Today I said goodbye to a training client. Like all trainers, I see clients come and go reguarly. Some start with a bang and peter out quickly. Others are stop and go before they stop their sessions. Still others hire me to help them achieve a short-term goal and when that is achieved they are off to other pursuits. The best kind of goodbye is the kind I got to experience today. Goodbyes aren't always sad!
As a trainer, my sole focus is helping my clients reach their healthy goals. There are as many ways to go about this as there are types of training clients. It's a big job to help people reach their goals. We often have to overcome physical barriers, emotional barriers, work/homelife barriers, time barriers, and mental barriers before working a plan can even begin. It takes a lot of creativity/compassion/knowledge on the part of the trainer. It takes HARD WORK on the part of the client to attain the goals. Client/Trainer TEAMWORK is the glue that holds the whole plan together.
Over and over, the clients I've seen experience the most success reaching their goals share a few important factors. #1: DEDICATION. Client goals are as varied as types of clients! I've trained clients that are looking to regain range of motion or flexibility, lose weight, train for an event/sport, change body composition, and even some who are in great shape & just want a little accountability for their workouts. DEDICATION to the goal(s) - this is the single most important factor in client success. Most goals take time to achieve and often it's not an easy journey. Most clients have set-backs. Life happens. There will be barriers to the healthy goals my clients want to achieve. Every single success story I've witnessed starts and ends with client DEDICATION to achieving their goal.
I'd rank CONSISTENCY as the next most important factor to client success. Client consistency in pursuit of their goal(s) will ensure they stay on track, create lasting habits (so they continue to be successful in the future), and provides the structure to see physical/health changes they desire. CONSISTENCY in sticking to a plan (created with the my help), CONSISTENCY in working the plan (you've go to do the work to see results!), CONSISTENCY in re-evaluating goals and progress (tweeking things as changes occur), CONSISTENCY in DEDICATION to achieving the goal(s) - CONSISTENCY is uber important!
SPIRIT is another key to success. Having a positive attitude (I can do this and I *will* do this) is so important in client success. for many, the biggest step is deciding to make a change and believing they can make it happen. Without a positive attitude, we may never arrive at DEDICATION & CONSISTENCY - so you can see how important this factor is!
Lastly, creating a PLAN that is specific to client goals is imperative for success. This is where hiring a creative, positive, knowledgeable, dedicated trainer can be invaluable. When you hire a trainer, you should never get a 'workout of the day' (WOD). Workouts/plans should be tailored specifically to your goals, your needs, and where you're at on any particular day you meet. When I train clients, I spend more time planning for their workout than they spend completing it! PLAN THE WORK, WORK THE PLAN.
When you combine client/trainer DEDICATION, CONSISTENCY and PLANNING (plus sprinkle in a lot of teamwork)...it's a winning combination for achieving your healthy goals.
Today I said goodbye to a cherished client. I've seen this client pretty much every week, most times twice a week, for about 1.5 years. I've seen her transform from a woman who said, "I'm not sure I can do this," to a woman who says, "I totally can do this!" I've seen her drop 20+ pounds and completely change her body composition/shape. I've seen her embrace the idea that her goals would take PLANNING, WORK, DEDICATION, CONSISTENCY and SPIRIT. She rocked all of those things! She not only met her healthy goals, she surpassed them, making lasting healthy lifestyle changes and changing her life. Today was a GREAT day as a trainer! I got to celebrate SUCCESS with my fitness friend. This particular goodbye was....AWESOME.
*Nichole Sargent trains clients exclusively at Harbor Square Athletic Club, for both members and non-members. Please inquire at HSAC 425-775-9935, or directly with Nichole at firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information on training/group fitness services offered.
WORKOUT PROGRESSION - WHEN DO I SWITCH UP MY ROUTINE FOR BEST RESULTS?
Whatever your goals (strength gains/faster running/losing weight/increasing cardiovasular endurance, etc), you have to have a schedule and a plan to achieve success. The first step in working toward your fitness goals is to set a workout schedule. Be specific in your planning: which days will you exercise, what will you do, where will you exercise, what will the intensity (or goal of the session) be, what is the duration of your exercise session...
After planning the specifics, it's time to put the plan into action. When you get to the gym (or your living room, the park, etc) - know what you will try to accomplish that day. This will make your workout efficient - important in our busy lives! Taking workout notes for strength days is a great idea - most gyms will have an area you can store your workout card, complete with reps, sets, weight, etc. Taking a few minutes to fill out a card, and then updating it during your workout with current information from your session is a great way to measure progress toward your goals. Having the workout notes during your session will keep you on task which leads to less time spent trying to figure out what to do next! It will also keep your organized - working specific muscle groups to create balance in the body or the toned effect you are looking for, planning for the cardio routine (HIIT, interval training, circuit training, etc) that session.
After you're in habit of completing your planned workouts, when do you know when it's time to switch up the routine? Generally speaking, if you want to see progress toward a specific fitness goal, you have to repeat the same (or similar) workout for about 8-12 weeks. Think of it like this; if you switch your workout every single week, that might be GREAT for motivation (staves off boredom), and if that's your fitness goal (consistent workouts) - this might be a great plan. However, if your fitness goals include assessing progress toward an ending point (ie strength gains, improving range of motion of a particular body part, increasing speed, improving agility, improving cardiovascular endurance....switching it up every week makes it hard to determine if you are improving! If you repeat your workouts (or similar workouts) for a period of time, and record your results (see previous paragraph!), you will easily be able to see improvements made. Seeing positive change can be a GREAT motivator to continue working toward your biggest fitness goals!
After about 8-12 weeks, your body will adapt to the strains your workouts impose. Many people start to see a plateau (especially in weight loss) after about 8-12 weeks of the same routine. When this happens (or about every 8-12 weeks as a rule of thumb), it's a great idea to revamp. Review your goals and the progress you've made toward them. Determine how you can change the routine to continue to see positive gains toward your biggest goals. Once again, be specific! Go back to the drawing board and recreate the plan, using the same steps as you did originally, but change up your routine to include new moves, challenges, and/or increased demands so that you begin to work your body in new ways. Once muscle memory begins (your body's adapted to the demands placed on it), you have to switch those demands to continue to see change.
But what if you've now reached your biggest goals? GREAT! Job well done! Time for the maintenance stage. Here's where you can continue to do the workouts you love most, change up your workouts to continue staying motivated, and/or rotate through workouts every 4-6 weeks to maintain muscle tone and cardiovascular health. Or maybe....there's a new goal on the horizon you can work toward?! :)
It's been a while since I've felt inspired to write a blog post, but this weekend I had the extreme pleasure of sharing the marathon experience with 17 incredible women. Hence, the following thoughts:
Running a marathon is a great analogy for life. If you want something positive to happen or change in your life, you have to set a goal and work toward it. More times than not, the goal is lofty & the path can be weary. The people who have the most success in life are those that set a plan into action, recruit support from others, hold themselves accountable to their goals/plan, and view set-backs as learning along the way.
A marathon is no different. This weekend 17 women saw their hard work pay off at the San Diego Marathon. Some were experienced marathoners (one gal is getting ready to run NYC Marathon, another experienced marathoner was shooting for a PR in the half, yet another was training for her first Ironman), others were running their first half marathon (5 women achieved this goal yesterday!), and still others were creating yet another rewarding half marathon experience for themselves. Everyone had their own goal, EVERYONE was successful.
As in life, sometimes things don't go as planned when running a marathon. Is that failure? No way. Set-backs are the time to reflect on our goals, learn from mistakes, and perhaps shift our thinking toward what things went right during the race. What are the take-aways from the event? Can we do something different to get a different outcome? Did we do the work required to achieve the outcome we hoped for? Is what we set out to do more important than the experience of trying to achieve it? Just like life, there is always something to be learned from the experience.
Running with friends is about so much more than running. Women who run together create bonds and friendships over runs that are immeasurably strong. Partner and group runs create the opportunity to escape everyday life & literally smell the roses (or fresh air, or ocean, etc). Group running conversations can be silly, & heartfelt. Sometimes there is no conversation, just the pounding of feet and the ease felt just being in the moment. The group run is not about pace, or distance, or time. The group run is about the experience together.
Sometimes, runners will dedicate a run to a cause as a way to honor a person they know. The group that I ran the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon with this weekend decided to run for a little guy we know named Victor. Victor is physically challenged and has never experienced the joy of running. As a way to honor him (the race was on his 9th birthday), we opted to make race shirts with his name & dedicated our miles to him. When the going got rough, he was my inspiration to keep putting one foot in front of the other. There is a great organization that coordinates the matching of runners & physically challenged people which allows runners to dedicate their runs to their Who I Run 4 match. Here is the website if you're interested in knowing more (it's awesome): http://www.whoirun4.com/
This weekend, being able to share a profound sense of accomplishment with women I deeply admire is hard to describe. The amount of work that goes into training for an endurance race is great, the commitment it takes to stick to a plan 3-4 months ahead of a goal is huge, & the feeling of success for following through and achieving a goal is forever. The friends I had the pleasure of running with this weekend are amazing. I am so incredibly grateful to have such inspiring, healthy, intelligent, kind, funny, beautiful, incredible women as role models in my life. Ladies, YOU are marathoners! Congratulations on your accomplishment - and here's to many more adventures to come! Thank you for a weekend I will cherish always.
SUMMER! Life has been full of family, travel, and spending quality time with my kids. As I reflect on the passing of the season (only 2 weeks left until I send my sons back to school), I am amazed by how many active things we packed into such a short portion of the year. My goal this summer was to keep my kids ACTIVE - doing fun things that would challenge their bodies/minds & continue to reinforce our family's emphasis on healthy living. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Highlights of our summer included teaching our kids to wakeboard, swimming in lakes in both North Carolina & New York, body surfing on the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach, mountain biking in Washington, Hiking Wallace Falls/St Edwards Park/Yost/Mt Jumbo in Juneau, AK/and upcoming hike at Mt Si in Washington, family runs (2-5 miles), yard games that involved running, bedtime dance parties, playing raquetball at Harbor Square Athletic Club, tennis, visits to the skatepark, and paddleboarding in the Puget Sound. Using a little imagination & a some planning allowed us to experience summer in a healthy way as a family, and at the same time, taught our children the valuable lesson that exercize can be FUN. I hope you were able to enjoy an active summer as well. FALL will be here soon - I'm planning just as many fun FALL activities for our family (think: hiking, biking, skiing, ice skating, & soccer!). Take out your calendar and plan some FUN, active days into your upcoming schedule. Your family (&/or your body!) will thank you!!
I haven't written a blog post in a while, partly because I've been busy, but also partly because I haven't felt drawn to any specific health/fitness topic in a while. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the cancellation of the NY Marathon, and the overwhelming response of the runners & other compassionate citizens, I felt compelled to share a few thoughts.
Let me first offer my heartfelt sympathy for those affected by the storm. I have fortunately never experienced that type of devastation. The photos of the damage to both life & property as a result of the Hurricane are astounding, and the sheer denseness of the population in those areas creates a unique problem in terms of providing aid and relief from the situation. Learning about the recovery efforts, the compassion of our citizens in giving their time & money to the cause, and the resilience of those affected is inspiring.
And in the middle of all the chaos, stood the NY Marathon, scheduled for last weekend. This race is considered by runners around the world as a 'bucket list' race. People come from far away for a chance to run with some of the most renowned runners alive. The NY Marathon is not only a huge event for runners, it is also a highly attended event by spectators. I've read (and heard from friends) that running along this course is like being at a non-stop party. Wall to wall people for 26.2 miles, with spectators who cheer, support, encourage, wave & smile for 5-8+ hours of their Sunday. In fact, the city's continual support of the race is probably known to be the most supportive, most enthusiastic, and most prevalent in US Marathon history.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many wondered how the NY Road Runners Club would be able to put on a race of this magnitude. Many wondered whether they should even try, considering the state of affairs in NYC. Watching the relief effort from afar, it seemed ridiculous to think they would proceed. However, due to the enormous expense and pressures involved with promoting this iconic race, the NYRR club (along with city officials) decided they would try. After all, racers had spent the last year qualifying & paying non-refundable entry fees & travel expenses in preparation for this event. This decision to hold the race was greatly criticized. Should emergency personnel be pulled from recovery efforts to staff the race? Should the funds used to supply food & water on the course be shifted to emergency efforts instead? There were many questions that begged consideration. In the end, just two days prior to the marathon, much too late in this marathoner's opinion, race & city officials ultimately cancelled the event. Had they cancelled it immediately after Hurricane Sandy, I would have grieved for the runners affected, but applauded the difficult decision. Doing it when runners were already en route to NYC seemed terribly inconsiderate.
I am continually amazed and honored to be part of a community (yes, runners form a community!) that pulls together. Imagine the money raised from the events thousands participate in each year. In 2012, there were approximately 5000+ people who raced marathons; many of the entry fees supported wonderful causes. In the same fashion that we race against each other but still pat a struggling racer on the back & give words of encouragement during a race, these NY Marathoners pulled together to provide support where needed most. Disappointed? You bet. Financially affected? Definitely. Willing to arrive in a city of devastation, scrap their dreams of racing an iconic marathon (possibly finding themselves without hotel accommodations because so many NYers needed shelter), these marathoners pulled together. They loaded ferries to Staton Island, gathered in Central Park, and spent their day doing what runners do best: supporting others. Bravo, Marathoners. May you kick asphault next year at the race! And thank you.
This blog post is dedicated to my friend, an amazing marathoner, Kristin, who was one of many who flew to NYC to find out the race was cancelled. I hope you have the chance to race there next year!
Clients and friends comment on my dedication to fitness. My dirty little secret? Staying motivated and consistent is HARD for me, too! Like most of you, there are weeks where my personal fitness goals take a backseat to my work schedule. Let's consider the 'bumps in the road' and how to get over them.
Know What Your Typical Barriers (Bumps!) Are.
Chances are, if you've had an interruption to your workout plans, that same interruption is likely to pop up again in the future. History repeats itself, right? Family demands, work schedule, and life's daily grind are generally predictable.
Plan for the Barriers to Occur Again. What will you do to stay consistent with your goals?
After work exercise that gets derailed by family responsibilities in the evenings can be solved by planning morning workouts. Of course, getting to bed on time & having early morning workout gear ready to go is key to success! Have some time at lunch? How about a lunchtime walk to clear the mind, get the blood flowing, and start the 2nd half of the work day renewed? Pack those running shoes into work! Feeling stressed about training time away from family? Invite them along for the ride - you can run while the family bikes alongside. Everyone wins! How about a family kickball game in the yard? Hiking at the local trail? Sneak in a walk/run at the track during kids' soccer practice? There are lots of ways to fit in exercise & healthy living while checking the family box. Heck, you might just inspire the rest of the family into a lifetime of healthy habits!
Don't Beat Yourself Up.
'Strive for progress, not perfection.' Whomever said this was a genius! No one's perfect! When you have a hiccup in your training - just get back on the horse. Bad week - no workouts? Weight gain this week? Big deal! You can't change the past, but you CAN change the future! What are you going to do the next week to ensure your success? Look where you started & notice how far you've come toward achieving your healthy goals. Put your energy into these thoughts, rather than looking backward at what didn't happen.
AND...break your biggest goal(s) into smaller, attainable steps. This will help you measure progress! Focus on reaching the smaller steps first. When you do - CELEBRATE your success! Post it on Facebook - you've earned those bragging rights! Book a massage for a little pampering. Buy that new outfit (or workout gear!) you've wanted. Building reward for progress into your goal plan is a way to stay motivated. AND THEN LOOK FORWARD. What's the next step? How you will you continue to be successful on your healthy journey?
Finding a peer group for healthy goals can be a great motivator. There are incredible groups online that offer FREE fitness/nutrition tracking, advice, and motivation from like-minded friends (Facebook -you can find my group under Northshore Fitness LLC - have you LIKE the page yet???, Twitter, sparkpeople.com, myfitnesspal.com, etc). Joining a health club or fitness group (ie running/walking group, hiking club, swim club, etc) is another great way to stay motivated (they offer social support, motivation, and accountability). Form a Facebook group for weight loss and invite your friends who have similar goals to join. Enlist other parents to walk around the track during sports practice. Find a lunch buddy to walk at lunchtime. Start a new family routine - family walk before or after dinner. Get a group of friends together and hire a personal trainer for small group training session (less cost, more fun!). There are so many ways to enlist the support of others to improve the possiblity of your success.
You CAN achieve your healthiest life. Plan for it and then go get it! Healthy Life = Happy Life!
Yours in Health & Fitness,
My clients often hear me suggest "Let's mix up your workout routine!" Changing an existing fitness routine is a great way to stave off boredom and aid in motivation as you progress toward your healthy goals. It can also prevent fitness plateaus which can be barriers to your fitness success.
Sometimes clients are hesitant to change their routine. Some dislike the idea of being a 'newbie' at a class, others are worried they will be incapable of performing the exercises of the new workout. Some like the comfort of knowing what to expect and anticipating how they will be able to perform throughout the session. And what about those who have already achieved their fitness goals and want to maintain their current fitness level - should they stay with the status quo? Studies suggest not. Our brains/bodies are incredible machines that adapt to the training variables practiced. As we become more fit, our bodies work LESS to perform the same workouts. Changing our fitness routine challenges our bodies and allows us to achieve/maintain results.
As a marathoner, I have logged thousands of miles training for races. Instead of heading out for a run today, I walked my Trainer-Talk & attended my first indoor cycling class since my last triathlon - somewhere around 2006! I have to admit I was a little intimidated by all the cardio-loving riders as I entered the room for the first time. Guess what? It was one of the most fun, challenging, AWESOME workouts this gal has seen in a long while. Just goes to show, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!
Review your workout routine & the results you're seeing (or not!). Is it time for a change? Grab a friend and head out for a new class at your local gym (everything's more fun with a friend). Make a bucket list of activities you'd like to try (hiking a favorite trail, weekend backpacking with the family, signing up for your first 5k, rollerblading with friends?) - then get out there and make it happen! You might just find another healthy activity you love.
HOW'S IT GOING WITH YOUR HEALTHY LIFESTYLE GOALS?
Let's face it - the end of January can mark a particularly difficult time in maintaining motivation for our New Year's goals. Perhaps your goals were really BIG - going from zero to lightspeed overnight on January 1st. Or maybe you made vague goals that were hard to put into action. Or even, you started off strong, but aren't yet seeing the results you'd hoped would occur by month end. Regardless, NOW is the time to re-evaluate your goals, reorganize your approach, and recommit to what's important to you.
Take a look at your goals. Did you make specific & time bound goals (and are your goals realistic)? For example, 'I want to lose weight' is not the same as: "I want to lose 1-2 pounds per week over the next 6 months to achieve a goal weight of 150lbs." Review each healthy goal you've set. Be sure to follow the SMART rule. Your goals should be:
Specific (be concise - write 1 short sentence that is very specific of what you want to achieve)
Measurable (how will you know when you're making progress?)
Attainable (what specific actions do you need to take to achieve your goals? - write them down)
Realistic (are you willing/able to take the steps necessary to reach your goals?)
Time Bound (review the timeline in which you expect to achieve your goal- is it realistic? Break down your big goals into smaller ones - write down a timeframe to complete each step along the way. Be sure to REWARD yourself for each step you achieve toward your large goal!)
It's natural for motivation to fade over time. Remind yourself WHY you decided to make a healthy change. These reasons should be very personal - not just because you know you should or a healthcare provider told you to. WHY is this change important to you? What are the BENEFITS you have experienced (or will experience) from your change in behavior? Write your motivators down & keep them where you can see them daily (in your car, on your fridge, on the bathroom mirror)., on the fridger,
Don't be shy about making a healthy change! Shout your intentions from the rooftops, and enlist the support of everyone you know! Telling others what you're planning to do can help keep you accountable & allows your friends/family to support you every step of the way. Find a buddy - studies show exercising with a friend (and surrounding yourself with other healthy folks) dramatically increases your chance of success in weight loss & exercise adherence. Working with a certified personal trainer can also increase your chances of success. The trainer will give you customized workouts & nutrition information that will help you achieve your goals, keep you motivated, and hold you accountable to the goals you set (not to mention celebrate your success!).
REVIEW YOUR PROGRESS:
Are you making steady progress toward your goals? Have you hit a plateau? Evaluate where you are, where you thought you'd be, and determine what works & what doesn't. Time for a change? Don't hesitate to make adjustments where necessary to stay on track (keeping in mind that it takes about 8-12 weeks to see real changes in body composition and/or weight loss). Whether you stay the course or try something new - be sure to focus on consistency in your routine.
CELEBRATE THE SMALL STUFF:
Any progress toward your healthy lifestyle goals should be recognized! Rewarding yourself for goals achieved can be a great motivator! Celebrate each success on the way toward your biggest goals - you deserve it!
'When you feel like QUITTING, think about WHY you started.'
As a personal trainer/Mom of two growing boys, healthy nutrition is something I read about & practice on a daily basis. Many of my clients have kids and often ask me how I get mine to eat healthy snacks/meals. Try some of these tricks I've learned for healthy family nutrition (yes, even for those picky eaters!).
1. Walk the Talk.
If you want your kids to choose healthy food options, you need to model that behavior at home. What's your go-to snack item? Does it usually include fruits/vegetables/yogurt? Are you a carb craver or sugar-a-holic? How's your salt intake? At our house, the boys come home ravenous from school - and every day, it's the same question.....'What can I have for a snack?' I'm surprised they even ask, because the answer is always the same, 'Choose something healthy! Fruit, yogurt, or veggies.' They get occasional treats, too - chips in the lunchbox or candy from time to time - but the USUAL snacks/foods available to them are healthy. If the junk's not in the house, there's nothing to choose from but healthy alternatives! (That goes for you, too, Mom & Dad!)
Your kids will learn to like the foods that are readily available, easy to find/prepare, and that they see you enjoying on a regular basis. Monkey see, monkey do!
2. Slow down for a family meal experience.
Eating on the run is the #1 way to ensure you're likely not getting a healthy meal. I struggle with this during sports seasons - shuffling two guys to school/sporting events several nights a week can be a real challenge for family mealtime. Planning ahead and a little organization surrounding meals can make all the difference in family mealtime success. Make a grocery list before the week begins - be sure to include healthy dinner meals that can be made ahead. Try making big meals on the weekend, freeze, and warm to serve on busy weeknights. Have healthy snack options ready to grab and go for sporting events - you're much less likely to buy that corndog at the baseball stand if you & your kids have already had a healthy snack before the game! And if you MUST eat on the run, pick the healthiest option available. Lean sub sandwiches over fried fast foods are a great example of healthiest options.
3. Ban the 'Finish Your Plate' approach.
Kids are smart creatures! They instinctively know when their tummies are full. In fact, they're probably more in tune with appetite than adults are - over time we learn habits that allow us to walk away from the table feeling overstuffed. In general, kids will naturally stop eating when they are full. Allow your child to determine their portion size. At our house, our kids serve themselves. We have a rule of 'Take what you want, but want what you take' (thanks, Shelton View Elementary lunch ladies for teaching that powerful phrase!). They can always go back for 2nds, but this decreases the chance of overeating because they have a chance to finish their meal, and THEN decide if they need more food. When parents serve portions to children, we generally overestimate how much a child needs to eat (see note above, about leaving the table feeling overstuffed!). Worse yet, when we overserve our kids, they learn to eat more just because it's there.
4. Don't give up on 'rejected' foods.
Just because your child didn't like broccoli this week, doesn't mean he won't ever like it. Our kids have always been encouraged (ok, I'll admit we make them try at least a bite) of everything we're serving for dinner. We've never made special 'kid meals' for them - nor have we altered our family meals to suit kid preference. There are foods our boys are not fond of - but they at least try them each time they're offered - partly because they know we won't make them eat them if they do, and partly because as they've grown older, they've realized that sometimes it's how something's cooked that determines whether or not you like it, and sometimes your palate just changes and you learn to like something you thought you didn't! Parents often comment how lucky we are that our kids are not picky eaters. Here's a secret - I'm probably the most picky eater you'll meet! But I try new things regularly, and model that behavior in front of my kids so they see me walking my talk! Reintroducing foods on a rotating basis is a great way to get your kids used to a food in a non-threatening way. I've read before that it can take up to 15 times of reintroduction before a child learns to like a food - so keep at it! And remember that just like you, there will be a few foods that your child may never learn to like. As long as there are plenty of other healthy foods in their regular diet, no worries, they'll get the adequate nutrition they need.
5. My favorite kitchen mantra: 'I'm the Mom, not the maid.'
Our kids know that when Mom or Dad makes a meal - that's the meal. We're not making something other than that, and they'll have to choose at least portions of the meal to eat so they don't go hungry. On a few rare occasions, when we've cooked something really out of the ordinary, we have allowed our kids to make themselves something easy (and nutritious) to eat. And, we allow a choice of vegetables/fruits at every meal - with the caviat that they must choose at least 2 different kinds (often expressed as 'colors') at each meal. This gives them some control, and allows us peace of mind that they're getting the nutrients their growing bodies need.
7. Let your kids cook!
We instituted 'Kids Cook' nights at our house. It has been hugely successful not only in teaching our sons to cook for themselves, but in teaching them how to grocery shop on a budget & how to plan healthy meals. Kids are more likely to eat their own creations - after all, they chose the menu! We have a few simple rules with these nights - Mom gets to review the menu as it's being planned - ensuring that all food groups are represented, and they have to eat whatever they make. This family ritual soon became a favorite for both kids and parents at our house - give it a try at yours!
8. Control snacking.
At 8 & 11, our kids are certainly old enough to make their own snacks and to determine when they're hungry. Regardless, they have to ask before they snack. We always let them have something when they're hungry, of course. But just the process of asking before eating makes them think about their food choices & keeps us parents in the loop of what's being consumed (and how much). It's a rare occasion when we let our kids munch in front of the TV or video game (in fact, TV and video game time is pretty minimal around here) - and generally we ask our kids to sit down at the island counter or table to eat. This prevents mindless eating - where you eat more than you think. By doing this, we're teaching our sons that eating is something you do with thought - it's not something you do on the run, while vegging out doing something else, etc...
Teaching your kids proper eating habits at a young age will help them maintain a healthy weight, learn healthy eating patterns, and give them the ability to make informed, healthy meal choices as they grow into adulthood. And by following a few of these rules ourselves, we ensure we'll be healthy enough to live a long time to witness it.
'Cheers' to your healthy family meals!
My sincerest thanks to Faith Community Church & the many people who came out last night for our event to raise funds for local holiday giving programs. In just a short 1.5 hours, we danced, laughed, sweated, and raised over $200 for two local Holiday Giving Programs. These dollars stay right here in Edmonds, helping families in need this holiday season.
If you couldn't attend the event, there's still time to donate to the cause! Contact April Haberman at Faith Community Church Edmonds for more information.
And for those of you who joined us last night - THANK YOU! Your generosity, energy, and kindness touched my heart greatly!
Wishing you the healthiest of holidays!