FITNESS AND FOOD CAN MAKE FOR GOOD FAMILY FUN IN 2016

Sharlinda Parker

By Sharlinda Parker | IG @sharlinda, Twitter

It's a new year and we all are accustomed to setting healthy goals for ourselves. These goals are commonly called "new year's resolutions". Each year, we like to jump-start these self-improvement resolutions by focusing on the most popular approaches -- working out to get into shape and eating healthy! To be honest, just the idea of getting on the healthy living bandwagon is tough for most of us. Acknowledging that I am included in that "most", in my home, we've established what we call "30 Minute Fun, Fit Family Time" -- our way to bond as parents and kids, together, in a healthy way.

For me and many other working parents, it seems as though there's never enough time in a day. However, we have to make time to intentionally invest into our family's general health. Family is what we make it, so it's imperative to put quality time and effort into preserving the family unit. When it comes to healthy living, the focus must be on more than just physical aspect.

With that, here are my suggestions for activating your own fit, fun family time:

  • Incorporate a simple 30 minute fitness workout together as a family before dinner. You can use your backyard, sidewalk, garage, driveway or an indoor basement as your fitness space. Make it fun and inclusive by asking each family member to select their favorite exercise or two to contribute to the workout session. Consider exercises like jumping jacks, jumping rope, relay racing, running in place, sit ups, or others that get you all moving while making the most of the time you have. Once you select at least five to six exercises, rotate them at least three times for at least a minute each. Start the workout with a warm-up stretching exercise and use this as an opportunity to ask each other about his or her day! At the end of the workout, incorporate a cool-down that uses stretching techniques to wrap up the workout and spend the last moments of the time having each family member share at least one thing he or she is thankful for. In my experience, I realized that playing our favorite songs from our family playlist helps get us through the workout with ease.
  • There's also the option of joining a gym as a family unit. While some gyms do not allow kids under the age of 15 on the gym floor for safety reasons, there are still ways to engage the whole family. Many gym and fitness center locations will allow children or teens to exercise as long as they are accompanied by an adult. In that instance, you can supervise your child's workout while completing yours simultaneously. Again, we have to be intentional about this age group specifically because younger kids between the ages of 4 to 15 are suffering the most with obesity today! This could be because electronic games and computers have taken over, or because neighborhoods have become unsafe. Either way, we must subscribe to what's best for the betterment and longevity of our lives and our family member's lives.

Now that we've covered getting active, we'll talk food, meal prep, quick meals and all that jazz.

One day, I found myself totally unprepared, trying to figure out what to cook for dinner...at dinnertime. It was then that I came to realization that I had to do better and put meal planning for the family at the top on my priorities list. Because nutrition is a major component of fitness, meal planning and preparation is a huge part of how I help keep my family on the healthy track.

To plan easy, healthy meals for you and your family, try a few of these tips:

  •  First, get the entire family involved by having each member suggestion a favorite meal or item in order to create the menu for the week.
  • Invest in cooking items such as a steamer, slow cooker, or George Foreman Grill, which make preparing meals a lot easier for working and on-the-go parents.
  • Select a protein choice (fish, chicken, pork, beef, etc.) while keeping in mind that portion control is very important. Calculate 3 to 4 ounces of protein per family member per meal.
  • Select your family's favorite green vegetables (broccoli, sautéed spinach, collard greens, etc.) and be sure to also select a healthy carb or whole grains like sweet potatoes or brown or black rice.
  • My usual suggestion to my family ( if we have room for any dessert) is to choose a piece of fruit or a handful of berries to satisfy that sweet tooth we all encounter at times. Remember, no matter how healthy and fresh the ingredients, portion control is key.

As you and your family continue through the year, remember the importance of feeding the body and mind with health and fitness. Remember to try incorporating your own "30 Minute Fun, Fit Family Time" and to encourage easy meal planning and healthy eating in your home. That way, you and your family can turn those new year's resolutions into your normal family lifestyle! Happy New Year!