It’s February. So… how is your New Year’s resolution coming along? If you just remembered, “Oh yeah, that’s right, we wanted to live healthier!” then keep on reading.
We asked one of the nation’s leading authorities on childhood obesity what sustainable success looks like when it comes to healthy family lifestyles. How do you know you’ve made it over the hump? James O. Hill, Ph.D., a close advisor to the ZisBoomBah team, is Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, Colo. Much of his work focuses on the importance of healthy eating and physical activity in weight management.
The problem, says Dr. Hill, is that we can implement healthy lifestyle changes in the short run, but we struggle with keeping it up. Sustainability is the hardest part of changing our diet and exercising. “The best advice I can give families is to make it a routine, Dr. Hill says. “Once we get in the habit of doing it every day, then we don’t have to think about it every time. Every night, we will put on our physical activity; we just do it; we get used to doing it; everybody expects it.”
The other piece of advice Dr. Hill has for families who want to live healthier is to not turn it into deprivation, especially not for the kids. Deprivation is going to get old very fast. “We don’t do things we don’t like forever. So you have to make it simple, and you have to make it fun,” says our expert. Wear pedometers, for example. The family member with the most steps at the end of the day gets a sticker. Ten stickers earn you a reward!
Implementing a healthier family lifestyle: What does sustainable success look like?
As a family trying to eat better and be more physically active, how do you know you’ve succeeded? When can you say, now we are a healthy, active family?
We knew what Dr. Hill would say to that. “It is a journey rather than a destination.” There, he said it. You’re never done. Though there are two signs, he says, that you are doing a great job and your family stands a real chance to keep the healthier lifestyle going:
- The parents and the kids always believe that a healthy lifestyle is important to this family. Everyone, every day.
- The family continues to strive every day to “do it a little bit better.”
“That’s about the best you can get,” Dr. Hill says. “If the sense is that everybody is trying, then you’ve succeeded.”
(This is part two of our “Healthier 2011” series. In January, we published a story on overcoming your obstacles to a healthier lifestyle together as a family.)
*** It’s not going to be easy. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make it simple! ***