February 14, 2010

The Sunday Sampler

Welcome to the second installment of The Sunday Sampler.  This is the day where I share my insights, thoughts, and opinions with you about different things in three categories: fitness (gear/clothing/accessories/etc.), parenthood, and health rotating each category each week.  I hope that makes sense! :)  
My hope is that I will be able to help you along your adventure just like so many others have helped me. So, let me know what you think!  I'd love to read about your perspectives on these things as well!  :) 

Finding the right balance

One thing I have noticed on a lot of the different blogs that I follow is the common feeling of guilt that many parents feel about not spending enough time with their children when they are training.  I admit that I have that same guilt, but I have also come to the realization that it is all about finding the right balance.    

My husband and I have always led an active lifestyle.  Before we had kids we loved to go hiking, camping, backpacking, and snowboarding.  We would do running races here and there and he would go mountain biking sometimes on the weekends.  It was always easy to fit fitness into our lives.  

When we had kids however, it changed.  Not in a bad way, but in a different way.  We had to adjust what fitness meant to us and find a way to make it work.  We couldn't go hiking with a newborn because of the altitude.  But, once he was old enough, we strapped him onto a backpack carrier and went on some short hikes.  

Backpacking/camping was no longer an option with an infant.  But, now that our boys are older (4 and 2) we have learned to enjoy car camping with them and exploring nature through their eyes.  We were able to find a nice balance by learning how to tweak the things we used to do such that our whole family could enjoy them.     

When I started training for triathlons 4 years ago though it was a whole other ballgame.  Basically we had to figure out how to fit work, dinner, fitness, and time with the kids all into the day.  It was tough!  But, my husband and I sat down and came up with a great schedule that would work for all of us.  I honestly didn't know how I would get all of my training in, but I got creative with when and where I did my workouts. 

It took me awhile to get over the guilt I felt about taking time away from my boys for myself, but I honestly believe that I am a better parent because of it.  Exercising pumps me full of happy endorphins that translate to a happier mommy. Now, I don't know about all of you, but when I go for a period of time without exercising I get really cranky.  I'm not talking about a little cranky either.  I start to lose my patience with my boys, I make snappy remarks, and just have a bad attitude most of the time.  Plus, I get really, really tired and I start not liking myself very much.  It's like my body needs to exercise to be happy.  When I exercise regularly I find that I have more patience, more energy to play, am a better listener, and have a more positive attitude in general.  

So, here are some things that work for us:
*Note:  it may seem like we spent a lot of money initially, but the benefit we have gotten from everything we bought has far outweighed the cost.   
1.  I get up early to get my swim workouts in (4:30AM - yikes!).  I finish my workout and am back home before my boys and husband even wake up.  Yes, sometimes I shut off my alarm and go back to sleep.  Yes, sometimes I am really tired from getting up early.  But, I love knowing that I finished a workout before most people even start their day.      

2.  We bought a bike trainer.  My husband does at least 1 century ride a year as well as other bike races, so we have both benefited from the trainer.  It's hard to get outside for a ride in the winter, so a trainer was a must for us.  Plus, I am able to get a bike workout done at night after we put the boys to sleep.  

3.  We bought a BOB Sport Utility jogging stroller.  This is awesome because we can include our boys when we go for a run or a race.  We usually do our run and then play at the park with them afterwards, which they love! 

4.  We bought a treadmill.  Yes, our gym has treadmills, but just like the trainer I'm able to do some of my run workouts while the boys are napping or at night after we put them to sleep. 

5.  The weekends are a little tricky.  Usually I have a long run on Saturday and a long bike ride on Sunday.  I used to feel really guilty about taking the time over the weekend for these workouts because the weekends are really the only time we get to be together.  But, my husband is very supportive and understanding.  We worked it out where I would do my long runs/bike rides either early in the morning or during their naps.  When they woke up he got to have one on one time with them, which he rarely gets to do.  He loved it and so did the boys.

6.  Our gym has something called "Kids Club."  It's a place where parents can drop off their kids while they workout in the gym.  The boys actually have lots of fun playing with other kids and toys.  They even ask to go there now! :)  This makes it really nice because I know they are having fun, which makes me feel less guilty about taking time for myself.       

Finding the right balance for us has taken time, and we are constantly changing to best meet our needs.  But, we are instilling a love of fitness and health into our boys because they see, first hand, how much we enjoy it.  They love to run, hike, climb, jump, and swim.  My oldest (4 1/2) likes to run "fast" and is constantly asking us to see how fast he can run.  It's so cute.  And, just the other day he told me that he wants to do a triathlon one day.  It made me so happy!  So, yes, we are taking time for ourselves, but in the end we're doing it for each other.  It's all about balance.  I hope you are able to find the right balance for yourself and your family.  It is not easy, but in the end, it is definitely worth it.

Oh, and here's another post from misszippy1's blog to check out about finding the right balance as well.         



Velma said...

great post! I am about to jump on the trainer, so I know how helpful it can be. Now I just need to find a pool that opens even earlier :)

Julie said...

Hi Aimee,
Awesome pictures of your good looking family:) You are right, it is challenging being a parent and finding time to workout. I feel guilty too but I know that I am setting a good example and my family knows how important it is for us to live a active and healthy life style. Great post Aimee and bless your four year old's little heart for wanting to do a triathlon someday!! Precious:)

Anne Marie said...

Hi there;-) nice post. and yes, I swear your 'kids club' is my gym's 'jr club' and it's been my saving grace since my twins have been 3 months old!

Tracey Kite said...

You are right it is hard to find the balance but once we do we all benefit from it. I loved the pics of you all backpacking and camping. We do that all the time with our daughter. And my husband and I also get up at 4:30 every day to work out before our little one wakes up. It is amazing what we all do to get it all done but in the end it is all worth it. Great post!

misszippy said...

Thank you for the plug. May I say you are a stud pushing the double jogger? I handled one kid fine but once we had two, the double went to my husband!

Marny said...

Hi Aimee. I'm glad I found your blog. I'm a fellow Coloradan and it looks like we have the same bike!