Welcome to my first guest post in the fitness series! I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do; these are some great women sharing their insights!
Hi! I’m Elizabeth, a stay-at-home-mom to one little girl, Anne, who will be 2 in November, and happy wife to my high school sweetheart. I love to read, write, paint and knit. I’m a Catholic convert, after reading my way into the Church during college. I love walking and riding my bike, gardening, shopping at the farmers’ market, and cooking seasonally. I blog about life and food at Coppertop Kitchen
Running a few miles around the rim of Red Rocks Canyon in Manitou Springs, CO
I am in no way a fitness expert, but I’m so glad that Gina is letting me share a few things I have learned as I try to figure out how best to care for and love my body, and how to share a healthy lifestyle and body image with my daughter.
What images come to mind when you think of the phrase “work out”? A smelly gym, self-consciousness or intimidation, pain, boredom. Hopefully, a refreshed, energetic feeling when it’s over.
OK. Now think of the word “play.” Running through the sprinkler on a hot day. Riding a bike for hours. Building a house out of snow, sledding, snowball fights. Swings, slides, monkey bars. Swimming. Jumping rope. Tossing a frisbee. Jumping on a trampoline.
I’m the pink blur.
So much of life is in how we view it. In the area of fitness, we have a choice: work or play? It’s human nature to choose pleasure, given the chance. Stewardship of our physical bodies, one of our greatest gifts, doesn’t have to be painful. I have found it much easier to be joyful about caring for my body when I give myself permission to swap “workouts” for “playtime.” There are so many different ways to do this! Go for a bike ride with your family. Run up and down the beach, splashing in the water. Have a dance party in the kitchen while waiting for the pasta water to boil. When you’re traveling, find a new place to hike and explore. If yoga, pilates, or dance makes you happy, prioritize getting to a class! Walk more. Choose activities that you genuinely look forward to doing, and you will be much less likely to skip them.
Set tangible goals.
I get better results when I plan. When Anne was three months old, I ordered 3 Jillian Michaels DVDs and set my sights on a friend’s wedding date, three months later. Three months is perfect: one season, not so long that I get bored, not so short that I don’t see results. In March, I signed up to run a half marathon in July. I downloaded a training schedule, put the long runs in my calendar, and started running. 180(ish) miles of training and one 13.1-mile race later, I crossed the finish line. The training pushed me way outside my comfort zone. I found myself leaving my bed early on Saturday mornings, even while traveling, to lace up my shoes and run 6, 7, 8 miles. All in pursuit of this hare-brained goal.
At mile 7 with my friend and race buddy Cassie!
Maximum impact, minimum time.
As a busy mom, I really like high intensity interval workouts, or circuit training. They’re not quite at a “play” level on my enjoyment scale, but I really feel the difference when I do them, and they’re quick. The first time I attempted a Jillian Michaels video, about 4 months post-partum, I stood in my living room in frustratingly snug fitness apparel, trying desperately to do what the women on the screen were doing. “If you can’t do this, just do the beginner version,” rasped scantily-clad, ripped Jillian. “I can’t even do that!” I responded aloud, melting into tears. I couldn’t even locate my abs, much less do anything productive with them. I flopped through that horrible twenty minutes, and then two days later, I did it again. And again. You can do anything for twenty minutes. Circuit training is the best way to tone muscles and do cardio at the same time. 20 minutes of disciplined work 3-4 times a week vs. hours wasted at a gym? I’ll take it. Bonus? My daughter thinks I look hilarious when I do it.
Playtime in the pool on vacation last March
Mix it up.
Since my half marathon, I haven’t run a single mile. Turns out, I don’t really like to run. Lesson learned! Time to try something new. I’ve started using the MuTu System, and I love what I’m learning about ways I can love and restore my post-baby body. I’m focusing on what really matters in my life, what physically helps me to be a better woman and mom. Strengthening my core, getting outside more, eating foods that nourish my body and allow me to function more steadily and efficiently.
That’s what fitness is about, right? Loving our bodies so that they can serve us better. Eating well and enjoying the world around us so that we can teach our children to do the same. Respecting the amazing gift of a healthy body, and using it to find adventure.
Hiking while babywearing in Costa Rica
Lead the way for your family.
Kids learn far more from what we do than from what we say. If we tell them to eat vegetables, and then they catch us cramming mini Snickers bars into our mouths behind closed doors, they learn. If they see us joyfully eating nourishing food that tastes good, playing outside and taking care of our bodies, they learn. If they witness our sigh and wince when we look at ourselves in the mirror, or hear us exclaim, “I’m so fat and ugly,” they learn that imperfections are unacceptable, and they believe the magazine lie a little bit more. If they see us embrace who we are, lumps and all, they learn to do the same for themselves.
Life’s too short to spend on workouts. Get out and play!