This time last year, I was in the worst physical condition of my life. I’d had surgery in October and was supposed to be on medical leave for six weeks. Instead it was nine. Then I had a second surgery. And a third. Needless to say, recovery took quite a while, even with physical therapy and ongoing lifting restrictions. I felt like an alien had invaded my body. Day in and day out, I complained to my patient husband about what terrible shape I was in. Finally, he told me very lovingly to either stop complaining or do something about it.
Determined to get healthy, a few weeks ago I stopped using a full-time job, grad school, my children’s homework and any other excuse I could think of not to exercise and increased my on-again, off-again once a week Zumba to three to four times a week consistently. As an asthmatic, at first I couldn’t make it through the first few songs of the dance session without stopping for huge puffs on my inhaler. And the pain was killer! Not only did my chest hurt from being winded, every muscle in my body screamed for me to quit during each session and then whispered aching reminders of the work out long afterward. Still I persisted. No pain, no gain, right? Right! Gradually as I build up my stamina, I now find these breaks are fewer and farther between and instead of my body protesting when I work out, it does so when I don’t.
This was the case a few weekends ago when I couldn’t attend my Saturday class. Rather than feeling sluggish as I had for months, I had energy to burn. So instead of watching my nine and eleven-year-olds play laser tag, I suited up and joined them. Levi’s mask prevented me from seeing his reaction when I scored several points off of him by chasing him up and down ramps, but his, I’ve never seen mom do that! response conveyed his shock. And Liv had the same reaction when she joined me for Zumba the other night and realized her mom really dances. Hard. In fact, she offered me my inhaler a few times between songs! I don’t know which I enjoyed more – her surprise that I didn’t need the inhaler or that I never stopped moving!
My quest for a healthier lifestyle has enabled me to model this for my children. Being involved in sports, exercising or simply being active isn’t limited to childhood, but I think my children saw me as too old to run or dance. Because other than taking the occasional walk, swimming or doing water sports like tubing or jet skiing on vacation, they’d never seen me do anything physical. They probably thought I was past all that.
Now that I’ve demonstrated how being fit allows me to run fast and dance hard, hopefully they’ve learned a lesson that they’ll carry into and throughout their adulthood: A mom (or dad) in motion tends to stay in motion.