioning network that includes…

Your Mouth

Your mouth is the gateway to your gut. From the moment you smell dinner, your mouth waters and the digestive process begins. With every chew, the process continues as the enzymes of your saliva start to break down the food.

Your Esophagus

As you chew every bite, ideally 15-30 times, the food enters your esophagus where it is delivered into your stomach.

Your Stomach

Now that your dinner has arrived in the stomach, it is sterilized and the digestive process continues with the aid of hydrochloric acid. Meanwhile, the stomach’s enzymes process proteins and nutrients while the stomach churns this broken down food, called chyme, into a liquid.  

Your Small intestine

At this point, your brain gets involved and once it has decided that the food is properly broken down, it signals the release into the small intestine. This is where all those nutrients are absorbed and become the building blocks that keep you healthy.

Your Pancreas, Liver, Gallbladder

These three organs are now vital to the process. The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine that break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, while also producing insulin to help regulate your blood sugar. The liver, your protein building organ, produces bile, which is secreted into the gallbladder, that is then released, as needed, into the small intestine to break down fats. Now, this is a two way street as your small intestine then sends carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients to the liver, where they are converted into protein and glucose, to be used as fuel for the body.

Colon and Rectum

Once the small intestine has done its job alongside these three vital organs, the remaining material is passed into the colon. Its role is to absorb all the water and electrolytes before passing any remnant waste to the rectum and out of the body.

It’s all very clever, wouldn’t you say?

It gets better. Within this entire network is something called your microbiome. It is essentially the atmosphere in your gut that is comprised of living microorganisms. And you feed it with every bite you take...either for good or bad. The trouble is, that the modern diet feeds the bad, and also kills the good.

All the refined foods filled with synthetic flavorings, preservatives, and additives are deadly to the microbiome. The lack of fiber, common in these foods, is yet another blow. Did you know that only 5% of Americans are believed to ingest the minimum recommended daily allowance of fiber considered good for your health? Five percent. That’s shocking, right? Yet, fiber is the number one nutrient that feeds a healthy microbiome.


So how do you make sure you are empowering a healthy microbiome and the fantastic health you are seeking?

Avoid Toxic Foods

Refined and processed foods are loaded with toxins that include antibiotics, glyphosate, and a long list of chemical additives, preservatives, and flavorings that replace everything that refining has destroyed. Every one of them is deadly to your gut health.

Avoid Refined Sugar and Oils

These, in addition to the negative effects of all the same toxins just mentioned, feed the bacteria that cause gas, indigestion, bloating, and chronic inflammation which throw a roadblock to your digestion and health.

Consume Prebiotics

You all know about PRObiotics but do you know about PREbiotics?

Probiotics must be fed in order to remain active and vibrant and that is where prebiotics enter the scene. They are, essentially, a plant fiber that your body cannot digest. They reside in your large intestine where they feed the probiotics to do their job.

Very simply put, eat loads of fiber from sources like activated whole grains, leafy greens, fresh fruit, and ample vegetables. I’d even consider a natural supplementation of psyllium husks taken first thing in the morning.

Consume Probiotics

You may be taking a probiotic supplement. Unfortunately, you are likely wasting your hard earned money. I know that is a frustrating statement to read. But don’t distress. There are very easy and far more delicious ways to get those much-needed probiotics.

Fermented of my favorite nutritional topics.

I know that word fermented doesn’t sit well with modern consumers. Yet, fermented foods have been a staple in cultures around the world for thousands of years. It has only been in the last 100 years that they have fallen from grace and nearly vanished from your nutritional health strategy. They were sadly replaced with pickles...vinegar based, shelf stable, pasteurized, pickles.

Properly fermented foods are loaded with billions of probiotics per serving which could be as small as a teaspoon. And they are alive, all natural, robust and ready to get right to work.

So what are they and how do you eat them?

Here’s my list…

  • Miso

  • Kombucha

  • Kimchi

  • Sauerkraut

  • Shoyu Soy Sauce

  • Pressed Salads

I realize this list may be foreign to many of you. It may even be daunting.

But these are all accessible, delicious and easy to include options.

Miso can be added to sauces, soups/stews or made as a simple broth to drink like tea.

Kombucha is a refreshing beverage while kimchi and sauerkraut are condiments in any meal.

Shoyu soy sauce is a traditional Japanese version that makes for great seasoning in grains or stir-fry.

Pressed salads are easily prepared at home with salted, sliced vegetable that you press underweight for an hour and then consume as a side to your meal.

In fact, here is my favorite pressed salad recipe:

Easy Pressed Salad

  • 1 head napa cabbage or any other leafy green, thinly sliced

  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced

  • 1 small daikon or 6 red radishes, thinly sliced

  • 2 stalks celery, sliced thin on the diagonal

  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced paper thin

  • 2 medium carrots, grated

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar OR umeboshi plum vinegar

Place all the vegetables in a glass bowl. Add the salt and mix well then place a plate over the vegetables and press down with something weighted like a brick, a thick book or rock. Press for 1 hour. Remove plate, and squeeze out excess liquid. If the salad is a bit salty, rinse with cool water and dry thoroughly. Toss with vinegar and serve.

Keep in mind, you can use most any vegetables you like.

As you explore these truly good probiotic eats, just beware that not all are created equally and selections such as sauerkraut must not be the vinegar-based varieties down your grocery store aisle. The authentic versions will be in the refrigerator section.

Be mindful of the quality and authenticity and you’ll get incredible benefits.

Now that you understand the basics of your digestive system and its function and have a simple guide to feed it well, you can begin to make a beautiful transition to better health.

Remember, you deserve great health. You were designed for it and every provision has been made to ensure it. It’s your time to thrive in health and it begins with your gut.

Happy eating!
~ Carl


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Carl Mason uses the elements of nutrition, fitness, mindset, self-care and home health to create a lifestyle of health. He used these very tools 22 years ago to cure his “incurable” cancer following five years of chemo and radiation. Today, he is professionally and personally dedicated to sharing this blueprint with the world. Even his off-work hobbies reflect these values and passions. You can reach him through his powerful group at or email him directly at

How to Make Easy Elderberry Syrup

It’s that time of year when cold and flu season will be upon us and many times, it’s convenient to run out to the store and grab an over the counter medicine to treat fever, coughs, body aches and pains. It’s better in the long run, though, to boost the immune system naturally. Keeping the body healthy and less susceptible to those nasty germs and viruses is always a good idea!

How to Make Easy Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is a natural way to boost the body’s immunity because elderberries are very high in vitamin A, have more vitamin C than oranges and are high in quercitin (a powerful antioxidant). They are also a natural anti-inflammatory and have antiviral properties that can not only help prevent colds and flus but also help the body recover faster from these viruses.

You can find elderberry syrup in your local health food store already made or you can make your own at home with this easy DIY recipe which is more cost effective. You can buy elderberries at your local health market or buy them online from Amazon. It’s best to look for and use organic elderberries when possible.

Here’s how to make it…


  • 3/4 Cup of Dried Elderberries

  • 3 Cups of Water

  • 1 cup Raw Organic Honey


  1. Bring water to a boil in a pot.

  2. Add elderberries.

  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Let pot set for 15 minutes. Strain the elderberries using a fine wire strainer over a bowl.

  4. With the back of a large spoon press down on the berries to remove as much liquid as possible. Squish the berries down to extract a little more liquid. Discard or compost elderberries unless you have another use for them.

  5. Pour strained liquid back into clean pan and warm it over medium heat.

  6. Add honey. Cook uncovered until reduced to syrup consistency. Let cool to a warm temperature and pour into glass Mason jar and store in the fridge (it will last several months!)

How to Take Elderberry Syrup

Adults: For prevention take 1 tablespoon daily during cold and flu season. Take 1 tablespoon 4 times daily if you have a cold or the flu.

Children: Take 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup 3 times per day during a cold or flu and for prevention take 1/2 -1 teaspoon daily during cold and flu season.

FRESH Start Coach Sue Glashower of Busy Moms Living Well recently took us behind the scenes in her own kitchen as she made a batch of elderberry syrup! (Her recipe is slightly different, but the general idea on how to make this is the SAME, so it will still be quite helpful!)

Here is Coach Sue’s how-to video for our visual learners!

Of course, here at FRESH Start, we know that our healthy lifestyle is a whole-life process, and goes a long way to boost the body’s immune system and keep sickness at bay! So, eating FRESH whole foods while avoiding sugar and processed foods, continuing to move FRESH, and even keeping our Spirits healthy, work for our overall health … along with taking this syrup!

Let us know in the comments below if you use Elderberry Syrup in your holistic routine for whole-family health!

How to Have a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

As you gather around your dinner table this Thanksgiving, enjoying those tasty traditional dishes, and leave food-guilt behind – most of what you are about to eat is actually good for you!   

Here’s how to have a healthy Thanksgiving dinner:

Sweet potatoes – these babies are a super food, full of beta-carotene, which produces large amounts of Vitamin A for your body!  Vitamin A not only strengthens eyesight, but also your immune system!  The incredible amounts of Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B6 and fiber packed into this family favorite also benefit the body. 

The bad news is that adding sugar and too much unhealthy fat to this dish downplays the benefits – so try using olive oil in the dish instead of butter, and enjoy the natural sweet flavor instead of smothering the potatoes in sugar!

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Pumpkin Pie - Full of fiber, beta carotenes, Vitamin C, potassium, and iron, this nutritious treat is almost all good!  Try making it with less sugar and low-fat evaporated milk for a healthier version, and you’ll have a dessert that is good for your heart, immune system, and eyes!

Stuffing – This dish can go either way, as some versions include too much butter and processed carbs.  Try making yours this year with whole wheat bread crumbs, and add in apple bits, nuts or seeds, and extra veggies; like carrots and squash, to add fiber and other nutrients to this traditional favorite! 

With the benefits from the broth and those nutrients combined, your stuffing now has more nutritional punch!

Sides – During the pre-Thanksgiving dinner rush in the grocery store, I noticed there were more shoppers in the fresh foods department than anywhere else in the store. The traditional dinner often includes collard greens, green beans, squash dishes, and brussel sprouts as filling and delicious sides. (I wonder if we eat more fresh veggies as a nation on this holiday more than any other day of the year!) 

What can I say? It does this health coach’s heart good to see this! 

These sides are loaded with multiple vitamins, minerals and fibrous benefits for our bodies – so good for us! Just try and keep the “additions” like butter and salt, to a minimum. Many of these selections can be broiled, sauteed or steamed and just lightly sea-salted or drizzled with a small amount of olive oil.

And let’s not forget the “star of the show” - the big bird!

Turkey – This main event is a lean protein, providing healthy benefit to your body without a lot of fat or harmful additives. It’s high in tryptophan, the nutrient that helps your body produce serotonin, which helps you regulate mood and sleep patterns. It also includes such necessary nutrients as the B Vitamins, folic acid, selenium, and potassium. It’s healthier to enjoy it skinless, and without a lot of additional fats, like butter, so try moisturizing it with olive oil, and “steam cooking” it in a bag in the roaster to keep it tender without the additional oils.

The nutritious benefits you’ll be getting from these family-favorite dishes are worth every bite. 

Enjoy them in moderation (always a good rule of thumb!) and your body will thank you for the added nutrients this delicious dinner brings. 

Have a wonderful and warm Thanksgiving holiday, everyone!

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. 


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!


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.


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!

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, join us in the FRESH Start Club! Totally free and warm place with resources & support for step-by-step, family-friendly healthy living!

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!

cucumber water.jpg

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 our FRESH Start for Health 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.


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! 


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 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.


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!


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!


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!


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!)