College freshmen obsess about the dreaded “Freshman 15” — the weight gain that comes when you head to college and exist on a diet of cafeteria food, late-night pizza and beer.
As a dad, I faced the equally dreaded “Fatherhood 15” — the weight gain that comes with irregular mealtimes, junk food intake and eating every morsel from your kids plates that they can’t finish. (We don’t waste food in this house. Not on my watch. Come hell or my expanding waistline.)
I also lovingly call this weight gain my “Flabby 15.” Any muscle I used to have has deteriorated and broken down, leaving me a shadow of my once-fit self. Before kids, I lived at the gym or the yoga studio. Tennis was a weekly hobby and golf was my passion. Fitness was a priority. After kids, my gym membership doesn’t get nearly the workout it once did. Golf? Tennis? Are you joking?
My closet is filled with kettle bells, dumbbells and weight bars that were going to keep me in shape as I planned to work out at home. I feel like a dumbbell for spending my hard earned cash on that stuff.
People have told me — “You need to make time for your passions despite having kids.” But that is so much easier in theory. Ever since my kids were born, my life has been consumed by them. At first, it’s because they need us every waking hour of their lives. As time moved on, it’s because I love to be with them. We play and pretend; we sing and take adventures. I want to soak up each second of our time together because before I know it, I’ll be dropping them off at college. And wondering how much weight they’ll gain.
I suppose this is why, on a comical level, I see my weight gain as a badge of parenting success. The more I grow the more time I must be spending with my children. And that’s a rewarding thing, both physically and emotionally.
Truth be told, I have sneaked exercise into my daily routine. My wife and I take the kids for bike rides and park benches are not for me. I’m that idiot dad who’s out there climbing on the jungle gym with my kids at the playground. I’ve also discovered that these boys love to race. At this point I can still beat them, which does wonders for my self-esteem.
The best thing we’ve done as a family is fine tune our eating habits. Even if we can’t make it to a spinning class or a death-defying session of hot yoga, we can control what we put into our bodies. It costs a little bit more to eat well, fruits and vegetables aren’t cheap, after all. But it does our bodies good and sets a good example and foundation for our children.
So, bring on the extra pounds. I’ll work out some other time. I got kids to play with.
Photo credit: wader / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)