The body beautiful

Put aside the daily routine of half a dozen coffees with full cream and sugar, the diet of hurried meals, and erratic exercise as you juggle your dad and kid commitments - says resident DadInc Columnist Scott Avery........

Racing between work commitments and kids activities can leave the busy dad flat out of time to look after themselves.

The daily survival routine is half a dozen coffees a morning, full cream and sugar, with a few in the afternoon for top up. Lunch is on the fly, most likely drive through on the way the next stop or over a schooner during the Friday afternoon breather.

Whilst you are meeting your targets and getting the kids to where they need to be, a poor diet and shoddy exercise regime can leave you feeling like the bunny who comes second in the energiser commercial.

More seriously, if you are trying to do all this running around while carrying a few extra kilos around the trunk, then you are at serious risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Sadly, most blokes tend to brush off the health warnings until something bad happens to them or one of their mates

A few of us in the Dads Group received a none to subtle hint to start looking after ourselves better last Christmas. This came in the form of the CSIRO Wellbeing Diet Book, which Santa had left under the tree. After overcoming the initial indignation that I was being told to shape up by a guy who made a career out of being fat, we were all feeling tardy after a hard year and it actually prompted us to have a good long hard look at ourselves. More importantly - this time - we were going to do something serious about it.

The first thing to come was the reality check. I calculated my body mass index (BMI). This is a calculated by dividing your height by your weight (give or take) and is key indicator for your general health and well-being. A healthy range is 20-25; 25-30 is mildly overweight and 30+ is obese (ouch!!). My results indicated that I was a full 23 centimetres under-tall, even when I breathed in.

Clearly we needed to take better care of our health, so the next step was a symbolic commitment to change.

I went cold turkey on the coffee, another mate made a new years resolution to avoid hot chips for a whole year.

Then we made a plan to make more sensible food choices and keep to an exercise regime, whether it be walking the dog more regularly or starting boxing classes. The first few weeks were the toughest, but after this we'd broken some of the bad habits and started to see and feel the benefits.

Taking the time to understand what you are putting in your mouth, and how the body burns off excess energy, is enlightening. Collectively, we learned a few things along the way. For example:

  • You are not going to starve. The servings in CSIRO weight loss diet, for example, are surprisingly substantial.
  • There are choices in what you buy at the supermarket. "Unleaded" options for milk, margarine and a range of supermarket accessories which are easy substitutes for the full "diesel" versions. There are even low-carbohydrate options for beer, like the new 'Blonde' range, which we believe could well be beer's equivalent to celery.
  • Sex is a great way to burn off the extra joules. So is swimming in the ocean. I'd imagine that if you could avoid getting arrested, sex while swimming in the ocean would be brilliant. Although from experience, convincing your wife of this fact could be a little more challenging!
  • You lose more joules by playing soccer with your kids at a park than you do by playing soccer with your kids on Playstation.

It's not all about sacrifice, it's about moderation and half way through the year we're all doing pretty well with no major scars to show for the experience.

Most importantly though we're doing our bit to avoid all those nasty health problems that claim too many blokes when we're busy climbing the corporate ladder. I might just have myself a 6 pack of celery to celebrate.