5 Fitness Tips For Busy Dads
Juggling work and family life all while looking after your health can be quite a handful. To help you manage it all, we’ve asked married Dad of 3 and PureGym member, Dave (@daverajan) to give you his tips on how he balances fatherhood and fitness.
Being a Dad is one of the greatest privileges a man can have and being a Dad to my three children has changed my life completely. It is such a huge transition that many things can be lost in the minefield of being a parent and one of those is often taking time out for exercise. There is no obvious cut off point when you start being a dad and life changes, it is a gradual process and as a result, things can change without you even noticing. It is easy to fall into habits you don’t realise you are forming as, let’s be honest being parent is something that can completely melt your brain. Here are my 5 tips to help you.
I have a simple rule around my exercise routine: I look at my week ahead and identify 3 points where I can spend an hour exercising and stick to it. I work in the music industry as a Director of Radio Promotions at Parlophone Records and many of my evenings are spent out at gigs and events so I have to make sure I plan my week really well. I try to look at each day as 24 hours and factor in a time when I can work out. A few years ago I was finding it impossible to get to the gym in the evenings as bedtime for the kids was getting later and later and I didn’t feel like it was fair on my wife to come home from work, put the kids to bed and then zoom out to the gym while she cooked dinner so I made the decision to exercise when my kids are asleep. I go to the gym at 5am 3 times a week. I’ve had to rearrange my day so I get to sleep early (I aim for 10.30pm and no later than midnight). Getting out of bed is hard but that feeling I have at 6.30am when I have finished my workout and I still have the full day ahead of me is so refreshing and gives me energy.
Top Tip: Plan ahead and create a routine
Eating a good and balanced diet is so hard when you are a parent. Taking time to think about what you are going to eat can seem really difficult, but I strongly encourage you to have a look at what you are eating and know that what you put in is what you get out. I’m not saying eat like a saint because I certainly don’t but take a step back, analyse what you are consuming. One thing that changed my eating habits was being told by my personal trainer at the time to write a food diary for a week. When you look back at a week you realise what is good or bad and what you are missing. I aim to eat protein and vegetables with most meals and I stay away from certain carbs like white pasta, bread, potatoes and white rice and focus on sweet potatoes, quinoa and lentils. I know it isn’t easy, but it is so worth it and don’t get me wrong, I allow myself treats. If you eat like a saint you will get bored, demotivated and eventually resent your meal plan so incorporate the odd doughnut or chocolate pudding and don’t feel bad, just don’t go mad.
Top Tip: You don't have to be really strict, but it's good to plan ahead and think about what you are eating
Forget Everyone Else
One of the things that people do when they walk into a gym, or a class or join a team is they immediately compare themselves to other people. I say, forget everyone else. You are here for you and to make sure that when your kids grow up they have a fit, healthy and active Dad around to enjoy for many years to come. I always think of Usain Bolt. When he won all his medals at the Olympics, he never looked at anyone else even though he was running against tough competition. He ran as fast as he could and ignored everyone else. That is what I tell my kids. If you compare yourself to others you will never be happy and I’m proud to live like that as an adult to inspire them. So, when you walk into the gym, do it with pride and know that it takes a great deal of effort to even walk through the doors. Everyone has their own story and yours is unique. Be the best that you can be.
Top Tip: Do what you want and don't compare to yourself to others. Remember you're training for you, nobody else
Get your heart rate up – that’s all you need to do. It doesn’t even need to be in the gym. You can go out for a 30-minute walk 3 times a week, get on your push bike that has been sitting in the garage since the kids were born, or go for a swim. My point here is do what makes you happy. Find an exercise that you enjoy - not something you do simply because you feel you should. Then you can build those habits because you are motivated.
Top Tip: There is no point in doing something you don't enjoy, as you will not stick with it and be fully committed. Find a way of exercising that you will get a kick out of.
Love your body love your brain
If you look at my Instagram your first assumption would be here is a guy who likes taking pictures of himself in the gym and cares about what he looks like. These are both valid points however the main reason I first got into working out in the gym was I realised it that it is vital for my mental health. This is the core of my motivation to keep exercising and pulling the weights that I do. I realised many years ago that like I mentioned earlier the expectations and worries that go alongside being a parent can melt your brain and if you allow your mind to over-think, these anxieties can get on top of you and before you know it panic sets in. My own solution to this world of potential anxiety is to get into the gym. When I am alone with my music in the gym, it’s me time, and I allow my brain to completely disengage from reality. I find the intensity of my workouts detaches my brain from any anxieties I’m feeling at that point and I can reset. It works every time and it keeps my mental health in check at all times. I can’t recommend it enough and as a result I have entrenched myself in a world of exercise that is a habit and part of my daily routine.
Top Tip: The gym is a great place to look after yourself both physically and mentally. Remember you need to take time to look after yourself as well
I hope this helps any Dads out there who don’t know where to start with kick-starting their fitness journey. Please feel free to message me and share your feelings.