It’s surprising how fast it happens. One day you’re fit, lean, and able to race up a flight of stairs without breaking a sweat. Then suddenly you’re overweight, soft in the middle, and can barely see your toes when you look down.

While some of us can blame the unexpected weight gain on genetics or growing older, for many of us the reality is that something else changed in our lives: we became fathers.Even though we had nine months to prepare, it wasn’t enough for this wonderful, yet life-altering experience. I know. A little over two years ago, I became a father myself. While I love my son, and his birth has brought new meaning to my life, I wasn’t ready for the changes to my body or my lifestyle.

I clearly remember the day we took my son home from the hospital and placed him in the nursery. As I watched his chest rise and fall as he slept, I suddenly realized the nursery wasn’t the only thing that was different in our home. I was different too. I was someones dad—and it was amazing, scary, and exciting all at the same time.

As you know, fatherhood not only changes you mentally, but it also creates an entirely new dynamic in your personal life. Gone are the weekends of sleeping in, the impulsive nights out, and the freewheeling daily routine you once had. Overnight, everything shifts to accommodate someone else’s schedule.

Before you know it, you realize you haven’t gone for your morning bike ride in eight months, you’ve eaten more take-out and ice cream than you’d like to admit, and you vaguely remember seeing your exercise equipment somewhere behind the stroller and portable playpen. The scary thing is, you don’t really care, nor do you miss your old self.

Then the inevitable happens. One morning you wake up and realize you’ve become the one thing you never thought you’d be: fat.

Once I realized how far I had steered off course I immediately began to make changes to my diet but I still found it difficult to find time for exercise. This is when I began to incorporate my son into my workouts. Not only was this fun, but it was effective and it also proved to be a great bonding opportunity for the two of us. There is no shortage of fun exercises you can do with your kids, in fact we think of new ones all the time as Miles gets too big for old ones, and gets strong enough to do new ones. Everyday he becomes more of an active participant instead of just enjoying the thrill of me tossing him around.

Once Miles was old enough to hold his head up (about 10  months) I began biking again with him on the back in a child seat.  As he grew bigger and gained more weight, he provided more resistance. As time passed he would also be able to endure longer and longer rides and we eventually worked our way up to 3o miles in one of the several charity bike rides we have done for various causes.  I credit this more than anything else for being able to lose 45 pounds in 6 months.

Don’t get me wrong, i’m no fitness guru, and while these exercises wont necessarily get you totally ripped up, they will make you sweat. I really dislike the gym, and although I love yoga I just don’t have as much time as I’d like to dedicate to my practice.  By incorporating my son into my workouts I’ve created not only a healthy routine, but something we both look forward to instead of it feeling like a chore.

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