The Road To Healthy Living Is Full Of Chocolate-Covered Detours

I want to be healthy. I really, really do. I want to eat “clean” and fold myself into elegant poses on one of those yoga mats. I want to be the type of woman that opens her cupboard and says, “Yes, it certainly is a quinoa type of day.”

I do care. I do try. In fact, compared to my former self, I’ve made significant strides towards healthy living. In university, my diet consisted mainly of convenience-store delicacies and fast food. I knew every McMeal on the menu and made sure I always made it to the McDonalds drive-thru on Wednesdays for the Big Mac deal. (Would I like to upsize my combo? Absolutely.) There often weren’t parking spots close to the university by the time I got there (because, on my way to school, I realized it was Wednesday and had to stop at McDonalds), so I would park my car in a no-parking zone, figuring it was better to pay the $35 ticket than have to walk 10 minutes to class.

All of that changed after I got married. My husband, a very slim, disgustingly healthy man, lived a very different existence. I can still remember the first time he came home from the grocery store: Vegetables, chicken and spices poured out of shopping bags and I asked, with all sincerity, “But…where’s all the food?”  I couldn’t imagine what magical powers one must possess in order to combine these ingredients into a tasty meal. Many tears, (and, ashamedly, a few screaming matches) later, I felt as though I had mastered making “real” meals — ones that didn’t come out of a box. It was long before I started turning up my nose at the those still lining up at drive-thru windows.

But I wasn’t finished. After having my first child, I had to clean up my act even more. Homemade baby food was, of course, a no brainer. (Well, that’s what my husband said, and luckily we had figured out a healthier dialoguing system by then. No screaming. Minimal tears.) And it keeps coming. On Facebook, article after article about what to eat and what not to eat pops up in my Newsfeed. Groupons get sent to my inbox with deals for the latest “boot camp.” (I can sign up at only 30% of the cost!) Should I stop eating gluten? Go vegetarian? And what the heck is flax??

So I’m taking a breath. I’m stepping back and allowing myself to celebrate how far I’ve come. I made a muffin the other day with no sugar in it. Yay for me! Will I opt to have a piece of cheesecake when I’m out with the girls? Probably. I look for labels that have more natural ingredients than their competitors. I spend more time outside and don’t mind walking instead of taking the car. Sure, there are lots of things I don’t do, but what about all of the things I am doing?

I will continue to try to be healthy. I’m sure there will be more healthy foods I should incorporate into my diet and different ways to exercise. For all of you out there who are trying, even just a little bit, I applaud you. I hope you take moments to celebrate every victory along the way. And when the destination seems too far, enjoy the journey. Even the delicious, chocolate-covered detours.

Kara Kootstra hates work. As luck would have it, people seem willing to compensate her to write children’s books, teach piano lessons and make gourmet cupcakes. A happily married woman (except for when her husband makes fun of her for reading Twilight), Kara is a mother to Claire, a girl who wears fairy wings to the grocery store and Nate, a four-year-old who is famous for his use of wordplay.

Image(s): Simon Oxley