I spend a lot of time “with” health and fitness: time at the gym, time with my fitness friends, reading about health and fitness, and time thinking of ways to make our children understand the importance of health and fitness.
As I was driving home from teaching my Monday morning strength class this week I started to think about this question, “What does it mean to be healthy and fit?”
Too often we (especially women) get caught up in a look- we believe that being healthy and fit is about the way our body looks on the outside. I am sometimes guilty of this as well. Being 28 weeks pregnant, I sometimes find myself thinking about when I might be able to fit into my favorite pair of jeans again or my favorite workout shorts. We focus on having the flattest stomach for a bikini or the best arms for a tank top. The pressure of having the “healthy and fit look” is everywhere: all over social media and sometimes right in our faces… our friends, family & colleagues.
What if we changed our mindset about what it means to be healthy and fit? What if instead of focusing on what our body looks like when we are healthy and fit, we focus on what our body can do when we are healthy and fit? What if when we wrote our healthy & fitness goals down they focused more on the body’s abilities to do more rather than be a certain size or a certain weight?
For me, my choice to continue to improve my health and fitness is not about making sure I can fit into all my pre-pregnancy clothes, look good in a bathing suit, or wearing the same size dress I did on my wedding day. (Although sometimes I have to ignore the outside pressures, and remind myself what my health & fitness mission really is.)
It is about the way my body is able to carry, nourish and grow another healthy human being.
It is about the way my body gives me the strength to carry my 22 lb. almost-2 year old up the stairs with ease.
It is about the way my body ables me to get on my hands and knees and play “zoo animals” with a rambunctious toddler.
It is about the way my body allows me to climb up & down the playground creating lasting memories with my daughter.
It is about the way my body gives me the energy to teach a 60-minute long group exercise class.
It is about the way my body will soon endure the labor of giving birth.
This runs deeper than us. It is the example we are setting for our children. I want my children to know that health and fitness is important in our house not because of a certain look. It is important to take care of ourselves physically and mentally and to honor the body we have been given. I want to make sure Claire (and baby MK) knows that it isn’t about what her body looks like on the outside, but what her body is able to do. God gave us these bodies, these amazing machines, these temples- embrace them for what they are able to do.
Everyday she is embraces that her ALMOST-51 YEAR-OLD body CAN run a sub 2:00 half marathon, CAN do 50 push-ups all on her toes, CAN setup obstacle courses in her backyard and DO them with all the fast little kids, CAN still join her girlfriends on the softball diamond every Thursday night, CAN keep up with her toddler granddaughter, and CAN still participate in any type of physical activity with her 3 children and their spouses…. and occasionally beat them.
Yes, my mom has taught me to embrace my body… not how it looks, but what it allows me to do!