Hi y’all! My name was Briana Thomas but is now Briana (Thomas) Burkholder, thanks to the handsome man in the picture above. I started blogging – and the Trim Healthy Mama healthy eating lifestyle – in 2013 at the age of 17. I’ll let you do the math to figure out how old I am now. 😉 I’m passionate about making healthy eating easy, budget friendly, and fun. You can find tons of recipes in the RECIPE INDEX here on my website as well as in my two cookbooks, Necessary Food (2016) and Convenient Food (2018)! I love to make healthier versions of the yummy Mennonite church cookbook recipes I grew up on, but I also venture out into (my version of) ethnic cuisines and some zany Briana creations as well. Gotta keep life interesting. Especially for those poor clerks at the grocery store when I show up with a cart load of fresh produce that they’ve never seen before. (“What’s this?” Rutabaga.)
Growing Up & Hobbies
I grew up as the oldest child in a wonderful family in Upstate South Carolina. (AKA the most beautiful, friendliest, best-of-both-worlds spot in, well, the whole world!) I always enjoyed school, especially algebra, and I’m pretty nitpicky about grammar. If you find mistakes anywhere on my blog (that were not used for stylistic purposes), please let me know. Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and O. Henry and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are some of my favorite authors! In my adult life I’ve gravitated towards biographies and true stories, but I still enjoy a well-written novel now and then. PS – I love getting book recommendations from my blog readers!
Music has always been a big part of my life. One of my earliest memories is my grandma singing “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” while rocking me to sleep, and I’ve always loved the 4-part harmony a cappella singing at church. When I attended a youth Bible school and participated in a choir for several weeks at age 18, I became hooked on sacred choral music. Since then I’ve attended Shenandoah Christian Music Camp a few times and toured with their Chamber Choir, taken some voice lessons, sang with Laudate Mennonite Ensemble in 2016 and 2018, went to South Africa for a 3-week tour with Aspire Ensemble in 2017, and participated in a community choir in Louisiana. These experiences have been some of the best of my life and have led me to so many of my good friends! I love choral music because it is a) worship and b) communal. Choral music, just like church and family and all the most beautiful and essential things in this world, needs community to thrive. You can see some of my music posts HERE.
Horses have been my other main hobby in life, but unfortunately I have been horseless since getting married. Well, I still own a horse – a cantankerous but lovable flea speckled grey Arab cross named Traveler who is one year older than I am – but he still lives back in South Carolina with my family and his long-time pasture mates. Once my husband Ryan is finished with his training, hopefully we can settle down in a place with some land and a pasture and I can once again have a few horses to take care of. Not only are horses great companions, but they can teach you a lot about life – and body language, and self control, and responsibility, and hard work, and even child training! You can see some of my horse posts HERE.
God is absolutely first and foremost in my life – above “hobby” status, I trust! My goal in life is to bring glory to my Father in Heaven and share the redemptive work of Jesus Christ with those around me so they can find a home in God’s family just as I have. Occasionally I write devotional-type posts, which you can find HERE.
How the Blog Came to Be
I really struggled with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) tendencies during high school, although I was never formally diagnosed. My original plan was to go to college to get a degree in counseling and then open a therapeutic riding program/horse farm as a ministry, but because school seemed to trigger the OCD, I took a gap year before jumping into college. In that year (living at home with my family) I started the blog as a creative outlet – something I’d been thinking about for awhile but didn’t have time to do while still in school. I waitressed for a few months before realizing that I could monetize this blogging hobby of mine! I started blogging full time, learning the ropes through lots of experimentation, research, and online tutorials. I abandoned the college idea when I realized that God had other plans in store for me for which I did not need a degree. I took some part time jobs on the side – mostly having to do with horses and selling peaches for my grandparents in Holmes County, Ohio. People were soon requesting a cookbook of my recipes so I (self)published Necessary Food in 2016. I met my future husband in the spring of 2017 and we were married in February of 2018, after which I moved to Louisiana to join him where he was doing his intern year of Internal Medicine residency. I immediately jumped into working on Convenient Food, my second cookbook (probably not the best timing), which was published in the fall of 2018. Since then I’ve decided to take a break on big projects for awhile. 😛 Now I’m enjoying recipe experimentation without deadlines and just keeping up with the blog and book sales. Who knows what the future holds, but we have a lot of transitions ahead of us in the next few years with my husband’s job and hopefully starting a family, so I want to keep my schedule more free. The blog has been relegated to hobby status.
You can CLICK HERE to read some of my blogging tips posts!
How I Met My Husband & the Doc Wife Life
As of February 17th, 2018, I am now Briana Thomas Burkholder! A very interesting young man waltzed into my life unexpectedly in the spring of 2017…you can read PART 1 and PART 2 of our love story here on the blog (and CLICK HERE to see some wedding pictures). My husband Ryan is a doctor finishing his residency in Internal Medicine, and he adds so much color, stability, and leadership to my life. I learn SO much from him! Transitioning from “single entrepreneur” to “wife” has had its challenges and I’m still trying to find the balance between work and home life and teaching myself to slow down a little, but God is faithfully showing me where He wants me. Marriage has been the most refining but rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced, and Ryan and I balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses quite well – with a little friction at times. We’re both independent and driven firstborns, after all! (For all you MBTI nerds out there, I’m an INTJ and Ryan is an ENTJ. It’s an interesting combination for sure.)
My husband’s schedule is very demanding; he works really long hours and his schedule is always changing. (We’ll see if that gets any better once we enter fellowship.) I’m so proud of Ryan and it helps to know that when he’s not at home he’s literally being used by God to save lives, but the doc wife life can be lonely and isolated at times. Thankfully I’m quite introverted by nature – and rather independent – so all the quiet time and traveling by myself to see family or attend events or just go to church doesn’t bother me as much as it might some people. I’ve been very grateful for my blog because it gives me a significant project of my own to work on when I’m home alone. When we have children I’m not sure how active I’ll be able to be online (I don’t want my children to remember me as an absent mother always on her computer!), but for now I’m enjoying keeping up with the blog…albeit as more of a hobby than a business. Real life will always come first, and I have personal creative projects that I enjoy (recently crocheting!), plus keeping the household running and reaching out in the community.
If I wouldn’t have struggled with OCD in high school and taken a gap year before jumping into college, I probably wouldn’t have started the blog when I did. It probably wouldn’t have existed, or at least not become as well read as it is, and I may never have met Ryan! (Read our love story to find out how we met.) Talk about a God thing!
As of the spring of 2020, we are finishing up residency in Louisiana and anticipating a move to Ohio in June for three years of gastroenterology fellowship! God only knows what the future holds, but Lord willing we’ll be free to move where we please and be officially done with training in the summer of 2023!
The Blog Name
When I was a youthful 17 year old still living at home, I started my first blog on Google Blogspot under the unwieldy moniker “Capall Equine Photography and Training” because horse training and photography were my original passions – not recipe creation. (Capall is the Gaelic word for horse.) My mom had started Trim Healthy Mama a few months before, and after I graduated I realized that I enjoyed creating recipes that fit this new healthy lifestyle, so I published some on my blog as a means of getting traffic to it – which I would eventually mine for my horse photography and training business…haha. The blog quickly took off (this was right on the upswing of Trim Healthy Mama when there weren’t that many bloggers in the pool!) to my great surprise, and before a year had passed I realized that I should switch to WordPress like most successful bloggers and switch gears. I rebranded under my name – Briana Thomas – because I wanted this blog to be unmistakably me and I figured it would be a short, simple name to remember.
Fast forward to that time my name changed – when I got married! I wanted to take my husband’s name “in real life,” but I knew I would lose a lot of brand recognition and blog traffic if I changed my web address, site name, logo, and everything I had worked so hard to build. My husband understood and was fine with my leaving my business name as-is, so I’m Briana Burkholder in day to day life and Briana Thomas or Briana Thomas Burkholder on the blog.
Trim Healthy Mama
I follow a healthy eating lifestyle called Trim Healthy Mama and have done so since 2013. This is a way of life for me, and when I’m at home I stick to the plan most of the time. When traveling I do the best I can, but I eat what I’m served and I’m definitely not above a splurge now and then. When you’ve been doing this for 6+ years, you realize that it’s not so much about the occasional ice cream cone as it is the majority of the choices you make in a week’s time. Trim Healthy Mama is a low glycemic eating plan that focuses on healthy fats and healthy carbs – but not in the same meal! All the recipes on my site are THM friendly to the best of my knowledge, and a lot of them are acceptable to other eating plans as well! The S recipes focus on healthy fats and are low in carbs, and the E recipes focus on healthy carbs and are low in fats. You can CLICK HERE to check out my tips for Starting THM and find out more about the plan. CLICK HERE to read my most recent update post!
Random Fun Fact
My name gets misspelled and mispronounced more than 50% of the time on the first try, and about 25% of the time on subsequent encounters. I really don’t understand why people persist on spelling it wrong on social media and when they comment on my very own blog when my name is written there for all the world to see! For the record, my name is pronounced “Bree-AH-nah.” Not “Bree-ANN-nah.” Because it has one n, not two. If you get it wrong, I answer to both by necessity. 😛