Do you have little kids in your home? If so, I applaud your courage and hard work - it takes plenty of both to raise kids these days. When they reach a certain age (around adolescence), you may become convinced otherwise, but your kids take most of their cues from you. You should do whatever you can to keep yourself healthy for your own sake - but developing (and displaying) great health habits is even more important when you have kids watching everything you do. I would say my own personal focus on healthy habits started when I had sole daily responsibility for my four kids, and they ranged in age from ten to sixteen. Like them, I enjoyed foods that weren't particularly good for me. But I was determined to show enough leadership at home to help them develop healthy habits, even if it meant forgoing tasty (fattening) meals and snacks myself. We cooked fresh stuff at home most nights, and when we went out, we frequented the restaurants where you can get healthy (but inexpensive - come on, I had four eating machines here) meals. The kids developed a taste for fresh, healthy foods. And so did I. We all slimmed down a bit. It's important to see yourself not as a mere caretaker of your kids, but as their first, primary, and most important life coach. And giving them a good foundation in health habits is one of the best things you can do to help prepare your kids for adult life. This past fall, a study published by "Hypertension," the journal of the American Heart Association, showed that kids have an almost three times greater chance of having high blood pressure if they're overweight than if their weight is normal. High blood pressure? Kids? Yes, today we have to worry about hypertension in our kids (and a host of other maladies) far more than our parents worried about the same problems in us. So serving healthy stuff is important - but it's not enough just to exhort your kids to do (and eat) what you say. Ultimately, they will do what you do... and they will be far more likely to eat what you eat, in a general sense. I served my kids fruit for breakfast, every day, and I ate it myself. My younger son said he hated it. He actually turned out to love fruit - just not the pears that were his dad's favorite. According to the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, kids with thinner parents are at least twice as likely to be slim as kids whose folks are fatties. Even if you're in the heavier half of the government-declared "healthy" weight range, the study showed your kids have about a 7.8 percent chance to be thin (and the more overweight the parents, the greater chance the kids will be heavy, too). If both parents are in the lighter half of the healthy range, kids have a 16.2 percent chance of striking a slim figure. Those odds are long enough... as parents, we need to do what we can to give our kids the best chance for success, including success with their health habits. Start with the five key health habits I call The NEWSS. Let your kids see you showing some discipline and personal restraint in Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sleep, and Supplements. Growing up is already too tough. Don't let your kids miss the valuable lessons you can give them by modeling great health habits. They may never thank you - parenting is often thankless - but however grateful they are, they'll likely live longer lives and have, therefore, more chances to show it. Michael Hume is a speaker, writer, and consultant specializing in helping people maximize their potential and enjoy inspiring lives. As part of his inspirational leadership mission, he coaches executives and leaders in growing their personal sense of well-being through wealth creation and management, along with personal vitality.
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