How I Got Fat, And Why I Blamed My Kids

I don’t like fat people.  At least I used to be very prejudice against fat people . . .  then, I got fat.

At the time I was working out a minimum of 4 days a week for 2-4 hours a day.  It became a sort of obsession, or at least a habit that I was unwilling to give up.  From 4pm to about 7 pm every day I was at the track running laps, running bleachers, swimming, or biking.

Life was pretty simple.  Sandi (my wife) and I had just gotten married and moved to a small town in Oklahoma. She worked at a hospital that was only 1/2 mile from our house, and I was a stay at home husband.

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I spent my time trying to decide what to do with my life.  I was 25 and sort of a late bloomer career wise.   I flipped houses for  awhile (read: I lost money on two ghetto homes), I did some roofing with a brother in law, I didn’t go to a couple job interviews, I started college twice.  For the most part my time was spent researching workouts and marathon training techniques, when I wasn’t researching workouts, I was developing spreadsheets with target running times or planning our next road trip to an upcoming marathon.

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Sandi was only working about 30-40 hours a week, but it was a pretty laid back job, so we would have breakfast and lunch together.  And she was always home by 4pm at the latest.

Like I said, life was pretty good!

At the same time we started to become obsessed with diet and nutrition (Sandi is actually a Dietitian by trade) and we developed a pretty restrictive diet plan that included almost no saturated fat and tons of fruits and veggies.  Not only was health important to us, but we had the time, money, and support to make health and fitness work.  This coupled with the fact that we lived in a town where the nearest movie theater was 120 miles away created the perfect atmosphere for us to focus an intense amount of energy on working out.

Fast Forward 5 Years

Over the last 5 years life has changed significantly for our family.  To make a long story short we have lived in 10 homes/apartments, had two kids, I have had 3 full time jobs, we have started two businesses, and I have completed 2 Bachelors degrees. . . . Oh, and we have had we have had two kids.

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I now weigh 195 pounds, for a 5’8″ male (like myself) that makes my BMI 29.6, 30 is obese which means if I gain two pounds my BMI will say that I am obese. To be fair, even when I was 4% body fat my BMI was still 26, so its not the best description of physic.

What Happened Over the Last 5 Years

When you don’t have a “real” job and no kids, your time is yours.  I was able to do whatever I wanted with my time and this allowed for very intense workouts . . . when I had the energy to do intense workouts.  Now days I have two kids on top of the fact that I work nights.  When I get home from work at 8am the kids are crying, they are hungry, cranky, loud, and I don’t have the energy to deal with it.

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All I really want to do is to go to sleep. But I stay awake for a couple hours to get some play time in with the kiddos or to eat breakfast with the family.

Generally, I am balancing trying to stay awake during the day time and just the shear challenges of parenting that every other parent faces and generally speaking I am too tired to workout.

When meal time comes I often given in to the enticing of Ronald McDonald because it will entertain the kids for a couple hours and it won’t make a mess in the house. His damn Siren song is just too much to ignore on some days (ba da ba ba ba!).

Each night I go to bed thinking “tomorrow will be the day that I wake up early”, but I usually stay up to late each night so that I can have a few hours of quiet time after the kids are in bed.  Then, at 2am Taz, my 3 year old boy, comes into our room and climbs up into our bed shoving us out of his way.

On the rare occasion that my energy levels lines up with my ambition and I do end up on a jog where I have to push 60 pounds of kid and stroller while also trying to carry my extra 30 pounds of weight that has built up over the last 5 years.

I am generally a pretty selfish guy (if you hadn’t noticed by now) and I have come to realize in the last three years of parenting how precious time is . . . better put, how precious MY time is.  When the stars align and I have a moment of quiet time all I want to do is sip on a root beer, crack open a bag of chips and watch re-runs of the Office . . . its my way of feeling sorry for myself because I am such an amazing dad!

What Really Happened Over the Last 5 Years

As mentioned above we have moved a lot and done a lot over the last few years. I have used the choices I have made as excuses for failure in other areas of life rather than realigning my priorities or fessing up to my failures.

I chose to attend school, I chose to work nights, I chose to eat at McDonalds, I chose to start businesses . . . etc. the list goes on and on.  Rather than accept my choices and organize my life accordingly I have used my kids as scapegoats for my shortcomings.

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In the same amount of time as it has taken me to gain 30 pounds, Sandi has run two marathons . . . and had two babies. She is just 5 pounds away from her pre marriage weight.

The moment I made the decision to stop working out, the past 5 years where already decided.  That ONE day that I didn’t go jogging for whatever reason – – – my destiny was decided.  A new habit had been created and I had erased 26 years of good habits.

The day I decided to take Taz to McDonald’s for the first time I had made my decision that someone else was going to be responsible for feeding my kids.  Someone else was going to make nutrition decisions for my kids.  Why? Because I thought it would be easier.

I remember the first time I EVER felt fat.

It was at my corporate job (desk job) I was typing away on the computer and I felt my man boobs touch my stomach!  I couldn’t believe it.  Rather than use this as motivation to make drastic changes, I used it as a sign that “it was too late”.  I was now one of the “fat people” that I hated.  Getting back in shape was now out of my reach.  This was BEFORE we even had kids.  What I mean is, clearly my decision to be out of shape was independent of children.  I had already made that decision . . . having kids only gave me an excuse.

As a nurse who works nights I get to have breakfast and dinner with my kids 7 days a week.  Generally speaking I am pretty tired after an over night shift. But I have an amazing chance to be at every meal with my kids . . what habits and traits can I teach them?  I am there a minimum of 2 meals a day, 7 days a week.  Very few men have that advantage. I have 4 days off per week, I live across the street from an enormous park, I have a wife and children who love the outdoors . . . yet I am not working out.

What positive impact would doing short HITT workouts while my kids take naps make in my outlook on life and overall energy level?  What would the difference be if I ate healthy snacks rather than cokes and cookies while I was working?

Parenting does change the way in which you are able to use your time.  It does make an enormous difference in how much personal time you have.  But health is not simply how much time you spend running.  Health is a way of life.  It is not required that you be 4% body fat and run 200 miles a week to reap the benefits of working out.  Simply walking more, jogging around the block, telling Ronald McDonald to screw himself, or eating an apple are all healthy choices that will result in fantastic health changes of in turn improve my entire outlook on life.

The moment I fess up to MY failures and faults and stop blaming those who love me and look up to me (my kids), in that moment can I start making changes that will impact my life and my children’s lives.

What are my children feeling now whether consciously or subconsciously knowing that I am putting all the blame for my current health state on them?  No doubt they can feel my frustrations.  By removing that blame and placing it where it belongs I will create a more peaceful home and allow myself to begin living a healthy life again.

I don’t hate fat people.  I realize that we all struggle with different things.  I understand now more than ever the mental blocks to start the process of working out or eating right.  I know how it feels to know that you don’t love your body.

By alienating my family and blaming them for my choices I have driven a wedge, hidden or not, into the most precious relationships possible in life.  I am missing out on enjoying life to the fullest.

Moving forward life will be sweet.  Family will be cherished.  Health will be embraced.

Have you had an experience or paradigm shift that helped you change you health goals?  Share your thoughts below in the comments.

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