It is my great pleasure to welcome bestselling author Janice Cantore to the Authors' Galley kitchen today. I feel a certain kinship with Janice, not only because she and I have the same (great) publisher, but because we're both veterans of service careers--my long stint in the ER, and her 22 years as a Long Beach, California police officer. Trust me, we would have crossed paths before now if it hadn't been a matter of north-south geography. Nurse and cops, it's inevitable.
I especially appreciate that Janice is offering a twist on our apron-time by sharing her battle to maintain healthful eating habits--especially difficult for folks doing "shift work." I can relate to that, and I'm betting--regardless of employment--many of you can as well.
Welcome to my cyber kitchen, Janice!
Eating on the Job (Lessons learned from the land of junk food)
When I graduated from the police academy, I was in the best shape of my life. I had even won an award from the academy staff congratulating me on my hard work during physical training sessions. I could run fast, scale walls, jump fences, do take -downs and control holds and fit easily into my shiny new police uniform.
Then I went to work in a black and white police vehicle, mostly with male partners who never had an issue with weight control.
I’ll rewind a bit; when I took the physical agility test during the application process, I barely passed. I was over weight and almost didn’t make it over the six-foot wall. If I hadn’t scaled that wall, I never would have made it to the academy. When the academy started I, and about five of my classmates, were placed in a select group singled out by the tactical officers for our lack of physical fitness. We were the “puss guts and banjo butts.”
I never minded the nickname because I knew I was out of shape and I knew that I wanted to be in shape so I was highly motivated. So, for the next five and a half months I ate right, worked hard and got in shape.
Now it was time for patrol. The first afternoon shift I was assigned my partner was a skinny guy who stopped first thing for a 5 PM snack at a greasy fast food place. A couple hours later we’d stop for lunch, usually at a restaurant not a greasy spoon, but I learned to eat fast because you never knew when a call would interrupt a meal. And before our shift ended at 2AM, we’d likely stop again at an AM/PM or a 7-Eleven for sweets.
A similar pattern emerged when I went to graveyard shift, 10PM to 8AM, but it was generally worse because the only options for meals were all night greasy spoons or donut shops (yeah, donut shops).
It wasn’t long before the belt was moving out a hole or two, the vest was feeling more restrictive, and I needed a larger size pant. Apparently I was entering a phase of life where I just couldn’t take the weight off when I wanted to.
I was still jogging when I wasn’t too tired, but I was eating all the wrong things. In Long Beach there were places with great Mexican food, an excellent barbeque place or two, and a lot of great places to have huge breakfasts, and I loved thick Belgian waffles smothered in peanut butter and honey.
And you thought police work was all about fighting crime!
Being over weight before starting the academy was one thing, but being overweight at work was a whole different animal. The gun belt was tight and uncomfortable, the vest nearly unbearable in the summer. Moving to a desk job made things a bit easier because I didn’t have to wear a vest and I could wear a small belt holster and not the full Sam Browne, but the bottom line was; I needed to lose weight.
I would love to end this post saying that I found a magic pill and all the extra weight melted away. But poor food choices and inadequate exercise created for me what became a continuous struggle. I eventually lost most of the extra weight the old fashioned way: exercising and eating right: no junk food,
but the battle is never ending and I must always pay attention. I can’t help it, I like just about everything that is not good for me and will put on weight, but I have stopped hating all those forever skinny guys I worked with.
(Standing, waving a wooden spoon over head) Well said, Janice!
And now, to add a second treat, our guest has kindly offered TWO signed copies of her new book release, AVENGED in a giveaway! Please leave a comment below--perhaps something you struggle with regarding a healthful diet--and your name will be included in the (random.org) drawing. Please leave an e-mail address. And note: this drawing will be limited to US entrants only.
I'll draw the winning names on Wednesday March 20th, post the name here and notify the winner via e-mail.
Best of luck to you all, Bon Appetit and happy reading!