A few months ago, I got sick and tired of being overweight. While I don’t consider myself obese by any measure, it’s been about 8 years since I wore a size 4 or 6, and I was growing tired of being self-conscious about my pant size. As a wife and mom approaching the big 40, I knew I was facing an uphill battle if I didn’t buckle down and get my ahem…“act” together.
Like millions of Americans, I was confused by all of the data on diet and exercise. The advice ranged from, “Eat no more than 1200 calories a day,” to “Eat only protein and produce,” to “Combine cardio and weight training, two hours a day,” to “Drink these shakes and have a sensible dinner,” to “Fuel up on protein during the day, but binge on carbs like a high-sugar cereal at night,” to everything in between. After trying all of the above and not watching the scale budge, I was feeling pretty hopeless about my situation. I’m confident I had plenty of company.
Reality Set In
I’m not going to lie, there was a definite part of me that blamed my weight loss battle on: having a desk job, being a mother, and approaching the age of 40. Just 10 years ago, I was thin, I had so much energy, and a couple extra pounds melted off effortlessly. So, it had to be the fact that my metabolism was slowing down, or the fact that I sat at a computer 8 to 10 hours a day, or the fact that I had endured my share of stress. My eating…oh it couldn’t be that. After all, I was eating less than I did when I weighed 110 pounds!
I was brilliant at coming up with excuses. Subconsciously, I didn’t want to admit that the root cause of my weight loss battle had more to do with the crap stuffed in my freezer and pantry, and my weekly dinners at restaurants than the reasons I fed myself, like “aging” or “motherhood.” Then one day, something clicked. I watched on social media as these two Facebook friends in their mid to late 30s dropped a ton of weight and my whole world came to a pause – whatever they were doing, I wanted IN. Little did I know that single decision would have a ripple effect and impact…my three daughters.
I Didn’t Mean for This to Happen
I am a proud mother of three beautiful daughters, ages 14, 13 and 7. When I started my weight loss journey, I did it 100%. I didn’t buy any of the usual junk, I went all in. Since I live in a tiny farm town in Utah, where there are not a lot of organic options, I packed up my family and drove one hour so I could stock up on organic vegetables, nut butters, and meats from Costco and a health food store. It was a lot of fun at first, my kids even enjoyed the outing. But, it only took about two days for my kids to start complaining, “There’s nothing to eat!” and my personal favorite, “This is the Hunger Games!”
Mind you, my fridge and pantry were STOCKED with healthy foods, but that didn’t stop my girls from complaining for the first week. In fact, in the first 7 days, my husband snuck out to make at least two “junk food” runs (that I know about) with my girls to buy nutrient-deficient foods, such as Pop Tarts, candy bars, and soda. And, my teenagers walked to the local hamburger joint once or twice so they could stuff their faces with burgers, fries and shakes. My theory is that their bodies weren’t used to a “clean diet” and the lack of processed food was probably a shock to their system!
My Family Started to Lose Weight
When I decided to eat clean, meaning organic vegetables, nuts and seeds, and organic meats, I never thought twice about how my diet would affect my family. I knew I could continue buying them junk while buying healthy food for me, but after getting educated on the health benefits of eating clean, I didn’t want to keep feeding everyday processed foods, such as frozen dinners, packaged crackers, canned soups and Ranch dressings loaded in MSG, fruit snacks and the like to my family. Besides, I know myself. If I had a chocolate bar, or another tempting food filled with trans fats, I’d eventually cave.
So, on about day 10 of clean eating, my 14-year-old daughter runs into my home office while I’m writing and squeals, “Mom, I lost 5 pounds!” On about day 14, I walk into the bathroom as my 13-year-old daughter is getting ready in front of the mirror, and suddenly, I realize that she too is looking leaner and healthier than she did before I embarked on my weight loss journey. I found my daughters’ weight loss amusing, because I never intended that to happen.
American Kids Are Facing an Obesity Epidemic
If my kids were at their ideal body weight, I wouldn’t be writing about them losing a few pounds, but like millions of American children, they had “room for improvement” in the health department. So, our entire household has benefited by my mission to switch to a clean eating lifestyle, and I know that just about all children in the United States would be healthier if their parents ditched the white flour, sugar, and highly-processed foods for wholesome, one-ingredient foods, such as meat, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Even if parents shudder in fear, “My kids will never eat like that,” it’s not up to the kids. Parents need to be parents, don’t they? Cheeseballs or a salad? Parents, you make the choice when you go to the store and plop down the money. If junk food is not available in the house, your kids aren’t going to eat it. If your child is struggling with their weight, you have to make an executive decision.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6-19) has obesity.” The CDC goes on to say that obese children are at a “higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases,” such as asthma, Type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and let us not forget – heart disease. And that’s only on the physical level; it’s common knowledge that obese children are at an increased risk of bullying and teasing, depression, and social isolation. Need I say more?
For those parents who didn’t raise their kids on a clean diet from infanthood, it can be a real challenge to get them to switch to an organic, whole food diet – but only for about a week or two. If you want to help your children shed some pounds, I recommend getting the entire family on board. This way, there’s no processed food for them to turn to when they get hungry. We can’t expect youngsters to exercise willpower when they can see “untouchables” in your pantry and freezer, because I can almost guarantee they will “mysteriously disappear” when you aren’t looking.
What do you have to lose by switching your family to a clean eating lifestyle? Nothing, except for maybe 10, 20, or even 100 pounds or more! If you feel you need more direction on what to do and how to do it, this is the educational weight loss program that’s changing my family’s life.
Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.