Some of the most outstanding lessons in health I have learned are from watching my children. They are incredibly inefficient movers, expending at least twice the amount of calories to complete the same tasks as an adult. Their joy for life causes them to bounce out of bed in the morning, excited to see what adventure might be on their schedule for the day. As I am still slowly waking up, they have already accomplished a morning workout and have enjoyed a morning snack and breakfast without self-criticism. I am daily in awe of their lack of fear, ability to forgive and forget, and their knowledge of what they want. Every moment of every day brings life and rich possibilities I never would have considered going about my normal adult day.
A vision of perfect happiness, lounging contentedly, my 3 year old’s rosy cheeks, flushed from his recent sprints around the room, are bursting with his smile. He sits awhile and off he goes again, nothing holding him back. His energy is unending; his emotions transparent; his eating habits sporadic. Okay, his eating habits may cause me great frustration, but I think we can even learn from their “bad” eating habits. Children are completely untainted and have not yet been affected by outside opinions, ideas, or expectations. They are hard to keep up with physically and emotionally, yet many of their habits are so raw and basic, they are worth studying and certain aspects are worth mimicking.
Their emotions are transparent. They feel what they feel and they let you know what that feeling is. There is no pretense or hidden agenda. They don’t conceal certain aspects of their feelings because they fear we will not understand that specific part of their feelings. They share it all. It all comes out, it all gets dealt with, and eventually they are able to leave it all behind as happily as if those negative feelings never existed.
Their eating habits are left wanting…by adult standards. They sit down at the table, only to eat a few bites and tell us they are full. As adults, it drives us crazy as we push them to eat so that we can hold off on snack time at least a couple hours after each meal. However, they eat to a level of comfort, and always know when to quit. They don’t stuff their stomachs full because they aren’t yet addicted to food. They know they will be fed again the next time they are hungry, and they don’t yet realize sometimes you have to eat too much of your favorite food if you want to enjoy it before everyone else eats it first. They eat many small “meals” throughout the day, rarely eat meat, and are happy to survive on a small variety of foods. Their foods have few ingredients and almost all directly from the earth. We even feel the need to make homemade baby food to keep the processed ingredients out of their little bodies. They are healthy.
Their energy is unending. Because of their long nights of sleep that we require of them and the healthy foods and eating habits that we set before them, children have more energy and enthusiasm for life to fuel that energy than most adults can even attempt to follow. Beginning as babies, they squat to pick up things, bending at the knees in good form building strong, muscular thighs that eventually burn all their baby fat. Toddlers run in every direction seemingly at the same time, bouncing from one energetic movement to another, creating a dance out of their active motions. Panting and breathless, their excitement for their mere existence creates an energy that propels them in continuous rounds of jumps, springs, and army crawls. They give their all with huge bursts of energy expenditure until they can no longer give at all, resting until they do it again. They never stop.
They live in such a way that we should all stop and admire. If only we could share our feelings until we no longer felt their weight, eat only until we are 60% full, move like our energy is never-ending, and end our day with 11-12 hours of sleep. Perhaps then our faces would be bursting with smiles as well.