Role Modeling Being Active and Healthy

Role Modeling Being Active and Healthy

We even rode bikes in the winter when I was little!
We even rode bikes in the winter when I was little!

Growing up, I was always outside. I have very fond memories of practically living one summer in my black and hot pink bathing suit. I woke up, put it on and was out the door to play. When I was very little we were living in an apartment building for a few years and that was the summer that I’d race outside and meet the other kids on the playground. We’d build forts, pretend house, play restaurant where the sticks, stones and sand were the food. Freeze tag was my all-time favorite and our bikes were cars and we’d drive from pretend city to pretend city. I was skinny as a stick then and my mother had to practically make me come inside to eat. Those years were the happiest years of my childhood!

I would tell this little girl (me) to not let food be her friend. To go outside and play.
I would tell this little girl (me) to not let food be her friend. To go outside and play.

Life changed as I grew older and when we moved I had a hard time adjusting to our new environment and leaving my friends, this is when the weight started to pile. I was less active; I ate junk food and watched a ton of television. I retreated into myself and the frolicking little girl who lived in her bathing suit disappeared. Looking back I can see a direct correlation between my weight and my overall happiness as a child, teen and adult. My family wasn’t any less active and health wasn’t any less important but my own personal shift in activity and play changed because of feeling down-in the dumps. I’d just curl up and read a book. I’d turn on the tube and grab a bag of chips to console myself.

If only I could go back in time and tell that little girl that if she’d go outside and play like she used to that she’d be happier and feel better. Because the reality is that when we play, run, jump, use our imagination we feel better. Even when we don’t feel like it, it will lift our spirits. If I only I could rewind time.

Making the most of the cold weather and short days with some ice skating!
Making the most of the cold weather and short days with some ice skating!

Family bike ride while camping!
Family bike ride while camping!

Today I’ve learned that turning to food and being a coach potato is not only unhealthy, unproductive but it’s a bad role model for my kids. I can’t go back in time and help myself but I can help my kids and so they don’t do what I did. My kids now love to be outside and yes, they love their television, computer, iPod’s and indoor toys but I can safely say that they both enjoy being active outdoors too! From sledding and ice skating in the winter to camping, hiking, bike riding and swimming in the summer – they enjoy the outdoors and being physically active. In the summertime we are certainly more active because the weather allows it but this is when I make sure the kids are busy with outdoor summer camps, the dirty they come home the better! If it’s sunny outside, the technology time is limited drastically. Scooters, bikes, side walk chalk, hop scotch; hula hoops, the trampoline and sprinkler are all available so outdoors they go! I want my kids to play as kids should play and have fun doing it but I also want them to see that mom cares about her health and goes for long walks and feels good when she is sweaty and ran up those hills.

There are so many ways to help kids not be coach potatoes but it certainly starts with me not being one and showing them that being active feels good. What do you do to role model active and healthy living for your kids?

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