Pinup Model

Photo by Autumn Luciano

First of all, let me say what an honor it is to speak on behalf of all of my hardcore femmes with IBD out there. When I had my first surgery, I couldn’t stand the thought that anyone could understand what I was experiencing. I felt very isolated. I grew resentful of anyone who claimed to understand my position in life. I owe a great debt to supportive women in the IBD community, for it is through them that my resentment passed and became acceptance. For anyone struggling with these feelings, know that you are not alone.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in January of 2007. At 17, I had absolutely no way of comprehending what that meant at the time. Looking back, I envy my own naïveté at the time. In many ways, I think it saved me a great deal of emotional agony. It wasn’t until after my first surgery in 2011 that I began to understand that Colitis was a very destructive, very permanent diagnosis. I thought I knew what “tired” meant. I thought I knew what dying felt like, prior to my first surgery.

With four years of flare-ups under my belt, I was no longer a candidate for Remicade. My lymph nodes were swelling, and a major concern was Lymphoma. Imuran, steroids and various other medicines I can’t recall, were also no longer options. Immunodepressed and exhausted, I was 22 and living with a houseful of my closest friends. After several trips to the ER, I was greeted by a surgeon who coldly explained that I could either have surgery or die within the next few days. She left the room after explaining that I would “Never feel normal again.” And that I would have to get used to it, which would be hard for a “Pretty girl.”

Let’s be real. I was far from feeling like a pretty girl. I was on steroids for senior prom, and my boyfriend at the time (now husband) had to nair my back so I didn’t look like a chipmunk. I had bloated until my skin hurt, broke out into acne hell, and now I was expelling blood at a rate that was both horrifying and fascinating to my doctors. I was already pretty used to not being a pretty girl. I was the girl who cried watching the Olympic gymnasts because they could move.

Pinup 2Photo by Autumn Luciano

Three surgeries, a surgeon change, failed j-pouch, two ostomies and an astronomical amount of pain drugs later, I came out on the other side. I do mean that literally. I had lost 40 pounds and weighed a mere 90 pounds soaking wet, fully clothed. You could count every bone in my body, and the surgeries had ravaged my once adorable tummy. I didn’t just have a thigh gap, it was the Grand Canyon. My hair had fallen out from lack of nutrition, and I could barely walk to the bathroom, only feet from my bed. My skin was sallow and pale, my body was limp and fragile. But I was alive.

Being pretty was the last thing on my mind, I felt like I had been thrown into battle without armor. You didn’t make it out pretty, much less alive, without armor. But I did.


Being who I am, with some authority issues, being told what I couldn’t do was a challenge. After waking up every day for a year thinking you might die, nothing seems beyond your reach. So I started to play again. I ran, I worked out three hours a day and started to kick box. I taught dance at a summer camp. I got married. I started killing it with my dream job. I had a normal life.

Pinup 3Photo by Steven Jon Horner

It wasn’t just good enough to have a normal life. (Even though that was all I begged for all through my surgeries. Just a chance to be normal.) I wanted so much more, being finally capable, three years later. Looking at my body, and knowing that it hadn’t really been mine for nearly 10 years, I wanted ownership of it again. I had eaten well, I had trained it, groomed my muscles and rewarded years of struggle with a strong and healthy body.

Pinup was an unknown universe to me at the time. I had grown up with a love of old things, partially raised by my grandparents. It was well known that I enjoyed dressing in vintage clothing, and I had begun experimenting with my hair and makeup. I was starting to feel like myself again. Blow drying wasn’t exhausting. Getting ready was fun again, not a daunting tedium.

I was invited by a high school friend of my husband’s to a Retro night/Pinup competition at a local bar in the winter of 2013. I was prim, in a vintage 40s silk dress, with modest and frazzled victory rolls. I watched the girls (who were all so perfect in every way) compete, and I knew I was so in love with their culture. Everything about what they were saying and doing spoke to my core. After the competition, the musicians began to play and I noted that nobody was dancing. Since my health had been regained, dancing had become one of my very favorite things. I walked to the table to girls and leaned in over the shoulder of the dainty pin up who had won. “You know, everybody here will dance if you do.” I said, and we launched the dance floor. There I was. The very first night I had been able to do everything the doctors told me I would never do again. Dancing merrily and embarrassing the heck out of my introverted husband.

It snowballed from there. I didn’t know then that the winner that night would become one of my best friends, Ada Vice. Or that Gabbey Music, joined at her hip, would fold me lovingly into the world of Pinup. With the help of those two, and the lovely Alfie Jean, I had begun practicing the art of vintage beauty. It wasn’t until a year later that I would realize I had not only reclaimed my life, but all of the things fate stood to take from me before I ever knew I wanted them.

Pinup 4Photo by Autumn Luciano

My body has become such a beautiful thing to me. Not because it seems to fit the societal standard, I feel very much that I won the genetic lottery there. I feel that way because it has carried me through some of the most terrible and devastating things a human can live through. With more resilience that I had ever given it credit for previously, it stretched, and it shrank. It is beautiful because it is mine. Scarred, tired, radiant, strong, and mine. It is through pinup that I realized this, and I continue to model for me. For the girl who dreamed of a normal life, and got so much more.


Stella Swoon

Originally published on


Kale & Peppers


What is your newest favorite healthy recipe? Kale and Peppers is mine!


2 teaspoons olive oil

4 cups sliced mini peppers

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

14 cups chopped kale, stems removed (about 1 pound)

1/2 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)

1 garlic clove, minced

Lemon wedges (optional)


Heat olive oil in a pan oven over medium-high heat. Add red bell pepper, , salt, and black pepper; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add chopped kale and broth; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 10 -20 minutes or until tender, stirring on occasion. Stir in garlic; increase heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Gina Costa CPC, ELI-MP

Certified Professional Coach


New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC

The First Day of Summer


Today is the first day of summer!  One of my favorite summertime snacks is guacamole, and nothing is better than making it from scratch and enjoying it outside in the sunshine.  It’s also very easy to make, and you can control the acidity and spice levels to suit your taste.

I like to combine the following:

  1. a finely chopped shallot
  2. a finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  3. a chopper up tomato
  4. two chopped avocados
  5. a lemon or a lime for acidity
  6. salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste

What makes it taste even better is to serve the guac in a volcanic bowl (you can find them at William & Sonoma).  Also instead of eating the guac with chips, you can replace them with cut up veggies like cucumbers or carrots to make it a diabetic friendly low carb, high fat treat!

Enjoy, and happy summer!


Office Snacks


It’s 3:00 PM at the office and your afternoon cravings begin to kick in. You start looking around for a filling snack but only find leftover cake from your co-worker’s birthday. Having a healthy snack on hand is key to power through your workday and stay focused. Since cake won’t do the job, we compiled a list of healthy yet filling snacks you can easily make at the office to beat the hunger crash.

Sliced Banana with Almond Butter: Bananas are certainly a filling fruit; a medium banana has about 110 calories and 25g of carbs. They are an excellent source of vitamin B6 and a good source of potassium and fiber (1). Not only will they help fill you up, pairing it with almond butter gives you the healthy fats and extra protein boost you need for the rest of the workday.

Avocado on Whole Wheat Toast: Does your office have a toaster? Great! You will be using it now. Bring in a few avocados along with a few slices of whole wheat bread for an easy snack. Just toast the bread, smear half an avocado on it and there you go! This snack is packed with fiber as well as heart healthy monounsaturated fats (2).  Add salt and pepper for taste.

Apple Slices with Peanut Butter: Need we say more? This classic combination is great for achieving that sweet yet salty taste and provides you with a good amount of protein and fiber.

Veggies and Hummus: Hummus contains a decent amount of protein and a number of essential vitamin and minerals. While it can be high in fat, it is mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat. And we all know how healthy vegetables are! Some popular veggies to combine are:

–       Carrots

–       Celery

–       Red or Green Bell Pepper strips

–       Sugar Snap Peas

Greek Yogurt with Granola: Add some sweetness to your day with Greek yogurt and nut-based granola. You can even try out non-dairy options like soy or coconut milk based Greek yogurt. Filled with important macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates, one cup can help fill you up for the rest of the afternoon.

Content Checked Holdings, Inc. has a family of health apps – ContentChecked, SugarChecked, and MigraineChecked that help users make more suitable choices at the grocery stores, based off of their personalized dietary needs. Download all three apps for free in the App Store or Google Play. Have questions about Nutrition, Weight Loss, Food Allergies or Migraines? Get your Nutrition questions answered by our team of Nutritionists by connecting with us on social media: @contentchecked@sugarchecked, @migrainechecked.





The Difference Between Grass Fed and Grain Fed Meats

meat-sugarcheckedCows follow the same eating cycle as humans, initially drinking milk from their mothers and then progressing into feeding on grass and shrubs. Conventional practices have introduced feedlots as the main area where cows are now raised to prepare them for human consumption. Feedlots have gained a tremendous amount of negative attention, mainly because the media has exposed feedlots as and unsanitary and unhealthy environment for cattle.

The cows raised on feedlots are fed meals using soy or corn, which are intended to make them bigger than they are naturally supposed to grow, making the most profit for each cow. These cows then grow up being injected with hormones and antibiotics so they grow quicker in order to produce food rapidly for manufacturers to sell. After the feedlot cows grow to their full size, they are then moved to the factory for slaughtering. The distinct difference between grass fed and grain fed animals are the practices and tactics used when raising them. The grain diet speeds their growth to an unnatural pace. As stated in the Washington post, “ grain is like cake and ice cream to cows” (1). Cows who feed on grass and natural substances are able to live their life in a natural healthy habitat, allowing them to grow to a normal size. This size is smaller than the grain fed cows, but grass fed cows are generally healthier animals, with less stress, hormone imbalances, and other ailments due to unnatural processes.  Grass fed cows also live a much longer life than grain fed cows because of these practices.

But when it comes to having a burger or a steak, does it really make a difference what type of environment and diet the cow grew up in?

In general, lean red meat is great for our health. It has a sufficient amount of protein, iron, and many other important vitamins and minerals that help our body grow and function properly (1). However, grass fed beef has been said to have less total fat, higher omega 3 levels, higher nutrient and antioxidant content. However…

“Yes omega 3 levels are much higher in grass fed beef, but because the levels were already so low in beef to begin with, the advantage might be negligible compared to foods like fish” (1).

Take away message? Grass fed beef, while it may be a small splurge offers more nutrients, less synthetic hormones and less risk of antibiotic resistance.  Although the differences are not as large as the media makes them out to be, when we eat grass fed beef we are eating naturally raised, hormone and antibiotic free meat, which can be a beneficial component of a healthy lifestyle.

Content Checked Holdings, Inc. has a family of health apps – ContentChecked, SugarChecked, and MigraineChecked that help users make more suitable choices at the grocery stores, based off of their personalized dietary needs. Download all three apps for free in the App Store or Google Play. Have questions about Nutrition, Weight Loss, Food Allergies or Migraines? Get your Nutrition questions answered by our team of Nutritionists by connecting with us on social media: @contentchecked@sugarchecked, @migrainechecked.



A Perfect Snack Plate for a Diabetic


This is a snack plate for two, filled with cold cuts, fresh vegetables, cheese and home made guacamole.  These foods have minimal to little impact on my blood sugar.  They are also delicious and filling.  With the summer officially upon us, this is a great alternative to many non-diabetic friendly BBQ foods!

Hanna is a coach, writer and speaker, who loves diabetes topics that are off of the beaten track. She’s passionate to find motivational and inspiring ways to bring about a change in diabetes management.

Over the years, Hanna has coached numerous people, including herself. She has a profound understanding of how things like nutrition and lifestyle choices can balance diabetes.

Hanna is an expert in pinpointing what each individual needs in order to thrive with and despite diabetes. She has over 30 years of first hand experience with type 1 diabetes, as well as that of her many clients.


Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables


Whether it’d be walking through the juice aisle or produce, fruits and vegetables seem to be available all year long. The weather obviously changes throughout the year, not allowing harvest to be 24-7 so why are these foods always at the grocery store? In order to make the most of their crops, and make their products available and please consumers, manufacturers freeze, can, dry, or juice fruits and vegetables.

The best types of fruits and vegetables to buy are of course FRESH (low in fat, sodium & calories & rich in fiber), but frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice are good choices as well. When choosing a type other than fresh. be aware of increased calories from added sauces, syrups, sugars and other ingredients.

Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables have many health benefits. As we all know, these foods are filled with vitamins like phytonutrients and antioxidants; these may aid in decreased risk of chronic diseases, weight loss, protect from certain cancers, lower blood pressure, decrease bone loss, and proper digestive function.

Next time you need to stock up on these colorful foods, travel to your local farmer’s market instead of the grocery store. Purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season from a farmer’s market helps to support local farmers. It’s a great way to talk to them one on one about how they maintain their crops, if they are organic, and answer any other questions you might have.

Benefits of Buying “In Season” Fruits & Vegetables

BODY – fresh has the most nutritional benefits & “in season” are most likely GMO free

WALLET – many of the same are grown all at once making them cheaper

MIND – buying fresh produce will allow you to cook more & be creative

PALATE – the flavor & texture will be the most rich when fresh from farm to table

seasonal veggies

Content Checked Holdings, Inc. has a family of health apps – ContentChecked, SugarChecked, and MigraineChecked that help users make more suitable choices at the grocery stores, based off of their personalized dietary needs. Download all three apps for free in the App Store or Google Play. Have questions about Nutrition, Weight Loss, Food Allergies or Migraines? Get your Nutrition questions answered by our team of Nutritionists by connecting with us on social media: @contentchecked@sugarchecked, @migrainechecked.





Should You Try a Plant Based Diet?


As a society we are moving away from highly restrictive, specific diets, (e.g. low carb) and moving towards a more general, relaxed, healthy “lifestyle diet.” One of these “lifestyle diets” is a plant based diet. What exactly is a plant based diet? For starters it is NOT a vegetarian or vegan diet, so meat lovers can embrace this style of eating as much as vegetarians or vegans. All foods are allowed on a plant based diet, but the bulk of the foods eaten come from plant sources: think fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans. A few of the many benefits to the diet are listed below:

Cost- Meat is expensive. Animals have to be raised and fed. The average cost of feed alone to raise a steer is $378 (1).  That, plus the cost of boarding, vet bills, and slaughter costs rack up the cost of beef. Chicken and pork have similar requirements, which is why meat costs much more than plant based foods. It’s much more expensive to buy meat that had to eat corn to grow vs. just buying the corn for you yourself to eat.

Health– Plant based diets are naturally high in fiber from fruits and vegetables and healthy fats from nuts and seeds, both of which have been shown to reduce levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Plant based foods are also chock-full of vitamins and minerals, which are better absorbed than those from a multivitamin.

Difficult to overeat– When was the last time you overate a salad? Probably never. Fruits and vegetables are filling, thanks to their high fiber and water content. Plant based foods are filling and delicious, but lack some of the somewhat “addictive” properties of processed foods that make it so difficult to stop eating (think large amounts of sugar and salt).

Plant based diets are nutrient dense, filling diets that don’t place restrictions on any foods but promote an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. If you’re a hardcore carnivore and the idea of basing your diet around plants sounds daunting, just try incorporating one extra plant based food per meal or having one entirely plant based meal every other day to start. You’re body and health will thank you.



Content Checked Holdings, Inc. has a family of health apps – ContentChecked, SugarChecked, and MigraineChecked that help users make more suitable choices at the grocery stores, based off of their personalized dietary needs. Download all three apps for free in the App Store or Google Play. Have questions about Nutrition, Weight Loss, Food Allergies or Migraines? Get your Nutrition questions answered by our team of Nutritionists by connecting with us on social media: @contentchecked@sugarchecked, @migrainechecked.

30 gram Protein Vegan Salad


My 30 gram protein vegan salad – easy, breezy, but not cheesy!

If you’re new to vegan-ism, you may be searching for protein replacements for your burgers and dogs (hot dogs, that is).   It’s not as hard as you think.  Even if you’re not vegan, but you just want to have some healthy “meatless” days during the week (a wonderful idea) it’s good to know some tasty ways to get your protein.

You should know, there is protein in everything you eat: veggies, grains, etc., and you can easily meet your 40-50 gram daily requirement with the addition of a few delicious higher protein foods and snacks throughout the day.

For example, here is my lunch for today…..containing  30.5 grams of protein.

  • Organic mixed greens
  • organic tomato
  • 1/2 cup organic black beans
  • 3 slices “Slimcado” avocado (naturally has less fat-not genetically modified)
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 ounce (12) almonds crushed
  • 6 slices tempeh

Here’s the breakdown:

Tomato: Calories 25, 25% RDA Vitamins A and C, Protein 1 g

Mixed greens: Calories 4, 40% RDA Vitamin A, Protein 0

1/2 cup black beans: Calories 110,  fat 1g,  fiber 7g, 14% RDA iron Protein 7g

1/4 cup pepitas: Calories 170, Fat 15g, Carb 4g, fiber 2g, Protein 9g

Tempeh 6 slices (I used Turtle Island Foods brand, the sesame and garlic flavor) 3.5 oz: Calories 140, Fat 3.5g, Fiber 5g, Protein 11g

3 slices “Slimcado” avocado: Calories 100, Fat 8g, Fiber 3g, Protein 0

Almonds (10): Calories 70, Fat 6g, Protein 2.5g

Total calories: 619  Total fat: 33.5g  Protein 30.5g

The fat in this salad is vegetable fat–high energy and healthy vs animal fat that is more “saturated” and harder to digest.

I love this brand of Tempeh.  (Tempeh is a soy product that provides your body with a “complete” protein that the body can use for building and living.)  I love to use this on sandwiches and make a “T-L-T” instead of a B-L-T.  It really fills you up and gives you lots of energy.   You can buy this at any grocery store usually in the produce aisle.  Just a few minutes on the cast iron pan and it’s deliciously done.  I also love that they use non-GMO soy. (non-genetically modified) Note: Their “bacon flavor” tempeh has autolyzed yeast extract in it, which contains MSG.  Tempeh also has wheat, so not for gluten-free folks.

Sister Earth 2That ain’t bacon, honey…it’s so much better.

Here is a great high protein energy shake that you can drink anytime.

Don’t worry about getting enough protein when you aren’t eating meat.  There are plenty of ways you can get what you need vegan-style, and your body will thank you for it.

Here’s a great resource or checking on foods and their nutritional content. It will give you EVERYTHING that is in a particular food…everything.

It’s nice to share.

Sister Earth

Raspberry Candy


Raspberry Candy

Sweet, simple, and flavorful

2 Bananas

½ Cup Raspberries or more

1 Cup Almond Milk (or any milk of your choice)

1TBSP agave sweetener

½ TBSP flax meal

Raisins and chopped almonds for topping



Hello from Cali! My name is Angelica. I am a 24 year old fashion designer and entrepreneur with Type 1 Diabetes since the age of 7. The beginning is always the hardest, but when you don’t let illness take control of your life, you come out stronger. Obstacles in our lives happen for a reason, to teach us new lessons and prepare us for challenges. If we can take on Diabetes, we can take on anything!

I’m so happy to be a part of your community! After I stopped going to the kids diabetic retreat in 2004, I’ve felt sort of alone. Now I get to talk to more people that understand and are dealing with the same things. Good thing my mom suggested I create the Diabetic Instagram!




Angelica Chavez

Fashion Designer/Instructor/Blogger





“Being a Pro:

  • is not about working harder — it’s about working smarter.
  • is not about doing more — it’s about doing the right things.
  • is not about complexity — it’s about clarity.

-Melanie Duncan Quote

Punch Fitness


My routine at Punch Fitness is obviously driven by my personal trainer, Villi Bello, but I do influence him somewhat by indicating what I want to target.

Last week I came to the gym after 10 days of intense traveling for Lyfebulb and I was jet-lagged and exhausted!

We decided to do more gentle work, but still get a good cardio and strength mix in.

We began the workout with boxing while weights were attached to my arms, the elliptical machine, and lots of exercises involving my core and arms.

I think the plank is such an optimal work-out since it includes a large part of the body at once, and Villi asked me to do it one-legged with the other leg moving to the side and upwards (as pictured above).

I also enjoy the TRX machine, which we used for lunges, arm bends and simple thigh exercises.

We did two kinds of crunches, regular ones to the center, and ones where you twist from side to side.

Finally, we did push-ups, on the knees and on my feet – with two legs on the floor and for a few brutal seconds, on just one leg at a time!

Villi always finishes my sessions with some nice stretches and asks me to drink water before I leave the gym – my jet-lag was gone and I ran outside into the beautiful spring weather!

Eggs and Avocado



  • 1 avocado
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of curry powder
  • Dash of ground red pepper powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Tsp of garlic or as desired
  • 1 slice of onion diced
  • 1/8 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Diced tomatoes for garnish


  1. Using a fork stir the eggs together until well combined. To keep eggs fluffy stir until pale yellow. Add salt and seasoning.
  1. Halve avocado and place face up on tray or face down on a grill in the toaster oven or oven at 300 degrees until it gets slightly browned on the edges. Remove from toaster and plate.
  1. Cook eggs on a low heat skillet stirring with a spatula to keep soft. Add in onion, garlic, and mozzarella. Stir until cheese melts and eggs are fully cooked. Remove from heat.
  1. Top the avocado with the eggs. Add diced tomatoes for garnish and flavor.