Several years ago, I was in a kitchen chatting with a group of women, when a friend of mine said to the group, “I am such a fat pig. I cannot believe I weigh [bleep] pounds.”
I sat and quietly digested the fact that I was several inches shorter than this person, and about 15 pounds heavier than the magic number she had tossed out (obviously I had been digesting more than just thoughts – it was too far past the birth of my third daughter to blame the extra weight on her any more).
So are we still friends, you ask? Thankfully, yes we are.
While the comment was unpleasant to hear, I owe her a debt of gratitude, because she provided me with the final piece of motivation to get off of my you-know-what and make the changes I had been talking about for some time. I joined a weight-loss program, learned how to really eat well and lost 25 pounds. I carved out a little time for myself from the rewarding/exhausting job of being a stay-at-home mom of three small girls, figured out my passion, and became a certified Jazzercise instructor.
Goodbye body fat, hello muscle mass! A year later and I felt like a new woman. Eight years later, and my diet and exercise habits have stood the test of time (was that me eating that pimento cheese burger at Local Dish the other day? Nope. Not me. No way. Well, maybe. But have you tried it? Yum).
Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and turning into your parents. Before my healthy turnaround, I could see my future. My parents, wonderful people who raised seven great kids, were not models of health and fitness. Their tendency toward smoking, inactivity, and fatty, processed foods was undeniable as their list of ailments grew over time: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and dementia.
While I may not be able to avoid to avoid sprouting those little chin hairs or wagging my finger at my kids in that certain way Mom did, I have chosen to live a life that includes challenging exercise six days a week and a healthy diet more often than not. I’m trying my best to avoid my parents’ host of health issues. I’d really like to be present and involved in the lives of my children and husband as long as I can, and the changes I’ve made are helping me to reach that goal.
So, if you are looking for some motivation to improve your health and fitness level, peek into your child’s bedroom tonight while they are sleeping. Think about the parent you want to be. They are going to turn into you someday, so what do you want to give them to work with? Make the decision I did, to set an example of regular, enjoyable (important word there: enjoyable) exercise and healthy eating choices. It’s been amazing to watch my children learn from my husband and me, as they incorporate those same choices into their lives.
Small changes are OK – don’t take on the world all at once. Here’s hoping that someday, when each of my daughters smacks their forehead and says, “Man, I’m totally turning into Mom,” that they’ll smile a little on the inside, and realize that it’s a better deal than it might have been.