What’s weighing you down? Part 1

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It seems I’m not the only one who struggles with issues related to food, nutrition and physical health. I did a quick survey of my subscribers and Facebook visitors recently, and I couldn’t have been more shocked at the results.

The struggle is real. I have to keep reminders visible so that I make good choices.

Not surprised that the No. 1 topic was diet and nutrition but that the consensus was UNANIMOUS. Everyone who replied to the email or visited the Facebook page wanted to talk about this topic next at To Well With You. (The choices were emotions/depression; finances/debt reduction; and diet/nutrition.)

Well … until I cajoled my skinny husband into voting. He picked a different No. 1 topic, but he said diet/nutrition was “a close second.”

Because Bruce ranked diet a close second, it shows that even underweight people struggle with food and nutrition issues. Bruce has Crohn’s disease, but he’s been super-thin all his life. And Candy, who commented on the Facebook page, said she had always been underweight until the past few years, and now she struggles with the opposite.

Life, age, hormones, medical problems, stress … they’ll do that.

I didn’t struggle with my weight (besides the typical female lament, “I’m fat!” when I wasn’t) until around age 30. (I can remember noticing around Christmastime a few weeks after my birthday that my butt was bigger than I had realized. It happens slowly …)

I’ve put off writing this series because I wasn’t sure where to start. I know I’ll be opening a can of worms once I get going, and where do we stop?

But I’ve opened the can, poured hot sauce on it, have my fork ready, and here we go.

A couple of people you’ll be hearing from as we take this journey together:

  • Dr. Margaret Rutherford, the clinical psychologist I referred to in my email to subscribers. She has a wonderful podcast, SelfWork, that makes me feel as though my best friend, mentor and sounding board are all speaking directly to me. Dr. Margaret practices in Fayetteville, Ark., and I met her through the Arkansas Women Bloggers community. I’m excited that she immediately accepted my invitation to help us sort through the noise and the mess of our thoughts and feelings around food. I’ll be asking her about emotional eating and lots of other stuff, and I hope you’ll feel free to ask questions, too. Dr. Margaret developed an eating disorder when she was in college, so she’s been there, y’all. Here’s her latest blog post, an excellent discussion of the emotions around food. (Tip: It really isn’t about the food.)
  • Dr. Beth Milligan, a medical doctor who’s been my friend since seventh grade! Dr. Beth was my personal physician when she practiced in North Little Rock, Ark. She’s since moved her practice and I moved to another town, so we only see each other on Facebook nowadays. Dr. Beth makes me laugh, and I always enjoyed looking at the autographed pic of Tom Selleck on the wall of one of her exam rooms! Dr. Beth wasn’t as surprised as I was that the survey respondents were unanimous about nutrition as their topic of choice. She has treated a lot of people with weight issues in her years of practice. I can’t wait to glean a few nuggets of insight from her. (And there’s bound to be a laugh or two.) We’ve been saying we need to collaborate on something, so I guess this is our chance! Here’s a link to Dr. Beth’s website.
  • Other clinicians or experts yet to be determined. I’m a podcast junkie and I love to read, so I’ll provide you with some good resources to check out. I’ll also reach out to others who can talk us through some of the topics we want to discuss.
  • You. I’d love to tell your story, share your insights, discover what you’ve learned, or maybe just support you in this community if that’s what you need. As I often say, WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. I believe God made us for community, and He has brought us together to learn from and help each other. If you’re brave enough to be interviewed for a future post, I’d love to talk to you. Contact me here.

Friend, I have SO many thoughts running through my mind as I write this. I’ve been bouncing ideas around in there constantly since getting the survey results.

Please give me your feedback. Do you have questions? Advice? Share them in the comments, post them on the Facebook page or send me a private message. We’re gonna tackle this can of worms, one bite at a time.

Pass the hot sauce.

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Recipe: Deby’s Teriyaki Marinade

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The last time I lived in California (post-bachelor’s degree), I was doing what you might call Livin’ the Dream: I had a great job at a newspaper, an awesome church (with accompanying awesome singles group), a house at the end of a cul-de-sac, a cute patio and a yard with beautiful landscaping. Our house was 45 minutes from the mountains, the desert or the beach, depending on your direction (and what time of day you went).

And my favorite: a swimming pool with an in-ground hot tub at one corner. (Doesn’t everyone in Southern California have an in-ground pool and hot tub?)

grilled teriyaki chicken
No photo for my grilling recipe? No problem. My generous friend Talya to the rescue! Photos courtesy of Talya Tate Boerner of Grace, Grits and Gardening.

I rented from my roommate, Deby, who owned the house and paid other people to maintain the property. (Doesn’t everyone in Southern California have a yard guy and a pool guy?)

Yup. Livin’ the Dream. (Except that my closest family units were 4-5 hours away by car.)

Deby and I had lots of cookouts and swim parties – sometimes with her friends, sometimes with mine, but always lots of fun and lasting until the wee hours of the morning (I was young then; I could do that).

One of my favorite things about Deby, besides her generosity (she pretty much let me do whatever I wanted, as long as I didn’t burn the place down), was that she was a gourmet cook. Financial planner by day, food magician by night.

She made creating delicious recipes seem effortless. (She once took a pot of chili I had left simmering on the stove and, after asking permission, turned it from blah to rah! just by sprinkling in some fairy dust a few spices.)

I experienced many culinary firsts at Deby’s table: I had never heard of cilantro (and now my love for it is limitless), I had never eaten orange roughy; I had never eaten sushi, had never heard of wasabi (no Japanese sushi restaurant has anything on Deby). Artichoke hearts with a creamy dill sauce, yum! And I didn’t have a clue what ceviche was (again, no restaurant can hold a candle). And our refrigerator always – always – housed a dish of fresh garlic butter, which we whipped up ourselves.

I “stole” several recipes from Deby, including the one below, which might embody her motto, and I heartily embrace it:

“Everything is better with garlic.”

(Go ahead. Write that down and tape it to your fridge.)

The first time I experienced her Teriyaki Marinade was when Deby invited me sailing with some friends who owned a sailboat. (Doesn’t everyone in Southern California own a sailboat?) The boat had a little grill, where we plopped down some boneless chicken that had been marinating in the cooler all morning.

salmon teriyaki recipeYou’ll have to experience for yourself how good this is, because I am out of words to describe it. I’ve since tried the marinade with salmon, one Fourth of July a few years ago – why just once? I don’t know! – and I’m sure it would be awesome with shrimp, too.

And, because this is Memorial Day weekend and you have more exciting things to do than listen to someone else wax nostalgic about her Livin’ la Vida SoCal days two decades past, here it is. (Note: I’m presenting it in its original form but have included a couple of healthier substitutions.)

What are you waiting for? Go get your grill on!

Deby, if you should stumble across this post someday, please get in touch. And thank you for everything you taught me about generosity, hospitality and good food.

Print Recipe
Recipe: Deby’s Teriyaki Marinade
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-20 minutes
Passive Time 4-8 hours
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2-20 minutes
Passive Time 4-8 hours
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Place mixture in a sealable bag or airtight dish with 6-8 boneless chicken breasts OR salmon steaks OR 1-2 pounds of shrimp.
  3. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, turning the bag at least once to make sure every surface gets plenty of yummy marinade.
  4. Discard unused marinade or boil it for use as a sauce. (I've never done this, but it seems a shame to waste it.)
Recipe Notes

Serve with a fresh green salad, grilled veggies (why not? the grill is already hot!) or a sweet potato smashed with coconut oil or butter and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

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Enter to win: Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is

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The week after Christmas is typically a time when our thoughts turn from holiday excess (including all the food we indulged in for several weeks) to preparing for a new year and all the hope for change that it can bring.

(We won’t talk about the indulgences that may be to come on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about parties and food on this occasion, as my head drops to the pillow long before the ball drops on Times Square.)

I, for one, am looking for a fresh start in some of the areas I struggle with, including letting stress trigger bad habits with food. Sometimes I let that derail my goals.

I’ll be spending this weekend formalizing and putting to paper some of the goals that have been swimming around in my head for the past few weeks. (Remember the “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” goal-setting course that I told you about in early December? Well, it’s time for the rubber to meet the road!)

So … what about you?

If getting a handle on your weight issues is one of your goals for 2017, I have an offer for you.

Nettye Johnson, a wonderful woman I’ve been following for a year or two, has written a book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is.

Here’s a description:

In Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, author Nettye Johnson shares spiritual truths and scientific principles to help you:

  • Put God first and grow closer to Him in the pursuit of health and wellness.
  • Right skewed relationships with food.
  • Embrace moderation and eliminate food guilt.
  • Create a personalized, effective, and livable food philosophy for healthy weight loss and maintenance.
  • Change your view of healthy disciplines from a challenge, battle, or struggle to a privilege, joy, a part of who you are, and a way to honor God.

As are many books about weight control and healthful living, this one is written by a person who’s been there.

Nettye knows.

And because Nettye has been victorious in this battle, she wants to help others achieve the peace that comes from eliminating guilt and remorse and get on with the business of health and honoring God in the process. A few weeks ago, she offered a buy-one-get-one-free opportunity.

So … thinking of you … I bought a copy of the book and got an extra.

And I’ve been waiting to read it.

I’ve been waiting for you, my friend. The next step is yours.

I’m giving away a FREE copy of Nettye’s book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, to one reader. Here’s how you can win:

  1. Commit to reading the book with me and discussing it a chapter at a time (12 chapters, 12 weeks).
  2. Fill out the short form below telling me why you’re making this commitment (and why I should give you a free book!).

That’s it.

It’s simple: Make a commitment, then tell me why.

You have until noon Central time Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. I’ll announce the winner that evening. And if you don’t win the free copy, you’re welcome to purchase one and let me know if you’re interested in starting a group discussion. (By the way, I am not an affiliate and get no compensation for promoting this book; I just think Nettye’s awesome and has really valuable things to tell us.)

Feel free to share this post with your friends, and ask them to enter to win the free copy of Nettye’s book. (Also, subscribing to To Well With You – separate from the giveaway – will ensure that they receive my updates by email.)

The winner and I will figure out the best way to go about discussing the chapters. If you’re local, we might meet each Saturday morning over coffee or tea. If you’re my long-distance friend, we can email or connect online. (We’ll figure it out.) And if we have enough interest for a group discussion, I might create a private Facebook group to do that.

TO ENTER, fill out the form below (you’ll have to scroll to see all the content). And thanks!

Create your own user feedback survey

I can’t wait to see what you have to say!


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Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup

Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup
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As I write this on Christmas morning, it’s warmish and humid in north-central Arkansas. And on Christmas Day, no one is thinking of big bowls of hearty soup, right?

But I made my mom’s Vegetable Beef Soup recipe many times over the summer, and it saved me from caving in to fast food or otherwise unhealthy food temptations. Maybe you’d like to have this one handy for the post-holiday hangover – something you can dump in a pot and forget for a while. Or hold onto the recipe for a busy workweek. (Tip: Cook the meat in advance and freeze it. The cooked soup freezes well, too.)

I first posted the recipe on my other blog, Suzy & Spice, but I had a request for it this morning and thought I’d share it here, too. After all, this is the space where you come for stuff that’s good for you and pleasant, amen?

As I wrote at Suzy & Spice last year:

One of the great things about my mom is that she has always gone out of her way to give her kids everything we needed and much of what we wanted (within reason). (I guess that’s a mom’s job, right?)

One of those ways is with food … 

So here’s the recipe from my mom, Dorothy (aka Dort), totally customizable to your and your family’s tastes. I originally cooked it on the stovetop like Mom does, but when I got my programmable slow cooker a couple of years ago, that was a game changer.

NOTE: I’m trying out a new recipe app today. Comments and questions welcome. (Tell me if this format works for you.)

Print Recipe
Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup
My mom shows her love by feeding us. She has made this hearty and healthful vegetable beef soup for years, so I named it after her!
Course Main Dish, Soups
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 3-4 hours
Passive Time 3-4 hours
Course Main Dish, Soups
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 3-4 hours
Passive Time 3-4 hours
  1. Crumble ground round in skillet. Add onion, and cook until meat is browned. Drain, then add garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer to large soup pot or slow cooker. Add tomato juice and vegetables.
  3. Cover and cook 3-4 hours on low heat if using stovetop, or 7-8 hours on low setting in slow cooker, stirring occasionally.
Recipe Notes


  • Bag of mixed vegetables instead of bag of corn.
  • Green beans.
  • Red potatoes (cubed) or new potatoes (halved).
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The Well Well Well Project – what’s for lunch?

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PrettySaladJust thought I’d check in with you this evening before heading off to bed.

I’m gearing up for an awesome week, and I want the same for you.

I have a few items on my to-do list for Monday (I’m sure I won’t get them all done, but I’ll get more done than if I hadn’t made a list).

ToDoList07112016On the elimination diet I mentioned the other day, I have attempted to set myself up for a successful week. I started the Whole 30 on July 1 (a Friday), and I’ve been on vacation since that evening. I start back to work on Monday, after a successful 10 days on the plan.

OrangeSlicesI didn’t realize it when I scheduled my vacation, but that was the perfect set-up. After surviving Day 1, a workday (I came home for lunch and fixed myself Whole 30-compliant snacky foods), I’ve been home for meals and couldn’t be more happy with the results. (I’ll tell you a couple of the things that are improving – besides weight loss – at the end of the week.)

For now, I’m sharing with you some inspiration, in the form of my lunch for the next couple of days (when I make a salad, I throw in whatever veggies and fruits I have on hand, and a lot of it comes from the farmers market); a snack (I’ll have half a boiled egg and some raw almonds with half of the orange pictured at right); and a wish:

May your week be filled with healthful, delicious food, positive thoughts and the knowledge that God loves you beyond your ability to comprehend.

Tell me in the comments: What is your game plan for this week? If you don’t have one, pause for 5-10 minutes to think about one way you could make a positive change in your life. (Baby steps.)

To Well With You Suzy O signature - Sacramento font


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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 11/02/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:


Fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers member Mary knows what it’s like to be stressed out (don’t we all?), and one way she deals with that is by being organized and helping others do the same.

As we all know, the calendar has rolled over to November and our schedules are about to kick into hyperdrive (as if they weren’t already overloaded). That’s why I was happy to discover Mary’s cute, festive and oh-so-helpful (and did I mention cute?) holiday planning guide, including a checklist for meal planning, travel prep, gift buying and more.

Holiday-Guide-Image-2015Check it out: Holiday Guide: Calendar & Checklists



DoOverCoverSometimes laughter is the best medicine (especially when “someone” has already eaten your square of emergency chocolate). I’ve been following Do Over author and speaker Jon Acuff for a few months, since participating in a Michael Hyattpromoted webinar in the spring. I can totally relate to Jon: He has an unnatural 🙂 obsession with trying to make people laugh (and he doesn’t fall flat on his face nearly as much as I do!); he’s a writer; and he wants to make a difference in the world.

Maybe you won’t get this one if you’ve never thought of writing a book, never worried what others think, never tried to change the world with your brilliance and generosity 🙂 … but I think he nailed it.

Check it out: Writers are crazy. Here’s proof I am.



Elizabeth'sSpaghettiAndTableI didn’t battle a weight problem until I was about 30. By my birthday that year, my hips had grown wider than I was accustomed to, and it only got worse from there. Part of my reason for blogging about my struggles is to help others (while helping myself work through it and to stay accountable).

With all the crazy talk about diet and health, including mega-money spent on marketing and advertising cheap, fake, unhealthful foods, Dietitian Cassie’s blog was a breath of fresh air. I’ve written about her before because I love her sensible, open-minded approach to healthy living. In this post, she gives her thoughts on “cheat days,” which I used to take advantage of until I realized that if I were eating real food in a balanced way, I wouldn’t feel deprived.

Check it out: What About Cheat Days? (5 Considerations)


That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …


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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 10/19/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful, inspirational or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:


When someone follows me on Twitter, I don’t follow back automatically. There are just too many people out there cluttering up my feed in an effort to get attention, and I sometimes scratch my head and say, “Why in the world would that person want to follow me?”

But if the person looks semi-legit, I usually check out his or her website, if there is one (bonus if it’s a personal blog with something human to say), then I decide whether to follow back.

When Stefne Miller followed me a couple of days ago, I knew almost immediately that I would keep going back to her website. In this link, she writes about the “F” word: forgiveness. I really like her writing style, and I hope her post will speak to you as it did me.

Check it out: The “F” Word



On my other blog, Suzy & Spice, I wrote recently about Project STIR, my friend Sarah’s documentary film project in which she highlights family recipes around the globe.

This has been tremendous fun, and I’ve “met” lots of people all over the world who are as sentimental as I am about preserving family recipes. Many of us are “Project STIR Ambassadors,” which just means we love this project and want to help Sarah spread the word so we promote the project online. (Sarah spotlighted me on her blog here, and I wrote about my Nanny’s Pickles here; my cousins and I had a grand time with our family memories.)

Sarah launched her Kickstarter (fundraising) project with a video of “Mamaw’s Chicken Dumplins,” where she films a dear family friend, “Mamaw” (who in some ways took over for Sarah’s deceased grandparents), showing granddaughter Rachel how she makes chicken and dumplings. The video is just over 3 minutes – well worth your time.

Sarah has less than two weeks to raise the rest of her funds on Kickstarter, so please consider making a donation – nothing is too small to help her reach the goal, which will help her film the families and their recipes. This project is so wonderful, I know you’ll want to be a part of it.

Also, another blogger friend, new mom Paige, who recently started a podcast, features Sarah and Project STIR on this episode of Hear Motherhood (who is not a mom yet, but the project is about family, so it counts!). Sarah tells how she came to know Mamaw, how Project STIR came about, and where it’s going. Take a listen.

Sarah also created a Project STIR page on Facebook. And if you’re interested in being an ambassador (share a food memory on your own website), click here for details.

Another great thing about this project is that Sarah has partnered with The Pack Shack! Keep reading …

Check it out: Project STIR


thepackshack-logoGIVING BACK

I wrote about my first experience with The Pack Shack on the Arkansas Women Bloggers website in September, when I was Blogger of the Month.

I say “my first experience,” because I’m not finished yet. I came home from Arkansas Women Bloggers University determined to spread the word. I had heard about The Pack Shack, a new-ish organization based in northwest Arkansas that helps feed the needy, but until you experience a Feed the Funnel party firsthand, you really have no idea.

After everyone else had left the party that August weekend at AWBU, I talked to Pack Shack co-founder Bret Raymond, and I was struck by his humble spirit and his desire not to shine a light on himself or even the organization but to bring glory to God.

I took the Feed the Funnel idea to my running club and my small group at church, and I also plan to present it to my new employer (I start next week). Stay tuned; I’m sure to be talking about it again in the coming months.

Click below to see what a great time we Arkansas Women Bloggers had serving such a worthy cause. It includes a fun video that I shot on Periscope.

Check it out: Giving Back with The Pack Shack


That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …


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A Whole30 days of clean eating: It’s a gut feeling

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Whole30QuoteA year ago I was off sugar and grains, and I felt better than I had felt in a long time.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve read so much about inflammation and the things that cause it – sugar being one of the main culprits – that it didn’t take much convincing for me to start following the No Sugar No Grains philosophy. I read a book and listened to a podcast explaining the benefits of following the guidelines: avoid simple sugars, limit natural sugars (don’t overdo the fruit juice, for example); don’t consume grains, including corn, rice and wheat; and stick to complex carbs in limited quantities.

That plan made sense after some of the books I read (I’ve read a lot of them) and the dietitian I follow, and I kept up with it and the NSNG creator, Vinnie, on his podcast – until I just couldn’t stomach the vulgarity on his podcast for one more day.

By the time I quit listening to the podcast, I had already fallen off the wagon, and now I’m a carb addict again. (One little slip can send you down a slippery slope if you’re not careful.) I do order Vinnie’s multivitamin online, though, because I trust him when he says it’s pure: no fillers, no artificial ingredients, all that stuff. And the price is great.

So when a blogger friend posted a few days ago that she was about to start the Whole30, I was skeptical, but because I trust her judgment I decided to check it out. I had never heard of Whole30, but I visited the website and really liked what I saw.

It was No Sugar No Grains with one addition (or subtraction, if you will): no dairy.


I come from a long line of milk drinkers. In fact, I liked the No Sugar No Grains plan because I could have milk. The Taylors LOVE milk with a passion that is so strong I can hardly explain it to you. Like the sun’s gravitational pull on the earth. That strong.

So, even though the NSNG proponents cautioned that I might do better without dairy, I just wasn’t willing to give up milk.

That was then; this is now.

Many of the Taylors are overweight and, worse, unhealthy. That gravitational pull is enough to get me to rethink my milk obsession.

Starting today, I’m giving Whole30 a whole 30 days to see if milk contributes to some of my problems: seasonal allergies (“seasonal” for me meaning 365 days a year), eczema, my self-diagnosed “silent reflux,” trouble controlling my weight, and any number of other things that might be improved with a cleaned-up diet.

I don’t like “diets” in general, for various reasons, but this one is really just an elimination plan that the creators consider a “reset” for your gut and your body. Get all the junk out and see how your body responds. See how well you sleep, whether your diabetes or your blood pressure or your hormone function improves, whether mood and mental clarity take a positive leap.

You can read the testimonials on the Whole 30 website, and, let me tell you, friends, this is the best “diet” website I’ve ever seen. The founders of this plan are transparent, forthright and not “sales-y,” as far as I’ve seen. They lay out exactly what to expect, and they include a printable PDF that boils it down to four pages. I also started reading their book It Starts With Food ($9.99 on Kindle; audio version also available) on my lunch break today, and I like their approach.

One more thing: When I’ve “dieted” in the past, I regret that I’ve never journaled what was happening to my mind and my body before, during and after. Remembering to sit down and write in a notebook is just hard.

My solution: My journal will be public, and it will be part of this blog. No way can I forget to post it here. 🙂

Don’t worry – I plan to keep it short and simple, just the broad strokes. I want to be able to say things like:

Thursday, the day before I started, I ate too much trail mix and drank too much diet Coke because I looked at it as my “last hurrah” before starting the plan.

It’s kinda silly now that I see it on paper.

If you look over the Whole30 site and decide you want to join me, leave a comment or email me at suzy@suzyoakley.com. We’ll take the journey together.

I’ve been through this before, and I can almost guarantee you’ll thank me at the end of your 30-day experiment. You’ll learn things, and you’ll feel better.

Let’s do this!

(Note: In case you were wondering, no one paid me, urged me or even asked me to mention any of the products I wrote about today.)


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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 07/27/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:


I’m a member of several blogger/writer groups on Facebook, and through one of them I was introduced recently to Rita Herrmann, whom I’m so happy to have discovered. I just like the things she writes about! (And the way she expresses her thoughts.)

Her blog is She Wears Red Shoes, and I hope you’ll visit when you have a few minutes and a good cup of tea or coffee at hand.

Meanwhile, be sure to make time for this one, which reminds us that not every convenience store clerk is a grumpy lump, despite the low pay and weird hours. If this story doesn’t give you a positive vibe, you need a tuneup.

Check it out: It’s Showtime!


Dort'sVegetableBeefSoupI recently asked my mom to make some of her yummy vegetable soup, and she did not disappoint. (Food is one of the many ways she shows love to her family.)

In fact, I do believe this is the best pot of vegetable soup she’s ever served me. We discussed the reasons, as this pot was a bit different from her usual “recipe” (it’s not really a recipe; nothing is written down and the amounts are approximate).

The great thing about this soup (besides that it’s my mom’s recipe!) is that it’s nutritious and versatile. You can adapt it to suit your family’s veggie preferences and whatever’s in season. It serves a crowd, but it’s also freezable for those days you just don’t have time to cook.

Check it out: Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup


I try to be emotionally strong and have worked extremely hard at that over the years. As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I ran across an article tweeted by Michael Hyatt. He’s good at finding tips that are insightful and practical.

In this article, the author took a to-do list and turned it on its head, making it a don’t-do list. I hope you’ll find the information as valuable as I did.

Check it out: 16 Things Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …


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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 07/20/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:


My dad started smoking before he became a teenager — maybe age 11 or 12. After at least two heart attacks, bypass surgery and years of attempts to stop smoking, he died of heart disease. He was only 59. (Actually, on that horrible day, the doc said it wasn’t actually a heart problem that killed him, even though his heart hadn’t been working well up to that point; something happened in his brain. Mom thinks it was the drug he was taking to help him quit smoking.) Dad’s older brother, also a smoker, died of lung cancer. Decades earlier, their father died of emphysema and cancer. They watched their dad take his last breath, yet they still smoked.

I sit next to a smoker at my job and, even though a cubicle wall separates us, I inhale secondhand smoke every morning and first thing after lunch (she sits in her car and smokes). When she enters our workspace, she reeks of it.

I had asthma as a kid and still have lots of breathing issues; it would be an extreme understatement to say secondhand smoke is unpleasant.

My co-worker is 31 and has three little girls; I don’t want to see her die of a tobacco-related illness. I know what it’s like to lose a beloved parent to this. (My dad, who in my eyes hung the moon, died 11 days before my wedding.)

I used to nag Dad about his smoking. That was before I realized that overcoming a “bad habit” — especially one that involves addictive chemicals invading your body’s systems — is more complicated than just deciding to quit. (And the tobacco companies do their best to keep your cravings strong.)

The solution, in my opinion, is to keep people from picking up that first cigarette. That, in itself, is a challenge because, for some reason, kids think it’s cool.


Here’s a powerful SlideShare presentation with some grim facts about smoking; maybe it will help at least one person decide not to start.

Check it out: (Just click the right arrow to see the next slide. And don’t worry; the slides aren’t overly wordy, so it won’t take you long to get through them.)

[slideshare id=5602255&doc=smoke-theconvenienttruth-ep-101028211434-phpapp01]


Photo courtesy of Taste Arkansas

Fellow Arkansas Women Blogger Heather DiSarro makes some wonderful dishes. In fact, her blog is called Heather’s Dish. (She’s an awesome photographer, too.) Head on over to Taste Arkansas (the Arkansas Farm Bureau’s blog) and get Heather’s recipe for Zucchini Noodle Bowls. It’s a low-carb way to have your “spaghetti” and eat it, too. 🙂

I can’t wait to try this dish. (Gotta get me some zucchini first.)

Oh, I almost forgot: If you post a comment below the recipe, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a Spiralizer. I’ve wanted one of those for a long time. (On second thought: Don’t post a comment; I want to win it! 🙂 )

Check it out: Zucchini Noodle Bowls


10 ThingsLogoMercy, I almost forgot that I’m supposed to be telling you stuff you don’t know about me. (See this post and this one for the scoop.) OK, here goes Part 3 … ugh.

I cleaned out my closet yesterday. Took out every stitch of clothing, every shoe, every sheet, every tote bag and purse, and every stuffed animal or doll (yes, I still have my babies) and flung them onto the bed.

It wasn’t pretty.

(Also, I didn’t fling; I placed. 🙂 )

Last week I mentioned a book I had read with the promise that I’d write about it in more detail this week. I’m going to post an actual book review, but what I need to tell you today is that …

I have clothes in my closet in size 8 and in sizes 14 and 16.

That’s not the hard part. This is the hard part: All the difficult work I put into losing 50 pounds in the past couple of years was very valuable, and now the weight is back on. I’ve managed to start going back in a positive direction, especially after my last cardio checkup in late May. After a hello hug, my cardiologist said there seemed to be more to me to love this time around. We talked at length about why this weight is back, all the challenges I’ve had since my heart surgery, and how stinking hard it is to lose weight. (It’s a lot harder than it used to be. I used to be able to set my mind to it and just do it.)

Bottom line: I’m working on it, and I’ve lost 8 pounds since I saw him. That’s a start, but after the initial 6-7 pounds, I’ve been losing and regaining the same 1 or 2 each week.

This is the first time I’ve written about it. It’s embarrassing, especially when I call myself a wellness coach. (Hypocrite?)

It took me a couple of years to lose the weight, and that’s as it should be — it’s safer that way, and a quick fix teaches you ZERO. And it took me about 18 months to gain it all back.

I keep saying — to myself and others — that I’m sticking by my original statement: If it takes (X amount of time) to lose it but I help someone else in her/his struggle along the way, it’s worth it.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. God either causes it or allows it, because He sees the entire picture — all we see is our little slice. My weight struggles are part of that picture — my own journey to wellness and wholeness — and my goal is to learn from this. I can only think that I haven’t learned all the lessons I’m supposed to learn on this journey, so I’m having to repeat some of them, and learn new ones.

I’m very grateful that you’re here today, and if you need someone to come alongside as you battle a challenging situation, please get in touch by leaving a comment or emailing me at suzy@suzyoakley.com.

That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …


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