A little over a year ago, I began my journey to lose 95 pounds. When I started, I didn’t really think I’d be successful, but I have been. I’ve lost 70 pounds, so far. It’s been an incredibly life-changing experience and I’ve learned a lot about myself and about the example I set for my kids.
One of the best things about the experience has been seeing how I really do influence my kids and I expect that a lot of what I’ve learned about setting an example applies to much more than just my weight-loss. My tips for letting yourself be an example for your kids:
Let them see you do hard things. Let’s face it, nobody likes to do hard stuff, but, wow, what an incredible feeling when you’re done!
I love running. One thing I’ve learned from running is that it’s only a little while out of my life. It’s sometimes hard during the run, but I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I’m done. That’s perseverance. Something may be hard for a time, but the rewards of pushing through and reaching your goals are so worth the effort.
Schoolwork may not be fun while it’s being done, but the goal will be worth the effort. The same holds true for many things in life. As they’ve seen me lose weight, my kids have begun to understand that success isn’t always immediate, but the effort it requires is worthwhile.
Don’t force them. Obviously, I’ve made a lot of changes in my lifestyle over the last year or so. While it’s debatable whether or not I should have forced the healthy changes on my family, for the most part, I haven’t.
I work out every day. Although the kids are welcome to work out with me, I don’t force them to.
I’ve made a lot of changes to my diet. While I eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and generally healthier choices, my husband and kids still enjoy many of their old favorites.
While I’ve been busy not forcing the issue, my kids have chosen to make some changes. I’ve been surprised at the variety of fruits Josh and Megan like. Josh has learned to enjoy roasted broccoli. And, I can’t keep him and Brianna out of my pita chips and hummus.
And, every once in awhile, someone comes to our home gym to workout with me.
Maybe, as your kids watch you try a new hobby or skill, they’ll feel inclined to join you. Make some time to take a class, read a book, or explore a new hobby; it’s good for you and it’s good for your kids to see you pursuing your dreams and goals.
I want the kids to try new things, too, so I make them try new foods that I make. They don’t have to eat them if they don’t like them, but they have to try them. Who knows what they’ll discover that they like when they try new things – new foods, a musical instrument, a sport. Sometimes kids just need a push to get them past the fear that comes with the unknown.
Show them the benefits. When kids start seeing our successes, I think it gives them more confidence in the possibility of their own. As my kids have seen my increase in energy, they’ve seen the benefits of exercise and healthy eating.
As they’ve seen me reach my weight-loss goals, they’ve seen my confidence grow. They’ve seen me become happier with my appearance. They’ve seen that it’s about more than just pounds. They’ve also discovered that setting and achieving goals is worthwhile, whatever the goal may be.
Mistakes don’t equal failure. Every week, after I weigh, my kids ask me how much weight I’ve lost. I hate the weeks when I have to report that I haven’t lost – or, worse, that I’ve gained. It’s happened, though, over the course of this journey and my kids have seen that I don’t just throw up my hands, toss in the towel and quit.
I use those off weeks to look back and see where I went wrong – and to learn from my mistakes. Mistakes and set backs don’t mean you quit; they just mean you may need to recalculate.
That is true, not just for weight-loss, but almost anything. Failed the test? Look up your wrong answers and find out why they were wrong. You’ll probably remember them better next time if you know why you missed them.
Was that project a big flop? Yeah, Thomas Edison didn’t get the light bulb right the first time either. If you can learn from your mistakes, they’re learning opportunities, not failures.
Your kids are watching. You don’t always have to be – or maybe I could even say, “you rarely have to be” – actively teaching for them to learn from you. You’re setting an example. Make it a good one.