Inspiration - that wonderful spark that jump starts an idea or an action - can come from many sources. I follow many blogs by people on the same journey to good health and fitness as myself. We share similar triumphs, failures, joys and frustrations. Somewhere in there, I find laughter and support. I also find inspiration which for me is motivation. The bloggers inspire me to up my workout game, put myself out there by writing about my experiences and often enough, try something new in the kitchen.
I've been seeking some cooking inspiration, especially in the realm of changing up my vegetable routine to avoid monotony. I read a recent post by another blogger who has begun a weight loss and fitness journey. She goes by the handle Fat Chick Fed Up. She wrote about brussel sprouts.
My immediate, almost violent reaction to her post was a "blech" accompanied by a facial expression reminiscent of an unhappy five year old. Only once in my life did a brussel sprout pass my lips. To call the experience unpleasant is an understatement of epic proportion. I remain indebted to a kind friend named Bernie, who in the spirit of generosity, stoically consumed all of my brussel sprouts that evening. (For the sake of full disclosure, everyone at the table passed their sprouts to Bernie. His efforts that evening were nothing less than heroic.)
The brussel sprout incident occurred about 20 years ago. I've taken extreme care to never interact with another of those little green cabbage-like culinary nightmares. But, then I read that blog post about brussel sprouts. She even posted pictures of her kids giving the brussel sprouts two thumbs up. My brain started churning.
I bought fresh brussel sprouts on the vine. Following instructions, I snapped them off, rinsed them and then cut them in half. I was officially in a state of vegetable dread. If it all went south, I was in a bind. It's not like there's a dog in the house to help make it all disappear.
Mustering up my courage, I pressed on, drizzling the little green ickies with EVOO and seasoning with salt & pepper. Once a Sicilian, always a Sicilian, so I added some garlic powder and tossed with vigor. Making sure they were thoroughly coated, I spread them on a baking sheet and popped them in the oven at 375 degrees for about forty-five minutes (I altered her recipe a bit there, too). Once they came out and cooled slightly, I stabbed one with a fork and carefully placed it in my mouth, waiting for the ick factor. My eyes widened. Great taste and amazing texture - who knew?!
Apparently, I am now an avid brussel sprout fan. As I posted this adventure on my Facebook page, the legions of closet brussel sprout fans came out to comment. Some of them commented about how much they loved brussel sprouts. Several were amazed at how clean my oven looked (thanks, ladies, truly). Several made suggestions for other vegetable adventures, including one from my friend, Mary for kale chips which she and her daughter, Ava enjoy as a snack. (I have never eaten kale, but duly emboldened by my current success, I added it to my grocery list).
Yeah, I'll let that sink in for a moment.
You both know that look, right?
This post really isn't about brussel sprouts despite the paragraphs already devoted to them. It's about inspiration, so let me get back to that. One of the most intimidating things I have ever done is joining Kevin Carlson's version of Extreme Boot Camp at Accelerated Fitness Solutions in Cromwell. The Extreme class is invitation only. I'd been working with Kevin for six months in private training at that point. I wasn't given the option of the All Levels camp and to be honest, I didn't want it. I was placed right into the Extreme next to two of Kevin's long time clients, Heather and Nancy. Those two set the pace for this small class. I don't like coming in second but watching those two workout is like watching two little Terminators. They never stop, never slow. Both Heather and Nancy welcomed me into the group and made me laugh through my first camp. More than that, they inspired me to get stronger and faster.
Heather is nicknamed Mighty Mouse. At 4'11" and significantly smaller than me, she is incredibly conditioned. Her best squats and dead lift weights have been in the 180 pound range. She jumps up on a two foot box like its nothing. Nancy can do pushups and pullups until Kevin falls asleep watching her. She's a machine. When I started this camp, she didn't just do a few more pushups than me, she smoked me. Left me in the dust. Both Heather and Nancy were encouraging and never seemed to pass any judgment. They inspired me to get more conditioned. I didn't want to be the one to slow them down if we were paired for an exercise. It was "game on" time!
I started doing pushups anywhere and everywhere. When I worked at home, I had to do 10 if I got up to get a bottle of water. I needed to do 10 more before I sat back down. Same requirement in place for trips to the laundry room. I did them in my office at work every opportunity I had. Then I upped the requirement to 20 for each time I got up from my chair and 20 for each return. Finally came the day when Kevin called for a minute of pushups and I matched Nancy for 50 in one minute. You should insert a really big grin right here. It was a great feeling. It still is. This is not about competing with my friends. It's about all of us working together to improve. We challenge each other as we all have strengths and weaknesses. If one of us wants to stop, a glance over at another bootcamper pushing through it is incentive enough to keep trying.
Inspiration equals motivation plus determination equals success.
This is me working out opposite Nancy - a pushup with a clap at the top. Sadly, Heather couldn't make boot camp and missed her photo op!
As a post script, I made the Kale Chips on Superbowl Sunday. I ate the whole bowl. It was delicious!