One year ago today I got the best present I could have asked for, a little pink line a stick. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about the feelings that overwhelmed me when I saw that line appear. I had been waiting to see that for over a year and I think I was in disbelief when it happened. We had been trying to get pregnant for so long that I was at the point that I just wasn’t sure it was going to happen for us. But before I get too in to that let me start from the beginning.
For those of you that don’t know or haven’t read that blog post, I had a pretty tough miscarriage in the beginning of 2015 that took a toll on me not just mentally but physically too. Though we didn't know about the full extent of the physical repercussions until almost a year later. After the miscarriage we waited a bit to let my body heal from the trauma it had been through and honestly I needed to mentally wrap my head around what we had been through. For anyone who's had a miscarriage you all know that it's hard to comprehend that you were pregnant and then you weren't, that there was a baby there and now it's gone, and there really is no solid reason why. After I had time to at least mostly recover we started trying again to have a baby. I kind of figured it would be easy for us considering the first time around I had been on birth control when we got pregnant. Looking back at it all now that was definitely wishful thinking.
The first few months of trying I just kept telling myself it was normal for it to take a while to get pregnant, even if you are tracking. The weird thing for me was that my cycles were super irregular. Years ago when I wasn’t on birth control I had the most regular cycle that I could tell you down to the hour when my period was going to start. Yet all of a sudden this wasn’t the case. Again, I just kept telling myself that it was normal, that it most likely had something to do with the miscarriage and that things would eventually go back to normal. But every month things were the same or worse. I finally turned to Dr. Google and decided to search a little on what could cause what I was going through and I had every symptom of having scar tissue. I knew that it was probably a long shot but asked my Obgyn what he thought and he agreed that it was worth checking out so he ordered an HSG.
I really had no idea what an HSG was when it was ordered and I went in not really knowing what to expect. In short detail, they insert dye into the uterus and watch whether it flows through the fallopian tubes without getting blocked. I remember laying there watching the dye flow on the screen that the radiologist was watching and seeing the dye stop immediately on my right side. And then when the radiologist confirmed what I saw I was speechless. I am pretty sure I just said thank you to the guy and walked out to my car. I just sat there in my car thinking “you've got to be fucking kidding me.” Later that day my Dr called and told me what the radiologist had already told me and then said that because they couldn't confirm that the scar tissue blockage was definitely due to my miscarriage insurance would just classify this as infertility and wouldn't cover any surgery to remove it. I was devastated. There are no other words to describe how you feel when your doctor tells you your “sub-fertile”. After getting pregnant on accident, now I was on the other end of the spectrum.
Fertility treatments and surgery weren’t an option for us, mostly for monetary reasons. We resolved to just keep trying the “normal” way and maybe someday it would happen for us. At this point I was still tracking but I was quickly starting to feel that it was pointless. There was no way to know which side I was ovulating from so for all I knew it wouldn’t even matter that month. By the time we were nearly at a year of trying I decided to back off on the tracking but to also start acupuncture. I figured at the very least it would help to relax me. I went to one of the best fertility acupuncturists around, Dr. Ray Rubio, and everything that he did for me was above and beyond what I had expected. In my first appointment with him he straight forward told me to stop calling myself infertile or even sub-fertile because it would get me no where. If I kept that mindset that alone would work against me and I needed to remind myself that I have been pregnant once before. He told me that he felt that my body had just been through a lot of trauma and it needed time to heal. I know it may sound corny but it was one of the things that I needed to hear the most after a year of feeling so down on myself. The idea that my body had done it once before so why couldn’t it do it again. That, to some extent, became my mantra and I would remind myself of that every time I started to get down.
Now mind you, my “mantra” definitely wasn’t fool proof and some time in June 2016 I remember having a major breakdown. By major I truly mean major. I started a stupid fight with my husband over something trivial because I had so much pent up stress about “my stupid body” and by the end of the fight I was sitting on the ground sobbing in my husband’s arms. We agreed that if by August we still weren’t pregnant we would look in to next potential steps. That month I just “gave” up. My husband was supposed to be gone most the month because of bike races and I was 100% sure that there was no way it would happen so I just made every attempt to forget about it. Towards the end of the month I started feeling what I assumed were PMS symptoms but, as is always the case when you are trying to get pregnant, a little part of me hoped that they were pregnancy symptoms. I remember at one point I was at a friends house hanging out by her pool and her little boy wanted me to pick him up. I bent down to pick him up and he slammed straight in to my upper body and breasts and it was painful. And a different kind of painful then typical PMS pain but I didn’t want to think about it and I attempted to just ignore it.
July 4th rolled around and it was supposed to be the first day of my period but with the irregular cycles that I have I knew that it was a maybe and a good chance it would be the wrong day. One of our best friends had invited us to a BBQ and we were planning on going. I felt absolutely ridiculous taking the test but I figured what could it hurt. If it was negative it would be like every other month so whatever and I could go to the party and have a margarita and try to forget about it. I remember taking the test and setting it on our bathroom floor and walking away. I wasn’t about to sit there and watch it not show me that elusive pink line. I started doing things around our bedroom and actually had forgotten that it was sitting there. It was when I happened to walk back in to the bathroom that I looked down and saw it sitting there. At first glance I just thought “oh yeah, I should throw that out” but then as I took a step closer I felt my whole body go numb. It was like I was moving in slow motion as I bent down to pick up that test, I probably stared at it for a good minute or two, in disbelief. I then promptly dropped it and went running downstairs to tell my husband. I believe my exact words were “it worked, it finally worked, were having a baby!” No cutesy tell your husband announcements for us, when you’ve waited as long as we did I couldn’t have waited longer then the 2 minutes I did to tell him.
That moment makes it in to the top 10 best moments of my life. For anyone who is struggling to get pregnant that long awaited pink line is something you have dreamt about every single day. You think of how you will react, how you will tell your husband, etc. But when it does finally happen it does not go the way you expect it to, and if anything it is a million times better. On days when, like today, my son seems like he is on one and determined to press every single one of my buttons I will sit back and remember everything I went through to have him in my arms and it is like all my anger melts away. Tonight as he fell asleep in my arms I held him a little closer and smelled his sweet little head and I knew that everything happened the way it was supposed to.
For those of you out there struggling to get pregnant I’m not going to tell you any of those stupid tips like relax, stop trying so hard, or your not trying hard enough. That isn’t my place and honestly anytime someone said those things to me I wanted to strangle them. I will say this though, don’t give up on yourself or your body. As I said before, it may seem corny, but make a mantra for yourself, to tell yourself on those days when you feel like it’s all pointless. And last but not least remember the one thing that my mother has told me for as long as I can remember “Everything happens the way it’s supposed to.” I have a love/hate relationship with this quote but as I get older the love for it gets stronger and honestly no one can deny the truth of it.
As a nutrition and health coach I post a lot about food, exercise, and loving your body. All of these things are great and essential to living a happy and DELICIOUS life but there are many other aspects of our lives that lend to being able to live deliciously.
I have highly disliked flying for a few years now after a few overly turbulent flights. It was so bad at one point that I ended up getting anti anxiety medication just so I could get on the plane without having a panic attack. The medicine would essentially knock me out so I had to time my taking it very precisely so I wouldn’t fall asleep before getting on the plane. Not gonna lie, it was pretty nice to get on the plane, fall asleep for the whole flight and wake up right as we landed. When I got pregnant being able to take that medication went out the door. I had to fly when I was 7 weeks pregnant and I was a nervous wreck. Not just for the flight but also because I was so scared flying would cause me to miscarry. I was a mess but luckily I was flying with my husband so he was there to hold my hand. We did one leg from LA to San Francisco and I just blared music, closed the window and tried to forget where I was. The second leg though my husband convinced me to open the window and I’m glad I did because I got to see the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time in my life. It was from the air but it was still a pretty amazing sight to see with my own eyes.
This past week I flew to and from LA/Colorado with my now 3-month-old son to visit family. I was so nervous the day before our flight to Colorado. Not just for the flight itself but because I had no idea how he would handle flying, I didn’t want him to be THAT screaming baby. I was also so concerned that he would be able feel my nervousness and I don’t want him to have a fear of flying like I have had. I know that kids pick things up from their parents, especially babies, when it comes to how we feel about things. For example, a lot of kids develop their fears of needles because their parents exhibit fear when the kids get their shots and the kids see that reaction and then themselves react that way. It was like this nervousness for him to see me nervous and scared of flying made me more nervous and scared. It was a vicious cycle.
The day we flew to Colorado I did everything I could to stay calm, without taking medication. That wasn’t even an option, not just because I needed to be aware during the flight but also because it doesn’t mix with breastfeeding. I got on the plane and M was very unhappy with me. He was crying and I knew it was just because he was tired but he wouldn’t fall asleep. Then just as we were about to take off he passed out. Just the movement of the plane put him to sleep, much like the car or his stroller does. I was so happy! He slept pretty much the whole flight too! Now if anyone has every landed at DIA they will know that it is rare to have a smooth landing there. It is almost always turbulent because of the mountains and this particular day it was pretty bad because of thunderstorms all across the Front Range. Our descent was probably one of the more intense ones that I have had, so much so that my ears were popping and hurting. At this point M was awake and I was doing everything to keep his bottle in his mouth but he was more concerned about smiling and laughing at me. Apparently the kid likes turbulence and fast descents because he was happy as a clam while I was doing everything to not freak out. But sitting there with him in my arms laughing and giggling at me was a very eye opening moment. It was that reminder that my fear was silly, despite the turbulence. My 3 month old reminded me that flying is exhilarating and sometimes not always a smooth ride but it is actually quite safe. To him it was just like riding in his stroller while I push him along a bumpy trail and that thought is what kept me calm as we landed.
On our flight home I was much more calm, despite the pilot informing us that the take off was going to be very bumpy (which it was). But for the first time in a very long time, as M slept peacefully in my arms, I was able to look out the window and see the views. Flying over the Rocky Mountains is a pretty amazing sight and I actually took pictures. Then later in the flight we went over the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River and I can honestly say that is the FIRST time I have ever seen it from a plane, and I have done that flight more times then I can count. It was so amazing to see the beauty of the planet that we live on from the air. It only took me exactly 28 years (it was my birthday) and having a baby to learn how to appreciate this beauty. I have always been one to “stop and smell the flowers” but sitting on that plane was eye opening for me. It reminded me how much I need to do that more and appreciate the bigger picture.
I can honestly say that I have a newfound view on flying that I never had before. I can’t say that my fear is completely gone but I can definitely get on a plane and not have a panic attack. But I do think that there is something that anyone can take from this story. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the little things, like our silly little fears, that they don’t allow us to see the bigger picture. I also think that everyone can take a page out of my 3-month-olds book and learn to enjoy the ride, whatever that ride may be. And maybe sometimes taking the view of small child will allow us to see things differently then we do as adults. I know many people who will say, “Sometimes I wish I was a kid again so I can forget about adult things” but who says we can’t be? Maybe we should stop and think about things the way a kid would and it might allow us to realize how un-important some things in life are compared to others. How many kids do you know that worry about their weight while eating a cookie, they don’t. They savor every bite of that cookie and that’s what we should all be doing! By doing this we can learn to live our lives to their fullest and as “deliciously” as possible.
If there is one thing that almost everyone around the world learns how to do as a child it’s how to ride a bike. Bikes are, and have been since their invention in the 1860s, something that crosses cultural boundaries and even economic boundaries. On the other hand, bicycle racing is something that not many people know a lot about. Most people see a cyclist training on the side of the road and think about how they are going to get around them on the road without hitting them. Yet bike racing is a very large, worldwide sport that affects many people. Many bike races take place in rural communities due to the ease of shutting down roads as well as the small amount of road traffic. Bringing bike racing to rural communities is not just to the advantage of the racers and race planners, it is also to the advantage of the communities as well. Bike races bring in large amounts of people, spectators and racers, providing the communities with a lot of tourism income. Bigger races also bring large amounts of publicity to areas that wouldn’t normally have that opportunity. Bike racing allows for many people and communities to come together to put on a large social event and bring in large amounts of people to bolster the economy.
The Tour de France is just one of many races around the world that takes place in or around rural communities. To understand bike races like the Tour de France one has to take a look at its history. In 1903 in France, Comte Jules-Albert de Dion, Adolphe Clément and Édouard Michelin set up the sports newspaper L’Auto to rival Le Velo, the most prominent sports newspaper in all of France (Wheatcroft 2013). These three men appointed Henri Desgrange as the editor and Desgrange came up with the idea of a multi-day bike race staged from July 1st to July 19th that covered the country of France (Wheatcroft 2013). Desgrange’s goal was to get the word out about the new newspaper, L’Auto, to the people of France. “His race had succeeded far beyond his…expectations, with great numbers turning out to watch, even when their enthusiasm had been tested by the absurdity of a race passing through their own town or village in the small hours” (Wheatcroft 2013, 27). This race, originally staged to publicize a newspaper, became one of the biggest bike races in the world today. To this day the Tour de France travels throughout France, going through large cities like Paris and small rural communities, with the end goal being to bring publicity to the country of France and all of it’s people. The first stage of the race this year, 2016, ends in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Manche, a small community of just 740 people. (2016 Route 2016).
The Tour de France isn’t the only bike race that brings publicity to small towns. While the Tour de France takes place mostly in France, there are many other bike races that take place throughout Europe like the Giro de Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. In the United States there are also many big races that take place. Some travel throughout a specific state like the Tour of California and the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Others take place in a specific area, basing in a small town, like the Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico or Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon.
Social Impacts of Bike Racing
Even from the first Tour de France, bike racing had a huge cultural meaning behind it. “Although the representation of specific trades and occupations depended on local employment patterns, the members of cycling clubs were generally petty bourgeois and skilled artisan’s intent on providing activities and an opportunity for male sociability for their town, neighborhood, or profession (Thompson 2006, 14). From the first cycling clubs one can see the coming together of the men of the community to create opportunities for their towns and neighborhoods. The Tour de France itself had the goal of bringing the country together and it did that, even when times were at their worst during WWI and WWII. The race went from being just a bike race to a race that brought the people of France together as well as publicized some of the hardest hit areas of France. By doing this the people could see other towns that needed help rebuilding and providing it. And all of this was done just through the pictures of newspapers and magazines published after the races. Today, with TV and the amount of publicity that surrounds the race many areas of France get a full day’s coverage of their beautiful cities and landmarks and the commentators of the race make a point of talking about it too. 3.5 billion people worldwide tune in to watch the Tour in 190 countries (Pietrasik 2014).
While the Tour de France is the highest level of bike racing out there, there are many other races that take place throughout the world that provide the same effects. There are big world tour races like the Tour de France that go through Italy, Spain, and Switzerland but there are also smaller races, yet still big name that provide local communities with huge amounts of publicity. In Europe cycling is a huge event, if anything it is the equivalent of football or baseball in the United States. Because of this large amount of fandom that comes from cycling it is fairly well received by most communities and the people throughout Europe. Many cities in France compete to host stages of this big race. “Sport events are more than only entertainment, they are social events that allow for the addition of a social value to the event” (BALDUCK, MAES and BUELENS 2011, 93). While many cities vie to host races, many of the citizens have differing opinions. The thing is that measuring social impact isn’t as simple as measuring something like economic impact. Often times social impact is defined as: ‘‘the manner in which tourism and travel effect changes in the collective and individual value systems, behavior patterns, community structures, lifestyle and quality of life” (BALDUCK, MAES and BUELENS 2011, 94). A study done by Bull and Lovell found that 40% of the people interviewed in the city of Canterbury, which was planned to host a stage of the Tour de France, were aware of road closures and the negative effects of the race, but a majority of the residents were excited to host the race (2007). Most people interviewed also didn’t see the race as a social positive for their town but for more an economic positive (Bull and Lovell 2007). Another study which interviewed the residence of Ghent found that 69.64% of the residents surveyed prior to the race and 78.02% surveyed after the race supported the idea of having the race come to their town again. And both cities saw the race as a great way to promote their cities (BALDUCK, MAES and BUELENS 2011). Both of these studies indicate that most people don’t see or notice the social impacts of having the races come through their towns.
Despite these findings it is easy to see that there is indeed a social impact to having tourism events like these come to through rural towns. Many people go out to watch the race as it makes its way through the town and will even take the day off to do so. Because races only spend a short time in the towns themselves, as they are riding through or sometimes half a day if a stage starts or finishes there, many people will still end up staying out after the event is over. In the words of Anthropologist Catherine Palmer:
In keeping with this commercial carnival, pubs and clubs offer Tour promotions such as cheap drinks and half-priced entry passes. After dark, the usual activities include street parties, fireworks displays and concerts by prominent French and international artists such as Jean-Michel Jarre, Roch Voisine and D:REAM. The restructuring of a ville-etape to accommodate not only vast numbers of personnel, but also the sound systems, lighting rigs, stage scaffolding and fireworks detonators that they bring, underscores the heterogeneity of the resources that the Tour annually introduces to France. It is a nomadic spectacle of commodified athletic performance which offers a repertoire of symbolic goods which consumers routinely appropriate and interpret to make meaningful their encounter with the Tour de France. (Palmer 1998).
Based off of this description the towns themselves become a big party area. Even after the event is over the parties continue through the evening and one would imagine that even if they wanted to the towns people couldn’t avoid the reverie. One study done on the impact of tourism on rural places found that the social impact was “perceived as higher than the economic impacts, as both residents (tavern owners) and suppliers agree that the [tourism] has a greater social than economic impact in the local community. The residents (taverns owners) and the suppliers also note that the greater impact is on “building community pride” and on “enhanced community image” (Alves, Cerro and Martins 2010, 33).
While Europeans tend to welcome bike racing with open arms, it isn’t quite the same in the United States. The following of bike racing in the US is much more limited and not as widely accepted like it is in Europe. There are people, without a doubt, that love to watch the bike races but there are many cases where people resent when bike races come through their towns. Studies done in the United States on the social impacts are much more limited. One study done on residents near Banff National Park and the sports fans that visit the area for mountain biking events found that there was a gulf between the views of the events. While the avid sports fans found the event to be perfect the non-sports fans found it to be bothersome and inconvenient (Halpenny and Kulczycki 2012). These findings are significantly different than the findings and views of those in Europe. The social impact of bike racing in the United States is much less significant than in Europe.
Economic Impacts of Bike Racing
While studies and information on the social impacts of bike racing in the United States is limited there is a lot of information on the economic impacts. Many bike races bring in large sums of money for the local areas and rural communities in particular benefit greatly from this. Despite this, many people within rural communities don’t welcome bike racing with open arms. For example, when the Tour of California, the biggest bike race in the United States, came through Santa Barbara a few years ago a few local shops boycotted it because the race finished in front of their stores. They assumed that by this happening it would hinder their local in flow of costumers and mess with their income. While the findings are quite the opposite it is easy to see, just from this, how much locals don’t like the bike races. This idea can be seen from a race recently in Silver City, New Mexico that caused a large section of main street to be shut down for the whole day. When one local shop owner was asked if it affected the business that they normally get on Saturdays she explained that they always warned the people of the town ahead of time and even then it never really affected their business. Despite the bike racing blocking the main roads and parking they still had as much or more business during the race (Shop Owner in Silver City 2016). From this it is easy to see that from this alone bike racing can actually have a lot of benefits for business owners and the communities that they take place.
This particular race in Silver City, New Mexico indeed has a huge economic impact on this rural town. In a town were the poverty rate in 2010 was 11.7% and “in Silver City, 23.1 percent of families with children, 4.1 percent of married- couple families and 31.5 percent of single, divorced or separated women were below the poverty level” anything to help these numbers rise is beneficial (Owen 2012). In 2012, according to Steve Chavez of Western New Mexico University, the race had an economic impact of $561,531. This event is very important to the community and that amount of money brought in is very significant. The total spending for lodging alone due to the races was estimated at $ 314,600 (Silver City Daily Press 2013).
Another race of similar size to the Tour of the Gila is the Nature Valley Bike Festival that takes place in Minnesota. There was a recent study done on one day of the 5-day race to find its economic impact on Stage 5 in Menomonie, WI. “The combined direct impact of the Menomonie Road Race by expenses of race and by the spectators is $65,453” (Kashian and Kasper 2010, 11). This is just one day of this 5 day race, so that amount of income is a huge number. Kashian and Kasper mention that this number can be increased if the needs of the spectators of the events were addressed better, including better spectating areas (2010).
While these numbers may seem small the Tour of the Gila and the Nature Valley Bike Festival are fairly small races compared to some of the races that are statewide races. The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah has a huge economic impact on the state. “A quantitative research study completed… reveal[ed] that out-of-state spectators contributed as much as $14 million in direct economic impact for the state of Utah” (Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah 2012). The Tour de France alone brought in 88 million Euro to Yorkshire when they hosted one stage of the race (Tour de Yorkshire 2013). These numbers are astronomical compared to the economic impacts of the smaller races in the United States. In Europe it is more common for races to bring in larger amounts like the Tour de France because of the fact that Europeans are more inclined to accept bike racing in their communities, as was discussed above.
Bike Races Helping Rural Communities
Over the years many rural communities have diminished in population and many have succumbed to economic hardships and fallen in to becoming poverty stricken areas. Within the United States this has becoming exceedingly so and many communities have struggled to find ways to bolster their shrinking communities. Many communities have tried bringing in things like big box stores to help their communities. Yet “with the arrival of big-box stores in rural communities, rural retail has been restructured and with it the main street atmosphere that formed the cultural backbone of rural life” (Sumner 2005, 56). So in their efforts to bring in something they feel that will help they are loosing a huge piece of what makes rural communities so unique, the culture and the lifestyle. Woods describes this culture perfectly in Performing the Rural as he describes how close knit the communities are (Woods 2011). He explains the significance of the local bar or the festivals that are held in the towns. These festivals are hugely important because they allow the community members to come together for some fun and games and to interact in a setting that isn’t work or in passing at the grocery story.
These festivals are very similar to the description that Palmer had of the communities that hosted the Tour de France. The communities in Europe have already embraced this idea, they recognize that these races coming through their towns not only brings in economic bolstering but also allows the community to celebrate and enjoy themselves. If more rural communities, especially in the United States, looked at bike racing this way it could do wonders for their communities. As discussed above, bike races bring in huge economic impacts to the communities that host them. Between lodging for racers and bike race spectators, people needing places to dine while there, and just the general influx of visitors to the town, this brings a large amount of money to the towns. It also brings more people to the areas who might come back in the future for their own personal reasons or just general publicity to the area which could lead to people coming to visit as general tourist.
While many of those interviewed didn’t necessarily see it up front, the social impact of bike races is huge on rural communities. In towns that are starting to fall apart bike races will allow them to come together and re-light that community pride that is needed to help convince people to better their communities. Bike races are a reason for people to come together and celebrate together, it gives the community a reason to have fun again. As Woods explained, “the participation of local residents in such events can also practically help to reinforce community coherence, acting as a shared communal endeavour, or as a literal 'meeting-place' for community members” (2011, 211). And in the case of bike racing it is a win-win all around. It can bring the community together while also bringing in much needed economic income.
Bike racing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “how do I help my rural community’s economy?” but without a doubt they are an option to help do just that. From the advent of the bike racing with the Tour de France bike racers were racing in clubs to find social opportunities within their communities. Today people of rural communities throughout Europe use races like the Tour de France to find social opportunity through the celebrations that incur from the races making their way through their towns. And economic opportunities aren’t far behind with the tourism that comes from those bike races. If more people, specifically in the United States, can embrace this idea than more rural communities could benefit this much needed economic and social opportunity. Needless to say, bike racing has a lot more to it than a bunch of teams racing up and down mountains and country roads and while those racers are racing their way to big wins, the towns they race through can have their own wins as well.
Works Cited2016. 2016 Route. Accessed May 27, 2016. http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2016/us/overall-route.html.
Alves, Helena Maria Baptista, Ana Marı´a Campo´n Cerro, and Ana Vanessa Ferreira Martins. 2010. "Impacts of small tourism events on rural places." Journal of Place Management and Development (Emerald Group Publishing Limited) 3 (1): 22-37.
BALDUCK, ANNE-LINE, MARC MAES, and MARC BUELENS. 2011. "The Social Impact of the Tour de France: Comparisons of Residents’ Pre- and Post-event Perceptions." European Sport Management Quarterly 11 (2): 91-113.
Bull, Chris, and Jane Lovell. 2007. "The Impact of Hosting Major Sporting Events on Local Residents: an Analysis of the Views and Perceptions of Canterbury Residents in Relation to the Tour de France 2007." Journal of Sport & Tourism 12 (3-4): 229-248.
Halpenny, Elizabeth A., and Cory Kulczycki. 2012. "Sport fan and non-sport fans’ perceptions about hosting a bicycle sporting event in a mountain park." Edited by Craig Webster. Tourism Today Special Issue, Event Tourism: Theory and Practice 12: 25-33.
Kashian, Russ, and Justin Kasper. 2010. "The Economic Impact of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival: A Pilot Study of the Stage 5 Menomine, WI Road Race." University of Wisconsin- Whitewater. August. Accessed May 1, 2016. https://www.uww.edu/Documents/colleges/cobe/ferc/FERC-%20Bike%20Race%20Paper%20.pdf.
Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. 2012. "Records Set for Economic Impact and Media Coverage for the 2012 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah." GLOBE NEWSWIRE, October 10.
Owen, Jim. 2012. "Poverty rate remains high in Silver City." Silver City Daily Press, November 2012.
Palmer, Catherine. 1998. "Le Tour du Monde: towards an anthropology of the global mega-event." The Australian Journal of Anthropolgy 9.3: 265+.
Pietrasik, Andy. 2014. The Tour de France: in numbers. July 2. Accessed May 28, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/jul/02/tour-de-france-in-numbers-cycling-statistics.
Shop Owner in Silver City, New Mexico, interview by Katie Barberi. 2016. Tour of the Gila Interviews (May 2).
Silver City Daily Press. 2013. "Race has ‘economic impact’ on area." Silver City Daily Press, April 25.
Sumner, Jennifer. 2005. Chapter 2: Rural Reckoning: The Impacts of Corporate Globalization on Rural Communities. In Sustainability and the Civil Commons: Rural Communities in the Age of Globalization. Pp. 30-58. Buffalo: University of Toronto Press.
Thompson, Christopher S. 2006. The Tour de France a Cultural History. Berkeley : University of California Press.
Tour de Yorkshire. 2013. SOME KEY FACTS AND FIGURES ON THE WORLD'S LARGEST ANNUAL SPORTING EVENT. Accessed June 1, 2016. http://letour.yorkshire.com/news/tour-de-france-the-facts.
Wheatcroft, Geoffrey. 2013. Le Tour: A History of the Tour de France. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Woods, Michael. 2011. Performing the Rural In Rural. Pp. 200-230. New York: Routledge
The story of the evolution of humans is a long one, one that spans over millions of years. By that logic, the evolution of the human diet is just as long and arduous.
How much, exactly, has the human diet evolved? And what were the factors that lead to each evolutionary step? Did our diets allow us to evolve more or did our evolution lead to changes in our diets?
While it all seems a bit like a “which came first the chicken or egg?” type of story, significant amounts of research done over many years has given scientist insight into where our diets started and how it affects us today.
Anthropologists like Richard Wrangham, Richard B. Lee, and S. Boyd Eaton have put in their time researching all of this and have all come up with their own findings on on prehistoric diets. But in order to truly understand where we came from we need to start from the beginning, well before we were homo sapiens traversing the savannah. We need to go back 4.4 million years, to the dawn of man kind.
4.4 Million- 2 million years ago and The Emergence of the Genus Homo
2.4 million years is a very large range of time and, as one might expect, during this time as the ancestors to modern day humans evolved, so too did their diets. Mark F. Teaford and Peter S. Ungar researched the characteristics of the teeth and skulls of early australopithecines, your ancestors that came after the chimps, and found that during that span of time the diets of all of these ancestors to homo sapiens changed dramatically (Teaford & Ungar, 2000).
Their research showed that over this 2.4 -million-year time period the predecessors to the genus homo, the ancestor right before homo sapiens, made an appearance, they went from eating leafs and seeds and berries, like their chimp ancestors, to adding things like insects to their diets.
Then about 2 million years ago something big happened, something huge caused the emergence of the genus Homo, the first step towards Homo Sapiens. So what caused this change?
In 1966 fifty anthropologists who studied traditional foraging people came together and developed the theory “Man the Hunter” (Stanford, 1999). Their theory said that hunting required a significant amount of intelligence and communication, therefore requiring more brain mass to be intelligent enough to track and hunt prey.
The change from mostly foraging to being able to track and hunt prey created a significant dietary change allowing hominids to eat more meat. The addition of more meat to the diet provided the extra calories and protein needed to make a larger brain function. But evidence shows that while the need for more fuel for bigger brains did lead to hunting, there is something more, something else caused the jump from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens.
Fire, the Next Stepping Stone
One key thing that needs to be noted it that while hunting provided a decent amount of protein to the diets of the society, hunting trips only happened a few times a year. The main food source for many hunter-gather societies was, and still is today, actually provided by the gathering portion of the term hunter-gatherer.
Anthropologist Richard B. Lee spent many years of his life living with and studying the !Kung Bushmen, a modern day hunter-gather society, of the South African Kalahari Desert in the 1960’s. During his time with the !Kung he found that food provided by gathering actually accounts for “60-80 per cent of the total diet by weight” (Lee, 1968, p. 33).
This would mean that though hunting did change the diets of the early Homo’s it wasn’t significant enough to cause the preceding jumps from homo erectus to homo sapiens. Anthropologists Richard Wrangham disputes the “Man the Hunter” theory in his book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Wrangham says there is one essential piece to early Homo diets that would have pushed the jump from Homo Erectus to Homo heidelbergensis (800,000 years ago) and eventually Homo Sapiens (200,000 years ago). Wrangham suggests that “the transformative moment that gave rise to the genus Homo…stemmed from the control of fire and the advent of cooked meals” (Wrangham, 2009).
Theories on when the genus homo initially was able to control fire range from 40,000 years ago to 1.6 million years ago, 200,000 years after the emergence of Homo erectus. Some of the oldest sites that show evidence for habitual use of fire are Benot Ya’aqov in Israel and Koobi Fora in Kenya.
The site of Benot Ya’aqov is dated to about 790,000 years ago. At the site there is evidence of burnt olive, barley, and grape seeds along with burned flint (Wrangham, 2009). There is also evidence of burnt wood in hearth-like patterns (Wrangham, 2009). These pieces of evidence are enough for anthropologists studying the site to conclude that the early humans that inhabited this site had a significant amount of knowledge on fire making and could make fires at will (Wrangham, 2009).
The second site, Koobi Fora, is considerably older than Benot Ya’aqov, it is dated to about 1.6 million years ago. The evidence here shows controlled fires that were burned with palm wood (Wrangham, 2009). These two sites suggest that both Homo erectus, at Koobi Fora, and Homo heidelbergensis, at Benot Ya’aqov, both had the ability to control fires.
Cooked Foods and Energy Needs
So what exactly does the ability to cook food mean in regards to human evolution? Richard Wrangham devotes a whole chapter of his book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human to explaining this exact concept. He suggests the control of fire is what led to the ability to cook food and increase the energy acquired from foods as well as shorten the digestive process therefore reducing the energetic costs of digestion.
Wrangham states that “Most important, cooking gelatinizes starch, denatures protein, and softens everything. As a result of these and other processes cooking substantially increases the amount of energy we obtain from our food” (Wrangham, 2009, p. 57). Or put more simply, cooking food makes all of the essential nutrients in foods more readily available to our bodies so that they can digest it more quickly.
One significant hypothesis that adds to the theory of cooked foods effects on human evolution is “The Extensive Tissue Hypothesis.” The human brain uses about 20% of the body’s energy budget everyday even though it only takes up about 2.5% of human body weight. While a chimp brain uses about 13% of its body’s energy and a mammal only 10% at most (Wrangham, 2009). This means that if a human eats 2000 calories in day 400 of those calories are just to fuel its brain, yet for most other mammals it takes half that amount. That is the difference between eating one slice of pizza or two.
This energy expenditure of the brain requires the human body to be able to fuel it properly. In order to do this the genus homo gradually evolved a smaller gut then its ancestors. This suggests that the increased metabolic costs of large human brains are offset by a reduction in other parts of the body needing energy, mainly the gut. This increase in brain size and subsequent reduction in gut size meant that there would need to be an increase in diet quality so that there was enough caloric intake to fund the energy needed to run a human body.
Prehistoric Man: The Super Athlete
Cooking not only would have affected the energy intake for brain function but also general body functioning. Skeletal remains have shown anthropologists that the bodies of early Homo sapiens were equal to that of today’s super athlete.
In his opening lecture for the summer meeting of the Nutrition Society, held in Norwich in 2006, entitled “The ancestral human diet: what was it and should it be a paradigm for contemporary nutrition?” S. Boyd Eaton address this idea and what this means in regards to the dietary intake of prehistoric man. Eaton suggests that they would have needed about 2800 calories a day to properly function.
Wrangham points out that tests done on modern humans have shown that raw food diets are unhealthy and provide less calories then cooked foods. Raw foodist diets have an average caloric intake of 1,460 for women and 1,830 for men (Wrangham, 2009).
This means that there is no way that early Homo sapiens would have been able to function off the raw, uncooked diets of their predecessors. But instead by cooking their foods it made it possible for them to eat stems, soft seed pods and meats, unlike the australopithecines; who would spend a decent amount of their day chewing their foods.
Eaton explains that the super athlete bodies of Homo sapiens also required a diet that provided 35% of their energy from fats, 35% from carbohydrates, and 30% from proteins (Eaton, 2006). In order to get this and still get 2800 calories a day it would require cooking the food. This way they would be able to eat more foods at once because the body could quickly digest everything they ate.
Carbohydrate, Another Key Factor
In recent years’ carbohydrates have gotten a lot of flak from the general public, especially sugars and overly processed foods. While we know that maybe we don’t need to eat some of the over processed foods, there is research showing that carbohydrates are necessary for the human body to function.
In the September 2015 issue of the Quarterly Review of Biology Mark G. Thomas and his colleagues suggest that tubers and starchy plants played an important part in fueling the large brains of ancient Homo sapiens (Zimmer, 2015).
Human saliva contains a very important enzyme called amylase, which breaks down starchy foods. One key factor in the ability of amylase doing its work is one of the biggest factors in the evolution of the human diet: the starch must be cooked.
Dr. Thomas also points out that humans make 18 extra copies, compared to chimpanzees, of the gene that tells our bodies to make the amylase enzyme (Zimmer, 2015). This means that our bodies are more readily made to digest these carb-y starches.
And while Dr. Thomas’ findings, as well as the findings of many of the other researchers discussed here, are just that, findings and not conclusions. There is plenty of information “found” to give us all some pointed insight in to the lives and evolution of the ancestors of our distant past.
Over the years my own views of wellness have changed so significantly that looking back 5 years ago I feel like I was almost a completely different person than I am today. I have found that a persons perception of what it means to be "well" makes a huge difference in their ability to loss weight, get healthy, and live deliciously. I've put together a few words that, to me, all add up to meaning wellness in this "word cloud." These are all words that I have not only learned on my own but I have also learned from my clients that I have worked with in the past and present. What does it mean to you to be well? Put together your own word cloud and use it as your own motivation to reach your own wellness goals. Hang it on your wall, add it to your Pintrest health page, make it your computer background. Put it somewhere that you can see it everyday and it will remind what you need to do to LIVE DELICIOUSLY!
The Calorie Myth: All Calories Are Created Equal
First and foremost: All calories are not created equal. If you were to eat 500 calories worth of snickers bars it would have a completely different affect on the body then if you were to eat 500 calories worth of veggies. When food calories are measured in a lab they are measured solely in terms of energy released but when it is put in your body there are other factors involved other then just calories/energy created. Food contains information that is read by the body and informs the body what to do as far as metabolism and hormone levels goes. These instructions include: Lose or gain weight, speed up or slow down aging process, increase or decrease cholesterol, and increase or decrease appetite. For example food that goes quickly in to the bloodstream, like refined carbohydrates, promotes weight gain, while food that enters the blood stream slowly, like whole grains, promote weight loss. What does this mean to you? This means that when you choose your food for dinner tonight choose foods that are going to promote good reactions within your body. Rather than fried chicken, go for baked or grilled, rather than white pasta with a heavy cream sauce, go for whole grain pasta with light sauce. These are all easy switches that will promote good breakdown and healthy reactions in your body rather than bad.
The Starvation Myth: Eat Less + Exercise More = weight loss
When people approach weight loss the first thing they do is cut back on calories. The problem is that sometimes it is over done and they cut back too much. There is such a thing as a happy medium when it comes to getting too much and too little calories. The body needs a minimum amount of calories just to run everyday. This number is the number necessary to provide the body with the energy it would need if the person were to just sit around and do nothing all day, this is the number you often see labeled BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate. Most people burn more then this number everyday because most people don’t just sit around all day. When you add in exercising people end up burning more on top of their base “sitting” number. This all means that every person has a minimum number of calories that they should be eating everyday. If less then this is eaten on a regular basis the body goes in to starvation mode. This means that the body will do what it can to store as much food as possible from what it is given. It does this by slowing the metabolism down to accommodate for the low calorie intake. The best way to stop this from happening is to eat at least what the body needs to break even on it’s resting calorie rate. Then if one is exercising as well they need to add more calories to make up for the ones burned while exercising. This means finding what your BMR (that "sitting" number), there are many calculators out there that will do this for you. Once you find that number you should be trying to hit AT LEAST that much calorie intake each day. But remember that not all calories are created equal (I'll explain more about that in a later post) so this doesn't mean eating 1400 calories worth of chocolate and cookies, but eating healthy full meals with fiber filled grains, fruits, veggies, protein of your choice and A COOKIE.