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How to Create a Family Health Challenge that Sticks

I teach about health pretty often especially because of my chronic illness and body loathing recovery.  And whenever I do I’m asked the same question… “how do I get my family on board”.  I totally get it, I had to make a major change in the way I managed my health and one of the biggest challenges I faced was the way it changed things in our family.  I felt overwhelmed and honestly a little guilty about

  • Forcing my family to eat dinners that were compliant with my new nutrition plan                                                                                                                        
  • Not being able to eat out as freely or often as we had before
  • Taking time away from the to exercise and get ideal rest.
  • Asking them to help out more around the house so I could do all of the above.

Here’s the thing though… I HAD to do these things because I was SO sick which meant I had to overcome my overwhelm and guilt.  But I know that you might not.  You might really want to pursue better health and struggle to overcome overwhelm and guilt.  And you might even be more concerned about the health of a child or your spouse than you are about your own and wondering how to get them onboard without creating an unhealthy relationship with food or their body.  Whatever your reason for wanting to pursue a family health challenge that will stick for years to come (with a healthy mindset), you’ll find the answer here!

Schedule a Family Meeting

First things first… it’s time to hold a family meeting!  Designate a time and place you can sit down as a family and discuss your family values and goals.  Surely one of them is health… I mean everyone wants to feel their best! 

Create a Team Approach

You’ll want to make sure that you emphasize a team approach by giving everyone the opportunity to contribute and really hearing them.  It is important that this meeting doesn’t become a lecture because the more buy in you can get from your family the more likely you all are to stick with the plan without nagging.

Consider…

  • Having a talking item (the person who has it gets to talk while the others listen & everyone takes turns).
  • Including everyone in managing the household so you all have time to fully participate in your family health challenge.
  • Coming up with a team name.  (Maybe you even want to get some team jerseys).
  • Creating “player” names and avatars that represent the people you’re becoming with your new habits.
  • Engaging other families in your challenge.
  • Working toward a common goal (participating in a 5k as a family, hiking at a national park, climbing the rock wall at your local gym).
  • Creating rewards or family celebrations to acknowledge your wins.

Having a team approach isn’t only good for accomplishing health goals but helps to build communication and connection in your family.  This might just be the best thing you could ever do for your long-term relationship and it’s well worth the time and energy!

Emphasize Health

Always keep it at the forefront of your mind that you’re doing this not to create a certain appearance but to improve and maintain health.  This is so important in setting a positive example for your family about food and body relationship.  Nothing is wrong with our bodies (no matter how big or small).  They are beautiful and amazing.  Nourishing and caring for them well matters! 

  • To keep with this theme I recommend
  • No talk of weight and no weigh ins
  • Eliminate talk of “good” or “bad” food
  • No exercising to “burn off those extra calories (we don’t use exercise to punish ourselves for what we eat)
  • No exercise we hate (let’s find FUN movement that we look forward to).

Instead…

  • Talk about how different you feel and track non scale victories in the app
  • Enjoy treats guilt free and focus on fueling your body well physically, culturally, and emotionally
  • Talk about connecting with, loving, and listening to your body
  • Be intentional about moving your body because it makes you feel good.
  • Try new activities you think would be fun (let everyone pick something for the family to try together once a week)

Focusing on the health aspects of your family challenge creates an atmosphere of fun and excitement.  It helps to take the pressure off and ensures lifelong health habits and healthy perspective on our ever-changing bodies. 

Imagine how nice it will be when your daughter loves and nourishes her post-partum body rather than beating herself up for not “bouncing back” quickly enough.  You can lay the groundwork for that now!

Take Small Steps Together

At the end of the day good health is all about consistency, it’s not a race.  Often, we try to manipulate our health and weight through all or nothing efforts.  We set unreasonable goals based in punishment, deprivation and destination body love or happiness.  And we treat health like it’s a race to be run and done.  In actuality health and weight loss and maintenance are lifelong pursuits that can bring us pride, satisfaction, and joy.  Yes, you can and should enjoy maintaining your health!  Creating small steps that you and your family can stick to is key to creating lifestyle change that lasts.

Affirmations

Before we even get started on the physical life changes, we’re making it’s vitally important that we talk about a mindset change.  Believing that you deserve your optimal health and weight and starting off caring about your body are vital.  Create affirmations to help you start your health journey on the right foot.

I…

  • nourish my body well.
  • can find movement I enjoy.
  • deserve to be healthy.
  • care about my body.
  • care for my body.

Food

The first step in family health is good nutrition. But, there’s so much complicated information about nutrition and it seems like it’s all contradictory so it’s hard to know where to start.  Well… there is one thing everyone agrees on, so why not start there?  Eat more veggies! 

Adding even 1 servings of veggies to your diet each day increases your vitamin intake and energy level and decreases food cravings.  When your body is getting the nourishment it needs, it just functions better and stops begging for fast energy sources.

To increase the veggie intake of your whole family, check out my blog post about how to prepare all the veg.  And for those members of your family who are more resistant (or to just make it easier for everyone) consider soups and smoothies as an awesome way to get more into your diet.  By the way… toss a banana in the smoothie to cover all other flavors making it a sweet treat even the most picky eater will love.

Small Step:  Choose veggies first!  Whether it’s a few carrot sticks or celery with hummus or peanut butter, make veggies the first choice for everyone in your family.  Yep… you can have a couple Oreos as long as you eat a veggie first!

Water

I could list about 20 icky health symptoms related to not drinking enough water but instead I’ll just say it’s bad.  Even if you aren’t all out dehydrated and feeling super nasty those headaches, body aches, skin issues, and fatigue are likely related to not being hydrated enough.  So… here’s the secret… choose water!  It’s really that simple.  You can choose sparkling or still, add fruit for flavor and hey even a little fruit juice or concentrate to pep it up a bit but still… choose water!  You are very unlikely do over do it with water consumption and honestly you don’t need to drink anything else (I know… controversial… but milk really isn’t even necessary).  Just. Drink. All. The. Water.

Small Step:  Choose water!  (To encourage this consider getting everyone their own water bottles and decorating them with stickers and markers).

Movement

Did y’all notice this doesn’t say “exercise”?  That’s because the most important thing is that you move your body.  It doesn’t have to be a traditional exercise class or going for a run.  In fact, the best movement is the activity you love and will stick with.  We need about 180 minutes of movement a week for optimal health and lifespan.  That’s about 30 minutes 6 days a week.  But don’t worry… you don’t need to get them all in at once.  Even 10 minutes at a time count.  So, get busy and find something you enjoy doing and do it!

Small Step:  Move 10 minutes before any screen time (we recommend limiting screen time to 30 min stints. Unless of course you’re watching a family movie, we understand that turning off Avengers or Star Wars every 30 minutes would be impossible and we’re not trying to set you up for failure here.)

Sleep

You may not have heard but recent research shows that the average American is sleeping only 5 hours a night.  And sleep has been bumped to the number 2 factor in weight loss and health just after nutrition.  WHAT?!?!  Yep, you heard that right, sleep is more important than exercise!  So, here’s the deal, you need to sleep and so does everyone else in your house! That means a great sleep routine is essential to family health.

I’m going to give you a few basic sleep recommendations here but if this is a big struggle in your home please check out my post specifically devoted to this topic to learn more (yes, it really is that important).

  • Sleep at night.
  • Maintain the same sleep schedule.
  • Set aside 7 – 9 hours a night for sleep (rarely do people need less).
  • Turn off all screens 30 minutes before bed.
  • Set yourself up for success by creating a bedtime routine.

Making these simple adjustments will help you fall asleep faster, sleep more restfully, and show up better in your daily life!  That said… I’m also a mom of 5 (including 2 special needs children), so I know, when the kids don’t sleep you don’t either.  Establishing good bedtime routines is vitally important for everyone in the family and it’s time for you to do just that!  You can use the app for this (it’s in the foundation pages) or grab your free kid’s bedtime routine planner

Small Step:  Create a Bedtime Routine for every member of the family.

Make it an Adventure

Getting buy in from your whole family can seem like an impossible, daunting task.  But here’s the thing… it’s all about the positioning.  It’s important that you think of this and present it as the adventure it is.  Imagine the freedom in enjoying your optimal health and weight without having to overhaul your life and make drastic changes.  Imagine the activities you’ll all be able to enjoy long into your lives. 

Taking care of your body and health isn’t some sort of punishment or torture.  It’s good common sense and with the right attitude it can be tons of fun and very rewarding!  So, plan a family adventure to celebrate your wins!  Go camping, take a hike, hit an amusement park or the beach.  Find something to do together that reminds you and your family that your health is worth the effort and your small steps really are paying off!

For extra fun… share this post and get other families in on the fun!  Create your own challenge by encouraging your friends to post pics of their veggies, movement, sleep routines, and water bottles on their socials.  Use #YAWFamilyHealthChallenge.  Let’s see who can snap the most pics of their new healthy small steps!

What small step do you think will be most impactful to your family?  Tell me in the comments below!

Don’t forget to get all the support you need in my inclusive Facebook community and get all the tools and replays in Your Amazing Essentials Self-Improvement Platform!

Posted in Exercise, Health, Health & Wellness, Nutrition, Nutrition

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