Avid athlete and author of "Run Like a Girl," Mina Samuels shares why sports and working out are important to a healthy life balance and how working out actually makes you a better mom.
Balance is a delicate thing. Often we think of balance as something hard and fixed. Balance doesn't work that way; rather, it is a dynamic process, constantly shifting.
We know this physically. When we are standing still, feeling balanced, our body is actually keeping itself upright by making thousands of tiny micro-adjustments: our feet replanted in the earth, the shift and sway of our ankles and knees indiscernible to the naked eye. Our hips above our knees, supporting our core, the muscles of which engage to fight gravity, keeping our backs upright; and so on up to our heavy bobble head, which threatens to topple us with its disproportionate weight. If our bodies weren't in constant motion, we would literally fall over.
There's really no difference between finding physical balance and finding any other kind of balance in our lives, whether it's psychological, emotional, spiritual, social, professional...you get the picture. Finding our personal fulcrum is a dynamic endeavor. Just like with our bodies, if our lives are out of balance, we, too, will metaphorically fall over.
To prioritize our needs is not selfish. The airlines have it right: put on your own oxygen mask first. If we're not breathing, how are we going to help those next to us?
The above was excerpted from Run Like a Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives, by Mina Samuels. Available from Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2011.
Why Sports Matter in a Mother's Life
1. Happiness for All.
Let's face it. Children are stressful. So what a mother needs is the ultimate anti-stress elixir -- to move the blood around in the body and release a juicy flow of endorphins. Less stress = happier mother. Happier mother = happier children. The answer is in the math.
2. Me First...at Least Sometimes.
No workout happens without making time. And that requires a mother to prioritize her own needs, which, guess what, is a win-win for mother and child. Why? -- because it demonstrates to daughters and, as importantly, sons, the importance of women's needs and pursuits.
3. Girl Time.
Motherhood can be lonely. How wonderful then that working out can double as social time, an opportunity to catch up with a girlfriend. There's nothing like sweat and a chat to put a glow in the day.
4. Walking the Walk.
The best way to model a life for our children is to live and breathe it. Do you want your children to be healthy and active? Well then...I don't need to tell you what that means.
5. Feeling Groovy.
Ah, youth...to be young again. Sigh. People say children keep us young, but you know that the opposite is as apt to be true, as you struggle out of bed after a sleepless night, or bite off a chunk of your tongue in an effort not to yell about the four hundred and fifty-second incident of peanut butter finger-painting on the kitchen cupboards. What keeps a mother young is having her own playtime. And that's what sport is, after all, playing. So it was when we were children, so it should be when we are grown.
Mina Samuels is a freelance writer and editor who lives in New York City; and in a previous incarnation, a litigation lawyer and human rights advocate. When she is not writing she might be off biking, cross-country skiing, doing yoga, rock climbing, kayaking, snowshoeing, or hiking in far off places. She is aunt to 13 nieces and nephews and has logged many a mile at the helm of a Baby Jogger.