Recently, Maria Kang, a health-blogger, posted the above picture of herself and her 3 children with the playful title hinting that even though she’s busy with her three kids, she still finds time to maintain a healthy BMI (body mass index.) While the title might have been a bit sarcastic for some, more sensitive types, I think Maria has a great message that putting health as a priority in your life is doable.
I’m thankful to have been raised in a home where vegetables were a regular staple on our dinner plates, and watched my mom prepare many different types of vegetables for our meals (frequently she’d be sitting eating a tomato for a snack!) Additionally, my parents encouraged me to participate in sports, and I found a LOVE for field hockey and lacrosse which helped me to form a basis for exercise. I have used this understanding of the importance of plants in my diet and regular exercise to create my own definition of health.
While I would not go so far as to assume that those who are unhealthy have “no excuse” I think the backlash that Maria experienced over this post was quite unfair. If you click on the picture, you will be taken to a follow up post on Time.com where Maria defends her picture and discusses the more important issue that it brought to the surface. This issue is the matter of defending health as normal. Let me clarify…. Maria makes several great points about contrasting Hollywood’s version of “normal women” with overweight women. There is a difference. The surgically-fake, tanned and Photoshop’d women we see regularly in magazines and movies… may not be an ideal image of a normal woman, but that doesn’t mean we need to celebrate the opposite. While our country struggles with an obesity epidemic (the article indicates “over two-thirds of Americans above the age of 20 are overweight or obese” and my studies in the public health field confirm this) we shouldn’t praise something that’s wrong just because it’s normal. (Ex. The normalcy our country experienced during the slave era, was anything but good or OK.)
So much about my life, what I practice, is in contrast to what society tells me [and others] to do. Many of these are topics for another day, but living debt free, getting up early every Sunday morning to serve at a church, exercising regularly and eating healthy… these things are not “normal” in our society. I don’t always succeed in my attempts to be “ab-normal” but we should not create the impression that just because we all fail at something means that failure is good. If you had a child that was learning to tie his shoes, when he failed over and over again, would you tell him to give up? That it’s ok and that a lot of people don’t wear shoe laces tied? Of course not! You would encourage that child to “try, try again!” In this case, that may mean getting back to the gym after Thanksgiving, or hitting the pavement after a week-long food binge.
I am inspired by the effort that Maria Kang must give in order to maintain her health with three little kiddos running around. It helps me to ignore voices in my mind telling me “I’m too busy to go for a run”. I hope you too can be inspired to make a change towards a healthier you!