This summer, my daughter is working out under the tutelage of her accomplished athlete brother, trying to become faster for her upcoming soccer seasons. He's got a grueling set of workouts for her so that she's running and doing strength training MWF and going to her normal soccer practice TuTh. She's embraced these and has been sticking to the schedule.
What she hasn't embraced is her diet. Like most kids, she's had year after year of nutrition classes in school, but she still tries to eat what she wants. If you don't watch her like a hawk, it's all carbs and no proteins. She'll eat fruit, but veggies are ignored.
On Sunday, her brother took her on a run, just to see how she was doing. It was horrible. She felt sick and wasn't able to do most of it. He was pretty ticked off by the whole thing - he's put a lot of effort into helping her train and he doesn't feel she's making the same level of investment. He's also looking back on his own life and thinking what it would have been like had someone taken this much interest in his success.
The run and the aftermath were pretty beastly for her, but I'm completely taking his side. That day she had eaten a quesadilla and drank Diet Coke. The previous day, she and her brothers had gone to the movies where she had eaten candy to the point where she came home and didn't want dinner. In the 24-hour period leading up to the run, she'd had a diet that would be used as a malnutrition experiment for lab rats. Feeling sick and failing to perform were a consequence of her own actions.
In the past, I've tried having her go back through the food pyramid and review some nutrition information on the web, but she's inured to all that. It bounces off her head like a ping pong ball and the next day she's searching for Cheez-Its and sodas. Banning that food from our house punishes all of us and isn't reflective of the life she'll lead when she moves out. No one's going to go to the grocery store with her and edit her shopping cart.
Enter the diet analyzer from the USDA. You input what you ate and it tells you what your aggregate nutrition was for the day. It's got a simple graphing function that makes it easy to see just how you're going to die from an unbalanced diet.
|For breakfast, waffles and syrup. For lunch, a quesadilla. For dinner, chicken nuggets, rolls and a small salad. For snacks, Cheez-Its and ice cream. Afterwards, a trip to Forest Lawn to pick out a casket.|
The key to the whole thing was to let her know that she was expected to perform. If she ate badly and felt sick to the point where she had to throw up while running, well then she'd best throw up and then keep running. When she's an adult and goes to work, if she decides to stay up all night to party and goes in exhausted, her boss isn't going to give her light duty and a long nap, he's going to expect her to do her job. What she does with her body away from work is her problem. If she can't perform, she'll be fired. I've got to prepare her for that world and if I can get her to eat properly at the same time, it's a double win.