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Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Feature: Sunday Spotlight

Since Sunday is my weekly rest day and I don't have much to blog about, I had this crazy idea to dedicate one blog post a week to  highlighting other true-life athletes.  Moms (and sometimes dads) who are devoted to their family and other responsibilities, but still manage to schedule time for regular exercise and sometimes even races and other events.  I thought it would be fun and helpful to get some fresh perspectives.  Though we all have unique lives and circumstances, we can still find common threads with others and maybe learn from and feel inspired by them.

So I hope you enjoy the first installment of Sunday Spotlight!  Today, I would like to introduce you all to my friend Heidi:

Here's Heidi's perspective:

I’ll start with introducing myself. My name is Heidi Graham. I am married and a full-time mother of three beautiful children. Their ages are 10, 8, and 5. My eight-year old is disabled and I will talk about her more later. When I am not at home being a mom, I am also a Health and Physical Education teacher at a middle school in the town we live in. I also hold a position in the children’s group in our church and right now I am currently in grad school working toward my master’s degree in educational leadership. I am not telling you all of this to prove to you that I am busy, because one thing that I have learned is that most of us are busy. Very few of us have that ideal down time in our lives that allows for us to work out on a regular basis without it interfering with anything else. But I do want to make the point that even though we may have full lives, exercise can and should be a priority.

This summer, along with all the items listed above, I participated in two triathlons. One sprint (.5 mile swim/12.4 mi bike/5k run) and one olympic (1 mi swim/25 mile bike/10k run) distance. It was not easy to train for these events, but it definitely was fun. Unlike other people, my motivation for training is not to lose weight. (As a matter of fact, I haven’t lost all that much weight this summer.) For me, the motivation comes from other places. First, my daughter Sarah is a huge motivation. She has cerebral palsy and struggles daily to do everyday stuff that so many of us take for granted. I want to set the example that we can do hard things. I want her to know that we don’t have to be perfect in order to try. And I want her to know that taking care of our bodies and being healthy are important traits and something worth working hard for.

Another motivation is my students. I firmly believe in leading by example. I remember in elementary school having a P.E. teacher that would talk to us about being active, but she was overweight and was not able to demonstrate or do most of the activities she taught us. When I got into high school I had a coach and P.E. teacher that lived a healthy lifestyle. She didn’t just teach what it meant to take care of your body, but she actually did it. She was very humble and never bragged or boasted, but we knew that everything she taught us was important to her. I remember as a student, wanting to impress her, wanting her to be proud of my accomplishments, wanting to be a better athlete or student because she was my leader. I want to be that kind of P.E. teacher.

My final motivation is for myself. I want to be active and healthy. I have a mother that at age 55 is wheelchair bound. She has krohn’s disease and has almost died from it more than once. I have never seen her exercise in my lifetime. I also have a mother-in-law that at age 65 walks and cycles almost every day. She suffers from Multiple Sclerosis but you would never know. My mother-in-law has never been sedentary. I think you have to plan now for where you want to be in the future. Being able to run, play and enjoy my life to the fullest is very important. It’s an investment. I am putting in the sweat, time and tears now so that I can cash them in later.

I honestly can’t think of any race that has stuck out to me more than others. Each race is a blast, maybe not during the event but definitely after. I love the feeling of accomplishment. I love the feeling of setting a goal and following it through to the end. I also love racing with family. My husband has joined my addiction and raced a few triathlons with me. We were going to race a marathon together this summer, but he has had medical issues that will prevent him from racing. I’ve also raced with friends, cousins, aunts and uncles. Those races are always the most fun. The celebration at the end is exhilarating.

My #1 tip for those of you that are busy but really want to exercise is to find someone or something to be accountable to. Either find a racing buddy that is going to make you show up for that run, bike or swim; or sign up for a race that you have to be ready for. That accountability may give you the push you need to follow through. I always register for my races way ahead of time. I do much better on my workouts when I know I have to be ready for something. This year, I had a training buddy that kept me going. On the days that I just didn’t want to run, she was waiting for me. That really helped.

Most important, find something you like to do and make exercise a priority. You will make time for your priorities. But if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t keep doing it.

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