“Luca! LUCA!! COME HERE LUCA!!!” I hear her shouting from the sidewalk. I am down the hill at the playground and I look up. This overweight mom is shouting after her what appears to be 2 year old boy, to stop running as he is getting closer to the street. A passerby stops the runaway boy as the mother huffs and puffs her way to thank the man. She proceeds to grab the child and yell at him. Now, I won’t pretend to know what was going on in this situation. Maybe she wasn’t even the mother? Although her behavior and interaction with the boy made it seem like so. Maybe she has a health condition that makes it she can’t run or exercise? Very possible. But it got me thinking, so here I am sharing my thoughts.
If you have no health conditions preventing you from exercising, I say: Run parents. Or ride a bike. Or swim. Or play a sport that gets your heart pumping. Whatever you do, make sure it is something that keeps your heart and lungs healthy enough to run after your child. Not only will it be fun for them to have an active parent, but it will be SAFE.
What if there were no passerby’s to catch this child before he made it to the busy street? I was far enough down the hill to not have been able to make much of a difference.
I exercise regularly. I actually get paid to help other people exercise as I am good and knowledgeable about it. My reason’s for exercising are quite numerous, and here are some of my top ones:
- I exercise so I feel good everyday. My youngest is 9 months old and sleeps in our bed. No matter the amount of sleep I get (or don’t get, really), if I am strong and fit, I manage to make it through my days without too much sluggishness. Getting my blood pumping and my muscles activated allows me to keep going even on little sleep.
- I exercise so I can keep up with my kids. Being able to chase them around, to roll on the ground, to run up and down hills, to play at the beach and go on hikes, is how memories are created. Most kids are active by nature. Being active makes it that I can participate in their life, be a team player and not a “bleacher mom”.
- I exercise so I can react quickly in any given situation (like my kid running into the street). Feeling strong and capable allows me to have more fun and be more relaxed. I can let my kids wander around as I know I am fast and I can get to them quickly if I need to. I can pick all three of them up at once and lug them out of the street if they aren’t listening to me as a bus is coming towards us. I can take them on more challenging hikes knowing that if they can’t keep up anymore, I can carry them.
- I exercise so my kids see me doing it. I want fitness to be something normal and natural for them. I don’t want them to have to struggle as teenagers or adults because I didn’t lead by example.
- I exercise because I like to look good. Yes it’s true. I am not going to pretend like part of my motivation has nothing to do with looks. Because looking good feels good to me. I am proud of my body. I have stretch marks and flabby skin. I have cellulite and muscles. I am strong. And I find strength beautiful. But in all honesty, looking good is not a good enough reason on it’s own for me to keep up with my workouts. I need all those other reasons first in order to be consistent.
I try not to let it get to me, but it can’t help it. It saddens me to see parents not take care of themselves like this overweight woman. It saddens me because there is no way this woman feels good in her body. Not when she is huffing and puffing like she was. And it saddens me because she is the person that this child has to look up to. She is his example in life, and she is not doing a very good job. Yes, by my standards, I am aware of that. But if my standards make it that I feel competent in keeping my kids safe, than why wouldn’t I want that for other kids?
Whatever your motivation for moving your body, if you are a parent, keep in mind that they will look at you for inspiration.
So what is your motivation? Why do you exercise? Why do you not? I would love to hear your thoughts!