I spent my 20s and 30s bemoaning my physique, dreading beach season and, when it came time to meet new women, hoping my personality mattered more than my abs.
Great dads can be tall or thin, fit or flabby. Being in better shape still has its perks, and here are the five I’ve found the most rewarding:
- My Sons Can Ride the Daddy Express: Eli just turned five, and he’s no lightweight. At some point every day he’ll turn to me and say, “one, two, three sing with me,” a verse from some kiddie show I’ve long since forgotten. It’s his code for, “I wanna ride on your shoulders, Daddy.” He’s heavy. Did I mention that? I love carrying him all the same. One day, soon, he’ll be too big to climb aboard. The more I work out, the longer I can carry him there. That’s worth every rep to me.
- Forever Young: Having kids lets you relive your childhood. You remember your favorite toys, that time you rode a bike without dad holding on to the frame and the monsters that kept you from falling asleep each night. Being a dad also reminds you of your fleeting youth, your inability to keep up with pop culture trends and the energy reserves which keep dwindling. Working out puts the breaks on that inevitable decline. It won’t stop your hair from turning gray, but it does keep your muscles youthful.
- Success Breeds Success: Life as a parent is trying to stack up the tiny victories against the major failures. Yes, the kitchen floor is clean after you scrubbed and scrubbed it, but your son just missed the toilet bowl by a good half foot doing a number one. The more successes you accumulate, the better your day goes. And when you kick off each morning with a vigorous workout, it’s like beginning with a three-stride advantage.
- Your Wife Notices: Marriage is such a complicated bond that virtually anything that makes it easier is worth embracing. So when my wife tells me I look fit it brightens my mood. While a kid-made catastrophe may be minutes away, the buzz from that compliment lasts surprisingly long.
- Your Kids Notice: My sons don’t care if I still fit into my jeans. They see me getting up every day and pumping iron (or rubber-coated dumbbells) to stay healthy. Sometimes my oldest will mimic my moves and say he’s “muscling up.” It’s cute, but it’s more than that. It’s modeling, something parents need to do in order to silently send the right messages to their children.
Fellow fit fathers – what perks do you get from fighting the battle of the bulge? What am I missing here?