Obesity is a nationwide health crisis. Hundreds of thousands of children are waddling around the United States. I know. I used to be one of those children. But back in the 1970's and 1980's I was in the minority. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that "Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years."
Obesity is PREVENTABLE. What can you do as a parent to help prevent your child from becoming overweight or obese?
- Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.
- The dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, including families, communities, schools, child care settings, medical care providers, faith-based institutions, government agencies, the media, and the food and beverage industries and entertainment industries.
- Schools play a particularly critical role by establishing a safe and supportive environment with policies and practices that support healthy behaviors. Schools also provide opportunities for students to learn about and practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.
I want to focus on the role of COMMUNITY.
Throughout my blog you have read time and time again about my love of CrossFit. CrossFit is MORE than just a gym. CrossFit is a community. CrossFit is a place where we work to not only get fit, but we work together to EMPOWER one another to be better, to be stronger, to be faster. In many "big box gyms" parents work out, their kids go to childcare and watch TV or color.
But this doesn't happen at CrossFit. We believe in EMPOWERING the entire family. Children are allowed to watch their parents workout (safety measures are taken of course) so we are setting a good example for our children.
Depending on the age of your child, CrossFit offers classes designed specifically for your child. My box offers CrossFit Preschool, and CrossFit classes for elementary aged children, middle school kids, and teenagers.
Our CrossFit teen class is made up ENTIRELY OF GIRLS! In an environment where men often outnumber women, this is such a great opportunity for these teen girls to become empowered and build self-esteem.
They are learning that fitness is not about losing weight. They realize that it's okay to be STRONG! The focus is on being healthy from the inside out. Women’s perceptions of beauty have been conditioned, and CrossFit challenges the ideal definition of female beauty by promoting strength over skinny. Women fear bulkiness, yet bulky is in the eye of the beholder.
In an age where female teenage bullying is at an all time high, CrossFit can help to build a strong sense of self. It unleashes the strength and power within you to prove that you’re capable of more than you can imagine. Capable of what? Anything.
Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Director, Program in Aesthetics and Well Being, Department of Psychiatry at Harvard states “No
young person should leave school feeling that they can’t participate fully in life because of the way that they
think they look."
The stats are staggering!
Over 60% of girls avoid certain activities because they feel bad about their looks.
19% won’t try out for a team or club
23% won’t go to the beach or pool
13% won’t give an opinion
15% won’t go to school
(‘The Real Truth About Beauty –Revisited’, Dove Global study, 2010)
But wait...there is more!
92% of girls say they want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance,
with body weight ranking the highest.
(‘Beyond stereotypes’, Dove Global study, 2005)
Looking at magazines for just 60 minutes lowers the self esteem of over 80% of girls (Dr. Raj Persaud,
Consultant Psychiatrist, Maudsley Hospital)
The body fat of models and actresses portrayed in the media is at least 50% less than that of healthy women
(British Medical Association, 2000)
THIS IS CRAZY AND WE MUST STOP IT!
So what can parents do?
1. Pass on body confidence. I show my daughter's that my body is capable of amazing things, and I am proud and confident in what I am
able to do. Help your daughter create positive feelings about her own body.
2. Talk to your daughter(s). Give them compliments. Recognize her feelings.
3. Reinforce values that lead to body confidence
4. Eating healthy. If you eat good, healthy food, you will feel good and healthy.
And all of these concepts are encouraged, and supported through the mission of CrossFit.
Kelly Brown owner/trainer of CrossFit Agoge in Colorado states "watching kids and teenagers gain self-esteem is one of the most rewarding aspects about coaching adolescents. We’re looking for the physical gains, but also we’re looking to see those intangible gains—their ability to value themselves by what they can do with their bodies instead of what their body looks like."
When young athletes are having fun, everything else follows—fitness, health, self-esteem and, yes, elite performance at some point. But fun comes first. Once kids are having fun doing squats instead of playing video games, the obesity epidemic will be a thing of the past, and our girls will be EMPOWERED!
What do you do to help empower your daughter/grand-daughter/niece?