No man wants to be the fat dad on the sidelines who is too out of shape to play with his son.
No woman wants to be a wife who is so insecure about her body that she won’t have sex with her husband.
No kid wants to grow up worrying if their parents are going to be healthy enough to make it to their high school graduation.
These examples may sound harsh, but unfortunately, there is so much truth behind them.
People always say they would “die for their family.”
My response is always the same… “Don’t die for them. Do the opposite.. Get healthy for them.”
Setting aside time for yourself is not selfish. When you have loved ones who depend on you, it is your obligation to do so. In order to take care of others, you must take care of yourself first.
Here are 5 things you can do to set yourself and your family up for a long, healthy life:
1. Model a healthy lifestyle
340 million kids are overweight. That is a horrifying statistic.
Children emulate their parents. They are sponges, absorbing everything you do and say. This is why as a parent, it is your sole responsibility to lead by example.
Stop treating your body like you can trade it in when it breaks. And start showing them what it looks like to take care of their body and live a healthy life. This includes everything from sleep habits and nutrition to mental and physical health, and everything in between.
Are the habits you currently have ones that you would be okay with your kid having? If the answer is no, then why are you doing it?
Every time you make a decision, I challenge you to stop and ask yourself, “who’s watching?”
Skills imprinted in childhood persist into adulthood. Do your child a favor and set them up for success.
2. Build a strong, resilient body
Your kids don't care if you're shredded with a six-pack or have the biggest biceps on the block. However, they do care that you’re able to keep up at soccer practice, play with them for hours at the park, and be around long enough to watch them grow up.
There's no greater flex than your kid being able to say “my dad is stronger than your dad.”
3. Let them see you exercise
Model for them what true strength looks like. Let them witness you struggle. Show them how to persevere through a hard workout when all you want to do is quit.
Exposing kids to a gym environment is one of the best things you can do for their future selves. Rather than the gym being a scary, intimidating place… it’s a normal, fun place to be.
With how consumed the children of today’s society are with technology… Teach them why moving their bodies is important. Include them in the exercise… Create a fun workout at the park, go for a hike, or make family walks part of your daily routine.
4. Involve them in Meal Planning
Building a weekly menu as a family helps to keep the kids involved and makes eating healthy fun and exciting. It allows you the opportunity to teach them why nutrition and fueling your body are important. This also helps to model habits that they will carry throughout their adolescence and into adulthood.
5. Be mindful of your language
Your words are extremely powerful. I’m sure every parent who is reading this can think of a time when they said something and a day or so later, their kid was repeating the same thing to his/her friends. If you’ve ever slipped up and dropped an F-bomb around a 3-year-old you know exactly what I’m talking about.
In 2019, I was a camp counselor for an organization called SmartFit Girls. This organization uses fitness and nutrition education to help empower adolescent girls and build confidence. On the first day of camp, we ask the girls to share what they hear their mother say about herself.
Every girl shared some story about how she watches her mom pinching her body fat in the mirror, or how she’s on a diet or something along the lines of “I can’t eat that because it will make me fat.”
Every time I tell this story my heart shatters. Hearing this negative-self talk is why so many children grow up struggling with body image and confidence issues.
How do you speak to yourself?
Would you want your children to speak to themselves the same way?
Would you say the things you say to yourself to your kid?
Most people don’t think before they speak. But I encourage you to stop, slow down, and think about whose ears are listening. Children’s ears don’t need to be flooded with diet talk, how you can’t eat certain foods, or how much you hate your body. They need to be filled with encouragement, education, and positivity.
As the leader of your family, it is your moral responsibility to lead by example and that starts with taking care of yourself.
Your family is depending on you.