A Dad's Humbling Workout

B Dad Article

Inhale. Pull inward. Not even close. Lie down on the bed. Inhale again. Minor grunt and pull harder. Fail a second time. Deeper inhale. Major grunt and pull with all my might. Success!

I have buttoned my pants.

OK, maybe the pants I managed to button hadn’t been worn in a number of years, but still, how did this happen? I have a bookshelf full of tennis trophies proving my athletic prowess. I still play tennis once or twice a week and walk the dog daily. I have jump rope and hula-hoop contests with my fourth-grade daughter, Jessie. We also play basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball together. How did these extra pounds end up around my waist?

I have a few sneaking suspicions, beginning with “Two-Donut Thursdays.” Hey, my wife’s car needs gas, and the donut shop is on the way. I also love ice cream, which is my comfort food at the end of each day. As soon as Jessie’s head hits the pillow, I open the freezer, pull out the half-gallon container and start dipping. Challenging days require an extra dip … or two.

Recently my wife, Mattie, lost 6 pounds. Is it possible the pounds jumped off of her and onto me while we were sleeping? Maybe it’s my intake of licorice, which keeps me alert while I’m typing or driving on long trips. The bag claims in big letters that licorice is a “low-fat snack.”

I finally hypothesize that my metabolism has slowed down. According to WebMD, “for most people, metabolism slows steadily after age 40.” Though Jessie keeps this 54-year-old dad active, there’s only so much she can do. Or is there?

“Dad, I can help you lose weight!”

I erred when I thought trying to get my pants shut was going to be the hardest part of my day. After hearing about my waistline problem, Jessie opened the laptop and started browsing.

“Dad, it’s time for your cardiovascular workout.”

Before beginning the workout, I remembered something I had seen on a recent stroll with the dog. My neighbor stopped at the end of the street, dropped down and did 30 pushups. Afterwards, as he walked past me, I said, “Wow, I haven’t done that many pushups in 30 years.” But I thought, “Showoff!”

Now, I might not be the poster boy for a gym, but I felt confident I could handle a 9-minute workout. Besides, it would be a fun daddy-daughter activity.

Without going into detail, two words summed up the 9-minute workout. Not pretty. I knew at 3 minutes that the next 6 minutes were going to challenge every ounce of my mental and physical toughness. I continued on with a sense of peace that at least I taught Jessie at an early age to dial 911 for medical emergencies.

By workout’s end, my flushed face pressed against the living room carpet, but I had enough lung capacity to gasp to Jessie, “Don’t call for an ambulance.”

As my face regained its natural color and my breathing resumed its normal pattern, I realized my studmuffin days may have passed. Mattie says those days were all in my head anyway.

Now I have to worry about the muffin top that’s starting to hang out over the waistline of my jeans. Apparently, I need to make lifestyle changes involving fewer sweets and more physical activity. Luckily, I have Jessie and her various exercise programs. She already has the next video planned: belly dancing. I’ll be sure to read any disclaimers that pop up before I start shimmying. I might buy a bigger ice cream scoop, too.

Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and writer. Follow him at facebook.com/patricklhempfing and twitter.com/patrickhempfing.

Categories: At Home, Home, Lifestyle, Work-Life, Work-Life Balance