Thursday, August 19, 2010
From the way that people go on, you'd think that if somebody's family was overweight, that person was doomed to obesity. Not so. Yes, it takes a lot to combat the "fat gene," but that is nothing different from what sparkpeople.com teaches: changing bad habits and creating and sustaining healthy ones.
I come from a big family. My parents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my grandparents, and my siblings have all struggled with weight. Kids learn their habits from their parents. If parents eat mostly junk food, don't exercise much, and plant themselves in front of the boob tube every night, the kids are going to learn to eat junk food, not exercise, and make the TV their babysitter.
It's not just the parents eating only junk, but making only junk food available in their home that teaches bad eating habits. If you don't have fruits and veggies in your house but there are cookies a-plenty in the pantry, don't expect your kids to make the sports teams in high school because they will be too out-of-shape to keep up.
If a child of a "big" family tries to eat more healthfully--cuts back on portions, buys their own healthy food, eats less snack junk--it can be hard to stick to it when the rest of the family is eating as much rubbish as they can fit down their throats. It's also difficult for that child to keep up with exercising if their family wants to have everybody watching TV together all the time. (Exercise can just as easily be a group activity.)
Sometimes the family doesn't realize that they are being a hindrance to healthy living. Other times their intervention can be intentional and spiteful; if the family resents one family member for losing weight, not eating what the rest are eating, and exercising rather than doing sedentary activities with the family, their criticism can deter efforts entirely. The latter example is the family that feels like it is futile to fight the fat and that the only way for their weight to go is up.
I'm learning now how to cook without pre-made, microwavable, fat-filled rubbish. I'm learning how rewarding it is to end the day exhausted and happy. It's not very easy, but Heaven knows it's worth it!
Here's to healthy living, supportive communities, and not passing along the fat gene!