Kick Start your Family’s Health in 2021!

It’s half way through the year and for most of us this means the very best of intentions to finish the year healthy, happy and ready to kick some serious butt! However, these ideals usually fall by the wayside after a week or two. Wouldn’t you like to make 2021 the year that you finally got your family in gear and changed your lives for the better? Here are our top tips for not only ending the year in the right way, but also keeping these new habits going to ensure you end on an even higher note than what you started.

1. Get Everyone Involved:

Your family is not simply going to follow in your new and improved footsteps without a guideline or two. Have a family meeting and get everyone involved and excited. Explain to your family why finishing the year on a healthy note is a positive change for all and then allow each person to share what new healthy habits they feel should be incorporated. When each person feels that they are a part of this new beginning, you are more likely to keep things going. This is also an important exercise after the long, and we mean LONG, period we've had dealing with this pandemic, as it provides a positive focus point for all. 

Another great way to stay motivated is for each family member to have a job to do. Assign tasks to each person to carry out, such as taking the dog for a walk, setting the table for family dinners, helping to plan meals for the week and researching new foods for school lunches.

2. Make Breakfast a Priority:

The majority of us are guilty of this one. We rush out the door in the mornings, dressing as we go, flinging last night’s pizza, a half eaten packet of chips or biscuits to the kids for lunch and generally starting the day in a terrible way. Sound familiar? Well, stop it. Now. Studies have proven that kids perform better at school after a nutritious meal to start the day.

Set that alarm a bit earlier, prep the night before and get everyone up to make sure that you have all started the day with some healthy wholegrain cereals, eggs, fruit, yoghurt and protein such as bacon or avocado on rye toast. The kids can also help out by setting the table, pouring milk and juice, cutting up fruit and ensuring that everyone has eaten. However crazy your mornings seem to go, you must see to it that you all start the day on a healthy, full tummy.

3. Choose one new fruit or vegetable a week:

All kids are more than happy to live on take-outs, burgers and sugary snack foods. Unfortunately this only leads to bad health, weight issues and short-lived spikes in energy levels. Take the whole family shopping for weekly meals and allow the children to choose a new fruit and vegetable to try each week. If your youngest decides they want to eat butternut this week, then dig out the recipe books and find a way to incorporate it into your meals for the week. As the parent, it is vital that you encourage your children to be an active part of this new lifestyle and to try new things. Remember: the more fruits and vegetables they taste and enjoy, the less they will want to eat unhealthy foods.

4. Exercise as a Family:

Yes, we all have hectic schedules and the days are just not long enough to get everything on your list done, but choosing slumping in front of Netflix over a brisk walk or jog is unacceptable. You are setting an example for your children, and do you really want that example to be one of laziness and lack of motivation? When you get home from work in the afternoons, especially in Summer, get everyone geared up and ready for at least 30 minutes of exercise.

You can make this fun as well, by having a swim or a game of Marco Polo in the pool, doing races as teams or seeing who can win at a doubles game of tennis. Go for hikes on the weekend, enter a family run or go cycling together. There are so many ways in which you can all enjoy the outdoors as a family and by doing so, you are also creating precious memories that will keep you all close for years to come. 

5. Eat at Home more often:

This is a big issue for many families, as a long day at the office leaves the majority of us too broken to even look at what is in the fridge, let alone attempt to whip up a gourmet meal like our moms used to when we were young. However, this needn’t be so. Take the time to plan the following weeks meals beforehand, with the input of your family members to suggest their favourites as well as possible new dishes to try out, and shop ahead. You can also divide the work and allow the kids to take responsibility and prep some of the ingredients before you arrive home. Have them chop the vegetables, set the table and do any other small tasks that teach them to take care of themselves while making things easier for you. Eating at home will save literally hundreds of calories and Rands each week.

6. Try New Things and Set Family Goals:

If one of your children has been asking to go to that new ice rink or to visit that rollercoaster park, do it. Trying out new things as a family is a fantastic way to keep you all motivated, excited about life and generally enjoying a great time together. Do your best to avoid allowing the kids to lay around in front of the TV or on their cellphones for hours on end and experience new things as often as possible. Go for a picnic or simply take a trip to a new part of town, whatever you do, stay away from falling into the same old rut that had you wanting to make a change in the first place.

7. Hold each other Accountable:

If you have decided as a family to make a new start, then make the decision to ensure that everyone is doing their part. If tasks or chores were assigned to each family member, check up on them and take it up with them if they are falling behind and not doing what they should be. As the parent, you have to take charge and keep everyone in line in order for this to work. Your children will not simply stay healthy for the entire year without a little motivation. Set goals, incentives and little rewards along the way and you will be surprised by how hard your children, and even your spouse, will work at it.

8. Be Prepared:

It is an inevitability that each family member will at some point in time want to fall off the health wagon. Ensure that this does not happen by being prepared. Pop some healthy fruit sorbets and cut up fruits into the freezer for summer, have health soups and small snacks on hand and ban sugar from the house. When you are absolutely dying for a chocolate or piece of cake, the only way to avoid that is by not having any around. The children will also have a gripe and a moan at times for some bad foods, so make sure to have healthy alternatives close by when the cravings strike.

Finish the year off with these simple steps and you are sure to lose some weight, have some fun, experience new things and ultimately end the year closer as a family. Now, who wouldn’t want that!?