A couple of months ago, I had a big realization. My 6 year old daughter came to me with a note saying the following –
“To Dad, I was wondering if you can get any stronger? Can you? One day I would like to see you get fit and how you do it. Cos I would like to get fit like you. You are a great Dad to me, love Abbey”
The realization I had was the fact that what I do with my running may seem like a selfish pleasure at times. To a certain extent it is, but it is far bigger and far more important than that. It’s about the influence we have on our friends around us and our families that is the most important thing. If I were a lazy slob who sat around the house all day, I’m sure my daughter would still love me. She would just think that was a normal thing for Dads to do. But what she sees is a man, who by the time anyone else in the house gets out of bed, has already been out for a good run. Regardless of how cold it is.
When it comes time for her to start training (when she chooses to start), it will just be a much easier transition, as she believes, that is just what people do. This is a big motivator for me to keep on running.
She also said recently she wants to cut out junk food from her diet. She is now 7. How many 7 year olds would you hear voluntarily say that? Yes we do have junk food in the house, I just choose not to eat it, and she knows that. As a result, I heard just the other day when her Mum took her to a friends birthday party, she refused the lemonade (or whatever other fizzy drink it happened to be) and asked for a glass of water. Apparently the look on the ladies face who offered it was just pure shock!
But it doesn’t end there. She was offered some sweets before lunch, but declined them as she would prefer to eat something healthy first. Now I have not forced this on her at all. Parties are parties and as far as I am concerned, she should just go there and be a kid. You don’t want them to be singled out as the weird kid who doesn’t eat lollies or cake. That would just ruin them emotionally. But to know that at that age, she already knows about the implications of a bad diet compared to a good diet, just from seeing what her Dad does, is just priceless.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not preaching about how good a Dad I am, far from it. In many areas I have a lot to work on, none of us are perfect. It’s just great to know that I am setting my girl Abbey, and her younger sister Ava, up for a life many will never know exists. A life where fish and chips or ordering food through a window is a (very) rare treat. A life where food doesn’t automatically come with a toy or some other sneaky incentive to keep you coming back. A life where food is various colours, not just that shade of whitish yellow that most of the take away shops offer
Have a think about who you are influencing. Is it in a positive way or a negative way. It may not be your children, especially if you don’t have any, but think of someone you know who could do with a little good influence and pass on some good habits to them. The feeling you get from doing this is far greater than any personal achievement you could imagine.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” Lao Tse