How I plan to teach my children about health and fitness
I am 11 years older than my “little” sister. I put little in quotes because she’s actually not little at all, she’s about 3 inches taller than me but you know, it’s that whole she’ll-always-be-little-to-me thing.
Because of this though, I remember so many things from her childhood. The other day I was thinking about how I want to raise my own daughter to be healthy and take care of her body when I remembered a conversation my sister had with one of her friends when they were about 9 years old.
My sister and her friend wanted to eat a snack so they were cruising through the pantry in the kitchen trying to find something to eat. My sister found some cookies, or something similar, and asked if her friend if she wanted some. Her friend replied, “I can’t eat that, I’ll get fat”.
It broke my heart honestly. This was over 10 years ago and I still remember the shocked feeling I had. This girl was thin and so young but she was already worrying that she was going to get fat.
I’m sure she heard this somewhere and felt like she needed to worry about her own weight. It made me think about how I need to not only watch what I say in front of my daughter (and any other future children) but also in how I treat myself.
We have a growing obesity epidemic in this country right now. We hear about it all the time and it truly is a problem. We also have rising health care costs, rising cases of type 2 diabetes, and a lot of other problems that result from unhealthy lifestyles. However, there are still many people with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia too. How do we deal with this once we have children that we are responsible for teaching and influencing?
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a perfect answer for that but I know I’m going to do my best to show my daughter and any future children of mine (sons included) that it is important to embrace a healthy lifestyle but to find the right balance as well.
It won’t be an easy task but here are a few things I plan to do:
• Practice what I always say – moderation! I like the 80/20 rule for most things in life and with eating that’s included. Let’s eat healthy 80% of the time but 20% of the time, enjoy our favorite foods that might not be the healthiest options.
• Not to always reward with food. Moderation is again key here. If they really want ice cream or something as a treat for doing something well, that’s fine. But I also want to reward with things like going to see a movie, a toy, or getting to stay up 10 extra minutes at night. Mix it up!
• Avoid talking negative about my appearance. We aren’t going to love everything about our bodies. I know there are many things I would change about mine but I’m going to do my best to be happy with what I have and reflect that upon my daughter. I’m not going to call myself fat or ugly. I’m sure I won’t be perfect at this but I’m going to give it my best shot to always speak in a positive way about myself so my daughter sees that as well.
• Make exercise fun! Exercise doesn’t need to feel like a chore. It can be something we do as a family outside – riding bikes, going for a walk, playing a game. Making it a part of our family and something we do together doesn’t make it feel like work or forced.
• Practice what I preach. This is a huge one. As a parent, I feel I need to lead by example. Showing my children that Mom and Dad eat healthy most of the time, splurge some of the time, and exercise regularly in ways we enjoy. Showing them what a healthy lifestyle is with a positive body image.
I hope these things help my children to look in the mirror every day and be happy with what they see. To feel good about themselves and not worry so much about weight or size of their clothes. Just about how they feel and enjoying the healthy body they are in.
I want to eat cookies with my children, go for runs with them, and cook healthy meals with them too.
I want them to know their size isn’t what matters but how they feel and staying healthy so they can enjoy life as long as possible is what is important.
I want to encourage you to follow along in my health journey through what I learn and experience. I hope there is something you can take away from Fit Busy Female that inspires you to start taking control of your health and feeling better every day.