Our resident health and fitness guru, Alex, honours fathers this June and the importance of adopting healthy family habits.
Photographs: Alexandra Beck
Text: Alexandra Beck
Looking back, I would not have mentally survived early motherhood without my husband and father to my daughter right there by my side. While I expanded through pregnancy, delivered Norah via emergency C-section, bled through breastfeeding, and worried about everything, I hardly recognised all the ‘ness’ - ‘hangriness’, moodiness, sleeplessness and ‘momsterness’ - he was putting up with. Yet, on the frontline, sideline, and let’s face it, just ‘on the line’, he has been listening, sympathising, organising, cooking, playing, fixing, encouraging and, without a blink, making sure that his daughter and I always felt safe, important and loved.
Dads! You are ROCKSTARS! Thank you for making our days brighter and joyful and taking the kids roller-blading, biking, and to football practice, for letting your daughter dress you up as a princess and paint your nails purple. Thank you for taking a night shift and cooking dinner, even if it’s take-out… thank you for making us feel like a million bucks and being our rock through thick and thin! A reminder to all dads - please don’t forget to take care of your health. Physical and mental. Because we need you, and you need you too.
Most often, health awareness is directed to mothers and their recovery post-partum. However, fathers’ well-being is equally as important, and both play a pivotal role in a balanced life at home. Things can get overwhelming, and if you don’t acknowledge it, it may lead to a long and winding road of health issues.
Busy jobs, family and social obligations… time flies, and every minute seems to be accounted for. But, you can remember the days when exercise and eating enough protein were part of your conversations with friends. And now, survival mode is on, and your body is begging for that long lost memory. So, enjoy your life as a father, and it’s ok to want to be yourself again, even just for an hour here and there!
Remember this, though: just as you have been there to cover for mum, mum will be ok to cover for you too.
So, even though it may seem like mission impossible, there is always a way to find an hour or two each week to take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to take up the subject at home with your partner, and maybe they can be a part of helping you schedule activities that make you smile inside and out. And then consider these activities like important meetings.
These meetings are with the CEO of your own health. ‘Non-cancellable:
#1 Plan in your runs, gym, yoga or tennis sessions. This will help prioritise your exercise, create a movement routine and set an example for your kids.
#2 Read the books you have had on your list. Even if it takes you longer than it used to, get started and set your mind to reading a chapter per day. On a commute to work, just before bed instead of doom-scrolling.
#3 Get started on the home project you have had in mind for months! Starting a creative project will give you energy, and finishing it will give you a very accomplished feeling.
#4 Make sure to eat well and hydrate during the day. Nourishing your body will give you more energy to give to your family when you are home.
#5 Book that doctor’s appointment that you have postponed since you don’t even know when! Of course, it’s likely that nothing is wrong, but then it’s also nice to know.
“Easy enough to say, Alex. I have heard this before”. All good theories, right? Let me reassure you that success in being healthy and finding a routine will not come by doing everything all at once. But what ultimately brings successful healthy habits is to focus on one thing consistently.
So if you have thirty minutes a day, find and focus on one activity or non-activity and stick to it. You will feel great, and both you and your family will benefit from an even happier, healthier Super Dad!