Saturday, March 8, 2008

Creating healthy habits

I’ve spent some time wondering, and at times, worrying about whether my 22-month old daughter would inherit my rheumatoid arthritis. Perhaps, I’m worrying about the wrong thing. Because while chances are slim that she will take on a share of the disease, odds are much higher that she will pick up at least some of my behaviors and beliefs, for better or worse.

When I pounded the table in mock horror this week after something my husband said, I watched my little girl do the same. Of course I didn’t spill a bowl of yogurt when I did my pounding, but then, she’s just learning. When I raised my hands over my head and shouted yeah. She did the same.

Each day, she is reflecting back my behaviors and attitudes and adding a few of her own. So, I’m more aware now, that I must set a good example.

And, that’s become a motivator on the days when I struggle to exercise. With the right attitude and effort, perhaps I can show her that daily physical activity and exercise is not only important, but fun. Maybe in her, I can instill the habits I never had so that a healthy lifestyle is simply the norm and not a struggle to achieve.

Most of the time when I head out the door for my walk, I’m pushing my daughter in the stroller in front. We see the birds, and the doggies, and yesterday, the rocks caught our attention. But I hope she sees too, that movement is part of our daily life.

I’m making a commitment to my health. But with these changes I’m also making a commitment to her that I will be healthy and active and strong for as long as possible. Exercise is part of my routine now – and that’s one habit I’m hoping she’ll pick up.

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