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Keeping Up with a Healthy Lifestyle as a Parent with Chris Heskett

Episode 42 of the Fuel the Fire Podcast hosted by Shanon Safi, RD, LDN.














Imagine discovering the perfect blend between passion and profession, where the line between work and play blurs into a healthy life rhythm. That's exactly what online fitness and nutrition coach Chris Heskett has mastered, and I had the pleasure of uncovering his secrets in a delightful chat that weaves through maintaining work-life harmony, the therapeutic power of hobbies, and the enriching chaos of parenthood. Chris reveals how his love for cooking, gardening, and the great outdoors provides a sanctuary from burnout and shares how these pursuits have evolved since he became a parent, offering listeners a window into a lifestyle where health and fitness seamlessly integrate with family demands.


Feeling overwhelmed is part of the human condition, but it's the choices we make in those moments that shape our lives. In this episode, Chris and I tackle the art of slowing down—sharing strategies for setting realistic fitness goals, introducing new foods to children's diets, and the value of patience. Personal anecdotes, like my journey with my daughter's evolving palate, serve as relatable touchstones. We discuss the 'seven rule' for offering new tastes to kids and the wisdom of treating workout routines and daily life with the same level of mindful pacing, helping you navigate your responsibilities without succumbing to the fear of missing out.


The episode rounds off with a reflection on the cultural and familial threads that influence our and our children's relationships with food. We celebrate the joy of seasonal cooking, the bonding that arises from family food traditions, and the anticipation they bring. Moreover, I share insights on navigating the delicate terrain of food choices, moderation, and the impact of our own upbringing on how we approach our children's nutrition, with recommendations like "French Kids Eat Everything" for those seeking to foster a positive food relationship from a young age. Join us for this heart-to-table discussion that promises to nourish your parenting, fitness, and culinary philosophy.


Episode Transcript:


Slow down, do less. My wife always points out like I'm an over planner. I think we can do give a lot more done in a day than we really can, and she's like you can do like three of those things, Like you have a list of seven, we can get three done, Okay.


Hello, hello, welcome to the Fuel the Fire podcast with your host, Shanon Safi. Today we have Chris Heskitt, who is online fitness and nutrition coach. Chris and I know each other from quite some time ago. We actually met in person before we knew each other online, I think. Sometimes with more of my guests, it's the reverse, where I meet them online and then we meet in person. Yeah, I know Chris from back in the day, so I'm excited to have him here to open up a conversation and for you guys to hear his amazing perspective.


Thank you for having me on.


Yeah, thanks for being a part of this. So, Chris, let's just start with telling the audience a little bit about yourself outside of your career.


Yeah, so outside of my career, I'm huge into a lot of like. I have a ton of hobbies, like I like cooking, which kind of ties into the career, but cooking, I like being in the outdoors. I like a whole bunch of like random things, because I've always been really big into science. Like before I went into the exercise science realm, I was into like paleontology and astronomy, and so I have like these random little hobbies outside of my career that I like to do and I have you my career one. I like my career but it also helps pay for my expensive hobbies.


Love it, oh yeah. So what would you say is like what you spend most of your time doing, like when you're not at work, currently, like in this era of your?


life. Well, being a parent for one, that takes up the majority of the time, but when it comes so my hobbies are kind of seasonal, so, depending on which one, I'm doing with the outdoors. So like we're going into winter and spring this is like my hiking and backpacking season Then we roll into summer, which is where I'm huge into gardening. Like I build a flower garden for my wife, we do a huge vegetable garden and then that takes up a ridiculous amount of time, and then in the fall and early winter it goes into hunting and then vice versa, and then that all relates kind of back to food, like the gardening and the hunting. Then that relates back to the cooking hobby of enjoying really good food.


Yeah, I tend to see that in a lot of like fitness and nutrition professionals or people in this space, where so much of what they do outside of their career is just so in line with the career as a whole and what that looks like. And, yeah, I think it's just it's awesome because it really shows how passionate you are and how you practice what you preach, which makes it like really great to be able to receive advice and guidance from someone that really walks the walk, talks the talk in the whole nine.


Well, it's also good for a lot of people like just focus on the career, their job, their job, their job it's like their whole identity. And for some people that's okay, like certain personality traits, that's fine. But for me I get burnt out. So, like my escape, my quote unquote therapy is going to my hobbies. I can give myself that mental break and really hyper focus and go down the YouTube rabbit holes, go down the podcast and the books, learn new things, and then when I come back, like the next morning, to my job, I'm feeling refreshed. So it helps me with kind of not getting into that grind burnout that a lot of people in like corporate America get into. That's the big thing. Like, if I'm not doing any of the hobbies, I get burnt out really quick.


Yeah, it's really important to have that balance between work and play, to know when that point is, to take rest and rejuvenate, instead of pushing yourself to that max and feeling like you just can't go anymore or you just need such a long rest to really recover from it. So that's awesome, that you feel like you've really found that space and ability to do so, because I think a lot of people listening might find it relatable to kind of hear that and might be on the quest to find what their personal balance looks like.


Yeah, because the way I view it, like you can try to grind out as much as possible, but like your work quality suffers, like the amount of work you get done per hour starts to go down at some point and you can should be like, oh, I'm grinding out 15 hours a day trying to build up my small business or trying to climb the corporate ladder, that's cool and all. But if you could take, say, an hour, two hours, whatever it is to work on your hobby, work on something that mentally rejuvenates. It doesn't even need to be a hobby. Maybe it's the gym, maybe it is something else. You're going to the spa, something to help rejuvenate you on a weekly basis, a daily basis. You know daily is going to be smaller than a weekly or a monthly, but if you can do that, then you're going to come back and you're going to get more done in less amount of time. So then you can actually enjoy life more. Because a lot of people spend decades of their life like not enjoying life and that they're like okay, now I'm ready to enjoy life, but my health has gone downhill. I've been taking care of myself, I have health issues. Now how am I going to actually like, go and enjoy life?


Yeah, that's so true. I know something that you mentioned was trying to navigate this with children, so I'm really curious what your experiences are If you were to compare the version of you before having children to the version of you now, and what that looks like and maybe changes in accommodations you had to make in order to still honor your nutrition and your health and your fitness and your hobbies, while still being able to meet the family's needs and raise kids in a way that feels aligned with what you always envisioned for yourself as a father.


Well, you grow up really quick so you mature much fat At least I did like okay these bad habits. I have to go, because now you're raising two small children who are looking up to you and they rely on you 100%, which is a really weird feeling, because a pet is one thing. It's different when it's kids. Anyone who's like I'm a dog mom, I'm a cat mom or I'm a dog dad, it's not the same with humans. Being a dog dad for a long time, it's not the same. So when it comes to navigating everything with my wife, it's finding the balance between we need time off. Both of us are not super social people, so we're not super extroverted. We need our own space, our own time. So it's coming up and we're still working on this. So I'm not saying we're perfect, but finding the balancing act of hey, I'm going to take the kids, you go off and do this thing because I know it's going to be good for you, or she's going to take the kids, I'm going to go off and do one of my things, or we incorporate the kids into it, which might mean things are going to go much slower Just knowing that. I think that's where people get frustrated. They think they can go at the same speed, but getting out of our house is like a 15 to 30 minute process. Now it used to be hey, you want to go hiking? Cool, Grab your stuff really quick. We're out the door in five minutes. Now it's like okay, do we have the diaper bag? Do we have enough food? Are we timing this between mealtimes, Like there's only certain times of the day we can go, otherwise they're going to just blow a gasket and be nightmares. There's like you're timing everything out which makes you more organized, but you just have to go slower and it sounds frustrating. But then when you're in the moment and we have a hiking backpack for my daughter and she's out there just enjoying things because it's her first time, or like getting outside putting the snow suit on here because we just had snow here in Pennsylvania, as you know, and she's like playing with snow for the first time ever, because we haven't really had snow in the past two years. She's been live Like it lights up. It's like, okay, this is worth it, this is awesome. It was super frustrating on the front end, but it makes it worth it. So you have to keep that in mind but also slow down, do less. My wife always points out I'm an over planner. I think we can do a lot more done in a day than we really can, and she's like you can do like three of those things, Like you have a list of seven, we can get three done, Okay. So I was learning like certain things have to go, certain things need to stay, and then balancing. It is not as flexible as it once was, but you can make it work if you prioritize it.

Yeah, what does the communication between you and your wife really look like for you to be able to maybe like express what's important to you and figure out what it is that you guys will compromise and do together as a family?


We'll try to do most things together as a family. Now there's certain like my hobby of hunting. The girls are too little for that. Now my wife was still breastfeeding, so it just came down to compromise this year for this season was your breastfeeding? That's going to scare any deer away. You're not going out because she also hunts, so it's like you're going to watch the girls. Next year will be flip flopping and it's also going to depend on the conditions and everything. So like which stance you can go in, like, hey, this one really isn't suited for you, I'm not going to go in. If you want to go into hunting details, I can go into that. I'm not sure if your audience is that interested, but we can flip flop based on what the weather is doing and everything. And there's been a few times this year where I was like just go, like it's fine, the way the the ending time is, you'll be fine, you just go out. When it comes to other hobbies or other things, like she likes to do, sometimes it's just me taking the girls If somebody's had a bad day, taking on more, if we both had a bad day, sometimes that's like okay, what can we take off the plate and make it like a little bit easier on ourselves. And one thing that does make it easier I know this is a hot topic in the parenting world is we are not a screen free household. We will use screens because you can't get anything done otherwise. I without TV or the iPad. Now we put educational stuff on, but sometimes that needs to come out on the weekends when you're trying to get things done or meals are running a little bit late, because what my daughter will do is once she gets hungry she starts freaking out, but then she'll like latch onto my legs. So now I'm moving around with a toddler like a 30 pound toddler attached to my legs with hot food trying to spill it on here. So everything's going even slower. Meanwhile she's like wailing and screaming and every parent will know this. Your child scream and cry like dresses you out, like if you hear babies cry and you're not a parent, okay, it's kind of annoying. Once you're on kid, like your body knows, and that stress response is like tenfold and you're like please stop, please stop. So trying to avoid that as much as possible. But it's in terms of communication. There's been many arguments when trying to adjust. We've had many, many arguments, not full on fights, but trying to figure out where each other is coming from. Now we both have taken a different personality test, so we kind of know each other's personalities. Anagram and disc are the two that we've done, so I kind of know what she needs. She's very much like a clean freak. Everything needs to be put back. I'm more into the hobbies, so for her like going upstairs and the kids have made a mess, it'll stress her out. So I can help by cleaning up. As for her, she can help me by hey, you go off and do this thing. I know when you come back you're going to be more helpful and if I need your help it's not going to be like a big to do. Hopefully that explains the question.


Definitely. It sounds like it's partly being able to have the tests, like you guys took and stuff to have that clear, more like logical way to navigate it, and also the combination of understanding each other's love languages and knowing hey, this is how I feel supported, and to be able to communicate that to each other clearly and kind of know this is the order that my wife likes things in, this is the order that I like things in, and really divvying up the tasks so that it doesn't feel like it's all on one person to take care of the children or only one person in the partnership gets to have the freedom to go out and do the things and have time to themselves. So I think it's really beautiful that you guys are able to communicate and you both honor each other's needs and requests and it sounds like it even kind of goes without necessarily always needing verbal queuing. So once you have those conversations or disagreements or conversations that might feel like they have a little bit more intense energy behind them, you're able to walk away from that with clarity in knowing how you can best support each other while also still being able to take your family to the next step and help them evolve and watch the girls be able to grow up in a good environment.


Exactly.


If you were to give, like a big piece of advice to new parents that are also on a journey of connecting deeper to their health, their personal well-being, what would you say?


It's going to go slower, go a lot slower and take things one step at a time when the four kids, like you, can jump all in. It's not necessarily the time, like we've all seen, like the meme. It's like a 20 year old trainer of like we all have the same 24 hours in a day, like the mental exhaustion of having kids, especially if they've been screaming and getting in trouble all day long. And it's like, okay, it's time to work out. And you're, like I am mentally so exhausted physically not exhausted, just mentally burnt out. I don't know if I can work out today. Like a lot of times, what I'll do is I'll just jump on my treadmill and I'll do like a rocking workout. So I just throw on like a backpack or like a weight vest and just walk and get my heart rate up to like 130-ish. I just do that for 45 minutes while watching Netflix movie. That'll be the workout. Like, okay, it's zone two cardio. It's not really taxing on the body, but it's hard enough that I'm breaking a sweat. It's better than nothing. It's not the bodybuilding style or power lifting style workouts I used to do and you might have to cut back on the number of days that you think you can work out. So I used to love to do six days a week of working out. Right now I'm doing like four, like still good. Like I'm sure some people in the audience are like I'm struggling with two, but I've decreased. Like my expectation is get four days in. The other days are bonus days, but that's not my expectation. My expectations get like four days in and during busy times of the year it's three and I'm a fitness nutrition coach. I've been in this field for 10 years. Like my expectation for myself is three days because those kids are exhausting, but on weekends you might be running around all weekend with them so you might be outside. Like I actually threw my back out yeah, old deadlift injury. On Monday because we have a hill back here. I was running up and down with my oldest daughter sledding. It's like I would pick her up, carry a 30 pound toddler up the hill in snow on one side side with my injury, push her down, and we just did that in the cold, didn't think anything of it. And then Monday, like I leaned over and, like yay, being in my 30s, all of a sudden my back goes out. Like oh, that felt like I was deadlifting with incorrect and I was holding nothing great. So things like that also happen. In terms of your nutrition, your kids are also going to be kind of picky, but there's I forget the research in the person you did but there's something where it's like the seven rule you need to have your kids try things out seven times before you can say they don't like a food. For example, my daughter at first hated peas. Now she will devour. We'll put two cups of peas. We don't, but we could put two cups of peas on her plate. She will eat every last one. So it's like you can't be like oh, at this time they didn't, they don't like it. So they don't like that food. And you wipe it out and try it seven times. And they'll also go through phases, like my daughter is going through a phase right now where she doesn't want leftovers. Like there's lunch food and there's dinner food. Lunch food is wraps and sandwiches and things. So we can't give her leftover dinner. She won't touch it, but then we'll reheat the same thing for dinner and she'll eat all of it. What I don't. So tried things out, tried things multiple ways. Sometimes you just like the kid didn't like it the first way. It's like if you had the first interaction with Brussels sprouts being boiled Brussels sprouts nobody likes that, that's pretty gross. But if you had fried Brussels sprouts, they're delicious. And that was my first ever interaction with Brussels sprouts was in Charleston, south Carolina. Fried Brussels I'm like these are delicious. Why does anyone ever be like, oh, brussels sprouts. Then I had boiled one time was like, oh, this is why people are like these are gross. Same thing with kids, like it's their first time. It might be texture, might be something else. Let them try it. Have backups on hand, like we have canned fruit, frozen things on hand. Or just break something out. Like let's just reheat a little bit this just in case, and if she's fine with everything, great. If she's not, okay, we have this will put on, and if she doesn't need it, then we'll just put in the fridge and it's there tomorrow. So go slower, try to figure things out with your kids. Try things out and it's just going to be a little bit of a process of figuring out your own nutrition. But they're go. As long as you're not like feeding them ice cream all the time, they're going to be fine. Like our daughter loves fruit, but she still gets cookies. She still gets chocolate like we're not keeping those foods from her, but it's very like more like a special occasion thing. So she's doesn't have this palette of like oh, super sugary food, so she's used to these other foods too. So it takes time to kind of build that as well. And as long as you're doing that and you're eating fairly balanced meals, they're going to like those foods. As long as you're like a half decent cook, if you overcook it then you're like, oh, this is nasty. Yeah, kids gonna think the same thing.


There's so much in what you said that I want to touch on that I think was so helpful to hear, like the number one, slowing down. I think in general, a lot of us need to start finding ways to slow down. I think with the way society is and everything's really fast paced, it almost feels like if we're not moving faster we're going to get left behind or we won't be able to keep up with what other people are doing and people are going to move ahead of us and we're going to kind of feel isolated and like we're getting this feeling of missing out, like the FOMO of life if we're not going fast and trying to do all the things, and that kind of leads into the piece where you know kind of what I took away from it is managing your expectations, really understanding that what you did before you have kids might not necessarily be realistic when you do have kids and it's holding yourself to that standard and saying I need to show up as that version of myself, otherwise I'm not good enough or I'm not doing well enough or I'm not doing enough in general, and I think that can be really damaging. If we get really fixated on feeling that way can cause a lot of negative thought patterns in our mind and kind of decrease our self-esteem, which I think naturally is harder to combat. As a new parent, I think, especially I've heard a lot of women talk about it postpartum. You're just a completely, your hormones are completely different, your body is completely different, and so to not necessarily keep thinking that you can show up in the same way that you were before, and if you're not, there's something wrong with that or if you don't have the same body or the same energy to do things or yeah, so much of that that is almost like the Internet makes you think is normal to just go back to life pre pregnancy? It's really not and so to be able to really understand what expectations you can have of yourself and where to give yourself more grace in all of it, yeah, so, using my wife as an example of what you just said, you can't.


Your life is going to be totally different. If you're like, think about becoming parent, or you just became parent, you're starting to realize it now, your life's going to be very, very different. Essentially, you just added another full time job onto your full time job. So, yeah, where's the time? Like something has to give someplace. So it's like it if you used to do like all these things in one day. It's like something has to either get spread out through the week, split up across you and your partner, or something has to go like something there. And this is where some people like their relationship goes, which is not good, or they couldn't neglect their kids or get resentful of your kids. You made the choice of kind of having kids for the most. Sometimes you know things happen. Kids for the most. Sometimes you know things happen. But for the most part, you're making the choice of being a parent. So you have to make the decision of what's going to be that compromise. But so with my wife, she's married to a fitness nutrition coach, but she hasn't worked out in a year and a half. She was really not comfortable working out pregnant and not because she, like she was afraid of like anything with working out. It was. She was so physically uncomfortable and so low energy. She's like I'm going to just get like walk, like that's it. And then with right now she's pumping, so that's taking up hours of her day on top of working. She's in management at a nursing facility, so she has like a fairly high stress job. Comes home kids. So the first time from early morning because her first pump 6am, the first time she gets a break after we both do all the bedtime routines about 9, 9, 30 at night, like, okay, great, now you're going to go work out, or do you spend time with your husband or do you spend time with just being by yourself. So for her she's like I need to recover or I'm going to be burnt out. So she's either going to spend time by her herself, which a lot of times I'll work out at that time. So she's like great, the hour I get, or nobody needs me other than maybe the dog. Like quiet, the kids are asleep, my husband's not here to pester me and I get like 45 minutes in an hour. But she could go work out, but that would just stress her out. So, yeah, you're not going to go back to necessarily normal. Some women do. I'm not saying like my wife's situations, everyone's, but saying that expectation of like, hey, like, if you look at your schedule, where does working out fit in with everything? It might not. And like, okay, we can work on your nutrition, we can do other things in the meantime, we can work on your steps. But it might not be until like six months, nine months, a year later. But in the grand scheme of things, a lot of people don't think of it. They're like just worried about like, get my pre pregnancy body back as fast as possible. It's like one year is really the drop in a bucket. Like one year and over what? The next decade? Like two decades, three decades, like that's not that much time. Like you can take a year and do the bare minimum, or six months, and then next year. I have a plan, so like for my wife she's going to start weaning off in March, so then also she's going to get like three hours back in her day. Great, guess what? 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes workout can easily fit into that three hours. So there, it would magically found time. So we just made that plan.


I, when I see moms and everything that they do, sometimes I almost see it as your movement, like your daily energy expenditure just looks really different. Maybe it's not necessarily lifting weights in the gym and running and hiking and all of the things that maybe you had more time and availability to do, but honestly, having kids and playing with them and keeping them entertained and holding them especially when you have multiple I feel like expends a lot of energy. Like you are moving, you are technically pretty physically active throughout the day and sometimes we don't give ourselves enough credit for how much we are expending energy and, on top of that, trying to do it with minimal sleep or broken sleep patterns yeah we have broken sleep patterns.


Right now. We're getting up like three times a night currently, so super fun, yeah. Yeah, if you're like actually playing with your kids, you can be very active, or you're chasing them around, you're doing things, so you can be very, very active with them. And to my past point, like on weekends, it's not that we're inactive, we might go hiking or do other things with them. We'll go to or, if we need something easier, we'll go to Longwood, which is like a massive botanical gardens, and we'll do 10, 15,000 steps there, just like pushing our daughters around the gardens, which they love, seeing all the flowers and everything. So you can still be active. It's just for my wife, more on the weekends and then weekdays it's yeah, just chasing them around or getting down the floor with them, actually playing with them, or just getting everything ready, like going up and down the stairs multiple times to get all the bedtime routine stuff ready, like those things all add up. I'm not sure what her step count is, but I'm sure it's higher than what I think it is.


I just think back to just the time that I spend with my nieces. I don't have any kids personally, but my brother has children and if I hold my niece for like 20 minutes straight, my arm is exhausted and I think of my brother and his wife. Like they'll be holding the kids literally all day long and it'll be like changing a diaper while one's jumping on you and it's so much more energy than, yeah, than you would even really think. But it's to me. I consider that activity for sure and I think it just gives you more permission to kind of give yourself some grace with it as you get back to your routine, when they're more autonomous and you don't necessarily have to be breastfeeding and you're able to get more sleep and the kids are sleeping through the night. All of that makes such a big difference and it's just kind of knowing what it is that can wait for you to jump back into and what is now a priority that you have to make sure you are giving time to Because, like, you can't get this time back with your kids. As difficult and challenging as some of it might be, it's really still honoring the season that they're in, honoring the season that you're in and cherishing what is right in front of you while it's still there.


There's a Jordan Peterson quote and I know he's controversial, but it was like you only get four years with little kids. Like four years I'm like, oh crap, my daughter's two, Like past two. Now she's more like two and a half. Like, oh, little kid mode's already halfway done, like wow, that went way faster than I thought. So yeah, you only get the small little short time with little kids and it's super frustrating day to day, but it's also very, very fun and enjoyable at certain moments. So those little moments I always say they're very lucky, they're cute, because it'd be much harder in the mornings with them, but it is fun. It's definitely the cliche saying of it's worth it in terms of like we both wanted to be parents, so it's definitely worth it to us. But your expectations, like when my wife gets back to working out, the expectations are gonna be like two times a week and she does wanna get back to weightlifting cause she feels better with that, her mental health's better. She's also noticed her strengths gone down. So, like holding our daughters is more challenging than what she thought would be, especially the second one, cause she didn't really get much time to build her strength back up from her first daughter. So she's like, okay, this is a little bit more challenging than I'd like it to be. So I wanna get back to the weight room so that strength back up, cause the kids only get heavier, they don't get lighter. They go from 10 pounds to 15, 20, they build up over time. So at a certain point it's like, okay, now it's heavy, Like carrying a 30 pound taller up and down the hill multiple times. First, couple of times I'm like, oh, this isn't bad. And then, like the next day, like after like 20 times up and down, like I kind of feel my quads a little bit Like I got a quad pump going up and down that hill.


That would be my day's workout. Personally, I would count that as gold. That was cardio day and I'm like this is my cardio cause.


It was up the hill, it was interval training up the hill, pushed her down with a sled and then she turned around up. He's go down the hill, pick her up, go back up the hill. And you know, we did that for like 30, 40 minutes. I didn't time it, but I was like, okay, I'm gonna go back up the hill. But she did till she was like I'm good, I'm ready to go in and like I'm actually tired. Yeah, that was a cardio workout.


Yeah, when I play with my knees, I'll do kind of almost like what I would consider the equivalent of a wall ball. So like I'll pick her up and we'll squat down and I'll throw her up in the air and we'll like do sets. And so I find ways to entertain her. I'll be like, okay, we'll do like a set of 10. And I'm like, all right, and then we'll just like jog in a circle around the house and like we'll play chase for a second and then I'll have her do something to distract herself for a little bit so I can rest, cause I'm like I can't breathe. Yes, I'm like so tired. And then, yeah, we'll do another set and we'll just like intervals. So it's fun. I like the idea of kind of incorporating them into movement, because the movement's great for them and it's a way for you to bond and connect. It's kind of nice that you can simultaneously have two experiences at once. That just, I don't know it like it like exponents sheets the benefit that you receive from it, cause you just have bonding going on. You're benefiting, they're benefiting, everyone's happy, your partner's probably thrilled and, yeah, I feel like it's like a win across the board.


And then they get tired and they needed a nap. And then you're just tired and you can't nap cause now it's meal time. But that happened this weekend. She got so she just collapsed that she fell asleep for two hours after sledding. I was like great daddy can't take a nap, I have to go make dinner now. So that's just the realities of things. But it made life much easier for the next two hours cause we only had to take care of one kid, cause one was out cold. But yeah, you can do that with many things. We'll do that with walks. We'll throw on like a weight vest. If there's like there's no time to actually get a workout and like you can do a rocking workout, just throw a backpack or a weight vest on and go for a walk with your kids. Yeah, you might get some weird looks, especially with the weight vest, cause sometimes we'll get comments like is that bulletproof vest? Wire wear? It's like it's a weight vest. Maybe it's just cause they're black, but okay, we've had that comment a couple of times like oh no, so you can just walk your neighborhood. Or if you have a walking trail nearby, you can do that. Or you can get like go hiking with them, and those experiences are all new for kids and anyone has like a dog and you're like, oh, if you take a dog and they go to training camp or they go someplace new, they're tired. Kids are in the same way any new experience, they're mentally so stimulated that by the time like you get home they're exhausted. So you're like kind of tired, you got physical activity in, but you're not super, they're exhausted and they're out cold. So now it's like okay, we're back, I got my workout. In quote unquote. I'm feeling good, I'm gonna make some food, we're gonna relax a little bit and the kids are knocked out. You know, like sweet peace and quiet for a little bit too. So you can make it work. It's just scheduling it and figuring out where you want that to fit in.


Yeah, I mean I would also love to hear a little bit more around mealtime and what that looks like as a parent.


Yeah. So when I was a trainer, meals happened whenever there was very little scheduling and so and my wife worked evening shift as a nurse, so we were used to eating late. When do you want to eat? Anywhere between like six and eight 30, doesn't matter. Somewhere in that timeframe for dinner. Lunches, anywhere between like one and three is fine. We tend to eat late. No, not anymore. So meals are much more structured like breakfast Latest is nine o'clock, ideally somewhere between eight and eight 30. But if you push past nine you start getting temper tantrums. Lunch is about noon, one o'clock at the latest, or you get into temper tantrums and dinner's six 30 at the latest. So it helps structure like timing. Okay, I know I need to drop things now or finish up what I'm doing and go do this, or you're gonna deal with what I had talked about earlier A screaming child who's also latched onto you, making things go much slower and everybody's stressed out of miserable. And then you get to dinner and you're all miserable except your kid who's now eating food. And then they get glad. You and you're like, yep, tonight's the night In terms of like what we eat. We know kind of like what our daughter like, like certain things she really likes, like rice, pasta no surprise, any. Like noodles she likes. Every kid seems to like noodles, I mean, adults do too. Potatoes she's a little weird about but she'll eat like mashed potatoes. Roasted potatoes are like hitter. She won't eat roasted potatoes very well, but she'll eat french fries Like. It's essentially the same thing, little bit than just the shapes different. With meat she's fine, but she's hit or miss with it where sometimes she'll eat a whole bunch Like. She'll eat like my wife's portion of meat, like four to six ounces and when sitting at it's like 30 pounds, and other times she won't like she'll just avoid it altogether. Now she gets her protein needs in like a. You only need like I think it's a half gram per ounce of body or pound of body weight, so she only needs like 15 grams in a day. She gets that by lunchtime. So we're not too worried that with that, with vegetables, it's try it and she usually does. But the other thing she does and parents might freak out about this is she'll look at a plate and she'll literally pick it up and give it to me and be like no, I don't want it. Like okay, that's fine, I just slide it away from her and we just continue eating and she's sitting there by herself and the next thing you know, she starts picking out her plate and then, next thing you know, the plate's totally empty. So when it comes to eating meals and structuring like your especially if it's new or it's not what they wanted, in their head Is there having an image of what the food's smelling like or what they think it's going to look like. And then they get to the dinner table and they're like nope, I don't want that, Give me something else. Like don't go get them something else. Like after dinner, after you're done eating and they haven't touched anything, maybe then you go and then we'll get them like applesauce or pears or something Like okay, well, we're going to give you, like here's a sweet, it's like it's fruit, or like we know she'll eat rice or noodles. Like okay, here's some rice, here's some noodles, We'll warm that up really quick. Or peas she's a big fan of that corn, We'll give her that stuff. Nothing like okay, well, we need to get calories in. So and then, if we're worried about calories for dessert, we'll do that bedtime snack. So it's like sugary things are afternoon and at night and more often than not. That's more fruit, not just like sugar, but occasionally like holidays. Yeah, she had a cookie. She'll have ice cream on occasion. On weekends We'll go out and get ice cream. But we place that at certain times of the day, Like here's this, like reward. Actually, we don't do rewards, it's just like a special occasion, like a special treat, but we don't actually award like with food, because we don't want to build that relationship of like food's. Comfort food is like a reward for doing something. We don't want to build that relationship with her. So it's just here's the time that we have it. Dinner's dinner food Dessert food is dessert food. We don't eat dessert food with dinner.


What if or like? Do you find your daughter asking for dessert and like, if she does, do you say no at times? Do you say yes, do you limit the number of times, or how do you navigate that?


She hasn't gotten to the point where she's really trying to ask. But we also have only placed like snacks at certain times of the day, so she doesn't have an expectation of like. I can sometimes get away with asking for this and get it Like it's just not happening. So she, you know, she's still young, so who knows what happens in the next couple of years as she gets a little bit older. But we haven't run into that where she's like asking for that. But then if we try to give her like her dinner for dessert, she would not be happy. I will say that she would definitely throw a tantrum then. So she knows, like okay, after dinner the next thing I get is probably going to be something a little bit sweet, but lately she's been liking bananas with peanut butter on it. Like, okay, sweet, but not really. Like most people are like that's dessert, it's dessert to her. She's totally happy with it.


Do you present her with options or is it more just like? We have not yet?


No, it's kind of like here's what we have or here's what I have the energy to make tonight. But sometimes I'll give her, like I have my own stash of chocolate in the house and sometimes I'll give her like a small piece of like in addition to what you're getting. Here's this, and it's only at night, or like if we go out for like ice cream or something, or there's like a French pastry place that opened up here in the town I live, we'll go out and that's like and after replaces her afternoon snack. So it's these certain times you have these foods, but breakfast, lunch and dinner there's a protein of fat, starch and usually some source of fiber fruit or veggies.


Do you think a lot about wanting to give her a healthy or both your daughter's a healthy relationship with food when you're feeding them?


Yeah, so we don't. We try not to calm her down with food, to build like food that's comfort, so like if she's crying, crying, crying like it's not. Like here, have some, have some piece of fruit or have some chocolate real quick and that'll calm her down. We don't do that. More often than not I have once in a blue moon like this. When was it? It was the other day. I forget what time of day it was, but she would not forget. Oh, my wife had to leave to go grocery shopping. It's the only chance she had to get out of the house. I was like we have to run errands. Do you want to just leave the house by yourself rather than bring us in? I just watched the girls here instead of like the massive thing that is like getting girls out of the house, because we had like three stops to make all within five minutes. I was like girls in the car, girls out of the car, girls in the car, girl why don't you just go out by? And she's like thank God they're. Like that was her only chance all weekend to be by herself. So my daughter freaked out because she's currently in a phase where, like she only wants mom and mom's exhausted from that. So I gave her like a little bit just to calm her down, because it was like 15 minutes of her like freaking out, like okay, this is long enough. But we also like don't necessarily always like reward. We'll say like more, like with praise, clap our hands, things like that when she does something really well, like we're probably training. We're trying not to like reward with food, to build up like hey, you do a good job here's food, so it's not building like food's comfort, food's reward. Then you get this relationship later in life where it's like I don't know why I struggle with food. Oh, I've always like anytime I'm stressed, I've run to, I've run to food. Anytime I do something well, I run to food, because for a lot of us that was kind of how people raised that tough. Well, I've coached a lot of people who's like hey, we have some of these underlying mindset things with food that we kind of need to address and there's a more here to unpack than you think there is.


That's so interesting. I never thought about it in that way. It's such a young age and I feel like that's really helpful to think about. Like, what emotions and experiences are we associating with food and what do we? Or, like, how do we normalize an eating routine? Or are we providing what the child needs, even if it feels like they don't want it? So I think especially that piece is really hard for a lot of parents when a child is like I don't want this, I refuse to eat this, and the instinct is to want to just get them something that you know that they'll eat. And I think so many parents are afraid to hurt their child's relationship with food or to do something that's not really serving them. And especially when you're in the phase when they're really picky and they don't want to eat this and don't want to eat that and you're concerned about, like they just need to take something in today, what do I do? Like I'm desperate, like I'll give them whatever they want because they haven't eaten anything all day, and that's, I feel like it's a challenging space to navigate and to know what to do.


There are. So pediatricians and child dietitians will bring up safe foods. So, like for us, we know applesauce is like a safe food. So you see this a little bit more with kids who might be on the spectrum where it's not necessarily a flavor thing but it's a texture thing with certain foods. So if you know like your kid likes these five things, keep those five things on hand at old times, like applesauce for us, always on hand, most fruit she likes. So we always have some fruit that way, like if we're going through one of those phases where she won't eat anything which does happen we can break that, like okay, we just need to break those foods out. We know rice is a safe food and, yeah, is it like a empty carb? Sure, one day is not going to be terrible. Or you try to like try different things where you mix it in. Now my daughter will go through and literally pick out every single individual kernel and eat them individually to avoid anything I mix in there. So that's just not something I do anymore. I'm like okay, whatever, but you can like. As a parent you can find, start to take notice of these foods. They like all the time and for a very long time now, like this month, because kids all also go through like they'll really like something for like a week and next week they don't want anything to do with it. But certain foods you just keep on hand because you're like they've liked it for the past three months. Where's this going to keep that? Peanut butter and jellies? That's another one where, okay, is it quote unquote the healthiest thing ever? No, probably not. But she needs calories and we always get like all right, so we're not going to do. We either have tortillas whole grain tortillas or whole grain wraps and or whole grain bread, so she's getting fiber there. It's not like empty, like white flour, so she's getting some fiber in there so she doesn't constipate. The peanut butter has protein, the whole grains have proteins, so it's a complete protein and jelly tastes good, so she's getting something half decent. We did quesadillas the other day with her cheese. She likes Okay, so we snuck things in there like some veggies and not meat and stuff, and she ate that. So you can keep those safe foods on hand. Now there's something else I wanted to talk about and it totally slipped my mind.


What's that?


It totally slipped. I'm like there's something before I went down the safe food route that I wanted to also say, and it's gone. It might come back later, but it is gone, like there was a really good point there and I'm like there's two things I wanted to buy. I was like this is kind of more important for new parents to know about and now the other idea is totally gone.


Well, I do have a question in the interim until you think of the other thought you wanted to share. I heard you mention white breads. So I'm really curious to know what your perspective is on providing that to children, like having white bread, white rice, unrefined carbohydrates or refined I forget, refined yeah, so yeah, switching up the words, sorry.


I'm just trying to get my brain a little tired Go back and forth of refined, unrefined what did I just say, I don't even know or nowadays on social media. So I don't say refined or unrefined because the social media experts will get into the comments and be like technically, everything is slightly processed. So it's like I write ultra processed foods because you can't say limit processed foods. Everything's a process. Cooking is oh, we know what I'm talking about. We don't be a content care or a comment, karen. So we try to bounce it. We don't want to avoid all of those foods because I think a lot of parents get a little too protective of like I'm only giving my kids this, and I remember seeing this comment from someone on my Facebook of like we are cutting out no-transcript, all sugar, all food dies and it's coming from a place of love. But we're doing all this and if they go over to someone's house and they give them these foods, we are no longer friends with you. I'm like that's really extreme and this is teaching like good food versus bad food. And while that works for now, what do every kid, every kid, rebels at some point. We are all teenagers. At one point we all did stuff to rebel against our parents. So what's going to happen? At some point they're going to rebel against you. And so I had a roommate in college who went through this exact same thing and he gained like 65 pounds in college because he was his mom's like almost like eating disorder. I would say his mom probably had a eating disorder, like he was a wrestler and she would give him one can of tuna. Now this guy was like 63 and he was like 150 in high school, but he was built like a line backer, so like he was really, really thin in high school but his lunch was one can of tuna. Like that's not great. So now he goes to college and so all you can eat buffet. He wasn't allowed ever to have sugar. Guess what? He can get unlimited ice cream, unlimited cookies, cake. Whenever he wants. There's pizza, pasta, everything All you can eat. So he went in and he had no ability to moderate. He never learned any skills with that. So it was just like the floodgates open. Like I can have all this. I missed out on it for so long. I'm going to eat this every day. So for him he had multiple desserts every single day and it was, and he just like couldn't stop like desserts there and then go back to his room and his room had all these different snacks in there because he was away from home and he could, versus like a bunch of us who were in the health and fitness industry where we still ate some of those foods, but we could moderate, like okay, we're going to go and have some ice cream, but we're not going to eat the whole container. We're going to have a piece of cake, we're not going to eat the whole cake, or we're not going to have ice cream, cake, cookies and chips and popcorn. And and it was really sad to see, especially now, know, you know, I just thought I was like wow, that's really weird at the time and now, knowing more about it since going through my nutrition certification and learning more about mindset and psychology, like, wow, like his mom really messed him up, like just cutting all those foods out, it's. You can't do that with your kids because they're going to go over to their friend's house. And you can actually. You see this on TikTok. Sometimes a few people are like we'll talk about it. They're like, oh yeah, I would go over to my friend's house and or they would have a friend come over and their friend. They're like this is really weird. They're like just wanting to like watch TV all the time and eat all the snacks. Why? Because their parents are like no TV, no junk food. You only get like these super healthy things and you never have these other foods. So then they go out and, okay, now all these foods are available to me. Parents aren't around. What am I going to do? I'm going to eat those.


Yeah, I think it's just such a fear for parents because a lot of times they think that they're doing what's best for their children by eliminating certain things or cutting out stuff you hear online is, quote unquote bad for your kids or is connected to this disease or this disease. It can feel scary and hard and it's easy to take a lot of blame and have a lot of shame around that. From the parents perspective of feeling like, oh, I messed up or I didn't do what was best for my child and now here's the consequence and I did this to them. That can be really hard to put on yourself and to have to carry, because I think ultimately, as parents, from what I understand and observe, no matter what you do, your child is going to have to re-explore and redefine things for themselves. Eventually you can create a great foundation and likely most parents are doing the best they can, no matter what it is and no matter what it looks like. It's typically the best that you can do given the circumstances that you're in and where you're at on your personal journey. It's just allowing your kids the space to safely explore different things, different ways of eating, different ways of moving your body and allowing them to form their own opinion and giving them permission to step into something different than what you maybe raise them to believe or raise them to think or thought was best for them at the time. Eventually, they get to take that responsibility and figure out what is best for me.


The way we try and navigate these foods is creating special occasions around them. I will. My wife's hobby is baking, so she'll bake something, but once it's gone, it's gone. It's a special occasion. A lot of times we'll bake with a garden, so what's in season? Or we'll go to the farmers market and it's great, it's summer and it's peach season Great, we're going to do these. And then the rest of the year you don't get this. It's not peach season. My parents did the same thing with me, where it's like certain times of the year you really look forward to these certain things. We can all think of Thanksgiving and Christmas or whatever holidays you do celebrate. If there's a celebration around it, a lot of times there's food and you're like, oh, you can't have Thanksgiving without Thanksgiving turkey. Well, that's an example. We can do that with other things. We can go out and get ice cream, but it's like an experience. We're going out. We're not just going to keep ice cream in the house at all times. You can we do in the summer. Or my wife, again, her hobby is baking, she likes to make ice cream, or she will make whatever she wants to make. Honestly, fourth of July, we'll make certain things. We try to do all the holidays and seasons and celebrate food in that way, but then once it's gone, it's gone. Then you look forward to like, okay, when's it coming back next year? Okay, now I'm looking forward to that. And then you can build up excitement of like, hey, this is coming up. Christmas cookies, for example. We don't really have make cookies most of the year. Every once in a while we do. Christmas time is like oh, we have Christmas cookies, so my daughter got to have some. Next year we won't have that many cookies in the house until Christmas. So it's going to be like oh, christmas time means this and it's not building like oh, you can only have it one time a year, but it's like it's not quite the same if you have it other times of the year. It doesn't have that special Christmas feel to it or the different feelings of it, because it also includes baking with mom and dad. So we got our daughter this little stool thing so she can come up and cook with us and be part of it. So now we're trying to incorporate her into that to help with making food and everything. Currently she just cuts celery because it's the only thing she won't eat quick enough. If we give her anything else, she will eat it. My wife's like why don't we try banana immediately in the mouth? It was gone. She's not cutting it. So it makes little sets for kids which is like a knife that won't cut you. So it's like this weird plastic, ceramic type thing. So you can try saw your hand, you're going to be fine, but it will cut food and she has her little cutting board. So she will watch me and we'll do that, or we'll get her involved in baking, which might be a giant mess. Again, going back to the beginning of slowing down, you're going to have more cleanup, but they're having fun and they're learning like, hey, this is a time for bonding. It is a special treat. We're going to have this treat and then once it's gone, it's gone until we either make more or it's gone until like next year, if it's something like super seasonal, like one of my favorite fruits is wild black raspberries because we had a whole bunch growing up. So like around 4th of July they come into season. They're in season for like two weeks, they're here and then they're gone. So it's like a very special, like time of year for me because I absolutely love them. My mom used to make ice cream and cobblers and all these different things because we would get like giant bucketfuls all at once but, as you're like, overwhelmed and then disappeared in two weeks. So we'll do the same thing where. Okay, those come in season, we'll enjoy those things, and then it's gone. Or certain cookies they come into, you know, it's Christmas time, we'll make them, they're gone. Cherry season is another one. Like everybody in this household loves cherries. That's certain time of year, it's the spring, and then it's gone. My daughter loves cherries, but cherries are their time of year, aren't very good, so it's like springtime, we enjoy that, and then those treats, they're no longer available. We'll move to peaches, we'll move to other things, and then it just creates a more special occasion around each of the different like months of the year and something to look forward to as well.


I can absolutely appreciate eating in accordance with the season, because I think that can be really beneficial environmentally and nutritionally. In addition, kind of like one of the views that I have on or one of the thoughts or theories I have on what I would do in this case, and kind of coming from just the perspective of like being my parents' children and being on the other end of that and how I feel like it's benefited me, my parents always were just kind of like whatever was around, you could eat whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, and with desserts especially, I feel like that was really helpful because for me it was like okay, if I wanted to have dessert, I could have it, because it was always there, it was always available and it was always a choice that I could make if I felt like it was something that I wanted to do. And so that for me feels like something, especially because we're taught that like kids can self-regulate. They have the ability to do that, to know when they're full, to know when they're hungry, and it's easier for them to do that when they're having like a predominantly whole foods diet. So if you're doing your best to provide them with like even whole food desserts like. I still consider that whole foods that you can create desserts from. With that being said, my hope is that just normalizing the presence of those things is really beneficial for them to be able to be around it and to know, yeah, I genuinely want this thing, or no, I want this thing because I feel like I don't get it any other time and so I need to indulge in it now, because if I don't do it now, it's going to be gone.


And setting them up in that pattern, yeah, I should go back and say it's like the seasonality of like the cherry dessert, but then that rolls into peach season, so then we're going to have this dessert available. So there's still going to be treats available, but we create the special occasion around the certain kinds depending on the season. So, yes, a little bit of a balancing act of like it's available and then it's gone until next year because it's no longer that season for that fruit or whatever it is, but it's replaced with something else. So, yeah, on the same note, yes, I agree, because you need to be able to. Once they're adults, they move out of the house Like every adult right now listening can run to the grocery store and buy a chocolate cake and eat an entire chocolate cake for dinner right now. Like we could all do it with 24 hour grocery stores. Like you and I could get off this podcast and go do it. We're not going to because we can self-regulate. So, but your kids are going to grow up and they're going to be able to go into any grocery store they want without mom and dad being there. And your goal is to help them, like, balance out, picking up a few treats. Like I am a chocolate holic, like I love chocolate. My wife is more like a savory person, so she likes more like popcorn and chips and pretzels. So we have those foods in and if I'm eating it and my daughter comes up to me like I'm not going to be, like no, you can't. It's like here's a small piece. But the hope is you're going to raise them to be able to kind of look past a lot of that stuff at the grocery store and only get like what they feel like they want or need at the time and then eat 80 to 90% whole, minimally processed foods most of the time. And then it's like yeah, you have a few of these like fun foods in your cart or you're going to make a few of these fun foods at home. But most of you know that's the balancing act you have to play and I'm not saying I'm going to be the perfect example of parents. Every parent's going to feel like they're the best parent and worst parent at the same time, like we're met, we're doing really well in these areas and messing up these areas. So I'm not saying that my way is the only way you should do it, but this is the way. Like okay, from my experience growing up from what I've read. This is kind of the direction we want to go, and we might course correct along the way as well.


Well said. Also, I know we've been chatting probably for like at least an hour, if not a little over an hour.


We might be a little over an hour now yeah. I remember what I wanted to say earlier. So for new parents there's a really good actually for anyone. There's a really good book called French kids eat everything, and it's not an expert in food or anything else, it is literally someone. It was a Canadian married Frenchman and she moved from Canada to France with his family and it was comparing, contrasting the differences between Canada, which she also kind of. It was like she lived in Vancouver so she kind of like grouped in the US along with it and a lot of the US traits to countryside, france, not Paris, like they lived in the country in France, and just the differences in the way they did food and the way so they don't do a lot of snacks or anything with kids. Like here's breakfast, lunch is like a three course meal, which I'm like that's wild, but that's how they do it. Dinner was at this time. There's no snacks in between and she's like all the kids used to get made fun of because they would not eat lunch and then they would like stuff their face in the car. They were so hungry but they like change things up over time and then their kids became less picky of eaters. So it's not. There's a lot of like little nuggets out of that book. For any new parent of like, let's take these few things and try this and see if it works with our kids and our family and if not, no big deal. Again, she's like this is literally just a autobiography of like our experiences and what I found and some history and everything is not a blueprint. It is. Here's what goes on. Here's the comparing contrast. Take what you need out of it and then discard the rest of the book.


I love a good book reference. Hopefully people will check that out and kind of pick up what you're putting down with that, because I think that's really interesting to see. And just normalizing having unique individual experiences with food and what you do doesn't have to look like what other people do. As long as it works for you and it feels good and you're honoring your body and teaching your kids to do the same, I think that's what counts.


Yes, definitely.


Awesome. Well, thank you so much for this conversation Of course that's great yeah. If people want to connect with you, what is a way that they can find you?


You can find me on Facebook. It's just Chris Heskett. You'll see me and it's a picture of me and my wife and my two daughters. On Instagram and TikTok it is chris underscore, pwc. So that would be the best ways to get a hold of me if you want to connect.


Awesome. We'll link some of those in the show notes. Thanks again. Thank you so much for being on here as a guest today. It was really awesome to have a conversation with you and hear your at and your evolution with fitness and nutrition.


Thank you. Yeah, Again, as I said earlier, we're going to course correct things. You're going to adjust as the girls get older, but for right now, from what I've learned, this is the direction like we're going and hopefully the audience can take a few things. Try it out, Kind of like the book. Take a little bit, try things out, see if they work for you and if not, my advice isn't going to work with everyone. We have different personalities and everything Going back to my wife and I, we have certain personalities. Not everyone has the same personality as us. We're not extroverts. So try things out, see if it works and if not, don't stress about. Just try something else now.


Facts, good advice I love to hear it.


Awesome, thank you.


Yeah, thank you. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying listening to this podcast, I have a special gift for you. If you leave a review and send me a screenshot, I will send you something personally in the mail just to show you how much I appreciate your help in helping me spread the empowerment across the world and showing other women the magic that they have within themselves, just the same way you do. Babe, if you're enjoying this episode, then I would love it if you took a screenshot and posted it on your story on Instagram and tagged me at fuel the underscore fire. Let's have a conversation about it. Let's chat about it. I love to hear your thoughts and your feedback. I'm here to support you in any way that I can. I love you guys so much and I'm excited to keep coming at you with some new guests, new information and new techniques to keep blowing your mind and making you feel invincible. Thanks for listening. Love you, bye.


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