a day in the life: kara swanson.
I recently had the chance to chat with the sweet + highly inspirational, kara swanson. she is the founder + certified health coach behind life well lived. she has found a way to juggle it all! as a busy mom of 2 + an entrepreneur, she works to help other “I can’t imagine when I’d have time to get healthy” women do exactly that. I just added the title of “mom” to what was already a busy life. not to mention, I was hugely pregnant just 5 months ago and need all the help I can get to relocate my “before baby” bod. so, I thought our conversation could be very beneficial + it was. (if the photo looks appetizing, you can find the recipe right here).
my chat with the motivational, wellness “guru”, kara swanson. advice on how to implement a healthier lifestyle, a workout if you’re running short on time, and recipes for those nights you don’t want to be in the kitchen. (bonus: her favorite des moines spots! we’re practically neighbors).
you run your own nutritional business! I’m so intrigued + inspired by entrepreneurs. what motivated you to pull the trigger and just go for it?
My passion and love for nutrition is what motivated me to turn a hobby into a business. I want to educate and empower as many women as I can on how to properly nourish their bodies using whole foods. I love to show how living a healthy lifestyle can be easy, simple, and delicious. With so many gimmicks and false information, I wanted to get back to the basics of nutrition where we eat real, whole foods and see how amazing our bodies function and thrive when we are feeding it properly.
what is the best piece of advice you received when you were starting your business?
Be consistent and don’t give up. When you are starting a business you go through a roller coaster of emotions…sometimes every day! But staying focused, being consistent, and reminding yourself why you are doing it will help you reach your goals and become successful.
you help clients develop a healthier outlook on nutrition (pun-intended). I have had the wildest relationship with health + fitness. I grew up involved in every sport + activity possible. I was never not on the move! my first year of college I was on the university’s soccer + dance team. then I transferred schools and made the decision to just be a student. that’s when the shenanigans began. I didn’t have a coach or a spandex uniform forcing me to work out anymore. I’m still trying to figure out what works for “post-team-sport-athlete” me. ten years later! what was the turning point for you?
That “post-team-sports-athlete” season can be challenging because you know how great you feel when you are active. But it can be hard to find the motivation to just begin eating healthy when you don’t have any goals or someone pushing you anymore.
Once I created the habit of working out and eating healthy it became easier. And now, it’s second nature and feels weird when I don’t workout. Another tip is to set goals for yourself. I like to set goals to challenge me and push me forward. Whether that’s going without sugar for a week or signing up for a half marathon. I need mini (or big) goals to keep me going.
I just became a mom! you’re a mom of two! life becomes so much cuter, messier + incredibly busy with little ones. what tips do you have for finding time to stay active? especially when you’re being tempted by a cuddly, sleeping baby.
Aw congrats mama! Being a mom is so rewarding but life sure does change… a lot! For the first two months or so I recommend moms to give themselves grace. Babies grow so fast and the first couple of months are so precious and a time to bond with your sweet bundle. Not to mention our incredible bodies just went through months of making a baby, then laboring, and delivering the baby. Start slow–going for walks with your baby is a great way to start. This will get you moving and out the door. After that, my best tip is to make it a priority. Might seem silly, but we will get things done that we prioritize and think are important. I love working out in the mornings because I am more likely to actually get it done. I actually created a “Busy Mama’s Guide to Health” with all my best tips on how mom’s can create a healthy lifestyle. You can get access to it here: The Busy Mama’s Guide to Health.
along those lines, I’m finding myself wanting to spend less time in the kitchen + more time with the little one. what is your go-to meal for weeknight dinners?
Who wants to be in the kitchen allll the time? Even though I enjoy creating in the kitchen when dinner time comes around sometimes it’s the last thing I want to do! My expertise is making simple, easy, and delicious meals for my family and sharing them with my clients. I’m going to share two recipes because one just isn’t enough! Baked Chicken Fajitas is a repeat at our house and the best part is that you can assemble everything in the morning (or whenever you get a moment), refrigerate, throw on a pan, and bake. So simple and tastes amazing too! You can find the recipe here: Baked Chicken Fajitas.
Another favorite is Cilantro Lime Chicken, perfect for tacos, alone, or add to a salad. And everything goes in the crock-pot so you don’t even have to think about it until dinner time. Simple ingredients that pack a lot of flavor, this will be a family favorite too! Grab the recipe here: Cilantro Lime Chicken.
you’re at home + have twenty minutes to squeeze in a workout. what do you do?
Oh I love this because so often we think we have to get an hour in at the gym or why even bother. But that is so not true. You can get an effective workout in 20 minutes at home. If I am in a time crunch I do some sort of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout like the one below:
Repeat 4-5 times.
• Air squat: 20
• Lunges: 20 each leg
• Squat jump: 20
• Push-ups: 10-15
• Step ups: 20 each leg
my little one is five months old. the internal struggle is really real between “you JUST had a baby” and “you should happily fit back into your pre-baby pants by now”. what’s your biggest piece of advice for pregnant + new moms?
I had a much harder time losing the baby weight with my second daughter, it was so discouraging. So I can totally relate and feel your internal struggle. I’m not a 100% sure where this pressure came from to bounce back so quickly after having a baby but it’s really not doing anyone a favor! We just created a baby, labored, and gave birth…we need GRACE and to remind ourselves of all the amazing things our body is doing (especially if you are breastfeeding). It takes our body’s months to fully recover. Take small steps each day to reach your goals. Whether that’s making sure you are snacking healthier and putting down the ice cream at night or committing to going on a short walk every day. Small steps lead to big progress. Be patient with your body too and enjoy the process.
let’s talk about des moines, IA. (we’re practically neighbors!). there is a lot to do in our city and it’s growing every day. what tops your list of des moines ”cannot miss” places + events?
I cannot believe how much Des Moines has grown since we moved back a couple of years ago! This won’t come as a shocker but my “can’t miss” places are going to have to be restaurants. Goldfinch is one of my favorite restaurants in the area and their patio is amazing so make sure you go while it’s open. Another one is Malo, their tacos are amazing and I think they have the best happy hour–half off tacos and apps! The girls and I like to meet my husband downtown after work to grab an early dinner. One of our favorite family summer activities is to go to the Des Moines Farmer’s Market–our farmer’s market is second to none!
the iowa state fair just happened last month! it basically prides itself on the variety of food you can find fried and/or on-a-stick. I usually find my way to the fried oreos. what indulgent fair food do you love?
Everyone will roll their eyes because my trip to the fair did not include anything fried. I know, I know, but I’m serious. I honestly wasn’t tempted nor cared about the food this year! I remember feeling so sick and gross last year that it just wasn’t something I wanted to repeat again this year! I did share a turkey leg and absolutely love those.
you’re at a coffee shop, what do you order?
Anything but coffee…haha. I am actually not a coffee drinker and have never been! I am extremely sensitive to caffeine and I don’t care for the taste so I have always just stayed away. Totally boring, I know. I do love chatting with friends over tea though!
if you had to pick only one (little) lesson, what do you want people to take from your nutritional journey?
Food is so powerful. I have seen it’s affect personally in my daughter’s behavior and my husband’s severe stomach pain when we removed gluten from their diets and in my clients who have gotten off all sorts of medications from changes in their nutrition. We can use food to work for us or against us. I absolutely love helping women see the benefits of proper nutrition and how it changes not only their waist, but more importantly their lives.
if you have a chance, go dive into life well lived. there is a lot of great content + inspiration. what are your healthy lifestyle tips?