Everywhere I go I can’t shake my favorite thought leaders touting the importance of working out. #STFU it’s like the freaking 80’s all over again. Back then I worked out all the time via Big Wheel, He-Man, running from Freddie Krueger and imaginary Indiana Jones boulders.
When I was in college, fitness was easy. I was a landscaper and stone mason most summers and could spend hours at the gym pumping iron, running laps and going home to watch…Pumping Iron. Shit was easy.
I’m a self-employed, business-owning Dad. Do you really think I give two wanks about my physical activity level? I’m a New Yorker, I walk to the train, I walk to work, I schlep crap all over the place. That’s fitness, right?
Well, damn you getaways and the introspection that comes with them. My fitness habits are not just about me, they’re about my two year old son – who’s watching me.
I was a fat kid.
You can’t blame your parents for how they raised you (unless they did some crazy shit, in which case let ‘em have it), but for the average person, parents do their best and back then they didn’t have the internet.
Early life, I was svelte like most 80’s lads, had the platinum blond and alligator polo thing happening and then in third grade my parents got divorced and I got the chicken pox. That equated to months on my ass drinking soda and eating Twinkies, coupled with both parents waving the olive branch in the way of bologna sandwiches and snack cakes.
Long story short, I got real fat. Had some sick moobs, rolls for days and even a mullet to top things off in my Bugle Boy parachute pants. My Dad was in the National Guard for a bit and I remember him doing crunches and taking jogs to pass his PT, but as a Methodist Minister fitness was not in the lexicon. After hanging out with some of his colleagues I even postulated an idea that a pastor’s communion with the Almighty was directly proportional to their gut or “center of power.”
Being overweight can be awkward
For most of my childhood, I attributed most of my social disconnects to being overweight. It became the reason why I didn’t have cool friendships with the childhood crushes I wanted and why I absolutely wouldn’t swim with my family or friends (other than guys). As a young scout, I hated taking the annual swim test and often found reasons to get out of it.
You have to buy husky clothes when you’re a fat kid. Husky is a kind of dog. Why has no one raised the crimes against humanity flag for this?
There was a silver lining
My grandparents were old school, Depression-era, not-a-shit givers. My grandmother straight up told me I was fat and needed to lose weight. Her rudimentary understanding of nutrition and fitness (from a career house wife) was that I was eating too much bread and corn chips. In retrospect she was a “pioneer” in the low-carb movement and per her advice I started to eat more salad…
I picked up soccer and eventually lacrosse and hockey, and descended back into the normal weight spectrum. Still to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever been “where I want to be” but maybe that’s rooted into my general lack of complacency. But I don’t think it always has to be this way.
My fitness example and legacy
When my wife was pregnant with our son I definitely strapped on some pounds, not only from our newlywed weight “let’s go out for drinks” but the stress of having our income cut in half while I was still self-employed. Oh yeah, and we lived in an awesome Polish neighborhood with wonderful beer, kielbasa, pierogis and other treats to help you survive the Soviet Union.
Last March we applied for a health insurance incentive for being healthy, and I almost disqualified us because I was considered overweight. It was a big values decision – is my body reason enough to make my whole family pay a premium for our health insurance? As a self-employed guy scraping by I said absolutely not, it’s time to drop some LB’s.
From June to September’ish, I lost about 30lbs via Tim Ferriss’ Slow-Carb diet. It’s easy and simple and because I don’t need lavish variety in my meals–perfect for me. I went on the PAGG stack for a while, and then in August added Bulletproof Coffee into the diet. I haven’t control group tested it yet, but I have a suspicion that the coffee may have been a huge catalyst in the fat loss.
Unfortunately even though I lost weight to make sure I would save money, none of my clothes fit so I had to start buying a new wardrobe thereby eroding a lot of the savings. Making sure I stay the same size is actually a huge incentive to not regain any weight – I would feel horrible if I gained back any weight and had to buy clothes again, for the “wrong” reason.
It’s been about a year now since I lost the bulk of it, and I feel like things are under control. My son is older though, and he watches me. He sees how I brush my teeth, comb my hair, shave my beard. He understands that I go somewhere everyday to work.
But now I’m nearing a cross-roads. Do I show him only the minimal amount of fitness necessary as pertains to daily life, or do I show him that there is no standard, fitness exists only to optimize our individual humanity?
I’m honestly not at a point yet where I’m ready to adopt a fitness regimen outside of walking, but it’s on the agenda. It’s contrite to say he saw me do some pull-ups at a friend’s house, but I know he’s watching. The other day he insisted that he carry a grocery bag home by himself. In his broken English he told me that he had to carry it because he had so many muscles. He might not get it yet, but he’s totally on the way to “getting it.”
A few weeks ago I told my wife that I would never allow our son to become overweight. That may sound like an absolute terrible bastard thing to say, but I feel like I know too much about nutrition and fitness to guide him into that condition. My job as his father is to give him the best that I can, and I want to spare him from what I experienced.
I don’t regret in any way how I’ve turned out. And honestly, becoming a dad really has brought out the best in me, but I do wish that someone had pumped the breaks as I went through a “phase” of being very overweight. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t productive and the only upside was that it taught me to be funny, clever and resourceful because I couldn’t socially acclimate the way other kids could.
Fitness, will soon be foundational in my life. My wife and I want to have another kid soon, and fitness and fertility go together…like protein powder and dead lifts. Our son needs to see that daily fitness is vital to a healthy life, and we want to be around for the long haul. My Dad is retired now, and is actually a gym rat – he texts me his numbers on the leg press. Maybe it will run in the family?
I’m writing a book about my experiences, not only about losing weight but about surviving that big jump into marriage, having kids and launching a business. We crammed them all into 1 year but I will teach you how to stay optimal along the way. As an avid performance-junkie I want it to be a guide to help my fellow top-performers, when and if, their time comes to “domesticate.” You can sign up for updates here.Follow worklifedad