As parents, we all wish things for our children, usually things we don’t have or have had to work very hard to earn.
Lately, as I struggle with health issues related to being overweight (the old trick knees and arthritis-riddled feet), I find myself hoping that my daughters will continue their healthy habits and never land themselves in this situation.
As a child, we were raised on meat and potatoes. Mainly red meat, marbled nicely with fat for flavor, fat that relatives would gnaw on to extract even more flavor. There was always a stack of white bread and a tub of butter on the table, and dessert that included cakes, pies, puddings or other sweets. We washed it down with whole milk or sugary drinks.
Now, granted, we were hooligans who spent as much time as possible outside, running, peddling our bikes or Big Wheels, playing street hockey or monkey in the middle, building forts, and playing manhunt in the dwindling sunlight. We also played organized sports – I swam and played softball, my brothers ran track and played baseball and basketball. But, what I discovered once my frenetic childhood activity stopped and my poor eating habits did not, pounds started packing on.
Now middle-aged, I’m feeling the pains of this lifestyle and the years of denial that followed. I see my daughters making healthier food choices than I did at their age, mainly because I’m more educated now and provide those options at home. I see them running, dancing, practicing yoga and playing soccer for fun and exercise. I marked one’s progress during a 30-day plank challenge (e-gads).
And I hope. I hope these are life-long habits that are being forged. I hope that when they’re doing the food shopping, they will continue to buy healthy meats, more veggies and fruits, and brown rice. I hope they will treat themselves periodically but will understand that a commitment to their bodies is vital.
At the same time, I’ve harnessed their enthusiasm to help me on my journey. One walks the track with me – running one lap alone and then walking one with me. The other shares “fun facts” about food that once annoyed me because they were never positive. Now I listen and learn. Together, we also plan our splurges. At the holidays, we made cookies like we’ve done for years, although we introduced a few healthier ones and gave more away. That way, temptation was fleeting and we were able to keep a beloved tradition alive.
Life is a learning process, but as a parent, I hope that some of my mistakes can help my children live better, healthier and happier lives. Some people hope their children will be better situated financially. I just hope mine avoid battling middle-aged hormones and a lifetime of bad habits to be healthy.