Taming Your Inner Toddler

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I have an inner toddler who’s behavior is often unreasonable, unpredictable, and downright STUBBORN.Toddlers are a handful.  They don’t walk anywhere…they only run.  Once they start talking, they never seem to stop.  They throw fits often.  They cling to strange things.  They refuse to nap when they need it the most, and they insist on doing everything their own way, even though “their way” usually defies all reason and any kind of efficiency.

I should know…I have a three and half year old, redheaded son (the red hair, I am convinced, infuses all behavior with a little extra spice).  Daily, I am reminded that parenthood is the toughest job I will ever love.  It has to be!

What should be a simple outing to the grocery store, often looks like mission impossible:  30 minute delay getting out the door because we have to engage in a lengthy conversation about why sandals aren’t appropriate foot attire in 10 degree weather; ultimately, the sandals stay but the batman cape is a non-negotiable.  My little man talks incessantly all the way to the store (which is about a 30 minute drive…yep…life in Montana).  We get to the store and, well…you probably know the drill…compromise, negotiations, frustration, tears.  We both end up getting into the car a hot mess for the drive home and my nugget assertively informs me he is NOT tired and will NOT be taking a nap when we get home.  I turn the music up a little louder in a final attempt to maintain my sanity, and 5 minutes later I turn around because all I hear is music.  He has finally admitted defeat…he sleeps.

As frustrating as it can be to deal with seemly irrational behavior from my son, I am able to hold it together (most days) because this isn’t my first rodeo with a toddler.  Nope.  I ‘ve been dealing with my own inner toddler my entire adult life.  All of the crazy-making, seemingly absurd behavior that my son exhibits on the outside, is oddly familiar to the emotional behavior I battle on the inside. 

I have an inner toddler who’s behavior is often unreasonable, unpredictable, and downright STUBBORN.

Below are some highlights of my inner toddler’s conduct when it comes to health and fitness.  Maybe you can relate?

  •  Even though I have been up since 4am, had an insanely full day, and I am exhausted, I refuse to go to sleep because there is just more I want to do!
  • I get irritable, super sensitive and downright nasty when I haven’t eaten in awhile.  I turn molehills into mountains, all because my body needs fuel!
  • I stomp my feet and cross my arms when there is something I KNOW I need to do but just don’t feel like doing it (cardio and cooking dinner come to mind).
  • I want what I want and I want it NOW, like flat abs, a toned tush, and the endurance to get through a weeks worth of work TODAY.
  • I cling to ideas of what works for my health, even though everything in my experience proves that it doesn’t work.  Like not eating to lose weight, or eating foods I know my body doesn’t like and expecting to look and feel great!

It is funny that a seasoned fitness professional still battles her inner toddler, I know, but the reason I am sharing this with you is to drive home this point:  it unreasonable to expect that your resistance to improving your life will ever go away completely.

You will have to battle tantrums, fits, resistance and rebellion from yourself almost daily when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle and if you have ever dealt with an actual toddler, you know that one of the worst things you can do is REACT in those terrible moments.    You don’t react, you don’t cave, you don’t relent…you take a deep breath, recognize it for what it is, toddler behavior, and MOVE ON with your plans for the day. 

You don’t quit being a parent when your toddler challenges you.  So, don’t quit on yourself when you are challenged by your own resistance.  This too shall pass.  Really!

My mother always sweetly reminds me that just when I think I can’t take it one more day, the phase my son is in will change and she’s right!

Next time you are so frustrated with what it takes to improve your health, keep going on faith that it will get better!  There is a good day ahead, a day it won’t feel so hard.  And no one ever quits on a good day.

There is maturity development on the road to improving your health.  The stages often look like this:

STAGE 1:  You react every time your inner toddler acts up with self sabotage, feelings of failure and giving up.   Most diets keep you perpetually in this stage.

STAGE 2:  You start recognizing patterns in the things that set off your inner toddler’s tantrums  (a.k.a. bad habits) and become better at predicting a possible meltdown.

STAGE 3:  Eventually you start changing your behavior, relationships and environment to avoid meltdowns all together.   You learn to navigate your resistance better and your goals feel more tangible.  The time you use to spend negotiating with your resistance, you now spend crushing your goals and setting new ones.


1)   Make a list of the ways your inner toddler kicks in when it comes to trying to improve your health and fitness.

2)  Create a game plan for what you will do the next time your inner toddler has  a meltdown to prevent yourself from completely derailing your process.

3)  Laugh about it because it is really funny and you could use a good laugh!

4)  Leave a comment about what you uncover about your inner toddler because  it always makes someone else feel better to know they aren’t the only one who hasn’t completely grown-up.

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