Thirty years ago, I sat in a deserted, dark cafeteria with my second-grade teacher. I could barely see though my tears whatever it was I was supposed to eat as my teacher stood over me, waiting. It was probably something I would consider harmless these days, like pizza, or pasta, but on that awful afternoon in Virginia, there was nothing that could make me touch that cold school lunch--not even my heartless teacher.
That incident was just one of many pickiness-related misadventures in my childhood. My ridiculous diet consisted mainly of white rice, Campbell's chicken soup, buttered tortillas, and ... well, I think that may have been it. Cheese grossed me out, and meat was completely out of the question. I'd dread sleepovers and dinners out with friends' families. And I was skinny--so very skinny--which made life even more awkward.
Then I went to camp.
The summer of 1992, in the Boundary Waters of Canada, I canoed for miles. Every day. I portaged heavy canoes and packs multiple times a day, collapsing into my tent at night after a meal of TVP and berries. I figure by the end of that three weeks, I had a calorie deficit of roughly 30,000. At least that's what it felt like when I inhaled a large plate of meat-filled pasta at Pizza Hut. No hesitancy, no second thoughts. I was hungry, and garlic bread wouldn't cut it.
The world opened up for me that night. I started to try things over the next few years--cheese, vegetables, ethic food, PIZZA. Why hadn't anyone told me how amazing pizza was (OK, maybe I just didn't listen)??
Now, 21 years after the Pizza Hut Incident of 1992, I no longer spend hours trying to think up excuses of why I can't eat something in social situations. I still avoid meat--it's mostly a texture thing--but I love a good salmon steak or tilapia filet. I could be considered picky (as my husband says, "what kind of vegetarian hates mushrooms?"), but no more so than the next pescatarian.
Maybe it's because life started out so rough for me, nutritionally, but I am on a constant quest to find optimal health. I actually get excited to digest nutrition and fitness books, even if they make no logical sense to me (paleo peeps--I have a bone to pick with you). I regularly seek out new healthy recipes that fit into my insanely chaotic life.
As for fitness, I would live my life in water if I could, but my mom duties often win out over sessions at the pool. I run. Slowly. And I love to bike when I can--a ride to work is one commute not spent cursing out other drivers.
But I also fail--a lot. When I get stressed, I eat cookies. And I am stressed 90% of my life--that's a lot of cookies. I skip workouts to watch The Bachelorette. I am not perfect, and I know I never will be. But it's the constant journey to get there that keeps me going, keeps me trying to be as healthy as I can be.
Sometimes I feel, when I am consumed by the stresses of work and family and messes and body image, that I am alone in trying to balance it all. I see other moms running with their kids in jogging strollers as I race to get the kids to daycare and I think, "how did they get so lucky as to strike that perfect balance?" Then I remember--they (you) face the same struggles to I do. You get up in the morning, excited that this WILL be the day you will eat 3 servings of vegetables, only to be sidelined by a sick baby and nothing in the fridge.
This is why I want to write this blog, along with my sister, vegan cook extraordinaire Caitlin. I want to acknowledge that we are not perfect, but perfectly human. I want to share what I learn about health through what I read, try, and experience. I want to, with your help, discover the little things that make the quest for good health a little easier, because Lord knows we could all use something easy in our lives.
* For the record, being a parent now, I do not blame my parents for giving up--hell hath no fury like a child forced to eat.