Okay people…I hope you are ready for a doozey for my Straight Talk Blog because this one I am incredibly passionate about. Are you seizing the opportunity to teach your children how to eat nutritiously, incorporate regular exercise into their life, get the proper amount of sleep each night, and embrace an overall healthy lifestyle that will allow them to reach their fullest potential? Or, through your example are you teaching them to eat poor quality food out of convenience, reward themselves with sugary, unhealthy foods, not exercise, sleep only four to five hours each night, and make all of the excuses in the world not to lead a healthy lifestyle?
Unfortunately, the staggering child overweight and obesity statistics are proving that the vast majority of parents are teaching their kids terrible habits by their own example. Please understand, the purpose of this is not to pass judgment on you. I recognize the enormous challenges that parents face. However, on a daily basis, I hear adults use their children as excuses for not reaching their weight loss goals and continuing on a downward spiral that only leads them to a low quality, unproductive, and unhealthy life. My purpose is to bring this issue to your attention and give you a call to action to make positive changes in the lives of you and your children. My purpose is to break this perpetuating cycle.
So what if I point out some of the most common pitfalls and show you how you can not only change your own habits so you can have the quality of life you want, but as an added bonus it also teaches your children the healthy habits they need to be successful in school, on the sports field, and in life? Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
The most significant thing to remember is that your children will mimic your behavior. So picture this; you come home exhausted because you only got five hours of sleep, worked 12 hours, and ate unhealthy food from the vending machines. As you pass by your child mesmerized by their computer games or Facebook, you plop yourself on the couch digging in the chip bag with one hand and flicking through the mindless reality shows with the other.
Or what if you went to bed at a time that allowed for seven to eight hours of sleep, woke up and ate a healthy breakfast, packed your cooler with a healthy lunch and a few snacks, busted out the productivity at work and were able to work a shorter day, dropped your kids off at an activity as you went and got your workout on, came home and cooked a healthy meal together as a family, and then talked about the hiking trip your were all going to go on as a family that weekend. Which scenario do you think leads to the entire family being healthy and the kids winning in the long run?
Now, I know most of you are sitting there thinking Rebecca lives in a fantasy land. Trust me, I know this is not easy. As a new business owner that has endured some tough personal losses this year, I have had my share of trials and tribulations with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, what I have also found is if I get enough rest, plan my meals and eat healthfully, and get regular exercise, I am so much more productive, that I get more done in less time. In addition, I feel like a million bucks, I look pretty damn good at 41, and I know I am setting a great example for the hundreds of members who come in to State of Fitness each day. That’s powerful stuff.
Create a healthy environment. Get rid of the JUNK in the house. No one needs it…including your children. I just about lose my mind when I hear a client say to me, “Well I need to keep the Twinkies in the cupboard for my kids. They aren’t overweight and don’t deserve to be deprived just because I am trying to lose weight.” Are you kidding me! Deprived! You will be saving their life. Twinkies and the like are toxic waste. Not only that, but please understand, they will continue to eat crappy food well after that wonderful child metabolism has died down and they are working 40+ hours a week because this is the habit they learned. DO NOT reward your children with food, especially junk food. It’s important to create healthy nutritional habits as well as a healthy relationship with food and what food is really for. Food is your fuel and your medicine…nothing more. I like to think of myself as a Lamborghini, and I want to rev it up with high octane fuel baby. If you reward your children with candy, chips, soda, etc. not only will they continue to reward themselves with this in the future, but they will likely begin to turn to food out of boredom, depression, sadness, anxiety….and the emotional eating list goes on.
Here is a quick list of ways to guide your children (and yourself) to a healthy, productive life:
- Eat at least one meal each day as a family. Show them what a healthy meal consists of.
- Get your children outside and involved. After sitting in school all day they need to get those bodies MOVING!
- Turn off the technology. Get them in touch with their bodies.
- Stack on the support for any activities and healthy food choices they make.
- Ask them to participate in packing the lunches for the next day, taking a walk in the park after dinner, or going for a bike ride.
- Focus on extracurricular activities that your child enjoys.
- Teach them responsibility so they may have future success.
- Never use food as a reward.
- Lead by example.
- Expose them to good influences
- Daily activities that keep them moving. If your school does not offer daily physical education, check out local fitness facilities for youth activities.
You do not have to make all of these changes at once. Begin by sitting down with your significant other (if you have one) to create a united front. Remember, your children will try to divide and conquer to get their way. Come on, we all tried it when we were kids. Create a realistic timeline and strategy as well as anticipate what excuses or arguments your children will throw at you. Then as a united front you can either hold a family meeting to discuss your new direction, or you may find it works better to simply begin by changing your own habits first and then getting them involved with you. You know your family best, but have a plan.
Love yourself and your children enough to make a healthy lifestyle a priority. Not only will you reap the amazing benefits in ALL aspects of your life, but also it is by far the best gift you can give your children. Decide what lifestyle you want your children to have and lead them to it by your example.