I’d like to share something personal with you today. I wasn’t always the friendly, confident guy with a friendly swagger you know today (quite the opposite).
I became overweight by age five and was obese before I was a teenager.
I hated my body (and myself) for years. I turned to food for comfort, which just made my problems (and waist-line) even bigger.
I’m sure this all seems kind of forward, but there is a point.
Parents, it is your responsibility to keep your kids fit and healthy.
I don’t care how busy you are, nor do I care how “yucky” your children think vegetables are.
They aren’t mature enough to know any better, so this is all on you. Please don’t let your kids find themselves in a situation like mine.
I love my parents – really, I do – so don’t misinterpret what I’m about to say as leftover teenage angst or daddy issues. But they totally dropped the ball in one aspect of raising me as a child: they did not take my health and fitness seriously enough.
I realize I have to accept personal responsibility to some degree, but when you’re young and impressionable, you’re not going to want fruits and vegetables. You’re going to crave fast food, candy, and soda. My diet as a child dominantly consisted of those three food groups, which resulted in a 200-lb teenager who was quickly labeled “the fat kid.”
Unfortunately, my parents also let me dress myself, which led to terrible wardrobe decisions like Harry Potter glasses and high-water jeans that didn’t cover my ankles (it’s not difficult to see how girls just weren’t into me!), but that’s beside the point
I have a tendency to disguise these experiences with snark and wit, because it serves as a creative and emotional outlet for me (and I would rather be a source of entertainment than melodrama). But please don’t be fooled into thinking any of this was fun or enjoyable. To illustrate this, let me disclose some painful childhood memories I can remember in full color detail:
- I remember being picked last for sports in gym class every single time and being ridiculed for it.
- In the same gym class, my sense of self-worth plummeted when we did tests of athleticism. I couldn’t do a push-up or pull-up. It took me over 15 minutes to run a mile. I felt like a failure and a loser.
- The locker room was a scary place. I can’t recall specific insults, but they were nasty enough to make me start hiding in a bathroom stall to change clothes.
- Talking to girls resulted in constant rejection. Some were graceful, but others seemed repulsed and made no effort to hide it. I didn’t even kiss a girl until most of the other guys were talking about third base.
I don’t say this to belly-ache, but rather to impress on you that esteem and body issues aren’t easy to deal with when you’re a kid.
Here’s the important part… to this day, I have not told my parents about any of this.
Pay attention to your kids and do everything in your power to find out if they’re struggling with bullying or esteem issues, especially if they’re over-weight. Just because they don’t talk about it doesn’t mean they aren’t going through it. It’s a lot easier to hide from your problems than it is to deal with them.
Children aren’t known to be upfront about their struggles. If they claim everything is “okay,” still do a little detective work and maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. Don’t kid yourself into thinking they go to school with a bunch of angels (the opposite is much more likely).
I know it’s hard to get children interested in healthy foods in this day and age, so here’s a couple things that might help:
Get them involved in eating decisions.
Go to a healthy grocery store like Whole Foods, pick mostly healthy natural foods to prepare for dinner… but bend a little and say “Hey, why don’t you pick a little treat to go with your dinner? Anything you want!” Give them a little freedom and all of a sudden the healthy stuff isn’t as big of a deal!
Tell them why it’s important.
If they still complain, you have my full permission to tell them one of the following things.
If you have a boy: “I know you like (candy, fast food, soda, whatever), but I was talking to my trainer, and he says if you want to be strong, tough, and grow up… healthy eating is the way to go!”
If you have a girl: “I know you like (ditto), but I was talking to my trainer, and he says if you want shiny hair, perfect teeth, and a nice complexion… healthy eating is the way to go!”
I know I’m not literally your trainer (although I’d love to be!), but the rest of these statements are technically true, so don’t feel bad for fibbing a little. It is for the greater food!
Don’t let your children walk all over you when it comes to their health and fitness. You are the guardian of their health and well-being. It’s time to start acting like it.
You’re welcome to sign up for my free 7-day course, The Mind + Body Make-Over by clicking here! And if you haven’t already, you can get the Busy Woman’s Guide To Getting Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous for $1 at this link.