A Job Well Done; Thanks Mom! Brett Klika C.S.C.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women who have made so many sacrifices to put smiles on their baby’s faces, food in their tummies, and love in their hearts. Us grown up babies wouldn’t be where we are today without mom’s nurturing patience, understanding, and care. I’d like to take an opportunity to thank my mom, Linda, for everything I’ve become. The love and support I have received my entire life has been the fuel that propels my engine. I was truly raised in a culture of wellness and, to this day, this modeling has shaped the way I aim to help people around the world. When I write or speak about practical “tips” for getting kids healthy or creating a wellness culture in your home, these aren’t notes I’ve copied from a book. These are snippets from my child and early adulthood; a reflection of the environment I grew up in. To this day, I don’t know how my mom did it, but what she created is a testament to committing to health for yourself and your family. My mom cooked from scratch with natural ingredients before it was “cool”. I remember being very young and going to alternative grocery stores to get real, whole, food. Absent in the pantry were processed peanut butter, cereals, boxed foods, and numerous other items that populate many of our shelves today. We had a huge garden (which she also maintained) and ate quite a bit right out of our back yard. Our chocolate chip cookies were lumpy and our pancakes weren’t thin and pillowy. Our burgers were thick and spherical, and our peanut butter was a layer of condensed, minced peanuts separated from a layer of peanut oil. The potatoes out of our back yard came in odd shapes and sizes and we had huge zucchinis that could club a mastodon. These culinary imperfections were not the photogenic relics of what we package as “food” today. Absent of machines and chemicals, food has an imperfect aesthetic. Just as with humans, it’s not what’s on the outside that counts. My mom’s commitment to getting up early (before work) to make breakfast, pack us a lunch, and prepare the family a dinner of real food taught me not only how real food is supposed to taste, but how it is supposed to make you feel. While my mom never had any formal athletic or exercise training, she knew that being active was an important part of a healthy lifestyle. She would get up every morning and walk or jog. Prior to age 16, I struggled with my weight despite being active in sports and having access to a tremendous diet. Seeing my mom committed to exercising for enjoyment every day inspired me to do the same. I’d get up early with her at home or on vacation, and go walking or jogging. This is part of my routine to this day, as it is hers. I learned that exercise wasn’t a punishment for being fat, or a sole means of getting a college scholarship. It was something that could be used to give me energy, improve my self esteem, and personally empower me. The exercise and nutrition my mom used to lay the foundation for our family’s wellness weren’t the tenants of some fad or new wave “approach”. It was her decision and commitment to taking a stand for the health of her family. Yes, everyone around us may have been doing something different but this is how we were going to live. For my mom, it was a lot more work and a lot less sleep. As we know, it takes becoming an adult to even fathom the sacrifices our parents made for us. What more noble a cause than to champion your family’s health and wellness? I consider what I learned from the culture of wellness in my home the centerpiece of my success and ability to help others today. While I spend countless hours researching, interviewing, and consulting every resource imaginable on how to improve our nation’s health and wellness, nothing provides greater insight than what I lived growing up. If anything I ever say, write, or create is able to help or inspire others in any way, credit should be given where credit is due. Thank you Mom for empowering me with the knowledge, experience, and commitment to help create health and wellness in the world. May what I’ve learned from you become a vehicle to make the world a happier, healthier place. Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom to all the women who have given of themselves to create a greatness in their family!