Getting your kid fit: It’s a tough conversation to start

By From page B1 | May 03, 2013

I envy most people in Davis …

They’re mostly in fine physical condition. I’m not.

I didn’t grow up here, but am in my 35th year in town. Sure, early on I embraced the locals’ penchant for physical fitness — rode my bike, played softball, basketball and baseball (even tried tennis and ran once or twice).

Then life got in the way. Kids, my work, eating on the run, injuries and plain ol’ laziness.

Fortunately for my kids, my wife and I managed to provide enough of an influence that each chose a sport, stuck with it, excelled and have stayed in terrific physical condition into adulthood.

But not every kid subscribes to a sport. Not every youngster has an environment that encourages physical fitness.

We have national programs encouraging better nutrition; we have a school district that provides wide-ranging athletic participation; and we live in a community that provides more than its share of opportunities for our kids to get out and gallivant.

Yet, for many of our young women and men, something is missing. And for parents to broach the subject of losing weight to their children can be downright traumatic — at both ends of the conversation.

Recently I visited Nick Walejeski at Get Fit Davis. The drop-in was designed to get a quick update on how the Riffles are doing with their much-publicized weight-loss program (more about them in a minute).

In heading back to Nick’s office, I saw information about a summer kids’ camp, designed to help youngsters ages 9 to 18 develop better health habits and, if needed/wanted, to lose weight in a supportive environment that will include peers trying to reach the same goals.

Walejeski’s fiancée Katie Ehsan, who is a trainer and family therapist/counselor, will lead the eight-week program.

We chatted about the elements of the camp and how parents might approach their kids regarding the subject.

“It’s a tough discussion,” Ehsan told me, adding that her camp will be packed with healthy activities, interesting workouts and wellness training.

“I want to focus on girls who are struggling with their self-esteem and weight loss.”

Parents, Ehsan says, might suggest their kid invite a friend to attend: “There aren’t going to be athletic junkies next to you. These will be kids working on the same issues and needs.”

FamiliesFirst is committed to sending some of its residents to Ehsan and has been working with Get Fit Davis to reduce costs. The FamiliesFirsters have washed cars and sought donations to send as many of their clients as they can.

Meanwhile, others in the Davis mainstream have signed up for the program, which Ehsan notes will cost $250 for eight weeks.

“It’s about parent accountability (to) get your kids to live healthy lives,” Walejeski adds. “The kids will eat whatever is available.”

He suggests that parents invite their youngsters to go on bikes rides, get involved in physical activities at school or say “Hey, let’s go to the gym together.”

It’s a tough conversation in respectful fashion.

Ehsan is available to answer questions regarding the pre-teen/teen camp at 530-759-7746 or via email, [email protected].

While I Have You Here: Back to the Riffles …

The Davis couple committed to a six-month weight-loss and overall wellness program with Walejeski and personal trainer David Butterworth.

Regular check-ins have been part of Davis Enterprise advertising (see Sunday’s paper).

Now, Trish and Rich Riffles have reached the halfway point and Walejeski says, sure, he’d love it if folks were inspired to come to his fitness center and enroll, but the main reason for the out-front program is “create awareness … show that anybody can do this.”

It doesn’t matter at what level or age you start, or where you choose to do your reconstruction; Walejeski just wants folks to be healthy.

“I came here about six years ago and (Davis) embraced me,” the San Diego native told me. “Out of that sense of community … I feel a sense of community.”

The Riffles’ experience can be followed at www.getfitdavis.com.

The couple has a blog on the site and each talks about the trials we’ve all felt trying to stick with something like weight loss.

Let me leave you with Trish’s most recent, er, weigh-in …

“I’m a little nervous about this week’s weigh-in. I have exercised 4 days (good) but haven’t been eating very well (bad).

“We’ve been very busy with baseball, softball and basketball, and I have found myself being lazy and picking up quick items. I have watched how many calories they have, but they haven’t been the best choices.

“This week I’m starting a new. I’m going to alter my menus so that on the nights we have an activity, I will either do crock pot or have something quick to make at home.

“You can never go wrong throwing something on the grill.”

For the record, Trish has lost about 10 pounds, but has dumped almost 6 percent of her body fat. Rich has dropped 20 pounds and 10 percent of his body fat.

— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.

Bruce Gallaudet

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