Never miss your favorite shows with TV everywhere

Portrait of man with son using digital tabletDo you want to watch TV anywhere? With new, faster broadband speeds from PRTC, you can now watch TVeverywhere.

Broadband from PRTC is now faster than ever, and with the addition of a new service called TVeverywhere, you never have to miss your favorite shows again. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the ballpark or on vacation; with TVeverywhere from PRTC, you can watch all your shows from a mobile device while you are on the go.

“The upgrades and the new service really work hand in hand,” says Jeff Bingham, a video services supervisor with PRTC. “Our new, faster speeds mean more services, and TVeverywhere is just one of the many enhancements made possible by fiber technology.”

TVeverywhere would not be possible without advanced broadband speeds, which PRTC can now deliver. The service allows you to catch your favorite television programs even when you are away from your TV. You can view your TV shows anytime, anywhere on your favorite devices — home computers, smartphones, tablets and more.

With more than 40 channels and hundreds of programs — including A&E, ESPN, Fox, The NFL Network, The History Channel, TNT, Disney and TBS — TVeverywhere is a great example of how PRTC’s fiber to the home project is enriching your life and making technology work for you.

“There is a great variety of programing available to you anywhere you are on your mobile device,” says Erik Wiggs, headend  technician.

PRTC’s slowest speed is now 6 Mbps, which is four times faster than what was possible before the fiber optic network.

“It was very difficult to offer anything faster than 1.5 Mbps with our copper network,” Bingham says. “Now that we have completed our fiber buildout, every subscriber has the capability of almost unlimited speed.”

PRTC’s new speed upgrades are offered at no additional cost to the customer.

For more information about TVeverywhere or your broadband speed, contact PRTC at 606-287-7101.

PRTC now offers Internet speeds of 6 Mbps, 15 Mbps, 25 Mbps, 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps

Which speed is right for you? Simply put, the more devices you have connected, the more speed you need.

Think about Internet speeds like this: for a young couple without children, a two-door car usually meets their needs. But if they add three children and two dogs, they are going to need to upgrade to a bigger vehicle.

The same is true with your Internet connection. A connection that worked fine for a single computer to check email and browse the Web needs an upgrade to handle two laptops, four smartphones and a tablet — especially if you are taking advantage of video services and want to avoid waiting on data to download.

  • 6 Mbps/1 Mbps $35.95 (Formerly 1.5 Mbps/512K)
  • 15 Mbps/3 Mbps $45.95 (Formerly 6 Mbps/1 Mbps)
  • 25 Mbps/5 Mbps $55.95 (Formerly 10 Mbps/3 Mbps & 20 Mbps/3 Mbps)
  • 50 Mbps/5 Mbps $79.95 (Residential Price Change from $149.95)
  • 100 Mbps/5 Mbps $99.95 (Residential Price Change from $245.95)

PRTC Wi-Fi Connection: Is your home Connected?

How to set up a Wi-Fi network to share your broadband Internet connection between your computers, gaming systems, smartphones and other new devices

bigstock-Mobile-devices-icon-49882307Santa may have delivered those long-awaited tech gifts, like a tablet, game system or new computer. Maybe you were really good and will soon be streaming Netflix on a 4K flat screen TV. But perhaps Mr. Claus was too busy to set up your wireless network and connect the growing number of device. By following a few simple tips, you can set up your own Wi-Fi network and get the most out of your new gadgets and your PRTC Internet connection.

Why Wi-fi?

Wireless networks have always been convenient for laptop users, but now more and more products are designed to access the Internet through Wi-Fi. These include televisions and printers, of course, but also less obvious devices such as bathroom scales and toy helicopters. Once you set up your home network, you can enjoy the full functionality of all your Wi-Fi enabled devices — along with whatever new gadgets are coming next.

Imagine doing Internet research and printing documents using your laptop — all from the comfort of your couch. What about playing video games online with friends across the state or around the world? A wireless network, coupled with the power of a PRTC Broadband connection, will even allow you to stream music, movies and television programming on your tablets, televisions or iPods.

Connect your devices

Once the network is up and secure, try connecting your devices. You will need to enter your security password on each device you want to connect. Most computers and smartphones have an easily accessed network settings menu where the password can be entered.

Televisions, Blu-ray players and game systems have similar menus, but you will also need to open programs like Pandora or Netflix and follow a few more steps to link the apps with your account. Wireless-enabled printers can be a little tricky, so follow your printer’s instructions carefully to properly configure the settings.

Lock it up

The next step is setting up security to prevent unwanted users from logging onto your network. These freeloaders can slow down your connection speed by using up bandwidth or, worse, use your network for illegal purposes.

Follow the instructions with your router’s software to enable security features like password protection and encryption. Store your password in a safe place, because you will need it to connect your devices to the wireless network.

As an extra precaution, be sure the firewalls are activated on any computer you plan to connect to your Wi-Fi network.

Need more range?

Companies like Cisco and Netgear offer Wi-Fi extenders that can expand your wireless network. The units, which sell for between $60 and $100, are easily installed within your existing wireless area. They push signals to sections of your home or yard that the original router cannot reach, and are useful to extend Wi-Fi service to outbuildings or cover distant rooms in large homes.

A wireless network can greatly enhance the benefit you receive from your PRTC broadband Internet connection.

For more information about setting up a wireless network for PRTC’s Internet service, call 606-287-7101.

Welcome to your Smart Rural Community

Focus on building a fiber network earns PRTC a national award and an invitation to the White House

By Brian Lazenby

PRTC CEO Keith Gabbard recently visited the White House as part of PRTC being honored as a Smart Rural Community.

PRTC CEO Keith Gabbard recently visited the White House as part of PRTC being honored as a Smart Rural Community.

At its core, the most important value PRTC provides is community service. PRTC is comprised of a team of individuals who work each day to make the entire region a better place to live, work and raise a family.

The cooperative was recently honored at the national level for its work. PRTC was awarded the Smart Rural Community award by NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association. The Smart Rural Community program was created as a way to recognize cooperatives that are promoting and using broadband networks to foster innovative economic development, education, health care and government services.

“It’s quite an honor to be named a Smart Rural Community,” says Keith Gabbard, PRTC’s CEO. “This award not only acknowledges our work to build this modern infrastructure, but it also shines a spotlight on how leaders in this region are using that technology to foster economic growth, improve health care and advance opportunities in education.”

The communities served by PRTC are rich with hardworking residents and pristine natural beauty. However, the region is also plagued with poverty stemming from a lack of industry and jobs. That was a driving factor behind PRTC’s decision to build  a state-of-the-art fiber to the home network.

As a result, all the homes and businesses in PRTC’s Jackson and Owsley service area will have access to fiber technology. This network allows PRTC to offer broadband Internet, television, phone service and more across a network that provides speeds rivaling (and even exceeding) what much larger telecommunications companies are able to provide in metro areas.

PRTC’s work to build its fiber network was only part of what earned the cooperative the Smart Rural Community designation. An important component to the award was PRTC’s efforts to foster partnerships throughout the communities it serves to help citizens benefit from the technology.

“Building the network is just half the battle,” says Gabbard. “Fiber technology only starts to change lives when people understand how to use it. Through our relationships with schools, health care providers, businesses and local governments, we are creating a powerful coalition of leaders who can help put the power of broadband to work here in Eastern Kentucky — and improve the quality of life for our citizens.”

Gabbard speaks to a panel of communications officials while in Washington, D.C., about PRTC’s technology.

Gabbard speaks to a panel of communications officials while in Washington, D.C., about PRTC’s technology.

Following the announcement that PRTC was one of only 13 companies nationwide to receive the Smart Rural Community designation, Gabbard and Operations Manager Michael Stidham were invited to Washington, D.C., to a meeting of the White House Rural Council.

“It was a great experience to visit the White House and talk about the impact this cooperative is having in Eastern Kentucky,” says Gabbard. “Several NTCA staff members were there, including CEO Shirley Bloomfield, along with the CEOs of other rural telecommunications companies like ours. Being able to visit the White House and tell our story was a great opportunity for PRTC and all our members.”

Being a Smart Rural Community is about more than simply building a fiber network. The following stories show how broadband technology is making a difference in this region; these examples were part of the reason NTCA selected PRTC for this honor.

Business

Business_3922Phoenix Products, a federal contractor in Annville that manufactures aeronautical parts, relies on broadband every day to conduct business.

“We have large amounts of data to transmit to vendors and customers,” says Tom Wilson, president of Phoenix. “Our broadband service has made a significant difference and has clearly given us an advantage over our competitors.”

“PRTC’s broadband allowed us to play with the big boys,” he adds.

Teleworks USA is a company that helps find jobs for its clients, most of which require the employee to work from home. The company located here because of PRTC’s high-capacity broadband.

“The backbone that this service provides allows Teleworks to serve up to 20 teleworkers simultaneously in both training and live call modes,” says Teleworks President Tom Higgins. “The speed at which our Annville hub operates is scary fast.”

Health care

White House Clinic, a private, not-for-profit health care corporation with a branch in McKee, credits PRTC’s high-speed network with making it possible to offer new services at branches throughout the region. WH_0778

“During the past decade, our reliance on a reliable broadband network has increased exponentially as we continue to develop our Electronic Medical Records system,” says White House CEO Stephanie Courtright Moore.

White House has expanded to eight locations in five counties and uses broadband to keep the branches connected.

“Connectivity between these sites is essential for communication and day-to-day business processes,” Moore says.

Cumberland River Comprehensive Care, a local behavioral health care provider, has added telemedicine to the services it offers. Specifically, psychiatrists from Louisville and Mount Vernon are available via telemedicine to offer treatment.

Education

JCHS_0564PRTC provided a fiber broadband connection to the new Jackson County High School. The school has a computer lab in the library, and the entire campus is connected by a Wi-Fi network. Teachers are using interactive boards  that provide instant feedback from students.

Jackson County High School Principal Keith Hays says the new technology means a better learning environment. “This is about 21st-century learning,” he says. “If you don’t have the Internet, you are going to get left behind.”

Schools in Owsley County are using broadband to allow students to learn from home, which helps them make up for missed days due to illness or inclement weather. The Snow Bound Program allows them to connect to their classroom from home, when they can’t get to the school due to icy roads. They are also benefiting from distance learning, which gives students access to courses and subjects not available at the school.

Economic impact

Booneville Water and Sewage System and Jackson County Water Association are using PRTC’s broadband to operate more efficiently and with fewer employees, which is vital for rural water companies trying to stretch their dollars and keep rates low. The presence of a reliable, affordable water source is not only a matter of public health, but it is also vital to attracting businesses to an area. Booneville_0952

PRTC’s fiber network is already positively impacting the community, and cooperative leaders believe more companies like Phoenix Industries and Teleworks will locate here to take advantage of the Internet speed — and bring much-needed jobs with them.

“The Smart Rural Community designation will help our community continue to differentiate itself and attract new residents and businesses to strengthen our region,” Gabbard says.

LOOK UP!

Step outside and look up. You may see a valuable system of poles and wires — a system that delivers important telecommunications services to you and your neighbors. Telephone. Internet. And in some cases, even Digital TV.

Damage to this network can interrupt critical services to dozens or even hundreds of families in your neighborhood and beyond.

We are asking for your help in protecting this valuable investment.

Please “Look Up!” before you shoot!

When you lift that gun, make sure utility lines are not in your line of sight. When a utility line is broken, it has to be spliced back together — a time-consuming and expensive task.

PRTC congratulates winning shutterbugs

PRTC would like to congratulate the winners of its 2014 photo contest: The Beauty that Surrounds our Country Homes.

Angela Byrd of Waneta took both first and second places with two entries. Her first place entry is a photo of a horse that she has titled, “What’s for Dinner?” Her second-place photo is of a Kentucky sunrise that she calls “Good Morning.”

Hannah Turner of Annville took the third-place prize with a photo of a snow-covered road winding through a wooded Kentucky hillside.

The rules for the contest mandated that the photos be in color, and they must be taken in either Jackson or Owsley County. Winners will also be announced on the PRTC website, social media sites and any other form of PRTC media.

Stay tuned for more information about the 2015 contest when it becomes available.

Helping you build the life you want

By Keith Gabbard
Chief Executive Officer
 
Keith Gabbard

Keith Gabbard

Why do you live in rural America? Maybe it’s family connections. Maybe it’s the close sense of community and the importance of tradition. Maybe it’s because you enjoy a quality of life in this area that would be difficult to find in a metro region.

Whatever your reasons, the people who work at PRTC understand that we play an important role in helping you build the life you want here. As your local telecommunications provider, we know you depend on us to supply the technology you need to stay connected. And that is becoming more important as our world grows increasingly dependent on broadband connections and Internet-based solutions.

Some might think that living in a rural area means sacrificing access to technology. We are proud that, as a member of  PRTC, you do not have to sacrifice at all. In fact, because of our focus on building a state-of-the-art network, you have access to Internet speeds higher than those available to some people living in larger cities.

The results have been rewarding. Not only are we impacting lives, but your cooperative has received national recognition for these efforts. As you read in the previous issue, we are the recipient of a national Smart Rural Community award. On Pages 8-9 of this issue you will find the full story of that award, including our visit to the White House to talk about our work to bring fiber technology to the region. You’ll also see examples of the relationships we’ve built that helped earn us the recognition.

Throughout the year you will see feature stories that shine a spotlight on the impact a robust broadband network can have on a community. These will be marked by the Smart Rural Community logo.

Of course, we still have many challenges. While just over 19 percent of the U.S. population lives in a rural region, almost half of Americans who are not connected to the Internet are rural. That means there are still millions of rural Americans who are missing opportunities made possible by a broadband connection. From education and jobs to health care and family connections, they have yet to discover what so many of their neighbors have already learned — that a broadband connection can help them build a better life.

That is one of our biggest challenges as your technology leader. Building a broadband network is only the first step; we must also help you understand how to use it. The magazine you are reading now plays an important role in those efforts. We choose the stories for this magazine very carefully. We include subjects that appeal to a broad range of readers with a variety of interests. We can almost guarantee that during the course of a year you will be drawn to something in these pages, no matter what your interests may be. And whether it’s a profile on a local person with a unique hobby or business, a story on how someone is using technology, or a feature on a road trip, these have the mission of helping you learn to put our services to practical use in your life.

Living in rural America really is all about being connected. At PRTC we are proud to provide the technology that makes many of those connections possible.

Recipes on the wild side

Gator Roll-Ups

Pinwheell0807There are no exact amounts in this recipe. It all depends on how much gator tail you have.

  • Bacon
  • Alligator tail pieces cut 1 inch wide and 4 inches long
  • Cream cheese
  • Prosciutto ham
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • Barbecue sauce

Prepare smoker. Place a slice of bacon on cutting board or other clean surface. Place one piece of gator tail on bacon, then top with cream cheese, a thin slice of ham and a slice of cheese. Roll up and secure bacon with toothpick. Repeat with remaining gator pieces. Place roll-ups in smoker and smoke for 45 minutes at 300°. Serve with barbecue sauce.

WILD TURKEY 101

  • Uncooked strips of wild turkey breast, cut into 6- by 1- by 4-inch strips
  • Equal number strips of brown-sugar bacon
  • Pepper Jack cheese slices
  • Prosciutto ham slices

Place turkey strip on a slice of bacon. Cut a square slice of pepper jack into 3 strips; place two on top of turkey. Add 1 slice of ham and top with third cheese strip. Roll into a pinwheel and secure with toothpick. Season to taste with your favorite seasonings. Put three roll-ups on a kabob skewer. Grill on top of foil at 320° for 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes. Remove from foil and cook over exposed fire or coals for a few minutes to caramelize.

Elk Quesadillas

  • 1 pound ground elk meat
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can black beans
  • Tortillas
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Garnishes: cilantro, salsa, sour cream, avocado, sliced jalapeno peppers

Preheat oven to 400°. Heat olive oil in pan and add onions, garlic and meat. Once meat is broken up, add spices. Saute peppers in a separate pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add beans after peppers are fork-tender. Place meat, peppers, beans and cheese onto half a tortilla. Fold in half and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Place on a wire rack in the oven or the grill and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and garnish with desired toppings.

Venison Chili

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Salt, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 10 slices cooked bacon, diced
  • 2 pounds venison (deer) stew meat, ground or finely diced
  • 2 cups kidney or black beans, cooked and drained

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and saute for 2 to 3 more minutes. Then stir in the red wine, vinegar, tomato paste, chicken stock, cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder and salt. Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by about half.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the bacon and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the bacon is browned. Move the bacon to one side of the skillet and add the venison to the empty side of the skillet. Season the meat with salt, to taste, and saute the meat for 15 minutes or until well browned. Stir in the beans and toss all together. Transfer this mixture to the simmering pot. Mix everything together thoroughly and let simmer for another half hour. Serve in bowls with garnishes, such as sliced green onions, shredded cheese and sour cream on the side.

 

Game time!

By Anne P. Braly

Mike Page demonstrates his grill skills with some mouth-watering gator roll-ups.

Mike Page demonstrates his grill skills with some mouth-watering gator roll-ups.

There are more tricks to cooking wild game than pulling a rabbit from a hat, and it takes a seasoned cook and avid hunter, such as Mike Page of New Hope, Alabama, to get it right.

Page, pitmaster of Bootlegg BBQ located in New Hope, and a longtime competitor on the wild game cook-off circuit, was the 2013 grand champion of the Alabama Wildlife Federation Wild Game Cook-Off held in Tuscumbia, Alabama. His dish, Elk Tex-Mex, was the best overall of 31 entries.

So it goes without saying … he’s wild about game.

“I was around 8 years old when my dad first started taking me hunting,” he says. With that came an important lesson: “He taught me that if you kill an animal, you have to eat it.”

So by the time he was a teenager, Page began cooking meat on his own. Early on, he learned the age-old, time-honored tricks of the trade: how to lessen the flavors of meats with heavy, gamey flavors; how to marinate tougher cuts; and which meats taste best grilled, smoked or fried. But the name of the game for most of Page’s meats is low and slow: low heat and slow cooking.

“When I’m cooking wild game, most people will ask what it is,” he says. “And they always like it when they try it, especially when I’m cooking more exotic meats, such as bear and gator. They really want to try that.”

GATOR, ANYONE? — Dinner is definitely never boring when Mike Page is in charge of the menu. The pitmaster of Bootlegg BBQ is also a wild game cook-off grand champion.

GATOR, ANYONE? — Dinner is definitely never boring when Mike Page is in charge of the menu. The pitmaster of Bootlegg BBQ is also a wild game cook-off grand champion.

As for technique, Page readily admits that cooking wild game is a bit tougher than preparing farm-raised meats for the table.

“You have to pay attention to your dish,” he says with a nod toward Mother Nature. “Wild game doesn’t come in a package with instructions.”

Most wild game meats require marinating, but what marinade is used depends on the type of meat. All wild game is different and has different textures, Page explains.

“You have to marinate the meat, but be careful not to overdo it,” Page warns. “I like to taste more of the natural flavors of the meat, and I’ve found that others do, too.”

Mike Page’s suggestions for marinades:

  • Combine 3/4 cup apple juice, 1/3 cup oil, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons fresh sage and 1 teaspoon salt (good for bear, elk and venison).
  • Mix the amount of Worcestershire sauce you need with some Montreal steak seasoning (good for elk, venison and duck).
  • Red wine with crushed garlic (good for venison and elk).
  • Mix together 1 can beer, 2 cups Worcestershire, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic salt and black pepper (good for almost any game meat).
Anne P. Braly

Anne P. Braly

 

 

Staying connected to those New Year’s resolutions

By Matt Ledger

It’s that time of year again — New Year’s resolutions. Some face them with dread, while others resolve to try a bit harder than last year.

Statistically, most resolutions revolve around cutting out the sweets, reinstating gym memberships or trying out another aspect of fitness, but there are many other ways to enhance our lives. Maybe less Facebook and more face time with those friends? You might even include them in your next selfie. It’s easy to let technology distract you, but it can also be used as an incredible tool for time management, goal setting, fiscal planning and of course tracking exercise.

Organization — Trello
Playing games flat icons setDon’t you wish you could have that kitchen dry erase board in your pocket to remind you of that errand you just forgot or that key ingredient from the recipe? Sure, you could just write another Post-it note, but your smartphone can allow you to edit, sync, upload photos and even assign tasks to other family members. Trello is a cloud-based app that you can use to organize the tasks of a big project and/or the daily routine. Users create color-coded boards, with lists of prioritized tasks that are easily dragged to the completed column to track your weekly progress. Trello is used by tech clients at Google, PayPal and Kickstarter.

Budget and finance — Mint.com Playing games flat icons set
Just about everyone could do a little better managing their money in 2015. To track those finances and budget your spending, Mint.com offers free tracking software to electronically monitor investments, purchases and income. Mint, from the makers of TurboTax, Quicken and QuickBooks, has encrypted security equal to your bank. Just like those major credit cards, the system will alert you of unusual account purchases, spending trends and if you exceed your budgets.

Fitness — Mobile apps
FitnessSpeaking of investments, improving your overall health is an investment in your future. Being healthy helps parents stay active with their kids and pays many dividends later on during retirement. To get started, try the 7-minute workout app by Johnson and Johnson, which coaches you through dozens of simple home exercises. Once that becomes routine, you can escape to the nearest park and use the RunKeeper or MapMyFitness apps to track how many miles you run or bike.

Volunteerism —
createthegood.org & handsonnetwork.org Volunteer
While the first three areas focus on yourself, many people make resolutions to help in their communities to make the spirit of the season last well beyond New Year’s Day. The websites createthegood.org and handsonnetwork.org allow people to search for local volunteer programs. Some current projects are seeking volunteers for everything from youth tutors to repairs at homeless shelters to mentors to helping the elderly. Having your own budget or fitness in order is great, but nothing gives you that feeling of satisfaction quite like helping others

Featured Blogger: Woman on a Journey

Health & Fitness

Photo Frame CollectionA Q&A with Shelley bowman, a blogger from Texas who has been inspiring readers with her story of weight loss and fitness since 2008

What do readers find at your blog?

Shelley Bowman: Ramblings of someone who has managed not only to lose a large amount of weight — 100 pounds — but who is also keeping it off. This is a bigger victory to me than the initial weight loss. After all, hasn’t just about everyone lost weight at one point, only to regain it?

What are some tips for those interested in losing weight and becoming fit?

SB: Stop eating fast food. Stop getting your meals handed out a drive-thru window. Track your food on a daily basis. I used MyFitnessPal.com. Put it all in there: the good, the bad and the ugly. Go for a 15-minute walk to start. Move daily. All the things you hear, like parking farther away and taking the stairs, add up.

How can someone new to running get started? before, one year, two year

SB: Get fitted at a running store for a good pair of shoes. The right shoes can make or break you. Then go for a short walk, and at the end, try a slow run for 30 seconds. Gradually transition to running a little more each time; don’t go crazy and try to run a mile if you’ve never run before because that’s a good way to get shin splints; then you’ll end up hurting and not wanting to run. Also, finding a friend to run with 

makes a big difference for me. Knowing that you’re going to meet someone to run helps to make sure you actually do it.

How do you stay motivated?

SB: I feel so much better now that I’m not carrying 100 extra pounds. I have a different lifestyle, too. I’m much more active, and I like being able to run or walk without feeling like I’m going to die. Continuing to eat right most of the time keeps me in check; I honestly don’t like how I feel when I overindulge.

What are some of your favorite healthy foods?

SB: You should have a few go-to meals where you can eat healthy without having to think about what you are preparing. For me, it’s nonfat Greek yogurt (I love Fage), either fresh berries or Craisins, and some homemade granola. If I’m out of my granola, I like the Kind brand. For dinner, I like to make black bean tacos using corn tortillas, fresh pico de gallo and a little Parmesan cheese. Snacks range from watermelon or pineapple in the summer, to raw almonds and a little bit of dried cherries. And sometimes an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter. I also drink a lot of water daily and try to have a glass right before I snack — it makes me fuller so I don’t overdo it.

Why did you become a blogger, and how has blogging changed your life?

SB: I became a blogger when I started my last diet. I wanted to remember how hard I worked to get the weight off, so this time I would actually keep it off. I had no idea how much blogging would connect me with other like-minded people who were doing the same thing. The most important thing was finding a couple of bloggers who had lost over 100 pounds and were keeping the weight off. I was very overwhelmed in the beginning, but finding others who had succeeded gave me hope. And I hope I’m able to give that to the new person who is just starting their journey to weight loss and fitness.

Check out her blog…www.MyJourneyToFit.com

Other health and fitness blogs you might like:

  • www.DashingDish.com
. Besides fitness ideas, this blog is “a place to find healthy alternatives to the food you crave.”
  • www.ComeBackMomma.com
. This fitness coach shares her “continued journey to be the best woman, wife and mother that I can be.”

Whatever your interest, there is likely an online community of people who share that interest with you. Our “Featured Blogger” series introduces you to people who write online websites about a variety of topics. In the March/April issue, we’ll focus on home/DIY projects.