7 Ways to Help Your Overweight Child Lose Weight Safely

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If you’re trying to help your overweight child lose weight safely, begin by making gradual lifestyle changes and avoid the popular fad diets. Changes to diet and lifestyle will take time and patience, so take it one step at a time and get the whole family involved in making healthier choices.  Also, you should first talk to your child’s physician or see a nutritionist to obtain guidance or goals on a target weight.

Here is a quick list of 7 healthy suggestions to help your family conquer obesity:

  1. Be a healthy role model. Children will generally pay closer attention to your actions rather than your words, so the very best thing you can do is set a good example by practicing healthy lifestyle habits yourself. Your health and weight directly affect your child’s health and weight. In fact, according to Stanford News, if both parents are overweight the risk of becoming an overweight adult jumps to nearly 50 percent. You can set your kids up for success by lining your refrigerator and pantry with plenty of quick and easy healthy snacks, such as whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese; apple wedges with yogurt; high-fiber granola bars with oats, nuts & seeds; carrots and celery with peanut butter and raisins.
  1. Keep it positive. No one enjoys receiving negative feedback. Talk to your child with compassion and encouragement. Avoid saying negative phrases like ‘you need to lose weight’. Instead, say ‘Let’s be healthy and start taking care of our bodies’. Focus on the foods you can eat, not the foods you should be limiting or cutting out. Avoid saying, ‘don’t eat that.’ Instead, use positive language by saying something like ‘Let’s go pick out fruits and make a fruit salad, and then we can go for a family bike ride.’ This way you are making healthy eating and exercise something that is fun to do.
  1. Make healthy eating a family affair. Try to schedule at least one meal a day that is unhurried and involves the whole family. Don’t make a special ‘diet’ meal for the person who is overweight. Everyone in the family can benefit from eating healthy meals, regardless of weight, and a family that eats together, eats better, according to a recent study in the journal Archives of Family Medicine. Children who report having regular family dinners have healthier diets than their peers who don’t, the study showed.
  1. Eat a well-balanced breakfast. A healthy breakfast should include a carbohydrate, a protein and a little fat, which will keep your children more alert during school. Carbs provide immediate energy, whereas protein and fat help you feel fuller, longer. So, instead of choosing sugary cereals and pastries, have a bowl of high-fiber oatmeal with blueberries & almonds (or almond milk), or whip up some scrambled eggs with a slice of whole-wheat toast. If you’re really running late, grab a yogurt or a bagel with peanut butter or low fat cream cheese. Do not skip breakfast. Studies have shown that weight loss is much more difficult in people who skip breakfast.
  1. Make time for physical activity. Make physical activity a family event. Every night after dinner in the summer, go for a half-hour walk or bike ride, and make it an activity that kids look forward to. If you can afford it, enroll your kids in their favorite dancing or sporting activity. Make exercise fun, not a chore or something they HAVE to do. If your kids are young, they may enjoy hide-and-seek or hopscotch. Kick a soccer ball or play some football with older children.
  1. Watch your portions.  When serving the food, try to portion out meals on dishes and avoid buffet-type or family-style eating. Resist the first temptation to have seconds, then check in with yourself to see if you are really hungry. ChooseMyPlate.gov is a great resource for learning more about portion control for kids.
  1. Don’t say diet. If you put your child on any diet, you might be setting them up for an eating disorder – whether binge eating or closet eating or another type of disorder. Instead, focus on forming healthy lifestyle habits that will eventually result in long-term weight loss and better overall health.

 

 

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The Cumulative Effects of Exercise

Our activities tend to have a cumulative effect. Everything we do, from the food we eat, to the way we exercise, affects our health and has an effect on the people around us. It adds up. Eating all those extra calories will result in added pounds and fat. Walking a few extra minutes every day adds up to greater weight-loss, firmer muscles and a healthier body.

Photo credit: “Mike” Michael L. Baird [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Exercise helps improve the health of your whole body, including firmer muscles and stronger joints. You can lose weight and maintain your current weight by exercising regularly. Exercise not only benefits your body, but also has a positive effect on every one in your life. You will have more energy and stamina to handle the day-to-day chores, such as taking care of children, working, mowing your lawn or cleaning out your garage. Exercise helps boost your energy and creates a sense of well-being as your brain produces endorphins. You will probably sleep better at night, too.

Greater energy and stamina, as well as a healthy, firm body, can lead to greater self-confidence. This new-found self-confidence will shine through in everything you do at work and at home. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet can help improve your metabolism, which will increase your energy levels. You may find that you can think more clearly as your physical health improves. Exercising with friends and family can also help strengthen your relationships. Stronger relationships can lead to a happier life.

Have you noticed that when you yawn, people around you start to yawn? It is contagious. The same is true of your mood. When you are happy, people around you tend to catch the happy mood. As your physical health and mood improves, you will notice that your mood is also improving. Your family and co-workers will notice your happier state too. Small annoyances that used to ruin your day may have no effect on you now that you are exercising regularly. You may even notice that you don’t mind the delay in traffic or the slow checkout clerk at the grocery store. The longer your exercise on a regular basis, the greater the happy effect will become.

The more you exercise the greater your health, strength and stamina. Regular exercise improves not only your physical health, but your mental health as well. Improved relationships with everyone in your life, in turn, improves your mood and outlook even more. It all adds up to a happier, healthier you.

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5 Ways to Find More Time to Exercise

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When it comes to exercise, we all have good intentions. First, we make a decision to exercise, next we announce it to the world, and finally, we decide to go all out and purchase new equipment, clothing, or even a gym membership. Then something happens, or rather does not happen. We cannot seem to find the time or the desire to finish what we wholeheartedly started.

Whenever we incorporate something new into our life, whether it is diet or exercise, we must first realize that it is, in fact, new. We must incorporate a new habit into our lives on a daily basis. And, therein lies the problem. We are so stuck in our patterns that we do not even begin to know how to add something else onto our to-do list.

1. Put It in Writing – Put the word exercise or Zumba or power walk on your calendar in bright red ink. Pick a date and time every week and put it everywhere from a cell phone reminder to an email to yourself. Putting things in writing seems to have a commitment to accomplish that task attached to it.

2. Review and Replace – Rather than trying to cram one more thing into an already hectic schedule, examine that schedule and see what you can delete and replace with your new-found love of exercise. Perhaps an hour of Facebook time or game playing on the computer can be deleted and exercise put in its place. Do these things only on the weekends and free up some time for exercise during the week.

3. Take a Good Look at Your Schedule – Perhaps you could go to bed 30 minutes earlier, three times per week and get up 30 minutes earlier three times per week. Not only will you see that this minor shift will give you the extra time in the morning, but it will change the entire outlook of your day.

4. Give Something Up – Often times when we want to achieve a new goal we fall short because we are not willing to give something up. We want to add this new goal to an already packed calendar. Perhaps, giving up Happy Hour every other Friday or giving up sleeping late two Saturdays per month will do the trick.

5. Lunch Hour – Take a good long hard look at your lunch hour. Is there any way that you could take 30 minutes for a brisk walk and then the other 30 for actual eating? The phone calls you were going to make or emails you were going to send will be there waiting for you tomorrow.

Whether you realize it or not, finding more time to exercise is not simply a matter of time, it is a matter of practice, thinking, and creating as well. When you have the incentive, you will find the time.

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Depression, Anxiety & Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for our bodies, but did you know that exercise may help you manage anxiety and reduce the effects of depression? People who exercise regularly enjoy a greater feeling of well-being and may experience less anxiety and depression than people who do not exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise causes the brain to release neurotransmitters and endorphins that help ease the symptoms of depression. In addition to the feel-good brain chemicals (endorphins and neurotransmitters), exercise increases your body temperature which, according to the Mayo Clinic, may help to calm you. Exercise also reduces the immune system chemicals in your body that can exacerbate symptoms of depression.  Once you begin to see the physical benefits of exercise, such as strengthening your muscles and losing weight, you will also feel better about your physical appearance which will also help to lessen some types of anxiety and depression.

Exercise doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym or work out on the treadmill or elliptical. Any physical activity that gets your blood pumping and causes you to break a sweat is good exercise. Even mowing the law, gardening and other types of yard work, such as raking leaves or shoveling snow, counts as exercise. Even casual exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes every other day, may help you realize less anxiety and improvement in your depression. Improving your diet to include healthy foods such as vegetables and low-fat foods and exercising three to five days each week may have a significant effect on your physical appearance as well as your mood. You don’t have to exercise for a full 30 minutes at any one time. You can exercise in short 10- to 15-minute intervals 2 to 3 times in a day.

Finally, select activities that you enjoy. If you like to play sports,   join your company’s softball or bowling league. Finding a friend for 20 to 30 minutes of handball, racquetball, basketball or tennis two times each week can be a tremendous boost to your mood. You’ll also enjoy the companionship and socializing associated with team sports. Nature lovers might enjoy a walk in a park or for the more adventurous, hiking a nature trail. Swimming is a good way to get exercise and lessen the impact on your joints. Whatever you decide to do, do something fun and stick with it. Soon you should begin to enjoy the many benefits of exercise.

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Exercise & Allergies

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April showers bring May flowers — and allergies for some people. Pollen allergies can make you miserable and might interfere with your regular outdoor exercise routine. You don’t have to give up the great outdoors during allergy season. Some preparation and precautions can make exercising outdoors when  you have allergies a little more tolerable.

Keep track of pollen season on your calendar. Many weather stations and websites publish pollen alerts, which you can use to determine when you should exercise indoors or take extra precautions outdoors. If you know which pollen makes you miserable, avoid outdoor activities during peak times or take medication before you go outdoors. Ozone and other air pollutants can make allergy season worse. Avoid exercising outdoors on days when ozone and pollen counts are high.

Exercise before or after peak pollen levels. Most pollen levels peak around midday. Exercise outdoors in the morning or late afternoon to early evening to avoid the worst pollen levels. Opt for less intense exercise during peak pollen times, too. Instead of running 5 miles, jog for 2 miles or use the treadmill at the gym. Talk to your doctor about exercising outdoors during allergy season, especially if you suffer from asthma.

Fat-Fighting Foods

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Losing weight doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of tasty, nutritious foods. Many of the foods you love can help you lose weight or help you maintain your weight loss. Continue to exercise regularly and enjoy some of these fat fighting foods.
Protein is an essential nutrient for muscle health. It also helps to build other body tissues, produces enzymes and hormones and helps to regulate the biochemical processes in your body. You can get protein from animal and plant sources. Eggs are low in calories and loaded with essential protein and can be prepared in a variety of ways for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eggs may contribute to cholesterol, so limit eggs to a couple of times each week. Nuts are another great source of protein. They are also high in fiber and omega-3 healthy fats. Nuts can be eaten plain as a snack or added to salads, breads and cereals for extra flavor. 

Lean meats and fish are a good way to get muscle-building protein in your diet. Protein helps you feel full longer so that you eat less. Red meat is usually higher in fat than chicken. If you eat red meat, trim all the fat off the meat prior to cooking. Skinless chicken breast is a very good choice with less fat than other meats. Extra lean steaks and roasts are good choices. Fish is a great source of protein and contains little fat. Fish, especially salmon, is also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
Vegetable protein is just as healthy for your body as meat protein. Beans are especially high in protein and fiber. Beans are low in calories and fat too. Quinoa, cracked wheat and brown rice are other great sources of vegetable protein. They can be prepared as a side dish, used in soups and in casseroles. In addition to protein, these high-protein foods also contain iron, zinc, vitamin E and the trace element selenium. Fruits like watermelon, pears, apples, grapes and yogurt and berries are also high in protein and other essential nutrients. 

Exercise For Your Mind & Body

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Regular exercise, combined with a healthy, nutritious diet, can help keep your body  strong, lean and fit. Did you know that exercise is also good for your mental health? Exercise and a fit body helps improve your self-esteem, your confidence and can help you feel more in control of your life. People who exercise on a regular basis are less prone to suffer from anxiety, depression and they handle stress better than people who do not exercise regularly. Sometimes it’s difficult to get up and start exercising when you feel anxious or depressed., but you will feel better almost as soon as you start exercising. During exercise, the brain releases endorphins that help reduce pain and promote a feeling of well-being. Depression is a serious illness that affects millions of people. Exercise alone is not a quick-fix for depression, but it can help you deal with your symptoms. Once you get your depression symptoms under control, exercise may help prevent depression symptoms from returning. Follow your doctor’s advice about medication, lifestyle changes and exercise. How can you get started with exercise if you are or have been depressed or feeling anxious? It’s easier than you think.
Begin slowly. If you have been sedentary for years and rarely exercised, see your doctor for a physical checkup before beginning an exercise regimen. Once your doctor clears you for exercise, gradually increase your physical activity until you can do 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Forget trying to run a marathon after your first week. Set realistic goals and build on your increasing strength and endurance. Start by walking 10 to 15 minutes every other day and increase by a few minutes every week until you can walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes. You can walk outdoors in your neighborhood, in a park or at the gym on a treadmill. It doesn’t matter where you walk, just as long as you do it. As you begin to get more fit, lose weight and get stronger, you will start to feel better both physically and mentally. 

For more information about exercise and depression, see: