Thursday, April 8, 2010

Part 2: The other side of the coin

I wrote last time about the responsibility we parents have to teach our children that they are of supreme value no matter what exterior package they find themselves wrapped in. I talked about the importance of not focusing on "I need to lose weight" or "I'm fat" dialogue but looking for and eminating a positive self image. Our children mimic what we do. They look to us, follow our lead and live according to the lifestyle they've lived with us. All of that is an unbelievably important part of helping your children develop a positive self image for themselves. That being said, the second part of the equation touches on our obligation to train up our children to be active individuals.

If we sit around on the couch all day eating crap food and playing video games our children are going to learn to do the same. It's one thing to take the occasional time out and enjoy some gaming but another to make that behavior a habit. It still amazes me, too, at the continuous stream of people I'll witness circling a store parking lot to get that close parking spot when they could have parked a little distance away and walked into the store in a quarter of the time! People look for whatever shortcut they can to avoid walking, jumping, bending,'s a sad state to be in. We were created for so much more. We were created as strong, able individuals. No, we don't have to gather our food (well, some do!), build our domiciles and rummage around outside for any of a number of natural materials to create any of a number of necessities. But our bodies are still such that we DO need to take care to be creatures of movement. Inactivity=unhappiness and poor health.

As a substitute teacher I have the priveledge of working with a large number of children. I've actually been blessed with the opportunity to sub P.E. on a fairly regular basis this school year. We had the opportunity to talk about the importance of playing outside and of being active. Many children willingly and candidly offered to the discussion the tidbit that their families sit around at home and do nothing on a regular basis. Most of you from my generation (70's and 80's) remember how we'd be cut loose to run around and play outside from the moment we finished homework until the sun went down. As a family, we'd ride our bikes around the neighborhood, go for hikes at local parks, jump the waves at the beach, play croquet and toss around a Frisbee. My home was one centered not so much on organized sports but on the arts (which I'm also passionate about). I didn't get into sports until I jumped into soccer--and then added crew--in high school. But even my art-centered family recognized the importance and value in movement and in finding an outdoor activity that is FUN!

That's the key, my friends. You must find activities that you and your family enjoy doing and then, well, you've got to do them...REGULARLY! True, I'm an athlete and I enjoy running, biking and swimming. I enjoy participating in 5K runs, half and full marathons and triathlons. While these goals may seem lofty for some of you, I think you'd be surprised by how attaintable they truly are. I also realize, however, that running is not everybody's 'bag.' I AM pleased that our entire family is participating in a 5K together this coming weekend (it'll be our girls' first; our son has already finished several) but there are other things we like to do together to stay active.

Take this week--Spring Break--as an example. I haven't done my first run this week and I've been off from both jobs. But we've been super active all week. Monday we went to a nearby park and went letterboxing. This involves lots of hiking around while following clues to find a 'planted' hidden package containing a rubber stamp. We hiked around for a good couple of hours. Tuesday we went to the beach and jumped some waves followed by another hour of letterboxing at a park in Cape Canaveral (which just happened to include an exercise trail! Right up our alley!) ;) Yesterday we relaxed at home for awhile then, inspired by our favorite scene in Twilight, headed off to our local baseball park to play family baseball. We blasted our Twilight soundtrack out of the truck. Muse's Supermassive Black Hole always makes me feel, now, like I'll bust onto the baseball diamond with excessive speed, vertical leaping ability and a throwing arm that'll send a ball a mile down the road. Vampire superpowers aside (we don't really have them, hehe), we had such a great time that we found ourselves glued to the diamond; we played a 1/2 hour beyond the time limit we'd set for ourselves! We hadn't even driven away when everybody was saying, "Let's do this again tomorrow!" (and boy was it a workout).

Regular exercise results in such a feeling of peace. Those endorphins kick in and make everything feel peachy. Stress melts away. You're able to better DEAL with any stress that attempts to flutter its wings at you. You sleep sooo much better. With proper nutrition (another critical key we'll touch on later) exercise helps your body maintain it's proper balance, shape and level of ability. My friend Shelly and I really love Nike's longtime slogan: "Just Do It!" I'm a firm believer. It's so easy to make excuses and to let one day of inactivity merge into the next. Before you know it (because we all know how blasted quickly time passes) you AND your children have had several years of experience as professional couch potatoes.

FIND SOMETHING (S) YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN LIKE TO DO TOGETHER that involves movement! Try different things. I've mentioned several. If you're lucky like we are to live in Florida you've got water everywhere! SWIM! We have our own pool and, in the summer, we live in it. If you don't have your own pool there are lakes and public pools and beaches everywhere. Play ball: baseball, basketball, kickball, soccer, football. Play catch, toss a frisbee. There's a great game that we have and love to play called "Cosmic Keepaway." Look for it at your local Wallyworld or Target, etc. Run together. Change it up. No need to do the same thing all the time. Keep it fresh but JUST DO IT! If you've been doing this, you know exactly what I mean. If not, you're heart will be warmed by the quality together time it provides for you and your family. Not only will you be setting your children up for a positive lifestyle and self image but you'll be doing YOUR body and mind a world of good!

By the way, BeachBody has a couple of fun workouts for children. We have both of them and do them from time to time together for fun. Shawn T put one of them out and it's part of his "Fit Kids Club" and the other one seems more geared toward smaller children (like preschool, k and 1st). It's by P90X's Tony Horton and it's called Tony and the Kids. Pick these up from my website in the BeachBody store by logging onto

Keep it fun! Keep it positive! Keep the movement flowing~

As always, I welcome comments and am here for you if you need help or encouragement or just want to exchange ideas.



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