An eco-conscious, lifestyle blog by Tampa, FL mom Jenny Hodges,who lost 212lbs and is keeping it off thru healthy family living, creative cooking, and CrossFit

30. June 2013 12:48
by jennifer

Push Away the Screen: Biltmore Bonding Day 1

30. June 2013 12:48 by jennifer | 11 Comments

Our family took the opportunity to Push Away the Screen and spent a few days bonding at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. We stayed right on the Biltmore property at the Inn at Biltmore Estate. We did so much while we were there that I am going to post this in multiple segments so I don't leave anything out!

We did our research before arriving at the Estate, but we were still unprepared for the grandeur and VIP treatment that awaited us!

When we arrived there was a long line of cars turning in to the visitors center to buy tickets, and then line of cars waiting their turn to get on the property. This line went quickly, and at the guard gate we gave the guard our name and he presented us with this:

We felt so special with our monogrammed parking pass and Vanderbilt sticker! We drove up to the Inn twisting and turning through the steep (well to a Floridian they are steep) mountain hills and this is what suddenly appeared in our sight! It was even more beautiful than I imagined and it took my breath away! We parked and went to see if our room was ready since we had arrived a few hours early. Our room was not ready, but we still had all access to all the Inn facilities so we headed off to the pool! Every where that we went Biltmore employees said "hello, good afternoon" and opened doors for us. It was so nice.

The pool was beautiful and we were the ONLY ones there!! It was a beautiful afternoon so I think all the other guests were probably out enjoying the gardens, the winery, or touring the estate!

Ella and Ronin were jumping in and out of the pool looking at all the cool insects that were buzzing about!

Our room was scheduled to be ready by 4pm, but the front desk called me just a few minutes before 2pm to let me know that it was ready. Upon check-in I asked if an upgrade was possible, but I was told that we were in the best possible room for our party of 5; A large end unit with lots of privacy.

And it was large! We had 2 queen beds, and a full size twin for Ronin. Plus THREE sitting areas and more than enough chairs. The only thing the room was lacking was a fridge. But we travel with a cooler, and our room was right next to the ice machine room, so really it wasn't that big of a deal.

And our view...oh our view was amazing!! At night we could totally see Downtown Asheville all light up in lights! Beautiful!

Ronin was just fascinated by the windows. They actually opened and had screens! It was so nice! We didn't even need the AC because the weather was so perfect while we were there! We just opened up the windows and had Nature's AC!

We had a quick bite to eat from our cooler, and then decided we would go and check out Antler Hill Village.Because I believe in walking when you can, I refused to allow our family to take the Biltmore shuttle down to Antler Hill Village, so we followed the very nice paved walking path from the Inn to the Village.

 About half way down the path, I turned back and this was my view! It was breathtaking!

Ronin led the way and we eventually made it to the Winery. He misread some signs, but that's part of the adventure, right? No worries, we had plenty of time and leading the family made him feel important. I knew we were going the wrong way, but it's all part of the learning process.

Who knew that part of a wine cask was called a bung hole?? I chuckled out loud at that one!

And they had a wine library!! You can take the girl out of the library, but never the library out of the girl!

We were able to sample every wine that Biltmore offers! I am a white/rose wine drinker, while James prefers reds. And they had grape juice for the kids! The girls sipped their juice, while Ronin chugged his and kept asking for "more, please. More, please." At least he had good manners, and then I kid you not...he passed out. I think all the late nights, and excitement from being on vacation caught up with him.

It was actually really nice for James and I. Because Ronin was sleeping, the girls entertained themselves by drawing and taking photos and James and I were able to enjoy the wine tasting. And Ella enjoyed photo bombing every picture Haley took of us. Tongue Out

After we finished the tasting we each decided on a flavor (is that what you call it???) that we wanted to buy to bring home. James went off to buy them, and this is what I got to do. That's right. I got to carry 65 pounds of dead weight through the Antler Hill Village. Thank goodness for CrossFit.

After 30 minutes or so of this, I just couldn't carry him anymore, so I had to wake him up and we found the kids playground!! It was beautiful and the trio got to play in sand, water, and rocks, while James and I enjoyed some more adult beverages.

Can you guess which one is mine?

We had a few beers, the kids played, ate some french fries at Cedric's Tavern, and then we decided to head back up to our room! This time we did take the Biltmore shuttle back up to the Inn but only because James was carrying many bottles of wine. Tongue Out

We got back to the room, dropped the wine off and then returned to the Village to explore the Farm!! They had the most adorable baby goats!!

This goat loved to nibble on the kids!

And farm equipment that you could climb on!

And it was so nice to see my trio getting along!

After the farm went out to dinner to a local burger joint where I had a bottle of ketchup explode all over me and ruin my 2013 Gasparilla 1/2 Marathon shirt. Yell

Then we came back to the room, went swimming, dried off, and then went down to the game room where we ended the night with a family night of Wii and Xbox playing! We played Just Dance and drank wine and juice and it was lovely. We closed the game room down at 11:10pm, headed back to the room and had a very nice nights sleep.

The End of Day 1.

8. June 2013 12:37
by jennifer

It Ain't Over

8. June 2013 12:37 by jennifer | 6 Comments

I was recently contacted by the editor of the Marlo Thomas website. They were interested in featuring my story. MY story! WHAT?? They run a feature called "It Ain't Over" where they highlight women OVER the age of 40 who have overcome an obstacle, hurdle, challenge, etc., to live out a life long dream. You can read my story HERE. In my case, my lifelong dream was to be a runner!! It took nearly 40 years to be able to reach that dream, BUT I DID IT!! And not only did I want to be a runner, I wanted to run in pink.That's why when I share race pictures, I generally wear a lot of pink! I've included a few here to show you exactly what I mean! I am so proud of all I have been able to do, and I'm so excited to be able to continue to share my journey with the world. I'm living proof that you are NEVER too old, NEVER too far gone to turn your life around and live out your dreams. You just have to find your WHY. Once you find your why, then you can determine your HOW. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions, comments, etc. You can email me at or friend me on FACEBOOK. Here is a before picture just to give you somewhat of an idea where I was starting from. And then I discovered my WHY, and determined my HOW.                Do you like to run in a certain color? What color? Why?

7. June 2013 00:14
by jennifer

Jenny's June Giveaway

7. June 2013 00:14 by jennifer | 63 Comments

I am excited to share with you some great products for my June giveaway!! Feetures Brand Socks!! You all know how I love these socks!! It's all I wear. You will get to choose a pair of Elite brand socks (no compression) Frog Fuel Protein shot! This was awesome. I have never had liquid protein before and I loved how I could just keep it in my glove box and have a quick shot after my workout!! So easy!! They also have a pretty cool app where you can get 7 free workouts! BAMR band!! Great band that can easily transition from the gym to a lunch date with your husband or kids! Very trendy and cute!! Naturals Sweeteners this was a new to me sweetener and I really liked it! It is made from Stevia and Monk Fruit and I tried it during my down time from the Whole 30. It was great, not too sweet, but sweet enough. It's new to the market and right now you can only find it in Tampa and Orlando markets, or you can order it online (or you can win a prize pack from me!!) It's easy to win!! Just follow the directions on Rafflecopter!! Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

3. June 2013 20:30
by jennifer

Jenny's Top 5 Tips to Help You Lose Weight

3. June 2013 20:30 by jennifer | 27 Comments

People often ask me "Jenny, how did you lose all that weight and how have you kept it off?" Looking back on the past 4 1/2 years, I did a series of small things to tweak my diet that alone would not add up to 212 pounds, but together, they made a world of difference. Here are my TOP 5 tips to help you on your weight loss journey! 1. MEAL PLAN!! I learned very early on in my weight loss journey that if you fail to plan, then plan to fail! I plan all my family dinners, and have generally always had the same thing for breakfast and lunch. I also avoid eating out. Fast food meals and even “healthy” restaurant foods are not only higher in calories, but full of additives and flavorings. We also tend to eat more when we eat out. Preparing food and eating at home is cheaper, healthier, and more fulfilling. 2. MAKE FRUITS AS ACCESSIBLE AS CHIPS! Wash, cut up, and store fruits such as grapes, melon, kiwi, pineapple, and apples in reusable containers in the fridge so they're easy to grab. Make sure they're right up front at eye level so they're the first thing you see when you open the fridge door. I often buy my fruit already washed and cut-up and this makes it even easier for me to stay on plan! I also don't bring chips in the house!! Throw out or give away the junk because if it's not in your kitchen, you can't be tempted to eat it. 3. USE SMALLER SIZED PLATES! When we prepare a plate of food, we feel the need to fill it up completely. If you start out with a smaller-sized salad plate, there's only so much you can pile on, so you'll end up consuming fewer calories. 4. DRINK MORE WATER!!  I can't stress this one enough. You should always have your water bottle within arms reach. Try to drink 2 cups of water 20 minutes before each meal. And how much water should you drink? You should strive to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces every day. 5. TRACK TRACK TRACK! Write down every BLT (bite, lick, taste.) Sneak a handful of your kids' goldfish crackers while you are packing their lunch? Write it down. Sample a spoonful of mac & cheese just to make sure the noodles are cooked enough? Write it down. All those BLT's will ADD UP! There are plenty of free programs available online like My Fitness Pal, Spark People, or you can keep a journal with you and record it the good old fashioned way!!  Tracking really opened my eyes to how much I was really eating!   And there you have it! My top 5 tips to help you lose weight by making some simple tweaks to your diet!! You can "like" me on Facebook for more tips to help you on your path to a healthier lifestyle! I'd love to know if you try any of these and how they help you on your journey!

24. May 2013 22:42
by jennifer

Under Armour: What’s Beautiful

24. May 2013 22:42 by jennifer | 2 Comments

My participation in Under Armour’s What’s Beautiful competition as a Fitfluential Ambassador has become more than a campaign. It has become the inspiration and motivation to push harder, run, swim and, bike further and believe that I WILL! When FitFluential and Under Armour notified me that I had been selected for this campaign, my first step was to declare a goal. I thought about it. Should it be a CrossFit goal? A running goal? What? And then it hit me! I needed to set my goal to be a Personal Record (PR) for the Iron Girl triathlon in September. Throughout this year I have been letting my kids race with me, and they've been setting their own PR's while mine have taken a back seat. That's all fine and dandy, but my kids can't do Iron Girl, so I need to let this race be about ME! You can sign up as an individual or join teams on the What's Beautiful website. Their goal is to redefine the female athlete, and she doesn't have to have a  perfect body, run 6 minute miles, or train all day long. She can be a 42 year old mom, with 3 kids, and stretch marks.   And you know what...That is WHAT'S BEAUTIFUL!! Throughout the campaign there are different challenges that you can take. I've completed a few of them, but there are a LOT of challenges! Always something to strive towards!   Under Armour told me that they would be sending me clothing to train in, and I was so excited! Secretly I was hoping that whatever they would send me would be PINK but honestly I was just thrilled to be receiving anything at all! I don't own a single piece of Under Armour gear and have heard rave reviews about it. I was sitting on pins and needles anxiously awaiting and my then my box arrived!! And it was PINK!! And you know how I feel about pink!! This campaign doesn't require you to workout in Under Armour gear. Not even close. But it does require you to be committed to YOU!! And by training in PINK, my color of HOPE, it gives me the POWER to know that I WILL PR at Iron Girl. And that is What's Beautiful.