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“…over the next two decades, 13 states could have [obesity] rates above 60 percent and 39 states could have rates above 50 percent. Mississippi is on pace to have the highest obesity rate at 66.7 percent…”
-September 18, 2012|By Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune reporter

I posted the article this quote is from yesterday on my Facebook page. I said something along the lines that I found these numbers to be incredible, as in unbelievable, as in it simply isn’t possible. Yet there they were. We are on track to having a quarter of our States with a large majority of their population obese, not just overweight mind you, obese; and nearly 80% of our States with a majority of their population obese. Two-thirds of the population of Mississippi on their way to a twilight riddled with preventable disease.  The most frightening part? Colorado would come in as the most fit State in the Nation…with a 45% obesity rate. FORTY-FIVE PERCENT!!!

Despite what appears to be heightened awareness, the vast majority continue to live in denial…

This is insane!

In response to this flabbergasting news, I hear a lot of people talk about government mandates – having the government take over what we eat or drink a la Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to rid New York City of over-sized sugary drinks. Part of me wants to jump on that bandwagon. If people aren’t smart enough to take care of themselves, well then someone has to take care of them, right?

Wrong.

Although the government should take on some role, maybe from an educational position, or, a bit more radically, making healthy choices available in areas of low access, no amount of government intervention will correct the problem until we, the people, decide we want to make a change.

If there is one thing I have learned over the last few years of being asked for and then giving advice for healthy change, it’s that until a person is ready and willing to change, it ain’t gonna happen.  Too many people want instant change; transformation in a bottle; abs and buns of steel in a pill.  It takes work – not just at the gym, but in the choices of the fuel we choose, and if we ain’t ready and willing, change ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we are shortening our lives, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you we’re increasing our cost of health care, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we are killing our sex drive, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might not be able to stand at our child’s graduation, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might not be able to dance at our daughter’s or son’s wedding, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that we might get diabetes or cancer or suffer from heart disease, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I can tell you that due to our obesity we could lose a foot or a leg, but if we aren’t ready and willing, it ain’t gonna happen.

I could tell you that we are setting OUR children up to follow in our footsteps…

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…does that at least stop you for a moment? Does that make you think, maybe, just maybe, this report doesn’t have to be true? That we don’t have to condemn our children to a life of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and amputations? Is that what we want to leave our children? Is that what we want to be our legacy?

I know I don’t.

The habits our children pick up from birth to 18 come primarily from us, and once those habits are programmed into their brains, they are very, very difficult to break. Does that mean there’s no hope for a 30 year old woman with a lifetime of bad habits?

Heavens no!

But it is way more difficult for her than if she had been brought up with good habits all her life.

Change is hard, but it’s easier for our kids – and once those good habits are learned, the foundation of healthful living is set.

Do you know where it starts?

It starts with us. Yes, the government can help set some standards; they can do what they have to do to make healthier choices available to us; they can help educate the population about healthful eating; but in the end, it comes down to you and me.

Yes…us.

Just like every vote counts in an election, what WE choose to do over the next 20 years, 10 years, 5 years, 12 months, 6 months, 4 weeks, 7 days, 24 hours, 60 minutes, 60 seconds, can make a difference.

Nothing sets a better example for our children than our own behavior.

Nothing, NOTHING, convinces a company to change their ways better than our wallet.

Are you ready and willing?

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