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Dear toddler: Life and fitness lessons I'm hoping you can learn from me

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  February 26, 2013 01:06 PM

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A frequent reader of my blog (as in he's been reading since day 1), asked me recently what lessons about having a healthy lifestyle I'm hoping my 2.5 year old is learning. So, I decided I'd write it all down in a letter to my little man...

Dear little man,
I know that you know that it means I have a race coming up when I lay out my running shoes and gear a night in advance. I know you've mimicked my #plankADay in the living room at night while we are building lego towers. And I know that you can count higher than 10 simply because we count together when I do my #100pushups while we wait for your dinner to cool off.

But do you know why I do all these things? There are two reasons: one is for myself; the other is because of you. In the last year+ of changing my eating and fitness habits, I have learned some valuable life lessons. I hope you're watching (since I know you are like a little sponge right now), but just in case you aren't, here are the lessons I'm hoping you learn earlier than I did ...

Some things are non negotiable.
You already know this rule as it applies to some things in our house:
You must sit at the dinner table for meals.
You must wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
You must brush your teeth.
But I am hoping you have also learned that time for yourself is also one of those things you must do. I run because it is *my* time. I love you little man, but to be the best mommy I can be to you, I need time and space for myself. When I run, the phone cannot ring. The e-mail does not go off. The dinner I need to cook will not burn. When I return from my run, I return a mommy who can calm your tantrum and fix your boo-boo with a Zen-like calm. You seem to inherently know this, and post-run seems to be your favorite time to ask me to cuddle up on the couch and read you a book. It's our quiet time.

Do not make excuses.
You are still a bit too young (or maybe I'm just exceedingly lucky) that you don't try to give me excuses for why you can't do things that need to be done. When we are done playing at the end of the day, you need to clean up your toys with me, don't make an excuse as to why you can't simply because cleaning up isn't fun. Not everything is fun or easy, but if you do like Nike and "Just do it," we can get to bath time a whole lot faster, or get back to making that epic fort out of the couch cushions. We just need to get through the things we need to do first. This is also true in fitness: Mommy could give you a million reasons she is too busy, too tired, or too lazy to work out. But I know that if I "just do it," I will feel better afterward. Remember that time we didn't clean up your matchbox cars one night and then the next morning while you were getting dressed you stepped on one and stubbed your pinky toe and it really, really hurt? It's like that. It's always better to just do what we know we need to do no matter what. Because our excuses just end up like those matchbox cars on the floor: they wind up hurting us in the long run.

Some things are really scary, but scary isn't always bad.
When I started running, I was worried I would fail. I worried I would be embarrassingly slow, and that the real runners out there would laugh at me. But, my desire to become a runner outweighed my fear: I really wanted to know what it felt like to be in a race. I wanted to experience the "runner's high." And so, I knew I had to start running even though I was scared to take those first few strides. It's like that really tall slide down the street from us. You know, the super slippery one that is bright shiny silver with a lot of steep steps to climb to get to the top.

Think about how many times you've told me, "when I'm bigger I'll go on the slide, Mum." And then think about how much you want to go on the slide *right now* instead of waiting until you are bigger. That is why I've told you I'll help you climb the slide now, because you don't have to wait until you're bigger. You can do it now. You can do anything. I will be there to help you. Climbing those steep stairs to the top of the slide will be scary for you, for sure, but think about how much fun it will be and how proud you will be when you slide down all by yourself. I know you; you'll want to do it again -- without my help.

You make your own luck.
I have done things in the last year I never thought I'd do. I've met people who have enriched my life and made it better. I often say that I am a very lucky person, but the truth is I've created this luck with every good decision I've made. We all make bad decisions, and those bad decisions were how I wound up unfit and overweight in the first place. But now, my good decisions are beginning to outnumber my bad ones -- and there's no luck in that. It's all just good, honest, hard work.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.

CONTRIBUTORS

Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at Boston.com. She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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