Monday, January 14, 2008

Dieting Myth #2

Myth #2-Don't use having young children as an excuse not to be active. You can exercise with your children!

Okay, I have to admit my initial response to this one was...BWAA HAA HAA HA HA! This myth has also been tested by me in earnest. I am a seasoned mama who has been up and down a diet/exercise yo-yo for the last ten years. The parenting magazines circulate this myth every year or so. Here are some examples of advice I found on the topic:

This is for exercising at home with infants and preschoolers:
"Occupy them for even 15 minutes with a video or toy while you do some toning exercises."
Okay, I guess it's possible that some infants and preschoolers would be occupied with a toy or a video while their mama is on the floor grunting and contorting, but I can tell you for a fact what happens when I do this: I immediately become far more interesting than any toy or video. Suddenly Mama is a jungle gym, and a trampoline all in one. Or sometimes the babies will just crawl on top of me and lay there motionless... amazed at the incredible Jello-y softness of my postpartum belly. It amazes me too kiddos.

Or how about this advice for getting exercise with your children at the local playground?
Go across the money bars, even just once. Do pull-ups using a bar on the playground. Do tricep curls on a park bench. Push your children on the swing, doing squats between each push. Swing yourself to work your leg muscles.
Oookaay. Supposing I was confidant enough with my overweight body to not feel embarrassed by doing pull-ups (Are there really moms that can do pull-ups? I can't even do one.) on the monkey bars or squats between swing pushes, this might work. Except that I have an eighteen month old and a 3 year old. And my time at the play ground is spent keeping them from eating wood chips or throwing themselves off high places. But I guess that counts as some exercise. I know I am at least exercising my lungs by yelling "Ben, No!" & "Clara, Spit that out!" 253 times.

Oh, but this tip about getting exercise with teenagers is my favorite:
"Don’t just sit and cheer your kids at their sporting events. Every few minutes do some walking or jumping jacks or squats."
I can see it now. Every time Brandon scores a goal in basketball I will get up and start squatting and doing jumping jacks. I think this one may be worth trying just for the humiliated teenager factor.

UPDATE: Since I started writing this I attended one of Brandon's basketball games where the mother next to me actually did lunges and squats throughout most of the game. I don't know if her son in the game noticed, but her teenage daughter, in attendance with her, promptly declared her "too embarrassing to sit by" and moved to the other side of the gym. That woman is now my idol. I have started stalking her in my free time. Which obviously means never.

So tongue-in-cheek commentary aside, here's the truth on this myth: Over the years, I have tried numerous ways to get a real workout in while my kids are awake. I have found only two solutions.
  1. Put them both in a double stroller or wagon and push/pull all 60 pounds of them through the neighborhood or a park. Be prepared to stop frequently to retrieve toys, bribe with snacks, and keep Clara from pulling Ben's hair. (You know, If you happened to have kids named Ben & Clara) If your fitness level is close to mine, you may need these frequent stops to keep yourself from passing out from the exertion of pushing/pulling sixty pounds up and down hills.
  2. Join a gym with childcare.
I recommend option two.


Veronica Mitchell said...

Yeah, I tried the stroller one while pregnant with #3. Oof.

Sarah said...

So funny and true! I've given up on even completing a sit up with my kids around, forget weights!

Was there really someone doing squats and lunges at the basketball game? Awesome.

Lori said...

I laughed OUT LOUD at the idea of you doing squats and lunges during Brandon's basketball game. Oh, the poor, poor boy...

I couldn't agree more that this is a HUGE myth! I too have tried to exercise in the presence of little ones only to have them want to "join" me or become completely upset at the sight of me engaged in a bizarre activity they cannot possibly understand. I can sometimes sneak away to our treadmill if Pumpkin is busy with the boys or Superdad, but if she discovers me she immediately collapses in tears. I can't blame her. It can't be a pretty sight.

Chrissy said...

I could hardly read this post from laughing so hard. Doing squats at a basketball game! I'd like to see that one on video, Joy.

the dragonfly said...

If my mom had done squats etc at my swim meets...oh my. I would have been mortified!

These days I pick up the Little Mister and do "baby presses" (lift him up over my head until my arms are straight, lower him until I can kiss his face, and lift him back up again) or just lay on the floor and play with him/chase him. This is pretty good exercise for me!!


a happier girl said...

Too funny! And so true! My kids climb on me if I try to lay on the floor. I don't care what's playing on the television.

Don and Lynn said...

Holy Cow! That is so funny! I could just see myself doing lunges up and down the aisles as Taylor is doing her dress rehearsal. I would just LOVE to see her face. I'm a jungle gym momma, too. I do think it's the squishies that the babies like the most. It must feel like pillows to them because the way they jump and bounce, they don't think there is any actual "feeling" in the mush! It's like "hey, that's my boob for Pete's sake..." LOL!

Beck said...

"Don’t just sit and cheer your kids at their sporting events. Every few minutes do some walking or jumping jacks or squats."
HAHAHAH. Oh my gosh, who thinks that's a good idea? No wonder teenagers do drugs.
If I try to follow an exercise video at home, I am immidiately tackled by a very persistent Baby. It's just not happening. And that's my excuse.

Stacie said...

I tried doing a prenatal yoga video with Myatt...once. And I say "with" because he will actually do the stretches and exercises right along with me to the best of his little 3 year old abilities.

He got very mad at me when I had to sit down and catch my breath (yes...from yoga. I was a very out of shape pregnant lady!!). I decided my kid is too much of a task master to exercise with because that crazy child wants to make it through the whole video!!

Epiphany Alone said...

Absolutely dead on. Yoga is particularly bad because you're lying down or inverted and therefore an instant object to climb. I was thinking about trying Zumba because it has loud music and dancing...maybe they'd do it too?

Otherwise, the park exercise is for people far more fit. Monkey bars in an overweight state could do rotator cuff injury. If I tried to do a squat between each swing push, I'd end up with a concussion.

I opted for gym with childcare. Mmmm, if the endorphins don't get you there, the guarantee of 60 minutes of quiet will...

painted maypole said...

he he he

i have to confess to jogging in place while I pushed MQ on the swings, or walking swiftly in circles around some playground equipment while she played. and outside at home i'll jump rope or chase her around. i figure that counts a aerobic exercise!

loving this series, by the way

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Anytime I'm anywhere near the floor, my boyz are all over me, thinking I'm fair game for a wrestling match.
Option Two is the best. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day though, right? Never enough time to do it all...

Jenn said...

Little A exercises with me...and it's the best.