Try everything

Ah… a dose of encouragement for today.  Cannot believe the sounds are with human voices ONLY.  Listen and enjoy.  Zootopia fans will love this, too!


Garbage soup – get your veggies and increase water intake!

Garbage soup pot

Okay, don’t judge my garbage soup yet!  Let me explain a few things first…

I came up with this idea back when I wanted to increase my daily water intake (I always struggle with drinking enough water) AND increase the amount of veggies I was eating…aka getting more nutrient-dense food into my daily routine.

Soooo, just like a garbage omelet is an omelet with everything in the refrigerator thrown in, so it is with my garbage soup!  I take any veggies I have on hand, chop them up, throw them in the stock pot, cover with water, lace it with my seasonings, and simmer for hours.  VOILA.  Garbage Soup which is CHOCK FULL of veggies!  The liquid in it becomes rich with vitamins and minerals.  That means that when I’m drinking from the bottom of the soup bowl after I’ve eaten all those delicious vegetables, I’m also drinking water infused with vitamins and minerals from those very same veggies!

Every week I buy a head of cabbage just for this purpose. I also pick up a huge variety of fresh vegetables without any recipe in mind, but knowing I can make salads or stir fry from them.  Finally,  I also keep frozen (not canned!) veggies in my freezer for moments when I might be short on fresh options.

This is so very simple to do, and it’s my “go to” when I’m feeling hunger pains but I’m short on time for whipping up something healthy – it’s already made and ready for me so I don’t binge on something unhealthy.

Garbage soup

The recipe for the above soup:


  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 fresh yellow squash, sliced (I sliced them pretty, not necessary!)
  • 2 fresh zucchini (again, I sliced them pretty)
  • 2 diced, fresh tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 bag frozen green beans
  • Add any other veggies you might have on hand!
  • Lots of my favorite seasonings and seasoning blends

Cover the vegetables with water until totally submerged.

Bring to boil then simmer on low for a few hours.

Best calorie counter app

iphone computer paperSo I’m not as much a fan of calorie counting as I am of simply eliminating sugar, white flour products, and processed foods from my body!  And yes, this is tough.  I’m not perfect at it either, but I strive for it.  I figure if I hit the mark 85% of the time, I’m moving in the right direction!

But there are those out there who are learning to read food labels … and they are on a journey of seeing food in a whole new way and getting a grip on their health!  They might be checking out a food’s protein, sugar, vitamin, or sodium content as well as calories. Kudos to you!  And one way to become cognizant of what you’re putting into your body is to simply…track it!

In 2015, the Journal of Medical Internet Research published a study titled:  Adherence to a Smartphone Application for Weight Loss Compared to Website and Paper Diary.”

The study stated that “In recent years, research into mobile devices to facilitate dietary and physical activity self-monitoring and weight-related behavior change has grown. Mobile phones, in particular, are an intuitively appealing intervention platform given that they are ubiquitous, engaging, and portable.”  This study sought to compare the ability of participants to stay engaged with a phone app versus “two other self-monitoring interventions to allow comparison of self-monitoring on a mobile phone against other approaches.”

I bet you’re not surprised … the smartphone app won!   Over 93 percent of the app participants continued to track their weight-related behavior and calories for the duration of the entire study (six months) whereas only 55% continued in the website group and only 53 percent in the diary group.

Of all the Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 4.00.12 PMcalorie counter apps out there, My Fitness Pal comes in first, according to ratings by  The site states that the app has as many or more features in its free version as other fitness-tracking apps.  It compiles a pie chart with a breakdown of calories based on percentages from carbs, fats, and proteins…and can be seen on a daily or weekly basis.  And considering what we discussed above about tracking, a nice add-on is the notes section, where users can either journal about their food, or their thoughts, or their exercise that day.

The app keeps a running total of calories so users can see where they stand in relation to their goal intake throughout the day, and it also has a huge searchable nutrition database.  That means you’ll find the calorie count of almost any food you want to look up!

Finally, notes that the best feature of all is “the app’s  ability to download recipes directly into the app and get estimated calorie counts. The app will take the recipe ingredient list, cross-check it with its nutrition database, and give an estimate of calories per serving. (Users can check the app’s work and alter any calories or serving sizes that need tweaking.) For people who scour the Internet for recipes, this feature is invaluable.”

Nuff said, right?!  Sounds like a powerhouse of an app … put the power in YOUR palm!

Petersburg, VA church outreaches for health and wellness

picture V and G health fairI wanted to give a big shout out to Tabernacle Baptist Church, 418 Halifax St. in Petersburg, VA!  They held their second annual Bridge the Health Gap Joy Run/Walk 5K and 2K event this morning.  It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E!

Although they already had vendors lined up for the day, they allowed us to register our vendor table on short notice.  Thank you!

Optima Health and Capital Area Health Network were large sponsors for this community health fair, providing cholesterol, BMI, and blood pressure screenings along with other health education.  Other vendors also contributed with information on elderly care in the region, rehab facilities, physical trainers, medical imaging, nutritional supplements, smart eating and nutrition, and even a local group helping children in foster care.

Reverend Dr. Diggs, Donald Barrow, Dee Johnson, and all the countless others, thank you, thank you! Thank you for having a heart for your community, for using your church to meet physical and spiritual needs, and for the energy and time to organize such an event for the community.



Meetups -support for body, mind, and spirit!

As you seek health in your body, mind, AND spirit, have you thought of using Meetups as a way to support your entire well-being?

For those of you who aren’t aware of what “Meetups” are, the site says they are: “neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something.”

These Meetup groups cover a huge range of interests and are started by individuals who have a need (new in town, or have a hobby/interest they want to share with others) and form a group on the website to satisfy that need.  Individuals get onto the website, put in the geographic range that they would travel for activities, and voila, a list of formed Meetup groups shows in a list.  The range of groups I’ve seen vary from volleyball, photography, hiking, women of Christian faith, dog lovers, book writing and aspiring authors, business owners, running, young business professionals, entrepreneurs, coed baseball, knitting, prayer, yoga, book lovers, flag football … on and on and on.  SO many choices! Continue reading “Meetups -support for body, mind, and spirit!”

Bodyweight Bootcamp Video

Okay, I think you’re getting to know me… I LOVE to provide people with ideas for getting moving!  So many times, we allow perceived obstacles to block us from our health goals.

  • I don’t have money for a gym membership
  • I live in a neighborhood where I don’t feel comfortable going out and walking or running
  • It’s not fun to workout alone
  • I don’t have any gym equipment

You get the idea.  That is why I like to expose people to OPTIONS.  And really, it comes down to how bad do you really want to reach your fitness or health goals?

If I offered you $1,000,000 to work really hard at your job over the next six months, would you do it?  Most would say, “YES”!  Well, I would argue that your health and well being is worth 100 times the $1,000,000!!!   And yet when faced with “hard work” to make it happen, we quit.

Here’s another video that just might pique your interest.  Warning:  It’s tough … hence the word “bootcamp” in the video!  But don’t let that scare you!  Whether you’re already fit (challenge yourself with this), or just getting started (just do what you can and make a goal of completing more and more each time), these can be fun … not to mention convenient.  More ideas?  Go to my Body (exercise) page for links to other posts with exercise ideas and and encouragement!


Beauty from ashes

It’s Sunday… and since this blog encompasses health and wellness of the entire being (body, mind, AND spirit), I’d love to devote Sunday blog posts specifically to addressing topics that encourage the spirit and growth in faith.

I currently live in a “flood home”.  What I mean is this home was destroyed by a horrific flood in 2010 that hit the U.S. Northeast in epic proportions.  While I moved into this adorable cottage-style home years after this devastation, I was told that the floodwaters neared the tops of the windows of the first floor, and the entire neighborhood was evacuated by boats and rescue teams.  Fast forward to today, and this home is absolutely charming.  The owners were devastated at the time.  Everything was washed away or destroyed, leaving  silt, sewage, and filth in its place.



But today, this home is restored, rebuilt, renewed.  To see these pictures, you’d never have realized the destruction that was in its past.   And this home is a constant reminder to me of a bigger theme… “rebuilding” is the heart of God.  God brings beauty from ashes! And while this happened in a physical sense to my home (and around the world to rebuilding of neighborhoods, businesses, and homes from natural disasters), God is in the business of rebuilding hearts, lives, families, relationships…forgiveness.   Wow.

  • Isaiah 61:1-3
  • Psalm 30:4-5, 8-12

There is much meat here.  This is deep.  And if you’re interested in digging deeper into this, I encourage you to do so.

God’s word says He restores, NOT  just because He loves you, but to bring praises to God.  That others would see the restoration and know from whence it came … the restoration is “for the display of his splendor” … to give glory to God.  His heart is for his people.  We are not to be silent when we see rebuilding in our lives, our marriages, our families, our children, our finances, our emotions etc., but instead acknowledge what God has done.  It’s AMAZING how much it creates a grateful heart.

So as I sit in my little home that is totally restored and more beautiful than the original, I am reminded to be so VERY grateful for all the beautiful things God has repaired in my life … from divorce to remarriage, from broken relationships with children to renewal, from having no faith to a faith-filled life, from losing parents to gaining friendships … on and on.   Beauty from ashes.



Perfect female body around the world?

I have three points I want to make sure to get across here… I promise the end point is encouraging!

  1.  Researchers identified the “perfect body shape” for women based on cultural preferences in various countries (click here to view – ugh).  What did it tell me?  Well, one, that “beauty” is determined by cultural influences.  Researchers found the “ideal” 5’4″ woman’s weight in China was considered to be 102 pounds, however in Columbia, it was 147 pounds.  There truly is NO perfect body shape!  NONE.  So if you’re a woman who looks in the mirror and says you don’t measure up…well, WHO’S STANDARD are you trying to measure by? Take that pressure off yourself NOW because every body standard is simply subjective to a bunch of people’s preferences in society, people who have no individual interest in YOU!
  2. Now, the really important second point is this … beauty is not defined by a body shape!  There is inner beauty of kindness and compassion.  There is intelligence that just humbles me in its scope.  There is external beauty,  like hair that is thick and wavy, or straight and smooth, or curly and out-of-control.  There is skin that is chocolate, or porcelain, or anywhere in between.  There are blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, black eyes.  Young and old.  There are smile-line wrinkles, wisdom-old wrinkles, and skin as smooth as a baby’s butt!  There are large bodies and small bodies.  Who is to say what is beautiful?  It’s YOUR place to say what makes YOU feel beautiful.  Have grey hair and color it and that makes you feel beautiful?  Ok!  Love your grey hair and flaunt it?  Ok, too!  Have a curvy shape and it makes you feel feminine?  Embrace it.  No one has the corner on determining whether you are beautiful or not.
  3. Here’s the third catch.  Getting HEALTHY is different than getting beautiful!  When one begins a journey of HEALTH, they end up feeling beautiful from the inside out!  If what you are putting into your body, or on your skin is poison, toxic, known-to-be-bad-for-you food or products, it affects your mood, self-esteem, energy levels, and all around well-being.  If you were worried about your beauty, transfer that energy into getting healthy.  

So don’t be deceived that your beauty is a body shape or a number on the scale!  Don’t allow a cultural preference to dictate your esteem!  Fight against that!   For me?  Well, I’m determined to work on “me” from the inside out.  I care about pursuing  compassion and kindness as a human being, deepening my faith in God, pursuing healthy eating habits and physical strength, pursuing education and learning new things, and lastly, about touching others’ lives so that I make a difference by being in the world.  Now THAT is beautiful to me…

Valerie’s Nugget:  If you were worried about your beauty, transfer that energy into getting healthy.  


5 FREE Workouts – on YouTube, of course!


Here are five great examples of online YouTube workouts.  Obviously, you can search for others as well … and it’s actually enjoyable to find what works for YOU.  Don’t have time to go to the gym?  No DVD’s at home?  Inclement weather?  NO EXCUSES now!

  1.  Yoga with Adriene.  Love this one because she emphasizes health that encompasses body, mind, and spirit!  And because stress increases health risks, this is great for everyone!   Thanks, Adriene!  You will feel so calm afterward.


2.  Lucious Legs by Autumn Calabrese.  She’s got it going on.  She knows what it takes to sculpt and tone …and her body shows it.   She’s usually pretty intense as she takes you through her workouts, but she gets results.   Don’t expect upbeat and fluffy as her workouts are a mission…should you choose to accept!


3. Reggae Dancehall Workout by Keaira LaShae.  Oh my gosh, talk about F. U. N.!!!   Let’s amp it up a bit here!  I’d die if my kids posted me doing this on Facebook, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing this workout!  Keaira is spunky, energetic, and funny.  She is so engaging and draws you in.  Why not have fun WHILE you exercise?  And IF you conquer this, she has many other ones you can try!


4.  Latin Dance Aerobic Workout 30 Minutes.  Oh, another FUN one!  There’s nothing like music and dance to lift your mood!  Now turn it into a workout, and voila!  You’ll have your workout and be smiling at the end, too!  Have fun with this one…  Your mood and body will thank you.


5.  BeFit Channel:  Cardio MMA Workout Level 1.  You can subscribe (free) to the BeFit channel on YouTube and have access to workouts by Jillian Michaels, Rainbeau Mars, Denise Austin and so many more.  Click here to subscribe.

Awesome Body Mass Index in 3D

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 3.55.15 PM

BMI.  What is this, you ask?   It stands for Body Mass Index.  According to,  BMI is “a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height and applies to most adult men and women aged 20 and over.”  What this is saying is that BMI isn’t a direct measure of body fat, but instead is based off a correlation between weight and height.  That being said, the site goes on to state that research indicates BMI results do correlate to more sophisticated measurements of body fat but keep in mind that “factors such as age, sex, ethnicity and muscle mass are not accounted for in BMI”.

Okay, so what does knowing our BMI do for us?   Simply put, it’s a screening tool used to give reasonable indication of someone’s state of being in regards to weight:  healthy weight, underweight, overweight, or obese.

Why would this be important to know?  NOT because size determines beauty, but instead it’s about HEALTH!  Carrying extra weight increases health risks!  According to the site “Excess weight increases how hard the heart has to work, it also raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Excess weight can make a person more likely to develop diabetes.”  From observation, I would add it increases wear/tear on joints and compromises the immune system, among other things.

While there are many BMI calculators out there, I came across a really awesome BMI calculator that shows body fat percentages in 3D models.   Use the easy-to-use sliding scale to input your height and weight data (just make sure to click “American/Imperial” under Measure System so the inputs are in feet/inches and pounds instead of metric).  A picture is worth a thousand words!

But don’t stop there.  Take your results and reference it to the table below.  Where did you land?

  1. Normal weight   19–24
  2. Overweight         25–29
  3. Obesity level I    30–34
  4. Obesity level II   35–39
  5. Obesity level III      ≥ 40

Take that answer and let it move you to take steps to reduce your health risks … from the inside out, of course!