Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I saw a couple new pop up dinner announcements from my food industry friends, pictures of adorable cats, and... chefs saying inspiring words and filming their sweaty, healthy workout routines.
Oh man, did I feel annoyed by these chefs parading around their healthy lifestyles on social media. Was it because I was jealous of their initiative, or was it based on my belief that I would never again fit in another size 34in waist pants or medium t-shirt?
I put my phone down, glanced down at my gut, and a feeling of shame jolted through my body. Immediately, I looked for the nearest on-sale Halloween mixed candy stash I stowed away in my pantry. This was my typical response to stress, especially the stress of opening a restaurant: I ate gooey cookies, artisanal pizzas, and squeezed in double dinners to wash it away.
(Just for fun, here is a non-exhaustive list of things I stress about: money to pay the contractor to finish our space, hiring front of house and back of the house staff, finding a bartender and GM, writing down recipes for the back of house staff, taking on a leadership role as I am the face of the company, talking and saying the right things to the food media people, developing good relationships with farmers and purveyors, getting an alcohol license, researching dishes I haven't done and find interesting, coordinating with artist to do work on our building, relationships, and visiting my parents. Phew.)
I used to use fatty, delicious foods as a drug when I got over-stressed. Health was not a priority, and that led to some physical and mental burdens: lower self confidence, low energy, short endurance, and overall unhappiness, to name a few. This started to affect my business, relationships and mental state. I was getting lazy, ignoring important work: taking care of myself.
After struggling into a size 36 pants at Target, I took a picture of my struggle and vowed to get healthier for my business and myself. I signed up for a month of CrossFit to kickstart my health journey, and I also asked the chef whose 15-second workout videos I saw on Instagram if he could show me the way and help keep me accountable. It was time to make some changes.
It's been two and a half months now, and I can fit back into my size 34 pants (although I'm still working on that medium-size shirt). Mentally, I feel stronger and less overwhelmed, pushing faster through prep without feeling outrageously fatigued. Physically, I can feel stronger lifting heavy equipment or pots without straining my back. Overall, I feel happier.
Sometimes, I think the restaurant industry doesn't talk enough about health. We work long, stressful days in a physically and mentally tough environment. If you aren't aware, that takes a toll on you, and before you realize it, you are in a tough spot.
I am so glad I took the steps to improve myself. Now, whenever I feel overwhelmed and stressed, I take my bike and ride my worries away (as opposed to grabbing a extra large Checker's fries with bacon and chili at 2 in the morning). Staying on this path is important to me - without good health, I can't create and maintain the restaurant I've dreamt about for eight years.
Now, off for a bike ride.