Yes, I Like Green Eggs and Ham

… And I like chocolate, wine (red or white, I am not prejudice), bread, and pasta.

Some might call me a food-lover but most doctors call me overweight.  Like millions of others I am in constant battle with the scale. While the scale might not be truthful (I do still believe that it likes to see me squirm), pictures don’t lie and every time I hold my breath and pray a dress will zipper (and not split when I sit) I come closer to the realization that I need to win this war.

So I am an active Weight Watcher. I admit it. I track points and go to meetings.

I wasn’t always heavy. In fact, I was an underweight child. I found the comforting arms of food after I broke my ankle and was in a toe-to-mid-thigh cast. So I ate and sat on my butt because there was nothing to do when you were wrapped up like a partial mummy.

I remember hating gym class in grammar school. I will go out on a limb and make a general statement that most overweight kids hate gym. But beyond the general hate for anything that made me move and shake the jiggly fat, I remember the Presidential Fitness tests of the 1980s. For those of you unfamiliar with the program it included timed sessions of sit-ups, pull-ups and required everyone to run a mile. Times and numbers were reported. Where that information went I will never know but I remember hanging from the pull-up bar because I had no strength in my arms to pull my own body weight up. I remember the humiliation of not being able to run even one quarter of a mile and then having to walk the remaining three laps around the track. I sometimes wonder if my dislike for cardiovascular activities started somewhere around that track?

Adding cardio back into my exercise routine is a big step for me. I love strength training – the power of having muscle tone is amazing (even if it is still hidden by some fat). However, I recently completed a 5K walk and loved it. I started to think about why it took me so long to get back to walking and enjoying the cardio rush and I found myself asking – “Whatever happened to the Presidential Fitness program?”

After some research it turns out that what is now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (it’s had many names over the decades) was started in 1953 because there was concern about the physical fitness of American children compared to their European counterparts. This organization sponsors the President’s Challenge where schools and students now get awards for ranking in or above the 85 percentile in the five tested areas. Well, if I knew I would get an award, I would have tried harder. Not.

Almost 60 years have passed and we’re still trying to get kids to exercise more and eat better. Something is terribly wrong here.

When the First Lady goes on national television doing jumping jacks from the White House lawn to beat a world record and encourage kids to exercise, I think we hit an all-time low. Why are we still having such a problem with food as a country? According to “Let’s Move: America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation” it’s our lifestyle including portion size and sugary foods. The website states:  “In total, we are now eating 31 percent more calories than we were forty years ago–including 56 percent more fats and oils and 14 percent more sugars and sweeteners. The average American now eats fifteen more pounds of sugar a year than in 1970.”

I think that’s part of the problem. Another reason is that we’ve replaced movement with the computer. It used to be that we went to school and had the major subjects – math, history, English – but we also had gym. Today’s gym classes are not what they used to be. In fact, according to the Shape of the Nation Report issued in June 2010, “forty-three percent of states (22) allow required physical education credits to be earned through online physical education courses.” Now, tell me how that helps kids get in shape?

We also have to stop messing with the Food Guidelines. The pyramid is now replaced by MyPlate in the Let’s Move program. Check out the History of food guidelines to see how what we should each has changed over the years. Maybe people are just confused about what and how much to eat?

I am not sure what the solution is to our growing national waistline. Right now, I am going to keep tracking and sitting in the meeting room wondering how these other women, men and children got here and … if they ever actually ran the mile in the Presidential Fitness program.

What’s your plan to moving more and eating better? If you have children, how are you going to guide them to better health?

 

 

 

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