Family Fitness Makeover in 2009

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Dubbed "An Apostle for Fitness" by the Wall Street Journal, Carole Carson is the author of From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction, which chronicles her own 62-pound weight loss. Visit www.fromfat2fit.com for more information. Here's Carole's exclusive contribution to Momtrends:

The questions facing parents in 2009 are daunting: Can you replace bad eating habits with healthful ones? Can you introduce regular exercise into your family routine? Can you promote fitness and stay within the family budget? The challenge is difficult because the cost of bread, milk and cheese increased 17 percent last year, and rising costs for staples boosted school lunch prices.

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In the United States, two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese'??a condition alarming medical experts. Reports on medical problems facing overweight children'??including the recommended use of cholesterol-lowering drugs by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children as young as eight, an epidemic of type 2 diabetes and gastric bypass surgery for adolescents'??trouble healthcare professionals and parents alike.

Here are three tips to guide your family's makeover in 2009 (FIT):

F=Focus: Fill lunchboxes with fun, health-friendly foods that your children enjoy eating. Replace sugared drinks with water or milk. Figure out how much screen time'??the time your children spend sitting in front of a television, computer or video game'??is healthy and monitor schedules. Finish your evening meal with a walk rather than a bowl of ice cream in front of the television.

I=Improvise: Invest in a slow cooker and a bread maker. Slow cooking allows you to use less expensive cuts of meats, and homemade bread costs a few cents per slice. Indulge your sense of play by creating outdoor games and participating with your children. Encourage indoor activity with a popular video exergame, such as Nintendo Wii Fit w/ 5 in 1 Fitness Outfit.

T=Team Up: Transport yourself and your children on foot or on a bicycle. Team up with other parents to make sure healthy food choices are available at school. Encourage each other by measuring steps with inexpensive pedometers. Teach your children to take care of their bodies by setting an example.

Achieving the appropriate weight and level of fitness for each family member can be an exciting goal for 2009. The reward for your effort will be enjoying better family health and watching your children grow into active, productive adults.

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