As I sat in Terminal B at Logan Airport yesterday waiting for my flight to San Jose to board, I flipped through blog comments from my post. I smiled at the words “inspiration” and “passion” that seemed to be popular themes among the comments.
…and, as I settled into my seat on the plane, I got to thinking.
Where did this passion (for healthy living) come from?
I mean, I know that passion tends to be ingrained, but it’s got to start from somewhere, or something, right? I sat and turned the question over in my mind and suddenly, my mind returned to a childhood memory.
Of opening my lunchbox to find applesauce and “ants on a log” (celery with peanut butter in the middle as the “log” and raisins as the “ants” – to this day, I still love this snack!) sitting there staring back at me. Looking around at my fellow classmates, who chomped on bags of chips and cookies, and I knew my snacks were “different” than everyone else’s but that was ok (mostly) by me.
I remember looking back at that time and thinking, “wow, my mom really buckled down on the healthy eating thing when we were little. I dig that.”
Fast forward to middle school. My parents had split up. My mom was now raising her triplet daughters on her own. She did so with one income and not much in the way of child support, all while putting herself through college and working full-time. She was (and still is) supermom. I admire her strength, perseverance and commitment to giving us the best possible life she could at that time while working on giving us a better life by finishing her degree (she later graduated summa cum laude from Wellesley College – go mom!!).
But it was during that time, when money was extremely tight, that I first experienced what it was like to be unable. Unable to choose the healthiest and highest quality foods to eat. Unable to dedicate large chunks of time (and money) to physical activity (we weren’t the “typical” kids who were granted the luxury of taking ballet, dance, or gymnastics classes or participating in school sports). Unable to do many of the “typical” things most kids our age totally took for granted, having no idea what it was like to be unable.
It was also during this time, that I distinctly recall feeling extremely grateful. That I had a mom who worked her tail off to put food, any food, on the table for us. That we had incredible grandparents who routinely made us dinners and carted us around while mom was busy with school. That my sisters and I had each other – to look after one another every single day, taking turns making dinners (which is a whole post in and of itself, lots of funny stories from that time), and being our own mini-family when mom was in school or at work or at home but distracted with homework.
Sure, we didn’t have the best options for meals – Chef Boyardee beefaroni made regular appearances at the dinner table, as did Tuna Helper and other quick-fix meals that offered nourishment of sorts, but very little in the way of fresh, healthy, wholesome ingredients, to say the least. But at that point in time? We didn’t care – it was food, it didn’t matter where it came from or what was in it.
Fast forward to high school and then college. My mom finished her degree, got herself an excellent job at an area school as a technology director, and the money strain lessened a bit. Fresh ingredients returned to the table. I started going to the YMCA, and then the gym at my college, and I started to see just how incredible the world of healthy living was again. I had it as a child, missed out on it as a pre-teen/teen and had it back in my life in my early-20s and onward.
…and the rest, as they say, is history. My passion for healthy living took center stage in my life for good.
I say all of this not to create some sort of pity party that we endured a bit of a “rough patch” growing up (because honestly, during that time my sisters and I didn’t really even recognize how tough we had it until years and years later and we looked back in comparison one day…). I say all of this, sharing this bit of history with you, because I now see that this is where my passion comes from.
I’ve seen both sides of the equation. The inability to choose to be healthy. And then the ability to make my own choices and to naturally find myself gravitating towards a healthy, fit and energetic lifestyle. One that I completely credit to the early years when my mom insisted on raisins over m&ms, bananas over bags of chips and tree climbing and fort building outside over hours spent motionless in front of the TV.
This is why I am who I am.
Because I’ve seen both sides. Experienced both sides. And now I can fully appreciate the ability to choose healthy. Gratefully so. Yet another reason why this journey towards becoming barre n9ne-certified means the world to me. Just like I said before, it’s my chance to pay it forward. In way more ways than one.
So next time someone asks me: Where did your passion come from? I’ll say – it’s a long story, shall we chat over coffee?