Setting A Good Example, On The Field And In Life

I’m sure most of you have seen this video by now, but I have to share it because every time I think about it I smile and every time I watch it I get tears in my eyes.  Coach Dave Belisle gives perhaps the best speech ever to a group of athletes after a tough loss.  The reason I think it is so touching is because in the midst of heartbreak and among young boys filled with tears he doesn’t let them sit and wallow in the sadness.  Instead he pulls them in and asks them to remember just how great it is to be where they are, how well they just played, and that there is still a lot to celebrate.

Coach Belisle and the Cumberland American team.  Good work boys!

Coach Belisle and the Cumberland American team. Good work boys!

As adults we fill the shoes of role models a lot.  We aren’t always asked to and at times we have to do it whether we choose this or not.  We teach children and young adults good manners, fair play, integrity and hundreds of other things.  They learn by our example.  Those boys will be better sportsmen because coach Dave Belisle showed them the importance of losing like a champ and remembering to keep the experience in perspective.

When I see parents pushing their children along in running strollers or see a father and young child jogging together it makes me grin from ear to ear.  A runner I am working with for an upcoming marathon was recently telling me that she loves taking her son to a particular park because there is a track there.  She likes to do a few miles while her son plays and he often runs a few laps as she does hers.  All of these to me are great ways that we can lead by example.  When kids see us getting our run in, or ride along at a young age, running doesn’t seem to them like something that is a formidable punishment.  Instead running is just a part of our daily lives.

When a parent regularly goes to a gym or plays soccer on a league, kids see this as a regular part of an adult’s activity.  This is why I love when road races have an accompanying 1 mile race for younger runners.  There is something so special about seeing an entire family participate in the morning races.  Kids are growing up seeing running as a fun activity and something they can enjoy and be good at.

A friend on Facebook posted the other day that when she got off of the treadmill one of her little one’s commented that she looked like a waterfall.  It was a hilarious comparison, and I am sure we have all felt that way before.  But how cool is it that the kids could see that and laugh about it with her?

Healthy examples go beyond just exercise.  When we make healthy choices and others see this it becomes normal.  When we eat healthy foods as a part of our daily routine it gets picked up on.  On the other hand, when mom eats a salad because she is on a diet, salads become a diet food.  I once asked a little girl what her favorite thing to eat was and she said a spinach salad.  I was floored!  It shows that spinach and salads don’t have to be something that just adults enjoy.

Sometimes when I listen to the radio in the car I get so annoyed by the ridiculous commercials for weight loss miracles that I have to change the channel.  The fads, the diets, the pills; none of these are examples of a healthy lifestyle.  Most of them are nonsense and none of them are long lasting answers to living a healthy life.

I’m not a parent yet but I have worked with children for decades.  I’ve watched so many families instill healthy habits within their family through the way they remain active, do things together, and the way they eat.


This past summer I was dining with a group of children ages 4-7 and I couldn’t believe some of the things that were being said.  One kid pulled something out of a lunch box and suddenly the conversation changed to “sugar is calories and bread is calories.”  Soon there were a dozen kids arguing about calories and how they make you fat.  I of course had to put a stop to it and we simply changed the subject.

While it is important for children to understand to a certain extent what foods are good choices, it is scary for them to be so concerned at such a young age with fat and calorie content.  I’m not sure 6 year olds need to be reading the food labels of their neighbor at lunch or analyzing the contents of their sandwich.

Everything is about balance.  Obsession with exercise and food can be a slippery slope and when we head down that road children see that and can be strongly influenced.  Showing youth that exercise can be a fun part of our lives is a great example.  And while it is great to teach them that having some broccoli or asparagus with our dinner is a wise choice and French fries aren’t a dinner staple, it is just as important to share with them that a cupcake can be a delicious and occasional treat for us all to enjoy.

There is a lot we can share by our examples in life.  I personally loved a few things that Coach Dave Belisle said: people like fighters, sportsmen, people that don’t quit, and people that play the game the right way.  Then he added that he needed one big hug from the group and then it was time to celebrate.  “Try to suck it up,” he said.  All wise words to live by.

Keep setting great examples and happy running!


16 thoughts on “Setting A Good Example, On The Field And In Life

  1. Great post. My mom was an incredible role model for me, but I also know that her insecurity about her body (during the nineties, it was when the whole weight watchers and diet fad things was really publicized) led to me being cognizant of my own body. Luckily, she was great about keeping me from dwelling on it by focusing on activity and an over all healthful diet, so I think that it balanced out. I don’t think that there is any way for children these days to be immune or apart from the scrutiny of the media and such on their bodies and the pressure to be “perfect,” but it is up to parents and other adults to instill positive attitude and to set the best possible examples for the next generation.

    • There really is no way for them to be immune. It is rather scary isn’t it? I think the best we can hope for is to be great examples of taking care of ourselves and loving who we are.

  2. My mum cooked all our dinners from scratch, a lot of it was what was in season. I was only allowed sweets/candy on a Friday. 20p worth (it increased with inflation!). That said there were a lot of desserts and cakes in there! Nutrition wasn’t widely available back then as the internet was only probably being conceived. She did what she could but I now I love nothing more than a huge salad, completely different to the British food I was brought up with. When I go back the UK it winds me up just how many ‘diet’ and ‘healthy’ food products are there. They’re not. Just eat fresh, produce is cheap enough in the UK to do so, but still people go for boxed healthy foods and moan about their weight. I still have a hard time explaining to my family eating more fresh and less butter, margarine (UK love that!) and packaged food. Body image back then, you just got on with it, or did weight watchers. Thank goodness I moved to London and discovered all kinds of fitness classes! Where am I going with this? When I taught an after school English workshop at a French local and international primary school, first half an hour was snacks. Parents my age, younger and older were giving their kids chocolate, chocolate, and sugar. Only two gave their kids fruit. The next hour was energy followed by sugar crash tiredness and bad moods. At least those who got their after school snack from the school had fruit. And those kids when back for 2nd’s, 3rd’s and I had no problem with them sneaking off to do so. They were also the kids who did sport. Apologies for the long comment!

  3. I watched that video at work the other day and cried my eyes out, just the sweetest thing! I have an older sister than is 13 years older than me, so when she was going to college I was going into kindergarten. What was so great about that is that I didn’t really see her go through any sort of insecure stage (which of course as a teen she had) all I saw was this great person with all of these friends and nobody cared what she did or didn’t look like. She was confident and hilarious and going forward with my life it was something I stuck to because I saw how awesome it turned out for her. Of course I had tough days and fell to peer pressure on the occasion but it was always instilled in me that be a good person first, worry about what people think second.

    • What a wonderful way to grow up! Even to be shielded just a little bit from the teenage nonsense is great. I’m sure it was a great contributor to your being such a confident and strong person today! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Love this! I’m not going to be a mom anytime soon but I really want to help teach younger generations to be healthy and happy. I think it’s absolutely adorable when kids get involved with their parents fitness regimen.

  5. This is such a great post! I love that you pointed out the distinction in how we frame food choices as “healthy” food or “diet” food. I hate when people put labels on specific foods- foods themselves aren’t virtuous or vicious, everything is about context. Recently my coworker said to me: “Oh Sam, you only eat healthy stuff, right?”
    I had to reply: “I only eat delicious stuff. Fresh fruits and veggies are delicious to me. Chocolate happens to be delicious, too. Cheetos revolt me so I don’t eat them.”

    • Thanks. I agree. A lot of foods that I crave just happen to be healthy. I find the more I run the more my body asks for fresh fruits and veggies. That being said, it also loves dessert too 😉

  6. I love how you mentioned and explained that everything is about balance! I agree 100%. I feel that you can have just about everything- protein, carbs, fruits, veggies, and sugar- along as it is in moderation. That’s what I teach the high school kids I coach and my own kids… Everything in moderation. Great post!

    • Thanks. I love that you teach your family and athletes this. As a parent and coach you are so influential. Many athletes get the wrong lessons from their coaches about the relationship between food, diet and body image. It left a lot of figure skaters I know in terrible messes even through adulthood. Life in general is a lesson in balance.

  7. Great post! So happy to have found your blog 🙂 When I was growing up, my mom went to the gym every morning before she went to work. She just had her knee replaced, so she hasn’t been able to do much but that has encouraged both of us to find different ways to stay active and help her heal and get strong again. Yoga is a big part of my life and I’ve just started running.

    • Thanks for sharing Stacy! So glad to hear you have joined in the running crowd. Hopefully you can find some helpful insights on here. I too love yoga and find that the two work incredibly well together.

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