My friend, Katie (age 10) and I are learning some of the same lessons this week.¬† Katie and her sisters have recently upped their activity level, taking on both evening swimming and club volleyball.¬† However, they’ve never been big eaters and are very thin — low on¬†energy reserves for the major exercise they’re getting.¬† Abby, Kate’s sister, has started eating more to fuel her energy, and Katie is…working on it.¬† As it turns out, Katie and I are both learning that¬†its not just about eating — its also¬†about eating the right kinds of foods.

A few days this week, my caloric intake was pretty low (under 1000 calories) but I was feeling good and in general considered it a gift that I wasn’t feeling hungry all the time.¬† Then Monday came along.¬†¬†After work,¬†I worked out intensely for over an hour.¬† And when I was finished, I headed home, weighted down with a large box of stuff — probably only 7 or 8 pounds — but the walk was icy and the temps were just above zero¬†so it took me a lot longer than I anticipated.¬† When I got home I was freezing, pooped and my shoulders hurt — but I had a list of things which needed to be accomplished that night.¬† I fell into bed around one a.m. completely tuckered out.

Tuesday was awful.¬† Every joint in my body ached, I was tired, I was cranky.¬† I could not get warm.¬† The women at work had our annual ornament exchange luncheon and I had a difficult time getting into the festive spirit of the occasion.¬† Then, the soup I ordered for lunch came to the table — pumpkin-squash curry soup.¬† It was warming, filling, flavorful and delicious.¬† And I suddenly realized that all of my irritability and achy-ness was actually hunger.¬†

After work, I went to Katie’s house to work out.¬† But first, her mom insisted on feeding me a salad and fresh fruit (while Katie made herself eat her green beans).¬† My workout felt great.¬† When I got home I had a serving of shepherd’s pie — a recipe I love from Clean Eating magazine — only 160 calories a serving (check out the recipe on the recipe page, right column of this blog) and a treat of peanut butter on crackers for a bedtime snack.¬†

Strength comes in so many forms — mental toughness, emotional werewithal, physical power, etc.¬† The sources of strength in our lives are also varied.¬† A child who shares her struggles and triumphs, friends who nourish us (literally and figuratively), the knowledge that we are thought of and prayed for.¬† And this week, my hard-to-learn lesson that food isn’t just for pleasure or comfort.¬† It is the fuel that strengthens us to face each day’s challenges.¬†

In honor of Katie, this week’s hunger organization is “Share Our Strength (No Kid Hungry)”.¬† Their website can be found at¬† Just as Meals on Wheels focuses their efforts on senior hunger, Share our Strength is focused on the millions of children who are living with hunger on a daily basis.¬† In addition to working with food pantries and developing educational programs on nutrition, they have formed creative partnerships with states and with business.¬† For example, they work with the culinary industry and have enlisted chefs, restaurants, and food companies (such as Tasefully Simple) to creat innovative programs for awareness and fundraising.¬† It took me a while to get past the fundraising page of their website, but once I did, there is a wealth of information.

Here’s hoping we all find the strength to accomplish today’s goals!