Growing up, I wasn't an athlete. In fact, I was definitely a non-athlete.
As an elementary school student, I vividly remember being dressed in a jumper and mary janes on PE day, and tripping over the kickball as it was rolled my way. My thoughtful teacher walked me to first base. I think he knew that some of us are just not made for team sports. Bless him.
In high school, I attempted to participate in volleyball. But that only lasted a season. I share all of this because I didn’t commit to a regular exercise routine until my second baby turned 2. Before then, I didn’t have the right motivation. I had the time (so much time before I was married, before children!), but there was no fuel to my fire. For me, there wasn’t a big enough reason to watch my weight or become stronger.
Now, there is. Now I know why I need to carve out space for activity, for sweat. It’s my kids. I do it for them. For me, too, but mostly for them.
Still, the number on the scale is haunting. It's a battle I fight every morning—to weigh myself or not. To let that number speak to my worth, or not. You feel me, right?
We all know a healthy body begins in the mind and that's why I'm attempting to focus on non-scale victories, for my mental wellness and for the example I set for my daughter and sons. I didn’t commit to exercise to see a certain number on the scale. It’s a nice perk when (and if) it comes, but it’s not the victory I’m aiming for anymore.
In fact, these 10 things all rate much higher in importance than a "culturally approved" weight.
Mental Health and Clarity
Exercise clears my mind. It wards off the blues. It gives me clarity. I know I’m not the only mama who sees a correlation between her physical and mental health. For me, they go hand in hand—big time.
Stronger Every Run
One of my workout tees says “Stronger Every Run” and it’s just the motivation I need to remind myself that my time or distance doesn’t matter—it’s that I’m getting stronger every time I lace up my shoes. Every mile I move, every class I take, every pound I lift: I'm getting stronger.
What our kids see us do with our time matters
Meaningful Time Together
I love exercising with my family. As much as I love a good snuggle on the couch with a movie, I find that our best conversations happen when we’re moving together.
Exercising gets us out of the house! We’ve hiked to waterfalls, through the woods and to peaks that I never would have seen had I not built the endurance to take children into the great outdoors.
My health now plays into my health long-term. More than weighing five pounds less, I desperately want the strength, flexibility and endurance to see and help care for my grandchildren one day. Maybe even my great-grandchildren! My investment now will surely pay off in the years to come.
A Good Example
My daughter (who has the athletic ability of my younger years) joined a run club this fall. She said, “I’m going to be a run girl like my mom!” What our kids see us do with our time matters.
Pregnancy Recovery and Postpartum Wellness
Of all the seasons in my life, pregnancy and postpartum has been both the hardest and most essential when it comes to being active. I’m not running marathons, but I am choosing gentle and consistent activities to help my body recover.
I make better eating choices when I’m working out. They really go hand in hand. Food is fuel and my body needs the good stuff! And the occasional cookie (because balance).
I have never been judged by a fellow runner, gym class teacher or other mom on the move. In fact, I’ve been encouraged. Like, "giant grin on my face" encouraged. The community of love and support online and in person is such a gift.
This past year, I decided to run a 5K. "Not stopping" was my goal. I trained. I succeeded. Then I decided to set a time goal: a 5K in under 30 minutes. By then, I had the race bug and registered for a 10K. And I did it. Crossing a finish line, whether it be a race finish line or another kind of competition, swells your heart 10 times more than a number on the scale.