November 29, 2010
by Shawn Bean
© Courtesy of the author
I walked 2 miles. For half of that trek, I carried a 16-pound metal object. For a quarter of that trek, I carried a 16-pound metal object and a 30-pound object that shares my DNA.
In other words, I went on a bike ride with my children.
It was a lazy post-holiday afternoon that was becoming lazier. We were slowly being hypnotized by the chirpy sound effects of Nick Jr. and the Fargo-esque blatherings of Moose A. Moose. We needed to get out of the house and fast. So at my behest, Jackson and Tanner hopped on their bikes, and I followed behind on foot. Next thing I know, Jax, otherwise known as Evel Knie-high, was a half-mile ahead. Tan, on the other hand, peddled along at a pace that would make the Golden Girls look like Usain Bolt. By the second half of the ride, Tan has given up on bike riding (a mile is pretty damn good for a 4yo). And so I carried the bike. When we reached our street, Tan had given up on walking. And so I made my way toward our house: a Hot Wheels trike on one arm, offspring on the other. (Shoulders.... burning.... gluts... sizzling...) When I got home, I dropped everything (except the offspring), and snapped the pic you see here (that's Tan's helmet, by the way).
Earlier this year I wrote a piece about Couvade syndrome, a real condition where expectant dads takes on the symptoms of pregnant women: nausea, insomnia, mood swings, and of course weight gain. That certainly applied to me. I ate sympathy pizza, drank sympathy chocolate shakes, and ordered sympathy Chinese takeout. Of course, after our first baby arrived, I still looked like an extra in a Papa John's commercial. It took me six years, 430 mozzarella sticks, and 1,200 never-even-attempted crunches to realize this simple truth: be a good dad, and you'll be active and motivated. A fat dad looks at a playground and sees the park bench. An active dad looks at the playground and sees a race to the monkey bars in 3, 2.... Sure, one bike ride with the kids doesn't change you from totally geek to totally chic. But the weeks start to add up, and next thing you know, you're speed walking 50 miles every month.
If that's not enough motivation, try this: fat parents have fat kids, and fat kids become fat parents who have fat kids. So it's up to the parents to create a home that sets the tone. It can't be the kids outside in the yard playing soccer and the parents inside killing Twizzlers and Faygo. You gotta get out there and get dirty alongside them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. Is it a coincidence that the home computer arrived around 1980?
So if it's not a bike ride, it can be Frisbee, soccer, stomp rockets, or tag. It's not exactly Stage 4 of the Tour de France, but then again, you aren't Lance Armstrong. Just start doing something. And it's okay to start slow. Just not Tanner slow.