Monday, December 13, 2010

Some alarming statistics

I took the ZUMBATOMIC training course yesterday and it was fantastic. As usual, ZUMBA fitness has provided its instructors with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of how to safely teach, and how to inspire a lifetime of health and happiness.  Plus the ZUMBATOMIC songs - so much fun! I cannot wait to bring this amazing, play based, creativity filled, fitness class to the young people in Durham Region!
But the day left me feeling a little unsettled.  Here are some of the Canadian statistics that we reviewed:

- obesity rates have TRIPLED in the last three decades
- 26% of children under 18 are overweight
- in twenty years, 70% of adults aged 35-44 will be overweight/clinically obese

This is the first generation (our children/grandchildren) who are expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. This is a devasting fact.
So, this brings up some tough questions. And we, as a society, have to take a hard look at the culture we have created.  How do we reverse this cycle and make a better future for our children and grandchildren?  I honestly don't have these answers, but I do have hope.
I see people every day making simple and healthy choices. A group of joggers laughing together as they wait for a light to green.  A teenager cycling to school. A Mom coming to a ZUMBA class to burn off the stress of a tough week. Two friends taking a Pilates class to strengthen their body and improve their daily life.
People are making the choice to move - every day. Not because they have been told, or because they "have to", but because they are listening to their bodies tell them that this is what they need.
Each and every day our children get mixed messages from every direction:  schools preach healthy eating/ no junk food, but then shorten or take way daily gym time and load them up with homework.
Media speaks out against obesity, but then the next commercial cries out the virtues of the Xbox v.500 and how it will change your life!  Follow that up with an ecstatic child consuming the latest sugar laden confection, filled with "hidden" health benefits. How do we compete?  "Eat your broccoli. Get off the couch. Nag. Nag. Nag."  Any good we are trying to do gets lost.
I think we have to stop talking and start living.  We must model good health choices. And by good health choices, I mean a balanced and nutritious diet - that includes a sampling from the "junk food" food group.
Yes - I eat chocolate. And cake. And more. We treat every food the same, and try to live in balance.
Eat together whenever possible.  It normalizes the process of eating, and makes us conscious of choices we are making and takes the onus of what you are eating and makes it about who you are eating with.  We are more in tune with our bodies' signs of fullness and satiety when we are paying attention.
Move. Often. The bottom line is - if we are sitting on the couch, then so will our children be!  It does no good signing up our kids for every sport and activity in town, if we are constantly sitting on the sidelines. Get active yourself.  And no, I don't mean go out once a week with a frown on your face, complaining you have to go and work out. I mean getting up and moving around every day.  Find an activity you like and go and give it your best at least three times a week.  In the days between, forget signing up the kids for ice skating, go to a family skate at the local arena. Don your bike helmets and ride around the community together. Play a game of street hockey together. Or just take a walk, enjoy the sights, hold hands and breathe deeply. The possibilities are endless.
I firmly believe that given the choice, kids would much rather be up moving. So let's make sure the option is always there.

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