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Meet Christina - Why She Strides

Why I Stride: The Backstory of My Relationship with Exercise

I’m Christina Ousouljoglou, and I’ll be blogging for FIT4MOM about twice per month. I live in Wheaton, IL with my husband and our 11 month old daughter.

I plan to write about fun topics. If you know me, you know that I survive the not-so glamorous moments of motherhood, wifehood, and work with large doses of laughter and light-hearted sarcasm.

But, I want to start with one serious topic. This one’s also a little long, so bear with me.

Why—after nights of broken sleep, cranky early mornings, and crazed schedules—do Moms pack up their kiddos and go to Stroller Strides every week?

For me, it’s two things:

  1. Stroller Strides is one of the few forms of exercise that I look forward to and enjoy consistently, and
  2. I want to teach my daughter healthy habits that she enjoys, too.

Exercise That’s Fun??

Yeah, I didn’t think it was possible either. My attitude about exercise has been less than stellar over the years.

Early Childhood—I was active in competitive dance classes. I really didn’t think of dancing as “exercise,” but I did love it. I was too young to think about it too much.

Teen Years—I gave up dancing, and my food habits worsened. With those things combined, I ballooned to well over 250 pounds. Exercise seemed impossible and awful.

Senior in High School—I decided I wanted to lose weight, but exercise still wasn’t on my radar. Instead I chose meal replacement shakes. Ok for quick weight loss, but not a good lasting habit. I lost about 50 pounds.

College—The “Freshman 15” is real. For me, it was more like the Freshman 30. But maybe college did make me a little smarter. I decided to lose weight through healthier eating, going to the gym, and exercise videos in my dorm room. Through trial and error, I lost what I had gained back and more with healthy habits. But I HATED every minute of the exercise that I did.

Early Adulthood—My weight fluctuated a bit, but not too much. My healthier eating habits were mostly maintainable, and I started group exercise. Going to group classes made exercise a lot more fun for me. I also took up running and even ran a full marathon. While I definitely enjoyed the “runner’s high,” long runs felt like chores and toward the end of my training I’d get anxious thinking about them. I made sure to do group runs whenever I could. However, my reasoning for exercise was still purely weight maintenance related.

Motherhood—Woah, what a change. I was petrified of gaining weight during pregnancy (which I did, of course). But motherhood also changed my attitude. Having another human to care for made my desire to be skinny way less important than my desire to be healthy for my family.

And that’s why I love Stroller Strides. A have a village of moms around me with similar goals. I have a whole new set of friends that support me and my daughter in ways I never thought possible. We have a great time when we go to Stroller Strides—yes, even while working out.

Now don’t get me wrong: sometimes I still watch the clock a little when Erica has us doing something particularly challenging and my legs are burning and I’m out of breath, but I still enjoy it.

And seeing my daughter’s huge smile as she looks up at me from her stroller makes me one happy Mom. Which brings me to my next point…

Healthy Habits for My Daughter

My daughter finds pure joy in movement. She can’t walk yet, but she loves darting across the floor in a full-on bear crawl, standing as much as she possibly can, and holding onto me with her tiny hands as she tests out her legs.

Do I want her to hear me talking about exercise as if it’s some sort of punishment women must endure to be thin? Do I want her to see me working out with contempt in my eyes for the body parts that don’t look the way I think they should look?

No!

I want her to exercise because she is proud, strong and capable. I want her to have the confidence to know that anyone who might tease or bully her should be ignored. I want her to know that her Mom and Dad care about her health and their own.

And now I’m crying.

That, in a nutshell, is why I stride.

Leave a comment and tell me why you stride, or why you want to start!

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