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Heavy Meddle: Help! I Have Small Children And No Time To Exercise

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Dearest Readers,

I received this letter several weeks ago, but given the birth of our third child last week, it was clear I needed to answer this question now. You’ll see why below. In the meantime, let me take this opportunity to thank all the readers who wrote in to congratulate us on Rosalie. My wife and I appreciate the love.

Also, for those of you who’ve been considering sending in a question, please take the plunge at: I may not have the right answer, but I’ll certainly make myself look like an idiot trying to pretend I do.

Love from all us Almonds,

Dear Steve,

As a new parent, I find it increasingly difficult to find the time to exercise and stay healthy.

Do you have any innovative suggestions for slowing or reversing the growth of man boobs?


Chesty Morgan

Dear Chesty,

Your question is, of course, painfully germane. As an “elderly” parent, I stagger to the bathroom mirror each morning and stare into it, sometimes for minutes at a time, trying to figure out if I am dead or simply having a bad body day.

Let me add, unnecessarily, that the early years of parenting inevitably involve sleep deprivation, extreme frustration, a surfeit of leftover foods, most of them starchy, and a general exhaustion-driven tendency toward what we might call "physiological drift." So you’re definitely in the at-risk category.

Sadly, I do not have any “innovative” suggestions for you. I will leave that to the for-profit gurus of the national Fitness Industry.

What I will say, based on my own experiences, is that efforts to remain healthy fail for one basic reason: because people aren’t honest with themselves. They set unrealistic goals and stick with them for a few fervent weeks, then get tired of the struggle and wind up shot-gunning Lucky Charms straight from the box.

As an “elderly” parent, I stagger to the bathroom mirror each morning and stare into it, sometimes for minutes at a time, trying to figure out if I am dead or simply having a bad body day.

My advice is to identify the forms of exercise and healthy eating that you find most enjoyable (i.e. least onerous). I, for example, get bored just reading the word “exercise.” But I love playing squash, even though it is strictly forbidden in the Torah. People at my gym sometimes gather outside the court where I’m playing to point and laugh, but they are not laughing at my mannery glands.

I’ve also learned over the years that exercise is one way to keep depression at bay, so make it a priority.

But contrary to the deluge of propaganda emanating from the aforementioned Fitness Industry, exercise isn’t enough to take you off the C-cup watch list. Diet is most of the ballgame.

So again: find the healthy stuff you like to eat and make sure there’s a lot of it in your house and not a lot of delicious crap because you will always (always) eat the delicious crap in your house. This is why there are six Tupperware containers full of homemade lentil soup in my freezer. Because I actually love it. Not as much as Lucky Charms, but close.

Eating should be a pleasure, not a punishment. Life, as a rule, should be a pleasure not a punishment.

I hope this advice helps you remain svelte, Chesty. But obviously if it doesn’t, please send photos. ♥

Editor's Note: Check back on Wednesday for another installment of Heavy Meddle. In the meantime, what about you? Need any advice? Are you struggling with an existential crisis? An etiquette issue? Mild forms of social self-recrimination? Steve "Heavy Meddle" Almond can help. Unburden yourself. Email us.

This program aired on July 1, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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