I asked my favorite 12 year old this question at swimming practice recently. You see, she is a talented runner with strong legs; however, she sometimes fails to see the need to use those legs to kick while swimming…As her coach, I consequently see the need to inspire her to use them so that she will swim faster!
My parents believed that participation in athletics as a child and young adult would instill good lifelong fitness habits in me as well as keeping me busy enough that I stayed out of trouble during those wonderful teenage years. My parents are very intelligent and insightful people. Inspiring me to be a life-long athlete was one of the greatest gifts that they gave to me. I am doing my best to give that same gift to my children.
With the help of a couple of other coaches in town, my favorite 12 year old appears to be following in my adolescent footsteps. She gets up every morning at 6:30am to run three-four miles before the summer time heat sets in. She also has swimming practice every day. In addition, Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s she also has a team cross country run that she chooses to participate in.
She is eating me out of house and home as my mother used to say to me, but her body is strong and lean. She is not only learning to train it to be stronger every day, but she is also learning how to fuel it so that she can be successful in her athletic endeavors.
I ask my girls frequently to list out the foods that they eat during the day and also place them into the appropriate food group. Together, we analyze the balance of their daily food consumption in an effort for them to learn how to have a healthy diet. It seems as though I can frequently be heard saying, “It sounds like you owe me fruit”, but they are slowly getting better at identifying what their body needs relative to what they feed it…
I see this most especially with my oldest daughter as the increasing physical demands that she makes on her body mandates that she figure out how to properly fuel it. Protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are staples at our house. While she tends to prefer protein and whole grains over fruits and vegetables, she knows that a balance of all of them is important.
Throughout her athletic career and far beyond it as she moves into adulthood, this lesson of good health will set her up for success. With every day that passes, she is learning that God gave her legs so that she could use them and a brain so that she can understand how best to fuel them! I am proud to say that she is fueled by the beef that her mama grows for her, and this summer will also be fueled by home grown vegetables that we are growing together.