I wasn’t successful with my calorie budget yesterday, not by a long shot.  But I did hit my walking goal and then some.  15,131 steps according to my FitBit, which it calculates out to be 7.63 miles.  So, yeah.  I feel pretty good about that.

Part of the secret is the new “family walk” program my wife and I have instituted.  Every day, after dinner, we’re going to pack up our son and our dog and go for a walk.  Some days it’ll be around the neighborhood, and some days it’ll be at a park.  Yesterday, we went to Woodland Mound, and had some drama.  See, my son wanted to walk our dog – something we were hesitant about because the dog is not the best with strangers.  He’s a 17 pound Cocker Spaniel mix of some sort with four teeth left in his 12ish year old head, but he thinks he’s a wolf and barks and lunges at strangers.  But, since there was nobody around, we let my son take him and run to the nearest tree and back.

Unfortunately, my dog got all excited and tried to run around my son.  This resulted in him tripping and scraping his knee.  He was fine, more or less, until he saw the blood oozing out.  Then he panicked and started crying and wanting to go home.  So, while mom held him and comforted him, it fell to me to walk back to the car and fetch the first aid kit.  An alcohol wipe and a bandage and a couple of hugs later, and we were back to walking.

Crisis averted.

Not A Bad Day, All Things Considered

Well, that seems to have been taken care of.  My son’s feeling a lot better, now – it was some sort of stomach bug and, by the time I’d normally have picked him up from school he was doing great.  Full of energy, not really understanding why his food was limited to toast and crackers, and wanting to play.

Honestly, it wasn’t a bad time yesterday.  Except for all the effort I had to put into cleaning the carpet, that is.  We watched Godzilla movies, and cuddled with the dog, and played with his toys, and had a dad/son bonding day.  If it had been a scheduled vacation day, instead of him being sick, it would have been enormous fun.

Also, I hit my calorie budget!  2,000, out of a 2,500 goal.  No, I didn’t get my exercise or walking in, but I had reasons (sick child).  But I’ll focus on the things I did manage, thank you very much.

Quality Time

My son and I get home yesterday, and we’re going through our normal routine.  Get the dog out, do his homework, that kind of stuff.  Afterwards, he asks me if I’ll play with him.  “Not yet,” I say.  “I’ve got to do my exercises first.”  He nods at that, because it’s something he knows that I do.  So I go back in my bedroom and change into my sweats, and he grabs some of his Legos and sits on the couch and starts playing.  Then, as I’m pulling on my t-shirt, he knocks on the door and comes in.  “I’m going to play back here, so you don’t have to be alone.”

I don’t mind telling you I melted.  Just a little.  But then, he starts getting interested in what I’m doing.  “Are you going to do push-ups?”

“Yes,” I tell him.

“Are you going to do backwards push-ups?”

“…I don’t know what those are, son.”  So he demonstrates by lying flat on his back, bracing his hands on the ground, and using his arms to lift his back and shoulders off the ground.  Honestly, it looks like a legitimate exercise.  Then he helped me count repetitions, and asked me if he could help put my weights (10 pound hand weights) away, and generally hung around and did things with me.

Yeah.  It was a good day.


Yesterday, I finally remembered to do something I’ve been promising my son I’d do with him for nearly six months.  Honestly, I feel a little bad about it.  It’s one of those things where he asks if we can go and do it, and I tell him we’ll do it later, and then we both forget about it for a week.

That thing was taking a ball into the tennis court at our condo complex and playing… kickball?  “Mysonball”, more accurately.  Because the game involved him throwing the ball over the net, and hitting the fence, and declaring he had scored a point.  And then I had to kick it back.  We went at this for about 20 minutes, with me kicking the ball and him running after it and me walking to go get it when he threw it back, and he laughed so hard he nearly fell over.  The final score was “all the points!” to “eleventy hojillion and three”.

He scored “all the points!”, so he won.  But I had a great time with my son, so I think I won too.

That Was Halloween, That Was Halloween

I’m really quite proud of myself.  Because yesterday was Halloween, a holiday – here in the States, at least – associated as much with gorging yourself on candy as with the thinning of the veil or with monsters and spooks and scary stories.  And yet, I came in under my calorie budget for the first time in… well… I don’t really know, to be honest.  And I refuse to go and look it up because it would be depressing.

Instead, let’s focus on the positives!  And the positives are that taking my son trick-or-treating allowed me to meet and exceed my walking goal!  Granted he’s only six, and so we’re not quite into the realm of trick or treating all night and strategizing with Google Maps to plan out the most efficient route to get candy, but we walked a decent amount before he sort of pooped out and we joined a family friend to hand out candy.

Yes, I did snack.  And I budgeted for it – there was just no way I was going to eat no candy, after all.  So, overall, everything worked out.

Exercise Time Is Family Time

The secret to getting my son to go walking with me, I’ve learned, is to avoid framing things as a request.  “Would you like to go for a walk with me?”, if asked while he’s watching The Cat In The Hat on PBS, invariably gets answered “No”.  But, if I just say something like “go get your shoes on, we’re going to take Bosley for a walk”, he excitedly runs around and gets all his walking gear – his sandals, his scabbard and wooden sword, his nerf gun, and so on.

Bear in mind that I wouldn’t force him to go if he said he didn’t want to. The secret here is to make it fun, and forcing him to do it isn’t fun.  (The one exception to this is when my wife and I are both going on the walk, since he’s not old enough to stay home by himself.)

Once we get out walking, another key to keeping him excited about it is to let him choose where we walk.  Generally speaking, this means walking around our neighborhood.  Why do I let him choose?  Because it doesn’t matter to me where we walk, so long as we are walking, and because it lets him get out and explore.  Because of this we end up walking on retaining walls, and checking out the tennis court (where he wants to go play), and walking over to his kindergarten so he can see if any of his friends are still there (generally they aren’t, not at 5:30 at night), and chasing small rock lizards before rolling down a hill and getting covered with grass.

In other words, we have a good time.  And, equally importantly, I’m getting both of us to think of exercise as a fun thing you go and do with your family (instead of a tedious and painful thing you do by yourself, and get done as fast as possible).  We have no set deadlines other than needing to be back to get him ready for bed, so we walk until he asks if we can go back because he’s getting tired (which generally happens between the half mile and three-quarter mile mark).  Then we’ll play a board game (his current favorite is Thin Ice) or watch a cartoon, and then get ready for bed.

It’s nothing dramatic, true.  But it’s a good day.  And it was a good reminder that all of this exercise is being done for a reason, and that I need to stop getting so worked up over a few setbacks.  Because weight comes and goes, but memories like this will last a lifetime.

0.01 miles per minute

Things are starting to get nicely back on track – I hit all of my goals yesterday except for my calorie budget.  That’s my walking (a little over six miles), my workout and stretching goals, everything.  And it feels good, even if I wasn’t sure it did while I was working out.

Part of achieving my walking goal was thanks to my son.  We went for a family walk after dinner last night, and when we got home he wanted to play.  “Can you play with me, daddy?” were his exact words, and I’m a sucker for that sort of thing.  So I sit on the couch expecting him to come back out of his room with his Star Wars figures, and he walks out with his wooden sword and shield and axe.  “You can use the axe!”

So we went outside.  Because, let’s be serious here, swinging wooden axes and swords around in the living room is a recipe for a broken television.  Or computer monitor.  Or lamp.  Or all of them.  Once outside, we spent the next fifteen minutes circling each other with sword and axe, or throwing his frisbee shield at each other, or just wrestling.  At the end, when it was time to start getting him ready for bed, I noticed that I’d added 0.15 miles to my walking.  Which means, in other words, playing with my son is good for 0.01 miles per minute.

It is, perhaps, not the most efficient form of exercise – when I walk, I hit around a 20 minute mile these days.  But it’s the form of exercise that certainly builds the best memories!