The Power Of Your Inner Child

I have a confession. Sometimes, when I'm teaching a Belly Bootcamp postnatal class and the babies are sprawled on the floor (or the grass, in the summer), it is the babies - not the mommies - who impress me the most. Don't get me wrong. My clients and Belly Bootcamp mommies are impressive. I have a veritable stable of strong, driven, capable and confident women surrounding me every week, day in and day out. For that I am grateful, and it helps to keep me motivated in my own fitness quest.

Yup. I have a fitness quest (cue strings... okay, "quest" minus the medieval attire and dragons). Even trainers, athletes, coaches and other exercise pros have fitness goals, journeys and challenges. Fitness is such an ambiguous term but what it means to me, more than anything, is a lifelong quest to constantly improve. To never, ever go backward. To constantly look inside one's self and find the next step.

It's not that you're not perfect the way you are. It's just that... well, how do I say this?  You're not perfect the way you are. You'll never be perfect. Striving for perfection is unreasonable, but striving for nothing is certain death.

So, back to those babies flopping around on the grass. God, they're determined. Just watch a baby who is close to crawling; if you place a toy or a favourite object (keys and water bottles were always baby faves around my house) just out of reach, you will - almost without fail - witness a small human being in the struggle of her life. She will strain, grunt, make herself red in the face. I do believe her muscles are hurting her as she tries to push her bodyweight up onto those tiny, unpracticed wrists and knees. What compels her? I don't know. Shiny stuff.

But what also compels her is an intrinsic motivation to improve herself. It's the same drive that compels a preschooler to pick up a book and teach herself to read. It's still there in high school when she tries out for soccer. It's even there when she applies to a university she knows might not accept her.

It's still inside you. It doesn't go away. It's the nagging thought when you know you've overeaten. It's in the way you can't take your eyes off those

morning joggers while you sip your coffee on your commute. It's there when you stay up past your bedtime to meet a deadline, and when you trudge out in the rain for a family walk because you know it's the right thing to do. It draws you to the exercise DVDs even though you've got a stack, unopened, already on the shelf at home.

Honour that grunty, red-faced, single-minded little person inside you. She got you where you are. Don't let her down. Honour the body she inherited and give her a safe vessel in which to live.

Watch your children struggle to crawl, walk, read, run, learn and ask yourself, "When was the last time I struggled?" Remember how hard you had to work for everything you wanted in the first 20 years of your life and ask yourself, "When did I get so big that I decided I didn't have to work for anything anymore?"

Close your eyes and remember what it feels like to be young and to feel that anything is possible. Now here are 10 things you can do today to honour your self:

  • lace up your running shoes and get outside with your kids.
  • prepare a healthy dinner.
  • drink some water.
  • pop in one of those exercise DVDs and do just 10 minutes.
  • start a food journal.
  • call your best friend and ask her to meet you for a jog or walk this week.
  • go to bed early.
  • turn off your phone.
  • enjoy a cup of tea.
  • hug your family.

It doesn't have to be all grunting and sweating, but you do have to try.

If you've got a fitness goal (and, who doesn't?), using a tracking program like the Heart & Stroke Foundation's Healthy Weight Action Plan can keep you on track with customizable, FREE meal plan advice, recipes and motivation - so you don't let your inner child slip through the cracks anymore.