Jun 26

READER SUBMISSION: Fit Mama (mother of 2, date night workouts & family runs)

reader-submission-Jennifer-300x187Before I give the floor to Jennifer let me just say that her story is truly inspiring!  We met Jennifer and her husband a few years ago while living in Houston.  They had just had their first baby (we were still baby-less) but they were always inviting us out to do fun and active dates.  They are an awesome and active couple and continue that now with two kids.

Jennifer just ran a half marathon in 1:45 and get this . . . she had never run more than a mile just 1 year ago!

Would you like to share your story to inspire other?  Just contact us here: contact @ simplefamilyfitness.com

Okay take it away Jennifer:

Briefly introduce yourself? Name, age, athletic or workout history (have you always enjoyed working out)

I’m Jennifer. I am 27 today! (Happy BDay Jen!) I have typically been active my whole life. I never played any serious sports, but I did participate in Dance Company, Ballroom, and Cheer in High School. In college I focused on Cheer for a while and then mainly on competitive ballroom with my now husband, Christopher. I have always enjoyed working out or at least feeling semi- in shape but I’ve never been a crazy fanatic or motivated enough to wake up at 5 am. I also never ran more than 1 mile before April of 2013.

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

I have 2 kids, a girl (age 3) and a boy (age 2)

 

What is your latest athletic achievement or latest race etc .  .  . ?  What is your next goal or race that you would like to complete?

My latest race was the American Fork Canyon Half Marathon in Utah. I ran it in 1:45 which beat my goal of making it in under 2 hours. My next goal/race is the Spudman Triathlon in Burley ID in July.

 

Do you run or workout with your kids? If so, how do you keep them entertained while you workout? If not, what do you do with them during your workouts?

 

I definitely work out with my kids! In the winter, they are climbing on top of me while I do pushups and crawling under ‘the bridge’ while I’m in downward dog.  In the winter I work- out indoors a lot. I bike on my stationary bike during naps and pass the time with some guilty pleasure Netflix shows. I also love P90X and Insanity.

Once summer hits though, I move outside. I pull my kids in a bike trailer, or push them for a run. If I need to do a workout without them I get up early and do it before my Husband has to leave, or we get a babysitter and do a workout together and call it a date.

I often run to a park/splash pad, let the kids play for a while and then run home after. It makes it easier to do a longer run pushing 2 heavy kids in a stroller, and they enjoy it more too.

 

Does your spouse workout with you as well?  If so how do you plan workouts that you can do together?

He does. Maybe not as much as I do right now but he’s getting there. We try to work out together. We aren’t so much at the same pace in most physical activities but we make it work. We like to have date night workout sessions! Or morning family runs.

 Do you generally workout alone or do you have a group of other families or parents that workout with you?

I try to find friends to work out with. I’ve found a few to run with and different friends to bike with.. still trying to find a swimming buddy.  Working out is always better with friends! If not though, I just turn on some good tunes or my favorite is listening to podcasts.

Do you have a cute or inspiring story of your children noticing you working out or trying to emulate you working out?

 

Yes! My oldest, will periodically put on her work out clothes and insist she needs to ‘go for a run’ She loves to do yoga poses with me, or as displayed below, ‘turn on the work out video mom, I’m ready to work out.’

Both of them love to copy whatever I’m doing. Namely pushups. They try really hard to figure those out!

What has been the biggest challenge to getting or staying in shape with kids and a family?

I suffer from Hyperemisis Gravidarum (HG) during pregnancy. Its a pregnancy condition in which. if not for medical help and interventions ( home IV”s, Zofran Pumps, PICC lines etc) I would die. It sounds dramatic, but I’m serious. It’s horrible and I am basically on deaths door for 9 months. Then after a very long recovery and all while trying to nurse (which I typically do for at least a year), I don’t typically get back into the swing of things until about 10 months post partum. But after a year and a half of being basically inactive, it is like starting all over again. Its hard and takes time and a lot of motivation.

 

What tips do you have for other parents just starting out trying to workout with a family?

 

Keep at it! Like I said, I never ran more than 1 mile before I had both of my kids. It was SO hard to start running, especially when pushing them. They aren’t light! Every time it gets a little easier, and even a short 2 mile run with your kids is GREAT! Invest in a gym if you don’t want to have your kids around, and drop them off at the daycare! Or invest in good equipment, a jogging stoller/bike trailer etc and go exploring together!

Either way, just keep active. You might feel tired at first, but eventually you will feel energized and your body will crave it!

 

Lastly, do you have a favorite recipe, nutrition, or workout tip that you would like to share with others?

 

Most recently I read ‘It Starts With Food’ and I liked a lot of the points in it. My main efforts have been to increase my vegetable intake. I have always had a hard time with veggies and I really want to instill a love for them in my kids! Eat veggies for breakfast! It might feel weird at first but you will feel more energy and it will help in pointing your day toward better dietary choices.

Wanna give Jennifer some kudos?  Share your thoughts below!

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May 20

Why Being Fat Actually Demotivates Me From Working Out (and How to Change)

So I have mentioned a few times before on here how I used to be in amazing shape and run a 3:24 marathon.  Swimming a mile without breaks was a warm up and biking 50 miles just hurt my butt.  I was in pretty good shape.

I won’t go into the details of how I got out of shape too much here as you can read this post HERE if you are interested in that.  I will say though that I went from 160lbs with nearly an 8 pack to 195lbs and a cholesterol dangerously approaching 200 (yeah that’s bad).

Here is a picture of me in 2009:

jon-haws-seabrook-marathon

The Power of Habits – And What Motivates Me

I was always an athlete.  I began playing sports from the time I was just learning to walk.  In 4th grade I started running cross country, and I was pretty good.

I thrive on positive reinforcement from others.  For that reason sports worked really well for me.  As I improved my skills and found my niche in athletics I got better.  Hearing praise from others fueled my ego.  I loved having coaches, parents, teammates, classmates, and strangers tell me how good I was.  Nothing motivated me more!

Once high school was over I continued to seek that positive reinforcement so I began running and working out religiously. I always chalked it up to “I just love competition so this is a way for me to compete”.  But as I look back and think on it, I believe that I was seeking praise and admiration from roommates, girls,and probably to some degree I loved to think that other guys were jealous of me.

I would go to the college track when it was busiest take my shirt off and do my workouts . . . yeah I was that guy. Running certainly became a ritual for me.  I bought the brightest shoes, wore the short shorts, grew my hair out, made sure the bandanna and sunglasses were in the exact right spot and that I would have an audience.

Don’t get me wrong . . . I did work my butt off, I just made sure I would achieve the praise I wanted.

The Habit Loop: Cue – Routine – Reward

Charles Duhigg, in his book: The Power of Habit which spent 60 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List explains what he terms the Habit Loop:

From: Charles Duhigg

From: Charles Duhigg

Simply put, all habits whether positive or negative follow the course of cue-routine-reward.  

  1. CUE: A specific time of day comes
  2. ROUTINE: I go running
  3. REWARD: I am rewarded by people looking, positive comments, and jealous roommates

So as long as my habit loop stays in place I am able to continue with the habit indefinitely (theoretically).

So, How Did I Stop Running

Assuming that this loop never breaks I am golden.  The problem is life changes.

When Sandi and I lived in Oklahoma my cue to workout was 3:30pm.  At that moment I stopped doing everything I was doing and started to get ready for the workout.

I packed the exercise bag and went through my ritual of ensuring I looked like I had wasted way too much time getting ready for my workout.

I did this EVERYDAY

But, like I said life changes.  We moved.  We got new jobs. We weren’t sure where to workout.  We didn’t have our same running trails.

Suddenly my cues were gone . . . . and sure enough within weeks my routine was broken.  My body was still in decent shape so I appreciated the occasional compliments at the pool or wherever we would go that I happened to take my shirt off.

Unfortunately, the residual effect of working out and running eventually fades if you stop . . . obviously!

With No Reward – There is No Routine

The compliments began to fade, life continued to change, and I began to put the weight on.  Soon the compliments turned to suggestions from family members that I start running again or Sandi begging me to go on a jog with her.

The problem was: My reward was the praise for looking good!

Without that praise, I had no reward for working out and new habits began to form. Now instead of running, doing situps, and eating right, I had quickly developed habits tied to eating poorly, and the release of stress from watching a sitcom.

Soon the praise stopped.  My body was no longer the envy of ANYONE! And here I am today at 195lbs barely able to run 3 miles.

So, How Do You Motivate Yourself – – – You Don’t

The question is less about motivation.  I am MOTIVATED to get back into shape.  I want to have a 6 pack. I don’t want to have a stroke at 40. Each night I go to sleep thinking . . . “tomorrow I will run”.

The Habit is stronger than the Motivation. I have to create a new habit to get out and exercise.  The enormous hurdle though is that for 32 years my reward was always tied to recognition and praise for having a “good body”.  That ain’t happening any time soon.

I have to Change my Reward

In order to create the new habit I have to do two things:

  1. Develop a cue
  2. Change the reward

Generally, the easiest way to change a habit is to simple change the action and maintain the same reward and cues. But that is not possible in this case. My reward is unavailable.

How to Create a New Cue

Creating a new cue is simple.  I just need to develop a set pattern or time that becomes my new cue to workout.  It can be as simple as having a pair of shoes that is only used for working out.  Setting clothes in a place that I can see them.  Creating an alarm on my iPhone. etc. . .

Finding a reward however will take some experimentation.  The reward that I crave is praise.  Here are some of the rewards that I have thought of implementing:

  • Posting my runs and workouts on Facebook – this would allow for positive reinforcement from a community of friends.
  • Taking weekly photos and posting them for family to see – or this community – the gradual progression my initiate praise.
  • Buying a Smootie from Smoothie Factory after each run.  This will allow for a guaranteed award after each run that I can count on.

Why Being Out Of Shape De-Motivated

So although it seems counter-intuitive that being out of shape actually demotivates me to workout, it remains that my reward and desire to workout was so directly tied to the pride of positive comments from outside individuals.

Encouragement would never work.  The first step in getting back into shape was to recognize how I got to where I am and then investigating the Habit Loop that drives my behavior.

Once this has been done I can begin to create a new habit loop as discussed above.

 Motivating a Loved One to Get In Shape

If you have a glimmer of desire to get into shape or reach fitness goals that seem unattainable right now or if you have a loved one or spouse who might need a boost it is important that you first try to understand the habit loop and that you don’t pre judge motives.

No one WANTS to be out of shape,no one WANTS to feel tired and overweight . . . no one WANTS these things but our habits are MUCH stronger than  we will power.

Approaching with love and a desire to understand will create an environment that may lead to change.

  • Attempt to understand cues for positive and negative behaviors
  • Identify the habit that those cues lead to
  • What reward drives the habit

Do You Have a Habit You Want to Change?  Have You Changed a Habit in the Past?  Share Your Experience Below.

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May 19

How I Got Fat, And Why I Blamed My Kids

I don’t like fat people.  At least I used to be very prejudice against fat people . . .  then, I got fat.

At the time I was working out a minimum of 4 days a week for 2-4 hours a day.  It became a sort of obsession, or at least a habit that I was unwilling to give up.  From 4pm to about 7 pm every day I was at the track running laps, running bleachers, swimming, or biking.

Life was pretty simple.  Sandi (my wife) and I had just gotten married and moved to a small town in Oklahoma. She worked at a hospital that was only 1/2 mile from our house, and I was a stay at home husband.

jon-haws-seabrook-marathon

I spent my time trying to decide what to do with my life.  I was 25 and sort of a late bloomer career wise.   I flipped houses for  awhile (read: I lost money on two ghetto homes), I did some roofing with a brother in law, I didn’t go to a couple job interviews, I started college twice.  For the most part my time was spent researching workouts and marathon training techniques, when I wasn’t researching workouts, I was developing spreadsheets with target running times or planning our next road trip to an upcoming marathon.

jon-muscle

Sandi was only working about 30-40 hours a week, but it was a pretty laid back job, so we would have breakfast and lunch together.  And she was always home by 4pm at the latest.

Like I said, life was pretty good!

At the same time we started to become obsessed with diet and nutrition (Sandi is actually a Dietitian by trade) and we developed a pretty restrictive diet plan that included almost no saturated fat and tons of fruits and veggies.  Not only was health important to us, but we had the time, money, and support to make health and fitness work.  This coupled with the fact that we lived in a town where the nearest movie theater was 120 miles away created the perfect atmosphere for us to focus an intense amount of energy on working out.

Fast Forward 5 Years

Over the last 5 years life has changed significantly for our family.  To make a long story short we have lived in 10 homes/apartments, had two kids, I have had 3 full time jobs, we have started two businesses, and I have completed 2 Bachelors degrees. . . . Oh, and we have had we have had two kids.

jon-and-taz

I now weigh 195 pounds, for a 5’8″ male (like myself) that makes my BMI 29.6, 30 is obese which means if I gain two pounds my BMI will say that I am obese. To be fair, even when I was 4% body fat my BMI was still 26, so its not the best description of physic.

What Happened Over the Last 5 Years

When you don’t have a “real” job and no kids, your time is yours.  I was able to do whatever I wanted with my time and this allowed for very intense workouts . . . when I had the energy to do intense workouts.  Now days I have two kids on top of the fact that I work nights.  When I get home from work at 8am the kids are crying, they are hungry, cranky, loud, and I don’t have the energy to deal with it.

jon-with-kids-dad-working-out

All I really want to do is to go to sleep. But I stay awake for a couple hours to get some play time in with the kiddos or to eat breakfast with the family.

Generally, I am balancing trying to stay awake during the day time and just the shear challenges of parenting that every other parent faces and generally speaking I am too tired to workout.

When meal time comes I often given in to the enticing of Ronald McDonald because it will entertain the kids for a couple hours and it won’t make a mess in the house. His damn Siren song is just too much to ignore on some days (ba da ba ba ba!).

Each night I go to bed thinking “tomorrow will be the day that I wake up early”, but I usually stay up to late each night so that I can have a few hours of quiet time after the kids are in bed.  Then, at 2am Taz, my 3 year old boy, comes into our room and climbs up into our bed shoving us out of his way.

On the rare occasion that my energy levels lines up with my ambition and I do end up on a jog where I have to push 60 pounds of kid and stroller while also trying to carry my extra 30 pounds of weight that has built up over the last 5 years.

I am generally a pretty selfish guy (if you hadn’t noticed by now) and I have come to realize in the last three years of parenting how precious time is . . . better put, how precious MY time is.  When the stars align and I have a moment of quiet time all I want to do is sip on a root beer, crack open a bag of chips and watch re-runs of the Office . . . its my way of feeling sorry for myself because I am such an amazing dad!

What Really Happened Over the Last 5 Years

As mentioned above we have moved a lot and done a lot over the last few years. I have used the choices I have made as excuses for failure in other areas of life rather than realigning my priorities or fessing up to my failures.

I chose to attend school, I chose to work nights, I chose to eat at McDonalds, I chose to start businesses . . . etc. the list goes on and on.  Rather than accept my choices and organize my life accordingly I have used my kids as scapegoats for my shortcomings.

taz-and-kai-working-out-with-kids

In the same amount of time as it has taken me to gain 30 pounds, Sandi has run two marathons . . . and had two babies. She is just 5 pounds away from her pre marriage weight.

The moment I made the decision to stop working out, the past 5 years where already decided.  That ONE day that I didn’t go jogging for whatever reason – – – my destiny was decided.  A new habit had been created and I had erased 26 years of good habits.

The day I decided to take Taz to McDonald’s for the first time I had made my decision that someone else was going to be responsible for feeding my kids.  Someone else was going to make nutrition decisions for my kids.  Why? Because I thought it would be easier.

I remember the first time I EVER felt fat.

It was at my corporate job (desk job) I was typing away on the computer and I felt my man boobs touch my stomach!  I couldn’t believe it.  Rather than use this as motivation to make drastic changes, I used it as a sign that “it was too late”.  I was now one of the “fat people” that I hated.  Getting back in shape was now out of my reach.  This was BEFORE we even had kids.  What I mean is, clearly my decision to be out of shape was independent of children.  I had already made that decision . . . having kids only gave me an excuse.

As a nurse who works nights I get to have breakfast and dinner with my kids 7 days a week.  Generally speaking I am pretty tired after an over night shift. But I have an amazing chance to be at every meal with my kids . . what habits and traits can I teach them?  I am there a minimum of 2 meals a day, 7 days a week.  Very few men have that advantage. I have 4 days off per week, I live across the street from an enormous park, I have a wife and children who love the outdoors . . . yet I am not working out.

What positive impact would doing short HITT workouts while my kids take naps make in my outlook on life and overall energy level?  What would the difference be if I ate healthy snacks rather than cokes and cookies while I was working?

Parenting does change the way in which you are able to use your time.  It does make an enormous difference in how much personal time you have.  But health is not simply how much time you spend running.  Health is a way of life.  It is not required that you be 4% body fat and run 200 miles a week to reap the benefits of working out.  Simply walking more, jogging around the block, telling Ronald McDonald to screw himself, or eating an apple are all healthy choices that will result in fantastic health changes of in turn improve my entire outlook on life.

The moment I fess up to MY failures and faults and stop blaming those who love me and look up to me (my kids), in that moment can I start making changes that will impact my life and my children’s lives.

What are my children feeling now whether consciously or subconsciously knowing that I am putting all the blame for my current health state on them?  No doubt they can feel my frustrations.  By removing that blame and placing it where it belongs I will create a more peaceful home and allow myself to begin living a healthy life again.

I don’t hate fat people.  I realize that we all struggle with different things.  I understand now more than ever the mental blocks to start the process of working out or eating right.  I know how it feels to know that you don’t love your body.

By alienating my family and blaming them for my choices I have driven a wedge, hidden or not, into the most precious relationships possible in life.  I am missing out on enjoying life to the fullest.

Moving forward life will be sweet.  Family will be cherished.  Health will be embraced.

Have you had an experience or paradigm shift that helped you change you health goals?  Share your thoughts below in the comments.

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