At school, Narls has been learning about ways to keep his heart healthy, which is something very near and dear to my own heart. Heart disease is prominent on both sides of my family; my mom had a heart attack and a quadruple bypass before she was 50, and my dad had a heart attack and stroke by 60. I remember talking to one of my mom's heart doctors who said if you have heart disease in your genetics, you are 40% more likely to have a heart attack. Forty percent. And that's not even taking anything else into account - that's starting at square one.
The threat of an unhealthy heart was a huge motivator for when we started eating clean a couple years ago. Our diet is still a big topic of discussion in our home; Narls knows all about proteins and healthy fats and over-processing and Red 40 (he even mentioned the dangers of Red 40 to his teacher when he found out M&Ms were a topping selection at the valentine ice cream social). That's not saying he didn't eat the M&Ms, because he totally did, but he ate less of them and with a bit of 7-year-old understanding about the composition of the things he's putting in his body and how it affects his health.
Heart disease is a huge motivating factor when it comes to exercise, too. The kids see Clay go to basketball and me to yoga and the whole family often goes swimming together at our gym. Even something as simple as taking Lainey for an evening walk is important, which I don't do with Clay & the kids enough. It's a struggle for me to exercise every day because honestly? I kind of hate it. But I hate being overweight even more. And I imagine I'd hate having heart disease most of all. So I do it, even though it doesn't come natural to me like it does Clay, so that it will always be a way of life for Narls and Emerson, so it will always come natural to them.
And it's beyond awesome that these same goals - healthy diet and daily physical activity - are being echoed in Narls' classroom. The school recently held a Jump Rope for Heart where the kids spent the entire afternoon at different jump rope stations being active and energizing their hearts. Parents came and we helped and cheered them on. The school also encouraged the children to raise money for heart disease and Narls took it upon himself to collect donations. He set a personal goal of raising $25 and do you know that boy collected $121? Almost five times his goal. We're so proud of him. And he's proud of himself!
We're teaching and we're learning and we're trying and we'll get there.
We have to. For healthy lives and healthy hearts.