A Gift to my Kids

A Gift to my Kids

I am so grateful everyday that exercise is part of my life. There are many days where it’s a struggle, but moving my feet on a regular basis is something that’s a non negotiable for me as a 38 year old mother of four and I have no idea where I would be without it. I often wonder if I would have the devotion to fitness that I have today if my parents didn’t introduce physical activity to me at such a young age but I’m so glad they did.  I have so many memories as a little kid of weekends spent at local PEI roadrunners events watching and cheering my parents run in races. I also have so many memories of after the races, the camaraderie, the teasing and often the post run barbecues my parents would have with their running buddies. It never looked daunting to me, it just always looked fun. When I was around 9 or 10, I started running in some of the shorter races with them and I can still remember the feeling of crossing the finish line- tired, accomplished and proud. I have never grown tired of that.

At the time I didn’t realize all of the benefits exercise was giving me, although I probably would of said it made you stronger. What I didn’t know was how it also helped develop my resolve, my work ethic and my ability to cope with some of the difficult situations life can throw at you. I remember distinctly a time in high school where I was going through some kind of teenage trauma and crying in my room not wanting to get out of bed. My parents came in and said “come on, we are going for a bike ride.’ I probably yelled at them first but I did drag myself out of my room and followed them out the door. Neuroscientist, Wendy Sazuki said “exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain. It has immediate effects on your mind and will immediately increase levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.” What do they do? They make you happy. Instead of being a 16 year old spending the morning in a dramatic heap, I got outside and moved my body and felt better. What a gift that was to learn that.

Fast forward quite a few years and my three oldest kids are just reaching the age where they are old enough to run in some of the shorter local road races. A few weekends ago was actually the first time, my Dad, myself and my kids all ran in the same race. My husband usually participates too but was steering the kids on their quest. That is the other beautiful thing about running or many other forms of exercise, you can do it with your family.  It’s undeniable the bond that is created with people that you sweat with. There is something pretty cool about challenging your body alongside someone else who is doing the same. This past weekend my Dad, now 64, and I ran in one of our PEI roadrunners half marathons. On the way home, I realized that it was almost 19 years ago since I ran my first half with my Dad. Half my life ago. Pretty cool. It took several decades, not now sometimes I even finish ahead….

(photo credits: Janet Bain)

I know for a fact, that I could not be the mother I want to be without having exercise as an escape. There has been many challenges since I became a mom, much worse actually then that teenage trauma when I was 16, where I coped only because I was able to turn to my sneakers to get me through. In those tough times, it makes me happier, it makes me more patient, it gives me more energy and it makes me stronger- mentally and physically. Yes sometimes it’s freaking hard. Yes somedays I would rather curl up in bed and make many excuses, but at the end of the day- it’s gotta be part of my day. I know how it fixes things. My kids need the best me. I need it to be that.

My hope is that my kids are going to grow up knowing that exercise is a ticket to a better life, like I was taught. I also hope, that when I’m 64, I can keep up.