Ah, the good ol’ days when working out was a regular part of daily routine. Even better, when your eating habits were a little suspect, you knew you could crack out a few extra calories on the treadmill, or basketball court, or strange apparatus found on Ebay.
But you’ve got a kid now. Maybe two. Dare I say three? Please, not four. And daily routines resemble very little of what you fondly remember. Not to mention appearance.
Bags under your eyes resembling old prunes, gray hairs sprouting in the chin whiskers, T-shirts getting a bit tight around the mid-section. It happens. Not to mention how you view yourself as all these less-than-enjoyable changes occur. A healthy body helps a healthy mind and vice versa.
A necessary selflessness comes with parenting. We’ve removed a large portion of attention normally directed at ourselves and heaped it onto our kids.
But we can’t do this indefinitely. At some point we need to realize that if we’re not taking care of ourselves, we’re limiting our abilities to take care of others. Not to mention how we’re showing our children certain important priorities. Health being at the top of the list.
So, for those new Dads feeling a bit overwhelmed — A Few Easy-to-Handle Ways to Keep Healthy:
The Art of a Good Walk – The first several months can be the most difficult. Your sleeping patterns are a mess, you can barely remember if you put on clean underwear a few days ago. But one basic function you can still perform (usually) is walking.
When my daughter was born, my wife and I made walking a part of our daily routine. When my wife went back to work and I became At-Home-Dad, we walked everywhere. I was probably covering 6-10km a day. I’d put Simone in the BOB stroller, sling a diaper bag over my shoulder, and pound the pavement. I’d look for hills and stairs to carry the stroller up. Anything to raise the heart rate.
Weekend Healthy Food Prep for the Week – Those days when both parents are home are a great time to plan the week’s meals, and also get some healthy snacks prepped. Get yourself some large containers for food storage. Slice up carrots and celery, make some home-made trail mix, stock the fridge with berries and cantaloupe, and apples. Get that crock pot going with veggie chili or a good stew. Do things early so you know you’re safe for a few days once it’s just you and your kid again.
Look, you know as well as I do some days you have to cheat. But now you can have those weaker moments knowing you’ve taken a good swing at the better parts of the week. You’re not relying on the cheat days anymore, but allowing for them to occur on occasion.
DOWN with TV time and UP with OUTDOOR time – Studies show that society as a whole has become increasingly sedentary in daily life. Computer-based jobs where the employee sits static, the lure of television programming, the rapid increase of video gaming. Even the industry is aware of this — now video games are incorporating elements of physical activity as their big selling feature.
Also consider the role of social media, and how we tend to engage with others on a more “virtual” level rather than face-to-face. Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, AIM. All connecting us in different ways. None of them bad in their own right, but a means of interaction that can detract from more intimate (and oft-complicated) connections. Something I’m well aware of in my own comings and goings.
The key to healthy mind, body, and spirit is to get outside and experience the world around you.
Find your local parks and museums and beaches. Get bicycles, go for trips that are completely outdoors oriented. Call friends up on the phone and arrange day trips. Why? Because this is where the world is — and we are a part of it.
I’m no guru. I fall into the same traps as the next person. A dose of my own medicine is much needed. So, I hope those of you keep me posted on your efforts. Or with health advice that worked great for you.
Harry Tournemille wishes everyone good health…except maybe that guy whose car alarm keeps going off during the night.