Talking Fitness Thursday: Leading By Example

It’s been a rough couple of weeks around here. I slipped and fell off the healthy wagon during BEA, replacing my smart food choices with some less-than-stellar ones and skipping workouts altogether. It was difficult for me to drag myself out of bed at 4:30 every morning; while Joshua still isn’t a through-the-night sleeper, he’s no longer wide awake before dawn as he was as a baby, and I haven’t slept well since I was pregnant with him three years ago. (The lack of sleep is something I hope both of us outgrow, but that remains to be seen.) Getting only a few hours of sleep each night hardly lent itself to a willingness to exercise, and I felt like I was getting enough of a workout with all the walking I was doing between Penn Station and the Javits Center and inside the Expo itself…not to mention with all the weight in books I was carrying every day. My Fitbit said I was walking well over 10,000 steps every day and burning plenty of calories, so I was willing to skip more traditional workouts for the time being.

My diet, however, was more problematic. On the day of the Bloggers conference, I ate two-thirds of a rather heavy sandwich that I immediately regretted afterwards; on the first day of the Expo, I had chicken tenders and fries with Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, Dan Blank, and Kathi Gadow (which I don’t regret, as it provided a bit of a bonding experience for the four of us); I didn’t eat at all on the second Expo day; and at BookCon I ate a small bag of salt-and-vinegar chips and a bottle of water while waiting in line for Danielle Paige, and then a hot dog shortly before we left the Javits. I felt like crap after the Expo ended, both in body and in spirit. I knew I shouldn’t have eaten those things — they’re not great foods for anyone, but especially for someone with PCOS — and I let myself go and splurged anyway. On top of that, I didn’t immediately jump back into healthy habits after the Expo ended — in fact, I noticed I was eating more fast food than I had since getting my PCOS diagnosis, and I hated myself for it. Being at BEA and not having to cook dinner upon returning home every night spoiled me, and laziness set in…there’s simply no other way to put it.

I could have kept this to myself and beaten myself up silently, but then I noticed that Joshua wasn’t eating well, either. Once that dawned on me, I snapped out of my funk very quickly. You know that saying, “you are what you eat”? Well, Joshua was slowly morphing into French fries. I couldn’t get him to eat anything else, and I noticed that he was sitting around more than usual, too — but he wasn’t sick.

Illness wasn’t slowing him down. French fries were.

Not in my house.

Obesity is an epidemic among American children, and I don’t want Joshua to become part of those statistics. He’s a very active little boy, and I really want him to stay that way. In order to keep his activity level up, a few things need to happen on my end:

1. He can’t keep his foot on the gas without the proper fuel. French fries, by definition, are deep-fried in oil, which obviously isn’t good for any of us, let alone our two-year-olds. The carbs in fries also cause your blood sugar to spike; as we all know, what goes up must come down, meaning that spike will eventually lead to a rapid crash. I would prefer smooth sailing over rough seas when it comes to blood sugar, and especially as it pertains to my son.

2. Changes in scenery are good for the soul. I’m a stay-at-home parent, but that doesn’t mean I always stay at home. I have a working car with a car seat strapped into it, and cabin fever sets in fairly quickly for both of us. What’s nice is that I have a membership pass to our local Six Flags park and Joshua, being under 3 years old, gets in for free. He loves rides, so I try to take him whenever I can. The last few weeks have been crazy between BEA, babysitting, and the weather so we haven’t had a chance to go; I really hope that next week provides us with a few opportunities to pay the park a visit. Aside from that, we also have a playground and a library within walking distance of our house, and there are ample retail stores, restaurants, and other attractions nearby. That’s one thing that’s nice about living where we do: I know there’s no shortage of activities to keep Joshua entertained!

3. We aren’t tethered to wall sockets with plugs. I’m so happy he’s still too young for video games and Internet surfing. Our TV is on (and set to PBS) all day, but it mainly serves as background noise because Joshua’s not vegetating in front of it all day. If one of his favorite shows comes on, he’ll stop what he’s doing for a few minutes to sing along with a song or to say hi to the characters…and then he’s right back to whatever game he was playing. This point is more about me than about Joshua: I tend to keep my phone in hand or very close by at all times, and I also have to keep this blog going. This week has not been a good one for me, as watching so many children hasn’t allowed me much time to write and Joshua is not a fan of me being on the computer during the day. I have to get better about writing my posts on the weekends and scheduling them for the weekdays, but I’m working on that. I hope that an upcoming change in our household arrangements provides me with a little more flexibility because frankly, I don’t want to spend my entire summer glued to my laptop. My son needs to enjoy his childhood, and I want to be a part of that.

There’s one other thing that’s been going on over the last week or so that’s troubling me: Joshua has caught me stepping onto the scale on several occasions, and now he wants to stand on it, too. I know that at this point, he understands what the purpose of the scale is but not why Mommy steps on it so much. I don’t want him to grow up believing that it’s okay to obsess about his weight because that leads to some very unhealthy habits that I don’t want him to adopt. I don’t yet expect him to understand that I get on the scale so often as a means of monitoring my weight and any fluctuations I experience as a result of my diet and exercise habits. When he is old enough to understand, I want to be able to explain to him that I’m not getting on the scale in hopes of seeing as low a number as possible; instead, I’m checking to make sure that the changes I’ve made are working and affecting my body the way they should be. I want him to know that I’m trying to reach a certain number on the scale because it’s a healthy weight for me and where I should be, and that I’m only willing to use healthy habits to get to where I want to be. I’m not looking for “skinny”, I’m looking for “fit”. I want him to see that I’m trying to get fit — and not just get skinny — by doing exercise that is not only hard work but fun, too.

Basically, I want him to know that you have to work hard to get what you want. You can’t just wish for it and *poof*, it appears before you. I want him to know that eating well and exercising often are the keys to living a truly healthy life. I’m his mom and his role model, and I want to teach him well. I want to lead by example. In the end, it’s a win-win for both of us!

What is the most important lesson about health that you want to teach your children? Leave a comment!

To read Becca’s post for this week, click here!