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How do I get my obese son to exercise???

My 13 year old son (5'7'', about 210) refuses to exercise past PE, "fun" swimming, and martial arts classes. My husband is extremely athletic and, while I'm slightly overweight, I spent last summer training for 5Ks until I was labeled high-risk pregnant (I make no excuses, but a SAHM with three babies in four years? Keeping the weight off is hard!). No matter what we do, our son refuses to get out and jog, walk, or ride his bike for more than a few minutes -or blocks- at a time. Our family diet is pretty healthy; no soda, Twinkies, or chips here, but plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, and whole grains; but the amount of food he eats is astronomical- he sneaks constantly, even in the middle of the night. He's aware of the problem and even took a recent nutrition class, but he refuses to help himself. He also takes any negative consequences in stride. I'm not giving up. How do you move a bull-headed teenager?

Answer Question

Asked by Anonymous at 2:15 PM on Jan. 15, 2010 in Kids' Health

Answers (20)
  • What is he doing instead of playing outside/exercising? Take away the tv, video games, etc. Make it a family time - the whole family goes for a bike ride or for a jog, or even a walk after supper. I wouldn't make it a punishment, but try to make it fun. If he's into video games, maybe get him a WiiFit? Put a lock on the pantry/cabinets if that's a temptation for him.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:20 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

  • Just a couple of details: Good food choices are discussed, and we focus on portion control. We try to make exercise a family event- or at least parent-son event- and options aren't limited to just jogging, running and cycling. Also, because two blood work-ups in two years have been perfectly normal (blood sugar, cholesterol, liver enzymes), he thinks he's doing okay. :( The problem is as much about food as activity level, but if he wants to eat a lot, we need to get him exercising more!!

    Answer by robsjenna at 2:20 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

  • enroll him in a fat camp this summer?

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:24 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

  • Exercise with him, as family time. And don't stress him out further about food. It's supposed to be pleasurable and sustaining, don't give him a complex about it.

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:30 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

  • Take all the in the house toys away, computer, cell, games,tv. You might need to lock up the frig and cabinets


    Answer by louise2 at 2:34 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

  • I've debated locking up the cabinets and 'fridge, but haven't for two reasons: There are other people, including a four-year-old, who need access; and I also want to find a way to teach him SELF control. I won't be there when he's in college or out in the real world to monitor him every second, and at 13, he's old enough to self-monitor if he WANTS to. He also needs to be able to feed himself if he's home by himself for an extended period of time. It's a short-term solution. :( It feels terrible, not being able to trust my teenager to take care of himself.
    "Screen" time is limited, though I admit, I lose track of time, especially with two toddlers around; losing future TV privileges doesn't bother him. He doesn't have a TV in his room, either.
    I know what people think when they see him, and I know he feels self-conscious about his size, but he's yet to reach the point where he cares enough to help us help him.


    Answer by robsjenna at 3:17 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

  • Exercise as a family. Go for walks, play baseball, kickball, etc.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 3:48 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

  • trade in all his sitting video games in on a wii you actually have to move to play

    Answer by chica679 at 3:59 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

  • First, I'd like to say that the Wii is good in theory, but (and this doesn't apply to the Wii Fit accessories) that you don't have to get off the couch for most games. We have about 14 different games and although it's easier to stand for some, the only one it seems necessary for is boxing on Wii Sports.
    I understand wanting to teach him self control, but it's obvious that he's not getting it yet. I say the locks are a good idea. As far as when he's alone at the house, maybe get a small fridge that is just for him. Only stock it with healthy stuff.. fruits, veggies, cheese sticks, ect. or a snack drawer, and only stock it once a week. If he runs out before the week is over, then it's his fault and you will NOT refill it until the next week. That will help to teach him self control, but you will still have some control over the portions and the quality of the food. And if he likes "fun" swimming, then encourage that.. (cont)

    Answer by Megs5384 at 4:20 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

  • (cont) any activity is better than none. And swimming is a great way to burn calories and build strength. Maybe even look for a local swim team? Look for the activities that he DOES like, and build on them.
    And speaking as some one who was over weight as a teen, please do not constantly harp on him about it. It will give him a complex and only make things worse. Just keep up with what you're doing. Making exercising a family thing, controlling the quality of food that is in the home, all of that. They are good steps. hang in there mama!

    Answer by Megs5384 at 4:24 PM on Jan. 15, 2010

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