Exercise. If you’re like most of us, getting up and moving sometimes just doesn’t appeal. Notice the word "workout" starts with "work"?
There are days when my husband and I, who are both avid exercisers, still have a hard time getting motivated to move. And the kids . . . forget it. Often enough, they’d rather get on the computer than kick the soccer ball around.
As we’ve learned, one of the most important muscles to train when getting in shape is your mind. Of course, the brain isn’t a muscle technically. But when it comes to exercise it is the heavy lifter. Without it, your body won’t do much except flop onto the closest couch.
With family fitness, it can be even more of a challenge because you’re not only motivating yourself, but the rest of the gang as well.
On the other hand, you’ve got a whole posse of cheerleaders living with you. With all of you involved, there’s a higher likelihood that someone will say, "Hey, let’s do something!" and get the ball rolling.
Here are some of the ways we get ourselves off of the couch and keep ourselves doing a little something each day.
1. Talk about the benefits of exercising. Even kids get into this. The more you discuss why you exercise, the more reasons you all will have to get active. I’ve developed quite a collection of articles that discuss why exercise is important. Take a look and bring them into the conversation.
2. Use music. We often put on a radio when we’re outside moving around. And on a rainy day, nothing beats dancing up a storm (until the storm clouds disappear). I also put together a couple CD’s that we listen to with some real motivation favorites.
3. Make it fun. Exercise can feel like a slog. Or it can be a joy. When you bring in a game of tag, or fun soccer games or an obstacle course, you make it an adventure that even you adults will enjoy.
4. Bring in the competition. Now, competition is a controversial idea. But truth be told, the world works on this. Certainly it can fester between siblings. Why not turn it into something useful – and help them develop skills to deal with losing and winning gracefully and using it for fuel for their next venture.
So make some of your activities competitions. Race. See who can get the most baskets in 2 minutes. We’ve even held a stretching Olympics where we measured who could do 10 stretches the best. (Hint: If you vary the forms of competition, you can find ways to highlight the variety of strengths within the family as well).
Finally, training as a family for larger competitive events – triathalons, mountain bike races, fun walks – can also keep the whole family motivated.
5. Watch and learn about elite athletes. Soon after my daughter watched her first national track and field event on tv, I spied her running laps around the outside with her swimsuit and shorts on and her hair slicked back into a bun just like the superstars she’d just watched.
Kids love to mimic what they see, especially when someone has the superhero aura. So watch some professional athletes on tv, or even better, live. Listen to them talk about how they work through challenges, pain, disappointment and keep going. Talk about these stories and make them part of your inhome culture. These images and ideas will fuel all of you to keep going a little further.
6. Set goals. Nothing moves you forward faster than having a goal. I’ve included as a PDF, my family goal sheets that we use for not only exercise but all aspects of our lives. Having a goal reminds you what you’re heading for and keeps you pointed in that direction. Even though you’re moving step by step, if you can see where you’re going, you’ll keep moving forward.
7. Reward yourselves. We’ve gone on bike rides to an apple orchard to go picking. Or finished a tough mountain climb with a nice dinner and a movie. And while you should emphasize the healthy rewards, you can certainly enjoy a little frozen yogurt or pizza on occasion. Just not too much. For some ideas on healthy treats, check out the fitness food section.
And as the mom, I certainly enjoy the feeling of purchasing some new jeans that fit nicely or feeling better about how I look in the mirror.
Finally, a simple, "Wow, you worked hard" or "You’ve really gotten faster," said with sincerity can provide tremendous fuel.
8. Document and reflect. Take pictures, rehash old stories. It may seem simple but by imbuing your family fitness time with good emotions and good memories makes it something that you’ll want to keep doing. You’ll look forward to making more memories filled with laughter, love, pride, and excitement.
Here are several of the motivators we use. What are yours? If you’ve got some great techniques, let me know and I’ll put them up. No more excuses – get moving!