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10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out

Mid-way through a recent group exercise class, the teacher lost me.  She didn’t lose me because of some complicated step sequence or insanely long set of burpees; I mentally checked out because of a few words she kept saying over and over.  “Come on!  Get that body ready for your winter beach vacation!  Think about how you want to look at those holiday parties!  PICTURE HOW YOU’LL LOOK IN THAT DRESS!

THAT DRESS?”  My brain couldn’t focus on an image of some random dress hanging in my closet.  All I could think about was my three-year-old daughter hearing and trying to process those words.

My daughter’s little brain is making sense of the world every single second, taking in verbal and non-verbal cues about how things work and what things mean.  And when it comes to exercise, I want her to grow up seeing it as a joy, and not a utility…as a gift, and not a chore…as an opportunity, not an obligation.  I want her to do it for the love of it, not to fit into a dress.  I want her to grow up knowing that…

  1. Strength equals self-sufficiency.  Being strong – particularly as a woman – is empowering.  It will feel good someday to be able to carry your own luggage down the stairs if the airport escalator is broken, and it will be important to have a solid shot at outrunning a stranger should you meet one a dark alley.
  2. Fitness opens doors.  Being healthy and fit can help you see the world differently.  The planet looks different from a bike or a pair of skis than it does from a car or an airplane.  Out in the elements you have the time and space to notice details and meet people and remember smells and bugs and mud and rain and the feeling of warm sunshine on your face.  And those are the moments that make up your life.
  3. The bike is the new golf course.  Being fit may help you get a seat at the table.  Networking is no longer restricted to the golf course, and the stronger you are – and the more people you can hang with on the road and trail – the more people you’ll meet.
  4. Exercise is a lifestyle, not an event.  Being an active person isn’t about taking a class three times a week at the gym.  It’s about things like biking to the grocery store and parking your car in the back of the lot and walking instead of taking a cab and catching up with friends on a hiking trail instead of a bar stool.
  5. Health begets health.  Healthy behavior inspires healthy behavior.  Exercise.  Healthy eating.  Solid sleep.  Positive relationships.  These things are all related.
  6. Endorphins help you cope.  A good sweat session can clear the slate.  You will have days when nothing seems to go right…when you’re dizzy with frustration or crying in despair.  A workout can often turn things around.
  7. Working out signals hard-working.  The discipline required to work out on a regular basis signals success.  Someone recently told me they are way more likely to hire marathon runners and mountain climbers because of the level of commitment that goes into those pursuits.
  8. If you feel beautiful, you look beautiful.  Looking beautiful starts on the inside.  And being fit and strong feels beautiful.
  9. Nature rules.  And if you’re able to hike/run/bike/swim/ski/snowshoe, you can see more of it.
  10. Little eyes are always watching.  We learn from each other.  You may have a daughter—or a niece or a neighbor or a friend – one day.  And that little girl will be watching and listening to everything you say and do.  What messages do you want her to hear?

I’ll never talk to my daughter about fitting into THAT DRESS.  But I will talk to her about what it sounds like to hear pine needles crunching under my feet and what it feels like to cross a finish line and how special it is to see the world on foot.  I will talk to her about hard work and self sufficiency.  I will teach her the joy of working out by showing her I love it.  And I’ll leave the rest up to her.

984 Comments Post a comment
  1. Awesome piece. I think this applies to everyone, of all ages, male and female. I see it all the time: People work out in the spring and then let it go for the rest of the year.

    September 18, 2014
  2. Thank you! I lost a lot of weight a few years back and my goal was always a number on the scale not realizing all the changes I would experience along the way. In the end, your list pretty much sums up how I felt. For me the biggest thing was finding self confidence, self esteem, and self worth which made all other aspects of my life even that much better.

    September 19, 2014
  3. Reblogged this on and commented:
    This is great.

    September 23, 2014
  4. MARY WATT #

    Love the article. For most of my life I didn’t have the stamina to work out because of an undetected heart condition. Now that I have had that corrected I am thankful that I can work out . I feel much better and have the added benefit that I do fit into my clothes better.

    September 25, 2014
  5. Paula #

    Excellent article! Everything I hope to have demonstrated with my lifestyle but didn’t covey it with words the way you have.

    September 26, 2014
  6. Some great points. so much focus on losing weight and changing shape for events for summer, for xmas. Instead maintain progress all year round.

    September 29, 2014
  7. Reblogged this on Meet You at the Altar.

    October 25, 2014
  8. Love this article some very valuable points

    Kind regards

    Benson Massey

    Tel: USA +17 47 224 7491
    India + 918586035491
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    December 19, 2014
  9. Reblogged this on Well Curated Life and commented:
    I came across this on Facebook today and I think it fits in perfectly with the WCL mentality – whether you have a daughter or not!

    January 9, 2015
  10. Kg #

    That’s all you could think about? How your 3 year old would process this? Gheez don’t be so over bearing and unrealistic. Yes, we workout to feel good but we workout to look good. No shame in that. Teach your child to have pride in their physical appearance

    January 14, 2015
  11. Vincent Egoro #

    Reblogged this on Vincent Egoro.

    January 17, 2015
  12. And sons…. (These posts always forget the boys) 10 things I want my KIDS to know about working out. I’m a trainer with two boys, and I know what I say effects them.

    Apart from that I think this is a great well thought out post.

    January 18, 2015
  13. If this doesn’t inspire you to get fit, nothing will. In fact this article should be made into a fitspo meme!

    January 18, 2015
  14. Stan #

    In December 1978 I went for a 3 mile run and was hardly able to walk the next morning. I promised my self that I would not allow myself to get that out of shape again. It has worked for me and from what I can tell my family has benefited from the active lifestyle we all live.

    February 1, 2015
  15. Reblogged this on Callmarniefirst's Blog and commented:
    Great read!

    February 8, 2015
  16. Reblogged this on Kubrickian's Corner.

    February 11, 2015
  17. Tanya #

    Beautiful article! It’s been thought-provoking and so many people participated in discussion.
    No matter whether you agree or disagree with iit – it made you think about readiness to live your life to the fullest.I understand what a good workout means – it helps me to survive through gloomy and gray winter days in Ukraine.

    February 14, 2015
  18. Em #

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for your eloquent insight.

    February 22, 2015
  19. E T Harris #

    RE# 7, If a person is really interested in commitment in a job applicant then they would be most interested in mothers. Having children is a commitment that doesn’t take a day off, doesn’t earn you much respect or kudos at the office and goes on for decades. The reward for a job well done is a healthy happy individual.

    April 25, 2015
  20. This is a GREAT list of motivations! I have linked to it on my Valerie Bryce Healthy Weight Loss and Diet facebook page. Getting a lot of positive comments! Here’s the link:

    June 1, 2015
  21. Good points. I do my sport because I love it, being fit is a wonderful side effect.

    July 14, 2015
  22. Reblogged this on the naturopathic mum and commented:
    I love this post so much.

    July 28, 2015
  23. Reblogged this on Queer Femme Mama and commented:
    Yes to all of this! My three year-old has already told me that she wants to run a race one day.

    July 28, 2015
  24. I love this post. The people disagreeing with #3 and #7 may have a point, but let’s not go into some vague PC ideals, in real life that’s what really happens. Might depend on the situation, but I still see such trends.

    July 29, 2015
  25. As a female group fitness instructor in LA, I could NOT agree with you more. I rarely discuss weight loss, calories, or appearance….and if I do, I always present such topics as secondary to our main purpose: getting stronger and gaining confidence. Sharing this with my colleagues and clients immediately!

    July 29, 2015
  26. This is so awesome! Thank you for sharing this, I how every woman has a chance to read this article.

    July 30, 2015
  27. Phillip F #

    Soo… which of these apply to “daughters” and not “sons” ?
    Maybe half of number one, but that’s it!

    July 31, 2015
  28. Pamela Banta #

    Just wanted to take the time to THANK the author for sharing your thoughts with those of us that do our reading via the Internet.. I shared your thoughts on Facebook (as I happen to “be friends with” many fitness-enthusiasts) in hopes to spread the reminder (or perhaps help with the realization) of what working out should REALLY be all about — and what message should be sent forward to the next generation for their health and wellbeing. In the world we’re living in today, where people are truly obsessed with fad exercise programs, diets, detoxes, green drinks, etc. etc., the focus is so heavily placed on “results,” “weight loss” and “fitting into a size _” that we lose sight of the entire point. So, thanks for sharing your wisdom…I hope more and more people (mothers especially) catch on.

    September 9, 2015
  29. I love running and I still do it with 2 toddlers in the house. Thanks to my babyjogger I can take my kids running or biking. They absolutely love it and they both like to walk and run. They are way ahead of their mates in their age range in physical and mental development. I blame it on the exercise I do with them (do not get me wrong, I am far from being super mom). I just love the outdoors and they do too! They can walk better and longer than other kids. I hope they will not lose the joy in moving their bodies, to me it does not matter what they want to do.

    September 12, 2015
  30. Just seeing this now, but I LOVE IT

    November 4, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. My Boss’s Daughter Camfrog | Camfrog
  2. Body Image and Working Out: Modeling Behavior - Bob Sawyer
  3. Reasons to Exercise | Sierra Healthy Living
  4. Beginning | Butterscotch Variety
  5. CrossFit Body Mechanic » Tuesday 141028
  6. "Ohhh, She Takes Care of Herself" on Maytrdom and False Sacrifice | Roy
  7. Cosa è davvero importante nello sport? Stare bene! - Nonablog
  8. Get More Fun From Your Outdoor Recreation -
  9. Meaningful Moments and Max Out Monday | Just a Mom Giving It a "TRI"
  10. 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out | Yoga Bodyworks
  11. 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out by brynn harrington | TOPFIT
  12. Daily News, Thursday, Jan 15
  13. 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out | Cannot Contain
  14. Empowering Our Daughters to Work Out | Every 1 Counts
  15. Lots More Bits and Clips December 2013 | Polly Castor
  16. I Want To Start My Own Business From Home |
  17. 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out | L L Jerrams Happy Life
  18. Five for Friday, July 31 - She Dwells in Possibility
  19. Fitness News Round-up: 11-29-13 | Everyday Diet
  20. A Fitness Struggle | A Graceful Approach

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