A Time for Change
After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, Marisa Strauss knew she had to make some changes. Now, after overcoming her condition, Marisa's busy family of five has embraced a lifestyle of health and fitness and is feeling great!
What first motivated you and your family to pursue health and fitness?
Two things led to the changes in our lifestyle. The first was discovering that I had hypothyroidism. After much research, I learned that I was going to have to make some changes to help my thyroid function more effectively. The second was watching a documentary called “Food Inc." This film had a huge impact on our family. We began researching and became more aware of the food we were eating and where it came from. We have eliminated high fructose corn syrup from our diet and we try to eat organic as much as possible.
What are some health and fitness successes you've had?
After being diagnosed with hypothyroidism I still had 15 pounds of post-pregnancy weight to lose. I was trying hard, but not seeing results. Then, I decided to push my body and make changes. I began training for a half marathon - before this I had never run further than 3 miles! I also started keeping track of my daily calories and activity. Being aware of what I was eating and how much I was burning, made a huge difference. The weight started coming off and I was getting into a routine I could continue. It was not just a quick fix diet.
After my family eliminated harmful foods from our diet and switched to organic, our entire family stayed healthier. We felt great! We truly noticed a difference.
How do you balance health and fitness with other family responsibilities?
We chose to make health and fitness a lifestyle which requires both commitment and flexibility. We try to be creative as a family. We go for hikes, walks, or play tag at the park. We get the bikes out and go for a ride. My husband and I encourage each other to stay active and fit. We are flexible with our schedule so that we can find time to get a run in or hit the gym. One of us stays home with the kids, while the other gets a workout in. We even go to a track and run as a family, racing each other. There are many ways to stay active and healthy as a family.
With such a busy schedule, how do you ensure your family consistently eats healthy food?
The keys are to plan ahead and prepare foods ourselves. I pack lunches for my husband and children. Each day I make a hearty, healthy breakfast which starts the day out right for all of us. I always include protein and fruit, and sometimes grains. We like food to be fresh and organic, so when I shop I purchase for only 3 dinners at a time. If the day is busy, I prepare something early and let it cook throughout the day in my crockpot - a very helpful tool for a busy family!
I freeze foods that we night need in a hurry. My daughter likes to grab a sandwich or waffle from the freezer that was previously made. She can let it thaw in her lunchbox or warm it up in the microwave for breakfast.
Each day, I make healthy smoothies. I put carrots, spinach, and anywhere from 2-5 different fruits in them, and sometimes add Greek yogurt for protein. A smoothie is a great way to get fruits and vegetables into our diet each day without worrying about whether we ate enough off our plates. Plus, the kids really like them!
What are some of the challenges you've experienced?
Cost is our biggest challenge. It costs more to eat healthy and coupons for organic fruits and vegetables are hard to find. We often purchase other items in bulk to help save money for healthy food. We also go to farmer’s markets, when in season, where we find great prices. Or we visit the farm and pick our own!
We are blessed to live in Washington State where farms and farmer’s markets are everywhere - most of them organic. We can go to a local diner and eat grass fed beef and organic veggies from a local farm!
What are your health and fitness goals for the future?
My husband's goal is to run a half or full marathon. I would like to compete in a triathlon. Our daughter hopes to run another 5K and swim on a swim team, and our two toddlers love being active and are learning daily what it means to be healthy. I know they will have great goals for themselves when they get older.