We Are (Becoming) A Fitness Family

“This is actually happening…..”

That’s what I thought to myself yesterday as we were having our (usually) once a week “family meeting” in which we pray, talk about our coming week, and listen to the kids’ thoughts. 

My husband and I were in the midst of discussing the upcoming season in which he too, for the first time,  will be regularly attending the gym.  I currently attend LA Fitness and have been going to a gym regularly since we were six months into marriage.  It was MY thing for a long time.  Not that I’m not happy my husband will be going to the gym too.  Exactly the opposite, I’m thrilled!  I had wanted him to join me for a long time.  But this conversation was a turning point because there was a time that I never would have guessed that we would have it!

For those of you who have read my husband’s blog, you have followed his journey to fitness that began just a year and a half ago.  We have not always had a similar level of interest in fitness. This hasn’t always been our life.

I was always active in some shape or form throughout my life: dance classes and swimming at the pool, field hockey and cheerleading, and the college gym stair climbers for some cardio to try to resist the “freshman fifteen”.  

My earliest recollections of life include playing in the kids’ area at the tennis club drinking Hawaiian Punch as my parents played in their tennis league.  My father faithfully attended the gym three times a week to lift weights and if he couldn’t get there you would hear the familiar clank of weights in the basement below.  Fitness magazines arrived in our mailbox regularly  (back in the day when Arnold Schwarzenegger was on the cover and women in thongs were NOT ).  My Dad was drinking egg protein shakes and my mom was watching their cholesterol.  We had a cabinet in the kitchen almost entirely devoted to vitamins that my mom and dad took faithfully every day.  My father happily trained anyone who was interested in how to lift weights properly and start their own program.   Eventually my parents bought one of those ski machines for the basement and a free-standing cable machine (the name of this is eluding me right now).   We were a fitness minded family although we may not have been aware of it.

For a brief time after college I let exercise go and noticed the pounds increase.  This was the first time in my life that I felt overweight.  I was teaching a dance team at my church but that activity was not a good enough match for the sedentary life I was otherwise leading at work and on my down time.  Plus I was struggling with a binge eating habit that had developed from an unhealthy lack of sleep and eating out a lot.  I began a walking program and tried to pay attention to what I ate.   Michael and I got married, moved to Rhode Island and I took my exercise level up a notch.   I started running.  

Rhode Island is COLD.  I don’t like the cold.  I remember some mornings racing to get my pajamas off and my running clothes on and layering to the point that it was a wonder I could move at all.  But it got my backside out the door.  I did this for six months and then decided I needed to take my running to the toasty local YMCA and add some weights too. 

Pregnancy was the next challenge.  When we had Noah, I exercised for six months of my pregnancy.  After he was born I drug his car carrier (that alone is a workout for your biceps)  into the gym with me, got to know the child care workers really well and lost that baby weight.  Pregnant with Abby I don’t think I missed a workout except for the day they hooked me up to a machine to keep me from throwing up.  That little machine was hooked up intravenously to one of my legs 24/7 for six months.  I carried it in a little purse that hung across my body as I lifted weights.  I was one determined woman!  Nothing was going to keep me down.  ( And honestly, exercising was the one thing that made me feel less nauseous)  I was working out at the gym up until the day before I had Abby and had taken a walk around the block a half hour before I went into labor. 

Over the years I have faithfully exercised four to five times a week, experimented with my eating habits, and studied fitness.  The lifestyle I witnessed as a child had become my own.  I worked at it all the time.

Over the years I had talked to Michael about working out, slipped it into conversations, and at times unfairly alluded to the idea that he should take it more seriously.  Eventually, I tried to come to peace with the idea that this might just be “my thing”.

 Last year I was thrilled to find out that my husband wanted it to become “his thing” too.  Slowly but surely he adopted fitness as his own, in his own way, and in my opinion, that is the best way it should be done.  And he’s taken to it marvelously, right?!

Back to the present:  My husband loves how he feels.  He has his own personal fitness goals.  He drools over running shoes the way I salivate over new fitness clothes.  We fight over who gets the last protein bar and he fully supports me slipping rice protein into the kids’ pancakes.  Wedded bliss!

And now my husband wants to go to the gym.  In our discussion yesterday I realized I would have to adjust to his desire to go the gym.  That has never happened before!  And that’s when I realized, “He is really committed to this.  This is really happening…We are becoming a fitness oriented family!” 

This is really different for me.  But I love it.  It is a GOOD change.  And it holds a lot of promise for our future….not just for us but our kids.  And here’s the crux of what I just shared previously.  (Did you catch it already?)

I was learning all the while as a child what were good health habits.  And once I began to see what happens when you don’t care for your body, I had a wealth of knowledge from which to pull.  And I also knew where to get more information because I saw my dad modeling it through reading his magazines.  I asked my dad and my mom questions… and I soon had my own healthy habits as an adult.

As a parent I want the same for my kids.  But it is so much easier when your spouse is on board, isn’t it?  I don’t want my kids to think it is selfish to take time to care for their bodies.  Like I’ve said before, their bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and should be taken care of so they can serve Him to the best of their ability for as long as they can.  Like Andrew Weil has said in “Healthy Aging”, as a family I want us to have bodies that function at the best of their ability for the longest amount of time.  I don’t want my kids to be weighed down by health problems.  I want to be an active grandma one day to Noah and Abby’s kids, who can still get on the floor with them and swim with them in the pool.  Doesn’t that sound great?

Do you want your kids to be healthy?  Do you want to be around for your grandkids?  If you haven’t been convinced to get out the door yet, if you have felt it is selfish to take out that time from your family’s busy schedule….would you reconsider it today?  You are not selfish!  Your walk today could affect the health of your children and your future grandkids.  

Here’s your pass to get out of that chair and invest in your future.  Your kids will thank you for it!  (And you’ll be around for the hugs and kisses of your grandkids too.)

Thanks Mom and Dad! OXOX

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