Exercise is FUN! – Promoting a Healthy Self-Image Through Modeling

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants!

 

In a culture that is obsessed with exercise as a form of weight loss and competition, it’s easy to forget that exercise is also fun, freeing, and good for the soul.

Recently, I had the privilege of seeing that I have begun to instill in my child a love of exercise – and not for our traditional cultural reasons of weight loss/maintenance or competition, but just for the plain fact that feeling the wind in your hair and the fire in your legs feels good and makes you happy. Abbey knows from watching me that exercise is FUN and good for you. And I’m so happy about that!

You see, the past couple weeks have been pretty chaotic around here.

With Hubs’ gone on patrol, I usually do quite well. I’ve learned to acclimate to a stressful partial single-parenthood lifestyle with a balance of dedication, prayer, and loosening my expectations for myself and others. After quite a few Coast Guard Cutter patrols, I think I have the patrol thing down pat.

Until I have a week like this one. For reasons I’ll discuss in another post, I have ended up swamped. My mind going in a million directions, and my body feeling totally exhausted. I’m tired, crabby, and a little moody. . . and I’m not happy about it. But it wasn’t until Abbey reminded me . . . that I remembered that I could improve my mood and my wellbeing by taking time out to exercise.

 

“You Need Some Exercise!” 

Early Monday morning, I had a huge headache, and my back was aching. Abbey noticed that I was crabby, and she came up and gave me a hug.

“Mommy,” she said. “Are you feeling ok?”

I responded that I was going to be fine, but that I was feeling a little tired and cranky and that my back hurt.

“You want to go on a run, mommy?” she asked. “You’re always so happy after you go on a run – you just need some exercise!” and she ran from one side of the kitchen to the other, showing me how to exercise my body.

I laughed and thanked Abbey for her thoughtfulness, but let her know that I wouldn’t be able to go on a run right then. Then I took her to preschool, brought Joe back home, and quickly called up a friend.

“Do you think that you could watch Joe for me one morning next week?” I asked. “Since Jed’s been gone, I haven’t been exercising, and I need to get back to it. I’m really missing my early morning runs, and I’d like to get back to running – at least one morning per week.”

 

Taking Time Out for Exercise

In all of my stress and clambering to keep up with housework, volunteer work, mothering, sewing, and school, I had completely forgotten that with the departure of my husband, I had lost the opportunity to take an early morning run once or twice a week like I had been doing for the past few months.

And it was obviously showing in my stress level, and in my physical well being.

 

And lo and behold, my four-year-old was the one with the answer – I needed to get some exercise!

I’m happy that by modeling a love for exercise that I’ve been teaching my little girl that exercise feels good and is good for you, not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically as well.

 

She knows that mommy feels good when she exercises, and she mimics our behaviors, enjoying getting her heart rate up and exercising her body through all kinds of gross motor play, indoors and out.

 

What have your behaviors been teaching your child(ren) about exercise? 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She’ll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she’s hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it’s pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate’s love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they’ll respect their own and others’.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children’s self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she’s trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama’s Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, “I’m not beautiful.” And while it’s hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child’s lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today’s society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can’t give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don’t You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma’s baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter’s clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she’s in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry’s choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is.

Comments

  1. That’s so great! I find it really hard to ask for help, but sometimes I need to so everyone’s needs can be met… Even mine! I really don’t exercise, but try to take the kids to the park and walk while we are there. We have a new puppy, and I am hoping I can model some healthy behavior (ie, more activity and routinely attending to my own needs) as we get to know her.

    • Laura, I’ve found that it’s really important to make sure Mommy’s needs are met. We do so much for our families. . . we need some time to recharge our batteries! Running is so peaceful for me – and I feel really grounded and free when I run! We, too, have a dog, and I find that that encourages our family to be active (walking, fetch, playing, etc). Enjoy your puppy!

  2. That is wonderful. I am not a runner. I want to be…but I am really bad at making excuses and not following through. A large part of my hesitation has been taking the kid and the jogging stroller is a total pain! Maybe I should do what you do and do it alone. Alone time would be worth running for!

    • I was never a runner. I had zero endurance for something so. . . mundane. I was a dancer. But after children, and with a Hubs’ away half the year, and moving to Maine, I didn’t have such an easy time attending adult ballet and modern classes. So, I started jogging, and then decided to try the C25K (“Couch to 5K” which is now called “Ease into 5K”) program on my iPhone, and I can proudly call myself a runner now!

      I also despise running with a jogging stroller. This sounds awful, but it really seems like such a chore pushing it around and maneuvering it around corners and on sloped sidewalks. . . I hate it. Running solo (well, I take our dog Raven with me) is so freeing and almost prayerlike. I love it

      I’m almost done with the C25K program . . . when Hubs returns, I’ll really get to get back to it and hopefully run a 5K in the spring!

  3. I do not exercise and hadn’t really considered the model – or lack thereof – that I am being to my daughters. I would prefer to do something with them. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Marisa! How old are your daughters? Any kind of exercise – even just dancing around in the house – can be an excellent model for our children. The idea is that we model the fact that getting our bodies moving is FUN and good for us! :) Children naturally move and groove and want to be physically active, so one good starting place is to follow their lead and be active in their play, indoors and out.

      As for suggestions, I posted an article that I wrote for Social Moms about exercising with an infant (or toddler), but you could also try going on a nature walk with your children, or having foots races outdoors. If you are urban dwellers, go on a walk and play “I Spy” while you walk. Obstacle courses are also great fun and great exercise. So is high-energy follow the leader! Hiking is also great exercise, but I love it because it’s fun and feels less like a chore than running or walking a circuitous pattern. You can gaze at the trees, see animals and flowers, etc.

      There are so many ways to be active with your family! :) Here are a couple posts that you might be interested in where I have written about getting out and being active with the family!

      http://www.amywilla.com/2011/09/w-love-to-play-outside/

      http://www.amywilla.com/2010/09/hi-tweeeeees-hi-rock-outdoor-afternoon/

      http://www.socialmoms.com/health/fitness/exercising-baby/

  4. Your daughter rocks! How great that she’s made that connection. I used to go for walks all the time when the kids were younger, but now we’re doing homework or getting to and from activities. The kids get tons of exercise but I’m realizing now that my modeling has gone down the toilet!

    • Kenna, yeah, Abbey’s a pretty cool, kid. But she keeps me in line! Today, she told me “mommy, please don’t be mean. I understand you better when you use manners” . . . lol! Sweet, Abbey. So aware of . . . everything! :)

      Sounds like it’s time to take back your walking time! Even if it’s five or ten minutes, getting up and going sets a great example for your family AND exercise, even just a little does so much good for our bodies and our souls :)

      It’s easy to get caught up in all the work and rushing around, though. I know! (Well, obviously, I only know because my four-year-old reminds me! haha!)

  5. How intuitive of her! Sensitive kiddos are amazing, aren’t they?! I hope you find some regular time to run – you deserve it.
    ~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com

  6. I am not a runner and have never been a member of a gym but I’m an outdoor educator and spent a lot of time hiking. My daughter can tell when I’ve spent all day at my desk and and not out in the forest and she tells me when either she or I, or both of us, need an “adventure walk.” I love it that our kids often know what we need!

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  1. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  2. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  3. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  4. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  5. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  6. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  7. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  8. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  9. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  10. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  11. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  12. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  13. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

  14. [...] Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul. [...]

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