Finding time to exercise when you’ve got a family can be challenging.  Saturday was a little crazy and it wasn’t until afternoon that I was able to squeeze in a run.  I also had to convince my 8-year old daughter to come with me because I didn’t want her to stay home alone.  Woops, I better back that up for a minute – I don’t make her run with me – she rides her bike along side.  (Granted I can be diabolical, but I’m not that bad).

She doesn’t always want to do it, but I find a way to convince her.  Some days she is my “Pace Car”.  Other days we make a stop along the way to catch butterflies or tadpoles.  Other times I resort to pleading/explaining how important it is to my health and my mood, which she completely understands.  From a very young age she began to ask me two questions after I came home from a run:  “How was your run?” and “Does your brain feel better now?”

Then there are days where I have to play the parent trump card and make her go.  There’s whining and kerfuffling in the beginning, but she gets over it, and even enjoys herself (though it’s hard to get her to admit it).  

At the end of every run with her I make a point of looking her in the eye and thanking her for coming along with me, as well as reinforcing how important it is for me to get exercise.  

In my 17+ years of working with people, the number one reason people give for not being able to exercise consistently is “I don’t have time.”  To reinforce that excuse, there’s also a list of commitments that make it impossible to exercise.  Kids, long hours at work, family comes first, etc….

And this is the point in time where I call people out on their crap.  Really?  You don’t have any time in the day to exercise?  REALLY?  Not even 15 minutes?  The average American watches 4 hours of t.v. per day.  You don’t have time?  How much time is spent online social networking or reading the latest on TMZ?  

Before I get too carried away, here’s a question I like to ask:  Who ever said exercise was something you had to do by yourself, away from everyone else?  If you have children, the best thing you can do is to involve them in your exercise goals.  Go to the park and figure out a crazy obstacle course.  Have them be your personal trainer and whatever crackpot moves they can think up, you have to do.  They can count repetitions and keep track of exercises. 

Ohmygosh – I just remembered something and pulled it out of my “Sentimental Crap” folder and scanned it in.  We did this with our daughter about 2 years ago: 

swiffer twist.jpg

Yes, #8 is the Swiffer Twist.  Which I refused to do because it was so cheezy, and you can see it hurt me in the end.  Look at the final score on the upper right hand side of the page:  Mom: 800 points, Tiff: 900 points.  Ouch.  

In the winter when it’s too cold to go outside we pull together a bunch of equipment in the basement:  slide, step, bands and weights.  The “game” is played by me designating a move that we both do for 60 seconds.  At the end of 60 seconds, it’s my daughter’s turn to come up with a move.  She comes up with some crazy stuff, but by the end of the 60 seconds I’ve got muscles that are burning or I am out of breath.  Or both.  By the end of the “game” things have gotten totally ridiculous due to us one-upping each other and we’re laughing so hard it’s hard to keep going.

Today I saw the following:  Dad on a bicycle with baby in a Bjorn/Snugli, mom in rollerblades pushing toddler in a jogger, and young child on his own bike.  It would have been so easy for the adults to play in to the excuse of “We have 3 kids, one of them being an infant.  How are we supposed to get exercise?”  Creatively and in a group, that’s how!

Moral of the story:  when I exercise with my daughter we have fun together and she learns the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle.  Our children learn more by what we DO than what we say.  And here’s what I’m reminded of:  You know what children call exercise?  PLAYING!  When did that change?