Have you wondered why I am so passionate about the food my family eats? There are many reasons. I hope to give you some insight with this series.
I grew up on a farm and ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska. I did the obligatory chores that come with being the farmer’s daughter. I fed the animals, drove a tractor for different jobs in different seasons, and helped irrigate crops. I participated in 4-H, showing steers and horses.
I watched my parents give everything they have–including literal blood, sweat, and tears, to our life on the farm, 24/7, 365 days a year. Because when you farm AND ranch, it doesn’t matter what month it is–there are always cattle or crops to take care of.
Yet somehow, I stayed somewhat removed–probably because I knew from a young age that my heart, and my future, was in healthcare. Also, when I was twelve years old, my twin baby brother and sister were born, which meant a majority of my time involved helping inside–babysitting–versus being outside participating in more farm/ranch-like chores.
Fast-forward a few years–I graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center with a Bachelor’s Degree in Radiation Science Technology. I then went on to fulfill my dream by staying another year and completing the 12-month, intensive certification program to become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.
The Real World
Immediately after graduation, I got married to the man of my dreams and we moved to a rural area where I worked in a Level II Trauma Center hospital for 7 years. It was an intense, unhappy time in my life. I worked full-time, while being on-call for sometimes up to another 80 hours per week.
It wasn’t all bad–during this time, our first child was born. But my heart was torn between a career that I loved (not a job that I loved, don’t get them confused), and getting to spend time with her.
Then, pregnant with our second child, I hit the breaking point one night while I was on call. It was the middle of a blizzard, I had worked a 13 hour shift, and had been back and forth to the hospital three times. It was almost 2 am, I had not been to sleep yet, (and was expected to be at work in a few hours for another 13 hour shift) and the pager went off again for yet another emergency room ultrasound. Crying, I told my husband I was quitting. The next Monday, I turned in my letter of resignation.
A mere few months later, time and circumstances aligned, and we had the opportunity to move to an even more rural area – my husband’s home town. We moved onto his grandparents’ farm and ranch – which had been my husband’s lifelong dream. My husband works full-time as an agronomist and we now help his parents raise beef and grow wheat, corn, and hay.
I currently work two days a week doing ultrasounds at a rural hospital. This means I mostly get to stay at home with our two, soon-to-be-three, kiddos. In the meantime, I also became a La Leche League Leader to serve a location where there had previously been limited support for breastfeeding moms. Almost three years ago to the day, I decided to share my love of health and fitness, so I joined forces with Beachbody. A few months after that, I became a group fitness instructor and I now lead classes at our local fitness center.
All of those “jobs” are not really jobs to me. They fill MY cup. Getting to raise my kids on my terms–that’s priceless. Getting to support other moms as they begin their journey into motherhood is really just paying it forward for me–I had amazing support when my first baby was born and I believe it to be critical in whether or not a mom is able to breastfeed according to her own goals and intentions. And being a health and fitness coach and a PiYo Live fitness class instructor–that’s just amazing FUN to not only keep myself healthy, but to see other women feeling empowered by what their bodies are capable of. Watching my class get stronger and more confident has been the best experience!
What Does This All Have to do with Food?
Part of my role as a La Leche League Leader involves talking with new moms about good nutrition to support their health, which in turn helps her feed her baby. We also talk about nutrition for the whole family. As a fitness instructor and health and wellness coach, one of my favorite jobs is helping people adopt a healthy meal plan, discussing nutrition extensively.
There is a complete overlap in my advice to both groups – eating whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible. I suggest a diet heavy with lean meats, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats and whole grains. That definitely made my job easier in both roles. I include meals and recipes with nutrient-dense beef frequenting the meal plans that I put together for friends, new moms, and my fitness clients.
Not to mention, I love cooking healthy meals for my own family and showing others that healthy eating for the entire family is not complicated, boring, or expensive.
Enter “The Blog”
Last year with a little help and a LOT of nudging from a friend I started a this blog where I share my experiences as a mom and farm and ranch wife, along with fitness-related topics and healthy recipes. I started to find my voice when talking about the things I love–fitness, nutrition, momming, and raising (and eating!) beef.
One day at the grocery store, fed-up with the labeling I was seeing in the beef case, I made an impromptu video that unexpectedly went viral. Suddenly, I found myself with around 50 messages from people with questions ranging from hormones and GMO’s to the grass-finished vs. grain-finished beef debate.
Some of the questions were easy for me to answer, others were a little more difficult. I realized I needed more education and training and I needed it FAST.
God works in funny ways…
I had signed up for a free, online class that would have helped me immensely in fielding the questions after my video went viral…..8 months prior to my making of the video….and because life happened, I never looked at it. Let me tell you, that quickly changed!
The class, the Master’s of Beef Advocacy (MBA) class, is a self-directed online class funded by the Beef Checkoff. The program, and its five-course module, is designed to help the people raising beef become better, more available sources of information to the people eating beef.
On August 27, 2016 I completed the MBA class. And, I didn’t stop there. The same friend who nudged me to start my blog suggested I apply to the Top of the Class program–a continuation of the MBA. After reading about it, I immediately KNEW I wanted and needed the knowledge and experience it would offer.
I Give a Damn Because….
Spending my first eighteen years on a farm and ranch and witnessing the hard work, dedication, knowledge, animal care, and love of the land that comes with that path in life made a huge impact on me. Being back on a farm and ranch now, watching and helping my in-laws and husband grow food for the world, and feeding that same food to my family–I am fully invested now.
If you know me, you know that whatever I do, I give it 110%. I want to learn as much, and share as much, with you as I can because I believe that knowledge is power. As a consumer, and as a mom who grocery shops and feeds my family, I like to know that I am making healthy choices. I believe that in America, we have the most abundant, and safest food supply in the world. And I aim to share with you through this series why I believe this.
I want to be an accurate, caring, knowledgeable source of agriculture-related information, not just for my community and for my family, but for so many of you who have common questions that are only made more confusing by the media. Because let’s face it–it is hard to know which sources you can trust in this world of sneaky advertising and fear-mongering marketing.
I will write more about my intense two days at the Top of The Class in Denver at the National Cattleman’s Beef Association in the near future–because it was JAM-PACKED with so much info, insight, and many amazing experiences that helped me grow as a ranch wife, a beef consumer, and advocate.
I will give you this snippet though. One of the presenters–a woman who has 20 years of experience on me as a woman in agriculture–gave me one of my favorite quotes from the whole experience. She said, “When you believe in something, you want to share it.”
It hit me–I want to give a knowledgeable, trusting voice to the very way of life that made me who I am today and taught me the values I possess. I have come full-circle. I tried to run from my roots, but alas, they are called roots for a reason.
I hope you will stay with me for the next installment of this series–I will be telling you all about my experience in Denver and the other four participants in my class. We came from wildly different backgrounds–maybe you will be able to more closely relate to one of them! Make sure you put your email in the box on the right-hand side of the screen so you’ll get a notification when I post!