So happy to be hosting Karma Brown on the blog today who is graciously guest posting. This post is about making choices (some very tough!) and keeping with them for your health and your family’s. I agree with so many of her points, although haven’t decided to commit in the same ways she has. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject! Thanks Karma!
When my daughter was eight months old I decided she was ready for the gym. Not for a workout, of course, but for the daycare my gym offered. She was crawling like she had engines on her knees, and had sufficient baby rolls to make her sturdy enough to be out of her momma’s care. So I put on the lulus, strapped her into the baby carrier, and trekked to the gym. I was so excited to get back on a machine and break a good sweat without interruption. But the moment I opened the room to the gym’s daycare, I knew I’d be cancelling my membership.
The room was small, windowless, and smelled like diapers – used diapers. Not ideal, but not the reason I was there less than two minutes. The daycare provider, a woman who didn’t even get up to greet me when I walked in, sat on a chair in the tiny, smelly room while a handful of toddlers literally ran circles around her. And she was so overweight I was pretty sure she’d have trouble getting to my kid in the lightning speed time she’d need to. So I thanked her, left the gym, and bought a running stroller.
I have always exercised. My parents were both active, and I have distinct memories of my sister and I going on early morning runs with my Dad, downing a shot of orange juice and tablespoons of honey before heading out the door. I was also a competitive gymnast, and took diving, swimming, synchro, and dance lessons. We skied as a family, walked everywhere, hiked whenever we could, and did long canoe trips in the summer – no back of car camping for us! My parents were also hippies who raised us on a hobby farm, so the food I ate as a kid either came from our farm, or one nearby. Nothing processed. To this day, I have tasted one Twinkie and one Pop Tart in my life…both as an adult, and both disgusting.
I have often said my need for exercise and healthy food is an instinct, one nurtured by my parents through the years until I took over in my teens. And that is exactly what we plan to do for our daughter. Now, of course, I am not as perfect as my parents were. At the age of three, my daughter knows what real chocolate tastes like (we were subjected to carob – trust me, if you’ve never tried it, don’t), has a definite sweet tooth not satisfied by fruit, loves a good store-bought perogie, and if you ask her what she wishes for, it’s always “cake.” But she has never eaten fast food, never had a sip of soda, and hopefully will never know what a Twinkie or Pop Tart tastes like. In my opinion food should be fresh, varied, and mostly unprocessed, but I also believe a treat a day makes the world a much happier place.
There’s no question we have a definite and growing problem with our kids, and their weight. They are getting fat. Like, really fat. I don’t know about you, but that scares the crap out of me. Kids, in general and on mass, should not be overweight. They should have enough energy to run circles around us…all day long. They should be outside, running at full tilt every chance they get, and need to be reminded to come in for dinner. When you’re a kid, exercise should be “fun” and “play” – not work, as so many of us as adults (sadly) label it.
Now when I bought the running stroller I was a fair-weather jogger, meaning a hint of snow or cold shelved my runners. But that summer I turned into a daily runner, and I kept going through the seasons. I’d pack some snacks for my daughter, lace up the sneakers, and head out. At first I only ran about 20 minutes. But as the summer wore on and my leg muscles grew, I ran as far as my daughter and her attention span (and snack bag) would allow. I ended up running a half marathon last fall, and am certain I wouldn’t have set, and achieved, that goal without making the decision that exercise was nonnegotiable – and that having a kid wasn’t an excuse to be sedentary. In fact, having a child is even more reason to be active and fit; after all, how can we expect our kids to be active, and to crave fitness, if we don’t model it for them?
To be fair, I love to exercise and always have, which I know is not the case for everyone. It’s the best stress buster I’ve found, and offers me the opportunity to indulge in those daily treats. And as such, many of you may think it’s easier for me to make the choice to sweat because I enjoy it. But that’s not always true – there are many days where my brain says, “Get out there!” and my body says, “Don’t think so”. On some of those days my body wins. Other times, by body makes a deal with my brain – I commit to the exercise for 10 minutes: if I’m still miserable and hating it after 10 minutes, I’m allowed to stop. But I’ve never quit 10 minutes in, because working out really does feel good. It’s just hard to remember that sometimes.
My hope for my daughter is that she loves exercise as much as we do, and that if given a choice, she’ll (almost) always pick the healthier meal. I also hope that other Moms and Dads, noticing the trend towards unhealthy eating habits and slow-moving kids, will take up the challenge to role model better habits. But if you’ve never exercised, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. So start slow – take an after dinner walk with the family, dust off the bikes in the garage, or grab the soccer ball and head to the backyard or the local park. They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit, so why not take the challenge with your family to be active for 21 days and see what happens? There’s plenty to gain, and nothing to lose. Your kids will thank you for it one day.
Karma is mom to one, perfect little girl, as well as a happy wife, freelance writer, and cancer survivor. When not striving for supermom status, Karma loves running, reading, dreaming of amazing vacations to take with her family, and checking items off her bucket list.