Updated: Mar 13, 2020
Over the past five years, I've gone from being a relatively Fit-Dad - who used to take the boys for five-mile walks in the stroller every day- to a Not-So-Fit-Dad. One who gets a bit winded lightly jogging up too many stairs. I turn 40 in a few weeks and I just haven't found time or had the energy to get back in shape and it's taken its toll. Well, that...and I love beer too much to stop drinking it. I suppose they don't call it a "Dadbod" for nothing.
Anyway, as I prepare for 40, I'm attempting to do something about that. I've been forcing myself to ease back into exercising now that the boys are becoming a little more self-reliant. The problem I have is that I really hate it now. Like, really hate it! And I refuse to sacrifice the small amount of quiet time I have after the kids go to bed just to torture myself. Therefore, I began scattering push-ups, planks, and crunches into my nightly routine with the boys. They get a real kick out of watching Daddy groan in agony and like to playfully (although it feels more like sadistically) increase the pain input by sneaking up and jumping on my back when I'm attempting some push-ups and not paying attention.
"Go Daddy, Go!" They yell as I carry both of their 30 something pound bodies up and down while my back screams, sweat pours off my face, and my arms shake and twitch like emaciated pythons being electrocuted. Eventually, I collapse in a heap and the giggling children sprawl out across the living room floor, laughing hysterically and wanting more. I attempt another set, but much to my chagrin, it turns more into a horsey ride on a broken and aging pony. I always regret replacing the carpet and putting in the laminate flooring whenever I'm forced to play "horsey." Soon my aching knees give out. I've officially hit a wall. Plus, it's almost time for dinner. The boys are wildly disappointed.
"No dinner!" They scream. "I wanna ride the horsey!" This situation takes some time to ameliorate.
I cook something easy that I know the boys will actually eat because I don't want to waste more time negotiating bites of food with two stubborn four-year-old’s tonight. I still have work to do. I give the boys a little TV time after we eat and sneak away upstairs. This is where the exercise bike my Parents gave us lives. It's lightly used because they hardly used it and needed to get rid of some things when they moved last year. We gladly took on the burden. But until now, it had been in our home excelling only at collecting dust and serving as a hanger for wet bath towels or "not quite" dirty clothes.
I pop Netflix on my bedroom TV and select something more adult - but still kid friendly - in case the boys notice I'm gone and decide to come see me. Something that I know to be inevitable. I start to pedal, and it's not long before I'm sweating again and out of breath. As I reach for my inhaler, the door creaks open and a tuft of straight blonde hair, followed by waves of curly brown hair peek around the frame.
"Whaaaat's thaaaat," the older one asks entering the room, drawing out the words with an inflection of curiosity. I've already explained this thing to him before, but in fairness, this may be the first time he's actually seen the bike in use. The younger one says nothing, but inches closer and does not stop moving towards me.
"Hey Buddy, watch out, okay. Back up, please." I puff out with what little breath I have. He does so only after coming inches away from my rising kneecap, causing me to abruptly stop myself. He runs away giggling. I roll my eyes. Once the boy is clear of danger, I begin pedaling again while he and his brother stare at me in wonderment. It would be creepy I suppose, if they weren't my kids. Actually, scratch that - it's still a little creepy.
As they watch, the older boy starts lolling his head around in a circle going "whoa, whoa, whoa," in time with my leg rotations, making himself dizzy and almost falling over. He steadies himself and laughs. He then works his way to the front of the bike and climbs up the center bar (there is no danger here for all of you that may worry, all moving parts are completely enclosed and this kid puts on a master class in balance and climbing). He leans over to look at the picture display (blocking my view of the television, of course) and yells, "Go Daddy, go!" as I continue to pump my legs and bathe in my own sweat. I last a mere 20 minutes before I decide to call it a night. I make sure to promptly wipe the seat down when I'm done, in case the boys try to climb on (which, spoiler alert, they will), and hop in the shower.
Once I feel clean, I proceed with the boy’s bedtime ritual. My legs, back, and arms are barking from what little work I've actually done, and I think to myself that it's going to be a long climb back into Fit-Dad again. I go downstairs when the boys are finally asleep, click on Netflix and cue up the episode I was watching upstairs. Before I sit however, I gingerly walk down to the basement to grab myself a beer. Baby steps, people. Fit-Dad isn't going to come roaring back with a vengeance. And I still love the stuff. Right now, I'll be happy if I can just make it back to "kind of chunky," Dad status. Then we can go from there. Until then…Cheers!