Healthy Family Time

We all learn through example. Being active and healthy is a life-long habit. Participating in healthy activities as a family will teach youth that being healthy and active can be fun and enjoyable. Whether you are just getting your family to start being active or it’s a regular part of your routine, here are some tips for creating healthy habits:

  1. Get walking. Walking or hiking are great ways to spend time together as a family. A few minutes in and you are talking to each other and are free from technology. I love taking walks with my husband through Wyomissing Meadows. We end up talking about everything and anything. And between the fresh air and the discussion, we always come to a new outlook. We use it as a time to connect and go over whatever is on our mind. Going for a walk is a great opportunity for you to connect with your family, discuss anything and get moving together, all at once!
  2. Make it a game. I recently saw a post on Facebook about a mother making her workout into a game for her children. I thought this was so smart. She was able to get her workout in and by including them; they were learning the benefits of being active. You can set up a circuit and run from each spot. For example, set up 5 “stops” and do something different at each location: 15 squats, 10 pushups, 30 jumping jacks, 15 tricep dips and a plank with twists (get creative; there are so many options). You can have your kids do each of these or come up with different things they can do at each spot. Do the circuit a few times and you get in a good workout with your kids and make it super fun for everyone.
  3. Find a family class. Nowadays, many gyms offer kids or family workouts. This is a great way to show your children what you do when you talk about going to the gym. They get to try out the activities and see what it’s all about. Being active becomes fun if it is enjoyable, so finding a class that your child likes is key.
  4. Cook a meal together. Health isn’t only about being active. Making good food choices and setting up healthy eating habits is something we all need to learn. Pick a new healthy recipe to make as a family. Go to the store, find all the ingredients and cook together. This is a fun way to incorporate everyone into the process.
  5. Make it a family effort. I know that when one of us falls off the healthy wagon, it’s hard for the other to stay focused. On those days when I don’t want to workout but my husband does, I will get an extra boost to exercise from his motivation. It’s the same with healthy eating. Most of the time, we both want to cook or eat healthy. But when one isn’t feeling it, it’s important for the other to motivate the other to stay on track. We all learn through example, so setting a good example for your family is important. Inspiration and motivation can come and go, but not for everyone at the same time. And sometimes knowing you have to be the driving force will give you an extra boost to push others when you know they are relying on you.

Looking back, I feel we were pretty active as a family, in addition to the organized sports I was involved in. We all learned to play tennis and would play against each other on vacations. There were intense games of whiffle ball with our cousins. The neighborhood kids would always get together to play football, SPUD or Kick the Can. As we got older we played a lot of basketball, especially at family get-togethers. It was always so fun to run around and play with everyone. Having everyone participate bonded us and made a positive association with being active. Even to this day, when fitness is fun, it doesn’t feel like work!


This article appears in the May 2015 issue of Berks County Living

Getting Started Towards A Healthier You!

I reached out to my friend, Cara Belt Losurdo, for some of her tips on healthy living. Cara is a certified fitness instructor and avid runner.

Spring is here!  Translation – shorts / tank top season is here.  (Followed by the dreaded bathing suit season…)  It’s time to get motivated and shed those unwanted pounds.  How do you accomplish this daunting challenge?  The answer is NOT crash diets and killing yourself at the gym.  These may give you some initial results but they are not sustainable.  You will end up putting the weight back on as soon as you stop.  You need a LIFE STYLE CHANGE.  Start small.  Here are some tips to help you along the way.

  • Make small physical changes to your daily life.

Take the stairs.  Park your car at the far edge of the parking lot.  Take the long way back to your desk.  Take a walk during your lunch hour.  Get up and walk around the house. Do jumping jacks during commercial breaks of your favorite show.  These are small changes that will add up to a big change.

  • Hydrate.

Water.  Water.  You should be drinking eight 8 fl oz glasses of water a day.  That equates to about half a gallon.  Drink one glass first thing in the morning and the other seven throughout the day.  To make this easier take a refillable water bottle with you at all times.   The health benefits from this simple life style change include increased energy, increased kidney function, better digestive functioning, increased concentration, clearer skin, and best of all calorie control.  Drinking water helps you feel full so you will snack less throughout the day.  Try drinking a glass of water before a meal.  Your stomach will feel fuller leading to consuming less calories.

surfCara surfing on a cruise!

  • Join a gym.

Tip – Frequency before intensity.  Start slow and increase time and intensity.     Start with something easier like the treadmill.  Get yourself a good book or a fun trashy magazine.   Listen to music.  You want this time to be entertaining not tedious.   Start with walking at a brisk pace and work your way up to a jog.  Play with intervals of both.  Play with adding incline and decline.

Join a group fitness class.  There are plenty of types from which to choose.  Use the gym’s website as a resource.  The group fitness page will have a description of each of the classes.  Try a variety of classes that offer cardio and strength training.  This can be intimidating if you have never taken a class before.  Talk to the instructor before class.  They will give you some tips of what to do and what to expect.  Remember, everyone in that room was once in your position.  You will find working out in a group is more fun and more motivating.  Which leads to my next point…

  • Get a workout partner.

Ask a friend of family member to join you.  Having a fitness partner will keep you motivated and accountable.  Lean on each other.   Everything is easier with a friend.  (Then you can go shopping together when your clothes no longer fit.)

Cara has made healthy living a natural part of her life. Here she is with her husband completing a Triathlon, with her family participating in their first 5K, Cara and her father doing one of their many races together, and racing with a group of friends.


About Cara Losurdo: Follow me on Facebook – Cara’s Fitness – for healthy recipes, exercise ideas, workout videos, motivational quotes, fitness challenges, etc.  If you live in the Raleigh, NC area I would love to have you in one of my group fitness classes.  I teach Insanity, PiYo, Zumba, Fit for Life and Silver Sneakers.


Cara’s Do’s and Don’t’s for making healthy eating a no brainer!

You can’t out exercise a bad diet.  As much as I would like to say it’s as easy as “move more – eat less”.  This is not the case.  It’s about quality and quantity.  This LIFE STYLE CHANGE includes making healthier decisions about the types of foods you choose as well as the amount.  Here are some do’s and don’ts for food.

  • Do use a smaller plate.

Automatic portion control!  Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate for your meals.   Trick your brain into feeling more satisfied with less food.   This works for desserts too.   A full small bowl of ice cream will look/feel much more satisfying than the same amount in a cereal bowl with space to spare.

  • Do buy healthy snacks.

Fruits, nuts and veggies are great options.   Note: read the labels on the veggie dips.  Many dips will end up being more calories than eating chips in the first place.  Don’t defeat the purpose of the carrot by ruining the nutritional value with the dip.  Try hummus instead.

  • Do treat yourself.

Telling yourself that you can’t have something will only make you want it more.  Have a small cookie after a healthy dinner if you want it.  Just use moderation.    This will avoid the guilty binging.

  • Do eat the rainbow.

No, I’m not talking about Skittles!  Eat natural color.  Think fruits and veggies.  The bolder the color the better it is for you.  Example: Spinach is a bolder green than iceberg lettuce.    

  • Do sit down at the table to eat. 

You will eat less sitting at the table than you will sitting on the couch watching TV.   Your brain in focused on your entertainment instead of your food.  It won’t send the “I’m full” signals to your stomach until you find the bottom of the container.

  • Don’t drink your calories.

Put down the sodas and high calorie drinks.  Sodas are high in calories and sugar.  Put it this way, a 20 fl oz bottle of Coke has 65 g of sugar.  A regular Snickers bar has 25 g of sugar.  You are drinking 2.5 candy bars worth of sugar on top of whatever you are putting in your mouth food-wise!  Please do not think that if you are drinking diet soda you making a healthier choice.  You are just trading one bad choice for another.  Look at the label.   If you can’t pronounce most of the ingredients and it has a long shelf life than it is not good for you.   (This counts for food as well.)

  • Don’t eat out of the family sized bag.

Take control and ownership over your portion control.  Eat all of your snacks out of a small glass bowl or dish.   Allow yourself to see how much you are eating.  When you can see it, you will eat less.

  • Don’t beat yourself up.

This is a new healthier you.  It’s also a new happier you.  Don’t get down on yourself because you slipped up or your skipped a gym day.  This is about the journey not the destination.   Make it up to yourself by making a healthy choice the next day.

You can do this.  Make the choice to make a LIFE STYLE CHANGE.   Health is a daily choice.


Follow me on Facebook – Cara’s Fitness – for healthy recipes, exercise ideas, workout videos, motivational quotes, fitness challenges, etc.  If you live in the Raleigh, NC area I would love to have you in one of my group fitness classes.  I teach Insanity, PiYo, Zumba, Fit for Life and Silver Sneakers.