Growing up in a small town in Southern Maine, I was never very athletic. I didn’t like gym class and preferred watching movies and listening to music to playing outside. When I was in my early 20′s, after a few years of marriage and the birth of my son, I realized that time, genetics, and gravity were not my friends. This was in the early 80′s and the fitness boom was in full swing, so I jumped on the bandwagon (with the help and encouragement of my husband, who had been a high school athlete).
I began by attempting to run. I started with a half mile. Before I got to the halfway point I thought I was going to pass out; however I slowed down and pretty much crawled the rest of the way. I was thrilled when I finished and felt that I was now a “runner”. I continued this ritual every day adding a little distance every week and within a few months I was up to 4 miles every day. I then started adding some weight lifting. This, again, was due to the advice of my husband, who was now running 5-8 miles every day and had bought a gigantic home gym, complete with bench and squat rack. Over the next 10 years or so I was quite dedicated to working out and thought I was eating a pretty healthy diet.
Then in the early 90′s my world got turned upside down when my husband died suddenly. This required me to get a job that would support me and my son as well as finding a more affordable place to live. So we packed up and moved from the small town we had grown up in to a city a couple of hours away. I had a few friends there, but the lifestyle was completely different than my previous 15 years of “soccer mom” existence. So, of course, my fitness routine was the first thing to go.
Fast forward 10 more years. My son is grown, I am re-married to a wonderful man (Eric), and I now live in Nashville. In our years together, Eric and I made moderate attempts at fitness and healthy eating, like so many people do. Living in Nashville was a whirlwind of new experiences and we would jump on and fall of the health wagon regularly. Then in 2003 Eric began working on the Toby Keith tour and I was left with a lot of time on my hands. We were living near a gym and I purchased a membership. It was at this time that I also began researching recipes, ingredients, and all aspects of nutrition. What I learned was mind-boggling.
The first thing I discovered was that there was no one place to go (either in a book or on-line) to find the answers. I would find conflicting points of view, depending on the background and/or sponsor of the articles’ author. So I began digging deeper and found that most of what is readily available for information is at best incomplete and more than likely very inaccurate. The deeper I delved into nutrition, food labeling, restaurant menus, and food company advertising; the more I realized that what I had thought was a healthy diet was far from it. I began putting together some common sense guidelines derived from my research. I created and cooked recipes based on truly healthy ingredients like whole grains (no more garbage white), fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, good oils, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, and lean meat.
As my recipe collection and research grew, I felt I needed to do something more with it. So, being a website designer by day, I decided the logical thing was to create a website, thus, www.doitthehardway.com was born. I came up with the name “Do It The Hard Way” because that’s what it really is. To really eat healthy, it takes learning what ingredients are truly healthy, learning to read the ingredient list of a food label – not the hyped up lies on the front, taking your time in the grocery store to pick out the right ingredients, sometimes doing the shopping at more than one store, and bringing that food home and cooking it. It is harder than ordering a pizza or heating up some prepackaged products and calling it a meal. Being healthy takes work, it’s hard. It’s also worth it.
It’s now 2010. I have expanded the Do It The Hard Way website to include a cookbook of some of the recipes I’ve put together over the years. It is far from complete, but I have a goal of having it ready for sale sometime next year. In our journey down this healthy path, Eric and I recently discovered P90X, a fitness routine like no other. It is a 90 day “boot-camp” style workout which requires 1 – 1/2 hours 6 days per week. We began this 90 round on June 9th, a mere two days ago. I’ll be back to blog more about that soon!
Do It The Hard Way – it’s not real quick, it’s not real easy, but it is real – and it really works.