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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A slice of Americana

I remember my friend Cara talking about the husband of her best friend Dana. This guy’s name is George and he is the definition of Hillbilly. He is as deep south as they get. This is the kind of guy that you can literally picture shootin’ squirrels and supperin’ on homemade squirrel pot pie. Think Larry the Cable Guy. Yeah, you get the picture.

I finally met him and his family this past 4th of July weekend while camping in Tennessee. George did not disappoint. He is the real deal. He had me mesmerized. He was a super funny, unique and witty guy. I could barely talk with the dude because I was in stitches the whole time. He is so funny! He was a cool person to hang with for sure.

You know I’m not writing this article to describe a man crush on a real life hillbilly.

If you have read my articles in the past you may have seen one of my favorites called “Thanksgiving at the Pharmacy”. Another good one is called “Killing me Softly”. If you’ve read them then you know where I’m going with this article. If you are not familiar then you need to get my book and read them:

If you are then you have an idea what is coming next.

George is a big dude. His wife Dana is also very big. VERY nice lady but very big. They have 3 kids ages 11, 9 and 7. The older boy Tyler is 135 lbs. Christine, the middle child is very heavy. Lucas at only 7 years old is already 105 lbs.

Are you getting the picture?

Typical American family here; a slice of Americana. Great people but a perfect example of what is wrong with our society and how we are literally killing ourselves one 4th of July at a time.

George always had a dip in his mouth. That’s just gross. I don’t know how someone can do with. People that chew are almost guaranteed to get cancer. It’s a matter of time. Sucks when the person earning the income in a home can’t work. George is also the master of the barbeque. Man that dude can grill. Wonder how much grilled meat this family eats? Barbeque sauce is mostly sugar you know…

One of the most telling moments for me in observing this family was when the kids ran to the cooler after tubing. While I was drinking from my water bottle (which I tubed with the entire time) their kids were in the cooler for Mountain Dew.

I don’t want to be seen as judging but letting your kids have Mountain Dew is just not a good idea; especially when all three of them are obese. Christine cracked open a Dew at 9pm. Really? Seriously?!?

I didn’t do a full assessment on the family. We were enjoying the 4th of July so I didn’t want to pry. For some things I really didn’t need to.

George had either a Mountain Dew or a beer in his hand the entire time. (Truth be told it was 4th of July so I guess this isn’t a big deal. Just as observation)

All three kids had something weird on their legs. Looked like chicken pox. I suspect it was some sort of allergy. Not sure but it didn’t look comfortable.

A couple of disturbing behavioral issues came to light with Lucas. While tubing the river I saw that kid throwing rocks more than once. OK, my kid was throwing rocks also. Not a big deal, right? My kid was skipping stones where no people were. Tyler was picking up huge boulders and throwing them very close to strangers. This wouldn’t be worth mentioning if I hadn’t been there for the other incident.

We were getting out of the cars to see the fireworks when I noticed little Christine crying. It was a little bit of a tense family situation. Apparently Christine was giving Lucas a hard time about something and Lucas up and bit her. Twice! Hard. I could see the bite marks. Again, I’m not judging but the rock throwing and the biting added together look to me like some serious behavioral issues.

When we were standing around waiting for the fireworks Lucas wanted to tackle everyone. His siblings put up a good fight. My son Colby is 10 and about 94 lbs. Even though Lucas outweighed Colby my boy could not be taken down. I was actually kind of proud.

Upon seeing this, the older boy Tyler decided to take on Colby in a wrestling match. Big mistake for young Tyler.

Colby had the kid pinned in about 20 seconds. Colby is shorter, younger and 40 lbs less yet he dominated the other boy. Why? I think it’s because Colby is so active that he has just developed some good coordination and strength. I assume the other boy isn’t nearly as active. Don’t get me wrong. Colby is not a child prodigy athlete. He’s just an active boy and I don’t think this kid is nearly as active.

I like to observe people and sometimes I make assumptions that may or may not be true. I have taken some liberties with my observations of this family.

Believe me I get that.

I hold no grudges and I don’t mean to judge.

I am simply writing here what I saw from my perspective. It is obvious to me that the food choices of this family are not as good as they could be. There really should never be 5 overweight people living in one house. There is a problem here. On the surface there appears to be health and behavioral issues developing from poor food choices.

They are good people but I don’t think they are all that healthy.
I highlighted this family because I was there and I saw them firsthand. Are they normal or are they out of the ordinary?

I think this is starting to be the norm.

The health of our children is declining. The health of our children’s parents is also declining.

Why is this?

Truth be told it’s so simple. They and we are not moving enough. We are making poor food choices for them and for ourselves. When we feed our kids crap and let them have an over abundance of candy and soda they get fat and sick. We do it to ourselves so why not do it to them as well?

It’s sad really.

Problem is that the trend is hard to change. It’s like turning around a cruise ship. It can be done but it just takes a lot of effort. How though?

I wasn’t going to say anything to the hillbilly family. Dana wasn’t going to say anything to her best friend about the health of her family. How do you help this family?

I think that we need more leadership from teachers, coaches, doctors, nurses and the like. You tell your friends they are killing their kids and it may not go over so well. This the doctors can do though. Teachers can educate the kids also. How about if a 10 year old kid says, “no thanks on the soda, water is better for me.”?

How about the food industry stepping to the plate and…

OK, another article for another day.

We all know a family like the one above. They are literally everywhere. I might even say that they are now the majority of families. This is where disease comes from. I don’t know how to help them. Do you?

I can only help those that want to be helped. How do you tell someone they are killing themselves and their family? The only thing that we can do is to do our best ourselves and hope to God the ones that need help seek it out. Be ready. They may request your help soon.

If George called me tomorrow and said that he needs to change around the health of his family what would I say? I would tell him to start with 7 simple steps that will guarantee a better level of health for him, his wife and the rug rats.

1. Find a hobby that keeps the whole family outside and moving as much as humanly possible. Fishing doesn’t count. Come on. No activates where you can chew tobacco. Frisbee, hiking, biking, rock climbing, kayaking, basketball, football…. the list goes on.

2. No soda in the house. On the weekends here and there or camping is OK to indulge. No regular soda.

3. Make wise food choices as often as possible. It’s OK to barbeque a couple of times per week. 3-5 times is too much. How about watermelon as a snack instead of cookies? Little changes. Little, little changes in diet will go a long, long way.

4. Mom and Dad workout everyday for at least 30 minutes to start. Believe me the kids will notice. Eventually they will want to join in. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as there is some moving and sweating going on.

5. Game night! Family time builds relationships and strengthens the family bond. Healthy snacks served and fun to be had by all.

6. Everyone drinks water for nourishment. This is huge. If a kids thirsty they need to grab water and not soda or juice. This is a mental thing. They need to think of water as something that is important to their bodies. Kids need to equate thirst with drinking water.

7. Everyone does an activity they enjoy. This is different than number one. Dad needs to play softball with the boys. Mom needs to join a walking group. Kids need to play a sport of some kind.

Maybe this family does a lot of this stuff. Maybe not. I don’t know. These are some generic suggestions that I would have if asked.

People talk about the declining health of our society all the time. You see it all around you. Maybe you have a chance to help. Maybe you don’t. The least that you can do is take care of yourself. Quit the bad habits, replace with good habits. Move your body, eat right. Have a good attitude. Do your best. That is all you can do.

I leave you today with this question: Are you doing your best? Are you?

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