One problem with childhood obesity is that its become the problem – “when the problem becomes the problem, its a problem” is how the saying goes. Simply said, kids used to only hear it when they visited the doctor, now they get it from all angles, almost everyday – moms, dads, teachers, fitness professionals, doctors, tv personalities, celebrities, magazines, tv shows, the internet, government, its relentless.
The messages come at us: (and them) our kids are overweight, their pre-diabetic, its a crisis, kids are fat, our country is falling apart at our youth, parents will outlive their kids, they need to workout, exercise, eat better, it goes on and on, over and over. In many ways its a good thing. We all needed a wake up call (kids included) to start taking more active resonsiblity for the issue. Where increased awareness and education are found, change is often not far behind.
The key however, becomes the change we seek with our new active mindsets and actions. What are “we” driving at, and is it a collective, unified voice? If the message continues to be you’re fat, lazy, pre-diabetic, doom and gloom (that’s how kids hear it, even if it doesn’t come out that way) then change will be a hard grind, and where we end up might be as bad as where we started. If the change we are after forces kids (and adults for that matter) into doing things they don’t enjoy (at least if its a large percentage of the prescription) then it won’t last long, and it might just create more resentment toward healthy decisions and physical activity.
We must remember that kids in particular love to play – they want to have fun. They are kids for crying out loud, but as adults we have a tendency to forget. We forget the joy of no rules backyard free play, pick up games, wrestling with your buddies, dancing with your girlfriends and the sheer oblivious joy it brings to kids.
As modern day adults, we also don’t know some things. We never really knew the BLISTERING and structured schedule (of today’s kids) that rivals that of a Wall Street stock broker. We might not really know what a body (and mind) feels like in the absence of free play, good PE, natural foods, manual labor and all the things that leveled the health playing field for us. We really don’t know this current pace of life our kids face, the pressure to fit in, the pressure to succeed and the powerful PULL of “things/stuff” like never before.
But, make no mistake about it, this IS the “stuff” that morphes and molds a child. Letting kids be kids has to be built into the foundation. It deserves our focus, and it’s where should consider directing a strong part of our collective voices for change.
As the activity we offer our kids leads them back to this place, then we can expand our focus to greater challenges and/or adding more structure into their physical development architecture. Until then, let them play, encourage them to do so, and don’t worry as much about what it looks like.
Just because it doesn’t match the mainstream’s perception of activity, the football coaches whistle blowing workouts, or the super trainers “feel the burn” push up and sit up till you throw up routine, doesn’t mean its not working…it is, and its working what matters most. Life skills, fun with friends, and being a kid, while relegating fitness to act as the by-product, (which it should be at least at the younger ages) are worthy pursuits. If certain children have a specific issue of risk and/or advanced phase disease pre-cursors or concerns, then there becomes a need for other interventions, but PLAY MUST be at the base of ANY child’s life.
So what’s the Secret??? PLAY. Try it, and remember. Let them try it and never forget.
The next blog entry will have several key tools for you to consider as you make better choices for your kids, your families (and/or yourself), but for now, just reconnect with something you or your kids love, and go have fun.
To close, I have attached a video created by some boys we train here at Teamworks/CATZ. It was an AAU basketball project to make sick trick shots. I can’t imagine how many HOURS they spent outside trying to make these shots/this video. Teamwork, fresh air, activity, skill development, creativity, sharing, learning new skills, ownership, accountability, FUN! Get it???? Do you think they sat down and said, “hey let’s make a list of all the good skills, traits and behaviors we can develop to get fit and healthy”? Do you think they wrote the list I just mentioned down and then said, “hey, let’s go make some trick shots, that’s how we can cultivate and work all these traits”? No, they played, and it happened naturally. And that’s great stuff!!!!
Teamworks Fitness/CATZ Acton
Here’s that link, please watch it!