Where did this passion come from?

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? 😉

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27 thoughts on “Where did this passion come from?

    • I am really grateful for my roots — writing this post was a really good reminder of those roots, actually. Sometimes a little memory jogging can be a really good thing for perspective, yeah?

  1. Wow, sis this has to be one of my favorite posts. It is so incredibly true. Only once we were unable to have the things we wanted, do we truly realize how lucky and blessed we are to have them. It’s a huge reason why I too an obsessed with fresh foods…and I also think that sometimes people think it’s harder or more expensive to eat healthily…and why it is an adjustment and does take more trips to the store for fresh food, it’s not unattainable on a budget, either.

    • I think this might actually be my favorite post too – the words have never flowed more freely than they did while I wrote this on the plane the other day. I am so, so, so grateful for our history – it’s that history that has totally shaped and re-shaped us into who we are today. I’m very proud of those roots that we share, sis!

  2. This is so great that you can reflect upon your childhood and teenage years and pinpoint exactly how and why you have the passion that you do!

    Like Lindsay just said about writing a post like this – I do too!

  3. This is a beautiful post!!! Isn’t amazing how our childhood helps to shape the person we are today?! Your mom sounds like an amazing lady.

    I grew up with parents that wouldn’t know health or nutrition if it knocked them on the head. My Dad was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and that prompted him to lose some weight…but my mom would still buy the junk and hide it so us girls could have it. It wasn’t until I was out of my family home that I saw how unhealthy it was. It was nothing for us to sit on the couch with a container of pringles and eat the whole thing on a Saturday afternoon. Now i see kids with Cheetos in their hands and I want to shout!!! I had such disordered eating in my 20’s because I was trying to reconcile my old habits with newer, healthier tendencies.

    But now that I’m charting my own healthy course as an adult it’s AMAZING!!!!! I can’t wait to raise children that are balanced and have a positive relationship with food. I saw a Mom/Daughter couple in Core Fusion a few weeks ago – that is where I want to be with my future daughter in 25 years!

    Cheers to being able to make heathy choices!

    • Oh I love this friend. I LOVE hearing more about your roots and how it’s shaped your passion today. And I really love how you talk about charting your own healthy course, for yourself and for your future kids. It’s such an empowering and beautiful thing, isn’t it? Cheers to health and happy and fit choices!!

    • You’re the best, friend. Thank you – this was a really fun post for me to write, connecting the dots for all of you (and for myself, even) was a really neat little exercise, actually. I may need to do more of these “look-back” style posts in the future…

    • It is so cool to trace back into your own personal history to connect all the dots. I actually hadn’t even really recognized the dots until I literally started writing this post, in all honesty. It was as eye-opening to me as it was for all of you!
      (and yes, my mom is awesome!!)

  4. This is an AWESOME post Jess!! I love getting the background story on people, and your mother sounds like a truly amazing person. What an inspiration she must be to all of her daughters. I enjoyed this story so much–thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • I’m so glad you liked it!! I love getting the background too, where we’ve all been, where we’re all going, how we got “here.” So interesting and intriguing to me! Our own little life histories playing out here for all to see. Kinda neat.

      And yes, my mom is incredible, and I totaly admire her – for all she was for us then and all she’s become to us today. ❤

  5. Wonderful post my friend. Absolutely loved learning all of this! I have a similar background actually. And man I remember the kids having all the lunchables and desserts that I would just ogle. I never got. But mom went AWOL at one point and I was left to take over. We had lots of mozzarella sticks, boxed mashed potatoes, and other junk.

    • And wow did I love hearing more about YOUR history friend — I’d love one of these “roots” style posts from you, I think it can shed so much light on how we got “here” by looking back on where we came from, “once upon a time” you know? Thank you so much for sharing a snippet from your past here, I love it.

  6. What a great reflection.
    I can look back and see where my healthy lifestyle values came from too. My parents always made the healthiest decisions they knew how to make with the money they had…
    I read a study a while ago that talked about healthy habits and kids…and it said that kids who were raised in an environment where healthy eating habits were valued, may still depart from them for a period during adolescence/20’s, but were much more likely to return to those healthy values as adults. I think we’re proving that’s true 🙂

  7. Pingback: Fit-spiration (times two)! « Sparkly & Slimming….a Weight Loss Blog

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