Hi. I'm Tina.
I’m an Italian-American, big hearted and always bright eyed, brunette who buys herself flowers every Sunday because in this life, the only guarantee we have is that we can treat ourselves well. No one else.
Grocery shopping and cooking get me excited. And nothing gets my motor running like fresh produce and sharing how to pick out perfectly plump, juicy peaches and ample avocados from the market.
When I'm not getting lost in farmers markets procuring produce and experimenting in my kitchen with freestyle cooking and recipe free ingredient riffing, I've been helping people learn what it means to feel good.
From teaching creative corporate and community workshops to one on one coaching, private cooking lessons and group classes - I'm showing people how to live again.
I worked in corporate creative for 16 years. I know the daily life and the time constraints. I understand the struggle to balance work, life + health. But I also know we all have choices.
I’ve lost 160 lbs on my own and kept it off for the past 16 years. It's been a humbling experience. It's also become my life's work. I'm using this story to inspire others to take steps to change their health without taking everything SO SERIOUSLY. I never looked at getting healthy as what I was losing but what I was gaining in energy and a good mood.
I never subscribed to a diet or one way of eating - that would have been impossible to sustain for more than a decade. But I did change my habits and my thoughts. Those thoughts will hurt our health more than we realize.
I'm here to help you love you because we're not our weight, we're our habits, and I'm gonna help you crack the code on it and get you back to you.
GETTING IN THE KITCHEN
I was put on Weight Watchers at age 4. I learned to request apples, fat free hot dogs and Quaker granola bars for meals. How did this happen? We were weighed weekly in our pre-k class and my mom was instructed to help me lose weight. From that point on I was always dieting and being told to lose weight.
At my highest weight I was around 320 lbs. My eating was a mix of emotions and habits, all muddled together to create confusion and fear. I felt trapped in my body, but I smiled, I laughed and became a clown.
From Weight Watchers to South Beach, Fit America, Blood Type, Paleo, Food Combining and Personal Trainers. - I did it all. And then I did something so un-Tina, but very Tina all at once - I left my home in Brooklyn and moved to a farm in Connecticut for 3 months in the Summer of 2001.
This summer of 2017 marked 16 years since I've been back to the farm where Carolyn and I spent many a day and night caring for a home, a pony and a few sheep. I was 20 years old when I arrived in my dad’s 1991 Plymouth Voyager.
I still remember the mailbox. The mailbox, a tease, slightly visible across the long stretch of grass from the Grants little blue door where I used to stand staring out into the gaping field of green. Without moving, I could feel the tingle of chafing thighs. I thought of steps as miles and miles as impossibilities, but I began. Daily I conquered that mailbox. Stopping for 15 minutes before I turned back to the house - catching my breath before I continued. Walk, sweat, stop, wipe, walk. Repeat. My thighs rubbed without feeling the burn of chafing but, instead, felt that of accomplishment. Yes, thighs can feel accomplished.
Today I walk from Queens to Manhattan and everywhere in between.When I walk, I have not a single thought of a failing heart.
That summer I found cooking because there was no nonna, mom, dining hall or automatic refrigerator and pantry re-stock. I was somewhat forced to change the relationship I had with food, and I started by preparing meals of my childhood from memory. I made lentils once a week until I taught myself how to make something else. My love for cooking began with 1 meal. What a change from 4 year old fat free hot dog slinging Tina and the 16 year old C-Town cashier who hid Little Debbie Nutty Bars under her register.
I haven't stopped walking, cooking, learning or building awareness about my habits since that morning on the farm. I haven’t stopped thinking about how important it is for me to use this life and story to help people who seek change regardless of weight. I’ve gotten emails about friends pursuing passions, buying themselves flowers and changing careers all because I opened my big dumb heart to share my story.
Today I’m living out a hope to truly inspire change in a world where people’s health and spirits are suffering because our lives and priorities have shifted so greatly.
I dream of seeing people build homes in their mind, body and actual spaces because I know what it’s like to feel lost. My work is about more than pretty pictures of food. Although they are really pretty if you ask me. Those food photos are my art and peace of mind.