Living a Simple, Intentional Life | Pt. 4 Diet and Exercise


I’m going to dive into another area today on this journey of living more intentionally. Today let’s talk about diet and exercise. A lot has changed for us as far as food choices and working out this past year. It all started around the beginning of the year actually. We decided to cancel our family membership at the YMCA. We loved going but we never consistently got to work out without being called back to the childcare area. Finley hated being left there. It also took a huge chunk of our night to get everyone packed up, drive there, drop off the girls in the child area, work out and then drive home. It seemed like a whole night affair. For Christmas last year Kev got T25 from my parents. Between T25, Insanity, a few yoga videos, some Tracy Anderson videos and running we decided we were better off just canceling our membership. 80 bucks a month saved! It’s been working pretty well for us ever since. We have a little area set up in the basement with weights and a tv to do videos. The girls play area is down there as well so most of the time they just play while we work out right next to them.

I will be the first to admit I don’t love to work out. I think it’s sort of a myth and honestly an excuse when people say they don’t work out because they really don’t love it or they aren’t an athletic person. I think very few of us really LOVE working out. I know some people definitely do. Kev is one of those people, I am not. I work out because I know the benefits far outweigh my excuses. I am not a natural runner either. I’ve run a lot of races and talk a lot about running but I always need to force myself to sign up for a race, pay the stupid amount of money to register and then tell everyone about it just to keep myself accountable to sticking with it. Don’t fool yourself by thinking you can’t do it. It’s such a mind game. Also, don’t trick yourself by assuming that you have to go so hardcore to even make it worthwhile. A mindset like that will be so intimidating that you’ll likely just give up before you even try. You don’t need to work out everyday. Start where you are. Take a walk, try some stretching. Just make it consistent and stick with it for at least a month. I promise it will become a habit you will miss when it’s not there.

I think we should all get rid of the idea that we consistently have to be losing weight or that the only reason to work out is to lose weight. I decided this year that I was going to work out without an end goal. Because really, once you reach your end goal then what? you stop working out? I wanted to make it a lifetime habit. Something I do to feel strong, healthy, and happy.


Around March last year I decided to go on a food cleanse for Lent. What an unknowing turning point in our life. Through those 40 days I read a ton about food, ingredients, diets and really did a 180 degree turn with how we approach food in our house. We all love to eat but through the cleanse I realized just how important the food we choose to eat is. I hate diets. The word makes me cringe. Diets are fads. They don’t last, are hard to stick with and are crazy restrictive. What if we looked at food in a completely different way? What if we chose to eat wholesome, real homemade food and didn’t have to worry about calories or intake? What if instead of “I can’t eat that” it was “I don’t want to eat that”? A light switch went on in my head during Lent. This was so much more than restricting what we were going to be eating from now on. Do we honestly realize how much processed food we eat in our culture? It’s mind blowing and sad. In the book Notes From A Blue Bike, Tsh talks about a slow food way of eating. How it’s important to take your time when cooking meals — that we should be involving our kids in the cooking process, spending more on an emptier cart, being informed on what our food choices mean for others in the world and the importance of farmers markets and eating what’s in season. The whole chapter (THE ENTIRE BOOK) really spoke to me. I want my girls to grow up with a healthy body image. I don’t want food to be an issue. Our culture overloads young girls with this idea that food is the enemy to looking your best. I don’t want this for them. Of course balance is key but I want to teach them how to think differently about the food we eat.

We made some major changes to our pantry and fridge. I really do try to make everything now (granola, granola bars, salad dressings, sauces, sweets, etc…) that we use to buy and was processed. There are, of course, some great choices out there for you when you need a quicker option but you have to look. Not all packaged food is created equal even when it’s organic or “all natural”. The biggest thing is just how important label reading is. I read every label of everything we buy. I really try to make sure things have 5 or less ingredients and that I can pronounce them and know what they are. I challenge you to take charge of what you eat. Learn what all those ingredients in the food you are eating are. I know it can sound overwhelming when someone starts talking about this. But really any little change you make is a start in the right direction. Find the balance that works for you and your family.

If by chance you are looking for some new workout gear to give yourself a boost of confidence to start working out or to kick it up a notch,  I would highly recommend the new activewear line from Boden. I have a lot of running gear but these items are by far the softest most comfy pants, tank and hoodie I own. Boden is offering 15% off any of their activewear line now until Nov. 9th with code: YOGA

Would love to hear from your guys how you approach eating and working out??



*I am in no way a doctor or dietician. Everything I wrote in this post simply reflects my own personal thoughts. There is of course a time and place for diets and working out to lose weight.

  1. Have I told you lately that I. LOVE. YOU. hehe;) what a great post! good job making wellness a priority for you and your family! I’m like minded, although I just bought some chocolate chip granola bars at the store tonight -pretty sure I didn’t read the label- and they will probably be gone tomorrow! lol! I’m encouraged and motivated to keep working on it though so thanks again for posting! 🙂

  2. I enjoyed reading your article. Thank you for sharing. It was so honest and real.

    You have a really nice blog!


  3. And, on Plum District you can get $50 to Boden (not just miniBoden) for $35 + 15% off and free shipping! This is not a referral link (I don’t think), but a nice way to get their pretty stuff a little more discounted.–YICxMC

  4. Another great resource for free yoga videos is! You can stream videos for free and they’re all really good classes. I just found it a few weeks ago and have been absolutely loving it!

    Love your blog too! 🙂 I’m a new reader. Thanks!

  5. Our household recently made some of those same changes as well. My husband Adam and I both went vegetarian in 2013 after discovering a lot of scary health facts about the meat industry. We also limit our diary and egg consumption, though neither of us are vegan 100% of the time. In January, I decided to get processed snacks a kick out the door as well. Now, we too focus on eating WHOLE foods and making a majority of our meals. We don’t have kids yet but it makes me so happy to think that when we do, our kids will grow up in a home where they get to help their Dad make dinner and drive-thus don’t exist.


  6. Jen, Love your post. I am working 12 hours shifts and have to say it was so challenging to find time to work out in between. After some health issues(Gallbladder removal), I had to change my habits for good. Not anything drastically at once, but baby steps. I changed my eating habits and I bought myself Elliptical Trainer. I am trying to train at least 3 time per week. I am same as you, not huge fan of working out, but trying to force myself not because of any weight issues but only and primarily health.

  7. I don’t love working out either. I jogged for years – six days a week – until an injury benched me. And I gained a good bit of weight. My boyfriend and I do P90X, and in the last month, I’ve jogged twice a week. I hate it, really, but I like the feeling of accomplishment I get when I’m done. It feels good to know my body is capable of being pushed that far. And I’ve tried to be more intentional about food as well, but I still really struggle. I have such a horrible sweet tooth. I went 30 days without sugar…and didn’t lose any weight. Grr. The only real reason I care is that my brother is getting married this month, and I really want my dress to fit perfectly. 🙂 But yes, health is the goal.

  8. I really enjoyed this post! I eat about 99% natural foods and mostly organic as well but even those natural processed foods are not always the best choice. They can also be expensive. Making granola and other snacks at home is a great idea, saving money and elevating the quality of my food.

    Now it’s time to check out that new Boden activewear 😉 but seriously…

  9. Lindsey •

    I am with you on working out, I always got really bored with whatever workout I was doing. One summer 3 years ago my husband and I took an indoor climbing class and haven’t looked back since. We’re totally hooked (still haven’t gone outside!) and I love it because not only does climbing challenge me and give me awesome upper body strength, but our gym routinely changes out climbing routes, so it never gets stale.

    Over the years I have made a lot of changes to our diet as well, substituting healthier versions for pasta, rice, etc and eating less meat and more veggies and fish. My motto is everything in moderation, and I don’t get mad at myself for eating junk food every now and then. I used to try and make everything from scratch but now that my husband and my careers are taking off I just don’t have time to do that and have time to relax at the end of the day (again, everything in moderation, and cut yourself some slack!). So certain things I still buy processed (salad dressing, granola), and others, like sourdough bread, I still make from scratch on a regular basis. It’s working out well for us, I rarely get on a scale because I’m never trying to lose or gain weight, I just want to feel good and live as well as I can.

  10. I loved this post! It sounds a lot like what we’ve been working on over the past year: exercising for health and well-being, and eating/making the right foods for the same reasons. Yoga + greens are not things I was into about five years ago, but now – they’re part of my (almost 🙂 ) everyday! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Stephanie •

    I have read many of your posts over the last year and I have told myself often that I’d like to do the same. Clean out the pantry and start eating more whole. Do you have suggestions on how to get started? I think about it but never can execute. How do you make that transition? Are there books or recipes I should become familiar with? My kids are über picky and I get nervous that I will spend all this time planning and preparing and all will go to waste. Sorry… My one question turned out to be a short story instead.

  12. Your real food journey sounds similar to mine. I did whole30 this summer and it really changed everything for me. I am not eating strictly paleo now, but have transitioned to prioritizing real food and am slowly replacing all our processed staples with homemade versions. It’s taking awhile because I never learned to cook growing up so I have to learn a lot of things! I would love it if you shared some of your favorite “real food” resources. 🙂

  13. Working out and eating right is SUCH A CHALLENGE in my house. Since both of us are full-time grad students, and plan to work, we have to be very thoughtful and plan ahead to ensure we have healthy, whole foods in our diet. I also learned about simple flavor profiles that work: roasted squash, arugula, feta crumbles, cashews with a squeeze of lemon. As for working out, I prefer to stay at home and work out at night once the little one is sleep for the same reasons – getting to the gym is an EVENT. The time to get everyone packed up, in the car drive there and back, isn’t worth it to me. I do P90X at home, and we have a spinner bike, and some free weights, which is more than enough!

  14. I started doing T25 last February too!! It has started a new way of life for me. I have done the 3 part set 3 times now and have started doing a different DVD this month. I’ve started running as well. I have a 3 year old and I usually force myself to change into my work out clothes before he goes to bed so that my excuses of being too tired are less enticing after I put him to bed. I hate working out but that feeling about 10 minutes after you are done is so addicting. Im not doing this for any weight loss at all, I’m a very petite person to begin with. I’m doing this for increased eneregy and health so that my boy can look up to a strong healthy mommy.

  15. Sarah Kortessis •

    This was so great to read Jen! I feel the same way, I had a huge lifestyle revolution this year. I read Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet and my eyes were opened! Then more recently I read Born To Run. The combination of the two have worked wonders! Running is hard and awful and I’m so bad at it but I just think about that book and I feel so proud after. What an amazing thing! Our culture is so crazy when you step back and look at it, its so exciting to make these positive changes.

  16. Jen, you’re the best! Loved reading your thoughts on fitness and diet. Such a well thought out approach to how we should move and eat. You are just such a positive light. Keep it up girl! XO — K

  17. Yoga has been my SAVIOR since I started back in the spring. I also run, but like you, I don’t love running while it’s happening, just the benefits of it after. Plus, having something where I can get the same benefits whether I go to a class or stay in my apartment is huge. I can only imagine the additional benefits of that if you have two kids – I have enough time scheduling for myself! You look great by the way. Isn’t the best part of yoga the leggings?? 🙂

    Also, re: food. Have you ever heard of/looked into Whole30? My best friend has done a few rounds, and since we shop/cook/eat together a lot (we’re only 11 blocks apart and cooking is fun with friends!), it’s completely changed my eating habits as well. It’s the same idea about eating whole foods, and it can really change your approach to eating and how different foods affect your mindset and overall well-being. She will kill me for doing this, but she has some great tips and recipes on her Instagram (@morganswholelife) if you want to check it out. Friend-promotion over 🙂

  18. EXACT SAME brain on food. I always check labels now. It’s crazy how some “health” bloggers eat foods that are loaded with processed ingredients, just because they are branded as “healthy.” Yay for positive body images (inside and out)!

  19. Jen, receiving free/discounted clothes from a company still makes it a sponsored post. Just because they didn’t specifically tell you to write glowing reviews doesn’t mean you weren’t somehow compensated for mentioning them. Not to mention that the links you post to Boden are referral links. Just my two cents

  20. You are so inspiring, Jen! And, you look so great, too!

  21. We have recently made similar changes around our eating (brought on my my toddlers food allergies)
    But it’s made me so much more aware of what we are putting in our mouths!
    It’s hard work, especially around snacks for a forever hungry toddler, but I think it will be of great benefit to us all in the long run.

  22. i loved reading this article. after going sugar free for a while, i realized how processed our food can be. though i’m not 100% completely sugar free any more, i am way more conscious about what i buy and eat. i never buy anything packed, as pure as possible and make things like granola bars etc. myself. but i also try not to be tooo hard on myself when i ‘slip’. it’s all about the balance, in the end. and for me, it definitely goes together with working out – i do yoga, fitness and run every week, and try to get in my 4 hours now that i’m working 40 as well. though i need some extra motivation to get me started every time, in the end i’m alway happy i did it – not to loose weight, but to be as healthy and fit as can be.
    xo, cheyenne

  23. I am one of those people who LOVE exercising! I was always been involved in sports when I was younger and then competitive cheerleading all throughout highschool. It wasn’t until after I graduated highschool that I sort of had to teach myself other ways to exercise because I missed it. At first it was a membership at a local gym (soooo boring unless you have a friend to w/o with) and then I took up running on our treadmill at home. I never thoroughly enjoyed running or working out at a gym alone. It became very monotonous and felt more like had to than actually want to. I’ve always been one to enjoy it, but I can totally relate to the accountability and motivation, especially for races or running. Their just not super fun (to me) to do by yourself. It’s so much more fun if you have a w/o buddy. A year ago I found a place called Trinity Fitness where I live and it’s very similar to Crossfit and I absolutely love the group workouts. It’s so encouraging and there is never a time I don’t not want to go. It’s so motivating and fun! I am all about that social aspect of working out. I hear you on the “read every ingredient” thing. I think it’s so important watch what we put into our bodies. Over the years, I have completely eliminated almost all process foods, with some exceptions, and then make all of the my own sweets. I find natural food, with less ingredients so much more tastier than sugar and salt loaded things and also gentler on my stomach. I’m a sweets girl though, I do love my chocolate. Thanks for sharing! I love hearing about ways other people eat and how it’s possible to eat healthy and clean as a family and especially kids! My family has a foster baby and she just loves anything healthy! Fruit, beans, chicken, almond milk, smoothies, rice, avocado, really anything and everything. It’s amazing how much kids love healthy foods if they are introduced to them right away with minimal processed food. When she goes and sees her mom during weekly visitation, they usually feed her Cheetos or canned things, like ravioli, and she comes back starving and on a sugar high from straight koolaid. And shes only 14 months old. Healthy, real foods make such a difference!

  24. Oh of course I LOVE this one! 🙂 I’m so with you…I mean, a few miles behind you in really cleaning out the pantry, but with you in the mindset. 🙂 I love seeing my now teenage boys also reading labels and caring about what they put in their body. If they learn it young it will be a lifestyle. Your girls (and Kev!) are blessed.
    XO aloha

  25. This post was such a breath of fresh air. I really appreciate and respect your approach to food and cooking. Thank you so very much for sharing with us! xo

  26. And as usual. This is perfect. Perfectly written. (Thanks to you.) Perfectly timed. (Thanks to the Lord.) you rock.

  27. I’ve added ‘notes from a blue bike’ to my must-read list. Thanks for sharing!

  28. It’s refreshing to read posts like this that are just so practical and about balance!

  29. I came to the same conclusion this year about working out – it’s just not worth leaving the house (unless its for a quick run). Even on my own (without my 2 girls) the time to drive to the gym, get changed and come home is time I don’t have to spare. I now workout at home and my girls often join in (they are 2 & 4) or play nearby. If you haven’t already found them I highly recommend Fitness Blenders. They have about 200 workouts available online for free. The variety is amazing.

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Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev