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 strength.org. 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!