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Old 01-24-2006, 10:59 AM   #1  
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Default Fitness and our children

I was asked how you go about helping your children or family members with children that are obese. I gave my thoughts and would love to hear some of yours. Childhood obesity is such an epidemic these days and is such a heartbreak. Here was my post.

Well, you know I have a 7 year old daughter myself. Childhood obesity is something that is just epidemic in our country and getting worse each year. On the other side of the coin, we have all heard stories about parents obsessing over their child's weight and with the best of intentions, end up making their child feel they are never good enough or god forbid anorexic.
In my opinion, one of the most flawed arguments that I ever hear is the "... as long as it is not impacting their health..." Well you know, when you first get cancer, that little tumor does not really impact your health. If you knew you had cancer early when it is the easiest to treat and you have the best chance for a great outcome - would it make sense to wait until it started to impact your health? No - no one would dream of doing that.
Habits, our patterns of behavior become harder and harder to change over time. As a parent, if you knew that you had the power to take away years of hurt for your child, I think almost all of us would want to do what they could. In my opinion, the focus with children has to be the same one that we should have as adults. Getting physically fit is about your healthy and quality of life. What things you can do, how you feel, and only lastly about how you look. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look better, but in the trifecta of benefits to being a healthy weight, in my mind the looks comes in a distant third.

What I do with Katy is I model good eating habits. I keep junk food out of the house and I make healthy substitutions to save her calories. Low fat 1/3 less calorie Ice cream in moderation replaced it's higher calorie version. 1% milk replaced 2% as she did not care for fat free milk. It may not sound like much but it saves her 20 calories on every glass of milk she drinks per day. She loves the triple berry desert I make in place of the more sugar based snacks. I switched her to 100 calorie low fat mini bags of popcorn for treats from the 290 calorie version and she did not even notice the difference.

I keep her engaged in physical activities - I am coaching her ffps soccer team this season - this will be our 4th season in the league. is a great non-competitive league where all the kids get to play and have fun (and sneaky of me but Katy gets some great exercise while having a blast) We walk, ride our bikes, we are going to do a family 5K fun walk in downtown Houston on the 26th of February.

To help your sister so she can help her daughter - you first have to have her see there is a problem. Health issues with obesity are not a question of if only one of when and how severe.

The bottom line for helping your kids (at least for me - and I am no expert just a guy that got really over weight for a long long time and wasted many years of my life on obesity) is to:
  • Model good behavior
  • Talk to your children about the benefits of being physically fit - very non-judgmental and focus on healthy, having fun and feeling great. Keep it positive!
  • Make healthy substitutions and find what they like to eat and make it fun and healthy. Katy and I made fat free 70 calorie per serving vanilla pudding last night. Fun stuff.
  • Add physical activities to your life. Not only does this lead to good health and great habits for your kids, but can be a great bonding time with your children. You develop common interests. Make sure it is stuff your kids want to do. I really make sure I am not "dragging" Katy to something that I want to do.
  • Did I mention modeling good behavior? It really starts with us.
  • Again, I am no child raising expert but the above is what I try to practice with my own daughter. I wish you the very best and would do anything to help that I can.
Well those were my thoughts... what are some of yours?
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Old 01-24-2006, 11:26 AM   #2  
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I absolutely second the idea of teaching children to make healthy food decisions. In addition to all the information that is emerging regarding HFCS, the fact remains that additives and preservatives are NOT things that our bodies know how to use.

My nephew is a healthy, energetic child. His mom noticed that he was sensitive to sugar very early on, and put him on a sugar-free diet. He gets the occasional sugar-free cookie, but really he's not much interested even in that. He's healthy, active, strong, and very very slender (that's the genetics).

Interestingly, his younger brother is also on the same diet. Since the boys have two different fathers but the same diet, it is VERY easy to see how genetics play out. The younger boy is much stockier and much more muscular, but still energetic, healthy, and not fat.

IMHO it's the sugar, and in view of what I'm seeing as these boys grow up I believe it's absolutely imperative to monitor and restrict a child's sugar intake. To do that, I believe the best way is to lead by example. Make whole-food choices, make healthy options available, and give the kids an environment in which they can grow healthy themselves.
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Old 01-24-2006, 02:15 PM   #3  
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This post was on a topic that I have really been struggling with lately. My children are smiling children at a healthy weight (and I'd give anything for them to remain that way!), but I realize that I have set such a poor example for them. I'm trying ot turn it around by offering healthy, nutritous meals that are made from fresh, wholesome ingredients, but the real issue is going to be pulling them away from the computer/television/video games. It's a habit that has deprived them of a much-needed, basic foundation of physical activity. I dont know how I'm going to remedy that, as they have learned a dislike for anything that requires much exertion.
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Old 01-25-2006, 03:57 AM   #4  
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Dani, I have a similar problem with my 4 year old son. Right now he watches way too much tv...this has resulted because of me working shifts and being so tired all the time I've no energy to take him outside to play and also from my husband having chronic illness for about the past 3 years. He is not overweight, he's pretty active, always running around the house and also gets some exercise at daycare and juniour kindergarten. It is an issue that I am wanting to work at...I'm changing my schedule around at work so that I can spend more quality time with him, get him outside playing and not sitting in front of the tv or if we are inside we are doing arts and crafts or educational stuff. I don't mind if he watches a little tv but no more than about 1 hour a day is my target.
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