Let me be super clear about something up front: I don’t always like working out.
I don’t wake up in the morning scrambling for my sports bra and thinking, “how far should I run today??” or “what circuit should I do??” As a stay-at-home mom of two, it’s easy to find a bazillion other things I could do at any given time other than hopping on the treadmill or picking up a set of weights.
(Which is actually pretty funny, since I have my own health and fitness blog…. And I still struggle!)
But here’s why I keep coming back, and why I call fitness one of my passions:
I’ve seen what exercise can do for my life.
I’m in it for everything that comes after the workout.
Exercise has taught me things that I’m not sure I could have learned anywhere else. Like, that I’m capable of running a marathon, and therefore, can probably achieve other crazy things too. That I can do and be whatever I want, really, and that I’m worth the effort.
But most importantly, it’s helped me realize that a more active me is a happier me, and a better person.
When I became a mom, I felt the incredible weight of my new responsibility, and knew that it was more important than ever to be the best version of myself I could be. Suddenly, I was shaping little lives, and they would always be watching me.
Suddenly, I had so many more reasons to keep moving.
It helps me to reflect on those reasons, now and then—when working out is at the bottom of my To Do list, and I start tricking myself into thinking it doesn’t matter. Even with the very best intentions, I’m only human.
Here are some of the reasons that bubble up to the top of that list—the most important things exercise does for me:
It gives me patience
When my toddler throws food across the room, or has one of his sprawl-on-the-ground-in-public meltdowns, I want to be in control of my reaction, rather than letting Angry Irrational Mom take over. Endorphins help!
It reminds me what I’m capable of
I might not be able to get my kid to eat a vegetable, but what happens in the gym (also sometimes called “my living room”) is totally up to me. It’s one of the few things in my life that I’m in complete control of. And when surprising things happen there, it makes me wonder what I could possibly do in other areas of life.
It makes everyday life easier
It’s amazing how much squatting, bending, twisting, and lifting is involved in motherhood. Every day, I see moms carrying carseats on their arms like they’re Easter baskets and not small tanks. I see moms at the park, holding an infant in one arm while somehow lifting a toddler into a swing with the other.
We have to do this stuff, either way, but when we’re pre-conditioned by exercise, we have energy left over to chase that toddler around and throw him up in the air. (Again and again and again and again…)
It resets my spirit
When life gets overwhelming, I know a workout will help in a way that TV just can’t. I’ve also learned that if I really care about my health, I have to get a handle on my stress levels. Exercise is soothing—like lip balm for the nerves.
It gives me confidence
Exercise boosts my self-esteem and reminds me of the woman I am underneath the spit-up-stained clothes and the stretch marks.
It brings me back to me
One of my biggest fears in becoming a mom was losing myself. I mean, I’d just worked so hard through my 20’s to find myself—I wasn’t ready to let having kids erase all that.
I want to show my kids that becoming a parent doesn’t mean you have to give up your passions and hobbies. It doesn’t mean you have to give up yourself—and, in fact, I think the best parents are the ones who don’t.
It energizes and motivates me
Sometimes when I think I’m too tired to work out, that’s when I need it the most. I’ve learned that I don’t always have to go into it with guns blazing—I can fake it the whole time, and the benefits still come rolling in.
Suddenly, I’m cleaning my kitchen and folding the load of laundry that’s been sitting there all day, instead of setting up shop on the couch. (But don’t worry—I do that sometimes too!)
It boosts creativity and memory
I get good ideas while working out. I wrote half this post in my head while working out. (Although I guess you could say that was research?)
And as for the memory, well, I only have two kids and I’m already mixing up their names.
It inspires other positive choices
For one thing, I’m less likely to come home from a workout and head straight for the ice cream. I’m “being good”—why break the streak?
Plus, there’s the handy fact that exercise begets exercise. The more I do it, the more inspired I am to keep doing it.
It helps me sidestep the childhood sickness du jour
I’m no doctor, but I know that physical activity just makes everything in the body work better, including the immune system.
And it is SO. much. easier. to deal with sick kids when you’re not sick yourself.
It gives me perspective
Talking to girlfriends makes my day-to-day worries seem justified—working out makes them seem trivial. They just disappear.
It gives my kids a healthy role model
This one is only so far down on the list because my kids are really little right now—as they get older, it will probably take over the #1 spot.
Not only do I think it’s important to exemplify healthy living in order to teach it, but I also see exercise as a huge parent-child bonding opportunity. Whether it’s throwing a football around, spending a few hours at the skating rink, or training for a kids’ road race, there are so many ways to make memories while also showing kids that living is moving.
It keeps me young—and here
I’ve seen so many women who work out regularly and look years younger than they actually are. And I always think, “That’s what I want to look like at her age.”
I want to be the hip, active lady in the retirement home (right??) both for my own sake and for my kids’. And I know that the best way to ensure that happening is to start now.
The awesome thing about exercise is that it’s never too late to start. The benefits are so powerful—life-changing, even—that it’s always, always worth it.
I love the goal of just doing SOMEthing every day, whether it’s a “full” workout, a handful of squats and push-ups, or just a walk around the neighborhood with the kids. Even if it’s not a “real” workout in your eyes, it’s helping you build a habit. And the more you can build that habit, the less likely you are to fall off the wagon altogether (and once you’re off, it can be so hard to get back on).
If you need some inspiration, try doing this sequence every day for the next 5 days:
Instructions: lunges // arm circles // squats // chair dips // plank
Question: Do you exercise regularly? I’d love to hear what it does for you!