Building Active Babies

March 30, 2009 12:00 AM by

The other day a friend and I were talking about someone we know and how her very thin mother always pressures her to lose weight. I was being my usual judgmental self and was denouncing that mother with fervor, until it occurred to me that I kind of got it.

It would never berate or insult my daughter if her body were not up to my “standards,” but I would be very disappointed if my daughter was not concerned about keeping her body fit and ready for action.

Some of my fondest memories of childhood were of the gym. My mother spent upwards of three hours a day working out between the gym and her yoga practice (she was a teacher) and I would often accompany her, trying out the various machines. In my gym, children do not roam free. In fact, it is downright dangerous. But back in the 80’s when pregnant women still smoked, children were free to lift, stretch and run all around the gym (at least at my mom’s).

From watching her, I learned how to eat right (she was a strict macrobiotic). I learned how to honor my body and I learned that it is not selfish to make space each day for exercise and physical fitness. Though she is dead, I think she would be proud to know that her values (and not my couch potato father’s) are now my own.

My husband is the same. Together we hike, run, kayak, swim, snow shoe, ski, snowboard, go to the gym, play softball and basketball and generally keep a very active lifestyle. We have taken 2-week long hiking/kayaking trips through Alaska and enjoyed that more than the honeymoon we spent lying on a beach. If our children did not want to participate, it would be a disappointment.

From the day she was born, Sam has been part of our active lifestyle. We have always walked everywhere (hence my five strollers). We run at least 10 miles together a week (although I like to do a lot of running sans stroller). She watches me in races and sometimes even comes along in the stroller. We try to get outside every day that is not below freezing and she stays in the kids’ playroom with her brother while I work out everyday. Every Sunday we do family swim and we had her 2nd birthday at our gym. We also always try to include our kids in our outdoor activities whether they are in the backpack for hiking or in the Ergo for snowshoeing.

I hope she is getting the message and I hope someday they will want to join us on long bikes, runs and hikes. So, would I be disappointed if she were another way? Yes, I would. And I am not ashamed to admit it.

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