This Year, Treat Yourself to a Fitness Makeover

This Year, Treat Yourself to a Fitness Makeover

The duties of a mom are never-ending. She’s typically the boo-boo fixer, toy repair expert, dramatic storyteller, separation anxiety counselor and much more. Taking care of her basics needs often is overlooked, but missed meals and lack of exercise can have a negative impact on health.

Being healthy for yourself is important — and with a family relying on your well-being, it becomes even more important. Making a conscious effort to take care of your needs also teaches children the importance of daily activity and proper nutrition.

Now is the perfect time for moms to start off the new year with a fitness makeover, so they can feel and look their best.

Healthy Mornings
“Starting the day with a healthy breakfast and some form of physical activity with your child sets the tone for a positive day,” says Nikki Longfellow, fitness professional and mother of two. “The activity can be a walk outside, a game of tag or simply stretching in the living room.

Emily Wilson with her daughter, Maddie

The Best Workout for You
Emily Wilson, mother to 18-month-old Maddie, a little yogi baby, incorporates health and fitness into their lives several times a week. At home, Wilson dances with her daughter, and plays interactive games.

“If you can’t make it to the gym, exercise at home,” Longfellow says. “At-home workouts will save you travel time to and from the gym.”

Outside of the home, Wilson attends weekly yoga and fitness classes. She learned that stepping on the mat helps her body and mind relax.

“Yoga is an excellent way to slow down, breathe and disconnect from the chaos of the day,” Wilson says. “At first I felt like I had no business being in a fitness class, but I gave myself permission to leave if it was too hard. Three months later, I’ve lost 30 pounds and I have more energy and motivation.”

Find Support — and Time
Join a gym, yoga studio or rec center that offers support, Longfellow advises, adding this means not just child support, but support from other moms with whom you can connect. This will allow you to establish workout partners and help keep you motivated.

“Fitting in a workout usually requires some advanced planning,” says Kim Zepp, triathlete and mother of two. “Being organized helps me with that.”

Zepp says she has to have a goal, like a race, to keep her motivated. Signing up in advance for a 5k, half marathon or triathlon keeps her focused and motivated.

Emily Wilson in a kickboxing class at Grow With Me Yoga in Stow

“Having a training partner not only keeps me motivated, but also accountable,” Zepp says. “I don’t want to let my training partner down.”

Teach your Kids about Healthy Living
Living a healthy and active lifestyle sets a great example for your children and teaches them at a young age that living active is a way of life.

Wilson says she enrolled her daughter in tot yoga classes, which enhance Maddie’s hand-eye coordination and her motor skill development. The structured classes have an added bonus: body awareness, socialization and vocabulary development.

Don’t Skip Meals
Glucose is the main source of energy for the brain and skipping meals causes the brain to receive less glucose, which in turn leads to feeling tired, sluggish, moody, irritable and leads to a decrease in concentration and performance. Sugar acts as the body’s fuel, which is required for normal functioning.

Skipping a meal causes blood sugar levels to drop, which in turn affects how organs function. Also, it causes the body to go into starvation mode, thus reserving energy and decreasing overall metabolism.

Eat Right and Drink Plenty of Water
Poor nutritional choices, such as processed foods and dehydration, are two areas that have profound effects on health, too. Make sure to drink copious amounts of water and to consume fresh fruits and vegetables every day.

Pose for Yoga
The benefits of yoga are numerous, even if you are stepping onto the mat for the first time:
• Increases flexibility, muscle strength and tone
• Protects your spine, improves respiration, energy and vitality
• Maintains a balanced metabolism
• Benefits cardio and circulatory health

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Local Options Abound for Triathlon Training and Events in Northeast Ohio

In the last three to four years, triathlons — swimming, biking and running — have gained in popularity, both nationally and locally.

The sport of triathlon has a long history in Cleveland. The first Cleveland Triathlon, originally known as the National City Triathlon, debuted in 1987 and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016. In 1996, Cleveland hosted the Triathlon World Championships, and could potentially host the 2018-19 USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals, according to Mickey Ryzmek, USAT certified race director and promoter of North Coast Multisports.

More people are being drawn to the sport, which is a three-sport athletic competition involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines: swimming, biking and running.

What draws a person to the sport of triathlon? That varies from person to person.

“I thought it was cool,” says Dawn Maniawski, 45, a mother of one from Chagrin Falls. “I always wanted to try one, but I didn’t think I could; I didn’t consider myself an athlete, although I ran and swam regularly.”

Like others, Maniawski found the open water swim (OWS) intimidating.

“Not knowing what was below me, or being able to swim to the side of the pool if I needed, intimidated me,” she said, adding some advice for newbies. “Don’t be intimidated. Take your training step-by-step and utilize local resources such as coaches, clubs and clinics.”

Expert Advice for Training and Beyond

Tim Edwards, USAT Level 2 coach, offers the following advice for those who are new to triathlons:

  • Start slow and easy. The best way to begin training for your first triathlon is to start slow and build in a logical manner to prevent injuries. Consider working with a coach, as the guidance and support allows you to develop good techniques and sound training principles.
  • Goal setting. Your first goal should be to have fun in a safe manner and finish your race. This will build your confidence.
  • Picking your first event. Pick races that are fun but challenging. After that, explore different venues and distances. Athletes tend to achieve much more with a stretch goal that will keep them engaged, yet is not so big they get injured.
  • Find a club. There are a few local triathlon clubs in the area. Meeting like-minded people will help you stay focused and motivated, plus racing with others is a lot of fun.
  • Create a relay team. If you are uncertain about doing all three events by yourself, create a relay team. This will allow you to experience a multisport event without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated.
  • Make it a family event. The popularity of triathlons is gaining momentum with young athletes, too.

“There are Splash and Dash races where the kids can try the sport without a bike,” Edwards says. “Lots of resources are being put into youth and junior development now. Even up to college age should max out at Olympic distances.”

To learn more about junior development, clinics and coaching, visit

Pinpointing the exact causes of increased interest is arduous, but the USA Triathlon, the national governing body for the sport, offers a list of factors that have played a role. Here are six that pertain to Northeast Ohio:

  • Society’s interest in fitness and living a healthy lifestyle
  • The growth in the number of more accessible shorter sprint races, which made the sport
    more accessible to those with fewer hours to train each week
  • Growth in the 30-49 age groups who are looking for varied outlets for fitness
  • Peer pressure from friends who have tried the sport
  • Increase in clubs, which create a community concept for men, and especially women, who
    enjoy the group training and support atmosphere
  • It’s on the bucket list (our featured athlete, Dawn Maniawski, has a sprint triathlon on her bucket list).

Local Triathlon Promoters

All four of the following promoters offer a variety of races throughout the year. Check their websites for all races and details.

Champ Racing —

HFP Racing —

NCN Racing —

NorthCoast Multisports —