Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More about drinking

Is anyone really surprised to learn that teens think sports drinks are healthy? I have a difficult time working up lots of outrage about this, especially when the researcher points out that "students who drink flavored and sports beverages such as punch, Koolaid and Gatorade are also more likely to engage in higher levels of physical activity as well as consume fruits, vegetables and milk." That's great, I think. They're exercising and eating relatively well.* Maybe I find this news less shocking than I should because I've seen the things that other people think are healthy. I can understand the logic between thinking that, say, a Special K bar is better for you than a handful of almonds, in the same way that antibiotics are better for infections than a jarful of leeches. I just don't know how to fight it. My children have been told since a very early age that "if you can't grow it, you shouldn't eat it," but how do you convince other, older kids that just because it's called a "sports" drink doesn't make it a requirement for sports? Is it just a matter of understanding advertising? I don't think so, because I know way too many adults who think that drinking diet drinks means they're on a diet.

Water update: We have not all managed to drink a glass of water before every meal. I've intentionally skipped a few because I didn't want to worry about finding restrooms when we weren't going to be home. That shows my true colors, I suppose. I prefer dehydration to inconvenience. The race approach was a big success, though, at least with one child. That kid can drink, and I've been reminded that we should have a "water race" a few times. I haven't won a single race. (I have, however, started to wonder if encouraging my kids to practice chugging down liquids as fast as they can isn't preparing them for some serious problems at frat parties later in life. Perhaps I should reconsider that approach.) I managed to get up to eight glasses yesterday, but my kids only got a couple each. Still, I'm a firm believer in "something is better than nothing." 

*Refer to my "something is better than nothing" philosophy, above.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Drink up!

I was thinking today about how little water we -- my kids and I -- drink every day, and then I found this study, which just tells me we're not much different from anyone else in that respect. Our problem isn't drinking too many sugary drinks. It's just that we don't drink enough of anything. Today, I've had two cups of coffee. My children have had a couple of glasses of milk. We all shared a few sips -- less than a cup total -- from a water bottle. That's all we've had to drink all day, and it's 6:01 p.m.

Given that the consequences of "even mild dehydration" include "fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, and dry mouth," in addition to "impaired cognitive and mental performance," I have a new resolution! We'll all have at least one cup of water before each meal. I recognize that's a modest goal, but I like to start with things that I have at least a distant hope of accomplishing. If we succeed at that, we'll add more. I'm hoping that if I make a contest of it (Who can drink the most in one day? Who can finish a glass first?), it will be easier to swallow. [Sorry.]

We're starting right now.

Starting now

We've heard the statistics.

According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Obese children are more likely to have health problems and to become obese adults.

We know.

I wasn't one of those kids who grew up playing sports. I was one of those kids who sat on the couch and watched television or read a book, usually with a bag of Doritos. In college, my choices got even worse. The mandatory physical education class I chose was Walking 101. (This is true. I thought it would be easier than bowling. I'm sure it was.) I ate bagels for breakfast, Cheetos for lunch, and ice cream for dinner.

It wasn't until I had children that I started paying more attention to what I was eating and trying to make healthier choices. For a few years, that was enough, but after years of doing as little as possible, I finally started exercising when I was in my mid-thirties. I started for one simple reason: vanity. I wanted my waistline to stop expanding. I shouldn't have been surprised to discover that regular exercise produced even more dramatic results. I feel good. I feel strong. I'm not running marathons or competing in bodybuilding contests, but I feel healthy. I want to exercise more, even now that I'm content with the size of my waist. I'm braver and more confident, and it doesn't have anything to do with the way I look.

That's my goal for my children. I want them to feel healthy and to know the pleasure of using their bodies and discovering what they can do. They're seven and nine now. They have pretty solid ideas about good nutrition, and they get some exercise, but I'm not sure it's enough. I don't want them to be part of that CDC statistic. I want them to know what it's like to feel strong. I want to introduce them to a variety of activities, so they can find the ones they enjoy and make it a habit for life. I want to make sure they know the facts about nutrition, so they can make smart choices when they're out on their own.

Join me.