Being a single parent of a young child and having a full-time career taking care of other people doesn’t always lend itself to taking very good care of myself. However, as my daughter grew from infant to preschooler, I not only realized I needed to have more strength and energy to keep up with her, I also wanted to model a healthy lifestyle and body confidence without going overboard and giving her my food and weight issues.

 

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Avery and me at one of my many races.

So, with the expertise of my trainer Robbie Adams at Red’s, I started strength-training and then running. I started slowly with the Couch to 5k running program, and then took it a little further with a running class at Red’s. I ran my first 5K at Festival International in April 2011. The fact that I enjoyed running was a huge surprise to me, as I never liked to run during tennis practice in high school. I’m by no means fast, but running any and every 5K charity run on the weekends, two Cajun Cup 10K’s, and one half-marathon so far (and losing 45 pounds) has given me a sense of pride and accomplishment that carries into my daily life as a mom, a person, and a professional.

Running is a great metaphor for life and parenting: you’re only really competing with yourself and you get out of it what you put into it. You don’t have to be the fastest or the best, you just have to be willing to start and to finish. Some days the run feels easy, other days it is harder, but your body gives you what it has. You have to pace yourself, but you can always give a little more when you really have to. Like most challenges, running is 90 percent mental toughness. Seeing your child’s happy face at the finish line makes any struggle worthwhile.


The most rewarding and surprising part of my fitness journey, though, has been that Avery from age 3 to age 6 has paid attention to Mom discovering her inner athlete without any preaching by me. I first noticed a change in her fill-in-the-blank Mothers’ Day projects. Mom’s favorite food went from “French fries” to “salad.” Mom’s really good at: “working out.” She likes meeting me a few yards out to cross the finish line together.  She laughs and asks me to show her my muscles, and then says “wow, Mom, I didn’t know girls could have muscles!” As she’s gotten older (and faster!), we’ve started running fun runs and her school obstacle course together. Although she is over four-feet tall and fifty-something pounds, I can still lift and carry her around and she loves that (this would be what Robbie calls “functional fitness”). 

Avery has a body confidence that I’ve never had and I pray she’ll keep, and she enjoys physical activities like dance and gymnastics. I like to think my example of doing what you can with what you have and having fun with it has been part of that.  Just last week, I asked Avery if she thought I’d still be able to pick her up when she turns seven. She just grinned and said “If you keep working out with Mr. Robbie you will!” And she’s right.

For more about Amy and the INDfamily bloggers, click here.

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