Written by Christy of The Simple Homemaker
I am not a fitness expert. In fact, even though I was my high school valedictorian, I failed gym class in college. Life is funny like that.
Here’s why I failed. Consistency, which is sometimes the same as boredom. The class required me to come to the same room in the same building the same three days every week and do the same things on the same machines that always smelled the same…and that was not a good same smell, if you know what I mean.
Some people thrive on that…and they look buff. I don’t thrive on that…nor do I look buff. But I am trim and active. I also just turned 40 with seven children living in a travel trailer touring the country with my husband’s music mission.
What did she say? They live in a trailer? How does she exercise? How does she stay sane?
We’ll take the sanity question over at The Simple Homemaker, but the exercise question I’ll answer here with these four basic principles that apply to exercise and almost every other aspect of my life:
My 4 Exercise (and Life) Principles
With no floor space not taken up by our 125-pound dog, and no room to wiggle without putting an elbow in someone’s eye, exercise has to get pretty creative. That’s principle number one: think outside the box.
Because our schedule and location varies week to week, day to day, principle number two is to be flexible.
Since it is obvious (remember the FAIL) that I’m not into repetitiveness, principle number three is that it has to be fun…or at least not boring or lonely.
And finally, principle number four, my favorite: it has to be able to involve the entire family.
Here’s how that works on a practical level
No matter where we are, we walk. Sometimes it’s just the older set while Daddy and the littles sleep in (I wear the baby), and sometimes it’s the whole family (I still wear the baby). Sometimes it’s walking through fields, sometimes on groomed trails, and sometimes around parking lots. We try to mix up the terrain, but that’s not always realistic.
We don’t take the kids to play at the park. We take the family to play at the park. Sometimes it’s Mommy and Daddy shouting, “Hey, watch me on the monkey bars!” We also keep sports equipment at hand, a ball at the very least. Play like a kid and you’ll be fit like a kid. Plus small children make good weights. It’s true!
3. Exercise bands.
We had a sweet piece of exercise equipment in our old life, but it grew green with jealousy watching my hubby exercise using only gravity and an exercise band. Exercise bands offer effective resistance, and are small and affordable. Plus they come in pretty colors…which my hubby doesn’t seem to care about. Silly man.
4. Squeezing it in.
We make due with the time and space we have. I call it lazy exercise. If you peek in our trailer windows, in the brief moment before we release the hound on you, you’ll see us doing small exercises while brushing our teeth, reading, waiting in line for the bathroom. With nine people and one bathroom, a person can burn a lot of calories doing the potty dance. No joke.
5. Taking a break.
When leisure time is exercise time, what fun it is! We hike every national park or state trail we can find on our journeys, and always have. We walk beaches, play in water and sand, climb mountain trails, explore woods, climb trees, ride horses, jump fences, you name it! I am not (NOT) athletic, but we do stay active.
6. Parking far away.
You’ve heard this one before. We use it. Okay, so the main reason I park far away is because I drive a 15-passenger “bus,” and, while I’m a safe driver, I’ve never won a gold star for my parking abilities. Still, it works. We gain extra steps during the day by walking the furthest route possible to get anywhere, taking the stairs (sometimes extra times just for “fun”), pacing, carrying music equipment in and out of venues ourselves instead of asking for help, name it!
Those nifty little counters make us aware of how sedentary we’re being. If our pedometers
nag caution us that we’re consistently missing 10,000 steps a day, we know we have to ramp it up. Sometimes this requires quite a bit of marching in place.
8. Never blushing.
Whether I am teaching my kids ballet in a church parking lot or we are being outmaneuvered on the jungle gym by our tribe of monkeys, we are never embarrassed to be seen in public doing whatever it is we do to stay fit. Anybody who is judging us for getting fit or for enjoying our kids has a problem that goes way beyond us. Of course, we don’t exercise to be seen either–you’ll never see us jogging half-naked down a crowded sidewalk in San Francisco. You’re welcome for that.
Ultimately our purpose for exercising is to be healthy so we can live a life of service, spending more time looking outward rather than inward at our physical struggles. Still, that’s vague. I mean, really. Our more immediate, tangible goals are being comfortable in our own clothes and lifestyles, and keeping (or getting) our dog fit. Even that isn’t enough sometimes. The biggest motivator of all for my family is that we are in training for the rim to rim hike down into the Grand Canyon and back up the other side. Not being the whiny slacker on the trail is huge motivation. Huge, I tell ya!
Does it work?
I weigh less than I did in college, and, in general, have the energy to keep up with my kids. My husband’s pushing 50 and he’s a hottie. Hey, he is! And I married him so I could have the privilege of saying that out loud. I’m not in the running for Mrs. America and I could use some extra toning, but I also don’t have to soak up someone else’s sweat in the gym anymore, and I can keep up with my children. I’m good with that happy medium.
Do you think that if I send a link to this article to my gym teacher in college, he might retroactively change my grade?
What are your simple, out-of-the-box ideas for staying fit?
Christy Bagasao writes with understanding and humor about simplifying life at The Simple Homemaker. Once weighed down by unrealistic expectations, life’s overwhelming demands, and the burden of clutter, Christy has learned to make life less complicated and find joy in the simple things. She and her contemporary Christian musician husband, Stephen Bautista, “roadschool” their 7 children, ages 1 to 16, on the open road as they tour the country full-time in a travel trailer for the music mission.
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Erin’s Week 3 Update:
Weight: I was really disappointed that I haven’t lost weight this week. Although, I think I may just need to give up weighing or pick a time/day to weight and stick to it. Every time I get on the scale, it says something different.
Inches: I lost 1 inch. Woo hoo! This made up for the disappointment in not losing weight this week.
Diastasis: It seems like it’s down to about a 2?
Biggest Challenge: Burn Bootcamp is at 5:45 every night…which is really, really hard for a mom to attend. When I go, I have to rush out the door as soon as my husband walks in the door and miss dinner with the family. That’s not good at all. 🙁 Fit2B is a lot more feasible at this point.
Week 3 Mini Challenge: Work out 2 times this week. (That’s it! Two times!)
Top image by mooncat