“If we only knew.” Those are the four words my Mom uses the most when we talk about healthier generations. At 80, she’s in good shape, walks daily and has grown to become mindful and aware of what healthy nutrition looks like. I’m so proud of my Mom for that.
But this wasn’t always the case. During my formative years – the 60s and 70s – healthy aging role models were few and far between. Flash back to Jack LaLane and Jane Fonda, and that’s about it.
Enter Fast Foods
Fitness just wasn’t a “thing,” and healthy eating meant anything that came out of Mom’s kitchen. Fried chicken, potatoes, steak, buttery biscuits and spaghetti smothered in rich sauce. Vegetables were boiled half to death before being slathered with butter.
Fat-laden, processed foods? Why yes, please. Remember, Baby Boomers are the original fast-food generation.
In the 50s, our mothers were sold a bill of goods by food manufacturers and marketing geniuses who convinced them that quick, simple, processed, fast food would save them time in the kitchen.
Making life simpler in the kitchen IS a good idea. The execution was horrible. I ate more than one Swanson TV dinner out of a tin container.
I’m pretty sure at least some of that metal leached into the food we consumed on a regular basis. If only we knew back then what we know now.
Today we have a humongous, practically unlimited wealth of information at our fingertips about how to feed and move our bodies for a long and healthy life.
To that extent, mothers and fathers have a huge responsibility to be role models for their children and grandchildren.
Healthy aging is for everyone, without exception, and our daily pursuit of health for ourselves and our families is a part of the legacy we leave to future generations.
Seeing as it’s Mother’s Day, I polled a bevy of fellow moms who are tuned into health and fitness. I asked them this: How do you inspire your children through health and fitness and why?
Moms Inspiring Health
Here’s what they had to say:
- “Through leading by example and sharing time spent in their youth engaging in whatever activities they embraced. I have been honored to have run a marathon with each of them as adults and do continue to try to inspire them, and now my grandkids, to live a healthy/fit lifestyle. I am blessed beyond measure to be healthy and active and to share with them that age is just a number, not a limitation!” – Connie Lagerhausen
- “We have always made it a priority to include them. They started off being in the stroller with our long runs; then they went to riding their bikes. Now, we have a family 5-miler every Thanksgiving. My husband competes in triathlons, and then my daughter started asking to do them together. He coaches their soccer teams, and we require on athletic sport for each child in order to stay healthy. They can quit after the season is over, but we tell them they don’t have the choice to be lazy.” – Tiffany Masson
- “We talk a lot about what makes up a healthy meal and why certain food groups are important and how to make healthy, balanced choices. My kids are 5 and 4, so this is on par with their level. They also know the importance of being active and why mom and dad work out. We try to sprinkle that in where it makes sense. But mostly, we lead by example.” – Lauren Crider
- “I believe time is the most valuable thing you can give your kids. When parents spend time with their kids engaging in healthy activities such as exercise, healthy cooking, and healthy living, kids are more often to be inspired and choose to follow.” – Nycole Leyba
- “I post my workouts and my cooking on Facebook, because if I can do it in my mid-60s, I hope to inspire them. They are great kids, but it takes work to avoid some genetics like diabetes or heart disease.” – Adele McLaughlin
Leave a Legacy of Healthy Aging
It is my mission to leave a legacy of healthy aging, and in the process show my two daughters and my granddaughter what it means to be healthy, strong and confident in a mindset that says we can do anything at any age. As mothers and parents, we have a responsibility to light that path with love and commitment. I can’t think of any better gift to share on Mother’s Day.