Mike Cope's blog

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Are you one of those parents who would like to help your children exercise more and eat a more healthy diet, but you're just too tired? Or maybe you're susceptible to guilt when a child complains about having to eat vegies instead of chips (pointing out that none of her friends has to eat that way)? Or perhaps you tend to overcompensate through fast food rewards when you don't have enough time with your kids? Or could it be that you're just too pooped to do anything, so the television becomes a free babysitter? I understand. But YOU ARE THE PARENT! This is the year to change. Even if your children fight you over it. It's always important to remember that you are the parent! It's going to be a tough battle. A Big Gulp and a bag of chips are cheap. A run through McDonald's is easy, quick, and the kids love it. (So does Ronald McDonald, who owns a major chunk of stock in the company.) This isn't about cosmetics to me. We have to be careful about making people think their identity or worth comes from what the mirror or scales are telling them. "People look on the outside, but God looks on the heart," Samuel learned. We come tall, short, wide, and thin. Our culture obsesses on the outside (I hope to write more on that in a day or two), but God looks at the heart. But there is a major health crisis in our country. A recent essay by Elizabeth Weil points out that "the burden of childhood obesity is one created by adults and borne by children." Kids who are overweight have a much greater risk of developing diabetes (type 2). And eventually they'll be at greater risk of all kinds of nasty things (colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, etc.). Need a bit of shock therapy? Check out "Super Size Me." (See my brief comments on 12/19/04, and please note the parental warnings at screenit.com.) Those who've read this blog for a long time know I'm not against desserts or an occasional trip through Wendy's. It's about moderation. A healthy lifestyle. (The low carb diet is currently crashing about as fast as the low fat diet did. A healthy lifestyle is about moderation. Burning as many calories as you take in. Not rocket science. Save money you were going to spend on that diet book and buy new walking shoes instead!) We have to be parents, even when it isn't fun. There has to be a steady diet of fruits and vegies to go with the other food groups. There has to be a reasonable limit on tv. There has to be a time of exercise and play. Water needs to take the place of Big Gulps--yes, even if ALL THE OTHER KIDS AT SCHOOL get to have the Big Gulp. We need to encourage by example as well as by words. Parenting is hard when you're tired, isn't it? Enforcing bedtimes (not one of my strengths!), putting limits on television, encouraging healthy eating and exercising . . . well, sometimes it just isn't fun. But I think it's worth it. (Have you seen Spanglish yet? It'll make you appreciate every time you said "no" when doing so made you miserable being a parent.)


  • Enforcing bedtimes -- no problem there. Limiting TV -- pretty hard when we're all home, becasue otherwise there are lots of fights. Encouraging healthy eating and exercise -- suddenly has become a part of my world since my husband was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. And I'm tired. But it's definitely worth it if it will help prevent them from dealing with what he's dealing with. But I don't want them to learn that physical health is more important than spiritual health -- trying to learn to strike a balance. But that's hard, too, with all the time focused on food preparation now. Anyway, timely, again.

    By Blogger Clarissa, at 1/05/2005 07:00:00 AM  

  • Clarissa - Very insightful comments (again!). Good reminder of Pauls' wisdom: "Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise both the present life and the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:8).

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/05/2005 07:45:00 AM  

  • Also read "Fast Food Nation," which I believe helped inspire the making of "Supersize Me." Our fast-food obsession isn't just making us fat -- it's fattening the wallets of big corporations, and doing so on the backs of the working poor in America. From the fast-food worker to the slaughterhouse employee to the potato farmer or cattle rancher, pay is way down, stress is way up, and workplace safety is a joke.

    Not exactly Kingdom principles we're supporting...

    By Blogger Terry Austin, at 1/05/2005 07:55:00 AM  

  • Ego-puncturing disclaimer/addendum: We ate at McDonald's last night. (Why? Because we were... yup, in a hurry to get somewhere really important.)

    By Blogger Terry Austin, at 1/05/2005 08:02:00 AM  

  • There's a new commercial out that I just love --advertising Aquafina bottled water. It simply sings "Drink, drink, drink .........." Looks like a bar seen advertising spirits. I actually got dressed and went out into the fog and bought 3 gallons of bottled water. I think I will make a recording of that commercial and play it back when I find my water consumption lagging.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 1/05/2005 09:08:00 AM  

  • I meant "scene" not "seen"

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 1/05/2005 10:05:00 AM  

  • That reminds me. We never did go out to lunch together like we discussed. Do you still have that Happy Meal left over from your sermon visual aid a few years ago?

    By Blogger Val, at 1/05/2005 12:00:00 PM  

  • If you want absolutely the best heart attack on a plate available, go to Arnold's in Amarillo, on Washington St., just north of I-40. It's a one-room dive, smaller than my living room, and Gayla will fix you a HUGE hand-shaped pattie (no pre-fab frozen stuff here) which after grilling hangs off all edges of the HUGE bun, with a HUGE order of great big fries. This meal is good for either a hernia from carrying it, or a coronary event, or both, but man is it good! Arnold's made the list of the 10 best hamburger joints in the country put out by New Yorker Magazine a few years ago. It's one of the things I miss most about Amarillo. I have e-mailed Gayla a time or two and had her fix a meal for friends passing through, and send me the bill in Arkansas. Another homey touch you won't get with Mickey D's. I know this is way off the subject of your post, but I just had to say it.


    By Blogger don, at 1/05/2005 01:41:00 PM  

  • Mike,
    Excellent post! I could not agree with you more! Parenting is so often difficult, but it is our calling-- and it is an extremely important calling. I firmly believe that how we handle simple daily things like enforcing bed times and not allowing "extra desserts," or insiting on milk or water instead of Big Gulps-- is providing our children with valuable learning experiences about boundaries and authority so that one day when we have to make REALLY tough decisions and set REAL boundaries (ie: dating, curfews, etc.) they will know that we will not compromise on "the rules" and "the boundaries." Blessings! sd

    By Blogger SkipD, at 1/05/2005 03:26:00 PM  

  • I vaguely remember a time this summer while in a radiology waiting room reading an article wherein the "Supersize Me" guy had to recant on some of his conclusions after some reporter investigated him. When asked about it he just said, "Robble robble robble (robble) robble!" Okay I may have added that last part, but he did face some sort of flack for his findings.

    By Blogger Val, at 1/05/2005 06:33:00 PM  

  • You're right! (again) I think McDonalds was one of my son's first words. Being a youth ministry family, we have sure eaten our share of fast food on the road and pizza at youth functions. Our waistlines tell the tale. (Although I like to think 3 babies in 5 years also has something to do with it.) We are the parents and our children see and mimic our every move, so WE'D better get it right. There's no time like the present...this IS the year!

    By Blogger Niki, at 1/05/2005 08:34:00 PM  

  • Ouch, ouch and ouch! OK already. I am the parent. I AM the parent. I am the PARENT. ... I am the parent? Sometimes I wonder why God trusts us with the precious little ones.

    This post is very timely, as I banned junk food from our house last week. I also reinstated the TV timer. Needless to say I am the meanest Mommy on the block. However, Mall-walking and extra reading times have been a huge hit! Seems harder to come up with healthy spiritual nourishment and exercise... but as you said... I am the parent.

    By Blogger SG, at 1/06/2005 09:50:00 PM  

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