Eat your vegetables.
Get up from the couch and go play outside.
No, you can’t have candy at 8:00 in the morning!
Yes, we are walking to the store, we don’t need to take the car to go six blocks when we just need three things.
These are the kinds of things you might hear me say at my house.
My kids are used to it. Because I eat a vegan diet and they do not, sometimes they don’t like what I make for dinner. Because it is full of vegetables. But they have to eat it anyway.
They are usually pretty good about staying active. It helps that I can’t get Anne off the trampoline and can’t get Ty to sit still for more than about a minute at a time.
But sometimes, they get lazy. They don’t want to walk to the store. They don’t want to ride their bikes to the pool (a rule I instituted this summer – bike to the pool every day!) They don’t want to get an apple out of the refrigerator, but it is ok to get the bag of chips out of the basket next to the refrigerator.
Last night, after we watched last week’s Biggest Loser (that my classmate from Greenville College is on this season), the kids and I had a little discussion about health and fitness.
We talked about the fact that I was always thin like they are – until I got to college and stopped running regularly, started eating more junk food, and let’s be honest, drinking some beer.
Because I upped my calorie intake while slowing my fitness output, I started gaining weight. It wasn’t long and my size 10/11 body was wearing stretchy pants in size 18/20.
The thing is, I didn’t necessarily know why I was gaining weight. I had never really thought about what I ate – and didn’t need to because I was active.
Next came a comfortable relationship that turned into marriage and two pregnancies. Anyone with young kids knows that finding time to exercise and eat well with little ones is a struggle.
But then I got fed up and felt like the Lord was prompting me to do something. So I started eating better and exercising. I lost weight, but eventually I quit trying and put it back on. And then I did it again. And again. And again.
And then something changed. I started educating myself. I started reading books, blogs, and articles about healthy eating and exercise. I started watching documentaries about healthy eating and exercise. I started living out what I knew to be right and good for me.
And you know what? Now if I stop (like when I had a knee injury and surgery this spring) something in me feels totally off and I can’t wait to get back on track. If I have a day where I eat something I shouldn’t, I can tell! I feel sluggish and gross and can’t wait to get back to eating the way my body wants to eat.
But I can’t keep this all to myself. As I get more education about nutrition and fitness, I have to pass that along to my children so that they understand the importance of fueling their bodies appropriately and keeping them active. If I don’t teach them these principles now, then they will have to learn the hard way, the way I have had to learn, later.
I have to help Anne fight her tendency to want candy all the time.
I have to help Ty understand that the copious amount of bread he consumes slathered in peanut butter shouldn’t be his go-to meal.
I have to help them both learn that if you can walk or bike instead of drive, you should.
I have to teach them that if it comes in a box, it probably isn’t the best choice.
I want them to see with their own eyes the importance of taking control of what goes into their bodies, and how to keep their bodies fit and healthy.
I want to be an example to them, yes, but more so, I want them to be participants in their own health. Starting now.
Not sure where to start? Here are some documentaries (and their corresponding websites) about food that might be a good place to start the conversation:
- Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
- Hungry for Change
- Killer at Large
- Fed Up
- Food, Inc.
- Super Size Me
- Forks Over Knives
As with all things, you need to do your research and not always just take the word of someone else just because they are on TV, write a book, or write a blog. Be your own health advocate, and your children’s!!