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4 Ways to Live a Healthier Life

I've been battling with my weight for as long as I can remember. At around age 10 I had my first visit with a nutritionist, and 27 years later I'm still seeing one.

When I gave birth to my son, I told myself I didn't want him to go through the same weight issues and battles I had fought my entire life. I wanted him to start eating healthy from a young age so when it was time for him to choose what to eat, he would have a good foundation. When he transitioned from formula to solids I decide to cook all his baby food from scratch using organic products. I kept him away from cake, syrup, pizza and chocolate for as long as I could.

"You have such a cute little tummy!" I told him earlier this year when I was getting him ready to take a bath.

"But I want a big tummy!" he said smiling as he pointed to mine.

If ever there was an eye opener, that was it. I had to stop and think exactly what I was doing and what examples I was giving my child. If I want him to make healthy choices, I need to start making them for myself and follow through.

In my experience, when trying to teach your kid how to make healthy food choices, "do as I say, not as I do" does not apply. I can't be eating a hamburger while asking him to eat his veggies, or expect him to choose a fruit over a cookie if he never sees me eating an apple. If I want him to eat healthier, I need to start doing so myself. If I want him to go out and play, I can't be in front of the computer all day.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years and that was something that alarmed me even more.

For the past five months, our family has been making some changes in the way we eat and exercise. The best part is we are doing it together and we've seen how it benefits everyone. My husband and I are taking different routes; he cut out carbs and I'm working on portion control. We're clear about our common goal—and even though we're doing things a bit differently, we're fully supporting each other. We're taking it one day at a time and doing our best to get right back up if ever we seem to veer off course.

Here are some of the changes we've slowly but surely made to change our lifestyle and get healthier together as a family.

Eating at Home

Cooking at home helps me control what ingredients I use, how I prepare my food and how much I eat. It also forces me to read nutrition labels, measure food and helps control portions. One of the easiest things I did for portion control was to swap out our dishes; instead of a 12-inch plate, I started using Slim and Sage 9-inch plates so that we put less on the plate. We don't keep sweets or baguettes in the house, and when I want something bubbly I drink sparkling water.

Exercise as a Family

My two biggest excuses to not hit the gym: "I don't have a babysitter," and "I don't have time." I signed up at my local YMCA where childcare and exercise programs for children are available. To hear my son say "you go do Zumba while I'm in KidFit," was music to my ears. You can also add some exercise to your day by parking the car farther away from entrances, taking the stairs, walking the dog, getting the mail or spending time at the playground.

Technology is Your Friend

Using an app such as LoseIt! helps you keep track of how much weight you want to lose, what you eat and how many calories you've consumed in a day. Devices such as the Nike+ Fuel Band help track how active you've been. I love hitting my Fuel goals every day and have noticed I'm more active since I started wearing it.

Have Fun!

Make exercising and eating healthier fun. Try new foods and new games! Eat dinosaur trees (broccoli), go down the slide at the playground, and make this a great learning experience for everyone in the family. Play with your kids, laugh a lot and add more greens to your dinner plate. Good eating habits and exercise are a gift for life.

How do you keep your family healthy? Share your advice in the comments below.

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