Happy Father's Day to a Healthy Role Model

HS Footballer (c) E. Krakker 2013
My dad, a typical Midwest high school football player

This Father's Day, I'll be one of the lucky who gets to spend the day with her dad.  My parents will be visiting to celebrate Father's Day, my birthday, and my twins' 6th grade promotion.  The collision of all these occasions got me "waxing nostalgic," thinking about my own 6th grade promotion and growing up in Southern California.  Looking back, I couldn't help but think about what a wonderful role model my dad has been.  He's a man who marked his own 40th and 50th birthdays by running marathons.  With him as a guide, it's no mystery why I've been inspired to take better care of myself in middle age.

When I think back to my childhood, I can't remember a time when Dad wasn't active.  Like many boys, he played football and ran cross country in high school. By the time I was in school, he was still running.  His weight bench and lifts always impressed my younger male cousins and school friends.  And he was constantly in the yard: mowing, raking, sweeping, trimming, weeding, and planting.  Now in his 70's, my dad is no longer running, but he's still working 10 acres every single day. He rarely slows down and never stops moving.  I'm a mom myself now, but I still look at my dad and think: When I grow up, I want to be like him.

Which brings me to this point: Be a healthy role model for your kids.  When I'm having trouble getting my butt off the couch, getting motivated to work out, I often think about my dad and my daughters.  I think about how proud, happy, and cool my dad looked after arriving home sweaty and tired from a run.  I think about the example I want to set for my own growing daughters.  I want my girls to learn from me how to take care of yourself; that it takes hard work and it isn't always easy, but it is worth the effort.  I know from experience that it's not always what a parent says, but more often what he does that has the lasting impact.

And as a parent, isn't it often easier to do something for your kids rather than for yourself?  It's a sad fact.  If you can't do it for you, do it for your kids.

How can you be a healthy role model for your kids?

Exercise: Find some sort of cardio you enjoy (walking, running, elliptical, biking, skating, swimming) and do it for 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week. Find ways to get active with your kids: video games that require moving; riding bikes at the park; family nights with mini-golf, bowling, or skating; walking and talking together after dinner; or walking a (new?) dog.

Stock the Kitchen with Healthy Foods: Just like you, kids are more likely to eat junk food if it's in the house and healthy food if it's available.  So get rid of the junk and stock the kitchen with healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, and whole grains.  Expose your kids to new foods: Make a chicken or tofu stir fry with shirataki noodles. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable at the store to try at home.  Give up soda and/or fast food and encourage your kids to do the same!
Healthy Attitude by Skinny Noodles Shirataki, http://www.getskinnynoodles.com

Have a Healthy Attitude: Be the person you want your children to be. If you don't approve of smoking, alcohol, and drugs, then show your kids how you feel by cutting back or eliminating them from your own life. Share your feelings, positive and negative, in an appropriate way with your kids. Show them how to let go of the negative, forgive others, and move on with life. Teach them how to show compassion for others by being polite and volunteering to help in the community.  Most importantly, be kind and forgiving to yourself.  When you have self-esteem, your kids will naturally have more self-confidence.

We teach by doing.  By living a healthy life, you encourage others -- most especially loved ones -- to do the same. What a wonderful side effect.  And on this Father's Day, I'd just like to say: Thanks, Dad, for being my healthy hero.