The Family

So here’s our story (The long version)

 

My name is Karen and my husband TK and I have been married for 21 years, which makes us kind of an anomaly in the world today. Not just because we’ve been married so long, but because we are also in the best shape of our lives, we have fun being together and, well, it just keeps getting better year after year. We have two beautiful daughters. Tyler is 19 and Kady is 15 and they are both amazing.

People look at our family as the epitome of healthy living. Seriously, friends have referenced us as the “Barbie” family. Picture perfect. Wonderfully happy. Super healthy. Our daughters are not only beautiful, but they are so mature and well-adjusted…the kind of kids every parent dreams of.  And, if that weren’t enough, they also make healthy eating a priority and always make sure they are home for dinner.

Having teenagers that make coming home for dinner a priority is probably even more unusual than us being married for 21 years. And, it’s not just ‘dinner’, but a high-quality, healthy, whole-foods dinner full of fresh organic produce & vegetables. (Who knew that would be a reason to come home?)

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. In fact, “What’s for dinner?” has become a question that we all look forward to.

But, the truth is….it hasn’t always been this way.

Not too long ago, I would have been embarrassed for you to look in my pantry or fridge. It was full of stuff we bought at Costco – pre-packed, frozen, bulk stuff. Dare I say it? Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Rice-a-roni, Hamburger Helper. I didn’t have the slightest idea how to cook, nor was I even interested in learning. Why would I? My girls and I have always been picky eaters. It’s one of the excuses I used for why I didn’t really need to expand on my cooking skills – nobody would eat something new, even if I tried.

Sure, for the most part, we ate dinner together every night, but it always involved something pre-packaged – some kind of box. (If you had asked me to bring something to a potluck, it would have been a veggie tray I picked up at the grocery store or a bag a tortilla chips and a jar of salsa. I really had no interest in food.)

We tried.

That said, we honestly did our best to ‘eat healthy’ at our house. TK was forever struggling with his weight, at one point carrying an extra 70 pounds. His blood pressure and cholesterol were high and diabetes ran in his family. Our daughter, Kady was diagnosed with a form of lupus. And, as we approached our 40s, we had natural concerns about our own health, which seemed to be declining each year.

So, 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. Often times we were on special diets – low carbs, no carb, low fat, Atkins, South Beach, you name it. When we did cook, it was stuff like chicken, rice, broccoli or lean ground turkey mixed into some kind of pasta sauce with whole wheat pasta. 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.)

It sucked.

The truth is, I dreaded dinner. Why? Because always someone was 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.

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 food. 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.

It’s amazing.

We’re not a “Barbie” family. We’re just a lucky one. Lucky that we made some choices that turned us down another path and pointed us in a new direction.

Our mission

And, now that we’re here…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…I hope you’ll 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 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.

In health,

Karen Friend Smith

karen@thekitchenskinny.com