For some of us, getting fit and healthy is a journey and some of us (and by ‘us’, I unfortunately do not mean ‘me’) find it quite easy to make smart food choices and choose exercise over sleep. There have been times in my life where I wished I had never been exposed to, say, chocolate or potato chips. It seems like our culture purposely TRIES to make us fat by inundating us with wave after wave of terrible choices (and it seems like that because it’s true. Check out “Fed Up” on Netflix). When I had my daughter, I decided that I was going to break the cycle. No junk food, no fast food, no candy. My daughter was going to know the joy of an apple, or grapes. Food would not be used as anything other than fuel and certainly not as a ‘reward’ for being ‘good’.
Or poor, naïve, former me. Great intentions. Really great. And no one knew that 2 years later 2 boys would barge their way onto the scene, turning life as we knew it completely upside down, not to mention ruining my body and sleep patterns for the forseeable future. My lofty ideals are often left in tatters on the floor (beside the peeled apple slices), as I fling chicken nuggets at my children in exchange for them to Just. Please. Stop. Whining!
All that, and normal human imperfections aside, here are some things I do hope my kids are absorbing and will take with them into adulthood.
1) What’s soda?
Now, this is a bit of a problem as I am a recovering diet Pepsi addict. Grace does know that Mommy drinks diet Pepsi sometimes. I see no reason whatsoever, on the other hand, to let my kids drink soda. I’m convinced by now that diet soda is a toxic substance so that’s out and the other is just gross sugar water. Once in a blue moon I’ll give G some apple juice or make popsicles out of fruit juice, but we have been pretty consistent with giving them water as their beverage of choice.
2) Fast food is not a meal
We just don’t turn to fast food for our meals. Even when we’re busy. We might order in for Pizza (usually only when we have company) and we do make use of the play places in Mc-you-know-where. When we do the play thing, nuggets and fries and a chocolate shake accompany it. I’d rather not, and do make sure to tell Grace it’s not real chicken, but honestly she doesn’t care. And she has never asked for French fries or nuggets outside of the play area.
3) We don’t buy processed junk food
Now, a bit of a caveat here. We do have pretzels and occasionally gold fish. All of my littles are tiny little carboholics and I enable them with pretzels, I admit it. But I never buy store bought cookies and the only time we had potato chips in the house was when I was pregnant with the twins and the doctors told me to eat them (and I will stick to that story until I die). I do bake cookies, so it’s not like they never eat sugar, unfortunately, but at least they don’t get all the trans-fats and preservatives. I hope from this they don’t see junk food as a staple, and will recognize most junk food as the nasty tasting crap that it is.
4) Exercise is fun!
All three of the littles think there is nothing better than to ‘help Mommy exercise’. Those are G’s words, not the boys (because all they say right now is ‘No No No No No’). But everyone does everything they can to get into the gym. We jump up and down, and play with the ab wheel (why won’t that stupid thing just break???) and basically have as much fun as possible. Every kid spent a lot of time in infancy in the gym with me watching from their little bouncies. They know that we exercise and they never hear us complain about it. Grace is waiting for her legs to grow so she can hike mountains with us and for now her favorite thing is to ‘hike in the forest’.
5) No destructive habits
I’m really grateful our kids won’t grow up seeing us smoke (anything) or drink alcohol or do other drugs. I’m glad they won’t think this is normal because I’m pretty sure they won’t handle moderation any better than Mammy , if early behavior is any sign. I’m glad they won’t witness us acting weird or scary, or putting substances above them.
I admit, I am eons further from my ideals than I thought. I am not above sticking a kid in a high chair in front of the TV, with a cookie, just to get some peace and quiet. I love baking and abso-damn-lutely used candy as a bribe for potty training. But there are also ways you can start building in habits that will last a lifetime and I think it starts with your own habits. Because at the end of the day, we all know that kids do what they see more than what they hear. (Unless it’s bad words. Then they just need to hear it once and they never, ever, ever forget.)