Jul 15

8 Fun (easy) Peanut Butter Snacks for Kids (try #8 at your next BBQ)

8 fun and healthy peanut butter snacks for kids.  These fun recipes are easy for parents and fun for kids and include the long time favorites like ants on a log and new, exciting ones like peanut butter hot dogs, and banana sushi.  Fun and healthy peanut butter snacks that parents can give their kids with confidence.

1. Ants on a Log


This simple snack is perfect for the child with an active imagination.  Simple cut celery stalks into 3-4 inch sections.  Inside the stalk fill with peanut butter. On top of the peanut butter place 3-4 raisins.  You child will have fun helping create this fun peanut butter snack and enjoy pretending the raisins are little ants.

2. Peanut Butter Toast


Easy to make and delicious.  Just toast a piece bread to perfection and then slather with peanut butter. Watch it melt gently into the bread and enjoy your child adoring this treat.

3. Peanut Butter – Banana Sandwich


The name says it all.  Just slather some peanut butter on your favorite bread then slice up a banana and cover the bread.  Your child will love the sweet taste of the banana and the creamy texture of the peanut butter.

4. Banana/Peanut Butter Sushi


Perfect for introducing your child to sushi.  This is simple recipe that your children will love.  Grab a whole wheat tortilla, nutella, peanut butter, and a banana.  Spread nutella and peanut butter on the tortilla, lay the uncut banana down.  Roll the tortilla up around the banana.  Then slice into rolls.  This is a delicious snack for children and adults.

5. Peanut Butter and Apple Slices


There is something about the sweet watery taste of apples mixed with the savory sticky flavor of peanut butter that make this a favorite snack in our house.

6. Double Chocolate Peanut Butter S’mores (not so healthy)


Okay, Okay, Okay . . . this one isn’t so  healthy, but it is delicious and your children will love making it.

7. Peanut Butter and Graham Crackers


Simple but awesome.

8. PB&J Hotdog


Okay. . . this is just awesome.  If your child loves hotdogs (like mine) or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches . . . this is the perfect snack for you.  Grab a hotdog bun spread some peanut butter on it, place a whole banana inside it, and top with your favorite jelly. Try this at your next BBQ or with your kids for lunch and tell me the reaction!

Did I miss a favorite peanut butter snack of your? Share it below in the comments.

Image CreditsAmancay MaahsRoss BurtonCatherine RoyHeathere WilloughbyTowerGirlEmily CarlinRachel HathawayKitchen Life of a Navy Wife


Jul 12

12 Amazing Vacation Spots for Runners (how many have you ran?)

Planning a family vacation this summer?  Don’t let that stop you from getting a stellar family workout, hike, jog, or picture.  Here are our choices for the top 12 running trails you should visit as a family during your summer vacation!

FREE 30 Day Bleacher Workout Click Here!

1. McKenzie River Trail – Eugene, OR


A fun place for the kids to hike with bridges winding paths and plenty of hiking, biking, and running trails.

2. Appalachian Trail – Georgia


With 2,179 mils of trail you will have an easy time finding a great place to run here.

FREE 30 Day Bleacher Workout Click Here!

3. Kalalau Trail – Kauai, Hawaii

11 miles of picture perfect beach running.

4. Poison Spider Mesa – Moab Utah


11 miles of picture perfect beach running.

4. Poison Spider Mesa – Moab Utah


A beautiful 13 mile loop for the more adventurous family.

5. Tahoe Rim Trail – Incline Village, Nevada


165 mile trail with beautiful views of Lake Tahoe.

6. Alafia River State Park – Brandon, Florida


Creek crossings, ponds, swamps, and more!  A fun adventure for families.

7. Ice Age National Scenic Trail – LaGrange, Wisconsin


Green pastures and rolling hills covering a total of 1,200 miles.

8. Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Canyon Texas


120 miles long and 800 feet deep, this is the second largest canyon next in the US to the Grand Canyon. A fun and challenging place to run.

9. Shut – In Trail – Asheville North Carolina


18 mile trail with a challenging 3000 foot climb.

10. John Muir Wilderness – Bishop California


212 mile trail with inspiring views of mountains, trees, valleys, lakes, and rivers.

11. Central Park – New York, New York


With miles of trails a great place to enjoy city and fitness.

FREE 30 Day Bleacher Workout Click Here!

12. Golden Gate Park – San Francisco, CA


With so much to see and do this makes the perfect destination for families.

Do you have a favorite running destination we didn’t include?  Share it below!

Image Credits: apsbikerNicholas A. TonelliBrianRob HyndmanJeff MoserLuke LienauElliott Blackburnk.steudelmlhradioAnh DinhJim Trodel


Jul 11

What My 3 Year Old Knows About Food That Most Adults Never Learn

Kids seem to have nutrition figured out . . . that is until they start learning our bad habits.  If adults ate like children love to eat we might see different trends in health and wellness in adults.  Our 3 year old, Taz knows 6 things that most adults never figure out.

1. Children know when to stop eating! 

When they are full they stop and when hungry they eat.  It doesn’t matter if there are 20 pieces of food left on the plate or two.  Children don’t listen to social cues or an inside voice telling them to “clear their plate”.  Children listen to their bodies and are great at self regulating the number of calories they get.  This is a fact parents!  Research has been done showing that two year olds given low calorie jello as a snack will naturally eat more food later in the day than children given regular jello as a snack.  Your body knows when you have the calories you need and tries to give lots of cues to stop eating, but adults don’t listen.  We are too busy talking, watching TV, driving, clearing our plate, etc.


2. It is ok to eat just one type of food at a meal. 

Children may eat 5 rolls for dinner and not one other bite of food.  This is common for children and not a problem unless they are going days without any variety.  Keep the day or even week in perspective.  At the next meal they may eat only the watermelon.  Kids get hooked on a food sometimes and want only that food item.  As long as the food is a generally healthy food from one of the food groups (in other words not just fat and sugar) then don’t worry about it.  This is a natural occurrence and is not a problem.  Continue to offer variety at each meal, but it’s perfectly ok.


3. Children are not emotional eaters. 

They eat for nourishment not to deal with depression or anxiety.  Food is about meeting a basic need.  Children know when they are hungry that they need to eat and that is what they do.  They would never get up in the middle of the night to cry their eyes out over a gallon of ice cream.


4.   Water quenches thirst. 

Kids seem to know exactly what their bodies need and they meet those needs well.  When it comes to hydration children will drink water in response to thirst.  Too often as adults we meet that need with soda or other sugary beverages.  And often we teach that habit to our children.


5.  Its ok to not like every vegetable. 

When kids don’t like a specific vegetable they don’t eat, but they are happy to enjoy the ones they like.  Kids don’t worry about not liking specific vegetables.  It is okay to have preferences and it is also ok to leave some alone while enjoying the ones you like.


6. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not a four letter words. 

Kids eat what they like regardless of what a food is called.  After a while we are told to eat our fruits and vegetables so many times it picks up a bad connotation.   We aren’t allowed up from the table until we finish our peas.  We can’t have dessert unless we eat our green beans.  Young children haven’t had the chance to categorize all foods and deem certain ones “good” or “bad”.


Jul 01

Mastering the Family Walk (5 tips for amazing family walks)

Having children has been the excuse of many parents for weight gain in later years. In fact it has been found that women and men statistically start gaining weight at 38 and 44 respectively,  this of course coincides perfectly with the time that many parents start having multiple children.

Parents are also facing increased pressure to have fit kids, with this generation of kids being the first in history that is NOT expected to outlive their parents.  Yep, you heard that right . . . if you have children today there is a chance that they will not outlive you . . . due to . . . DRUM ROLL . . . obesity.  Below is a quote from a USDA Congressional Testimony in 2004:

In the past 20 years, the percentage of children who are overweight has doubled and the percentage of adolescents who are overweight has more than tripled. If we do not stem this tide, many children in this generation of children will not outlive their parents.  USDA

Its true kids are fatter, parents are fatter, and children may not even outlive their parents!  Fitness and health are FAMILY MATTERS it is not enough to assume that kids will make healthy choices on their own, and it is no longer acceptable for one member of the family to start a diet and exercise routine alone . . .FITNESS and HEALTH MUST BE FAMILY MATTERS.

Mastering the Family Walk

Walking a an activity that the entire family can do together.

  • An easy paced walk of 45 minutes can burn 202 calories.
  • Adults and children can both enjoy a walk.
  • It can help kids enjoy the outdoors.

Unfortunately as parents we get busy, we come home from work exhausted and tired and the last thing most of us WANT to do is head back outside with our kids who are crying or tired. In Texas it is usually over 95 degrees in the evenings during the summer and I generally have little motivation to get outside for a walk.

However, walking as a family provides a number of benefits that are hard to ignore. Zen Family Habits lists the following 5 benefits that walking as a family provides:

  1. Great exercise
  2. Nature is the best medicine
  3. Reconnect with spouse and kids
  4. Replace bad habits
  5. Engage your community/nature

With the obvious benefits it is clear that getting out with the family is a great way to exercise and spend a little time with the spouse and kids.


  1. Be patient: realize that many children can be stuck in old habits. If you do not have a habit of walking as a family then expect for the kids to throw a fit in the beginning. Don’t give in to their resistance just continue with a “family walk routine” . . . soon enough your kids will begin to understand that this is the new norm and they will begin to look forward to your family walks.
  2. Provide a healthy snack: setting aside a special treat for walk times is a great way to get the kids out the door. Now you should make it a fun and healthy snack. For our kids we give them fruit snacks or fruit leather. This works to create a positive experience for them as we walk and it also allows them to have something to occupy their hands as we walk.
  3. Have a destination: set your walks aside as times that coincide with trips to places the grocery store, a friends house, church, the movie store, etc . . . this way your kids have a destination in mind and a goal set aside for the walk. We live about a mile a Neighborhood Walmart so we usually set this as our destination and we walk there to buy milk or fruit.
  4. Make it easy on yourself: having the right gear can make all the difference. This means using a stroller that fits your family needs, is easy to push, or having the right bikes for your kids. Taz uses a balance bike which, of course, we refer to as his BIG BOY bike. This generally gets him excited to get outside and show off how big he is. We also give Taz the garage door opener and tell him it is his “job” to open and close the garage door.  This gives him a purpose and a job on the walk.
  5. Make your kids a part of the process: If your kids are ANYTHING like mine than they have a mind of their own and love to think for them selves (a good thing later in life I’m sure). To help with this “gift” we try to include Taz in as much of the decision making process involved in going on walks as we can. We stop at a park on the way home, we let him bring a special toy, we bought him a special water bottle that he can spray on himself to cool himself off with when it is warm. Each of these things helps to allow him to feel like a part of the family decision making process and helps the walk go smoothly.

Starting any sort of new routine is hard. Getting kids out of the house and in the stroller or on the bikes can be especially hard if it is new for them. Don’t fret, don’t quit, just make the process fun and enjoyable for them and let them be a part of the fun. Bring music, bring snacks, bring toys, make being outside with the family an enjoyable process.


Jun 25

How to choose the perfect DRINK for your children? (Healthy Drinks for Kids)

There are so many drinks on the market today.  Even sitting down to write this article it is overwhelming all the different options there are for hydrating your children and a parent can start to really worry and wonder if there are any healthy drink options for kids.

Below we have included a comprehensive chart that compares popular drinks for kids

But what we drink and what we feed our kids can make a big difference.  So, I hope this helps you make an informed decision regarding all the different drink options out there for young kids (and adults too).

I don’t really go into the impact of high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.  You can chose to use or avoid those ingredients, but I will more be focusing on the amount and type of calories, vitamins, and electrolytes (sodium, potassium).

First answer the following questions to help you know where to start:

  1. Age?  Infants (children under 1) should only be drinking breast milk or formula.  At this age water is unnecessary and even bad.  Children older than 1 year old should be limited to 4 to 6 oz ofjuice per day.  Children should get about 16 oz of milk per day.  Too much milk or juice may cause your child to eat less of other foods that are needed for a balanced diet.  One of my favorite resources for childhood nutrition is Texas WIC: http://texaswic.dshs.state.tx.us/wiclessons/english/nutrition/.  Water should be offered regularly throughout the day.  Avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks.  I do not recommend caffeine for children as it may impact sleep, cause anxiety or headaches.  I think it is best to limit or restrict caffeine in young children until they are old enough to understand the side effects and weigh that against the advantages.


    What NOT to do!

  2. Activity?  Are you playing at the park or beach?  The interesting thing with adults is it seems we are either exercising or relaxing.  There isn’t always a lot of in between, but with kids play can be exercise or relaxing.  It is easy enough to tell the difference.  Is your child flushed, panting, sweating… then they are exercising.  If they are mostly sitting or standing in one spot it is more like relaxing.  Sweat contains fluid, sodium, and to a lesser extent potassium.  This is a good place to start when trying to decide what you might want to drink after high sweat losses.
  3. Weather?  Extended amount of time in the heat even just sitting around can lead to sweating and possibly dehydration.  Staying hydrated in this scenario is important.  Cold weather does not mean no sweating or fluid losses, but it does mean less.  If you are outside in heat all day long it is important to replace losses from sweat, even if you are not active.
  4. Nutritional needs?  I wanted to throw this in there because every person is unique and has different needs.  If your child is diabetic, lactose intolerant, allergic to gluten, vegetarian these will all impact the types of food and drinks consumed.  For people with kidney disease potassium and sodium sometimes needs to be restricted.  A sports drink may work well for one person but may be too high in electrolytes for someone with kidney disease.  Fruit juice is great in moderation, but a person with diabetes needs to pay close attention to the amount of sugar they eat/drink.  Make sure to always put nutrition needs as a priority and talk to your doctor or dietitian if you have specific questions about individual needs.

Scenarios: What to Give Your Kids to Drink at Specific Times

Now apply the previous information into the following scenarios.  In each case our body has different needs and a different drink may be appropriate.  It is important to note that the one thing that we can’t get from the foods we eat is adequate water.  Everything else can also be found in food: sugars, sodium, potassium, protein, etc.  However, in the middle of physical activity food can weigh you down or upset your stomach.

    1. Scenario 1: Quiet day at school, cool weather, limited physical activity.  Water would be the best option here.  Sodium and Potassium needs are met through food and water will not add any unnecessary calories.  There is no need for electrolyte replacement (sodium, potassium), extra sugar, or protein.  Milk would also be a good option if they haven’t already met their dairy needs for the day.  *Just a reminder here when children drink sugary drinks it often causes them to eat less of the foods they need for a balanced diet.http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_center/healthy_eating/drink_healthy.html BEST OPTION:Water, milk
    2.  Scenario 2: Out in the heat, sweating a lot, not active.   If you are not active you don’t need to replace calories burned, so your hydration here does not need to have any carbohydrate/sugar.  Since you are sweating, your body will need extra electrolytes to replace those lost from sweating.  Water is a great option here if you have a snack to go a long with it.  Since you’re not out running around you shouldn’t have any problems tolerating a snack.  Another great option here is a flavored drink with electrolytes that doesn’t have sugar (a zero calorie sports drink or flavored water).  When the option is given between a flavored drink and water people tend to drink of the flavored drink.  If your child never seems to remember to drink enough this may be the best way to make sure they are staying hydrated.  BEST OPTION:Water, artificially flavored zero calorie sports drink (G2, Propel, etc).  If you are opposed to High Fructose Corn Syrup watch out for Powerade as it contains HFCS.3605287518_ca8e3b8619_z
    3. Scenario 3: Working out, not much sweat.  Even when it is cold and we don’t seem to sweat much we still lose fluid.  Usually if exercise lasts less than one hour water is perfect for hydration.  If exercise continues longer than an hour carbohydrate, fluid, and sodium need to be repleted.  The perfect drink in this case is a sports drink.  Soda will replace sugar, but not much sodium.  For more great information about soda and kids visithttp://www.parenting.com/article/healthy-drinks-kids  Milk is high in protein which is best after workouts not during.  Juice will replace sugar and potassium but not sodium.  Vegetable juice will replace sodium and potassium, but not much sugar.  BEST OPTION: Water for short workouts, Sports drink for longer workouts (Gatorade, V8 100%).
    4. Scenario 4: Working out with a lot of sweat.  During exercise in the heat we burn calories and lose electrolytes when we sweat.  This is the perfect setting for a sports drink.  Carbohydrate will help replace fuel lost, and the electrolytes will replace those lost in sweat. BEST OPTION: Sport drink, 100% Fruit and vegetable juice.
    5. Scenario 5: After a Workout.  The best time to replete glycogen stores in your muscles after a workout is within the first 30 to 60 minutes.  Click Endurance Sports Nutrition, 2nd Edition for a great book about sports nutrition.  High carbohydrate drink will help achieve this goal.  It is also important to consume protein within 2 hours of working out.  Low fat milk provides electrolytes, carbohydrate and protein.  Milk also provides vitamins and minerals that are good for our body.  Juice would be a great option right after workout.  It is high in sugar and will also provide several vitamins that we have an increased need for when we workout (antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin A).  BEST OPTION: 100% Fruit and vegetable juice, Sports drink, Juice, Milk
    6. Scenario 6: Vomiting Diarrhea I wanted touch on this topic as well because Pedialyte is specially formulated for the needs of someone vomiting or having diarrhea.  The electrolyte losses here are more than with physical activity.  There is also less need for carbohydrate.   In the chart below you can see how sports drinks tend to be higher in sugar and lower in electrolytes (sodium, potassium) then Pedialyte.  This drink is designed with a specific purpose in mind and is very effective for this type of dehydration.  BEST OPTION: Pedialyte

>>>Check out the Pedialyte Popsicles here!<<<<

The following chart is the nutrition content for many popular drinks all in an 8 oz portion size.  You can scan through to determine what drink is highest in carbohydrate, sodium, etc.  Once you know what you need out of your drink compare what is out there to make the best decision for you.  You will find one example of almost every type of drink so if your favorite beverage isn’t listed on there just look for something similar.  As always children are more likely to do what you do not what you say.  Show them what the best choices are out there and they will probably start to follow suit.  Happy Hydrating

K (MG)
Gatorade 53 0 14 14 0 100 30
PowerAde 74 0 18 14 0 67 34
Propel 0 0 0 0 0 76 Vit C, Vit E, Niacin, B6, Pantothenic acid
Vitamin Water 48 0 12 13 0 0 352 Vit C, B6, Pantothenic acid, Niacin, B12,Mg
Milk Varies Varies 12 12 8 107 366 Vit A, Ca, B12, B6, Mg
Choc Milk Varies Varies 26 24 8 150 418 Vit A, Ca, B12, B6, Mg
Pedialyte 17 0 4 4 0 245 185 Chloride, Zn,
7-Up 96 0 25 25 0 28 0
Coke 93 0 26 26 0 30 0 caffeine
Tea, sweet 75 0 18 18 0 5 0 caffeine
Sunny D 60 0 16 14 0 180 0 Vit C, Thiamin
Capri Sun 80 0 23 21 0 20 0 Vit C, Calcium
V8 Fusion 110 0 27 24 0 90 200 Vit A, Vit C, Vit E, Calcium
Kool-Aid 93 0 25 25 0 20 0 Vit C
Smoothie 144 0 36 34 0 38 0 Vit C, Vit A
Showing 1 to 15 of 15 entries

Image Credits: Håkan Dahlström (title text added), Kate GardinerPaul Hocksenar

Jun 24

30 Marathons that Allow Jogging Strollers (the ULTIMATE guide to running with baby)

Running with children can be a fantastic way to instill a sense of fitness and an appreciation for the outdoors.  A lot of moms and dads end up running with a jogging stroller during their training runs but it can be nearly impossible to find marathons and races that allow them.

We have put together a list of 30 marathons and half marathons that actually allow runners to run with their stroller.  You can sort by month, state, price, or race name.

Do you know of a marathon or half marathon that allows strollers?  Post it in the comments section and we will add it to the list! 

Hill Country Marathon Marathon October Marble Falls TX $70-90
Hill Country Marathon Half Marathon November Marble Falls TX $70-90
Skirt Sports Half Marathon Half Marathon June Louisville CO $95-155
Rocky Mountain Half Half Marathon August Rocky Mountain NP CO $110
Santa to the Sea Half Marathon December Oxnard CA $55-95
Run You Go Girl Half Marathon September Tacoma WA $65-95
Santa Hustle Half Marathon December Indianapolis IN $50-55
Bunny Rock Half Marathon April Chicago IL $60-80
Eugene Holiday Half Half Marathon December Eugene OR
Sisters Hald Marathon Half Marathon April Sisters OR $40-60
Hattiesburg Clinic Half Half Marathon April Hattiesburg MS
Oshkosh Half Marathon Half Marathon April Oshkosh WI $45
Irving Marathon Marathon April Irving TX $74-115
Irving Marathon Half Marathon May Irving TX $74-116
Wallis Sands Half Half Marathon May Rye NH $60-70
Camp Wannarunamileormore Half Marathon April Bald Eagle Regional Park MN $50-65
Massacre Marathon Marathon February Greensboro NC $40-60
Twin Lights Half Half Marathon April Gloucester MA $60-70
Fifty Yard Finish Half Marathon June Orchard Park NY $55-85
Den Fiesta Bowl Half Half Marathon December Scottsdale AZ $45-70
Go Girl Run Marathon April Springfield MO $60-85
Germantown Half Half Marathon March Germantown TN $45-65
New Years Race Half Marathon January Los Angeles CA $85-125
Run Bentonville Half Marathon March Bentonville AR
Run For Water Half Marathon May Abbotsford Canada $60-100
Crystal Coast Half Marathon March Morehead NC $55
Owl Roost Rumble Half Marathon April Greensboro NC $35
Run Carolina Beach Half Marathon October Carlonia Beach NC $40-80
Heros Half Half Marathon April Everett WA $55-75
Triple Lakes Race Half Marathon October Greensboro NC $40-50
Zion Half Half Marathon March Zion NP UT
Great Smoky Mountain Half Marathon September
Crawlin’ Crab Half Half Marathon October Hampton VA $60-90
Showing 1 to 33 of 33 entries


 What Months are Marathons that Allow Strollers?

As you can see from the list the majority of the marathons and half marathons on the list are in April. This is obviously a great thing because you will not need to worry as much about your baby being too hot or too cold.  April is one of the best running months due to weather.  In fact the IDEAL temperature for running is actually about 50 degrees.

With each increase in temperature of 10 degrees there is an almost exponential increase in pace per mile of the average runner.  The elite runner will be affected slightly less than the average runner. However, when temperatures reach levels greater than 85 degrees you should use caution and listen to your body. Below you will find a chart indicating the effect of temperature on race pace  . . . thus April races are a great time of year.

50 8:00 min/mile None
60 8:12 min/mile 2-3% increase
70 8:31 min/mile 6-7% increase
80 9:06 min/mile 12-15% increase
85 9:31 min/mile 18-20% increase

Benefits to Running with a Stroller: Calories Burned


There are obvious benefits to running with a stroller.  You shouldn’t automatically decide to not run with your baby because it will be more difficult . . . that is one of the benefits.  Below are some of the ways that pushing a baby stroller during training runs and races can actually be a good thing:

  • Increase muscle strength
  • Burn more calories
  • Spend time with baby
  • Get kids outside

Muscle Strength

The added weight of the stroller and the baby will actually work to increase resistance while running which will work to build muscular strength and endurance in your hamstrings and quads.  The. increased weight will provide some of the same benefits that running bleachers will as far as developing strength.

Calories Burned Pushing Jogging Stroller

Burning calories is what it all about right?  It is pretty simple to find online calculators that will estimate the amount of calories burned while running based on weight of the runner.  These alone are not 100% accurate as they do not include such physiological factors as heart rate, vO2 max, and other metabolic processes involved in burning calories.  So as long as you can keep that in mind you can make very rough estimates regarding the amount of calories burned pushing a jogging stroller by using those numbers.

So you can use the calculator below to get a general idea of how many calories you burn while pushing a jogging stroller:

Weight: put in how much you + the baby + the jogging stroller weigh

Grade: if you are running on a generally flat course just make this “0”

** This is not a science or 100% accurate number but is merely a means of providing an estimated # of calories that you can burn while running with a jogging stroller.

Spend Time With Baby

Ok I realize that for some parents this is not really a benefit as they use jogging and exercise as their alone time but for me this was always a great time to spend with my kids.  When our first son was born I would take him on multiple walks a day in our Jeep Jogging Stroller this was a great chance for me to just spend time with him and tell him stories.

Sandi also ran MANY long runs pushing Taz in the stroller.  In fact she even ran one 18 mile training jog with Taz in the rain . . . with the Jeep stroller he stayed completely dry!

>>View the Jeep Stroller Here<<

Get The Kids Outside

Running with the baby in a jogging stroller is a great way to get the kids outside at an early age. It is clear from the literature that kids are spending less time outside.

Spending time with the kids outside together as a couple is a fun way for mom and dad to organize family time together and allows for parents to train together as a couple.

Finding the Right Jogging Stroller

If you do plan to run with your child in a race than you need to make sure that you have the right one for the job. Getting a top of the line stroller can actually cost a bit but it will make the entire journey much easier.  We have written extensively HERE about find the right double jogging stroller.

So put your excuses aside.  Search the list above of the top marathons and half marathons that allow strollers and then hit the road and get going. Running a marathon with a baby will be a highly satisfying experience for the whole family.


Do you know of a marathon or half marathon that allows strollers?  Post it in the comments and we will add it to the list! \/\/\/\/\/


Image Credits: Ed Yourdon (post text added), Bill RuhsamEric Peacock


Jun 19

Playgrounds turned Ghost Towns (Why Don’t Kids Play Outside Anymore)

My workout today consisted of an 800m swim in my community pool and a short 8 mile bike ride around town.  Nothing too fancy, but during the entire time that I was out I could count the total number of kids that I saw outside playing on one hand.

In a recent study published by The Telegraph in April 2014 they found the following depressing information:

  • 1/4 of children spend less than 30 minutes playing outside PER WEEK
  • 80 per cent of parents admitted they have never taken their children star gazing or fishing
  • 60 per cent said there is now more for them to do indoors

Read the entire article HERE.

400 Acres of Parks and No Children

I live in a beautiful town in North Texas that maintains a total of 400 acres worth of parks including trails, nature preserves, pools, splash pads, and playgrounds. This number doesn’t even include the neighborhood parks and pools contained within the majority of the HOA communities within the city.

We live in a community of about 500 homes with an elementary school and playground and a community pool perfect for swimming.  We generally head over to the pool somewhere between 7:30 – 9:30am.

Here’s the kicker . . . we have only ever seen 1 other person in the pool with us.

During my 8 miles ride today I went through the largest park in town, past my neighborhood pool, through a green belt, and through 2 other neighborhood parks.  During this ride the number of children that I saw could literally be counted on one hand.  I did see several elderly couples walking or feeding the ducks.

So, Where are All the Children

Retro photo of Far west town

It is summer in Texas which means all the children are out of school but it also means temperatures are warm.  In North Texas the summer temperatures in June reach about 95 degrees in the early afternoon.  In the morning time the weather is only in the upper 70’s.  Getting out in the morning is the best time in this area to avoid the heat . . . so weather is a poor excuse for not being outside in the mornings.

There are approximately 30,000 children under the age of 18 in our town.  Where are they? They have parks, they have money, they have time, they have the weather . . . but they aren’t going outside.

“The inactivity—particularly of outside, large-muscle, physical activities—is being replaced by other things.  It’s not like kids who are inactive are sleeping all the time. But it’s a lot more sedentary activity, like watching TV or playing [on a] computer. That is a double whammy because not only are they not getting the large muscle activity that they used to get when they were outside playing all the time, they’re doing something else, and that’s a cultural thing, not just a physical thing.”

-William Kull, president of the Red Apple Foundation

This 2008 study found that not only were children spending less time outside but that there was also a change in culture occurring in our society inciting them to spend less time outside and more time on indoor activities.

Nature Deficit Disorder

Author Richard Luv has dedicated his career to the study of “research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults”. You can find his book:“Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder” HERE.

“Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience nature has changed radically. The polarity of the relationship has reversed. Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment—but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. That’s exactly the opposite of how it was when I was a child.”


So how do we get our kids back outside and prevent them falling victim to “Nature Deficit Disorder”? Three simple actions will make the difference and start the role getting our kids back outside and fill our parks once again.

  1. Example
  2. Mandates Unnecessary 
  3. Fun is Key

These suggestions come from a 2009 study published by Heartland.org where they studied the responses of 60,000 children ages to 6 – 17 regarding physical activity.  You can view the article here (this is where the quotes below come from).


Parents can set an example for their children.  The researchers did not notice a decline in adult activity and thus suggest that parents should bring their kids along with them when they are outside:

“By instilling a love for outdoor recreation in youth, parents and role models not only help their children immediately but also set a long-term precedent for a healthy life.  The decrease in outdoor activity has accompanied an increase in obesity, ADHD, and depression. Outdoor recreation has been shown to improve achievements both in education and in health.”


Mandates Unnecessary

The researchers argue that government mandates will not work in improving or increasing outdoor activity.  While awareness campaigns can aid in increasing public knowledge of obesity and other associated outcomes of a sedentary lifestyle making a rule and expecting children to just fall in love with physical activity will not work.

“They think they’ll just make a rule and people will fall in line. That’s not the way it works. You have to motivate people, and that’s a tougher challenge.”


 Make it Fun

Introducing children to outdoor activities in a way that makes it fun will aid them in desiring to continue to go outside.  This is not the job of schools and should be done at home.  If schools mandate situps and jumping jacks (which aren’t fun for kids) than kids may stop wanting to be outside.  Instead try some of these fun outdoor games for kids or these pool games to help kids love playing in the pool.

Try simply taking your child on a nature walk, play rescue games or princess games with your kids.  Go outside and look at the stars.  Its not a science . . . its just being outside that counts.

“Kids are outside because it is fun, not necessarily because it’s good for them. The fun habituates them to a healthier long-term lifestyle.”



Motivating Your Friends to Take Their Kids Outside

As a reader of SimpleFamilyFitness you already know how important it is to be outside with you kids you are already a fit mama or daddy.  The important this is to just relax and have fun.  Don’t use your children as an excuse for not being outside  . . . instead use them as a catalyst for being outside more.  Not only will it keep your house cleaner but it will prevent obesity, wear them out, and build a new generation of children who love the outdoors.

Do you have friends who don’t take their kids outside?  Try these tips to get them outside:

  • Join or start a Facebook group for moms and dads that posts activities for kids
  • Post your activities on the SimpleFamilyFitness Facebook page to motivate others
  • Google search “activities for kids in  . . . ” with your city name
  • Invite them to your community park for a picnic
  • Take them to the Zoo
  • Find a splash park and invite them to play

Generally speaking people want to be active and enjoy being outside.  Inspiring others by simple invitations can be enough to get them moving and outside.

Do you have tips to get your friends or tips for keeping you kids moving?  Share them below.

Image Credits: Matt WierPostdlf


Jun 13

8 Pool Games for Kids and Toddlers

What would summer vacation be without the pool?  When I think back on my childhood and the summers between each new school year my mind is full of memories spent in the pool. Kids love playing in the water and love being in the pool.  Our kids can play in the pool every day and here are some fun pool games that our kids enjoy playing.  For other outdoor activities for kids read this here.

Swimming is the perfect way to encourage kids to explore outside and to put down the ipod and TV remote.  Getting in the pool is fun for the child and promotes healthy activity with the child even knowing they are working out.  Added bonus for parents . . . it’s a great way to work on your tan and stay cool in the hot summer months!

  1. Marco Polo – obviously a list of summer swimming pool games for kids would be incomplete without including the classic game of Marco Polo.  If haven’t ever played . . . it’s simple.  One person is chosen to be “it”.  They must close their eyes and count to 10.  They then keep their eyes closed and start moving around the pool searching for the other players saying “Marco” to which the other players must respond with “Polo”.  If a player is underwater when Marco is said than they do not have to respond.  “It” must find the other players with their hands and when another player is found they become “it”.   Other variation include allowing players to step out of the pool.  “IT” can say “fish out of water” and if a player is out of they pool they become “it”.
  2. Torpedo – I love this game!  Again a player is chosen to be “it” they stand on the other side of the pool with their back to the other players.  Each player picks a number from 1 – 5 and IT says “Torpedo 1″ or 2,3,4, or 5.  If they call a number that a player has selected that player tries to swim across the pool without the “IT” hearing them.  If IT turns around and sees a player moving they try to catch them before they get to the other side of the pool and become IT.
  3. Colors – this game is very similar to Torpedo except that IT stands on the same side of the pool with their back to the other players.  IT calls out colors.  If they call a color that a player has selected that player begins to swim quietly across the pool trying not to be detected by IT.  If IT turns around and notices the player swimming, they try to catch the player. If IT turns around and no players are swimming they must take a step away from the pool.
  4. Animal Jumping Game –  this is a really fun game tat I haven’t really ever seen anyone else play. It is very simple. Players line up outside the pool and jump in one at a time.  Once they jump another player in the pool calls out an animal.  The player who is jumping must try to mimic that animal prior to landing in the water using their best acting skills. It is a pretty hilarious pool game that kids of all ages can enjoy from about 3 or 4 years old up to adults.20140613_101718-e1402688212406
  5. How Long Can You Hold Your Breath? – this swimming pool game is best for kids about 5 years old and up.  You simply get in the pool and have everyone go under the water and try to hold their breath longer than everyone else.  The last player to come up out of the water is the winner.  Make sure that kids who play are not afraid of water and wise enough to come up before they get too out of breath.
  6. Diving For Treasure – this summer pool activity is pretty easy to play you just need swimming pool or diving rings for kids to jump in a gather.  Anything will really work for this, but you can buy them HERE. You just toss the rings in the pool and kids go after them.  The child who gets the most rings is the winner.
  7. Whirl Pool – Wave Pool – kids love this game – they simply move around in the pool or jump up and down to create waves after a couple minutes especially if they use pool noodles or other floaties. I used to love playing this every summer in my parents pool as a child growing up in California.
  8. Noodle Joust – just buy a couple pool noodles for a couple bucks HERE toss them to the kids and let them wack each other. Obviously this game is best for older kids who are used to playing a bit rough.

Other fun pool games include races across the pool, hand stand contests under water, basketball or water volleyball, and playing tag or chase.  We used to play freeze tag in the water and to get unfrozen you had to swim under the frozen persons legs. Another fun games for older kids is belly flop contest. . . not for the faint of heart but a LOT of fun!

What pool games did you used to play or what games do your kids love playing?


Jun 11

10 Running Games for Kids to Get Them Off The Couch and in the Yard

It seems that children, by nature, tend to love being outside and playing.  However, as they are introduced to video games, tv, music, naps, ipods, etc . . . they tend to set being active and outside to the side and start to embrace a less active lifestyle.  Helping children to again love being outside and running can be pretty easy and in general is simply a matter of the parents actually taking the kids outside. We have discussed the role of parents in creating healthy habits in children here. Below is a list of 10 running games for kids that parents can use to help their children love the outdoors and begin to embrace running.

For a fun read regarding the importance of helping kids embrace nature and outside play check out this book: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Defect Disorder, By Richard Louv it is an insightful and informative read on the topic and will help to encourage parents to implement outdoor and running games for kids.  Read it for free HERE on Google Booksor BUY here on Amazon.

10 Fun Running Games for Kids – From Couch to Yard

  1. Red Rover – this simple “old school” game can be played with children of all ages but you will need at least 6 children or so to actually make the game work. To play set up two lines of kids standing parallel to each other, clasping hands.  One line says “Red Rover Red Rover Send _______ on Over”.  The childs name that is called leaves their line and runs full speed at the other line and tries to break the chain of clasped hands in the other line.  If the child does not break the chain, they become part of that line.  If they do break the chain, they go back to their line and select a player from the other line to join their team. This is a fantastic game for all ages.  Taz played at 2 years old with his older cousins and had a fantastic time. Though the kids are not running the entire time they are outside and do have to run intermittently.
  2. Tag – Everyone loves tag.  Kids seem to be able to play tag without ever stopping.  To play simply choose one child to be “IT” they run around and try to tag the other children.  When a child is tagged, they become “IT”
    1. Freeze tag – this is a variation of tag where those who are tagged must freeze and are not able to move until another child unfreezes them by tagging them or going under their legs. The “IT” child wins if they are able to freeze all the children.
    2. Shadow tag – Shadow tag is really the same as tag except that instead of tagging the person the “IT” individual tags the childs shadow.  Tag is a great running game as it is really an endless game that requires a lot of running for the child and can really wear out an active child.
  3. Capture the Flag – a great organized way for kids to play this game involves two teams with separate sides and forts.  Each team has a flag (this can be a shoe, shirt, or anything small).  Teams try to get the flag from the other side without being tagged.  For more detailed rules click here. Children do have to run a lot in this game so it is good to help kids begin to enjoy playing outside.
  4. Relay Games – this is where parents can really use their creativity.  Find a large field, bring some toys and create games for kids that require running. Wheel barrow races, water balloon toss, obstacle course, etc . . . really parents can use their imagination all you really need to do is set very loose ground rules that include running or jogging, and allow the kids to use their imaginations to run and burn energy.  This is a good way to introduce children to running without them even knowing it.


    Taz Playing Baseball

  5. Soccer – the important thing about playing soccer with kids is that at first you don’t stick to closely to the rules.  Just bring a cheap soccer ball (or any ball) for that matter and let them practice kicking.  They will learn how to run and develop coordination all at the same time. We were shocked the first time we actually gave Taz a soccer ball and let him go loose at the park.  He took off! It was as if he always knew how to play. You can pick up a ball for a couple buck at Walmart or Academy Sports.
  6. Red Light – Green Light – a great game for younger children.  It works best if an adult is able to play and kindof lead the game.  The person who is it stand with their back to the other kids.  They turn their back to the kids and say Green Light allowing the kids to take steps toward the IT person.  The IT person turns around at any time and says RED LIGHT.  The kids must stop moving. If the it person notices movement the child must go back to the starting line. A child wins if they make it all the way to the IT person.  This does not involve an enormous amount of movement but will help kids develop an interest in movement games.
  7. Kick the Can– Kick the can is an amazing game for kids and adults alike.  It is best played with older kids and at night.  Rather than try to exlpain this fun game I will refer you to this website here to read the rules. This game involves a lot of movement and running and kids will really enjoy it . . . I still do!
  8. Races – I realize this is pretty generic but kids love to race.  They love to win and they can all be taught how to lose graciously. You can get creative as a parent and build fun racing courses or just race specific distances.  You only need 1 child for this and can have them race the clock or you can have a lot of kids play.  If you buy a cheap set of cones you can set up little racing courses and require the kids to bear crawl, army crawl, run backwards, etc . . . at each cone and time them one at a time.  I have always been amazed at how easy it is to get kids running when you make it a race.DSC_0338-e1402492147690
  9. Duck Duck Goose –  this running game really needs no introduction.  I will say that if you are playing with younger kids (under 4) I have found that it is important for parents to just let go of the rules and let the kids have fun running and playing together.
  10. Sardines – sardines is like reverse hide and go seek that is way I included it on this list.  Rather than just one person hunting for everyone – everyone hunts for one person so there is much more running by everyone.  Younger children can play this game but I have not tried playing with anyone under about 5 years old.
  11. Go to a Track, Baseball, or Soccer Fieldokay I guess you get a bonus game – we have talked in other posts about how important it is that parents bring their kids with them when they go running.  This may sound oversimplified but I have experienced it time and time again with my own kids, nieces and nephews, and friends kids that to get kids out and running all you really need to do is provide them with the space.  They will develop their own games they will use their imagination and they will run and play.  Just find a park with a nice field and let the kids go wild.

If these games are incorporated into a childs life at a young age they will become habit and kids will begin to seek outside time to be able to play.  However, if you are just starting out or trying to help a couch potato child learn to love the outdoors . . . just be patient.  Don’t give up after just trying one game.  Start with one game and move on if your child doesn’t enjoy it.  Just get them outside and be patient as they learn to run and play.  It is just like teaching them to like new foods.  Provide the opportunity and let them develop their preferences.

What Running Games do You Play With Your Kids?

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of every running game out there for kids. But this is a nice range of games for various groups and ages.  The important thing is to get outside and try these games today.   If the weather is bad you can play some of these games indoors too.  Remember, the important this is to spark the interest in fitness and activity.


May 20

Every Kid IS Different BUT They ALL Like Vegetables (6 things parents screw up when their kids are born)

As children our taste buds are more sensitive, and so many foods are new in flavor and texture for little ones.

They have every reason to be hesitant around new foods while they are learning and growing. However, this is not an excuse to give up on a seemingly picky eater. Children do need time to accept new foods, but by 2 or 3 years old if you are introducing a variety of good foods repeatedly and choosing good foods yourself they will like a good variety of foods.

They may not like everything, but they will like a lot more than you might have thought. If your children won’t eat ANY vegetables there is a good chance there were things you should have done differently when they were growing up. . . . and you can start doing some of these things now to reverse their tastes.

Taz first impression of vegetables was not favorable. Now, 3 years later he loves them!

Taz first impression of vegetables was not favorable. Now, 3 years later he loves them!

  1. Introduce vegetables before you introduce fruit. When you are first introducing solids to a 4 to 6 month old start with vegetables first. Let them try all the vegetables before you start adding fruit to the diet. If they only take a couple bites then start spitting it out, don’t force it. Try some more vegetables, and continue to re-introduce the one they didn’t like. There is no reason to worry about quantity of food or to rush this process. You will still be either nursing or giving formula at this time so they will be getting all the nutrients they need.
  2. Offer baby foods multiple times. If there are certain vegetables that they aren’t as interested in as infants continue to offer the vegetable over and over. Don’t ever give up and black ball a food. Just because they don’t like a food initially doesn’t mean they won’t with time. Mix with fruit or rice cereal and continue to introduce. Do not force, but continue to introduce each week.
  3. Offer whole vegetable multiple times. If your baby didn’t like sweet potatoes from a jar no matter how many times you tried, still try a sweet potato when baby graduates to whole foods. Just as you offered baby food over and over, the same process needs to be followed when introducing the actual vegetable. Textures will be completely new, and they may love pureed peas but hate the actual pea because the texture is new.
  4. Offer at least 10 times, in the same way! A food needs to be introduced upwards of 10 times before you give up. It is very important that it is offered the same way each time, and not mixed in a casserole or other form etc. New foods take time to get used to and kids are learning about the entire food world all at once. You do not need to force a child to try the food item every time, but have it at the table and put some on your child’s plate.
  5.  Model behavior. If you won’t eat it they won’t either. It is very important that you are offering fruits and vegetables with every meal. They need to see you eating the foods on the table. If you never eat them they will pick up on your food aversions. If you don’t eat vegetables then the first place to start is with yourself. Allow yourself to try some vegetables you haven’t tried in years. Try the food several times, and try preparing a different way then you had it as a child.
  6. Don’t tell your children they must finish everything on their plate. You can ask them to try everything at least once, but food shouldn’t be forced. Parents should choose the WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE of meal times and food. Children should choose HOW MUCH and IF. Follow this rule and your children will have a great nutrition start. Young children naturally eat the number of calories they need each day. As they grow and are distracted with TV and forced to finish everything on their plate they quickly learn to ignore internal cues for satiety (the full feeling). Once we get good at ignoring the full feeling, it is so easy to overeat.

Children are so impressionable when they are young, and they roll we play in the first few years has lasting impacts. Help your children start with a strong nutritional foundation. Helping them like a variety of foods will make easy for them to eat a diet full of all the vitamins and minerals they need. It is never too late to start. If your children are older, focus on the last three suggestions to help them expand their food preferences. And most importantly, if you are a picky eater… start with yourself!