The role of working mom takes on many forms, but the one that Melly Blankin, independent trainer with East Shore Athletic Club, finds herself playing more often than not, is that of cheerleader. Whether encouraging her high school junior son Conner with his homework, or helping her fitness clients to meet their health goals, Blankin knows a thing or two about the power of positive motivation.
We caught up with Blankin to discuss how she juggles a roster of clients while raising her son and keeping her family in shape and eating well.
How did you get into the career of personal fitness?
After many years in corporate America, I decided to get certified and leave the rat race. I have been involved with lots of sports (gymnastics, field hockey, squash, basketball, tennis, diving and lacrosse) from grade school to college. After college I continued by teaching aerobics and children's gymnastics. I just love to be a part of the exercise world and decided to see if I could make a go of it for a living. Exercise truly makes you feel better in so many ways. I am a trainer as well as a mother and woman who tries to incorporate the whole package of mind, body and spirit. We have diabetes and heart issues on both sides of the family, so I want us to stay ahead of the game.
How do you encourage your high school son Conner to stay fit?
I think you encourage your family by setting a good example. If your children see you exercise, they will want to as well. Sign them up when they are young for different activities. See what they like, cheer them on. If organized sports aren't their thing, play in the yard together. I used to set up obstacle courses for Conner and then make it a game.
I think the bonding that you get from sharing activities with your family is invaluable. The more you have fun together, doing anything that's moving with our kids, the more they want to do it. Not only is it quality time spent together, its instilling good, healthy habits and happy memories.
For a lot of mothers, the burden of seeing that the family eats well falls on their shoulders. What are your tips for planning healthy menus at home?
I do love to cook and we all like to eat. I try to buy as fresh as possible and watch our carbs. We never eat processed or fast food. We eat a variety of meats, seafood, fish, chicken, pork and wild game. I am BIG on getting our protein. I like to have lots of different colors on the plate to make meals interesting, so there's always fresh veggies or a salad.
By the time lots of moms finish their work day and cart everyone else around, there's not much time for their own exercise.
What advice would you give to those feeling discouraged by workout challenges?
Don't try to change everything all at once. Too much change and we rebel. One step at a time. If you always park up close to the store, park farther away. Find ways to sneak in extra steps. Then build on that ... take a five minute walk, then 10, and keep going till you develop a new habit. Do this on your own or make it a family game. It takes 21 days to develop a habit. If you never eat veggies at lunch, try sneaking in a slice of tomato, lettuce, sprouts, something is better that nothing ...
It's never too late to change a habit, but it is work ... We can do anything we want, lose weight, gain strength, exercise, if we put our minds to it and keep a positive attitude. I am a big cheerleader for all my clients, but we are a team, and they have to do their part. Nobody is perfect, so if you don't eat right one day, get back on the horse and try the next. I just tell my clients “don't quit.” We all have the power to do what we want, but you have to dig deep within yourself to make it happen.
What should moms keep in mind on the days when exercising doesn't seem possible?
Mothers are the most amazing multitaskers in the world. It just takes a little bit of planning and organizing. I try to squeeze in 15 minutes of core training between clients, or 10 minutes of cardio while waiting on them. They pay me to watch them and keep them motivated, not for me to exercise, but I feel I need to set an example for them by practicing what I preach. I always set aside 30 minutes, five days a week for cardio, whether it is walking the dog, rollerblading, or my own boot camp. Then I try to do my core training at least three times a week.
I think when your children are younger, you just incorporate time in your day that fits both your child's and your schedule. Moms who exercise are much happier moms. If you start a routine of taking your child to the gym when they are babies, that just becomes part of their schedule. Plus, you are setting an example that exercise is important to your life.