When Missy Chase Lapine wants to keep her daughters from sitting in front of the TV, she goes under cover. On a recent mission, she brought the dust-covered mini-trampoline in from the garage and quietly “planted” it near the set. Before she knew it, the 9- and 11-year-old girls where vying to see whose turn it was to jump while they watched.
“Leaving these things around is just a great sneaky fitness strategy,” says Lapine. And she knows a thing or two about sneaky. She is author of the bestselling The Sneaky Chef series and has now teamed with fitness expert Larysa DiDio on Sneaky Fitness: Fun Foolproof Ways to Slip Fitness Into Your Child’s Everyday Life (Running Press, 2010).
This new book came about because Lapine realized that nutrition was only half the battle, and that her kids also needed a dose of physical activity. Telling her daughters to drop and give her 20 just wasn’t Lapine’s style, so she brought her sneaky skills into the mix. The idea is to relieve the guilt parents feel over thwarted attempts to teach their kids healthy habits, and replace that with fun. “I think that we all need to lighten up a bit,” Lapine says.
Try her methods, and your family could “lighten up” in more than one sense, as Lapine claims these sneaky techniques can burn up to 400 extra calories per day, or as she calls it “the difference between a fit kid and a fat kid.”
For instance, check out activity #79: Slip and Slide. (The book, by the way, includes more than 100 activities for preschoolers, grade-schoolers and tweens.) Lapine and her daughters use this in the evenings, putting on pairs of old socks and slipping and sliding over the floors ads they dust-mop them with their feet. Dirtiest pair of socks wins, and you burn 68 calories in half an hour.
Or consider #3: Window Washer. Hand the kids some shaving cream (she gets the cheapest kind possible), sponges, squeegees and buckets and let them clean the outside of your sliding-glass doors. Lapine also likes to let her daughters clean the shower doors and tile in the bathroom this way.
Her sneaky strategies have even slipped over into her own workday. While doing our phone interview, she confesses that she’s pacing, rather than sitting. When she has to sit at the computer to write, she sometimes replaces her chair with a balance ball, or takes a break every hour to do some squats at the kitchen counter. And she uses the bathroom upstairs, rather than the one just down the hall. “Sneaky means small changes that add up to big benefits,” Lapine insists. “I really am finding I use a lot of it myself.”
Sneaky Fitness also takes a page from Lapine’s previous books, with 50 all-new Sneaky Chef recipes. The Rainbow Pancakes sneak in some protein (via hidden cottage cheese), whole grains and antioxidants (thanks to strawberry puree in the syrup). And though the recipes all sneak in the healthy stuff, Lapine says her philosophy is “sneak and teach.” This means you put the healthy food on the table in its “obvious form,” but there’s no pressure for your kids to eat it. And the hidden grains, fruits and veggies in her recipes subtly acclimate children’s palates so that they’re eventually ready to have the healthy foods come out of hiding.
Ready to give it a try? You’ll find free recipes and activities, an active blog, tips, and more info about Lapine’s books at www.thesneakychef.com.