By Annie Mueller
Every now and then I have moments of epiphany. From the depths of my Mommy-mush brain a little idea struggles to emerge, pushing out of the cobwebs of daily life and into a tiny crystal-clear space of possibility. (I think it is right behind my eyebrows.)
And there, one day, a timid little idea came forth and spoke to me, in a voice that sounded much like my own.
You want to know what it said?
It said this: Isn’t it funny how we get in our car to drive to the gym so we can get out and walk on the treadmill?
Maybe that doesn’t seem like an epiphany to anyone else, but it struck a chord. We make exercise way too complicated. We set our healthy living goals so high that we discourage ourselves from even trying.
What I need, maybe what we all need, is a way of life that includes fitness as a normal part of the day. I don’t need anything extra in my life; it’s already full enough. But I do need energy and good health.
So I’ve changed my mind about how to stay fit. Instead of making exercise another separate event on the list, I look at my life to see where exercise can already exist.
For example, my husband and I like going to the park with our young kids. We go, they play, we get in the car, we go home. Talk about a lost opportunity. Not only does our park have a great playground, it has a great walking track. Now when we go, we let them play and then we load them into the stroller and we walk.
I park further away when I go shopping. Instead of setting down the 20-pound car seat with the 10-pound baby inside, I do as many bicep curls as I can handle while I stand in the parking lot chatting.
My friend has a method she calls the Pee20SQ: every time you, um, pee, you do 20 squats before you exit the bathroom. We all know the bathroom is usually the only quiet moment a Mom can grab, and that’s not always a guarantee. If you’re potty training a slow pooper (you potty-training Moms know what I mean), then do your squats while kiddo does the potty. Win-win.
You can’t stay in the bathroom forever. But you can fit in fitness in a myriad of ways: take the stairs instead of the elevator. Have a tired kid with you? Bonus points for carrying tired kid up the stairs, too. Upper and lower body workout, right there in 10 minutes.
Quit using a shopping cart and carry those bags of groceries out to the car. Do a few tricep curls as you load them in the car.
Keep sports gear in the car. A soccer ball, football, whatever strikes your fancy. Next time you’re waiting, get out and play instead of texting or talking.
Find your nearest park and walk there, then play hard with your kids or walk the track and push the stroller.
Garden. Grow your own or find a community garden to get involved in. Bend, twist, squat, stand. You have an entire aerobics class right there, plus you get to eat fresh tomatoes.
Clean your house. You have to do it anyway, just do it faster and make sure you work up a sweat. Turn up the music.
Instead of crashing in front of the TV after dinner, get the family outside for a game of tag, a walk downtown, a bike ride.
Being active is worth the effort. I’m already seeing the results, not so much in the width of my hips, but in the energy I have. I’m not hitting that mid-afternoon crash point like I used to. Instead of groaning at the thought of another chore or errand, I see another way to be active.
This attitude is a gift to myself and a gift to my kids: they’ll grow up with the habit of an active lifestyle and an attitude that makes fitness a natural, easy part of life.