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family health



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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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