In today’s go-go-go world, coupled with the constant sense of instant gratification, raising a healthy and fit family can be challenging. I often get asked, “How do you and your wife have time and energy for yourselves? How did you get your daughter to do this and eat that?” The answer to these questions is actually very simple: Discipline. While discipline is not something that comes easily to everyone, there are many reasons and actions you can take to encourage your child to live a healthy lifestyle.
Teach by Example
The first and likely most important question I want to ask is, “What does eating healthy and working out teach your kids?”
Simply put, kids learn better by seeing. If your kids see you eating healthy and exercising, they’ll be more likely to emulate you, which makes you a better role model. Therefore, they learn about setting goals and being disciplined. If your child sees you sacrificing TV time so you can go workout, they will learn that being active is more important than being entertained.
On the same note, if your child sees you eating chicken and vegetables and cooking at home more frequently, they are more likely to mimic this behavior when they get out on their own and are less likely to keep asking for that happy meal in the short term. Also, coaching your child to set realistic fitness goals teaches them that living a healthy lifestyle is not about their weight early on.
For example: Challenge your child to run a half mile in X amount of time, or ride a bike certain distance, or be able to do X amount of pushups or chin-ups. This also teaches your children direction in that they can work towards accomplishing a given task even if that task may take months to achieve. Just remember to avoid forcing your kids to do something they don’t want to do or are not physically capable of doing. In doing so, you’re not only preventing possible resentment, but keeping them safe.
Make Exercise Fun
Now, you may be asking, “How do I implement a workout that can involve my child?” There are a few options here. You can take them to the gym with you and start teaching them, provided they are old enough to work out there (usually 12 years old). You can also do exercises at home with them, such as:
Lastly, you can simply involve them in active daily activities or encourage them to participate in sports. Examples include:
- Cutting the grass
- Yard work
- Washing the car
- Shoveling the driveway
These things are not “traditional” exercises by any means, but it is a good way to teach them that moving on a daily basis is important.
Get the Whole Family Involved
Finally, we should talk about how to make time for nutrition and training in the life of you and your family. First, get your significant other and/or additional family members involved. This process is very hard if you are the only one participating. It can be done, but having others working toward the same goal makes it much easier.
Realistically all we need to devote is one hour per day, 3-4 days a week for the betterment of our health. The other 3-4 days of that week should be spent prepping food for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. That is only 7 hours you have to find every week. Many of us spend at least that much time watching TV or Facebooking every week. The key is to constantly tell yourself that you only get one body and you have the choice to take care of it every day or ignore it every day. Just remember: The choice you make will likely be your child’s same choice one day.