This week we’re celebrating the fourth birthday of “Let’s Move,” Michelle Obama’s initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. To celebrate, the First Lady conducted a focus group with kids and … Will Ferrell! He doesn’t disappoint – watch!
It inspired me to “interview” my kids, Will (8) and Anna (5), while we were out to dinner last night. Aside from learning that A) my interview skills are not nearly as entertaining as Will Ferrell’s, and B) we need to work harder on not talking with our mouths full(!), I got some other pretty great “morsels” (pun intended).
Q: “How Do We Get Exercise and How Can We Encourage Other Kids to Exercise?”
Will hit on something that all parents know in theory, but I think sometimes we overlook. The way to get kids to exercise is to “get them into a sport [activity] they really like, so they will really try hard.” Kids won’t have to be forced to do things they enjoy. All of the activities my kids rattled off were things they do because they have fun doing them.
Hmm. Can I say the same for myself? When I’m trudging away on the elliptical at the gym, am I having “fun”? No. Maybe that’s why it’s a lot harder to get myself to do it than, say, tennis with a friend. Or “boot camp” with a group of neighborhood moms who gab the whole time we are working out. Those are things I enjoy, and so it’s never hard for me to make room in my life to do them.
I want to teach my kids from a young age that exercise should feel good and be fun – not serve as a form of self-imposed torture. I vow to all of you now that I will be more conscious of my complaints about dragging myself to the gym, or my ensuing sore muscles, and instead tell them about how much fun I had dancing at Zumba or how good it felt to hit that awesome overhand in tennis.
Q: “What Are Healthy Foods and How Can We Eat Healthier?”
Can I admit something? No joke, not 10 minutes after this video, as we were wrapping up dinner, my 8-year-old said he was full (of HEALTHY foods!) and I said, “Just eat three more bites.” Hello?!? My kid has the ability to know when he’s full, and I just taught him he should eat more anyway! I immediately saw the error of my ways and took it back, but seriously, I need to take a lesson from him! How often do I keep eating – even though I’m full – just because there’s still food on my plate?
The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the USDA has a great kids page on their “Choose My Plate” program website. There are games, videos and songs to keep it fun, but also recipes, meal and snack tips and teaching guides. Nowhere on the website does it say I should force my child to eat more after he’s full!
FITfamily challenge: This little exercise gave us an opportunity to talk as a family about how we can strive to be healthier, and we realized that the only way to eat more healthy foods is to be willing to try new foods (or try foods again that we might not have liked last year). We set a goal to try one new healthy food a week – which is a BIG commitment for my sometimes picky eaters!
It also gave us the chance to pat ourselves on the backs and say, “Hey, we’re leading pretty active, healthy lifestyles!” I think in this world of anxiety-producing, over-achieving, competitive family lives, feeling good about a job well done is … well done!
So despite the fact that I have just chronicled two ways in which I have felt inadequate or “should” be doing something better regarding my family’s health, I will focus on the ways we are achieving health! I bet if you try, you can do the same!