Sit Down & Eat!


Last night I was setting the table like I always do before dinner.  As dinner cooked on the stove and the table became full of plates, napkins, silverware, and serving dishes I couldn’t help but smile.  This is my favorite part of the day.  This is when our whole family gets to come together for a nutritious, filling meal and we share about our day.

Before I had kids most of my dinners were spent in front of the TV with my husband or soon to be husband depending on the timeline. After getting married and having kids I would wait to eat until after the kids had  gone to bed.  They were babies or toddlers at the time and dinner was an event. It involved me getting up and down from the table and picking up scraps and bottles that had been dropped or thrown from their high chairs. Eating with the kids was not only undesirable but impossible.  I remember my sister and I agreeing that eating with the kids at that point meant not tasting our food at all due to overstimulation.  It still makes me laugh.  Somewhere down the line the kids grew up.  Imagine that!  No more highchairs, no more short order cooking, no more fussing and whining.

Today, the kids are little, wonderful people that have interesting conversations.  So many of us miss that change when it happens and we continue our old, comfortable behaviors of feeding them first and staving ourselves off until later.  This almost always leads to poor food choices and over eating because we are starved and exhausted by the time we eat. I get it!  I have that hunger monster too that says,”Let’s eat. Eat as much as we want right now because we are STARVING!” I promise that you can beat that hunger monster with a bat. Have a snack every couple of hours  between meals and then see what sitting down with the family does for you.

My parents gave me a wonderful gift as a child.  The gift of family dinners every single night.  We would wait until my dad got home from work and we would all sit down together.  We would eat and share what happened in our day, talk about current events, ask questions, and yes, sometimes even argue.  No matter what, we had that time together to catch up as a family.  We had that time to eat together without any other distraction. We could pay attention to what went in our mouths. Incorporating this same lifestyle in my home with the addition of snacks in-between meals has kept my portions in control and my hunger monster at bay.  I am satisfied and that ugly monster is put to bed.

How many times have you found yourself snacking while standing in the kitchen, trolling Facebook, or watching TV only to discover that a bag of chips is suddenly gone and you don’t even remember eating it?  Better yet, you feel deprived because you don’t remember tasting it, so you give yourself some more!  I know it can’t just be me.  I have been known to have a second helping of chocolate chips simply because I didn’t feel I got the full effect.  Really! It happens to the best of us.  There is something to be said for sitting down to eat; making it an event.

When we take the time to sit down and eat we are more aware of our choices and portion sizes.  We can feel proud that we ate until satisfaction instead of “Thanksgiving dinner full”.  We can use all of our senses to be fulfilled.  We notice the wonderful smell, texture, taste, and display of our food. We don’t feel deprived.  We feel satisfied. If you are lucky, you even get to have a family moment.  You get to enjoy the gift of your family at the table and all of the conversation it brings.

A friend told me years ago that each night they share something called their daily “Rose and Thorn”.  They share the “rose” of what was wonderful about their day and the “thorn” of what was unenjoyable.  I thought about how that allowed each member of the family to speak and share their joys and frustrations without fighting for attention.  I realized it was something my family naturally did each night, but many times one family member (usually the youngest) would fight to get a word in.  Thus, a new tradition all our own was born.  We simply go around the table and speak of the best and worst things that happened that day. The kids quickly added to the custom and said they would also like to list their favorite thing learned.  My mommy heart was so full that day.  It continues to be full each and every night when we sit down and share “the best, the worst, and the favorite thing learned”. It brings out the kid in my husband and me; it shows us the silver lining.  Mealtime is family time and the “icing” is feeling satisfied both physically and emotionally.  Give it a try. You just might enjoy eating with your kiddos each night when you realize you can actually stay at the table!



I’m So Tired

We all say it,”I’m so tired!”  It’s actually the truth.  We are juggling so much every day and we are actually tired.  The last thing we want to do is add to our ever growing “to do list”.  Just the thought of making time for a workout has me burning “stress calories”!

That was the old me.  The thought of adding more to my daily routine was exhausting until I discovered that about 30 minutes of a total body workout is all I need.  Here’s the craziest part, I don’t feel tired from it.  I feel invigorated, really!  I suddenly have all of the energy I need for the day and a better attitude to go with it.  I am calm with my kids, happy at work, and ready for a full day.  I know I sound nuts but I swear it is the truth.  All of these years I was putting too much pressure on working out and time commitment.  I would spend an hour walking or running.  I would spend hours at the gym between cardio and weights.  You know what I  got in return?  Nada.  Maybe my heart was healthier but my weight didn’t budge and I certainly didn’t feel invigorated.  I truly was exhausted!

If all I need is to commit an average of 30 minutes each day and I can lose weight, get fit, and fee energized I am in!  That is what Beachbody workouts have given me.  They have changed my life and nobody is paying me to say that.  Am I a Beachboody coach?  Yes.  Can you purchase their workouts through me? Yes. But, I was saying all of this long before I became a coach.  I was saying it because it is true and I watch as my Weight Watchers members, my friends, and my family members struggle to find something that works and that they can maintain.  All I want to do is help them feel as good as I do.

I don’t benefit much from being a coach because I honestly hate feeling like I am talking people into something.  I wish I could invite all of you along with me to do these short in- home workouts for a month and see how amazing you feel and look.  It’s as if I found the magic pill.  I have this amazing library of workouts and food plans that keep me happy, satisfied, energized, and most of all STRONG.  I am stronger now in every way then when I was in my 20’s.  I feel the impact of increased brain power, feeling tight and strong, and being fit and healthy.

I wrote this blog entry today because I am sick of feeling shy about inviting people to try this out.  I am tired; metaphorically tired of fearing I am overstepping by suggesting that all of you try out Beachbody workouts.  All I want to do is pay it forward. I want to see you stop struggling and watch you start living life as the best version of yourself.  I want your body to be your temple.  I want that body to buy longevity, energy, and strength.  Do you want it?  Do you want the most you can get out of life?  This is not a difficult commitment.  It was the easiest decision I have ever made.

For those of you that know me, you know how indecisive I am.  I may have even called you once or a million times because I couldn’t even decide what jeans to buy!  Guess what?  I called nobody and didn’t ask for a single piece of advice before jumping into the Beachbody workouts.  It was a no-brainer and it has paid off ten fold.

If you are ready to make the easiest decision of your life, then email me and I promise to help you find your best you:

No Excuses Newscast

“This is the No Excuses Newscast!”  That’s what my college professor told our television broadcast class on the first day.  Our mission each week was to produce and report a TV newscast that was broadcast on the college network.  The number one rule was no excuses. No excuses about why something wasn’t perfect.  No excuses about late or missing stories. No excuses about typos.  No excuses about inaccurate timing.  No excuses about misspellings.  No excuses about an unbalanced story.  Whatever we broadcast in our final product had to stand alone with, you got it, no excuses!

It seems this is the perfect week to speak of no excuses.  I can hardly keep my tears from streaming as I think of all of the senseless killings.  Innocent black citizens and innocent police officers shot and killed.  There is no excuse for judging a book by its cover.  We all learned this as small children.  There is no excuse to choose to forget this rule.  Treat others as you’d like to be treated.  These are simple ideas that are so easily forgotten and ignored. Maybe it is our children who know better.  Maybe it is time for us to step back and be the students.  Why is it my children give absolutely no thought about the color of a person’s skin, their sexual orientation, the neighborhood they live in, or the amount of money in their bank account before deciding if they want to play with them, but the adults in this country struggle with all of it?  When will we learn from our past that there are no excuses for this behavior. When will we accept and embrace our differences?  What will it take?  How many murders?  How many marches? How many peace rallies? How many wars?  How long will we continue to do things that only produce negative results?  This question applies in all aspects of our lives.

The YEARS I spent thinking negative thoughts about myself were a waste.  You know where they led me?  Those negative thoughts of not being good enough physically or in my job led to more negative behavior.  It led me into a hole of self doubt, broken relationships, anger, frustration.  Do you see the similarity?   These killers have self doubt and self hate on the inside and it is all they can spew to the outside world.  WE KNOW BETTER.  We know that negativity only breeds more negativity.  We know that finding the good in people and in ourselves breeds more tolerance, love, and peace.

When I decided to stop focusing on what is not right about me and started focusing on what is I became the best me.  Everyday is my no excuses broadcast.  Some days I fall down but tomorrow is another opportunity for my next no excuses newscast.  We all have the ability to be our best.  We have to choose to tap into it.  Are you ready to do that?  Have you had enough of your war within and your outward judgement?

Now is the time.  Lead the charge.  Enough talk and more action.  Treat others as you’d like to be treated.  I would love for others not to judge me based on my gender and religion. I would love for them to CHOOSE to be intrigued by our differences and find beauty in that.  At the very least I would like for people to accept that I am different and move on with their own lives.

Negativity breeds negativity.  Fear breeds fear.  A black man driving in an affluent and predominantly white neighborhood is exactly that. Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Thinking anything else only feeds the beast.  Do not feed the beast. Replace every negative thought with a positive one.  See what that does for you and for everyone around you.

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW. You are the change that is needed.  You accepting yourself and others with no excuses is the answer.  It sounds simple because it is.  It appears hard to implement because it is.  Do the work and reap the benefits for yourself and others.


How I Got Happy and Healthy

I guess I should begin at the beginning.  I am Jennifer Berko and I started this blog to share my knowledge and experiences with health, fitness, and beauty inside out.  This is a one stop shop for mental and physical health paired with looking as good on the outside as we aim to feel on the inside. It’s not easy, but what is?  With practice this becomes a way of life; a lifestyle. Let me tell you a little story.  Doesn’t the thought of a story make you want to curl up with a blanket and hot cocoa or is that just me?

Every experience and every repeated behavior shapes our future selves and our future lifestyles.  You don’t believe me?  Well, I want to curl up in a blanket at the thought of a story because my dad used to read me stories each night and I would curl up and get cozy. The hot cocoa just sounds good!  Just kidding.  My mom is known for her cooking and soothing us with it as well.  But this is not a story about food.  This is a story about how I was shaped into this health, fitness, and beauty blogger.

Once upon a time I was insecure in my private elementary school and surrounded by over achievers and over achieving parents.  One day a gifted teacher had our class read a story aloud.  Each person read a few sentences and then the next person in the circle had a turn.  When I read the teacher stopped and said in front of everyone,”Class, did you hear how nicely Jennifer read that paragraph?  She respected all of the punctuation and read beautifully.”  Fast forward many years (your welcome) and a TV news reporter and anchor was born.  From 2nd grade on writing and performing became my life.  It was the one thing I knew I could do well.  After 10 years in “the business” I left to raise my two children.

My life was great.  I had two incredible kids, an involved and loving husband, two adorable dogs, and a warm home.  When my mother in law became gravely ill and was dying my husband simultaneously accepted a job in my hometown of Houston. We were selling our house in Dallas so I stayed behind with the kids. I was alone with a two and a half year old, a 3 month old, house showings and dogs to wrangle out of the house for the showings  (one dog was gravely ill and had to be carried outside to go potty).  I was overwhelmed.

When my mother in law passed and we finally moved back home I was officially a complete mess.  I had lost myself in between the grieving over her passing, colic, projectile puke, the laughing and playing, and the baby weight that just wouldn’t go away.  All my sister had to say was,”You are not yourself.” and I burst into tears.  It took a while to find the change I needed but it came.

I watched a friend lose 60 pounds on Weight Watchers and then eventually work for the company.  I had never had a real weight problem before.  Sure, as I got older I struggled here and there with a few extra pounds, but now I was dealing with that plus the extra baby weight and the baby was over a year old!  I felt like a prisoner in my on body.  I wasn’t willing to try a diet because I wondered why diets always make you give up certain foods. Here. Give up carbs and you will lose weight.  Well, ok, but what happens when a piece of pizza accidentally finds its way into my mouth?  I mean what happens when I become human again and eat all of the food groups?  I gain all of the weigh back.  That’s what!  How is that worth it?  I didn’t want a temporary fix.  I wanted a forever fix.  I called my friend.  She asked what I was afraid to give up.  That was easy to answer.  Without a breath I said that I didn’t want to give up wine, pizza, and chocolate.  She quickly replied, “No problem.”  My reply was something like, “Excuse me, but what? ”  She explained that she had pizza and salad for dinner that night, was enjoying a glass of wine while talking to me, and eats chocolate plenty.  Okie dokie!  Sign me up!  I never looked back.  I lost 31 pounds in 2011 and have maintained my weight loss since.  Since 2012 I have worked as a leader and ambassador for Weight Watchers.  Weight loss was not enough for me.  It went deeper than that.

About three quarters of the way through my weight loss I became skinny fat.  I was thinned out but had little muscle tone.  I was starting to look unhealthy.  My very honest husband was kind enough to let me know.  I have been a runner my whole life yet it wasn’t helping and my interest had waned.  My husband saw an infomercial for P90X and that was it!  He was hooked.  I, of course, came along for the ride.  I am pretty competitive.  The workouts were different which made it fun and made me want to see what would come next.  My husband and I always did them together and that helped us hold each other accountable.  The best part?  The results!  Oh my goodness!  “I have muscles there?” I would think.  I had never in my life been so fit.  That includes when I was a teenager and young adult hitting the gym all of the time.  P90X led to P90X2, P90X3, P90, T25, Insanity, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Piyo, Cize, Hammer and Chisel, and 22 Hard Corps and that’s all I can think of off the top of my head!  It is addictive to say the least.  Beachbody and their workouts changed my mindset from getting thin to getting fit.  At nearly 40 I am the most fit I have ever been which is why I became a Beachbody coach.  I am at my  happiest and healthiest.

Sometimes the hardest part of being happy is getting happy.  During my transformation I realized it was important to do what I could to feel good while I lost the weight and got healthy.  I continued an old habit my mother instilled in me.  I got dressed nicely and put on some make up nearly every day.  I did this for nobody other than myself.  It felt good to look good.  No matter my size, I wanted to feel good each day.  Before you knew it I had re-introduced Make-Up YOUR Way back into my life.

A couple of years earlier  I had developed a company by that name.  The idea was simple.  I would give people make overs and simultaneously they would get a make up lesson.  This way, they walked away with the ability to replicate the look, unlike what you get at a make up counter.  I would even go through client’s make up drawers and show them how to use what they had stored up and get the most bang for their buck out of it.  I did make up parties for groups of women as a girl’s night in.  It was fun and it all began with my last job in the business.

I had worked for a private start up TV network.  They needed someone to start and manage a make up, hair and wardrobe department and since I came from 10 years of news and had perfected my own look they put me in charge.  Go figure!  I hired an incredibly talented make up artist.  When I wasn’t on air we worked side by side.  I learned so much.  When I left the business she begged me to start my company and take my idea to the masses.  She always saw me as a natural born make up artist.  And so with much trepidation I did.  The business has recently taken off again in the Houston area and I am being called for less lessons and more weddings and bar mitzvahs.  It makes no difference to me.  What does make a difference?  Helping other people feel good and look good.

My magic combination of Weight Watchers, Beachbody, and Make-Up YOUR Way has made me realize that being healthy is a mental and physical state.  It is health inside out. I will do what it takes to pay it forward now and help change lives. That is what this blog is all about.  Stay tuned for tips, tricks, and inspiration.