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MUSC Wellness Center

Fit Family Challenge Blog

Fit Family Challenge Blog

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with our FitFamilies!! The big challenge I have noticed is “how on earth am I going have time to exercise with my kids running around?” In a trainers eyes…That’s the perfect storm!! Wanna know why? Because you chase them, you lunge after them, you use them as a weight and gentle squat and press them, you bicep curl them, you do planks with them on your back, you have them count while you are doing sit ups….all while laughing and creating amazing moments together. Oh hey…you do realize you are burning calories too right?!?!
Exercising is not limited to just a gym. Kids love the park. Kids love the water. Kids love the outdoors. Now is the time for you to also “get out all your energy” Yes, watching them (safety first) is most important but now it’s time to make up a game and move with them.  While you go down the slide “Mommy is gonna try to do 15 squats”. How about those crazy things called monkey bars?? I will cross the monkey bars while you kiddo do 10 jumping jacks.
Your kids are older and think you're "so not cool" Well lets show them how cool you really are!! Lets have a push up challenge, or a plank challenge, or a sit up challenge...each day write down the winner...and at the end of the week...make a fun little wager and keep the family working out and always having fun together!!
What about the families with little babies?? Don’t worry…I’ve got something for you!! Stollers are an amazing weighted workout toy! How about lunging with your stroller around the track or path…every 3 minutes…go around and air squat and high five your little one.  Push your stroller while doing high knees (Don’t worry about what any onlooker is thinking…you’ve got a fitness goal to achieve!)
Kids will no longer be an acceptable excuse…they come in all shapes and sizes…and they only get heavier…time to use them to get stronger!!!  Let your older kids see that they motivate you - the will feel like a leader...and if Mom and Dad are smiling...all is well in the household!!
Katie Blaylock

Welcome FFC Families! It’s Susan (Dr. J) Johnson from MUSC. By now we all should be transitioning from the craziness of the last few weeks of school to a new summer routine. For most of us, summer break brings back memories of long lazy days spent outdoors with friends and family. But the reality is that working parents often have even more challenges when kids are out of school, and between camps and vacations it’s not uncommon to have a different schedule each week.  It’s important to find a balance between staying active, keeping normal routines, and not overbooking to the point of distress. Stress can take a toll on the entire family, both physically and emotionally - so it’s important to manage our stress in positive ways and help our children do the same. Being active as a family is a healthy way to relieve stress, it’s fun and helps strengthen relationships. Some great family-friendly stress busters include bike rides and walks, swinging at the park, and most importantly, taking a break from electronics. Even when you can’t take time off for fun, at least stop for a moment when you’re feeling stressed, take a deep breath, and visualize it. Now relax and have a great summer!

If you were going to take the family on a trip to Disney, you wouldn’t go without a plan, would you? It’s such an investment, you’d know how long you’d be there, what you wanted to do first and how to make the most of it for everyone. Not only would you have a plan A, you’d have a contingency plan in case of emergency, right? Yet, when it comes to planning what to feed the family, we put very little time or effort into the process although it’s exactly because we eat so often - essentially dosing our body with healthy (or unhealthy) nutrition multiple times per day – that having a plan so important! 
There are MANY barriers to meal planning mentioned by both our spotlight families – time, money, energy, interest or even desire – and making meal planning easier takes more tips than can be shared in one blog post but the best place to start is just by finding the time to do it. 
Start with your calendar or day planner. Schedule a couple blocks of time throughout the week dedicated to this chore (like all new skills, it will become less of a chore and time commitment with practice). Think about the week ahead – how many nights will the family eat together? What nights will scheduled activities overlap with dinner time? Will the “head chef” be available every day? Is there a stretch of time where some extra meal prep or batch cooking can be done (don’t forget to consider early morning or after the kids go to bed). 
Sketch out meal ideas for the number of days you’re planning (and keep those ideas for future weeks). Get some input from the whole crew. Questions as simple as “what veggie do you want with dinner” or “do you have any requests for your packed lunch” takes the sole burden off of you. Identify meals that can be eaten more than once – packing up leftovers is the same thing as packing a lunch and leftovers serve as a quick “heat and eat” dinner on a busy night. 
Keep your plan simple. Taking time to plan your meals doesn’t mean you also have to try 7 new recipes, acquire a new cooking skill or make everything from scratch. If you want to do those things too, great, but don’t try to tackle it all at once. Once you’re ready for this, the Palmer’s have lots of great ideas from looking through magazines to having a cooking competition (I bet they aren’t the only family that has a competitive streak).  
Have a contingency plan because – let’s face it – even the best plans get thrown off track. Have ingredients for easy to prepare dinners on hand: vegetable soup, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or a store cooked rotisserie chicken and salad in a bag, for example. My family does cereal for dinner on our busiest night of the week – each person has their very own box of their favorite kind just for this occasion! 
Finally, using the Hawes’ PLAN acronym, if meal planning is your goal and meal ideas and ingredients are your tools, be sure to set the time to execute your plan – to shop, prep, cook and pack as needed. It may take a few weeks for this to feel more fluid but like all new things, it gets easier with practice! 
Here are the Benefits of INTERVAL TRAINING…
Is it better to walk for 30 minutes or interval train for 15 minutes?
Alright team…TIME is always the biggest reason to not exercise.  Its crazy the amount of time looking at screens consumes our day or work, kids, friends and so much more distract us from making the time to exercise. So the question I ask you is…Is it better to walk for 30 minutes at the same speed or interval train for 15 minutes? Interval training means allowing your heart rate to get in a safe zone with  high intensity movements for a short amount of time then allowing your body and heart rate to get back to a resting state or simply a lower state than your training zone.
 My FINAL answer is INTERVAL TRAIN and here is why!!
1. You feel amazing for the rest of the day. With interval training, endorphin production is ramped to the max. Interval training is short bursts of intense activity – this will make your heart rate spike up and you will drip sweat!
2. You save wear and tear on your heart. Because interval training increases your heart's stroke volume, your heart beats less during the course of the day to provide the amount of blood you need flowing to your tissues.  A happy heart is a great thing!
3. Helps lower cholesterol levels. Again, cardiovascular exercise has consistently been shown to reduce blood cholesterol. Lower cholesterol has many medical benefits, including lowered risk of heart disease, arthritis, and other inflammatory disorders. ”Who could say “no thanks” to that?
4. You will strengthen your immune system. Your immune system responds positively to regular strenuous exercise. Interval training - due to its intense qualities - yields a heightened immune response. If you exercise regularly, your body builds a “shield” against colds and flu.
So with all that being said – let’s get to moving! Do not let time be your reason to not exercise! I cannot wait to train everyone and work on creative ways to interval train! 
I’m so excited to work as the nutrition expert for the 3rd annual Fit Family Challenge! The Hawes and Palmer families have shared their food and nutrition goals with me and I’m confident we’ll move toward them together. In fact, the things these families want to work on are things we all struggle with - meal planning, snacking, easy meals for home and fighting the cookie monster! As a working mom of two young girls I know I can relate! In preparing for the challenge, I’ve asked the families to just start paying attention to their routine. Eating healthy does take time – you have to have time to shop, cook, pack food – even find the time think and talk about it. We need to find some time – or several slivers of time – in their current routine to add these new habits. In addition to the timing of things, it’s important to pay attention to other cues that influence what we eat. For example, where meals are consumed (on the couch, at the table, in the bed), what the general moods are before and during meal time (cranky, tired, hyper) and what types of triggers get the family off track. Often, just raising awareness around our eating habits helps them to improve. The tips and tricks we come up with I’ll share not just with these families but with all of you too. So stayed tuned to our blog and use our many resources and most importantly – have fun!

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