Good parents who love their kids dearly don't intentionally make choices that they know will end up making life challenging for their children. But it happened to Jackie Evans. She scheduled lots of sports for her kids but then would drive them all over town and swing by the fast joints on the way home for post-practice/game nourishment.
You might remember Evans (and her son Dan) from The Biggest Loser Season 5. She shares her food prep tips with us and talks about the obstacle-course-style Kids Fit Junior Spartan Race in Chandler on February 11th for the young ones (ages 4-13) in your life.
"It wasn't until The Biggest Loser that I realized how poorly we really ate," Evans says. With three boys in baseball, basketball and soccer...we would always stop and get fast food."
When her sons got to their teenage years (when the weight started showing up), they could then drive themselves to go get it.
"They'd developed a taste for fast food," she learned.
"I was the mom who didn't understand," she explained. She does now. She gets it and, thankfully, so does the (previously) 310 pound son. Dan, now much slimmer having lost 136 pounds on The Biggest Loser, is also on a crusade for smart food/exercise choices and together they've started a national non profit organization called Kids Fit Foundation, she explains as "dedicated to showing kids how 'fun' it is to be active."
Kids nowadays are so tied into video games and virtual friends, "this helps them get moving in a positive way," she says.
Of course, getting fit isn't about only diet or exercise, but both. Evan's learned that the way to avoid fast food is that she "really has to plan out meals."
She sits down "one time a week, either Saturday or Sunday and I plan all my meals out for the next week. Then I go shopping," she shares. "I'm a pretty simple eater. I like to eat the same think over and over. I think the less processed you eat, the more simple the meals."
Some of her tricks are to precook a dozen chicken breasts over the weekend, keeping protein bars and almonds in her purse and pre-washing and chopping salad greens and keeping them in one gallon baggies in the fridge.
"I also cut and portion out cucumbers, carrot sicks and green peppers," she notes that you need to store them separately -- "you know you can't mix lettuce with anything wet."
She dresses her salads with Maple Grove Farms of Vermont balsamic vinegar dressings, "since it's 5 calories per 2 tablespoons. I don't use a lot, just enough to make it not dry. Sometimes I'll splurge on a dressing that's 40 calories per 2 tablespoons," she explains.
"When I was losing weight, they had me on 12-1400 calories per day. I counted every little thing," she shares. Right now, she maintains her weight on 1500 calories per day and she really has to make a habit of counting calories.
"I have to, I have been overweight all of my life. Portion control is not natural for me. If I stopped counting calories, the portions get bigger and bigger. I have to write everything down."
"Even the healthiest foods can be high in calories -- like an avocado. They're so good for you but you need to count it all."
We were curious about her splurge foods, but learned she really doesn't stray too far from the straight and narrow. She learned on The Biggest Loser that she used food to control emotions. She ate when she was happy, sad, to celebrate, bored, or even when she was nervous.
"I have to really put a cap on my eating. When I am more in control and make sure to eat meals on time, I have less cravings."
Thankfully, she's found foods that she really likes to eat that happen to also be healthy. She likes "the zero percent fat greek yogurt with a packet of stevia and a cup of blueberries - there's 20 grams of protein."
Evans, who ran 11 half marathons last year and personally uses the run/walk interval running method using a smart phone app, will be in town cheering on Phoenix's kids during the Kids Fit Junior Spartan Race in Chandler on February 11th.
"We're so excited to be holding junior spartan races at all the spartan races," this year. "It's
"getting kids climbing, obstacle course cargo nets, climbing walls, tunnels, hay bales -- the kids love it."
Here's what we read on the Junior Spartan site about the Chandler event:
Entry fee is $25.00 Per Child ages 4-13. The course is a 1⁄2 mile filled with junior obstacles for children 4-9 and 1 mile for kids 10-13. Each child will receive a T-shirt and Finisher's Medal with 100% of the Jr. Spartan Adventure proceeds benefiting the Kid's Fit Foundation.
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Evans wants to encourage what kids should be doing, more of the "rugged play."
For more information about Kids Fit, how to participate, where to donate and what Jackie Evans is up to lately, check out her site: KidsFitFoundation.org
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct date of the event February 11th and the correct number of Evan's half marathons last year, which is 11 not 13 as previously reported.