As I was surfing in West Cork recently, on a glorious Saturday morning, it was great to see so many families out on the beach and in the water, being active and healthy and having fun. Scenes like that are so great to watch as all the family are participating and reaping the health benefits of being fit. Not only does it help the fitness levels of the family unit it also helps the family relationship and dynamics. Couples and families that are active will have better relationships, better moods and fewer arguments.
We get numerous emails every month from concerned parents, asking us to work with their children, something that I don’t do. Instead I like to work with the family as a unit, discussing the plan of action with the parents and getting the parents to implement this into the family life. I see this as the future when it comes to defeating childhood obesity rates, each family taking responsibility for itself and working together as a team to get healthier, maybe lose some weight and leave a legacy of health when it comes to their children in their adult years. If you can create a healthy environment and give your children healthy habits, the chances are they will continue this on into later life. So today, I want to share with you some of the tools I use with my family clients so that you too can use these with your family:
Work as a team – I feel that it’s so important to work as a unit to improve the health of your family. If your children need to lose weight, lecturing them will not be effective as they will rebel against you. Instead a family approach where everyone is involved is often better, as you are now leading by example, showing them that you are getting involved too.
Let each member choose an activity – This is often one of the key points that makes all the difference to any programme with families. We all like different sports and we live in a country that has an incredible amount of sports on offer. Every week or every month, let one person in the family choose what activity they want to do. This not only makes them happy, it also exposes everyone to a whole host of sports that you may not normally do. Staying fit for life is all about finding a sport or sports that you like to do and this is a way to ensure that you all get to try as many sports as possible.
Get you children involved in cooking – I am always amazed with the lack of cooking and food knowledge that teenagers have when I do lectures in schools. Why not get your family involved in cooking as well, dictating one evening a week where each person cooks the meal or shops for the ingredients or gets involved with some form of the meal? This is essential in giving your children the life tools to cook for themselves in later life.
Health based rewards – We all love treats and rewards for doing well and achieving our goals. Why not make these treats health based in some way, like clothes or runners or some other sport related item?
Limit computer game time – With each new computer console on the market comes some new way of online interaction that seems to increase the addictiveness of the games. This can lead to an unhealthy amount of time being spent playing games. In my opinion these games should be limited to a certain amount of time so that there is time in the day for activity. Government recommendations aim for 60 minutes a day of activity for children and teenagers, but with PE in schools being reduced with decreasing budgets this often is not happening.
Treat day each week – Just like our packages with adult clients, I feel that one treat day a week is important. This creates a balanced approach to weight loss and health. If you aim to cut out every type of junk and high sugar food from your family’s diet then you can be guaranteed you will face a near mutiny from your children. Why not aim to have one day a week when you are going to have a treat day, having a different treat each time, again reinforcing the idea that fast food is ok, just in small amounts.
These are some of the key tips that I give to my clients to help improve the health of their families and children. It’s not a radical approach; it’s just simple tips that will make a big, big difference to you, your family and the future health of your children.