Exceed Your Limits!

One Step and One Day at a Time!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

So, in thinking about the Motivation Limit, let's talk about Childhood Obesity!

Today I was thinking, on my way into the office, why was I TOTALLY unmotivated to get up for a 5 am run?  I couldn't come up with a reason for being unmotivated....other than I wanted to sleep.  But I kept thinking, what is it that motivates me?  The answer I kept coming back to?  My kids.  I have struggled with health and fitness (read WEIGHT here) for most of my life.  I don't want my children to struggle as well.  My preschooler's excitement when she sees me exercise is so inspiring.  I kept thinking about this and one of my main goals is that my children escape the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.  I feel strongly about this on many fronts, from breastfeeding to meal planning to developing my childrens' tastes for healthy food.  I firmly believe that you begin to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity by getting parents to set the example of how to live a healthy lifestyle.  You can remove every snack and pop vending machine from every public school, but frankly if children are not learning a healthy lifestyle at home, well, then, someday they are still going to fall on bad habits and bad health.  Anyway, in drilling down my motivations, I considered changing the mission of this blog - well, not changing, but adding to it.  So, I added the mission "Reversing the epidemic of childhood obesity, one parent at a time!" - And, what timing it was.  I just saw a clip of First Lady Michelle Obama's plan to address childhood obesity.  First Lady Obama remarks truly hit home with me.  A portion of her remarks, as written for presentation, are below:

"Like many of you, when I was young, we walked to school every day, rain or shine - and in Chicago, we did it in wind, sleet, hail and snow too. Remember how, at school, we had recess twice a day and gym class twice a week, and we spent hours running around outside when school got out. You didn't go inside until dinner was ready - and when it was, we would gather around the table for dinner as a family. And there was one simple rule: you ate what Mom fixed - good, bad, or ugly. Kids had absolutely no say in what they felt like eating. If you didn't like it, you were welcome to go to bed hungry. Back then, fast food was a treat, and dessert was mainly a Sunday affair.

In my home, we weren't rich. The foods we ate weren't fancy. But there was always a vegetable on the plate. And we managed to lead a pretty healthy life.

Many kids today aren't so fortunate. Urban sprawl and fears about safety often mean the only walking they do is out their front door to a bus or a car. Cuts in recess and gym mean a lot less running around during the school day, and lunchtime may mean a school lunch heavy on calories and fat. For many kids, those afternoons spent riding bikes and playing ball until dusk have been replaced by afternoons inside with TV, the Internet, and video games.

And these days, with parents working longer hours, working two jobs, they don't have time for those family dinners. Or with the price of fresh fruits and vegetables rising 50 percent higher than overall food costs these past two decades, they don't have the money. Or they don't have a supermarket in their community, so their best option for dinner is something from the shelf of the local convenience store or gas station.

So many parents desperately want to do the right thing, but they feel like the deck is stacked against them. They know their kids' health is their responsibility - but they feel like it's out of their control. They're being bombarded by contradictory information at every turn, and they don't know who or what to believe. The result is a lot of guilt and anxiety - and a sense that no matter what they do, it won't be right, and it won't be enough.

I know what that feels like. I've been there. While today I'm blessed with more help and support than I ever dreamed of, I didn't always live in the White House.

It wasn't that long ago that I was a working Mom, struggling to balance meetings and deadlines with soccer and ballet. And there were some nights when everyone was tired and hungry, and we just went to the drive-thru because it was quick and cheap, or went with one of the less healthy microwave options, because it was easy. And one day, my pediatrician pulled me aside and told me, 'You might want to think about doing things a little bit differently.' "

For the full written remarks, go here.

So, with the best of intentions on setting the mission out in its entirety on the Blog's initial launch, I am taking the creative license to get to the heart of the matter - well, the heart of MY matter - in a slightly tardy fashion.  No matter what your political beliefs, I don't think ANYONE can ignore the growing obesity problems with our nation's children (and adults for that matter).  It is sincerely my hope that not only can my journey shape my childrens' health future, but other childrens' health future as well.  And, I will be paying attention to First Lady Obama's efforts, hoping to see them soar past even her expectations.

Your thoughts? 


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