With a busy schedule and a munchkin in tow, I rarely have time to hit the gym.
Every fitness guru reading this is probably scrunching their eyebrows right now and saying, “But do you really?”
For all those moms out there who make it work, kudos to you. I try time and time again to wake up early and squeeze in a workout, but sleep always wins.
There are creative ways to fit in some fitness during the workday, but that's never been consistent for me.
Getting up and walking around during a break and running between offices is basically my workout, but that's not equivalent to going to the gym.
I kept telling myself, "I'll do it on my lunch hour."
Well, there's only the lunch “hour,” and it's an elusive timeframe that may or may not include a hastily grabbed salad or wrap.
And if the space-time continuum has affected my lunch hour, it has certainly affected my waist line.
I also tried telling myself, "I'll go on the weekend because something is better than nothing, right?"
Well, sometimes work carries over to the weekend, and life is short.
When you get quality time with your family, you take it.
There was some mild success with taking small walks and doing yoga (when I could muster the energy), but that's still not the same as going to the gym.
The biggest workout that I get has been from chasing my kid around when she gets into her usual nearly-3-year-old shenanigans.
This girl is sweet as pie, but she gets into everything.
Hitting the playground
Her energy simply can't be contained, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
She's one of those kids who will spend hours at the playground, when we spare the extra time. We pack a little picnic and have a Sunday adventure.
It's our quality time together. I treasure it because for once, time seems like it's slowing down, and she's not growing so fast.
One day, she managed a series of child Olympics, jumping off the swing set, climbing up the slide and doing it all with the most mischievous smile.
I'd climbed the slide, somehow fitting my adult derriere in there, slid down it and gave her a good chase.
By the time I reached her, my sides were burning.
Everything was burning, especially my lungs. I used to love running, and I laughed at how winded I'd gotten from that short, yet ridiculously tough sprint.
I'd just received quite the workout on the playground.
While watching my daughter play, reminding her to keep her shoes on, I thought more about the muscles I'd used while chasing down my kid and playing with her.
My abs, my gluts and calves were all aching.
“Wait, I have abs?” I remember thinking, laughing again.
Playing with my kid was exercise, and for kids, exercise is natural. They run, jump, twirl and skip without hesitation.
Adults don't play.
When did adults stop playing? Probably around the time they were told they needed to grow up.
I don't want to be the kind of parent who tells their child to stop playing, to stop imagining or to stop seeing and nurturing the potential of themselves and the world.
Why not work out (well, play) on the playground?
I'm not a kid, but I'd be there with my child, anyway, to get some fitness in.
The bonus is, our playground time is consistent, and this would be some sort of consistent workout.
And what makes play a workout is that you're targeting particular muscles groups or performing a routine with a set goal.
You don't have to take the fun out of it.
While I'm still working on adapting a flexible, yet consistent fitness routine (because you have to with a child), it's working.
I have seen success with working out on the playground while my daughter plays.
My butt fits more easily on the slide. I do planks and swing from the monkey bars. I use my own weight as resistance, and the equipment on the playground I use for fitness is free compared to the gym membership I was practically donating, minus my time.
The benefits of playing
Where some find their workout zen in a yoga studio, I found mine playing on the playground with my daughter.
Working out, gaining muscle and losing weight aren't the only benefits I'm finding with our playtime.
In my everyday life, my mood and energy have improved from leading a more active lifestyle.
In fact, studies show that play and exercise can boost your mood within several minutes of getting active.
Work-life balance is more easily achieved, stress is lifted and more importantly, I spend quality time with my daughter and get active with her.
I'm happy to set a good example for her because she's the one who inspired me to play again.
Children open up entire worlds of possibility and see the world with fresh eyes. They also remind their parents to do the same, and it's up to us to listen.