Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rob: I am middle aged, dadbod athlete: Hear Me Roar!

I like sports.  I like team sports and individual sports.  I do struggle a bit with baseball and soccer, mostly because I suck at both. However, as a spectator, I do have a strong appreciation for their valium-like ability to put me into a deep comatose napping state.

As every other good Canadian kid, I grew up playing hockey; on the ice in the winter and on the road in the summer.  I also really liked individual sports like tennis and badminton.  In high school, I played several organized sports like football and basketball until the lure of girls, partying and money to be made at part-time jobs side-tracked me.  I also picked up a pack-a-day smoking habit that followed me off and on for the next 20 years.

For the record, I have never been a slender fellow, but throughout the latter part of my teenage years, my entire twenties, and into my early thirties, I never bothered too much with the scale. If I put on too much weight, I worked more and smoked more, replaced food with coffee and more times than not a decidedly unhealthy night life.  All of which, shockingly, did a great job of taking off or at the very least maintaining my “dadbod” weight and physique.

Once Laura and I made the decision to have kids, I felt I needed to make a number of significant lifestyle changes.  I didn’t want them to grow up in a house with a smoker and I also wanted a job that would allow me to spend more time with the kids.  So, I quit smoking cold turkey and found an office job with hours that were better suited to the suburban dad. Neither was quite as easy as that sentence may have lead you to believe, but perhaps those are topics for another day.

Needless to say, cigarettes were mostly replaced with food, and extensive walking on the job was replaced with a sitting on my rear office job lifestyle.  I ballooned up to an unhealthy weight and for the past seven years have spent a lot of time going up and down the scale and I mean way up and down the scale - Like 100lbs swings! 
Note: This isn’t a post about body image and it’s not a post about weight loss or weight gain.  Rather, I’m trying (hopefully with some success) to give you a sense of who I am and how I’ve gotten to this exact place in my life.

Once I quit smoking, something crazy happened - I slowly started to find myself wanting to exercise again.  It is possible that some of that sense of urgency may have stemmed from the 3 young children IN the house creating a burning desire to get OUT of the house, but nevertheless, I started taking some of those little steps towards getting back in shape by joining a gym, a Friday night hockey league and jogging on a semi-regular basis.  

While I have come to enjoy each of these activities, sometimes as a means to get healthier other times as an exit strategy, I have also come to realize that the things you could do as a free-wheeling teenager become so much harder to do as a middle-aged man since I don’t recover as quickly as I once did. Once upon a time, many years ago, I could shake it off, sleep it off, or even perhaps drink it off.  Nowadays I need ice, heat, bed and likely a good dose of Advil to get over the hurt.

Given my schedule and demands both at work and at home, I have also come to realize the importance of finding the activities that you really like and making time to fit those in. 

Yes it’s about getting exercise, but it’s also about finding the right balance and the right mix.  For example, the past three years I have played hockey on Friday nights.  It’s late but it’s a good group of guys and the skill level is right for me.  While there are a few really good players they are also very accepting of beginners or those just getting back into the sport after a long breaks.  However, last year I was invited to play in an organized Over 40 league that play on Wednesday nights.  Also a good group of guys but a much higher skill level.  In fact, a bit beyond my current ability and let’s face it, I’m not likely going to get much better - I think I’ve peaked skill-wise when it comes to my hockey awesomeness. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can play both and continue to run at least a couple times a week so I have to make a choice.  

As Laura can attest, I am useless on most Saturdays if I play on Friday night.  Especially if I go for a pint. In a house like mine where getting up at 6:30am is considered sleeping in, after a Friday night playing hockey, I can hardly function and have zero patience.  Basically, I'm a total dill-hole the next day.  I’m leaning towards cutting out Fridays on a regular basis and going occasionally when I know Saturday responsibilities are limited, but haven’t made a final decision yet.

What I have come to understand is that when Laura and I aren’t renovating or dealing with a newborn (both of these activities seem to happen in my world with an alarming frequency), however poorly or inefficiently done, I need to find time to get my sweat on.  I just have to understand that I only have so much time and I’m also going to have to plan extra time for recovery.

I'm not likely to get drafted to the NHL this year.  For some reason,  teams just aren't into drafting slightly rotund guys with limited skills.  I've also begrudgingly accepted that my running a consistent 7:00ish minute per kilometer pace is unlikely to qualify me for Boston. 

In fact, I think I have even come to embrace my dadbod. I have accepted that I am never going to get a six-pack or ripped arms and that's okay.  I think the important thing for me is that I have found several activities that I like doing and are good for me; mind, body and soul.  I know I'm never going to be an elite athlete.  Heck, I know I'm never going to much more than a mediocre athlete but I try hard, its fun, gets me moving, and it's certainly better than smoking a pack a day.      

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