Here we go..
This was me back in May. I just finished the GoodLife marathon (my second attempt and first completion) and felt amazing. I was a little more than six weeks from becoming a dad, and my vision was to bank the fitness from the marathon to sustain me through the first three or four months of fatherhood.
This is me now. Nearly 20 pounds heavier and barely able to get through a week of semi-decent running anywhere from 2 – 4 miles a day.
No reasonable person would fault me for this regression. A new baby, a new job, and a new home. Life was full and I was letting it get away from me.
I have a small tattoo on my left bicep. It simply reads “If”. It’s the name of my favorite poem but something that is appropriate for my life and what drives me or bogs me down. The question of “If” is a powerful one.
What if my daughter isn’t healthy?
What if I lose my job?
What if my relationship with my wife changes after having a child?
What if people simply stop liking me because I’m a new dad?
What if I’m a terrible father?
What if I’m a terrible husband?
You see, I was choosing to answer these questions by defaulting to the worst possible outcome – my outright and total failure. October and November came around and I realized I was stuck in a vicious cycle – by letting the negativity of those answers pile up, I always found it easier to accept failure than to consider success.
My diet suffered. I’d gotten away from the preparation and eating habits that are one of the pillars of my relationship with my wife.
My mood suffered. I have a beautiful six month old baby girl who’s healthy and so bright. She’s really somethin’. But I’d let myself look at her and see only the possibility of letting her down.
My health suffered. Old knee and hip injures began to resurface. A reminder that I’m out of shape physically.
Most of all, my confidence suffered. Like most of you reading this, I get so much energy and spirit from my ability to feel balanced mentally and physically.
Life was beating me up and I was letting it. I’d hit an emotional wall in life and was simply exhausted.
So I slowly decided to change the answer. It started with some challenging and rewarding conversations with my wife, through which we gained a new appreciation for the balance we want and seek.
It continued with resetting expectations to build momentum in getting some easy wins. Go for a walk with the dog around the block? Mark it 8, Dude. Run for 20 minutes at 11 minute miles? Mark it 8, Dude. Ride my bike to work both ways and maybe add an extra 15 minutes to the ride? Mark it 8, Dude. Have fun playing hockey once a week? Mark it 8, Dude. Run a 10K? You’re out of your element, Donnie.
I reconsidered the possibility of getting in better shape and gaining clarity over why I want to be in better shape. And the answers were clear:
- Because I want to be an effective husband by renewing the love and appreciation I have for my wife, and recapture the energy needed to support her.
- Because I want to make the most of weekends with my daughter. That is my time to get to know her and watch her grow. Being out of shape is not conducive to that.
- Because I want to recapture my emotional strength to more appropriately reign in my emotions.
- Because I want to recapture the endurance that can sustain me through weeks that are challenging personally and professionally.
But I realized that these answers are somewhat intangible and hard to measure.
So, I reached out to Michael, inspired by his Iron Dad campaign, to help me get my moxie back.
I was upfront with him. I’m not racing. As I said, weekends are time with my daughter. If I can get a run or workout in on the weekends, then great.
This is about empowering me to simply get back into a balanced routine. I have my commute to and from work, which is approximately 7 KM each way. That’s the time I can give you, so let’s start with that.
And so it begins. I accept that it won’t always be a perfect balance. I will be open-minded about what I need to do, what I can do, and what I want to do, and make a conscious effort to always choose the positive. That’s in my control and I’m excited by that.