Last year, I started running. This year, I’ve added strength training to my workout. That is to say, I’ve added strength training when my schedule permits. I would love to be a “gym rat,” but that’s not in the cards for me. However, I can be a “home gym rat.” Thankfully, my teenage son has been collecting weights and workout equipment over the past couple of years. Every time he has a birthday or holiday, he adds weights to his wishlist. My fitness routine has been a beneficiary of his growing collection.
Being a stay-at-home dad and influencer/blogger, life and work eat up a lot of my time. There isn’t a lot of room for consistent “me time.” Other than my long run on Saturdays, everything else fits in when it can. Having my “dad life” and my new desired “fitness life” has made me realize there are a lot of similarities between the two.
Here are 5 ways working out is like fatherhood.
- You need a firm balance. When working out, your legs need to be set right and balanced. If one thing is off, it could be a disaster. No matter what I do when I lift weights, I keep my feet shoulder width apart, my knees slightly bent, and my weight equally distributed. If I were to shift or be unbalanced, I’d fall or get hurt. When I’m set, not only will I keep myself from getting hurt, I can also carry a lot more.
The same goes for fatherhood. When I’m firm in my foundation, I can carry a lot more. Balance is important for parenting. A well-balanced dad can carry the weight his family needs him to. If unbalanced, the family can fall apart.
- Know when to lessen the load. There are days when I work out when I can pile on the weights. Rep after rep adds to a great day of lifting weights. Then, there are days when I struggle. Those struggling days need extra attention. If the body is telling you “No,” then something has to go. If you keep pushing through, you could get an injury and that can keep you from being your best for a long time. The term “No Pain, No Gain” isn’t always true.
Dads try to put on our plates as much as we can. We believe we can shoulder all the responsibility and still be at our best. And sometimes, that can work out. Then there are days when you can’t. Those days need an adjustment. A little less to carry those days can stop a permanent pain.
- Stretching is good. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the importance of stretching. There was a time when I could jump right into a workout or run and have it not be a big deal. Now, my body has to be limbered up before I work out or run. Stretching helps keeps muscles healthy and flexible. If someone doesn’t stretch, the muscles can tighten and become sore.
Stretching is also good for dads. Often, we come into fatherhood with a set of ideas and beliefs. In the early years, we stick to them. Then, as the years pass, we’re stretched to new ways of thinking, believing, and acting. If we don’t stretch, we can’t grow. Our lives seize up and tighten everyone around us. We must move beyond our believed norms for the benefit of everyone around us.
- Routine is key to success. Working out here or there is fine to start, but in order to get the transformation you desire, you need a routine. One day is devoted to one muscle group and I devote another day to something else. It’s best to come up with a calendar of exercises for what you need to do on that day and for how long.
A good routine is also helpful to have a successful day of parenting. Our lives are crazy during soccer season, but I still need a routine to guide us through. My kids must do their homework by a certain time before soccer practice or they’ll be too tired once we get home. If we wait, I get upset that they’re not prioritizing their day right. That’s just an example of the routines that we have. If there is a routine in place, everyone knows what is expected at a certain time.
- You need a rest day. If you’re working out every day, you need a day to rest the muscles and have a relaxing day. That doesn’t mean you sit on the couch all day and eat junk food. You go through the day and get done what you need to, but give those overused muscles a break.
A rest day for a dad is the same. You don’t need to sit on the couch all day, although it is very nice to do during a Sunday afternoon football game. Giving space to the kids while resting provides dads with a lift to get back at it the next day.
The one thing that doesn’t fit into the two worlds is self-sacrifice. Fatherhood requires it whereas a physically fit lifestyle does not. When working out, you are the priority. Being a dad, you’re the last priority. Sometimes, I have to sacrifice my hopes and dreams of the lifestyle that I want for the overall benefit of my family. It’s a sad moment, but as a father to four, it’s worth it. All that being said, when the time comes around again, put yourself back in action.
Cheers to all you dads out there balancing a healthy lifestyle and making it work.
(I’m currently participating in a Dad’s Bod competition for Men’s Journal. I would love your vote! Here is the link: https://legendarydadbod.com/2021/jason-greene-2
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