Guest post by Bonnie Connerly.
It can be challenging finding enough time to fit in regular exercise and a well-balanced diet
for the entire family becomes harder still.
Among school, work and extracurricular activities, managing several different schedules
seems next to impossible.
And yet, hundreds of thousands of families nationwide manage to lead healthier, more active
lifestyles despite the demands of modern living.
You can help your family achieve greater wellness and health — without making it a struggle.
Designing A Better Balanced Diet for Your Family
America’s food industry is designed for you to fail.
Processed snacks, microwave dinners and genetically modified foods are all affordably-priced
and irresistibly convenient.
But healthy eating is easier than you think.
Use the tips below to get started:
Eating Tip #1 – Purge the Bad in Your Kitchen
One of the simplest tips involves removing temptation from the kitchen.
If you keep salty potato chips in the cabinets, it’s guaranteed they’ll get eaten sooner or later.
Removing unhealthy foods won’t necessarily stop family members from snacking.
After all, one can always drive to the closest ice cream shop. But those extra 15 minutes
can help create resistance.
Eating Tip #2 – Plan Meals in Advance
The mere act of planning meals in advance forces you to become more “present” about the
food you buy, cook and eat.
Rather than defaulting to unhealthy standbys like microwave dinners, advance planning
ensures that you always have a steady stream of healthier alternatives on deck.
Not sure where to start
You’re in luck.
There’s no shortage of free healthy recipes online:
* “Simple vegan or vegetarian dishes” returns 11 million Google results
* “Easy organic recipes” returns 52 million results
Eating Tip #3 – Make Healthy Eating a “Fun” Challenge
Because organic food tastes better, healthy eating is its own pleasure.
But you can make family meals even more enjoyable with a little friendly competition.
Out of the tens of millions of healthy recipes out there, who in your family can find (and prepare)
the best meal for that week?
Will it be mom? Dad? The kids?
But healthy eating only represents half the battle.
For truly holistic well-being, your family also needs plenty of exercise.
Getting Your Family Off the Couch – the Importance of Exercise
Exercise can be fun, but the very term conjures up images of hard work and sacrifice.
So when trying to get family members on board, you’ll face much less resistance if you promote exercise
ideas as “activities” or “family outings.”
As a bonus, group activities can be much cheaper than gym memberships for the entire family.
Need some activity ideas?
Activity Tip #1 – Family Walks
Go around the block or head to a nearby park.
You can even walk to the closest grocery store or farmer’s market to pick up ingredients for
Activity Tip #2 – Hiking and Camping
You really can’t go wrong here.
Nature becomes your jungle gym, and she will work every muscle group in the body.
The fresh air you’ll get to breathe is simply healthy icing on an even healthier cake.
Activity Tip #3 – Home Improvement Projects
Few personal trainers would regard home improvement projects as “exercise.”
But give those trainers a few hammers and nails, and they’ll quickly change their tune.
Like meal planning, family activities lend themselves to friendly competition.
Not only can you vote on who came up with the best suggestions for that month, but you can
also pit boys against girls or parents against kids.
Making Exercise and Healthy Eating Work for You
The above tips are all well and good, but how do you turn ideas into action?
How do you design healthier lifestyles that appeal to everyone in your family?
Hopefully the following suggestions will help:
Tip #1 – Finding Time
Americans watch an average of 34 hours of television a week (not including recorded shows).
And they spend even more time on digital devices (smartphones, computer screens and tablets).
Remove or reduce these distractions, and you’ll have oodles of free time for activities that support
Speaking of which…
Tip #2 – Establish Clear Goals
Have everyone in the family write out personal and group fitness goals that are both specific
*I want to lose weight (way too ambiguous)
*I want to lose 5 pounds in 8 weeks (easier to measure)
Free apps like Lift make tracking progress easy and fun.
Tip #3 – Start Small and Scale Up
The reason most lifestyle changes fail is because people try to take on too much at once.
Make your goals small and scale up after each mini-victory.
For example, the family can commit to:
*At least four organic meals every month
*Reducing TV consumption by at least one hour a day
*A minimum of one family outing every weekend
Once you feel comfortable with these goals, scale up (or down) accordingly.
One Final Bonus Tip for Family Wellness
It’s OK to throw in a “cheat” day every now and then. For example:
*On Sundays, family members can eat whatever they want
*On Tuesdays, feel free to indulge in mindless late-night programming
Remember that healthy living is a process — not a radical turn-around.
By weaving in a little extra slack, you’ll find the journey much more sustainable, and way more enjoyable.
Bonnie works to educate and inspire families to make healthy choices in order to reach their wellness goals.