by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
Some of us are born into a family, others have the unique privilege of choosing one. During this time of year for gratitude, cherish those closest to you by living well …
Family has a strong impact on an individual. Most quickly agree family and friends have the biggest influence on lifestyle. Often from birth, this dynamic group of people each play a role in, and have an effect on, the life of a child. Through them, we learn everything from nutrition habits to who we are. A foundation is built, and added upon year after year.
Take advantage of upcoming holiday gatherings to reconnect. Add a new level to that foundation to keep it strong and supported. Use the proven influence we wield over each other to encourage healthier living.
Commit to More Activity
This is the family version of developing a “fitness plan.” Think of fun, everyday ways to be more physically active. No one wants a rigid exercise program to execute after a day of work and school, in between piles of homework and bill-paying. Banish the formal plan and get busy moving!
- Replace a family movie with interactive games, such as Wii sports. Get off the couch and break a sweat over healthy competition.
- Focus holiday gifts on active gear. Now is the time for new sneakers, a cool bike helmet, or a sleek snowboard or snowshoes. To further motivate, keep these within easy reach. Don’t forget hydration. Kids love colorful water bottles. Who doesn’t! Wrap up a few of different shapes and sizes.
The Center is family friendly. Enjoy a workout while your kids have fun at the Childcare center. When they are old enough, enroll them in Fit Kids classes or swim lessons. Children usually want to imitate their parents, teens included though they may not admit it. Let them witness your healthy habits, and copy them, by providing opportunities.
- Try a new sport or make fitness a daytrip of hiking or skating. Associate fitness with fun and games. Many members discover their favorite exercise methods later in life, including everything from yoga to marathon participation. Experiment with your family. Try community fun runs, join a bocce ball team (they really exist), or teach them moves from your Zumba® class. Give ballroom dancing a try. The whole family can partner up and have a laugh. You will add excitement to your daily routine and may discover a new fave! Don’t forget to video the fun.
From a very early age, teach the importance of healthy nutrition. Food is fuel. It should not be used as a reward. (Get your homework done and you can have a cupcake.) It is not a punishment. (You must sit at the dinner table until your plate is cleared.) Send the right messages for a lifelong healthy relationship with food.
Here’s the hardest part: Live the right example. Eat your words. You can’t sell healthy eating if you are snacking on donuts and dipping into leftover Halloween candy all the time. For the whole family’s sake, make it easy to eat healthy. Adults crave junk food, too. Control it with convenience:
- Have a basket of fruit within easy reach on the kitchen counter.
- Place carrot sticks, sliced peppers, and cheese cubes at eye level in the fridge. Sit them next to yogurt cups for a sweet alternative.
- Have access to water all day long. Keep it flowing in insulated cold cups with lids for easy transport around the house. Fill them in the morning; repeat until bedtime. Then, put a full cup on nightstands.
When kids feel sluggish, gently remind them of how food choices contribute to this. Don’t scold. Instead, contemplate it with them. Try, “Hmm, what did you eat earlier? Ah, you had that cookie. Your body is responding to the sugar.” Then, offer a healthy alternative to counteract it.
When you gather with family and friends this holiday season, remember you can be the deciding factor. Use your actions, words– and, yes, your side dishes– to encourage healthy living. Be strong and well, for yourself and your loved ones.