This is my Father-in-Law. He’s turning 75 this year. He’s a smart, earnest man. I learn from him every time I have the luxury to see him. It’s not just the little things he says, the wisdom he imparts, the places and spaces we disagree, or  the way he parents the husband. More, it’s the way he lives his life.

I was in the back of the boat last week while he skied around a deep lake in Wisconsin. Picture me, snapping photos, jaw dropped way open. Mosquitoes stuck between my central incisors. We were attending a family reunion, an 80th birthday party, and had a whole week with the boys. More on that later, but let me just summarize the time with them (except for one afternoon): yum. During this whimsical boat ride, and after the jaw drop, I had a cartoon-ish grin on my face. I mean, this is kind of awesome, yes?

The trip really made me think he’s figured something out. Yesterday in clinic I was loaded down with check ups (count them: 20+), which often translates to lots of time talking about overweight. I spend many many minutes trying to help families find the balance in the amount of energy their kids take in & the amount they use or “burn off.” The memory of this ski fueled me in my effort to identify kids at risk of overweight so that I can get my little patients and my kids to this spot. I really want them all behind a boat at 75. I didn’t mention my Father-in-Law to anyone. It’s not that he’s been perfect or is supposed to held up high. Rather, it just got me more motivated to dig in deep to help families find their way to fitness, health, and balance.

If we want our kids to live a long life, experience happiness, and feel contented, we really have to redesign what we do now, to get them there. Obesity is hard on kids and adults in all sorts of ways.

The obesity epidemic may be our biggest hurdle. Everyone seems to be talking about obesity (thank goodness). I know you may be tired of the messages. The words are ubiquitous; I even learned some stats from an online Colbert Report I watched last night. But I really do think and talk about overweight and obesity all day. With 1/3 of our children overweight and more than 1/6 (17%) of all children identified as obese, this is a huge part of my every day. And probably about a 1/3 of yours…

We know that children who are overweight suffer psychological consequences (they are teased, bullied, have lower self-esteem) and are more likely to be overweight as adults, too. We know they are at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and illness that will shorten their lives.

So, I say this, while the sun is at the right angle, the weather nice, and the fresh fruit & veggies cheaper and easier to find, we should do this: work on getting 50% of the plate you offer your child covered in fruits and veggies. Think of the plate as a pie chart. 1/2 covered in fruit or veggies will do wonders.

I’m going to do the same. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy. But just maybe, if I can sustain the efforts as the long winters of time approach, little O will one day be the one waving from behind the boat, on the eve of his 75th…