Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Inspiration - Do it for the Kids

When I was a kid I was active, always on the go, much like my young nephew now. As I hit my teens depression settled over me and I became less motivated to move. The couch and TV became my best friends. Even once I got a job, it didn't help - I worked at a bakery - very little moving, lots of eating. By the end of high school I had fully transformed into an obese person. Only then nobody used that word - you were just fat.

I look at the (I'm sorry to say) literally growing problem of childhood obesity and I am very sad. Convenience foods, less play time, rides to and from school, no physical education in school, television and poor nutritional knowledge are gathering as a perfect storm. Very involved parents can fight all of this off. But sometimes even the parents that mean well need help.

That's where programs like "Trim Kids" come in. This is a cooperative effort between the YMCA and local hospitals. It's a combination of exercise and eating education. Nobody gets put on a 'diet', they are kids for god's sake - they need to grow! Instead they are taught how to make better choices, what a real portion size looks like, how to trade fruit for sugar and when treats are o.k.

The other interesting thing they are taught is to play again. I interviewed one of the leaders for "Trim Kids" a couple of months ago and that's exactly how she put it. She said too many kids thought to lose extra pounds and be healthy they had to be like adults and hit the treadmill or gym seven days a week. Most kids are surprised to learn if they simply add physical play like playing soccer or jumping rope back into their lives, they can have fun AND give their bodies what they need.

That, of course, is completely right. Now I'm not saying that kids who are severely overweight can reduce without reducing their calorie intake. But this program tries to catch kids before it gets horribly out of hand. Instead taking kids that could end up obese and giving them the knowledge to even things out so they can become healthy adolescents and then adults. I wish something like this would have existed when I was young.

The great thing is the program is financially feasible for everyone, it's just a few dollars a week. Plus, I almost forgot, this isn't just a program for the kids - it's for the adults in their life as well. While the kids are off playing get healthy games, the adults are learning more about how to shop and cook healthy meals. It's a holistic approach and for good reason - no child gets fat on their own. Adults, we do this all of the time, but kids eat what's in the house.

I am inspired by this program because it's common sense, something I and the world as a whole could use more of. And kids on the program have lost 10-60 pounds - all from simply doing things the right way - eating healthy and getting physical. It's awesome!

Yours in health, Kate

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