Farming and Fitness


As “urban” as I’ve become, my roots are still in the countryside. When I sit down at a restaurant, I see a meal that involved hours of dedication and hard labor from farmers and ranchers, from consultants and scientists and truckers and processors. When I hear someone mention FFA, I don’t think of Napoleon Dynamite. I think of the blue corduroy jacket hanging in my closet with “Kelly Rivard, President” embroidered on the breast and “River Valley FFA, Illinois” framing the emblem on the back.

Okay, maybe I think of Napoleon Dynamite just a little bit.

Okay, maybe I think of Napoleon Dynamite just a little bit. Is anyone else annoyed that they’re wearing blue jeans and khakis and brown ties? Those should be blue ties and black pants, people.

These are just two examples. Needless to say, working and living in agriculture and rural development has deeply impacted how I think about a lot of things in life. And, regardless of how urban or suburban my life may become, it always will.

Since moving to Kansas City nearly a year ago, I’ve made some major life changes. One of the biggest has been my outlook on food, fitness, and health. Since July of 2012, I’ve lost 35 pounds — and after a history of eating disorders that caused me to gain weight, to say I did that the right way gives me a profound feeling of accomplishment. I did it through diet and exercise, no short-cuts, no gimmicks, no fad diets. I’ve achieved it through hard work, perseverance, and a mindset of self-care. I’m healthier and happier than I’ve ever been before.

Kelly Rivard before after 35 pounds lost

August 2012 on the left and June 2013 on the right. This was right around the time I celebrated the 35 pound milestone. I had actually hit my goal!

Kelly Rivard before after lost 35 pounds

Left: North Central College Senior Bar Crawl in June of 2012. That guy is Joe, who is one of my best friends and favorite people ever. Right: Myself and Nightwolf, July 2013 at a wedding where he ushered. I’m a lucky gal. And seriously, I can’t believe my own transformation.

And even my own weight loss is often approached with an agricultural perspective.

When I started to change my eating habits, I found myself curious about the foods I ate. Sure, I knew where corn, soybeans, wheat, dairy, and certain types of fruits and nuts came from. But those black beans that I used to make homemade soup? I had no idea. The kale I used to make kale chips? Nope. My curiosity was piqued.

When I began working out more (which I’ve slacked off on significantly) I found myself likening activities to farm activities. That bar that I was lifting in CrossFit reminded me an awful lot of a gate bar, and that kettle bell was eerily similar to a feed bucket.

Agriculture is in everything we do, whether we realize it or not. And agriculture has impacted my fitness journey. While summer has thrown off my running, I’m looking forward to refocusing my efforts. So, to help keep myself on track and to also share the insights that agriculture has given me on healthy eating and food, I’m going to start a new series: Farming and Fitness.

I’m going to discuss the foods that have helped me regain a healthy control of my eating habits, and where they come from. I’m going to talk about some of the physical labor that happens on farms and ranches, and how us city slickers (I reckon I am one of them now…) can capture that exercise in our everyday lives.

It should be fun. I get to brag about how healthy (or unhealthy) I am, and also write about the the places our food comes from. Let’s see how this goes.

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