Getting Fit for the Kids

Being a loving dad means that you take care of yourself in order to care for your family. If you are a loving father, it most likely shows. However, being there for your kids means that you do all that you can to “be there” for them. Dads need to make it part of their mission to live healthy lifestyles. Failure to do so can rob your children of one of the things that they need the most…you. 

At the time of writing this article, I am 50 years old. Wow, I had to pause and look at that number. This has got to be a mistake. How did time fly by so fast? It will happen to all of us. When my children were living at home, I was fortunate to have good health. I was no amazing athlete, nor did I always maintain a workout schedule or the best diet. However, I was always mindful and enjoyed healthy foods.

Now that my children are grown, I am noticing their reliance on me to “be here”. They are all amazing adults, but I am still a part of their lives as a fail-safe or idea checker. We have wonderful discussions about life, goals, and struggles. The subjects have added weight because they are doing life without a dad in control. Therefore it has been made clear to me that I need to do all that I can to live in a manner that will allow me to fulfill my new role in their lives.

The problem is that most dads start thinking of this too late in life. Living healthy is so much easier when it is put into practice at a younger age. However, you can only start where you are. The biggest stumbling block for most dads is that we like to conquer. Therefore we try to launch ourselves into our “healthy practices” overnight. Let me tell you that this method sucks. If you are out of shape, you got that way over time. The same will be true for the healthy you. Start small in your journey. 

If you are not in “gym” shape, don’t dive off in the gym. I have done this several times and it was never long-lasting. Start by adjusting your schedule. Start by designating time to get out of the house, off your butt, and moving. What does this mean? It may be a walk, yard work, chores, or anything that makes you mobile. Repetition is the key to lifestyle change. As you become accustomed to your new activity, other steps will come more easily. 

When it comes to diet, I am no authority. However, I have found that having the mindset of introducing healthy foods instead of a pledge to avoid foods worked for me. I slowly started substituting a variety of “healthier” meals and snacks. After some time, this became the norm. I noticed that I was avoiding unhealthy foods by default. I am a man. I don’t like having things taken from me. Therefore, I gave myself healthier things. This means that I just added healthy choices instead of trying to eliminate the bad. Eventually, eliminating unhealthy foods became a matter of doing it because I wanted to.

This mindset can also be applied to your vices. We all have something that holds us back. For some people, it could be alcohol, tobacco, too much computer time, or television. Again, my method for addressing this was to “add to” what I was used to, not to simply eliminate. My vice was alcohol. I love beer and or cocktail hours, which could be anytime that I had “downtime”. So, I added tasks to my schedule to have less downtime. I know this may sound weird, but it worked for me. As a result of not having as much downtime, I noticed not only productivity but also my energy level rise. Thorough time, this gave birth to more rewarding activities and reaching more goals. In turn, this has served my children well. It suggests that I will be around longer and more productive for them and their families. 

As I have stated in a prior blog post about the “Secrets of Life”, there is no secret. You have to “move forward”. This is done by one step in front of the other until you turn around and look down from the mountain that you just climbed. For your sake and that of your family, you need to move forward. Just “add” the little things. Eventually, you will have a new and healthier lifestyle. There is no magic pill, best exercise machine, or miracle diet. You do not have to waste money to live better, strengthen yourself, and benefit your family. You need to get busy.

Making changes takes dedication, but it does not have to be overwhelming. It is easy for us dads to love our kids, so let them be your motivation. I know so many fathers that would take a bullet for their kids. I’m sure you are one of them. Therefore I want to challenge you, not to take a bullet, but to live healthily for them. Be the best dad possible.


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Schedules and Calendars

Hey everyone. For those of you that have been reading the blog consistently or even off and on, you may have noticed several days, almost a week went by without a post. One thing that I have learned through the years is NOT to wing it when I have a chance to spend time with my kids. 

As I have mentioned many times, my wife and I just became empty-nesters. Our youngest child has now been out of the house for a year. This, however, does not mean that you are finished being a parent. It is a different role in many ways, but still a parent. The biggest difference that I have noticed is that besides an inquiry as to how they are doing, they come to you more. You become a kind of a checkpoint for ideas or solutions for their obstacles.

Regardless of if your kids are little or grown-up, it is important to plan your time when possible. While they are living at home, I’m not talking about day to day activities, but those moments that you stop what you are doing and focus on them. This may be attending a dance recital, soccer game, going to the zoo, taking a family vacation, etc.

These moments are never guaranteed to repeat. Make sure that they are a priority on your calendar.

During my short writing hiatus, I was hosting my oldest son on a visit. He is in the Navy and flew home to see me for a few days. Here is where it may seem weird. He is 28 years old at the time of this post, but it is still important to prioritize these moments and not let the lessor tasks interfere. Now, he is an adult. He understands that my blog is still young and needs constant tending to in order to be successful. I could very easily told him that I need to do this or that. He would not have complained. However, I still want to convey the message of how important he is to me.

I can’t urge dads enough to schedule special times for your kids. I have found that using a family calendar when my kids were at home did a few things for our relationship. It helped the family communicate, not only a schedule but what was important. If you are a young dad, believe me when I say that it will not only keeps things on track but will also cut down on the family arguments. These normally occur through a lack of communication. Write it down. Have it in the kitchen or somewhere public. Refer to it if other issues pop up. Lastly, have a color or use a symbol next to those events that are super-priority.

Today, everything is becoming digital. However, when it comes to events that concern family, I strongly suggest going old school. It is just a great way to communicate your priorities, and your kids love to see that they rank at the top. When they get older, encourage them to do the same. Whether they are away at college, military, or starting a family of their own, it is a great tool.

Finally, you need to make a commitment to the calendar … actually your family. Your time is the most precious thing that you have to give to your crew. Don’t put it on the calendar as super important, unless you plan on following through except for a natural disaster. This builds trust. Sometimes, due to work and life, schedules don’t sync up the way we wish. Be very careful about making promises. If you can’t make it, say so. If there is a possibility that you may not be able to commit to an event, state that upfront. 

Review your schedule with your family every week. Does this mean a weekly family meeting? For some people, the answer is yes. You know how your family operates and communicates. Everyone will have their own style. The point is to make sure that you follow through with the things that you mark as important. 

When you prioritize your family in your schedule and on a calendar, it is like putting gold stars next to their names at school. Actually it will be more important. They need to see their importance to you. It is another way of saying I love you. It is another way of making yourself the best dad possible.