If you set your children up for success in fitness when they’re young, it will help keep them on track when they’re adults. Here’s your action plan for reaching your family fitness goals. Added bonus: You’ll up your own fitness level, too.
The old saying ‘monkey see, monkey do’ comes to mind when we’re talking about teaching children about physical fitness, especially in their early stages of development. When it comes to physical fitness, parents can positively encourage their children to be active by being active themselves. Children’s behavior is essentially modeled from our own. I think the same applies when it comes to our body image, too. Our kids don’t see us the way we see ourselves. They don’t notice the cellulite or lumps and bumps. Children see their parents as love and perfection personified. If you start making negative statements about your body, kids can start picking up on it, and in turn they start feeling insecure about themselves.
I appreciate that when we’re struggling with weight issues, it’s difficult to keep negative thoughts at bay. It can be quite distressing to a child if you think you’re unattractive, yet in their eyes you’re perfect. At its core, family fitness is a balancing act. We don’t want to be accepting of unhealthy weight gain or sedentary habits, but we don’t want to be overly consumed with negative thoughts either. Every parent has to master the fine balance of being healthy and active in a positive way. It’s not an easy task, and there’s no one proven approach to raising a healthy, well-balanced family. There is a way that I do it, and these three simple steps make a lot of sense to me. I hope they work for you as well.
Step 1: Positive Words
Our choice of words is very important in life. Whether it’s with friendships, relationships, business affairs or your body confidence, it’s essential to make an active choice to use positive language.
I’m convinced that we all have some sort of body issues. I’ve been guilty of upsetting my daughter unintentionally by referring to my tummy scars as ‘horrid.’ Her response was “I love your tummy, because without it we wouldn’t be here.” As you can imagine, I felt terrible when she said this. My negative thoughts (like many women’s) came right in the middle of summer swimsuit season a few years ago. I think I felt even worse because she has a small scar on her arm. It made me realize that I must always be positive with my words. I believe true beauty comes from within, even on a tough day. Always try to find a positive verbal approach to situations.
Step 2: Positive Thoughts
If you do have negative thoughts about your body, try to work on finding some positive body confidence statements. These statements come much more naturally when you make small physical changes in your routine to make yourself feel better.
For example, referring to a healthy diet as something you dread because it makes you feel deprived is a prime example of teaching kids that there’s some form of negative emotion attached to restricting the consumption of unhealthy calories. Like I said, the balancing act is not easy. A change in mindset about what you know is best for your overall health is the key.
Attempt to only share positive statements, such as ‘I’m getting healthy’ or ‘I’m working on being an active parent.’ This is especially important when speaking in front of young children, because they’re most influenced before teenage years. Remember that positive actions and words start with positive thoughts.
Step 3: Mindset to Action
Have you heard the saying “all talk and no action”? Well, it’s time for the action part of my post. It doesn’t have to be a chore to get the entire family moving. Once you get going with weekly activities, your entire family will start to look forward to family fitness time together.
This year I launched a program called ‘Fit from the Sidelines,’ to encourage parents to maximize every second of their time when taking their kids to sports games. I’ve always felt that kids’ sports practices are an ideal opportunity for parents to squeeze in a workout. While kids are busy playing, it’s the perfect opportunity for a parent to work on getting fit during this time. What a great example a parent can be, right at the moment their child starts to look for them and sees mom or dad doing exercises.
Start getting yourself active and feeling great, then slowly start introducing your family to your ideas. Here is a custom ‘Fit from the Sidelines’ workout to help get you started.
Workout of the Week
Ultimate Goal: Perform this routine 5 times through.
Every Second Counts Goal: Get through this once.
– (1) Walk (2) jog (3) run
– Choose two numbers based on your fitness level.
– Note: If you’re new to exercise, choose numbers 1 and 2. If you feel ready, choose 2-3.
– Perform 45 seconds of the low number, followed by 30 seconds of your second number.
– Perform a few stretches while you catch your breath for 30 seconds.
Not ready for jogging? Walk slowly as your 1, and then walk fast as your 2.
Stick to the time frame and sets, but adjust your running/jogging/walking as needed to fit your current fitness level.
The majority of your actions start with a thought, so keep your thoughts positive, your words to match your thoughts and hopefully your body will follow. It truly takes a village to raise a healthy active family.
Samantha Clayton is responsible for all activities relating to exercise and fitness education for Independent Herbalife Members and employees. Through in-person training sessions, educational tools and materials, and her blog (www.discovergoodfitness.com), she ensures that the important role of exercise as part of a healthy, active life is understood by all. She also helps create, organize and promote employee fitness programs and activities as an integral part of the company’s corporate wellness program.
A native of Liverpool, England, Samantha initially worked as a consultant for Herbalife for two years and led the Herbalife24-Fit program, the company’s first comprehensive fitness training program and DVD series.
Before joining the corporate ranks, Samantha was a professional athlete. She represented Great Britain in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. Prior to the Olympics, she won two medals in the Olympic AAA trials – a silver medal for the 200m and a bronze for the 100m – as well as a silver medal in the 4x100m relay during the European Junior Championships in 1997. Her personal records include 11.40 seconds in the 100m and 23.02 seconds in the 200m.
Samantha is a personal trainer and group exercise coach through the American Fitness and Aerobics Association (AFAA) and International Sport Science Association (ISSA).