Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The You-Go-I-Go Thing

Most parents of young children fit in their training sessions by doing the you-go-I-go thing. I learned of the term after interviewing a triathlete about how he fit in his training while also raising kids ages 2, 4, and 6.  While this dad participates in many fitness activities with his own kids, he certainly isn't taking them out on the bike for hours or swimming laps with them.

In my family, when we're not out on a family fitness adventure, Tom and I are swapping training time while the other parent is on kid duty. This may be the most practical way to get in exercise, but it isn't always the most fun.

Thanks to a holiday weekend in the presence of my extended family, my husband and I actually ran together this weekend while our niece had a tea party with our girls. As soon as we saw that tea set come out and heard that juice and cookies would be served, we ran. 

Now, my husband and I don't run the same pace. I have to run fast and he has to slow down, but it works out. We get to talk, to not talk, and when we're done, we're both psyched to have our exercise completed. And our kids got plenty of exercise, too, without us -- playing ball, riding bikes, walking, and running with their older cousins. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Exercise for Parent and Child

A mom just conveyed this common dilemma to me:

You go out with your bike trailer and get a great workout hauling your little kid around, especially up the hills. Then, you get home and want to relax and your passenger is full of energy. What's the solution?

Let your child(ren) out to run around or bike around on their own after your ride. I even announce that this is the plan ahead of time so my kids have something to look forward to. A one year old will be happy just running around the yard. A two year old might be able to pedal around on a tricycle or trike, and a three year old could be on training wheels or on a no-pedal bike. The idea is to let kids get exercise just like you. You might need 45 minutes and they might need five or twenty-five, depending on the age and ability of the child, and on the day.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tracking Your Exercising and Eating Habits

If you're looking for a way for your family to exercise more and eat healthier, try tracking your activities on a daily basis with a focus on these goals. We did this with our preschooler, Ava, thanks to her participation in the Governor’s Fit and Healthy Kids Winter Challenge, "Stretch Your Limits." 

The program encourages school age children to exercise more, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and turn off the TV by tracking their activities on a chart for six weeks. (We just celebrated Ava's participation in the program this week with a ceremony on the statehouse lawn.)

Since Ava can't write much yet, I filled in her chart but she was the doer. The daily tracking made me more aware of some of our habits. Though Ava got in a variety of fitness activities (cross country skiing, yoga, dance, walking), getting in lots of different fruits and vegetables was more of a challenge. The chart was on the refrigerator so we looked at it often and the days that were blank stood out. I know that other parents were motivated by the chart as well. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Active Reward

As a reward for putting the 50th sticker on their Following Directions Chart, my girls could choose to do anything they wanted (well, within reason). They decided on riding bikes on the playground. I was surprised. I was sure they would think of some adventure for candy or chocolate or ice cream. Bike riding. Wow. What a great choice.

So, off we went to the playground today. (I should mention that our elementary school has a natural playground so the trees and boulders and hillside are the basis for play.) Ava was enticed by a swerving gravel path. She saw a boy go cruising down it last year and I said that she'd have to wait until she got her training wheels off to give it a go. Today was the day that Ava got to do her free wheeling and she was pretty confident, except on a few of the sharp turns. 

Her little sister brought out the old tricycle for the event since her training wheels can't handle the gravel.

The actual riding took about five minutes. No, this was not an exercise outing, it was an act of accomplishment. These girls tried out something new. Instead of our parking lot practice sessions, there were some new elements combined together: a slope, sharp turns, and gravel. Once they could say that they did it, they ditched the bikes and climbed a tree.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Modeling Behavior

My five year old's attire today includes: a running shirt, running sneakers, an antique dress, and decorative tights. The outfit clashes horribly, but that doesn't matter to me today. I know that she is a runner today. She dressed the part (for her) and she is running all over the place, racing down the halls and across the yard.

Her little sister is running in her sneaks, too, but they were moving too fast to get them in the same picture.

From the time the girls were early toddlers (they're now 3 and 5), they would dress up like their parents donning running sneakers, ski boots or bike helmets. They looked silly wearing our active wear, but now they have their own. They're even competing in fun runs and lollipop ski events. They're growing up so quickly and being active with their mom and dad is a natural habit now.

So, the next time your little one grabs for your cycling shoes or your daypack, let him or her do some modeling. That's what modeling behavior is all about.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wagon Ride

I grew up in the era of the little red wagon. So, it was with some nostalgia that my kids hopped into Grammy's wagon today for a ride/walk. Who needs a fancy jogging stroller when you've got a wagon that can be used in the yard and on the street? Well, a parent who wants to cruise along and have a child (or two) buckled in.

Yes, the jogger has made life easier for parents, but kids sure have a good time in a wagon. My kids took turns pulling each other and then got out and raced Grammy while I pulled an empty wagon. When they got tired, they hopped back in. 

The best thing about this particular wagon is that it is actually a garden cart. It has big, off road wheels and a base that will never rust in the rain. And when the kids get too big for a ride, it can collect leaves instead of dust.