Updated: October 03, 2012

I was on vacation last week, and I didn't spend it sipping margaritas on an exotic island or touring the French countryside. I got my R&R in one of my favorite places in the world: New Jersey. (Yep, you read that right.) There's nowhere I feel happier than in my sister's northern New Jersey house in the summer. Her three kids--Jenna, 9; Jamie, 5; and Jaylyn, 3--greet me with hugs and kisses whether I've been away for a day or three months, and their energy is infectious.

We took long walks around their neighborhood, swam in the pool, played catch, and even went on a family outing to nearby Bear Mountain State Park. I didn't 'work out' the entire week, but every morning I woke up feeling like I had: one day the sides of my waist were sore, thanks to the batting practice I'd done with Jenna; the next, my legs were feeling the burn because I'd pushed Jaime's motorized car (with him in it) up a hill after the battery died. It's a good reminder that exercise doesn't have to involve weights, machines, or even sneakers--you can burn calories, strengthen your muscles (and actually have fun!) by playing. If you have kids, try spending a day being extra active with them and you'll see what I mean.

Here's the entire gang after a day at Bear Mountain State Park. From left to right: Dave (my husband), Neil (my brother-in-law), Jenna, Jamie, Chris (my sister), Jaylyn, me, and my mom

Jenna (a budding softball all-star) had me running to catch her hits



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