If you think “Healthy Eating” is another way of saying “Goodbye, good food!” then you are wrong.
The moment you click on Taralynn McNitt’s blog, Undressed Skeleton, you will be overwhelmed with its background – a colorful montage of mouthwatering food. Aside from its wide ranging tabs like “fitness favorites” and “surviving school,” the blog also features “made menus”, which are sample meal plans complete with detailed nutritional information (i.e., calorie amount).
Taralynn, who was once a Team Captain for Seventeen Magazine’s fitness and nutrition community, is working to help girls and young women adopt a healthy lifestyle.
RTBB: Your blog is quite extraordinary due to the quirkiness of its colorful design, the thoughtfulness of your posts and even the blog title itself is intriguing.
Taralynn McNitt: Thank you!
RTBB: So, what does “Undressed Skeleton” mean?
Taralynn: There are two types of skeletons. The skeleton that holds up your body and the skeleton that hides in your closet. My blog title was inspired by the “skeleton” hiding in my closet for so many years. Not only was this skeleton hiding in my closet, it followed me everywhere, hiding under baggy clothes. It was my secret skeleton of a loss confidence. This skeleton brought me down all the time, making me feel embarrassed, insecure, powerless, uncontrolled, miserable, and damaged my ability to find the courage to defeat it. My blog takes you through the series of events that helped me gain the courage to fight. It was a challenge, but now I no longer have this dark skeleton hanging around in my closet and it’s undressed forever. A dressed skeleton can hold you down, it can cast a shadow of gloom over every party of your life — even the happy moments. I give more of an explanation under the tab “before and afters” on my blog as well.
[pullquote_right]On her blog: ” I want it to be a guide for anyone to turn to when they are feeling down and hopeless. The main goal of my blog is to make weight loss possible, fun, and stress free.” [/pullquote_right]
RTBB: What inspired you to create a blog that centers on living a healthy life?
Taralynn: After I reached my goals, I had many friends and family begging me for my tips and secrets. I spent many hours typing friends meal plans, exercise regiments, and shopping lists. I thought about how amazing I felt, and if other girls could get rid of the stress of holding onto their skeletons they could feel happy and confident! So I stopped writing down plans in notebooks and took it to the computer and opened up my blog!
RTBB: What do you want your blog to accomplish?
Taralynn: I want my blog to accomplish many things. I want it to be a guide for anyone to turn to when they are feeling down and hopeless. The main goal of my blog is to make weight loss possible, fun, and stress free. I thought that seeing a girl who is just as normal as any other teen successfully lose weight could inspire others to reach their goals.
It’s important for me to send out a healthy weight loss message as well. I want my blog to really help those who are struggling and going down a dangerous path. It makes me so sad seeing young girls losing weight [the unhealthy way], and I hope they can change their ways with the help of my blog.
RTBB: From experience, I have often encountered people who say that they are reluctant to take on a healthier lifestyle because it entails “dull unappetizing food.” What suggestions can you give them?
Taralynn: Believe me, I understand what those people are talking about! I love food, and I hate eating “dull unappetizing food” so I don’t. It’s all about healthier swaps! I create tons of recipes inspired by my favorite meals, but with much healthier ingredients. I make salads with more than just lettuce and dressing. One thing I didn’t want to give up was my mom’s home cooked meals, so that’s when I decided to learn about portions, so there is always a way to stay healthy and eat the foods you love!
RTBB: Given the busy schedule most of us have today, whipping up a healthy gourmet meal is a struggle. What kinds of healthy food and snacks should we stock up in our refrigerator, pantries or handbags?
Taralynn McNitt: I have a lot of tips and tricks for my busy schedule. Its important to never skip a meal, which is difficult on a busy day, so you must be prepared! On my blog you will find ways to conquer the busy days. Here are a few examples:
- Preparing meals the day before
- Keeping snacks in zip lock bags for grab n’ go
- How to choose snacks with nutrients that keep your body full and fueled
- Keeping your kitchen organized to prevent time searching for foods
- Which choices to make at a restaurant
- 5 minutes meals
- Navigating cafeterias, gas stations, and vending machines
- Breakfast to-go
- Scheduling meals with events
RTBB: The image of the “ideal woman” that the media portrays today is of a skinny and flawless one. With this in their minds, the girls and women of today are under a lot of pressure. What advice can you give them?
Taralynn: It is a lot of pressure to measure up to the “media’s ideal image” but maybe that’s because they are photo shopped fourteen year old girls with naturally thin figures. Fashion magazines should be more honest with the portrayal of real women. Girls need to find inspiration with real women, not photographs. Fashion is important to girls, but what they forget about is the importance of their lives and future. Weighing 90lbs by eating a bag of lettuce to walk a thirty second runway isn’t worth the hours spent in hospitals for the damage of malnutrition, or a lifetime of a bruised mental state. Losing twenty pounds in two weeks to look good in a bikini isn’t worth losing a baby because you damaged your body. Don’t let the media tell you how to look, let yourself make the decisions.
RTBB: What advice can you give to people who do not realize that they do harm by criticizing or making fun of other people’s appearances?
Taralynn: Stop, take a look in the mirror and criticize yourself and dig deep into why you are criticizing others. Is it because you are unhappy with yourself? Is it because you are having issues at home? Whatever it is please get help and stop criticizing others, it wont solve your problems, it’s a horrible cycle.
I have spend days laying in bed crying my eyes out, refusing to go to school, refusing to do anything because of girls criticizing me. It started when I was in 3rd grade! In my brief biography I share a story about girls who traded my contact solution with perfume just because they “wanted me to know how their eyes felt like when they looked at me.” Being criticizing tares a person apart, it’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Many people have been criticized so much that they choose to take their own life, and one day you could be responsible for someones decision, and I’m sure you wont want to live with that on your chest for the rest of your life.
RTBB: One of your posts said that you “stay on a healthy diet not a life of dieting.” What do you mean by this?
Taralynn McNitt: A diet involves restriction, limits, and stress! A healthy diet involves healthy eating, no restrictions, and no regrets! I choose to eat healthier options and sometimes I’ll indulge in something unhealthy, but that is okay if it’s a lifestyle, but on a diet it’s off limits. All the diets I have attempted have always failed. I used to beat myself up for the little mistakes and lost motivation. It was an ongoing cycle. Now that I live a “healthy lifestyle” I have more freedom and success.
RTBB: Alongside healthy eating, what role should exercise play in our lifestyle?
Taralynn: Exercising has to be fun, it can’t be something you dread doing or you’ll never do it. I’m not a fan of exercising so I find ways to enjoy it! Exercising is all about music for me! [...]On my iPod you will find play-list titled “Walking”, “Running”, and “Lifting” etc. I join fun fitness classes like dance, Zumba and kickboxing. I try get to my friends involved for motivation! Other fun activities: biking, hiking, tennis, basketball, swimming. Out of the normal exercises: shopping, cleaning, cooking, and crafting, who says you need to be in tennis shoes to stay fit? Basically you have to find something that works best for you!
RTBB: Sadly, there are some people who over-exercise. What is the right amount of exercise?
Taralynn: The right amount of exercise should be in moderation. It’s like junk food, if you eat to much it’s dangerous for your health, well same with exercising if you exercise to much it is also dangerous for your health. If you are eating balanced meals every day the right amount of exercise should be no more than an hour a day. You burn calories every second of the day, and some people forget that and think that the only way to stay fit is to exercise and it’s not. Over exercising can lead to many diseases and other health problems. Keep a balanced diet and balanced fitness routine.
RTBB: It seems that you really enjoy cooking and baking. Do you see this as your career? Do you plan on becoming a chef?
Taralynn: I love to bake more than anything. I search for reasons to bake! I am a dreamer and I have so many goals lined up waiting to be reached. One of my dream careers is to have a cooking show for young adults. I would love to prepare meals for college students who are on a budget, limited to appliances, and who have no cooking background whatsoever! You see tons of helpful cooking shows but none for the young adults. Lets get real; how many college students are going to actually bone a duck in a dorm room? Right now I am writing healthy cookbook for young adults, maybe one day I’ll be able to bring it to the networks!
If my cooking only goes as far as my kitchen I will still be happy with that because I love it so much. Opening up a healthy cafe/bakery is also a dream of mine!
I also formed a great love for blogging, so no matter what profession I end up doing, I’ll always blog about it!
With over 15,000 likes on Facebook, Taralynn McNitt is not your typical food guru. Her version of “healthy eating” is not about self-deprivation, but rather an appreciation of the self. That is, we need to appreciate and care for our bodies in a healthy way. Taralynn’s blog reminds us that in balance and moderation – food is not your enemy, it’s your friend.