Becoming a healthy inspiration – taking baby steps

Convenience is one of the most important things in making exercise a sustainable part of a parent’s life.

The are a million and three exercise regimes out there that all say they are the best for reasons x, y & z. They might be right, but if it doesn’t fit into your life then it’s worthless.

There’s a phrase out there – the best workout out is the one you actually do. The point is that the details are far less important than consistency. As a parent, to be consistent we need to easily fit it into our already busy days.

So how can you do that? Firstly get away from the idea that special equipment or people are necessary to get healthy. This idea is a barrier to getting started. All we really need to do is move more today than we did yesterday.

By starting small and adding a bit at a time we can build little health habits that are much easier to maintain. One of the simplest ways to add more movement to your day is extra walking:

  • Take the stairs at work instead of the lift. If going all the way to your floor is too much, start with how ever many floors you can and add a floor each week. The most is important thing is to walk the stairs first then get the lift, you are far more likely to keep it up that way.
  • If you take public transport for a small part of your commute, walk it instead. It’ll probably be quicker than the time you would have spent queueing, pushing and having armpits in your face.
  • On non-work days, if you can walk it in under 30, then walk it. This is the hardest one. Let’s face it, transporting children, their associated ‘stuff’, shopping etc on foot is not easy, but that’s also kind of the point. You get exercise pushing, carrying etc, they get to walk, run and scoot. It’s good for everyone.

None of this is particularly innovative. The main point is to take a journey you would have made while sitting/standing in one place and walk it instead.

It takes a while but eventually you will build a habit of walking instead instead of the lift, bus or car. I started taking the stairs at work a few years ago and it took about two weeks before I went to the stairs without thinking.


How about you? Any other ideas of how to sneak easy extra movement into busy parent’s day?



Yay for food

I love my children. I’ll talk about then to anyone that’s interested, I’ll also happily talk about them to people that don’t give a toss. But as, all parents know, sometimes you need to do something non-children to reset. For my wife and I that invariably means something to do with food.

Today we did just that at an incredible food festival at Brixton Village, London.

My parents took the girls for the day so we had some time almost to ourselves. I say almost as F the 8 month old milk monster came with us. He still needs his Mummy and I’m not sure my Dad’s blood pressure could handle looking after all three of them. F is easy company though and shifting from three to one child feels like a massive parenting holiday.

It was such a great day. For a £15 ticket we got a wrist band and 15 Brixton Pounds which could be used to buy treats in any of the 20 restaurants in and around Brixton market that took part. Each restaurant also offered a freebie to all ticket holders.

So we spent the day walking around a part of London that has been home to us both and brings back many fond memories while snacking on amazing food.

No better way to spend a day with (nearly) just the two of us. We made it round 11 venues, here’s a few of our favourites.

Taco time – simple, fresh and very tasty

Caribbean wings – these were delicious and hot hot hot

F’s first pub and pizza experience – he loved it

Laksa and tempura prawns – wifey’s favourite

Cheers! Raspberry cheesecake cocktails

Wine time! The snack is a grape coated in goats cheese and then pistachios. Sounds weird but it was amazing.

We came home full and happy and the girls had a fun day too. Result!

It’s the weekend – Andy’s jukebox #3

We’re gearing up for half term this weekend as I’m sure lots of you are.

We have some fun stuff planned, a bit much needed time off work for me and lots of catching up with people we struggle to see in term time.

This week we’ve been listening to something from the excellent new band Bear in Heaven and songs from the very welcome return by the wonderful Pixies.

Bear In Heaven – Autumn


The Dadly work challenge


Ours is like I imagine most houses – the start and the end are the noisiest, most stressful parts of the day. But those are usually the only bits I get with my whole family during the week, so I cherish them nonetheless. Currently my work is taking more from me than I would like and cutting into both of those times, especially the end of the day.

Career-wise it is great and all the stuff I do at work is ultimately for my wife, girls and boy. My desk is covered in pictures of all five of them and their smiling faces help me through what, at work, we would describe as “challenges”.

It’s a bizarre exchange we make as dads. So often an increase in our ability to provide for the people we love the most takes us further away from them.

I’m not particularly comfortable with it but feel there is no immediate alternative. We already live pretty frugally (or at least middle-ish class frugal) so to simply reduce my hours would leave us without enough money to pay the bills. To switch roles with my wife doesn’t make economic sense and means the children lose time with Mum instead of time with Dad.

So we make a sacrifice to pay for things the children barely notice (but are essential – food, clothes etc), and they pay for it by missing something they want and need – time with a parent.

The real challenge is to make the very best of the time we do get, which I do by making sure each of them gets some focused time each day, even if only for a few minutes. You can tell they want more, and I know I want more too.

Obviously this isn’t just a working Dad thing, but an issue for any working parent. What do you think? Any thoughts or experiences you can share? I know there are some stay at home Dad’s in the blogosphere, it would be really interesting to hear your view.

Linking up

Family Friday

What do I mean by healthy inspiration?

It’s been a couple of weeks since I brought this blog back to life and I figured it would be worth explaining exactly what I mean by the “healthy inspiration” in this site’s tagline.

If you had stumbled across this blog a few years ago* then you could be forgiven in thinking I only cared about the physical side of health, which is actually very far from the truth. That is part of the reason I’ve started writing again, to change the content of my little bit of internet from fitness bore to a better, more well rounded, view of what I actually think.

Yes, I think healthy bodies are important, but no more so than healthy minds (no less so either).

So what does that look like?

Healthy bodies:

  • To make physical exercise a welcome and enjoyed part of daily life.
  • To desire and enjoy a diet made up predominantly of real foods.**
  • To be able to recognise real foods and prepare a variety of meals made from them.

Healthy minds:

  • To have an open mind, accept and listen to ideas different from your own.
  • To take life and the challenges in it no more seriously than is strictly necessary.
  • To treat others that share this world with decency and respect.
  • To know that fueling your body with good food is important but not worth obsessing about. A life without occasional pizza and cake is a sad one.
  • Most importantly, to laugh a lot.

* A quick review of my visitor stats suggests this is highly unlikely but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
** Basically just plants and animals.

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Going all in at Saturday gymnastics

Saturday morning is gymnastics time for my eldest and I love taking her.

P is not the biggest five year old you will meet, quite the opposite. She was never destined to be big – I’m 5′ 10″ and my wife is 5′ 1 1/2″ (don’t forget the 1/2!). Sorry P, I know this is a source of frustration for you but there’s little we could do. Actually, you could try sleeping more, but that’s for another day.

The point I am slowly making is that it is very apparent when she lines up at gymnastics that she’s smaller than her peers.

She makes up for this in enthusiasm.

When the teacher says run some of the other children do so in a lacklustre it’s-too-early-on-a-Saturday way. P RUNS. When it’s time to skip she SKIPS. And so it continues all through the class.

It makes me realise what is great about this kid: she does everything at 100%. When she’s happy or excited she’s 100% in. Of course she’s exactly the same way in her less attractive behaviour, which can be spectacularly bad, but that’s the price we pay for her being awesome when she’s awesome.

P, I love ya, don’t change. Keep going all in.

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Family Friday