Q: I know I've gotten a bit overweight. I've tried all sorts of diets, etc., but I just can't seem to lose even a few pounds. It's very discouraging and affects how I feel about myself. Should I just accept that I'll never succeed?
Jim: I can sympathize. In my mind, I'm still the svelte teenage athlete I once was. But reality is something different!
There's no real mystery to why we gain weight. We take in more calories than our bodies can use, which is easier than ever to do. Portion sizes have grown larger, and fast-food and pre-packaged meals are now staples of the modern diet. Americans also tend to be less active than past generations.
So obesity is pretty easy to understand. But so are the nuts-and-bolts of exercise and nutrition. Our activity levels need to go up, and our time in front of TVs and on the internet needs to go down. Solutions can be as simple as walking 30 minutes each day. Exercise doesn't have to be strenuous; just get moving. As for nutrition, keep it simple. Fad diets don't last. So make food choices you can stick with over the long haul.
But this all misses a bigger question: If good health is that basic, why is it so hard to lose weight? The answer is that changing bad habits is tough. To stay on track, you need the support of others. Research shows that people who have a strong community of support are more likely to lose weight and keep it off.
So what's the key to shedding those unwanted pounds? A little bit of grit -- and a whole lot of encouragement from people you trust. Don't go it alone anymore.
Q: My husband and I are so busy that it feels like our lives run us, not the other way around. We're worried about how this is playing out in our parenting, especially since our energy is so low when we get home. How do we address this problem?
Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting and Youth: You're definitely not alone in this -- our whole culture runs nonstop. As parents, we have to be the ones pressing the pause button of life to gain perspective and shift our mindset. It's all about being intentional.
Being intentional means prioritizing how to invest your time and energy. It's recognizing the importance of establishing boundaries -- learning to say "no" to some things so that you can focus on your kids. And it's about understanding yourself well enough to know what recharges you; for example, maybe using your lunch break to work out, read a book ... or even take a quick nap! Finding a balance strengthens your ability to parent well.
Parenting doesn't demand perfection, but it does require the intentionality to effectively manage your:
1. Time. Obviously, we all have a limited amount of time to work with, but your schedule is yours to manage. You might be surprised how small adjustments can add up to make a big difference.
2. Attention. What captures your attention -- and why? Again, attention is something you control, but you'll have to be intentional about where it's pointed. You can give your kids attention up-front through your relationship, or you'll most likely spend a lot of time correcting and dealing with behavior issues down the road.
3. Boundaries. What are your priorities modeling for your children? What can you say "no" to in order to say "yes" to your family?
Intentionality may sound simple, but it requires energy and time -- two things many of us feel we lack. So we have to adjust our priorities accordingly. For more on intentionally prioritizing -- one of the "7 Traits of Effective Parenting" -- see focusonthefamily.com/parenting.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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