Tag Archives: exercise

Good Morning

It has been 10 months since I first joined the gym – here you can read more about why I joined.  Honestly, I may love going to the gym even more now that I originally did 🙂 Yes, I’ve lost some weight and lowered my BMI but that was never my main goal.  I’ve taken my second fitness test and I’m happy with the results.  My muscle strength improved from ‘poor‘ to ‘average‘, muscle endurance went from ‘average‘ to ‘excellent‘, and my flexibility is now ‘superior‘ instead of ‘poor‘ – I’m stoked about that!

I’ll admit that in preparation for my second fitness test session I had spent some extra time working on the exercises that the trainer had had me do at the first session.  Then for the second session the trainer chose different exercises – sneaky trick.  When he asked if I do squats I replied ‘No’ because they are not part of my gym routine.  Yet, during the test I found them surprisingly easy to do.  In the days since the test I’ve realized that I do squats all day long – every time I pick up a toy off the floor while carrying a baby.  🙂

Over time I have made some changes to my gym routine.  I have different preferred gym locations than I used to hence my ‘home’ gym is different now.  Some of the machines or programs that used to be my favourites I now rarely use – in part because they are no longer challenging.  Some of the machines that I used to find intimidating – like this one;

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are now exhilarating.  This makes me happy that I didn’t choose to buy exercise equipment to use at home – I probably would have quickly lost interest.

However, probably the biggest change I’ve made is when I go to the gym.  Originally I chose Monday, Wednesday, & Friday evenings as well as Sunday mornings – this gave me four weekly workouts that were spaced roughly 36 – 48 hours apart.  It was during my summer vacation that I first made the change – going to the gym in the morning on weekdays too.  Wow, I’ve always been a morning person – morning workouts are soooo much better for me.

I thought the biggest problem was going to be that on weekdays I already get up at 5:00 am so to add a trip to the gym in before my day with the children would mean losing sleep and getting up at 4:00 am instead.  Interestingly I’ve discovered that I actually get MORE sleep at night now since the long wind-down period after an evening workout meant I was never able to get to bed at a decent time and my schedule was messed up.  A morning workout is a great way to greet the day!

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Also interesting is that although there are fewer people at the gym at 4 am  than at 9 pm there are still a surprising number of us there.  Not surprising is how chipper they are – these are my peeps – cheerful and eager to meet the new day even without coffee.

Good Morning!  I’m ready to play, are you?

 

Fitness

I am certain that at no point in my life anyone has ever considered me to be a fitness fanatic.  In fact, as a child I was considered ‘The Princess’ and my sister was ‘The Tomboy’ (I abhorred the princess label and everything it embodied but that is another post).  I loved school but loathed gym class.  I have never been able to understand the allure of sports of any kind – neither as a spectator nor a participant.  Equestrian sports were an exception but only because – OMG, horses! 

I took swimming lessons – hated them – still avoid going in to pools, lakes, rivers etc.  As a child I had a bike – begged my dad not to buy it for me but he insisted – my only memories of ‘riding’ it involve falls and collisions.  I have always loved hiking, if time was not a factor I would always, always, choose walking over any other form of transportation – but I don’t run, ever, for any reason.

I have one particularly vivid memory from junior high Math class when we were learning to collect and graph data.  For data collection the teacher chose to test everyone’s grip strength (here you can learn more about why you’d want that info and how to test it).  I stood at the front of the class for what felt like an eternity while the teacher kept insisting that I ‘try again’ and muttering about lowering the class average.  Seriously, 16 pounds was my maximum.

So, even though I’ve never been ‘athletic’, I have also never been sedentary.  In fact, I have trouble sitting for very long at all.  I’ve only been to a movie theater twice in the past 35 years – not because I dislike movies – but because they don’t have movement breaks and they disapprove of me standing, stretching and pacing during the show (like I do at home when I watch TV).

As I *sigh* get older I’m finding winter to be more and more difficult each year.  Yes, I do some yoga, shovel snow and go for occasional short walks but it is nothing compared to my spring/summer/fall activity level when I spend the majority of the day playing and working outdoors.  This winter my husband suggested maybe we should get a treadmill ‘because I like walking’… Ummm, NO!  I won’t like walking on a treadmill with no birds and trees and other things to enjoy.  He has always wanted a treadmill so he didn’t have to go hiking outside – not me!

Still, I was interested in checking out some other types of workout equipment beyond the basic stuff I had at home.  We went to look at some exercise equipment.  Of course he liked the treadmills – I did not.  He also liked the exercise cycles – I wouldn’t likely fall or crash if it was stationary but I doubted I would be motivated to use it.  I did find the elliptical machines interesting but hubby’s doctor wouldn’t recommend he use an elliptical.

We live in an old house with limited floor space and a very low basement ceiling height – we definitely don’t have room for good quality exercise equipment nor can we afford multiple machines to satisfy both our interests.  I began to think maybe we should consider something more than what we could do at home.  So, I suggested maybe we should join a gym… I know, I laughed too when I said it.  We did some research and decided Snap Fitness was our best option.

We’ve been going to the gym four times a week for two months now.  I’ve completed my first fitness score test (since high school).  I’ve learned some things like;

  • I look forward to going to the gym – even feel a little disappointed when it’s not a gym day.  If there was a gym closer to my home I’d walk there every day – driving there is the only deterrent.
  • Working out regularly makes me sleep so soundly every night – it is amazing.
  •  My  heart health and muscle endurance are better than I would have expected but my flexibility is surprisingly poor.
  • For the first time in my life I am intrinsically motivated and stubbornly optimistic that I will improve my physical strength.

Childcare is a physically demanding job and I believe physical fitness is important not only as so I can do the required work but also so I can be a good role model.

 

Indoor Activity

Walk!

I am certain that if I recorded all the things I say to the children in a day and then tallied up how often I repeat phrases ‘walk’ would top the list.  A distant second would be ‘stop’ followed closely by ‘down’.  All my most common instructions pertain to redirecting activity level.

The list would of course be far different if I made separate lists for ‘outdoor’ phrases and ‘indoor’ phrases.  Only when we are indoors is there a need to restrict the children’s running, jumping and climbing.  It is not the activity that is wrong – it is the activity within a small, confined space with many other people.

Yet, children need to engage in gross motor activities.  During our long cold winters we do go outside every day but the length of time we spend outside is often not enough for the children to release all their pent up energy.  So, I try to provide alternate gross motor activities that are more appropriate for indoors.

When I removed the loft stairs the music area became larger – more room for dancing 🙂 Dancing is one of the children’s favourite forms of indoor active play and something they often initiate.  There are also some other features I incorporated in the room to encourage movement;

15-02-indoor00The step up to the nature area is a natural ‘speed bump’ and a great place to practice stepping – or jumping – up and down, on and off.  The pipes are mounted high at the entrance to the block area to encourage stretching to drop toys through the pipes and bending to enter the block area.  We do more bending and stretching by practicing yoga poses – another favourite activity that the children will often initiate.

Crawling is also encouraged – it is such a wonderful full body gross motor activity. It is generally much slower than other types of movement and because the children are down on the floor falling is rarely an issue.  The children will often crawl during dramatic play activities when they pretend to be various animals.  Sometimes we set up the tents and tunnels to promote even more crawling;

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Recently we’ve had the spinners out in the playroom.  These require an impressive amount of balance to remain upright as you stand and spin.  The younger children always use the spinners near a wall or shelf so they have something to hang on to as they spin in circles;

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Currently we have the foam hop scotch puzzle on the floor. The squares provide boundaries for hopping or jumping – the difference between hopping and jumping is described here.  Using the squares to define the hopping area provides a ‘safe’ zone for those who are not engaging in the activity – they can walk around the mat to avoid being involved in a collision.

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I may have to restrict some types of active play indoors because I don’t have an appropriate gym space but that doesn’t mean I have to eliminate it completely.  We still much prefer to be outdoors but when we’re stuck indoors we don’t have to remain sedentary.

Letting Go

September….Back to School…..Schedules….:P

I’ll admit that having the children heading back to school is not my favourite time of year. Maybe I’m a little greedy – I really like to have them here all day.  I think what bothers me most about back to school is the many hours that the children will spend trapped indoors – in class, indoor recess due to weather, on a bus or in a car.

As a child I walked to school, alone or with friends. I don’t remember ever seeing parents walking with their children – or driving them. What I do remember is the sights and sounds of the neighbourhood, the feel of the sun, the rain, and the icy wind throughout the seasons. This daily walk was a period of transition between home and school. A time when I prepared for the day ahead or reflected on the experience.

My own children walked to school by themselves. When we first moved into this neighbourhood I walked to school with my older two children (then aged 8 & 11) for the first four days – to help to familiarize them with the route. On the Friday of their first week at school they walked by themselves. On their way home they made a wrong turn – and when they realized their mistake they asked a stranger for directions and made it home 15 minutes later than expected.

My younger two children were already familiar with the area by the time they started school. They walked alone the very first day of grade one – at their request. I’m not going to say I didn’t worry – I’m their mother – that’s what I always did.

Every day I pictured the directionally challenged one wandering miles from home with no idea where they were. Every day I worried that someone would suggest something stupid to the somewhat gullible one and they would do it. Every day I worried that the shy/anxious one would panic, run and hide, never to be found again. Every day I worried that the adventurer would get lost in some imaginary world and forget that they should be in school.

I also won’t say that none of those things ever happened. Sometimes they did, but the actual incidents were never as bad as the ones I envisioned and we learned from them. We learned things that we wouldn’t have learned if I had insisted on walking or driving them to school every day.

We learned that they were fully capable of walking a few blocks – four times/day – in all types of weather. We learned that even in elementary school they were capable of being responsible and getting to and from school on time – if they are given the chance to.

The exercise, the outdoor time, the independence were all invaluable parts of their education – equally as important as any of the learning that was done in the classroom. As I watch all the students heading off to school I can’t help wishing they all had the opportunity to walk every day. The opportunity to be outdoors. The opportunity to be independent. The opportunity to learn.

This September my ‘baby’ heads off to university. Today is also his first day at his new job. I didn’t fill out his application for him. I didn’t go to his job interview. I will not be driving him to his classes. It is not that I don’t want to but rather, I know that it is important that he do this on his own. It is important that I let go and let him demonstrate his independence.

I also know it isn’t any easier this year than it was when he was heading off to first grade.

 

In just over a week I’ll be heading off to the 2014 NATURE SUMMIT!!!!
Our Friday keynote will be Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids. She will also be speaking on Thursday September 11 at Isaac Brock Community Center 715 Telfer St N – this event is open to the public so you don’t have to attend the entire summit to hear Lenore speak. Let me know if you want tickets.

What is the Problem With Lunch?

Our current menu has been in place for less than a year but I think there are too many items that the children do not eat.  Many of the menu items had brought rave reviews when they were first introduced last year but lately the children have been eating very little.  I will admit that I am a little perplexed by their lack of interest in eating lunch.

I’ve never had much trouble getting these preschoolers to eat in the past.  It was usually the school-age children that were the pickiest eaters. Often they had not been here as preschoolers and they were very finicky about what they would and would not eat.  For them, fruits and vegetables were usually the most contentious items – sometimes limited to apples and carrots or none at all.  The preschooler’s enthusiasm over all food groups could sometimes entice the older children to try something new.

This year I have no school-age children here for lunch on school days and the preschoolers seem to have become apathetic about almost every lunch menu item.  Recently I’ve been trying out some new recipes to see if I can inspire them to eat lunch regularly.  I haven’t been very successful.

Soup and rice were items that these preschool children specifically requested yet they don’t eat them — ever. Potatoes of any kind have never been popular with this group.  So far pasta dishes are proving to be unpopular. They usually like spaghetti but lately even that is just barely acceptable.

Tuesday’s have traditionally been ‘sandwich day’ here and this is the one day of the week that everyone will eat lunch. The curious point here is that most of them don’t finish a whole sandwich and they used to often have seconds and they are not finishing their veggies either.

I began to think that maybe they just were not hungry so I tried moving morning snack a little earlier in hopes that this might improve their appetite.  The children who attend school in the morning have a snack there and I am unable to change the time that they eat.

Afternoon snack has now become the most popular meal of the day – I assumed that this is because they are really hungry by then. They often ask for seconds of afternoon snack even when the menu item is something that they were blasé about in the past.

I started this post with the intention of highlighting some of the lunch recipes that I have tried and would hopefully add to the regular menu.  However, as I’ve been writing I’ve also been reflecting and speculating.  I was trying to come up with an effective transition from the children’s poor appetites to the introduction of new recipes – hopefully some they really like.

Then I had an epiphany. What if the appetite problem isn’t related to the type of food or the length of time between meals? What if they are not hungry at lunch because I changed the schedule and we no longer playing outside before lunch?!?

Seriously?  I cannot believe that this didn’t occur to me before.  I know the value of outdoor play but I was so focused on the food that I didn’t even consider this.  It also explains why afternoon snack has become so popular since we now go outside for the period between nap and afternoon snack.

I’m still changing the menu.  The current menu has been in place since last January and many of the meals were chosen to accommodate our ‘we have to pick-up the kindergarten child before lunch’ schedule.  Since we are now here and inside before lunch I have more prep time available.  It may be more difficult to determine which items the children like or dislike but at least now that I have realized that the lack of outdoor time before lunch is also a factor to consider.

So, since this post is long enough already, stay tuned for a separate post about new lunch menu recipes – and don’t forget to go play outside — it is essential for a good appetite!