As the holiday season closes and 2013 arrives, the reality of New England winter begins to set in. While I celebrate snowfall as a wonderful opportunity to hit the slopes on the weekend, winter weather can frustrate the best health and wellness intentions of an active family during the busy weekdays. With shorter days and lives filled with work, carpools, school, and extracurricular activities, it is challenging to keep family members of all ages active. At the YMCA, we are committed to making the healthy choice, the easy choice. Applying this principle at home as well will make those 2013 wellness-based new year’s resolutions a little easier to keep.
One way to create a home environment that promotes family wellness is to plan. Try posting the week’s mandatory activities on a large, visible family calendar. Include and commit to active family time whenever possible, whether it is an after-dinner walk or 30 minutes of dancing in the living room. Make winter-time fitness easy by having cold weather gear, including extra hats and mittens, ready and accessible. Encourage outdoor activity by using headlamps and flashlights for safety and fun in the late afternoon. Lastly, look for local opportunities to get the family outside together. For example, Southern District YMCA invites families to Winterfest to enjoy snowshoeing and ice skating free of charge. Check the local Audubon Society, Children’s Museum, or Science Center for winter programming that keeps kids moving. At Bostoncentral.com you can register to receive weekly email updates on area family events. With a little bit of planning and online research, you can uncover opportunities to engage the whole family in physical activity.
Healthy eating requires planning as well. Think about the busy week ahead and consider an easy to prepare menu that will satisfy hunger and health. There are many websites, like www.cooklight.com, that offer ideas for fast weekday meals and even include shopping lists. Ask family members to help create weekly dinner menus so no one will be disappointed. Stock up on grocery staples like frozen veggies, whole grain pasta, and pesto sauce that can be used to whip up a quick, healthy meal if needed. Start each day off right by setting out breakfast bowls, plates, and utensils the night before. Set healthful food choices on the table for breakfast and after school that promote nutrient-dense food. These strategies will make the healthy choice, the easy choice at home long after winter has left.