“The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree” may be an old cliché but most applicable nonetheless. If you are overweight or lean by nature and have a tendency towards certain maladies chances are very good your child will also.
These are genetic factors beyond our control. Within our control, however, are environmental factors such as the examples we set and the habits and lifestyles we promote. These are the things our children learn from us; we are their role models and they strive to emulate us especially in the formative years. The wise parent will practice as he preaches.
If you do nothing but sit on the couch after work or at the end of the day and eat the wrong foods because you are “too tired” or “too busy” aka too lazy your child will do the same. The behaviors and foods that we engage in are also the same that our children should.
The activities will differ in amount and intensity based on maturity but we must be active and move ourselves. The amounts and macronutrient ratios of the foods will vary reflecting growth needs as well as activity levels but the foods themselves are the same. What is not healthy for an adult would also not be healthy for a child in most related circumstances.
At CrossFit Jaguar we started a kid’s fitness program a year ago– .
As it continued to grow my two coaches and I headed to Miami for the CF Kids certification this past March. While I do not have children myself most of my friends and clients do and seeing things from an outside perspective often give a very clear picture. I witnessed this first hand at the certification. While I was excited for the program to expand I will honestly say my niche is adults–athletes to be specific.
I enjoy training a variety of people and have a passion for progress at any level but we all have our favorite. I was in for quite a surprise; I not only learned a lot about the similarities between the two but enjoyed the educational weekend more than I ever imagined and came back with a very inspired new focus on our children’s program.
Healthy Child = Healthy Adult
Where do healthy adults and adult athletes come from? Well, they all begin as children. If we can take them untainted, unbiased, without years of cumulative damage from improper footwear, sitting all day, inactivity and poor nutritional choices and mold them over the course of years instilling physical activity, proper nutrition and life skills what are they going to be like in 20, 30 or 40+ years. WOW. That was when the light bulb came on. They are going to be far beyond our current generations in health, fitness, performance and the competitive arena if they so desire. We as parents and fitness professionals have this power in our hands.
What power am I speaking of–the power to shape their lives. We are giving them a lifelong definition of fitness which in reality is a snapshot of health as well as prevent the top 2 diseases afflicting our children today–obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Through exercise and proper nutrition we can prevent disease, hone their life skills and give them a new perception of self. Pretty potent stuff if you ask me.
And we can also make them smarter and more successful. Kids sit in school all day with physical fitness minimal to nonexistent. The average child spends 4 to 6 hours a day on the computer, watching tv or playing video games. The last thing they need when they come home from school is to do more of the same. They need to move. Exercise enhances scholastic achievement by improving brain function and cognitive abilities. Physiologically their blood is flowing, their hormones are being released, and neurotransmitters are being stimulated. They are growing new neurons at the molecular level. All these peak 5-35 min after exercise; their brain is primed for learning, that’s when they should hit their homework.
Beyond the aforementioned benefits your children will sleep better, they will feel better, they will perform better and they will have fewer problems in life; the ones they encounter they will be better equipped to deal with. They will not be on Ritalin, cholesterol meds and over prescribed antibiotics and will have far less incidences of allergies, asthmas and other disorders. Although it is far more complex than the scope of this article and exercise and nutrition are only parts of a multi faceted approach they are a large parts. I suffice it to say getting your child involved in fitness at an early age and leading by example will make both your lives better.
Click over to part 2 of Fitness is a Family Affair to find out how to program exercise into your child’s life and how to make it fun!
Hi Mickie, barefoot is the way nature intended children and all of us to run ideally. However, less than ideal surfaces and society do dictate some protection for our feet. Any of the minimalist shoes that are out would be fine New Balance, vibrams, brooks, nike etc. . .they are all making them now. Just want to stay away from the platform sneakers like the shox and others that hinder the way we run and play. check out this previous post on footwear https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/take-care-of-your-feet-and-theyll-take-care-of-the-rest/
Paula – Will you expand your thoughts on improper footwear, please.
Cassandra, you clearly misunderstood my intentions and the scope of the article. There is no “shame” intended whatsoever–merely generalized facts and observations from my experiences.
Your “interpretation” of my life is sorely lacking for accuracy. While it is true that I have no children; at one time I dealt with many sleepless nights, a very strained and nearly destroyed marriage, financial ruin and a very taxed endocrine system from over 2 decades of putting garbage in my body. Only when I stopped making excuses and took positive action was I able to “dig myself out” of the hole I solely had created and find health and happiness in my life.
I would caution your blanket assumptions of “ignorance” in the future when you don’t have any the details.
I really enjoy this blog and have recommend it to a lot of people. I appreciated this fitness article from Paula too. What I don’t like is the lack of compassion that came in response to Cassandra and Jason’s comments. There are many ways to choose responses. Defending one’s ego is just that – and will only ever be that. I don’t like bullying and I don’t like meanness. And it makes me not want to read this blog as much, quite frankly.
I call it like I see it. We don’t live in a cocoon or need to be coddled and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that we need water and that an apple beats a doughnut.
“aka too lazy” is a poor dismissal of the downward spiral that is more complicated than simply demanding more will power, motivation, or action from those with inactive evenings, a diet high in processed food, and a body and mind drugged with insulin spikes, dehydration, and numbed by quick distractions.
IMHO, the most helpful thing that can be done to help the “too lazy” is not to blame them or to shame them, but to encourage that they take small incremental steps that are maintainable and help their brain and body.
Eight glasses of water a day, will get them hydrated and walking (running) to the bathroom. A bit more fruits or vegetables every meal, will replace high glycemic load carbohydrates. Walking or in home no equipment needed exercise requiring only 20 minutes a day will reshape their mind and body. Star charts of Seinfeld’s “don’t break the chain” calendar to make the new habit.
All of these are achievable by adults. Children are much more connected to their bodies, have fewer responsibilities and negative habits, and are growing in an active peer group.
I will suggest a few websites that can help adults with their habit changes. All of these are positive, emphatic, and free. FlyLady, Make It Fun And It Will Get Done, No Excuses Work Out, Fit Marriage, The Four Hour Work Week.
Thank for you making that comment. Not everyone responds to harshness or dramatic shifts in lifestyle. Paula calls it like someone uneducated in what it takes to have good mental health as well as physical health. Shaming is not an effective tool for helping others. The point is that knowledge has very little to do with healthy habits, it’s everything else.
And as Paula is someone without children, does not deal with the sleeplessness, the strain on partnerships and employment, the financial worries, etc., etc., and therefore the drain on the endocrine system as a whole, on top of other physical issues particularly for women, even with a nutrient dense diet, there is a lot missing from the “too lazy” picture she paints. Combine all that on top of the massive hole one must dig out of after a lifetime of garbage food, well, let’s just say the statement could be blamed on pure ignorance of what life is like for those less fortunate.
I disagree. Your child’s physical health should be a priority. If your child had a disease that required constant maintenance, like diabetes, I guarantee you would be vigilant on keeping them doing what is necessary. How about being that concerned about their health and nutrition BEFORE it happens? This is not about running a military boot camp. This is about living a lifestyle that includes fitness and good nutrition. Just as a good parent wouldn’t allow their children to neglect their homework, they shouldn’t allow them to neglect their health. And I think what Paula is saying is that they are going to follow your example. So instead of saying “Go outside and play”, say “Let’s go for a walk.” Is it hard? Yes. Is it time-consuming? Yes. Is it worth it? YES!
Thank you Eliza–I find it works:) I have also seen that exact opposite effect. btw, great blog–I too have learned and incorporated many wonderful aspects from the various disciplines you mentioned. Look forward to reading more of your posts!
That’s sweet, thank you! It’s nearly the end of semester for me and I have about 15 recipes backlogged and waiting for me to edit and upload so stay tuned 🙂
I love your no excuses, no bullsh*t approach to fitness! When I am dealing with nutritional clients I often use your phrase “You can have excuses or results, but you can’t have both”. It’s so simple yet so profound at the same time.
I have definitely seen the opposite effect of conditioning in practice too, where the child witnesses unhealthy behaviour and its consequences in the parent and becomes highly obsessive about health (almost to the point of disorder) in order to ‘not end up’ like their mothers or fathers.
Both responses are difficult and time-consuming to turn around into a healthy habit, proving how vital it is to set a good example for kids!