I am a 30-something-year-old fun-loving lady who, thank God, married a man who likes to try different things. We spend most of our time thinking of our next adventure or planning a get-together for friends and family. I get excited about cute serving dishes and polka dot anything.
In 2003 I graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism. I loved living in Chicago but I don't miss the traffic! Now, nine years later, I work in Des Moines for Diabetic Living magazine and website as Senior Nutrition Editor. I write about all issues related to diabetes management, including food, nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle. Prior to working at Diabetic Living, I was the Associate Health Editor at Cuisine at Home magazine where I tested, tasted, and developed recipes and wrote about food, with a focus on nutrition. Before that, I worked at G&R Publishing & CQ Products in Waverly, Iowa, where I wrote, marketed, and sold cookbooks and craft books. Throughout my career I've researched thousands of recipes and dozens of health topics, and I love to discover new things. I especially love the entire process of watching a story come together, from the initial brainstorming stages all the way to your inbox, mailbox, or the shelves of a store.
In addition to working full-time in publishing, I'm pursuing a degree in dietetics to be a Registered Dietitian (RD). Currently, I'm one year away! I love every single nutrition course I've taken, and I enjoy absorbing as much information about nutrition, the body, and health as I possibly can.
I try to have a positive outlook on life, and like to think I can make a positive difference in anyone's day. From the bottom of my heart I believe the groundwork of all happiness is health. I believe this because I know what it feels like to be both unhappy and unhealthy.
As far as food goes, I'll try almost anything once, though I was not always this way. I used to get in trouble for inspecting every bit of food in detail before it even graced my lips. Now I'm a little more adventurous. And those who know me well know I'll never turn down a bet ... and that is how I get into some of my Fear Factor-esque tasting episodes. Fortunately I have had the chance to taste many cuisine in many places. Unfortunately many of these palatable adventures were early in my life, when I was squeamish at best.
My favorite family food tradition is ice cream! Every year for my birthday my family gets together to take turns cranking the handle on our old-fashioned ice cream maker. We change up the flavors and have many great stories! My second favorite food tradition is potato soup. Chris' mom makes potato soup with dumplings for Christmas every year. She welcomed me to the family by giving me the recipe.
I pride myself on making the best guacamole this side of the Mississippi. In fact, I have cooking success with almost anything that involves an avocado. I also make real good soup, and I can pull a fancy appetizer out of my sleeve at a moment's notice.
Now that's enough about me ... onto Mr. Shafer!
My husband has the ability to put everyone at ease. I think I am just the opposite. We make a good pair in that way.
Chris has been known to hold a 30-minute conversation with a complete stranger and, from that point on, the stranger will always be referred to as his "friend". His mom tells me he has always been like that. On one of their first family vacations, six-year-old Chris wandered off to a nearby restaurant. She found him sitting at a table with complete strangers, nibbling the French fries off their plates and talking about the fish he caught.
Chris is a firefighter with the Waterloo Fire Department (yes, we do the whole long-distance thing!). Before he was a smokin' hot fireman, Chris was a brick mason for almost 10 years. A true "car guy" at heart, Chris is talented, to say the least. The most fascinating thing, however, is that he is completely self-taught -- he can watch something being done, file it away in his drawer of capabilities, and then pull it out at the handiest of moments.
Chris is not only friendly and smart, he is supportive of (almost) everything I do and the man will try anything once. Before we started dating, Chris had never even been to Olive Garden! I quickly introduced him to all the gastronomical adventures Waterloo, Iowa (and surrounding cities) had to offer. Then we moved on to the tastes of Des Moines, Minneapolis, and Chicago. Unlike me, Chris has never counted a calorie in his life.
While I've never considered myself to be unhealthy or overweight, I do think I've always had somewhat of an unhealthy relationship with food. As I look back on my life thus far, I can remember thinking I was healthy at certain points in my life when I definitely was not.
In my teenage years I was spread about as thin as a high schooler can be. From before-school practice to after-school clubs, sports, and lots of homework, I didn't find much time to eat. My daily lunch was a bag of M&Ms and an iced tea. Before swimming and diving practice one evening, my coach's wife (a nurse) decided to check our blood sugar levels. She was amazed that we had enough energy to walk, let alone swim laps, do flips, and pull ourselves in and out of the pool.
After high school I had the amazing opportunity to go to a really awesome college, Northwestern University, and to be part of their Division I softball team. My four years were full of incredible mental and physical challenges. With a full class schedule plus 25+ hours of practice a week, it's hard to believe I had time to do all the normal college things (meet people, go to parties, challenge authority, and plan for the future). With all this going on, I pretty much ate whatever I could get my hands on. I had the best nutritional coaches and physical trainers at my disposal. Unfortunately I only remember eating high-calorie microwave meals, Chipotle burritos, and Dunkin' Donuts. I grew incredibly strong during this time (in fact, I was the school's first female Iron Cat and could lift ridiculous amounts of weight), but I was plagued with pulled and torn muscles. I look back now, wondering what kind of things I could have done if I had only fed my body the nutrition it needed.
After graduation I quickly realized my 8-hours-behind-a-desk daily job would not allow me to continue eating the way I did in college. But instead of eating balanced meals throughout the day, I would rush out of the door in the morning without breakfast (always with coffee in hand). Some days I would eat lunch, some days I would skip it completely. There was no schedule and my body was undoubtedly confused. In the stressed-out months before my wedding I ate even less. My motivation: I could pig out on the honeymoon while looking fabulous in my bikini! Crazy, I know! I'm a smart girl, but I still fell victim to this unhealthy trap.
Today I am 100% confident in saying I am currently living my healthiest possible life. I eat breakfast every day (a New Year's resolution), I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, I limit the amount of processed foods in my diet, I exercise four, five, or six days per week, and I am at peace with all aspects of my life. But, to be completely honest, eating healthy is never an easy thing and I continue to struggle, trying always to overcome the unhealthy me-food relationships I've had in the past. This little blog is great for holding me accountable and keeping me inspired!