Babies and young children are very attuned to their own calorie needs. They know when they are hungry and when they are not. But eventually, most of us lose our connection to those hunger signals in our bodies and the result is too many overweight children and adults. One person, however, who never lost that connection, is my older daughter. I can remember when our youngest was born, she was four and a half, past the point when most children will turn their noses down at a cookie.
A friend had sent us a cookie bouquet to celebrate the birth of our youngest and my older daughter was eyeing them all day. I told her she could have one for dessert after dinner. So, we proceeded to have a healthy, nutritious dinner and afterwards I showed her the cookies and let her select her favorite. At that point she said, “I’m full now”. I then offered her a part of a cookie and she replied, “no, Mom, I’m full. I don’t want any now.” I’m not one to push food on children; I just wanted to make sure she got the opportunity to taste the cookie that she’d wanted all day long.
Now, at 16, she still avoids eating if she’s not hungry. She likes a wide variety of foods and chooses to eat very healthy food when given the opportunity. She likes sweets too, but in small amounts. I used to call her my “fruit and yogurt girl” when she was little, because she would eat the healthy foods her brother and sister refused.
Now, she has been my inspiration for joining a gym. The other day as I waited for her to come home so that we could go to the gym, I started second-guessing her. She’s a teen, maybe she doesn’t want to go to the gym with her mom. Maybe I would just be an embarrassment? But when she got home, she sought me out first thing to say that she and a friend were going to the gym in about an hour, if I wanted to go along. Yes, I did! I ended up taking a half-hour swim and enjoying every moment of it. Only when I got out of the pool and found myself a bit wobbly on my legs did I realize what a good work-out I’d gotten. The next morning, sore muscles all over my body confirmed the message!
When we got back to the house, my daughter and her friend couldn’t stop talking about how much they love the gym. They said they would like to go right after school every day and stay until 11 p.m. when it closes. Then her friend said, “It’s so much more fun than all those stupid things we used to do! And this is good for us too!” Wanting to stay on the good side of my new work-out buddies, I didn’t ask about the “stupid” things…but I know them well and know it isn’t anything to worry about.
Later, my daughter and I went to the grocery store where she picked out salad, lean lunch meat, and healthy snacks. I’ve realized that I need to follow her lead not only to the gym, but also to healthier eating. I’m not quite ready for the personal trainer at the gym (not a fan of the hard-sell), but I think I’m ready for a healthy role-model at home!
Find the Joy in the Journey and look for good role-models, even if they are your own children!