| -3.2°C Dublin

You owe it to your children to shed pounds, get fit and le ad by example

AT the risk of offending several people I hold dear, isn't it time we called time on overweight parents?

What I mean is, isn't it time parents with serious weight problems took a long, hard look at themselves and decided enough is enough?

Despite the abundance of discussion out there about obesity, so many people wrongly think that dieting should be their main focus in the battle of the bulge.

If you're motivated enough to tackle your diet in an effort to lose pounds, I applaud you, but if you're putting in all this effort without upping your exercise levels, you're fighting a losing battle.

I'm sick of hearing excuses from people about not having enough time to exercise. It's simply not true.


If you spend an hour on the sofa at night watching TV or browsing online, guess what? There's your free window.

Personal time is certainly harder for single parents and shift workers, but not impossible. Most of us get to choose how we spend our down time: watch TV or go for a jog?

Browse the internet or pop on a fitness DVD? Sign up to Netflix or sign up to the gym? Hit the cinema on a Saturday afternoon or take the family for a big walk?

If the very thought of exercise makes you groan, think what kind of message you're sending the children.

You can hardly toss them out on the street to kick a ball if they've never seen you in a pair of trainers in their lives.

If you've decided to break the cycle and had the good sense to sign them up to extracurricular sports after school, it's certainly a step in the right direction, but it would be even more effective if the message were reinforced by your own activities.

An Oxford University study shows that moderate obesity can knock three years off your life. If your children knew they could be burying you three years earlier than they needed to, how do you think they'd feel?

If you knew you might be cheating them out of having you around, would you be more inclined to start a new exercise regime?


Convincing yourself that your life is too manic to squeeze in exercise is your first error. Let me explain. We're a typical enough family – three young kids, we both work nine to five and I also work one evening a week.

Our children do GAA on Saturdays, rugby on Sundays and the eldest trains one night a week and goes to Cubs one night a week.

So I think I could make a strong argument for a lack of time to work out.

The truth is, I go to CrossFit three times a week and my husband goes four times. We can't work out together, so he gets up at 6.15am four mornings a week (something I'd struggle to do) and is back home by 7.40am. My three classes are at 6.30pm and I'm home in time to help with bedtime stories.

We're far from the perfect family, but we aspire to keeping ourselves healthy and fit.

We've been doing this for two years and have found a way to make it work.

We're stronger and fitter than we've ever been and have completely normalised fitness for our kids. So now's the time to end the excuses. Buy a skipping rope, a yoga mat, a fitness DVD. Get a walking buddy or find a beginners' gym class.

Your children want you to live for ever. You owe it to them to at least try.