Expectant Dad – be prepared, your health & fitness

by pew

new dad, health/fitness

As an expectant father you will be focusing all your attention on the upcoming birth of your child and the changes occurring within your wife/partner. But there is one thing that is actually more important, that is the state of YOUR health and fitness.

How you will maintain this not only in the run up to the birth but through the first few months after birth will effect the quality of all of your lives. If you can achieve a high level of fitness, not just physically but emotionally too, then you will be that much more available for the needs of your wife and child.

So, how do you go about this? There are many ways to ensure your body, mind and spirit are tuned and running correctly. To name a few; physical exercise, proper nutrition, meditation, yoga, good sleep, massage and hiking. The idea is to work on the complete package not just on the physical. You can be a very active sportsman but that doesn’t mean your emotional state is fit and healthy too.

Exercise

Any form of exercise will be good for you. Done on a regular basis it will ensure you not only give your heart a workout but that you produce endorphins that will help you feel happy and sleep better. Be aware that once your baby is born you will be doing a lot of bending over and picking up. This may sound a bit petty to focus on at this point but be assured if you’re not in shape you can easily pull a muscle or slip something. Then you’ll be no good to anyone. So, strengthening and flexibility should also be a consideration.

For me personally I found yoga to be the best thing. At the time I was an active squash and soccer player,  very fit. But I always had issues with lower back problems, my hamstrings were so tight. So, I decided to take up yoga. Now, I’m sure a lot of people have this idea that yoga is about sitting around and humming and that it is for women only. But that is so far from the truth.

There are many different types of yoga but I chose Bikram yoga. There seems to be an explosion of Bikram studios opening up around the world so you should be able to find one near you. Check out their website. The reason I chose Bikram yoga was that it gave me a full workout as well as working on my flexibility and giving me mental and emotional focus.  Also, it is one that is more popular with men.

Bikram yoga is unique in that it is performed in a room heated to 40 degrees Celsius. The class duration is 90 minutes and you are dripping sweat from the start. You get an unbelievable cardio and strength workout and your flexibility improves in no time. I found it to be the perfect all round exercise for me.  You will sleep like a baby after every class! It’s not for everyone, you either love it or hate it. If not go for another type of, gentler yoga.

Nutrition

I could write a whole book on nutrition but will only touch on it here. However, this is one of the most important factors in ensuring we are healthy. If you exercise but eat badly how much good are you actually doing for yourself? Not much, you are what you eat as they say. This is what I mean about looking at the whole package. So, how do you ensure you are eating healthy. There are a myriad of books and DVD’s out there telling us what we should or should not eat and drink. And probably people get put off trying anything even before they finish one of these.

One book will tell you one thing and another something else. So, a lot of it is the author’s personal opinion. You don’t want a complicated guide here, so I’ll keep it simple.

  • Ensure there are lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet, I mean lots!
  • Meat & Fish are ok, but not every day. Try for Organic and limit the amount in a week
  • Take it easy with coffee and alcohol, definitely not every day.
  • Avoid sugary products as much as possible and especially processed foods. I believe sugar to be one of the worst ingredients in our food today.
  • Make your food from scratch, fresh.
  • Limit bread and pasta in the week.
  • Drink lots of water and fresh juices. I personally recommend a shot of fresh wheatgrass juice everyday. It will cleanse you and give you energy like you’ve never known.
  • Avoid all fast foods

Following this simple guide will ensure you generally are eating healthily. There is no need to go for drastic measures and cut out everything, besides if you try that you will undoubtedly fail.

Meditation

Physical exercise, yoga and good nutrition work on all three important factors – body, mind and spirit. However, to really get into mind and spirit I would recommend meditation. Meditation will quieten your mind and bring you in contact with your true self.

Again, the subject of meditation requires a whole book and indeed there are many out there. It is a simple thing by definition but very difficult to achieve. Your mind will constantly interrupt you and start you thinking about what you have to do at work or similar useless things. Practice is the key. Do not set your targets too high, just try to achieve some sort of peace and relaxation with it.

Here’s a simple breathing meditation ;

Choose a comfortable spot to sit, a chair is a good one. Make sure you are warm and will not be disturbed. The idea is to ensure your back is straight that’s why a chair is good. With your eyes half open and half closed concentrate on your breathing, preferably through your nose. The focus is on the breath coming in and then leaving through your nostrils. Your mind will be very busy, let all those thoughts come but let them just pass through. Do not attach to any of those thoughts and go into ‘conversation’. Always return to the breath, keep doing this until your mind settles on the breath.

At first this will be very hard, it will take practice. It can take a long time. But even doing this you are progressing, you cannot fail in this. Although this is only a small fraction of what meditation is all about this breathing meditation is very powerful.

Ensuring you are fit in body, mind and spirit will not only make you feel great it will make you a better father and husband. You will feel strong enough and motivated enough to take on the pressures of parenthood. You will be a pleasure to be around and your energy will be addictive. The time that your child is born is a very physically and emotionally challenging one. You need to not only make sure you’re ok but also that your wife and child are ok.

If you start early enough then come the time you’ll know that you are in perfect shape for this event and then you can focus on the other two without having to worry about yourself. Plus, you’ll feel good and you’ll enjoy it more. So, start today and implement a health regime solely focusing on what you need to achieve in order to be there for your family. Ready for when the life you have created comes into this world.

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