Such was the case with Marshall Reid, a 12 year old from Sanford, North Carolina, on a mission not just to change his own health, but the health of his family and millions of other Americans who struggle with their weight as well.
Marshall’s weight loss journey began after a school bully pointed out his biggest insecurity. “One of my classmates actually told me you don’t look very good. You’re fat,” he said. Already feeling self conscious about his weight, Marshall then happened to watch the documentary ‘Super Size Me’ and decided that wasn’t the lifestyle he wanted.
So he told his mom, Alexandra, that he wanted to get healthy – that he was done with eating unhealthy foods. And he proposed the family eat the opposite of the way they’d been eating – primarily fast food and take out – for the next 30 days to see if they could stick to it. She said hearing the news felt like somebody threw a brick at her chest.
“The amount of parental responsibility that all the sudden came rushing down on me was alarming,” she told The Today Show during a recent interview. “He was very convincing and I knew it came from his heart. And that was a sad moment for me because I knew he was hurting, and any mother doesn’t want her child hurting.”
Alexandra says she was happy that she listened to him in that moment, even if it felt like she was being slightly scrutinized as a mother. And from then on, the family was able to work together to change the way they ate and lived.
At the time, Marshall’s father, Dan, was overseas on military duty in Iraq and was unable to share in the experience first hand. But in order to include their dad in what they were doing, they started filming videos of their meal preparation and would show him the finished product before digging in.
Dan is proud of his son, saying, “It took a lot of his own introspective to look at where he was and where wanted to be.”
The family’s initial changes struck up a program that they started to call Portion Size Me. And although it began as a small-but-mighty in-house campaign, the family eventually developed the idea into a book in order to share their experience with others.
The book, appropriately titled “Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthier Family,” seeks to inspire others toward healthy living using a family-style approach. It includes such healthy principles as eating as many real foods as possible, cooking with real ingredients, pausing before you eat, get moving, and monitoring your portion sizes.
By cooking together at home and rethinking the way they approached food, the Reid family was able to collectively drop a total of 70 pounds, 36 of which was Marshall’s.
The determined 12 year old is now on a mission to continue to shrink his waistline, and help other kids and families do the same. He’s even appeared alongside chef Jamie Oliver’s on his TV show ‘Food Revolution’ to promote his book and educate other people about his worthy cause.
We think it’s fantastic that Marshall took the initiative to make such positive changes in his own life, and in the life of his family as well. Inspiring figures like him are needed now more than ever, especially on the wake of the grim projections for our nation’s ever-rising obesity rates.
Marshall’s main hope is that other kids will see the book and videos he posts online, and start bringing their parents in to get them thinking healthier, too. You can find out more about the book and the Portion Size Me at portionsize.me.