Whether you have a big or small family, whether your kids are in diapers, carpools, or driver’s ed, life is busy. So the thought of resolving — much less actually committing — to become a healthier family can be intimidating.
The beginning of the year always seems like the perfect time to start living better. But let’s face it: New Year’s resolutions usually end up being more like New Year’s good intentions. Even though studies show the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions fail, it is possible to turn yours into good habits.
Improving your family’s minds and bodies comes down to making incremental changes that are realistic and sustainable. Here are simple and enjoyable ways to support your family’s resolutions to move more, sharpen your minds, and eat better.
1. Move More With Fun in Mind
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 75% of Americans aren’t getting enough exercise to stay fit. Being physically active for just 30 minutes a day, five days a week can make a real difference in your health. The benefits of moving more include an elevated mood, decreased effects of stress, and lower blood pressure.
Increasing your physical activity on a regular basis doesn’t have to involve classes, equipment, or memberships. Getting your daily steps in is a great place to start. Consider using a fitness tracking app on a smartphone or a wearable device to follow your progress. A smart watch for kids will let your children do the same, and you can even make step counting a friendly competition. You can learn more about smart watches for children at Gabb Wireless. A little creativity around everyday activities can help you get moving in no time.
Consider changing up an afternoon at the movies on the weekend and take a family walk or hike instead. Replace the I Spy games you typically play in the car with a nature walk scavenger hunt. An ordinary trip to the mall can be turned into a step challenge. Create a regularly occurring field day at home or in a nearby park. Playing some of the classics, like hopscotch, freeze tag, and Double Dutch, will get your heart pumping and increase your steps. Finding activities that you and your family enjoy is the key to getting more exercise.
2. Increase Calm and Focus
Physicians and therapists promote incorporating mindfulness into daily life. That’s because the benefits of mindfulness last far longer than the moments you spend practicing it. Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis can be done through simple activities the whole family can enjoy.
A great place to start is by creating gratitude lists or charts. Taking a few minutes each day to acknowledge three to five things you’re thankful for makes a positive imprint on your overall outlook. Adults and teens can use a journal to record their lists, while younger family members may want to draw pictures. Gratitude lists can include anything from objects to people, animals, events, and feelings. Focusing on even the small things you are grateful for can lead to big changes in your thinking.
Puzzles are another fun way to practice mindfulness. This activity helps to keep your mind sharp by requiring you to focus on the task at hand, be present in the moment, and pay attention to detail. Countless options for puzzling are available for every age and skill level, both in brick-and-mortar stores and online. Consider setting aside some family or individual time to solve jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, word finds, riddles, or sudoku.
Yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness and get your body moving at the same time. Yoga offers many benefits, like reduced stress and anxiety, lower cholesterol and greater endurance. You gain the most benefits when you practice yoga at least twice a week.
3. Freshen Up Your Food Choices
Who doesn’t look forward to family pizza night or grabbing some donuts from your favorite bakery? Fortunately, eating better doesn’t have to be a negative experience or entail a drastic change in your lifestyle. You don’t have to give up your favorites entirely — a couple of simple changes are all it takes to eat healthier.
Start by stocking your kitchen with snacks and meal ingredients that don’t last forever. Nutritionists recommend doing most of your grocery shopping around the perimeter of the store. It’s no secret that highly processed foods with lower nutritional value reside in the middle aisles. A great way to change up your habits is to fill your fridge with snack choices instead of the pantry or cookie jar. Try some tasty and satisfying selections such as string cheese, snap peas, baby carrots, hummus, cottage cheese, and strawberries.
Use your fresh food to make at least three dinners each week at home. Even if you can’t enjoy dinner together every night, you get the benefits of creating healthier options and memories in your kitchen. Eating at home as much as possible ensures that you know exactly what’s in your food.
Divide the shopping and meal preparation activities among family members. This ensures everyone plays a part in the process. When it’s time to decide on meals, encourage your kids to share their ideas. You might create a healthier version of an old favorite or try something completely new. Getting the whole family involved allows your children to learn by example when it comes to eating healthy. Whatever menu you decide on, consider including a protein, vegetable, and lower-carb side dish.
The real measure of your resolutions’ success isn’t necessarily losing weight, running a marathon, or eliminating all sugars from your diet. The goal should be making healthy changes you can sustain throughout the year. Remember to start small and take steps that don’t drastically alter your lifestyle. You really can’t go wrong when you make sure to keep an element of fun in the ways you support your resolutions. You might be surprised how soon those New Year’s health resolutions turn into established habits.