A dad's guide to overcoming feeling like sh*t? Try this.
Why working out increases your parenting prowess among other positive benefits.
Are you feeling like crap?
Are you feeling comfortable in your own body?
Do you lack confidence?
Are you constantly tired and lacking the energy to do things that you need to do?
My answer to all of these questions was “yes” not too long ago. But now, after some time, my answer would be absolutely not. I started working out again and I’m writing to share with you why working out and going to the gym can be transformative. I found that it led me to experience greater confidence in work, parenting and life.
Working out makes you feel good
Yea, I get it. You’ve heard so many men talking about how they need to go to the gym, and how great it feels and you’re probably sick of hearing it. Let me explain.
I was extremely nervous to start up an exercise routine again. I worked out non-stop while I was in the Marine Corps and I was happy with my body. My confidence was sky high (which, in retrospect, was a good thing and a bad thing at the same time because I was so young and stupid). However, now, in my mid-twenties, it’s most definitely a good thing.
Getting back into it
Returning to the gym after a few years' absence was nerve-wracking. I felt like everyone was looking at me. I felt uncomfortable and was incredibly anxious. I questioned every move I made and felt like I was doing everything wrong even though it has only been a few years since I last worked out in front of people.
About 45 minutes into my workout, I started getting the hang of it. I broke a sweat. I started feeling a little more confident in what I was doing and I started feeling like my old self.
Walking out of the gym after that first workout was like doing drugs. I’ve not taken drugs but suddenly I felt stress melting off of my shoulders. I walked towards my truck in the parking lot and I felt like the fog that constantly surrounds me was gone, Now, my eyes could clearly see and I was not aware of my anxiety or usual worries.
I walked a little taller back into my house and I picked up my little baby boy and kissed him and said “Daddy’s back, son”. Just kidding, but I felt like a new man.
Research shows exercise is good for our sanity
It’s not just me; there are so many studies done on the association between exercise and mental health. Exercise has been found to improve body image, confidence and reduce symptoms of depression. From experience, I know how hard it is to actually get in to the gym there and work out for the first time, but you won’t regret it! You deserve to feel like yourself. You deserve the benefits of working out and the positives it brings to all aspects of your life.
Ok, so how do I get back to the gym?
It’s a mental boxing match. Like world famous boxers Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward. In the ring is you versus your mind. And often your mind wins and you avoid going to the gym. You have to conquer all those reasons not to go and just do it. It’s so simple to say but so very much harder to do. I put off going to the gym for almost 4 years after I got out of the military and had a child. You’re going to be tired, and ache. You’re going to find so many excuses NOT to go. Maybe it was a long day at work. Maybe your shoulder is a little stiff. Maybe your wife wants to watch a Netflix show with you or you simply do not have the time.
Believe me, I know every excuse in the book. It’s just one of those things that you have to do and once that first workout is over and you get into a groove, You’ll become addicted, in a good way.
Tips for getting started
1. Take a buddy with you. If you feel comfortable with them, this will help. You’ll feel less awkward in the gym and your gym partner will help you stay motivated and get you back in the gym that second time.
2. Watch some motivational gym videos. TikTok has a good selection or just Youtube “gym motivation”. Look at guys whose bodies you admire, whether it’s toned or hench, find your idea of good.
3. Talk to your wife or s/o. Hopefully, they see the benefits in you becoming fitter and stronger and husband and support you. I’m very lucky to have my wife who supports me to visit the gym for an hour or two after work.
4. Think about the benefits. Really think about them. Increased confidence, increasaed testosterone levels and did I mention it helps your sex life too? Well, it does. Less anxiety and stress throughout the day. You’ll stop sweating the little things because you’ll be sore and looking forward to going to the gym that day.
5. Think about your children. Your kids look up to you. You are their dad, and their superhero. If they see you exercising regularly it may encourage them to do so. You will have more energy to interact and play and be active with your kids. If you have older kids in their teens, you could even bring them with you for some dad bonding time.
My final message to you
Dads, if you aren’t feeling yourself anymore or you are feeling a bit tired lately or underwhelmed with your body, you need to exercise. Get that gym membership! Forget what others might say. Let me know how you get on. The first step of actually going to the gym is the hardest, and once you’ve made that step, you’re on your path.