When you have young children it can become really difficult for several reasons to eat and stay healthy. For one, you're exhausted. Having children takes a lot out of you and is mentally and physically exhausting. The last thing you want to do is to cook a healthy meal when frozen chicken tenders will take so much less time. Trust me, I've been there. I also knew that I didn't want my children to have the same struggles with food that I do. In high school, I ate one meal a day, usually a very small portion, in order to combat my weight. I wasn't taught the healthy way to lose weight. I just knew I wanted to be skinny. I don't want that for my daughters. I like to focus on fueling our bodies healthily.

In order to start them on the right path, I started early with vegetables. With my younger two, we did real vegetables from a young age. I started my oldest on vegetable baby food. We are a sugar-free household. Most drinks, foods, and snacks are made from scratch with minimal if any sugar. I'm not saying I don't occasionally let my children have chocolate milk and cookies, because I do. I just want them to know what they are putting in their bodies. I want them to know that moderation is key. I want them to enjoy every facet of life and that is harder to do when you don't have the energy for it.

We like to stick with a lot of lean meats. I love ground turkey for my chili and spaghetti recipes. We love things made out of chicken. You can make so many healthy and delicious meals at home. It doesn't have to be perfect. You just need to have more vegetables and protein than pasta. Every Friday night we have one of our favorite meals that don't have to be perfectly healthy. Due to my past eating issues feeling deprived and trying to limit too many things severely exacerbates my need to eat something to feel in control. Finding that balance is an everyday struggle.

Another way we like to stay healthy is that we are incredibly active as a family. Sunday we go to the track. We walk, run, play tag, and make it a family fun day. We love camping, hiking, and spending quality time together. Even young children can come along on these activities thanks to babywearing. We also love going out to eat as a family and finding new restaurants.

Having a schedule can go a long way toward being successful in a healthy lifestyle change. When I don't meal plan it's easy to fall back into the habit of ordering out because I'm not prepared to cook. When I don't say "This is the time I will go to the gym." It turns into, "I will go today at some point." Then I never go because I keep putting it off.

Weekends are for relaxing and having fun. We still love our movie nights with popcorn and hot chocolate. We love to bake cookies some Saturdays. We still enjoy those small things in life that aren't always healthy. I want my children to grow up knowing that balance. I want them to grow into confident adults without anything holding them back.

I am not here to tell you how you have to live your life. I am here to tell you how to manage to live this lifestyle if it's what you truly want. After my third child was born and I gained back my baby weight plus some, I realized I needed to make a change. I had children who were begging for junk food and sugar. I didn't have the energy to play with my kids. I could barely make myself get out of bed in the mornings. I still have a long way to go on this journey but I hope this helps someone find their way to the path. This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It took me waking up one morning and really looking at myself in the mirror. This is how I realized that the changes I wanted to make could be realized by changing the way I look at food and learning to enjoy exercise.

I wish I could go back to my past self to tell them where these unhealthy choices would lead. I'm not even sure my past self would listen. Instead, I am looking toward the future and my children. I am teaching them to grow in ways that I never could. I am teaching them not to follow my path, but to walk beside me and go as far as they possibly can.