Love the life that loves you back

By Lisa Marshall | Director Wild Women On Top 

As a mum expecting my second child, I’ve finally realised that our children may never or rarely do what we say, but they will, if not always, copy what we do. 

They are dependent on us, their parents. They eat what we eat and act as we act. They learn about healthy choices by watching us in action. The power of parents to influence the life their children will live is truly extraordinary and that’s why I do what I do. 

My Sundays are spent sourcing organic foods from the local market and preparing meals for the week ahead so I don’t fall prey to take-outs and snack foods. Quite often I hear people say, I am lucky to be as fit and healthy as I am. I’ve always believed it’s not luck, but mostly habit. Habits I too learnt from a very health conscious mum and an active dad. Raised in Africa, I was VERY lucky my kitchen cupboard looked very different to the other kids at school. My diet didn’t consist of the usual white bread ham sandwiches with margarine, Twinkie bars, bright yellow processed cheese, hot dogs and green cordial. Rather we were different. I’ll always remember my sibling sand I being the only kids in the playground at school who would open their lunch box to a salad sandwich on seed bread, carrot sticks, fresh fruit and nuts (yes nuts were still allowed at school then!) Of course at that age we didn’t realise just how lucky we were.

My Mum read the Here’s Health Mag each month which she got my Granny to send to her from the UK. She knew even then about the dangers of colourings in foods, excess sugar, additives, processed meats and stayed well away from any of them. She gave us vitamins every day, we weren’t allowed soft drinks or sugar at home, and if we got a glass of fruit juice it was diluted half and half with water. People called her a “witch doctor” and thought she was mad. When I look back now to how very different our lifestyle was to those around me, I can’t quite believe how lucky I was. As a child, you don’t realise it, and as parents, we often underestimate the power of our influence over our children’s future health and wellbeing.

When people ask me how I came to lead a healthy lifestyle and create a business that is built on this very way of living, I always think of my parents first and thank them for teaching me healthy habits from the beginning. Now in their 70’s and 80’s, they still exercise every day, eat a plant-based vegetarian diet of organic foods, and are still able to enjoy living in their own home and taking on adventurous holidays and active pursuits, despite their age. 

I think a big struggle of parenting today is a desire to provide for children and how often this translates into longer working hours, commuting and rushing. The result is that we sacrifice our health and fitness, and in doing this we sacrifice our children’s too. By no means is it an easy balance, to live we must support ourselves and for some, this does regrettable come at the expense of time spent with the kids. But, life is not always easy, nor is it always fair but we must work with what we have to create a healthy environment and healthy habits for our children. Reconsider sweet rewards or screen time and think long term, what damage are we doing in the long run? 

So our children learn from watching us. Help them learn healthy living and making a living must coexist together. Neither one is more important, but if we sacrifice our health we sacrifice our ability to provide. Yes it’s a juggle, yes it’s a challenge, but we need to choose to make healthy habits a priority in our lives, and lead by example. Each of us can make small changes and in turn give our children and those around us, the chance to live vibrant, adventure-filled lives. 

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