Monday, February 15, 2010

The 30-Day Total Body Transformation

This morning, I closed my eyes, held my breath, pulled in my stomach as far as I possibly could, and submitted to a "preliminary body assessment," a procedure -- accomplished with a tape measure and a scale -- that essentially provided a numerical "before" picture of my overweight and out-of-shape body prior to beginning what Ben -- my new semi-personal trainer -- refers to as "A 30-Day Total Body Transformation."

I refused to look at the resulting numbers. I was afraid that actually seeing the bad news in black and white would send me to my bed with the jumbo bag of Dove chocolate hearts left over from Valentine's Day. "Tell me," I told Ben, "what the numbers were after they've gone down." (And please -- please, please -- make them go down!)

I'm not, you understand -- by any stretch of the imagination -- obese. If you saw me walking down the street in jeans and a baggy college sweatshirt, you probably wouldn't even think of me as fat.

Ah, but under that deceptively youthful clothing lurks the body (and the belly) of a middle-aged, post-menopausal, chocolate-craving, mostly sedentary woman, with a busy schedule, a lonely kitchen, and a car that brakes for fast food. My cholesterol is rising and my blood pressure is soaring and I hate how I look. And I know that if I want to live as long as I plan to live, and as well as I hope to live -- if I ever want to feel good about myself again -- I have to get it all together now. The problem is, I don't know how. Hence Ben and his 30-Day Total Body Transformation Program.

But as lovely and supportive as Ben is, getting it together at this stage of my life is difficult and pricey and time consuming and it hurts. So, I'm not at all sure I'll succeed. It would have been so much easier to simply keep it together in the first place. If I'd only known how!

According to an article in the NYT, "the number of overweight kids has tripled in the last 30 years, and an alarming number of American children have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes." USA Today says that almost 20 percent of children ages 6 to 11, and 18 percent of kids ages 12 to 19 are obese. How are those kids going to get it together when they're my age? How many of them will even live to be my age?

Recently, Michelle Obama announced the “Let’s Move” initiative -- a campaign to combat childhood obesity. It's an issue that needs attention from all of us -- from a First Lady who's made it clear that her kids are her priority, to teachers whose career choice has made the statement that all kids are their priority.

I hope educators everywhere will jump on this bandwagon (or jump off and run alongside it : ), and -- whatever their politics -- throw themselves into this campaign and teach our kids and our students, not just how to be smart and successful and good citizens, but also how to live long enough to enjoy it.

Let's kick our kids out of the house and our students out of the classroom -- and if that's not possible, let's bring in activities like Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution and Twister to get them moving inside. Let's organize games at recess and join in. Or, if that's not possible, let's organize older students to run games for younger ones.

Let's teach our kids what to eat -- and what not to eat -- in words they can understand and in ways they can follow. (Ben says, when shopping, stick to the perimeter of the supermarket -- to the fresh fruits and vegetables, the dairy products, and eggs, and lean meats -- and stay away from the processed foods clogging the middle aisles.)

Let's do whatever we have to to make sure our kids know how to keep it together before it's too late to get it together.

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