Fatherhood Helps Dad Focus on Fitness

This is a guest post by Christian Toto who is an award-winning journalist, film critic and daddy blogger at Daddylibrium.com. He has written for The Denver Post, People magazine and The Washington Times. His movie reviews are heard on both WTOP-FM in Washington, D.C. and “The Dennis Miller Show.” Follow him on Twitter @daddylibrium…..

Dad and SonsIt took becoming a father with virtually no time for myself to get in the best shape of my life.

Let me back up and explain.

For years I attempted to get fit with very modest results. I enrolled at the local gym, wore the appropriate weight-lifting gloves and found inspiration from fellow members who looked the way I wanted to look someday.

And yet I never quite matched their results.

The free weights section of the gym intimidated me. The classes never sounded appealing or seemed too “girly” for me. Even the weight machines felt unnatural. It was hard for me to grunt and groan in public to make the changes I needed to make to my body.

It didn’t help that I never went to the gym consistently enough to make a difference. Even when the gym in question was a five-minute drive from our house I always could think of a reason it didn’t fit into my schedule.

Looking back, time wasn’t truly a factor. I didn’t have one of those 55-plus hour work weeks, and my social life was fulfilling but not overwhelming. Plus, I wasn’t a father yet, and as every parent knows being a dad soaks up virtually all of your leisure time.

When my first son was born five-plus years ago something changed. Suddenly I had very few fitness options. It was either do some old fashioned calisthenics or try one of those workout DVDs they sell at every Sports Authority outlet.

I chose plan B.

I bought a few hand weights and a Jillian Michaels home video. Suddenly, the excuses melted away. The “gym” was one flight of stairs down to the basement. The time was that precious window between when I woke up and when my son did early each morning. Twenty-odd minutes later, I had gotten my workout in and could start the day with a sense of accomplishment.

I loved it. The video gave me structure, simple instructions and the occasional “atta boy” or “get going!” message. Once I learned the moves I could slowly start increasing the weights for each exercise.

The biggest change, though, was something most parents understand. When you have so little free time each day you make every second count. You have no other choice. Even a chronic procrastinator understands the stakes and learns to make a mental “to do” list and get stuff done. As a new dad I shifted my priorities and learned to maximize every minute.

That determination gave me the ability to start a new workout plan, one that still works to this day.

The lessons from my personal fitness story are simple. We all have enough time to get fit, whether we are parents are not. Dads with more kids and responsibilities than me somehow find a way. You can, too.

Finally, find the type of workout that works for you. My wife hates exercise videos but loves grabbing the jog stroller and take our kids for a run or hitting our rec center’s yoga class. I tried all the “standard” workout routines before realizing a short, guided video made the most sense for me.

Search for what clicks for you, and when you find it, hold on tight.

Today, I hardly qualify for any health club “after” photograph. My fitness goals are still in the distance, but I can see them now for the first time in my life.

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