Fit Mom, Fit Kids: Slimmer You, Healthier Family (cont.)

Yes, it is true our testosterone levels rise in the morning hours, and that's because hopefully we have had a night of restful sleep, but it doesn't mean that's the only window for exercise. It is best to exercise whenever you can get to it during your day, a time when it's planned, scheduled, and usually won't be disturbed by other commitments.

Once more, what is truly important is the consistency over the course of the week and that the exercise occurs as close to the same time as possible each day.

MEMBER QUESTION: Michael, you seem to be concentrating on stay-at-home moms. How do you recommend a working mom include exercise in the routine when there's barely enough time to do laundry?

SENA: My book was intended for any mom or for that matter any woman who wants to improve her health and fitness. This book is designed to make it easy for even a busy mom to live a healthy lifestyle at the same time she is living life. In other words, there are two parts to living well.

  • Making smart food choices, and the key to that is knowing what to eat and how to prepare it as well as plan its preparation to fit into your schedule. So if Sunday night is a night you could spend time in the kitchen preparing several days' worth of food, meals or snacks, that's what has to be done.

    And I speak from experience, because I know how busy you are. Most of my clients are moms and some work outside the home and I, myself, am a busy person and although not a mother, for me to eat healthy I have to plan it in advance.

    So my point is, manage your schedule as best as possible, allowing yourself time to prepare some meals in advance.
  • The second part is movement/activity/exercise. That usually is the toughest thing to schedule. But never underestimate the power of being active for even small amounts of time, whether 10-20 minutes in the morning, a brisk walk during lunch, and/or another 10-20 minutes in the evening.

    Just think about it. If you were able to squeeze in 15 minutes in the a.m., a 10-minute brisk walk at lunch, and another 15 minutes in the evening, by day's end you would have 40 minutes of activity, and that's a perfect amount.

MEMBER QUESTION: How many times a week should I exercise for weight loss and my family's well being?

SENA: Based on age-specific recommendations, I'd say:

  • For children 12 and under, I'd like to see them moving as many days in the week as possible, somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes.
  • For teenagers, I'd recommend a minimum of four days a week, somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes.
  • For adults, at least five days a week, between 30 to 60 minutes.

It is important to recognize that both teenagers and adults, depending on their fitness goals, should have between one to two days of rest because the body will need it to realize the gains of your efforts. Children are in a growth spurt and can sustain activity every day of the week and still be able to recuperate and grow.

MEMBER QUESTION: What are some healthy eating habits we should develop?

SENA: That's principle No. 2: managing portion sizes.

In this day and age, we market food for value, not nutritional content. It's not just fast-food restaurants that are offering us dollar-value meals that are in excess of 1,200 to 1,500 calories. It's also sit-down, family-style restaurants competing for your money. They'll offer meals that can feed either you or two to three other family members several meals in a week's time.

We must learn, through our own body's awareness, what a portion size is, and then recognize what being satisfied is as opposed to being full. We all know the current advertising campaign that has a person yell out, "I'm full." That's exactly what we don't want to be.

By eating the right foods, which I'll discuss in a few moments, such as protein and complex carbohydrates, we will learn that these foods are satisfying and will keep us feeling satisfied much longer.

We also must be aware of what a serving size really is. For example, a serving size for children for beverages is 4 ounces. Now, that doesn't mean you are only to have 4 ounces at a time, but what that means is that for every 4 ounces you consume, you are consuming one serving.

So, drinking a 20-ounce beverage of the latest and greatest isotonic "high sugar" sports drink, gives your child five servings of a beverage they should not even be consuming.

This is what my second principle is about -- helping moms become aware of what a serving size is before she or anyone else in the family simply offers foods and beverages at random. The same goes for adults. Being aware of what a serving size is allows us to know how many calories, in essence, we are consuming. This helps us to prevent overeating.

MEMBER QUESTION: Is it better to eat three meals a day or to break it down to six small ones?

SENA: Six small ones would be my initial answer. However I do like to recognize breakfast, lunch, and dinner as the pillars of the day's food intake, and then the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack as metabolism boosters.

But let me clarify. If I was working with an individual who wanted to lose weight, I would have them consume more of their daily food in the earlier meals as opposed to later in the day.

Dinner for all of us should not be a heavy meal, though often it is. This is where weight gain starts, because as the day winds down, so do we and so goes our metabolism.

As long as your meals are balanced with the right carbohydrates, proteins and fats, you will remain satisfied longer through the day and will not be ravenous at night because you'll have balanced your blood sugar and your satiety will be in check.

MODERATOR: Let's talk about the "right" proteins, carbs, fiber, and fats. Basic principles No. 3, 4, and 5 are all about protein, fiber, carbs and fats.

SENA: Principle No. 3: eating optimum amounts of protein.

Similar to how the nickname Staten Island has acquired is "the forgotten borough of New York City," I sometimes call protein the forgotten macronutrient.


"Water is the fountain of youth."