Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Skip the Tater Tots and Be a #HealthyDad

Though it usually appears glamorous in movies, most real-life business travel is generally anything but that. My day job takes me on periodic short trips, often back and forth in one day, and to say they are exhausting is like saying the ocean is wet. They’re even more exhausting than parenting. Coincidentally while en route home from my most recent daytrip last week, I had an epiphany: part of the reason I go on these trips is to help take care of my family (financially), but sitting at the gate  I realized that the choices I made on that trip prevented me from taking care of myself.

As the opening notes to “Here Comes the Sun” poured through my iPhone at 4:30am one day last week I knew that I had a flight to catch in 2 ½ hours and had to get moving. I’d slept less than 5 hours the night before and was drained from the get go. I was mostly ready to go from the night before so I quickly got dressed and while making a cup of green tea to take with me, I saw a box of Apple Jacks and grabbed a little baggyful for the road. Sustenance to get me to LAX, I told myself. Plus, it was kinda fruit, right?
One of the few benefits of pre-dawn flights is seeing things like this. 
While waiting for my flight I grabbed some oatmeal from a restaurant to take on the plane. It was loaded with blueberries, almonds and brown sugar. This seemed at least partly healthy or at least healthier than the frosted cinnamon roll that I really wanted at the same shop. After a short flight I had a brief layover before my connection. While traversing terminals at SFO I saw this headline and hoped they’d wait until after I’d gone to begin the testing:

No thanks, SFO. 
After arriving at my destination I met with some coworkers for lunch, AKA a greasy burger with tater tots before our big client meeting. How often does one see tots in a restaurant I asked myself as I wolfed the salty potato nuggets down? Answer: Not often enough to pass them up.

After our meeting we stopped at a gas station and everyone grabbed some candy and a Diet drink to balance it out and power through the long day’s final third. Once back at the airport an order of wings came my way as a sports bar was the only feasible fast place to eat and I needed to grab something to take with. I crushed that meal on my 3rd flight of the day, along with some Twizzlers I’d discovered while waiting to pay for another Diet soda at the airport.  

It was while traversing SFO for the second time that day, as my stomach begged for mercy, that I realized that while my professional day had gone quite well, my personal day had been a disaster because I hadn’t even remotely taken care of myself. While waiting for my plane to board I grabbed a fruit cup for my 4th and final flight of the day. I wasn’t even really hungry but felt I should have at least one quasi healthy food item during my marathon day.

It dawned on me, as I struggled to stay awake on my late night jaunt back to LAX that after a night of almost no sleep I’d made it through the day completely artificially via a combination of caffeine, grease and sugar. I’d started off relatively well with green tea and oatmeal but everything after that point was a disaster, which is not OK.

For someone my age, almost pushing 40, with young kids I need to do whatever it takes to ensure that I’m going to be around when they need me, whether it’s 5 years from now or hopefully 50. And a big part of that starts with taking care of myself. I’ve realized that being a Healthy Dad is important to me not only for my own longevity, but also because I’m a role model to my two Junior Dudes. What they see me do will resonate as they grow and that includes what I eat and drink. My pants have felt snug lately and I have not liked what I’ve seen in the mirror or pictures, so as I get ready to mark another notch around the sun in a few weeks I know that I need to be more proactive about my health. 

 For myself and my family.

I’m diligent about my kids getting their regular checkups but have been lax about my own. The truth is that I found a great doctor a few years back but when my company switched insurers he wasn’t on the new plan. I’m sure plenty of other great doctors are, however, and I’m doing myself a disservice by not taking advantage of the free annual physicals most plans include. My boys aren’t getting any younger and neither am I. It’s time for change. I want to be a Healthy Dad and that starts now. It’s time to get a good night’s sleep, skip the tater tots in lieu of a salad and carry healthy snacks so I have no excuses on these grueling 20-hour workdays. I need to do it. I can do it. I will do it.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I was invited to participate in the #HealthyDad campaign to raise awareness for leading long healthy lifestyles and taking care of ourselves. I made this video, which you should totally check out on my Instagram, to show you a bit more of my inspiration and perspiration.

Make your own video and upload it to the Healthy Dad FB page for your chance to win one of five $100 Amazon gift cards. Totally worth it, for more reasons than one.

Legal Bizness: Thanks to Anthem Blue Cross, who sponsored the campaign, for including dads in this important discussion about family health care. My views are based solely on my experience as a parent, and not as a medical professional. All opinions contained within this post are mine, for better or worse.