This was the crux of the story Samantha Blake shared with members of the Lebanon Noon Rotary Club on Tuesday afternoon.
Blake, proprietor of Entre-Nous Meal Preparation Services, told a story of weight loss and a healthy lifestyle change leading to the founding of Entre-Nous, which is a company that prepares and delivers healthy meals to individuals and families, as well as catering, across Middle Tennessee.
“I was working at the largest healthcare company in this area, and I had a great opportunity to work in a program that was branching out to employees worldwide … the irony was I was going to promote and push out a program to get hundreds of thousands of people in the company healthy, and I was the opposite of what that looks like,” Blake said.
“I weighed in a 325 pounds. When I saw some various pictures of myself at a corporate event, I was quite shocked at how I let myself go.”
Blake said after this revelation, she decided to make lifestyle changes to benefit her health.
“I made the decision right then and there and never looked back,” she said. “I will not tell you it was a straight-line success, because it wasn’t. At the start, I did everything wrong.”
Blake said she bought “every dieting book in Barnes and Noble,” but didn’t find much success until she started to change in moderation.
“I got together with a personal trainer, and she opened my eyes to a new world, completely changed me,” she said. “As I was going through this transformation, I realized the biggest component missing was nutrition.”
One of the key issues she realized she faced was that she didn’t think she had the time to cook a healthy meal each day. Both she and her husband worked 60-70 hours each week, and didn’t have the time or energy to cook a meal after getting home in the evening.
“We were the typical grab-and-go American family,” Blake said.
Blake eventually transitioned out of her corporate career and moved toward a career in the nutrition field. She turned her 42-acre property in Mt. Juliet into a working farm, which provides for Entre-Nous.
“We harvest everything we use for meals,” Blake said. “If we can’t get it on our farm, then we go to a local co-op to get it.”
Blake said she knows how difficult it can be to start on a path toward healthier eating, and she hopes her company can help people in Middle Tennessee make healthier choices.
“We help people who are engulfed in work and don’t have the time to make a healthy meal for their family,” Blake said. “It’s not all about weight loss, sometimes you need to eat healthier because you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or maybe you just want to lead a healthier lifestyle.”
During her presentation, Blake admitted that the holiday season is not normally the time when people think about eating healthier.
“This is the weirdest timing, to talk about healthy food right when holiday baking is at its peak,” she said. “I know my house is a sugar factory right now. Next week, everyone will turn their minds to 2017. It’s going to be my year; I’m finally going to do it. I hope you do it, I hope you’re successful.”
The key to transitioning into a healthier lifestyle, Blake said, is to commit to a plan that is achievable. To live healthy, it requires a balance of nutrition and exercise, she said.
“I always ask people, when they say this is the diet I want because it worked for this other person, I say ‘can you see yourself following this for 364 days out of the year?’ Because if the answer is no, then it’s not for you,” she said.
“I say 364 days because Thanksgiving shouldn’t count.”
Today, Blake maintains mostly healthy meals, but allows herself a couple of “treat” meals each week, meaning that she goes outside the normal nutritional boundaries.
“One day a week, I’m at a local Mexican restaurant having three baskets of chips with my Mexican food and a margarita,” she said. “It’s just going to happen. It’s all about moderation there. If you say you’ll never do it again, you’re setting yourself up to fail.”
Entre-Nous delivers meals all around the Middle Tennessee area, including Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Watertown, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Franklin and Nashville. An average of 900-1,100 meals are delivered each week.
Customers can choose whether to order a single meal, or in some cases, customers choose to order a week’s worth of meals, in which case deliveries are made bi-weekly.
“Our food is always fresh,” she said. “We never freeze anything. Sometimes our customers choose to freeze it when they get it, but we don’t freeze it.”
For more information about Entre-Nous, call 615-330-9231 or visit entrenoustn.com.