I’m gonna be honest, parents. Being active is not my forte. I am not a guru, expert, or PhD of exercise. In fact, for most of my life I’ve described myself as “allergic” to exercise. (Unless turning the pages of a book counts.) Only recently did I realize that that post-baby body might perhaps need a slight bit of attention prior to, say, moving in at the nursing home.
So, when a friend gave our family a two-month gym membership,I thought I’d take in a few classes. Might as well get the full value of the gift. So I started attending barre class, Pilates, and OULA, and slowly but surely I started noticing results. My muscles are getting stronger, my waistline is shrinking, my flexibility is increasing, my reaction time is improving, and I’m getting nice compliments. According to my weigh-ins, I’m not sure I’ve actually lost any weight at all, but I’m absolutely healthier than I was a couple of months ago. That feels great.
And the other day I realized something really, really weird. I was literally craving my Pilates class. Like, I couldn’t wait to get in there and get that oxygen going and that natural high flowing. I couldn’t wait to get in there and start focusing on perfecting those moves.
I think something that has always held me back from exercise is the sense that it had to look like what worked for other people. I had to go running or lift weights or something like that (and UGH!). I had to do it on my own. But what I’ve discovered the past two months is that everybody has something that works for them. And the key to getting healthier is finding what works for me.
So, I discovered that a class helped me stay accountable (somebody might miss me) and ensure I fit exercising into my schedule (a set class time gives me a deadline). It also gave me access to a teacher who could answer questions and help me improve, which is pretty key for someone like myself who is not at all athletic.
The other thing I’ve learned is that it’s important to find an exercise I really enjoy. If I don’t enjoy it, I won’t do it. The exercise I enjoy most is Pilates. It requires intense mental concentration and as someone who is more intellectual than athletic, I like that I don’t have to shut off my mind; I just have to focus it. It’s also a low-impact exercise, which is great for my joint problems and bad knees.
My kids can’t help but notice my enthusiasm when I get home. Before stories and bedtime, I share a just-learned Pilates move with my daughter. She typically can execute it better than I can, but I blame that on her four years of ballet. Even my toddler has been known to catch Mom’s enthusiasm and try to get his legs in Pilates stance.
So what does it look like for you? What kind of activity can you get excited about as spring launches? Be yourself; don’t pretend to be somebody else and your kids won’t be able to help but notice.
Here are some ideas:
Do an exercise video with your kids. Challenge them to perfect those moves even better than Mom or Dad!
Get a neighborhood walking group going (or just assemble your immediate family). Leave the smartphones at home and let yourself ease out of your day. While you walk, ask your kids what their “rose” (best part of the day), “thorn” (worst part of the day), and “bud” (thing they are most looking forward to) are.
Play catch, shoot a few baskets, or teach your toddler to bat off a tee.
Walk to the ice cream shop! One summer this worked great for our family. As we had a great desire for ice cream, we managed to fit in quite a few walks.
Hike, ski, or camp. One of my friends and her husband started bringing their kids along on their adventures even when they were babies. They challenged their kids to do difficult hikes and they set goals to ski all the ski areas in our state.
Launch a scavenger hunt. This can be something organized, with specific items to look for, or it can be just giving a kid a gallon Ziploc bag and sending them out to collect interesting items from the yard. You might also try geocaching, a fun GPS-led treasure hunt.
Whatever you do to get active, let it be something you enjoy and share your passion with your children.
By Rebecca Miller, Kudoso Kontributor