consumer reports best vacuum 2008

consumer reports best vacuum 2008

The Festive, Fit Family: Ten Ways to Combat Childhood Obesity by Getting the Whole Family Healthy…holiday Style

By Tom Gilliam, Ph.D.

The holidays are here in full (fattening) force. And unfortunately for the health conscious, along with the tinsel and the tree comes the onslaught of temptation: the rich turkey gravy, the dressing, the sugar cookies, the eggnog, the pie—all those comfort foods that taste especially comforting during a recession-marred holiday. But as we mentally prepare ourselves to push away from the festively set table, it’s easy to forget we aren’t the only ones facing tempting treats—our kids are too.

That’s right. Between parties at school and stockings stuffed with sugary surprises, our kids are just as susceptible to the guilty pleasures we allow ourselves during the holiday season. The bad news is that the “special occasion” indulgences we allow during the holidays can quickly morph into harmful bad habits for our children—habits that will last long after the gifts have been unwrapped.

A lifetime of fitness always begins at home, and that’s also true when the home is covered in tinsel and lights. Research shows over and over that the only way to combat childhood obesity is to make nutrition and exercise family priorities. And while it’s okay for them to indulge a little bit during the holidays, you should gently steer your kids away from the third buttery dinner roll and the double handful of chocolate candy.”

It’s no surprise that childhood obesity is a growing problem in the U.S. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that one in three kids is now overweight or obese. This reality has encouraged more and more companies to teach the “family fitness” principle to their employees, helping the “get kids and families healthy together” trend gather momentum.

Kids live what they learn, and parents are their number one source of information. If they see you making unhealthy choices, they will naturally assume it’s okay for them too.

With busy holiday schedules and tightened budgets, it may seem impossible to come up with new and creative ways to help get your family on the fitness bandwagon. Not so. Making just a few simple changes to your family’s daily routine can have a huge impact on everyone’s overall fitness.

Here are some tried and true tips for getting your family in shape—not only during the holidays but at any time of the year:

Find “hidden” exercise in your holiday housekeeping routine. It may seem like a no-brainer, but good old fashioned chores can be one of the best ways to keep in shape. And, luckily, there are many reasons to do chores this time of year. Be sure to involve your kids in any pre-holiday festivities clean-up or just the general tidying up of the house. Vacuuming, dusting, mopping, sweeping, and taking out the trash are all ways your kids can do their part for the family while helping to get in the physical activity they need each day. Crank up the volume on some good music during chore time to get everyone moving and the house will be clean in no time!

Brave the frosty air and enjoy winter workouts. On snowy days, get bundled up and get moving. Go sledding, build snow angels, and have a snowball fight with your kids. If you’re near a city, hit the sidewalks and enjoy the holiday window displays. Or if it’s too cold or rainy, visit an indoor sports facility like a batting cage or an indoor rock climbing center. It certainly beats sitting inside being a couch potato!

Alleviate winter break boredom with a spirited game of Duck, Duck, (Christmas) Goose. Know how restless your kids get when they’re out of school for a few weeks? Add instant entertainment—and sneak in some exercise—by showing them the games you used to love to play when you were a kid. Teach them all about Red Rover; Mother, May I?; Duck, Duck, Goose; and Red Light, Green Light—then spend an hour after dinner playing one of them. It’s a great way to stay active and create some special childhood memories for your own children. Check out for a complete listing of instructions plus other suggestions for new games to learn and try together!

Model good “snacking” habits. As mentioned before, your kids learn their eating and exercising habits from you. If they see you make a healthy snack choice like an orange instead of reaching for yet another handful of holiday party mix, they’ll go for the good stuff too. But don’t rely on pure willpower. Try to keep the house low on junk food. Help kids avoid temptation by keeping the house stocked with healthful and delicious snack foods like yogurt, fresh fruit, raisins, and natural peanut butter. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean it’s okay to gorge on sugary and fat-filled foods.

On the other hand, don’t ban all holiday treats. When trying to get the family eating more healthfully, many parents make the mistake of throwing out all of the candy, cookies, juice drinks, and other foods that kids tend to love. That is the wrong approach. Don’t make any food totally off limits. As long as food is consumed in moderate amounts, it’s okay! Making something off limits can cause your child to binge on treats when they are available at school or at Grandma’s. Besides, the holidays just wouldn’t be the holidays without the occasional Christmas cookie or Hanukkah doughnut.

Make exercise a daily habit. Whether it’s a 30-minute stroll after dinner each night or a weekly trip to the local walking trail, make exercising with your family a consistent routine in your day-to-day lives. Besides being good for you, it can help you alleviate some holiday stress and help your kids burn off some of their excited energy. When it’s a part of your regular schedule, like going to Grandma’s on Sundays or having spaghetti for dinner on Thursday nights, your kids will expect it. And who knows? If you keep up the fitness routine, your kids might even look forward to the additional family time.

Set up a holiday fitness competition. Kids are naturally competitive. Use that quality to their advantage. Buy everyone a pedometer and tell the kids that whoever logs the most miles gets to open the first Christmas or Hanukkah present. Alternately, create a goal that the whole family can work on together. Set a number of miles for the week and chart each family member’s progress at the end of the day. At the end of the week, if the family has achieved their collective goal, then celebrate with a movie night or a special (low-fat!) frozen yogurt treat.

Encourage kids’ culinary curiosity. You should never stand in the way of your child trying something new, even if you suspect she won’t like it. Always encourage their interest in trying new foods and you will be rewarded when they discover they do like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. You might also be surprised by what you can sneak by your kids. The holiday season is a great time for them to try out foods they don’t eat every day that are nutrition powerhouses—pumpkins, cranberries, and spicy teas, for example.

Let them help make the figgy pudding. Kids love to help in the kitchen, and by allowing them to be a part of the food prep process, you can seize a great learning opportunity. And they’ll especially enjoy having a hand in preparing your Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa feast. Explain to them why you use certain foods and techniques to be healthier. Allowing your kids to help in the kitchen gives them a sense of ownership over the meal, and they will be more eager to gobble up a healthy dinner that they had a hand in cooking!

Sneak “fitness” gifts into their stockings. There are lots of great (and inexpensive) resources out there that can help you keep maintaining a healthy lifestyle on your kids’ minds. For older kids a subscription to a fitness magazine might make a good stocking stuffer. You might also throw in a fitness DVD—beginner’s martial arts and beginner’s yoga or pilates are great options. For younger kids, my own series of brightly illustrated children’s books, featuring cartoon characters Heart “E” Heart and friends, is a huge hit and a great way to get them thinking about healthy living. And jump ropes, stretch bands, and dumbbells are appropriate gifts for kids of all ages and can be bought for under $10. While the recession has caused many families to cancel fitness club memberships, the good news is that many, many fitness items are reasonably priced. You don’t have to bust your budget to give your kids the best gift of all—the keys to a healthy life.

Remember, getting fit and healthy is not about going to extremes. It’s about making small, gradual, incremental changes in your day-to-day life. And that’s why the holidays are a good time to help your kids start the process—there’s something valuable about practicing the art of moderation in a season known for the exact opposite.

You know the cliché about New York—if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere? Well, the same is true of the holidays. If you show your kids they can exercise when it’s 20 degrees outside and they can stop with two sugar cookies instead of wolfing down six, think how much easier it will be to make healthful choices when it’s warm outside and there’s no endless supply of treats to tempt them. Get them in the habit now and maintain it all year long; eventually they’ll grow up to be what you want them to be: healthy and happy adults.

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About the Authors:

Thomas B. Gilliam, Ph.D., is the founder and president of T. Gilliam & Associates, coauthor of the book Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy.: The Simple Truth About Achieving & Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight, creator of the Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy.® wellness program, designed to teach workers how to achieve a healthy body weight, creator of, and founder and owner of Industrial Physical Capability Services, Inc. (IPCS).

Since 1982, Dr. Gilliam has designed and managed many corporate fitness centers ranging from 500 square feet to 34,000 square feet. He has established a variety of wellness programs to deal with such health issues as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, physical inactivity, stress, osteoporosis, low back pain, and many more.

In addition, Dr. Gilliam is a pioneer and acknowledged expert in the field of dynamic strength testing for industry based on the sports medicine model. Since 1982, he has provided isokinetic physical capability assessments for Fortune 1000 companies through his company Industrial Physical Capability Services, Inc. (IPCS) ( Dr. Gilliam’s programs have dramatically reduced workers’ compensation costs and decreased injury incidence and severity rates for major industrial clients. In addition, Dr. Gilliam has been instrumental in identifying and presenting to industry the higher risk for injury and disease caused by obesity in the workplace.

Dr. Gilliam is the creator of the Heart “E” Heart program, which is a healthy lifestyle program for children and their families. He was the principal investigator in a National Institutes of Health research study investigating the impact of physical activity and nutritional habits on heart disease risk in young children. Conducted in the late 1970s, this research resulted in numerous scholarly publications and television and radio interviews throughout the world, including NBC’s Today Show and NBC’s Nightly News with its science editor, Robert Basel.

In 1973, Dr. Gilliam earned a doctorate degree in exercise physiology with a minor in graduate statistics and research design from Michigan State University. From 1974 to 1982, Dr. Gilliam was a tenured faculty member at the University of Michigan. Before resigning from his tenured faculty position, he was involved with numerous funded research projects (i.e., N.I.H., Kellogg Foundation, State of Michigan, and others) that resulted in twenty-nine refereed scholarly publications.

Jane C. Neill, R.D., L.D., is the 2004 recipient of the Nutritionist of the Year Award for the State of Alabama Public Health. She is an active member of the American Dietetic Association and currently employed by the Alabama Department of Public Health, where she works with the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program as a WIC coordinator and a licensed dietitian. She has worked in the WIC program for over ten years, providing daily nutrition counseling for women, infants, and children.

While on the staff as a registered dietitian at the University of Michigan Health System in the late 1970s, Jane was instrumental in working with Dr. Gilliam as an investigator on the National Institutes of Health research study to investigate the impact of physical activity and nutritional habits on heart disease risk in children ages six to eight years.

Ms. Neill is a member of the team that developed and wrote the Heart “E” Heart program for children and their families.

She received her bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Alabama in 1977 in food, nutrition, and institutional management. Ms. Neill has been working as a registered dietitian for over twenty-seven years.

About the Book:

Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy.: The Simple Truth About Achieving & Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight (Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy., LLC, 2008, ISBN-13: 978-0-9762703-5-5, ISBN-10: 0-9762703-5-8, $19.95) is available in bookstores nationwide and through all major online booksellers.

For more information, visit

About the Author

Thomas B. Gilliam, Ph.D., is the founder and president of T. Gilliam & Associates, coauthor of the book Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy.: The Simple Truth About Achieving & Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight, creator of the Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy.® wellness program, designed to teach workers how to achieve a healthy body weight, creator of, and founder and owner of Industrial Physical Capability Services, Inc. (IPCS).

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