Sunday, August 20, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

"Muscle Bound" beyond the Body to a Life Style!

#GarrettCobbs and I tutoring workout terms during reading...

It was a busy day, people were racing from one station to another, grabbing items obviously on paper lists that they brought with them or ones from memory. Few people had time to smile, say anything, only time to rush their baskets squeezing wheels forward toward the end destination to checkout and get home or wherever they needed to be. It was in the checkout line that I met her, a woman about my age with a shopping cart overflowing with grocery items and household needs. She looked tired, overwhelmed and ready to melt into the floor. I smiled and mentioned what a nice day it had been, offering words of encouragement. She looked at me like a deer caught in headlights, as we as southerners say.

It was all it took, as it usually does. My sons have teased me for years, that I can find out about everyone in the grocery line and the clerk by simply saying, "Hello" and looking in their shopping cart. It's a gift I suppose. This particular woman began telling me her life story so I listened. Her husband had walked out and recently moved in with the woman she thought was her best friend. Those groceries were the first she had been able to buy because she had finally got alimony. He refused to help with their two daughters who both had Autism and were over the legal age for child support. Then she went on to tell me how her health was in serious condition due to the stress. I tried to keep my eyes focused on her face, but they slipped to her shopping cart. It was then she said, "I know, I need to eat better and exercise, but I just don't have time." It as then, I took a deep breath, said a prayer and opened my mouth...

I have said a thousand times, deciding to live healthy is a choice. You an't sit by me and offer a single excuse not to live a healthy life style.  For the same amount she was buying what was in her grocery cart, she could have made a difference in her life and in her home. Her focus had to change to, let the man go, he isn't worth the time he is occupying in her head... Then I made some daily suggestions to help her daily, one step in front of the other, and soon she would see the courage that lives deep within her to move forward in her life.

Simple Tips for "Muscle Bound" 
within Daily Living:

1.  First thing in the morning, make your bed! It sounds simple, but there is something about walking in your bedroom and seeing the bed made, pillows propped up and then when you crawl in the sheets at night from being made that morning.
2.  Get up an hour earlier than normal, even if you don't feel like it, meditate. Take this time to mediate, read scripture, list at least three things you are grateful for, read devotionals, pray, focus on your breathing, read positive influences. Do not pick up the newspaper or turn on the news! Have this quiet time before the rest of the house gets up.
3.  Walk at least 1 mile everyday. This can be at lunch or while you are waiting on the kids practice at soccer. Use downtime or while you waiting for someone or something.
4.  Drink 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water every day then add two more. Can't stand water? Then add lemon juice or lime. Move away from sodas, beer, wine, any other beverages that exceed water. If I have coffee, my other beverage, I have three 8 ounce waters for 1 cup of water. I drink more water than that, but I do make sure I have at least that much.
5.  Don't journal? Write down what God has taught you about life that day.
6.  Get dressed everyday, preferably first thing in the morning, wash your face, comb your hair, whatever, but get dressed!
7.  Clean on thing everyday. Declutter something everyday too. It takes less than a minute to dust a table and you can clean the shower while you are in it! Decluttering an area can take as long as you want, but doing one spot a day will get your home more relaxing easily in 30 days!
8.  Send someone a nice note via snail mail! While you are waiting in the carpool line or at the doctors office, write a quick note and drop it in the mail. This can change the course of someone's day.
9.  Start a workout routine and do it even when you don't want to. Everyday, Garrett and I do some type of activity even though it may surround Special Olympics. I also run, workout at the gym, hike and walk. Garrett participates as well. We are active.
10.  Get involved in a group of people that share moral and disciples that you are passionate about. It is important to me that church be a part of my life. My friends are my small group from Sunday mornings. Then I have in addition to that a Bible study group that share the same principles I do about raising Garrett and creating a home sharing love and happiness.

When I was tutoring Garrett last week, we looked ahead at one of our reading projects. The comic book portion of our reading, Archie, the opening segment was about working out. I can't wait for us to read this week about Archie and his friends adventure. Garrett and I read a chapter book and he has spelling words to go with our study. At this time we are studying how to have a healthy body in hopes that he will grasp a better understanding of diet and exercise.

We all can look too much at the negative in our lives, situations that make up our realities. However, we have to get to the point that simple things we do everyday can give us a bit more confidence in bringing us joy so that we can live in hope, peace and courage when stresses come our way. It is proven that when we eat better, workout and live a healthy life style that when crises happen, we are better prepared emotionally to handle it. Try these tips for thirty-days and see how you feel.

Hugs, Rita
Saturday, August 19, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Sometimes it is Breakfast for Supper! Gluten-free Peach Buttermilk Pancakes Recipe...

Thursday night, I had plans to attend a women's worship service and already planned the egg breakfast casserole, but I also had peaches I needed to use as well. As I went through my day, I thought about peach pancakes and how I could make them. Of course, I could have looked up a recipe, but I needed a gluten-free recipe with a low fat as possible. They turned out light and fluffy. I added maple syrup warmed in a bit of boiled water. Then I fried some homegrown eggs using cooking spray rather than butter or oil. Delicious!

Peach Buttermilk Pancake Recipes

2 cups of 1-for-1 gluten free flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
2 eggs, beaten well (or use egg substitues)
2 cups of fat-free buttermilk
1 teaspoon real vanilla
2 large peaches, peeled, seeded, diced


Spray a large skillet with cooking spray generously.
Using an electric mixer, put all the liquid ingredients in the mixing bowl and blend well on low.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well including the peaches.
* If the batter is not thick but dripping from the spoon, add a bit more buttermilk to the batter and mix for one minute.
Heat the skillet to medium heat and test a tiny dot of the batter to see if it fluffs up. If so, you are ready to make each pancakes!! Pour about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Depending on how large your skillet is will depend on how many you can make at a time. It takes about a minute on each side until they are golden brown for them to be completely done all the way through. Transfer each on to a plate to cool and serve warm.

As my children were growing up, we had pancakes at least once a week and varied them from chocolate chip to blueberry. The toppings might be whip cream or warmed maple syrup. Each morning, we had a grand breakfast and the favorite was always eggs and bacon. Today, Christmas Eve is the traditional southern breakfast with all the trimmings of ham, biscuits, gravy and other fun items on the menu that due to living healthy the rest of the year, we normally don't have.

Cooking spray, fat-free milks, egg substitutes, fresh fruits are just a few ways to change the way we eat breakfast, such as pancakes, to create less calories.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Loving others...

#RitaHutchesonCobbs with #GarrettCobbs

Sundays are a rockin' awesome day of the week for Garrett and me. We love to spend our mornings having breakfast together, getting ready for church, going to Decatur Baptist for services and then to our favorite place for lunch. Each week, Garrett wants us to get our selfie and I have one for every single Sunday morning that we have been at church. He will say, "Pizza!" for the photograph, which is what he eats for lunch on Sundays. He is way too cute about it. 

It amazes me that during the past three-years, Garrett comes out of Sunday School telling me all about the lesson he has learned. Then he goes home to tell his grandmother about the sermon, scripture and the basic outline of Bro. Doug's theme. What is so great about these things? Garrett's reading and writing is on a limited scale. Garrett is also learning that there is a difference in who have love and those who don't. In this he has expressed examples of the difference in someone having Christlike behavior and those who don't. I want everyone to live in peace, love, hope and joy. However, when others have experienced that Garrett and I have, it's hard to explain to them and especially a child, that there is love in people's negative choices especially when they are contrary to God's Word. 

Then there is Garrett. He looks at things black and white; there is no straddling the fence. People either love each other or they don't. He wastes no time and verbalizing that a person doesn't love another and why they don't. When he shared his opinion about a situation recently, I was about to encourage him another direction when the person who was listening lifted their hand as not to stop me. Then they told Garrett, "You are old enough to have your on opinion about this and we can learn from what you have to say."

Indeed, why isn't loving others clear as this? Why isn't it obvious. God's Word says it clearly to love others as we would love ourselves. Why isn't Garrett's definition of how someone would show love to others not be true? You either do show them in every way or you don't. Garrett and I have lived situations that nobody should ever have to live. We have lived abandoned, we have lived loved. We have lived rejected, we have lived redeemed. We have lived in fear, we have lived by faith. Regardless what you may experience, you have a choice to live in love for this is what we are suppose to do. We have no excuse not to live life healthier by living loved as well as loving others. There is so much more happiness in deciding to love others regardless where they are in our lives even if they aren't ever present, praying for them and knowing that it isn't our battle to fight, but God's. We can press on toward the mark He has for us, sharing the faith of the gospel which is eternal life, the hope and the love, He has for us. Garrett has the right idea, love has no boundaries, but it is completely defined in the realities of our actions and how we live it. 

Remember, you are loved regardless. 

Hugs, Rita

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Fake it til you make it? I don't think so...

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#RitaHutchesonCobbs 2009 to 2017 and minus over 300lbs

I have heard a lot of different quotes to inspire and encourage one's self through various situations of crises to reaching their life goals. However, one I try to forget, but then find myself quoting is, "Fake it until you make it." Why? I will be honest as to why, here, now, upfront. I spent too many years, faking and masking the realities of life for too long. I realize there are times and places to express the truth and exhibit it on your face and with body expressions, but then there are times to not share everything you are feeling. Also, there are people in your life that you need to boldly and with confidence share your concerns, burdens, joys and struggles with and others you should not. God built our community of people in our lives this way on purpose. I just learned this a few years ago.

I was taught by family that because I was a minister's wife, I was to hold things in, hide problems, mask situations and smile all the time. It wasn't hard for me because part of me lived happy anyway. However, as one friend described me about three-years ago, "You were wound up like a top and it was as if someone had you on strings as a puppet." Do you feel as if you are wound too tight? What about feelings of puppet strings, leaving you out of control of your own performance?

Living a healthy lifestyle, may mean removing a mask or taking the smile off in a safe place with people that are truly trust worthy with how you feel or what you are going through. Feelings are just that, feelings. You can't trust them, but they don't always have to be fixed. You just need someone to listen, not justify, condemn or advise you or the feelings you have. I didn't know my own feelings because I was trying to fight back with words, to stand up for myself, when you shouldn't have to stand up for yourself in relationships of friendships, marriage or family at all. There should be no masking at anytime. 

The thing that can make a difference and even though it may seem fake or masking is smiling. When all else seems bad and when you don't really feel like doing it, smile. The one thing that takes less muscle power and leaves you with fewer wrinkles is smiling. For some reason, smiling lifts your spirits and encourages you from within as you go through your morning and your day. It changes your mood while you are alone because you have nobody to impress but yourself and God. Then as you pass a mirror, you notice how much better you look. When you pass someone, they may smile back. We have no idea how a smile toward someone can change their day. People have written how a smile saved their lives! 

Save your mask for parties or holidays to wear as an accessory. Let's put them away, take a deep breath, cleanse within and let it all out. Wash our face, pat it dry and smile at the person we see in the mirror. There is a God living with in if you believe and He needs us to be real and exhibit the gospel of His Son and demonstrate the reality of the Holy Spirit and it could begin with a smile, then add the words. 

Today, that same friend that said my life was controlled by a top and a puppeteer, says that she likes me better today. I am living true, but free. My life is still demonstrating joy and happiness, but I am not as wound up as in my past. I am living out of the bondage of masking. Breaking the chains takes time, but the freedom in the healing is so worth it. Live a healthy lifestyle with no excuses in the freedom of spirit, soul and body. Smile. 

Hugs, Rita

Sunday, August 13, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Living by Example during Weight Loss...

#RitaHutchesonCobbs loving cell phone apps lol

Why is living by example in what we eat so important?

There are so many things that I love about technology. My son, Garrett, I love to take photographs and put them on various avenues of social media that I belong to. Once, while at my favorite coffee shop, a friend came through the drive-thru, asked the bistro, who was knew ((oh dear)), to have me come out for our "selfie." Bless him, he didn't know! She came into the shop and the poor guy was blown away by the seriousness of our "selfie album." It was started as a joke, but now, it's a reminder of friendship and the love or relationships we share with our wide world of community. So, now that Garrett has discovered my 35mm camera...he likes for me to add them to fun frames and shapes. 

Stay with me... Garrett has watched the warmth and developing friendships from the "selfies" I have taken over the years. He has seen the relationships develop that now, he wants us to take our selfies wherever we are and whatever we are doing. Every Sunday morning, we have to take our selfie prior to worship. He wants his photo taken with community helpers, with his friends, trying something new, working out with his friends, bowling or playing golf. 

Recently, Garrett said, I needed to start a "Salad Selfie" Album. Apparently living by example has inspired the friends from our workout group with the Special Olympic team to hold me accountable for what I eat. One night a week, the team eats out together and usually it's a fast food location in town. They workout prior to swim practice so they burn the calories for eating out in this environment. One night, I told them, "I am so excited we are eating out tonight (naming the place)!" From behind me, one of Garrett's best friends replied, "Ma'am, can I help your order?" I told him that I would be happy for him to help me order, thinking I would get a nice juicy fried sandwich and fries...nope, when I asked him what I was going to get, he quickly said, "Ma'am, you are getting a salad, cause you are on a diet!" When we got to the restaurant, who was behind guessed it, I ordered a salad lol. 

This past week, we went to celebrate Garrett's birthday and another of his best friend's birthday. Again, this amazing guy came and asked me if he could help me order. Of course, I let him and once again, he picked the best salad for me, a strawberry mango salad that had the best orange salad! I did get chocolate ice cream, he told me that was alright, "Just this once!" When I asked him, "What am I going to eat the week we go to state games?" He replied, "Salads, Ma'am. cause you are still on a diet." I will eat salads too because I love this guy and all of Garrett's friends.

#RitaHutchesonCobbs loving salads...

Whatever we do, we live by example. When we eat, drink or workout, we are living by example. We may want to influence those around us with words when actions teach volumes. Live faithfully the changed lifestyle of eating healthy, a workout routine and being thankful, others will see it and want what you have. It may take one day, but it may take years. The one thing you cannot do, is enable others. If you think your daughter or grandson needs to lose weight or your husband needs to start a workout program, then don't sign them up for a weight loss program and pay for it...don't give them a gym membership. Why? Because they have to make the choice for themselves. If they pay for it, they will be motivated to go and do. Live by example because you have to be accountable to yourself and testimony to others. Life faithful with no excuses. 

It is ironic, because I rarely eat salads at home. I do eat gluten-free, primarily proteins and vegetables. Water is my choice of beverage with a cup or two ((gulp)) of coffee thrown in to the mix. I measure every food I eat and I weigh especially my meats, after they are cooked. We have to get to the point that we are accountable to ourselves in knowing what goes in our mouth, every bite, lick and taste (BLT), as well as if it is what is healthy for us. This is the only body we will ever have and it is the one we will spend eternity with, best take good care of it. Our character is also something that needs to be cared for, by this we will influence others to living a healthy lifestyle especially those we love and care about.

Saturday, August 12, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Daily Prayer Journal...avenues with weight loss and fitness...

#RitaHutchesonCobbs at the Decatur Public Library

During the my school years, elementary through high school, I never enjoyed reading. Looking back, I think it was because they were assigned reading materials. I never minding being told what to do, it might have been more productive for my progressive for me if I had been able to pick things I enjoyed reading. In college, I discovered reading because of an animated English 101 teachers. She was fantastic in teaching everything from writing a complete sentence to reading books. I couldn't read enough. In 2011, we had a severe tornado come through our area, hitting our house. It was time to tear down and rebuild. Books were everywhere, probably holding up the walls and three-thousand books found new homes from being donated to being given away. I repented of that...all the people that could be reading them after we had finished with them from homeschooling to pure enjoyment. 

Now, I have both an ereader and actual books, but other than a few classics, books I treasure, collections of cookbooks and Bibles (don't even ask), I pass on the books I finish with and hope they enjoy them as much as I did. I checkout books from two local libraries and use my ereader to checkout books as well. Both of the local libraries have what I call a re-sale store. Inside are books donated by the community and books the library has removed from their shelves. There are recordings, DVDs, tapes, magazines, plus other items related to reading or listening. I get items for $.25 to $1.00. I am selective, however, and then pass them on.

This particular day, I went to renew my library card which is required once a year. I went to the re-sale room and as I thumbed through the books, I found this prayer journal. It was the prefect size for my gratitude journal. I write one word to a sentence for things I am thankful for several times each day. Each one fits perfectly in my bag, purse or in places at home. I opened the book to July 6 and July 7. A few pages into the prayer journal the year was noted for 1982. I was encouraged to see the inspiration and encouragement this unknown owner left on each page. It was verses that inspired and people that was with them when it happened. 

Just as this person wrote down these words, it is the same for living a healthy lifestyle. When you write down every bite, lick and taste (BLT) that goes in your mouth, you have accountability to yourself and then to another person when you hit a wall in weight loss. Also, when you write down your fitness routine, you see the weight amount you have lifted or used on a particular machine, remember how many times you did one particular workout and then there is writing down how much water you have drank compared to other beverages. I have an account of all this plus my prayer requests, praises, and thanksgivings. I write out my prayers, journal and list various things.

I hear often, "I don't have time for all this!" Then I have to ask, "Do you have fifteen-minutes to give me?" Then when I see them, I have them do nothing more than write down everything thing they do on two days of the week, a weekday and a Sunday. After they finish this timeline, I show them where they can make time for a weight loss plan, fitness plan and even one-hour to journal in every way. It is amazing when we create just a BLT journal and a timeline journal for thirty-days, we see how much we waste in foods and time. We are not happy when people point out the realities and truths of our lives; however, this needs to happen so that we live not only a blameless life, but also one of example to all those around us, our children, our spouse, our neighbors and our co-workers. How do you live before your mirror, to yourself, much less to those you see first thing in the morning or the last person you see at night? God is watching.

With today's technology, you can make your life of accountability much easier and stronger so that you too can live a life that is fit, healthy, strong, positive and joyful. It's time to live real. I know what is like to take the door of the closet, remove the curtain from the windows, allowing myself as well as others see inside from the pain to the love, from the sadness to the joy. Through writing down just what we eat and drink, we see where our addictions and habitual eating and drinking are and the changes we need to make. After almost six-years, I still journal every BLT. I may take photographs of my plate, but I have accountability of what I eat and drink. That is why on my social media you will see food and drink photographs.

Consider what you can do to make this change in your life. You won't need anything fancy to write these things down. A subject notebooks would work just as well. If you want a beautiful journal, fine, or you can make your own (see video below). Whatever inspires you to write down or keep track of your daily life, then do it for nobody other than yourself. If you want to send me copies, I will be your accountability partner. Life is worth the small changes and it looks for the best in yourself and in others. You can be the encouragement that someone is looking for. What if, like this book I found, in years to come, someone reads your journals...will they find encouragement by the goals you are reaching for? I hope so.

Happy Birthday today to my son, #GarrettCobbs!

Friday, August 11, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Me? Leading a Fitness Class? Seriously happening!

Silver Sneaker Classic and Yoga Chair Exercise Classes

Let's go  back to October of 2010, when I sat down, prayed for God to help me succeed in taking over my health. Then during the month of December of that same year, every day of that month, I prayed, "Father God, help me be successful in getting my health and weight pleasing to you." Now your weight and health may be pleasing and happy for you and to Him, but it wasn't for me. I began my journey on January 1, 2011 with beverages and then changed my foods on February 1, 2011. It wasn't until August of 2012 that I added activity. When someone asks me now, "How do I start?" One of the first things I tell them is to balance a fitness routine with your change in food choices. Losing weight or maintaining it has to be done with some type of fitness program. I didn't do that and it would have been much better had it done so.

Each year, I have either made a challenge for myself or be given one by a friend. In 2015, my goal was to join a gym. My friend, Anna, told me about Bender's Gym hiring people for various positions. When I called the owner, Amanda Bender, she invited me down the the Elite facility to see it and to interview. We talked about management to cleaning and I asked for cleaning. She almost didn't hire me because, "You are over qualified for this position." I laughed, shouldn't have but did, because I wanted to clean, it was moving. I began in the Hartselle facility and since then I have done almost every job offered through Benders. In a matter of months, I will have been with Benders for three-years. Now, I am one of the fitness instructors working with our Silver Sneaker program, to which I am very passionate about!

The struggle I had in the past was that I couldn't succeed at anything. When I was asked to be certified as a fitness instructor, I was uncertain that I could pass the test. I began studying and while doing so, was afraid to take the online test. I went to the training for Silver Sneakers which just brought my passion for this program and getting those my age and older active even stronger. Then as I drove home, I began thinking about how great these classes were for new gym members or those never attending a class to those overweight and needing a place to start! My ideas were so in fast thought motion so much so that our lead instructor had to say, "Lead your first class and keep practicing." Lol, I am a long way from being a leader, I am still a student. 

In my past, as I struggled to try new things, to succeed at something with very little confidence and self-esteem, it would end in failure. I labeled it as such because of the lack of empowerment I felt inside as well as being beat down by others. The thing I have learned from this is that those failures weren't really failures at all, but instead they were opportunities for me to grow. I had a choice to allow them and the people to control me in the today and in the future or to move past them. When you understand that you don't have to answer for their choices to beat you down or beat you up, then you can live in joy and press toward the plans God has for you. 

How has this experience changed my life?  In leading this fitness class, I am gaining so much joy in being in front of people. I have carried a fear of being in front of people. I am great with a few people or my one-to-three minute selfie conversations, but I don't do well as a sit down and let's have lunch conversationalist. Second, I have learned to listen and process both the good and the bad things people say to me regarding my leading and the class it self. In the past, I took things personal because I was taught this by those around me. I realized how much I had grown in the past few years, when I was listening to one of our precious ladies make a suggestion regarding my leading and I was taking it in collectively not critical. It was a successful step in my arriving in that growth moment. Go Me! Another area this has taught me is that I have a solid foundation in knowing that if anyone can lose over three-hundred-pounds, keep it off and have a workout routing both indoors and outdoors as I do, then you are beyond successful. 

People that leave your life, needed to go. People that are in your life, living in a negative whiny dramatic character, but in the body of someone you feel you owe your soul too, needs to be re-evaluated. I pray constantly, "Father God, please bring relationships into my life that live for You, positive and in joy, binding the enemy from those friendships." I don't want to be around jealousy, control, unhappiness, drama or whining. There is a difference in someone going through something and listening and habitually walking through life crises. Moving to working out and eating healthy, gives you new desires to be around people that live a character striving for Christlikeness. This is the life I am striving for. Not a perfect life, a one that loves others and serves. God wants to use your life to reach others and for the good of others. 

The one thing I want you to get is that we have no excuse to make the choice to live a healthier life-style. Our relationships will change when we set our minds on healthier things and when we chose to live a healthier life-style with no excuses. You begin to think clearer, walk further, feel better and sleep deeper. Life is seen clearer and faith becomes stronger. Hope is there for the taking but you have to take the first step and it can begin with a class like the one I lead. Come sit by me, I will go to class with you, help you make the right food choices, even be your friend. We are without excuses; we are full of motivations, just pick one. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Blessed are those who need...

To simply say, my life has been forever changed, brings tears of joy to my eyes. I rejoice and feel so happy as the powerpoint rolls through my mind of all the ways that I have been blessed in the past three-years alone.  When you get to the point of being needy and you plant the seed of need deep in a soil that looks barren, water it with prayer and tears of promises you know to be true, He brings a harvest of thanksgiving that you can't possible list for you to see His handiwork. 

Many of shared the dependency of a chair, trusting it as we sit down without even thinking. When people ask me how I have walked through each day without losing hope, it is just as simple as sitting in a chair. I trust hope; I trust love; I trust knowing that through everything I am being taught the exact things I am trusting in...hope, love, and to trust in God.  Also, I am learning to be thankful and to be filled with gratitude regardless if I feel like it or if I want to do so.

On February 25, 2015, one of the things I told God was, "I need a home church!" I heard him that night in my bedroom just as clear as my son calling my name. He said, "Decatur Baptist." I was like, "Are you sure? I've never been there before!" So, the following Sunday, I dressed in my not so Sunday clothes and even wore my running shoes, left my hair wire curly, thinking they won't want me and drove myself to the church for Sunday School and preaching. A beautiful woman, Sandra, met me at the education building door and I told her I had never been there before and in one sentence I told her what brought me there. She took me to a ladies Sunday School class and they were amazing. I felt welcome regardless how I was dressed. I sat in the outside circle from the U-shaped table in the center. After the announcements, another class joined us, a lady close to my age and very pretty blond sat next to me, while a lady six-feet tall, model thin and short hair shared her story of being a cancer survivor. I was in awe.

After Sunday School, I have no idea how I made it to worship. There were other things that happen, people I ran into that I knew, but I sat by myself until the pretty blond came and sat with me. I cried throughout worship because I became one with God not because of my circumstance or anything, but because He came inside and took over. I asked her if it was like this every Sunday, she replied, "Yes, it is!" I was excited.

After church, the pretty blond took me to meet the pastor, to see where their class met and then to a special needs adult Sunday School class. I was hooked. The following Sunday, I asked Garrett to go with me and we have been attending this rockin' awesome church ever since. God came, changed my home, my life and we aren't the same. He has been allowed to change my home, my family and me. Having a community of people that encourage you makes a huge difference in helping you as well.

When you are need and God is all you have, He not only is enough and all you need is Him, but He will provide, He will use your need to grow you spiritually, physically and emotionally. Also, He will bring you to where you can help others through that need. When you are walking through that need regardless the simplicity to the severity, He can handle it. You just need to trust Him as you would your chair or the bed you sleep in to hold you up when you get in it.

If trust is hard, then it can begin with 
praise and is that simple
in moving toward living a healthy lifestyle. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Abandoned to Abundant...Living in the blessings

...this past week, she clicked over to 319kMiles!

Want to lose weight and keep it off...
We have to face our face our "issues" and change our way of thinking.

Living a life joyful and happy regardless of our circumstance is easy for someone to say to our face then to go home and actually live it. When Facebook first began it was open to college students and younger, but when it opened to the public, I became friends with people I went to school with over four schools I attended from elementary through high-school. Bullying was a hot topic once and I asked many of them, "Did we have bullying when we were in school? If so, I don't remember it." They replied randomly with stories and like, "Yes! Where were you...oh wait...we are talking to Rita...she lived in her own bubble..." That pretty much describes how I float through life, in my happy place, this bubble of hope, positive atmosphere, happiness. It is easy for me to forgive instead of getting revenge, to love rather than hold bitterness, to hope rather than live in regrets. I am not perfect, but I would rather live as a victor and not a victim of my circumstance or my past. I live in my blessings and what I have seen God do in my life rather than the bad things that have happened.

This van I own is a perfect example of a bundle of blessings. When I got this van, it was a  program vehicle. My previous van had been totaled due to someone doing a U-turn and not seeing me on the right away. I got the "Silver Bullet" when she had eleven-thousand miles on her. She is a 2004 Dodge Caravan Anniversary Edition fully loaded with DVD player, cassette player, CD, hook ups for iPod, gaming units, plug ins (like to put a curling iron or laptop...don't ask) and electric doors and windows. Everything still works on this van except on electric door and a window. She has all the original parts including engine and transmission. I don't drive her other than in the city I live and to Huntsville or Athens on occasion. I have a fantastic mechanic who is on speed-dial, text messaging should something critical ever happen. Once I was in a nearby city for work and it suddenly overheated. I pulled into a repair shop and when they told me what was wrong, quoting me an unbudgeted amount for repairs, I texted him He called me and got them on the phone. When he returned to me, he said, "Rita, I am sending a tow truck to pick you and the van up, it will be ready in the morning at 1/4 what they are going to charge. I've got this."

Just like Duck, I will call him, God blessed me with people in my life, like he and his wife along with the shop that services my vehicles, to help me after a serious life-experience. When I was saving for another car, I waited. Then someone at church came to me with a car that was perfect for me. The price was completely unbelievable and the car was in mint condition. Once again, God blessed me and I not only didn't have to get a loan for a car, but I had another car to drive to work and one to transport Garrett and his equipment. My home, wow, a lady at much church told me about this house not five-minutes in a complete circle to all that we did on a daily basis. We were prepared to move when a professional mover called me and, the short of it...yet another God story, moved us completely in one day. Last winter, I needed to buy Garrett a coat. He is a large football player size. I couldn't find an Alabama jacket in his size, but I found a Falcon's jacket. It was out of my budget, but I stepped out on faith and ordered it. I was at Target cafe ordering my drink, telling the clerk about the jacket and acting on faith. When I went back to my table to enjoy a few moments of quiet time, I opened my book and the cash in the exact amount of the jacket fell out. I saw nobody around the cafe. When I needed clothes, a bag showed up at my front door without explanation. When I moved in my house, I didn't have a bed in my room. I slept on the floor. One day, I got a delivery...  I have a neighbor that is beyond a blessing...he has been mowing my grass since I moved in and won't take anything for it ((so I bake))!

I could go on with times that blessings have come my way. Protection to provisions are the abundance of His graces and mercies that flow when I hope and trust in Him. Being abandoned, left in a situation that we can't see clearly how we are going to manage, care for ourselves, pay bills, buy food or manage our home, we have to grow up and clean the glasses. There has to come a point where we decide to live in the abundance, the promises that have come to us in the past rather than the bad or negative things of the past. Too often we overlook the best things and the goodness of our life-experiences and dwell of the hurt and develop bitterness as a result. Through the ugliness we become depressed, angry, hateful, and can't see a future. The reality of the gospel, the cross, the resurrection and our eternal home is to choose to live in abundance, His blessings, His promises, to be thankful, grateful and grow up beyond self-centered emotions and ourselves. Blunt, but honest.

Like the Silver Bullet, she is rewarded for taking good care of my family. She is serviced ever three-thousand miles. She gets washed often. The tires are what I call mileless. She goes to worship every Sunday and Garrett loves her. He doesn't want to replace her, but he is praying for a red Toyota 4Runner, ((Lord, help us!  I have no idea where this prayer request came from!)) Just like the van, if we faithfully and continuously live thankful in what we have abundantly been blessed with, our lives are forever changed to a healthier life-style. When I did this, I wanted to continue to eat healthy, make my fitness routine better, run further, keep my goals and challenges in front of me and to keep my eyes on the prize of tomorrow. My life moved past everything that I was tired of, what I knew before to what God had for me today and for the future. We were made for more than this; we were made for an abundant life. Live in the blessings. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Let's talk oils and fats...

In the photograph above there are other fat ingredients that we can live without.
 Can you spot them?

It is the most creative thing I have ever heard. Then again, maybe it's the kindest way a person can simply say it. Then again, maybe we need the straight forward truth...but let me back up a bit...

Don't you love run on sentences?! My favorite English teacher in the world from my first year in college would die on the spot if she ever read my stuff now, I am sure of it. When I first hear the word fat, it was in a physical education class actually in college. I was taking a class that I was going to have lead a segment of aerobics teaching the class to do something which was a portion of my final grade. Fat wasn't the word I heard, it was obese. I was labeled and defined. I didn't do that assignment lol, nope, not happening! Regardless of the assignment and the mental image of what that would actually look like, I discovered that obesity was a reality of definition in the dictionary, many books popping up written on the subject, but it was on my medical chart. 

What I can't figure out, is why is it not on our food labels? Can you imagine, "No Obesity" in this product! No, that wouldn't go over very well. So, we substitute obesity with other words rather than even saying fat, we use BMI, maybe out of context, but then we use, my favorite of all time, fluffy. 

Garrett uses the word "fluffy," but he will say, "Momma, you were the "f" word." People look at him curiously. When we got a dog that was five-pounds over weight, he said, "Momma, he is the "f" word, but I don't want to hurt his feelings." This is what I meant by the kindest person in the world. He never wants to hurt someone's feelings even thought he himself has a few extra pounds, but...if you try to pinch even an inch on that boy's legs, you can't do it. He is muscle all over, but the areas he actually does need to lose weight. 

Regardless, how you say it, label it, define it, fat is fat. It doesn't look good on your thighs, mine or on our blood work or on the scales. We can call this food or that oil "good fat" all we want, but I would rather put those calories to better use else where than in any fat calories recommended to me. I apologize to all those who have spent money on research, advertisement, manufacturing and even the consumers to justify something that is simply fattening and bringing more heart-attacks and obesity to our society, but...I won't do it. 

So, how to we substitute the fats in our diet or our lives?
 Here are some tips to help:

*  Remove all cooking oils and use cooking spray.
*  Don't use butters or margarine, use fat-free spray butter if you need any at all.
*  Change to fat-free salad dressings rather than regular dressings, try Italian.
*  Use lemon juice or lime juice instead of dressings or seasoning.
*  Experience homemade peanut butter or soy butter that requires no oil.
*  Read labels: picked up apple sauce the other day that said "natural" but had oil and corn syrup in it.
*  Baking cakes or breads, use apple sauce instead of oils (try going without breads and desserts)/
*  Make your own broths using vegetables rather than meat based.
*  Broil or grill meats rather than fry or pan bake meats.
*  Cook at home...I suggest as a family too. Save eating out for planned times.

These are just a few ideas. It is time to think about the foods we put in our bodies. We have only one. The waiting lists are long for body parts that can be replaced. Let's get real. Let's get honest. When we stand before God there are only two thinks we wills stand before Him with: our body and our character. These are why we are to take care of the temple and be more Christlike. Eternity will be so much easier don't you think if we start now? Something to think about...

Fat, fluffy, obese or the "f" word...It will get someone's attention. In the photograph above there are other fat ingredients that we can live without. Can you spot them? Living healthy is a learning process and over the past six-plus-years, I am still a process moving forward, but I am living proof you too can do it. There are no excuses and that is what you will carry into eternity. 

Monday, August 7, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Rejected to Rejoicing...Moving past the "R" words to a healthier lifestyle...

Want to lose weight and get fit...
then we have to face our "issues" and live beyond them!

Each month, we get a schedule in the mail that lists all the Special Olympic activities. Garrett and I are very active in our local group as well as regional and state level teams and competitions. It makes a difference for Garrett to be active, his social skills as well as his emotional stability. I am blessed to have a personal scheduled that works around home, work and him. This month's calendar was late arriving due to staff scheduling and it was fine, but Garrett is all about routine. We had planned to go bowling on Wednesday since we didn't have a schedule. This is what we do when golf isn't in season. However, when I picked Garrett up and his bowling ball then we were at the coffee shop getting his "energy" tea, I got a text saying, "Golf at 3:00." I had to tell Garrett. I should video that lol. To change his routine brings on no bad behavior but it does bring 1k questions, anxiety and a transformation in the thinking process. We managed and headed to golf, which is his favorite active we do.

On the golf course, I walk the far edges of the holes we are playing just in case the team hits the ball into the "far land." While walking the edge of the woods, high grass, and waters, I find a number of golf balls left by other players. I feel complete if I find five balls but have found as many as seventy. It's great because our Special Olympic team can use golf balls all year long! This particular day, I found one with "R" on it. My first thought was, "Wow, I found one for "R"ita! "R"ight! Lol then I showed Garrett's partner and coach, Mark English, to which he replied, "...or regrets..." He and his wife know my whole life story... I got to thinking about that...

There a lot of "R" words that come to mind that you and I have experienced. Many life-experiences came to mind and some are hard to read much less to think about...Racism, Railroaded, Rape, Rebellion, Ratty, Ruthless, Repressed, Repulsed, and there are many more, but one I can't type because it turns me completely off even as slang, the "R" word.  Regardless, yet another emotion in itself, we all have felt the sting of words, but the one I want to focus on is "R" ejection.

I knew the reality of rejection, but had not actually faced the it until my husband walked out. It took me a while and through my son's eyes and verbalization to realize that, "Yup, this happened." Hearing the words, "I never loved you," when he walked out handing me papers, unexpectedly, made since to me immediately. I believed him. There is always a puzzle that you can't find that missing piece. Then when you find it...the picture is complete. That was the missing piece that put many situations in my life together. It exposed not only him but other relationships I had at that time but also my whole life. Rejection defined it, not the root of their behavior.

Rejection has the opportunity to plant many emotions and reactions. However, you get to decide what is planted in that soil and what you get from that harvest. I decided to plant and sow in faith. I had to stand up for what was right, to take care of myself and my son; however, also I had to provide in the realistic world as well as to trust that harvest to yield beyond my feelings and live my faith. That is where I decided to do these things every day from day one after this life-experience happened:

*  I wrote three things I was thankful for every day regardless if I felt like it or not.
*  I got up and hour earlier every day and read five different devotionals every morning.
*  I went to my room every night one hour before bedtime and read five other devotionals every night. (Btw, I still have these books and use them often, my devotionals are more personal now).
*  I wrote out my prayers and have them in a notebook today. Why? Because sometimes I didn't have the words to say or know how to pray. God honored and blessed those prayers. 
*  I found a Bible believing, teaching, preaching church and community and got active.
*  I found DivorceCare and Celebrate Recovery. There are more support groups out there, but for me, I needed people. I was married for thirty-four years and needed to know how to speak, react, behave with a child that will always be a child, adult children, estrangement, negativity, court, and even being a foodoholic. I needed to know how to never go back to my past of being with people that chose habits and hangups in their lives over God and their partner and spouse. 
*  I never (not even now) talk about my relationships of the past in my home or in front of my children or my mother, who I am the primary caregiver. Instead I encourage them to see those that hurt me in a positive light and listen to their on pains, channeling them toward a better reflection of how our lives have been blessed and what our home is today with the hopes of tomorrow.
*  Get this if nothing else, social media was not the place I posted harmful, hurtful things during any life-experience. Break that habit regardless what your immediate reaction, emotion might be to any situation you are in. Social media isn't the place to air your drama or dirty laundry, if you will. 
* I was extended love and grace beyond my comprehension, it was time for me to learn to extend the bit I could. I love the people that hurt me, pray for them continuously, however, it is the enemy of darkness, the habit, the hangup I battled, not the person. I had to learn what I was battling. 
** Know these are just a few things I did to change my focus from rejection to rejoicing, rejection to redeemed!

You may have grown up in alcoholism,  drugs, abuse, food addictions, or rejection. You can change the future, end the cycle, create your today. Rejection is dealt with in scripture. Let's read Lamentations 3:24-26: "...The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him. The Lord is good to those whose hope in Him; to the one who seeks Him; it is good to WAIT quietly."  Sometimes we are called to wait, but the thing is we have our hope in Him and in that the courage. I lived that hope, not in bitterness or regret.  Rejection is an invitation to live in expectation of something more, an appointment, if you will, to make room for tomorrow. You have a choice, regardless how tired you get of me saying that, you have a choice to rejoice regardless of your life situation. What seeds are you planting and sowing? You will reap what you sow from the seeds you plant. When rejections come, sow the seeds of rejoicing, thanksgiving. Moving to a better place, a happy place, one of joy and thankfulness is a choice. I have no excuses to live a healthier lifestyle by moving my stresses to being thankful and rejoicing regardless what is happening in that garden. Weed out the negative, the past, and let it go. 

It's time to live Rejected to Redeemed,
Rejected to Rejoicing without definition 
and with no excuses!

Sunday, August 6, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Chicken Pot Pie a recipe to joy...

Comfort food is cozy, happy and filled with delicious goodness. I would love for it to be a southern thing, but it totally isn't. I have friends all over the world, when they come to visit, I am in awe of the foods they prepare. It is amazing to taste the different cultures and flavors that come together with simple foods, like a zucchini. A green vegetable that grows crazy and multiplies by the tons! I had no idea that you could not only make bread from it, but all the way to breakfast. I will stop there because you need to see how many ways you too can make a dish from one vegetable. 

Chicken pot pie is an easy dish to make and certainly take next door when that neighbor has hip replacement surgery or the neighbor on the other side volunteers to mow your grass. It also freezes well. When you do, cook 3/4 done, then put in the freezer, but when ready to enjoy, thaw and back the remaining time. So, here we go...

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

2 ready made crusts or the Gluten-free Crusts
2 large cans of cream of chicken soup, gluten free
2 15 ounce cans mixed vegetables, drained and rinsed
4 shredded, baked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon ground cilantro
1 teaspoon oregano
dash of black pepper
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese


1. Put one crust in a 9" pie plate.
2. Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese.
3. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly except the cheese.
4. Pour the mixture in the pie crust and spread the remaining shredded cheese over the top of the mixture.
5. Place the second crust over the top of the pie. Trim the edges of the top crust from the sides and press the edges, sealing it with a fork. Then prick the top five times with the tip of the fork to allow air to flow from the pie. 
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve hot. 

I have heard a series by a minister called "Seasons of Life." Just like this chicken pot pie, we find comfort in what we know, the food that reminds us of something that is good, warm, cozy or that brings us joy. Sometimes there are moments in our life that it is hard to find joy in situations and moments we are living. Joy comes regardless where we are in life. Nothing can be predicted. 

The secret to consistent joy is to carry it with you all the time. When the moments are good, have joy. Meditate on the positive, the good, save it up so that when the bad things come, have stored up the resources to sustain you through the situation. The joy needs to carry you through that time. This minister said that we have to live by faith. I have to add to it that we live by hope. 

It is hard to explain the expanse of my reality of living by hope. I had someone once very critical of my ideal of living in hope. Regardless of how teased or ridiculed I was about living in hope, I continued on because I felt that living by faith I was placing my hope in that faith for tomorrow. I wasn't worrying about the present. I knew that at some point my situation would change if I had faith and hope. God can bring good out of your situation when you say, "Here is all I have, take it and do your work with it." Just give it to Him. 

Joy comes when we learn to live daily thankful and with gratitude. When we do, it changes the way we look at how we behave standing in line at the grocery store to how we handle abusive relationships. Joy doesn't come in the morning as one song says, it comes now by the choice to grab it  and never let go. When we look at our lives through eyes of joy even when we don't feel like it, then it changes the way we see things, people and ourselves. Our joy turns to love, our bitterness turns to forgiveness, and we learn that extending grace not only to others but to ourselves, we give joy away. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Routine broken...finding happiness even when life throws you a curve...

#MarkEnglish coaches/partners with #GarrettCobbs

Each month, Decatur Parks and Rec send out a calendar for the Special Olympic activities for the month. This month our calendar was late arriving due to staff vacations, surgery for one, and families getting ready for school to start. Things that made it no big deal that it might be a couple of days late. We didn't know that golf would begin again for the season on Wednesdays. So, as usual, Garrett and I went to do our thing, pickup our "energy drinks" and head to bowling. I got a text in the midst of all that saying, "Golf at 3:00." Not a problem, unless you are Garrett. 

The situation with Garrett is not a whiny story, but one that is a reality. Garrett was born with brain damage that later left him with the diagnoses of Fine-Motor Cerebral Palsy, vision and hearing impairment (without devises other than glasses), Asperger, a mentality of a four-year-old at an average, but with social skills at age level. He has no sense of danger, can't play golf alone or ever drive. This year, Garrett began having seizures, diagnosed as Hypertension Anxiety. These are the basic areas of Garrett's disabilities, but he takes medication for the seizures and blood pressure.

When I told Garrett that the plans had changed and we had to go by the house and swap equipment, there were a hundred questions from getting his things, going by the house, who would be there and if it was going to rain on a perfectly sunny day. I was asked how many holes we would hit and what time we would get back home. Now nothing Garrett dishes out at me can undo me, I have lived with this and more for thirty-years...I have the answers and when I don't, I make them up lol. I never yell and always speak in a happy, positive voice.

headed to opening season of Special Olympic Golf!

There are times in our lives that things are uprooted, a curve is thrown. Finding our happiness is difficult. We want to be able to put on our most comfortable jeans and well worn converse tennis shoes and be in our happy bubble for the rest of our days. However, life happens and that routine is broken. We begin running to habits and hangups, the wrong things and certainly the wrong people to feel we have some control over these moments that are out of control. At some point, we have to decide, make the choice to say, "No!" I won't do this again...feel regret over making a bad choice then another. 

There are times, we have to pull away from the situation, take a step back and think about how we really see it. Don't allow our emotions to run our decisions. Don't react with our first thoughts. It may take literally sleeping over our decision and sometimes it may mean waiting, not procrastinating, but waiting while still going about our daily tasks the best we can.

When I was five-years-old, I remember being in my bedroom, playing with my dolls and saying out loud, "I choose to be happy forever about everything." Why would a small child say that? I had witnessed to often grownups arguing so intensely that I was afraid a fight was about to happen during any of the altercations. I knew at a young age that I didn't want to be like them. In my own little space, I knew that I wanted to live happy and positive. Some say that I live in my own bubble, but in truth, I seek the positive, don't worry about things, trust God immensely, meditate on His Word a lot, but at five-years-old, I didn't know any of that. I went to church, but a Sunday/Wednesday faith wasn't much to go on for me. It was a decision, a choice. The Bible says, "...a childlike faith..." Simple. Quick. No excuses. 

Maybe if we went back to the mentality and the reality that believing truths we discovered as a child, we would love differently. Love would be easier, forgiveness would come quicker, trust would be consistent, and happiness would be forever. Sometimes our routine is broken and we are kicked out of our comfort zone, then we are asked to decide if we are going to react and live negatively or positively, sad or happy. The choice shouldn't be that difficult, should it? Just saying...

Challenge for you...keep a gratitude journal.
Write down three things a day that you are thankful for. 
Living a healthy lifestyle begins with an emotional choice to let it go...
It's a choice...No Excuses!

Friday, August 4, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Grocery Shopping in the Big City...

Maybe I should do a survey to see how well you know me. Those that know me well, know this one fact about it...I do not like to shop! Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be defined as low or high maintenance. I think both of those statements are straight from the enemy. Sorry, I just do. I like lists, love lists! I am a list maker and my family has always said that I love to make lists of lists. I read an article about people with ADHD that cleared this up for us that even though people with ADHD love technology that there are a few areas of life we rely on paper: making lists, journaling and taking notes. Many of us like to hold the actual book too. I do like my ereader though. Which leads me to grocery shopping. 

My tiny little family knows that if we are out of something or opening the last of a staple item, it needs to go on the grocery list or Momma Rita probably won't get it from the store. I go on Saturday morning and I am at Target on Sundays. These times are about thirty-minutes and that tops it. This particular week, of my story, was a Tuesday that Garrett's activities were canceled. I made a mega list and went into the larger city next door to us and shopped!! we go...

Thought I would start with the dessert row...I love to shop at the specialty grocers in Huntsville, Alabama. They have foods that we can't get in our city. It is rather funny to me that with all the health focus, they have a mega dessert section that makes up one-fourth of the store. I don't care that they do, I am happy about this. I just can't eat it. They do serve gluten-free foods and even vegan, but too many people read that as fat-free, foods they can justify eating while losing weight and that may not be the case. Read the labels. It is much prettier to take a photo of a dessert than to take a photo of them on my thighs after eating a bite of them. Just saying...

My grocery list is divided into stores where I get items. One would love to go to one location and get everything; however, that isn't the care. I get coffee creamer from one store, then I get paper products from another store. After that I get the items on my list that are vegan to vegetarian from the stores in the larger city. I go to the larger department grocer for price comparison so that I can get the price while shopping the convenience of one stop shopping. With all that said, it is great to to have a list.

My tips for grocery shopping, 
working a weight loss program, and saving money:

* Make the List! Stick to the List!
* Get only the foods that cover the meals you will cook for the week.
* Don't substitute items...if the grocer is out of the fat-free, low cal item, then wait...
* No time to shop? Order groceries online! I did this way back in the day and had them delivered to my house. It can be done in neighboring cities from me.
* Take cash. Don't overspend. For everything you pickup to buy that isn't on your list, make a note of the amount you would have spent and put it in a jar when you get home. Then at the end of the month, see how much you saved. The scales will reflect this too.
* Eating out? Price the ingredients to make that one meal and see how many plates including leftover lunches you would have if you made that meal at home. Making a homemade pizza saves you money as well and is better for you. Look up the cauliflower crust, it is pretty good and totally awesome in calories. Have you tried the cauliflower mashed potatoes? My family still doesn't know I swapped...well, they probably do now! lol
* Beverages...did you know a gallon of homemade tea, sub the sugar, costs less per glass then buying bottled soda or canned? Price beers, wines, juices... Try making your own squeezed juices.
* Freeze bananas and other fruit that may be aging...use them in smoothies or baking. Making your own muffins takes less than 30 minutes to whip up and bake.
* Shop one time a week and make it a family event. I use to divide the grocery list up among my family members and even give Garrett a picture list since he couldn't read. It brought a realization to the cost of food and made them waste less.

I hope this helps. Coupons are another great savings for you and your family. When you eat out, there are coupons for that too. I have found apps for saving money on groceries as well. I have one for a store that saves me 5% at checkout on my whole shopping experience. Then make it easy and fun. I don't like to shop, but I make it easy. When I have my mother with me or Garrett, I have to create a happy atmosphere so that it is easier for them and for me. Life is too short to worry and stress out over chores that we must do. Make it happen with a list! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Picnic Lunches...why not revisit this option...

My daily schedule is pretty routine. Boring by most peoples standards I suppose. I am predictable. The life of a caregiver is like that and only crises of the person you care for or, heaven forbid, an appliance malfunction, will upset the apple cart. ((Is apple cart a southern saying? Curious)) So, when I am driving alone, I usually take "tiny car," my little white Nissan that God blessed me with in March. Then when I get home to take Garrett to his activities, I jump out of tiny car and get in the Silver Bullet, the Dodge Caravan that I have had since she had 11k miles on her and now is about to click over to 319k and is absolutely in beautiful shape. Garrett has her packed with whatever activity equipment we are using that afternoon, golf, bowling, horseback riding, etc and my lunch. If I am out and about, I pull in the driveway, get out of tiny car and get into the silver bullet.

Garrett started packing my lunch about a year ago. I had made the comment one morning on the way to out to work that I didn't have time to make my lunch, but that I would be fine. When I got home, Garrett had my lunch made. Sometimes, I get sandwiches made with lettuce buns, maybe some tortilla chips (if he has done something outstanding and has some dill pickle chips...I have some of those...WOW yup, I eat them) and probably a banana. Other times, Garrett will pack a warm dish of pasta or then a mega salad for my lunch. I always get a real form and plenty of napkins. My salads are loaded with fat-free Italian salad dressing and black pepper, but I eat every bite.

Packing lunches doesn't have to be a chore. Something that we need to revisit. In the photograph above, Garrett obviously packs a creative salad into a container that doesn't have a lid that closes. It is actually a container that you make eggs in the microwave. Maybe it's time we revisit building a picnic lunch around family. Having our kids make our lunch and even their own. What if it has more fruit than protein? It's a learning process. Cleaning out the pantry, fridge and cabinets of all the "illegal" food will take care of the things we don't want on our plates and in our picnic lunches on a regular basis.

When we have treats, like dill pickle chips or strawberry milk, gross I know, it has been a rockin' awesome reason. No more than once in a week or two-weeks does Garrett get these special things. We have pizza on Sundays too. There is no soda in our house and the granulated sugar is well hidden to use only when a bread recipe will not work without it or my son Ethan comes over to make a mega meal, he is a chef.

Six Rockin' Awesome Ideas for Picnic Lunches:

* Notes dropped inside: I use to do this for my family. I would add special quotes or scripture to encourage, make happy faces on the bags inside.
* Make the meals the night before: Always make meals in advance, use Sunday afternoons to do this for the week. Did you know that Peanut or Soybutter sandwiches can be made and frozen? By lunchtime, they are thawed and pretty good actually. Also, lay out all the clothes and accessories you plan to wear the night before to make getting ready the next morning easier.
* Food prep is a must: It is so much easier for working families to go ahead and prep foods when you bring groceries in the house. I make it a family event. It is good for my mother and Garrett to use skills working occupational skills while pealing, chopping, cutting or bagging foods. I tenderize meats prior to them going to the freezer too. I don't meal plan like I once did, but I have an idea what I might fix for the week. Salads are ready as are fruits and other vegetables.
* Beverages ready: I bought a water cooler at a yard sale for $10 and that has encouraged my family to drink water. It was the best investment that I made. You may not find one for that price, but I refill the large bottle with tap. Easy, cheap and quick. I freeze half a bottle of water and then fill it up the rest of the way with water so that by the time lunch comes around, we have cold water to drink. Hydration is important for our outdoor activities. They will get use to drinking water, promise.
* Swap sugars: My family didn't notice when I swapped the sugar in the canister. It was rather funny that Garrett only noticed the texture. I also told him we got new measuring cups when I reduced the amount of sugar he put in the tea. Yes, he loves to help make tea for him and mother.
* Fruits go dark? Dip the fruits or vegetables in lemon juice. I like lemon and lime juice on my fruits and vegetables. Have you ever tried lemon juice on your broccoli? Wow! It gives it a whole new flavor. Bananas need to stay in the pealing I think but it can be sliced as well and dipped in lemon juice.

These are just a few tips, nothing fancy. I have tons of things I have done. Regardless, if you have someone make your lunch, smile and eat it. If it is unhealthy, then that gives you a reason to excuse yourself, pretend to eat it and let it go, share it or it can be composted but never tell. I haven't had that happen. However, I have gone to a luncheon and nothing was there I could eat. I fixed my plate and very easily dumped it with nobody being wiser. A friend says she is allergic, this isn't a good thing for someone like me lol that really is to some things. I usually take something to a picnic regardless if I am asked or not, just so that I can enjoy the food as well. Tell them you are experimenting with a recipe and want to see what they think.

Hope you have a fabulous School Year!
Praying for a successful first day and tremendous blessed year!

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