Encouragement – Who’s on your team?

You are about to read day 31 in my 31 Day series from Fat to Freedom, as part of write 31 days.

It is vitally important to remember that when you make a decision to move from fat to freedom, that not everyone is on your side.  Not everyone wholeheartedly supports what you are doing.  Let’s take a look at the types of detractors you might experience –

The people who feel threatened by you – when we are fat people don’t normally feel threatened by us.  Be that our intelligence, our state of mind, our lifestyle or how we look.  But when we start to make decisions that change how we look, think and act.  They start to get territorial over us, they want us to go back to how we were, because how we were didn’t threaten them.  Let me say this loud and clear – we have enough issues to deal with, without taking on anyone else’s. 

The other fat people – they try to bring you down by belittling your achievements saying, how can you not eat what you want, when you want, how can you be bothered to exercise

Negativity Givers – They say things like ‘boy you have do much more fat to lose.’ ‘I can’t believe you are eating desert, seriously.’ ‘Flip its taking you a long time to lose weight.’ – They don’t celebrate our achievements with us, instead they focus only on the negative, and they give us a hard time, trying to bring us down to their own level.

The People who want us to follow their agenda – we find these people all the time, they want us to embark on a journey entirely on their terms, they want us to follow their instructions, their set course, their meal plans, and exercise advice.  When we don’t they criticize us and belittle our success.  These people can be found especially in the Personal Training arena so be careful!

The Critics – nothing we do is good enough for them, everything is open to criticism.  They want to pull us down, and criticize our achievements

The people who are only interested in their own story – these people are quite tricky because they pretend to be interested in you, and they say things that make you think they actually care about the journey they are on, but very quickly it becomes clear that they are interested in no one but themselves, and if what you are doing isn’t on their radar, they instantly dismiss us.  They make everything about themselves.

Our responsibility is our life, not someone else’s. 

If other people aren’t comfortable or happy with the choices we are making those are their thoughts.  Their words reflect the things that they need to deal with, even though they sound like they are a reflection on us.  They aren’t. 

When people see someone achieving something that shows up a shortfall in their own life, they try to take the attention off themselves, and give it to the person who is enjoying success, in loaded or negative comments.  These people can be sleeked and clever in how they phrase things, but it is crucial that we don’t take on board what they have to say.  We only have one life, with an allotted timespan, use this time for you, rather than to take onboard other peoples problems.

It takes a lot of self-belief to keep going, when the going gets tough, as at times on our journey it will.  Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself motivated.  I have a print up in my study, that says ‘i believe’ everytime I look at it I reinforce what I do believe about myself and the journey that I am on.  I remember to love myself, because through taking care of myself, I am in the best position to help others.  I remember that even if I have had a hard day, tomorrow will get better and that there is hope.  I believe in myself. 

We have a responsibility to ourselves to surround ourselves with people who are on our team, who are rooting and cheering for us.  Who will celebrate with us, when we tell them our fatloss, who will say well done, who will say on our darkest days – ‘Look how far you have come, look what you have achieved. Okay you feel downhearted now, but focus on the future, you have done so well, and I know you will keep doing it.  I believe in you.’  We have to make a decision to spend more time with these people, and less with the detractors. 

I am not saying end relationships or friendships with people, instead, I am saying choose wisely who you spend your time with.  Choose people who build you up and support you, over those who zap your energy.  If you leave someone feeling worse than when you met them, you need to consider how much time you spend with that person, and when you spend time with them.  Some of our friends are energy zappers, so we need to hang out with the, when we are at our strongest, and we need to protect our mind and our hearts from their words, by actively choosing to send to the trash can in our mind, & then mentally deleting, anything they say that is not helpful.

A friend of mine has recently started working in the weightloss industry.  She showed me her business cards, and in big letters was the word ‘encouragement’ right at the top of the list.  I couldn’t agree with her more.  I know that as I have walked on this journey, the people who encourage me help me to take the next steps when I don’t feel I can.  Their words of encouragement remind me that I can do this, and of how far I have come.

Encouragement is a lifeblood.  It will help you every step of the way. I firmly believe that it is absolutely essential to everything that you do as you walk from Fat to Freedom.  Having a group of friends, and family, and a professional who will encourage you, give you a high five, and tell you well done.  This does wonders for your psyche!  It builds you up, and confirms what you already know inside, that ‘all that you are doing is worth it.’ 

Encouragement also helps you when you face tough days, and provides motivation, when you want to throw the towel in.  I have found that it took me to new levels of exercise and strength as I worked out.  Even when you know you are doing well, just hearing someone else tell you well done is very rewarding, and reinforces all the positive choices that you are making in your life.  When people encourage you, or send you a note, or email – put a copy of it into your notebook, keep it there to read again and to remind you of the positive things they have said, when you feel a bit low.

You can do this.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Eating in: New York City - ABC Kitchen

New York City: a place of endless energy, relentless ambition, continuous choice and unlimited urgency.  Variety is the spice of life, but it can also be overwhelming, and confusing.  Our time is so precious to all of us, that when we travel we want to have the best possible experience.  We want the most exciting stories to tell when we return home, and are asked the question, ‘Well, so what was the food like?’  Good food can make or break a trip.  Reading the “Where To Eat” Bibles often leaves us foodies wanting, because we know that the pages of the majority of them are filled with establishments that pay to be there.

One of my newest and best food memories is that of Abc Kitchen, (35 East 18th Street between Broadway and Park, New York City).

In a city like New York, with some of the best dining experiences in the world, how does a restaurant stand out?  The answer is that it has to have the whole package: not only extraordinary food, but also attentive service, a space with vibrancy, stylish interiors, good crockery and cutlery, a menu that tickles the taste buds the moment you start reading it and a welcoming atmosphere.

Awarded “Best New Restaurant of 2011” by the James Beard Foundation, Abc is a restaurant that not only readily deserves this award but is also one that I wish I could eat in every day.

It’s a place that first and foremost respects good, organic ingredients.  They have staff that wholly believe in the restaurant’s food ethics and philosophy of fresh produce, barely touched, from the field to the plate.  The menu celebrates simplicity and avoids food gimmicks. 

You can eat roasted Portobello mushrooms with celery leaves; marinated heirloom tomatoes with chillies and basil; roasted aubergine toast with peppers and lemon and wholewheat pizzas, with toppings such as mushrooms, Parmesan, oregano and farm egg.  There’s also an akaushi burger with herbed mayonnaise and pickled jalapenos, and what I am told is the most popular lunch option, a house roasted turkey sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, arugula and jalapenos.  The secret for a chef to be able to serve dishes like these is an unwavering belief in the quality of the ingredients.

Offering farm-to-table dining, the restaurant sources 70% of its food from a ninety-mile radius, from May to October, with a commitment to try to reach 100% of the ingredients sourced from within this area, as soon as they can.  And, you can really taste the difference the lack of food miles makes to the freshness and colour of the food that is served.

Overseen by Alsatian chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, famous for fusing French classics and Asian flavours, Chef Dan Kluger was cooking in the kitchen the day we were there.  Both men shop regularly at Manhattan’s Union Square Greenmarket, often picking up produce and creating a dish around it.  This is what I am told happened with my favourite dish on the menu the ‘shaved radish toast, grainy mustard butter and black pepper’. 

Freshly made sourdough bread had been brushed with olive oil and toasted, giving it a crunchy, chewy texture, and topped with several types of garden fresh radishes, so thin that they looked like pieces of the most delicate tissue paper.  They swept along the top of the bread like a dusting of confetti that had been anointed with glossy mustard and black pepper butter that had just a hint of saltiness.  It tasted light and tangy. Those radishes reminded me of the ones I ate as a child, sitting in the middle of our vegetable garden, straight out of the soil, a vegetable untouched by electric refrigeration.

Braised hake, cabbage, chillies and seaweed, grilled chicken salad with pistachios, fennel & cider dressing, and steamed salmon salad, tomatoes, haricot verts and goat cheese feta were placed before us.  All our plates were cleared, but our waiter assured us, if they hadn’t been doggy bags were available, and all food waste was put on compost heaps – to ease the carbon footprint of the restaurant.

The puddings were twists on classics that I have since recreated several times at home – an ice-cream sundae, a cookie plate, and an upside down cake.  The signature pudding was the salted caramel ice cream and candied peanuts and popcorn, served with chocolate sauce: rich, creamy and salty, with a dash of chocolate sauce.

Our waiters pointed out the list of the kitchen’s commitments and standards with regards to their conscious sourcing policy, printed on the back of each – recycled paper - menu.  This stretches not only to the food and wine that is served but also the artwork, utensils, accessories, plates and furniture, cleaning products, a rooftop herb garden and an impressive ingredients provenance list. They use reclaimed and recycled building materials wherever possible and even the tree we were eating on had been carved from a windfall tree. 

The obvious comparisons to the Abc kitchen and its philosophy is Alice Water’s Chez Panisse restaurant, in California, or Mrytle Allen’s Ballymaloe House, in County Cork in Ireland, both of which set the bar for excellent sourcing and simple recipes in the 1980’s.

The Abc dining room is a space similar to a farmhouse barn, with recycled wooden beams that frame the ceiling, grey flagstone floors, whitewashed walls, huge black and white photographs, wild flowers on the table and a sort of dusky lighting that adds to the feeling of romance.  The atmosphere is relaxed and familial, waiters wear plimsolls and checked shirts and the clientele is a mix across the demographics.

And if you love the whole experience enough, there is even a shop where you can buy the same look. They have really thought of everything.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkins are a very versatile ingredient, so before throwing away the flesh from a carved our Jack O’Lantern, why not have a go at making these recipes, which have been created to be easy to make, and suitable for making with children.

Pumpkin is a squash with a very mild flavour, making it an ingredient, which will take flavour, in the form of spices and herbs that will lift the taste to a new level. These two recipes use pureed pumpkin, and can be served together, or separately.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Lentils

(serves 4-6)


  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • small cinnamon stick
  • 4 tbsp runny honey (to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 1 green chilli kept whole with two sliced insertions
  • 2 desert apples peeled and sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery sliced
  • 2 large carrots sliced
  • 2 cups of pumpkin
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 pints of chicken stick
  • 200g red lentils
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Over a high heat dry fry the whole spices for 30 seconds, then grind in coffee grinder or by hand with a porter and mestle, set aside
  2. Fry onion for 7 minutes over a high heat until it begins to caramelise but not burn, then add the garlic and ginger and fry for another 2 minutes
  3. Add all the ground spices, and stir well into the onion mixture, frying for another 2 minutes
  4. Add the green chilli and the cinnamon stick
  5. Add the carrots, celery and pumpkin, fry stirring regularly for 7 minutes, add the salt, then the apples
  6. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to the boil, cover with a lid then turn the heat to a simmer until the vegetables are tender and cooked through
  7. Add the washed lentils and cook with the vegetables and stock, until they are tender
  8. Take out the cinnamon stick then use a stick blender to blend all the ingredients together until smooth
  9. Add honey and black pepper to taste


Pumpkin, Cranberry & Rosemary Muffins, with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 18 muffins


  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 4 free range large eggs
  • 1 cup salted butter melted
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 4 tbsp Pumpkin Seeds
  • 5 tbsp Cranberry Seeds
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 small tub of cream cheese
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350’, Gas Mark 4, 180’, Aga top oven grill on floor of the oven muffin tin on top, then cold shelf directly above
  2. Melt the butter and set aside
  3. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases
  4. Whisk together until smooth brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs.
  5. Add the pumpkin puree and continue whisking until all combined
  6. Add all the dry ingredients, (reserving 1 tbsp of both cranberries and pumpkin seeds) then whisk until smooth
  7. Divide the batter into the lined muffin cases
  8. Scatter a couple of pumpkin seeds and cranberries on top of each muffin
  9. Bake until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean – 20 to 25 minutes, turn the tin if necessary
  10. Take the muffins out of the tin and set to cool on a wire rack
  11. Serve as they are, or with a bowl of cinnamon cream cheese frosting

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Mix all the ingredients together until you have a firm frosting
  2. Serve in a bowl, with a spoon so people can individually spread the frosting on their muffins


That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


You Hold the Key ...

You are about to read day 30 in my 31 Day series from Fat to Freedom, as part of write 31 days.

I've been at the bottom of the mountain, thinking how can I get it to move, is it possible?  Wondering how will I ever take that first step, how can I.

Thoughts like these feel my head won’t it be hard, isn’t it going to be difficult, am I not better staying where I am. 

The answer is yes, to them all, it is hard, but you and I we are worth it, living the best life we can as a healthy, slim strong fit person is indeniably better than staying still, and wishing you weren’t fat.  Or dreaming about being thin. 

Let me tell you something, you hold the key to unlocking your potential, no one else, just you, and by taking steps, one at a time on this journey, you will be amazed and overjoyed with the results that you achieve.  Results that will change your life for the better and last a lifetime.

 That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Faith for freedom

You are about to read day 29 in my 31 Day series from Fat to Freedom, as part of write 31 days.

Faith also played a huge part in my transformation – faith in myself yes, but also faith in a God who loved me, and accepted me, who supported me, and died for me. 

Faith is why I am certain of freedom.

Having gone through many dark nights of the soul, I know that my faith has been crucial in helping me come to terms with the past, and walk into the future.  Knowing that I could give everything away, all that I couldn’t deal with to God brought me endless comfort.  Knowing God, made accepting what was going on less difficult.

In a way God was my AA, my Overeater’s Anonymous.  Everything I couldn’t cope with, or understand, all those things that would have in the past sent me flying for the biscuit box, I was able to release to him in prayer, or tears.  In fact having this Serenity Prayer, (insert below) taped to my diary, and the wall above my desk reminded me on a daily basis that I was not alone as I walked through this struggle.

Don’t let that inner critic tell you your ‘all by yourself’ because your not. Never feel that you are on your own.  There are people who have walked this path before you, like me, and there are people who will be encouraged by your story, to walk the same path after you.  Your story is part of a larger story.  In the same vein don’t let that inner critic make you believe you are weak for asking for help. 

Asking for help in any sphere of life, but especially in one so personal, as fat loss is a sign of great strength.  We need to share what is going on with us, because our secrets can make us sick, and in my case my secrets did make me sick, with a condition of overeating.  There are so many different varieties of support and help out there for you.  The first one you have in your hand right now, this book also contains a resources section that allows you to read further into your journey. 

Then there is counselling.  Counselling sounds like a rather frightening word, it’s a bit off putting.  I like to think of it as conversations with someone outside of your circle who helps you find perspective, and see the wood from the trees. 

Look at it whatever why helps you the best, but know that there are professionals out there, and you will benefit from their help.  I know for certain that I did, enormously.  Look to your faith circle, maybe you have a ministry group, or a prayer clinic, that you would benefit from attending.  Again going to these where fundamental or there are professional bodies like ‘overeater’s anonymous’ who do great, great things in supporting the individual on their journey. 

 Go where is right for you, but if you think, or have even an inkling of thought that you should go, then go.

Remember, you can do this, asking for help is not a sign of weakness but great strength, and that there is help available, you are never alone.  I know one thing for sure, the journey that you are about to embark on will change your life forever, it will make you a stronger, and more balanced person, who is in tune with their body, mind and spirit. 

It is not an easy journey, and you will have tough days, but you will be able to overcome these.

You are an overcomer.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


q&a with Dolly Lee from Soul Stops

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the beautiful Dolly Lee from Soul Stops to q&a.  Dolly is an inspirational writer, who uses words to speak truth, with light and grace.  We met about 18 months or so ago, when we took part in Five Minute Friday together, and since then it has been a real pleasure to get to know her.

Dolly wrote the most restful and peace drenched manifesto called Soul Care, which I highly recommend you get a copy of, immediately!  You can follow Dolly on Twitter or Facebook, and read her poetry at Tweetspeak Poetry, where she is a contributing writer, and her post on grace at Blogging Tandem is definitely worth reading.

Who are you, what’s it like being you ...

I love to learn more about God, others, life, places and myself.

Where are you from, where are you based …

I was born in California and I currently live in northern California.

Talk about your work ...

Writer, blogger, wife, mom...I feel privileged to be in each of those roles and I can see how God has provided for each of them. I write about 2-3 times a week at my blog, Soul Stops. I write once a month for Tweetspeak Poetry and occasionally for Jumping Tandem Retreat blog. In February 2015, I will also write occasionally for the Deeper Waters blog.

What are your future plans ...

Hmm...I’m learning to seek God daily so as each of those days unfold, I will live into God’s best plan for my life. I’m praying about other writing projects.

How do you find inspiration, who you are inspired by ...

I find inspiration in many different places and people...I’m inspired by Jesus’s tenderness coupled with courage...I’m also inspired by people who live and serve because of love not self-promotion and it can be at home or on a larger scale...I’m inspired by places of natural beauty, such as Lake Tahoe. But great architecture or art can also inspire me.

Describe your space …

I like to journal at our wood kitchen table and look out on our yard, especially when our hydrangea is blooming blue and purple orbs. I see little brown wrens pecking for seeds and sometimes a hummingbird feeding on the lavender during the summer. 

How are you feeling today ... 


A non-negotiable in your life is ...

My relationship with God and my family.

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ...

God loves you can’t do anything to make God love you more or love you less (Romans 5:8).

Your work life philosophy is …

Work is important but it is not my identity.

What is your favourite smell ... 

Tough one...I have so many...chocolate chip oatmeal cookies baking...lavender...roses...clean laundry.

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now …

Lately I’ve been listening to “Be Still My Soul” by Kari Jobi and “Nothing is Wasted” by Jason Gray.

Best meal and your favourite three ingredients...

Another tough question....the three ingredients vary depending on which meal.  For example, I love fruit with oatmeal in the morning and eggs

Three things that have changed your life...

Wow, another tough question. The Bible, blogging, and Pilates.

How do you relax ...

Exercise, go for a walk or visit a museum, read a good book, spend time with family and friends, watch a movie (usually a DVD) with my family. 

Where’s your happy place ...

My happy place would be by an ocean or a lake...thankfully, we can drive to the Pacific Ocean or a lake on a weekend...Note to self: I must do this more often.

What is your favourite journey, where in the world would you like to visit ... 

Hmm...I enjoy travelling because it helps me to see and appreciate life in new ways. 

What do you most value in your friends ... 


What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now ...

I’m reading King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, and I just finished several novels...all dystopian, like Veronica Roth's Divergent, because of our daughter’s influence...and I try to read from the Bible daily. 

My husband and I just finished reading and praying through Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle: 40 Day Prayer Challenge. It definitely inspired both of us to pray with more boldness and to seek God’s will in what to pray.

Share some words of wisdom ...

I’ll share a prayer by Julian of Norwich: “God of goodness, give me yourself. For you are sufficient for me. If I were to ask for anything less I should always be in want, for in you alone do I have all.”  

I’m slowly learning the truth of Julian’s words as I have spent too much of my life asking for things less than God. Now by God’s grace, I aspire to seek Him first because I have tasted God's goodness as the psalmist said in Psalm 34:8.

Dolly it has been a joy to have you at our place today, thank you for your interview and joining us on q&a.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Writing helps you understand what is at stake ...

This is day 28 in my 31 Day series from Fat to Freedom, as part of write 31 days.

Start with these questions as prompt – but add your own as you come up with them. 

Write down how you feel, how you would like to feel, and what you are going to do, to make the changes to get there.  Keep everything you write, because you will one day read over it, and be surprised at how far you have come, and you will be encouraged by your own journey. 

These questions allow you to connect and commit to what you are doing.  They help you understand what is at stake, and they are a crucial step that you will probably recognise that you didn’t complete whenever you tried and failed to lose the fat before. 

These questions, and any others you have allow you to understand the why of what you are doing, they allow you to explore what you need to do to make it possible, and they provide you with a framework both emotionally and intellectually to return to again and again when you find life overwhelming.  Your words, your answers to these questions will keep you going, when the going gets tough.

I know there are days when I have felt discouraged or down about my journey to lose the fat, and that when I poured these feelings out into a notebook, I was able to shake them off, and know that my feelings didn’t have power over my choices.

Writing things down, also allows you to see if you have any patterns of behaviour that you need to deal with, or things that would be worth discussing with another person – a professional.

Initially I tried to deal with all that was going on alone, but I knew deep down that I needed some help. There was too much to deal with and to try to make sense of.

I realised that I needed an outsider’s perspective, someone to ask me questions, and support me as I grappled with the answers, and worked through, a lot of issues, that had been formed from painful, and often traumatic episodes in my life. 

Having someone to talk to who not emotionally involved with me or my past, meant that they were able to ask me tough questions, that in the past I would have run straight to the cookie jar from.  You see these people were able to see things in my life that I couldn’t because I was too close to the events.  They were able to help me dig deeper, and look harder at specific areas.  

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable