Pop Culture & Parenting
Fitness Should Play a Bigger Role in Your Family
By Kim Dolan Leto
One out of three kids are now considered overweight or obese. Life is different now than when we grew up. Parents don't cook meals as often or pack lunches, and the days of allowing our children to ride their bikes and play outside are nearly gone.
With the average kid spending seven hours a day on all screen media combined (TV, videos, and DVDs, computer time outside of schoolwork, and video games), our children are not getting the minimum requirement of one hour of exercise per day that they need.
This needs to change, but where do we start?
We lead by example.
If you don't workout and eat right, your children most likely won't either. Children will mimic what you do more than they'll ever listen to what you say. How many times have you thought, My child is just like me?
Are you taking care of your health? The Bible tells us that our body is God's temple: "You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God has called us to take care of His temple. So, if your health is not a priority in your life, then it should be.
Health is not just about looking good, because our health habits do not affect us alone. As a mom, I feel responsible to teach my daughter how to eat properly and enjoy exercise. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." This means it is my responsibility to teach her how to take care of her body (God's temple) as well.
So, how do we train our children in the way they should go?
Mothers often are the ones who bring the food into the home, so our choices matter. I believe in eating God-made foods versus man-made foods whenever possible because highly-processed (man-made) foods are ruining our taste buds and are suggested to have a similar impact on us as substance abuse drugs.
We see this especially in sugar. In fact, there is a great body of research showing sugar to possess qualities with effects similar to some addictive narcotics. According to Healthline News, one such study concluded that "intermittent access to sugar can lead to behavioral and neurochemical changes that resemble the effects of a substance of abuse."
Common sense tells us that, since God made us, we should be eating the foods He made. Consider the difference between an apple and a pop tart. These boxed and packaged food items might seem easier to snack on during a morning rush, but there are full of sugar and lacking the nutrition our children need.
Health is a lifestyle and it starts in the home.
If you're crunched for time and don't see yourself cutting up fruit or preparing a healthy dinner every night, then begin by planning meals and cooking in bulk; this is a great solution to a time-crunched schedule.
For instance, I do my cooking for the entire week after church on Sundays, while I'm also doing the laundry. People in the fitness industry refer to this as "Sunday Food Prep."
Here's what you do:
- Cook lean cuts of meats,
- Bake sweet potatoes,
- Cook brown rice pasta, and
- Chop veggies and fruit.
By prepping these basic food items, everything you need to make healthy meals for the rest of the week is ready to go.
Consider how much easier it would be to make a meal if you had all of the ingredients cooked and prepped in your refrigerator right now. Having healthy snacks and lunch from home saves time, money, and calories. Also, it's important to remember that every type of food, from pizza to hamburgers, can be made in a healthier way.
When it comes to fitness, take the perfection pressure off. Many of us wait to have the perfect time to exercise, but we need to intentionally make the time. If necessary, exercising for 10-minute increments three times a day (and even dividing the activities between ourselves and our children if need be) is a great way to get started. After all, some activity is always better than none.
A great way to ensure that your whole family benefits from fitness activities is to do activities that your whole family can do together.
Family fitness ideas include:
- Taking walks after dinner;
- Playing in the backyard;
- Putting on a Zumba video and dancing with your kids;
- Hula hooping, hopscotch, and make-shift obstacle courses;
- Signing your children and yourself up for classes at the local YMCA
- Hiking, biking, and swimming on the weekends.
Make the time.
I know you're busy. In fact, "I don't have enough time" is my go-to excuse. But! We all get the same 24 hours in a day, and we need to make them count. Prayerfully consider building an hour or more back into your day by evaluating what you give your time to. For example, try going on an Internet diet. If you're unable to exercise or cook because you're spending hours on social media, take a break from tweeting and posting images of Facebook and Instagram and pray for balance instead.
The excuse of "I don't have enough time" is a very real one, but with awareness of our time management and planning we can all do better.
Organize your life, live by a schedule, and model the behaviors you want to see in your children.
Faith –The Power to Get Results
And where are you supposed to get the energy?
I'm glad you asked.
As a working mom, the glue that holds my life together is God.
Spend any time you have in the morning, even if it's just a verse or a downloaded message on your iPod, make time for God, and watch how he changes everything. With our eyes on him, we can find the discipline and focus to get our families and ourselves healthy. From exhaustion to excuses, give everything you have to him and He'll bless it and show you the way.
Can you think of anything more important than your child's health? Try exchanging excuses for solutions with just one good decision a day. Start with beverage options in your household, collect one new, healthy recipe a week, schedule a fun, family activity, and start getting healthier together.
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Kim Dolan Leto is a fitness expert, author of 10 Steps to your F.I.T.: Faith Inspired Transformations, and has a passion for leading women to experience faith-inspired transformations that affect their physical, mental and spiritual wellness. She is the director of family health and wellness for the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), holds a degree in business, is a certified fitness trainer and nutrition specialist, has completed Dale Carnegie's High-Impact Presentations speaker training course, and has been recognized as one of the most-published fitness professionals. For more information, visit www.kimdolanleto.com.
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