February 25, 2018

Entertain Without the Holiday Weight Gain

christmas tableI am a true southern girl who loves to entertain. I have to admit, holiday and party foods are my favorite. However, to entertain without the weight gain, during the holidays, can be a challenge. With the average weight gain for Americans of 7-12 pounds from Thanksgiving to Christmas, it is crucial to have a plan to avoid those extra pounds.

Planning how to eliminate the temptation to indulge is just as important as planning the party itself.  Here are a few of my strategies.


  • Eat healthy the day of the party

Don’t let the time get away from you with all of the baking, cooking, cleaning, decorating and errands and forget about eating.  To avoid starvation and overindulging by the time your guests arrive, be sure to budget time during your day to eat a healthy nutritious meal.

  • Prepare healthy options

Have healthier options available and fill most of your plate with foods that are lower in calories to give yourself less room on your plate for the higher calorie treats.

  • Prepare your staple items

If you entertain regularly, you probably have those recipes that are a crowd favorite.  Stick to them and maybe try one new thing. Attempting all new recipes can lead to taste testing all day…which leads to extra calories all day. I have a couple of desserts that I know will work every time. No need to sample.


  • Focus on your guests

If you have eaten properly during the day, you will be ready to give all of your attention to your guests.  Enjoy your food, but don’t make it your focus.

  • Have smaller plates available

To accommodate all of your guests, having different plate sizes available is a way for every person to control their own portion sizes.  Decide ahead of time that a smaller plate will be your choice.

  • Have ‘to-go’ boxes ready

As the hostess, my biggest fear is running out of food so I tend to prepare too much and end up with plenty of leftovers.  However, having them remain overnight can be disastrous. If you can relate, have cute ‘to-go’ boxes ready for anyone who may wish to take some home and get them out of your house.

Don’t fall into the weight gain statistics this year.  Just as you must plan the food and decorations, be sure to plan your strategy to avoid the holiday weight gain as you entertain.

In Good Health,


Quiz Your Thanksgiving Attitude

It is the week before Thanksgiving, what is going through your mind right now?

  • Who will be at your house?
  • All you have to do.
  • Who you plan to avoid?
  • How will you get it all done?
  • You fill in the blank….

For me, I am thinking how will I get it all done, especially when I have planned to be out of town the weekend before Thanksgiving. I have to put it all in perspective and focus on what is important…my time with family and friends and truly being thankful for all God has blessed me with this year.

What has Thanksgiving been like for you?  Not having the right perspective can send you into a tizzy—not to mention out of control eating.  To stay in control and actually enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I focusing on what is important (or worrying about the wrong stuff)?

Make a list of the things that are really important to you.  Then make another list with the things that worry you or consume your thoughts.  Do the lists match?  We spend so much time worrying about things that just do not matter in the long run.  If still unsure, ask yourself if that “worry” will matter next year, or the next, or the next?

  • Do I get mad easily?

Life is too short to let every little thing upset us. Let this year be the year to LET IT GO.

  • Am I willing to ask for help when I need it?

Never think you have to do it all yourself.  I am sure there are others who can do just as good of a job and want to help. What can you delegate today or ask for from a friend or family member?

As we begin the week, I pray that we all keep a perspective on what is really important and not focus on the food, everything that has to be done, or worrying about the wrong stuff.  A good reminder for me is Colossians 1:1-2

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

No matter what is going on in our life, we can see God’s blessings all around us if we stop long enough and meditate on His goodness.

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

In Good Health,

Crystalfamily 2012


Simple Dinner to Avoid Holiday Stress

I can get myself in a pickle in my attempt to do too much at one time, especially during the holidays.  I forget that I should probably omit some of my normal day-to-day  “to do’s”  with the additional list during this time of the year. I want to get it ALL done.  One thing I have learned is that I need to give up trying to do too much in the evening for dinner and have a simple dinner recipe to avoid additional stress for the next few weeks. 

It’s not too early to start putting together an eating plan to avoid stress and the average weight gain of 5-7 pounds during the holiday season.  Planning to have simple dinners for the next few weeks can help in two areas.

  1. Reduces Stress and Time

You may like preparing elaborate meals in the evening.  However, that time may be needed to get your other jobs done.  Don’t try and do it all.  Eliminate the stress of meal planning and focus on your holiday lists.

  1. Eliminates the Impulse for Fast Food

When things get busy and stressful, it can be a trigger to eat whatever is the first thing available.  Deciding to prepare a quick healthy meal, nothing fancy, will help in managing your weight through the season and reduce the stress that can happen with extra weight gain.

Cooking healthy does not have to be elaborate and there does not have to be a need to grab fast food. Plan to have a simple fruit and vegetable each night to make dinner quick.  Learn what you can easily throw in the CrockPot in the morning.  It’s not too early to get your holiday plan for a simple dinner to avoid holiday stress.  Try this to get you started.

 Simple Saucy Parmesan Chicken *

 4 small boneless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup Kraft Light Zesty Italian Reduced Fat Dressing

¼ cup Kraft 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese

  1. Place all ingredients in large sealable freezer-weight plastic bag; seal bag.  Turn bag several times to evenly coat chicken with remaining ingredients.  Lay  flat so chicken pieces do not overlap
  2. Refrigerate chicken 30 minutes to marinate
  3. Arrange chicken on foil-covered baking sheet; and bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees

Serves 4

Calories – 182

Fat – 6gms

Protein – 27gms

*adapted from Kraft Foods

My tip:

Prepare chicken right when you get home from grocery store with marinade and freeze in storage bag.  This will make it simple to pull out and cook on busy night.  Serve with salad and vegetables and cook extra for next day’s lunch.

In Good Health,



Confessions from a Control Freak to Avoid Holiday Stress

With the holidays right around the corner, I can quickly go into my “control mode” to have everything perfect for the next 8 weeks. I will have the perfect holiday menu, plan numerous activities, make elaborate crafts for my kids to take to school, despite not having a creative bone in my body, and please EVERYONE’S wishes to attend every holiday function. Yes, I confess, by nature, I am a CONTROL FREAK. I will attempt to do it all which is not a way to avoid the holiday stress that can happen during Thanksgiving and Christmas time.

For me, I have learned that I can’t do it all and maintain my sanity. I know I have to make exercise a priority when all of the hustle and bustle kicks into high gear.  It may not be with the time and intensity I have at other times of the year, but it is the key to avoid the stressful holiday demands, not to mention the extra pounds. When I am tempted to forego a workout because of everything I HAVE to do, it is usually more about what I THINK I have to do or undue pressure I have put on myself.

Have you ever felt or done this?

  • Added tasks to your plate without taking something off
  • Said yes to someone or something before evaluating your schedule or responsibilities
  • Skip exercise because you think you do not have time

Have you tried this?

  • Before agreeing to take on something new, put something else on hold that does not need to be a priority.
  • Instead of quickly saying ‘yes.’ respond with “Can I get back to you on that?”
  • Stick with your favorite family traditions that are special and memorable and don’t add more.
  • Forget thinking you have to spend a lot of time exercising.  Get a “holiday” modified workout.  The key is maintenance for the next couple of months.

Decide today that exercise will be a priority and schedule it each week, even if is 20 minutes each day. Remember that you are no good if you are not taking care of yourself.  Focus on what is really important and ask God to direct your time with all you have to do.

When this “control freak” slips into thinking all plans have to go according to my time frame and way of doing things, I stop and say this simple prayer to our Heavenly Father.

Psalms 31:14-15
But I trust you, O Lord,
I say, You are my God,
my TIMES are in your Hands.

Think about it.  Is it stressful or do you bring it on yourself?  Take some time to evaluate your plans this season with a little walk.  Get some exercise and avoid the holiday stress.

In Good Health,

Your Wellness Coach and Control Freak,




What to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy?

The holiday treat season is about to kick off!  Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you how you can maintain a healthy weight and your sanity throughout the holidays, starting with tomorrow. You may discover if  you have not already, that you inherited a lot of candy without intending to do so. Each year, I host a neighborhood trick or treat party with many families bringing their candy to pass out at our home. However, at the end of the night, they usually opt to leave all of their leftover candy with me. This usually leaves me with two options:

  1. Eat all of it, or
  2. Throw in all in the trash.

I don’t want the temptation for me or my family to have unlimited access to an abundant amount of candy and I don’t want to see money thrown in the trash.  So what to do with leftover Halloween candy? If you can relate, my solution is to freeze it!


Yes, pack it all up and freeze it; and here is why.

  1. Out of sight…out of mind.  If you can resist the temptation for the first few days when you can remember it is in the freezer, you may forget about it all together.
  2. Certain candies can be used for baking a quick simple dessert, if needed in a pinch.  By taking an easy recipe, and adding something extra like those leftover little chocolates, it appears you have slaved in the kitchen all day. The best part…it gets it out of your freezer for others to enjoy.

Here is an example: I believe a dessert is a must when entertaining.  It is the southern girl in me (plus it is my favorite), but I have very little time to bake completely from scratch.  I have learned that most people want  just a small sweet after a meal (and that’s all they need).  Elaborate desserts are not always necessary, especially when trying to maintain a healthy weight.  My favorite is to make brownies with homemade icing from leftover chocolates in my freezer; or use them to add into the brownies. It is an easy way to kick things up a little, use what I have, and eliminate candy sitting out all of the time.

So instead of wondering what to do with left over Halloween candy this year, remove it from all of the dishes around your house and pack it up.  It will remove the temptation and prepare you for an upcoming holiday event when you may need a quick and easy dessert.

In Good Health,


Sweet Crock Pot Pork Chops

Fall – – my favorite time of the year.  It is finally somewhat enjoyable to be outside in Southeast Texas, but also a very busy time of the year with school and extracurricular activities. My time is limited in the kitchen, which means extra cooking with my Crock Pot is a necessity. A family favorite are these delicious Sweet Pork Chops.


pork chops

In addition to the fun things to do in this season, things are also about to get kicked into high gear with all of our holiday festivities and “to do’s.” Taking the time to plan and think through your meals will help you avoid the holiday weight gain that can happen quickly when things get out of control or off-schedule.

One of the techniques I share with my clients is to look at your schedule and plan your method of cooking according to what you have going on for that particular week. It can be frustrating to plan a certain meal, only to realize you do not have the time for that particular recipe.  Are there certain days that make more sense to cook in the Crock Pot? Could you double a recipe one night to have leftovers on a night you cannot cook? Decide what would work best for your family, schedule, and sanity.

Proverbs 21:5 says: “The plans of the diligent lead surely to the advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty.”  

Getting organized and planning ahead

can help you maintain your weight and sanity,

along with enjoying this season with friends and family.

Try these pork chops and pair it with a sweet potato and your favorite fall vegetable or just a tossed salad.  It is easy and a crowd pleaser.


  • 6 Pork chops (cut ½ -3/4 thick)
  • 1 onion sliced or chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • pepper to taste



  • Place pork chops in Crock Pot and sprinkle with garlic and onions.
  • Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and then pour over the chops.
  • Cook on low for about 7 hours.

Nutritional Value:

  • Calories: 410
  • Fat: 18grams
  • Carbs: 16grams
  • Protein: 44grams


In Good Health,


Your Physical Wellness…It is Not All About You


“I need to exercise. I know I should, but I just can’t make myself do it.”  Do these words sound familiar?  A busy life, lack of motivation, or fear of the unknown can all be reasons exercise is not a priority in a woman’s life.  However, taking the time to focus on one’s physical well-being through exercise is necessary to have a life of complete wellness, our third component of Wellness in this series.  It may be tempting to quit reading this now, but as you may have heard me say before,  your physical wellness is not all about you….so hang with me for a minute.

There are many benefits to exercise; however, one of the greatest benefits for women, in my opinion, is higher self-esteem and positive body image.  It is NOT about being a size 2 or 22. It is about feeling good with who you are as a woman and taking control of your health and fitness.  Most of us, want to feel good about who we are inside and out, but have you ever stopped to realize how we feel about our self affects other areas of our life and those around us?

For example:

  1. Our Relationship with our Spouse

Our relationship with our husband is greatly affected when being intimate with him or participating in his favorite outdoor activities become uncomfortable because of the way we may feel about our body.  The truth is looks may just be our issue, not his.  He just longs to have his wife do the things she once did with him.  Taking care of our health through exercise can give us confidence to meet his every need.

  1. Our Relationship with our Children

Staying physically active can provide the energy needed to participate in activities that children long for us to do with them.  Not only does it enable us to stay fit, but manage  the daily stress with the hustle and bustle of children.

  1. Our Relationship with Others

I have seen so many women shy away from participating in social activities with others or avoid putting themselves in situations to meet new people because of a poor body image.  It is very sad to think relationships and a deep connection with others are being missed because of a lack of security.

  1. Our Career

Recently, I had a client express to me that for years, she had turned away the opportunity to apply for a higher position at her job.  Although she knew she had the knowledge and experience, she was insecure about the way she looked and felt she would be judged by her appearance.  She was ready to start exercising and take charge of her health to gain the confidence she needed to apply for her dream job.

God wants you to know that you are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  It is not about being a certain size.  It is about feeling confident in who you are so that you are able to be the woman God created you to be.  Think about it: taking care of your physical wellness is not just about you.  It is a way to bring honor to God and be the best friend, wife, mother, volunteer, employer, or employee.

family hike

In Good Health,


Are You Taking Care of Your Spiritual Wellness and Spending Time with God?

Last week I shared there are three components of Wellness—social, spiritual, and physical.  This week, let’s discuss spiritual wellness.  You may be thinking, “I got this one!  I am a believer in Christ.”  But if you are honest with yourself, are you taking the time to focus on your spiritual wellness by spending time with God?

As a Fitness and Food Designer for busy women, I create fitness and nutrition plans for women.  What has always amazed me is that most women want not only to have time for exercise, but to have time with God each day; but it can be a struggle .

Women of today, myself included, can get overwhelmed at times with all there is to do, even when things that are good.  It can seem impossible to balance all of our different responsibilities and daily tasks, great and small.   However, I believe and know from personal experience, that the only way to have true peace and balance is to focus on your spiritual wellness every day.

If things have gotten so busy for you, take a minute to remember why spending time with God each day is a necessity of life to be spiritually well.

1. To Honor God

What if your husband, a close friend, or your child said, “I love you,” yet they never took the time to listen or have a conversation with you?   I am guessing you would question their feelings by their lack of interest in you.  We bring honor to our Creator by just showing Him He is important.

2. To have a life of peace and balance

Having a life of peace and balance does not just happen.  We cannot wake up, rush out the door, stay busy all day, fall asleep to television each night, and then expect to find a sense of peace and contentment in our life. One of my favorite scripture verses is Psalm 34:14 which says,  “Seek peace and pursue it.”  We have to find the time to seek it out in our daily walk with God.

3. To have less stress and anxiety

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”  Daily quiet time with God will reduce anxiety and stress.

4. To discover our sense of purpose

We can get so caught up doing so many “busy” things that keep us from being what God intended us to be.  A sense of purpose is found when we take the time to seek God and discover our personal gifts and talents.  It cannot be found when we busy our self trying to find it.

How do you find time to focus on your spiritual wellness?

1. Begin by realizing it is ok to start with 5-10 minutes a day.  Find a quiet place that is designated as your “quiet place.”  Have your Bible study and Bible in a basket ready to go so that you do not waste valuable time or become discouraged.

Bible basket

2. Start a daily journal.  Yes, I know it can be scary.  What if someone finds it and actually reads it?  There are many ways to journal, but I would recommend two of the following ways:


First,  journal your thoughts and feelings about the events in your day.  This can help get out all of the mental clutter that may cause stress and preoccupy you from taking time to focus on God and what He may want to tell you.

Secondly, journal your day to include all of your responsibilities and activities that can take up time in your day.  As you read it and reflect, you may find that you are spending your time on things that are not a priority.

And finally, if you are unsure how to focus on your spiritual wellness, take a moment today and read the vision you have for your life as I suggested in One Step to a Consistent Healthy Lifestyle .  When things get unbalanced for me, I know it’s time for me to revisit my vision and see how my time with God plays out in my day.

To be completely healthy and balanced, I ask you:  “Are you taking care of your spiritual wellness and spending time with God?”  If not, what is one step you can do today to make that happen?

In Good Health,


Are You Socially Well?

Wellness is one of the “hottest” health words of the 21st Century.  There are wellness programs and products everywhere.  However, I am not too sure most people know what it means.  Although it can be defined differently by many people, wellness is simply being healthy physically, spiritually, socially. For a woman to have balance and peace, each component of wellness should be a part of a healthy lifestyle. This week, let’s focus on Social Wellness.

Social Wellness can be defined as a person seeking positive, interdependent relationships with others, and developing healthy social behaviors. In today’s busy world, I am deeply saddened by the lack of true friendships between women.  Because of hectic schedules, pride, insecurities, and life’s demands, it can be easy to avoid investing time and energy into healthy relationships.

I have to be honest, there was a time many years ago that I fell into that category.  I was a busy woman, could handle things on my own, and did not feel the need to truly invest in real friendships. Oh, I had many “friends,” but not quality relationships.

Through the years, God has allowed me to go through struggles physically and emotionally that completely humbled me and brought me to the place where I realized I cannot do it alone.  During those times, if I did not have my “girlfriends” to give me Godly wisdom and encouragement, a shoulder to cry on or help with life’s demands, I do not know if I would have survived.

We, as women cannot let our pride, insecurities, anger, bitterness or busy schedules allow us to think we have to handle this life all on our own. God did not create us with that intention.  John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one than this, that he (she) lay down his life for his friends.”


I ask you today to stop and observe if you are surrounded and invested in positive, healthy friendships.  If not, is it time to leave your “normal crowd” or to begin investing in the good friends you do have?  Remember social wellness is not just being “social.” It is developing healthy social behaviors.

A good girlfriend is:

  • an encourager
  • a helper in time of need
  • a confidant
  • someone to hold you accountable to what is right and wrong, not what you think


Even as women, we can get uncomfortable when trying to make new friends or being vulnerable with the ones we have. Here are a few ways that I have had to learn.

  • Get involved and out of your comfort zone by attending a positive social gathering that is different from what you would normally do.
  • Throw a small party.
  • Identify one person in your circle that shows the qualities of a positive friend and invest time with her one on one. 
  • Be willing to be vulnerable.
  • Distance yourself from the wrong friends so that you have room for the right ones.


Begin today working on a well balanced life and discover how you can become more socially healthy.  Why not call a girlfriend and go have lunch?

In Good Health,



Italian Sausage Soup

Fall is here along with a busy schedule at my house which means time crock pot cooking. One of my family favorites is Italian sausage soup .  It is healthy and easy to throw together with a hectic schedule since I usually have most of the ingredients in stock.


  • 1 15-ounce can of any beans you like, drained; I use Pinto
  • 1 pound of lean sausage, your choice cut into bite size
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 medium carrot, diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup small pasta
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

My kids and my husband love, love, love sausage – – any kind of sausage, and the greasier the better to them.  However, they will get a healthier choice when I cook for them.  I like using deer sausage which is leaner and more flavorful especially when lucky enough to receive some from a friend, who is an avid hunter.



 Here is the easiest part.  Throw everything into your Crockpot, even sausage precooked and cook 6-8 hours on low.

in crock pot

For the last hour, add your pasta and cook on high.  When pasta is tender, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and you are ready to go.



This is a perfect meal on a cold night or a busy day when you don’t have time to stew in the kitchen.  It’s filled with lots of protein and fiber.  The carrots give one serving of a vegetable; however, you could add other vegetables such as zucchini or squash.  To add in a few more greens, I like to serve with a toss salad.

 toss salad

Italian Sausage Soup, it gives a kick to the name  soup and salad.

I can’t wait to share more recipes and tips on how to plan meals that are quick and easy for a busy schedule in my upcoming Weight Loss Teleclass.  Check it out and email me to sign up for my FREE ORIENTATION to learn more.

In Good Health,