Week 11

Get some activity during lunchtime.

Description: Get some activity during lunchtime.

If you work outside the home, this goes for both you and your spouse: At the start of the week, write an activity – whether it’s a few laps around the park near your office or going up and down the stairs – into your calendar for the next five days. And if anyone tries to corner you as you’re heading out the door, say you’re heading to an off-site meeting. (Hey, it’s true!)

Use audio-visual tools to motivate your kids to eat well.

Dr. Melton has used this technique with his own kids any says, “That impacted them more than any lesson I could give about nutrition.” For younger children, check out the site where kids can “build” a healthy plate online and you can find child-friendly recipes. Another goodie: “Fizzy’s Lunch Lab,” an animated Web-only series about cooking. When they see food can be fun, it will change their outlook to eating.

Make time to catch up with a friend.

Description: Make time to catch up with a friend.

Adults with friends are happier and are better equipped to handle a stressful situation like job loss, illness, or marital trouble, research shows. “If you haven’t been making time for your friends, start now,” says Dr. Sharon Sweede, a family physician in North Carolina, US. Take some time off from work and catch up for a lunch minus the kids, or meet up at a mall and deposit the kids in the play area so you can sit and chat. And remember, “Facebook doesn’t count.” (Not that there anything wrong with social networking, adds Dr. Sweede, but it shouldn’t be a stand – in for the real thing.) So make real – not virtual – plans!

Focus on the future.

If something happens to you and your partner, who will be your children’s guardians? If you’re faced with a terminal illness, who will look after them? These are big, uncomfortable questions, but if you and your spouse don’t address them, who will? So whether it’s a term insurance you need, or a health policy you’re considering, or even drafting a will, make those appointments with the professionals now!

Week 12

Move exercise equipment to s spot where you’ll use it.

Description: Move exercise equipment to s spot where you’ll use it.

If you fell you can’t even slip downstairs to your basement long enough to make your treadmill worthwhile, bring the equipment to you. “Set it up in a place where you’ll still be able to see your children doing things around the house,” says Dr. Pasternak. (Keep treadmills away from the reach of babies and toddlers, though, and unplug the machines when they’re not in use.) A family room with a TV is a good idea – you won’t even know where 30 minutes goes when you’re catching a rerun of a favourite show.

Wait five minutes after eating before going back for seconds.

You may discover you don’t really want more. “We often eat when we’re stressed or bored,” says family physician Dr. Michelle May, author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. “Then we eat food our body doesn’t need.” In the past 30 years there’s been a sharp rise in “distracted eating” (eating while watching TV, driving, and working) that is directly related to consuming more calories. This week, take a break to focus on your meal. Turn down the volume on all the devices that are beeping at you, and eat in silence. “Giving yourself even 10 minutes to just eat will lead to a more pleasurable and satisfying experience,” says Dr. May. Eating at the dining table – versus in the media room – is a good way to start.

Forgive someone.

No question about it: People, on occasion, can be jerks. They say and do things that hurt, intentionally or not. But carrying around resentment does nothing to the offender. And harbouring all that ill will can have negative consequences on your own health. So this week, think about who you might be holding a grudge against, and consider letting it go. Research indicates that forgiving others may contribute to lower blood pressure; less stress; fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain; and a lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse.

Visualize your family in a year.

Now that you’re completed 12 weeks, imagine the future. What will your lives be like 12 months from now if you increased your physical activity, regularly ate together, and made more nutritious choices? It’s an inspiring thought, and one that should keep you going until these 48 little changes are not goals but a part of your new lifestyle. In the meantime, if you’ve adopted even one of them, your family is healthier than before. Cheers to that (and it better be water)!

How It’s Going in My House: Final Thoughts

Description: How It’s Going in My House: Final Thoughts

The goal that really spoke to me this month was about friends. We’re relatively new to our town, and I needed to do something about my social situation. I realized I’d been trying to connect with women in a hit-or-miss way: Striking up awkward small talk outside my kids’ schools, maybe a little too desperately trying to find women with whom I had a connection. But it’s always easier to meet in an organized group. My town has two types of welcome clubs, so I decided to join one. Meanwhile, my husband’s gotten to know other dads by helping out with the school play. The other goal that hit home was scratching an activity off my children’s schedules. Our days were becoming dominated by Declan and Katie’s plans, and they’re only 8 and 5. But I struggle with this: If my kids want to try as many different things as they do, why shouldn’t I let them? On the other hand, when did Dan and I sign up to be permanent taxis? My happy medium: Finding activities my kids can do at the same time, even if it means driving across town. They now enjoy their three “hang-at-home” weekday afternoons – and Saturdays. That’s progress!

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