Staying healthy is all about balance

Published 6:41 am Thursday, April 29, 2010

Iced chai tea lattes and dark chocolate chips are her weaknesses.

That’s probably OK, since numbering among her strengths are running, general fitness, smart eating and cooking — and she practices all of the above with her family of five.

Meet Kristi Stasi.

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She is the YMCA of Austin’s fitness director, but even off the clock, she and her husband and three children work diligently to eat right and exercise often.

“It’s all about developing good habits and staying active together,” Stasi said.

Her husband, Matt Stasi, works out at the YMCA everyday on his lunch hour and finds time to play golf. Their oldest child, Courtney, swims on the Gustavus Adolphus swim team and is majoring in health and fitness. Their son, Jordan, is a swimmer, too and he also plays golf at Austin High School where he is a senior. Their youngest, Lauren, also swims and golfs, and as an AHS freshman, she’s on the dance team.

They all eat pretty healthily too.

Kristi said she and her husband make an effort to bring nutritious meals to the table each day — often poultry dishes and fruit and veggie plates.

“We don’t keep sweets around — only from time to time when I make brownies or cookies,” she said.

And now that Courtney is a junior in college, Kristi has spent time with her teaching her to cook and sharing some tricks of smart grocery shopping.

“It’s not too hard to balance,” she said of all the family’s various fitness activities and finding time to prepare meals. “It’s just a lifestyle, a way of doing things that you can get used to.”

Kristi, who is originally of Iowa, was not a born and bred health nut.

She started running when she was in college and used to work in recreational therapy before taking the gig with the YMCA several years ago — though she was always active, it was not until her kids were a bit older she began focusing heavily on nutrition.

“I used to give them cookies and things as an after-school snack — and now we don’t even have that stuff in the house,” she said.

The family made the switch to health foods as a way to remedy youngest child’s digestive health, she explained.

But from the time their kids were little, the family walked and biked together.

Kristi also said she tried to introduce her kids to many sports, so they could find what they would be interested in.

“We would say we were walking the dog, but really it is about the family spending that time together… with a healthy activity,” Kristi said.

The Stasis continue to work fitness into their family time.

All of them — with the exception of Courtney — enjoy a game of golf together.

Kristi, Courtney and Jordan all participated in the Des Moines Triathlon relay event last summer — while Lauren and Matt cheered them on.

She and Courtney will spend time together this summer training for the Twin Cities Marathon — which will be Kristi’s third and Courtney’s first race.

Matt has taken up running too, and competed with them in the Hog Jog 5K last year.

“I think I’m lucky, because it seems like they all like to make healthy decisions,” Kristi said. “It’s pretty amazing.

For families who don’t take so naturally to health and fitness, Kristi recommends taking small steps together toward a healthy lifestyle.

“I tell people to incorporate healthy family activities,” she said. “Go one walks together… If one kid is in a sport, bring the other children to support them… Make health fun for the whole family.”