Journey To Sucess - Karen



"On March 31, 2014, I was the mom of five, four of whom were quadruplets, and I weighed an unhealthy 312 pounds!"

Karen Swantek had been overweight her entire life and had become accustomed to the discomfort; shocked stares of strangers and concerned looks of loved ones.

"I was blessed to have a loving husband, close friends, and a close relationship with God, but I was in pain daily from sciatica, bad knees, aching hips, and a host of other problems that go hand in hand with obesity, especially an internalized low self-esteem that I covered with a wicked sense of humor."

After two Coaches with OPTAVIA approached her about the program, Karen was skeptical, and due to her untrusting nature, she declined to participate. Finally, she tried the program in early 2014.

"I had reached the end of my own stubborn long rope, was sick of spinning my wheels, and being a poor role model to my children as well as a basically unhappy person despite my outward defensive humor."

After losing an amazing 154 pounds*, Karen decided she wanted to share this gift with others, and she became Coach.

"I had embarked upon a new lifestyle, one that was not merely satisfied with weight loss. It was a lifestyle of Optimal Health where weight loss was only a natural byproduct. It was a lifestyle where I could run, and jump, which most people take for granted (but not at 312 pounds)."

Currently Karen envisions a future world, where her story is not unique or rare, but where health through excellent nutrition, great activity, excellent sleep, financial freedom, and caring about others and being a part of OPTAVIA's Community is the norm!

"I know without a doubt that my future involves touching thousands of lives and making them better by doing so, just as her Coaches and Dr. Wayne Andersen have given me a life I could not have envisioned a mere three years ago."

How To Reduce Inflammation

Reduce-inflammation | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

We can do many things to help minimize the uncomfortable and often disabling effects of inflammation. A healthy lifestyle including diet, exercise, and good sleep habits are powerful tools in fighting swelling and other side effects.

Here are several ways from Dr. A's Habits of Health to refer to when trying to stave off inflammation.

  • Eat your vegetables. Ensure you incorporate greens like lettuce, and spinach, and/or cucumbers, which are low in calorie and full of water, into your daily meals. Get creative with your lean and green meals to keep inflammation at bay.
  • Control your stress. Save some time for yourself during the workday. Take a 20-minute walk at lunch to unwind; learn how to let the stress rebound off your body and leave your mind. You will instantly feel the rebounding affects.
  • Sleep more. Dr. Wayne Andersen calls for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Record your evening programs and watch them at a later time so you can get to bed earlier. This will help you work in extra time to your sleep schedule, and will keep inflammation from creeping in.
  • Get a massage. Just one massage can reduce inflammation. Research shows that a 45-minute Swedish massage can greatly lower levels of two key inflammation-promoting hormones, according to a study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Journey To Success - Laura

LauraGaffney.png | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

"Before I found this program, I felt trapped in my running shoes and chained to my treadmill."

As an exercise enthusiast and fitness professional, Laura Gaffney prided herself on keeping fit and being a role model in her community.

"I have to confess, however, this has never been as easy as I made it appear. I have done countless diets (some not so healthy) and food prep plans (time consuming and boring)."

In the summer of 2016, while training for her 7th marathon, Laura got off-course with her nutrition. Even while running about 50 miles per week, she managed to gain 30 pounds.

"The weight seemed to appear all at once and I was suddenly a prisoner in my overweight body. I felt so discouraged and frustrated. I was working so hard with running everyday - what more was there to do?"

When Laura found OPTAVIA, it brought her hope and eventually gave her a life back. "Along with the help of my Coach, Community and Habits of Health, I was able to transform myself in just a few months into a person I had never seen before! No amount of yoga, weight lifting, or cardio exercise had ever given me this type of athletic figure or leanness!"

With her BMI back in the healthy, normal range, Laura feels confident and believes she is a good role model for her Community and family. This new found confidence and determination equipped Laura with the tools necessary for her to become a Coach.

"It's wonderful to be able to concentrate on what matters most in my life. I have more time for relaxing and spending time with my family, now that I understand how simple, good nutrition will get my body to work for me instead of against me." Laura finally enjoys exercising for the mere fun of it instead of as a punishment to unhealthy habits.

Not only has Laura shed the weight off of her body and lost 40 pounds*, she has also removed the thought from her mind. She feels healthier and happier due to the healthy habits she has adopted and practices. A mother of three, Laura is now a role model to her children.

Laura looks forward to her journey ahead and spreading the mission of getting America healthy! "Now that I am an OPTAVIA Coach, I get to enjoy helping others and see them transform themselves. I feel I have finally found my life's true purpose! My heart sings when I see the joy on other's faces as they reach their goals!"

Beating Stress with Optimal Wellbeing

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Stress is something we all face on a daily basis, and it has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it.

What you do with your stress is what's important. Your journey to lifelong transformation is one way to counteract stress, but you can also beat it and achieve Optimal Wellbeing with these healthy activities.

  • Get a massage. Try to find 30 minutes to an hour per month and indulge yourself in a massage. There is nothing like human touch to get your blood flowing and promote feelings of well-being.
  • Practice yoga. With yoga you'll take away ways to overcome stress by building skills like deep breathing, stretching, and slowing down your mind, which you can practice during mini-breaks scheduled throughout your busy work day.
  • Disconnect with a warm bath. Step away from the hectic pace of life and relax for 20 minutes in a hot bath. A bath gives you built in time away from phone calls and emails, and you can make it more lavish with essential oils or scented Epsom salts.
  • Laugh. Go see or watch your favorite comedian, tell jokes around the dinner table, meet with friends and reminisce. There are many ways to find ways to laugh, and studies show that this is a verified way to reduce stress in the process!
  • Create a comfy and inviting home. Make small adjustments to de-stress your home such as playing relaxing music, placing plants and other fragrant flowers, hanging artwork, finding a place for meditation. You can also add a wind chime to your porch to relax yourself to sleep in the evenings.

Ask me for more details on how to de-stress your life, and achieve Optimal Wellbeing.

Keep Your Blood Sugar In Check

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Balanced blood sugar helps us to regulate overall energy levels, keep total weight in check, and prevent cravings that can lead to overeating. It is something we should all pay attention to on a daily basis as we strive for lifelong transformation, one healthy habit at a time™.

Outlined below are some daily habits and healthy regimens from that may help regulate your blood sugar.

  • Eat six times daily. According to Harvard Health, this is critical when it comes to balancing blood sugar. Meals that are more frequent (every 2-4 hours) can help you with taking the weight off, controlling hunger, reducing blood insulin and lowering cholesterol.
  • Balanced meals are important. On a daily basis, it's important to eat meals and snacks that contain select vegetables and the right amount of protein, as this provides good nutrition that will help you feel full while keeping blood sugar levels within normal ranges.
  • Keep moving. Exercise and movement also help to normalize blood sugar and promote weight maintenance. Try to work in 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise, such as walking, yoga, or Pilates per day. You'll see, and feel the difference.
  • Sleep is critical. Individuals with poor sleep habits may suffer from more erratic blood sugar levels. Aim for the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night to benefit your overall health and to keep your body fresh.

Click the link below to join this week’s Habits of Health Webinar, Balancing Blood Sugar, on Wednesday, March 7th at 8:30 p.m. ET, hosted by Jan Paxman, Certified OPTAVIA Coach, and Jennifer Christman, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Clinical Nutrition Director.

There Is Nothing Sweet About Diabetes . . .

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by Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen

One-hundred million. That’s a massive number, representing almost one-third of the American population, and it illustrates just how serious of a problem diabetes has become in the U.S.

Even worse, this trajectory is accelerating! Between 2010 and 2012, 3 million additional Americans developed diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This worrisome rise in diabetes—which can cause serious health complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, amputation of toes, feet, or legs, and premature death—will overwhelm our medical delivery system in the near future.

Click here for the full article

Control Of Your Portions

Part of this dynamic are the habits you have built and strengthened over years and years of repetition, and your body naturally prefers those familiar loops over something new. The other part of this dynamic is our caveman programming, which are hardwired survival behaviors that made a lot of sense when we were hunting and gathering to survive but are less practical in a world where food isn’t hard to find and where technology makes our lives easier with each passing day.

This leads to us answering questions from the field that follow a similar theme: How do I stick to healthy portions instead of overeating?

Click here to read the full article from my mentor, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen.

Beef Tenderloin with Asparagus

Beef-tenderloin-asparagus | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

* 2-½ lbs (37 medium 5-1/4” to 7” spears) asparagus
* 22-28 oz raw beef tenderloin (should yield two 5-oz servings, depending on desired doneness of beef; use higher end of starting weight for well-done and extra well-done beef)

* 2 Tbsp fresh parsley
* 2 tsp Dijon mustard
* 1 tsp olive oil
* 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
* 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
* ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
* 2 cloves garlic, minced

Marinade/rub: Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl, setting aside a small portion of mix to be used for asparagus. Rub beef tenderloin with mixture, then wrap beef in plastic wrap, refrigerate, and allow to marinate for 30 minutes. While meat is marinating, preheat grill to medium heat and prepare asparagus by washing and trimming ends. Lay asparagus spears on aluminum foil (leave excess aluminum foil at the edges). Sprinkle remaining marinade mix over asparagus spears. Add 1-2 Tbsp water. Fold foil by tucking ends and creating a “tent.” Place on grill, leaving ends folded. Grill beef 15-25 minutes or until desired doneness. Continue to cook asparagus until al dente (tender-crisp).

Makes 4 servings - Per serving: ½ Lean protein, 3 vegetables, 1 ½ condiments

Better Together!

Traci and her husband took control of their health, enjoying life again, and are never looking, or going back!!  They used the skills and new habits they learned during weight loss to continue on their healthy lifestyle.  "There is so much strength and support that comes with getting healthy together.  We are better together!!"

#TransformationTuesday - Friday addition.  (Sorry I just couldn't wait until Tuesday)

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Visualization . . . .

Visualization | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

. . . . is imagining yourself, looking out at the ideal result. It is the practice of envisioning your dreams as if they were already complete. As part of your health journey, it can be an invaluable tool in reaching your goal weight. Here are some visualization techniques that can help:

•    Create a visual picture. Find a photo of yourself at your goal weight if you have one. Or select a picture of someone or something that represents a target weight for you. Try posting that photo where you'll see it frequently throughout the day. This is an excellent way to visualize your "why" and keep focused on your goal.

•    Index cards. Your journey towards lifelong transformation is a series of small steps. You can use index cards to write down the steps you need to focus on.  Try reviewing your stack of cards every morning and evening. Visualize yourself completing each step. This will keep your transformation journey in the forefront of your mind as you go through each day.

•    Use affirmations to support your visualization. An affirmation is a statement that evokes not only a picture, but the experience of achieving that goal. An example: "I'm attending my wedding and people are telling me how beautiful I look!" Repeat it frequently as you continue your health journey, and look for small victories to celebrate on your way to a healthier life.

•    Expect results. Through writing down your goals, using the power of visualization, and repeating your daily affirmations, you will make great things happen. All of these techniques allow you to change your beliefs and opinions about yourself, which is essential for a successful health journey.


Visualization | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

Retrain Your Brain


Many of us use food as a centerpiece. Break the cycle and find foodless activities to help retrain your brain. Be mindful when cravings hit and try fun alternatives without food. Here are some ways to expand your toolbox.

  • Get outside. Free yourself of temptation and spend time in the great outdoors. Go for a walk, run, or hike to get your heart rate pumping. Tend to your garden or take a seat and let your senses soar.
  • Start a hobby. Knitting, reading, woodworking, photography. YouTube is filled with countless videos of fun activities to learn. Find a hobby that interests you and refocus your mind on learning.
  • Join a gym or exercise class. What better way to retrain your brain than focusing on healthy motion. Join a local gym or studio and get moving to help improve your mood and relieve stress.
  • Challenge your brain. Mind games are a great way to strengthen your brain. Dust off your puzzles and games or play a card game like Solitaire to distract your mind for a bit.
  • Support yourself with good self-care. Make time for relaxation to help decompress from the day and recharge. Treat yourself to a spa visit or weekend getaway. Or, spend time with friends and connect with others to buffer the effects of stress.

Pop on the Habits of Health call tonight, March 1st, and embrace the opportunities you have and redirect your focus. Cultivating healthy lifestyle habits can help you cope with obstacles that stand in your way. Retrain your brain during emotional times and enjoy foodless fun!

Journey To Success - Katie

Journey-to-success-katie | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

"The trilogy of health has come full circle for me - healthy body, healthy mind, and now healthy finances. This OPTAVIA program has been a gift to me, and I just want to share it!"

Katie Mitchell struggled with her weight since college, but through her recent journey to Optimal Health, she realized she always had a poor self-body image and an unhealthy relationship with food.

"Looking back at pictures of myself in high school, I wasn't overweight, but I thought I was. Once I started college, I did gain weight, and I gained even more after having my first baby and losing my mom to cancer."

Katie turned to food for comfort. She took some weight off before having her second child, but gained it back with pregnancy and stress. The turning point for her was the summer of 2016.

"My family and I took a vacation to the beach, and I saw pictures of myself in a bathing suit with my family. I thought, 'Is that really me?' So I decided something had to change. I needed to get healthy for myself and for my family. I needed to feel better, gain energy, and set a good example for my children."

At that time, Katie reached out to her OPTAVIA Coach. She knew she could help. She began her journey in September 2016, and in seven months she lost 65 pounds* and reached a healthy weight right before her birthday!

"The gift of health I gave to myself is priceless. This program is a lifestyle change, and I have learned how to have a healthy relationship with food. When I look at myself in the mirror, I am happy with who I see, and I no longer have to worry about what clothes to wear. I also feel well and have increased energy to keep up with my two young boys."

Katie's body feels better physically, and she doesn't get overwhelmed with daily tasks. She's experienced freedom in so many ways.

*Average weight loss for Clients on the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan® with support is 20 pounds. Clients are in weight loss, on average, for 12 weeks.

Breaking The Cycle

Break-the-cycle | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

Many of us have used food to bring temporary comfort to our existing emotions. If you find that your hunger cues are more emotional than physical, break the cycle and strategize. Here are several ways to help you and your family, create positive, long lasting behaviors to replace emotional eating:

  • Pack your house with healthy food. Clean your pantry! Rid your home of temptations and keep low-calorie, low-fat foods, such as fresh vegetables, around the house to munch on when needed. Set a good example for your family by enjoying healthier options. Before you go grocery shopping, take a breather, and wait until your emotions are in check.
  • Determine your triggers. Self-monitoring is key to identifying triggers for emotional eating. The next time you reach for comfort food, practice Stop. Challenge. Choose. In the moment, determine what emotions you're feeling. Are you scared or lonely? Keep a food diary or written record of your emotions and what, how much, and when you eat to help you correlate moods and food consumption.
  • Take a mindful pause when cravings hit. Delay eating for a moment and allow yourself to be fully present. Use this time to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What cues do you have from your body? Pausing gives you the opportunity to realize you have many choices for handling your feelings.
  • Find satisfying alternatives. Once you define your triggers, come up with alternative, healthy behaviors to satisfy your emotions long term. Feeling frustrated? Go for a walk! Bored? Distract yourself by calling a family member and meeting a friend for coffee. Keep the focus on fun and feeling good so that new, healthier habits are easier to adopt.
  • Celebrate success! Focus on the positive changes you make, one step at a time. Your small successes lead to bigger victories and you'll get better results with more encouragement! For example, praise yourself when you complete 30 minutes of healthy motion instead of reaching for a snack.

Join me for the Habits of Health call Wednesday, March 1st, if you are an emotional eater - this will be life-changing!

Brain Exercise

Just like exercise is important for your body, so is exercise for your BRAIN!  Brain exercises can help increase your brain’s cognitive reserve. Here are some ideas to keep it sharp.

•    Test your recall. Make a list of grocery items, things to do, or anything else you can think of. Then memorize it. Later in the day, test yourself to see how many items you can recall. Make items on the list as challenging as possible for the greatest mental stimulation.

•    Do math in your head. Figure out problems without using pencil, paper, or a calculator. Add difficulty by trying to walk at the same'll get some healthy motion in too!

•    Take a cooking class. Learn to cook a new, healthy dish. Cooking uses a number of senses: smell, touch, sight, and taste, which all involve using different parts of the brain.

•    Create word pictures. Visualize the spelling of a word in your head, then try to think of other words that begin (or end) with the same two letters.

•    Refine your hand-eye abilities. Take up a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills, such as knitting, drawing, painting, or doing a puzzle.

These are just a few ways to keep your brain working and refreshed. Healthy habits are rooted in the way you think. Strengthening your mental health goes a long way towards making your entire health journey a success!

Exercise-your-brain | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

Defining Your WHY

Defining-your-why.png | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

It's important to define your WHY when working towards specific objectives like lifelong transformation - one healthy habit at a time.™

Knowing your WHY will give you resolution, help you to stay driven, and can move your life onto an entirely new, more rewarding path.

To make progress in achieving your goals you will want to understand the reasons WHY you want to meet important milestones that you will encounter along your journey.

  • Ask WHY until you feel the answer. Reflect deeply on your WHY - get emotionally charged and establish the confidence you need to conquer your goals.
  • Develop a strong WHY. If you have an important goal, like lifelong transformation, it needs a big WHY so you can see your journey through from beginning until end.
  • Think about all the benefits your WHY will achieve. In addition to becoming healthy again, your WHY can lead to new habits like establishing fit finances and a strong mind and body.
  • Make sure it lives within your heart, and your mind. There are many reasons to get healthy. Have you listed them? Have you reviewed them? Do the benefits stir you with strong emotion? Engage your heart in the process to achieve your WHY.

Ask me what you can do today to increase your motivation and determination to achieve the goals you've set. I can help you find the WHY for each important goal.

Journey To Success - Nadia

Journey-to-success-Nadia |Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coac


“My life has changed. I now see the world as an amazing opportunity to share and care for others!”

Nadia would have never dreamed of becoming an OPTAVIA Coach™ as she had struggled with weight throughout her life. Depressed, Nadia felt like her unhealthy lifestyle was permanent. “I was a food addict.”

Growing up, Nadia was never taught healthy habits and therefore used food solely as a coping mechanism. “After many attempts on other programs, I would always gain the weight back.”

Scared and in need of change, Nadia sought help from her doctor who told her to try OPTAVIA.® After losing 120 pounds*, Nadia feels like a different person. “I’m on top of the world! My life has changed. I now see the world as an amazing opportunity to share and care for others!”

Consumed with joy, Nadia can now be herself. She has finally stepped out of her shell and enjoys life. “I’m always smiling and laughing. When talking to everyone I meet, I know it’s important to invest in friendships and relationships.”

“The OPTA Community has loved and encouraged me.” Nadia has made lasting friendships with like-minded, positive people who understand what she has been through and support her. She learned Dr. A’s Habits of Health system along with healthy habits she never knew. “I have replaced my old, bad habits with new, healthy habits that sustain me mentally and physically.”

“I want to spread the message of hope to everyone. There is a solution!”

*Average weight loss for Clients on the Optimal Weight 5 & 1 Plan® with support is 20 pounds.

Celebrate With Non-Food Rewards

Take Care of You!

It's important to recognize your healthy eating and exercise accomplishments along your journey to lifelong transformation. And it's best to enjoy yourself with non-food rewards to keep you on track.

Why do rewards matter? Because when you celebrate your accomplishments, you remind yourself that your goals are attainable.

Each of these rewards celebrates health and promotes wellbeing. Schedule them throughout your journey and feel good about yourself every step of the way.

  • Schedule a massage! There is no better way to spoil your body. If you're on a budget, ask your spouse or partner to give you a massage.
  • Visit a personal trainer. Reinvigorate your workout routine. Hire a personal trainer for a single session or a series of sessions to learn new moves, change your program, or simply to bolster your motivation.
  • Take a day off work! Don't forget about those extra personal days you have stashed away. Take the day off to read a good book, discover new recipes, visit a museum, or get a manicure or pedicure.
  • Try a new haircut! When is the last time you changed your hairstyle? A new cut can boost your confidence immediately. Or if you already have a hairstyle that you like, invest in a blowout or hair color.
  • Take a day trip! A weekend getaway or a luxurious vacation is a fantastic way to celebrate. Pack the car and head to the mountains for a day of skiing with the family. Or grab your friends and head out on a hike for an afternoon of fun!

Ask me about other ways to reward yourself without food, and be sure to take advantage of these opportunities to celebrate YOU without compromising your personal journey to Optimal Health.

celebrate-with-non-food-rewards | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

Sweet Lime Sriracha Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Sweet-lime-sriracha-chicken | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

• 36oz raw chicken cutlets, diced
• 6 cups lettuce for wraps
• 1 cup grape tomatoes
• ¼ avocado
• 1 cup green onion
• ½ cup cilantro
• 1 tsp lime

Marinade Ingredients:
• 4 tsp lime juice
• 5 tsp Sriracha sauce
• 1 Tbsp Splenda (Optional)
• 1/4 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1/4 tsp chili powder
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
• 1 Tbsp water
• 2 tsp olive oil

1. Combine marinade ingredients well.
2. Place in medium glass bowl (cover), or gallon ziploc. Add diced chicken cutlets.
3. Marinate 4 hours, or overnight, refrigerated, turning to coat occasionally.
4. Cook chicken in large, med-high preheated sauté pan, with 2 tsp olive oil.
5. Sauté uncovered until cooked through and the outside is crispy, about 6-8 minutes.
6. Serve immediately with lettuce leaves, tomato, avocado, green onion, cilantro, and fresh lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings
Each serving provides:
1 Leaner
1 Healthy Fat
3 Green
3 Condiments


Four Milestone Goals To Strive For

Four-milestones-to-strive-for | Pam Bredenkamp | Health Coach

Celebrating your Journey Step-by-Step:

When it comes to weight loss, a steady pace towards lifelong transformation is best for long term results and optimization.

It can be helpful to break up that overarching goal into smaller, "milestone" achievements along the way. Envisioning these milestones, and giving yourself recognition when you meet them, lets you reward yourself for the small changes and will help keep you on Plan.

Below are four notable milestones to set along the way:

  • Your first progress compliment. "You look great!" or "Have you lost weight recently?" are fabulous comments that you're likely to hear on your journey to lifelong transformation. Commemorate these comments by recording them in a gratitude journal or even on a post-it that you can stick on your mirror to read whenever you need to!
  • You notice YOU on camera. And it makes you feel proud and confident. Post that photo and enjoy the praise of others. Update your framed photos and put new ones around the house. Why not celebrate how amazing you look and feel with a professional photo shoot?
  • You overcome a plateau. If you prepare yourself for the idea that plateaus happen, and are temporary, you'll be better prepared to stay on track if/when you experience one. The best thing we can do is to remind ourselves that we are doing the right things but to also take advantage of the support and resources that are always available to you, like me, your OPTAVIA Coach.
  • You revisit your Why. This will remind you of the progress you desire in achieving your goals by inspiring yourself with the reasons why you want to continue on this journey to lifelong transformation - one healthy habit at a time™!

This list offers some meaningful ideas you can write down and commemorate on your journey to lifelong transformation, making it easier to achieve Optimal Health. Contact me for other suggestions along the way!