Fitmark Ambassador Jennifer Adams talks about being a motivation to your kids
Looking back now at the tender age of 42, I can say many things have motivated me to stay in physical (and mental) shape. Being raised by parents who are addicts taught me a lot about what I didn’t want. I graduated high school a year early and at the tender age of 17 went on my own to figure out this thing we call life.
My first concern was to not perpetuate the cycle of my parents. To stay healthy and age gracefully. Sure, vanity and shallowness are fantastic motivators, but I also wanted to always have fun with my children. One thing that was always a part of my life to some extent or another was running. Inexpensive, portable and done in nearly any weather, running not only keeps me in good physical shape, it gives me a chance for me to clear my head. It’s time to think, problem-solve and plan, but mostly it’s time for me.
I grew up surrounded by dysfunction, so offering my home for foster care and adopting children within social services touched an empathetic chord for me. I was one of those children.
For nine years I was licensed as a foster parent and feel blessed my life was touched by the children who came through my home. I didn’t think I’d be able to give birth to children but – after seven surgeries – was ultimately able to get pregnant a total of seven times. The last pregnancy ended in the miscarriage of twins at 19 weeks resulting in 3 more surgeries including a hysterectomy. Yes, it was trying to say the least, but I believe in a bigger plan and to count the blessings I have. I was 33 years old at that point and I felt contentedly done with that chapter in my life. I was blessed to be able to stay home with my children for 12 years – less than I had hoped for but worth everything I might have “given up”.
I home-schooled for years, made my own baby food, breastfed for 11 years (not consecutively) and had my babies at home with a midwife. In the end, the children I am Mommy to consist of 4 biological, 2 step children (don’t tell them that though!), 4 adopted, two foster children that, lucky for me never left but couldn’t be adopted and one foreign exchange student from Germany who has never stopped being my daughter
I run with the kids to encourage them and to distract myself. The comments from them while riding their bikes next to me like, “Dude, Mom. Your butt jiggles when you run.” or “Mommy are you running to get your abs back?” keep me very, very motivated for myself and to be the best example to them as possible. I can run on bike paths, the road (which, when there’s no traffic, I’ll be the one running down the middle…) or trails. I allow my kids to map out routes driven by their buses to mix things up. I’m not afraid to get lost. I’m strong. I’m confident. I’m embracing being the woman that I am.
Being on a running team has made a huge difference. The team brings out my best and works on my worst. I’m proud to have “Endurance Reno” plastered on everything from my running gear to my vehicles. There are times it feels refreshing to relinquish control. Being my own coach was fine – to a point. Having a team with me and a coach behind me have given me the structure and drive – not to mention the support – to push myself more, to achieve more. To stay focused, balanced and cared for and to offer that to my fellow teammates has allowed me to be better than I am on my own.
Now that my children have gotten older – four are out of the house and my youngest is ten – many of them have started running. Ten of the thirteen have completed at least a 5K. My husband and children have tolerated my breaks to take a run over the years, knowing I’m a better person when I return. My kids run at least one race a year and volunteer in at least one race per year. It’s bound us more closely as a family and hopefully, has instilled in my children the value of staying healthy and active, regardless if they catch my running bug or focus their energy somewhere else.
So, that’s my story. Now it’s time to get outside and go for a run!
Fitmark Ambassador 2013