Kari Swenson Interview by Zoe D’angelo Nomination & Photography by Leah Pobanz of Wild Plum Photo Nebraska Issue 15
The Nomination: Kari Swenson is a very inspiring kid. When she was 9 years old, Kari decided to prove to her mom that she could be stronger than boys. Her strong will and determination brought her to staying fit, working out and eating healthy. Kari is 14 years old now and has not eaten sugar for 5 years and she constantly adds junk foods to her DO NOT EAT list. She also is involved in cross country and track at her high school!
What are some ways that you keep yourself healthy? I keep myself healthy by not eating junk food and exercising 4-5 times a week (either weightlifting or running). I eat lots of fruits and veggies and I do my best not to eat past 8:00 p.m. I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, but the more, the better. I try to keep a positive attitude throughout the day and be optimistic. I also do cross country in the fall and track in the spring because I love running and it keeps me in shape. I notice I feel happier after a long run or a hard workout.
Do you have any suggestions on how someone could start eating healthier? You just have to be determined and willing. Recognize how certain foods make you feel. I’ve always noticed that when I eat something that I know I shouldn’t, it makes me feel sluggish for the rest of the day. Then you must set a goal and start slow! I have had friends that have been inspired by me or someone else and have tried to stop eating all junk food all at once. While this is a great goal, it is very hard to achieve just at one time. For me, I cut out candy and pop first, then sweets, then processed meats, then chips and so forth.
Did you find any healthy foods that are surprisingly delicious? I have really come to love all fruits and vegetables. I have never had a fruit that I didn’t like. Smoothies are my favorite breakfast food. Basically, if it’s healthy, I almost always love it. Some of my absolute favorites though are quinoa, kale, smoothies, homemade sushi, veggie soup, fish, berries and tomatoes.
How did you stop yourself from eating sugar for 5 years? It sounds crazy to a lot of people, but not eating sugar for 5 years was not as hard as some may think. The first few months were rough, but the more I disciplined myself and just didn’t think about sweets, the easier it became. I noticed I was feeling happier and more energetic as I ate less and less junk food.
Are you interested in pursuing a career in fitness and healthy lifestyles after high school? First, I plan to go on a mission for my church and then later attend college. I have thought about doing something health related in my future, but I have not explored all the options yet because I also have a great interest in art and photography.
Kari was featured in Issue 15 of Inspiring Teens Magazine.