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Posts Tagged ‘time management’

Making Mealtime Successful

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Making Mealtime SuccessfulLet’s bring back family mealtime. Yes, our hectic lives all too often force out this once staple daily activity. But it’s SO important and here’s why. Having a meal together is one of the easiest and most essential activities you can do to encourage healthier eating. And, it’s simpler than you think!

Kids learn by example. As parents, you already know what you say ‘speaks’ to them but what you do ‘screams’ to them. “Do as I say, not as I do,” has no place (setting) at the kitchen table. Mealtimes are key opportunities for kids to learn about foods and preferences. Starting at a very young age, children start to develop lasting impressions about different foods, both positive and negative. We want to encourage the right balance of the what, the when and the where: healthy food choices at regular times in a pleasant setting.

Here are some simple steps to get your family’s nutrition headed in the right direction:

  • Plan it. Review the schedule for the week and pick a day or two when you can eat together as a family. Gradually add another day each week.
  • Pull up a chair. Sit down together at the table to eat. This allows for better conversation with fewer distractions. Try to keep the conversation light and fun. Catch up on the events of the day. Enjoy each other’s company.
  • Turn off the distractions and be more mindful about eating. This can be a challenging step but a rewarding one too. Just turn off the TV, put the cell phones and iPods and any other ‘noise’ out of reach. Focus on enjoying a delicious meal together.
  • Try something new. Each week introduce one new food or recipe. Get your kids involved in the deciding what to try. This will get them pumped up about what they are going to eat. Children are more likely to eat foods if they have a hand in picking them out.
  • Prepare the meal together. It may only take a few minutes. Ask your kids to spin the lettuce, snap the green beans or stir the bowl of pasta. When your kids help make the meal they are more likely to eat what is served.
  • Be creative and make it fun. Kids can make name cards for their seats. They can create a decorative centerpiece for the table or fold the napkins in a creative way (I loved doing that as a kid!).
  • Be a positive role model. You as parents and the older children can help model healthy eating habits. Now that’s rewarding!

Kids who eat with their families are more likely to eat healthier foods. And healthy families are happy families!

For more Health Tips and meal preparation inspiration check out the Cooper Aerobics Pinterest page or Recipes section on our website.

Taking Fitness on the Road

September 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Do you sometimes feel like you live in a hotel room? Just because we leave town doesn’t mean we have to leave behind our fitness routine. Learn more about simple yet effective ways to stay in shape while on the road. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer April Swales gives advice for your travels this Labor Day.

It happens on every vacation. We’re getting ready for a trip and as we load our suitcase, we decide that we mustn’t forget our workout clothes. Of course we’re going to get up early each morning, use the hotel workout facility and practice good judgment at each meal. Our intentions are genuine, but reality is a bit more tarnished. Why is it so hard to stay on the healthy track when we travel? Maybe we’re tired. Maybe we don’t feel comfortable working out in a strange place. Or maybe we don’t want to wait in line for limited equipment. Sound familiar?

First and foremost, our expectations need to be realistic. If your travels are taking you away on business and meetings will consume much of your energy, you’re more likely to skip those “good intentions,” i.e. workouts. Dining over business can also be difficult, especially when the meal includes cocktails and/or dessert. This usually leads to guilt, which can be frustrating and counterproductive. Falling off the wagon is not the real problem—the real issue is how long it takes for us to get back on. Allowing ourselves a small break from routine is OK, but we need to be cautious about how long that break is. If you plan to be gone more than a few days, then it’s best to try and get some sort of exercise while you’re away. Your travel exercise mantra should be, “Something is always better than nothing.” The good news is that you’ll only need a few simple tools to stay on task.

One of the easiest exercise travel tools you can own is the basic workout band with handles. They’re inexpensive (around $20 each), easy to find and they travel light. They come in many different resistance levels and often come packaged with a soft nylon door anchor already attached. All you need to add is a door that will shut completely when the anchor is in place. Nearly any exercise performed on a cable in the weight room can also be done with an exercise band and the proper amount of space. The door anchor makes it easy to place and you may secure the band at any level. Since you’ll be correcting your own posture as you exercise (vs. leaning back against the chair on a machine), you’ll be recruiting more muscles and strengthening your trunk. And don’t forget your own body weight plus gravity! Basic movements such as sit ups, push-ups, jumping jacks and squats are a great way to break a sweat and require no equipment at all. Click here to watch quick Exercise Move videos with Personal Trainers and Sports Pros at Cooper Fitness Center.

Anyone who uses applications on their smart phone understands how helpful they can be. There are so many exciting fitness applications out there, many of them free. You can download exercise demonstration photos, nutritional info and eating logs—you can even get an application that can track your movement via GPS and map out a walking or jogging route for you. Record keeping is an excellent way to motivate yourself, even when you’re not on the road.

Many hotels include fitness options for guests. Cooper Hotel offers complimentary access to Cooper Fitness Center for the duration of your stay. There are also options at certain hotels to have basic equipment in your room, free of charge. Marriott International, Inc. and Hilton Hotels Corp. offer in-room fitness options for business travelers. Both chains provide low-tech workout equipment such as mats, free weights and exercise bands. If you’re interested in fitness options at your hotel, ask the hotel concierge.

If you’re fortunate enough to be traveling for fun, try and mix some healthy activities into your itinerary. Wear comfortable shoes and walk whenever possible, try dancing with dinner or maybe hike and enjoy the scenery. The change in your routine will also help you recover from your normal workouts without being sedentary. Your body enjoys change just like your mind, even if what you’re doing is less strenuous than what you’re used to.

Inevitably, we will hit bumps on the road to health and wellness. But traveling should never be a roadblock. Being consistent, although challenging, is not impossible. Even with the best intentions, there will be times when we simply have to take a break. Budgeting your time off wisely with your diet will help. Remember that this lifestyle is a long term commitment and there will be peaks and valleys. Stay positive, stay focused and have fun!

For more information on Cooper Fitness Center services, click here or call 972.233.4832.