Mamatoga Fit Tip with Jeannine Trimboli: Inspiring Kids by Making Healthy Choices

Well, here I am typing at my computer in a hoodie sweatshirt and sweat pants. Neighborhood pools are being cleaned and closed up for the summer and there are actually leaves on the ground! I even needed an extra blanket in bed last night.

But even with the chill in the air, I have always loved this time of year.

Even though I finished school long ago, my brain is still programmed to get excited and busier this time of year. New goals that maybe seemed like a chore during the summer suddenly take on a whole new appeal, and I have more energy.

I see this excitement in my kids as well, and it’s nice. I have one high school senior, two middle school students (6th and 8th grade), and my youngest just started kindergarten. They all approach school a little bit differently and their learning styles and acclimation styles differ too. Kids are just like us adults. They are all different.

How does this tie into fitness and health? I’m getting there!

Last week was the first week of school. It was also orientation week for most kids.  My two tweens go to a pretty big school and I took them to their middle school orientation. This was a day where the kids could look at their schedules, find their classrooms, meet some of their teachers, and try out their locker combinations.

For my daughter, entering 8th grade, this was old hat. She is a really good student as well as a social butterfly, so this was basically an opportunity for her to see all the people she lost touch with over the summer and reconnect. So off she went in no time with her posse of girl powered friends and we eventually met back up at the end of our visit.

For my son, entering 6th grade, this was a whole new world for him so I was really more focused on making sure we addressed whatever he needed to be most comfortable with.

Now I will pause because you notice I said “whatever HE needed to be most comfortable with”. Not “what I needed to be most comfortable with.”

I was really amazed at the number of parents flurrying around the halls, class schedules and school maps gripped in hand, looking SO stressed as if it was THEIR first day of school coming up. Many of these parents were so intent in figuring it all out for themselves, they almost entirely forgot they had their kid (the ACTUAL student) with them.

I saw parents disciplining their kids (for acting like kids) and all sorts of, well folks, really embarrassing stuff. It is hard enough to “fit in” in junior high moms and dads, really!

I will admit. My instinct was to do the same for my son, but at the same time I was aware that it was more important for him to figure out HOW to figure it out for himself. It was important for him to see ME behaving calmly, and as if this potentially super stressful situation was completely normal, manageable, and no big deal.

I was role modeling. I was giving my son the freedom and space to feel like he was in control. I was also allowing him to feel that I trusted his judgment and his choices. I was there, hanging back if he needed me, but I was also letting him take the lead. And it worked. When we left, he looked really relaxed and happy.

My youngest son was SO excited to start kindergarten this year. He is taking the bus to school, and I will admit that I was nervous about my precious little guy riding on a bus without me. “What if the bigger kids are mean to him?” “What if the bus driver can’t effectively monitor everyone?”  So many what ifs.

The first day of school, my little guy was so excited. He combed his own hair even. (That is a big deal, folks)

As we waited out front for the bus, he waved to neighbors and excitedly told each one how he was going to ride the bus. He was all smiles from ear to ear. When the bus pulled up, he bound toward it and only paused because his dad wanted to get a pic of him before he climbed those big bus stairs. He patiently waited. Once the picture was taken, he bounded up the stairs and sat in the first seat. There was no one else on the bus yet. Just him. He looked so small on that big bus. He happily waved out the window as they drove away and then they were gone.

I posted the pics on my facebook page and some people asked me how I was? Did I cry? You know, I did feel a brief wave of sentimental emotion as I looked at him on that bus but it wasn’t sadness. It was pride. I was so proud of his fearlessness. I was proud of his enthusiasm. And I was slightly in awe of it.

But most importantly, I was excited for him and his being excited. That morning we all got to share in his big new adventure.

People often ask me “how do I get my kids to eat healthier? “or ” How do I get my kids to exercise more?”

This is how. You role model. You set examples.

But here is the catch. You let them lead. You let them decide how they want to go about it. You make them a part of the process.

Your kids are not you. Our kids are not us. They like different things. They may approach things a different way. And most importantly, they need to know that you allow them freedom to make their own choices and that you trust their choices.

Feeling good about oneself directly affects all the other choices we make in our day. That includes the food choices we make and whether we choose to go outside and play or stay inside and watch television. Kids are just like us.

And whatever you do, however you behave, the choices you make do affect your children’s behavior directly. So stay aware and choose wisely. And yes, this means that sometimes you have to fake it, folks!

If you don’t like to eat healthy, don’t expect your kid to eat healthy. If you don’t handle stressful situations well, don’t expect your child to either. And if you don’t make attempts at getting activity into YOUR day…you get my drift.

Oh, and don’t be so hard on yourself. This stuff isn’t easy. It takes practice!

Now get out there!

For more from Jeannine, head over to Real Fit Life here!