Growing up, my family never gave much credence to living a super-healthy lifestyle. Whole Foods wasn’t in every major city, and most of our food choices were just good old south-Louisiana Cajun dishes. The terms “gluten,” “hydrogenated oils,” and even “organic” were never mentioned in our household. If you wanted to get organic “whole foods,” you had to go to a vitamin store that had a six-foot shelf with very little options. This all changed when I was 14 years old.
At this age, my mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Needless to say, this battle began a fast-track to a much-needed lifestyle of family health. We ditched the pesticides, white breads, and the sugar, and supported mom in this new life change (well, I did it kicking and screaming, but still did it). We took regular trips to the vitamin store and we made it a point to stay active and eat healthy.
The truth is that for us, it took a tragedy to propel us into the life that we should have already been living. But it doesn’t have to for YOU—whether you are the mom, the dad, or one of the kids. If you have the will and knowledge to set the bar, YOU are the one to do it.
Here are some ideas to make positive changes. Disclaimer: This is meant to challenge you! The easy way is rarely the best way. Also keep in mind that these tips are to be taken generally. The idea is to create a health-minded environment, not six-pack abs for the whole family.
1. Control Your Environment
One of the keys to self-control is eliminating temptations from your environment. If Oreos are your weakness, just don’t have them around—or buy them really infrequently as a treat, in smaller amounts. Less temptation means less unhealthy living. It’s as simple as that! For more info on creating new habits, check out this expert advice about the power of habits.
2. Make Healthy Shopping Choices
Your healthy environment stems from many other choices. Top of the list: Make sure to make healthy purchases when you are at the market. Stick to the grocery list, and don’t shop when you’re hungry! Let your brain do the deciding for you, not your cravings.
3. Educate Those Around You
It’s easier to get on board with a change if you understand it—especially when you’re dealing with questioning kids or set-in-their-way adults—so make sure to share the WHY behind your healthy choices. Every decision has a benefit—or five! If you highlight those, and your family is able to recognize and start experiencing them, you’re more likely to create decisions that will last.
4. Stop Sitting And Get Moving
Does this need an explanation? I hope not. Turn the TV off, take the phones away, and get active! We’ve all become too sedentary, and need to make a conscious effort to add more movement into our days.
5. Treat Yo Self!
Remember, the goal is to create a generally health-conscious environment, not a picture-perfect family! Treat yourself and love your life! Just do the unhealthy things in moderation.
Lastly, if you were wondering, my mother lost that battle two years later. And though she lost her life, the lifestyle still remained. Two of her children, including myself, have careers in the fitness industry, and the rest of us maintain active, healthy lifestyles. We’ve even managed—through endless nagging—to annoy our dad into staying healthy as well. THIS is where family health begins. It begins with YOU. It begins with anyone willing to make a difference and control their environment, and spreads to others nearby.
Ready. Set. GO.