May 29

Start With You

extreme-makeover-weight-loss-edition-10I was flipping through the television channels last night, stumbled on ABC’s Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition and found myself hanging out for a few minutes.  If you’re a regular reader here you know I spent a few months last season recapping NBC’s latest season of The Biggest Loser from my personal perspective as someone who has been through a self-guided and, to be quite honest, pretty extreme weight loss journey of my own.  I’m not adding ABC’s franchise to my regular viewing, nor am I going to do a recap here or anytime in the future, but I did see something that I felt compelled to share.

Whether it was just perfect or perhaps even unfortunate timing, I came across the show during a kind of throwaway moment in the story arc of this episode.  Incidentally, unlike The Biggest Loser, this show is self-contained and covers one year in the life of the subject or, in this cases, subjects as they work their way towards weight loss goals.  In this episode, twin 23 year olds from Wisconsin, David (470 pounds) and Becca (398 pounds), worked on their weight and their co-dependent relationship simultaneously.  The moment I came in and the one that has stuck in my craw (wherever my craw may be) featured the twins talking to their Father in a home gym that he had built for them years earlier in hopes of helping them find a healthier lifestyle.  Through tears and the clear sounds of exasperation, they tell their Dad with all the sincerity and raw emotion in the world, “You’re giving us everything we need, Dad… we’re just not doing it.”

On the surface that sounds like a healthy reaction from someone who has eaten their way north of 400 pounds.  I know one of my biggest frustrations as someone who has been there are the folks who want to play the blame game versus simply owning what they’ve done to themselves.  But, here’s the problem with that moment that I saw last night…  Dad was fat.  Not a little overweight.  Dad was fat.  Easily over 350 pounds and possibly knocking on 400.  And it wasn’t a new thing either.  Every old picture from the twins’ childhood had fat Dad front and center.

“You’re giving us everything we need, Dad… we’re just not doing it.”

Because he’s giving them gym equipment, yet he’s not using it either?

Because he’s critiquing their eating habits, yet bellying up to the same table?

Because he’s telling them how bad they have to want it, yet he doesn’t even want it for himself?

“You’re giving us everything we need, Dad… we’re just not doing it.”

No… no…. sadly Dad is giving you nothing… and it’s exactly what you’re doing.

In this country today, everyone wants to jump on this blame bandwagon for everything that’s “wrong” with kids.  They want to blame school lunches and fast food for the childhood obesity problem.  They want to blame video games and the internet for kids who don’t play outside enough.  They want to blame TV and the education system for why test scores are dropping.  And while I certainly won’t defend the quality of some of the so-called food they’re McServing at the corner or in the school cafeteria, I will defend your right as a parent to not feed that your child.  While I can’t argue that video games, social media and the internet may make playing outside less attractive for the average kid, I can point out your ability to pull the plug.  But, even that’s not where it starts.

Here’s the simple truth, even if you pack their lunch everyday and limit their screen time to near Amish levels, you’re still not giving your kids ANYTHING until you’re willing to do the same things you’re asking them to do.

You can’t feed your kids kale while you’re eating french fries.

You can’t shove “War and Peace” in your kids’ hands when the last thing you read was the Angry Birds tutorial.

You can’t hand your kid a Frisbee and push them outside while you’re on Netflix catching up on Breaking Bad.

Easily one of my favorite quotes of all-time comes from American writer Clarence Budington Kelland when he said, “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”

Stop holding other people to a standard that you’re not willing to meet.  You don’t have to give your kid anything to succeed… you only have to show them it’s worth doing.  Start with you.


Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: