Today, March 22, 2011, my first born son turns 12. Amazing. (My thoughts alternate between ‘how did that happen?’ and ‘what took so long?’).
Happy Birthday #1 Son!
When I think about all the changes he and his sister and brother have brought to my life, the most profound and long-lasting has been an improvement in my overall health and fitness.
Before #1 Son was born, I lived only a moderately active lifestyle. While my husband and I cycled and hiked on weekends, my participation in ‘serious’, regular exercise was sporadic, at best. Oh sure, I went through phases where I attended fitness classes or ran, but I did it primarily to look good, and really didn’t enjoy the process at all.
Becoming a parent changed all of that. #1 Son was colicky and being in motion was the only way of keeping him calm. So I walked. And walked. And walked. Baby Bjorn, stroller, backpack, each in turn. My husband would drop us off at our local park on his way to work in the morning and baby and I would walk the entire 5 miles home. Every. Single. Day.
Feeling isolated, at home (or out walking!) in the suburbs with a newborn, I joined a mom’s group at the local recreation center. The center offered fitness classes and had child-minding. Desperate for an hour to myself, I started going to aerobics classes a few times a week. I noticed my energy levels pick up, despite severe sleep deprivation (#1 Son didn’t sleep through the night regularly until he was three), and was hooked. (I now teach group fitness classes and work as a personal trainer at the very same center!).
Throughout my second and third pregnancies, I continued to be active. In addition to daily fitness classes (the bigger my family grew, the more I needed that hour to myself!), I played chase, leap-frog, hide-and-seek. I pushed swings, pumped teeter-totters and ran through the waves at the beach. Some days it felt like I sat only during meals and car rides!
Teaching children to skate, swim, climb and bicycle is exercise, in it’s purest and most enjoyable form. Being a parent has given me the opportunity to make fitness an enormous part of my life and I thank them for this gift.
I only hope that they one day thank me for returning the favor!