Caroline shares how KUBE filtered water has changed her lifestyle

editor’s note:  My older sister Sarah is my fitness and wellness inspiration. In fact, when you’ve asked me in the past to share workout and health-related content, I’ve always directed you to her Instagram because she is the best when it comes to motivating and inspiring others.  Needless to say, she was an ideal contributor for our October wellness series.  I love her overall approach to life, but I especially admire how she makes fitness and nutrition – which can be intimidating topics – simple, relatable and effective.  I know so many of you will relate to what she has to say and be inspired to take these easy steps to get on the right track.

In a world full of Pinterest moms, multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, and health advice coming at you from every angle, it’s hard not to be a little lost when it comes to healthy eating. I get it.

Right this second, I’m giving you permission to take a deep breath and make your life as easy as possible when it comes to eating RIGHT. The great thing is, eating healthy isn’t supposed to be hard. We make it HARD.

When I grocery shop it looks the same every week because it works for my family! I don’t have to stress about what I’m going to buy, remembering recipes while I’m at the store, or how long it will REALLY take me to cook when the cookbook says “45 Minutes.”

I know what you’re going to ask next. “Where do I start?”

Step 1: change your MINDSET. Food is fuel for our bodies, but how we think of food has shifted, especially over the last few decades. When we celebrate, we do so with food. When we have a bad day, we eat and drink. When we are too tired to function, we drive through and grab junk. Food wasn’t created as a reward system. It’s there to FUEL our bodies and minds so we can perform at a high level. The moment we realize that we should be eating to LIVE, not living to EAT, everything changes!

Step 2: PURGE the junk in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. If you have more food in your pantry than refrigerator or freezer, we have some work to do! As you adjust to a healthier lifestyle, you’ll realize that you have less food in your pantry because you’re start gravitating towards fresh, unprocessed ingredients. Take a donation to your local food pantry if you’re going to get all of the junk out of your house, or make a firm plan to finish it over the next week or two, then never buy it again.

Step 3: Make healthy eating EASY; it doesn’t need to be hard or time consuming.  I make the same 3-4 meals every week, and I make enough to last 2-3 days. I always grab plenty of lean meats and veggies for meals and fruit and nuts for snacks. The meals on rotation at my house are turkey taco salads, spaghetti with whole wheat pasta and pre-made marinara sauce (gasp!), and rotisserie chicken with brown rice and roasted veggies.

Step 4: Shop the PERIMETER of the store. The best things to buy aren’t in a package. Condition yourself to shop the outside of the grocery store, stocking up on lean meats, fresh fruits, veggies, eggs and dairy products.

Step 5: Read the INGREDIENTS list. We’ve become so conditioned to check the fat, calories, and sugar on a nutrition label, but none of that really matters if the ingredients are garbage. The first thing I look at when I pick up something at the store is the list of ingredients. A few tips: You want to be able to read everything on the list. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it. The shorter the list of ingredients, the better. The list of ingredients is listed in descending order from largest to smallest amounts. So if sugar is listed first, there is more sugar than anything else in the recipe. YIKES!

Always remember: veggies and fruits, proteins, carbs. I have to treat myself like a toddler at times because I would rather live off of bread, sweets and cheese. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic. So, when I plan our meals, I make sure I include a veggie and/or fruit, protein and a carb, and I serve and eat them in that order. I often save my fruits for easy snacks and will eat an apple or banana with almonds or almond butter in between meals.

It’s also important to be prepared. Know what you are eating for the day, and have healthy snacks ready to grab. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to make a bad decision when you are starving!

Once you know how to make the right choices, allow yourself to enjoy the freedom that comes with that. If you don’t have time to cook because you have an evening full of kids’ practices, PTO meetings, and church, don’t beat yourself up over it. Give yourself some grace, and drive through or call in dinner, and start over the next day. Some of my fast food healthy option favorites: Chick-Fil-A: a salad for me, and grilled nuggets and fruit for the kids (make sure to use a light dressing like vinaigrette or salsa so you don’t waste calories on something with no nutritional value). Zoe’s Kitchen Chicken or Salmon kabobs and a Greek salad for the whole family. Mexican food: Chicken fajitas, corn tortillas (or no tortillas at all), black beans and salad. I count my black beans as a carb, so I try to ditch the tortillas all together.

Elle Magazine has a GREAT visual guide to portion control that is a HUGE help for those of you new to healthy eating.

Y’all, life is hard. Work is hard. Parenting is hard. Checking off everything on your To Do list every day is hard. Don’t overcomplicate things and make healthy eating hard too. Make a real effort this week to do better. If you can’t do it all today, that’s ok. Decide on one or two things you are going to prioritize immediately, and work towards a healthier lifestyle. The difference you feel when you FUEL your body truly is amazing!

Good luck, you’ve got this!

Sarah (Caroline’s big sis)