This column focuses on Health, Fitness and Safety so we can find a more balanced and successful life for ourselves and our families!

This month we are going to focus on LEADERSHIP when it comes to health and fitness.  It is “back to school” time and many families are re-establishing routines and schedules.  One area that’s sometimes overlooked is accountability for nutrition.  Who is responsible for our and our children’s nutrition?  The answer is that WE are.  Childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate and we must take accountability for making a difference within our family.  It is NOT the schools’ responsibility.   It is NOT the day cares’ responsibility.  It is NOT anyone else’s responsibility.  These people all may help, but ultimately the accountability and responsibility falls to us as parents.  It doesn’t take a village, it takes good parents who are proactive in their child’s life in all aspects…including health and nutrition.

Leadership is about setting the example.  So when it comes to nutrition, it is very important that parents set the example.  Hectic schedules, stress and whatever other excuse we come up with really does impact our health and fitness AND also impacts our children.  No matter what we tell them, our actions speak louder.  Remembering this helps motivate us to do the right thing for ourselves and our kids.

So what are some simple things we can do to set the example for our kids (and of course have healthier habits for ourselves)?

1. Eat breakfast!  Yes you have heard this a million times, and it’s still true.  Kids and adults who skip breakfast are proven to have poor performance throughout the day.  Something is better than nothing, but trying to include whole fruits and some type of protein at breakfast is the gold standard.  Cereal or a bagel are just processed carbs……it’s better than nothing, but isn’t the healthiest choice.

2. Snack on fruits and vegetables.  How awesome is it when kids reach for an apple instead of cookies?  This happens when parents do the same thing and set the example.

3. Avoid late night snacking.  This is how many adults pack on extra pounds and it’s how kids form the same habits.

4. When shopping, focus on buying healthy options.  Convenience is king when it comes to eating or snacking…so if healthy options are easily available instead of sugary/fatty snacks then it’s that much easier to stay on track.

5. Stop allowing kids to drink so much soda!!!  It rots their teeth, spikes their sugar levels and the caffeine can create massive swings in their energy, attitude and behavior.

These are just a few simple ideas.  Of course there are many other things we can do.  Ultimately the most important thing is to just constantly remind ourselves that we are eating not just for ourselves, but for them.   They will follow our examples, both good and bad.  The habits they establish as children will follow them through the rest of their lives, so it’s much easier to start or re-establish good habits while they are young.  The other great benefit of setting the example for our kids is that when we get older, our quality of life will be better so we can be more active and enjoy time with our children, grandchildren and maybe even great grandchildren.

Once you have the nutrition habits working, another great bonus is to exercise as a family.  Going for family walks, bike rides or any physical activity together is great bonding and also more great habits to establish.  Making fitness a priority early in life will help them for decades to come.

Thank you to those of you who will step up as leaders in these ways within your family.  We can each make a difference and change the trends of the poor health and nutrition in our communities.

For more info on healthy lifestyles, contact Jeff Dousharm at