Setting an Example for our Youth by Crystal McCullough

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Setting an Example
By: Crystal McCullough (Follow her on Instagram @crystalmac_72)

Why do we do the things we do? Why do we choose certain career paths? Why do we dedicate the time it takes to reach goals in the gym? I hope your answer is passion. I know mine is. There are many reasons why I am passionate about my career path as well as my health and fitness. My first career path was nursing. I became an RN because I love to help people. That being said, I prefer to educate those on how to stay healthy in the public health area rather than taking care of those already sick. That led me into what I do now. I am a CrossFit Affiliate Owner, General Manager and Head Trainer. I chose this career path for the very same reason. The two go hand in hand; two sides to the same coin.

I read an article a while back about a 3-year old child diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (first time in history this has happened!). This child weighed 77 pounds and was considered morbidly obese at the age of 3!!!! Now, tell me whose fault that is? It certainly isn’t the child’s fault!! The parents were both considered obese themselves and they were simply ‘passing it on.’

The following statistics are courtesy of www.letsmove.org. There has been very close monitoring of childhood obesity since the early 1980’s when the rate of obesity in kids ranging in age from 6 to 11 was 6.5%. That same age range bumped up to 19.6% in 2008. In a span of a little less than 30 years, obesity in youth of all ages has close to tripled. 1 in 3 children are considered obese in the United States at this very moment. Depressed yet?

With a gym on every corner, a baseball field or park in nearly every neighborhood in America and a wealth of information out there as to why our kids are suffering from this epidemic, why is there still an issue? Is it laziness, socioeconomics, education…what is it? If we keep going at the rate we are going, we will have condemned our youth to lifelong chronic health issues before they even reach adulthood.

There is good news in all of this. It is NEVER too late!! We have the opportunity to set a good example for our youth. This can manifest in various roles: parents, teachers, youth group leaders, coaches, and adults in general. We can make a difference in a child’s life and possibly save them from a long future of chronic health issues like diabetes, heart disease, etc. For this article, my focus is on the parents out there!

Regardless of your circumstances, you can still set a good example for you children. My son has been blessed in that he has been a gym rat from the age of 6. He has fallen in love with simply being at the gym and moving. As he has gotten older, he has grown into an athlete with goals. Not all parents have the ability to provide this to their kids and that is definitely more than ok. And, not all children have athletic goals like my son does, but movement and exercise are still a functional necessity in their lives. Here are a few tips on how to get our children involved in moving and eating healthy.

1. Involve your kids in your exercise when possible. If you are running, have them trail along on their bike. As they get older, they may want to run as well. We used to make a game out of running with our son. He never even realized he was getting exercise.
2. Involve your kids in meal prep. Bring them into the kitchen and have them help you cut up the vegetables and prep the meats. They will enjoy spending time with you and it also gives you an opportunity to educate them on good food choices.
3. Lose the video game controller and take the kids outside for a game of tag or throw the ball around. Any exercise is better than no exercise. They will enjoy the time they get to spend with you and memories can be made!
4. Give your child the opportunity to watch you train. If it is possible, let them in on some your training sessions. When I did CrossFit GPP (General Physical Preparedness), my son loved sitting in the room just watching the athletes work out. He couldn’t wait until he was old enough to join in!! Now, I use my son as my spotter on bench and my videographer to get him involved. He loves it!! At times, he joins in with me and lifts as well. It is great bonding time for us AND he is getting fit at the same time.
5. Share your goals with your children. Teach them the importance of setting goals for themselves and working hard is what will help them achieve those goals. Stick to your own goals and teach them to finish what they start.
6. Let your kids set the tone of what they want to do. Don’t use exercise as a form of punishment. It will backfire on you because they will begin to dislike the very thing you are trying to promote.
7. Don’t push your kids into athletics. Support them and help guide them. Be a facilitator not a dictator.

Bottom line, this nonsense with childhood obesity has to stop! If we don’t reverse the damage that we’ve already created, the future will be very bleak. There may be those of you who have no idea where to start. You might be searching for a healthier version of yourself. That’s ok!! Bring your kids along for the ride!! Let them learn with you. If this is you, you know how hard it is to re-train yourself as an adult. Let your kids learn now so they don’t ever have to go through what you are going through.

Sidenote:
Since writing this piece, my son has literally gone from working out in the gym to spend time with mom to an elite weightlifter. He has competed at Youth Nationals and set an American Record in the Clean and Jerk. He has also most recently, squatted 400 pounds. Yes 400#!!

About the Author: Crystal McCullough BIO

40-year old Army wife and Mom to a genetic 13-year-old freak. Basketball player turned runner turned CrossFitter turned powerlifter. Crystal has podiumed over the years at 5k and 10k road races, local CrossFit competitions, and most recently competed at the Arnold 2016 XPC Powerlifting Finals as well as USAPL Raw Nationals 2016 in the Open division. Her best lifts are 145k squat, 81k bench, and 162k deadlift. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nursing Education, a CrossFit affiliate owner, and a Mash Elite Performance nutrition coach (among other stuff). She is a member of the Mash Mafia Powerlifting team and is currently studying for her CSCS as she prepares to move to Winston Salem with her family in May to join the Mash Mafia crew on a full-time basis.
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