From the moment my first daughter was born I knew I was going to raise her to love being a girl, being active and healthy. I took her jogging with me in the stroller to lose my extra baby weight and I made all her baby food from scratch – I had time back then!
Then I had a 2nd daughter, and a 3rd and my desire to make sure all my girls had a positive relationship with being healthy and staying active became stronger.
I was raised by a mother who believed in staying active as a family, and our active lifestyle has proved to be the best lesson she ever taught me.
Now that my kids are 8, 10, and 12 I am very aware of the impact of our lifestyle, our habits and opportunities for important conversations.
Every opportunity I get with my girls I point out people, situations and examples of what being Fit means and feels like.
When our new puppy takes off running on her leash and we all laugh and chase from behind while she pulls us, I mention how lucky we are we are fit and can keep up with her. While we are watching a TV show that involves racing around the world for a prize and they get to rock climb, carry goats, and jump over creeks I point out how much easier that is when they are Fit. When our family hikes for hours to reach the top of the escarpment and we are exhausted and exhilarated at the same time, I mention that Fit feels great doesn’t it? When their Grandma joins us for that hike or a 20km bike ride, we all comment how lucky we are that Nan has always stayed active and is still so Fit.
I use the same opportunities to talk about healthy food choices. Being Fit means fueling your body with real food and not packages. My kids are beginning to understand that food that is good for your body makes being active a little easier. They are also understanding that although pop, candy, donuts and fast food tastes good, too much can make you feel not so good. We don’t use the other “F” word to talk about these foods, as the real danger here is the chemicals, artificial flavours, colours and unhealthy oils that hide in these packaged foods.
Having tween girls I worry about body image, about peer pressure, about the statistics of girls with eating disorders. Already my 12 year old has told me on one occasion her friend was weighed at her competitive sport practice, and because the number on the scale was too high, she wasn’t eating lunch that day. We talked a lot about the importance of eating the right foods so she has energy to compete and how not eating can have negative effects. About how being Fit is not a number on a scale, but about being active and eating real food.
Educating our tweens about food choices, activity choices, the relationships between the two as well as the effects on their bodies both short and long term, is the only way to prepare our kids for a healthy future. It is not just about eating right or just about being active, it is about being Fit, feeling strong and putting the right fuel in.
Being a positive role model also speaks volumes to our children. To this day my Mom still goes to the gym many times a week . . . and so do I.
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About Deb Lowther
Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails. She contributes Family Health articles to many websites and magazines and ensures her own family has fun while eating healthy and staying active. Find more inspiring tips from Deb on IronKidsNutrition.ca and MyBoomerNutrition.com and follow her on both Twitter and Pinterest @Deb_Lowther .