My last post was titled Nothing to Fear but… and in it, I talked about always wanting to seek approval from others, whether that’s family, friends, peers, coworkers, dogs, taxi drivers…you get the point.
Well, when I was a kid, I was fat. I was the fat kid and I got made fun of…a LOT. Kids will “poke fun” at a friend of their’s and everybody gets a laugh except for the kid that’s getting made fun of but he(I) just laughed along with it because I didn’t want my friends to have a bad opinion of me. But, it hurt. No one likes getting made fun of and having their “faults” getting pointed out in a group of their friends and have everyone laugh and not feel accepted. Some kids, and adults, develop ways of coping with that by making fun of themselves and laughing it off and attempting to deflect the focus and attention away from them. But it never really deals with the root problem of:
- Their so-called “friends are making fun of them and friends are the people that are supposed to accept you for who you are.
- The individuals self confidence and self esteem. Being heavy isn’t the problem necessarily, in spite of the numerous studies showing that being overweight causes many, many short and long-term health issues. Being overweight doesn’t match up with societies view of what’s acceptable and “beautiful”. So overweight kids and adults often feel unaccepted in spite of their best efforts because they always have a feeling of inadequacy and low self-esteem due to their weight.
- I will admit, this is a very broad and general statement about overweight individuals but chill out. It’s not universal but I bet if you ask anyone that is overweight if they have ever felt self-conscious about their weight, the answer is yes. Besides, I can say what I want here.
So what’s the solution? I honestly don’t know. There appears to be efforts to educate people earlier in life(grade school) about making healthier choices and about nutrition and exercise but the obesity epidemic continues to rise. Looking at this from what I deem is an objective point of view, taking mandatory physical education and testing out of grade schools was a terrible decision. Watch this video from the 1960’s(I believe that’s the right decade) about a high school physical education program and the results you can see from just watching these young men move!
That kind of program is non-existent in today’s world and it makes zero sense. Part of the reason is that programs like these were deemed “discriminatory” for kids who couldn’t physically perform the movements…let that one sink in for a minute. Programs like these were stopped because kids couldn’t just step in and do them. So we stopped. Kids weren’t pushed to improve and practice and excel. We just told them to go sit down and not exert themselves too much. Again, let that logic settle in. I realize that I am contradicting my earlier comments about feeling unaccepted but you’re talking about someone’s health and wellness and long term behaviors being formed through a program like this. It would be like someone having cancer and because they didn’t feel accepted, they just stopped doing chemo treatments when their hair fell out. #ludicrous
Society in general has become more sedentary. I see it in myself when I’m working at my desk all day and realize that I have barely gotten up or moved at all. I just feel worse at the end of the day and there are quite a few studies out there that show that sitting for prolonged periods of time has a very negative effect on your overall health. And we could go into a whole other blog post(I just might) about the use of phones, TV, video games and computers and the excessive use and negative effects that causes.
The practices and policies being put in place are simply pushing kids at a younger and younger age to develop inactive lifestyles that will make it much harder to change their behavior later in life. Good God, I never even see kids just gathered at a playground anymore just…playing. Push your kids outside for Pete’s sake! Make them use their imaginations to create their own games and just move. Then, as the parent, feed them healthy food and teach them about the importance of diet and exercise. Don’t put the responsibility on the schools because Lord knows I never heard any of that(or how to handle money…don’t get me started) when I was in grade school or high school.
Cut back on the electronics, bring back the physical education programs in schools and get kids active and outside. They will develop better and live longer, healthier lives as opposed to kids that have had their nose buried in their phones or tablets all the damn time.
What’s funny is that you may be wondering what the title of “Grandma’s Big Eater” had to do with any of this? Well, when I started writing this, it was my intention to talk about competitive eating and guys like Erik the Electric who will do these massive food consumption challenges and how amazing it really is to see them eat the quantities of food they do. My segue from wanting to be accepted to lead in to that was how I was always the kid who could eat a lot and I was a member of the “Clean Plate Club” every time(unless there was cauliflower…cauliflower is the devil). I was dubbed “Grandma’s Big Eater” and I was always proud of that and it made me feel less self conscious about my weight but compared to what these competitive eaters can put down, I was a pipsqueak!
However, as I got to typing about being overweight, it hit a nerve and a feeling that I hadn’t paid much attention to as I’ve gotten older but it never really left. That feeling of being unaccepted from when I was heavy and how much I desperately wanted to be like the other kids and be skinny and not be embarrassed to take my shirt off at the pool. So I detoured and this blog post was the result. Kids need guidance. And if we, as parents, just resort to handing over our phone or tablet to distract them so we don’t have to deal them, even for a short time, we are doing our kids a long term disservice for short term peace. Not worth the trade off.