I grew up eating superfoods. You know, things like flaxseeds, wheatgrass, and cod liver oil. Movement, whether it was exercise, sports, or just goofing around, was also a big part of my upbringing. I was not the typical kid, and my health nut dad, founder and CEO of On Target Living, is to blame…or thank. In his former life, my dad was the fitness director of one of the largest athletic clubs in the country. To me, however, the club was one big jungle gym. Every day it was some combination of basketball, swimming, tennis, and hot tubbing, finished off with a snack in the club’s restaurant. I had my choice of strawberry shortcake popsicles, chicken fingers, and French fries. Instead, without fail, I would choose a giant plate of pickles because they at least resembled my favorite snack—cucumbers!
My family vacations were always centered on some form of exercise, such as hiking the sand dunes of Northern Michigan or skiing in Colorado. But no matter where we went or what we did for our vacations, we would pack up the car with a cooler full of grilled chicken and sliced bell peppers. We also made sure to snap a few pictures yoga posing along the way. The typical family, right? I thought so, until my teenage years. Like most teenagers, socializing became my existence. The more time I spent away from my house and my family, the more I began to see that my lifestyle wasn’t so normal after all. My friends and their families were eating potato chips, pizza, and cookies; drinking soda and energy drinks. Nobody even knew what the heck a superfood was! It got to the point where I couldn’t help but feel that I had been missing out on all of the so called “good stuff.” Here I was, mortified, eating hummus and my beloved cucumbers for school lunch when all of my friends had Doritos or Oatmeal Cream Pies. I remember asking my dad, why can’t we eat like normal people, why do you have to be such a freak? All I wanted to do was fit in, be hip and cool. I decided to do the opposite of everything my dad practiced and preached. The happy and healthy young girl turned into a junk-food-eating teenager. Fast-food with friends was the new norm. I even got a job at Johnny Rockets serving up hamburgers, with free food and milkshakes anytime I wanted. It was the life, so I thought...
Just a few months and fifteen pounds later, I was diagnosed with asthma and put on an inhaler. At the time, I was a promising track athlete, but with my new lifestyle, I was running the worst times of my life. I felt terrible too. It wasn’t that hard to connect the dots. My new lifestyle, the opposite extreme of how I was raised, was not sustainable.
Slowly, I fell back into eating superfoods, like I did as a kid. But I struggled with the taste of many of these foods and didn’t enjoy the process of consuming them. This is where and how my mom really influenced me. She’s the best cook I know, and thankfully she got me into the kitchen and cooking at a very young age. We began experimenting with superfoods in the kitchen, incorporating them into the dishes we loved. Believe me, there was plenty of trial and error, but also plenty of success. Importantly, I learned from my Mom that food is more than just something we put into our bodies; it’s an experience that’s meant to be enjoyed.
“Looking back, my Mom is truly the one that changed my life and taught me that it’s the story of food that is so powerful. She made me realize that there is so much more to eating than to lose weight or be healthy. Food is an experience and it’s meant to be enjoyed in every way. Thanks Mom!”
I began incorporating this philosophy of mindfulness not only into eating but also everyday living. I no longer ate certain foods just because they were healthy, instead I endeavored to make great-tasting, healthy food. Rather than exercise just because I knew it was good for me, I found new and fun ways to get my body moving. The benefits were both immediate and long-lasting. I lost the weight and, guess what?, my asthma magically disappeared. Now as a dietitian, keynote speaker, mindful living expert, and Chief Nutrition Officer at On Target Living, I teach people how to live a healthy lifestyle that blends mindful eating, mindful movement, and the things that make you happy. It's a lifestyle where you really can have it all. -Kristen