With a schedule as jam-packed as a high-profile celebrity, Tania Boughton is, like most moms, a master of multitasking. “I have two speeds: full throttle and asleep,” she says with a laugh, pushing a laundry basket with one sneakered toe while stowing a baseball glove and peeking at her schedule.
Already today, Boughton woke up in the wee hours and worked out on a stationary bike while catching up on emails and outstanding business. She just dropped her sons at camp after a game of catch at their request – though they got no protests from the sports lover. She’s fitting in a press interview before grabbing lunch, meeting with a styling client and returning home to prepare and host “lasagna night” for her sons’ pals.
At first glance, Boughton holds a striking resemblance to – and has even on occasion been mistaken for – actress Angie Harmon. There’s one glaring giveaway, however: Boughton’s smile (or frown or smirk, depending) is all her own.
Harmon could be hired to play mom, girlfriend, author, wardrobe consultant, U.S. Army specialist, athlete, charity fundraiser, sister and more on screen, but Boughton has been or is all of those things in real life. There’s no need for a script or director.
True to her multitasking nature, many of Boughton’s “characters” overlap with one another. “I’ve always been that way,” she says. “I’ve always done charity work, I was always involved in the church, always with extracurriculars, kept good grades, always in sports. I don’t know why I do so much. I just kind of thrive on it.”
Boughton acknowledges that while she hoped her new book Eating Light, Done Right would help others and prove successful, it has become a much bigger animal what with speaking engagements, TV cooking demos and promotion-related travel. In essence, she was dropped into the jet set right on top of her active home life and career with J. Hilburn, a men’s custom clothier.
But no matter the call times or signings, Tristan and Tanner (ages 8 and 5, respectively) always come first. “I’m a full-time mom,” she says, proudly. “I drop the boys off every morning myself. There’s no nannies here.”
Eating Light, Done Right is part cookbook, featuring lighter takes on comfort classics (she still cooks from the recipes and is testing others for future releases) and part memoir, chronicling Boughton’s fight against and victory over emotional eating.
The trials of early parenthood were part of the journey. When she became pregnant with Tristan, Boughton left the Army. A specialist, she had spent 10 years in the service, having joined up straight out of high school.
Gazing over at a gallery wall in her Park Cities apartment, she points out a smiling face in black and white. “Tristan is my little success story,” she says, beaming. At a young age, he was diagnosed with autism, but after more than a year doing her own research, play therapy and communication exercises, Boughton found a doctor who agreed that Tristan actually had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder that can significantly affect social interaction in various ways. Now, she says, his symptoms are barely noticeable.
Her experience with Tristan and second pregnancy with Tanner, among other life changes, caused Boughton to eat for emotional fulfillment rather than fuel. It wasn’t an entirely unfamiliar reaction: She had turned to food for comfort when bullied in middle school but had lost the weight and maintained it for more than a decade.
The realization she’d relapsed came when she still topped 200 pounds two weeks after Tanner’s birth. Boughton refocused. “It was black trash bags. A clean sweep,” she says of her pantry.
A celebrity would have the luxury of a fit camp ensconced in some posh spa, but Boughton had only her unflappable drive and kitchen. Swapping ingredients, and “dialing down” recipes of A-list chefs such as Paula Deen and Rachael Ray, helped Boughton to regain control. It also stressed for her how important – and easy – it could be to make healthy the meals people actually want to eat, unlike “skinny” diets focused on deprivation.
“They just suck all the pleasure out of life, and I can’t wrap my mind around that,” Boughton says. So Eating Light was born.
With two hungry boys, her goal still is to provide balance, flavor and a positive eating experience. “That’s what’s so important about the dinner piece: Sitting down with the boys and talking about their day,” she says.
Energy and tenacity come through in Boughton’s presence, and they carry through to other parts of her life that may not earn her fan mail or wardrobe consults. She has raised funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation since a door-to-door fundraising campaign at age 9 – on roller skates, no less. As a mother and as someone who’s lost friends to CF, the illness now hits even closer to home. “I can’t believe we don’t have a cure yet,” she says. “Once you’re diagnosed, it’s a death sentence. You see these children robbed of childhood.”
In a move more familiar to Hollywood than a single-parent home in Dallas, Boughton even contributes a portion of her Eating Light proceeds to CFF.
Looking at Boughton now, clad in charcoal and lime fitness attire, she’s a neighbor, a gal pal and a tall, fit brunette ready to cheer her son’s T-ball team. Speak to her once or read her book, and it becomes clear there’s a high-energy, generous star in our midst.