You are about to read a sponsored post about being a healthy dad. Usually at the bottom of the page, (like you’ll see soon), I say something like “Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of XY Media and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.” But I thought I would get the preliminaries out of the way now so I can talk about the really important stuff.

Once upon a time, oh, let’s say November 25, 2000, I was running myself ragged with two jobs, one of which was bartending. I had been feeling horrible for weeks, but on this day, my unhealthy lifestyle finally came to a screeching halt. The left side of my body went numb and by the time the paramedics arrived at the bar, it felt like the left side of my face was drooping down to my shoulder. I was scared and regretted overlooking so many signs. The ambulance dropped me off at the hospital, where I stayed for the next 8 days. I’ve written before about that time in my life, so I won’t go into details now. (But if you want to read about it, click here.) Anyway, that time of my life was terrible. Between post hospital visits, physical therapy, and depression, I felt empty and drained. And to top it off, I was months away from my health insurance kicking in.

So, do I believe in insurance? You better believe it. And I also believe in dealing with little things before they become big things.

Rome: The Coliseum
Rome: The Coliseum

Every father knows that you can’t take care of your family if you aren’t taking care of yourself. But sometimes in the busyness of everyday life, your own health can take a backseat. Companies like Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield are trying to make it easier for people to get the care they need before a small thing turns into a big thing. For instance, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield has LiveHealth– a chance to video conference with a doctor if you can’t visit a doctor for some reason. Think of it as a house call over your computer, tablet, or phone. Although you won’t be able to do the “turn your head and cough” routine, you should be able to pose the “does this look normal to you” question. They also have a 24/7 nurse available. LiveHealth makes it easier for people to access non-emergency care, so really, there is no excuse.

You would think that after my life-altering medical experience I would have turned into a beacon of health, but it actually took another wake-up call before I finally started living a healthier life.

Before I had children, my life was all about the moment. I didn’t dare to think beyond today, so I stuffed my face and ingested what felt good at the time. If there was something on a menu at a restaurant called, “The unhealthiest thing you’ll ever eat,” I ordered a double. And I won’t get into how much I drank during that time. I’ll just say it was more than I should.

Then I heard the words, “I’m pregnant” and I was suddenly living for someone else.

The stroke should have been my wake up call, but it was hearing those two little words that finally made me realize how important it was to take care of myself. Hearing those magic words changed my life. I envisioned myself holding my child’s hand as we walked through life together. And it quickly dawned on me that I needed to take better care of myself if I wanted to be around for that long walk through life. And so my journey to being healthy finally began.

Playing Soccer in Haiti Courtesy of www.DrinkAndSmile.com
Playing Soccer in Haiti
Courtesy of http://www.DrinkAndSmile.com

So what does it take to be a healthy dad?

First, remember, garbage in, garbage out. For me, becoming a healthy dad meant becoming an “ingredient inquisitor.” Of course, my wife is also an ingredient inquisitor, which makes us a healthy team. We enjoy food and strive to model healthy eating to our kids, so hopefully they’ll follow a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives. I am still paying for the dietary mistakes of my youth. And I also try to model an active lifestyle, since exercise is just as important as food choices.

Second, make sure your family has health insurance in case something goes wrong. Adequate health insurance is a great investment; if I had had health insurance so many years ago, I could have had regular check-ups and maybe avoided my health crisis altogether. And I wouldn’t have had to endure the physical and financial despair that came with being uninsured.

So in a nutshell, what makes me a healthy dad? I try and live a healthy lifestyle and I’m covered and able to go to the doctor whenever I need to. I do not do these things only for me, but for the ones that are counting on me.

Courtesy of www.DrinkAndSmile.com
Courtesy of http://www.DrinkAndSmile.com

For those healthy dads out there, what makes you a healthy dad?

And if you’re the type of dad that likes prizes, I’ve got a contest for you. Make a Vine, Instagram, or other similar social video system, using the hashtag #HealthyDad. Then post the video on the Health Dad’s Facebook page. For more contest details, click here. You might win a $100 Amazon gift card. All the cool dads are doing it.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of XY Media and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. Although I was compensated for writing this post, the words and opinions are my own.

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