Small choices can have BIG impact on our fitness, and our culture is constantly challenging us to stay healthy in the face of obstacles like indulgence and inactivity. It takes real work to avoid the pitfalls of unhealthy habits. Electronics provide entertainment and the ability to communicate without moving a muscle. We can order food now with the tap of a button. From those “Why did I do that?” moments to making bad food choices, some of these seemingly small choices can really sabotage our fitness progress.
I am a husband, and father of two teenage girls. We are a very busy family and are often faced with making choices that affect our health. Even though I am a master trainer with years of success improving people’s health and fitness, I also make mistakes when I’m confronted with busy everyday life.
Six years ago, my family faced our most difficult health challenge. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease called IgM Nephropathy, an autoimmune disease that affects the filters of the kidneys. My wife and I looked deeper into our nutrition and lifestyle to see what could be improved and controlled. It was a real reminder to make the best of every day we are given. We gained new motivation to truly enjoy our family time and find ways to bring out the best in all of us. Here are some habits we created:
- Start each day being thankful instead of dwelling on what’s wrong in your life.
It’s amazing how different your outlook is when you reflect on the good things in your life. Think of the people in your life, your ability to move, the food you are able to eat, the roof over your head or anything else that deserves to be recognized. We all have our struggles, but it never helps to dwell on the negative. People that never lose hope are the ones that overcome, and hope comes from understanding the gifts you are given and using them to improve your life and the lives of others.
- Get out of the house.
Go and do. Explore where you live and get to know what’s available in your community and beyond. It’s easy to get stuck in your surroundings, but if you make it a regular routine to get out, you and your family will have quality time and a chance to bond and learn. It could be going on walks, meeting with friends or even just running errands. Choose to be a part of your environment, and create adventure.
- Choose music over TV.
TV can easily become a trap for inactivity and procrastination. Try turning on music instead. It often brightens the mood in the house as well as the energy and sometimes even turns into a dance party! When music is on, people are more likely to move around, interact and be productive. So, go on and crank the tunes and see what happens.
- Cook at home together as a family.
Preparing your food at home is more cost-effective and helps you make better food choices. If you get the whole family involved in preparation, they appreciate the food more and will be more active and moving around through the process. The more you make at home, the more control you have over what’s going in your food, the quality of ingredients and care involved in the creation.
- Read all the ingredients and truly know what you’re eating.
With my daughter’s diagnosis, we became very aware of what’s in our food. We committed to nourishing our bodies with quality food and making it a big part of our daily health choices. We read every label. We look for things that we know will be beneficial to consume, and look for alternatives if bad ingredients are present. It’s benefited our whole family, and we’ve had a great time shopping and going to farmers markets together. There are a wealth of resources available to help you learn about your food and nutrition. Check out our D.TOX program, the “Eat Well. Live Well.” nutrition manual or subscribe to our Flourish newsletter, the Experience Life magazine or other available Life Time resources.
- Schedule fun events regularly.
I’m sure you’ve heard, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This mantra applies to helping your family stay active and healthy as well. Get out your calendar and schedule some fun things to do on a regular basis. I would challenge you to try doing weekly events. From something active to a family game night, there are so many options available. Make it a regular thing, and it will help your family be closer and healthier. Make good use of the time you have together, and celebrate it with something fun that makes lasting memories.
- Encourage face-to-face communication.
In today’s technology-driven world, we’ve lost some of the value of face-to-face communication. Make it a priority to talk to each other. Dinner and car rides are great times to connect with the family. During group activities, encourage your children to put away their phones and be present. When you practice this engagement often, you’ll find that you may not even have to ask for the phones to be put away. They’ll want to talk and share what is going on with them.
- Be the example for others to follow.
Show that being healthy is a priority for you. Self-evaluate your habits. Look for areas that could be improved. If you lack energy or feel like you are not at the fitness level where you want to be, seek advice from a Fitness Professional.
Overall, enjoy the time you have with your family and friends. Bring out the best in each other by finding fun and healthy things to do together and make them life-long habits. When you do this, everybody wins.