I have a dream. While I may not be Martin Luther King, Jr. – – I do have a dream. I feel like God keeps putting these images and thoughts in my head, and they keep getting louder and louder. I am literally dreaming about my dream. It is kind of multifaceted. I want to own a fitness studio, but more specifically I want to create a non-profit organization geared towards working with childhood obesity. Teaching families how to cook and eat, especially on a budget. I think about names like Healthy Habit Hobbits. Although someone else suggested Healthy Little Hooligans. Maybe Healthy Little Hobbits instead? Or just something completely different, who knows. Ultimately, I want to write and publish books as well.
Did you know that In the United States, childhood obesity is a prevalent problem? Shocking, I know. 🙂 But in all seriousness, the harmful effects are high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing problems, future risk of stroke or heart failure and fatty liver disease. Some speculate that this can be due to low income issues, therefore, fattier foods are quicker and cheaper. However; I certainly know plenty of overweight children who live in affluent families, neighborhoods, etc. Poverty is not always the cause.
So what are some ways we can teach families to deal with overweight and out of shape children?
First, we can start by limiting screen time. Do not eliminate it though. Some of it is good. According to a recent study, children who watch more than two hours of TV daily are at a higher risk of developing obesity. So let’s encourage people to get their kids moving! Let’s chase them, play ball, assign chores—do whatever we can to keep these little humans active.
Another simple solution is to get kids eating breakfast. Not necessarily high sugar cereals, but maybe eggs and oatmeal or a spinach omelet or fruit, greek yogurt, etc. Teach them how to make it, if appropriate. Let them take ownership of what they are preparing and eating, and have a voice. Of course, this depends on the age and the parents have the ultimate authority on what is purchased.
Maybe you can get your kids signed up to play sports? It doesn’t have to be expensive. Maybe take them bowling or join scouts? They may grumble at first, especially if they are out of shape, but teach the kids to stick with something to the end of the season. Teach kids to journal and compare how they felt at the beginning vs. how they felt at the end.
Now let’s talk about the schools. How can you get involved at the school level and help them develop a health initiative program? Maybe you can join the PTA or recruit some other parents to set up relay races or bike rodeo events. If you have an issue with what your kids eat at the school cafeteria, pack their lunches so you know what they’ll eat. Get them involved in this process. Don’t just blindly pack it and expect them to gobble it all up.
Also, stay on top of your kids’ health. Make sure they get regular checkups, and be in clear communication with your pediatrician. If your think your child may be overweight or heading in that direction, talk to your doctor about this. If you are not happy with your doctor’s initiative on the issue, find a new doctor. Same goes for Dentist.
Remember to teach your kids about their bodies and how food affects their functioning. Make it enjoyable. Make it a game. Depending on the age, you can really have a good time with this type of thing. Encourage them to try new foods and note how the foods make them feel physically. We do star charts and stickers, whereas each kid gets a new star for each healthy new food they try. They do not have to like it, they just have to swallow it. When they hit 10 stars, they get a pre-determined prize they helped pick. You can also take this a step further and get your kids to talk about emotions that may be tied to certain foods. Maybe there is fear. Talk about that.
Now here is a task that can be easy or difficult, depending on your situation. Set a good example. If you are already living a healthy lifestyle, keep on doing that and have an open dialogue with your children about what you do and why. If you do NOT have a healthy lifestyle, then start making small changes, communicating it as you go along.
Need more ideas? Have you heard of Geocaching? It is fabulous. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Google it. It’s like a worldwide treasure hunt outside. It teaches kids all kinds of valuable skills. Camping and hiking are also excellent. Get kids outside. However; it is important to remember that kids do not cool as efficiently as adults do, so hydration and frequent breaks will be critical. This is especially true where I live. It can get super hot in these parts. At any rate, When you are working with children to get them physically fit, whether they are your own kids or friends, etc. – – remember to try and end on a good note. Let them experience small successes and mini goals met.
So now that I’ve totally gone off on a rant about ways to get kids physically active … tell me your thoughts. What would you think of a non-profit organization like I mentioned? What would you call it? GO!
As always, make champion choices,
The Healthy Habit Lady