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story.lead_photo.caption Jennifer Wenkel

As a society, we always talk about diet and exercise.

There are always new fitness programs, new diets and new health foods popping up. I have no idea why we are so engrossed in finding a way to fix our unhealthy diet or lifestyle, instead of just focusing on the basics.

I can admit I have jumped on a few bandwagons over the years. Unfortunately, bandwagons are easy to fall off of. I found I had to discover healthy living habits that can be incorporated into my day-to-day life that are sustainable for the long term.

It is important to me to show this to my children, not through words but with actions. They need to see that I take time for myself to exercise and learn why I do it on a regular basis.

I also teach and/or "enforce" them to be active with playing outside and being involved in organized sports. We are fortunate to live in the country where they can make forts, climb trees, play in creeks and swim in ponds. So I will continue being "the mean mom," who limits screen time and forces them outside.

Even on family vacations, we incorporate activities we love, such as hiking and swimming. In the winter, we love to ski and look forward to snow days so we can trudge up a hill numerous times to sled down it.

Hopefully, each new adventure is creating lifetime memories for our children along with teaching them healthy living habits.

Finally, I have learned that I need to be adaptable with my fitness activities as I've overcome some injuries. I've struggled with a shoulder injury caused from lifting a laundry basket I was really hoping I could get out of doing laundry for the rest of my life, but no such luck.

I'm no longer a runner due to ongoing foot pain but I have continued to find different ways to be active through the years.

Instead of running, I walk or hike.

Instead of body pump, I do yoga.

Try not to focus on a daily workout but on moving every day as much as we can. We don't have to be runners or weight lifters to be healthy.

Jennifer Wenkel is the community engagement specialist for Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association. She is married to Jack and has three children. In her free time, she enjoys showing her horse, Ollie. She loves to be outside and always has her nose in a book.

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