What does our health and fitness have to do with parenting? Being a parent is challenging and requires energy. There can be sleepless nights with newborns. The weekly grind of getting kids to piano lessons or soccer practice. Making sure the kids get dinner every night. And the list goes on. All this requires daily sacrifices from parents.
As a result, our daily sacrifices for our kids come at an expense to us as parents. This may mean that our needs and wants as parents are not always met. This is what it means to sacrifice, right? But what if doing this causes our health and fitness to decline? I believe if there is one thing that a parent should not sacrifice it is their health and fitness.
So, what do I mean by this or maybe I should start with what I don’t mean by this. Not sacrificing your health and fitness doesn’t mean that you have an excuse to neglect your kids or put them at risk in any way. It does mean that you should give yourself permission to take a break and be “selfish” when it comes to your health and fitness. The two best ways to be healthy and fit is to exercise regularly and to eat healthy.
Benefits of Health and Fitness as a Parent
As a parent exercising not only maintains your health and fitness, but it also contributes to your happiness. It’s long been known that during the course of exercising the brain releases dopamine and serotonin. These are happiness hormones that improves our mental health and contributes to our happy feelings. If we are feeling happy, then as a parent, it is more likely we’ll be more patient with a toddler who is throwing a temper tantrum or with a teenager who is smarting off. In addition to our happiness, being healthy and fit gives us the needed energy to tackle the daily tasks of parenting such as getting kids off to school, getting them to soccer practice and to piano lessons, and making dinner. Sometimes these can be long days for a parent and having energy to do it all is helpful.
To make your health and fitness and priority you first need to carve out some time during each day to actually exercise. The time you choose may be different for everyone. I know people who get up early in the morning to exercise. Then there are those who prefer exercising after work. If you’re a stay at home parent perhaps exercising works best in the middle of the day while your kids are napping. Whatever time you choose make sure to choose a time that will allow you to be consistent.
Pick Exercise That You Enjoy
I love to run and because I love it, it is less likely I’ll stop doing it. Other people may hate running. If you find yourself agreeing with that, then running is what you should not choose. Choosing something you enjoy doing will make it more likely that you will consistently exercise every day. Maybe yoga is something you will enjoy or maybe its swimming. Along with this don’t be afraid to mix up your exercise routine by trying different exercise workouts if your exercise routine seems to be getting old.
I’ve learned that exercising by itself is only part of the equation. Eating healthy gives our bodies what it needs to be healthy and fit. We need calories from carbs, fats, and protein to function as well as vitamins and minerals. I’m not advocating for a new year’s resolution type of diet when I talk about eating healthy. Eating healthy should be a life style that is consistently followed day in and day out. I also believe that you should treat yourself to ice cream, chocolate or whatever it is you love. Life is to be enjoyed and treating yourself every now and then will make life more enjoyable.
Eating healthy will not only help you as a parent, but it will also set a good example for you kids to follow when it comes to eating healthy. If you have cookies and ice cream for dinner your kids will too. But if you’re eating healthy, your kids are a lot more likely to eat health too and grow up having healthy eating habits.