Have a HEART

Have a Heart

            In this month dedicated to healthy hearts, let’s not forget the smaller hearts around us….the kids. Now you may not have children residing with you anymore, but chances are strong that you do have grandchildren, godchildren, nieces, nephews, honorary children, or even neighbors whose lives can benefit from a little extra caring. Most parents and guardians give little thought to the food and lifestyle choices of the younger ones in our lives. The truth is that we need to pay particularly close attention to the details in order to help this generation lead a fuller, longer life. The Center for Disease Control issued a statement in 2010 that this generation of children (infants to 18 year olds) would be the first generation to suffer massive physical illnesses and not outlive their parents. I understand that’s a really strong statement; however, the CDC bases this statement on the number of overweight and underactive children in our culture. You see, now most children eat a diet primarily consisting of easy to obtain junk food and they park in front of the TV for hours on end. The good news is that the children in your life do have a chance if just a few changes are instilled.

Let’s tackle movement first. Children mimic what they see on a daily basis. So, it stands to reason that if they see you moving about, they’ll be more apt to do it as well. Your attitude towards physical fitness plays an important role in children’s future health and wellness. Set a maximum time limit for watching TV or playing video games. In our home, TV and video games are a no go Monday through Thursday. They aren’t allowed so that more time is free for moving, playing, cleaning, and other activities. My kids are also very fortunate to spend time with me at the Y. There, they can join in the classes or play games with the highly trained Kid Care staff, as opposed to just sitting there watching movies and playing video games. Set aside some time during the week to go for a walk, visit a park, or even play indoor games such as charades or Twister. Put on some music and challenge your kids to a funny dance off. If you’re lucky enough to have a Kinect for the Xbox I do support use of this system in moderation and have written a professional take of the product on my blog at www.michellecfitness.com

The challenge for your family’s physical fitness this week is the park challenge! Super easy and the City of Baytown has over 40 local parks to choose from. The best part? It’s 100% free! So, once you find the park for you, challenge your family to a relay race and get going!

  1. Run the perimeter of the park 3 times.
  2. 10 incline pushups (feet on ground, hands on bench).
  3. 10 jump squats (squatting low and then jumping as high as you can, catching yourself in a squat)
  4. Monkey bar madness!!!!! Yep, go across on the monkey bars and have a good laugh
  5. Bench step ups (10 on each leg)
  6. Triceps dips (sit on bench with fingers facing forward, then dip your seat towards the ground and press through the back of your arms to come back up)
  7. Run around perimeter again, sprinting as fast as you can!
  8. To amp it up a bit, have your kids on the lookout for challenges too. Just remember to approach this workout with an open mind and a sense of humor.

Most of us know that children can be notoriously picky eaters.  It takes a little time to expand the palette so don’t give up! Keep offering new foods, and make sure your attitude about healthy eating is in line with the attitude you want your kids to have. Remember, they mimic what they see! Here are some tips from the American Heart Association on tricks to dealing with picky eaters:

  1. Start by introducing healthier elements into foods that your child already likes. For example, offer blueberry pancakes, carrot muffins, fruit slices over a favorite cereal, chunks of bell pepper in a potato salad, or shredded veggies over rice.
  2. Include your kids in the prep work. By being involved in grocery shopping and food preparation, your kids will have more ‘buy-in.’ If they feel some ownership over the meal, they may be more likely to eat it.
  3. Don’t buy unhealthy foods. Out of sight, out of mind. If the chips and cookies aren’t around, your kids can’t eat them. They may resist at first, but when they get hungry, they’ll start munching the carrot sticks. Keep healthy foods on hand — 100 percent juice instead of colas or sugary drinks, and a bag of apples instead of a bag of chips.
  4. Schedule snack time and stick to it. Most kids like routine. If your kids know they will only get food at certain times, they’ll eat what they get when they get it. Try to have snacks incorporate two food groups. For example, offer cheese and whole-grain crackers or apple slices with low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese.
  5. Have healthy finger foods available. Kids like to pick up foods, so give them foods they can handle. Fruit and veggie chunks (raw or cooked) are great finger-food options.
  6. Repeal the “clean your plate” rule. Kids know when they’re full, so let them stop. Overeating is one of the major reasons we get too many calories.
  7. Encourage kids to “eat their colors.” This game works well with younger kids. Food that’s bland in color often also lacks nutrients. Eating a variety of brightly colored foods provides more nutrients in greater variety.
  8. Don’t cut out treats altogether. Think moderation. A scoop of ice cream or a serving of Oreos is all right occasionally. If you cut out all the goodies, your kids will be more likely to overeat when they do get them. Make sure to moderate the treat consumption.
  9. Veg out at the dinner table, not the TV. Eating in front of the TV is distracting, and kids may not notice that they’re full because they’re wrapped up in the show. Eating as a family is a great time to catch up.
  10. Be a good role model. The best way to influence kids is by example. Don’t expect them to eat spinach if you won’t touch it.


Be sure to allow children the freedom to make their choices, but within the ranges you set for them. Get the junk food out of the house and limit play time with the electronics. Put these practices into place little by little and you will notice a happier, healthier family.

At your local Y we offer a class specifically for adults and children to experience together called Fit Families. The purpose of this class is to introduce the whole family to fitness and make it fun. Feel free to check it out every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 5:15.

As always, feel free to catch me at the Y or email me at michelle@michellecfitness.com

In health and fitness,

Michelle Carlson NASM-CPT, CES, MMA-Conditioning Specialist, Youth Training Specialist

AFPA Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant

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