Make health the cool kid

The cool kid. You all knew him or her. This person got invited to every gathering and was always the center of attention. They were included in everything, always. Well. I propose that we make health the new cool kid. So often it is forgotten in a flurry of packaging, processed foods and busy lives.

An interesting discovery at a local grocery store in Georgia, Publix, got me thinking about this analogy. There was a prominent kiosk amid the produce section with a full meal cooking demo underway. The Publix Apron’s program wants to bring families back to the table by making meals convenient and delicious. The rep said the program is very popular. Unfortunately the day’s meal was anything but nutritionally balanced. I love the concept but where’s the focus on health? Such an opportunity!

Health should be considered in every cooking demo, meal assistance program and school meal. Start inviting health to your party, every single day.

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Mile 9

5 days along and still smiling! (Thanks to Pete and his family at Valley of the Rogue Campground for the photo) The first segment of the School Food Tour has been eventful, enlightening, challenging & inspiring. From short days (30 miles) to long days (68 miles), thunderstorms to intense heat, raspberry sorbet to instant oatmeal; I have already ran a gamut of experiences. Each day makes me even more excited for the next.

The actual commencement of the SFT was oddly anticlimactic. After big hugs goodbye and promises of visits on the road, I turned my back on all things loved and familiar and set off on a mission to change the world (or at least a few small parts of it). I turned out of the gravel alley onto the open road with my emotions torn between smiles of elation and tears of anticipated homesickness. Thoughts of who I would meet and the lives I might affect raced through my head alongside more pressing concerns of when I could stop for my first snack break and where I was going to camp for the night. My mind was instantly quieted and all of my aspirations for the School Food Tour were affirmed by a chance encounter on mile 9.

As I pedaled out of Bend, I slowly gained ground on a cyclist in front of me. Eventually our paths intersected and I came upon a friendly older gentleman out for a Friday morning jaunt. He informed me that he was trying to be more health conscious and also rehab his knee so he now rides up to the top of the same hill every day. I told him about my project and that he had just happened to catch me on day 1 of a 10 month undertaking. After a few minutes of chatting I rode away from this man and  thanked him for sharing mile 9 with me. I also encouraged him to look beyond himself and perhaps aim towards a more distant hill on his next ride. He assured me he would try.

That’s all I needed to remind myself that I am doing this for all the right reasons. The School Food Tour is ON. Let’s ride.

Tenacity.

Lesson learned this weekend: tenacity may not be measurable, but it is most definitely perceptible.

I spent the past few days volunteering at the Tenacity Games in Hood River, Oregon with the crew from the John Wayne Cancer Foundation & athletes from Team Duke. The Games are a cancer awareness and fundraising event put on by the Foundation that includes the sports of kiteboarding, stand-up paddling and kayaking.

Attendees varied from professional athletes to cancer survivors and everyone had a story to share about why there were there and who they were honoring through their participation. I had the opportunity to spend time with a number of young adults who had been attendees at a recent cancer survivor camp in Maui.

Looking into their eyes, I finally understood the meaning of tenacity: their gazes were filled with a determination to live, an appreciation of the hundreds of folks who came out to support their struggle and a thankfulness for simply being present on that day.                I can only hope that while on the Tour I will be blessed with a small portion of the grace & tenacity with which they acted all weekend.

The John Wayne Cancer Foundation is the School Food Tour’s primary sponsor and I feel honored to be a part of their fantastic and passionate family. Healthy food and physical activity are two important components of cancer prevention and I look forward to sharing this message with the classes and adults that I will meet along my route. For more information about Team Duke and the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, please visit their website: http://teamduke.org. You can even become a Team Duke member (it’s free!) and dedicate your personal challenge to the fight against cancer.