Tag Archives: family health

Seven Fall Activities For the Whole Family

September 21 is the official first day of fall! Once the season begins leaves start to change to beautiful shades of yellow and orange, the weather starts to cool down from the triple digits, and apples and pumpkins begin to fill the market. For these reasons, we think fall is the best season of all with the weather at perfect temperatures and every possible food combination using pumpkin at our fingertips. 

As we enter this ideal season, how can families get outside and enjoy it? Fitness expert and CEO of Step It Up with Steph, Stephanie Mansour, shares some of her favorite activities for families to enjoy this fall.

The first family activity is pumpkin picking. Before Halloween, lots of families head to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin perfect for carving. Stephanie recommends turning the hunt into a workout. “Show your kids how to do squats while holding the pumpkin, or make an obstacle course out of the pumpkins you and your family pick out,” she said. “Have the kids jump over the pumpkins and run around them!”

After your family has picked out the perfect gourd, head home for carving. And after you’ve sculpted your best designs, set the seeds aside and teach your kids how to roast them. Stephanie recommends rinsing the seeds, spreading them out onto a cookie sheet lined with tin foil, sprinkling them with salt, and then baking them in a 400-degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes. This is yet another fall activity that provides a fun and healthy way to bond with your children.  (more…)

Play More and Eat Less During August Family Fun Month

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

There is something inherently playful about August. Even as we are bombarded with the reality that fall is just around the corner and the kiddies will soon be off to school there is a bubbling mischievous and naughty nature about the final weeks of summer. We just want to play hooky, have fun, let loose, experience life, swim, frolic and laugh.

What if we allowed ourselves to do just that? What if play became more important and food less important? What if you spent a day like any 4-year-old where food was absolutely secondary to FUN.

There is a delicate balance that begs to be struck between nourishment from life and nourishment from food. When life is out of balance (unhappy career, long work days, little to no sleep) food can creep in to try to fill the void. When our very essence is begging for fun and our “busy trap” keeps us from having fun it’s amazing how food seems like the solution. What if we satisfied the need for fun? Would food become less important?

Here are three ways to increase your play and upgrade your fun in these last few weeks of summer and allow food to be secondary to the immense joy that a summer frolic can offer. (more…)

Motivational Monday: How Loss and Relationships Inspire Us Toward Better Health

Recently, our DietsInReview team had a big brainstorming meeting to drum up some new and inspiring ideas for the site. My idea? To start a “Motivational Mondays” series to get readers excited about the week ahead.

Motivational Mondays will ideally feature ideas submitted by readers, and can be as simple as a two-sentence line about what motivates you most. This motivation can come from a phrase, quote, or an inspirational figure in your life that plants the desire to do better than the status quo.

Since I came up with the idea of this series, I thought it was appropriate to write about two individuals who motivate me.

My grandmother is my biggest inspiration to achieve nothing but greatness for myself. My grandparents sacrificed their lives to come to America during the Vietnam War. Growing up, she would give me words of wisdom when it came to school, relationships and life, and I just loved how she could gather her children in a room and there would be no bickering or arguing – just love. (more…)

Kids Don’t Need Exercise, They Need Fun, Active Play

I think all adults grapple with some sense of guilt from time to time about their current physical state. Whether we need to lose weight or get back in shape or stop eating fast food, from time to time we all know we’re not doing all that we should. But what about when it comes to our kids’ health? While I can justify skipping a workout from time to time, I have no answers to the question, “why did you let your son watch TV nearly all day?” Well, no good answers at least.

I tend to think I’m more conscious about this than some parents, given my days are dominated by a running routine and gym time. However, there are those days that seem to get away from me and before I realize it, my son has spent too much time sitting on the couch. I feel tremendous guilt on these days. If I’m going to take poor care of myself, that’s one thing, but if I don’t give my son a fighting chance to form good health and habits, well, that’s just bad parenting in my opinion.

The beautiful thing about our kids’ fitness is that it’s really just playing. So, instead of kids having to run a treadmill to be healthy, they just need to be encouraged to play. If your kid is like mine, the word exercise sounds no fun, so I try to steer clear of ever using that word around him. Here are some great ideas for keeping your kids healthy and active without them really knowing their exercising. (more…)

Candy-Free Potty Training Should be the Norm, Not the Exception

When my husband and I decided to start potty training our two-year-old this summer, we agreed to be patient, let her lead but with some firm direction, and not dazzle her with sugar. I won’t say that we’ve been obsessive about her eating habits since she started on solid foods, but I will say we are hyper aware of what she eats and her nutrition is of utmost importance. Because of that, my daughter turns away offerings of cake, ice cream, or even small pieces of candy. However, she’ll knock you over for a bite of avocado.

I’ve watched friends charm the training pants off their toddlers with promises of suckers and candies to convince them to potty on the toilet; specifically one incident where one-and-a-half Fun Size candy bars and a handful of M&Ms were used to reward a toddler for taking care of business. That’s a lot of sugar and calories for a little tinkle. My daughter gets none of that. She gets high-fives, a big cheer along the lines of “great job! I’m proud of you!”, and two or three squares of toilet tissue.

This, I kid you not, is a really big deal to her. That she is allowed to get squares of toilet tissue to clean up is like she’s arrived at the throne of the big girls. Every time she potties she announces, “I get tissue now!” and she is proud of it. She earned it. Not long from now I won’t be able to reward her with septic-friendly paper, but for now, I’m totally rolling with it.

I can feel half the world rolling their eyes at me, but that’s the decision my husband and I made – candy-free potty training. It’s the choice that’s right for our daughter. Maybe it’s not right for your child, but I at least ask you to listen with an open mind and consider that maybe it might just work. (more…)

A One-Mile Run With My Dad Changed My Life (and His Too)

The Fourth of July always marks a very special anniversary for me. It marks the day in 2006 that I ran my first race, a simple one mile race. I was never a runner prior to that summer. I only became a runner because my dad nudged me and ran that one-mile race with me. Neither of us could have guessed what that simple one mile would do for me or our combined fitness. However, the biggest surprise of it all was what running did for our relationship.

I love telling people that my dad, Randy, is 55. He doesn’t look it or act like it. He celebrated his recent 55th birthday by running another half marathon. I was so proud of him. His running career wasn’t always solid as life got in the way and the interests of his family became time consuming. However, when he heard I was attempting to run up and down my street without stopping at the age of 24, he suddenly took a renewed interest in the sport. I asked him about that time.

“Running was nothing new to me but I loved the fact you were thirsting for every detail there was to know about it that you could get from me. Before long I knew it was just a matter of time before you would become so good at it, I would no longer be the mentor and our roles would be reversed.”

Maybe he was right, his encouragement turned me into a real runner, something I feel very lucky to share with him. I was curious if he ever thought he’d share running with one his kids. (more…)

Saturday Morning Drill: Easter-themed Exercises

During this Easter weekend you may be spending time with your kids and family and what better way to have fun together than with exercise!

This weekend, we have been inspired by the Easter bunny so we are going to combine cardio and plyometrics with a fun Easter theme.

If you haven’t heard of plyometrics, it’s a type of exercise designed to produce fast, powerful movements. It also helps improve the functions of the nervous system. It is also referred to as explosive exercises.

These activities will be particularly useful if you’re looking for ways to help your kids come down from their sugar highs from all those goodies the Easter bunny left behind.

And as always, make sure everyone has gone through a good warm up before doing these exercises. For great ideas on how to warm up, refer to the ‘Also Read’ section below.

Bunny Hop

This is probably best to do outside, or where there is plenty of room and no risk of running into something. The Bunny Hop is a spin off of a plyometrics exercise. While standing, you jump forward several times, covering 20-30 yards.

To make this fun with the kids and family, tell them to jump like a ‘bunny’ to the finish line. (more…)

New Study Reconfirms Links Between Diet and Childhood Obesity

Reports from a study conducted at the University of Granada in Spain revealed two important correlations pertaining to childhood obesity: Children who eat meals at home prepared by their mother have a better nutritional outlook. And children with sedentary lifestyles are much likelier to have an unhealthy BMI.

Using standard measurement methods, researchers assessed the BMI of 718 children between the ages of 9 and 17 from various schools in Granada, and also determined the consumption frequency of specific foods and daily exercise habits. Their research showed that there is a noticeable relationship between sedentary leisure habits and high BMIs. And that it is “extremely important” for healthy habits to be promoted and encouraged within the family.

This only further confirms what experts have taught us all along: Daily exercise is crucial to overall health. Meals prepared at home are are likelier to be made with healthier, fresher ingredients and served in the proper portions. And it’s crucial that healthy habits be modeled in the home.

So how do we apply this research if we struggle in this area? Consider the following problem areas and tackle them head on. (more…)

Exercise Takes Nothing Away From Your Family

On this week’s episode of The Biggest Loser, Joe Messina left the ranch, claiming that he missed his family too much and needed to be home.

What many people don’t realize is that if they don’t take time to exercise and live their healthiest lives possible, they won’t need to worry about being there for their families. They simply won’t be there at all.

Harsh words, but true. Being overweight and out of shape can be a fast track to an earlier death.

Instead of focusing on how much time exercise takes away from the family, switch that mindset around and see how much time you can spend with your family in a productive, healthy way. Here are some of our staff’s favorite ways to include exercise and healthy living while spending time together with those you love most. (more…)

Overweight Dads Have Overweight Kids

The phrase “like father, like son” now takes on a more serious meaning. According to an Australian study of more than 3000 families, four-year-olds who had fathers who were overweight or obese were at least four times more likely than other children to have weight problems by the time they reached eight.

The researchers investigated patterns in two-parent families, tracking their children  between the ages of four and eight. In each case, only one parent was overweight or obese. Interestingly, if the mother was overweight it did not seem to affect the weight of the children.

“We know that when both parents are overweight or obese, their children are more likely to also be overweight or obese,” said researcher Emily Freeman.

That part is logical, since parents are the providers and if they are buying unhealthy food, children have no choice but to eat what they are fed. While the study did not investigate the reasoning behind the troublesome link, it seems obvious that kids have some sort of special reverence to the way their fathers eat. (more…)