Monday, June 15, 2009

Childhood Obesity - What Can You Do Differently?

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Healthy habits are something we acquire early in life. It's like that quote, "All I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten." It's amazing how much of what we achieve in the future, is based on what we learned as children.

As youngsters, we are introduced to concepts like coloring in the lines and following class rules. Throughout life, we will be reminded of these lessons when we sign contracts, negotiate deals and write resumes. It's at these times we will think back to our teachers who instilled patience while working towards something beautiful, as well as accountability for our actions (even if it meant learning to keep quiet when others are speaking.)

My point is, we learn most of life's basic principals and skills when we are young. One of the most important things for children to learn early is an appreciation for their overall health. Now, I don't expect your child to turn down a brownie and request a tomato slice. But we need to teach them balance.

With the childhood obesity rate on the rise, it's time to take stock of what we are doing differently with today's youth. For starters? Video games and inside amusement. Looking back, I can remember jumping rope, playing kickball, and participating in league sponsored sports. Now, kids are entertained with video games that leave them glued to the couch for hours!

It's time to get kids involved in team sports again. Going back to my earlier point, we learn a lot about life through team sports. Kids learn to share the spotlight with others and grow closer in defeat. Football players learn they can't win without the help of others. Baseball players learn that it won't always be their day, but their teammates will step-up and help pick up the slack. Cheerleaders learn there must be trust among squad members to successfully execute a stunt.

We live in a society that demands instant gratification, which is a terrible thing to teach our kids to expect. We speed through fast food joints, get each child a different meal, rush home, gobble down the food and separate to do our own things. Instead, take the 20 minutes to cook a healthy meal. Try getting the kids involved so they will look at food with an understanding. Teach them what is healthy and explain why you will put more veggies on their plates and only minimal amounts of meat. They may moan and grunt about it, when they'd rather be playing, but as they grow older that knowledge of healthy v. unhealthy will stay with them.

Take a moment and think back...even write down...the things you remember learning in kindergarten and how they have transferred to your adult life. Now, use this knowledge to form a plan for your children. Check the local sports leagues and ask your child what interests them. It's important to show your child that you will be their biggest fan! Make a point to practice with them, teach them new skills and attend all games!

Don't think you are off the hook either. This is the chance for you to set the example you may or may not have had growing up. Fix healthy meals and let your kids see you exercising regularly. Make the change as a family and kids will be more likely to follow your lead without much hesitation. Just remember, this can't be a spur-of-the-moment change...this is a lifestyle change that will lead your family down a path of health and physical well-being.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Rock! I'm so glad that your writing about such an important topic. Bringing awarnes and educating the masses is the only way to make a difference. Keep up the great work.