Healthy lifestyle changes for the whole family

7 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

When I started my own blog almost three years ago, S was still a baby girl. I loved being able to share my stories about the challenges and joys of motherhood. Since we live hundreds of miles away from our families, it was also a great way to share pictures and details of our daily life. When T came along almost two years ago, he turned our world upside down. Colic, reflux and non-stop screaming and crying became the soundtrack of our daily life. I felt steamrolled by motherhood and did whatever I could to survive each day.

Around the time T was about 9 months old, I started to emerge from the fog of infant insomnia and actually started living a normal life again. One of my first goals was to get my body back in shape (two babies in less than three years people!) so my husband and I started to make healthy lifestyle changes. Better food choices, exercise, and cooking at home together were important. Instead of going to dinner and a movie for date night, we would take the kids to my husband's parents on Saturday mornings and go to the gym together. Afterwards we would head home to cook (because it is impossible to cook with two kids running through the kitchen). We also started running together, which was a really hard for me after several years of inconsistent exercise.

By May of 2010, we were both following a regular exercise program and making healthy choices. At our family beach trip at the end of May (one year after T was born), I was back in my bathing suit and running along the beach beside my husband. Guess what happened when we got back from our vacation? Absolutely nothing…

You see, getting back in shape for our beach vacation had been my goal and once I reached it, I was finished. Being at the beach had interrupted our exercise schedule and it let us slip back into the mindset of eating “treats” while we were away from home. I mean who goes on vacation and doesn’t go out for ice cream? Back at home, I was still making better food choices most of the time but I indulged in “treats” too often, did not enforce healthy eating for my kids, and the worst part, I did not keep up with a consistent exercise program.

Towards the end of the summer I could tell a difference in my body again, so I signed us up for a few 5K races in September/October and we starting running together again. Unfortunately, my husband got injured and work got busy for me so I did not stick to my training plan as well as I had hoped. I did run both races but after that I did not see the inside of the gym again for about two months.

It is easy to come up with excuses – I was working more than 40 hours a week and I usually work out on my lunch break. Instead of taking time for myself at lunch, I would work straight through the day and not leave my desk for 10 hours at a time. Our bodies are not made to handle this type of stress or long periods of inactivity! I saw my chiropractor a lot more than I saw the gym during those few months. I was tired all the time, did not have energy to work out, and was not sleeping well at night. My clothes were getting tight and I was more irritable. Something had to change.

First thing to change – FOOD

 It is much easier to embark on a healthy lifestyle if you have a partner who is willing to make the same changes and to support your decisions. Thankfully my husband was on board. We knew we were not giving our bodies the food we needed and we had slacked off on making sure we had healthy options for our children. As parents, it is our responsibility to show them the right things to eat and teach them how to make healthy choices. Some of the food changes we decided to make are:

  1) Eat as many whole foods as possible (no processed foods).

  2) We joined a produce co-op to get organic, seasonal, local produce.

  3) Stopped eating all red meat and pork, but substitute with seafood or ground turkey.

  4) We only drink water (no regular or diet soft drinks in our house).

  5) We eat small meals and snacks throughout the day (I eat 5-6 times a day).

  6) No more fast food. Ever.

  7) 90% of what we eat is prepared at home, so we rarely eat out at restaurants.

  8) We started keeping a daily food log (Livestrong.com/myplate)

  9) We offer our children the same foods we eat

 Second – FITNESS

Exercise had to become of part of our daily routine. I had to commit to a healthy lifestyle – and not just have a goal of looking good in a bikini for the beach. I wanted to get out and exercise beyond the walls of the gym so I decided to start running again. I signed up for a 10K and a half marathon this spring to have those goals but I know that my exercise program will continue beyond the race. (Or I will just sign up for another race because I do like have a goal that I can achieve). Some of my fitness goals are

   1) Get moving every day, even if it is 30 minutes of dancing with the kids

   2) Incorporate strength training at least three days a week

   3) Keep a log of my workouts (exercise & weight) so I can track my progress

   4) Sign up for a local race - 10K and half marathon

   5) Find a running program to prepare for the race (I have used Couch to 5K in the past, now I have joined Team In Training). I currently run four times a week.

   6) Make exercise a priority, even if that means exercising at 5AM before work if I have a busy day planned

   7) On weekends, go for a long run early Saturday morning, go on a hike with Trey or take the kids to the park. If the weather is bad, find inside alternatives instead of being a couch potato.

 Third – FAMILY

Not only are we making these changes in our immediate family, but we hope to educate and encourage our extended family as well. My husband’s parents keep our children every week and we have stressed the importance of offering them healthy food. Don’t get me wrong, I get that grandparents are supposed to have treats for the kids, so I have not banned ice cream from their freezer. However our kids love a variety of fruits that could satisfy their sweet tooth – which means they won’t be bouncing off the walls from their sugar rush when they get home from Gran’s house. In our family, we have decided to:

    1) Include our children in trips to the grocery store and let them (gasp) touch the produce! S loves to fill her own cart with colorful fruits and vegetables.

   2) Make cooking a family affair and get everyone to help. My husband and I both still cook together (or he keeps the kids out of the kitchen while I cook during the week). S loves to help me chop, measure, pour and stir. She also asks to taste all the ingredients and is more willing to try foods that she helps me cook.

   3) We research restaurants in advance. Often we will look up nutrition facts online and decide what we are going to order before we even walk in the door of a restaurant.

   4) We educate our kids about food. S knows that eating too much sugar will make her tummy hurt and an apple is a great choice when her tummy is hungry.

   5) Last year we planted a vegetable garden and the kids loved seeing peppers and tomatoes growing. This year we plan to actually take care of the garden and eat the food we grow.

   6) We offer to make a healthy version of a family favorite dish at holiday dinners.

   7) I will be the person who always brings the veggie tray and dip (Greek yogurt dip rocks!)

   8) Live by example and encourage others to make healthy choices (If you start making lifestyle changes, people will begin to notice. They may even ask for advice)

   9) Celebrate the little things by baking something fun with the kids. Life is too short to never eat cupcakes again!

 Food, Fitness and Family – the core values of our Healthy lifestyle.  What changes have you made recently to start living healthier and happier?

More from parenting

Parenting
by Lisa Hirsch Lozano | 15 hours ago
Parenting
by Marquita Harris | a day ago
Parenting
by Marquita Harris | 2 days ago
Parenting
by Rosie Luik | 2 days ago
Parenting
by Allison Hope | 2 days ago
Parenting
by Christopher Luu | 3 days ago
Parenting
by Marquita Harris | 3 days ago
Parenting
by Claire Gillespie | 4 days ago
Parenting
by Sarah Caron | 4 days ago
Parenting
by Allison Hope | 4 days ago
Parenting
by Michelle Maffei | 5 days ago