The essence of a happy family is that they truly uplift each other and that all comes down to how they treat each other. These are three really simple ways that lead to a very happy family.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian shares her strategies for a healthy family.
When you think of a healthy family, what comes to mind? Daily exercise, regular doctor visits, sugar-free snacks? While these are certainly good for you, family health also encompasses things like connectedness, perspective, attitude and healthy eating habits.
A guide to a happy family
Melissa d’Arabian is not just a celebrity chef, Food Network host and best-selling author. She is also a local busy mom of four young daughters, who shares the same passions we do when it comes to nurturing and caring for our families. With the new year upon us and the exciting debut of her new cookbook “Supermarket Healthy,” Melissa took time to share her simple strategies for a healthy family: eat together, play together and love one another.
By making a habit of what you do every morning to start your day can be affecting your family. It is not always about what you eat, it is your morning routine that is affecting you. This is how the best start their day, from waking early (and getting enough sleep) to what they eat and do to get the day started.
“I believe what we do with our kids on a daily basis matters much more than what we do once or twice,” says Melissa. “And it’s important that we associate positive memories with physical activity. I’m always thinking, ‘What will be held in my kids’ hearts as fun family time?’
”One of the things they do as a family is ride bikes to school every day. Melissa says it’s a great way to get fresh air and clean out their lungs. “My kids think bike riding is fun. No one talks about it being good exercise. We just do it.”
In addition to participating in soccer, competitive dance and the school running club, the girls go wakeboarding and surfing with Philippe on the weekends. It’s a fun way to be active together, but also builds special memories with their dad.
As for Melissa and her own exercise routine, she has discovered that the girls do what she models. When Melissa does yoga at home, they grab their mats and join in.
“Like many people, if I’m left to my own devices, I wouldn’t work out,” Melissa says. “I’m not that disciplined. My own strategy for staying motivated is to always have a secondary purpose in my workout. When I exercise with my husband, it’s together time. I’ll take a spinning class while Valentine goes to dance. Zumba class is a social event with my friends. Sometimes I run by the Coronado Bridge and pray underneath it for people who have attempted or died by suicide.” It’s an exercise that honors an issue near and dear to her heart.
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When Melissa was 20, she lost her mom to suicide. The traumatic experience helped her learn the importance of loving one another. In the 10 years that followed, Melissa emerged with a whole different set of priorities which have impacted the way she relates to her husband, kids and friends.
“I’ve learned that true joy is not reliant on outer circumstances. I enjoy it when good things happen, but I can’t tie my well-being and happiness to it.” Melissa credits the joy in her heart to her faith, family and friends. “Those are the things that really matter. I have very deep connections with people, which keep me tethered. I am able to feel comfortable even in the storms of life because I pursue joy that comes from within. When I get upset by something small, it’s a flag that I need to step back and reconnect through my faith.”
But even when life brings bigger challenges, Melissa sees it as an opportunity to model a positive attitude and perspective.
“I try to impart in my kids the habit of optimism and hope. When our escrow fell through, we were all disappointed, but we had a chance to wish for something else and recognize that God is in control. We didn’t have to let it ruin our day, week or life. We can all start over and try again tomorrow, even after we’ve had a bad day.”
Melissa is purposeful about having family time together, whether it’s building sandcastles, having game night or planning a Sunday family feast. “A week doesn’t go by without centering ourselves,” she says. Melissa calls it “systematically inserting love into our lives.” And that’s a healthy habit from which we can all benefit.
Discover how important having friends can be to your health. Having a strong network of friends and family will help you to live longer, be happier and live a healthier life. Friendship good for the heart.
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