There is a lot of misinformation out there about health and fitness.
This is not shocking, as anytime there is a discussion about modifying the composition, appearance and makeup of a person’s body – good or bad – many people have many different ideas about how to go about it and what to do.
But there’s one perception about fitness, and specifically about dads who make it a priority to exercise and lead an active lifestyle, that is the biggest myth of them all: That being a Fit Dad means you have to sacrifice time with your family.
This one bugs me because when taken at face value, it can appear to be the case. Yes, an hour spent at the gym, for instance, could mean its an hour you’re not spending with your spouse or your children. When taken in that context, it can seem perhaps even selfish.
But here’s the critical missing element in this logic. Why is time spent on fitness the target and not, for instance, time spent in front of the TV? I’ll make the argument all day long that a dad who spends an hour of watching TV with his eyes glued to the screen – even if his family is sitting right next to him – means he’s just as absent and unavailable as if he had gone to the gym.
I get it. I’m as guilty as the next guy. I don’t watch a ton of TV, but when I do, I honestly pay very little attention to what’s going on around me.
The blame is not being pointed at the correct culprit(s). There are numerous activities and distractions that can cause dads to sacrifice time with their families, even when they are physically present. Cell phones, reading, working on the car, time spent with friends.
And no, I’m not saying any of those are inherently bad. But guess what? No one said anything about fitness and family time being mutually exclusive.
A family hike or bike ride. Time spent at the pool or at a basketball court. Playing soccer. Running a family 5K. Even going to the gym (when your kids are old enough for it to be safe). These can all be family activities.
Here’s an even broader way to think of it: If I live an unhealthy life, let my body fall out of shape, and eventually die from cardiovascular disease at the age of 55, how much time with my children, and my children’s children, am I losing or missing out on? Twenty years? Thirty years? Perhaps more?
Yes, I could die of a massive heart attack at age 55 even if I do remain physically active and fit, but you absolutely cannot deny that I increase my chances of living a much longer life with my family if I take care of myself and my body. This is an indisputable fact, and this is my motivation for staying fit and healthy.
Honestly, the deeper issue at hand here is time management. It’s making a time commitment to the things that matter the most. For me, it means I go to the gym early in the morning before work and before my family wakes up instead of going after work, so that I’m actually not missing any time with them. That’s how I’ve prioritized my time.
Fitness jeopardizes family time only when you attempt to squeeze it into your daily routine while never letting go of other habits and activities. Do you really need to watch another episode of Game of Thrones?
Don’t tell me my fitness lifestyle means I’m sacrificing time with my family. The way I see it, I’m adding time to my clock.