I come from a large family, my Dad is Filipino and my Mom is American. Many family members from my Dad’s side of the family live in Sacramento but my Mom’s side of the family is scattered around Montana and parts of Arkansas. When I was growing up holidays and family gatherings were the most important events every month. Most of the food was homemade Filipino dishes, which is not the healthiest but very delicious. However, this means I was constantly surrounded by fried, salty, fatty, and super sugary foods. Luckily, my childhood was very active. Growing up as the middle child in a set of triplets, I always had my siblings to play with. But the older I got the more I started to notice how hard some members of my family struggled to balance a healthy eating pattern and physical activity – especially my mom.
My mom is undoubtedly the most important person in my life. She is my biggest supporter, the most honest critic, best listener, and best friend. All my life she has struggled to maintain a healthy diet with exercise – having triplets and a stressful job did not make that an easy task. Having triplets definitely was not easy on her body and trying to make time to exercise was not her biggest priority. She was the ultimate parent, she did everything while my dad would jump in when it fit his schedule. She worked nights, she’d come home clean up last night’s dinner, wake us up, make coffee for my dad, help get us ready for daycare, then try to squeeze in 5 hours of sleep, before waking up and making dinner, getting ready for work then the whole cycle would start all over again. She didn’t have time to take care of herself because she was so busy taking care of us and that damaged her health. Still does. In December of 2013 it all caught up to her – the stress, the lack of exercise, the nights getting fast food because she doesn’t know when she’ll have enough time to eat at home – she had a stroke. Her doctors warned her that if her lifestyle did not change, she would have another one but this time she may not get to a hospital on time. Since I was 13 I did my best to support my mom. We’d go on morning walks, I’d go with her to her Weight Watchers meetings, we’d go on no-meat diets, and cut sugar. We tried a lot and still try to keep each other on track. My mom has done so much for me but I feel like I can do more. My mom grew up in a small town where they weren’t taught the importance of healthy eating and my grandparents raised them on a southern diet until my grandparents split up when my mom was an adult. She has been surrounded most of her life with unhealthy food and worked jobs that were sedentary and messed with her sleep patterning. On top of that her side of the family has a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, and being overweight. The risk factors just stacked against her.
I care about preventing obesity because if my Mom had resources throughout her life that supported and taught more about healthy lifestyles and the ways to prevent obesity and obesity-related disease, she wouldn’t have to be fighting this hard to combat all the years of an unhealthy lifestyle. She wouldn’t be struggling this hard to fight obesity to live longer. She just wouldn’t have to fight something that could’ve been prevented if there were more resources available to her. That’s why I care and that’s why I’m advocating for the solutions I have proposed. The frequency of obesity can be reduced, if people are given the knowledge and the support to prevent it.