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Shaq: Lose Your Militant Trainer

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Have you been watching Shaquille O'Neal's ABC show "Shaq's Next Big Challenge"? It's pretty interesting, not because they are or aren't taking the right tactics to help 6 overweight children lose weight. The show really seems to me like a nationally televised social study in what not to do when dealing with kids who need to make changes in their lives.

I do think Shaq's heart is in the right place, but the people he has hired to help these tweens have no clue how to think like a kid (although Shaq seems to). Or how to design a program that is sustainable after they leave the children's lives. Case in point, the gentleman charged with getting them in shape, Tarik Tyler, is nothing less than militant. He knows only one way to motivate and that has nothing to do with fun. He has the kids on treadmills, doing drills.. everything a kid probably wouldn't do on their own, but has to in this instance because Mr. Tyler is cracking the whip. The kids of course hate it and complain a lot.


Shaq finally does intervene and asks Mr. Tyler to have more "fun" with the kids. No duh! These kids, or any kids, mostly like will not continue their strict exercise program once Mr. Tyler is no longer there to crack that whip. I just don't see this kind of regimen being sustainable once Shaq and his crew are gone from their lives. I have no doubt they will lose the weight, it's a television show after all. If they didn't, that wouldn't make good TV.

But weight loss in itself is not the hard part. The hard part is keeping the pounds off. That is why we have to engage kids in activities that are doable and enjoyable to them when it comes to exercise. They can play team sports, go bike riding, play tag, dance (the Dance Dance Revolution video game is a great example), hula hoop, jump rope, jump on a trampoline, hippity hop or pogo stick, engage in good old fashioned 'play'. There are so many possibilities. Yelling them to go faster on the treadmill is not.

In the show Shaq gets them to play dodgeball and soccer which they end up loving; Because those activities are FUN! I say to Shaq, get rid of Tarik Tyler. If you are really serious about helping these kids, show them how much fun they can have just moving their bodies playing games and sports and dancing etc. Is that so hard?

Please share with me activities you've done with your kids that they liked and got them movin at the same time. The more ideas the better!

Have a fruit and veggie filled day!

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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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