Real life Heartland stories of New Year's resolution success

Real life Heartland stories of New Year's resolution success
Nathan Pullen, before and after weight loss.
Nathan Pullen, before and after weight loss.
David Ruedrich
David Ruedrich
Brooke Uchtman and her family.
Brooke Uchtman and her family.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Are you trying to get fit in 2014? How do you stick to New Year's resolutions? It was the number one priority for viewers when asked about their goals for the year. 

With that in mind, we asked for real life success stories from people who knew the feeling of being overwhelmed, and not knowing how to start. 

One of those women was Kristi Burns of Poplar Bluff. In a year and a half, she lost about half her size: from 303 pounds to 160 pounds! 

In her own words, here's how Kristi says she made it happen:  "I have gone from 303 pounds to 160 pounds.  I would have to say most of my success is due to determination and belief in myself. I had to believe this was possible." 

"I didn't set mini goals like some suggested because I wanted this to be a lifetime change. The most important thing I did is count calories. I used an app called 'My Fitness Pal' to track calories in and out. The trick is to use an online calculator to find your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and never eat below that."

"Eating too little can be counterproductive. The point is to build muscle and burn fat. Eating too little will cause your body to use muscle for fuel. You need to eat enough to give you energy through the day and take in lean sources of protein to build muscle. Do not be afraid to lift weights! When you build muscle, your body burns more calories at rest. You will look leaner also. Another reason to eat plenty is so you aren't feeling so ravenous you end up eating way too much when you can't take it anymore. It's too hard to stick to a new lifestyle feeling hungry all the time.  That is why I think so many people give up. "

"Learn the difference between real hunger and emotional hunger. And exercise is imperative! Start out small and work your way up. And always push yourself past what you think your limit is. I can guarantee you can always do more. Do one more minute, another half a lap, etc.   In the beginning I had to force myself to exercise but now my body craves it.  I won't lie, sometimes I still have to make myself work out even when I don't want to. Exercise buddies help but only if you are about the same fitness level. Otherwise it can turn too competitive or be discouraging for one partner. Hiring a trainer is also a good idea but isn't necessary." 

Fitness experts like Jack Hambree of HealthPoint Fitness in Cape Girardeau says Burns is exactly right.

 "You have to eat enough to fuel those muscles and develop your body," said Burns. "It's all balance. She made a commitment and that's great. That's what you have to do. Just take that first step. Also find a workout you enjoy." 

For Burns, she says one of her favorite workout is Zumba, a dance inspired cardio routine. 

Meanwhile in Sikeston, Nathan and Cody Pullen are brothers who collectively lost over 90 pounds. 

"I was over 200 pounds a year ago, said Nathan Pullen. "I wanted to do more races with my brother. Now Cody is down 50 pounds and I'm down 40. We made friends at the gym and our buddy David Ruedrich lost 100 pounds. He has more time for his kids now, and we also started working out without friend Dwayne Davis. It's a new lifestyle and it's great to do it with friends." 

How did they make it happen? 

"We just stay consistent in the gym," said Nathan Pullen. "We workout everyday and eat a healthy diet. That's it. Everybody thinks they can't do it but you can!" 

There's also busy mom, Brooke Uchtman of Jackson.

On maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Brooke Uchtman says it's all about sticking to it and working together as a family, no matter how busy you are.

"My husband, Matt Uchtman, is a chiropractor in Cape at Elevation Chiropractic, we have two children Madison, 4 1/2, and Avery, 2 1/2. Let me tell you we weren't always like this," Uchtman said of the family's lifestyle.

"During the time we attended SEMO I can remember eating a cookie for lunch and thinking that must be ok, because it was just one cookie. My husband was not any better and he has even lost 70 pounds from the time he was in high school. I'll skip the details about what he used to eat, some of his concoctions included mayo and cheesy crackers-YUCK."

Brooke Uchtman explained for their family it was a long process but they kept trying to find balance and now it's all worth it.

"Matt started learning more and more about negative effects of having poor health as he was attending Logan College of Chiropractic. As he began learning he began changing to reflect this new-found knowledge. As he changed I slowly got on board too. After his schooling he started practicing chiropractic in accordance to Maximized Living standards. They help people to be healthy in five areas of their life through mind set, adjustments, nutrition, exercise, and detoxing (diet and environmental stuff)," she said.

She explained by sticking to those principal priorities they began their journey and hope to help others with the same concepts.

"We became armed with the knowledge of how we should live we try to instill this knowledge into our children. We are not always perfect, but we understand why is it so important and we have a huge why. Our children need to see mom and dad eat healthy, exercise, juice, take supplements, etc. and more importantly understand why we do this. I want to be around and healthy for them throughout their childhood and when I am an old woman," she said.

"Now to tell you the truth about how I make this work as a busy momma. I am a planner. I make an effort to find time between work and being a momma to work out, get healthy foods, play with kiddos, and the other things we feel are really important. If it is planned it usually happens. If it is not planned it does not. My confession: anyone who knows me knows I have a tremendous sweet tooth. I have really struggled with giving up my sweets, and I was determined to find a way to have my cake and eat it too. I did. I have found so many recipes online that do not use grains or sugars and taste like my favorite chocolate cake, cookie, and ice creams I am so fond of. Check out the recipes and see if making healhy eating choices can actually be a tasty option for you and your family too."

"We have challenges," Uchtman said, "but we make it a priority as part of a balanced life. Our two young kids love to eat healthy because that's how we have raised them. We want to teach them good lessons. We don't eat processed foods at home. If we miss a day at the gym, we just get right back to it instead of making it an excuse to stop. We want to show other families that it really can be possible." 

Meanwhile, Trainers offer these tips:

Make a commitment, launch a plan, and set goals. Find a workout that works for you, and get a trainer if you can afford one. Many people say they use apps to help. 

Some popular apps are: Lose it!, Achieve it, My fitness pal and New Year Resolution Motivation.

They are all free and help you count calories and stay accountable.

Others say to balance their entire lifestyle and fit in fitness, they've turned to a life coach.

Life coaches we talked to say when it comes to fitness they recommend setting small goals first. Life coaches say don't make it too overwhelming at first.

Assess those goals frequently, and stay committed. Overall they recommend ranking your goals and deciding where you want to start first, and then just take that leap of faith and get started! 

"Anything you can do will help," said Hembree. "The people who take that first step to get started and stick to it are the ones that make it last. Really it's all up to you and it is possible." 

If you're interested in eating healthier, here's some tips from Brooke Uchtman:

Breakfast Idea:

We eat a lot of eggs (cage free)! Here is a way to mix it up a little!

Recipe for Crock Pot Egg Casserole (My personal Recipe)


  • 1 Tablespoons Butter
  • 12 Eggs
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Pepper
  • 3/4 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Piece Ezekiel Bread
  • 1 Package Turkey Sausage
  • 1 Package Cheddar Cheese (small)


  1. Brown Turkey Sausage and Mix with Ezekiel Bread
  2. Saute' Onion and Pepper with Butter in a Skillet
  3. Mix Eggs, Almond Milk, and Salt together
  4. Layer ½ Turkey Sausage and Ezekial Bread, then ½ Pepper and Onions, and 1/3 Cheese, Repeat Again
  5. Pour Wet Ingredients on Top and final 1/3 Cheese and let Egg Casserole cook for 8-10 Hours in the Crock Pot
Dinner ideas:

We eat a lot of chicken, and additionally we eat grass fed ground beef. Here are some ways to mix it up!

Oven Baked Teriyaki Wings


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons spoonable stevia
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup liquid aminos or organic tamari
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup hot sauce (adjust to your taste)
  • 4-5 pounds organic chicken wings (tips cut then separated into "drumstick" and "wing")
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350° F. Melt butter in a small-medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the stevia, wine, tamari, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, salt ,pepper, and garlic powder and mix. In a large bowl, mix the chicken wings with the sauce. Arrange chicken wings on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake wings at 350° F for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is done. For even more tender wings with a further reduced sauce, reduce heat to 250° F and continue cooking for 3-4 hours, flipping about every 30 minutes.

Vegetable Beef Stew

(Maximized Living -

  • 1 lb grass fed ground beef
  • 2- 32 oz containers of organic vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp italian seasoning (to taste)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp black pepper (to taste)
  • sea salt to taste (about 2 tsp)
  • 2 tomatoes (preferably blanched and peeled – check notes below)
  • 1 bunch spinach, coarsely chopped
Optional for core plan: carrots, peas


Melt butter in a stockpot and add celery, onions, and ground beef. When beef is browned through, add the vegetable broth, italian seasoning, black pepper, sea salt and tomatoes. Let cook for about 10-15 minutes. Add spinach. Serve.

Additional notes/suggestions:

To blanch and peel tomatoes just boil a pot of water and drop the tomatoes in for a few minutes. When you see the skins begin to split apart, remove them from the water. Then they are very easy to peel. Once peeled, cut the tomato in half and remove as many seeds as possible then chop.

Basic Chili


When I make this chili I double this recipe, add both 1 can of kidney beans and 1 can of black beans and add a large can of crushed tomatoes.

  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • ½ Cup Onion, Chopped or Grated
  • ½ Cup Celery, Chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Cup Green Pepper, Chopped
  • 1 Can Kidney Beans or Black Beans
  • 2 Teaspoons Oregano
  • 2 Teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 8 ounce Can Organic Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1-1 ½ Pounds Ground Bison, Grass Fed Beef, or Ground Turkey
  • Optional: 1 12 Ounce Jar Prepared Salsa or Pasta Sauce (check ingredients)

In a large skillet melt oil and sauté onions, celery, garlic, and peppers until onion is translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add ground meat, oregano, chili powder, and cumin, continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 5-6 minutes. Pour salt, tomatoes, and salsa, if desired, into pot. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for a minimum of 1 hour for best flavor.

Side ideas:

We make a lot of salad with vegetable toppings, and we eat raw veggies and hummus, and sauté vegetables a lot for our side dishes! We also eat a lot of various fruits (especially berries). Try a healthy biscuit recipe it you feel the need for some bread!

Fluffy Biscuits


Makes four biscuits

  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted organic butter or non hydrogenated shortening
  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons of finely ground almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 4 egg whites (see comments for results using 2 egg whites)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. See numbered steps listed above! IF YOU ARE USING FOIL-LINED RAMEKINS, bake for 15 minutes. IF YOU ARE USING A MUFFIN TOP PAN, bake for 12 minutes. The edges of these biscuits stick really badly, so be sure to grease liberally whatever vessel you're using to bake these. Some sort of non-stick pan works best here! Silicone muffin cups are great, too. Greased foil-lined ramekins are alright, but you have to gently tease the muffins out of the foil.

Sweet Cinnamon Biscuits

Healthy Indulgences


For dough (add to above recipe):
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons sweetener (I used zylitol)
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon stevia

For Cinnamon Swirl:

  • 1 tablespoon organic unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/16 teaspoon pure stevia extract
  • 1 teaspoon erythritol or xylitol (powdered in your coffee grinder)
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • pinch of xanthan gum (optional, for thickening)
  • pinch of sea salt
Add vanilla and sweeteners to dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and chill dough. Melt butter and molasses together in a microwave safe dish for 15-20 seconds, until butter is melted. Stir in stevia, erythritol, water, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Heat mixture in microwave for another 15 seconds or so until erythritol is dissolved. Pop the filling into the fridge and let it cool until it thickens a bit. Whisk egg whites into flour mixture and fill ramekins. Dollop cinnamon filling on top of the dough in a swirl and bake as directed.

Dessert ideas

This is my favorite! I LOVE finding healthy ways to make the things I crave! These are a few of our most favorite recipes!

Black Bean Brownies

(adapted from

  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans
  • rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup xylitol
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking dish. Combine the black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, and xylitol in a blender; blend until smooth; pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the dark chocolate chips over the top of the mixture. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Chewy Honey Nut Cookies (NEW FAVORITE!)

(Healthy Indulgences

Makes eight to twelve cookies

  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey (raw, if you can get it)
  • 4 packets or 1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
(I substituted chocolate chips for pecans and didn't put in the cinnamon)Preparation:

Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275) degrees Fahrenheit. Chop pecans, and toast them for 12 minutes. Melt butter. Stir together all ingredients except almond flour and pecans. Mix in almond flour until a smooth dough forms, then fold in nuts until dispersed throughout dough. Shape into flat cookie rounds on parchment paper. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until slightly browned around the edges. Let cookies cool and harden for a full 10 minutes before removing from parchment.

Simple Pudding Recipe

  • 1 Can Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
  • 2 Tablespoons Xylitol


  • Mix ingredients together in a blender and enjoy!
*ingredient can be found in the Natural Health Organic Food store in Cape as well as other stores that specialize in organic and healthy foods.

Amazingly Delicious Peanut Butter Banana Pops (Dairy-Free, Low Sugar)

(Healthy Indulgences-

Makes 4 pops

  • 7 ounces peeled bananas (about 2 medium bananas)
  • 2 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (I recommend Chaokoh or Thai Kitchen brand, both available at Walmart)
  • 15 drops liquid stevia OR 3-4 packets stevia

Big pinch of xanthan gum (for creaminess)


Peel bananas, break them up into a few chunks, and freeze them till solid. I keep frozen bananas stored in a plastic bag in my freezer, but you could plop them onto a tray lined with wax paper if you're wary of plastic. I usually do this the night before I want to make the banana pops.

Add coconut milk, peanut butter, sea salt, vanilla, and liquid stevia to a small food processor. Add frozen banana chunks. Blend the mixture until you reach soft serve consistency. It takes a minute or two to break up all of the frozen chunks. Working quickly, scoop the soft serve mixture into popsicle molds. Pop the whole shebang into the freezer, but not before scrambling to clear it of obstructions if it's jammed to capacity with a veritable smorgasbord of frozen foods, like mine was. Remove tray from freezer, and stick popsicle sticks into the tops of treats if you forgot to do that before sticking it in the freezer. Freeze the pops for 8-12 hours.

To un mold them, turn the plastic mold to the side and run hot water over the bottom of the popsicle you want to take out. Gripping the wooden stick firmly, wiggle the popsicle out. See instructions below for how to make the chocolate coating.

Homemade Chocolate Hardshell Coating

Makes enough coating for 4 pops

  • 4 squares Lindt 85% chocolate bar (can use 70% for a sweeter coating)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1-2 packets stevia, OR 1/32 teaspoon NuNaturals Pure Stevia Extract powder

In a small, microwave-safe drinking glass or bowl, break up chocolate bar into chunks. Add coconut oil and stevia. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue to microwave chocolate mixture for 15 second intervals, as needed, until liquefied.

Sugar-Free Vanilla Ice Cream (Semifreddo style)

(Healthy Indulgences

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split (optional)
  • 4 fresh, organic eggs (whites and yolks separated)
  • 2 cups organic heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Sweetening options:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons erythritol, powdered, or 1/2 cup xylitol, powdered plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract


In first bowl, beat sugar and egg yolks until mixture is a light creamy yellow, then beat in vanilla extract and bean scrapings. In second bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. In third bowl, beat egg whites, add a pinch of salt, and then keep beating until you have stiff peaks. Fold together cream and egg yolk mixture gently. Then fold in egg whites thoroughly, but with as few strokes as possible to keep the airiness. Spread into loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, or a metal mold. Freeze, covered loosely in plastic wrap, for at least 4 hours. Scoop out with an ice cream scoop. Alternatively, run water over the bottom of the pan for a few seconds, un mold, and slice

Peppermint Bark

(Maximized Living Recipe-November –December 2013 Magazine)

  • 8 Ounces 70% Dark Chocolate or Baker's Chocolate
  • 5-10 Drops Pure Liquid Stevia
  • 2 Teaspoons Peppermint Extract


  • Line a 10 by 10 inch Baking Sheet with all Natural Waxed Paper
  • Melt Chocolate in a Double Boiler
  • Add the Liquid Stevia and Peppermint Extract
  • Pour onto Waxed Paper and Use a Spatula to spread about ¼ Inch Thick.
  • Allow to Cool and Dry for 6 Hours or Overnight

Once dry, break chocolate apart into uneven chunks, store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Do you have a great success story? I want to hear about it! Contact me at

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