healthy parent, healthy littles with jessica diaz

healthy parent, healthy littles

jessica diaz 

is an inspirational wellness speaker and writer, sharing her journey of surviving a stroke to become her healthiest version of herself, mind and body. jessica diaz is a certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, barre instructor, wife and mother of two, and spokesperson for the american heart and stroke association.

after suffering and healing from a stroke in 2013, jessica went on a journey toward finding a wholesome way of living by realigning her life through health, wellness and by embracing a more mindful approach to eating and exercise. as a spokesperson for the american heart and stroke association, jessica's goal is to spread awareness about knowing the warning signs of stroke, surviving a stroke, and every day tips for prevention.

jessica received her accreditation as a ncca certified personal trainer in 2015 to bring in a new level of functional movement into her classes. jessica is a certified fitness nutrition specialist. in 2017, jessica completed the heart of smartflow yoga teacher training with renowned yoga teacher, annie carpenter. in 2018, jessica became reiki master level certified and became a sound therapy practitioner. in 2019, jessica expanded her knowledge of movement by becoming a certified functional movement training specialist. 

jessica's barre class style includes traditional principles of the lotte berk method, body key alignment techniques of smartflow, all blended with her own modifications and unique choreography to keep classes fun, safe, and effective.

as a stroke survivor and spokesperson for the american stroke association, i know firsthand the impact of living a healthy lifestyle. i’m also an advocate for wellness and disease prevention, and am working in the community, writing and speaking to raise awareness about preventing heart disease and stroke.

but as a mom, i also have a responsibility to try to teach my own kids healthy habits as young children to encourage them to grow into healthy, active and productive adults. with the alarming increase of childhood obesity and the resulting increased risk of developing health issues and disease, it’s more important than ever to teach our kids that their day-to-day choices can have long-term effects. according to the center for disease control and prevention (cdc), in 2014, it was found that childhood obesity affects 13.7 million children and adolescents in the united states. childhood obesity increases the risk of developing asthma, bone and joint issues, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

while statics can be terrifying, it’s also important to understand that 80 percent of heart disease and stroke is preventable through embracing a healthy way of living. after personally experiencing a stroke and meeting many survivors of heart disease and disability from stroke, i know that doing everything one can to prevent going through the devastating effects of stroke and heart disease will always be worth it.

with kids spending more time on computers, playing online games, texting, using facetime and social media, and watching youtube on their ipads, and less time in outdoor play, the risks are higher than ever of children not getting enough exercise. inspiring kids to move more and incorporate healthy habits early in life is key to supporting them in growing up into well adults with healthy habits.

kids are never too young and it is never too late to introduce movement, physical activities, and healthier routines into their daily lives. the number one thing i do to teach my own kids more about incorporating movement and healthy choices into their daily lives is to try to lead by example.

lead by example

kids absorb everything we do as parents—what we say about food and exercise, our attitude towards living an active lifestyle. i think leading by example is the best way to inspire them to be healthy.

when it comes to food, i try to be careful about talking about foods in front of my kids and labeling foods as “bad” and “good.” i have struggled with having a healthy relationship with food for much of my adult life, and i want to teach my kids to look at eating as way to fuel and energize their bodies and support their health.

i try to talk with them about how wonderful it is to eat foods that are so delicious and at the same time are also so healthy (e.g. like their favorite honeycrisp apples). i try to cook with my kids as much as possible, it is a great time to talk to them without a lot of other distractions. and i feel 100 percent good about giving them muffins, cookies, cakes if we made that at home and know exactly what is in them (not preservatives and extra salt). i have found that the more i dig deeper to learn about foods, the more interesting i can make talking about foods with them. i try to add in where the food is from, when is the best time of year to eat it, what vitamins it has, and have them help me come up with ideas of what would be the best way to eat that food. this really seems to have a much greater impact on them than just saying “eat it—it’s good for you ” or don’t eat that “its bad for you.” i think that kind of labeling of food is at the root of a lot of struggles with having a healthy and balanced relationship with foods. 

i also think it is important that kids see you eat in a balanced way. prior to my stroke, i was guilty of following fad diets that restricted certain foods and limited calories. i realize now that even though i wasn’t discussing it with my kids, they were watching and absorbing my habits. i’ll never forget one day after “failing” on yet another restrictive diet, i ordered a piece of carrot cake at dinner one night. my daughter said to me “mom, is that good? you never eat foods like that… you know foods that make you happy.”

i realized then just how much our children are taking in and realized even though i was not discussing what i was eating with her, my out-of-balance eating was sending her the wrong message.

leading by example is also important with fitness. as busy parents, i know it can be hard to fit in taking care of kids, working and making time for a workout. however, i do think if you want to teach your kids that moving your body daily is important, you have to do it too. this doesn’t have to be lengthy and intense hours in a gym, but i think your kids seeing you place importance on getting exercise (even if it’s daily walks to a grocery store, or playing music and dancing around the kitchen, riding bikes around the neighborhood, taking the stairs instead of an elevator, jumping rope), this teaches them that it is important that physical movement is a part of daily life.

what also makes an impact on children is having them seeing you enjoying moving. if you don’t have an exercise that you love, experiment with all different types until you find something you enjoy and makes you feel energized and not depleted. my husband and i both work out an average of four times a week. we do very different style workouts, but we both have a passion for them. i really hope our enjoyment for being active trickles down to our kids.

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