I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing a fitness and nutrition series here about how motherhood has really shifted my perspective on how I treat my body. Then, as luck would have it, Stephanie at Stephanie’s Mommy Brain, a blogger local to me, put out a call for participants in a special fitness and nutrition project. I seized the opportunity and jumped on board for Project 10: Real Women, Real Fitness. The goal for the 10 week project is to create a support group encouraging and inspiring women to make healthy choices. Raising daughters, I want to make sure I am their example for a woman who listens to and makes conscious, meaningful choices for her body. Here is this storyteller’s take on making healthy choices.
When it comes to our fitness and nutrition, we each travel a unique journey to find what’s right for our bodies. The culture we’re raised in, the people we come in contact with, the experiences we have – each influences where we’ll end up. The purpose is figuring what to eat and how to move in a way which resonates with our bodies.
Here are three facts about my history with food:
1. As a kid, Saturday morning cartoons called for a breakfast of champions – a roll of Ritz crackers and a can of coke.
2. I don’t have a single memory of my mother serving vegetables as part of any meal.
3. My parents insisted I eat meat (which I’ve always disliked); so I resorted to chewing the meat to mush and swallowing it with water.
To my mother’s credit, every evening there was a home cooked meal on the table. Void of any vegetables, it was jam packed with meat, fried goodness and greasy Cuban scrumptiousness all laid over a bed of rice.
I didn’t give eating for health any thought. Eating was about filling not fueling.
The food culture my parents nurtured began to unravel sometime towards the end of high school and had completely come undone by the time I was done with college. Sushi, seaweed, Indian fare, lentils, seafood, fragrant, foreign and completely alien foods had entered my world and there was no turning back.
I began eating for flavor and fun but still not health.
My last year in college a friend had her first baby. I was blessed to witness many of their first days as mother and daughter. One moment stands out when she was breastfeeding, the first time I’d ever seen someone nurse their child, something hit me – my body is made to give life. I remember thinking – I need to stop all the late night partying, start getting 8 hours of sleep, stop feeding myself crap, put down the social cigarettes - I need to treat this body like a temple.
I didn’t wake up the next morning converted to a holy fitness and nutrition regime but the seed had been planted. Witnessing a tender moment of motherhood made the connection for me; my body is sacred. It will give me, give birth to and sustain life.
It’s no surprise then none of my poor habits changed until I had my first daughter. I found myself breastfeeding and making the connection between what I was putting into my body and into my child’s. I dove head first into figuring out the best way to eat for me. I read Skinny Bitch and gave in to my instincts about meat becoming a vegetarian. I discovered quinoa and barley and all sorts of grains that weren’t white rice. Our kitchen became a bounty of fruit (we’re still working on the vegetables). I read Kris Carr and The Raw Food Detox Diet and The Engine 2 Diet and The Self-Health Revolution, nutrition lifestyles focused on optimizing health not weightloss.
At the time I also read Suzanne Somers’ book on cancer which profoundly impacted my perspective on the food I eat. Yes, she’s Chrissy from Three’s Company but she’s also a famous person who used her status to get access to doctors doing incredible work with cancer patients. The book, where Somers candidly interviews expert doctors in the field of cancer treatment, was a testament to what a good diet can do. Reading how diet can affect our body’s response to a condition like cancer prompted me to define my goals for my body.
I decided I will consume foods which will:
- make me feel alive in my body – energized and vibrant, never weighed down or sluggish,
- support my immune system to be a diligent soldier, creating an environment within my body where cancer and other ills cannot thrive.
- be natural and unprocessed as often as possible to allow my body to function as it should without hazardous interruption.
- BOTTOM LINE: I want to eat to be healthy and let my body perform at it’s best.
I’m eating in a way aligned with my goals for my body. I’ve read a lot of books on food and nutrition and I’ve taken from each what agrees with my own reason and common sense – no dairy, no food after dinner, no processed foods, more water, more tea, no soda. These are the choices I’ve made which agree with my body. I hope you’ll consider reading some of these books and take from them what resonates for you.
Next week, I’ll go in depth about the choices I’ve made and the way it’s impacted my health. Today, though, I want to know about your history with food. What kind of food culture did you grow up with? What motivates your choices for food today?