Shake a Leg, a Tail Feather, Shake Something!

Shake a Leg, a Tail Feather, Shake Something!

What to avoid...

What to avoid...

I just finished watching that show (thank goodness for my DVR) about all those people losing gobs weight at a ridiculous pace for a grand prize.  You know the show.  I’m watching them do some wacky things. They compete in physical challenges that take all day and work out for 8 to 10 gazillion hours a day. I’m also watching them TOTALLY lose it.  Yes, gaining and losing weight is definitely tied to our emotional baggage.  But I think I might be sobbing if I was doing what they were doing even if I was emotionally solid as a rock and completely baggage free. I am neither of these things. Losing weight and leading an active lifestyle does not have to be torturous.  I don’t think torture is going to get too many people on the fitness bandwagon.  Last time I checked, my kids weren’t big fans of exercise that makes you cry.  You are going to have to make activity (some people call it exercise) part of your daily life if you want to achieve optimal health.  EWWWW.  That sounds just awful to some people.  If we are going to be successful we have got to make this concept easier to swallow.  It’s possible to get moving in the right direction. We just have get moving!

Expert suggestions:

  • Cardiovascular/Aerobic Exercise – 20 to 60 minutes/3 to 5 days a week 
  • Strength -train 2 or 3 days a week.
  • Stretching exercise at least 2 days a week.
  • Three 10 minute “chunks” of exercise each day can be as beneficial to health as 30 minute workouts. (Woo Hoo!!!)


family walking

Family cycling in nature




Kuhel Family challenges: How can we fit this in our family schedule? How can we get this to apply to the kids? Can we make it fun?


Kuhel solutions: “Working out” does not have to involve a spandex ensemble, a rack of weights, an elliptical or a wall of mirrors.  I’m especially psyched about being able to leave the spandex out of the equation. We are an active family and we’ve worked hard to help our kids embrace the idea of activity /exercise.  Here’s what we do to get our bodies moving with smiles on our faces (most of the time).

  • Make time. Before you slam the computer shut or yell “Yeah right!” take a breath and read on.  I know we are all burning the candle at both ends, stretching ourselves too thin and running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  I don’t want to beat a dead horse (couldn’t resist just one more cliché saying) but activity is important to our overall health.  Make the investment in yourself and your family.  I am now stepping off the soap box to clue you in on how we “make time”.  I’m not a work out – by –myself kinda gal.  I need people around me to motivate me.  Fear of looking like a slacker is quite motivating.  Also I suck my belly in a lot more so no one can shout “tighten those abs!” Clearly I cannot find this motivation in my bedroom or my basement so off to the gym I go.  My husband is similarly motivated by other guys on the basketball court.  He also prefers the treadmill at the gym because it is not located near the cat litter box (with our cat that doesn’t leave the basement) like our 15 year old treadmill is.  We schedule our gym times.  All of us schedule important things. No one says “I’ll go to work if I can squeeze it in” or “I’ll pick up the kids after choir practice if I’m not too tired.”  Schedule the time and keep your appointment with yourself. 


You have the time.  If you are reading this, then you have time.  I’m sure you spent some time emailing, Googeling, FBing, My Spacing, or blogging.  Reading my blog aside, those other things aren’t essential to your optimum health. Watching that show I was alluding to earlier can take up to 2 hours some weeks. That’s time.  Get up 10 to 30 minutes earlier. Watch one less TV show. Leave work  a bit earlier (gasp) a couple of days a week if you can swing it. Carpool to the kids activities so you don’t have to drive every time. If your life depended on it you would find the time for full-on work outs or “10 minute chunks”.  Guess what…it does.


  • Make fitness fun. We have a dog, Wally.  He is fun!  The kids chase him in our back yard and vice versa.  He is a good reason for the kids to take a walk.  The three kids go together and we give one the poop bag, one the leash, and one the cell phone.  Discussing who gets the poop bag is an argument that is part of the routine of getting out the door, but they do eventually get out the door.  We’ve taken the walk as a family so the kids know a short route vs. a long route.  Whatever we have time for, that’s what route they take.  I’m not suggesting you get a dog (I vote for a cockapoo if you do get one-Wally is awesome!), but if you have one or some other walkable animal ( I saw a cat once) then get out and hit the bricks. 


Other outdoor activities that don’t involve poop bags are bike rides, discovering walking paths, obstacle course races around a playground, and my family’s favorite, “Clam man.”  It’s a game that my husband plays with the kids.  It’s really just tag only Alex is always “it” and he makes this very loud gurgle-like sound while waving outstretched arms.  Why it’s called “Clam man” is a tad twisted and definitely a story for another time.  The point is that when we were kids we all played out in the neighborhood until the streetlights came on at dusk or until someone’s parent whistled or yelled for them.  Kids don’t do that very often anymore.  Weather permitting, encourage your kids to put down the video game controls, step away from the computer and get out of the house.  Show them how to play “kick the can” or take up “Clam man”.


Winter is rough. Rain is rough. Those days we have to stay close to home can give us a case of cabin fever.  We all know what it’s like when the whole family is forced into togetherness.  After a while, the electronics and board games have lost their luster.  It’s definitely a sign you all have to get moving. 

An impromptu dance party can work up a definite sweat.  At our house Renee is a dancing queen, Evan and Jared are works in progress, Alex has 2 moves (maybe), and I think I can hold my own as a dusty dancing queen. Blast the tunes and dance like no one is watching!  Close the blinds to make sure.


Kids of all sizes love to build forts in the living room. Send the kids to all parts of the house to collect pillows, cushions and blankets. You are going to have put aside your OCD tendencies in the name of fun.  Just remember to have them help you refold blankets and put away everything at the end.  Just think about how much carrying, stretching and reaching will be happening. 


My family loves a challenge.  Contests are fun and easy to individualize to your family.  We set a timer for 1 minute and count how many sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks or jumping lunges each person can do.  Call it a mini-olympics and make sure you include things that everyone can do.  Give “medals” to participants.  Change it up by increasing or decreasing the time and by switching up the activities.  Keep track and see if anyone improves the next time.  You might catch someone practicing on their own to get better results.


  • Build activity into what you are already doing. Everyone has mounds of laundry to do.  Pairing socks is a never-ending task.  I’ve enlisted my kids to do it and we’ve made it into a game.  I put an empty laundry basket on the other side of the room.  After they put together a pair of socks into a ball, they get to throw it and try to make it in the basket.  The trick is to make it far enough that they miss it a lot.  After each miss they have to go and get it and try again. You’d be amazed to see how many times they can make that trip.  They also don’t walk. EVER.  Running back and forth is a good expender of energy.


When putting away clean laundry, leave the baskets behind.  Go ahead and make your groups of piles and either do this yourself or have the kids do it.  Take one pile of laundry up at a time.  Strive for inefficiency.  That extra up and down the stairs could easily be one of your three 10 minute “chunks”. 

If any store, coffee shop, nail place, beauty salon, copy store, or restaurant is in walking distance of your home or work…you can see this one coming…go ahead and walk there. You’ll feel good about doing something for your health and you’ll save a few bucks on gas. 


Well these ideas are just a few of the things we do to keep our bodies moving.  These things along with the kids’ school gym time, wrestling club/cross country, and dance classes are ways we keep activity a part of our lives.  Now don’t think the Kuhels are always on the move.  We have been known to be a family of couch potatoes on movie night.  We also do not walk everywhere all the time.  Resist the urge to ram my car with your cart in the parking lot when you walked and I didn’t.  One thing I’d like to leave you with is that doing something every day is a good thing.  This is not an all or nothing proposition.  Do what you can, when you can.  Make it a priority for yourself and your family and it will soon become your lifestyle.


Till next time…live well! Toni Kuhel


One thought on “Shake a Leg, a Tail Feather, Shake Something!

  1. Love these creative ideas for movement, even when it’s tempting to use bad weather as an excuse. Boy, Toni, you don’t let us get away with anything!

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