I took my six year old son to the park the other day and he wanted to race. "Let's race mommy," he says. Being that it was my 'active rest' day, I honestly did not feel like running. But I ran anyway and was I in for a surprise. My son is fast. Those little legs just took off like a speed of light. I thought to myself, wow, good thing I was able to keep up. My little runner.
We all lead busy lives. As a full time single mom there is always something to clean, cook, wash, wipe, take outside, bring downstairs, put together, etc. Not to mention running errands, play dates, and school and bedtime preparation. Everyone who knows me, knows I spend an adequate amount of time exercising. Some will even say to me "Irma, you aren't working full time right now, so of course you have the time." But the thing is I don't see it as making time. I see it as living a healthy active lifestyle without medical complications.
Exercise and fitness in America is undervalued and taken for granted. People rather wait until they need a doctor than make an appointment with a personal trainer. And guess what? I get it. I do. It's intimidating. We are busy and tired. Change is daunting. We look at the buff guy at the gym and think yeah that can't ever be me. We see these image postings of fit women in their yoga pants and sports bra and immediately we shame and degrade them. But if we take a moment and stop focusing on positive/negative body image, and take a look at the facts. Exercise reduces future medical problems...heart disease, hypertension, back pain, lung disease, cancer, anxiety, depression, cholesterol, allergies, arthritis, digestive issues, diabetes. As children, it reduces the chances of obesity as they get older and establishes confidence and self esteem. And as adults, it becomes even more important because not only are we setting a good example for our children but we also have our own lives to live after they leave the nest. And wouldn't you want that life to be fulfilling and medical free? Getting older in this day and age does not have to be debilitating. If we continue to be active and take care of our hearts and our bodies, we have the capacity to be as healthy as someone who is 30 years younger.
In reality, we do not need to look like those fitness models in that magazine. We just need to be healthy. We can start with making small changes, like taking the stairs instead of riding the elevator, going for a walk and seeing how far we can go, and then the next day, trying again and go a litte further. Eventually walks will become runs, and runs will turn into miles.
But if it does come down to making time, then yes, make the time.
Make the time and take that aerobic class. Make the time to lift weights. Make the time to race your child without getting tired. Make the time to take care of your well being so that you can put their needs first. Make the time to be healthy so you are there for their graduation, their wedding, and when they have their own children. As adults and as parents, it is not selfish to exercise. It is a gift we give ourselves and our children.
Because after all, aren't those smiles worth all the time in the world?
Irma Ilao is a certified fitness trainer, a fitness nutritionist, professional photographer and fitness and health blogger at Be Your Own Fit. All photos are credit to Irma Ilao Photography