You all have heard about Boiled Frog Syndrome right?  Put a frog in a pan of boiling water and it jumps out immediately because of the immediate pain.  But put it in tepid water and slowly turn up the heat and the frog will cook to death because it won’t notice the gradual changes in temperature.  I’m not sure if it’s true, but The Syndrome is universally acknowledged as an analogy worth knowing.  You don’t want to be caught unaware that you’re boiling to death and one day wake up and your metaphorically-mixed goose is cooked.

I remember coming back from vacation one year.  We had purchased a new video recorder. We took videos of our young family frolicking in the surf, we were new parents with our little kiddies and “HOLY CRAP!!! Who’s THAT FAT TUB?!!!”  I couldn’t believe I had gained so much weight. We were in our 30’s and inactivity had snuck up on us. The busy days and exhausting nights of constant management of the lives of little people. But that video, what an eye opener! From that point on we turned it around. Keep in mind, you may recall I had run marathons, competed in triathlons, at one point was a black belt in karate, and felt like I was still a young stud. Ahem, the facts didn’t support my self image. I had become near boiled and, fortunately for me, got going again before my lifestyle calcified. I thought I was doing great because when I looked around and saw some really overweight people, I looked good. I was delusional. Interestingly, this period was one of the few times I wasn’t in an Ironmen group.

It didn’t have to be that way.  Since then I’ve learned that leading the family is more about how you model family identity rather than providing and protecting. Family character is about trust, honesty, openness, adventure-mindedness, integrity, perseverance, and HEALTH. How do you want your family to be characterized? It starts with you and your mindset. By leading in physical exercise, by devising a family plan for being active, you are actively choosing to be a healthy family. This leadership has no downside: Your kids will absolutely learn about themselves, about their own limits, based on how you model behavior and lead them in activity. Your wife will benefit by having a husband who leads in creating outdoor activities. You’ll be conscious about eating habits and hypocrisy. By modeling health, you’ll be establishing a pattern for your kids that will be their baseline.

Bike rides, hikes, camping, health events (I had my entire family enter a 5k).  Even though we mostly walked, it was great. In addition, the kids played soccer and I played in the backyard with them. We played football in the street and got other families and played at the park. To my regret, there were too many times when I turned my kids down for going outside and playing. Major mistake. I could have and should have done a lot more.

What if your wife isn’t into the physical stuff? Do you just leave her behind? No clear answer here. But I would sell her on the vision of a happy, healthy, active family and how her behavior will model how your daughters are going to grow and which kind of woman the boys will be attracted to. Leadership doesn’t condemn, but encourages small successes. So take the kids to the park and invite small participations and respond without guilt if the answer is no(t now).

So for you Dads, setting goals about losing 5 pounds by running 3 times a week is good, don’t get me wrong. But figuring out how you can design a plan so that your family name is synonymous with health and activities is a magnitude better.  Be strategic about health. It’ll pay dividends for you over and over again.  1) you’ll be different than just about everyone else in the country; 2) you’ll push your known boundaries; and 3) you’ll be establishing for yourself, your (future) mate, and your (future) kids that you are characterized by creative health. Better to be intentional than boiled.

To your healthy abundance,

Dave Marr

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