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Raising a child (or spousepartnerfriend) who likes to exercise.

Posted May 25 2010 1:00am

I’m the first to acknowledge that, although I’m a mama, I’m still kinda in the early stages of motherhood.

The easier stages Id imagine as peer pressure & the junk food availability her independence will bring haven’t yet come into play.

(Much anyway. This blogger has been *repeatedly* regaled with the story of my returning from Blissdom & learning of her new-found fondness for rootbeard.  Thanks Ren Man!)
That said, I’m choosing to believe by laying a strong foundation for healthy living now she’ll tend toward the healthy choice end of the spectrum when she’s on her own.

I want my daughter to grow up enjoying the way she feels when she exercises, finding fun in the process of working out and loving her body for the gift that it is.

The six tips below are both carried in my head & posted on my fridge (at least until she learns how to read).

They have more than once served to remin me why I need to keep focusing on the exercise-love as well.

1. Practice what you preach (and it’s best to skip the preach part altogether).

My daughter already knows my day isn’t officially started until I’ve completed 30 minutes on our stationary bike .
I’ve never mentioned my workouts to her (mornings are her special dad-time) & the first time she asked: Mama? Are you going to do the bike now? I was astonished she’d noticed what I did while they played.

Our actions as parents are powerful things.

Our children notice everything we do even when we don’t say a word.

Especially when we dont say a word.

Walk the walk & there may never be a need to talk the talk.

2. Love your body for what it can do.

My daughter and I often chat about the importance of having muscles and being strong.

She knows that I love the fact I can carry her and all of our groceries from the store out to the car.

She comments on the fact that we don’t have to wait for daddy to come home and that we can lift the case of water out of the trunk all! by! ourselves!

Lately she’s begun flexing and asking me to check out her arm muscles (I know, this part is a little weird but Ill take it over her not wanting to be bigandstrong any day).

In my opinion, it’s all about role modeling for our children how we want them to view exercise/their bodies.

At first the body-love role modeling can feel a tad awkward & forced—but I urge you to stick with it.

You may be surprised how quickly it becomes habit to feel thankful for all your body can do and how quickly you can forget/let go of the tiny flaws upon which you used to focus.

That’s a gift to both you and your children.

3. Be positive.

Start paying attention to what you say when around your children.

Do you lament the fact you’re on a diet?

Do you whine, as even the most die-hard among us can do, about not being in the mood to work out?

Tiny ears are always listening and a few well placed (and loudly said): I can’t wait to get to the gym and SWEAT! Or I always feel better and more energetic after a good, long walk! can have a lasting impact on whether children view exercise as punishment or pleasure.

In addition, being positive (hello Law of Attraction !) never hurts the way we feel about exercise either!

4. Set a fitness goal.

Goal setting /working toward achievement is an important skill to model in all realms & healthy living is no different.

Let your children see you choose a realistic goal and watch you plan how you will achieve it.

No matter their age find a way to enlist their help along the way. Ask for their encouragement and be sure to share with them your struggles as you work toward your goal. Let them see you work through difficult or challenging times.

The importance here is not necessarily goal achievement (you may switch your plan from running a 5k to running three times a week or from losing a certain amount of weight to fitting into a dress you already own), but role modeling tenacity and overcoming roadblocks to healthy living.

5. Make it fun!

Just as we adults dread boring workouts—kids want their active time to be filled with fun as well.

Take the time plan creative activities for the family which just “happen” to fall under the umbrella of exercise.

Spend time at the playground .

Fly a kite & have family members race each other as you do.

Enlist the entire family to help build an indoor obstacle course as a way to get active on rainy days.

Try hula-hooping again (or for the first time) & bring the whole family into the fun.

Pick up a few cheap pedometers & make it a game to see which family member walks the most steps in a day or over a weekend.

The possibilities are endless as is (waitforit) the fun. A little planning and effort NOW can help create children who grow into adults who enjoy exercise and embrace a healthy lifestyle.

And the spouse/partner/family member/friend part? I have to say that in my experience it works the exact same way.

Much of my current workout love was sparked back-in-the-day by a boyfriend who never uttered a single word.

It’s amazing the power of silence and action.

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