What is that? In any lifestyle plan that requires one to alter their habits surrounding eating and exercise in order to attain a healthier body, there is often a period, following early, almost immediate success, where the rate of improvement drops off, in fact, there may even be a decline. In weight control programs, like AllStride, this may translate into early weight loss followed by periods of actual weight gain! This can be very disturbing for families anxious for results and discouraged by failure. Let’s look frankly at why this occurs. It really comes down to what I call the “Big Three:”
1. What we eat
2. How we move
3. Our emotional approach to food and activity
When success is slow, or indeed if we are facing failure in our lifestyle improvement program, the reason can almost always be found in one, or more, of these three categories. Let’s look more closely.
Honestly look at what your family is eating. The biggest reason weight loss programs fail is because folks “slip” and go back to their old habits after a period of good discipline.
Common mistakes for kids are :
1. Too much snacking, especially at night
2. Drinking sweetened drinks – sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks
3. Filling up on carbs (breads, chips, wafers, crackers) rather than higher protein snacks (low-fat cheese, hummus, chicken strips)
Try these things: Low fat cheeses sticks for snacks rather than chips, etc., flavored waters, with NO sugar, raw vegetables with tasty dips (even if they contain some fat).
Look at how your family’s activity level has slipped back to old, bad habits, like:
- Too much screen time (TV, computer, video games, phones)
- Too much sofa time (with or without snacking)
- Staying inside after school, locked in bedrooms, rather than playing outside
Emotionally, we or our children may lack motivation. But here’s the hard part. None of these programs, including AllStride, work unless children themselves are motivated to take part. If your kids start to slip back into bad habits, remind them that this is FOR THEM, BY THEM and ABOUT THEM. Don’t make sticking to the program another thing you fight about. That will cement their bad habits into the form of rebellion. The hard part is YOU ARE THE PARENT, but the program is ABOUT THEM. You have to be very good at making sticking to the program their idea and encouraging that. This may require some subtle manipulation, but it is for their health!
Remember, it takes HARD WORK and PERSEVERANCE to change to a healthier lifestyle. Adopting healthier habits takes effort EVERY DAY. It is a great life lesson for kids, and for families, but it is not easy and there is no quick fix. A Program like AllStride is great for giving frequent reinforcement and encouragement, but nothing substitutes for good, supportive, tough parenting. You need to be a coach! Hard work is motivated by success, and deflated by failure. Emphasize the positive and build on it. Emphasize the wins, even if they seem small and insignificant. To your child, every success and failure are huge. It is their life, after all. They want to feel better and get healthier. But they need your love and support. There will be good days and bad, but without your family sticking to lifestyle changes over the long term, there will not be long term success, which is what we all strive for.
Dr. John Monaco M.D.