I’ll be the first to admit I’m an optimist. But I’m also a sleepless mom, worried about the future we’re borrowing from our kids. I read the stats in F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future, and the first person I thought of was a six-year-old girl named Destiny. My daughter and I met her at a trampoline fun center, where she was jumping alone, trying to stay out of the way of a group of roughhousing boys. She joined the two of us and eagerly shared her story: her mother was working two jobs, so she was with her grandmother, who called her “fat” and dropped her off to “get some exercise.” So, we jumped together, we took water breaks together and we talked about our favorite foods. She proudly told me how much weight she had lost. She was puzzled when I asked her if she liked vegetables, claiming she didn’t know what broccoli was.
I cried the entire drive home. I had just met America (and my goodness, her name was DESTINY!). I had met the America whose face I had never known in my own childhood because I grew up in a small town full of athletic, outdoorsy, healthy people. She was right in front of me, reaching out to share her story. I was conscious of my response, I offered her support in the 45 minutes I knew her, and I did not judge her. She may not remember me for that, but I hope she went home and asked to try broccoli.
When I read about the projected increases in obesity rates and how that impacts diseases and healthcare costs, I was motivated. I wanted to scoop up every child I could find, introduce them to amazing, healthy foods; take them to the playground; and run, laugh and breathe fresh air with them. I thought about policies and how the average household income in a community is connected to the quality of food in their schools – and how I, from my desk in Colorado, cannot say “just make it so” when there are so many nuances at play. I had anxiety about states whose stats are much more dismal than what we see in Colorado. When I think big picture, I can feel my chest tighten, and I’m totally convinced my body might explode from this desperate feeling, this need to effect change. (I’ve also recently found myself losing sleep over fracking, which is a subject for another time but evidence that I’m an obsessive global thinker.)
So I’m talking myself into a more focused approach. I’m honing in on how attainable this change seems to be – An average of 10 pounds per person? Without a second thought, I can name a dozen people I know who have dropped 10 pounds or more (and replaced it with muscle!) in the past year. If you can name a dozen people, and they can name a dozen more, and we can all commit to doing it together… There’s a ripple effect I’d like to be a part of. It’s really the essence of why I’m a LiveWell Mom.
That we as adults can set this shift in motion is empowering. We can be the change for ourselves, and we can teach our children to do the same. We can make changes in our homes to help our families make better decisions elsewhere. We can lean on decision-makers to put resources in place for better food in schools, more physical activity and education and more emphasis on this as a priority. We can get our families moving – and show the families around us how easy it is.
While admittedly, the politics and nuances require more reading and research on my part, I can commit to this: in my home, on my turf, whether you live here or you’re a guest, this is a place of change. And outside of what I’m already doing, I will remain open to ways I can contribute outside of my core. Because I met Destiny, and she is sweet, she is setting goals, and she deserves a chance at a healthy, fulfilling life. And she has forever changed mine.