Building Solid Habits

I heard a report this week saying that most people have already given up on their goals and resolutions for the year. Only three weeks in, old habits are creeping back in. I get it. I have been tempted to give up too!

For me, my only real goal was to get up earlier. And on a couple occasions, even that has been a struggle! 🙂 As such, I’ve also had to make a commitment to go to bed earlier…

One thing is clear: I can’t have a strong commitment without a strong conviction.

A few years ago, I joined a group called HelloMornings. I love the idea of waking up FOR your kids, instead of waking up TO your kids. Of course, even without kids, you can wake up early for other awesome reasons!

This year, I decided to step it up with the HelloMornings ‘3 Minute Morning’ challenge to help me rebuild my morning habit. I used to be good at this, but over time the habit, like many others, has fallen by the wayside.

I have been waking up early to get a few key things done before Lydia wakes up. I typically do light exercise while listening to the One Year Bible (via the YouVersion app on my phone). Then, I stretch or do yoga, followed by coffee with Jesus. I use that time to journal, read, pray, and power up my day.

Pretty simple, yet rewarding!

I enjoy each of these tasks and have done them successfully over the years. But, I haven’t done them in this order…or all in the morning! Still, I am finding my day goes much better when I do those things first.

Basically, I get as far along in that routine as I can before Lydia joins me. Then, I finish up and get her breakfast. It’s a work-in-progress, sure! And, it will have to be flexible enough to survive all the bumps of daily life.

But, I am enjoying the routine so far…and the quiet “thinking time” too! Eventually, I’d like to work on a few other goals as well before the day gets away from me. Though, if I try to start too many things up at once, I won’t be able to maintain any of them.

Yes, even rebuilding habits can be difficult at times. Maybe you have had a couple make-or-break moments, too. Remember, God is your Sustainer. He will help you fulfill all of His plans, if you seek Him first.

Many people set new goals for food or fitness in the new year. These types of goals can be difficult to maintain because it can take awhile to see results.

So, as a Registered Dietitian, I want to encourage you to keep it up!

Here are a few of my favorite websites to help with any nutrition goals you may have.

(FYI: There are no affiliate links…I don’t earn any money off these sites.)

I find it helpful to track the foods you eat on a daily basis. It’s like giving yourself credit for what you are doing right! Or, if you are making changes, it’s good to see the impact of your choices so you can self-correct. Check out MyFitnessPal and Nutrition Data.

For meal planning help, check out Plan to Eat and Eat Real America. (These are paid membership sites…though they do have great free trials).

If you are trying to eat more fruits and veggies, you gotta check out  and Fruits and Veggies More Matters (I can’t get enough of these two!)

If you have an Instant Pot, check out Pressure Cooking TodayHip Pressure Cooking, and This Old Gal. Lots of good recipes!

If you love chocolate and other sweets (like me!!), but want to make healthier desserts, check out Chocolate Covered Katie. She has some main dishes too, as does Angela at Oh She Glows. (These ladies make some very creative vegan options…and I’m not even vegan!) 😉

If you want to get your kids cooking, check out these Kids in the Kitchen sites!

I also love just about anything by these dietitians: Zonya Foco or Dawn Jackson Blatner.

Clearly, I could spend all day perusing nutrition and foodie sites…the bright colors, recipes, and flavor combinations always capture my attention! 🙂 So this is certainly not an exhaustive list. But, hopefully it encourages you and helps you keep at your goals!

Let me know if I can help or pray for you!


Father God, thank You for being my Sustainer. Thanks for Your strength as I make positive changes. Help me listen as You direct me. Give me courage as I walk this path with You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have a nutrition-related goal? What is it? Do you have an early morning music playlist? (Please share…I could use some ideas!)

Tasks: Pray when tempted to stray off your new habit. Use a journal to record your thoughts and emotions…see if you can detect a pattern in relationship to your new habit. Ask a friend to keep you accountable.

In With the New

My mom and I were on the phone recently, and we had a great conversation. Always my biggest fan, I count on what she says. Mom mentioned how much I have changed these last few years. She said, “This may not be the right word, but you’re not as uptight now!”

I got a good laugh out of that…you know it’s true if you don’t even mind when someone says it! I couldn’t agree more. And, I am so glad my mom and others have noticed!

2 Corinthians 5_17

Later, after some self-reflection and prayer, I retook an online personality test.

You can take your own short test here—I’d love to know your results!

I previously took this same test a year or so before Dave died. Some results were accurate, but others left me with questions I couldn’t resolve. This time, I was able to think of specific instances for each question. Some areas scored the same as before, validating my strengths. Just as I suspected, I received a completely different score for the final area.

I’m cautious to place too much value on “results.” But God showed me so much about myself! My doubts were cleared up when I realized the new results were a much better fit.

Now I have explanations for traits I wanted to overlook. I didn’t fully understand them before and considered them weaknesses. Now I can acknowledge them and use that information more effectively. What a relief as I switched my perspective. 

Psalm 139_14

At first, I didn’t know if I should laugh with joy or cry with gratitude at the new results. I love seeing myself in a fresh way. I think I was always meant to be this way because it feels so natural! It just took me a long time to get to a place where I could appreciate it.

Looking back, I think part of the tension from over-planning and perfectionism came from pushing myself to function in ways that were never my strengths. Wow.

Over the last few years, I have planned less and ‘flowed’ more. My stress levels have decreased as I have put less pressure on myself to do things ‘just so.’ I have learned to set better boundaries, say ‘no,’ and schedule downtime to avoid burnout.

Sometimes we need a shift in our thinking. Sometimes we need to do things differently. Sometimes we need to do both!

For example, I love cooking and trying new foods. However, I can easily get stuck making the same things. Even as a dietitian, it can be challenging to regularly think of innovative food options. With fresh summer produce just around the corner, let me tell you about one of my favorite foodie findsa spiralizer. It has brought new life to my cooking routine!


A spiralizer makes spiral cuts on your favorite fruits and veggies. It can make noodles or other shapes and is a lot of fun! I use this one (pictured) from Amazon. No affiliate links. I’m not earning any money off this postI just really like my spiralizer! 🙂

I have enjoyed making new dishes since I bought mine last year. My creativity flows while cooking and I enjoy the freedom that comes with God’s grace!

My favorite items to spiralize include apples, beets, carrots and zucchini noodles.

The first time I used my spiralizer, it was early afternoon and we had not eaten lunch yet. Excitedly, I spiralized some apples. Lydia started shoving them in her mouth! Realizing she was over-hungry, I melted some peanut butter on top and Lydia devoured them.

I love beets, though I recommend using gloves when handling them. I often purchase them already cooked. After spiralizing the cooked beets, I add a balsamic vinegar reduction, goat or feta cheese, and few chopped walnuts. Yum!

Carrot Noodles

Carrots (above) are so pretty when spiralized! I’ve added Alfredo sauce to Lydia’s carrot noodles and chicken with peanut sauce to mine. I have thrown them in with other dishes to jazz up leftovers during the week, too.

Zucchini is a great all-around vegetable. It’s versatile and can be used instead of pasta noodles. Or, you can chop the “noodles” to make something else, like muffins.

If you’re interested, Ali at has a great website. She has tons of recipes and tutorials for your favorite veggies. She used the same spiralizer from Amazon until she decided to design her own. I have not tried that one, but you might check it out!


God, You are so patient and wise. You have made us wonderfully complex! Thanks for Your grace and love as You work in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you ever taken a personality test? What is your favorite kitchen gadget? Let me know in the comments section!

Tacos and TLC

What (or Who) comes to your mind when you think about love?

For me, of course I think of Dave because he was my husband, friend, and partner. He always treated me so well. And when I think of Dave…I think of tacos!

Tacos were one of Dave’s favorite meals, so we ate them often. He would do all the chopping—we added a ton of vegetables—and I would prepare the other items. He prepped the lettuce, onions, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, etc. so well I am convinced he was better at it than me. It’s true!

Taco Nachos

What started off as a simple act of service (a favor to save me time one night) became an act of love. I will always remember Dave’s servant heart because it carried over to everything he did!

Sometimes we think ‘love’ has to be flashy…this might include being serenaded with a sappy song, a dozen red roses, or gigantic boxes of chocolate. But for me, love is in the simple things. Dave put TLC into chopping vegetables because it was important to me.

 “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Ephesians 6:7, NLT).

Since he died, tacos just aren’t the same! I still enjoy the same foods, but miss Dave’s enthusiasm for chopping vegetables. I have added meal preparation to the list of things I do differently now, which also includes household chores and shopping.

Note: Eating tacos someone else makes is another story!

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Recipe

Instead of regular tacos, I now make a variation on them, like taco salad or fajitas. Or I make “taco nachos” serving the same ingredients over a few tortilla chips. 🙂 I add a little plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a protein and calcium boost. Most of the time, I skip the cheese because my plate is already full enough!

When cooking, I enjoy mixing and matching colors, textures and flavors! Above you’ll find my recipe for Black Bean and Corn Salsa (click on it to make it bigger). It is basic, but delicious. In fact, Lydia requests it often and will eat it plain, with just a spoon!

We use this Black Bean and Corn Salsa as a base for other dishes too. We add it to salads, pizza, and chili. Let me know how you like it!

spoon, fork, knife

We all have the opportunity to show love every day. It doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive. Often, the most simple acts, done with love, speak the loudest. A little TLC goes a long way…and can impact us for a long time afterward.

Whether or not you have a Valentine this year, remember you are loved! Since many of us take care of everyone else first, go ahead and treat yourself! You deserve some TLC too.

Thank You, God, for Your TLC. Thank You for showing us love each and every day. Give us eyes to see all the wonderful things You do for us. Help us walk in grace as we depend on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions? Do you have a favorite “goes with anything” recipe?


Peaches, Sno-Cones, and Unexpected Grace

Peaches are loaded with nutrients, like potassium, and Vitamins A and C. They are also a good source of fiber. And sno-cones? Ummm…Not so much! They are comprised of sugary syrup, and other not-so-great ingredients…

Now, I am not going to bash sno-cones, but as a dietitian I certainly don’t promote or recommend them. In fact, no real nutritional comparison can be made! So, why link them together with peaches? Because of grace.

 Peaches in a Basket

Peaches remind me of the grace that comes with hospitality. My neighbor, Melissa, lives across the street. She recently brought us some amazing, “juice-dripping-down-your-face” fresh peaches. Melissa had some extras, and didn’t want to waste them. So, she graciously shared them with us. It was totally unexpected, but so appreciated!

I could have made something out of the peaches, though we ended up eating them in all their fuzzy glory. They didn’t last long enough! Yum!

We’ve had great “neighbor-friends” over the years. To start, we’ve shared meals and good stories. Neighbors have helped with yard work and snow removal from time to time. Some have hung pictures or changed light bulbs around the house. They’ve watered my plants; checked the front door for packages; and kept an eye on the house when we travel. A few have even watched Lydia for me in a pinch.

I am so thankful for the help!


A few days after the peaches, Lydia and I came across a local park event. It was an outdoor craft fair with many family-friendly events. We enjoyed a horse and carriage ride, music in the park, and perusing the booths. And yes, Lydia had her first sno-cone.

Lydia was excited to be at the park, as it was a last minute decision after our original plans fell through. It was an impromptu event for us, but I realized something. Many of the best times we have are the unplanned, in-the-moment ones.

Part of the definition of grace is that it is undeserved. There is an element of surprise as well—like an unexpected bonus that yields something good that would have otherwise been missed. Grace is in the simple things we so often overlook.

Back to the sno-cone. Lydia didn’t do anything special to deserve it. I was savoring God’s goodness, and enjoying the unexpectedly beautiful and unhurried day. Buying the sno-cone was merely an extension of that.

(For the record, Lydia really wanted to slurp up the leftover liquid (not juice!) at the bottom of the sno-cone cup. But, I declined since she was wearing a white shirt, and I knew would make a mess… And of course, she didn’t need it anyway!) 🙂

Thank You, God, for unexpected grace. Thanks for wonderful neighbors and friends, delicious peaches, and even sno-cones to remind me of the beauty and joy You provide. Help me slow down and notice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Grace for Food Choices

We need a lot of grace when it comes to food. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), I often work with people who are confused about what to eat. Nutrition is not rocket-science, though it has become more complicated than it needs to be.

People may wonder why I don’t discuss major nutrition concepts on my blog. While I may decide to share an occasional recipe, there are several reasons not to discuss nutrition here.

1. I am not a fan of unsolicited advice, and hence, I don’t like to provide it. If you would like some input on what you should eat, I will certainly point you in the right direction (and suggest you connect with an RDN who has access to your personal medical records).

2. It is unwise to assume everyone has the same needs or goals—or that we all need to eat the same foods. I prefer to make nutrition personal. As a professional, I tailor each session to the individual, helping each person reach their goals (which may differ from my goals from them). I may tell several people to eat the same type of food—but the amount, method of preparation, and timing might be different. So, it would be difficult to meet anyone’s goals while providing general statements on a blog.

3. Each food topic is complex. I could spend several pages discussing background, pros and cons, and possible solutions. I don’t have the time nor is that my intent for this blog.

4. Food trends change often in the food world. So, my post may not be relevant for long. This week cucumbers are good, next week they might be less desirable. (Fickle pickles!!) Research, politics and culture can cause change to happen overnight. For the most part, that is not interesting to me. But eating well is in season every day!

5. There are many nutrition myths, and in the length of my typical post, I probably won’t convince anyone to change their thinking. So, I’d prefer to focus on other things.

6. I will always love nutrition. But after Dave died, I took a huge step back. I have spent many years in healthcare. I have seen several worst case scenarios. During the year that Dave was sick, each of those worst case scenarios ALL seemed to manifest symptoms on Dave’s body. I was thankful to be able to advocate on his behalf. But, I lost my taste for it all, and it took some time for the passion to return.

7. I love teaching people how to eat well (in person) but here, I am happy to write about life, fun food facts and metaphors. I don’t need to add to all the confusion. I am focused on giving and living in grace!

Fruit baskets in marketplace

I will share just a few thoughts, however:

Good Foods vs Bad Foods
Foods do not have morals! They don’t provide a moral benefit upon consumption.

Example: I am not a good person if I eat an apple, nor a bad person if I eat chocolate cake. I think both are delicious, but on a deserted island, please give me the cake! Precisely because it has more calories, fat and flavor! 😉

I like to think of the health or nutritional benefits to each food and start there.

Fitness vs Health
First, they are not the same thing.

Second, you can be really fit and still be unhealthy (physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually).

Know the difference for you as an individual.

Organic vs Conventional, Whole vs Processed
These topics cause a lot of debate, which is not necessarily bad—but in my opinion that leads to more division and even hostility at times. Not cool…

By all means, please buy, prepare and eat the best quality food you can afford. But, don’t overspend your budget and go broke. Be healthy. Be realistic.

Read labels and make choices that meet your goals.

Eat in season, buy in bulk, clip coupons, get a crockpot, join a co-op…do whatever you can!

Food vs Supplements
I am a fan of food first, and then supplements if warranted. But once again, do what it takes to reach YOUR goals.

On Sugar, Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Moderate Protein, Low Carb, Low Fat, Vegetarian, Omnivore, etc
It is your responsibility to steward your health. If knowledge is power, prevention is key.

Food choices are one piece to the puzzle. Learn some solid cooking skills.

Eat a wide variety of foods–and eat what you like!

Food Journals and Fitness Trackers
Are they the end-all be-all of tools? No. Are they helpful? Yes, if used in the right context.

I love using both a food journal and a fitness tracker, as they provide helpful feedback and accountability. I may be a nerd…but I think they are fun! 🙂

Final Thoughts
One of my healthcare friends likes to say, “You’re a one-rat study. What works for you, might not work for the next person.”

Listen to your body. Know what makes YOU feel best. It may or may not match your initial beliefs. So be open to trial and error, change and new tastes.

Set goals for yourself, and revisit them on a regular basis.

Seek professional input as needed. Let me know if I can help. 🙂

**I may update or add to this down the road. But that’s it for now!**