Reality Fitness – No Mommy Martyrs

Whatever message my teenage client picked up caused her to end up battling anorexia. 

Some years ago a woman brought her teenage daughter to me for personal training. The daughter was underweight and the mother was quite overweight. Apparently the daughter wasn’t eating well and was obsessing about her changing body. Mom thought if she began to exercise it would help her self esteem and her appetite. 
I suggested we do two for the price of one Mother-daughter sessions, thinking that maybe this was a family issue. The mother looked at me with horror and said, “I can’t work out. I don’t have time!”
This was not the first time I had a parent bring a child to me for personal training when it was obvious that the parent didn’t exercise at all. This sends a mixed message. If you don’t exercise but expect your children to, what goes on in their heads?
  • I need to exercise but Mom doesn’t.
  • There must be something wrong with me.
  • I’m fat.
  • Exercise is not fun; Mom doesn’t do it.
  • I can stop when I’m an adult.

Whatever message my teenage client picked up caused her to end up battling anorexia. Statistics prove that the best way to ensure that your child grows up to become a healthy, normal weight adult is for you to model healthy behaviors.

Remember the old public service commercial in which the little boy copies everything his father does? When Dad lights up a cigarette, he picks up the pack. Your actions speak louder than words.
Children want to be proud of their parents and a fit, attractive parent is someone worth emulating. Finding time for yourself to workout isn’t a selfish or vain behavior. It is a loving thing to do for your family. Your kids will be healthier, happier kids if they have healthier, happier parents. Martyrs may be admirable but they are no fun to live with. 
Sometimes building physical activities into your day to day life is a good way to start the fitness ball rolling. A few family fun ideas are:
  • Frisbee nights instead of pizza and movie nights 
  • Family walks after dinner
  • Active vacations that include things like swimming, skiing, kayaking, and hiking
  • Train for a local race together if your child is old enough
  • Bike or walk to the places you can instead of always driving
  • Have your kids help with cleaning and yard work (my personal favorite)
You’ve heard the expression, fake it ’till you make it. Sometimes that’s what we have to do. If you think of exercise as fun and a natural part of a healthy life, so will your children. If you take time to fit fitness into your day, so will your children. Don’t be a Mommy Martyr, get out and have some fun in the sun today.

Greta Boris is the author of The Wine and Chocolate Workout – Eat, Drink, and Lose Weight. She was a weight management consultant and personal trainer for many years and now writes about the things women care about: how to look good, feel good and be good. Sign up for her free ebook, 7 Ways Your Brain Can Make You More Beautiful! 

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