At our house while we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, we tend to eat foods that are more fatty, more sweet and less fiber filled than normal. Because of the cold weather – especially this year – we also tend to sit much more than normal. That combination of eating more and moving less gives our bodies more calories to store and that means weight gain.
Obviously stores are aware of this pattern and the exercise equipment and advice abound and are often sale priced to entice people to buy them.
Each of us is responsible for our response to these situations. It is easy to say, “well I guess I can’t really change this” but as parents or grandparents we need to be aware that children follow our examples. Today’s children are in the first generation of Americans that due to poor eating and exercise habits have a shorter life expectancy.
As a parent or grandparent, sharing time being active with the children in our lives is good for them and us. Exercise includes walking, dancing, roller skating, playing on monkey bars, riding bikes, playing tag, duck-duck goose, and playground tricks – how long can you stand on one leg, how close can you come to touching your toes with your knees straight, hop scotch, how fast can you run this relay. It does not require a gym or special equipment other than perhaps shoes. Exercise guidelines are that children should aim for 60 minutes total of exercise each day. Guidelines for adults are for 150 minutes total per week.* I know that getting started is always the worst part, but once I started exercising regularly (for me using the Wii fit and walking) it is something that I miss when I don’t get a chance. Look for ways to get ten minutes here and there and it will add up. Spending time with children easily will add to the amount of exercise you get. Less screen time – TV and computer – will help – so shut it off- pretend the electricity to these items is not working for a couple hours a day.
Working toward an increase in fiber (women 25 grams and men 38 grams) will improve the ability to managing a proper weight. Increasing the number of fruits and vegetables and whole grains will easily increase the amount of fiber. Check the labels of your foods for the number of servings of fiber per serving.
Thankfully one of the cool ways our tax dollars are spent is on good solid advice and information. Check out www.choosemyplate.gov and also www.cdc.gov for guidelines. Specific guidelines I referred to before are at these links: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/index.html and http://www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/PlanPurchasePrepare.pdf
Eating Well, Exercising Well and Being Well is a result of daily – even hourly – choices. Choose well.
Happy New Year
Director of Education and Curriculum