Healthy Happy Families


Many of us understand the idea that when we are healthier, we feel better, have more energy, joy, confidence, and gratitude, and are more productive. How do we get our home on track with feeling the love for this healthy lifestyle, as well as ourselves?

When we communicate and share our thoughts and feelings respectfully with our loved ones, we allow for a positive flow of energy.

It’s important to support one another with positive language, ask good questions, and listen to the answers. Even though children are used to being told what to do all of the time, we clearly see that they don’t always enjoy it. Who does?

Let your loved ones know of your goals for yourself and the household as well as how you see them best supporting you.

Next is the hard part…You need to listen to them and hear how you can best support them. When I say “hard part”, it’s not to say that you don’t support them. The hard part is understanding their perspective and meeting them where they are at. It’s not about them following your lead on how you feel they should live, but more about making sure they are heard and letting them know you are listening. This open conversation will build into a great connection and understanding, to help each of you feel supported and be healthy together, which can sometimes look different than your original picture.

Here are some general healthy guidelines to begin with…


Keep healthy options in the house.

Make a list as a family of foods that you like and enjoy.

  • Meats and Protein
  • Veggies
  • Fruits
  • Healthy Fats (Nuts, Seeds, Avocado, Dairy, Olives, Coconut & Sunflower Oils)

Drink Water First. 

Eat whole foods first.

I think we can all agree that soda and juice are not things that we want to be consuming regularly, if at all. As I will mention later, if it is of interest, having this and other less healthy options as a rare treat that is not always readily available is okay on occasion.

Water can be more tasteful with a squeeze of lemon or lime, or infused with frozen or fresh berries.


When it comes to sugars and less healthy processed stuff, we want to be careful with what we let in the house and how much. It’s not about taking away all sugar or processed foods, although if that works for you, that’s great! If there is a once in a while awareness on these options, that can work. 

The key is making sure everyone in the house is onboard. I can’t have ice cream in the house, because it calls to me. We get it on special occasions or we get ice cream pops that the kids like, once in a while, that I have no interest in. I have an ice cream maker that I make protein shakes into ice cream with. This way I enjoy it without the guilt or regret after. The family actually likes it too!


Portions need to be different for kids and adults. They are different sizes and their intake should be too.

Using our hands are great ways to identify portions.

The individuals that are eating it should be using their hands to measure.

The palm of one of our hands, not including fingers is appropriate for a portion of protein for a meal. (Please don’t harm your hand! There is no need to remove your or your child’s fingers…just don’t include the fingers in the measurement!)

Two full hands, including fingers is a good portion of veggies for a meal.

Two thumbs worth is an appropriate portion for fats.

“Do you know how much you’re really eating? Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the portions we are eating are the right serving size for our nutritional needs. Portion sizes have increased drastically over the years, contributing to the rising obesity rate…” [Read More – American Heart Association]

We want to learn how to have awareness of what we put in our bodies and how we feel. Eating for fuel and enjoyment are both part of a healthy lifestyle. Have a conversation about it. Every meal or food will surely not be a win, but we need to make sure we are not preparing three different menus for the same meal. If family members or children get used to always having mac and cheese or PB&J, or chicken fingers, instead of the family meal, this will be a hard habit to break. Stay together and strong as parents on this. The support of a spouse and/or the rest of the family is important. 

Something that I have to remind myself about often is to not eat out of boredom, emotionally, or in a stress response. 

When it comes to food choices with kids and some adults, even this can be tricky. Try new recipes from the vast options available online and try different versions of the same foods. Some things may be preferred in different preparations. Try baked broccoli vs steamed, sauteed carrots with coconut oil, garlic, salt and pepper, or try dipping raw veggies in homemade hummus.

Salads are a great way to get proteins, nuts, seeds, and veggies in a healthy meal. Healthy homemade salad dressing is a key component of a healthy salad!


I love a great workout and kids can, too. There are ways to get great activity that are fun for the entire family. Be consistently inconsistent. What I mean is, ideally, we want to do a diverse amount of activity on a daily basis. Sports, walks, hikes, and biking are a great starting point, but the key is to ask your family what they enjoy doing.

What recreational spaces do you have around your area?

When it comes to the gym and workouts, there are great options. Many are under the impression that youth should not strength train. This is not true at all. The fact is that kids develop better with strength training. Coordination, confidence, mental development, and gross and fine motor skills are all improved with safe, age appropriate training. 

Children in the 4-8 year old range benefit from mostly active play and body weight exercises. These activities clearly can be enjoyed beyond that age and at all ages, and we need a little play time in our lives. 

Ages 9+, depending upon development, can benefit from beginning a strength training/resistance training program.

At Duke’s Fitness Center, we are a family gym. We have programs for children, like Rail City Boxing for ages 6-10, as well as a boxing program for ages 11-18. Hans and Luke are USA Boxing certified coaches with years of training and are great with the kids.

We have team training and programming options for team building, plus different periodization for sports teams.

We train individual athletes and guide them to prevent energy and develop greater strength, speed, agility, and injury prevention.

No matter the age, we all greatly benefit from a minimum of 30 minutes of activity outside of our daily routine, but an hour is probably better.

When it comes to healthy families, we can support each other in individual activities and interactive activities. Start with a conversation and see what comes of it. 

Remember that ages and sizes will change the intensity and level of the activity. Going to a local sports field that is set up for adult or older teen play, like a full sized soccer field, will be overwhelming for an 8 year old. Cut the field play in a quarter and it’s more fun for the whole family. 

We recently started playing volleyball with a few friends that have kids that are friends with our children. The kids play their own games, while the parents play volleyball, and it works out beautifully.

If there are family members that are overweight, especially children, make sure the healthy activities are projected in a positive light of healthy play and healthy lifestyle, and avoid labeling or addressing the weight. We all feel better when we move, get fresh air, and put good things in our body! 

What would you like to do for activities on your own?

What would you like to do for activities as a family?

Would you like to help cook a new recipe this week?

Would you like to try a new food or try a food cooked a different way?

What ideas or questions come up for you around your family and incorporating a healthy lifestyle?

Communication and compromise are great ways to progress to a healthier and happier family! Try not to get fixed on your idea of healthy only. Allowing each family member to share, contribute and take proper steps for them is empowering and amazing. Let us know as questions come up. We are happy to support you and your family in living the healthy lifestyle that feels incredible!

Food Tip – Did you know choosing foods that are high in water content not only helps us stay hydrated, but can also help with weight loss? [Read More]

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About Duke's Fitness

Duke’s Fitness Center is a friendly local gym in St. Albans, Vermont.

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