A Little Health...The Lioness and the Lunges

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When I was a teenager, I watched a nature film of a lioness and her cubs. The cubs were crawling all over her, tugging at her ear, and bounding over her. I thought, "When I'm a mom I'm not going to be like that tired momma cat! I'm going to be the mom that throws the ball, tackles her kids and bikes them to the grocery store to get milk!" Truthfully, I now understand the exhausted lioness, and no, I don't bike the kids to get our milk. However, as a group exercise instructor and master trainer, I know first hand that making your physical health a top priority will enable you to achieve many of your family dreams and personal aspirations.

I used to feel like I couldn't realize many of those dreams. I vividly recall reoccurring kitchen table conversations with my husband over the last years. "Rob, I feel so sick and tired. I have no motivation to clean the house at all. I'm not doing any projects with the kids I always wanted to do. I haven't washed my hair in five days. I don't want to cook and I feel guilty wasting our money on fast food. Why am I so unhappy?"

My Prince wisely and kindly replied: "How is your nutrition going?" Crickets. I realize I've been getting my meals from the kids' leftover plates. "How is your hydration?" Crickets. I have been "going for the gold," because urine that color is a sure sign of dehydration. "Have you been able to get out and exercise?" Head shake no; I used that time and energy running an errand. "How is your sleep?" Ugh. I had been staying up way too late surfing the Interet.

I had "don't-take-care-of-yourself-itis."

The cure for this ailment has particulars that can be individually tailored to your likes and lifestyle. However, whether it's walking, dancing, a sport or pilates, the benefits of exercise and proper nutrition apply to every mother because it:

increases your energy levels, allowing you to finally do activities that you want with your children
releases endorphins, making you more calm and clear minded (meaning less anger and frustration)
increases your cardio endurance-- you can do more for longer and it hurts less (chasing toddlers or teens)
increases your muscle strength--you can do more for longer and it hurts less (from heavy groceries to babies to book bags)
allows your mind to function in a different zone, which rests the brain and opens you up to new ideas and perspectives
delivers more oxygen to your brain and flushes out CO2 build up, allowing you to think more clearly, increasing memory
gives you a feeling of hope and confidence, reducing depression
deeper and easier sleep
enhances digestion and ssuppresses appetite
boosts self confidence--your children and husband will sense the new power in you and it will flow to them!
makes us more decisive and affectionate (you can become your husband's girlfriend again, not just roommate).

Sometimes we can't get to the gym, funds aren't available for babysitters or the weather is too cold or hot to run. I tell my clients to do their age in push ups, sit ups, squats and lunges everyday. House cleaning counts-I burned more calories scrubbing walls and floors for our cleaning company than I did in spin class! Turn on any music that you love and just go for it.

Sometimes we don't feel like exercising. How can we keep our physical health up when life gets in the way or our will power wanes? You must plan a regular time to work out and make that space sacred time. Tell the children "I will be a nicer mommy after I do this workout!" Or better yet, invite the children to do the workout with you. I remember the first time I practiced a Zumba routine in my bathroom mirror. My four and two-year old watched me in silence, literally gaping open-mouthed in shock. Then they burst out laughing. And now we dance together.

If you had more energy, what things would you do with your family or in your career? What personal aspirations do you think you could pursue?

Set a specific time each day to move your body this week. In your daily planner or journal, write down all of the food you eat. Look over the list after three days. What patterns do you notice in your nutrition? Introduce one healthy change to a pattern you see, i.e. more water, a better breakfast, more greens, no skipping meals.

Photo from Bunneywell

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