Fitness & the 5 Stages of Fatherhood

For those who have or will have the opportunity to be a father, it’s one of the very greatest and most meaningful parts of life.

Getting and staying fit – via exercise, nutrition and mind-and-spirit wellness – is one of the most important things you can do to improve and sustain your life and your enjoyment of it. For the benefit of yourself and your children.

So, with “uber” life goals in mind, commitments to fathering and fitness SHOULD go hand in hand.

But day-to-day, it’s not always easy to pull off both. Precious time spent with kids heightens time pressure we already feel from work and other “pre-kids” obligations. Fitness is often what gets squeezed out.

With dads – current and future in mind – here are five suggestions for how to follow this “best of both” path, organized by the stages of fatherhood.

by

For those who have or will have the opportunity to be a father, it’s one of the very greatest and most meaningful parts of life.

Getting and staying fit – via exercise, nutrition and mind-and-spirit wellness – is one of the most important things you can do to improve and sustain your life and your enjoyment of it. For the benefit of yourself and your children.

So, with “uber” life goals in mind, commitments to fathering and fitness should go hand in hand.

But day-to-day, it’s not always easy to pull off both. Precious time spent with kids heightens time pressure we already feel from work and other “pre-kids” obligations. Fitness is often what gets squeezed out.

IT’S YOUR CHOICE, DAD

Fellow dads, at some point we face a choice.

(A) Is fatherhood going to mark the start of our physical decline? (It’s frighteningly easy to let a “leave it to the next generation to be youthful and fit” sentiment creep into your thinking).

Or (B) are we going to battle through the added challenges, and have the best of both worlds? That is, have one or more beautiful kids, eventually maybe grandchildren, AND keep ourselves near the top edge of whatever “fitness curve” the passing years allow?

Me? I was somewhere between (A) and (B) for the first few years of my kids’ lives. Then had a few years flirting more with the “decline” path. Then I was looking at pictures of myself on vacation in the early 2000’s, and thought “who’s the chubby and kinda-getting-old guy with my family?” That jolted me in a healthy way. I’ve been on Path B ever since.

With dads current and future in mind, here are five suggestions for how to follow this “best of both” path, organized by the stages of fatherhood.

But first, a few starting perspectives:

  • You owe it to your family to tend to your own body-and-soul wellness
  • Sometimes, it’s a matter of giving yourself “permission” to devote a minimum amount of time to your own health. Your guilt about spending time “on yourself” is motivated by feelings of love and duty, but it actually undermines the long-term goals you have for the family.
  • You’re really busy, yada yada, I get it. But everyone should be able to fit in at least a “survival mode” level of fitness, brother. In a friendly way, I’m calling BS if you say you can’t.
  • When you take care of yourself, you’re also setting an example for your kids that WILL have life-long benefits for them. Forget about yourself for a moment. Do you want them to be physically fit and enjoy tranquility-protecting wellness practices throughout their life? If so, start teaching them that by example, dude.

FIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR BECOMING & REMAINING A “FIT FATHER”

1. When kids are babies or toddlers, get some of the gear that lets you take them along when you’re active. I mean one or more of a jogging stroller, a bike trailer (we had a 2-kid version that was awesome), and/or a “backpack” for hiking. These are great investments.

2. When they’re a little older, bring them with you cycling (on a “trail-a-bike” that hooks up to yours, then on their own bike). And get involved in their sports (I had several banner seasons as “Assistant Assistant Coach” for soccer and lacrosse – it got me running around and let me be part of kids’ lives at the same time.)

3. For tweens and teens, look for opportunities to do physical things together. Sometimes kids will want to/agree to do this…sometimes they won’t. But if they’re in “won’t” mode…that means they’re getting more independent and you’ve got more time on your own now, bro’.

4. When you have “adult children,” take active vacations together. Kids will often welcome your financial contribution to travel, and you get time with them, as well as motivation to stay fit for hiking, cycling, active sight-seeing, whatever it may be.

5. Grand kids? Well, I don’t have any yet so I can’t speak personally. But logically, this is a combo of Stages #1 and #4 above (and now you’re “free babysitting” for your own children – furthering your continued contact with them).

TAKE ACTION

What stage are you in, man? Are you doing what you can to enjoy fatherhood and fitness? With thriving in mind for you and your family, please think about whether you can be purposeful and proactive to get to an answer that’s usually “yes!”

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re struggling to make it happen right now. But DON’T let that turn into just punting on all this for months and years either, man. Keep working toward a “fatherhood + fitness” orientation. You and your kids will be glad you did!

 

“My son turned ten just the other day. He said, thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play.” (Harry Chapin, Cat’s in the Cradle— click to play)

 

If you think this would be useful to others, please help spread the word about OlderBeast by sharing this post with the social media buttons below. THANKS, MAN.

You may also like

article-image
Fitness Planning & Gear , Philosophy & Motivation

In defense (and praise) of the EASY workout

It’s important to keep physically challenging ourselves as we age. That’s why OlderBeast feature things like push-up challenges, exhortations to increase your weekly workout frequency, and calls to keep on running uphill.

But the name of the game is to do it thoughtfully, man — in a way we can sustain for years and hopefully decades. And on some days that calls for a game-time decision to do an EASY workout.

There’s the planned easy workout, to recover from intense effort yesterday or get ready to go hard tomorrow. But here, I want to talk about something different…a last-minute call to just do something “light” today.

Maybe a shorter and/or slower run. Or just some light body weight exercises and stretching. Or some lower-intensity cardio on a machine and then a short core routine.

The idea of switching to an easier workout is really about our relationship with motivation: having more than one response to call on when we feel unmotivated.

article-image
Fitness Planning & Gear , Mindfulness & Stress Management , Philosophy & Motivation

Stop Missing This *Other* Key Benefit of Exercising Outdoors

To the extent epiphanies come to me in life, they often happen while I’m running. Being physical and “getting out of my head” frees my mind. Thoughts aren’t required or even expected – they can just come as they may. And that’s frequently when the most original, creative or useful ones arrive.

And something about running in particular nurtures this. Something struck me while running a couple of days ago, and I think it’s highly relevant to your life as well as mine, brother.

article-image
Philosophy & Motivation

Motivation to Exercise: How I Discovered 3 Powerful New Sources

A lot of OlderBeast is about “what” (what workouts, what to eat or avoid), “why” (facts and logic behind recommendations) and “how” (tips and tricks to get started, adopt something new, or refine).

But there’s a bigger, capital-letters “WHY” underneath all this. All theoretical reasons and intellectual understanding aside, WHY do we actually get out of bed early on a cold morning and go for a run? Or squeeze out those last 5 push-ups? Or eat healthy today instead of waiting until tomorrow?

“WHY” is a question of underlying motivation, man. It’s the bedrock of OlderBeast resolve to “double down” on fitness, nutrition and Wellness for the second half of life. We began discussing motivation in this earlier post.

To further help you maintain and grow motivation, let’s discuss three additional, powerful motivators: gratitude, respect and obligation.

article-image
Mindfulness & Stress Management , Philosophy & Motivation

Stop Thinking of Fitness/Nutrition in a Vacuum! They’re a “System” With Your Emotions + Intellect.

PLEASE FORGIVE ME, man. This article might cross a boundary, into “your private business.” And certainly, it’s just scratching the surface of deep stuff.

We know fitness/nutrition investments we make directly improve our sense of emotional well-being and our intellectual effectiveness.

But also, I wonder. When we struggle to find time, motivation, discipline for our physical health…is this an isolated issue, or rather a symptom of emotional or intellectual blockages we should work through?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.