Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated

I was inspired to write this by a friend…. she asked me a simple question the other day “how do you eat so healthy all the time?” Well it made me think… my first thought, ‘ha, uhm I am pretty sure all of the smores’ I consumed this summer do not fall into that healthy category!’ but then I answered “honestly, it is not that hard anymore, I just eat what makes me feel good, my body craves good food.” I can assure you… has NOT always been this way! Just a quick personal back story (and then I promise to get right to it!), a few years ago, I was struggling with extreme stomach pains, I went on a 4x a day medication. This medication made me feel tired and dizzy and I also had headaches a lot. I knew something had to change, I have always been pretty active, I enjoy working out, but my energy levels just really kind of sucked and I did not feel good. So I after some research, I decided I would start with changing my eating habits, focusing on minimizing processed foods. I figured it was easy enough and a good place to start. Well, I realized how much better my body felt from just that one small change and it motivated me to learn more, I was determined to get off from any prescription medication. I really made a lot of changes but gradually, over time, nothing super drastic and fast forward a couple years….I have now been off all medications for 3 years, I weigh the same as I did in high school, I feel the best I have felt in my life and 40 is staring me right in the face! Now my skin might be a bit wrinkly (thanks to high school tanning beds and tanning oils…gross!), I have cellulite in places that I have never had (thanks mom…genetics are amazing) but I know I am healthy.  I have the energy to workout 5-6 days a week because I am fueling my body with the nutrients I need and in reality that is what eating is for, fueling our bodies. Of course I still have ‘treats’ but for the most part, my body craves healthy foods because I got rid of all of the junk in my system, it knows what to do with real food and it likes it.

I could go on and on about all the bad foods, sodas, weight loss pills, energy drinks, etc. that are messing with our bodies but instead I want to focus on the positive things that I know, when I do consistently, make my body is happy! There are a million really, really good ‘eat clean’ and ‘get healthy’ websites and facebook/social media pages out there and a lot, by a lot, I mean millions of resources available and places you can go to find information on healthy eating (can someone say information overload?!?!?!)! The ideas and opinions are endless but the reality is that it all can be very overwhelming, especially if you are just trying to start somewhere to make a few changes to feel better. In my opinion, it is best to not over complicate….just make it easy!

So this week’s Top 5 are the five things that I do to fuel my body with the right stuff:

1) Always choose plain

Any time I am buying any type of yogurt, oatmeal, etc….I always buy plain. I know you are thinking really Tara….BORING…. but it is not boring at all! I add natural things like fresh fruits, veggies, raw nuts, raw local honey or fresh local maple syrup. It is so easy and incredibly delicious!  If you read the ingredients to the yogurt or oatmeal that has fruit added, it is downright scary! And then, the combine that with those that say fat-free and sugar free….the ingredients basically lists a bunch of toxic chemicals. I promise you that full fat and natural sugars (like the sugar found in fresh fruit) will not go right to your thighs!! Your body knows what to do with these things, our digestive system was built to process real food, not to process chemicals!

My favorite way to make yogurt or oatmeal, especially in the fall, is to cut up half of an apple (you can quick saute it in a pan with a little coconut oil and cinnamon or apple pie spice if you want it warm), add a handful of raw almonds (I am allergic to walnuts but those would be delicious too), sprinkle your spices and then drizzle raw honey…it tastes like apple pie a la mode! So so so easy, delicious and your body will absolutely love you! I challenge you to get creative, make your own recipes at home, it is really the best way to avoid all the added junk! Choose plain and then add your own seasonings! Have fun with it!

Black coffee with ‘Apple pie’ yogurt

2) Probiotics and Apple Cider Vinegar

My grandfather always took probiotics and drank apple cider vinegar. I thought it was so weird as a kid that he would do this but now, I know why! When I had a stomach-ache as a kid, my grandma always gave me these weird chewable things….now these weird chewy things (also known as acidophilus) are popular again along with a variety of probiotics because we finally realized that our body needs good bacteria. Due to the nature of how processed all of our foods are here in the mighty USA, the natural probiotics have been removed from a lot of foods. This my friends is a huge factor in our obesity crisis as well as our pharmaceutical nightmare, we are prescribed meds to treat symptoms of meds, to treat symptoms of meds….it goes on and on. I know the term ‘healthy gut’ is all the trend right now but it really does matter! I do strongly feel that medications are so quickly prescribed without looking at nutrition first. There are absolutely times when medications are needed but so many times I see people on a bunch of medications for side effects of other medications…it is a vicious cycle.

There are many brands to choose from on the market when it comes to both apple cider vinegar and probiotics but a couple of things you need to look for when choosing what works best for you:

  • Look for Raw when it comes to apple cider vinegar, it should not be clear and it is often a little ‘chunky’ at the bottom. Don’t be grossed out by it, it will be ok, I promise J I mix my vinegar with a little water and just drink it quickly. If you have trouble with the taste, you can mix it with a little lemon and cinnamon…but really just add a little water and suck it up 🙂
  • With Probiotics, looks for some of these strains: Lactobaccilus plantarum, Lactobaccilus acidophilus, Lactobaccilus brevis, Bifidobacterium lactis and Bifidobacterium longum. There are a lot of different strains that provide benefits, but these are the ones that are the best in supporting your body’s natural biology.
  • You can also find natural probiotics in dairy foods like buttermilk, some soft cheeses, fermented and unfermented milk, and kefir, as well as fermented foods like tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and some pickles.
  • Remember all probiotics are not created equal, if they do not have live strains in them then they are really wasting your money so I would suggest doing a little research and also trying a couple out. I don’t want to recommend any specific brand since I think everyone’s bodies are a little different but I will share that I drink Bragg’s Apple Cider vinegar every day in the morning and I also take probiotics every day. Currently my two favorite brands of Probiotics are Garden of Life Raw Probiotics (these are kept in the refrigerator) and I also like the ProBio5 by Plexus (mostly for traveling because they do not have to be refrigerated and they still have the good stuff).

3) Buy Non-GMO

Ok, ok, I know this is sounding trendy now but I truly believe, GMO’s are another contributor to our problem with obesity and overuse of medications. If you watch a few documentaries….it is scary. But for real, our bodies are having issues because they do not know how to process foods that have been genetically modified. It is super easy to find foods that are non-GMO…just look at the label or look for the word organic, if something is certified organic, it has to also be non-GMO. It is getting easier and easier to find non-GMO foods and I feel the more we support non-GMO company’s and farmers, the sooner this problem will be eliminated from our society. Again, I could go on and on but I will tell you 100%, when I cut GMO’s out or my diet, my body quit doing weird unexplained things (I will avoid a TMI moment here) and it has been happy ever since!

If you want to know more about GMO’s – I would suggest starting here:



4) Read ingredient labels

I try to stick to the 80/20 rule with ingredients of all of the food I eat. The rules I follow for at least 80% of my food are:

  • I must be able to pronounce all of the ingredients
  • There must be only 5 ingredients or less on the label
  • No ‘fake sugars’ or added sugars – sugars are hidden under a lot of crafty names…be on the lookout (see pic below)
  • Non-GMO and/or Organic
  • No processed flours
  • Very minimal added flavor, seasonings, sauces, no MSG, etc…you can add your own flavor from the spice cabinet!

Once you start actually reading labels, you will be surprised and maybe a little bit scared. A really good example is peanut butter…the only ingredient really should be peanuts….take a look and see what is in yours…it might be more than you expect! I know it seems like a simple task but if you do this and do it consistently, you will become more aware of what you are feeding your body and more aware of when you feel good and when you feel bad!! Everyone’s bodies react different to different foods so label reading is key to knowing what makes you feel good!

Can I get an Amen!
Just a few names for sugar….and there are even more!

5) 4×4 Fruit and Veggie Rule

This one is super simple but it works!! I try to eat at least 4 servings of fruits and 4 servings of veggies each day. When I feel snacky, I go first for a fruit or veggie if I have not got my 4 in yet for the day. Initially, when I started tracking how many fruits and veggies I was having each day, I was shocked to find out that I was sometimes only having one of each. I have always thought of myself as a pretty healthy eater but honestly, this is where I was lacking. I have found that when I make sure I get in the fruits and veggies before other snacks, I usually end up not eating other snacks because I am satisfied and full.  One way to make it easier is to cut up all my veggies and keep them easy to grab and always keep fruit visible! When you can see it, you will grab it first! Portion control is still important here…even with the good stuff!fruit

**disclaimer** I am not a nutritionist or an expert in any of this (but I do know a few good ones if you want references!!), I am just sharing what works for my body!

Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read. I am hoping, through sharing my ideas, I can help you to challenge yourself to try to make at least one small change to feel better and have more energy! The bottom line is that there is not a magic potion, pill, shake, bar or secret trick to healthy eating, just eat real food and go from there! Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or want other ideas! I love to share!! There is so much happening around us (these crazy politics though…can that just be over soon?!?!)… let’s all just be kind, lift each other up, encourage one another, choose happy and enjoy today!

Enjoy Today ~ Choose Happy 🙂



The Launch

The Launch

The Launch

I am finally ready to talk about it…I think 🙂 I am sorry for the overload of pictures.  This blog is for all of my mama (and daddio) friends with kids who have not yet graduated. It is a friendly warning and something NO ONE EVER prepares you for…THE LAUNCH! What is the launch you ask? Well it is when you launch your child, your baby, into the adult world. When you have kids, people prepare you for all kinds of things through the infant, toddler, tween and teenage years…you know what to expect, they write books about it, they have all kinds of groups for new moms, you have the ability to be super involved in every part of  your kid’s lives..….and then it happens….they Launch….. this my friends, will bring you the craziest roller coaster of emotions you have ever been on, you will not be prepared. It is such a cool yet crazy time, watching your ‘8 pound, 6 ounce Baby Jesus’ transition from child to adult in front of your eyes. You will feel happy, sad, proud, disappointed, love, rejection, calm, scared, lost, free, worried, excited, relieved….you name it, you will feel it!

How did we go from this….
….to this?!?!

This launch is similar to a rocket launch; years and years are spent building the launch pad to make sure every part of that base is ready for take off and just as much time spent training for what will happen during and after the launch. And then launch time comes, everyone is ready, the launch pad is solid and well built, everyone involved has been working so hard to get to this day and with the push of a button…take off….everyone holding their breath, hoping all the years of hard work and preparation pay off for that rocket to arrive smoothly and safely to its destination without major incident. You see, launch an adult child into the world is so very similar. You do all of the prep work, you prepare that foundation for them to launch, you train for endless hours as to what to do in the real world and then you have to push the button, you have to let that rocket, your child, launch.

I am still trying to wrap my head around it, I am not sure how I feel most days but it happened this year; my baby boy launched. It is still so strange to think of Alex, my big blue eyed baby boy, my super busy toddler who climbed EVERYTHING, my little (and then big) hockey player, my boy obsessed with construction vehicles and who loved all things fishing is now an adult. It is so so strange but here he is, adulting his butt off and I have to sit back and try not to mom my butt off on his adultness!

So for my own selfish purposes,  I decided the best way to deal would be to share the top 5 things this week that I was not prepared for when launching:

1) You will miss weird things.

You will miss things you never thought you would miss. You will miss the smell of them just being in the house (yes, even those disgusting boy smells….hockey gear is the worst!). You will miss the piles of laundry that one child can create (seriously though, it still amazes me how much laundry one child can produce). You  will miss the side hugs, the messy bathroom (again boys are gross), the random eye rolls, sitting on the couch with them, the TV shows they watch, the sound of them walking around, their grumbling voice in the morning when you are pushing them out the door to go to school. You will buy cereal at the grocery store that no one else eats but them and then realize you all of a sudden have a stock pile of cereal that no one is eating. You will make enough food for them every single time you cook even though you know they will not be there for dinner. You will miss driving them around (I know it is crazy when you’re in the middle of it all but I promise, you will miss it and all of the car conversations you have!) All of it, good and bad, you will have moments when you realize that your life is very different now that they have launched and you miss them, all of them, yet you will be very thankful for your time with them.

2) Parenting an adult child might be harder than parenting a child child.

Letting your child adult is so so hard. Watching them fail, falter, make mistakes, letting them make decisions without your influence….it is all hard. Honestly, I am surprised I have not bit completely through my tongue! But you have to trust that you have done your job and now your role as mom (or dad) has changed. Your job now is to guide, love, and support them through adulting, but we no longer get to be the boss of them! It is weird! I liked being the boss 🙂 We have to sit back and trust that in the back of their mind somewhere they are thinking ‘would my parents be ok with this decision?’ or ‘how would my parents make this decision?’. We have to hope that all of our hard work has paid off and that they will become respectful, kind, loving young adults who can make responsible decisions. We have to pray for them that they do not make a decision that is so bad that it affects them negatively for the rest of their lives but that they know it is ok to make mistakes, fail and fall and they know that they always have us here to talk to. We lay awake at night not because our babies are up crying or not sleeping but because we are worried about them. This part of parenting, the letting go part, is really really hard. I was not prepared.

3) The quality of time becomes way more important than the quantity of time.

I love every time Alex sends me a text, randomly stops by, requests homemade chocolate chip cookies, or comes for dinner.  Last week in my blog I talked about family dinners and oh my word, I never knew that they would become so meaningful. We have always had them and maybe I am guilty of taking them a for granted or maybe they just were not as enjoyable because let’s face it, dinner table with little kids can be a bit (ok a lot) stressful!! Now, once they start adulting, they all sit there and actually eat their food without lying under the table or crying about the food on their plates and they can have actual, normal volume conversations! I try to not be that crazy mom asking a thousand questions about what has happened over the past few days since we last talked but it is hard. I want to squeeze him up and be obnoxious but hold back, I reel it in and play it cool….I just realize that although my time with him is way less than what it used to be, I still have it, I am so grateful for this, so I will take a quality dinner date or a silly text or phone call any day, any time….I will enjoy every second of it, I will be thankful for every moment we have together, life is too short!

4) You get to have actual adult conversations!

It is so cool you guys, real conversations and they actually understand you, they get it! You can talk about money, politics, bills, people, movies, just random life stuff and they get it, they have intelligent responses, they carry on actual conversations and they understand why things matter to adults! It is the absolute best part, it is fun, take in every moment and don’t’ forget #3, it is quality not quantity!

5) They start saying ‘I love you’ to you again.

There is a period of time, the tween through the teenage years where they just kind of stop. They may not stop saying it completely but the passion behind it, the meaning behind it, is not like it was when they were 4 and looked up at you with those big eyes and said “I love you mommy’. It changes as they navigate tween and teenhood.  They say other things, like why are you so mean (which translates into thanks for loving me mom!)  or they say ‘love you’ halfheartedly because they think they should.  Once they launch, they reach this point when they realize, crap, I love and need my parents, I better tell them. When they say ‘I love you’ to you from the heart again, like that 4 year old or they give you a big giant hug that lasts a little longer than it has in years and you can tell it is a ‘I just really need my mommy’ kind of hug….it will melt you. Be prepared, you will be a puddle but you have to stay strong until they walk out the door for fear that your emotional disaster might scare them away!! I am just warning you it happens…you can prepare all you want, you won’t be ready…just a fair warning!

Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read and scroll through the picture overload. I am hoping, through my recent emotional roller coaster, I can at least prepare you for what’s ahead and encourage you that you are not at all alone! When it happens and you need someone, please call me, I will come with a Launch Emergency Kit…it includes coffee, wine, tissues, prayer, and  salty/crunchy/chocolaty snacks (you will need them all) and we can cry and laugh together! Here is the thing, remember you made it, they made it, you successfully raised your baby into an adult and with any luck, maybe just maybe, they will make this world a better place because of you 🙂

I have to do this all over again next year when I launch Andie into the adult world so I figure if I write my emotions down now and read this next year to try to prepare….wait, who am I kidding, I will still be a mess so someone please bring the Launch Emergency Kit…I will need it!!!

We only have one today, let’s choose happy and enjoy it!

Enjoy Today ~ Choose Happy 🙂