Is Having an Overweight Child a Choice?
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JONATHAN: Hey, everybody, Jonathan Bailor and April Perry, back with another SANE show and wanted to start out today’s show on an especially high note because sadly, we’re going to talk about something which I know will hit a few low notes, but then hopefully we can bring it back up high at the end. April, how are you doing?
APRIL: I’m doing great, thanks Jonathan.
JONATHAN: So what is on the agenda for today, April?
APRIL: We are talking about Three Things to Know If Your Child is Overweight.
JONATHAN: This is something that I know hits home. Fortunately, you are an example of — when we wrap this all up, we’ll be on a positive note about how to actually avoid things and how to reverse things, but I know this hit home for you because it’s only been recently that you and your oldest daughter have overcome this challenge.
APRIL: Right. I was overweight as a child as well, especially in middle school, so I feel like I’ve come from that. Being the mother of a child who is overweight, it’s a totally different thing because you feel such love and empathy for your child, but you don’t necessarily want to say anything that might make your child feel more self-conscious than he or she already does. It’s this tightrope where it’s not uncommon for children to be overweight. I don’t remember what the statistic is right now, Jonathan, but you were saying that it’s really, really common for families who have children who are overweight right now.
JONATHAN: It’s one out of three is the current, which is of course, ridiculous. That’s horrible, but what do we do? I remember having the opportunity to speak with your husband, Eric, [sp? 1:33] and he had said some things that really touched my heart, which is that the idea his daughter would ever feel that her father thought she was anything less than beautiful. It still gives me chills to this day, so what do you do in those situations?
APRIL: Right. Obviously, going SANE has been our solution. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m podcasting with you. What we’ll be talking throughout the show is starting from the beginning. When you are in a situation where you do have a child who is overweight and maybe you’ve done what we did, where you tried counting calories with your child, you tried having your child exercise more, you tried cutting sugar, maybe you bought a treadmill or an elliptical and you’re trying to encourage your child to get out there. Those are the things that typically don’t work. That’s what we’ve done and that’s what I’m sure a lot of other people have done and there’s a lot of emotion that goes into this.
The first idea though I want to share is to recognize that even though you might think, well, if I just say everything in a positive way or if I just don’t say anything at all, my child will be fine and she’ll grow out of it, or he’ll grow out of it. I think the first thing that we need to recognize is that this is most likely emotionally harder for your child than he/she will admit.
The reason why I think it’s important to say this is because as I’m talking with a lot of friends, this is one of those taboo-topics that we really don’t talk about it. Parents aren’t telling each other hey, do you notice your child looks a little overweight? No one would ever say that. And you wouldn’t want anyone to ever say that about your child, but because we’re so quiet about it, not just in public, but in our own families, you think that your child is okay because they’re having fun, they’re watching TV, they’re eating treats or whatever they’re doing. They’re happy children.
Now, that my daughter, Alia, who has lost 25 lbs. going SANE and working with you, it has been really eye opening for her now to open up and share what she actually felt when she was 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 — all through those years.
That’s what been breaking my heart is getting a glimpse in her life. Now she’s old enough to articulate it. Back then she wasn’t. So, if you have a child who is overweight, your child knows and your child is feeling something and may not be able to explain it to you.
JONATHAN: April, I think you hit on a really powerful point, which is that so the child certainly and anyone, really adult or child who is struggling with overweight, I think they will oftentimes never express just how deeply it bothers them because there is actually a lot of disturbing data.
There was a study done at the University of Florida. This was on adults, not on children, but just to reiterate the point of how deeply this impacts people emotionally. This survey was done on formerly overweight adults, both men and women, all adults, and they were surveyed and asked what seems like ridiculous questions. For example, if you had to choose between going back to your old obese or overweight state or being blind, which would you choose? If you had to choose between becoming overweight and obese again, and having one of your legs amputated, which would you choose? For both of those questions, 80 percent or more of participants asked said that they would rather be blind or have their leg amputated than to be overweight again. It’s incredibly important for children. It’s incredibly important for adults and how do we bridge this gap between this constant message we hear in society, which is body image acceptance, which is important. We all have different body images. Six packs aren’t natural, but it’s also not natural to have a generation of children that are expected to die at younger ages than their parents. So what do we do? How do we bridge that gap? How do we start having those conversations without making the problem worse?
APRIL: Right. I think that we need to recognize that it really isn’t our fault or our child’s fault. I think that’s one of the major mindset shifts that you helped me to be able to achieve and the same with my daughter. We just thought it was because we weren’t working hard enough. We thought it was because we weren’t doing a good enough job counting our calories, we weren’t disciplined enough, we were too weak. Those types of things. That’s what we thought.
When you can step back and actually learn the real cause of being overweight and learn that we’ve all just been given so much wrong information, thinking that if I just eat ten tortilla chips and one Twinkie instead of eating half the bag that that’s going to help me to achieve my health and wellness goals. That’s not how it works. So, while we obviously aren’t going to get into everything about SANE in this recording, I just think that recognizing — you can take a deep breath, this isn’t your fault, it’s not your child’s fault, you just need to learn new information. I think that that right there is going to help get people on the right path to be able to find the actual causes and actual fixes.
JONATHAN: It’s not your fault and you’ve been given bad information is one, that I agree just absolutely needs to be shouted from the rooftops because children literally shine a spotlight on how ridiculous the information out there is because, April, what is the definition of children’s food? When you go to a restaurant you look at a children’s menu, what qualifies something as food that is appropriate for children?
APRIL: I know. Typically, it’s something that’s really high in starches. Things like pizza, hamburgers, chicken strips, hot dogs, corn dogs? Can you tell I have the kids’ menu totally memorized because that’s every restaurant you go to.
Then it’s really interesting because this morning, my seven year old was packing his lunch and I was helping him and one of the things he said, the kids at school have so many more choices of what they get to take for lunch and eat for lunch than I do. Then he stopped for a second and he said, but they’re all sugar. They have a lot of sugar choices and of course, we’re trying to get more variety and we’re learning all kinds of new recipes and things like that because I want him to know there are a lot of great choices. We’re still learning, so right now, we’re doing a lot of the same things over and over again.
I thought it was interesting though he, at seven years old already notices, I am really weird taking healthy food to school, but he’s learning how to be able to see that as something that’s not only cool and acceptable right now, but it’s going to give him better long term results.
JONATHAN: The better long term results hits on an interesting way to think about choices because you’re right, a lot of people can see once you have the correct information, you understand that it’s not about eating less toxic, addictive nonsense, but filling yourself with so much good whole food, that you don’t even want that stuff anymore, you crowd it out — that an individual can think, hey, I have fewer choices.
There’s an interesting take on this and I’ll give a concrete example and forgive me if I don’t get the facts perfectly correct here, correct me — I believe a couple of weeks ago, you shared with me about your daughter, Alia, who you had mentioned before who is a wonderful gem, she recently had a school dance and for the first time in her life, or in a long time, she had many people, more people than she’s ever experienced asked her to dance. She had a choice that she’s never had before. She got to choose who of the many possible suitors she wanted to dance with and she’s never had that choice before, so we have to say, if you choose to be a concert pianist, you’re probably not going to be able to choose to do some other things, but you can choose to now play Mozart on the piano where no one has that choice. Which choices do we want to have?
APRIL: I love that you brought that up because the thing was with Alia and her dances is that she never even went to the dances. She didn’t even show up. That’s what hurt my heart is because even though she still doesn’t like to dance, now she’ll go because she feels good about herself and who she is and she has this amazing confidence and not that you have to be slender to go to a dance. I went to dances when I was overweight as a child and that was okay.
She’s 15 right now, and what I thought was so amazing is that she came home from this event and she told me about all the different people that asked her to dance and she said this would have been a nightmare if I hadn’t been SANE. Just for her to be able to know for herself, not necessarily about her friends would have thought differently of her or anything like that. She has great friends. She felt so much more confident. As a mother, that is such a gift to be able to have my teenage daughter, who is at such a special time in her life, just be able to have confidence and be able to be healthy.
It kind of leads us to another third point we’re going to be talking about today is that all of a sudden, once you understand what causes obesity and what prevents obesity, obesity can become a choice.
Now, if you had told me this two years ago and said, April and Alia, you both are struggling with your weight, but that’s your choice. You’re choosing to be overweight. You’re choosing to struggle. I would have been so mad at you because I was doing everything I could to not eat, and to exercise every day. I would have been really offended if I had heard that. Now, that you’ve helped us learn the correct principles, now it is a choice.
It was really interesting, Alia and I were talking the other day and she’s said, mom, I haven’t been as SANE as I wanted to be. I’ve been kind of eating some foods that aren’t great and she said, I could see my body starting to slip a little bit. I’m going to start drinking more green smoothies and she’s been blending more green smoothies every day since then. That, in and of itself is so empowering to see my child when she starts to feel like, my body is not exactly how I want it to be, she hasn’t started starving, she doesn’t take diet pills, she doesn’t go do something else that would catastrophic to her system, she goes and starts blending green smoothies and starts eating more vegetables and starts taking care of her nutrition. That’s pretty amazing, so a huge thank you to you, Jonathan for that.
JONATHAN: It is truly amazing, April, and I’m so honored to have played a role in that. I love your point about choice. I’m glad you said it first because I would never feel appropriate telling anyone just straight up, hey, this is a choice because like you said, for 99 percent of the population, I actually don’t think, until they learn the modern science of eating and exercise that people want to say, it’s a choice for you to eat less, and you can choose to eat less and exercise more, but what you know what I know and what the scientific literature has proven, is that’s a little bit like telling someone who has just had a catastrophic psychological trauma happen in their life, just smile more and frown less. You can just choose that what I don’t understand. Just choose. There is something else going on and you can’t just tell someone, hey, just choose to go to the bathroom less frequently, or just choose to sleep more or choose to breathe less. Eating food, not being hungry — the idea that we have to choose between being fueled and energetic and thriving and healthy. That’s actually ridiculous and doesn’t even make sense. That does not even make sense to be a choice, but if the choice is, eat as much as you want, whenever you want, eat when you’re hungry until you’re completely full and satisfied, just do it from sources that are nourishing and SANE for your body, is that going to be the easiest thing ever? No? Do you have a choice? Yes! And is it easier than being overweight and diabetic and having heart disease and depressed and being discriminated against? I would argue it’s radically easier.
APRIL: Yeah. Absolutely. So, we have kind of a next-action for the parents or children who may be listening to this. The reason why I enjoy sharing next-actions is because so many times we hear something good, we hear something inspiring, or there is something gets our hopes up, where we think really, is there really a possibility that I could actually become slim naturally or that my children could become healthy and strong and not have to suffer with this? Just that question, that’s what got me so excited about the message that you’re sharing.
So, instead of just leaving you feeling hopeful, we want to give you something that you can actually do. What I would encourage you to do is go to Jonathan’s website, sanesolution.com. You have a blueprint there to just help get started, showing people what foods are SANE, what foods are best for your body, and which foods you’ll want to avoid. Just sitting down with your child and saying, hey, I just learned some new information today. There’s a child that I heard about who was overweight who lost all of that extra weight and who is so excited and happy and I heard her mom today talking with Jonathan Bailor and they want to share this information. Do you want to look and learn about the foods that are best for our bodies? That is such a positive conversation and honestly, I can’t think of any child in the world who is suffering with being overweight, who isn’t looking for a solution. They might pretend like they don’t care. They might pretend that they’re too busy, or they might pretend like it’s not that big of a deal to them, but it is and if it’s not a big deal right now, it will be, very soon. That’s our next-action.
JONATHAN: I love that next-action April and I will give one layer on top of that to fully empower you to have that conversation, which I am totally supportive of and that is actually my mother did for me, when I was younger before all of this. She started me on the path to SANEity. She would always frame healthful choices as she’d always say what to eat more of. We always try to do that in SANE in general. So, it’s not hey, stop eating this, don’t do this, bad, no, no, if no is the most frequent word you use with your children or spouse or anyone it’s probably not going to work out too well, so it’s eat more of blank __________, eat more non-starchy vegetables, eat more nutrient dense protein and then, so you can be better at or have more fun at, blank _________. So, my mother knew that sports were really important to me even growing up. I remember watching the Rocky movies. She would always say, eat more spinach or eat more X so you can be like Rocky, so you can be like Superman. It’s not don’t do this because I said so, it’s do this so that you can achieve X, which is interesting to you. What do you think about that?
APRIL: I think that’s a beautiful idea and I think that children intuitively will respond well to that and they want that. I remember a quick conversation I had with my son, Spencer. Honestly, he’s the one I have the most SANE conversations with because he’s seven and he doesn’t get it sometimes and he has a lot of questions, but it’s been great. As we sat down and watched a video explaining how your pancreas works, how you get diabetes, explaining just the processes that go on inside your body and how you keep it strong. It was so cute, he just said, mom how can I help you and Jonathan? He wanted to take part in this and he came home the other day from school. He said, mom, do you know my friends don’t even know that they have a pancreas? Did you know that?
I have no idea what he’s talking about but it’s just really exciting as they probably teach our children, not only who they want to be like and how the foods that they eat can help them be like that hero or that person icon. Does it help them teach them how their bodies work and help to give them an instruction manual on this beautiful body they’ve been given, you’re setting them up for success. I just can’t think of a better gift to give this next generation of children who we want to live longer. We want them to be healthy, strong, happy, thriving, vibrant, and they’re not going to turn out that way unless we, as the parents and the adults in this generation give them that information and set them up for it.
JONATHAN: April, that’s a beautiful line to close on. That gave me the sense of urgency and that’s where I want to take this conversation next in our next episode, which is why we need to do this, now. It’s very easy. We have an awesome next-action. It’s very easy to say, I agree with everything Jonathan and April just said, it sounds good, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it next week. I’ll have that first conversation at the bottom of the priority list. Up next, let’s talk about why you need to do this now. Sound good?
APRIL: Sounds great, thank you.
JONATHAN: Well, hey, thank you everyone for joining us. It’s always a pleasure to chat and remember, stay SANE.