Nine years ago my son was born and it was the second major milestone in my life, the other being my wedding day.
Before my son was born I had an abundance of free time, I could go to the gym at least 4-5 times a week for hours at a time. And if we travel back to my single days I was playing sport and going to the gym whenever I felt like it.
No strings attached I could do whatever I wanted.
Don't get me wrong I'm in no way lamenting how my life has changed and I wouldn't swap it for the world. It's just that things are different.
More of my free time is spent doing stuff related to school and after school activities.
Family life is a huge time commitment and once all the responsibilities are completed it doesn't leave much time apart from working, sleeping and eating.
I do have the advantage of a job that allows me access to a gym for free so my situation is a little different from others but my time is still pretty squeezed.
Centre Of The Universe
If you're a new dad you go from being a free spirit with the keys to the kingdom to now being a responsible for a new human being.
And with that comes a brutal schedule of early morning feeding, nappy changes, no sleep, no time for exercise, eating whatever is available, sugar, caffeine, quick lunches, more processed food, microwave meals and ever so slowly the waistline expands.
Then you look in the mirror at this exhausted, unfit, unhealthy version of yourself that is virtually unrecognisable.
You Don't Appreciate It Till It's Gone
At a time in your life when you'd be at your physical peak you're shattered.
Without even realising it you took for granted the one thing that is a luxury when you're single or married with no kids and that is: Free Time.
Throw kids into the mix and you're time is longer free. There is a cost for every little thing you do. When your child is sick and they wake up in the middle of the night and take 30 mins to get back to sleep. There is 30 mins gone. You run out of nappies and have to duck out to get some, bye-bye another 30 mins. Your child unfortunately vomits in the cot and the sheets and baby have to changed and cleaned, Sayonara down time.
No matter how much fun and joy a new addition brings there is a cost that you never had to pay in the past because you could be selfish with time.
So now the sacrifices start to add up, it becomes difficult to do the things you once liked to do like watching sport on a Sunday, or watching your favourite T.V. show. You still yearn to do it but without the free time available it doesn't happen.
Unfortunately one of the first things to end up on the deleted list will be the one thing that will that gives you the most benefit: exercise or working out.
The New Normal
Becoming a parent creates a new normal whereas before your normal involved playing sport or doing some kind of enjoyable activity those pastimes lose that tag and would only be done on a special occasion.
Your new definition of normal won't bare any resemblance to the old one and won't include your own health and vitality as an important part.
You only have to cruise the internet to see blogs and articles completely dedicated to women getting there pre-baby body back. Head over to Amazon and you'll see plenty of books with the female market in mind but sadly lacking in any advice for the dads getting their bodies back in shape.
You've been forgotten, somehow it's become acceptable for dads to sacrifice their health and wellbeing when the family size increases.
The unfortunate reality for many dads is that they will end up saying something like "I haven't worked out in months, or had a good night's sleep and my diet's gone to the dogs, so now my pants don't fit".
"I don't have time" is the most common reason that people will cite for not exercising or prioritising their health.
The time is there but you might be overlooking it because you're distracted by something else.
If you were to look at your day there is plenty of time when you could squeeze in a quick couple of squats or push-ups to get the body moving.
- Morning or night we all shower and there is a lag time when the water is warming up. Use this time to drop and punch out a set of push-ups.
- If you're a new dad and still bathing your child, then while the bath is running, let your baby have some "tummy time". This will give you a few minutes to hit some sit-ups or some lunges.
- We all use a microwave at home. On average you'll set the timer for a couple of minutes. You could easily smash out some body weight squats paired with some push-ups or a plank.
- Here is a good one for work, switch on your computer and while it goes through it's start up sequence hit the floor for some burpees. If you don't have your own office find a quiet, unoccupied space and get it done.
Really we've only just scratched the surface. Just think about all the times during a day when you have an opportunity to turn a task or chore into an exercise that will burn calories and make you fitter and stronger. The time is there you just have to recognise and use it wisely.