Another Reason to Take Your Health Seriously: Seeing Your Kids Go to College
It’s that time of year again when Western Michigan University holds their yearly Health & Wellness Expo. Today I’ll be at this annual event, and I look forward to it not only because of the wonderful people and the location, but also because my oldest daughter attends this amazing university; and yes, she’ll make sure to stop by to visit her mom. Well, that is what I’m hoping for anyways!
When I was here last year I took a moment to think of how she must feel while she’s walking into the expo to visit me at one of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan health booths. It’s probably the absolute last place she ever thought she would see her mom when she was in elementary school — at a health expo.
A Change in Roles
Believe me, I was not even close to representing what good health was supposed to look like or even act like. I was morbidly obese, weighing close to 300 pounds. Daily exercise was not part of my routine, but a nighttime snack of chips and dip before I went to bed was. I always skipped breakfast, consumed fast food several times a week and continually had second portions at dinnertime. Nope, not a healthy lifestyle by any definition.
My daughter knew all of this about me. That’s why it has to feel a little out of the ordinary for her to accept what I do now: help motivate and inspire other individuals to become the healthier person that they wish to be. She absolutely loves this mission of mine, and she informs me how proud of me she is quite often. I will admit that the very first time my daughter told me this, it made me cry.
Why? Because she not only told me how proud she was, but she also explained how she was once afraid … afraid of losing me due to my obesity and afraid that she, herself, would become obese too. She explained that because I changed my lifestyle, causing me to shed my excess weight, she no longer was afraid. Then when she was a teenager, she wrote this letter to help the other moms out there:
I was in fifth grade when I finally realized my mom wasn’t like all the other mommies. Even though in so many ways she was the best mother in the world due to her strong involvement in our lives through school, sports, talent shows, and the like, it was in fifth grade that I noticed my mother wasn’t normal; she was obese.
Once I noticed that my mother was this overweight, it wasn’t long before I understood the disadvantages that came with it. I soon appreciated every day with her more and more because I had no idea how many I’d have left. It wasn’t like it was just her problem anymore; it was mine too. I would worry day after day that her obesity would catch up with her. I couldn’t just put it in the back of my mind either because as a child, your mother is everything in your life. I didn’t want to imagine not having her there with me every day when I woke up. I didn’t want to imagine spending time at her gravesite on Christmas morning rather than opening presents with her and I didn’t want to imagine having a child someday and not having my mother there to show it to. Despite not wanting to imagine these things, I did almost every day. I never said anything but I was scared to death of losing my mommy and my world. If she hadn’t lost the weight I eventually would have lost her.
As a child of an obese mother, I just want you to know that if you’re overweight and you have children…they worry about it — they worry about YOU. They may not say they worry about it or even act like they notice but I can promise you that they do. When you decided to have children, you made a commitment to do everything in your power to be there for them. You can’t exactly be there if you’re six feet under. Also, know that if you’re overweight, you can’t compensate it by helping at their school or buying them things. Nothing can compensate for the fact that your choices can leave them without a mommy. What you may not understand is the reality that you will die from being overweight. Your body isn’t designed to be that way and the fat will take its toll. It’s not if… it’s when.
You can kill yourself with food and you can eventually take away your child’s whole world. Is any food really worth not seeing your child walk on their graduation day or seeing them get married or holding their first child? Perhaps the next time you decide to overindulge, you’ll think of that. Think of them standing there on their wedding day without their mommy, crying, wishing that you’d done something different. By then it’ll be too late but right now may be your only chance.
Let me leave you with this: If you had cancer, wouldn’t you fight for your life? You’d seek help and do whatever necessary to stay alive. Obesity is no different. It’s killing you, but you have the choice… obesity is one hundred percent curable. My mom did it and you can too.
Now I have only one question to ask: “Who should be proud of who?” I love you, Kirstin ~ Mom.
Photo by lindsey gee