Monday, May 28, 2012

Healthy Choices: Eating Right and Exercise

I am one of those moms who has struggled with her weight most of the time.  Before Gess was born I had actually lost weight and kept it off for 5 years.  Then I got pregnant again.  It's a story many mothers are familiar with.  It took me 9 years to get the weight off, but 2 years ago I did it!   I actually blogged about my journey and shared some tips at Lori's Say on Weight Loss, but I got too busy to keep up with it.

I am still in a weight loss club.  It's called TOPS which stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly.  I think having that scale to be accountable to every week has helped me maintain the weight loss these last 2 years.  While in maintenance mode I don't always have to track what I eat, but I try to do so whenever I find myself struggling to stay withing my goal.  I also do it when we have contests or programs at TOPS that require it.  It's good to check yourself from time to time.

Anyway, so what does this have to do with homeschooling Gess? Well, the other day I found her with a notebook and pencil and she said was writing down her "calories."  I also noted that she had written her name at the top of my food journal page and checked off a box.  It was cute, but it also got me thinking that it was important to address this topic with her for a couple of reasons.

1.  Gess is at a healthy weight and I don't want her to be obsessed with counting calories or watching what she eats, especially at a young age.  Even when a child is overweight they need to focus on making healthier food choices rather than "losing weight."  You never want to encourage a child to "diet" but you do want them to eat healthier and become more active. 

2. I like that Gess sees me using tools to help me make wise decisions about what and how much I eat as well as how much I exercise, so I do want her to be a part of what I am doing.  I just want to be sure she does it in a healthy and responsible way.  So to do that I came up with the following chart:

Instead of checking off a box for every 100 calories she eats (like I do) I am going to have her check off when she has had a serving of healthy foods.  I want her to aim for 2 fruits, 2 vegetables, 2 protein and 2 dairy per day.  This morning she checked off her dairy and fruit after eating a yogurt parfait she made for breakfast.

You might notice that I also made a check box for each 30 minutes of exercise she does.  Of course she's a kid so by that I do not mean a workout video (though she actually enjoys those) or "exercise" but rather, active play.  Swimming, gymnastics, playing ball, any sport, going for a walk, dancing, or just some time at the play ground.  (Bike riding is great too, but Gess still doesn't do that very well.)  You get the idea.  Something to make sure that she hasn't spent her day do nothing but sitting indoors on the computer (which she loves) or watching TV (which she doesn't really do that much).

Gess is actually a very active girl and this box wasn't necessary to encourage her to exercise but I want her to see now that it is something she should always strive to do, even when she is older.  I am hoping this will make her see that exercise means just having active fun, rather than thinking of it as hard work.  Maybe then, even as an adult she will be mindful to get out and enjoy the outdoors in an active way.

Gess is also a fairly healthy eater.  She still remembers the Food Guide Pyramid study we did a few years ago (before it changed to ChooseMyPlate) and will still randomly talk about the category of a food while she is eating it.  She is not a big fan of vegetables though, so I am hoping this will help her to eat more of those.  Maybe by saying, "but you have to check off that you ate your healthy vegetables" will help her get through the serving.

Speaking of, it is a good resource to go if you want to try to do something similar to this with your kids.  They have different serving suggestions for kids based upon gender and ages.  I don't think my chart follows their exact pattern, but as I said, Gess is already eating fairly healthy and maintaining a good weight and BMI so we are just focusing on keeping that up.  If you have a child who is really struggling with weight, they have some good tools to use and will give you ideas on where to start.

So, while Gess might not be ready to make choices like this:

She does make choices like this:

And while I once caught her doing this (that's a treadmill she is laying on).

I'm not worried because she does plenty of this.

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