May is always one of those introspective months for me. It’s my birthday. It’s Mother’s Day. I also got married in May, so I guess it makes sense that I review all my major life choices right around this time of year!
No, I’m not getting divorced (again) or putting my child up for adoption (today), but I have been thinking a lot lately about why I do what I do around health and wellness. Recently, I’ve turned my foodie habits into a business, and I’ve shared my weight loss program with the masses with great success (all theirs!). This process has brought me closer to where I was when I first started asking questions about food and drugs and how I felt back then.
What I realized is that as much as I’d like to think my “eat organic” “buy local” do-the-right-thing-isms are high-minded and based in a deep sense of altruistic environmentalism or social justice, they are not. And I wonder if others find themselves in this same paradox. I think the message that people not in this movement hear is a sanctimonious rant about animal welfare, global warming, “the environment” or some other nebulous cause that won’t really hit home until some point in the future that no one can predict with accuracy except to say that time is getting short for some species and one of them might be us. Eh.
I know, I know, I and others who literally go out of our way to buy eggs from chickens we’ve met personally or buy lettuce from a farmer we know doesn’t spray and grow our own gardens and keep our kids out of fast food joints and we cook all our meals…it’s hard to take some days isn’t it? It’s actually inconceivable for me to think of eating something out of a Mickey Ds…but only a few years ago I ate there regularly. So what happened???!
Indulge me while I reconstruct and try to understand this radical shift in my own behavior:
Around 2005, my then two year old got sick and was hospitalized with a respiratory infection. I was also not in the greatest of health at that time. I’d gained about 80 pounds being pregnant and still not lost it all yet, and that was just one of my issues. I also had been on many medications in my younger life: antibiotics (LOTS), birth control, steroids, anti yeast/fungals, allergy meds (at least 25 years), and OTC pain killers. What I realized with Sadie being sick is that there was no end in sight to the sickness and feeling crappy, and unless something changed, I and my daughter were going to continue to suffer and be dependent on prescriptions for our “wellbeing”.
And for me, that was it. That was my very human moment of realizing that either I kept doing what I was doing and medicating ala status quo, or I could go find other solutions.
Once I got started, I found I could more or less control my weight, get rid of allergies, acne, relegate most infections to a few days a year tops, get a ton more energy, get my hormones under control, and I felt a lot better. My child also benefits tremendously. The legacy I will leave her is not the food on her plate but the knowledge of how to prepare it and where it comes from. She also feels a lot better than I did when I lived on Contac and Kleenex through elementary school. (Remember Contac???!).
What I will reluctantly admit now is that if I was skinny and felt great all the time that all this cooking and getting chemicals out of my life and saving the world would be totally irrelevant because I am not that virtuous.
Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased that many of the choices I make now to source food locally, grown my own and cook at home are also good for the planet. but I would not be doing any of it if didn’t make me feel good!
I’d like to see a lot more discussions around the results real people get with the lifestyle choices advocated in the organic and local food movements. Those are the real reasons to make changes you stick to when other things are FAR more convenient. I read Omnivore’s Dilemma (Food, Inc. is based on it), and I agree with almost all of it. I also am active in the these movements in providing local and organic food to people who want it. But I did not care a bit until the message finally sunk in that I “ME” personally could feel a ton better if I made other choices about my food.
I may upset some folks who don’t agree with my thoughts on motivation to change and where the food movement gets sidetracked with issues that a lot of folks don’t have time to worry about on a daily basis. I feel like I got sidetracked too–all busy congratulating myself on being enlightened. Today, the core of my “food movement” is based in taking care of myself and others, and it’s so simple all you have to do to learn more about it is ask someone over 80 years old. It’s pretty awesome to hear them talk about doing all the stuff that’s totally trendy now (I saw an ad for CANNING JARS on the inside front cover of a magazine recently–what?!), but for them it was just how they got to eat.
So, I guess my message here is this: if you want to feel fantastic most of the time, think about what you are eating, and be open to change. (If you already feel fantastic and are your ideal weight, I totally understand why you don’t care about any of this.) If you need help, get a health coach (shameless plug here for my services, but believe me when I tell you I didn’t relearn how to eat alone and you might not either). And, the next time someone gets fired up about something like Monsanto or bug spray, know that they may have gotten there on a path that looks a lot your own.
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