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Fitness by Example

When my sons came to visit me over the winter break, I had a new treat for them to try in addition to the pupusas we gobbled up on Alvarado Boulevard. Since mommy gained weight this past summer I have been working diligently to learn about nutrition, fitness and weight loss, to put it to use in my own life so that one day I could have that "after" picture.

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My experiments paid off as I slimmed down slightly, and I wanted to share my progress and my method with my two sons as well. My sons are 11 and 13 they both have unhealthy eating habits much like I did due to lack of knowledge. I've watched my sons weight fluctuate over the years from chubby to healthy and back and forth again. I had no idea that I was the culprit. I had no clue about how diet and nutrition affects our bodies but now that I've learned what creates weight gain and weight loss, I wanted to share that information with my sons.

When they arrived in Los Angeles from Florida, we came home and ordered a pizza, and I grabbed my laptop to show them a presentation that I made just for them. For a little more than an hour I educated them about calories, calorie counting, the importance of burning more calories than they are consuming, how to balance their calorie intake and still live a normal life and how exercise impacts our body and helps us become fit.

They listened. I can't believe it, but they did. By the time my presentation was over they could tell me which foods were high in calories and which weren't; how to balance a calorie deficit and still have tasty foods and which exercises they can do every day to stay fit. We took "before" pictures and measurements and set a calorie limit, and we stuck to it for the entire time they were here.

I didn't make them change their diet completely.

We enjoyed eating out, limited our desserts, stuck to drinking only water and changing the things we usually snacked on. During their last visit, chocolate chip cookies were our grab-and-chomp; this time we munched on lettuce wraps, ice pops and popcorn. I gave them tennis rackets, a jump rope and a resistance band, and I introduced them to some of my workout videos so we could work out without leaving the house. They did not like Shaun T's "Rockin' Body" because they said it was too girly. They did better with a Jillian Michaels workout video but wondered why she was so mean.

When we did a bit more wandering around L.A. than we had originally planned, we logged those hours as walking exercise and counted those as calories burned before we made a trip to McDonald's for a treat.

I didn't make them change their diet completely. I simply taught them to be aware of how much they are eating, to have portion control and to compare how certain foods like junk food will replete their daily calorie allowance while proteins and vegetables give them room to actually eat more.

We had a great time going to see a magic show in Santa Monica, visiting the California Science Center and making custom candy bars on Hollywood Boulevard. But the icing on the cake was their final day here, when we took our measurements and "after" photos and found that even though we had a blast doing a street vendor food tasting challenge and devouring a tasty burger from In-N-Out, both of my sons lost inches in their waists, thighs and arms.

I spoke with my son Saidon yesterday and asked him if he has kept up with his calorie counting now that he's back with his dad in Florida.

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"Not really," he replied honestly. "But I do look at how many calories things are."

I smiled.

"Oh. And I knew we were having a pizza party in one of my classes so I skipped lunch to save the calories for that," he told me. "And for dinner we had baked chicken and broccoli."

I beamed. What a low-calorie day!

I guess good habits can transfer across the miles.

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