Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 23 Growing up

I've been having many discussions lately regarding habits and the way we were raised.  Majority of our habits are formed by the time we are 8 years old.  I grew up with a variety of changes.  Initially, living next to my Grandparents, where my Grandfather was a farmer and vegetables were plentiful.  At the same time, my Grandmother was quite the southern cook.  I spent many hours with her in the kitchen making cakes, while chicken pot pie and mash potatoes were on the stove.  Our meals typically consisted of a variety of vegetables but also a variety of main dishes and don't forget to leave room for dessert!

My family then moved about 1.5hours away from my Grandparents.  My dad decided to go back to school after having 3 kids.   He worked nights at the Coca Cola Plant.  He studied, went to school and worked on our very old home during the day and weekends.  My mom had a job too, but income was very little.  Money was extremely tight.  Somedays, we were lucky that someone brought us a bag of food to hold us over for a few days.  It was mostly canned food such as apple sauce, pork n beans and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  My dad got an internship with a church (he is a minister) that we had to drive pretty far out too every Sunday.  I remember fighting over a bottle of Mountain Dew with my 2 older brothers.  One would spit in it so he could have it all to himself.  After church (which was so small and so had outhouses!  Yes...I once experienced prairie life!)  one of the members would have us over for lunch, which was much similar to good ol' Granny's cooking.  I remember biscuits and lots of them!

Once my father graduated from College, we moved to Virginia.  We had a decent size backyard so my mom decided to have a garden.  I was in the first grade at this time, and working in a garden was just one of the chores I was responsible for.  Still, very modest living, preachers just don't make a lot of money. Fast food was just not an option or even a consideration.  We were active in sports so the occasional hot dog, hot fries, popcorn at the ball field were a treat.   For fundraisers as a kid, we sold peanuts (a far cry from what kids are selling now).

Four years later, we moved back to North Carolina in the SMALLEST town in the whole state.  Population 300 with a caution light as you go through the town.  I lived here until I graduated high school.  This town consisted of nothing but farmers, preachers, teachers and a few nurses.  I went from being the only girl on my baseball team in Virginia, getting involved in tennis and couldn't wait to do track and field to being forced to play softball with the I took up basketball. We only had 3 tv channels to watch and my mom never wanted us in the house...well unless we were doing chores.  So we were outside constantly.  We had a basketball goal and eventually got a light put out so we could play at night too.  We all became pretty talented players.  (I still have a decent shot).  My brother got a full scholarship and I probably could have if I stuck with it, so all that playing did pay off.  Again, we had vegetables galore!  Apple trees in the backyard and then....there were the church functions. In a small town, that's about the only gatherings there are. (Ones I was allowed to go too anyway).  These church functions ALWAYS involved food.  Pig Pickn's to the largest spread of cakes, pies, mac and cheese, mash potatoes, biscuits, fried chicken, ham, corn....basically starch and sugar city!  Still, not much for fast food.  I lived 14miles to the nearest fast food establishment.

By the time I was in the 5th grade, I was working in tobacco fields sun up to sun down on my summer vacations.  For lunch, the farmers wives had that big ol spread again...after all, we did work up an appetite!  MORE biscuits! Then when I entered the 9th grade, I started cleaning houses and in a sense started my own little business.  I was good and I was booked solid.  There was this little dutch lady that I worked for and boy did she bake!  I'd work all day, she'd bake all day and forced me to stop and have snacks and lunch everyday.  She was proud of her baked goods and whether I liked it or not, I said "yum!".  I couldn't make a proud lady sad. (plus we were taught to respect our elderly, you always say thank you and never provide negative feedback) I think she hired me more as someone to eat her food rather than cleaning.  I'd then take home tons and tons of food after work. 

The trend here in my life....while vegetables were plentiful, I ate tons and tons of baked goods.  Sugar, sugar and more...sugar! It was no wonder by the time I got to college, I started having intestinal issues.

The good trend...I developed a good active lifestyle and became a pretty good worker bee.  I once carried a "small town" title of Miss Independence and that couldn't have been a more accurate title.  I had my own checking account opened by the time I was in the 6th grade, all monies deposited earned by me.

Now, as a parent, while I'm no where near perfect, I am more mindful of the habits I'm creating for my kids.  While guilty of it myself, I will continue to try harder to break the emotional, traditional or economical relationship with food.  I don't want it to be a "gathering" of friendship (such as the church events mentioned above), a "forced" (the dutch lady story) feeling in order to make someone else feel better.  I want food to be what it was intended to be.  Enjoyable, yes.  But one of fuel for the body, one that is our personal choice and we eat for health sake, to feel good, strong and productive.  I was not taught what the effects of food would do to me.  I was just told I had to eat my vegetables.  Then if I did, I could have dessert.  There is no lesson learned here.  We need to educate our youth as to the why and not "reward" with the wrong message.

As adults, we can change our habits, but it does take work.  Consistent work, techniques, support and who we surround ourselves with are huge contributors to this change.  So be mindful of your surroundings, find a support group, other like-minded people and change your habits.  Your life and, if and when you do have kids, you'll be helping to mold theirs.

Going Strong....ALL DAY LONG!


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