What is a fit mom?

My great grandmother moved across two states in a covered wagon with her children in the early part of the 20th century. I’m certain her biggest concerns as a mother included finding shelter and the next meal for her family. Considering her struggles makes me feel a smidge silly for writing books devoted to finding fitness in the chaos of motherhood.

Yet undeniably many health problems have sprung from our modern culture. Inactivity is a major cause of deadly diseases, which are finding their way into bodies of younger and younger people. That makes the imperative to move more a lot less silly to me. True, my great-grandmother would surely have scoffed at the need for such a book, but she surely got her 10,000 steps in a day… before noon.

We may be more fortunate in these times, but thanks to desk jobs and cars, the activity we need to be healthy is more contrived. Allowing time for exercise can be a hard sell to yourself when you feel there is always something else you should do. Even natural movement, which I now realize is plentiful and available as a mother, is no longer our default setting in our quest to make life as easy and convenient as possible.

As an avid exerciser, I was slow to figure out that natural movement is one of the best means to improve my health. I was someone who finished two ironman triathlons but searched in vain for the closest parking spot. I was super fit and fully expected to keep up the jig after having kids. My vision of a fit mom included a woman with an exposed six-pack, legs cut like a body builder, buff arms; a lean mean athletic machine pushing a double baby jogger in training for her next fitness competition.

Then I had twins.

For many reasons, among them my health, sanity, and personal aspirations, I continued to make fitness a priority after becoming a parent. Despite all conveniences available to me to get in a workout — no less a gym membership, at-home fitness equipment, even fitness expertise as a former personal trainer — I struggled. I missed many workouts due to fatigue, I’d arrive at the gym without my gym shoes, had sick kids, or many other excuses and reasons. I realized the year I had three babies under age two that I had better change my definition of what counted as a workout — and fast — if I wanted to keep my identity as a fit mom. A walk to the park counted. Pushups on the side of the tub counted. Squatting on the floor to play with my kids counted. Shuttling laundry up and down stairs, yeah, that definitely counted. I learned to find fitness in the chaos of motherhood and I know for sure that I am better because of it; and, for making fitness a whole-family activity, so are my children.

Playgrounds make the best gyms for fit moms.

A fit mom certainly can be that buff woman you see crossing a finish line with a child on each hip, but those aspirations aren’t required. What I know now, after more than a decade as a parent making fitness a priority, is that a fit mom isn’t some unattainable ideal. It is you moving. You being active throughout the day. You taking steps to stay healthy. You making fitness a family value. You including your kids in this active life. That’s all.

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