In general I try to avoid the overly shared video posts I see on Facebook — one more cute cat video and productivity will be at an all time low for me. However, today I ran across a link to a video of a man having a heart attack and I let my mind take in the message.

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Click here to see the Rewind the Future video by Strong4Life.

Meet Jim: A 32 year old dad trapped in the modern world of fast-food, sodas and inactivity due to whatever pops up on the DVR. When he plays with his kids he’s short of breath and his doctor has told him he may be developing diabetes and it’s time to make a change. Unfortunately for Jim, he’s now in the emergency room at the hospital experiencing a heart attack.

The video is all about going in reverse — how do “we” end up here. Any one of us could be Jim, but what is the root cause of the obesity epidemic? Backing it up to childhood, Jim is seen playing video games, indulging in junk food and hiding candy in his sock drawer.

Is Jim to blame? No. Rewind even further and see the impression made upon Jim by parents ordering drive-thru and delivery pizza. Jim’s mom is aware of the weight issue at hand as presented by Jim’s pediatrician and seems worried but unsure of how to change poor eating habits and a gamer lifestyle.

Sugary breakfast cereals, candy for rewards of good grades and school lunch trays of corn dogs are what elementary-school-Jim has known in his youth. But where it all started was baby-Jim with sippy cups of juice and a stressed-out mom breaking off French fries to feed him because, “it’s the only thing that will make him stop [crying].”

And there it is: We have failed our children with something as simple as a french fry.

I am Jim. Sorta.

I’m not saying my mom didn’t give me a good foundation of nutrition as a child, but I recall early memories of going to McDonald’s with my grandmother who was known for spoiling us and I also remember her always having Klondike ice cream bars and Bagel Bites at her house.

My mom did not buy these foods so when they were around I lived like there was no tomorrow. Since I didn’t really understand why I shouldn’t eat these foods, I grew up like most American teenagers eating fast food with friends and loving ice cream. I struggled with portion control and moderation. I carried this over into college and beyond. I one day woke up and had enough of living this way and educated myself on food and nutrition and made a change.

“Be the change in the world you want to see,” Gandhi said. I became that for my family.

I love my daughter and husband and want to be able to run, jump, laugh and go on adventures. I do not want to be a slave to medications because my poor food choices have caused me high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.

Sometimes I feel like Jim’s mom and I bet you do too. I have a three year old who can be a picky eater. We go to dinner out and sometimes the only thing she will want are French fries. No one likes a scene, so we cave. I created that beast because I allowed her to have them. I also created the beast that beats myself up because I allowed her to have them. I’m working on silencing both of those beasts.

She is starting Pre-K3 today and I feel good knowing I have control over her lunches since I have to send one daily (at our previous school, this was not an option). Some moms might feel this is a burden to have to prepare lunches everyday and to put thought into it — don’t give in to the dreaded Lunchable-and-Cheetos routine. There’s a better way and it doesn’t have to involve a fight with the kids.

You are the parent. You make the rules. You are in charge because you know what’s best for them.

I keep telling myself that.

Food is a powerful tool in life. It’s medicine in a way — so much of what we eat effects our physical well-being and mood. I am in the middle of cutting sugar and processed carbohydrates drastically out of my life again. For me, it’s what makes me feel like a whole person — I enjoy real, simple food the way it was meant to be eaten. I do not need a deep-fried Oreo. Ever.

My daughter’s lunch box today included grilled chicken, carrots, Greek yogurt, a few crackers and water for lunch. I know other kids will have something that will catch her eye. Marketing companies make sure of that.  But, I am working on changing her picky ways to include increased nutrient dense foods and less mac and cheese.

She helped cook her lunch last night and was involved in selecting things that will go in her lunch box with me and my husband guiding her in the grocery store this weekend. I hope that at the end of the day that Hello Kitty lunch box makes its way home empty.

I know we will tire of putting thought into lunches for her, but I remind myself that we do it because we love her and want to give her a life full of health and happiness and that she may never know Jim.

Learn more about the Strong4Life initiative online with resources for parents and nutrition for children.

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