As parents to our three-year-old son Jack, my husband Jason and I try to impart good habits as best as we can.
Walking the talk of eating vegetables and staying active has been easily accepted by the little man. Jack prefers veggies to sweets, and using his legs rather than being strapped in the stroller.
We still have our weaknesses—Jason sneaks in soda, chips and fastfood, and I battle with the definition of sweets “in moderation.” But we are better about keeping active.
If you also struggle with staying fit, it might be good to know how other “real people” incorporate fitness into their daily lives.
The can-do Atendidos
“I’m not a healthy eater,” confessed Rosanna Pellicer Atendido, 37, mom to Mikhaela, 16, Matteo, 12, and Lucas, 8. “I like soda, meat with fat, junk food and juice. I’ve learned through the years to be more conscious of what I eat, but bad habits are hard to break. My husband Bobbit is the exact opposite. He eats only lean meat and seldom drinks soda. I pattern our kids’ diet after his.”
In her early 30s, Rosanna felt out of shape. “I decided to start walking around the block. That walk turned into hiking, cardio boxing, step aero, circuit training and Zumba. Now I cannot imagine life without exercise.” She’s now a licensed Zumba instructor.
When the family was based in Arizona, US, the couple took their kids hiking, jogging and enrolled them in karate. “Bobbit often bikes with the boys and I take Mikha to Zumba with me. When there isn’t enough time to get a full workout, we go to YouTube and do 10-15 minute workouts with them,” said Rosanna.
She also teaches at Beyond Yoga in BGC and Alabang, and at Breathe in Nuvali.
The Legastos get a leg up
Financial analyst Joseph Legasto, 36, was active early in life, having been exposed to sports-minded relatives. “I joined the varsity team for track and field and swimming for my school.
More than that, I always had an innate desire to feel ‘light on my feet,’” he said.
When Joseph was younger, he did not like going to gyms. “I am not a naturally strong person, but I enjoyed playing basketball, football, soccer, baseball and badminton. As I got older, I shifted to endurance sports—I got into triathlon. I found a great triathlon team near my home, and the camaraderie motivated me to train harder.”
He even managed to finish the Ironman 70.3 events in Camarines Sur and Cebu thrice.
His wife Terry also runs and bikes to stay fit. “Terry runs almost every day for 30-45 minutes on a treadmill. On weekends, she bikes with me and our friends for about two hours,” he said.
They used to play badminton every weekend with their daughters Tiffany Angela, 11, and Tiara Ashley, 6, to expose them to the sport.
“When I got into triathlon, my family would see me diligently waking up at 5 a.m. to train. I also brought my entire family to support me when I joined races outside Manila. The exposure could have been a tipping point for my family to jump on the endurance sport bandwagon. Aside from Terry, both my daughters are excited to swim, bike and run,” he said.
On weekends, Joseph trains with his family, “so I tone down my intensity to enjoy their company. Having a hearty brunch after the workout would always be rewarding.
“We once joined a fun run in our village. Tiffany Angela, Terry and I won podium spots. It was a small race, but we were just happy to have been part of it.”
The Legastos have no hard and fast rules on eating. “What is important is that we try to maintain a balanced diet,” said Joseph. “We enjoy eating the food we love, but in moderation. We make sure that there are always fruits and vegetables in every meal.”
But they do have regulations on gadgets: “Both my daughters should have completed all their studying and homework before they turn on a tablet or computer application. I supervise the applications they download before they even start using it.”
The Manuels like to move
An active lifestyle was embraced by the Manuels for various reasons.
“After being inspired by my sister who ran the NYC Marathon in 2009, I joined a company 5K fun run in 2010,” said Rico B. Manuel, 41, group CFO for the Vismin operations of Ayala Land. “By 2011, I ran the NYC Marathon. After that, I transitioned to triathlon. It was the natural progression.”
His wife Trixie, 39, started working out in 2012 after her annual physical exam.
“I was assessed as having the strength of a 60-year-old woman,” she said. “I couldn’t run with my kids. It was time for change.
“I am also vain! As I am nearly 40, I find that my metabolism has slowed down. My husband is more fit now than when we got married. I didn’t want to be the fat one in our relationship!”
Rico and Trixie work out separately, but they bike or go to the gym together on some Sundays.
“Rico is a triathlete; he swims, bikes and runs every day. He obviously is the one who pushes me. He says his ultimate dream is to turn me into a triathlete!” said Trixie. “I am not fond of exercise, so every day that I actually go to the gym, swim, spin or have a yoga session is a major achievement.”
Despite busy work schedules and parenting Tyler Joseph, 8, Lucas Gabriel, 6, and Marina Natalya, 3, the couple manage to squeeze in everything.
“I’ve always been an early riser,” said Rico. “I wake up a little before 5 on weekdays to sneak in a decent bike, run or gym session before work. On weeknights, when I can get home from work early, I walk over to Makati Sports Club for a swim. Saturday and Sunday mornings are for long bike rides and long runs. I always try to be home before lunch, though; I don’t want to take too much family time away.”
Trixie added: “I am lucky that I am a stay-at-home mom so I have the time to work out while the kids are in school. I never realized how much of a time commitment working out was!
“Tyler and Lucas play football and have swim class weekly. Lucas runs about a kilometer around the park with me or the yaya on afternoons. We even got yaya into exercising—she puts on her sneakers and runs with her alaga in the park!” said Trixie.
“When Rico is not training, he takes the boys on a 3K run around the neighborhood. During the summer, the boys do triathlon training, swim class, football, theater and art. Little Maya runs with kuya and goes to Little Gym.”
As for preparing their kids’ baon, Trixie said: “I hardly give them juice boxes because of the sugar. Instead, they get yogurt drinks, milk or water. Lucas and Maya love fruits, so they get a banana or an apple. They also love sandwiches and cookies for snacks. But the winner snacks are fries and chicken nuggets cooked in the air fryer.”
Do the Manuels have rules for gadget use? Said Trixie: “The kids can use the iPad only ‘when the moon is out’; that’s after they do homework, eat and bathe. That gives them about an hour and a half to play their favorite games before bedtime.
“Friends ask how we get the kids to engage in sports, because they find it very hard for their kids to detach from the iPad. I simply tell our kids they are not allowed to use their gadgets until after they run 10 laps around the park.
“Of course, we have to force them to exercise—they’re kids! But once they are outside, they have lots of fun.”
The Lopezes live it up
Multisport coach Ige Lopez is this year’s SBR Coach of the Year and is a seasoned endurance athlete. The wind beneath his wings is his wife Maui, 32.
The two met when Ige became the running coach for their company sports fest. “I was a newbie runner. Our first date was in a Mizuno store, to check how high or low my arches were,” Maui said. “And now, thanks to him, running has become an important aspect of my life.
“I was never really the fitness-conscious or athletic type,” Maui admitted. “But somehow, I ended up being around people who are. When I entered the corporate world, I found myself yearning to live life outside the four corners of the office. Then one random afternoon, my friend and I bumped into Deck Alcance, the president of our company’s running club. He invited us to join their weekly runs, and the rest is history!”
Aside from breastfeeding their daughter Yana, 2, full-time stay-at-home mom Maui also works with Ige in managing their family business, Transition One, a local multisport apparel brand which has been in the industry for 10 years.
How does she combine workouts into her lifestyle? “I try to work out at least thrice a week. When Yana was still a baby, this was difficult because, for quite some time, we didn’t have a yaya or a helper. When Yana was 10 months old, I would put her on her high chair while I entertained her with a quick spinning workout on the stationary bike. No matter how slow or short the workout is, I just try to squeeze it in because it makes me a sane mama.
“We always take Yana whenever we can. On weekdays, when Ige does his swim training, Yana waddles in the kiddie pool while he does laps in the bigger pool. On weekends, we take her to the park where she runs freely on the grass or rides her scooter around the walking path,” said Maui.
The Lopezes are just as exploratory about their eating. “We love to eat!” exclaimed Maui. “Next to running, I’d say eating is our passion. We don’t always eat ‘clean’ and we don’t have any strict rules when it comes to eating. We simply prefer whole foods, home-cooked food, more servings of fruits and vegetables.”
Last year, they took Yana for a short hike in Bacolod. “She sat on her Daddy’s shoulders while we trekked the muddy path, crossed a river and stopped to see the waterfalls. She was laughing and giddy with excitement the whole time! She was reaching out to touch the branches, inspecting loose rocks, pointing out the birds and insects and giggling when the leaves tickled her face. It was priceless.”