Yes, I have done what no one else has been able to do. Not any government agencies. Not the leading scientists. Not the best doctors. And not the NFL, NBA or any other professional organization could do. And believe it or not, it was actually quite simple. It was as easy as becoming a R.E.P., a responsible and educated parent. Yes, that’s all it took. I was determined to make sure that my kids would not be a part of the horrible obesity statistics. And sure enough it worked.
We as parents are solely responsible for our kids health up to the point that they are old enough to make their own decisions. So unless your child has a medical disorder, if they are overweight, you are responsible. But the problem is that most parents themselves don’t know what it means to live a healthy lifestyle or they don’t understand the importance of it. This is clearly evidenced by the shape of our adult population. How can we expect our kids to understand what it means to be healthy if almost 70% of the adult population is overweight and about 20% of the population smokes. Unfortunately, it seems the more we know about health and fitness, the worse off this country is becoming. But I have decided to make it simple for you and your family to get healthy. While there is a lot more information available, this is the basic cure for childhood obesity. Nothing else works. Period
1. Structured exercise program: This is the most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle and the area that most people just don’t get. There is nothing wrong with establishing an actual exercise routine for your child as early as 6 years old. We don’t have to try and trick our kids into exercising or try to make it fun and exciting everytime. I have news for you, exercise is rarely fun. You demand that your child does his homework each night so there is nothing wrong with making sure they exercise when they are supposed. And while playing outside is better than playing video games, IT IS NOT CONSIDERED EXERCISE. I repeat, “PLAYING OUTSIDE IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY EXERCISE” Many organizations are promoting going outside and playing for 60 minutes. This is actually a lot harder than doing a real workout 3 days a week for 20-30 minutes each time, especially here in Michigan. And in most experts opinions, if playing does not raise your heart rate for an extended period of time, does not give your muscles added resistance, or put your joints through their full range of motion, it is not exercise and is not doing much to improve your kids fitness levels.
2. Establish nutritional guidelines: Many parents are afraid to discuss their child’s nutritional habits because they think that they might get an eating disorder. If you believe that discussing food is giving your kids an eating problem, you underestimate your child. Kids these days are smarter than you think so there is nothing wrong with sitting down with them to educate them on nutrition and to discuss their bad habits. I have never really told my kids that I don’t want them eating certain foods and my two oldest eat better than I ever did and don’t feel like they are missing out on things. I know of several kids whose parents restrict certain foods and when they come to our house they stuff their pockets with candy and junk because their parents don’t let them eat it at home. My kids know what foods I don’t like them eating but I never tell them they can’t have it.
3. Eat at home: I know this is not always easy as most families are busier than ever and it is sometimes hard to find time to cook full course meals. But I think many families eat out just out of convenience. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to eat healthy outside of the house but most meals outside are loaded with salt and saturated fat and have a lot of unnecessary caloric content. Usually, it is a lot easier to eat healthy by enjoying home cooked meals.
4. Proper rest: While proper rest is not a huge part of the obesity problem, it is a very important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. And if your child is to begin a workout routine, it is even more important to get the proper amount of rest and let your body recuperate between work outs.
Yes, I know a lot of parents will take offense to me blaming them for their childs health. But this is the reality. Now there are many experts who try to give you advice who don’t have kids and don’t understand the challenges that the average family faces. But I have four of them and there was no way that I was going to let them become a statistic. I told them at 16 they can make their own decisions if they wanted to continue. Needless to say, my two oldest have become exercise fanatics on their own. And it’s not because I made them. They have enough common sense to know how important it is but more importantly, how easy it is to live a healthy lifestyle.
If your 8 year old wanted to smoke or drink alcohol I bet that you would be able to stop them, at least in the house. You certainly would not be buying the cigarettes and beer for them. But go look inside your pantries and tell me what you see. Most of the young kids I know do not go grocery shopping themselves. You are helping to support their bad habits. There have actually been parents who tried suing some fast food establishments because they blame them for their childrens health. Unfortunately, we are always looking for someone else to blame. But for most of you, you can look no further than the nearest mirror for the responsible party for your kids health.
So it is up to you if you want to take control of your childrens health. You may not care about your future, but you owe it to your children to give them the guidance to make healthy choices. There is plenty of education out there so there is no excuse. If my family can do it, yours can too.