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Fitness is a family affair

You drop the Eff Bomb in front of your toddler, and whattaya know? She drops her sippy cup the next morning and exclaims with a sweet smile . . . "Eff, Mommy!"

You eat a donut for breakfast but try to give your kindergartner a banana with oatmeal. "No!" he says. "Donut!" Well, who could blame him? He just wants the same breakfast as Daddy.

Children see, hear and mimic just about everything they see adults do — the healthy Badass stuff, the just plain bad stuff and the lazy stuff. From those observations of your habits they start to form their own. At an early age.

So when you're living the Badass lifestyle, your children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews are watching and mimicking. When you're vegging in front of the couch with a bucket of fried chicken, don't be surprised if they end up doing the same.

So what's it gonna be, Badasses? What kind of Badass Army are you building under your own roof?

Based on current childhood health statistics, the Badass Army we are building in our footsteps is weak and headed for a life of blood pressure medication and cholesterol drugs. They eat and drink too much junk. They sit around when they should be running around outside. They worry about insulin for their diabetes when they should be worried about Clearasil for their pimples.

I am not a parent yet, but I am the oldest sibling and my maternal instincts run deep. I have cared for many baby and toddler cousins. When I see out-of-shape children who couldn't even slow-jog a mile if their life depended on it, I feel sad, angry, frustrated, and sad all over again.

If I can achieve anything, I hope to reverse that trend. Maybe only for a few little Badass kiddies. But hopefully for many.

The only way that happens is with your help. And you will benefit just as much as your baby Badasses. I guarantee your journey to fitness will be less bumpy if you aren't doing it alone. Finding time for exercise will be easier if you turn that exercise into family time with a bike ride or a game of Frisbee. Eating healthy won't be such a chore if you turn it into a weekend cooking lesson with the little ones.

My friend Jenn, Bertsch got her little guy Patton two cookbooks for Christmas, including Betty Crocker Kids Cook! Jenn says it is a great first cookbook for kids interested in learning how to be little chefs.

Now Patton, 8, loves making healthy smoothies for the whole family, including his brother Tripp, 10. The boys, at Momma Bertsch's urging, are also active with baseball and tennis.

My friend Stacey, a blog reader, spent a recent weekend in the kitchen with her little boy Walker, cooking the Italian Vegetable Stew recipe I shared on the blog. And Walker often rides bikes with his dad, an avid cyclist.

At my gym the other day, I walked into the 7 a.m. Spinning class as the 6 a.m. crew was just wrapping up. I saw a school-age boy, probably about 12, wiping down the bike he had just ridden. His mom was right next to him, cleaning off hers. I asked him if it was his first time taking a class, and he smiled real big and said yes.

"It was fun," he told me. "I liked it."

That made me so happy, I just about cried. I mean, how awesome is that? There he is, before school, exercising and revving up his brain for the day of learning ahead.

So the next time your kids want McDonald's for dinner or yet another round of Nickelodeon reruns, remember that the Badass Army always needs fresh recruits.

Shannon Colavecchio is a Tallahassee-based reporter for the St. Petersburg Times. This story first appeared in her Badass Fitness blog at

Healthy eating, healthy living

I know it's often easier because of time constraints and the realities of our own impatience to just give in to their pleas for fries and Coke. But consider these alternatives, and you might be surprised how the little Badasses like them:

• Skip the fast food line and have a turkey burger grill party at home.

• Let them make their own little pizzas and use low-fat cheese and turkey pepperoni on whole-wheat English muffins or pitas

• Look for healthy options, even at fast food places. Subway, McDonalds, and Starbucks all have fruit as sides instead of fries, milk instead of soda.

• If they want juice, give them permission to get messy — by squeezing fresh OJ themselves.

• Schedule weekly activities that get them moving, and get you together as a family: bike rides, Frisbee, tennis, even Marco Polo in the pool.

• Let them help plan dinner, with this game: How many colors can we get on the plate? That way they have to include something veggie and nutritious.

• Find local 5Ks that include a 1K walk/run option — perfect for the little ones. Hopefully, they'll get hooked on the race-day energy of all those crowds.

— Shannon Colavecchio

Fitness is a family affair 02/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 6:48pm]
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