Monday, April 8, 2013

Fitness, Nutrition & Kids

I have been thinking about this subject for a while. How do I teach my kids the importance of eating healthy and staying fit without actually "teaching" it to them? And honestly I think the answer is to lead by example and to just talk about it in everyday life and conversation.

Michael and I workout 6 days a week in our home. The kids know we workout, watch us a lot (our workout space is next to the playroom) and even join in when they feel like it. We encourage them to join us if they are interested that day and if not thats fine too. Watching us leads to questions and we always answer them honestly. Why do you work out? Why do you lift weights? How come this hurts? etc, etc, etc…. Showing them how fitness fits into our life is a great gift we can give them! One I hope will last a lifetime.

The kids after a family run!
As they get older we are talking to them more and more about the benefits for them now and forever; like how being strong can help them be better at the sports they already play, it can help them run faster and longer when playing tag on the playground, and it can help them cross the money bars easily. The benefits are not only on a playing field though, but in the classroom and at home too. Exercise can improve concentration and memory. It also releases hormones that can improve their mood!

Exercise does mean kids need to do aerobics or go to the track and run. Exercise can be made fun! Jumping on the trampoline, riding their bikes and just playing outside. The more you can get involved with your kids the better! Take them to a trail and go hiking, go run a mile, or just go outside and play soccer in the yard or race back and forth. There are also lots of recreation programs that are not as expensive where kids can try out different sports. Encourage them to try something new! My kids have tried, soccer, basketball, baseball, flag football, cheerleading, dance, gymnastics, swimming and maybe more…. some they liked better than others, but they enjoyed trying something new and making new friends too!

We also try to eat healthy in our house; although nothing is off limits forever. There are times we eat ice cream, candy, cheese sticks and pizza (and sometime its all in one day)! We never "go on a diet!" We just eat healthy. Again, we talk with the kids about healthy choices, how to make them, and why they are the best choices for our bodies. I have taught the older kids to read labels and how to compare foods in the grocery store. In fact just yesterday Logan told me to much sodium is not good for you. (I guess he did learn something!)

Another way that the kids are learning to make healthy choices is by using the My Plate model. We have a magnet on our fridge and the kids will try to make sure they have all of the food groups in one meal. Its fun to see them try to make their own lunch using the magnet.

And the more the kids are involved in deciding
g what to have and helping prepare it the more likely they are to eat it. My kids love to help in the kitchen, and I just have to let my OCD with messes go, and go for it! Cooking together is also a great family bonding experience. We have made homemade pasta as a family and it was a great way to spend an afternoon together! This summer we are going to learn to make our own homemade frozen yogurt as a family.

We also started a garden that the kids help plant, take care of, harvest and eat! What a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables!

Our goals this summer are to just get out and play! Walk to the park, go hiking together, ride bikes and just have fun exercising with our kids! We limit the amount of screen time and max the amount of outside time! And to cook together and relax and enjoy a nice meal outside! Kids learn the most by example, so we want to be their example for health and fitness, now and forever!

How do you teach your kids the importance of health and fitness? Any tricks or tips?

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