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Lessons learned in 2016

Slow Dad's number 1 lesson learned in 2016: If we paid as much attention to what we stick in our mouths as we do our finances, we’d be healthier.
As Christmas is a time of reflection upon the successes and lessons learned throughout the past year, I thought I’d relate one of my own lessons learned.

I’ve never spent much time thinking about diet, exercise, calories, or weight. From what I’d observed the people who did either made themselves unhappy, or were tediously obsessive about it.

My personal philosophy was to pick a pair of jeans that fit well when I started university, a time when I was active and regularly making representative teams for swimming, athletics and three different football codes. If I could fit into those jeans comfortably then all was good.

Slow Dad becomes "Fat Dad"

Roll forward 20+ years of spending more time on my backside than my feet, and driving a computer for a living.
Earlier this year my trusty pair of jeans were challenging to get on. I reached the perfectly reasonable conclusion that they must have shrunk in the wash.

During the summer I took the family on a beach holiday in Cannes. My ever subtle 4 year old son delighted in pointing at my stomach and telling me I had a “pizza baby”.

Beach holiday in Cannes, France

That evening while scrolling through photos of the day, I was floored by one showing me paddling in the ocean with my kids. Somehow I had turned into a soft, hairy, pot-bellied, greying, middle aged man! I glanced around at all the tanned, six packed, healthy looking young guys who were busy chatting up pretty bikini girls. It occurred to me for the first time I was no longer one of them.

Slow Dad had become “Fat Dad”.

Don't complain, do something about it

I was not happy, so I made four simple lifestyle changes:

  1. Most nights I enjoyed a glass (or two) of coping juice. It turns out that contains roughly the same calorie intake as a Big Mac and a Mars Bar. I stopped drinking at home.
  2. I swapped my usual burrito or toastie lunch for a Pret salad (without the dressing), which I purchased from an outlet requiring a 30-40 minute roundtrip walk.
  3. I’ve never been a big junk food person, but started saying no to anything from the “not everyday food” list.
  4. I paid attention to the portion sizes, eating until I had consumed enough rather than cleaning my plate.
4 months later I had shed 10% of my body weight, returning to my university weight. My trusty old jeans fit comfortably again.

Bucket of wine

Christmas party season commenced. I found myself going out more often than usual, and drinking more often that I had been. Within a fortnight I regained 1/3 of the weight I had lost, and my jeans felt tight again.

I stopped drinking again, and within a month I returned to my university weight.

Lessons Learned

Grocery bills are much smaller when they don’t contain nice bottles of wine.

The only dietary changes were switching to salads at lunch, with the walk to get them the only addition to my exercise routine. Fad diets and gym memberships aren’t necessary.

To celebrate I’m taking the kids back to Cannes this summer, this time without my "pizza baby".

So what?

If we paid as much attention to what we stick in our mouths as we do our finances, we’d be healthier.

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