Published on June 14, 2022
(c) izakowski fotosearch.com/k19892716
When I meet a very overweight or obese client for the first time, aside from discussing the obvious — such as medical issues they may have, what medications they may be on, how many times they’ve tried to lose weight before, whether their spouse is also overweight, etc. — I inquire as to their children. Not surprisingly, most overweight and obese mothers also have overweight kids . . . but when the father is also very overweight or obese, the kids always are as well. In my experience, this is not a sometimes thing; it’s an always thing.
After I inquire about the size of their kids, I always ask, “Are your kids important to you?” Sometimes the initial reaction is a little shock and disbelief, but eventually their responses are virtually the same:
That last response is, of course, true in the sense that we hear or read all the time about parents who die . . . but not FOR their kids. They weren’t standing in front of their kids protecting them from a moving train, or a home invader, or a knife-wielding bully and the like. They died FOR the fact that they were fat, unhealthy, and with medical issues, almost all of which were preventable.
Are you, like them, a very overweight or obese parent who also tells yourself that your kids are the most important part of your life?
If that’s true, that your kids are very, very important to you, as my daughter is to me, I would venture to say that you show them how important they are in many different ways. However, here are three crucial ways to show your kids how important they really are:
#1. Give them good eating and fitness habits.
Provide a healthy environment in which to grow physically, emotionally, and socially. If they’re already overweight and obese, you’re guilty of this first point.
#2. Give them slim, fit and healthy parents.
Take care of yourself; get your own health in order. Make sure you do everything within your power to achieve and maintain good health. This is the only way to give yourself the best chance at not only longevity — to be in your kids’ lives for the longest possible time — but also to avoid becoming a burden to them: young children shouldn’t be taxed with anxiety and worry about a parent’s sickness, and older kids shouldn’t have to spend time transporting sick parents to and from doctors’ visits on a regular basis. On the surface, kids may never feel that their parents are a burden, but ask yourself this question: Do you really want to have to put your kids in that position when you DO have a way to prevent it? So, if you are currently obese, you are guilty of this second point.
#3. Give them time.
Spend time with your kids . . . not just sitting . . . but doing. And this point, Time, is not possible if you are carrying around excessive amounts of weight. It’s one thing to say your kids are very important, and it’s another thing to follow through and back it up with actions; not just what you feel in your head or your heart, but with the actions you take.
What do I mean by this?
By actions I don’t mean all the stuff you can buy them, or the ice skating lessons you can give them or the big house you can provide for them to live in. That’s all great, and in the current moment I’m sure they are happy about all that. In the end, however, what really matters to your kids is your Time. Now. Today. The present time is what they will look back on when they are young adults and beyond.
If you are obese, you cannot give your children the quality time they need. And by this I don’t mean time spent sitting at the kitchen table playing a board game or driving them to the park and sitting on a bench watching them play. I mean time spent engaging with them at the park, going down the sliding pond with them, fitting onto a swing next to them. Time spent on the other end of a seesaw with them. Time spent snuggling together in a sleeping bag on an overnight backyard camp-out. Time spent walking along the shore at the beach. Time spent jumping rope. Time spent running around the bases or playing ‘tag.’
Sliding – Swinging – Seesawing – Jumping – Walking – Running
These are all action words . . . requiring engaged physical participation . . . and ALL are nearly impossible to do when you are carrying around excessive weight.
Time spent is NOT in a motorized scooter while your kids are on the rides at Great Adventure or some other amusement park. Time means you are able to fit in the rides with them — whether it’s the gigantic roller coaster with your teens or the small Tea Cups with the tykes — laughing and screaming the whole time.
Time spent is taking your kids to the beach rather than have them go with another parent and their kids because you are too ashamed to put on a bathing suit or because the hot weather is just too much for you, given your size.
Time spent is a walking tour of the city, or spending hours walking inside a museum without having to sit every 20 minutes because you’re crushing your feet.
Parenting time does not last forever. We all have a short window of opportunity in which to give quality time to our kids and to develop a mutually loving and fun relationship before they are all grown up and off to college and out on their own.
If your weight is holding you back, both physically and emotionally, your inactivity may very well mean your children’s as well . . . because if you’re not running and doing, they won’t be either and chances are you will raise kids who are overweight or obese just like you.
Time spent now creates memories for your children to look back on in the future—long after you’re gone. Will you be a slim, healthy and active parent, able to enjoy all aspects of your children’s lives? Will you be IN the photos with them ON the rides, IN the sleeping bag on a camp out, ON the sliding pond in the park, and jumping rope with them? Or will you be the obese parent on the sidelines taking the photos of all those activities?
Close your eyes for a minute. See how you want your children and grandchildren to remember you. Then . . . begin with THAT end in mind, and make sure you give them the one thing they’ll remember: Time. Quality time. Fun time. Memorable time.
So, I ask the question again: Are your kids important to you?
Time will tell.