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Accountability Starts with You...

November 5, 2018

Once again I find myself needing to pull my finger out of my ass and get on with writing a very long-overdue blog post…



Ok, so this one isn’t going to be about my experiences on Shared Parental Leave, as that’s going to be a bit more in-depth and probably require a lot more thought than this one. Plus, I’d really like to talk about the positives of taking it and how it can better help dads become more engaged with their children.



Anyway, this post is about being accountable for my own self and what I mean by that is I’ve learned over the last few months that no-one is accountable for anything in your life but you. If you want to make a change, you make it; if you want to start eating better, get back into doing some exercise, stop swearing so much in front of your kid, etc., you need to start that process; no-one else is going to tell you to do it.



Before we became parents, my wife and I were very much into meal prepping (not just chicken/broccoli/rice meals, but proper nutrition), regularly going to the gym together and just generally being active. Yes we sometimes ate junk food and had lazy Sundays (we are human!), but it didn’t negatively impact our usual diets or fitness progress – it fit in perfectly with our routines and we looked forward to those cheat meals/days/weekends…


This behaviour changed drastically when we started a family and the junk food crept into the diet more regularly and M&S ready meals became a staple choice as it was easy, convenient and a lot less hassle when you’re tired and just need food. The gym becomes more of a dream than an actual activity; granted, I was able to go some days before work (after the initial few weeks settling in of said baby) and at least retain a modicum of fitness, but my wife? She managed a baby all day and by the time the weekend came round, the gym was the last thing on her mind.


Things do change when you start a family and I can honestly say that I really do appreciate where some parents are coming from when they say that they don’t have the time to cook, or exercise, or even think about trying to stay/get in shape, as I've experienced this situation myself; these last few months have been amazing and I would not change them for the world, but I made grand plans for revolutionising fitness for dads and looking back over some of my recent posts, I think I was going to get somewhere. Yet something happened. I lost my accountability. I stopped going to the gym and stopped giving a crap about what food went into my body – the only constant was that I still fasted 16/8 every day (more-or-less) as that’s just a part of my life now. I got a dadbod and although I didn’t let it get me down, it still ate away at me a little and yet I did nothing to change it. It’s been too easy to avoid accountability and get into the repeated cycle of thinking “I’ll start next week”…



The thing is, as parents, we do have time to do things; we just refuse to believe that we do. We think that all of our time is eaten up doing chores or looking after the children and we fail to maximise on the time we actually do have available – early mornings, evenings when the kids are finally in bed, lunch breaks at work – or even nap times for those still parenting as a job. Most of the time we use those opportunities to “have a sit down” as it really is full-on, but why can’t we put aside 10-15 minutes to actually do something? We can. We just choose not to.



So what’s changed? Well, my wife and I have started to prep meals again. This not only helps us know what we’re having for lunches and dinners for the week, but also helps us prep food for Finn too – pretty much whatever we cook, he has a smaller version of, so it’s massively convenient to do this. How do we find the time? We make the time. Putting aside an hour – that’s it, one hour – on a weekend, when Finn is either having his longer nap of the day (actually in his bed and not requiring being pushed around our local area in his pushchair!) or is feeling happy enough to sit in his chair and play/have a snack/watch us, we use that time to cook a couple of batches of food for the week. This is cooking of really simple, but delicious food (I’ll write a post one day with recipes) and most dishes only require one pot, so a lot less tidying to do after; we make chillies, jambalayas, stews, cacciatores, bologneses, curries, etc. – all stuff that can be portioned up and put in the fridge/freezer for later. Once the initial chopping or prep work has been done, you can literally just leave most of these dishes on the hob to cook, with the occasional stirring – they take no time at all! We then don’t have to worry about what we’re having for lunch or dinner during the week and can have something a bit more “cheaty” at the weekend…


The fitness change comes separately and I speak to so many dads that – like myself until recently – say that they're sick of looking in the mirror and seeing a dadbod staring back, or feeling tired and unenergised, yet make the excuse that they don’t have the time to change that. You make the effort to go to the gym once or twice when you can, but because nothing changes, you give up or let it fall by the wayside until the next episode. You don’t commit. However, consistent diet is the number one starting point – get that prep nailed and that’s the first step to looking and feeling better.



It’s all fair and good saying the above, but how have I made the time to start getting fit again???


Well, recently I started a new job. I left the last one after the treatment I received from my previous company in regards to negative attitudes towards taking SPL and how it affected me in my role. This is another post in itself, which I’ll write about later (it needs to be heard that not only women are discriminated against for having children and taking leave), but for now I’ll focus on the present…


Starting a new job is hard, especially when your wife has just massively pushed herself out of her comfort zone and started up her own business (she’s smashing it btw!), your son has just started going to nursery and you also don’t yet know your new routine. As a result, I haven’t been to the gym in almost 2 months and whilst I miss going, I genuinely don’t have the time to go in the morning anymore before work and going after work is a none-starter as I want to be back in time to see my son have his dinner and then spend time with him before his bedtime… But, I am toying with the idea of going after he’s gone to bed, once my routine is properly established and this will come down to being accountable and making that time to train – which can be done and is about me choosing to make that time work. However, in the meantime, I’ve set myself a mini fitness challenge for November. I already have a beard, so can’t grow another one, but I can make the time to do at least 30 push-ups and 30 squats every day for the month. If I do them first thing in the morning, late in the day or right before bed, it doesn’t matter. It matters that I do them and I make the time to do them. I am making myself accountable for this and I will stick to it. To make things interesting, I will donate £1 to The Royal British Legion for every day I complete my challenge and £10 for every day I don’t. If that’s not an incentive, then what is? Haha. Besides, both parties will benefit from this, either way ;)


I’ll follow up this post in December with my results and how much I raise – wish me luck!

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West Bridgford, Nottingham, UK

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