Wednesday, October 14, 2015

12 Ways to Sneak Attack Your Kids with Wellness

In many ways, our world today works faster, better and stronger than any other era in history; however, in many ways, our world also suffers from a busy-minded lifestyle, usually affecting the youngest generation the most. Although I don't yet have children of my own, I have about 10 years experience coaching kids ages 5-16 for sports conditioning and cheerleading. Plus, I've been a kid, and I feel like that gives me some credibility to relate to them (maybe I still feel like a kid sometimes ...). That being said, I don't want to ever come across as critical or demanding, especially to you parents (I have the utmost respect and adoration for you). My hope is that the following set of tips help you approach your kids creatively to instill principles of healthy habits.

"But I say walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh [of human nature without God]." — Galatians 5:16 Amplified Version

The Word urges us to deny our flesh, instill discipline and create healthy habits, but this verse also reminds us that we must be guided by God to live that way each and every day. We are not strong enough to do it on our own, and this principle, above all, is the most important one to pass on to your kids. For more on learning discipline for a healthy spirit, soul and body, read The Daily Decision to Be Healthy.

1. Make food flexible.
Forget the "clean your plate" rule. Embrace flexible eating and allow your kids to listen to their bodies. I'd recommend giving your kids options at first (all healthy, of course), but let them choose which foods they want to eat and how much. Make sure to offer them a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein.
Yup. I've always had big hair. I told you I've been a kid!

2. Breakfast builds the body.
Do not, I repeat, do not forget about breakfast. And toaster strudels don't count. Cereal doesn't even count (unless it's low in sugar and high in fiber). Protect your kids from the horrible marketing tools big companies are using and educate yourself enough to know what's healthy and what's not. Make it a big enough priority to make time in the morning to start your kids' days off right. Eating a healthy breakfast and ideally, getting a good conversation (maybe a prayer, some scripture, etc), even if it's only 10 minutes-worth can make a world of a difference in the overall mood of the day. For some healthy breakfast ideas, read 16 Ways to Spice Up Your Oatmeal.

3. Variety is the spice of life.
Don't hate me for saying this, but try taking your kids to the grocery store. You may need to have a pep talk with them before you do, making sure they know the purpose of the trip to the store, but designate a day when you and your kids get to choose different foods they want to try. You may even want to search the Internet for a healthy recipe. Have your kids choose which kinds of meals they want to try, and splurge on new ingredients (mostly whole foods) like turnips, squash, sweet potatoes, fish, a new herb like chives, or maybe a new cultural food like sushi. Try to keep your kids (and your hubby) involved in the kitchen creations. Be flexible, expecting the mess to be bigger and the noise to be louder, but enjoy it. Laugh at each other and have fun creating the meal, so that when you share it, it means something. Be sure to try new foods yourself, and experience new things alongside your kids.

4. Add veggies to staple recipes.
I'll never forget the time when my mom sneaked yellow squash in my maccaroni. It wasn't until the last bite that she told us. "No way!" we said. Other ideas include bulking up soups with beans, tomatoes, onions, turnips, mushrooms and green beans. Or adding tofu to chicken dishes. Or adding cauliflower to rice or mashed potatoes. Or adding butternut squash to potato salad. Or adding apple sauce (no sugar added) to muffins. Or adding black beans to brownies (what? Yes.).

5. Play before work.
It's important that you teach your kids the value of play time, when "play time" includes exercise or active things. For example, I value my exercise. It's a priority high enough in my life that I make sure to get this done before I sit and work on my computer, and definitely before I rest and watch Netflix. If you teach your kids that exercise is play, and allow them to do it before they do their homework, then they will value it more. They will probably be more focused when they sit down for homework too, because they've had the rest of mind and the revitalization of their active bodies.

6. Compliment them. 
This may sound like a no-brainer, but I imagine you parents are so busy trying to get from point A to point B, and just keeping your kids alive (that's how it was for me and my three brothers), that it may slip your mind every now and then how fragile your kids' body images are. It's in the years between 5-15 that a person's body image is truly defined. Encourage your kids to build a positive self-image by pointing out their strengths. Be intentional to compliment their physical attributes as well as teach them the value of good ethics, a good attitude and love for his or herself, others and of course, for God.

7. Grow your own groceries.
So, you don't have to grow a full-blown garden, but keeping a couple herbs in the kitchen window can spark a curiosity in your kids to learn about sustainability, cooking and maybe even helping out at mealtime. Like having a pet, maintaining a garden or a plant teaches you how to care for something other than yourself, helping kids learn responsibility. It also can help kids learn to try new flavors and new foods.

8. Put the 'cool' back in the lunch bag.
Take your kids shopping for a new lunch kit, and let them pick it out. While shopping, talk to them about the kinds of foods that would be best to put in it every day and why that food is healthy for them. Often, kids like to know the "why" of things. For girls, tell them this lunch bag is like a cute purse. Tell them they need to take care of it and bring it every day. When you get home, teach them how to make a healthy lunch and make sure they help you make it before school each day.

9. Shake up their water bottle.
Micah played all kinds of sports as a kid.
While shopping for that cool lunch pack, pick out a sweet water bottle to go along with it. Tell them the only way they get a legit water bottle/cantene/etc is if they promise to use it every day. Kids need to drink at least 1 oz. of water per pound of body weight every day. For example, a 55-pound kiddo needs to drink at least 55-65 oz. of water every day just to fight dehydration. Teach them how to measure this out, and reward them if they meet the challenge each week.

10. Make exercise fun.
If I had to run on the treadmill for half an hour each day, every day, I'd hate exercise too. Some kids may hate to run laps in P.E. Some may have a negative perception of exercise, in general, especially if they've heard you or other adults complain about working out. Exercise can include games like playing tag, hide and go seek, jumping on the trampoline, playing at the playground, or games like DDR (Dance Dance Revolution - yes!). Outdoor activities like rollerblading, bicycles (not scooters), hopscotch, and jump rope are still cool; not to mention sports like basketball, tennis, soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball, gymnastics, etc. This isn't rocket science, but we have to encourage our kids to choose what they like and show them to how to prioritize this kind of "play time," before we can expect them to want to do it themselves.

11. Reward them with anti-foods. 
Don't let your love be expressed through food. Rewarding kids with food or treats not only mimics how you reward your dogs (guilty), but it also instills a coping mechanism in kids that makes them go to food for emotional support. Instead, reward them with play time or special you-and-them time, like a trip to the mall, arcade or park. Invest your time instead of your dollars on junk food. As you do this, you can also teach them better ways to cope with stress.

12. Show 'em how it's done.
Be a role model of wellness to them by living your own life in the same manner. I can hear the echo of my parents saying "Do as I say, not as I do," and as an adult now, I can relate, but I still don't think that's a good mantra. Don't let your age be an excuse to not begin a healthy lifestyle yourself. It's not enough to teach your kids wellness; you have to live it to leave a true legacy.

For a complete guide to wellness for the family, register for 21 Days to a Healthy Home, your guide to creating lifelong habits of nutrition, exercise and positive self-image. 

For more tips and resources, follow me on social media: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram. Also, check out my Services to find out how I can personally help you get fit from the inside out. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

5 Signs You're Still on a Diet (and Not Living a Healthy Lifestyle)

Diets got you down? It's safe to say I've had my experiences with diets, and I confess I'm still working on abandoning that mentality and embracing intuitive eating. Knowing that it's a progressive journey to let go of the restrictions a diet life entails, I'd like to share some signs that you may not be living life healthy and free as much as you think.

1. You still eat more than you burn.

We've all seen the machines that count the amount of calories you're burning as you go, helping you feel totally accomplished, seeing you burned like 600 calories in 30 minutes! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you probably didn't burn that much on the elliptical while reading a magazine .... Everyone is different. You can't trust the amount of calories that machines, gyms or even higher-end boutiques promise you will burn. The only way to truly know how many calories you conquered would be to wear a heart rate monitor set up with your personal information. If you walk around thinking you have an extra 500 calories to eat since you worked out, but you really only burned 300, then you actually may be gaining weight. Now, I'm not an advocate for counting calories or measuring weight, but it's important to be educated on the science behind calories in/calories out. Physiologically, it depends on your goals. If you're looking to gain muscle, then it's not a problem to eat more, and especially if you're eating healthy. But, if your main goal is weight loss, then you might consider investing in a fitness tracker or logging your meals on a mobile app. For help on tracking your macronutrients (or explaining what that even means) read this article

2. You forget about the liquid sugar.

Despite your discipline to show the cold shoulder to frappuccinos and sodas, you may be falling prey to more subtly disguised "healthy" beverages. A wholesome cup of OJ at breakfast has around 110 calories, and a quarter cup of milk adds 20 - 40 calories to each cup of coffee you drink. You can't even pick up a natural "green juice" without consuming a significant number of calories — with the majority of those calories coming from sugar. I prefer to eat my fruit instead of drinking it. It's way more satisfying! As for coffee, it's best to drink it with stevia and some unsweetened almond milk. If you need the cream, opt for a tad of the sugar-free kinds. And we can't forget the most defiant of the liquids to try to slide in without being noticed: alcohol. I've found life is much better without it at all, but if you don't want to give it up, stay hydrated in between drinks and keep your cocktails simple.

3. You binge on diet food.

Ever picked up an item that promises to taste exactly like something like a donut, peanut butter or chocolate, but promises 0 calories, 0 sugar, 0 fat and actually has 0 nutritional value? Yep, we've all been personally victimized by diet food. Let me drop a truth bomb right on your noggin'. According to the FDA, if a product has less than five calories per serving (which could be much smaller than the amount you're having), the label can claim it has 0 calories. Think about products like nonstick spray, sweetener packets, and spray butter, which each require multiple servings; those stats really add up. Unfortunately, the FDA allows the numbers on nutritional labels to be inaccurate by up to 20 percent. If the nutritional stats seem too good to be true, they probably are. has more on this subject and you can read up by clicking here and here.

4. You eat quick, skip meals and possibly binge at times.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm still fighting to become an intuitive eater and gain the freedom necessary to eat what I want, when I want and how I want. However, what I'm learning is that there's value in slowing down to eat meals, contemplating on what my body's telling me (which foods I'm craving and why and what my body needs based on my activities and time of day). When I was following a strict meal plan (aka diet), I ate according to my plan without this self-reflection, and I found myself wanting the foods that were not off-limits. Usually, we all have a tad of rebelliousness in us, and if someone tells us we can't do something, that's exactly what we want to do. If all food is acceptable, and we're coached to learn how to train our body and listen to our body, then we can learn to have balance and satisfaction at the same time.

5. You feel guilty after eating.

The worst thing about diets is that they instill the idea that certain foods are good and certain foods are bad. It creates rules for nutrition, judging dietary actions as right and wrong. If you have the tendency to feel guilty after eating certain foods, you're most likely suffering from a diet mentality. It's important that you learn how to eat a balanced variety of foods and when you eat something less than healthy, be quick to move on with your healthy lifestyle, making the next choice based on what you're body needs. Often, having the flexibility of eating intuitively takes the urge to binge on "bad" foods away, and people eat until they're satisfied instead of indulging.

For more tips and resources, follow me on social media: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram. Also, check out my Services to find out how I can personally help you get fit from the inside out. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Daily Decision to Be Healthy

Discipline is an idea in fitness I've known for a long time, but recently, I'm learning how it applies in other areas of my life. While the motivation to hit the weights and get my cardio in comes fairly easy to me (comparatively-speaking), the discipline needed to guard my heart is a work-in-progress. Much like a learned fitness schedule and new workout, disciplining the soul can cause soreness. Getting out of my comfort zone is expected during a workout, but I'm learning how to replicate that idea in the rest of my life, like just being a good person, being a vessel for God's light.

Paul said to buffet your body like a boxer (1 Corinthians 9:27). Some scholars might say Paul was simply speaking about disciplining his mind, will and emotions, but I believe Paul was also referring to his physical being. I'm thinking that traveling back in those days was tiring in the least. I'm thinking that to make the week-long trips by foot or maybe donkey, in order to get to the next city to preach the Gospel, he had to be in pretty good health. I'm thinking physical fitness was important to him. After all, he knew our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, from which the health of that body determines how effective we are at shining His light.

So my thoughts about this discipline thing are these .... 

1. Discipline takes effort of the soul (mind, will and emotions). 
Do you ever have days you don't feel like working out? Or maybe you feel like eating pizza? OR you feel like ignoring the person trying to talk to you in the gym while you're rocking out to your new workout remix? Ya, it takes discipline to not be completely and utterly selfish. It's easy to do what we want in the moment. It's tough to do what we need to do in the moment. So, in short, yes, discipline takes a little will power, but will power won't make discipline. 

2. Discipline takes your willingness to submit to God.
What I've learned in many tests (that I've had to retake over and over again) is that no matter how strong-willed I may be, I'm not strong enough to do any good thing on my own. It is only by the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life that I'm blessed. I'm sorry, but I can't stand it when #FitFam peeps and other members of the fitness industry boast about how hard they've worked to get where they are, and post supposedly "inspirational" memes subjecting others to thinking that they themselves must not be working hard enough.

Let's get this straight. Working hard gets the job done, but it does not promise joy. Unless you accept Jesus as the only way to true peace and happiness, you will find yourself criticizing either yourself or someone else in hopes to feel better. And then we're back to the whole disciplining your soul again, your feelings. If you make decisions throughout life based on feelings, you're sure to get off track. I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

In Romans 8 (Amplified Version), Paul encourages us to die to our flesh and to come alive in spirit by accepting Jesus Christ. He says we have to choose daily to deny our flesh and discipline our soul. I'm learning it doesn't matter how good I was yesterday, I've got to choose to be good today. And the earlier in the day I can make that choice, the better. 

We have to habitually choose to deny flesh (vs 13). When we live by our flesh, we are slaves to sin; we're impulsive, fearful, selfish, envious and bitter. When we lived renewed in the spirit, we have a peace that passes all understanding, and although we face trials, we are redeemed by the joy of God. He not only redeems our spirit, so that we go to Heaven, but He give us a chance to enjoy our life, free of insecurities, jealousy, sickness and lack of energy. 

3. Discipline your soul as you discipline your body. 
One of the main things I tell my clients and others I coach at Orangetheory and ZYN22 is that anyone can give you a workout. There are free nutrition resources, recipes and workouts all over the Internet. The thing that sets me apart, or at least I try to uniquely encumber this, is that I see coaching as a way to draw out the light God's placed in each of us. Another thing I tell my clients is that they can perform an awesome workout and follow their meal plan 100 percent and still not switch to a healthy lifestyle. In order to remain truly healthy and fit from the inside out, you must dig deep to discover the calling on your life and the value in embracing your weaknesses. If you reflect on this daily, you will learn how to embrace moments of pain with perseverance and over time, gain strength.

Working out is like breaking off our flesh, and embracing a new identify, like one found in Christ. We must share his suffering (Jesus) if we are to share his glory (vs 17). The glory of God is found in the daily chiseling of our body, the building up of our temple (physical/spiritual), shredding layers of flesh (physical/spiritual). It's both by nature and by intention, Gods intention, for us to feel frustrated with life without choosing the grace and freedom only He can provide (vs 20-21). So on days you feel discouraged, remember that God allows you to feel that way in hopes you will choose to seek him earnestly and become dependent on Him for strength, endurance and power.

The Holy Spirit strengthens us when we are weak, just like the days we have put in at the gym support you on your off days. You must put in the work to see the results. And when you grow weary and don't see the results you're waiting for, you must rely on the hope and faith essential to walking a disciplined, healthy life, despite how you feel (vs 25, 28).

This is why it's so important for us to be committed to our physical disciplines (nutrition and exercise), and also to implement spiritual disciplines (prayer, scripture and worship) in order to receive the complete gift of life available to us, - and more so, to enjoy life every day.

For more tips and resources, follow me on social media: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram. Also, check out my Services to find out how I can personally help you get fit from the inside out. 
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