Creating Healthy Habits for Your Family

With the coming of the new year, parents are often looking for ways to help their families lead healthier lifestyles. While there are no magic tricks, there are a number of simple ways to help create the habits that lead to good health – in spirit, mind and body.

Be a Role Model – Our kids model our behavior so be your child’s role model. If you want them to be more active, be more active yourself. If you want them to eat more fruits and vegetables, buy and prepare them. They will follow your lead, so guide them.

Start small – Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently, schedule three or two days a week at the gym instead of seven. The key is consistency. If you would like to eat healthier, try replacing dessert with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yogurt, instead of seeing your diet as a form of punishment. Just focus on small, sustainable behavior change and you’ll see a big difference over time.

Pick One – If you’re still having trouble, just pick one thing. Where’s a good place to start? Pick an area of your health that you feel most in control of, like your lunch, morning meditation, evening walk or something else. Then zero in on a small aspect of that goal that would help you feel successful at the end of the day. For example, your goal could be to include a vegetable in every weekday lunch for a month. Set targets like these for yourself to meet, and then check in regularly to see how you are progressing.

Focus on Fun – Being healthy doesn’t have to mean sacrifice. Find an activity that you and your family enjoy, and do it together every week. It doesn’t exclusively have to be working out. Sports, games, gardening, bike rides, walking and swimming are all fun ways to be active. Just move!

Get Outside – Fortunately, winter in Austin offers some of the most comfortable weather all year, so find opportunities to be active outdoors. As a bonus, studies show being outside reduces stress and puts you in a better mood.

Give Back – Helping others nourishes your mind and your spirit. Not only is it a personally rewarding experience to help others in need, but it’s also a way to meet new people or discover an interest. Find an opportunity in your community, such as reading to children at the library or distributing food at a local food bank. Nonprofit organizations like the YMCA also welcome volunteers to enhance programs and events.

Get Help – Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking help from friends or professionals. Organizations like the YMCA of Austin can also offer assistance – not only in the form of group or personal training – but in the form of financial assistance through our Membership for All program, which provides reduced rates that are based on household income. You can find more information at www.austinymca.org.

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