Do create a diet democracy. Discuss—don’t declare—your intentions with your family. “Share your wellness goals, but ask them for ways to get there,” says Stephanie, the dietitian who worked with the Lehmans.
Don’t go overboard. “Slow modifications over time usually last longer than radical ones,” explains Elizabeth, the dietitian who worked with the Avaglianos.
Do find a fitness goal. “Explore local events where your family can participate as a team,” suggests Larry Soler, president and CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America. Try a bikeathon, 5K, adventure race or hike.
Let’s face it: We all have days when we just don’t feel motivated to exercise. But if everyone in the family is committed to exercising, then you’ve got motivation to show up at the gym. One way you may not have thought of to work out: Signing your brood up for a small group class. Here, some suggestions from Tilton Fitness (where kids 13 and up are allowed to break a sweat) on their best classes to try:
What it is: In this class, you’ll use TRX straps (the popular suspension equipment designed by Navy Seals) followed by a 30-minute spin routine.
Why it’s great: You’ll get a double shot of cardio and strength training—and the bands will give you a truly great total-body workout. Plus, the exercises are easily modified. Although everyone can be doing the same movement, they can perform it at varying levels of difficulty.
What it is: Trainers will use the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) method—which is a short burst of physical activity followed by a rest period—to build muscle and boost strength.
Why it’s great: Since you go as hard as you can, you’ll rev your metabolism and burn calories long after you leave the gym. But like the TRK/SPIN class, you can easily dial down the intensity.
COMBAT BOOT CAMP
What it is: With its mixture of plyometrics, calisthenics and weight training, the popularity of boot camp classes shows no signs of slowing down. The activity is part cardio, part-strength training, and a lot of fun.
Why it’s great: You’ll build strength and hone your flexibility, but the best part of the class might come from performing the kicks, jabs, and punches themselves—how’s that for a confidence booster?
(Photo via Tilton Fitness’ Facebook)
As I reflect on the past 6 months of my life I realize how blessed we are—blessed to have been chosen to participate in this challenge. It has been an amazing ride and we will miss it dearly. As we wind down, I thought I’d give you a little recap of the experiences we had and what we learned:
Challenge 1: Eat More Fruits and Veggies.
We loved all the food sent to us from Melissa’s produce and we realized that we were not eating anywhere near the amount of strawberries, oranges, yellow carrots, blueberries, kiwi, kale, you name it! as we’re supposed to. We were introduced to an amazing variety of produce that is out there. This was the month we learned about quinoa and we totally fell in love with it! I also learned that I love lentils, particularly in my salads. So yummy.
Challenge 2: Healthy Hydration.
We are big water drinkers. We love it. Can’t drink enough of it. We also learned that we probably enjoyed wine and beer a little too much as well. We were challenged to drink less wine and beer and to really focus on staying hydrated with water. We learned how much better we felt when we cut back. Clean and pure. Not that having a glass or two of wine (same with beer) is a bad thing but everything in moderation.
Challenge 3: Get Moving.
This was my favorite at the time. I jumped for joy when I opened the package that had our Fitbits in them. I have wanted one of these for ages but just didn’t want to spend the money for one. Moving is my favorite thing to do. If I don’t move it then I can be a bear to be around. It also brought competition with in the 4 of us to see who could have bragging rights with how much we moved. We won a gift certificate from SpaFinder which we’re really enjoying.
Which was your favorite of the first three challenges? Post a comment and tell me!
We tapped the experts at Tilton Fitness for easy ways to keep your metabolism running at top speed.
- Park on the opposite side of the parking lot. The farther you are from your destination, the more steps you’ll have to take. Commuting via train or bus? Get off a stop early and walk.
- Do some sit-ups in the a.m. Turn on the shower and do the exercises as the water is warming up. You’ll wake up faster and be stronger.
- Knock out some push-ups on the sink. The bathroom workout continues.
- Go for a walk on your lunch break. You’ll log extra cardio, but the time spent outside can help you feel reenergized too.
- Take the stairs. The elevator is convenient, but there’s a reason the Stairmaster is so popular.
- Swap your office chair for a Fitness ball. Doing so engages your core muscles.
- Take a stretching break. It’ll keep you moving. Plus being sedentary all day increases your risk for heart disease and being hunched over a desk can hurt your posture.
- Stand on one leg while cooking. You’ll strengthen your quads and hamstrings—but just be careful!
- Do a few sets of squats while watching TV. Stand in front of the couch, lower your hips until your butt grazes the seat and then return to standing. Repeat during the commercials.
- Walk the kids to school. It’s an easy way to log extra exercise for the whole family—plus, you get to spend more time with them!
What’s your favorite way to sneak in exercise? Tell us in the comments below.
As told to Maria Masters by TJ Loos, Tilton Fitness
Competitiveness isn’t always a bad thing—in fact, this instinct often pushes us to perform at our highest levels. The more effort we put into something, the more benefits we reap from it. Take sports, for example. The harder we train at them, the more physically fit we become. And when we’re really motivated, we often maximize those workouts.
Parents play a major role in a encouraging a healthy lifestyle. First and foremost, they must lead by example. If Mom or Dad prefers to watch TV in their spare time, the children will invariably follow suit.
When your kids are young, it’s best to set some time aside for them to run around. Encourage them to go outside and play a game of tag, set up an obstacle course for them in the backyard or take the lead in a game of Simon Says—and command them to do a quick sprint or two. But as children grow older, they’ll primarily get their exercise through sports. And since these activities are designed to bring out their competitive nature, kids will start playing them with a level of competitiveness that’s sure to rev up their fitness levels.
Here are a few sports to encourage:
* Basketball: You don’t have to fill up the court with players—a one-on-one game can be a great cardio workout. Players need to be quick, versatile, and coordinated. Plus, you’d be surprised at how a sudden jump for a rebound or a block attempt can recruit the same muscles that you’d use in a plyometric workout.
* Swimming: Nothing gets your heart pounding like a race in the pool. Swimming requires us to use just about every one of our muscles. Bonus: The water acts as resistance, which we don’t normally get on land, so we have to work extra hard to move around.
* Tennis: Because this sport mimics interval training—i.e., repeated short bursts of movements followed by a period of rest—it can also be a great endurance workout. And it demands a lot of our muscles; your arms have to constantly return the ball and your legs need to move with speed and agility.
Helping your kids lead an active, healthy lifestyle does require some effort—but it might be easier than you think. Remember:
- Be an example.
- Set some time aside each day for your children to run around.
- Take part in the activities with them.
Lastly, choose sports that are fun, and activities that will spark the imagination. That way, your kids will be even more enthusiastic about getting in shape.
Maria Masters is the associate health editor at Family Circle. TJ Loos is a certified personal trainer at Tilton Fitness in Galloway, New Jersey; he’s coaching the Avagliano kids’ coach for the Healthy Family Challenge.