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For many of us, eating well and exercising becomes a difficult challenge as our family grows. There is hope, however, as studies have shown some benefit to tackling health problems as a family. Busy family life does not have to end your perfect annual checkups. There are many ways to incorporate healthy choices for all of your ragtag crew; Motivation Thoughts shares a few here:
Eat at Home
As our families grow, healthy food often gets cut from our plans. When our daily nutrition includes a breakfast bar on the way out each morning, a processed microwave lunch, and fast-food dinner, it’s no wonder we feel like we’re running on empty! That adds up to more salt, fat, and simple carbohydrates we don’t need, and not enough of the nutrients we do. With a little planning, eating food at home can become second nature.
Try prepping a few meals over the weekend so you can simply heat them up when you get home. Soups, stews, salads and even casseroles can be prepared in advance with minimal time away from your weekend relaxation. There are lots of great sites, like Better Homes & Garden, that offer recipes and tips on feeding a family quickly.
Get a Dog
Yes, seriously, get a dog. Yes, they are a huge responsibility. Yes, they may eat your shoes. But studies show a direct correlation between physical activity and dog owners. In essence, if you have a dog, you have to get out and walk more. This leads to an increase in activity across the board.
Of course, there are many reasons you may not be able to get a dog of your own. For example, perhaps your apartment building doesn’t allow pets or perhaps someone in your household has an allergy. If that’s the case, seek out other ways to spend time with animals. Become a pet sitter — checking in on or staying with dogs whose owners are out of town. Volunteer at an animal shelter or offer to help out at a local vet’s office. The benefits of spending time with animals are truly great so find ways to take advantage of them if you can.
In martial arts, they say “the family that kicks together, sticks together”. There are many activities, including martial arts, that offer family classes. Some gyms have Zumba or Yoga classes for families. Other families may enjoy outdoor adventures like rock climbing and whitewater rafting. Whatever you’re into, doing a healthy activity together not only makes it more fun, it makes your healthy habit more likely to stick, according to Science Daily.
What if one parent works 2nd shift, or another travels regularly? If scheduling time together is difficult, try coming up with a family challenge that everyone can add work toward in their own time. For example, you could set a goal for total miles logged running or on a bike, or hours meditating. Choose an app to help you track your team’s progress and encourage each other. Make the team challenge sweeter by agreeing a reward you’ll have when the challenge is met!
Be a Cheerleader
Let’s face it; your family members aren’t always going to be interested in the same thing, especially during the dreaded teenage years. That’s where you shift from being on the same team to being each other’s cheerleaders. Create a culture of enthusiasm and support for each other’s achievements.
When your kids are small, come to practices and put the phone down. Show up to the game and scream your heart out (with positive encouragement of course). Tell them you’re proud of them, even when they flub that last pass. Don’t stop with making it all about rooting for the kids. Moms and Dads need encouragement, too: whether Mom wants to try the Ironman race, or Dad hopes his softball team makes it to the city championship. This can apply to your meals as well. Take turns choosing recipes and cooking meals. When someone says “let’s just get takeout,” the rest of the team can pitch in to put the broccoli and chicken in the oven, so the family keeps working toward their healthy goal. By creating a culture where each family member is valued, you all get a turn to be cheered when you soar and picked up when you fall. What could be better?
This concept can be about bigger-picture items as well, like Mom or Dad going back to school to continue their education. Going for that elusive advanced degree shows the rest of the family resilience and determination when it comes to self-improvement and confidence building. This endeavor doesn’t have to drown you in debt or take up all your time — in fact, taking coursework online makes it easier, more convenient, and more affordable than ever. Going for an online master’s degree from University of Phoenix, for example, opens the door to more than 26 programs offered 8-10 times throughout the year, and tuition is locked in so there’s no increase in expenses as you complete your studies.
Keep Your Community Safe
Play an active role in your community. Make sure children in your area have safe places to gather and play. Get to know other families in your neighborhood and work together to clean and maintain local parks. Teach your children about the dangers associated with drugs and alcohol, and help them develop the skills to withstand peer pressure. Work with other parents and your children’s teachers to take power away from bullies. Always keep the lines of communication open so that you’re aware of your children’s concerns.
Staying healthy as a family is a goal best attempted together. It will enrich the fiber of your bond and memories. As with any team, the more you work together, the more you’ll succeed!