I know we all hear it constantly – the importance of exercising and eating healthy. When we hear that, we think of all the obvious reasons – maintaining a healthy weight, preventing health issues, appearance, energy levels, stress relief. As a trainer, it is my job to help clients see the importance of exercising on a regular basis and eating healthy.

Even with all these positive impacts, many still struggle to make it a priority in their busy lives. I get it. As a wife and mother of three, I understand it is difficult to fit it all in with the demands of work, kids, the house, shopping, cooking- the list goes on. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard parents say how guilty they feel for exercising. They feel they are being selfish taking that hour away from the kids and spending it on themselves. Yet, that is the one thing you should NEVER feel guilty about.

Recently, this came full circle for me. In fact, I had a whole another idea for my blog but changed it as I was so eager to tell this story.

My 17 year old daughter, Ashley, who is senior at York, is a very busy young lady. She is preparing for her next step in life and figuring out where she will attend college in the fall. She is in York spring musical, dance captain for the York Dance Company, and still a full load in school including the Invite to Teach program where she helps out in a classroom at Madison School every day. And she works at Sky Zone on the weekends. Right now, the spring musical practice is full swing with a rigorous choreography schedule of practices every night and weekends.

The other afternoon I got a text from Ashley saying she would be going to the gym after school. She had a 2 hour break after school before musical practice. She could have come to rest or gone to Starbucks but she chose to go to the gym. I said to myself, “Wow, she really gets it!”

She later sent me a text which said “I just completed your 1000 rep challenge. I split it up, but I did it.” Yes, Sunday Circuit Interval people, she is talking about that hell I put you through a couple weeks ago. She even sent me a photo. She had this huge smile on her face. She looked so proud, accomplished, fit and strong! It made me so happy that it brought tears to my eyes.

I realize you might be thinking, “Of course, she works out, her mom is a trainer. “ However, I feel this seed was planted a long time ago. Before I was trainer, I was like many of you trying to fit those work outs in. I was bundling those kiddos up and lugging them into the gym child care in the rain, sleet and snow (which is usually about 9 months out of the year here). It took a double stroller to get the kids, the diaper bag, and my gym bag into the gym. Planning it all around naps, activities, school drop offs and pickups. It was a work out just getting to the gym.

Years later, my kids are older, but it is still a struggle. There are school drop offs and pickups, dance and choir recitals, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse games, gymnastic meets, my work schedule, etc, etc. But I still have to make that time to take care of myself. And, yes, it may mean that the laundry does not always getting folded or something does not get cleaned right away but that is okay.

So what is the point of all this aside again from all the obvious reasons we need to exercise? The point is you are teaching your kids a valuable life lesson. You are showing them that it is okay to take time for yourself. Kids learn by example. You have to be that example. Show them that you are exercising and eating healthy because you care about taking care of yourself. You want to be that parent that can keep up with them when they are young and that parent who is there for their kids in every stage of their life. You want to be that parent who can be there help when your kids are having their kids. They never stop needing you! Make sure you can be there for them!

Understanding that exercise is a priority, no different than brushing your teeth, is a hard concept for most people to grasp. If you set this example for your kids, you are really giving them a gift. Imagine how much easier their lives will be if they get this concept from an early age!

Go get your work outs in. When your kids are old enough, take them to exercise with you! Take them to class with you! We have clients bringing their age appropriate kids to Sunday Circuit Interval. During the Polar Vortex, one of my clients did my Polar Vortex work out at home with her 6, 4 and 2 year old kids.

Erase those feelings of guilt from your mind. Set that example. IT IS OKAY TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!

Tamara Homolka, FITT RX Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor

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