My kids try to make me stop by jumping on my back during push-ups and flopping onto my stomach between crunches.
They tell me they want to wrestle or draw or sculpt dinosaurs from Play-Doh. And it all sounds more fun than working out; but I keep exercising, because I’m pretty sure they’ll hate my heart attack more.
You see, I’m 25 pounds past my must-start-dieting weight and dangerously close to outgrowing my fattest pants.
I’ve also outgrown all the euphemisms. I’m no longer husky, chubby, bulky or well upholstered.
I’m just fat — fat and unhealthy.
Most parents can sympathize. With every child, another slice of free time disappears. It escapes beyond that impenetrable mountain range of Before Children, along with our sanity and hobbies. (Remember hobbies? They were fun.)
All totaled, my free time consists of those few precious minutes in the morning before my children wake and 20 seconds between their bedtime and when I pass out.
It’s difficult to wedge a meaningful workout into those 20 seconds.
However, I’m trying to be better. I exercise almost every morning, though my kids like to interrupt. I’m also eating more fruits and vegetables and fewer donuts.
But it’s slow progress and there’s a half-eaten key lime pie in the fridge that proves my fickleness.
Of course, slow progress is better than no progress, and I deserve neither tears nor sympathy. I don’t have a debilitating disease that prevents me from exercising. I’m also the one who wedged snacks between every conceivable meal for three years.
(There’s a meal between brunch and lunch. But it’s like Narnia. You have to really believe if you want to find it.)
But if my progeny are my excuse for putting on the weight, then they’re also my motivation for losing it.
My kids like it when I throw them in the air and catch them, when I spin them in midair, and when we race around the house.
One day, I won’t be able to do those things, but I want to push that terrible day as far into the future as possible.
I’d also like to live long enough to see the milestones: graduations, marriages, Nobel Prizes, getting elected to the Senate, maybe grandkids, etc.
And the best way I have to guarantee a future with my family — with the realization that nothing guarantees a future — is to get up early and do these stupid crunches.
Because, yes, my kids hate it when I exercise. I hate it, too. But it’s all worth it for one more throw, one more race, one more day with my kids.
Besides, we can still make Play-Doh dinosaurs when I’m finished, as long as no one cares if mine is a little sweaty.
Jason Lea has a son, daughter, and a full-time job at the Mentor Public Library. He also blogs for Northeast Ohio Parent in his nonexistent free time. You can find this East-sider on Twitter at @jasonmarklea or read his blog at northeastohioparent.com/bloggers.