LeAnne Bonser is a middle school teacher, marathon runner, wife and mom of Kylie and Ava—her daughters who prefer taking healthy lunches to school and making green smoothies for snacks. Leanne took the time to share a little insight into how she stays slim, including her training plan and simple diet, and the reason why she believes her kids enjoy healthy foods. Whether you are a new mom, soon-to-be mom or just a busy lady, LeAnne has some smart fit living tips for you!
RK: Hi LeAnne! Thanks for taking the time to chat. You have such a great physique: what types of workouts do you do to stay in shape?
LeAnne: I do 5-6 workouts per week. Right now, most of my workouts incorporate mainly running as I am following a training plan to run the Chicago Marathon this October. (She uses Hal Higdon’s marathon training plans for all her races). I don’t belong to a gym, but have also started doing other workouts at home to help with running. I have a kettlebell upstairs, and do some workouts with that. And, I also do bodyweight exercises like burpees and pushups.
No Gym Required Workouts
- One of my favorite workouts includes 4 sets each of 25 kettlebell swings, followed by 25 burpees. I do 4 rounds so I reach 100 reps of each.
- After a run, I try to throw in some push-ups at the end (4 sets of 25 reps).
- During a run, I will sometimes stop in different cul-de-sacs to do 25 burpees in each cul-de-sac. I probably look ridiculous, but it’s an easy way to mix it up.
- During the summer months, my daughters have an hour-long swim practice every morning. Instead of just sitting for an hour, I run for about 45 minutes and then spend about 10 minutes doing burpees, push-ups, etc. It is a great time to get it in. One of the first things I learned with going back to work last year (after staying at home with my kids for 10 years) is to manage my time the best way I can. I found that a great time to get in a workout in was to do it during one of their sports practices.
RK: During the school year, when do you find the time to workout?
LeAnne: With work, kids, and other commitments, it can be hard to squeeze a good workout into my day. Sometimes I have to schedule when I will do others things around my workout. I am not a morning person, so I will typically workout as soon as I get home from teaching. Then, I have the rest of the evening free to help the girls with their homework and drive them to their practices.
RK: Your kids are also very active and fit. How do you get your daughters to be active and turn off the media and technology?
LeAnne: This has been hard for us. They, unfortunately, love watching TV, so we really have to limit it. We have always told them they have to play some type of sport, whatever it is. I don’t care what sport they play, as long as they are involved in something. Kylie swims year-round. During the school year, she really doesn’t have a lot of time to watch TV. She is either doing her homework, eating dinner, or at practice. Ava is starting soccer again this year, after trying many different sports. Because she is getting older, the number of times she practices will increase. We have a rule in the house that they have to read and have their rooms clean before turning on the TV. Sometimes, I will go to the high school track to run, so that they can run/walk while they are with me. They (mainly Kylie) now ask to run with me. They have been with me enough times at bootcamp classes to know what burpees, squats, push-ups, etc. are. If they get tired of running, sometimes I will find them on the other side of the track making up their own workouts that incorporate these types of exercises. The big thing that has worked for me is to model healthy living. My girls watch everything I do, so I think my active lifestyle has rubbed off on them.
RK: That is awesome and very inspiring! Moving onto nutrition, how do you eat to fuel your workouts while working full-time and being a mom?
LeAnna: I usually eat three meals per day and may have 1-2 snacks throughout the day.
- I am not a big breakfast eater even though I know it’s the most important meal of the day. I have to force myself to eat something in the morning. However, I could not survive without my coffee! My favorite meal would be a weekend brunch only because I love breakfast foods (omelets) but would prefer to eat it later in the morning.
- For lunch, I typically have a salad with some type of protein.
- For dinner, I do a lot of grilled meats with a side salad. I have two daughters that are 11 and 8. They will pretty much eat anything. Our favorite “family” meal would be grouper grilled on the Big Green Egg (a splurge my husband made last summer) and a killer salad.
RK: Your daughters like to eat lots of healthy vegetables and fruits, which is rare! How did you convince them to try the healthy foods and continue eating them?
LeAnne: I have been lucky in the sense that my girls have always been open to trying things. Although they don’t love every single vegetable out there, they like and will eat probably 95% of the ones that have been prepared for them. My older daughter doesn’t love tomatoes, and my younger daughter doesn’t like beets, but they at least tried them before making that decision. They help me grocery shop, and they love helping me cook. I think getting kids involved in the process makes them take ownership, which in turn, makes them more apt to try new things. When they were little, we would call broccoli “little trees,” which they thought was cute. They love roasted Brussels sprouts, which we dubbed “baby cabbages” years ago. I also feel like, as parents, we have to model these behaviors. It’s amazing…kids watch our every little move. My girls see me eating healthy (for most part), so they have adapted to eating that way over time (again, for the most part). Don’t get me wrong, they love ice cream, cookies, donuts, etc., and they indulge in it sometimes. However, it’s a treat rather than a daily occurrence. I don’t buy a lot of junk food. If it’s here, we will all eat it. If it’s not in the house, we will snack on more healthy options.
***Fun fact on her daughter’s eating habits. Kylie, LeAnne’s 11 year-old daughter, actually made up her own green smoothie recipe just before I came by to interview. Here’s Kylie’s Green Smoothie recipe for kids:
- A couple handfuls of spinach
- Some pineapple juice
- 1 banana
- Some strawberries
- Blend it all in a blender & drink!
RK: (In awe that an 11-year old made and liked a green smoothie) LeAnne, how often do you and your daughters make green smoothies?
LeAnne: We have made smoothies for years now. I used to make them for the girls. Now, they make them on their own. We don’t really follow any specific recipes, rather we throw in whatever fresh fruit and veggies we have. The one thing we try to do is to top off the blender with spinach. They know you cannot really taste it and that it is good for them.
RK: You are definitely a great ‘fit-family’ model and make it sound so simple. The results show! How do you stay motivated each day?
LeAnne: Everything in moderation!!! I don’t believe in denying yourself of anything. I have a glass of red wine almost every night…gotta love the Mediterranean diet! Also, we went out to dinner last night. This particular restaurant is known for their tres leches cake. I wanted to try it but didn’t want an entire piece. I had two small bites and my girls finished it off. That’s all I needed. In terms of working out/running, I don’t really need something to motivate me to do it. It’s been a part of my life for so long (I started working out religiously in college and am now 39). I believe being active is a lifestyle. It’s something you just incorporate into your life like everything else we do. If I don’t work out for more than a couple of days, I don’t feel like “me.” I do it just as much for my emotional health as I do physical health.
RK: That is great, LeAnne! What would be your best advice to create a home that encourages healthy lifestyles for a spouse, kids and/or other family/friends living there?
LeAnne: I hate to give advice unless asked, but this is one thing I tell all new moms: When your children start eating “real food,” give them whatever it is that you are eating. Never make them their own dinner of chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, etc. I refused to make two separate meals when my girls were younger. They had to eat whatever it was that I was making for my husband and myself. This forced them to try many different kinds of foods at a young age. Today, they will truly eat anything. My daughters would probably eat fish and guacamole every night if they could. When we go out to eat, they typically don’t order off the children’s menu. Ever since they were little, people have always joked about the fact that they will eat anything. I truly believe that it’s because that’s what they’ve done since they were toddlers.
RK: With the school year coming up, do you make lunches for your girls to take with them?
LeAnne: Yes, they actually don’t like the school lunches… I usually keep the lunches simple. They will have a sandwich, goldfish or pretzels, and a fruit of some kind. Occasionally, I will pack a soup instead of a sandwich.
RK: Is there any other advice or tips you have to staying fit and trim as a mom and busy professional?
LeAnne: The other piece of advice I would give is to find something that you enjoy doing and do it. With all the different workouts out there, there has to be something for everyone, whether it’s running, cycling/spinning, CrossFit, etc. Once you find something that you like, it will be more enjoyable to do even if you are not a huge fan of working out.
RK: Thank you so much for sharing, LeAnne!