I just spent the past 2 weekends doing massive family stuff, as my mother turned 80. Two parties to accommodate everyone without going to the expense of renting a hall or making people travel too much.
I came out of it with little exercise but with decent food choices. Over the course of the 2 weeks, I gained a big honkin' .2 pounds. My measurements are fine and are comparable to what they were. By all rights, this was a staggering success, considering the dearth of exercise opportunities and the plethora of bad food choices available.
I also watched. And learned. And here's what I learned.
* Obesity is family-related. It may or may not be genetic but it certainly related to family culture. That is, people who are used to playing sports or walking or whatever will be thinner, over time. Those who are used to eating everything in sight, and making unhealthy choices, will continue to do so unless they make a supreme effort. And, over time, they will be larger.
* Perception is all. I have gained back a good 60 pounds since my lightest on SP but it does not matter. They still tell me I'm thin, God bless 'em. And my relatives who are heavy tend to see that as their normal, even as I see them hitching up their clothes, or taking thirds, or untagging themselves from Facebook images as they think they look too fat. Well, I got news for ya. The reason why your picture makes you look fat is because you ARE fat. Sorry, that's harsh. But the camera isn't adding 100+ extra pounds. That part's all you.
* Amidst challenges, there are opportunities. During the first weekend, my father and I went to a local beach and walked on the boardwalk. We did, all told, about 1.75 miles (he had thought it was 2, but my pedometer claims otherwise). But I got him up and out there. At the events, I piled my plate with salad, or vegetables, or sushi, or shrimp, or plain turkey. I refused the store-bought cake but I did have some of the homemade.
* Related to the last one - choices are all. You can make good or bad ones. No one is holding a gun to your head either way. Choose carrots or choose chips. Both are out. You're a grownup and can make this choice.
* Nobody notices if you don't finish something. I helped clean up after the second party (the first was at a restaurant). And I noticed food on people's plates. They didn't scrape them clean. Who did that? Damned if I know. And it doesn't matter. What am I, the Food Police? Yes, they should have taken less. But they didn't intake as much. Either way is a victory.
* There will always be critics. "Oh, you shouldn't run so much. My brother destroyed his knees that way." This was said by a guy who's about 12 years older than me, and walks with a cane because he's so heavy. Er, your brother destroyed his knees because he was running in the 70s, when equipment was bad. But I didn't say that. I just said, "I'll be careful, thanks." And I moved on.
* Children's behaviors should be of interest. One doesn't like fruit. Another hoarded vegetables and dip. Another was shy but ultimately made good choices. Another ran around, bored, but didn't intake too much. How will they all grow up? Of course I have no idea, but I wonder about what I saw. Will the fruit-hater learn to embrace apples? Will the run-around-er slow down and then stop and let weight catch up? Will the one making good choices continue to do so? Will the dip and veggie hoarder start hoarding much worse foods? Stay tuned, I suppose.
And through it all, these were good experiences. They are not all about food, and failed fitness opportunities. It was all, after all, really about my mother.
And what is the best gift I can give her?
To be as fit and healthy as I can be. To keep the worst of diseases at bay, if I can. To be available for her, and able to help when she (eventually) needs me, as will my father.
And so today's walk, and the omelet with tofu and the 11 cups of water? They're for you, Mom.