Edgy Mama: Fit moms equals fit kids — plus health and happiness and sanity

What flies out the window for moms after that first baby is birthed? A whole lot.

That damn stork drops off the baby then takes off with stuff like sleep and exercise.

Despite the world-rocking experience of learning to put an infant’s needs before my own, I managed to find time for work and food during those baby years. And getting some sleep became a priority pretty quickly. (Ever want to torture me? Go with sleep deprivation.) But the non-essential for survival but important quality-of-life stuff, like exercise? It became one of the things I needed most but got the least after popping out babes.

For about seven years, my primary cardio workouts consisted of baby-in-a-front-pack walks and uphill stroller pushes. My strength workouts included toddler lifts and long distance carries. Flexibility came from car seat strap-ins and sleeping infant crib drops.

Sounds decent, but I was not in great shape.

When my youngest started full day preschool at the age of 4, I joined Asheville’s YWCA. I slowly became reacquainted with a more serious level of working my muscles. Now, in addition to swimming at the YW, I’ve taken on Asheville CrossFit workouts twice a week. Think body boot camp. Lots of other moms I know are working to get back in that consistent exercise saddle as well. While I seem to need classes and competition, many of them do it themselves with running, walking or speed gardening.

But the point here isn’t HOW I got back into decent shape after the baby and toddler years. The point, really, is, why. Sanity is priority one — I will drive myself and my family nuts if I don’t have a physical outlet. Two is, yeah, I can be as vain as the next person, and I like how working out makes me look (and feel). Last but not at all least, I’m not getting fit just for myself. It’s also for my kids.

There are obvious health and longevity benefits to being active (I birthed my kids late, and I’d like the chance to meet any potential grandkids one day). But also, I want to model healthy behaviors and habits for my kids.

Researchers say that children truly do emulate their parents. From a very early age, offspring pick up on what their primary caregivers eat, drink, and how often and intensely they move their bods. The good news is that, while you can do all kinds of active stuff with your kids, it’s also OK to enjoy own exercise program and tell them, “This is for me.” Your personal workouts can imprint on your children just as effectively as family activities. It’s a win-win-win.

I recently competed on a relay team in the Asheville Triathlon. I only did the swim portion for time, while a friend (mom of a toddler and a preschooler) completed the swim and run sections. My kids showed up at the race — my daughter had been dragged out of bed by her Dad so early that she forgot to remove her retainer. 

But she loved being there, as did my boy. They literally followed me around the pool, cheering me on at the end of every lane. And when I passed a guy in the final 50 meters, I could hear them whooping and hollering.

It’s not only about mommy kicking heiney. It is about my kids seeing me being strong and tough and persistent and taking care of my body and my health.

There were lots of kids at the Triathlon. Even a few babies. I was a little jealous of the moms who’d made the time to work out this hard with babies in tow. I regret that I didn’t do the same. But I’m making up for it now. And, in the process, I hope, I’m teaching my kids that exercise is an important lifelong commitment. Especially during the post-stork years.


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22 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Fit moms equals fit kids — plus health and happiness and sanity

  1. reverendjolson

    So sick of the edgy-mom types who have to have a tight body and seem more concerned with their own fitness than there kids. Blah blah blah on the “it’s good for your kids too!” crap. Also sick of the official Edgy Mama logo. You know, the one with the skinny young chick with no indication of actually being a mom, like, having a kid next to her? She’s so edgy! So edgy, she’s strutting around…with no kid. Big deal…

  2. reverendjolson,
    I don’t know of which “types” you speak. Nor do I see how you can presume from what I’ve written here that I am in any way more concerned with my own fitness than with my kids. Clearly, you haven’t read many of my columns. Nor is anyone forcing you to.

    Go crawl back to your cave.

  3. reverendjolson

    Is telling me to crawl back in my cave the type of behavior you hope your kids emulate? Is that what you mean by “Edgy”? I know no one is forcing me to read your column. I checked it out. Formulated an opinion, and stated it. If you are going to prosthelytize, then you should expect some people to take exception to your point of view and express themselves.

  4. I certainly don’t mind you or anyone else expressing their views about my writing or opinions provided it’s constructive.

  5. shadmarsh

    So sick of the edgy-mom types who have to have a tight body and seem more concerned with their own fitness than there kids.

    I’m so sick of people who don’t know the difference between there and their.

  6. brebro

    I agree, if there is one predominant problem in this country concerning mothers that would compel me to write a nasty note complaining about it, it would be that so many of them are simply in TOO good a shape!

    Any cursory glance through your local Wal-mart or favorite buffet-style restaurant will convince anyone that too many moms are criminally healthy and display an unconscionable amount of muscle tone that is not only the obvious by-product of child-neglect, but also spoils the appetites of the more caring mothers who can now only eat half the tonnage of food they would normally, which may impair their ability to ride those little carts around the store.

    Fit moms? Hah! I say UNfit!!!

  7. reverendjolson

    Hey, there is nothing wrong with being fit, or enthusiastic about your own interests. My point is, by my observation, there are many parents who spend more time paying attention to themselves than their kids. I also think it’s arrogant to automatically assume that your kids are going to revere your obsession. Yes, triathletes are obsessed with themselves. I suppose you are fishing for a “Wow!, you look great! You’re a mom and you still manage to workout? Congratulations, you are the pinnacle of parental success!” There (or is it their, or they’re?). Now, I must crawl back into my cave and dip a deep fried hot dog into some mayo and get my kid to fetch some cigarettes…

  8. Rick Z

    Rev – you are making a lot of assumptions about anyone who is a parent and is in shape. Are you saying its impossible to do both and do them well? And is vanity the only reason people work out?

  9. Piffy!

    i still think reverend jolsen makes a good point, even if he doesnt care to package it nicely.

  10. reverendjolson

    Read the column again ya’ll. Mrs. Edgy goes nuts if she doesn’t release herself physically. She has to compete. She admits to being vain. That’s all fine just don’t tell me she’s doing it for her kids. This is trickle down parenting. She’s doing what she is compelled to do first and then applying a benefit of her hobby to her kids and frankly, bragging about it. Give me a break. “I’m doing something really great and my kids will emulate my great behavior…” Please.

  11. Piffy!

    All women should be fat and we should probably take away their shoes, for good measure.

  12. Papa bear

    It’s simple really and Anne makes perfect sense. Lazy parents will have lazy kids. Fit, active parents will have fit, active kids. Period. It’s not about vanity or impressing others. It’s about being healthy, having good physical traits and setting a good example. I’m curious if “revjolson” even has children or just makes simple & relatively ignorant assumptions. Keep rockin’ Edgy Mama, don’t sweat the haters…sweat the workout that keeps it in shape! They are all jealous!

  13. Killarue

    Geez, what’s all the hubbub, Rev!. Frankly, I would make sure my wife had the time to workout; and yes, children do emulate their parents. However, let us not deceive ourselves to think that vanity doesn’t play a part in it, although the health benefits are priority:) Side Bar: why do people have to impose their anger and hatred on these threads? It is quite juvenile.

  14. Killarue

    BTW Brenda, where it this mythic Wal-Mart where the women are so lovely, because I have been unable to locate it;)

  15. ashkat

    Edgy, I’m with you. In my experience(3 generations) my kids are now passing on to their kids the love of swimming, hiking and sports that I got from my parents . Add in one great great grandmother who passed on a gift for subsistence gardening that got her family through the depression and you see a very healthy family (ages in 90’s and 100).

  16. reverendjolson

    “It’s not only about mommy kicking heiney. It is about my kids seeing me being strong and tough and persistent and taking care of my body and my health.”

    “I was a little jealous of the moms who’d made the time to work out this hard with babies in tow. I regret that I didn’t do the same.”

    “Sanity is priority one — I will drive myself and my family nuts if I don’t have a physical outlet.”

    Guess I’m way out of line in thinking this is a little pretentious and over-the-top. Apparently, anything less than working out 3 or 4 times a week makes one a lazy person and parent. Is there any possibility that Mrs. Edgy is a Type A control freak and that her kids might grow to resent her persistence?

  17. shannon

    WOW! You people are taking this waaaaaaay too seriously! i read Edgy Mama because its fun and its a good quick read when you need something light hearted after spending all day running around after a toddler. whether you spend all day catering to your precious baby or see them for 5 minutes a week when you pick them up from daycare, most likely the kids will be FINE! So stop bickering like a bunch of babies and go argue about something important…like global warming…or poverty!!!

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