Growing up, my parents put me in sports to release excess energy. I continued with them through college and found that because I was active, I had more energy, and a much more positive impact on life compared to my friends who didn’t exercise. Obesity is a growing pandemic in the United States. It can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers. How could my friends and family choose to allow that to be a possibility? I couldn’t understand. Public Health was something I studied in college. It intrigued me. Through an internship, I was able to work with families whose primary goal was to change their lifestyles. Through this program, we had exercise activities, a health topic discussion, and, towards the end of each session, we would make healthy recipes. It was great to see parents really stepping up, changing their health habits, and in turn, changing the way their children live as well.
After graduation, I worked for a non-proﬁt nutrition education organization for a couple of years. When I would travel to different classrooms teaching nutrition, I found that the higher up in grade level I went, the more reluctant they were to change. A lot of the adolescents and teenagers I spoke with believed that because they were young, they had high metabolisms. Their high metabolisms would prevent any weight gain from occurring until they reached adulthood. Therein, I would have to explain that their risks for heart disease were increasing by the day. High metabolisms don’t prevent clogged arteries.
As far as the young grade school children I taught were concerned, they follow what they see. If their parents believe something, they are likely to believe it as well. If they know nothing but fast food, they will be reluctant to try new things. The schools I taught in were deﬁnitely improving their food choices, but it is what the students are provided with at home that will the make the most difference. That is what I loved so much about my college internship. I was able to see families changing their habits together.
Even though I will be pursuing a different career path, healthy/holistic living is something I will promote my entire life. I have an extensive family history of heart disease in my family. Believe me, I will do everything I can to prevent myself from adding to that statistic. However, even in my immediate family, it is sometimes very difﬁcult to encourage others to change their habits. I believe that a lot of habit changing begins with one person leading by example.
In my opinion, individuals can change their lifestyles if they so wish. I believe that it takes education, support, and prayer. Change is hard, but change can be the difference between a healthy heart and a heart transplant.