Thursday, March 24, 2011

Culture of Exercise

Occasionally I will wake up in the morning and wonder what other people, people who don't exercise or plan out meals, think about. What does it feel like, not having these issues weighing on one's mind? Is it liberating? I don't know anyone who doesn't exercise. At least I don't think I do.

That being said, there is a difference among exercisers. There are those who, like my in-laws, have decided that they need to exercise for their health, and so they do what's necessary to accomplish that. There are others who get exposed to the fitness bug and run (pun!) with it. And then there are those who, like myself and my brothers, were raised in a "culture of fitness". Allow me to explain.

It all started in the womb. My mother never allowed her first two pregnancies to slow her down. She walked/biked, gardened, and only gained 18 pounds with me. When she was pregnant with my brother she tells the story of when she biked to church in freezing cold weather, me in the bike carrier and her 8 months pregnant. I'm convinced that's what inspired me to make my cross-country trip when I was 8 months pregnant (to see Damm, who was graduating from Basic. I had a good reason).

Growing up we remained active. Walking, parks, gardening. When I was 8 my parents decided that we were going to play sports and enrolled first my brother, then myself, in soccer. It was a love affair that survives to this day. My love of running is a fortunate by-product of this previous enthrallment. Eventually, with three kids in soccer and two parents who played pickup games and a mother who coached, we had soccer practices five days a week and games all weekend. We were always on the move.

Later I decided that I was going to run races. When I was 7 my grandpa had run a 1-mile race with me, and I had run one or two others in the intervening years. My aunts were active runners and triathletes, and my grandparents decided that at 50 (I think that was their age) they were going to learn how to ski because the prices went down astronomically. Everyone was active. There was no escape. So I ran a half-marathon, a couple of shorter races. Then I decided to tackle the marathon distance, and ran the Austin Marathon twice. My brothers also have run races and the youngest participated in triathlons with my parents. Today, in case you were curious, my parents are arriving in Las Cruces, partly to see us over Spring Break and also so my dad and I can run the 15-mile Honorary Bataan March. Perfect vacation activity.

So, as hopefully I have illustrated, exercise was not an option growing up. It was something we all did, constantly and enthusiastically. Interest in nutrition has also stemmed from our "culture of exercise", and although we (Damm and myself) don't have the best of diets right now we are always trying. I want to pass along this ingrained need to be active to my children as well. I want them to consider exercise as part of their lives, and not as an optional activity. Given that their dad is in the army and I do things like INSANITY workouts for fun, I think they're well on their way to being raised in a "culture of exercise".

1 comment:

Charleen said...

This is how I want to raise our kids. I don't want them to struggle with making good choices the way that I am now, I just want it to be their natural lifestyle. That said I don't want to make them do anything that's not fun for them, or they'll just quit when they're old enough to do so (the way my parents did with me and piano, even though I later became a music major and wished I had that skill). So I'm worried about finding the balance between keeping them active and eating well, and "making" them do these things that they'll just abandon when they get older. I guess I have a while before I need to worry about it though.