Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Honey, I blew up the kids

A lot has been written in the last few years about the way the way there are more obese children than there previously have been. Everyone has been bombarded with reasons and fingers have been cast at who is to blame. The hard fact is that, if you are overweight, your children are more likely to be overweight and if your kids become overweight, they are more likely to remain overweight throughout adulthood. The key is to do the right things early on in their lives. I’m sorry for the clich├ęs and bad sayings but, a leopard never changes its spots and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. If you have brought your children up in a certain way that has seen them put on weight then it will be very difficult to then try to convince them to change.
So, how old are we talking and what sort of things should you be doing?
Well, first of all I’m not saying anything radical or extreme like all 1 year olds should do sit-ups or new-borns should on a salad diet. There are certain things that you can do though.
Ditch the buggy
Once your child is 2 or 3 and are confident walkers, encourage them to walk as much as possible. Start to use any sort of push chair sparingly when you’re out and about. Walking is a fantastic, gentle exercise for your spawn of your loins, as well as yourself.
You can’t beat sleep

Sleep is vital for kids’ growth and development. A lack of sleep can also lead to eating more during the day. Try to get them into a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Having a warm bath 90 minutes before bed can help soothe them into a peaceful night’s sleep without the need of counting sheep. Avoid them having anything sugary a couple of hours before bed as this can make kids hyper and less likely to settle into the land of nod.
Don’t use food as a reward
If you start to use food as a reward (all you “if you be good, we can go to McDonalds” parents, you know who you are) your kids will start to see these sorts of foods as treats and use them as their go-to food when they want something they enjoy. Next time they start to feel down, they’ll hit the junk food you gave them as a treat to try and cheer themselves up. Why not use a family day out as a treat or create a rewards and penalties chart and make them work up towards those football boots or bike that they want so much.
Let them watch Scooby Do and Lazy Town, not Charlie and Lola, apparently
The Department of Health has released a list of kids programmes which ranks the shows based upon how much physical activity is done by the main character, it’s great to see the hard-core issues being tackled. The group of Doctors, who were in all probability paid to do this, placed Scooby Do at the top of pile and Charlie and Lola were left slouching in last place. The full list is below;
1.       Sccoby Do
2.       Shaun the Sheep
3.       LazyTown
       4. Peppa Pig
       5.Bob the Builder
       6. Tom and Jerry

7. Dora the Explorer
8. Looney Tunes
9. sponge Bob Squarepants
10. In the Night Garden

11. Ben 10
12.  The Simpsons
13. Phineas and Ferb

       14. Sarah Jane Adventures
       15. Tracey Beaker
       16. Postman Pat
       17. iCarly
       18. Horrid Henry
       19. Garfield
       20.  Charlie and Lola

Before we get into anything serious here I just want to say how funny it is that a group of adults who have gone through years of medical training have sat around a computer discussing whether Peppa Pig is more active than Sponge Bob Squarepants.
The important thing here isn’t the order of said list (which is completely wrong, how is Shaun the Sheep more active than the forever running Tom and Jerry or the walking delivery man that is Postman Pat?). The important thing is why is there a list at all. Surely the message should be “try to cut down how much tele your children watch”, and not, “watch Scooby Do because he runs a lot”. Actually, isn’t this the same Scooby Do that constantly talks about eating and eats all manner of food without eer gaining weight? Sorry, again, that’s beside the point. It’s a struggle to work out how such a “study” (that term is used very, very loosely) gained funding, or publication. It offers nothing of any use to the public, parent’s behaviours will not be affected and it will do nothing to help get kids active. Why not promote kids watching sport on tele, or, crazier still, why not promote actual physical activity for kids. Watching Scooby Do will not help your kids 2-5 how to live a healthy lifestyle, having well-informed parents will. Why not publish a list of 20 alternate ways to entertain your child whilst you are doing the house work or whatever else you may need to get on with. Something like playing in the garden, a small enclosed trampoline?
So, turn off the tele (even if it is Scooby Do), ditch your buggy , help them get a full nights kip and stop using food as a reward and your kids will be on the right path to a healthy lifestyle.
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Little Bit Extra
So, I’m sure wondering how I’ve been getting on has cost you some sleepless nights lately. Well, worry over, I’m about to tell you. After finally getting my girlfriend to come running with me, the next day she followed me on the bike as I did an interval run. All she was missing was a mega-phone and a spatula. I had the last laugh though as the ancient bike has the most uncomfortable seat in the history of bike seats and so she was struggling to walk afterwards due to a sore derriere.
Not sure if she is planning to do a triathlon or something but the next morning we hit the swimming baths. I’m not sure at what point you become serious at swimming training and switch to the Speedo. Whatever that point is, I’m not there, I’ll stick to the shorts. Swimming went well though and it was good to get a bit of cross training.
Saturday I had  a football match (we lost) and Sunday was a rest day. Monday I went for a tempo run and led me to a question. What is the etiquette for a runner when going past another runner? Casual nod? A smile? High five? I went past a few people on this run. As I saw them coming I thought I’d go with a smile and “alright?”. I thought that would be the most polite thing. As they past I flashed the smile and was about to open my mouth to speak, when I realised I was being blanked. Is that bad runner etiquette? Surely it is.
Anyway Tamworth 10k is the next race I’m entered in. Less than 3 weeks to go. By the weekend I’ll have a good idea for a target time.
Thanks for getting down to here.

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