In our weight loss practice we have seen a couple of thousand patients over the years and I always ask them why they want to lose weight. On this Mother’s Day, I am remembered of a reason given by many of them. “I don’t want to be that Mom.” or “I don’t want to be that Dad.” They go on to explain that when they are out with their kids at a Little League game or at the park, they don’t want to be the parent that can’t keep up with their child. When their child says “Mommy, Daddy, let’s play tag, you catch me!” or “Mommy, Daddy, let’s play basketball” they want to participate. Too many parents are seriously out of shape and seriously overweight to the point that they can’t keep up with their small children.
Too many parents tell me “I can’t keep up with my kids, so I have to stay behind as they run around and play.”
Their pursuit of weight loss is not for them, it is for their children.
I personally had an event which sticks in my mind and scared me because I was terrified I would become on of those dads. A few years ago, I was taking my kids on a bicycle ride with them inside a stroller attached to the back of the bike.
We were riding around our house which is situated on a hill, and I went down the hill, but when it came time to make it back up the hill I was stuck. I did not have the strength to pull the bike, with the attached stroller with two kids, up the hill. I tried and tried, but I got stuck. With the added weight of the stroller, and my two kids in that stroller attached to my back, I could not make it up the hill. My oldest daughter, who was about 4 years old at the time then said this: “Forget it Daddy, we will get out and walk up the hill.”
It was shocking. My 4 year old daughter was frustrated that I didn’t have the physical ability to bring the bike up the hill, so she and her 2 year old sister got out of the stroller and walked up the hill.
I was always very physically active as a teenager and young adult. But like so many people, I let my physical fitness take a back seat to work and other daily duties.
Over the past few years I have rededicated myself to improving my physical fitness and staying in shape. I want to be able to keep up with my kids for a long time. I exercise nearly daily and have more strength in my 40′s then at any time in my life. I have lost fat and gained muscle, and my weight loss puts me close to my high school weight. Most importantly, I am active with my children. We go to rock-climbing gyms together. We exercise together on gymnastic rings. We ride bicycles, skateboards, and rollerblades together. We play soccer together.
All parents wonder about the legacy we will leave for our children.
I hope for many things. Among them, I know my children will be able to say, “We had a great time growing up and playing with Daddy.” If you won’t lose weight and get in shape for yourself, do it for your children. Don’t be THAT dad, or THAT mom.