Tag Archive: healthy living


Eating healthy when you’re busy is next to impossible, but if I could do it as a single parent and a full-time student and still lose weight, then so can you! In order to stay on track I had to rely on some quick staples and a few think ahead techniques.

Here is my list of healthy staples:

  1. Kashi: Kashi makes an amazing line of whole grain, low-sodium, low-sugar organic snacks. Every single item they make fits into the 10 ingredient rule and stores easily. They also have some healthy frozen meals to keep on hand for those days when you don’t have time to make lunch. Plus, their chewy oatmeal and dark chocolate cookies are awesome!
  2. Frozen fruit and veggies: Healthy meals are a snap with frozen goodies on stand by. You can get organic fruits and veggies in the frozen section of any grocery store. Use what you need when you need them and pair them with a sandwich, chicken breast, or make a light stir fry. Use low-fat greek yogurt and frozen fruit for a healthy, protein rich smoothie on the go. You can drink your breakfast on your way to work or school. **Tip: Get a single serve blender that doubles as a to-go cup. It’s quick and leaves you with less dishes to clean.
  3. Stretch Island Fruit: These tasty chewy treats equal 1/2 serving of fruit and are void of unnatural dyes and white sugars. Pair them with a granola bar, string cheese, or a handful of nuts for a quick snack. Plus, since they’re fruit leather they’ll keep well in the pantry or in your desk at work.
  4. V-8: Get a serving a vegetables fast by keeping V-8 on hand. The big jug is cheaper per serving, but the individual jars are handy for those crazy mornings. Of course, don’t forget to recycle your cans!

Take time once a week to prep your meals and snacks for the whole week. Here are a few make ahead ideas to get you started:

  1. On Sunday make a batch of quinoa, rice, or lentils that can be mixed and matched with different veggies and proteins throughout the week. Use the frozen veggies and precooked meats for super fast meals.
  2. Pre-pack veggies, fruits, and nuts into reusable 1/2 and 1 cup containers that you can grab and go. You can do the same thing with cottage cheese and yogurt. (Plus, by doling out single servings, you’re keeping your consumption in check).
  3. Invest in a crockpot and create healthy one-pot dinners like chili or a seasonal stew. Not only are they easy to make but they save energy (compared to the oven) and make enough servings for more than one meal.
  4. Precook a batch of turkey or chicken that can be used in sandwiches or stir fry or paired with veggies.
  5. Use low or no sodium added chicken, tuna, salmon packed in cans with water (no oils here) to make quick meals. Top on salads, pair with ezekiel bread/tortillas, or add them to casseroles.
  6. Boil a dozen eggs. They make great snacks, protein for salads, or pair them with avocado and ezekiel bread for a fast lunch.

The key is to have plenty of things on hand ready to go for those inevitable mornings when you’re running behind. A little prep work on Sunday, combined with some good ole stand-bys can make the difference to keeping you committed to eating healthy (and staying on budget).

As many of you know, I’m a bit of a health nut. I haven’t always been this way. In fact, I only made the change in the past two years. Before that I was a fast food munching, junk food junkie who treated myself to cake on a daily basis and spent most of my time on the computer.

Then my dad was diagnosed with cancer.

Now my dad is not and has never been healthy–not as long as I’ve known him. He’s a type 1 juvenile diabetic. Over the years he’s gone into diabetic shock more times than I can count, letting his blood sugar waver from below 30 to well above 200 (ideal range is 80-120). He didn’t exercise, ate horrible food, drank, chewed tobacco, and when he had a sugar low instead of eating healthy to maintain his sugar he would counter with a dozen candy bars.

Overtime he developed acid reflux disease (among other things). Repeatedly it ate away at his esophagus until finally his body couldn’t keep up with the repairs. The cells turned cancerous. They gave him a 20% survival rate because of his diabetes, but even if he survived cancer he wouldn’t be the same because he already had advanced renal disease (a side of effect of his diabetes) and the chemo was sure to accelerate that, meaning he would have to start dialysis.

Family members, including myself,  took turns taking my dad to chemo. I sat in the waiting room, reading all of the literature on cancer and other serious diseases. In the many materials where some consistent statements:

  • 1/3 of all cancers are lifestyle related
  • Healthy diet and exercise can prevent cancer
  • Organic foods are best

My dad’s cancer was a result of acid reflux disease. Like many things, my dad didn’t change his diet or manage the acid reflux. Added to his other heath issues, it was bound to happen.

So I sat there in the recovery room with my dad after chemo as he’s being re-hydrated. He has to get up and vomit several times. He was 6’2″ and 225lb when he was diagnosed with cancer. Now,vomiting what little he was able to swallow, his 160lb frail frame staggers back to his chair to finish with the nurse. I’m holding the informational materials on cancer, trying to be strong because right now I just want to cry. I love my dad, but that stubborn bastard can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. He couldv’e taken better care of himself. It would’ve saved us money (medications, hospital costs, monthly checks with the specialists, etc) and my mom wouldn’t be up half the night, jumping at every weird sound he makes, checking to make sure he’s still breathing.

That was when I decided I’m not putting my daughter through this.

Why am I telling you all this? Because, I want you to understand that your health doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone around you. The consequences of poor health can take a severe emotional and financial toll on your family and friends. At least once a week I have a nightmare about my father’s health. It’s hardest on my mother of course. I always wish I could do something more.

I decided to set an example.

It was hard at first. I love cake, and I ‘m not keen on cold, hard veggies. I was working 60+ hours a week and going to school full-time and the sole caregiver for my then four-year old daughter. Of course, my siblings and I have all earned my father’s stubborn streak, so I made sure to use it to my advantage. I didn’t see much difference at first. It took time to change all those little bad habits. In October 2009 I made the commitment to go full throttle. I lost 20lbs of pure fat and dropped from a 12 to a 2. Although I look good, I feel even better. I can go with my daughter to the park. I can go on a 4 mile run and come home and paint a room and still have energy to go dancing. Many of my health issues subsided. Best of all, my daughter loves that I don’t tell her I’m too tired and she knows that I’m doing everything in my power to insure I’ll be there for her for a very long time.

My father’s health issues have been hard on my daughter too. She loves my dad. She’s grandpa’s little girl. It only shows how far one impacts people, and how devastating their decisions can be when they choose not to take care of themselves.

My dad survived the cancer, but he did have to start dialysis. He’s getting a transplant for Christmas, courteous of my mother’s donated kidney. So now I have the stress of having both of my parents in the hospital during Christmas–not my idea of a holiday. I try to keep that to myself, don’t talk about it in front of my mom or dad. They don’t read my blog (they’re not tech savvy) so it’s okay. I can let it out here.

So I implore you, take care of yourself. Get healthy. Go exercise. Lay off the junk food. If not for yourself, do it for your children.

For those of you who don’t know, this time last year I was a size 12 with 34% body fat–not healthy by any means. I was addicted to sugar and other white carbs, including salty chips, and had to force myself to eat what little veggies I did. Then I watched my father go through chemo. I sat there in the hospital, reading the literature lying around, only to discover how many diseases including cancer can either be attributed to or aggravated by poor lifestyle. As a single parent, I knew I needed to get healthy, if not for myself, for my child.

It was difficult to make the change, but I did it in small, manageable increments. Luckily, someone referred me to the Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno. Easy to follow, full of common sense and tasty recipes I was hooked from the get-go. The diet prescribes real, unprocessed food in moderate amounts. Variety and flavor are key to creating tasty, healthy meals that the whole family will enjoy.

Side note: Diet, in its original meaning, refers to the foods commonly eaten. Today we refer to the term “diet” to mean to deny oneself of something, to starve, or some other negative association. Diet does not mean to cut out something or only eat one thing, it’s just quiet simply what you eat.

The basics of the diet prescribe:

  • Small meals 5-6 times a day (an adjustment, but it really does pay off)
  • Eating balanced meals that include fiber, protein, good carbs, and veggies/fruit
  • No processed foods
  • Healthy fats and lean proteins
  • Eat in season, organic when possible
  • Pair healthy eating with exercise

I get the magazine, which features seasonal faves including a healthy Thanksgiving dinner makeover and several desserts (carrot cake, hot cocoa, muffins-yum!).  Most of the meals cost less than $10 per serving (sometimes as little as $2) and not only do I like them, but my husband and 8-year-old daughter love them too! Bonus–most meals take less than 30 minutes to make and require just basic cooking skills. Mommy says sweet!

Of course, the best thing is I don’t diet, I just eat healthy. Now I am a size 2 with 26% (and shrinking) body fat. Along with exercise, I have lowered my metabolic age from 34 (which is older than my real age of 31) down to 24 (yes, I am physically younger than my actual age now!) and that is in just under a year. Health wise, I have eliminated most of my chronic pains, illnesses, and aggravations.What more could you ask for!