A thought on the future of heavy kids…

Posted on August 20, 2011

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It was a year ago exactly that I was spouting the virtues of packing homemade lunches for kids returning to school.  Things haven’t gotten a whole lot better on the childhood obesity front.  America’s children are fat and the road ahead for them isn’t good.  Overweight children suffer tremendously.  The health implications are mind blowing.  What used to be thought of as adult diseases (Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure) are showing up in our young people in greater numbers.  But the emotional pain of being overweight is also devastating.  At a time in a kid’s life when they are most vulnerable, most influenced by the opinions of their peers, overrweight children really get the shaft.  From bullying to the isolation of being totally left out of the social circle, these kids have a long road to trudge.  What can we do to help them?

For me, fitness is about feeling good.  Over time, I began to love feeling good more than I loved the destructive addiction patterns I was living with.  It wasn’t easy, and I’m not perfect.  I’ve been known to pick up a cigarette in a moment of anger, or like Natalie Portman in the flick, No Strings Attached, down a box or two of donut holes to nurse my sorrow.  What has changed for me is that I don’t make falling off the proverbial wagon an excuse to go headlong over a cliff.  I’m a human being and it’s a complicated world. I’m going to have feelings, reactions, stresses that play out in unhealthy ways from time to time.  But if I try to focus on appreciating where I am as I move towards where I want to be (physically) the path gets a lot easier and lot less intimidating, and I think is a really important message for our kids, because being a ‘fat kid’, as they are cruelly labeled by others around them, is intimidating.  Losing 50 or 100 pounds at 11, 13, 15 years old, must feel as impossible and out of reach as climbing Mt. Everest.

I wish I could share this message with kids–that they have their entire lives (hopefully long ones!) to become the person they want to be.  That if it takes 2 years to dump 35 pounds, so what, two years are going to pass anyway.  Start no! Start from where you are.  Take it one day at a time and don’t condemn yourself to the imprisonment of obesity.  You too can build a healthy love of food, your body and life in general.  Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s a good message for us all.

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