There are times in our lives that define us. Moments that either pass us by leaving us feeling defeated, or moments where we are forced to grow and strengthen ourselves. As a mother, those moments seem to come almost daily as we are faced with decisions that leave lasting marks on the littlest humans we love so dearly. With such a huge task on our hands, we are often left to use our own experiences, hoping they will provide our children with the tools we gained in our own moments of success, or strife, so that they may be equipped to handle their own challenges when they arise.
Ready to Get Fit 2015? Throughout the next few months we’ll be posting regularly about fitness and nutrition. All of us here at Daily Mom will be right alongside you, taking steps to be healthier and offering each other encouragement. Be sure you keep up with our initiative for some great tips, recipes, ideas, activewear fashion, family fun activities, and inspiration on getting fit and being healthy. And remember–this is Daily Mom so we understand the responsibilities that come with having children and families as top priorities. We are here to help each other incorporate fitness and healthy choices into our everyday life.
Being active has always been a part of my life. Like most kids, my parents happily signed me up for the usual — dance, t-ball, eventually swim team, then basketball and volleyball throughout middle school and high school. Never one to really shine in sports, which was totally okay with me, I simply had fun playing and little intention of ever taking it any further. It was a social affair in my eyes at the time, something I did to make and maintain friendships, not to really stay at work on my physical attributes. In college, it was the same. I tied fitness to my social life — hitting the running path to keep up with my collegiate track boyfriend, the gym to gossip our way through a yoga session, or the tennis courts to laugh with a good friend. It wasn’t until after I graduated, married my college sweetheart — then, newly commissioned into the Army — and experienced my first deployment as an Army wife during our first year of marriage that I truly learned the real benefits of incorporating everyday fitness and overall health and wellbeing into your life, as everything I learned from my fitness journey that year carried over into every aspect of my life. And even more so now, as a mama of two.
When my husband deployed for Iraq right before Christmas in 2008, we had only been married for six months and newly relocated quite a few states away from “home”. I had just started my teaching career and luckily had made a few new friends whose husbands were also deploying, and whose shoulders I would be leaning on to get me through the next twelve long, heart-wrenching months. In an effort to stay busy and “look oh-so-hot” for those tear-jerking homecomings, we decided to set a goal: run the Army 10-miler in Washington D.C. that following year. I had run the occasional two to three miles before, but nothing much longer than thirty minutes or so, so the thought of running ten miles was exciting, yet honestly – extremely daunting.
At first, they were just words, “Sure, I’ll run” but before I knew it, we were training. A friend and I met every evening after work at a gym to run 3-4 miles and lift weights. On Saturday mornings, we met at my house and ran the LONG runs…mile after mile. First, we signed up for a local 10k, where much to my surprise, I took home third place in my age bracket. Then, after only a couple months of training, we bit the bullet and signed up for a half marathon in Charlotte, North Carolina. Weekend Girls Trip! Just what we needed to keep our mind off of the news and all that was going on in the Middle East. It was enough to hear it in the voice of our soldier when they were able to call home (which wasn’t often); we didn’t need to hear it on the news. We definitely didn’t place in the half-marathon, but we ran a steady pace (which I can’t exactly remember) but what I do remember, was that we had fun. We laughed, moaned, and huffed and puffed the whole way through. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life. I couldn’t have been more proud of myself as I was when I crossed that finish line. We continued our training after the half-marathon, meeting every evening after work and each Saturday. We were more than ready for the Army 10 miler by the time it came around that next October, and it too was an amazing feeling to cross that finish line in Washington D.C. wearing the name of my still-deployed and very missed soldier scrawled across the back of my shirt.
We were more than ready to run that race that year, and we honestly didn’t need to do all of that training leading up to it, but we did it because we gained so much more than just a race bib and a nice, lean body. I learned not only a lot about friendship, but a lot about myself. I learned the power of endurance and pushing through the tough times, even when it would simply be easier to stop and just let go. I learned that though I felt weak at times, my body was often stronger than I had ever imagined and I only had to want it enough. I learned there is definite truth in the saying “mind over matter” and a great sense of empowerment by doing the things that scare me. I learned the amazing healing ability of mother nature and how just the act of moving your body and feeling the sun on your skin can automatically better your mood. I learned that I was capable of what I had deemed in my head at one time ‘unimaginable’: a year deployment, my first year in the classroom, and running 13.1 miles. All major fears and anxieties, all met straight on.
As a mom of two now — a three year old girl and a two year old boy — I incorporate fitness into my everyday life with my children and, most importantly, for my children. According to the American Heart Association, children’s eating and physical activity habits closely resemble that of their parents. Also, children with two active parents are six times more likely to be physically active than children with sedentary parents.
The benefits of an active lifestyle aren’t just for health related purposed, but carry over into many other aspects of life, from the way children interact with other children (teamwork skills) to the way in which they choose their various paths in life (goal setting skills).
- I run pushing 70lbs + in a jogging stroller so that both my children may come to know that endurance has no bounds.
- I wake up often before sunrise to work out so that by the time my daughter wakes, eases sleepily down the stairs, crawls up into my arms and says, “Mommy, you’re still sweaty”, she will come to understand the term ‘dedication’ early on in life.
- I lift heavy weights with a barbell resting on my back in the middle of our living room, all while my son mimics my moves with a toy broom, so that he may come to understand that with time, strength is built.
- I count my push-ups out loud with my daughter so that she will come to know that with perseverance, she can push through anything. (She loves a good push-up contest!)
- We cheer each other on as we near the end of our run so that my children understand the power of teamwork and positive affirmation.
- We walk often. We walk so that my children can be children, taking in the sights and sounds of nature around them. We walk to and from the neighborhood playground, 2 miles round trip. We walk the 2.5 mile trail around the lake with friends for fun play dates so that my children may come to understand the importance of surrounding yourself with good company.
As cliché as it may sound, I hope to be a role model for my children daily, that my love of fitness may be an example to the two bright-eyed, fearless, adventure-loving, independent children that I deeply love, that they are capable of anything they set their mind to.
Photo credits: Ashley Sisk