Today over 68 percent of adults are overweight and 39.8 percent are obese. According to experts, if current trends continue about 50 percent of adults will be obese by 2030. Obesity has been linked to many serious health conditions including heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Currently obesity is the number ONE cause of death in the US as more adults develop heart disease early in life. The GOOD NEWS is that all this is preventable! Many studies show that adolescence is the most important time in a person’s life to start developing healthy habits. However, training kids and teens to build healthy eating and exercise habits is not always easy and takes lots of patience and time.
Trying to raise a Lean Teen in an oversized world might seem like an uphill battle. However, if your child needs to lose weight, you have more of an influence than you think. The trick is to not force a healthy lifestyle but to encourage your teen and everyone in your family to make healthy changes together.
If you try to single out your child, he or she may feel criticized and quickly lose motivation. This is why it is important that you don’t try to force your teen to be fit but instead get their commitment. Long-term weight loss is difficult and without a commitment to building a healthy lifestyle, it won’t happen.
Keep in mind that making lifestyle changes that affect the whole family can be daunting and your teen may push back at first. So first have a heart to heart talk and make sure that your teen is ready to make changes and it is done for the right reasons. Then use these 6 tips to help keep things moving forward.
1) Focus on a Balanced Nutrition
The best way to change how your teen eats is to keep it simple. Start with these five basic steps:
Lose the juices and sodas. When it comes to building healthy habits, drinking 8 glasses of water is a must. Teens cannot replace water with juices, sports drinks, or sodas! Water helps us stay hydrated while sodas contain artificial sweeteners that are simply empty calories and devoid of nutrients.
Make vegetable and fruits easy snack choices. To ensure your teen gets plenty of fruits and veggies, we recommend you keep pre-washed produce available to simply grab and eat. Keep a bag of baby carrots or celery and plenty of berries, grapes, and apples for your kids to snack on during the day.
Encourage a nutritious breakfast every day. Most experts agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should never be skipped. To get your teens ready each morning, consider making their bedtimes a little earlier each night so they have enough time to eat breakfast together as a family.
Try not to skip any meals. Although skipping meals seems like a good way to lose weight, it slows down the metabolism and causes you to eat more throughout the day. Studies show that teens who skip meals are more likely to be overweight than those who make eating a balanced meal a priority.
Keep junk food out of your home. There are certain foods like ice cream, cookies, candy, cheese, and bags of chips that are just too tempting and it is best to keep them out of your house. When building healthy eating habits it is important to not rely on willpower but instead set up your home for success.
Sitting down at the table as a family is an important part of establishing healthy eating habits and provides quality time for the whole household. Studies show that families that eat together tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and consume less fast food, soft drinks, and foods high in added sugar.
Studies show that consuming vegetables can help teens reach and maintain a healthy body weight. They are also rich in nutrients and low in calories! Besides being packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber, vegetables contain antioxidants which help to fight off different kind of diseases.
2) Identify Bad Habits to Replace
Healthy habits help children to grow up to be happy and successful adults. They also help prevent future health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and cancer. Unfortunately, there are many factors that are keeping teens today from building a healthy lifestyle.
The CDC reports that the percentage of adolescents aged 12–18 years who are obese is now 20.6%. Technology, busy schedules, fast food, and lack of exercise are all factors that contribute to our obesity epidemic. The fact is that teens today are learning many bad habits that are very difficult to change.
Too Much Technology – These days, kids learn to use technology at such a young age that they spend their whole lives texting, playing video games, and staring at screens. The problem is that their bodies were created for movement and not this kind of sedentary activity which can lead to obesity.
A Busy Lifestyle – Even though it is better for teens to be busy than lazy, packing their schedule with too many activities leaves little time left for play and relaxation. It is important for kids to have fun and do their own exercise through play while still having enough time for relaxation to avoid burnout.
Fast Foods – According to the CDC, fast-food consumption has increased fivefold among children since 1970. The fact is a diet containing high levels of fat or sugar and few nutrients can cause teens to gain weight quickly. And poor health stemming from childhood obesity can continue into adulthood.
A Sedentary Lifestyle – The CDC recommends that children get at least one hour of exercise daily to remain healthy. Unfortunately, most teens today are sedentary and the more inactive a child is, the greater the risk of many major health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
Help your teen make a list that identifies bad habits that they need to overcome to achieve their goals. Include in their plan ways to remove as many triggers as possible from the home. If your child eats cookies at home, then throw them away. If they spend too much time watching TV, then set limits to screen time. Make it easy for your teen to break bad habits by avoiding the things that cause them.
3) Change of Environment is Key
According to studies it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic. In other words to eliminate or create a new habit it will take the average person about 66 days. It is very difficult to develop a new habit since it takes an enormous amount of willpower to do something for 66 days without succumbing to temptation. As a result, most of our daily lives are made up of the same habits.
Helping your teen to lose weight is a difficult but achievable goal, if you set your family up for success. However, trying to commit to a drastic change and relying on willpower alone will not work. The trick to helping your teen build healthy habits and achieve their goals is to change their environment. You simply can not make significant, lasting change without altering the environment that is around you.
It is important that you keep your kitchen organized and only make healthy choices visibly available. You should always have plenty of fruits and vegetables around that are ready to eat in case your teen gets hungry. By keeping your kitchen tidy and putting away tempting snacks, your family will be less likely to grab something that is processed, full of empty calories, or quick. Which they will regret later!
4) Deal with Stress and Boredom
Most of the time, bad habits are simply a way for teens to deal with the stress and boredom in their life. Everything from snacking on unhealthy foods to watching too much television to wasting time on the internet can be a simple response to stress and boredom. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Because bad habits provide some type of benefit, they are very difficult to simply eliminate. Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new habit that provides a similar benefit. You can help your teen build healthy habits to replace bad ones by finding new ways to deal with stress and boredom.
It is important to make it easy for your teen by developing a plan ahead of time when they face stress or boredom. For example, if your teen enjoys to eat a snack or something sweet while watching TV offer a bowl of fruit or a 100 calorie bag of popcorn. It does take perseverance to break bad habits.
5) Promote Daily Physical Exercise
To help your teen become a happy and healthy adult it is important to get active as a family. A teen can not change their body composition through nutrition alone without exercising on a regular basis. It is the combination of both nutrition and exercise that provides a complete healthy package.
Unfortunately, between school, work, and extracurricular demands, families today are very busy and home is the place for decompressing in front of a screen… many times in separate rooms. Make physical activity part of your family’s routine. Take a walk, visit the community pool, or go biking.
Just keep in mind that developing a weekly workout routine and playing sports are two very different things. Most kids that play sports eventually stop playing as adults. This is why it is important for kids to learn to workout at a young age especially since it is hard to develop an exercise habit as an adult.
6) Suggest Enough Sleep and Rest
Resting and sleeping are critical to life. It ensures the optimal functioning of our bodies including our physical endurance, mood, memory, digestion, and even the condition of our skin. However, compared to diet and exercise, our culture undervalues the benefits of sleep and many of us are sleep deprived.
Most teens today are trading their sleep time for screen time which can have negative long-term consequences. Kids that do not get enough sleep often gain weight since they become hungrier and drawn to high-calorie foods. They are also at a higher risk of diabetes and have a slower metabolism.
This is why it is critical that teens have no more than 2 hours of screen time per day. Screen time includes the TV, computer, tablet, and video games. You should also set time limits on smart phones as a part of screen time. Promote physical activity instead and make sure your teen gets plenty of rest.
Schedule Your Free Class Today
At Kalina’s Fitness, our mission is to give teens (ages 8-18) the tools they need to transform their lives and build healthy habits that will last a lifetime. By combining nutritional counseling, group support, and exercise classes, our Lean Teen Program empowers kids and teens to achieve their fitness goals. We are driven by a strong belief that every child deserves the opportunity to realize their full potential.
It all starts with a one-on-one nutritional consultation to better understand your child’s eating habits. Your health coach will prepare a nutrition plan that gives your family the flexibility needed to make permanent lifestyle changes. Register today for a Free Day Pass so we can help your child to build healthy habits and get fit. We look forward to serving you with excellence. Thank you for visiting us!