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Inspired Living

Why Obama Can't Make Kids Healthy (a different take on the nutrition bill)

Sarah Stanley

Pens don't make change, actions do. A few days ago, President Obama signed a nutrition bill. Also known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act 2010. People ooh & awed. Yay! We have ANOTHER bill. This will make the obesity crisis diminish. And we won't have starving kids. Wait a minute. Hold the Gingerbread Latte!

Are we supposed to think that because a bill is signed everything is now going to be okay? It took years of poor choices, not moving (as in getting active), replacing farms with white picket fences and ugly supermarkets, and eating food from cans, packages and crappy drive thrus. So a piece of paper & a pen & a president will change all that, eh?

I can hear the critics now "it will help" or "it's a step in the right direction". And a bunch of other stuff. Here is my point. Yes, I actually have one - or perhaps two :).

I have been advocating a healthy lifestyle for years. Since I was a kid I have always been active. Smiling. Eating food from trees, plants, the ground and yes even meat. I have helped others start running. Eating healthy. Losing weight. Getting their butt off the couch. That's change people. Not some pen talking about change. Change my a$$!

So, in January 2010 I launched a public project to help fight obesity.  Called Run Ride Inspire. My prayer was (and still is) that by putting actions +words together that people would see change and be motivated to change. To say its been an rough road would be an understatement.

Yesterday I was having a discussion with someone on Twitter about this Nutrition Bill. They mentioned that it would be a great PR Story.  They also mentioned the First Lady's "Let's Move" campaign. While a great idea, there has been very little action for it. (Which is kind of funny for an "active" bill.)

And now we are all supposed to jump up & down that we have yet another freaking bill? Now with a sprinkling of ink, we will all be healthy, not hungry and peace on earth. I don't think so.

My rebuttal was "yeah right". Just this year alone I was reminded just how hard it is to get the message across that people need to stop eating crap & start moving move. Some for the first time. I ran a 100 mile ultra marathon (in 2009). I ran Double Boston Marathon (ran from finish to start, then start to finish). I cycled from Washington, DC to New York City in September & was honored to speak to about 1500 kids along the way. And spoke to 10 schools in Oklahoma.

I list the athletic events I have done not for kudos (although that would be nice) but making a point that personal responsibility begins with me. And you too.

Yet despite these actions, the publicity has been very poor- at best. You see, it is more fun to have the White House & the Obama's sign some bill. We are excited for a few days. And then the excitement dies a wicked death. And just like that, the change is a just a happy thought.

But is it really the Obama's or the government's responsibility to make sure we eat better? To get active? To start moving our bodies? To take responsibility for OUR actions? I don't think so. Yeah, it is easy to place the blame on someone. And so the government takes it. And then we get mad & upset because they are spending our tax dollars. Trust me, I'm not happy either, but if we don't take personal responsibility for things WE can change, how can we expect change to happen in the first place?

What can YOU and I do? Here are a few ideas.

  • Make one simple action of change a day
  • Replace drinking soda with water
  • Eat fruit & veggies from a farmers market (not a can)
  • Help local food banks/soup kitchens
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier each day & sweat
  • Only give your kids healthy options for meals. If they don't like it, to bad! Bad choices are KILLING us.
  • Be active WITH your kids

You are signing not only yours, but the next generation nutrition bill with every action you make. Don't leave your health in the hands of the government. Its your personal responsibility to make active change. Go drink a glass of water!

Sarah Stanley is a professional endurance athlete who advocates a health lifestyle by living one. She is passionate about the next generation & believes that actions+words make a difference. For more motivation sign up for her monthly newsletter.

Photo by Micky