It probably seems cliché to write about health at the beginning of a new year. The truth is, I don’t live by the calendar. After almost two years of lockdowns and limited access to normal life, it’s just time to pull my toosh off the couch and find my pre-pandemic shape (it’s in there somewhere!). If I’m being really honest, I started getting lazy way before 2020. Being a single mom to two kids always kept me active and in shape. My biceps were rock hard from lugging those babes and all their equipment everywhere. Those were the days.
From Strong Mom to ‘Big Mama’
I have definitely noticed the change in activity, and in my body since my kids are grown and I’m not hefting them around anymore. I can blame the pandemic, but in reality, my fitness routine was based on being a mom. Yes, I’m still mom and I’m blessed that my grown children adore me. But without the daily workout of playing in parks and chasing runaways, I’m afraid I have become “Big Mama”. 40 pounds later, this mama has got to do something.
The Early Days
Back in the day when the kids were young, I had the privilege of staying home with them. Even after divorce, I was able to care for them on my own until they were about school-age (More to come on the craziness of being a single mom). Being home meant there was time to prepare fresh foods and eat in peace. When I could make myself focus, that’s what I did. At one point I had removed all plastic containers and processed junk from the kitchen. It took about three months to overhaul the pantry, but in that time, we ate at home and ate mostly good food.
Time for Work
Then I went back to work. After being out of the workforce completely for over three years, it was necessary to return. My son was in school and my daughter was cared for by a precious woman in her home. I was so glad to just have good people taking care of my kids while I worked. But that didn’t solve the problem of what we were going to eat for dinner. I whipped up simple kid-friendly meals, like macaroni and cheese with veggies, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and tater tots. And it turned out that my kids were eating the same stuff in school and with the sitter. So processed foods slowly became the majority of our diet. How could this happen???
What the Health?
After spending all that time converting my pantry and teaching myself how to use the kitchen, we were consuming the very crap I never thought I would feed my family. But I was a single, now working mom, and I just let weariness influence my decisions. So year after year, I worked, raised my family, and wore myself out doing everything but what I should have been doing – feeding my family for our health’s sake.
Baby’s Downward Spiral
Both of my kids were very peaceful and happy babies (thank God!). But my daughter had trouble sleeping on her back from the start and had a few strange spells when she spewed up tons of mucus out of nowhere. By the time she was 6 or 7, she was hospitalized for the first time with a nasty case of pneumonia. I can still see the gray color of her face while she sat in a bed hooked up to tubes and wires. It never occurred to me that all that mucus was produced from an ongoing allergic reaction and pneumonia tackled her when her body had been weakened from constantly fighting low-grade inflammation. A better way to describe what was happening is that this girl had eaten so much processed food, pasta and dairy without a variety of vegetables to balance it out, that it triggered respiratory problems, eczema, and an intolerance to gluten.
We Can Only Go Up From Here
My daughter will turn 19 this year, so obviously we made it through childhood. Raising two beautiful people has been a huge blessing and I don’t regret any part of it – not even the divorce! With more time on my hands I have no excuse to avoid restoring my health and making better habits for my grown children, and hopefully theirs too! This post is just touching on some health issues related to food, but one of my goals with this blog is to empower everyday people to make good choices about the foods they’re eating. I recognize impossible conditions like poverty and lack of resources can hinder your food options. But wherever I can, I want to first – take my own medicine by eating the healthy foods and recipes I recommend, and second – empower you to do the same while we enjoy the journey together.