Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Inner Views of Serena Smith-Williams

"Ah Lord GOD! behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee..."
Jeremiah 32:17

Today, I am so grateful to be able to introduce (to those of you who are not already acquainted)
a blogger who is a special and consistent blessing to me.
Her wonderful blog is chock full of amazing health and fitness information,
easy-to-understand recipes (many of them kid-tested and approved!),
and beautifully-written encouragement, support, and inspiration.
Her sweet spirit and genuine, caring heart shine through in every post she writes.
I know you are going to enjoy getting to know her,
and you will come to love and appreciate her as much as I do!

With joy and gratitude, I present to you the 
blessed mommy of 3, wife, blogger, actress, health coach, certified personal trainer, and holistic nutritionist,
Serena Smith-Williams.

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself.

Serena:  I was born and raised in New Jersey and still live there.

For the most part, my childhood was fine. Even though I was in and out of the hospital and diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 9 (then rediagnosed with Crohn's at the age of 15), my mother always made sure my life was as normal as possible. I had supportive friends and family and did quite fine.

Today, I am married (15 years) and have three children.

Cheryl:  When did you become interested in health and fitness? Who most inspired you to begin this journey? Was there a particular life event that influenced you to become more conscious of your health and the health of your family?

Serena:  Having Crohn's disease urged me to want to do something in the healthcare field. And although my diet wasn't the best, I was always pretty active in my youth.

I played basketball in high school and intramural basketball in college. My major was Psychology, and I even thought about doing Sports Psychology at one point. Then once I graduated I became an ACE certified personal trainer and got accepted into a Masters in Athletic Training program. Although I didn't pursue the program, I remained interested in general health and fitness.

The holistic & natural living aspect didn't happen until just 5 years ago when I took a natural health continuing education course to renew my personal training certification. I got hooked, and the rest is history.

Cheryl:  To those who are not familiar with the term, “holistic”, will you define what it means?

Serena:  Holistic refers to the whole person. In other words mind, body, and spirit. Not just fixing the immediate problem, but healing the origin or source of the problem. For example, if you're experiencing headaches - explore natural remedies (because traditional ones can wreak havoc on your body and cause other problems) to take care of the pain you are having as well as exploring different methods (like stress management, for example) to fix the cause of the headaches.

Cheryl:  Tell us about your blog. What do you most hope to accomplish through it, and what life events first inspired you to begin blogging? How has blogging impacted and enriched your life?

Serena:  I blog over at Simple Holistic Girl. I originally started it to share my experience with Crohn's and my slowly, (at the time), creeping up blood pressure. It soon turned into sharing healthy and natural living tips, natural remedies, workouts, healthy recipes, and more. I also use it as a platform to educate people on popular topics such as ingesting essential oils (being safe) and the process of how our cosmetics end up on the shelves (for example, no FDA approval like some people think).

I have met sooooo many wonderful people, including you, Cheryl, through blogging, and that, in itself, has positively impacted my life!

Cheryl:  Thank you ever so much, Serena!  I count it a Godsent blessing that I have met you, too!  Can you tell us what you are most passionate about?

Serena:  My main passion is arming people with the tools & knowledge to make their own decisions on how to be healthy, since healthy is not the same to everyone. Also, helping people understand that the same solution (even if it is based on research) will NOT work for everyone.

Cheryl:  When did you become a Christian? Who do you consider to be your strongest spiritual mentor? Is there a particular person who has prayed for you most and influenced you in your walk with Christ?

Serena:  I have been in church all my life, but became a Christian when I was a teenager. I would have to say my former youth leaders, who are now pastors at the church we attend, are my strongest spiritual mentors.

One person that has prayed for me the most? Oh, that is most definitely my mother!

Cheryl:  As a Christian wife and mother in these troubled times, what do you consider to be some of our greatest challenges? How do you, personally, rise to the occasion of these challenges?

Serena:  Oh boy....the greatest challenge during these troubled times I think is keeping your faith. And that's not just in God, but in people, mankind, the universe, you name it.

I rise to the occasion by trying to be a little nicer to people (which sometimes can be easier said than done) and appreciate the little things like that warm smile from your neighbor or a friendly encounter with a total stranger, because after these things happen you realize nice people really DO exist in this world!

Cheryl:  What is the most important thing(s) we should be teaching our children?

Serena:  Love and respect to ALL - even if it means you don't get it back.

Cheryl:  How do you balance your home duties as a wife and mother with the demands of your work schedule and blog?

Serena:  I actually do not know....hahaha. It just works out. I only really share a new post once a week on my blog right now because I recognized doing more was way too demanding. I also get to work from home so those days give me an extra two hours put back in my day from not commuting.

I also try not to be on the computer as much as I used to be if everyone is home...keyword is "try"

Cheryl:  We would love to hear about your love story. How did you meet your husband? What is your favorite part of walking through life with him? What is the best marital advice you have ever been given?

Serena:  My husband and I went to the same college. My favorite part of walking through life with him is being with our kids and getting involved more and more in the church.

The best marital advice we have gotten is communication is key, and pray together.

Cheryl:  To the reader who is struggling to lose weight, what advice can you offer? Where should we start? What are some of the most important things we can do to jumpstart a weight loss journey?

Serena:  I think people think too hard when it comes to weight loss, when in reality you can start with simple changes. Simple changes over time will lead to big changes.

For example, I have a blog post entitled: 9 Ways to Lose Weight Without Trying Too Hard (

Those 9 things are: 1) walking, 2) eating more color (meaning colorful fruits & vegetables), 3) drinking more water, 4) keeping a food diary, 5) taking your sauces on the side, 6) limiting your alcohol intake (it contains a lot of calories), 7) choosing beverages (other than water) wisely, 8) choosing your fats wisely, and 9) getting enough sleep.

Cheryl:  What do you consider to be the most effective form(s) of physical exercise? For someone who is severely weight-challenged, can you offer some doable, obtainable steps that would enable them to feel they are making a good start?

Serena:  I think the most effective form of physical exercise is the type that will keep you motivated. I can sit here and say a few different kinds are effective forms of physical exercise, but that doesn't mean that it will have the same effect on everybody. Since everybody is different you need to find the exercise that is easy enough for you to stick with, but hard enough to challenge you, and most of all produces results so you'll continue to be motivated.

I think the best form of exercise to start with, even for those that are severely weight-challenged is walking. Walking is an activity of daily living and will build up your stamina and endurance the more you keep at it. Even if you cannot physically walk fast it makes a good start and you can slowly build up over time. You can eventually even turn it into a jog and even a run and the best thing about walking is, it's free.

Cheryl:  Obesity is often accompanied by severe depression and feelings of hopelessness. If you were sitting across the table, having coffee with someone in this dark place, what would you say to them?

Serena:  First, make sure that your severe depression doesn't warrant outside help. It is important to recognize when you need additional support so that it doesn't turn into something more. Having the proper tools in place will also help you reach your goals.

Once you put those steps/tools in place, then I would suggest you start keeping a journal/diary.

In that journal I suggest you write down your daily activities, including things like, what you eat, how you felt before and after you ate, what time you ate, how much sleep you got, your emotions for the day, your daily stressors, what were you doing before grabbing that bag of chips, etc. This way you can start to see how one thing connects to another. Perhaps you will figure out that you need to cut a certain individual out of your life. Or perhaps you'll realize you need to change jobs or maybe that one food item causes you to feel sick.

Cheryl:  When working as a health coach, what have you found to be your most effective tools in motivating someone to start a weight loss and fitness journey?

Serena:  Helping them find their "why". Everyone's reason and motivation will be different on starting a weight loss journey so it's up to the individual (not me) to find their own motivation and reason to succeed. The journey and destination is ultimately theirs, I just help them get started heading in the right direction.

Cheryl:  To the reader who has tried multiple weight loss tactics, only to repeatedly fail, what would you like to say?

Serena:  Write down everything you have tried, and then figure out what you need to do differently. If you have been doing the same thing over and over again, guess what? Chances are it's not going to work the 4th and 5th time you try it either.

And if you have been trying different methods already, then you need to evaluate why they are not working. Are they pills you're trying to take to make the weight "magically" disappear? Are you excessively exercising, but not changing your diet? Did it work for your friend/spouse/sister/cousin, so you figured it would work for you, too?

Go back to the basics and practice small changes first, like the ones I mentioned above.  (
1) walking, 2) eating more color (meaning colorful fruits & vegetables), 3) drinking more water, 4) keeping a food diary, 5) taking your sauces on the side, 6) limiting your alcohol intake (it contains a lot of calories), 7) choosing beverages (other than water) wisely, 8) choosing your fats wisely, and 9) getting enough sleep.)

Cheryl:  There are many things about your blog that I love, one of them being the way you develop recipes that are kid-tested and approved. How do you come up with the recipes on your blog? How do you convince your kids to try them?

Serena:  I simply think about what we love to eat and go from there. I will sometimes even just peruse certain sections of the grocery store, like the produce section, and think of things I can do with a certain food item. Instagram also serves as a source of inspiration.

My kids are more apt to try new recipes if it's in a form they are already familiar with, like cookies, brownies, and pancakes. I sometimes will even ask them what they want me to make and go from there.

Cheryl:  What are your favorite Bible verses, hymns, books, and other resources to turn to in times of discouragement?

Serena:  After starting my blog, I wanted to use a special verse and came up with Genesis 1:29 - Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole Earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." It's not the only verse in the Bible that has to do with food, of course, but it's one that I have grown to love regarding food.

It's so easy to find resources to turn to in times of discouragement, especially with technology and social media. I use the YouVersion Bible App. You can find Bible lesson plans for certain topics, and it delivers a verse of the day right to your inbox if you choose. And their Instagram account posts Bible verses using the most beautiful pictures!

My other go to social media accounts for encouragement are Proverbs 31 Ministries, Women Living Well, and Thrive Moms.

Cheryl:  Looking back over your life, will you share a time of intense trial that you have walked through? How did your faith in God sustain you during those difficult days?

Serena:  I will have to say when my Crohn's disease flared up. Those were some trying times. The pain could be so unbearable, I wondered if I would ever pull through, but then I remembered God pulled me through all the other times, so why would He fail me now?

Cheryl:  At the end of your life, what legacy would you most like to leave behind?

Serena:  I would love for people to remember me for my spunkiness 😀, yet kindness and love.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you in this current season?

Serena:  A prayer for my finances, marriage, business, and family. Both to have success and a hedge of protection around everyone and everything.

I am so grateful to you, Serena, for taking the time to visit with us,
to share your heart, and to answer our questions in such a helpful, supportive way!
I have enjoyed this interview so much and thank you from the bottom of my heart!
My prayer is that God will honor your request and send abundant blessings
and continual protection to you and your sweet family.

And, thank you, dear readers, for reading and for adding Serena and her family to your
individual prayer lists.

I hope you will take the time to go by and visit Serena's blog, leave her an encouraging comment,
 and consider becoming a follower/subscriber!
And, for all of you who are health-conscious,
she is offering a 14 Day Smoothie Challenge that you may be interested in participating in!
I just joined and can't wait to get the daily recipes!
Thank you again, Serena.
You are a blessing to us all, my friend!

To read previous
click the links below.


  1. Great interview! Thanks Serena and Cheryl! I will head over the Serena's blog to check it out. I enjoy running, so I enjoyed reading Serena's fitness tips and notes about holistic health.

    1. OH, that is wonderful, Bethany! Serena's blog offers such great tips, advice, and encouragement. She is such a blessing! I know you will love her blog. So thankful for your visit!

  2. This was great especially the tips about losing weight those were very simple. I also like using other remedies other than over the counter medications for headaches but trying different things.

    1. Me, too! I absolutely hate the thoughts of medicine of any kind, and it is such a blessing that God provides so much of what we need right within food and herbs. I love Serena's tips, also. They are easy to understand, and she makes things seem obtainable and not so challenging. So happy you stopped by, Tona!

  3. Oh, my, Serena is most spunky! I enjoyed meeting her and reading her story. I joined her blog on Bloglovin. I totally, totally agree with her 9 points! Every one of them will help us succeed but what spoke to me the most is her call to treat all people with love and respect. Thank you, Cheryl, for introducing me to a new friend. Thank you, Serena, for sharing your thoughts. I am praying for your requests. May God's love surround you both!

    1. Oh, I am so thankful you enjoyed meeting Serena! So thankful you joined her blog, too. You will be blessed and inspired. Sending you much love and many blessings, sweet friend!

  4. I love the variety of different writers you feature here, Cheryl.

    1. Thank you, Michele! I am so thankful you stopped by. May the dear Lord bless you abundantly!

  5. The skill in a good interview is in the questions being asked as well as their answers. Well done Cheryl.

    God bless.

    1. Why, thank you so very much, Victor. What a blessing to read your kind encouragement today! You lifted my spirits, and I thank you. God bless you!

  6. Great interview!! And I am definitely going to check out Serena's blog, as I am interested in this holistic approach to health. She is an inspiration, especially as she has worked so hard to deal with her own health issues. I am looking for inspiration right now, as I am feeling rather poorly about my weight and general fitness. So, this was a real boost for me today. Thank you!!


    1. Oh, that is so wonderful, my friend! Serena will definitely encourage you on your journey and provide much helpful information! She is such a blessing. God bless you as you seek better health. Praying for you and sending you lots of love and many blessings!

  7. Thank you Cheryl for sharing Serena's inner view with us here at Tell me a Story. I will definitely check out her blog. I also like that she uses YouVersion bible. I don't have a smart phone, but use e-sword on my desk top computer, which is also a free Bible Program.

    1. I am so thankful to be able to introduce Serena to you, Hazel! You will both be mutually blessed! Thank you for your sweet visit. :)

  8. Cheryl, what an encouraging inner view! Can't wait to check out her interesting blog! Many blessings to you both ❤️

    1. Thank you so much, dear Beth! I know you will enjoy getting to know Serena...and she, you! God bless you, too!

  9. Thanks, Cheryl, for sharing this interview. My husband has had Crones since we met in college (we've been married 35 years) so I can definitely relate to Serena's challenges. We've been through many doctors, hospitalizations and surgeries, but are thankful to have found an amazing doctor who knew the meds my husband needed to be on. Will definitely check out Serena's website. Visiting from #TellHisStory.

    1. Oh, my! That is just awful, bless his heart. I am so thankful you are going over to visit Serena. I know you will find so much helpful information, and I hope your husband continues to do well. God bless you both!

  10. Great stuff! Visiting fro Coffee for your Heart.

    1. So happy to have you visit, Chara! What a pretty name you have, too. God bless you!

  11. How wonderful to be able to meet such an inspirational lady! I love that she is on the holistic journey as well, and completely agreed with her 9 points as well! I love to drink smoothies, make one every day, and have for several years now, and it really has been a remarkable thing for my body to have these extra nutrients. I was encouraged to read her story, and will stop by her blog for a visit! Thank you dear Cheryl again for a lovely inspiring interview! May the Lord bless you richly today dear friend!

    1. We love smoothies, too! I have been getting her 14 day smoothie challenges, and she has some amazing recipes! Such a blessing she is to me, and I am so happy to introduce her and her blog to you. I know you will enjoy visiting there and seeing all of the wealth of information she has put into it. God bless you abundantly, sweet friend!