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.