Ever wonder why most group instructors or trainers end classes or sessions with deep breathing?
No, we're not finding ways to waste those last few minutes! Well, ok, sometimes.
We're usually doing one of two things or both:
- Trying to elicit a stress release response
- Teaching you HOW to breathe
Now the first you probably understand. Afterall, the stress relief benefits of yoga and meditation, both forms use structured breathing patterns, have been well studied and documented for years. Its one of the reasons they're used in anger management classes, corporate settings, and even for those confronting debilitating and life threatening disease. Deep breathing helps you to relax, pause and gather your thoughts so you don't act out or allow you to feel what you're going through recognize it for what it is, not MORE than what it is, and let it go, come up with a plan or continue on. Makes you want to seek out a yoga class, right?
The second, you may find silly. Afterall, we were all born knowing how to breathe right? Of course, or we'd all be dead! But are you really breathing?
Most Americans don't use all their lung capacity to breathe. Our rushed lifestyle, also has us rushing to breathe. So we only use the upper lung lobes to take a full breathe. The problem this elicits is a decreased oxygenation of our blood and muscles. Why is this important? Well, breathing, oxygen, is what keeps us alive?!
Don't believe me, think about your day. As the day progresses, do you find yourself getting sleepier, less productive, more easily distracted? Most of us refer to this as our 3pm slump. Its when a lot of us turn to coffee, chocolate, carbs or some sugary treat, as a pick-me-up. Trouble is, those things will only leave you more tired once the initial rush passes. But WHY do you feel so tired at late afternoon? Sure you're busy, may have had interupted sleep due to a cranky or sick child, or have been poorly fueling our bodies. But you also may be breathing shallower as the day goes on.
As the day progresses, the stress, things that NEED to get done, rushing from here to there, meetings, etc also build up. And although we may be handling it all well, our bodies feel the stress and rush we're under and we breathe shallower. Think about it, when was the last time you took a deep breath? I'm sure you're thinking about it now as I write this. But before you were thinking about it were you really breathing?
A deep breath should cause our belly button to go in and out, our shoulders should lift and fall slightly, it should be slow and controlled. The more oxygen we get to our muscles and into our blood, the more effective we can be in all we do and the more alert.
Give it a try. Yes! Right now!
Place your hands over your belly button.
Relax your shoulders and close your eyes.
Breathe in for a count of 3-5 and breathe out for the same count.
Feel your belly button and shoulders slowly rise and fall.
Don't rush the breath, just slowly inhale and exhale.
Do this for 5 breathes or 2 minutes.
Notice how you feel. Is your mind clearer? Do you feel less tired? Are you ready to tackle the next task?
Deep breathing has many health implications and can serve to help you reduce stress, increase alertness, improve posture, stimulate digestion and toxin release, relieve pain, sleep better, lower blood pressure, improve circulation and make you feel better, happier, more capable.
So next time you feel tired, stressed, overly angry or emotional, frustrated or are just really busy, pause and take a few deep breathes. You'll find you're more able to tackle the situation at hand, more energized and healthier!!!
Its been a long day. You're tired, frustrated and just want to forget about the day or week you had. The last thing you're thinking about are your health, weight and fitness goals. As a matter of fact a cold beer, glass of wine, a slice of cake, a tub of ice cream, a plate of french fries, anything fried or covered in cheese, sounds really good right now. After all, you DESERVE it right! After the day or week you've had, right?
But do you really DESERVE it?
Sure those things will taste great and there's a reason you reach for them. They're comfort foods. They immediately send off those happy endorphins that make you "feel" relaxed, due to the emotional response you have to them.
Then reality sets in, as you stare at the empty fry plate, the grease coagulating on the plate, the empty ice cream tub, the hang over the next morning, or the bloated, overly full, heavy feeling you get from eating foods that have little nutritional value and just sit in your gut. "What have I done?"
You were human. You thought that after a bad day or bad week, that you DESERVED to "treat" yourself. But were you really treating yourself or were you just beating up your body some more? Thing is, you didn't know better. Its what you've always done when encountering a bad day or what most people you know when having a bad day. There's a reason we say TGIF, "I need a drink." or "Its 5 o'clock somewhere." Food = comfort and after a long, stressful day or week, we seek comfort and most of us can find it in food.
We do it in good times too. Celebrations after races = cake or something involved. A tough workout accomplished = 500+ calorie smoothie from the juice bar. Completed all your workouts that week and ate well = a "cheat" day or meal.
The thing is, our bodies don't "DESERVE" it. Lets be honest, that's just what we tell ourselves to justify the guilty pleasure.
What our body really DESERVES is good, real food free of artificial colors, preservatives, saturated fats, sugars, GMOs, antibiotics and hormones.
What our body really DESERVES is to move, to be used to its fullest capabilities, to be challenged.
You can get the same endorphin release from a heart pumping, challenging workout as you can from eating your "comfort" food. That same endorphin release can happen over laughes with friends at a movie or game night. Those endorphins can help release the stress of a hard day or week, through prayer, connections with family, participation in your community and being of service to others.
Thing is food, comfort food, is a real big draw and its easy to turn to when times are tough, when we feel down, alone, beat up or scared. But you can break the habit, because do you really "DESERVE" it, or do you just want it? Will it really help you feel better or reach your goals or will it only add to the guilt, loneliness and failure you may already be feeling?
So before you indulge in that "DESERVED" drink, sweet treat or cheat meal, think of what you could do that your body really deserves and that would make you feel equally as good without the guilt. Then next time, when you think you "DESERVE" that ........., do the alternative you've planned out. Afterall, a few laughs with friends or a group sports activity can feel equally great and up lifting!
I always love the start of school, and not just because my kids go back to school now and life returns to some semblence of normal. (What exactly is "normal" anyway?!) But just like the new year, its the opportunity to start again. A clean slate. A new notebook without a single page written upon. The possibilities of what the year will unfold.
As my children start school one week from today, YAY!!!, we've started to discuss what they think this year will hold for them. What will they learn? Which teacher will they get? What subjects will be their favorites? What activities do they want to participate in? When you think about it, we're asking them questions so they can formulate their goal. What do they want to achieve this year?
Its the same thing we should be asking ourselves. If you have school age children, the start of the school year is the perfect opportunity for you to evaluate your own goals.
"Ya, ya, ya, I hear ya."
"Set a goal. Ok."
"Know where I'm going. Gotcha."
But no, that's not it at all. Why do most people fail to achieve their goals? Why are most New Year's Resolutions broken in the first 6 weeks of the year? Why do most exercise and diet plans fail? Its not because people don't have a goal. Its not because they don't know where they want to get to. And its not because they're not talented enough, have enough willpower, have the knowledge, have the support, have the money, insert your excuse here. Its because they don't really believe its possible.
Most people have failed at their goal before. Most people have been told that dieting doesn't work, that they're not good enough, that it can't be done, etc. And after being told that enough, you start to believe it, especially if you've failed at your goal before.
Now, other people don't come right out and tell you that you won't achieve your goal. They'll cover it up with humor, "Ya, let me know how that works out for you!" They'll slyly sabotage your efforts, "One cupcake won't kill you." They list the difficulties of how it can't be done. "Oh, I tried that and it was hard! You'll never get a job where...." But is this the truth, or is that their own fear speaking.
Change is hard, even if its not them who is doing the changing. And setting a goal, means you're willing to change your behaviors, change your beliefs to reach that goal. So setting the goal is the easy part, but changing the belief that you can actually ACHIEVE that goal is where the work begins, and where achieving that goal finally becomes a reality.
So here's what you're going to do:
- Set a goal. Any goal. But make it something that is meaningful to you. Don't think about how you're going to achieve it. Just write it down.
- Think about your goal. Close your eyes and visualize what you look like when you achieve your goal. Where are you? What are you wearing? Who are you talking to? What time of year is it? How do you feel?
- Write a letter to yourself. Write it in the first person. Write it from the future, dated the date you'd like to achieve your goal by and write it as though you've achieved your goal and you want to let your present self know what lies in store for them.
- Now post that letter where you can read it daily.
Here's what will happen. You'll start to believe it can happen. And you'll start to make the changes necessary to make it happen. You'll have the strength, courage and motivation to take the steps you need to take to make that goal a reality. Other people won't be able to sway you or convince you other wise, because you've already seen the outcome, you've written it, you've felt it. And you want it to happen!
A Harvard study I read recently looked at a graduating class and asked them what they wanted to achieve after graduation. 90% were unsure of what they wanted to achieve aside from success. 8% had a goal in their mind of what they wanted to achieve. 2% had a goal in their mind and had it written down on paper or a vision board. The 90% went on to be successful and have good jobs. (They were Harvard grads afterall!) The 8% went on to be successful, have good jobs and were making 5 times what the other 90% were making. The remaining 2% were at the top of their fields, having achieved their goals and much more and were making over 10 times what the rest of their graduating class were. The only difference, they were crystal clear about what they were going to achieve. They didn't have all the details figured out, but they knew they would be a success and no one could convince them otherwise! Sure they had setbacks at times, we all do, but they had seen their success, and so they found their path to making it happen.
And you can do the same.
So as the new school year starts, buy yourself a new notebook or bulletin board and dream up your goal. Think about it, Visualize it and Write it down! Then watch how your actions, behaviors and attitude start to change to allign you to reaching your goal.
Want some extra motivation, share your goal with me in the comments below, my Facebook group: www.facebook.com/BeYourBestPersonalTraining or on email: firstname.lastname@example.org and find additional support to help you reach your goals! Because it is POSSIBLE!
I often find it funny when my clients give me the double take because I've told them to take a "rest" day. Or when my Mommy Recess clients, give a big exhale of relief at the end of class when I tell them to take a moment for themselves and just breathe.
Taking time in your day, your week, your workout routine to rest, relax and recharge is just as equally as important to your health as your exercise and healthy eating plan. Its those rest days that allow you to repair all the damage to your body from stress and intense exercise that you've done all week. Sleep is part of your body's daily "rest", repair and recharge cycle. Studies have shown that the average adult, needs 7-9 hours of sleep daily (Are you getting enough?!) to adequately repair from the stress and damage of the day. Your body, brain, organs, hormones and muscles need to repair, rest, so you can start the next day at your optimum.
Ask any mom with a newborn about the effects of sleep deprivation and they can provide you with a list a mile long: trouble concentrating, increased hunger, irritablility, mood swings, increased cravings, decreased balance, decreased motivation, increased fight or flight reactions, weight gain, etc. And all these things are supported by science. Your body needs to rest to work at its best.
Not only do you need to rest, but you need to find activities that help your body, mind and soul recharge. You know those things you could do for hours. Those things where when you're doing them, you suddenly look up at the clock and hours have passed. Those things that make you smile, inside and out. That just feel GOOD!
Those activities recharge your body. They give your mind a rest, as you can just "do" them. And they're different for everyone. For some its a hike or a vinyasa yoga session. For others its reading a good book or painting. The list of possibilites is endless. They are as different as the individuals who do them. But the key is that they are done for the pure enjoyment of doing them. There is no desired outcome, no specific need to do them. They are the activities that fill your heart, spirit and soul with joy.
There are far to many "to dos" on our plates each day. Things that we begrudgingly "have" to do. There are far too few moments of pure joy in our lives, but that shouldn't be. During those rest days, that time taken to repair your body, take time then to also recharge your soul. Chat with a girlfriend, go to Sunday services, sing like no one is watching, lose yourself in a movie and pjs. Take time, schedule time, to recharge, body and soul, finding joy in an activity you love.
You'll come back able to tackle your week, your work, your exercise and nutrition goals. That same relaxation response you get from taking a vacation, except this is a weekly mini-vacation! You'll be a better mom, wife, co-worker and a healthier person. Resting and recharging has been shown to lower your blood pressure, disease risk, hormone levels, heart rate, decrease depression, and many more things. Its not a luxury, it is essential to your well rounded health.
So, if you need to, take it as a homework assignment from your trainer. (My clients love it when I give them homework!) :) Each week take a day to rest, to find an activity that recharges your body and soul. You have your trainer's permission.
I'd love to hear from you! What activities do you do for pure enjoyment? What do you do that fills your heart and soul with joy, recharging you for the days ahead? How do you spend your rest day?
There comes a point as mothers that our children are competing in sports. Often times we act solely as chauffer and cheerleader. Ushering them to practice and games. Making sure they have their required gear and physicals. We sit on the sidelines taking pictures and cheering them on.
But there is also a point, when our children want to start participating in sports we currently participate in or that we used to participate in. Its only natural afterall. We love or once loved a certain sport. They see that and want to participate in something that makes you happy. And with that comes new challenges. Challenges that were not seen by previous generations of women. Afterall, lets be honest here, women competing in sports through high school and college and even at the professional level is a relatively new thing. Yes, there were those few sports, cheerleading being one, that were female dominant, but most women didn't go to college and continue to participate in sports like they do now. We now have scholarships and NCAA rulings, all female races and professional teams made up all of women. There may even be the first professional NFL female referree shortly (she's on the short list for the 2013/2014 season and is currently helping the Lions with their pre-season camp). So navigating the role of mother, competitor and potentially coach is a new challenge mothers of today face.
I'm very fortunate to have had the honor of competing with a lot of "family" teams in the races I compete in. Father and son, father and daughter, mother and daughter and it always seems to be a joyous event. They all get to share time together, training and competing. Having recently completed my first triathlon with my oldest daughter, it was great to see her out on the course and to cheer her on as we passed each other. But there are also challenges to that. What role will you take in their development in their sport?
We've seen father's take a role in their child's sport development as coach. Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters being two that come readily to mind. We've seen mothers search out the best coaches for their children. Michael Phelps' mom and Gabby Douglas' mom come to mind. But where will you stand? What will your role be as your child competes in sports? Mom the Cheerleader? Mom the Coach? or Mom the Competitor?
I recently had the honor to watch a friend, who has raced for years with his son, get surpassed by his son's talent. The son is now beating his father at races. It was a wonderful moment and one that both cherished and I'm sure discussed for days! I'm also sure it was one they prepared for. Training together, cheering each other on, pushing each other to be better. Now granted, the child is a high school athlete, so you can do that. I would not recommend such fierce competition with a younger child. And both genuinely wanted each other to succeed. To be their best competitor. They shared knowledge and training. They encouraged and pushed each other to be better than they could be alone. And there was no discouraging or trash talk. Just two athletes competing to be the best they could be. A father and son team, though competing as individuals.
I also recently spoke with a friend about the role she's taking in helping to coach her daughter with gymnastics and swimming. We discussed how difficult it can be to coach your own child. You're always together. There is no rest or break. And as parents, we often think we know how hard we can push our children. We expect more of them than others would. We test their limits, their patience, their behavior and are embarrassed, especially if we're coaching them with a group, when they don't do as we think they should. Its all normal. They are our children afterall and we do know them better than most coaches, but that doesn't always mean we're the best coach for our child.
Some parent/child teams excel. There is an additional level of trust and communication that exists between the pair. There is a desire to do what is best for each other, no matter the outcome (this can serve as a positive and a negative). The fact that so much time is spent together, creates a lasting bond and memories that are priceless.
Then there is the opposite. When the parent wants the child to participate in the sport more than the child does. When the parent thinks the child is capable of something that is currently beyond their skill level and pushes them harder and faster than they should. When the pressure of meeting the parent's expectations is too much for the child. When there is fear that by failing, losing or giving up that the child will no longer be loved. Those things can break a parent/child bond for years and take a lot to rebuild.
Then there is the sideline parent we discussed above. Not the parents we read about in the headlines who put down the other team, cause fights with other parents, coaches, referrees and even children. But the parent, the mom, who just wants to watch their child enjoy the journey, enjoy the sport, enjoy learning a new skill. The parent who cheers their child on win or lose and encourages them to give their best. The parent who pushes their child to success, gives them the tools they need and then sets them off to succeed on their own. The parent who support is essential to the child's development in that sport and they can see that, while taking that back seat position and smiling as their child goes on to success.
Its a fine line and difficult one, especially as mothers. I find there is a lot of mothers guilt that lies in anything we do for our children, good and bad. I know I do not want to be my child's coach. I'll leave that job to her coaches. Of course I'll always help her, provide advice, guidance, but I'll leave the skill development to others.
As I've recently had the opportunity to compete in a race with my oldest daughter, I dreamed of the times to come. The times when training runs, rides and swims are equally matched. When we're pushing each other to succeed and laughing when the other pulls ahead. When I too, like my friend, can pass the torch to her. When she is the one waiting at the finish line for me to finish as she had come out ahead, the winner of our private competition, one with bigger bragging right than the medal or ribbon received from the race. I know in all of that that I will cherish most, my role as her mom. For if we can both stand at the finish, like we did this past week, and support each other through it all, pushing each other to be our own idividual best competitor, than I will have done something right. Bonded with her over memories and experiences no one else can know, except two athletes, two competitors, a mother and a daughter. I can't wait!!!
My family had the pleasure of going to a change of command ceremony this past Friday. In the first five minutes, we were asked to "Please Stand Up!" and "Please Take Your Seats!", every 30 seconds. And because it was a USMC change of command, well, you did as you were told!
Afterward, I couldn't help but remark to a friend as to how, holding our youngest daughter in my arms, I started using the up, down, up, down, up, down, as a hover squat. Just touching the seat with my buns and then coming right back up to standing position. Hey, after all, I might as well get some extra exercise in right! I know my bum will thank me afterward!
Funny thing is, that was something anyone else there could have done too. (Ok, maybe not while holding a child, but you get the idea!) Those extra minutes of exercise that you throw into the day can count BIG toward your weightloss and toning goals. They keep your heart rate up, burning extra calories.
Think about it! There are lots of great places to add in extra exercise. Calf raises while washing dishes. Parking further away. Taking the stairs versus the elevator. Squats or lunges while rocking a fussy baby. (That was one of my favorites during those middle of the night wake ups. Hey, if I was going to be up anyway, I was going to get the most out of it!) Purse or diaper bag biceps curls while waiting in line. Plie squats while pushing your child on a swing. One push-up for every trip you make to put away a toy. (I bet that will make you carry more each trip to the toy bin and make it go faster!) Walking lunges to the mail box.
You get the idea! Think of all the extra calories you'll burn and the toned legs, etc you'll have with that extra bit of exercise each day. Not to mention keeping the oxygen flowing to help you feel and look great! (Rosy cheeks are in!) And it doesn't take any extra time or equipment, just changing the way you think. Seeing an opportunity everywhere to get in a little bit of exercise. Hey, we're busy moms, so every bit helps!
What are the ways you sneak in extra bits of exercise throughout your day?
There are events in our lives that shape us. We might not know it at the moment they're happening, but with time and reflection, we can feel and see the impact they have left. I had the opportunity to reflect on one such event recently.
This past weekend I was talking with a client and friend at my daughter's swim meet about body image. We talked about our children, girls, and family members and how their self-esteem is tied to how they feel about their body. How girls, as they grow, their body image changes and what a shame it is as a society and as females that we do that to each other. Often placing too high of standards and classifications on our shapes. Too fat. Too wrinkly. Too saggy. Too jiggly. Too big. Too skinny. The list goes on and on....
Isn't it our differences that should be celebrated? The strong legs of a runner and sprinter that carry them through the race. The lithe body of a dancer to glide gracefully through the air. Are both not beautiful, even though their bodies are shaped differently? Are both not strong, athletic, healthy and capable of awe inspiring feats, even though they are shaped differently? YES!!!! They are!!!! So why can we celebrate that fact in professional athletes, but not in the girls and women that surround us on a daily basis? Its disappointing.
I remember the event from my youth that changed and cemented my vision of my body. I was about 10 or 11 and was at an end of the school year pool party with my classmates. I had competed on a swim team for approximately 3 or 4 years at this point and was very comfortable walking around in a bathing suit and swimming. Everyone got changed and jumped into the pool. I was one of the first girls ready and was already swimming when most of the other girls came out to the pool side. It was then that I noticed they were all wearing t-shirts over their swim suits. I brushed it off thinking they were wearing cover-ups. Till they jumped into the pool with their t-shirts still on. I didn't get it. Why would you wear a t-shirt into the pool unless you were trying to create drag? You've got to remember I was a competitive swimmer, spending hours a day in a bathing suit, trying to be streamlined and efficient in the water. The idea of swimming with a bulky shirt on was not something I saw regularly.
I remember immediately feeling embarrassed, different. I was the only girl who was not wearing a shirt. At that age, being different is not something you aimed for being. I was getting out of the pool, to go in search of a t-shirt, when I over-heard my mom talking to one of the other mothers. They were discussing the same difference, how I was the only one swimming in a suit and the other girls were using the t-shirts to cover up. My mom explained my swimming committments and the other mother commented as to how she wished her daughter were more comfortable with her body.
I didn't end up getting the t-shirt and instead jumped back into the pool. Within a half hour or so, most of the other girls had ditched the t-shirts as they started to weight them down in the pool. In the end it was a great time had by all of us, but I remember it being a turning point in my life. I knew at that moment, that I didn't want to be a girl or woman who was ashamed of her body. I didn't want to feel the need to "cover-up". And I've worked to be that woman all my life. I thank my 8 years on a swim team for that body confidence. Seeing all the different body shapes poolside and seeing all the different things they were capable of achieving. The strong, broad shoulders of those who were the best at butterfly. The long, lanky bodies of those who were great freestylers. The toned hips and buns of breaststrokers. And the different bodies that made up the best backstrokers. All different types were in their suits, taking the block, letting very little be left to the imagination and at that point it didn't matter at all. What mattered was what those differences could help you do in the pool that would get you to the finish first. Swim Team did that for me and I will forever be thankful!
Now don't get me wrong, I have areas of my body I'd like to work on. I have days where I'm not happy with my abs, hips, buns....whatever! But I don't let that define me. I am not my abs, hips or buns. I can work on those areas, improve them. I use that feeling of disappointment to cut back on the sweet treats and eat more veggies instead. Lets be honest, no one has a perfect nutrition or exercise plan 100% of the time. But I don't let my insecurities prevent me from enjoying or living the life I'm meant to live. I still walk around in my bathing suit and short shorts. I choose clothing I feel comfortable in and if I'm having a "bad" day, I make better choices.
I hope my girls see that confidence. I hope they see their mom walking around in a bathing suit and not "covering up" as I walk on the pool deck. I hope my athletic pursuits inspire them to live active, healthy lives, proud of all the things their bodies can accomplish. Because that's what it is all about! Living healthy lives, proud of all the incredible things our bodies can accomplish! Too much time and energy is wasted wishing for someone else's ________(insert body part of choice here). As women we're capable of doing amazing things with our bodies! Don't wish yours away! Celebrate it!
I became a mom 8 years ago this week. Wow how time flies! I've since had 2 additional children. In that time I've also had the priviledge to work with lots of moms with children of their own. We've worked one on one and in a group setting. During that time, I've learned a lot about the challenges and opportunities that working out as a mom with small children can provide. I still believe, in the depths of my soul, that as a mother you do an incredible service to your children to workout around them. They learn from your example what it means to live a healthy and active lifestyle. One they will be more likely to continue doing as they grow. However, that does not mean it is always easy!
Here are the Top 10 things I have learned as a mother and from working with mothers, with children.
10. That Exercise Can Be Done Anytime, Anywhere!
I first learned this when my first daughter was born. Those late nights, when colic got the best of her and me. After hours of walking the house, I learned to use those minutes to perform squats, lunges, calf raises, step ups, etc. They all rocked her to sleep and helped me get in additional exercise time to tone up and lose those pregnancy pounds. Hey, I was already awake right! I might as well make the most of those hours!
9. To Always Have A Back Up Plan!
Lets face it, our children don't always want to do, what we want them to do, when we want them to do it. And you can only take a crying child in a stroller for so long. When I'm not able to get in the workout I planned, I'll switch things up. I may break it up through out the day or take the kids to the park and let them play, while I workout there. I may look and feel silly, but I'll be looking good at the beach later that summer and will feel better about what I accomplished later in the day. Plus, hopefully, the kids will take a great nap from tiring themselves out at the park! A win/win for all of us!
8. Sometimes You Just Have To Stop.
As moms, we all know the difference between the whiny cry and the full, blown, there's no turning back, I've had enough cry. It could be that they're over-tired, over-stimulated, hungry, need to be changed or use the bathroom, whatever it is, there are those times when they have to come first. And lets face it, sometimes we're glad for the extra break we get between exercises. Other times, we're equally as frustrated. But remember, one workout won't make or break you. If you can, soothe them or help them, then get back to the workout. Or try including them. Squats, lunges, biceps curls, planks, push-ups, lots of exercises can be done with your child right there with you. Or just walk it out. You're still moving and they're getting what they need. Then try again tomorrow. Every day, every workout is different and it does get easier. I promise!
7. Always Have Extra Equipment.
This is a must! Without a doubt the moment you go for that jump rope, step, mat, tubing, whatever, your child is going to want to join in and do the same. If you can give them their own to use. You'll love that they're copying you and you'll still get your workout in!
6. They Love To Copy You!
This is related to number 7. Children are little mimics and there is nothing better than seeing them light up as they try to do what you're doing. Whether its a push-up or plank, running next to you or competing in their own race. They will grin from ear to ear, and so will you, as they show you that they can do it to! And you'll know, with much pride and satisfaction, that your dedication to exercise and eating healthy is paying off, for you and your children.
5. That Exercise Can and Should Be FUN!
Have you ever played a game of tag or frisbee with your child? Swam with them at the pool or played with them at the playground? Children can keep going and going and going. They are endless bodies of energy and every game they think is play, can be exercise for you. And why not?! You're both having fun, possibly learning a new skill and moving your body. Isn't that what exercise is all about?! I know at my group classes, Mommy Recess, it is! And boy do we get a workout with those childhood games, like duck, duck, goose!
4. That When You Think You Can't Go On, They'll Give You The Strength You Need To Continue
I remember running my first race pushing a jogging stroller when my daughter was first able to talk. It was a hilly course and we were coming into the finish line. I was tired, but there she was, "Go Momma! Go Momma!". How do you let that down? I couldn't! I pushed through to the finish, beaming that my little girl, was proud of me and was my biggest motivation. Afterall, how could I let her down? Children love to see their moms succeed. From them, you'll find all the strength you need to continue on.
3. You Will Laugh.....A Lot!
Have you ever seen your child try to do yoga poses? Or push-ups? They may copy the faces you make, or the sounds?! :) You can't help but laugh at their antics and laughter always makes you feel good and makes any workout easier!
2. You Can Get Lots Of Extra Kisses And Cuddles.
My girls love to lay near me or under me as I do push-ups, planks, inch worms, etc. They know what's coming....kisses and lots of them depending on the number of reps I'm doing. And talk about extra motivation. Its hard to let yourself collapse from push-ups when your child is laying under you! They're counting on you, and their kisses help to keep your mind off how much your arms, back and chest may be burning!
And the #1 Thing I've Learned From Exercising With Children........
If You Lay Down, They Will Use You As A Trampoline!!!!
It happens everytime, with every child. It doesn't matter if you're doing push-ups or crunches. It doesn't matter how old they are or how tired you are. That loving child, laughing and grinning from ear to ear, especially when you start grunting about how tired/hard/heavy this is, will straddle you and start bouncing up and down. And the funny thing is, even though you're tired and know this is 10 times harder with them bouncing up and down, you'll love every minute of it! And so will they!
So enjoy exercising with your child, the opportunities and the challenges. Its so worth it, for both of you!
I had the opportunity to compete in my first team triathlon this past weekend. It was soooooo much fun! I can't wait to compete in another one.
I've often competed in individual sports: swimming, track, road races, duathlons, triathlons. My efforts were all based on how well I trained and how well I did that day. Sure, in some of these sports I trained and competed as a team, but my event was solely mine. My efforts helped and supported my team, but I was the only one who could do the work for my event.
I always liked that part of the sports I chose to compete in. Individual effort with team support. It was like the best of both worlds for me. So I went into Sunday's race not knowing what to expect.
I certainly was not as nervous as I normally am for my individual races. It was easier to pack and prepare all my gear, just a bike vs. a whole triathlon. I didn't have to plan out nutrition or transition staging. All I had to worry about was my one event, supporting my teammates and making sure my transitions went smoothly from one member to the next.
What I didn't expect was how much harder I would push myself. I didn't want to let my team down. They had given me such a great place in the race. First woman on the bike leg. I needed to hold my place. I was competing at that point with all the men. My legs burned, but I pushed on. They were back at transition cheering for me, I told myself.
Together we all did great! Transitions went smoothly. I had a PR on the bike. And was thrilled with the way a team works together, but still can have their own individual efforts and PRs. Our swimmer, Heather, also had a PR that day!
I'll definitely sign up for another team event. Its great to have my own races, but to also have the fun of competing with a team and sharing both the workload, as well as the fun.
My oldest competed in her second triathlon last weekend. It was wonderful being a spectator to such a sport! A sport I love competing in and now get to share with her.
I'm not clueless to the fact that she has taken an interest in this sport because of me. I don't force her to compete and she has taken an interest in the sport without any proding from me. However, I also understand that she does so because it is something she knows I love and as such she wants to share in that with me. Its something her younger sisters can not yet participate in due to their age, so she gets some alone time with me. (Gosh these races start early! 6am was check-in!)
I must confess though, I stood there with pride as she pushed herself to new limits. The swim and bike were farther than she had ever gone consecutively before! And the run, came after she had already completed both the swim and the bike. I knew she was tired. I could see it as she began her second lap on the bike. I knew she'd walk most of the run when I saw her transition. What I didn't know, is if she'd complete the whole thing. Would she give in to the fatique her muscles were feeling?
I cheered her on of course. Before the start of the race, we went over the course, transitions, starts, etc. I told her to do her best and that I was proud of her. I encouraged her through out the race. Impressed first by her swim. She's been working so hard this past year at swim team and I could see it all come together. She transitioned like a pro. She knew right where to go and just what she needed to do. On the bike, a new one just purchased that week as she had outgrown her last one, she was all smiles. Even as she finished her second lap, tired from the effort she was putting out, she was all smiles. As she started the run, she went all out as kids do. I told her to pace herself. She started to walk and I saw her shoulders drop. She was tired. I was proud of her! She kept going. I cheered her on, telling her I was proud of her. She ran some. She walked some. As she neared the finish line, true to her mom, she sprinted it out, a grin so wide you could have seen it from the space station. I was as proud of her as I have ever been.
You see it wasn't where she placed, what her time or splits were. It was that she tried. She gave it her best race. She showed us what kind of a child she was and hopefully, what kind of young woman she'll become. And that was the effort I was most proud of! And then, this incredible 7 year old, surprised me still. She walked back up to the pool to cheer on the younger competitors in the mini-kids race. She was tired, but she stood there and cheered them on to their finish. She stood at the finish line and welcomed in friends, classmates and team members. And I, once again, was a proud momma!
I'm often asked why I compete. Why do I train so hard, so long, so often. Its for moments like this. You see, my children, my girls, are watching. They're learning more lessons from my example, than my words. And I hope they're learning the same lessons my oldest exhibited last weekend.
- To give each race, each effort, your best.
- To cheer on and support those around you.
- To smile through the fatique and finish strong, head held high.
- To enjoy the process, celebrate with those you love and let those who've helped you know what they've meant to you.
- That you can be healthy and happy!
- That exercise can be fun!
- To face your fears and the unknown, because you'll grow a lot in the process.
- To tackle a challenge and not back away from one.
- That you can be a woman, a wife, a mother, a entreprenuer and still pursue your dreams.
- That through sports and competition, you can learn so much about yourself and how to navigate this world both for the good and the bad.
- That self-confidence is a good thing.
- To not be ashamed of the body you have as it can do amazing things.
My next race is tomorrow. Together, we'll both race in July. All the while I'll know they'll be watching and learning. Learning how to be a competitor, a member of society and a woman.