Obesity is ravaging through our country like an uncontrollable wildfire. Sadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the target of that fire is our children. Did you know that 12.5 million children, ages 2 to 19 are obese? Which, by the way, has TRIPLED since 1980!
How has this happened?
In my opinion, as a health and fitness professional, parent and human being with two-eyes that sees what people eat – it’s obvious that this increase in obesity is due to the prevalence of unhealthy food, massive increases in portion sizes and the lack of healthy role models at home.
Notice I didn’t say genetics. Tough love time. If genetics were the #1 issue in obesity – then your ancestors ‘all the way back’ to the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s would have been obese or on there way to it. If you look at a family photo album and follow the pictures back to your great, great, great grandparents – chances are, they were thin. It’s not your family’s “fat” genes that have been passed down, but your family’s “cook book” and unhealthy lifestyle. Conversely, if you lead a fit and active lifestyle, chances are, your kids will follow in your footsteps of that too!
And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any ‘genetic’, predisposition for obesity can be corrected with a radical lifestyle change for the family.
Shouldn’t you just let kids be kids?
People often say, “they’re kids, let them eat what they want and enjoy it!” or “you don’t want to give your kids a complex about their weight”. Let me ask one question- how’s that working for us so far? We’ve tripled the number of kids with obesity in 3 decades. Obviously, this approach IS NOT working! Here’s the problem I have with these approaches.
Their Physical Health: That extra weight that your kid will be carrying around, can lead to serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease.
Their Mental Health: You don’t want to give them a complex, but psychosocial issues such as peer discrimination or poor self-esteem that are a result of being overweight or obese are real and WILL effect your kids deeply.
Their Future: Why set your kids up for failure? You make sure they have the right school supplies and tutors to get great grades, your saving for their college, you teach them to brush their teeth correctly, not to do drugs and encourage their goals. But then you put crap food in their bodies? This makes no sense. If you feed your child artificial, high fat, dangerous chemicals that you can’t pronounce, then you are literally making them sick and setting them up for a health failure.
Don’t misread this, I’m not for hounding kids about their weight to make them feel bad, or taking away every sweet treat in their life. I’m about balance and giving them the tools they NEED to live a healthy lifestyle. Their weight shouldn’t even come up, this should be about health and feeling great!
5 Tips for Having a Fit Family
1. Be a Role Model: Kids mirror their parents. If your kids see you live a healthy, balanced lifestyle everyday – then chances are, they will too! But, if they see you always struggling with your weight, on a “diet” or frustrated with the last 5-10lbs, then they will have those same struggles too!
2. Exercise Together: You can’t expect your kids to enjoy exercise if you don’t. Go on family walks, if your kids are old enough, take them to the gym with you!
We take our teenager to the gym for our Jet Set Body functional workout. Then, we have given her a special at-home, no weight workout she can do on her own.
3. Grocery Shop for Success: Just like when you “try to eat healthy” and you hear the pop-tarts in the pantry calling your name….If it’s in your house, they will eat it.
Fill your pantry and refrigerator with healthy foods your kids like. In my house, I always keep Trader Joe’s Pita whole wheat crackers and hummus, fresh fruit, as well as, low-calorie natural granola bars. I also keep a variety of frozen meal items from Trader Joe’s so our teen can make a meal she likes and is healthy, all on her own.
And know, that just like you did as a kid, they will say “Mom, there’s nothing to eat.”. Then instead of grabbing junk-food, they’ll grab and apple!
4. Learn to Make Healthy Food Yummy: I spent over a year creating and altering recipes that are often unhealthy, and making them 100% Jet Set Body approved and YUMMY! If you make eating healthy taste good- the family won’t care if it’s healthy or not.
Here are some of my healthy recipes that are kid approved: kale chips, chicken picatta, fickin’ awesome bison burgers, sweet potato gnocchi, turkey fennel soup and lean meat sauce with spaghetti squash!
5. Balance is KEY: Here’s the deal. Every healthy lifestyle needs to include balance, it’s the yin and the yang. If you only feed your family vegetables and fish – they will (a) revolt (b) feel like they’re being punished (c) boomerang and find crap somewhere else.
Here’s how we find balance with our teenager each week:
- Monday through Friday we eat a healthy breakfast and dinner as a family.
- She brings her balanced lunch to school and has a snack after school (note tip #3 for making sure your kitchen is healthy!).
- Friday & Saturday night, when we dine out, she indulges a bit more and drinks a “Shirley Temple” as opposed to the water she drinks during the week.
- Sunday is “cheat day”. Which really only means we go out for brunch and have a not-on-plan dinner. Maybe a made from scratch pasta or pizza with fresh, organic ingredients. Also- portions are in control. Then we indulge on a delicious cupcake or yummy baked item!
Having a fit family isn’t easy, and yes, it takes preparation and motivation. But, as a parent, you only want the best for your kids. Giving them the gift of health starts with you.
Change your lifestyle and it will change your life. Then pass that on to your kids, grand kids and great grand kids.