Tips to Balance Fitness and Family

The question I probably get asked most frequently is how I successfully balance fitness and family.  First and most importantly in my opinion are priorities. It has always been a top priority for me to stay in shape, so regardless of my situation I carved out the time.  Period. There are no reasons not to be healthy and fit, only excuses. Achieving balance, however, means that by staying fit and healthy, I didn’t compromise other aspects of my life – most importantly my family.  There are a multitude of outside forces begging for attention and it’s my job as a parent to determine not just what to take on but what to turn down. It’s considered “obsessive” to work out 5 days a week without regard to the volume of hours people spend watching TV, playing video games or being on the computer.  Redirecting some of that volume of time to being fit has kept me in shape for 48 years now. So, here are some tips to balance fitness and family. 

Eighteen children I claim, which, as you can imagine, is a story in and of itself. In the end, the children I am Mom to 4 biological, 5 step-children (don’t tell them that though!), 5 adopted, 3 foster children that, lucky for me stayed long term and 1 foreign exchange student from Germany who has never stopped being my daughter.  This is my panel of experts. From age 33 down to almost 9, they are the little people who have potentially sacrificed so that I could remain fit over the years.

Finding balance has changed as the kids have grown up.  I remained motivated for myself but also to be a positive role model of fitness for them.  Staying active during and in between pregnancies allowed me to keep up, keep sane, and never get discouraged. Eating healthy and staying fit ensured I never gained a lot of weight during 7 pregnancies.  Having exercise equipment in my home when the kids were small was a huge help as were using videos during naps, and a gym that would accommodate my volume of children while I got in some workouts. Fitness competitions motivated me for a few years as well as access to amazing trainers, but one thing that was always a part of my life to some extent or another was running.

Running is inexpensive, portable, and done in nearly any weather at any time of the day, which is paramount with a hectic family schedule.  Running not only keeps me in good physical shape, but it also gives me a chance for my head to clear. It’s a time for me to think, problem-solve and plan but mostly it’s time for me to decompress. This escape allows me to regroup and hit the reset button if you will, so that I’m better in all aspects of my life, most especially as a Mom. My physical release not only maintains my physique, but it also gives such a large family a balanced Mom. I can offer tips on finding balance, but to really know if I was successful, I asked the experts. My kids.

I posed these questions to 9 of the kids to rate how I’ve balanced fitness and family over the years:  “Did it ever make you unhappy that I went running or worked out? Did you feel less important?” and, “What’s it like to have a Mom that’s fit?”  They got together and deliberated and this was the group response written out by my 20-year-old son: “Hey it is awesome to have a fit mom and then we can stay fit too.  It actually has a say on the humor through the house – because we are all fit we are comfortable with ourselves and making jokes with each other – like ‘your mom’ jokes, ‘blonde jokes’  about each other. We are never sad when you leave to go running because we have each other until you get back. We are glad you have represented cool companies and we know you'll do a good job.”  Perfect! On that note, I’m going out for a run!


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