Be a Healthy Family in 2010

Let 2010 be the year that you and your family get healthy. It can be a lot easier than you think, especially if you incorporate fun, family, and food. In addition, it costs you a lot less money to be healthy than it does to be sick.

Many people do not maintain their goals of healthy eating and exercise routines because they are too restrictive and lack a key ingredient: fun. When trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle, adding fun to whatever you do is a sure way of sticking to your program. Set goals for the improvements in the areas of physical activity and eating to make effective health changes. Working on these areas as a family will not only improve your health, but the strength of your family.

When it comes down to setting goals and making changes, include all members of the family. Allowing everyone to have input can create more interest and ownership in achieving a healthier lifestyle. In addition, educating children on the importance of a healthy lifestyle can make a lasting impression. Set goals as a group, and make sure they’re realistic goals. If your family has never exercised before, start by adding one activity session a week. After a few weeks, increase your amount and the number of times of week, so it still seems easy. Be sure to develop goals that will allow you to succeed and are concrete. In addition, be sure to set your goals so they focus on what you can do versus putting restrictions into place.

For example, if your goals is to eat six servings of fruits and vegetables daily, each family member gets to pick one serving that everyone has to have, and then the individual has the freedom to pick their choice for the remaining number of servings.

Setting a goal like this will increase the amount of healthy food most people will normally eat and naturally decrease the amount of junk food. In addition, it becomes fun picking what everyone else has to eat!

Shop for food and prepare meals as a family. Decide on shopping lists and meals with input from everyone. Planning your week out as far as eating goes can save you money and assist you in making healthy choices. Create items that are based on the health goals your family set. Not only will you be able to enlist some help, but your family will make better choices together. Be sure to include family members of all ages in this process. It is never too early or too late to assist someone with their health.

Including an element of fun in physical activity is a great way to disguise exercise for some who are resistant to it. Activities such as playing tag, roller or ice skating, hiking, sledding, and even crazy dancing are great ways to get your body moving and your heart pumping. Daily activity that requires you to move large body parts for a minimum of 20 minutes continuously can be extremely beneficial to your health. Try a combination of structured exercise and play activity to achieve maximal health benefits for you and your family.

Setting activity goals should be focused on what you can do. Focus on increasing activity time instead of limiting non-activity time. Set the timer and have a dance in the kitchen to your favorite music instead of restricting time watching television. Moving to the music is exercise and a lot of fun. Have a contest for craziest dance moves and allow your children to pick the music. Variety in the activity that you choose is best for overall health gains. In addition, try to incorporate inside and outside activities all year long to decrease boredom and encourage new activities.

An important step in goal setting and behavior change that is often overlooked is the reward. All too often, people trying to make healthy changes will use food as a reward. Set your rewards as tangible things that the whole family can enjoy. Favorite movies, nights out, or extra time together are great rewards to offer.

Teaching children about healthier eating and exercise can help them make better choices for their health as they grow. Showing them how to incorporate healthier activity in their lives will lay the foundation for them. Leading young children through the process of making healthier choices with activities and eating habits will help them understand the importance of caring for themselves.

Performing these things together will make it natural for them to lead a healthy lifestyle. Following some of these little suggestions can help you make 2010 the year that you help you become healthier and stronger as a family.

If you find that taking this task on by yourself is too difficult, look for support in your community. Many organizations, such as the YMCA of Greater Springfield, offer family-wellness programs.

This article is provided by the staff at the YMCA of Greater Springfield.

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