Question: My daughter is overweight and most of her friends are not. I do not want to make her too self-conscious about her weight and tell her what not to eat but I am at a loss as to what to do.
If you want your kids to become interested in exercise, it is important for them to see you participating in exercise. Kids remember and are very conscious of what they see at home.
You can’t just tell kids that being active is fun, you have to actually show them. A few weeks ago we participated in the Santa Monica 5000 event to raise funds for the St. Johns Hospital. We facilitated a kids run and obstacle course. It was so rewarding seeing the parents with their kids setting early examples of spending a Sunday morning participating in this fun event.
As a parent it is SO important that you engage in regular physical activity. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to carve out 2 hours a day to exercise. On the contrary, you can get a great workout in a short amount of time by incorporating exercise into your everyday routine: Walk instead of drive; If you do drive, park the car far away from the entrance. Take walks after dinner. Turn off the TV and plan family activities that focus on physical activity. Demonstrate various activities to your kids so they have a lot to choose from.
Cook healthy meals at home and if you dine out, educate your kids how to make good choices in restaurants. If you give your teens the knowledge, tools, support and encouragement they will make healthy choices in college and throughout their life. You can also make plans with your teens’ friends parents to all do some sort of activity that involves being active. This is a great opportunity for bonding and to show support.
Today’s teens have active schedules and seemingly endless obligations, so it’s important to schedule physical activity.
Watch for changing interests. Just because your son or daughter played a certain sport or activity in middle school doesn’t mean he/she will always want to keep playing it. Continue to expose your teen to new activities and let him/her find what interests them. This, I believe, is one of the keys to long-term fitness and health.
Sophomore, Hamilton High School
When did you start exercising/playing sports?
I started exercising/playing sports at the age of 3. I started with soccer, tennis, and basketball, and of course, the all-time favorite of a 3-year-old girl, ballet. From then on, sports and dance weren’t things my mom made me do; they were the things I was truly passionate about. My intensity for sports grew, as did my love for dance, so I don’t like to think of them as exercise but rather hobbies/activities.
How do you stay fit?
I stay fit by watching what I eat and by staying active, whether it’s just a walk in the park or a 2 our spinning class.
What inspires YOU?
The people around me inspire me the most. When I’m driving and I see someone jogging right alongside me, I immediately think “gosh, I’m lazy.” And begin to feel guilty. If these people can do it, then I can too. Another inspiration is my active family. Both my mom and dad exercise regularly, and my older brother plays almost every sport I can name. Being around an active and moving environment influences my behavior as well.
How has fitness helped you in other parts of your life?
Fitness has got to be one of the most helpful and important things in this world. It’s the fuel for my engine. I also perform and as a performer, I find it very important to stay healthy and in shape. I want to look my best on stage when I’m singing and acting. Fitness has also helped me with stress. As a 15-year-old high school girl, my stress level gradually increases by the day. Sometimes the only thing that can really cool me down is movement. When I exercise, I feel great, both physically and emotionally. Fitness frees the mind like nothing else.
How does your family’s health and fitness affect yours?
My family’s fitness certainly affects my own. Quite honestly, if my parents weren’t so involved in exercise, I probably wouldn’t be either. I really owe it all to my grandpa who should be crowned the king of inspiration. Although now approaching 80 and not as upbeat, my grandpa used to exercise his heart out every day. He played several sports (tennis, golf, track to name a few), went for daily jogs, rode his bike, and most importantly, he passed this initiative onto my mother and her two brothers. I currently live in a very healthy and aware home. My parents and I are very particular about what we eat, so most everything in our kitchen is so called “healthy” or “organic”
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
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