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Where has all the fun gone?- Using fun as a motivator to return to fitness.

July 22, 2019

Martin Gowdie- Osteopath

Being a Dad is tough. There, I said it. Woe is me. Bust out your smallest violin. I’m not saying that it’s
harder than being a Mum, I’m just merely noting that it takes it’s toll on us lads too. Sleep
deprivation is torture, toddlers test your limits and your sense of autonomy has eroded (although
not nearly as much as my poor partner). Amongst the fog of the sleep deprived, comfort eating, beer
swilling love bubble, I’ve stopped moving. I’ve gained 2 children and 15kgs and it all happened so
quickly – the weight gain that is, not the children. What’s more, as I negotiate with a terrorist every
night who doesn’t want to eat their broccoli because it isn’t blue, my temper has become short and
I’m moody. Wowee! What a catch I’ve become – an unfit, un-motivated, overwight, short-
tempered, moody wet towel!!

As a male with a “fix-it” mentality I thought that the answer was simple – get fit, become motivated,
chin up, chill out and be positive. Done. No. No surprises that this approach hasn’t worked to get me
back to my fighting weight.

This has led me to research if there are other parents that might be feeling the same. Would you
believe it – I’m not alone!!!! In fact, we are all in the same boat! There’s a common thread – I’ve
tried to control as much of my life that I can and somewhere between procreation and toilet training
(my toddler, not me) I’ve subsequently stopped prioritizing the things that I find fun. Not only have I
found that most parents share this feeling, there has been a book written about it! Jennifer Senior
wrote “All Joy and No Fun” and if I had the time to read it I’m sure that it would shed some insight
(Joke!). Seriously, it’s worth a read if you can sneak a few pages at opportune times.

So, if my primary goal is to get fit again, maybe I’m trying to change too much at one time! What if I
just need a circuit breaker rather than an overhaul? Maybe this will create a positive cycle rather
than a negative spiral?!? I decided to start with finding fun. It’s not easy to dedicate time for “fun”
when you know that your partner is home with 2 kids following her into the toilet but we started
with 2 hours a week and what have I found out so far? I’ve found out that, ironically, the things that I
find fun are also the things that give me a sense of autonmy, keeps me healthy and fit, keeps my
weight down, keeps me grounded and positive and allows me to have more tolerance in testing
times at home. I’ve returned to surfing with mates. I go free-diving when I can. Of course, there is
balance. If I returned to the “pre-children” levels of fun I would quickly find myself in the divorce
courts but finding just a few hours of fun has helped me be a healthier person, a more tolerant
father and a more positive and supportive partner.

Maybe the answer to motivate ourselves to exercise isn’t a complete over-haul, maybe it’s just a
circuit breaker? Now, I’ve just got to sew the seeds of a boys surf trip away…