Saturday, August 6, 2016

On the Homefront: A Subtle Attempt at a Healthier Life

When I was in high school I was gifted with enough athletic prowess to be a "good teammate." I even "earned" a couple varsity letters by playing left bench on the soccer team and by being the tackling dummy for most of the middleweights on the wrestling team.

I never scored a point on the soccer field. I managed to eek out two wins on the mat during my sophomore year, and consider the pinnacle of my high school wrestling career a loss to a reigning state champion. Why? Well, try as he might, he couldn't pin me. I had my pride, after all.
The point here is that according to society, it has long been presumed that, as a guy, I'm told I'm supposed to take pride in a certain type of physique. But on the flip side, there are many articles and news stories about how it is now en vogue to walk around with the so-called "dad bod."
So with both of those extremes in mind, I decided to try and recapture a little lost pride.
In an effort to eat better, I've bought less junk food and more fruit. Eventually, the three youngsters who tell my wife and I they are hungry will warm up to melon, berries, or apples instead of peanut butter cups or potato chips.
My wife and I are part of a local crop share and each week I pick up some locally grown fruit and vegetables. I don't know about you, but zucchini and squash are a staple of summer. Cooked right - however you define right is up to you - they can be a tasty side dish, or a part of a larger meal. Sweet peppers are great in everything, from a morning omelet to a stir-fry over rice.
As for the fruit, the drought has caused problems for every local farm, but the strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries we've had so far have been top notch.
Most parents will tell you it is important that kids eat healthy. And there probably just as many parents who will say that is easier said than done. Both are correct.
The only child in our house who doesn't really complain about meals is the youngest one. She has, to this point in her life, been the most amenable to eating new and different foods. Our older two kids are picky to varying degrees. Because of that it will, occasionally, get a bit loud at dinner.
The noise usually picks up when a food has been discarded without so much as a taste, or a meal rebuffed entirely. It's a momentary thing, and it's a battle I fought with my parents. I know I grew out of it. I'm sure my kids will, too. I just have to remind myself of that.
Now back to the beginning, about my athletic ability. That's the "part two" of this column.
No, I was never an athlete, per se, but I was in much better shape 18 years ago than I am now. (Weren't we all?) The odds of me getting back to a svelte 140 pounds of lean(er) muscle are not good. However, you know that pride I spoke of earlier? I still have some of it left, and a month ago I decided to try to show some of it to my kids.
I started a workout routine.
Thanks to Amazon Prime Day I found a good deal on some resistance bands and an "extreme" fitness DVD set. Today is the end of the third week, and I'm feeling better already. A bit sore here and there, but better. Maybe by the end of the third month, or the sixth month, I'll notice a difference when I look in the mirror.
But all of this goes hand-in-hand with being a parent, especially one who stays home.
The best any parent can do is be a good example for their kids. I'm viewing cooking better meals and getting in better shape as one way I can do that.
However, no one is perfect. We all have our vices. And there is a sign near my wife's office reminding everyone that "desserts" is just "stressed" spelled backwards. Parenting presents plenty of stress. I've eaten my healthy dinner for the night.
Time for some ice cream!
Howard Balaban is a stay-at-home dad who is in such good shape he can run a mile in...sneakers. These are his stories.