When I think about great parenting, I think about setting the best example possible for my son. The reason we say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is that our kids are always watching, listening, and observing us. We are one of the strongest models they have to show them what it looks like to show up in the world. Our successes and pitfalls are likely going to be theirs too.
This leads to the scary part… looking at ourselves. I made myself look at every aspect of who I am, and trust me when I say it was no walk in the park. I had to think about what examples I set for my son.
Do I treat others kindly? Do I stand up for myself? Am I the person that tosses litter out the car window, or am I the person that voluntarily picks it up? Do I take care of myself, in body and mind?
It was the last question here that made me squirm. My automatic response was to check it off on the positive example list. But deep down, I knew this wasn’t entirely true.
I wasn’t obscenely unhealthy. Sure, I wasn’t in great shape. I may have opted for the quick and easy frozen pizza or take-out option a few nights a week, but I didn’t have any scary diseases. I couldn’t run a marathon, but I could spend a Saturday cleaning the house! And this had been enough for me.
This had been enough for me until I put my son in my own shoes. I imagined him at twenty, passing up the salad bar for a hamburger. I pictured my son at thirty, poking an extra hole in his favorite belt with a drill bit just like his mama did. I pictured my son at forty, stopping to take an exasperated breath at the top of the stairs. I didn’t like what I saw.
When I thought about the things I tell my son now- eat your veggies, no more screen time, go run around outside- they didn’t align with this future unhealthy image of him. And they didn’t align with how I was leading my own life at the time.
When I was in my twenties, I would take my niece and nephew to the park every weekend. We would play tag, and I’d chase them all around the park. I’d climb on the jungle gym equipment, and I taught them by example how to climb the rock wall that led up to the tallest slide in the park. I could push them on the swing for hours.
By the end of our playtime, they were pooped. But I wasn’t. I’d drop them off to my very grateful sister and happily go about the rest of my day. This past summer, I took my son to that same park. Only this time, I wasn’t instigating any games of tag.
I pushed him on the swings for a while, but after some time my arms grew tired. I told him to go make friends with some of the other kids- maybe invite them to race or play a game of tag. Tired of being on my feet, I retired to a nearby bench.
My son ran over to a group of kids gathered around the base of the tall slide. They were clapping and excitedly cheering their friends on as they climbed the rock wall to the top. Most of the parents lingered near the bottom, shouting advice up to the brave little ones.
However, there was one parent who had climbed the wall herself and was crouched down at the top helping kids one by one as they summited. It reminded me of a younger, more fit me.
Normally, I would brush this off as aging. Oh, well. It happens. But I couldn’t. I knew this mom from PTA meetings. She was my age! I watched as she helped pull my son over the rock wall and onto the platform.
I thought That should be me! I decided that day that something needed to change.
I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy road, and I didn’t want to do it myself. This was a problem seeing as my schedule was jam-packed and my budget was tight. Or so I thought. I went home and I searched for cheap, easy, flexible weight loss for health and fitness, a wordy and desperate search that would likely lead me nowhere.
I came across a blog that was raving about this new fitness application, CoPilot. They were offering a personal trainer, customized workouts, and no scheduled meeting times. Customers were claiming long-lasting changes and even admitted that they enjoyed their home workouts! I highly doubted this could be true, but I decided to try it out anyway. I’ve never made a better decision in my life.
I was intimidated at first by the workouts assigned to me each week, but I addressed this concern with my trainer Dylan. He helped me find the right balance of exercise for me. I thought I was going to dread my home workout sessions. They’d be difficult reminders of how far I had let myself go. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Dylan matched the exercises and intensity to my current abilities, which grew over time.
When I first started, I could only do three push-ups. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wrong. These push-ups were on my knees, horribly shaky, and only made it about halfway down. Six months later, I can do ten real, solid push-ups. My belly stays flat, and my chin touches the ground. I even showed off my new upper-body ability at girl’s night last week- the ladies were blown away.
I haven’t climbed the rock wall yet, but I am able to push my son on the swing as long as he wants without having to sit down after. Now, I’m walking over to the rock wall with him and shouting advice up as he goes. By next summer, I’ll be waiting at the top to enjoy a victory ride down the slide with him!
My health journey isn’t over. I still have more goals to reach. And for once, the thought of striving for these health goals excites me! I feel confident that I’ll get there with Dylan holding me accountable and offering me nutrition tips and new workout plans along the way.
Most importantly, I’m proud to be setting a good example for my son. He’ll grow up knowing his mom cared about her health and herself. He’ll know what a balanced diet looks like, and what a well-rounded workout feels like.
And maybe one day when he’s grown, someone will ask him how he managed to stay in such great shape over the years. Now, his answer can be, “I followed my mom’s example.”
The story of CoPilot member Rebecca T.