Keeping Active- Lessons I Learned from my Italian Grandma

by Meri on June 14, 2012










My grandmother was a big influence on my life in many ways and continues to be even after her passing. That’s a photo of us circa 1985, don’t judge…it was the 80′s afterall.  

One thing that has resonated with me recently is the great role model she was for living an active lifestyle. I don’t know that I ever heard the word “exercise” from my grandmother, she never really spoke about things like that. I do remember an exercise bike in her room although I’m not sure how much she used it. For the most part she stayed active doing things she loved. She wasn’t a tiny woman, but she was physically strong and healthy for most of her years.

I think now people are so focused on how their body looks in respect to physical activity, it ends up muddying the lines between a healthy active lifestyle and wanting a body that is seen in magazines. There is a big difference between these two things. Neither is wrong, you just need to realize what your goals and expectations are. If you want a lean, muscular body then you’re going to need a pretty strict exercise program. You’ll definitely want to hit the gym regularly and likely work with a personal trainer. If your goal is to be healthy, decrease stress, increase endurance and manage your weight, but you’re ok not looking like a super model then focus more on living an active daily lifestyle. Get your heart rate up each day and do some weight bearing activities.

One of the problems I see is when people want to lose weight they assume you have to go to bootcamp in order to see results. That just isn’t true. I’ve seen two outcomes from this style of exercise. Some people end up loving it and keep at it for a lifetime. The challenge of the intensity seems to wake them up to see what they can actually achieve when they push themselves.

Others hate it and stop all physical activity creating this never ending cycle of inconsistent exercise. If you find yourself trying countless exercise programs and always quitting, I suggest that you try something different. Find ways to stay active every day that is enjoyable to you. It might not look like a strict exercise regime, but I believe consistency over the years is more important than how many reps you can do at the end of a 2-month period.

My grandmother was an incredible role model for enjoying physical activity which is the side of the fence I think most Americans are missing. Our grandparents and great-grandparents were active without thinking twice about it. Growing up I watched my grandmother naturally enjoying all kinds of physical activity. She loved to swim and would do it any chance she could. We spent our summers at a lake cabin and my grandma lived in the water with us. She taught us how to swim and always went out on her long solo swims where we’d watch her in awe.

She also walked regularly, even to the grocery store if she just had a few items to pick up. She was on a bowling league and enjoyed gardening. She also loved fishing and duck hunting. Yes…I did just say my grandmother enjoyed duck hunting. I think all who knew her would agree…she was unique!

Our society is simply missing daily and enjoyable activity. Now-a-days you see parents rushing here and there bringing their kids to various activities, but never slowing down to enjoy activities with them like a family bike ride, swimming at a pool or lake or simply going on an evening walk. I think having the role model is just as important as encouraging them to be active.

For me, I want to raise my kids being that sort of role model. I don’t get out of the house much these days (it’s chaos taking three 2-year olds to many places other than the park by myself…they run) so our morning walk is something I look forward to. My kids are getting heavier so the stroller or wagon definitely gets my heart rate up enough to call it exercise! If I get a chance to go swimming or hiking I’ll take it and I enjoy just being goofy and dancing around with my kids. As they get older I’ll likely be able to do more of the activities I enjoy, but for now I’m focusing on what I can easily do consistently. What I don’t do is allow days to go by with no physical activity even if the said activity is dancing with my kids or crab walking with them on my stomach.

Whether it’s a swim, bike ride, hike, walk, dance, or a mix of many of these things, make it part of your every day life. It’s a good lesson learned from grandma Lindy!


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sleeping Should Be Easy June 14, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I think just the fact that you’re out and about with your kids will teach them that being outdoors and active is healthy. That’s probably a healthier view of exercise than working out and dieting endlessly.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: