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A healthy lifestyle starts at home

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

I was cleaning out my t-shirt drawer last week. You know the one I’m talking about ... it’s full of t-shirts reminding you of everything from your last 5k run to that all-night frat party during your last year of college.

As I got to the bottom of my drawer, I pulled out one of my forgotten treasures — the 1979 Peachtree Road Race t-shirt that my daddy gave me. Daddy ran the Peachtree in 1979 and 1980, and he gave one of the t-shirts to me and one to my sister, Celia. I’ve never worn the one he gave me because it’s special and I don’t want to wear it out. It represents Daddy and the memories I have of him as the athlete that he was when I was growing up.

Daddy started working out when he was in high school to put on some muscle. He was a member of several gyms when I was a little girl, but my most vivid memory is his “home gym” that he made when we lived on Lake Blackshear. He had a dip bar, a pull-up bar and some free weights, and I remember watching him work out in the garage in the evenings.

I would also go to his softball games and play the role of bat girl. I remember Daddy and his good friend, Jeff, playing flag football a long time ago when Albany had a flag football league. I look back on pictures of him when he was in his 30s, and he was in really good shape. I didn’t notice at the time because I was just a little girl, but my Daddy was a great fitness role model.

I followed in Daddy’s footsteps and got involved in sports when I was in the sixth grade. I played basketball and ran track through high school. When I started college, I started working out in the gym and found my love for teaching group fitness classes soon after. My passion for working out in the gym carried over to running and my love for running carried over to cycling. And here I am ... I’ve been teaching classes for 22 years, and I’m currently racing for the Louis Garneau Factory Team, an all-women’s domestic elite cycling team based out of Atlanta.

Thanks, Daddy.

Austin and Harrison are my two sons. My oldest son, Austin, started following in my footsteps at a very young age with YMCA soccer. He played for several years, and he also has played baseball and basketball. During the last couple of years, he has gotten more involved in sports that involve speed and wheels ... speed skating, skateboarding and now cycling. He has started going to the gym with me and I am proud to say that Austin was one of 10 students at his school of 1,600 students who could do 80 sit-ups. He also loves the protein shakes that I make. He lives my lifestyle and enjoys it.

Harrison is my five year old, and he has my competitive side. He loves to play outside and ride his bike. Harrison also loves to visit my Butts n Guts class ... he always asks if we can run laps outside. Ed Dozier comes to Butts n Guts. One night when Harrison was there, Ed thought he was going to be nice and hang back with “the little kid.” Harrison took off and Ed had to really kick it to catch him! That’s my little boy! And some people may think it’s odd that my five year old can do push-ups, likes salads and eats Greek yogurt, but it’s perfectly normal at our house.

Healthy lifestyles start at home. Mine started when I was a little girl following in my Daddy’s footsteps and I passed my passion for healthy living on to my children. Many habit-forming patterns that cause unhealthy eating and poor exercise routines begin at home, the place you spend most of your time. Parents have the most influence on their children during those early developmental years. Make the most of those years, be positive role models and share healthy choices with the children in your life.

Children need plenty of exercise to keep healthy and happy bodies. Exercise helps build strong bones and muscles as well as strengthening hearts and lungs. Physical activity also helps young children improve their gross motor skills like running, kicking, throwing and swinging. Regular physical activity can greatly decrease a child’s risk of becoming obese and can help children develop good social skills.

Use play time as family time. Exercise can serve as a family bonding agent that gives mom and dad an opportunity to model healthy exercise habits for children just like Daddy did for me. Everyone needs exercise; everyone needs to be healthy; everyone needs to feed their body “good stuff.” A healthy lifestyle knows no age. Lay the foundation early. Let the children in your life see the pathway to a healthy lifestyle in your footsteps. They may not appreciate it now, but they will love you for it in years to come.

Michele Moulton has been a fitness instructor for over 21 years and is a certified Spinning instructor. She teaches at PT Gym and is an avid cyclist. She is an accountant and a mother of two boys, Austin and Harrison.