Hansa D. Bhargava, MD, FAAP
When you are overweight, it can be harder to live a fit life. For example, it may be harder to find clothes that you feel good wearing. It may seem harder to move your body fast or to be flexible. And it may be harder to be confident about yourself if you’re teased. It isn't fair.
Many things go into being overweight -- how your body works, what you're used to doing, and even the world around you. So the simple advice "Eat right and exercise" isn't the whole answer to a healthy weight -- or fitness. That's why the FIT Platform includes 4 parts -- FOOD, MOVE, RECHARGE, and MOOD.
Of the 4 parts of the FIT Platform, FOOD probably has the most direct effect on your weight. You are growing, so it's important for you to eat right and gain some weight. But if you eat too much junk food, you can gain more weight than you need. Eating more healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains (like brown rice and oatmeal) will help you feel strong and healthy.
These foods have lots of nutrients and things your body needs. They'll help fill you up so you'll have less room for cookies, chips, candy, and other unhealthy food. And you won't get hungry again so fast.
You need calories to grow and to move your body. But if you eat more calories than you need, you need extra exercise -- or your body will turn those calories into fat. Moving your body also means building muscles and getting stronger -- exercise is really powerful!
Think about what you do after school and on weekends. Can you think of more ways to be active during the day? See if you can add a few more minutes of moving, or work a little harder. Try to breathe a little heavier, or sweat a little more. Pace back and forth while you're waiting for the bus. Do jumping jacks or toe-touches during TV commercials. Offer to take the trash outside. Small stuff adds up.
The bonus about exercise is that it also helps you feel good and sleep better -- which will help you eat healthy and move more. So it's really important to get enough physical activity every day.
When people are sad or stressed most of the time, they don't care so much about being healthy. They are worrying about other things. So that can make it really hard to exercise and eat healthy foods.
Sometimes when people feel that they're overweight, their self-esteem is lower, maybe because they are not happy with how they look, says David Ermer, MD. He's a child psychiatrist with Sanford Health. They might be teased or bullied because of their size, and that can be stressful, he says.
If you are getting bullied or teased, tell an adult you trust -- like a parent, a teacher, or your doctor. They can help you come up with a plan of action. But if you're just feeling down, there are things you can do to help make yourself feel better.
Make sure you do things that you enjoy, too. Buddy up with a friend to ride bikes after school -- you'll get to hang out and exercise at the same time. Maybe join a club or a group at school or a community center. Or put on your favorite music and dance and sing while you do chores. You deserve to be happy and healthy!
There seems to be a connection between not getting enough sleep and being overweight -- especially for kids. A study found that kids who don't get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight by the time they reach 6th grade. Getting enough sleep can help you feel less hungry and make better choices when you eat.
How you relax also matters. Instead of sitting down and turning on the TV, you could play an active video game or take your dog for a walk. You'll give your mind a break, plus you'll be moving your body.
Better eating and exercise habits can help you get to and stay at a healthy weight. Finding healthy ways to rest and relax will help, too. And keeping a positive outlook will make it all easier. As Linda Bartholomay, LRD, a nutritionist at Sanford Health, says, "Fitness means more than having a healthy weight. Fitness is a feeling of overall wellness."
Remember that your body is growing and changing. You’ll go through growth spurts, so you might "grow into" the weight you have now as you get taller. . If you think you're an unhealthy weight and should lose weight, talk with your parents and your doctor.
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