Most states now have mandatory daily physical education classes within schools in an attempt to get kids physically active. But, even these efforts are not doing much to curb the childhood obesity trend. What is a parent to do?
Over the years, I was a big guy and my highest weight was logged in February of 2012 at 247 pounds (today, just 7 months later, I am below 180 pounds). My son has that type of metabolism that you’d like to bottle and sell. He pretty much can eat anything and doesn’t gain weight. My daughter, though, has the metabolism of her parents. We were noticing that we had junk food and sugary drinks in the house and that she was spending more and more time on the computer and watching television, trends that promote physical inactivity.
As parents, my wife and I decided that we needed to set the example for our children. It isn’t good enough to preach healthy eating and lifestyle to your children if you are not “walking the walk.” In February, I made the conscious decision to cut out all soda from my diet. My wife soon followed and we began to notice a change (plus we lost weight). The next thing we did was start counting calories through a free app called MyFitnessPal. The junk snacks started to slowly disappear and healthier snacks replaced them. Portion control at meals was also a key factor in setting that example.
My wife and I also got on a regular exercise routine that started with walking and bicycling, and now includes running. My daughter is a dancer and one thing that we noticed was that she started practicing her dance routines at home. We would suggest that she practice, but never said, “You have to practice dance.” Now she practices daily without really being prompted. She also ran/walked in a 5K run with my wife and me a few weeks ago. My daughter sees us being physically active and now she is mirroring that in her own way with her own activities.
Leading by example is something we hear about in the business world all the time. We’ve all had that boss who never rolled up his sleeves and never got his hands dirty working alongside of those people he supervised. I think the same holds true as a parent. If we want our children to eat healthy and get physical activity into their daily routine, we have to roll up our sleeves, get in there and do it with them.
My wife and I will be running in the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn’s 5K run on Saturday, October 6 starting at 8:00am. Our daughter will either run in the 5K or the Kids’ Dash (which starts at 9:00am.) You can join our team at https://fundraising.active.com/fundraiser/Fun-raisers. The 5K is a flat road run in the neighborhood behind the museum. As an added benefit, the museum will watch your children for free while you run the 5K, and then they can run in the Kids’ Dash after you return from your run. Or maybe they would run in the 5K, too! After the Kids’ Dash and until 1:00pm, the museum will be celebrating the “Worldwide Day of Play!” by holding its annual Fall Fun Fest complete with a jumpy (promoting physical activity), a fireman’s pole, games, crafts and activities! This is a free outdoor event and the first 500 kids will get a free pumpkin! Plus, walking around the event is also good physical activity!
I really believe that if you want your children to be physical activity and eat properly, you have to lead by example. You also have to make physical activity fun and then they will want to be physically active, which is kind of the point anyway isn’t it? … to get them to want to do it.