Welcome to your 30s: the time when your life will have its 180-degree turn, the time when you start to have your own family and you can fully say that you’re a grown adult with responsibilities not just for your own.
Some may find the transition easier than others, but for many, it’s overwhelming. Everything changes—your routine, status, priorities, and outlook. If there’s one thing that should remain, it should be your health and desire to pass that mindset to your family as well, after all, “The family that works out together, stays together,” right?
Now, how can you motivate your whole family to be healthy? Simple: it should start with you. Set the example.
If you have been healthy from the beginning, then it would be easy. But if not, you should begin motivating yourself first.
“Just by modeling that behavior you might help them come up with their own reasons to get healthier,” Eileen Stone, a child and adolescent psychologist at Sanford Health, says.
Moreover, a 2004 study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine showed that when parents lose weight, kids are much more likely to lose weight, too. Same goes with adapting a healthier lifestyle, i.e. eating healthy and staying fit through exercise.
Here are some tips on how you can motivate your family and lead them the way to a healthier lifestyle:
Make them understand.
There can be a possibility that your kids won’t understand why they can’t have pizza every dinner, or just sit in the couch all day. Maybe they are too young to know, or too familiar with being unhealthy that they won’t understand the need to change their lifestyle. As a parent, it’s your job to make them understand why you are doing this together. Saying things about calories won’t do it, and you also don’t want to say horrible diseases to kids, don’t you?
Make it easy.
Keep in mind that you are dealing with kids (or people younger than you). Setting the level of difficulty to something hard would just result to them dreading it—which is theexact opposite of what you want to establish. You should create routines, as well as an environment that will make them choose healthy choices.
Put the fun in fitness.
Let’s admit it: working out can really be hard and not enjoyable sometimes, especially when you’re just starting out. As for kids, the beginning would be crucial for they can easily be discouraged, or worse, bored with the routines. The challenge is to make the physical activities interesting and something that they can enjoy, like sports or obstacle courses.
You don’t need to follow workout routines in a room. Play outdoors, play team sports. It’s about finding the right activities for your family that will foster bond and at the same time promote healthy living and exercise.
Integrate small, positive changes into activities everyone enjoys.
Kids won’t easily accept and adapt changes. This is why the transition should come in small packages, in ways that they will not be shocked or overwhelmed or intimidated. Start by integrating small additional exercise in normal, day to day activities or events. For example, if the family’s going to sit down for a movie, make it a routine that everyone goes for a walk first. If you’re going out to the movies, see how far away you can park in the lot and walk to the theater. Pizza night coming up? Get everyone shooting hoops together beforehand, suggests Elizabeth Ward, RD, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler
You can also administer additional physical activities by letting them help you with house chores: let them take out the trash, water the plants, get the newspaper or walk the dogs. These easy, daily activities will help them be accustomed to moving and physical exercise, and learn about shared responsibility as well.
Be willing to sacrifice.
Every change or transition can be hard, especially if you have to change some things that you’re used to. Given this, sacrificing well-loved but unhealthy habits should be one of the steps in motivating your family to have the healthy journey with you.
Even after you’ve found a great lifestyle for family fitness, things can get boring, so don’t be afraid to mix it up. Be flexible and open to new ideas — and involve the whole family.
“We all have more buy-in when we get to be a part of the change,” Hoefs tells WebMD. Giving kids a choice helps them feel they’re part of the process. “The motivation is in what we want to become — in that picture of being healthy.”