Home is Where the Health Is
Brett Klika C.S.C.S.
Our youth are getting fat and unhealthy. You can beat the stats to death, but the consensus is that in less than 20 years, 1 out of 3 American children will be obese. Not just a little baby fat, clinically obese. Along with this condition comes multiple health risks such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Quite frankly, this is probably not the first time you have heard these stats. It certainly isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned them. So what are we going to do about it? We can point fingers and wait until big money, politics, litigation, and Brad and Angelina catch up with this epidemic, or we can start a grass-roots, house to house battle. A “revolution” if you will.
This revolution must start inside the 4 walls of each individual home. Yes, that means yours! What’s your child doing right now? What are they eating? What’s in your cupboard? What’s for dinner? What did they have for breakfast? We have to stop the blame game. It’s not Microsoft’s fault you bought your kid an Xbox and allow them to play it all the time. It’s not the cable company or Sony’s fault that your child has a television in their room and watches it around the clock. It’s not McDonald’s fault that you repeatedly drive your family there to eat frankenfood because you’re “busy.” It’s not Kraft’s fault that you continually buy and stock your cupboards with their over-processed low food-value products. As a society, we actually demand all of the above. These companies merely provide a supply for that demand. It’s called capitalism. If you want to create change, we need to quit blaming the supply and start looking at the demand.
In our free country, demand is primarily a product of choice. The process of how we arrive at our choices is influenced by many things. For example, if I offered you either an apple or a doughnut you would definitely know which one is a healthier, more beneficial choice. Which do you chose though? Why? How many other people make your same choice? Why? This applies to the health of our youth. Our youth are a product of their environment. This environment affects how they make decisions. In their highly influential early years, children learn daily life habits from home. If “food” is attained by driving through a fast-food restaurant, or “free time” is lying around watching television, these concepts will follow them throughout their lives. Think about how you position health in your house. Do your kids see you exercise just to “lose weight?” Do you eat unprocessed “gross, plain health food” just because you’re on a diet? Kids pick up on these concepts. Exercising and eating healthy foods becomes viewed as punishment for eating yummy food and having free time. Kids aren’t going to embrace punishment as a lifestyle. This thought process effects how they make daily health-related choices.
Daily activity and good nutrition should be part of your family’s lifestyle. I’m talking about enjoying physical activity, playing with your kids, going on bike rides, walks, etc. I’m talking about sitting down and eating real food as a family. However, make sure that when you do get prepared food, you enjoy it, but you help your kids understand that it isn’t real food. In this way, they start to form positive attitudes towards exercise and eating right. They become bored with their friends who sit around all day, because being inactive isn’t what they have learned is fun. They see their friends eat mountains of crap every day (and while they do enjoy this stuff from time to time), they realize that it isn’t food. As children get older, they start to form more advanced concepts as to how their activity and diet either positively or negatively effect how they look, feel, and perform. They make their choices and create consumer demand appropriately.
Creating a household that nourishes a healthy lifestyle requires the resources of time, energy, and commitment. Plugging your kids into technology is much easier than encouraging them to go outside. Picking up dinner at a restaurant is quite a bit easier than cooking. Unprocessed food takes time to prepare, and can be more expensive. Participating in daily physical activity can be tiring. In most households, we chose to allocate resources for the things we deem the most important. That being said, the issue of creating a healthy lifestyle becomes primarily a “value” proposition for most. How important is it to you that your child does not battle with their health for the rest of their lives? How important is it to you that you are not contributing to the disturbing youth health statistics? How important is your own health? These decisions begin at home and eventually affect the masses.
Positive change is created when strong, smart people start doing the right thing. Eventually, weak and ignorant people are forced to get on board by litigation or legislation, and they absent-mindedly reap the benefits. Be strong and create a household that facilitates a healthy lifestyle for you and your kids. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Heath for our kids starts at home. Let’s commit to nurturing our kids into happy, healthy, pain-free adults.
Coach Brett Klika is the Director of Athletic Performance at Todd Durkin’s Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego, CA. He specializes in youth fitness and athletic performance, overseeing a staff of 8 strength coaches developing programs for over 300 youth per week, both athletes and non-athletes. In addition to coaching, Brett currently authors for a variety of publications, produces DVD’s on fitness and athletic performance and presents around the world on topics in fitness, wellness, and sports performance. Brett can be reached at // firstname.lastname@example.org
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