My name is Karen and I’m a busy entrepreneur – mother – wife – and a whole bunch of other hats that I wear depending on the day. TK and I have been married for 21 years. Our daughters are 19 and 15 and they are amazing. So mature and well-adjusted and committed to their own health and well-being…what every parent wants for their kids. And, we all have this reputation for being super healthy.
People look at our family as the epitome of happy, healthy living, but there’s a lot more to our story.
I never really had a weight problem, so I just didn’t worry too much about my food. I just kind of ate because I had to. I think that was my entire approach to food. When my daughters were babies, I tried to buy the best formulas and baby foods, but I was pretty clueless back then.
As the girls grew, I did the best I knew how. I had never really learned to cook – after all, I grew up in the era of boxes and pre-packaged meals. I thought it was awesome you could just buy pre-made dinners in the freezer section at Costco or a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. Hey, it worked for me. I was crazy busy with my business and trying to be a good wife and mother.
What I didn’t realize was what was happening to our food system starting in the mid-90’s. I didn’t realize the changes that were taking place in how our food is grown, the chemicals that were introduced during that time, etc. I didn’t associate my family’s health with the food we were eating. I just bought what appeared to be the best brands – trusting the labels to tell the full story.
I don’t think I ever really understood TK’s struggle with weight, but I exercised with him and joined him on whatever diet he was trying. We did our best. But somehow, each year we found ourselves a little less healthy. I had resolved myself to the cellulite throughout my legs and beginning to appear in my arms. I figured that was just the price of being a mother. No cream was going to fix it. I was also becoming more accepting of the fatigue I felt on a regular basis. After all, I was a busy working mom. Surely, I was supposed to feel that way.
To be honest, my daughters grew up on pasta, macaroni & cheese in a blue box, chicken nuggets, pizza, Taco Bell, frozen food, Lunchables, yogurt in tubes, Frito Lay chips of all varieties and Fruit Rollups. Oh, and a nightly bowl of ice cream. I didn’t worry much about them. They were slim and they were young. Let them eat what they want. As long as they ate something – and at least a couple of bites of vegetables at dinner.
As TK and I moved along on our own personal fitness journey, we tried to clean up our act at home. We did our best to ‘eat healthy’ based on what we learned from various diet programs – low carbs, no carb, low fat, Atkins, South Beach, you name it. We bought no-fat yogurts, lean meats, and anything packaged was always reduced fat, low-fat, no sugar added, 100% natural, whole wheat or low calorie.
If you had asked us if we ate healthy, we would definitely have said yes. We thought we were doing pretty good. (Boring as heck, but healthy.)
The truth is, I dreaded dinner. Why? Because the healthier we got, the more of a bore dinner became. Someone was always turning up their nose – either because they were bored with it or didn’t like it. I couldn’t get the girls to eat their broccoli or carrots. A salad was beyond question. And, we were forever having to count calories or follow some restrictive diet. It was no fun. Dinner was just one more ‘chore’ on the daily to-do list. (And, don’t even get me started on the misery of grocery shopping & meal planning).
We also ate out a lot. It was more fun. Everyone could choose what they wanted. And, it made it possible for me to avoid the rolling eyes and the dirty dishes. Somewhere along the way, we realized we were eating out about 3-4 times/week. It was a line-item on our budget. And, a fairly big one.
Okay, so that was my life.
People who know us now would find all of this hard to believe. You won’t find convenience food or typical snacks in our cupboard. There is virtually no sugar, dairy or meat in our house. No soda or sweetened beverages. And yet, food has become something that really brings our family together & draws us home.
Even as teenagers, the girls go out of their way to make sure they are home for dinner – not just because it’s good food, but because that commitment to healthy eating has become one of those core values that brings the four of us together.
In fact, “What’s for dinner?” has become a question that we all look forward to every day.
When I look back, I can’t believe the transformation. The fact that everyone looks forward to dinner. The fact that we are eating such amazing nutritious food & loving it. The fact that we never count calories or worry about our weight. The fact that we are in the best shape of our lives. That we feel so amazing & that we have so much energy – even at the end of a long day. That we eat over 90% of our meals at home.
We are just like a lot of other families. But, we got lucky. Lucky that we made some choices that pointed us in a new direction.
It’s been a fascinating journey. I want to help get the word out to other moms – Hey, if I can do it, you can do it!
In the process, we’ve realized that there are many myths we all live with when it comes to health, nutrition, weight and wellness – especially us women. The truth is:
- Dieting is not the answer to long-term weight loss
- That extra weight you struggle with – is not there because you have no will-power & are lazy
- Cellulite is optional!
- Dinner doesn’t have to be boring
- Teenage girls can learn to love food & honor their own bodies and well-being
- You can feel sexy – even after children, even after being married 20 years, even after turning 40 🙂
- You can feel a constant energy throughout the day – never wanting a nap (seriously!)
- You can learn to prepare delicious, super easy food in less time than it takes to order take out or eat out
- You can afford to eat the highest quality food when you plan right
- You can change the way food is produced in this country – simply by making better choices for your own family
Now that our family is enjoying this amazing lifestyle…we can’t help but share what we’ve learned.
Now that TK has discovered the way to achieve permanent weight loss, he has gotten certified to help others as a nutrition coach and has made this his life’s work. Tyler is studying at college to become a registered dietician so she can have a role in helping people live healthier lives. And, Kady dreams of becoming a vegan chef one day and opening her own restaurant to show people how delicious healthy food can be.
Yeah, if you had told me even three years ago that I’d be running a meal planning, recipe & grocery list service – and passionately writing and sharing information about healthy eating, I would have politely smiled while I tried not to laugh.
All I can say is that if this kind of change can happen at our house, it can happen ANYwhere.
If you’re looking to lead a healthier life, to get away from processed foods, feed your family well, raise kids who are committed to their own health & well-being, and just get rid of the guilt around food….the guilt of someone seeing what’s in your grocery cart, the guilt of that vice you turn to when you’re feeling low, the need to justify every morsel you put in your mouth…yeah, forget about that stuff & come hang out with us.
We can’t wait to share everything we’ve learned with you because it is going to have such a huge impact on not only your family’s health, but in ways you just can’t anticipate.
Magic stuff happens around the dinner table.
Some of our happiest family memories have happened in the kitchen and around the dinner table and that’s what we hope to bring to your home.
Jump in and hang out with us. And, don’t hesitate to contact us for anything. We’d love to connect with you.
Karen Friend Smith