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SALT LAKE CITY — I have read some articles lately referring to mothers who work out or take time to exercise as being somewhat "selfish." One article in particular referred to a mother who was “heavy” and said that was OK — and even great — because she was doing all of these other things that were better and more noble.
The author of the article said that because she was too busy taking care of her kids, helping neighbors and being a good Samaritan, there was just no time left to be a fit mom. She even said that her kids and husband were happier because of it. In her need to explain away her lack of fitness, she implied that fit moms were not able to help others.
Now, before you stop reading and think that this is an article attacking women who are not thin or fit, please don't. I am all for women — and men — being comfortable in their own skin, being happy with the way they look, and I will never judge anyone for the way they look or how they choose to be; I just ask for the same consideration.
I am a fit mom, and that does not at all equate with selfishness. In fact, I believe the opposite is true. Here are the reasons why (in no particular order):
You are able to show your kids that parents have goals and desires too
Since I was a child, I have been health conscious as well as a competitive runner. It is one thing that I have always loved, and something that defines me. If I give this up, I am telling my kids that once you are a parent, you need to give everything up and that your goals no longer matter.
This can be equated with goals pertaining to physical health. Do you want your kids growing up thinking that when you enter parenthood, your desire to be healthy ends? I know I don't.
My kids know that I run every day. Most of the time I do it early in the morning before anyone is awake, but sometimes I wait until the afternoon. It is good for kids to see their parents taking care of their bodies, which brings me to the next point.
You are an example of health for your children
If you don't think that the health and fitness choices you are making are affecting your children, think again. According to livestrong.com, your health habits and choices have a major effect on your children.
As a young child, some of my best memories were of watching my dad run marathons and dropping him off 15 miles away from home on the way home from vacations, so that he could “run it in.” Furthermore, I loved (and still love) being able to go for runs with him.
Being a father of 10 children, he was still able to find time to fit in a good run and work (more than) full time — all while still being there for us kids. It can be done, and your kids will be better for it.
You are able to have a body that you can feel healthy in and be proud of
I realize that a woman or man at any size has the ability to embrace their body and feel beautiful. However, the key word here is “healthy.” When you are healthy, you feel strong, good, confident and energetic.
When you take care of yourself, you are more able to take care of others
I find that when I take care of my own health, I have more to give to others. I have more energy, more desire and more motivation — and I am happier.
Lucille Ball put it best when she said, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
Arianne Brown is a graduate from Southern Utah University, mother to five young kids and an avid runner. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, go to he blog at runariran.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @arimom5.*