When it comes to helping your teen achieve their fitness and weight loss goals the focus should always be on habits. The habits that he or she develops early in life related to eating and exercise will often carry over into adulthood. And once poor health habits develop they tend to be long-lasting.
Even though there are no easy solutions for losing weight, you can still do plenty as a parent to help your child get fit. First try to encourage your whole family to build healthy habits together. You can also help your teen achieve his or her goals by following this proven plan for long-term success.
1) Start with a Heart to Heart Talk
Besides the health risks associated with being overweight such as diabetes and high blood pressure, your teen often faces a social world of teasing, isolation, and bullying. Since your child is also probably concerned about their weight, have a heart to heart talk to offer your support and understanding.
Keep in mind that long-term weight loss is difficult and without a commitment, it will not happen. Make sure that your teen is ready to make permanent changes and it is done for the right reasons. Use this time to have a candid conversation of how the whole family can build healthy habits together.
Don’t forget to talk with your teen about creating an action plan that can help him or her set specific fitness goals. The plan should include getting rid of bad habits and replacing them with healthy ones.
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.
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) Focus on a Balanced Nutrition
Research shows that 97% of people who lose weight regain it again within 5 years. Yes, our health habits are really that hard to change! That is why to help your teen develop good habits that are associated with a longer and healthier life you have to start early by encouraging good eating habits.
A balanced nutrition is essential at every stage of life, but this is especially true for children. Kids need healthy eating habits to fuel their growing brains, muscles, and bodies. Whether you have a toddler or a teen, here are a few of the best strategies to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits.
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.
Eating at home is also more economical and gives you control over both the quality and quantity of food your family eats. While preparing family meals try to serve a variety of fruits and vegetables, limit soft drinks, encourage lots of water, keep in mind proper portion sizes, and avoid junk and fried foods.
MyPlate was designed to make balanced eating easy for families to visualize and apply to everyday life. By using it as a guide, your teen will see that half of their plate should be filled with colorful fruits and veggies, about ¼ with lean protein and the remaining part with grains, half of them being whole.
6) 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.
7) 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.
8) Encourage Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients and low in calories! Besides being packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber, veggies also contain powerful compounds called antioxidants which are important disease-fighting compounds that protect the cells in the body from unstable molecules.
Studies show that consuming fruits and veggies can help teens reach and maintain a healthy body weight. A healthy snack will also help your family stay energized during the day. To ensure your teen gets plenty of fruits and veggies, keep pre-washed produce always available to simply grab and eat.
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!