Friday, July 21, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

The life of a GymGirl! Just another challenge...

#RitaHutchesonCobbs: Life as #GymGirl

I am all about setting goals. I have an inspiration board and journals. I love to come up with fun things to challenge myself. I love how these things motivate me to press on for the things I want. In 2015, my goal was to join a gym. I had just come off crutches from surgery on my feet and it was exciting on December 31, 2014, to be fitted for new running shoes and go to the gym. I found out through my friend Anna that Benders was hiring so I applied. I began working for them the first week of January. I had no clue about gym equipment. Each week, I learned a bit more, joined a class, asked members how to use a piece of equipment and for their advice. I began my new adventure joining a new family. 

The first few times I was on the elliptical, I gentleman got on the one next to me. He apparently noticed I was a novice. He leaned over and asked if he could show me a few things. I was thrilled to learn how to use the resistance and that going backwards used a different set of muscles! He is a dentist in town and both he and his wife are such mentors to so many new people that have begun their workout journeys. Then another husband and wife have made the gym a lifestyle. He is former military, which I think regardless if you are active or not, you are forever military. She has taught me various ways to use the stair master. Climbing is the norm, but there are so many exercises you can do on the stair master. Then he has challenged me to go backwards on the treadmill! He runs backwards. All of this sounds extreme and certainly not a typical gym experience. I am up for the party and the challenge. My friends don't do these things, they follow the diagram on the machines and do exactly what is required. 

Myths of the gym that I discovered weren't something I noticed as much as the things I have heard. People won't come to the gym because they are afraid people will look at them or watch them. They are afraid people will laugh. Then I have heard they won't go to the gym because they don't have the right clothing. All these things are excuses. Nobody watches anyone else. Gym people go with an agenda. They have a certain amount of time to get their focal point done and they do it. One day it may be arms, legs or another focal point. They have one to two-hours usually and they are focused. Many times they have headphones on and don't know anything that is going on around them. If I watch someone, it is to see how they are doing an exercise so I can do it too. That's it. As far as clothes are concerned, just cover up. I don't want to see "stuff" hanging out...please...not on him and not on her. 

I have learned that doing three sets of ten, increasing the weights not the number works better for me. Some do two sets of eight or three sets of twelve. It is what works best for you and your body. Regardless, your mind will tell you that you can't do two and that you can't walk or run one-mile, but your body is able. Once you get past that pivotal point, your like, "See, I can do them too." I had to self-talk and well, pray. I was inactive, never doing anything. When I start the swimming portion of the tri-training, I will do a lot more of praying than self-talk I am sure!  

I saw a t-shirt the other day hat read, "I hate running." I am sorry to say, I am not one of those people. Ever since I started running and working out, I know many people that say that very thing. They hate running, exercising or whatever it is they are doing to stay healthy, strong or fit. Why? I have no idea, because I usually don't stay around to find out. I have also met a lot of people who run and workout to eat. Many of these people don't focus on what they eat and drink, but don't see how the food intake and workout routine balance together to benefit their health. One day, it will be a wake-up call, I am afraid. 

However, I love love love to run. I love love love to workout! I will be honest and say that one day is better for me than another. I can left the bar with weights on it and another I struggle to left the bar. Then one day I can run ten-miles and another I can go on thirty. It doesn't matter...I am out there. I am not pretty working out. I sweat, I stink and I have humid hair. So, no excuses...sit by me.

Consider the gym. Ask if they have a week free so you can try it!
Go ride the bike during your favorite television show.
Some come to the gym where I go, watch their favorite game show for an hour and ride.
Ball games is another great time to workout all the excitement!
Five-minutes on the treadmill releases gym
oxygen to the brain for better decision making?
Try it...see for yourself...

Thursday, July 20, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Good Feels Good!

#RitaHutchesonCobbs at #Startbucks

I will have to come clean and be honest...I had to take a selfie at my local Starbucks with their latest slogan, "Good Feels Good!" I couldn't help myself! Good, indeed, does feel good! The only thing more I could come up with that felt better was happiness, joy, and being totally dipped in delicious guilt free chocolate. I know, I am way to simple, but that's the truth. Coffee would be in close running for those. I am a junkie. I tried a twelve-step for coffee, but instead they helped me with the foodaholic situation...chocolate isn't going anywhere...not enough steps anywhere, sorry. Totally off the point, goodness...

Good feels Good. Let's face it. When we do something good for another person, we feel good deep down inside. The feeling goes with us, but when we start sharing what we have done, have you noticed how the light from that good deed slowly shines within us a bit less. It's crazy how that happens. We still feel good about what we did, but just not so much so. Maybe that is why the Bible, throughout, talks about doing good in secret. Sometimes, leaving a note, a tiny gift or doing a task for another person in secret gives us a reward all by itself. It brings a new piece to our healthy lifestyle that wasn't there before. We aren't focusing on ourselves as much.

One area that we and you can give back is in little secret ways for our family, our neighbors or even strangers. As a single parent, I have a budget, it's no secret because it's true for most families like us. Last winter, Garrett needed a new jacket. Well, if you know Garrett, he likes the big sports jackets. I couldn't find an Alabama coat in his size, but I found a Falcon's jacket and ordered it. I was telling my bestfriend over the phone about it and the cost while waiting for my coffee at Target one afternoon. I left my book on the table and had planned to sit for a moment and read before shopping. When I went back to the table with my drink and opened my book, the exact amount for the jacket fell out. It was not a cheap jacket. I cried instantly and screamed. We have no idea who put it there, but what a huge blessing that was for this momma. 

Another way you and I can help is through community causes. There are so many opportunities to pick from. Garrett and I are run/walkers. I like to pick races that benefit something for us to signup for. When we started going to our church we met, Chris and his family. It was family at first sight. Garrett hits the door running after church to find Christ. They communicate with an ipad and without words. Each year there is a walk to raise money for ALS research and funding. Due to camp, we weren't able to walk this year, but we supported the cause. If you can't participate in events like this, offer to sponsor someone. Run/walkers are everywhere and they can participate in your name if you like. Some of the causes we have participated in raise money for autism, breast cancer research, Alzheimer's, veterans, hospice, Special Olympics, and so much more...

Regardless of the cause, get moving. Be active in helping others. I challenge you to put the excuses aside, negativity and reasons why not...walk for a cause, run across the finish line to changing the space around you for a healthier lifestyle. Living an example will change not only your life but those around you. Make believers of others by living as a giver. 

Hugs, Rita
Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Getting Active is TOOOO Expensive? Really!

#RitaHutchesonCobbs with #SpecialOlympics

I think I can simply stop here. Not write another word. Getting active is not expensive. That in itself is just another excuse. Recently, it was such an honor to be featured for my weight loss. Since then, I have been stopped and messaged by so many making the decision to get healthy with weight loss and getting active. Some are just getting active who are at goal weight, but they realize things can go bad fast. One thing everyone I have met has said, "I won't forget your words, regardless of the whole interview...No excuses!" There are none.

Getting active is just another choice. One of the ladies I met this week, told me that she had been praying for a husband. She was bold enough to tell God that she wanted a man in her life. She started walking at a local park and this is what she prayed over and over. One day, a gentleman she had met out and about visited her church. He met her for one of the walks. They are married today and, I might add, they lost just over twenty-pounds in the process. It didn't cost them anything and they gained a whole lot more personally.

I'm not saying that you too will find your true love by walking and praying at the park, what I am saying is that you can find ways to get healthy for free. Parks have walking trails, perfectly safe with all types of activity on the grounds plus you can carry your phone. Then there are volunteer opportunities like Special Olympics. Call your local parks and recreation to see what opportunities they have available for all ages. They may need adults to help with children and teen programs. Our local group has senior programs, children, teens and a lunch bunch. There is even a square dancing group.

For me, I volunteer and participate with Special Olympics. I love this bunch. I haven't bowled in a while, but I take my son, Garrett, to all the activities they have to offer. Golf is his gift, but the various activities keep him active. They look for adults to play unified and just to interact with them. Garrett bowls on Monday, swims on Tuesday, golfs on Wednesday and depending on the season, we have bocce ball, horseback riding, basketball and run/walking the rest of the week. Garrett can't do these activities by himself, he need supervision and this is true for most of those who participate in Special Olympics. I am a terrible bowler with the nickname, "Gutter Girl," but I have fun and I am ever present with them. That is all they are looking for.

This morning, I was telling the class I lead to do eight exercises with vegetable cans before opening them for supper. While watching television, stand up and march during the commercials. When sitting down in a chair, load the heels and do four squats before actually sitting or going to a standing position. While waiting for an appointment, do leg lifts one at a time, let the people around you think you are crazy...they probably met me first lol! Anytime you have the opportunity practice crunches, overhead arm stretches, twist a jar with a ball. So many things you can do just while waiting. I think "Waiting" is the best workout opportunity ever!

The road is also free. Start walking. Speak to your neighbors, force yourself. Invite them to walk with you. It's a start to stepping out of those comfort zones. Who knows, you might meet your, "True Love, Your Prince Charming or Princess." Garrett said that while he was watching a movie the other day and I thought it was the sweetest thing. He will be my forever prince, my motivator to live a healthy lifestyle because I want to be around a long time to care for him. I am responsible for my choices and my decisions. I don't have to stand before anyone and give account for what you do or my neighbor does, I have to stand alone and be responsible. I want to live with the right decision, no regrets, no excuses.

What are using as an excuse to not be active?
Isn't it time to move it out of the way?
Why not throw it away and get moving?
What's holding you back...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Tips for Shopping and Losing Weight...

#RitaHutchesonCobbs Dress before, size 32...

I love taking personality tests! They aren't done as often now, but when I worked in suit world, I loved going to conferences where they had us take them. I am all about the prize. This is why I am invited to parties, showers, the next great gadget my friends are selling. I am always the monkey or whatever ever animal represents the shoot-gun car rider, cheering everyone on as we travel, following the leader who is going to the fun places at our destination. I have ADHD and look at all the positive side of everything. I drive people crazy because I am always happy and bouncy. But...I like to know that when I set a goal, I will win something at the end. I have found on this particular journey, most people are that way too. They just hide it well. I, however, have no secrets, obviously...

Setting goals for whatever you are seeking to achieve is better accomplished when there are rewards at end, but even more tangible if there are small goodies along the way. As I lost weight, I set goals of five-pounds. I didn't have too many rewards at the point, but when I got to twenty-five, I set a reward. At that time, I was big into art journaling. There was a marker set I really wanted. They were a few dollars per marker, so I would buy one marker for each milestone. Then when I got to one-hundred pounds, the rewards were of significant value to me. I would buy a new garment usually.

I know purchasing a new dress or a blouse sounds silly to some, but I don't shop and don't like to shop. As I lost weight, I went to the thrift stores and purchase my "transition" clothes to get to the next size. I didn't buy anything new or on clearance, didn't pay more than $1.50 maybe on any one item. I had no plans to wear them very long. So, buying something new was a treat.

I remember my first coat. I need to show that photo. I always wore a wrap. I couldn't find a coat large enough fit me. I had gone to a store on University Drive in Huntsville to buy something because it was Reward Day. I saw the coats and tried one on. I stood in front of the mirror and started crying. I could button the coat. I boat it. The next time I had someone take my photo in a jacket was when I needed one for a trip and I went to a department store. I tried on a size ten and it was too big, so I got an eight...It was an awesome moment and I had someone take my picture.

The key to weight loss success is making the decision to do it. Then stick to it regardless of what the circumstance or situation is in your life. There are no excuses to this because I am living proof of that. Then set non-food rewards for accomplishments no matter what your celebrations or success are, weight, work, school, or holidays. We have gotten crazed with rewarding those around us with ice cream trips, gas station stops and other places for a treat because we have done well in something. It is out of control. We have made the wrong decisions and our health is testimony to that. 

It's a simple decision with no excuses. 

Now, challenge...
make a chart, set simplistic goals and 
decide the rewards now. Let's get moving! 

REMEMBER: Set NONE Food Rewards!!

Monday, July 17, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Key Ring of Encouragement...


There is no easy way to begin this writing. I want to end it with a great way to be encouraged and to have faith in what your are doing, the goals you are pressing for and believing in yourself. However, I have to begin with why this particular key ring or key chain, if you will, is important. I have never shared this key ring with anyone, but it has gone everywhere with me. 

When I was unsure of the situation, saw someone that I was a bit concerned would burst my happy bubble, say something discouraging, or just needed a positive word or a scripture to encourage me, I would pull this out and hold it, read it or just carry it. I didn't put my faith in a key ring or the cards as a lucky charm, I put my faith in the words, in God, and slowly, still working on it, in myself.

I wrote a post about index cards and writing quotes, scripture, and thoughts to encourage you in the same way. Finding various ways to do this is important to get you through life-changing situations and crises so that you grow during these journeys we otherwise would rather not face at all. Growing is the key, if we let ourselves grow, then we will come out strong and better people. I found this to be true regardless what I have experienced. 

Thus, the key ring. When my husband left, I needed a new home church. He was staying at his family church and I knew that God wanted me to move on so He lead me to a church I had never been to before. The whole experience of going my first Sunday is so funny, but I will save it for another time. I went to Sunday School by myself and then on to Worship. During the opening, a group called "Divorce Care" popped up on the screen. I watched for it come back through and quickly wrote down the information. That night, I was there for the class. I started toward the end of the group, but OmyGoodness! Wow! I repeated the sessions that fall and was in awe of what I gained from the group members, our study guide and the leadership... 

Key Ring of Encouragement Directions

In the back of the study guide, I found a set of cards with scripture verses on one side and encouraging statements on the other. I cut them out, put them in self-stick plastic sheets found at any department office supply section, cut them half-inch from the card and punched a hole in the corner, added a key ring. 

Today, everything is much different than it was when my life forever changed. I never knew happiness could be like this. A friend text me the night that happened, saying she was going to be in town and wanted to meet for coffee. When we met, she was in awe of what had happened, but she said: "The chains have fallen, you are no longer in bondage to the past." She continued, "You have a choice to change it or continue living it." I decided that I would change my life. Healing has happened. The fear has been replaced with faith. Courage broke the chains. Freedom. Regardless how you stay focused, do it. Maybe it's a written word or a series of them. When you don't have anyone to encourage you, words can do that. Live the good words of this life, because the bad ones aren't worth the moment of memory.  Make your key ring of encouragement, then make one for a friend.

Sunday, July 16, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Gluten Free Chicken and Dumplings Recipe...Full of Flavor!

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings with
boiled potatoes in beer with baked "fried" green tomatoes
and fresh cut off corn

Everyone knows that I love to cook! I grew up in a home that we had southern breakfasts to suppers every single day. On Sundays, we went out for lunch rarely, but most of those Sunday dinners was my mother's fried chicken or pork chops. Then when I started my own kitchen, I not only made southern meals but added pastas, cheeses, homemade desserts and lots of fun dishes with eggs, sausages and beef. One of my grandmother's of the heart, taught me how to make dumplings the old fashion way. When there was a family gathering, we hit the dumplings, fried apple pies (she made me chocolate), and tea cakes. Yup, I can make them all! However, taking a recipe that use to make or finding one now and transforming it is something I absolutely love to do now! So, here is my revised chicken and dumplings recipe...(Sorry Mamaw)...

Chicken and Potatoes Prepared...

Chicken Breasts (at least 3 for this recipe)
Barbecue Sauce
Flavored Beer

Now, don't judge me, but this is absolutely the best way to make your chicken and potatoes, other than grilling... Take boneless, skinless chicken (at least 3 chicken breasts for this recipe) place them in a crock pot sprayed with cooking spray for easy cleanup. Layer them with your favorite bbq sauce. I prepare a lot of chicken at once and use it in various of recipes during the week or freeze it. Then place your potatoes on top. Pour one flavored beer over the whole thing (don't drink it! Tooooo many calories!). Let the crock pot cook for about 6 hours or until potatoes are tender and chicken is thoroughly cooked. When done, cut chicken in small is ready for the dumplings.

Dumplings Recipe

1 cup Bisquick Gluten Free Mix
1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk 
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon cilantro 
dash of black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. 
Dough should be the consistency of biscuit dough. 

Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

3 cups fat-free vegetable broth
2 cups chicken breasts, chopped finely
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1/8 teaspoon thyme 
pinch of turmeric 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

In a boiler (yup, I am from the south), heat the broth, chicken, vegetables, thyme, turmeric, salt and pepper. In a bowl, mix buttermilk and cornstarch, whisking together smoothly, without lumps. Once the chicken broth mixture is heated, slowly stir in the milk mixture. Heat to a low boil. Gently drop the dumpling dough by rounded spoonfuls into the boiling chicken broth mixture. Reduce heat and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes. Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. I place a wooden spoon across the boiler, tilting the lid so it won't boil over. Thanks to my mother, this trick is awesome, plus I like to watch the dumplings cook. Serve hot! 

Turmeric is a spice that is great to help with inflammation. I try to add it to recipes as well as cinnamon. The dumplings take on a different flavor when you add both of these. When I had flair-ups with fibromyalgia, various tricks like this made a difference so I use them now to help with Mamaw Hutty's arthritis. 

Enjoy! Hugs, Rita

Saturday, July 15, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Gluten-Free Fat-Free Tomato Pie Recipe! Oh so good!

#RitaHutchesonCobbs Tomato Pie Recipe
 from the #KitchenWithAHouseAttached

Oh sweet goodness! I am being trained by one of the absolutely, hands down, very best group fitness instructors ever...Ms Robin at the Hartselle Gym. Each week, she is amazing because she can count, instruct, lead and share a recipe! Week before last, it was a corn salad, this past week it was a tomato pie, both leaving my mouth watering and my mind craving. I had to try this one too. However, I had to tweak it a bit.

My neighbors, brought me fresh tomatoes, one brought green tomatoes so 
I baked "fried" Cajun tomatoes and the ripe red tomatoes, I made tomato pies. 

This has to be the most simple recipe ever.
The biggest thing is getting the cheeses and peeling the tomatoes.
With the original recipe, you can purchase pre-made pie crusts,
but I made my own crusts (stop rolling your eyes! lol)

Had to post a close up of the delicious ripe red sweet tomatoes...
yup, all one complete without commas sentence lol...

Two pies ready for the oven! 
One pie will be for home, but the other is to share with my neighbors.
Now for the recipe I created and then I will post the ingredients for the original recipe...

Tomato Pie Filling  Recipe 
Gluten-free and Fat-free

4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon cilantro
black pepper
1/2 cup green onion, chopped finely
2 cups fat-free shredded cheese (Kraft melts)
1 cup fat-free sour cream 
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Mix

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Once you have the pie crust in the 9 inch pie plate, lay the tomato slices around the bottom of the pie crust. Then sprinkle on top of the tomatoes the Italian seasoning, cilantro, and black pepper. In a bowl mix the remaining ingredients and spread evenly over the top of the tomatoes. I think next time I will use 2 cups of fat-free sour cream for more fluff on top...just thinking. I loved the seasoning popping through this pie. Crumbled turkey bacon would be great in on top of the tomatoes too. Bake at 350 degrees until top is lightly brown and crust is done, approx. 30 minutes.

Pie Crust Recipe
Gluten-free and Fat-free

1 1/2 cups 1-to-1 baking flour
1/2 sea salt, optional
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons fat-free margarine 
1 tablespoon cold water
1/8 teaspoon real vanilla

Mix the ingredients together. The dough will be a tiny bit sticky. If not, add a bit of flour. If it is too wet, add a bit of flour. Then pour it on wax paper dusted with flour. then roll out the dough thin to 10" to fit in the pie crust. Trim the excess dough off the plate.

I don't bake my pie crusts first, but my mother likes to. When baking both gluten-free and fat-free takes some playing with. I love to substitute any oils or butters with applesauce. The only time I have used fat-free margarine is here. I use fat-free spray butter, but it to me it seems better to use real butter or none at all. Apple sauce is a great replacement for oils of any kind. Then soy butter is another replacement for shortening in recipes, even here for the fat-free margarine.

This recipe is super easy with ready made crusts. However, saving the calories and fat in the filling is a rockin' awesome advantage to any dessert. Workout, take a family powerwalk to make up the difference. A friend of mine got a dog the other day to make her start walking! Imagine that. I think it will be great companionship too! Double fold. Hey, the dog might eat the pie crust dough if it's bad...((I'm kidding about that but ya know...)) Let's get moving and think about what we are eating and doing!

Hugs, Rita
Friday, July 14, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Gluten Free Biscuits Recipe

 Love my view on at any given time to enjoy a cup of coffee and whatever I'm baking!

I love to bake! Nothing has changed about my love for cooking since losing weight, just my way of doing it. I have learned simple things that cut the calories and fat. Now, I find it a challenge to take a recipe that is high in calories and totally make it healthier. Homemade biscuits is one of those favorites in my house. A secret up front that we use in our household, is spray butter rather than butter. Spray butter has zero calories and no fat; however, PLEASE leave me some at the grocer!

Homemade Gluten Free Biscuits Recipe

2 1/3 cups 1-to-1 baking flour plus 2 tablespoons
2/3 cup fat-free buttermilk
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons granulated sugar or Spenda or honey
1 teaspoon salt 
2 eggs (I use egg substitute)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an area with a hand towel and a sheet of wax paper. Dust the wax paper with a bit of the baking flour. Mix all the ingredients together well. The dough will be gooey. Place the dough on the dusted wax paper and mead a bit. Then sprinkle with some of the excess flour. Roll out the dough and using a biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits. I use a large mouth glass because my son likes large biscuits. Then place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done. I like to bake my biscuits slowly.

Play with the recipe. Add or take away. Here are some suggestions I have for baking gluten-free:
You may need more liquid depending on the sponginess of the dough once it is mixed together. Sometimes I add a bit of vanilla to my ingredients or honey as an addition touch.I have found to back of the liquid a bit. Dust the biscuit cutter with flour so that it doesn't stick to the dough. Firmly cut all the way through the dough and twist a tiny bit to get all the way through the dough.

Make it fun, but the exciting part is trying until you find the recipe you like best. If the biscuits are crumbly. Remember, that if you are working out and losing weight to go for a powerwalk, run or workout class to compensate for a biscuit. Consider a lean protein with the biscuit or eat it alone.

Thursday, July 13, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Rita's Chicken Salad Recipe *UPDATED*

Rita's Chicken Salad Recipe
An all year favorite thing to enjoy...

When I made this salad last week, someone asked me for the recipe. After telling them it was on my blog, I went to find the link and post it for them. My mouth hit the table...rare, I know! The recipes were "back in the day" as Mamaw Hutty would say...OmyGosh! I have played with this chicken salad recipe and now I really like this one. The protein pops and the fat bottoms out. You can add more fruit if you like and leave off the nuts which takes away more fat and makes it allergy friendly for those coming to your meal you don't know much about. So, let's make an anytime picnic then I will share a family story at the end!

Rita's Chicken Salad Recipe

3 large chicken breasts, skinless
1 16 ounce fat-free sour cream
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Mix
1 cup green grapes, sliced in half
1 cup pineapple chunks, drained
3 Tablespoons, sunflower seeds
black pepper, cilantro, Italian seasoning - pinch of each
* I have added apple chunks and raisins to the salad as well. 

First, I cook my chicken in large batches in the crock pot. I spray my crock pot with cooking spray, layer my chicken with chicken, bbq sauce, black pepper. Then I pour a favored beer over all that. I know, crazy but oh so good! Cook for 6 hours or until chicken is done. 

Chopped chicken into small chunks or shred whichever works best for you. Then mix all the ingredients together and serve with fresh fruit. Chilled is best and will last several days in the fridge. Kids can help make this with you and helps with fine motor skills if you are a caregiver (just a thought). 

Family Story...
Living Room Picnic!

When my boys were little, one of our favorite things to do was have a living room picnic. One of the homes we lived in had almost white carpet too. Not being your tradition mother, I was creative at times with meals. This particular time, I spread a quilt on the living room floor and served a complete spaghetti dinner, red sauce, buttered up garlic bread and all BUT without utensils! Yup! I made sure their hands were clean of course, but that became one of their favorite requests all the way through their teens. When my dad lived with us in his last days, we had a meal like this but at the table just as one of my sons was off on a choir trip, it was his request. My dad tried to participate, not something my dad would have ever done, he said, "This is making a memory." Indeed. Making memories, sharing meals, passing recipes, taking a dish to a neighbor...we are making others and ourselves smiles for many days to come. Enjoy...

Hugs, Rita

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

A Story in the Making...Stay Tuned...It's Not Over Yet!

WHNT News Article of Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs 300lb Journey!
RitaHutchesonCobbs 7/1/2017 holding size 5x pants!
450 lbs to 142 lbs, size 5x to size 4

Fear grips you in places that you can't define. Fear can stop you cold and run through you to the point that though process doesn't exist. Unless you have been taken over by anxiety and fear combined, you have no idea what I am talking about. In the past, my realities of life brought such situations, but I have now learned the difference in the levels of fear and the real definition of natural fear compared to those built on anxiety. The Bible says to be anxious for nothing. That defining moment happened last week. 

About two weeks ago, I got a phone call from the main gym I work for. Ms. Christy called, leaving a voicemail saying that a gentleman from the local news station wanted me to call him. The news station wanted to do a story about my weight loss story. I panicked. Fortunately, Garrett and I were headed to Special Olympic bowling practice where we have almost no phone signal. I texted the news anchor, telling him I would call him later that evening. I quickly texted two of my best friends to pray about this opportunity and then talked to the third best friend at bowling. All of them said the same thing that I already knew, "DO IT!" 

That evening I called, Mr. Greg Screws, news anchor for WHNT for Channel 19 in Huntsville, Alabama. I hope I gave him the correct credit, because he deserves far more than that. I was hones, maybe too honest, about my concerns for doing the interview and the locations to do it. He was not only kind but understanding. He asked me various questions based on the before and after photos I have posted on social media. We set a time to meet.

He was coming to one of the smaller gyms on the day that was to be my first time to lead a group fitness class. I was extremely nervous, so Robin, my trainer and one of our best instructors, taught the class, giving me a tiny portion to lead for the video portion of the interview. The class was great in helping and making me feel comfortable. The interview took place afterwards and I was a bit hyper, more so than normal (yup, lol, nothing elegant about me!)...

The thing about the whole experience was this...
I had a gripping experience with anxiety and fear once. I can tell you when, where and who to call and verify my situation and meltdown. It was so unlike me, who handles crises, organized and without fail. Then on my way to the gym for class and this interview, it hit me...This fear was different! Wow! For years, I feared failure, to try anything. I didn't want to face the ramifications I would experience behind closed doors. When I was driving up Hartselle Mountain, I began to slowly smile. The fear I was feeling was one of newness, one that you feel when you are doing something for the first time. Not taking a test kind of fear, but the walking in a gym or riding a bike kind of fear. You know you will succeed, but it's getting through the first time experience!
Greg Screws, Jeremy, Me

Weight loss and living fit has brought a new way of living. With every pound, I have gained a confidence I never knew I had. I have learned that I can do so many things from managing my family to getting more involved in social media. I am still afraid to be in front of people, have fellowshipfobia, trusting relationships, but I am amazed at how far I have come in the past three-years alone. Since 2011, my life has forever changed and God is creating me in what He had planned all along. This day was confirming that. 

The day I got the call was revelation and an answer to my morning prayer. I prayed that very morning, "God, I will do anything. Anything!" I even blogged about it. Little did I know that He would do so much with in a few hours of my prayer. I won't be careful what I pray because this was one of the nicest experiences I have ever had. 

Walking faith of our Father and of ourselves
 takes me taking that first step 
and then I can run knowing there is nothing to fear.

Hugs, Rita

Monday, July 10, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Garrett's Hot Burgers...Yup, there is a story!

It isn't often that I hit the internet for answers much less social media. I do like to post random, fun questions on Facebook to get conversation going. It's fun to do that. When Garrett went to day camp last week, he reminded me on Tuesday, that he would need a lunch. Teasing, but knowing better, I asked, "So, you want a sandwich and maybe a couple of cookies, right?" He looked at me like I had grown another head. "Momma," he began, "I want chicken salad, a cinnamon roll, pickles, strawberries..." We moved from a sack lunch to a picnic!

The first day, I made him chicken salad (I realized that I need to post my NEWEST chicken salad recipe! But these are awesome), dill pickle chips, cinnamon roll, crackers, Gatorade, and some other things. The following day, it was sort of a repeat of day one, to which he commented, "Leftovers?" Only my son! A friend told me that at her house, they get what is there and they have to make do. I think I looked at her as if she had grown another head. I have always tried to have fun with food, lunches, meals and having good things on hand regardless if I weighed 450lbs or 142lbs. I want us to live healthy but to know there is more than PandB...

So, Garrett came home on day two telling me how Josh brought a hamburger. I was sure to thank his mom for that. So, I posted on Facebook, asking how I might keep a veggie burger hot for two-hours! I got fantastic ideas! I used them plus one.

Keeping two veggie bbq burgers hot for two-hours plus...
I took a hot/cold thermos and warmed it a bit with hot water, emptied it and dried it well just before adding the rest of my items. I heated the burgers well, placed them in individually in foil. Then I got a heating pad that I had several of because I use them in the winter to keep my hands warm while running. I placed it in the bottom of the thermos, thinking later, I should have put it between the burgers. Placed the lid on the thermos quickly and packed it in the "picnic" bag with tons of things to build a burger. I sent him plenty for lunch and told him to share, share, share. Bless my son!

The things we do for our kids, but more so for ourselves. I pick my battles and sack lunches bore me to tears. I use to pack lunches for my kids and put little notes inside with picture drawings. It was something fun. Whey make something simple when you can make something fun. Garrett makes my lunch on occasion and I have very interesting bags packed...heated shrimp and grits to a sandwich to large for my mouth. You never know what makes someone happy. If a heated burger picnic makes him happy...then that's what Momma Rita does.

Hugs, Rita
Sunday, July 9, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Happiness is: Index Cards with Positive Reinforcement

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Time. It seems to stop when a crisis happens or a life-experience that takes our breath away. At least for a few minutes that's how it is for me. It is hard to explain, but I have always been a person that such uncertainty lasts for about twenty-minutes to maybe an hour and then it's time to get organized. Such a life-experience happened a few years back. I was left alone to not only tell my son we were on our own to walk life together, but I had never handled anything. Anything.

I had always been a journal keeper. In ninth-grade, my English teacher, Mrs. Standridge, I think was her name, had us keep a journal for a grade. I kept one but it was more of an art journal, colorful. It began one of hundreds. I wrote every emotion to sermon notes, learning to paint over the rough spots that I had written over the years. When this particular life-experience happened, I grew...beyond emotions or feelings, not that they are important, but I wasn't riding on them, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong or should be doing or not be doing to make my life and relationships better. For the first time, it was about God. When He is all you've got, He is all you need.

It was important to me to put God first, so I had five devotionals I read in the mornings and at least that many at night. I got up early and made sure I was spending time with God by nine each night. I wrote verses and quotes on index cards, posting them all over my bedroom and bathroom. I wanted to be encouraged and focused so I walked the right path in caring for Garrett, my mother, staying healthy and on my hope and faith in Him.

Since my health, both physical and mentally was important during all of this, I went to my family doctor to say, "Look, this has happened and I want you to be my cheerleader and be aware should my focus change when it comes to living healthy and caring for my family..." She asked me what I was doing to remain positive, which has always come natural for me. I told her about the index cards. She began smiling and got excited. She replied, "I want you to make more! Take them and put them all over the house, in your car, at work, read them to Garrett and your mother."

Today, I still write various things out and stick them on the fridge, on my desk or dresser, but I don't carry them around as I did the first year or so. My happiness and joy built from within and remained, knowing that I established a strong inspiration from within my being, my soul and mind. God put the strength there. With each pound of weigh I lost, each muscle I built, every mile I have run or walked, I have built confidence that I can live healthy and strong. There are no excuses, it's a decision. Living healthy can start with a simple index card and an ink pen. That could be all the encouragement you need to begin.

Life happens, it's what you decide to do with it that defines who you are and where you go.

Hugs, Rita
Saturday, July 8, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Jewelry Found...

Setting goals, reaching dreams are better fulfilled when I set rewards for myself. That was the case when I was losing weight. I didn't look at the big picture of losing fifty-pounds or one-hundred-pounds, but instead five, ten. I remember reaching one such milestone. First, I have to explain reaching this particular milestone.

Every so often, I get stuck in my weight loss, getting fit journey. I have to seek help. Now, it's more of changing workout routines or the weight I'm using; however, losing weight gets discouraging when you hit a point you stop losing weight. This happened to me when I got to about two-hundred pounds. I realized I needed help and was talked to a friend of mine, Linda. She encouraged me to attend her Weight Watchers meeting. I went and was thrilled with the experience. I attended meetings and reached my weight goal with them of 168 pounds, becoming a life-time member through 2014. I learned so much through them as I did with losing the other two-hundred-fifty pounds on my own as well losing down to 142 pounds. 

One day, I walked the mall after one of the Weight Watchers meetings and into a little jewelry shop. I don't normally shop, but this shop was a bit bohemian, gypsy so it appealed to me immediately. It was then I saw this jewelry set of owls. There were a variety of styles and designs. The shop girl told me that the designer was one they order from on a regular basis. I left the shop setting a goal of weight loss for myself and when I reached it, I would return for a purchase. I did.

I lived in the same home for thirty-five years. When I moved just over a year ago, I had lost one of the earrings. I was rather hurt because of the symbolism they meant for me. I knew it was somewhere around or in the washer, but it wasn't found. Since the move and the "washer", I have gotten a new washer. One day, Garrett came into my bedroom and handed me something. It was the earring I had lost. I asked him where he found it...he replied the earring was inside the new washer. It couldn't have been in the clothing, I wore a different size, different clothes...

God is like that. When we get comfortable in the plans we make for ourselves, He pulls something from the group of ideals to make us remember that He is God and we have to put Him and His plans first. When I prayed, "God, I will do anything," He began to put His goals and objectives in motion. He put the pieces back together using newness that I was unaware of and undefinable reasoning. Setting goals to reach is important with rewards to make us strive to get there, but remembering to question the boundaries to see if they plumb-line with God's Word or not will keep us focused on His plan instead of our own. 

What is your weight loss goal? Set the small fragment of the big picture!
Reward yourself when you hit the milestone with a non-food item!
Never reward accomplishments with food or meals...
instead do a family activity like ice skating, disc golf or something fun...
Rethinking our way of celebrating will change the way we live!

Hugs, Rita

Friday, July 7, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

No More Mayo...Garrett's Sandwich Spread and Dip Recipe

 Garrett's Sandwich Spread and Dip Recipe

1 16oz Fat Free Sour Cream
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Mix
Just a shake of:
Cilantro, black pepper, oregano

Mix all together thoroughly and refrigerate.
This ranch spread-dip is excellent on sandwiches, in salads or as a dip.
Garrett loves it!

When I realized how much fat was in various things I was eating, I had to make a drastic change. If I were going to have fat, then I wanted it in something that I really, really wanted to dessert or chocolate! Some say that "healthy" fat is oh so good for you...I don't buy mayo or get it when we eat out. Ketchup has too much sugar, so it's not on our agenda either. However, mustard and all variations of it is a staple in our house. 

Oils? I hear various people talk about having a daily dose of "healthy" oils, but personally, not me. I think there are enough natural fats and oils in the food I eat daily, that I won't add oil to any of my foods or cooking. I use cooking spray. I have olive oil on hand only to add a few drops to my pasta water to keep the pasta from sticking. Gluten-free pasta has a habit of doing that after cooking too. Baking? I use applesauce instead of oil or butter in all my baking. 

These are just a few ways to save calories and money. Saving in these areas allows me to have a bit of fun on holidays or special occasions. Also, remember, I workout, run, walk or do some activity prior to having any treat to take care of any extra fattening foods I might want. 

Take a look at your fridge and pantry...what do fat do you see that can be substituted for a healthier way of life? Take one step at a time to change your health to living a healthy life-style! I've changed the recipe above from time to time, but one thing holds true, it is a welcome change to the taste of delicious and the feeling of living a better life.

Hugs, Rita

Thursday, July 6, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Cycling...An Experience: Part 2

Celebrating the opportunity to have a family by God's design! #RitaHutchesonCobbs

Getting a bike was something I never thought I would consider. When I was actually making the purchase, I was thankful to have someone like my amazing friend Tim to walk me through the process all the way to hitting the final button to order. Then he was gracious enough to put it together and tell me exactly what to get to maintain my bike and to have with me when I was on the road.

When you are purchasing a bike, do you homework both physically and professionally. By personal homework, I mean not only see your doctor anytime you are about to start a new workout program to make sure that your health is in order. Then personally make sure you have some interest in the activity you are about to do. For me, I have no clue what I want to be when I grow up or what activity I want to settle on, so I am trying a multiple of things. Cycling is a piece to a puzzle that will fit my ultimate goal. By professional, which might not be the best word, I mean, search online for various bikes, ready cycling magazines, book and visit cycle shops to see the variety of opportunities. Your bottom is going to be sitting on something for miles, do you want to sit at a job you may hate for a very long time and have just invested a lot of money in an education your are going stick in the closet. Sorry it's the best I could think of while writing...

Now, when getting a bike the obvious is important, gender, height, weight...bikes fit your body. Then you have to consider street, road, off the road to handles and style. What do you want to do with the bike? Do you want to be seen or see to be? I have a sweet friend who bought a cute basket green bike to just ride...little did she know that she would find herself getting into mountain biking, camera attached to the handles and riding on trails that are clearly marked off limits. ((SMH)) 

Tips on buying a bike:

* Budget: Think about how much you want to spend. Start saving now. Make you an envelope and add money to it as you are looking. That way you are not settling for just any bike or equipment. You are going to need to purchase more than just a bike. You are going to need helmet (some places it is law), air pump, metric tools (or what fits your bike), lights, special things that you may want.

* Try a lot of bikes out: Do you want to cruise, ride mountain trails, race down the street, get the kids active, spend time with the family, impress the pretty lady at work, volunteer with Special Olympic (MEMEME)...regardless, your reason, you have to try bikes. Professional bike shops is the best place to go. Where I live I had to drive to bigger cities to do that. It was worth it. I also had to learn the power of saying, "No." I was a novice, I could just settle.

* Size of the bike: I had no idea the importance of this until the website I was ordering my bike from asked me all these questions. Tim explained to me that comfort is the goal of riding. You are going to be in the "saddle" for a long time not only in one setting but for years to come. You want to be fitted for the bike as well as shoes, handles and seat. Measure, measure and measure. If you don't feel comfortable on the road, go back to the shop. They work well with their customers because they want you to return.

* Consider other equipment and the expense: You will need or may want, like I mentioned, helmet, an air pump for your bike, patch kit, possible gel seat cover (just saying), saddle bag, clips, shoes, gloves, gorgeous/handsome outfit (smiling), watch, map, cell phone holder, lock, sunscreen, snacks, first-aid kit, water bottle/holder. The list can be vast. Where to put it all? There are various attachments, but the items are small and many people take a small backpack cycling. There are great padded shorts too. Make sure clothing is dry-wick. 

I recommend, once again, that you search books, magazines, websites for in-depth material on what to expect when it comes to buying a bike, taking up cycling and preparing for your first outing. There are specialty shops that offer classes. Our local running shop has a Triathlon training class as well. Basics are important and give you an idea of what to expect. This is the road you traveled when you were a kid. Cycling is serious and it is important to be safe. 

For automobiles, runners and cyclist...
Repect for each other goes a long way in traveling this life together in harmony...
Love one another and do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.
~ Jesus, the Bible

Hugs, Rita
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Cycling...An Experience: Part I

Thank you Tim for this experience!

Cycling. I can't remember my first time on a bike or the first one I ever rode. I do remember, however, my first bike. It was a purple, three-speed Free-Spirit from Sears. My dad took me to the store to pick it out. I rode that bike all over my neighborhood, to school, at the farm we had "down home" as my parents called our second home in another county. My father worked in the city during the week and then on the weekends and holidays, we were at the farm where he was a cattleman surrounded by all of my grandparents to my cousins. 

I hadn't rode a bike of any type since I was probably seventeen. One of my goals in getting healthy was to add cycling to my activities. After Christmas of 2014, I was about to come off crutches from having surgery on my foot, when my "adopted son" I call him because he and his family are more than friends to us, came to have coffee with me and Garrett. 

I was telling Tim how I was saving to get a custom fit bake. He was like, "What if you don't like riding and you have spent so much money on a bike?" He brought up several questions that I hadn't considered. Then he showed me several bikes online that were built with the person in mind. My gender, height, weight, and even some things I wanted in a bike. It was comical when he showed me the bike in the photograph came without brakes! The videos of people, YOUNGER people on them was fantastic, but me without brakes...I don't think so. 

I made the decision to order the bike which was surprisingly equal to a street bike. Then later if I decided to get a totally custom fit bike, I would know better what I wanted and if I liked cycling. When the bike came, it was three days after a life-changing event had taken place. I couldn't decide if I should send the bike back or keep it. I might need the money for Garrett and myself to survive. Then I thought, "I might need the bike to go get milk or something..." I text Tim and asked if he could meet me and put the bike together, but didn't tell him why I needed him to help me.

When he and his family arrived at our local Starbucks, me with my bike and Garrett with me...I had to tell him that my husband, the man he knew well, had walked out. I had been married for thirty-four years. Life happens and you can spin your wheels or get on the bike and ride. I chose to get on the bike and ride. Tim has been one of the best people in my life to give me the much needed push to make that happen. I have been riding faster and faster. God has blessed every turn. 

The bike has been fantastic. I am training for my first Triathlon which may take me a bit to get to, but them I want to ride in my first cycling race. My goal for riding is to participate unified with Special Olympics. Garrett isn't interested at this point in cycling although he has worn out two trikes. 

Stick with me...Part 2 is what to consider when buying a bike...

Consider this;
Ride the crazy out!
When we workout, exercise in any way...
oxygen goes in, clearing our minds, body and soul...
it helps in decision making and giving us joy  and peace.

Hugs, Rita

Monday, July 3, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Corn Salad Recipe...with a Ranch Flavor

Corn Salad with some hint of ranch and certainly some crunch!

I have been training to teach a class at the gym. I am pretty excited about it, but the lead instructor is a veteran at a very young age! She is beyond fabulous, teaching comes so easy for her that everyone wants to be trained by her. I love her to pieces. Well, last week, she was leading in a segment, when she was "stirring a pot" asking the participants what they were making today in prep for the fourth of July. Then she said she was making Corn Salad and proceeded with the recipe. Guess what happened? My mouth watered all day and I am not a huge fan of corn! So, I had to modify it a bit because I find it a fun challenge to take a recipe calling for certain ingredients and change them plus I couldn't remember everything she said. So, Robin, I apologize now if I totally messed this one up, but it was pretty good!

Corn Salad Recipe 
with a zip of Ranch and Crunch

4 cans of kernel corn, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
4 cups of grated fat-free cheese (more if desired)
1 container of fat-free sour cream (16 oz)
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing Mix
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
1/2 cup celery finely chopped (more if desired, my family is iffy on the celery)
1 cup of bell pepper finely chopped
4 cups of crushed corn chips (I used regular but flavored would be great)

Mix all together and serve! My son, Garrett, pulled out corn tortillas and enjoyed himself. As Robin said, this will be a great go-to recipe for those times you need something in a hurry. Most of the items are pantry things you have on hand on a regular basis. The calories can be easily worked for by coming to class or walking around the neighborhood or taking half the dish to a neighbor a couple of blocks away as a "thinking of you" gesture. Enjoy and let me know how your friends like it!

Challenge: Try substituting a high calorie condiment 
for a lower calorie one,
 for example, ketchup for mustard...
mayo for fat-free salad dressing...
sour cream, butter for the fat-free or spray choices. 

Hugs, Rita

Sunday, July 2, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

God, I will do anything. Anything!

A progression of weight loss...#RitaHutchesonCobbs

During my progression of weight loss experience, one would think that my hair would have been a factor with the scales ((SMH))! I wore my head shaved for about four-years after I shaved my head in support of my son having brain surgery. I kept it when I discovered that it was so inexpensive to maintain on a regular basis. Then as I lost weight friends began suggesting I let it grow out. I didn't have a real opinion about my hair, so I did. When I shaved it, there was seventeen inches of thick, wire curl that dropped to the floor. When my hair grew back, it wasn't quite as thick and not as curly, but still pretty much as before. One thing is for sure, with curly hair like mine, it's either shaved or long. So, now that we are over the hair lol...

I have started a Bible Study that a new friend, Haley Carter, recommended. The book is titled, Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul, by Jennie Allen. In that book she emphasizes a few points that I already have been focusing on in my private Bible Reading time. First, "God, we will do anything. Anything. God, I will do anything. Anything." Also, when God is all you have; He is all you have got then He is enough. God promises in His Word that broken people have hope and healing, that He will make a way for them. The way is only found in Jesus (John 14: 1-6)/ Allen says: To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch Him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that. 

I have not finished the study, but already realizing that two things hold me back and probably most of the people who have lived a life of any type of abuse and that is fear and shame. You feel fear of stepping out and trusting even God, to walk the blessed path He has planned for you as He takes the thing man has done for bad and make it good. He can, you know. Then we feel the same of such things like divorce or abandonment even though they weren't our fault. I have lived both of these, but never felt the shame of either. What I felt the shame of was that maybe God couldn't use me. My husband left, abandoned us. If he didn't want us, why would God want to use us? Words were embedded in my mind that didn't plumb-line with God's Word, angry voices that weren't truth as I know it now. 

In her book, Allen also says: The hardest things in life bring us the deepest relationships, become the things that define the most beautiful things about the person, and in one's life have given them more of God. I say often that I am living proof that God has done His work in my life, the evidence of His glory and grace. In the past three-years, I have learned how to live according to God's Word from the leadership of my new church, the sermons to the small group lessons, being discipled, and getting into the Word. I have asked questions of the church staff to make sure I am leading my family according to the principles of the Word in such things as tithing and finances for example. 

Getting the emotional habits, hangups and hurts out of the way helps a person get focused on living a healthy lifestyle, eating right, getting active and making every area of their life the best it can be. When you die this body is yours in heaven. I want to stand before God with one that I can be accountable to Him as taking care of, because He says this is His body, His temple. What we put into our minds, souls, stomachs and our muscles will be called upon one day. I think sometimes we look at the big picture of sins, when sin is at our door in many ways that are smaller then we realize. It starts with the fork, a thought, a vision, a lazy day. Cleansing from top to bottom, healing from emotions to the soul is the beginning to living life with purpose and healing. 

Create within your heart, mind and soul a place of 
peace, joy and happiness...
begin with filling the empty spaces with Him.

God, I will do anything!
Hugs, Rita 

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