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Practical ways to develop healthy habits in your family

"According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), data from 2017-2020 showed that 19.7% of children and teens aged 2-19 were affected by obesity. That equates to 14.7 million individuals."

Since Covid we all probably could say we do a lot more sitting then we did before. Maybe we’re getting back to some more movement but we got a lot more comfortable staying home. Kids had months of no sports and everyone got a lot more screen time.

“The prevalence of child obesity in America has tripled since the 1970s. And while there are a lot of factors behind this worrisome trend, not least among them is the fact that kids spend an average of 7.5 hours in front of a screen each day.”

I can relate to getting more sedentary since covid. I used to teach group classes and be a personal trainer at a gym. I would be on my feet teaching or training for 30-40 hours a week. Then covid hit, I still do personal training but have taken a huge turn towards nutrition. Because to me you can't have one without the other. So that's why I created my app with workout programs and then I coach on nutrition. Because to me, again, you need both. But I went from being on my feet for work from 30-40 hours to now maybe 5. That's crazy! I had to adjust my nutrition and make sure I was getting myself moving at different times during the day. It's been hard for me and it's my job to prioritize fitness.

So, if you feel like it's hard to be healthy and make healthy choices. I hear you. It's simple but it does take discipline. I could imagine if it's hard for yourself it's going to be hard for you to instill it into your children or spouse too. Which brings me to my first point.

As a parent or spouse who wants to incorporate or develop healthy habits for their family. You must lead by example. How can we expect our spouse or kids to make healthy choices or changes if we’re not doing it ourselves. I don't agree with that method, that's for sure. Something to ask yourself is “ Do you push your health to the side?” If yes. Then how on earth do you expect your kids to win at that? Especially if you're the one cooking the meals or making daily decisions for activities or meals. Someone needs to take the initiative and lead.

Peter (my husband) will eat anything I put in front of him. Except if I make macaroni noodles with homemade sauce. He will go out and buy different pasta. (that's a story I can share another time.) But he is very easy to please when it comes to food. I could use that to my advantage for sure and just give him a quesadilla every night. Which he would gladly do because he loves quesadillas. Don't get me wrong, sometimes it is quesadilla night and there's no veggies, just a lot of cheese and chicken. But what I'm getting at is I'm the decision maker in what he eats. I am influencing his health. Sure he could turn down my food and make something else. But odds are your spouse and kids may not do that if they like what you’re making and it's not nutrient dense. So if we have that responsibility we have to take it seriously. I'm not saying drive yourself crazy. And start making homemade veggie soup every night. But make small changes to improve your health. Then start to do the same with your family. It has to start with us first, we must lead by example and they to some extent will follow.

Something else that is extremely important is to talk about it. Why should we go to the park as a family instead of watching a movie when the sun is out. Explain that quality family time is so important. That it's so helpful for our hearts and minds to get outside and get some fresh air. Explain why you're adding more fruits and veggies to their meals. Why vitamins are important. Explain why you’re incorporating more chicken at meal times. Or cold cuts rather than grilled cheese or PB&J. (Nothing wrong with those things either, but protein is so important.) Talk to your kids. Explain that you want them to feel their best and be able to run fast. Practice a sport with them and explain that you want to be able to play with them and learn too. If you and your spouse are in a rut and you feel sluggish and unmotivated at work and home. Explain that. Explain you don't feel your best and that you want to show up as your best. Talk about it.

Along with talking about healthy habits. Please, please don't fat shame. There's no need to say don't eat that cookie or you’ll get fat. Because that's actually not true at all. It's not all about looks anyways. Put an emphasis on how they feel. On how you feel. You can explain that you don't eat out of the oreo package because you know you’ll eat without thinking and that may upset your stomach. But again. If you don't want your kids eating out of the oreo package I hope you're not doing it yourself.

I addressed before having more cold cuts or chicken at lunch rather than a PB&J. I'm not saying you have to do that but it's a suggestion. Protein is so important for hair, skin, nails, bones, cells and basically everything in your body. It also curbs cravings and satisfies you. So if you or your kids have a big sweet tooth try incorporating some more protein at meals. See if that helps. This could also be throwing in a cheese stick at lunch. Or a little beef jerky stick. Or when you’re having dinner be sure to have some form of protein at a meal. Make a protein shake with peanut butter and banana and yogurt for breakfast. Don't change everything all at once but try some little things. So what I'm emphasizing is to bring balance to your meals. Look to incorporate protein, fats and carbs. Try to throw some veggies or fruit in there. Again I'm not saying throw out the cookies and the grilled cheese. That's a terrible idea. What I'm saying is add in some other options as well. And be sure you’re incorporating those things in your day too.

Along with not cutting things out but rather incorporating. There's no need to cut out dairy or sugar unless directed by a doctor. A little self reflection again. Do you tell your kids no sugar yet eat it yourself? I don't understand that logic. Again, unless directed by a doctor. But rather than replacing the cookie for carrot sticks why not have both?

The biggest thing I wanted to emphasize is that if we want to develop healthy habits within our family. It starts with us. So we must lead by example. Whether that's in exercise or eating more nutrient dense. Be the example. I'm not saying do a complete 180 in all areas of life. But maybe have water at the dinner table rather than iced tea. Try having grapes in the lunch box rather than just fruit snacks. Go for a walk around the block after dinner and talk about your day rather than going your separate ways on your phones. These are some suggestions. But like I said above try to incorporate the nutrient dense rather than remove the treats. Explain your actions. If you can't then maybe reconsider them. I hope this was helpful and not discouraging. If you don't feel like you're leading the best way you can, that's okay. You can make a change today. Don't give up, do it for you and the people around you.

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