The Healthy Living Equation

by tinareale on March 13, 2012

How to achieve a healthy, fit, strong body? It really boils down to two things. Any guesses?

You’re going to hate me when I say it.


And exercise.

And….now you’re probably all reacting like this.

Well, I’m not here to try to make it like this is brand new information. Instead, I want to tell you the two main components I focused on for each of those aspects…and two products I personally love and support that help make it all a little easier.

My #1 Focus in DIET: Eating REAL food in proper portions.

I make it a point to eat as wholesome and natural foods as possible as often as possible. I know that foods with a ton of ingredients have a much higher chance at affecting my body’s system. Whenever I fill up on processed things, I notice a drastic difference. I retain a lot more water and have a harder time controlling my appetite to fit my body’s needs. I get crazy cravings and end up eating too much too easily.

I always eat foods that I love and enjoy…but I do my best to find options that include wholesome ingredients.

Oatmeal with fruit and natural peanut butter for breakfast. Eggs, salads with fresh veggies, beans, sweet potatoes, fresh fruit, cheeses, etc for lunches. Whole grain pastas or quinoa, vegetables, lean protein sources, etc for dinners. Even my snacks feature natural foods.

You can find healthy, natural options that taste delicious out there. I love LARABAR for that reason – simple, natural, minimal ingredients in an extremely delicious and portable bar. They have a variety of flavors (including chocolate ones that will give my sweet tooth a run for its money). They don’t leave me bloated with a bunch of artificial sweeteners…and they don’t crash my energy with added soy (something that I realized effected me poorly with my thyroid). Yep, I LOVE them! They are even a staple part of my go-to fuel before runs.

Which brings me to the SECOND part of that healthy body. The exercise.

My #1 Focus in EXERCISE: Continuously challenging my body in new ways.

You have to move it or lose it, but you also have to challenge your body in new ways and work the entire system. You can’t complete the same workout day after day after day after day after day. You can’t sporadically get active and expect any real changes. Keep it fun…but keep moving. And keep it effective.

I started running. I now incorporate different styles of workouts so my running can continue to improve. I don’t just run. I strength train. I constantly change up the moves, switch up the tempos, vary the style of weight training, and more. I work my stabilization. I work on strength endurance. I work on power. I mix it up. I also believe in cross training (hence my training plan change) and flexibility training. I try to always remain open to different workouts.

One new method of training that I originally thought wouldn’t be much of a workout, but have incorporated their methods regularly since first trying it, is Physique 57’s training methods. I regularly cross train using their DVDs and now can add various moves in any of my own workouts.

They Physique 57 Solution is a book that includes a TON of explanations and photo demos of many of the workout’s famous moves. The lower body section features many that work those all too important gluteus medius and minimus muscles that runners tend to overlook. The core section never fails to leave my abs begging for mercy. In addition to all of the great exercises, I can get behind the entire plan of the book.

Guess what it discusses?

Eat real food. Be consistent with activity. Then, it gives you a game plan with workout and meal plans, recipes, important facts and statistics about the lifestyle changes recommended in the book. I think Physique 57 offers quality information that both novice exercisers can use…and those looking for a new challenge.

Diet and Exercise. It’s not new news. A lot of factors go into both. But I know I always appreciate when I find products that make it a little easier to accomplish and love to share them with all of you.


What is your #1 focus in diet? And in exercise? Any products/brands/programs that you LOVE in each category? Share in the comments!


A huge THANK YOU to both LARABAR and Physique 57 for contributing prizes for this week’s Best Body Bootcamp! One winner will receive a variety box of LARABARs and a copy of The Physique 57 Solution. Follow both!

BEST BODY BOOTCAMP WEEK #1 WINNER: Congrats to Donna M for winning the breakfast prize pack from Coach’s Oats. I know you will love their delicious oatmeal for breakfast!


1 Alyssa @ fit and fun in third March 13, 2012 at 6:51 am

I used to be all about making sure my food was low cal or low carb, but after seeing how that affected my body for so long I focus on balance when it comes to nutrition. Nothing is “off limits.”. My body and mind work best when I don’t restrict!

2 Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile March 13, 2012 at 6:57 am

I love this so much! I truly believe that it’s a mixture of both. They are both too important!

3 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

My #1 focus is eating whole foods or minimally processed foods that come from natural sources. I am a true testament to the fact that healthy eating is REALLY important. After not really working out for two months, I don’t look THAT much different than I did before. Guess eating healthfully is a big portion of the equation!

4 Katie @ Raisins&Apples March 13, 2012 at 7:04 am

when it comes to diet, I focus on getting enough healthy fats. I love munching on raw cashews and pack them as an afternoon snack everyday!

5 Courtney March 13, 2012 at 7:09 am

I believe this so much. I definitely focus on getting enough REAL food into my diet because I know that helps to make my running and exercise so much more effective. I need to channel your energy more about switching up my workouts! Running is definitely my favorite way to work out (and a great stress reliever!) but I know incorporating more strength training into my routine will help to make more changes in my body. Hooray for BBBC!

6 Antonia @ healthinspirations March 13, 2012 at 7:12 am

My focus when I eat is to control my portions. I mostly eat healthy, but portion control, in my opinion, is an essential part! And in terms of exercise I think it’s important to move every day, no matter how intense the exercise might be. I just like to be active every day :)
I’d love to win the Larabar prize this week….never had them before (since I’m from Austria) but have always wanted to :)

7 Julie March 13, 2012 at 7:15 am

Diet is one area I always fail at which is why I am always struggling with my weight and feeling healthy I bet. I don’t know what it is, I DO like “healthy real food” but I also like “junk” no amount of anything has ever changed that for me. People who grow away from liking junk are so lucky

8 lindsay March 13, 2012 at 7:15 am

food and fitness, they really do go hand in hand, yes! I try to focus on what my body is craving, nutritionally so to speak. Same with fitness, our bodies crave movement and rest. Listening to what it is needing at the moment can be the hardest, yet most rewarding. Great post friend.

9 Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning March 13, 2012 at 7:50 am

I love so many products and brands… where to begin!? For easy, quick lean protein sources, I love Greek Yogurt (like everyone else), but my favorite filling treat is salt-free 1% cottage cheese mixed with pumpkin puree, peanut flour, cinnamon and vanilla stevia. I’m also a big fan of smoothies using Vega Health Optimizer (Vanilla Chai!!), spinach, frozen banana, ice and water.
I am lucky enough to LOVE exercise and get paid to teach it, so that’s not really the issue for me. The hard part it is the “diet” factor. While I eat 99% healthy, real food, my problem is mindful eating and not over-eating. I can be really great during the week, but tend to fall off the wagon during the weekend and “un-do” all of my good work during the week. (Any tips for staying on track during the weekend? Actually, I’d LOVE to see your ideas for that in a future post.. just sayin’) :)

10 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) March 13, 2012 at 8:08 am

Diet, diet, diet and move, move, move! Seriously, it’s not hard, but it does take some discipline and commitment. The thing is, there are two parts to the equation when it comes to being healthy, without one the other does not work. I love working out in different ways. I do HIIT some days and then I’ll do slower exercises like Core Fusion. Whole foods are definitely the way to go when it comes to fuel. Having fun in the kitchen makes eating healthy an adventure!

11 Kristy March 13, 2012 at 8:26 am

for diet, i try and follow the 80/20 rule. for exercise, running has become as routine as brushing my teeth so i guess i’m lucky there! i would definitely say diet is the harder of the two for me!

12 Carissa @Fit2Flex March 13, 2012 at 8:30 am

MY diet focus is just like yours…to eat clean whole foods. I struggled with “disordered eating” because I simply enjoy meals, cooking, and eating. Over time I learned that smaller portions, smaller meals, and better foods allows me to eat the volume I want and feel good about myself. I love larabars too as well as Kashi, Vega, Udi’s, and Think Thin

Exercise also keeps my body fit, but it gives me energy and focus. I’m very proud of who I’ve become with my dedication to fitness.

13 Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon March 13, 2012 at 8:33 am

As far as diet goes, I don’t keep unhealthy foods in my pantry! I’ve found that I really don’t crave chocolate bars or potato chips if they aren’t staring me in the face! Those times that I really AM craving chocolate I roll with it and take a walk down to the chocolate shop!
For exercise, I’ve found that variety is key for me. I prefer circuit style workouts to treadmilling or ellipticizing!

14 Lindsey @ Cardio Pizza March 13, 2012 at 8:36 am

I’ve had a couple of injuries over the years from exercise and each one has taught me a very valuable lesson: keep your muscles strong and flexible.

I am someone who can’t just go out for a run every single day. I need to strength train and maintain flexibility, especially in my core muscles, for my body to function well and to get better at certain activities (such as running).

My workouts each week incorporate all elements of fitness: cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility. I feel great when my workouts are well rounded!

As for food – I’m much like you. I eat what I want, but I try my best to make it nutritious as well.

15 Heather March 13, 2012 at 8:42 am

LLOOVEEE that Friends clip, heck, any friends clip!
My number one focus in diet lately has been cutting out so many sweets

16 Kelly March 13, 2012 at 8:51 am

I try to eat minimally processed food while still splurging and enjoying myself from time to time. If I keep my diet too strict then it only leads to disaster.

17 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers March 13, 2012 at 8:57 am

I don’t know if I have a #1 focus in either. There’s so much that goes into all of it. I guess my #1 diet focus is “don’t overdo it,” which is surprisingly hard to follow on the weekends.

18 khushboo March 13, 2012 at 9:06 am

My number one for diet is to eat fresh food ie limit the processed gunk. As for exercise, I always focus on getting my heart rate up in any which way!

19 Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy March 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

You really say it well!

I have a question for you, though — since I’m attempting to go vegetarian (slowly and for more ethical and environmental reasons than health reasons) but am hypo thyroid and take medication for it, I’ve realized that I need to watch my intake of soy. I’ve done some reading and have found a bunch of sources saying it’s less linked than previously thought–just avoid soy within a few hours of the medicine and/or talk to your doctor about adjusting the dose. How did you know it was adversely affecting yours? I can’t tell if I’m off (I’ve gained weight but I’m also injured and normalizing my eating) or just getting to a happier place?

20 Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt March 13, 2012 at 9:15 am

Congrats Donna M! Great job on win #1 for Boot Camp!

21 Donna M. March 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

Thanks Dena!

22 Tara Burner March 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

Excellent post!!!

23 Kathy March 13, 2012 at 9:25 am

Always enjoy your posts. I too was in love with Larabar and they are good in a pinch. Don’t know if you read Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog but she has an amazing homemade version of Larabar. I love them so much that I can hardly eat the real thing anymore. Check it out.

24 tinareale March 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

I have seen those recipes and always mean to try them. I just fear our food processor wouldn’t withstand it. ;)

25 Kathy March 16, 2012 at 5:34 pm

My food processor is a little dinky thing and very old–so I am sure your processor might be able to handle it. :) I’m tellin’ ya, LOVE THEM!! I have actually gotten my 15 year old daughter to eat them—she is eating DATES! Who knew? Now just gotta keep working on the 13 yr old! Ha! Hubby eats them too. So trust me, I am putting my little processor to the test often.

26 Pure2raw twins March 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

love Friends! :)

and totally agree with you about diet and exercise! you have to do both and be consistent. we love physique. we find it to be one of the best exercises for the butt! just love the burn.

we are not fans of larabars, well bars in general. we find them to just sit in our stomachs. we have weak stomachs, so have to be careful what we eat. but we know a lot of people who love larabars.

27 Kaelin March 13, 2012 at 9:44 am

I am all about eating real foods, getting enough protein to feed my muscles, and striving to improve my body through exercise everyday. I have been running consistently 3 or more times a week for about 5 or 6 months now, and still consider it a tough workout even though I am improving. How long until I am out of that beginner stage and ready to get into tougher workouts?

I started following Jillian Michaels’ website 2 years ago, and she has awesome clean eating meals and exercise plans for all abilities! I really love her philosophy and listen to her free weekly podcasts to get an update on all things healthy living and fitness.

28 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 13, 2012 at 9:56 am

Hahaha I love that Friends video! I’m trying my best to eat real foods and avoid white sugar (along with gluten and soy, for medical reasons) and I’ve been feeling so much better eating real foods! I also run and do strength training to balance out my exercise!

29 Rachel @RunningRachel March 13, 2012 at 10:20 am

Awesome! I love Larabar’s also!! And… I have never tried Physique 57… but the whole concept (and thouroughness) of the book intrigues me! :)

30 Ann March 13, 2012 at 10:21 am

Thank you for your post, it is not rocket science as you say but it’s exactly what I needed to make me pause and realise that I really can not out exercise bad food Thank you :)

31 Donna M. March 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

YAY! I eat oatmeal every weekday for breakfast! I’m excited to try Coach’s Oats! Thanks! This Best Body Bootcamp is SO fun! I never thought I’d say anything like that about exercise…. Thanks so much Tina!

32 Jess March 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

This is why I truly believe you are a long long sister of mine. I am ENTIRELY on the same wavelength as you exercise and diet-wise. Eat real foods. Move often. Switch it up. Sweat. And enjoy it while you’re at it! :)

33 Sue March 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

Food is yummy fuel. I can’t expect to get anything out of my body if I don’t put the right things into it! It’s all about balance… Snacks and wine included :)

34 jobo March 13, 2012 at 10:59 am

This is an awesome post. Because it is so simple…even if it may be difficult for some to start, once you adjust to this approach, simple foods, whole foods, moderation, you realize that this isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. And one that includes sweat, stretching, and just plain MOVING…and it all falls together.

35 Erin March 13, 2012 at 11:00 am

I believe in a diet that is focused around real food that comes from the Earth, not animals or packages. My diet is mainly made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like quinoa), nuts and beans. As for exercise I LOVE working out, not in the sense of losing weight, but because I find it fun. Running, spinning, cycling, swimming, hiking, playing tennis… they’re all SO much fun that I don’t have to force myself. In fact, I hope to finish my second triathlon this fall and participate in my first Warrior Dash!

All in all, I love my body and I strive to treat it right.

36 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

1. thank you for the Friends clip. it will never get old. n-e-v-e-r.

2. one thing I have only recently put extra focus on is portion sizes. I never knew the right amount of pasta to eat, the right amount of nut butter to put on an english muffin, or the right amount of brown rice to pair with a meal. my nutrition plan has helped tenfold with that. :)

37 Annie March 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm

oooh I struggle with that too, actually I don’t really know what “correct” portion sizes are! Could you do a post on your blog about it? pleaseprettyplease??? :D

38 tinareale March 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

I’ll add it to my blogging list. :)

39 Rebecca @ Miss Magnolia Munches & Moves March 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

My favorite morning radio show often says there is no secret to losing weight, just “eat less and move more”. I think it’s so funny when people ask other people how they lost weight, like they are going to give them some secret. It’s always the same answer…watched what I ate and exercised!

Right now, I’m really focused on eating whole foods and cutting out refined grains, sugar, and artificial sweetners. Also, listening to my body and only eating when I am actually hungry. I can’t say I have really been pushing myself on the exercise front. I love exercise, just need a little extra motivation lately.

40 Annie March 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Physique 57′s been on my wish list since Kelly Ripa revealed them as a staple in her workouts. I love bodyweight exercises!

Since I got the veggies down, my #1 focus in my diet is protein and fats. I tried being on a low-fat plant-based diet, but found that it without meats and fat, I have a tendency to binge!

41 Paige March 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm

People never want to hear that, but it’s totally the truth. I’m sure you can relate with training – you can’t just hire a personal trainer and expect to be fit and healthy, but it’s diet AND exercise.

The number one focus in my diet is probably real foods, too. I don’t focus on macros much, but I do try to really limit my consumption of preservatives.

42 Marty March 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I agree that Larabars are the way to go. I hadn’t tried them until recently and was so relieved when I was able to pronounce all the ingredients and identify them as real foods! I was so impressed by their flavor that I decided to make my own Larabars and they’re so easy! Great to keep on-hand to have before going for a run or as a snack. Love the simplicity of the recipe. I plan on experimenting with a bunch of flavors. Yum!

43 Erin March 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm

On a completely unrelated note to your post, I’d love to see a post on your suggestions for foam rolling.

44 tinareale March 14, 2012 at 10:02 am

It’s on my “to-do” list. I have been meaning to do one for quite some time! :)

45 Samantha March 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I am of the exact same mindset as you when it comes to diet an exercise. Eat wholesome, healthy, foods, drink plenty of water of course, and workout. Change up your workouts, and keep your body guessing!

I LOVE Larabars, I just got done eating a PBJ one and realized it’s my last one. :-( Time to go to the store!

46 Maggie March 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm

My #1 focus in exercise is to just get out there and DO IT because I know I’ll feel so much better after! As for diet, I try to limit processed foods and get nutrients from real sources!

47 Annie March 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Great post Tina. I needed to hear this actually :) I’ve been exercising since last year on a regular basis but I’ve only started to enjoy it recently. Funnily enough that coincided with when I started running! I’m currently doing B210K :)
Last week though, I realized I have been neglecting everything else so I’ve decided to incorporate some other workouts such as bootcampy type ones into my routine Running is great but I’m afraid it’ll get boring after a while. Plus, I was so achey after my first non running workout I thought it couldn’t do me any harm to do them on a more regular basis lol

48 Arlene @ Adventures in Weight Loss March 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Loved this post … not least because it mirrors one I wrote a few weeks ago about the “secret” to weight loss.

I’ve tried the “everything in moderation” approach to eating, but that doesn’t work for me. So until I take off my excess weight, it’s low-carb all the way. The lifetime maintenance phase of Atkins isn’t all that different from any other “diet,” with a focus on lots of veggies, limited fruits and whole grains.

I’m loving your Best Body Bootcamp. It’s just what I needed to get me back in the exercise groove.

49 Heather @ Housewife Glamour March 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm

My number one focus is to maintain an overall healthy eating routine. Cutting carbs or sweets out completely just doesn’t work. I allow myself to “cheat” one day a week and stick to low carb, whole grains and 100 cal packs of sweets on the other ones.

Don’t you just LOVE barre workouts? I just started teaching at a studio and am in love with this method of toning. Running and barre are my fitness heroes! Great post! :)

50 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health March 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Love this post Tina! My number one focus on diet is to do everything in moderation. I now know that I can’t deny myself the indulgences that I love, but that I also can’t go crazy with them! As with exercise- I need variety and a challenge :) . I LOVE larabar and chobani!

51 Cait Martin March 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm

I always love your Friends references! It is my favorite show of all time, and seeing it alongside a discussion about health and wellness makes me smile :)

I also love this post! If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that things don’t have to be complicated to be effective. That goes for everything from weight loss to strength training and even to life itself. This is GREAT stuff! Thanks for the reminder!

52 Meg March 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

such a great post Tina :) I completely agree with you – I focus on whole foods as well. It was really comforting to hear what you like to have at each mealtime (ex. oats and breakfast, legumes at lunch, etc.) So many people are going paleo now a days and it can really play around with a persons mind, but I love my grains and stick to them :)

53 tinareale March 14, 2012 at 10:00 am

Ditto! Give me my grains! I’ve done the lower carb and restrictive type things before and they always backfire for me. Sure it works great for many people, but I gotta have more carbs. ;)

54 Heather @ Run Eat Play March 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I have no problem with exercising, it’s the eating part that I struggle with. It’s definitely something that I’m working on!

55 STUFT Mama March 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Number one focus is staying away from processed foods. I’m not good at moderation. :)

56 Katie @ Katie Without Restrictions March 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm

This is such a great post! Simple, basic information, but it’s exactly what health and wellness boils down to. Thanks for sharing!

57 Kathrine March 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. Spent most of my childhood on steroids due to severe asthma. As you can imagine, I blew up and was huge as a child and teenager. 230lbs at my highest. 10 years and 3 babies later, i’m sitting at 168lbs. I still have alot of work to do. My weight yo yo’s because i’m on again off again, like you said. I’m currently interested in kickboxing. I enjoy lots of fresh fruits and veggies, but have a hard time with eating nuts/eggs. My kids are allergic. I have a soy allergy as well, so lots of food are out of question. I LOVE Larabars, but cannot keep them in the house, due to the nut allergies. They are just too severe to risk it. My question is, do you have any healthy, low cal recipes to sub them ? I’m doing Weight watchers too, so obviously low fat is key as well.

P.s. I’ve been reading your blog for quite away. You a very inspiring!

58 Kathrine March 13, 2012 at 11:15 pm

awhile** Sorry about that!

59 tinareale March 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

Hi Kathrine! What types of recipes are you looking for? Quick, healthy snack foods without the nuts? I’m personally a big fan of homemade muffins and bars for an option like that as well. I don’t have any on this site, and often just google around for ideas. I usually sub in whole wheat pastry flour, unsweetened apple sauce instead of oils, and then choose recipes that incorporate oats or chopped fruit, natural sweeteners like honey (in smaller doses), etc. Hope this helps some!

And thanks for reading. :)

60 Megan March 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Hi Tina! I just started reading after hearing a lot about your Boot Camp from other bloggers, and I’m so glad I did! I love your philosophy, and I can’t wait to read more. Is the Boot Camp something you do regularly? I would also love to participate next time it comes around!

61 tinareale March 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi, Megan! Thanks for reading and saying hello. I always love connecting with new people through blogging. ;)

I’m really hoping to do another bootcamp sometime either over the summer or early fall. It’s been so fun for me as well, so we’ll see what happens. :)

62 Danica @ It's Progression Not Perfection March 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I love this post, Tina!!
My number one focus for my diet is also to eat clean and I do that by setting a goal for my veggie and fruit servings each day.
My focus for exercise is to constantly switch things up. I’m not someone who can do the same thing day after day or even week after week–I get bored too easily, so I try new classes, play around with treadmill speeds, circle through my workout dvds, etc.

63 Sarah March 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Yet another great post:-). I love that you don’t go for any gimmicks when it comes to a healthy body/mind/spirit.
My focus in exercise is definitely strength. I don’t completely know what it is about it, but I love to feel strong. I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to sign up for boot camp this time around;I know it would have been a great time and a great way to work toward my health goals. Instead, I’m doing Bob Harper Inside Out Method dvd’s and a bit of yoga.
As far as food goes, I focus on whole foods without added sugars. (Sugar does crazy things to my body, so I’ve recently committed to limiting it to one or two times a week.) I LOVE Larabars- especially the pb&j flavor. That and a glass of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and I’m set:-).

64 Laura @joyful shimmy March 25, 2012 at 10:48 pm

My major thing has been really adopting eating real food. I can feel energized and more willing to take actions in other areas of my life. I move my body, take exercise classes because it totally restores me to sanity. But I wouldn’t be moving my body unless I feed it with the proper nutrients.

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