Table of Contents
- Intro to Goals
- My 16 Goals
- 1. 150g of protein
- 2. 90% whole food diet
- 3. 1,500 steps outside
- 4. CrossFit
- 5. Counseling
- 6. 100% sleep 1-2x week
- 7. Limit supplements
- 8. Avoid seed oils
- 9. Sun exposure
- 10. Limit artificial sugar
- 11. Cold therapy
- 12.Water: drink half body weight in oz
- 13. Chiropractor care
- 14. Clear head of ideas
- 15. Standing desk
- 16. Have fun, socialize!
- Future goals
- Dad’s final thoughts
The picture I chose above for this article was no accident.
These healthy goals are about my kids. And their kids. And of course, my partner in life, Sarah my wife. Adopting certain daily and weekly “metrics” to ensure I’m healthy and doing the best I can to achieve optimal health is no longer about just me.
Intro to My Healthy Dad Goals
When I peer into the future, I see myself playing sports with my kids. Going on physically challenging adventures. Being a source of wisdom, peace, and guidance as they figure things out. And really, just enjoying all of life without physical limitations, mental blocks, unresolved family of origin trauma, financial constraints, and whatever else that’ll stop me from doing whatever I want.
Sorry kids, my knees can’t handle backpacking across New Zealand for 3 days.Things I never want to say
In order to be ready for my “future self”, I’ve created and adopted these goals for optimal health. I try my best to follow most of them daily, but also take a week view when life happens — which it does. My hope is that you gain a goal or two from this list and apply it to your own life to help you be a strong Dad for your kids, their kids, and your wife, now and down the road.
Note: though many items on this list could be categorized as self care ideas for Dads, to me they’re more intentional habits and guiding principles.
My 16 Goals to [continually] be a Healthy Dad
A few notes about these goals before we jump in.
- They are not numbered by priority, it’s an organic and running list
- I have not categorized, but they all fall within a few buckets including; nutrition, exercise, mental health, sleep, and natural recovery. There are a few outliers.
Let’s start with something key to every Dad’s nutrition, protein!
1. Get 150 grams of Protein daily
Protein requirements via the government have been significantly underestimated. I didn’t realize I wasn’t eating enough protein until I actually started eating enough protein. I love how Dr. Gabrielle Lyon approaches society’s lack of protein intake with her Muscle-Centric Medicine belief:
We aren’t over fat, we are under muscled.
Some sources say 1g per 1lb of body weight daily, but I’m 200+ pounds and that’s A LOT of protein to consistently eat every single day. Shooting for a minimum of 150 grams of protein daily is an achievable goal — especially if you’re a carnivore and eat lots of red meat. Mmm, steak.
- Subscribe to Butcher Box. Put your 100% grass-fed meat on autopilot. Get FREE MEAT with this link!
- Meat sticks. Also, 100% grass-fed. Always have these available at home, in your vehicle, and while traveling. I eat 1-2 a day, which is 9 or 18 g of easy protein. I love & trust the Chomps brand.
- Lots of eggs & milk! Pasture-raised eggs + milk (raw, if you have access) is a staple.
- Add collagen powder to your coffee. 1 scoop gives you 7-8g of collagen protein! Get yo’self one of these coffee mugs for dads and obtain easy protein with little change to your routine. If you like flavored coffee, try vanilla multi collagen powder (below).
2. Eat a 90% Whole Food Diet
For me, this has been the most difficult metric to consistently get right. I grew up on Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies, terrible cereal (think Fruity Pebbles), Pepsi, and daily homemade cookies (my Mom is quite the baker).
25 years later, you won’t find me eating this stuff 90% of the time. And that’s the key here. I’m not going to be 100% perfect, but I aim to be 90% perfect which allows me the space to unapologetically devour ice cream and donuts with my kids, get my pizza fix weekly, and crush my favorite Siete Chipotle BBQ chips.
3. Get 1,500+ steps (1 mile) daily outside
I spend most of the work week in front of a big 30″ monitor, so being intentional to get outside and walk the neighborhood and enjoy nature is critical to my mental health. A brisk 1-mile walk is 1,500 steps and takes just 15-22 minutes a day — it takes me exactly 17 1/2 minutes. I try to do this every day, even on my CrossFit days, and come to really enjoy the peacefulness and energy boost.
Take the thinking out of this and map out an exact 1-mile route in your neighborhood or near your office by using onthegomap.com. Also, get yourself a very basic step counter if you don’t already have one — here’s one for under $25:
4. CrossFit 3x a week
A few weeks after my first daughter was born, Hazel, I had the crazy idea to join a CrossFit gym. And it was one of the best decisions of my life. More to come on why I believe Dads should include CrossFit in their regular fitness routine.
I firmly believe that CrossFit has molded my fitness to handle and recover from all the rough and tumble play with my two kids.
5. Talk to my Counselor 1x month
I was first exposed to counseling at the age of 29, but I wish I would have started sooner. Both my kids started before they were 7 years old to help with the divorce in 2010.
Though I, unfortunately, have major harm in my counseling journey, I know the good and restorative benefits that come from talking to a qualified licensed mental health counselor. In particular, understanding your family of origin. Family of what? If this concept is new to you, this 30-minute podcast with Adam Young may change your life, forever. Seriously.
As of today, I’ve been seeing the same mental health counselor for 5 years. She’s my oracle.
6. Obtain 100% sleep need 1-2x weekly
I’ve always been an excellent deep sleeper. I also can fall asleep in record time, most of the time under 90 seconds — ask my wife. Falling asleep, and staying asleep, is fortunately not an issue for me.
However, the amount of sleep ebbs and flows over the course of the week and I monitor and measure this closely with the Whoop band, a can’t-live-without wearable device. On CrossFit days that wake me at 5 am, I’ll only get ~3 hours of deep (REM + SWS) sleep because I’m typically up till 11 pm. Though I feel awesome on workout days, I accumulate sleep debt and my body needs a plan to achieve 100% sleep need. My goal is to obtain 100% of my sleep need, one or two times weekly.
One more plug for the Whoop band. It helped me diagnose my hypotension headaches!
7. Limit Supplements
Here’s my rule on supplements:
Only take supplements if I can’t, or unwilling, to get those nutrients from food.
I’ve never been a big supplement guy outside of whey protein (I don’t take anymore). Once I became CMO of CB Supplements, my perspective changed once I started to research and understand how shady and misleading most supplements are. These days, I only take 4 kinds of supplements daily:
- Organ Meats.
- Magnesium. Since I avoid plants heavy in magnesium, I’m analyzing whether I’m actually deficient and need to supplement. More on magnesium and carnivore diet by Dr. Robert Kiltz.
8. Avoid Seed Oils (though difficult)
If your one takeaway from these goals is this one, I’d be thrilled.
Seed oils are toxic and wreak havoc on your body and brain. However, they are an ingredient in nearly everything at grocery stores and restaurants. I’ve written extensively on how to avoid seed oils here. Give it a read, it may open your eyes to food in a way you’ve never seen before.
9. 10 minutes of Sun Exposure before 10 am
This is a new one for me, and for someone who loves the comfort of my dark home office, it’s critical.
Sun exposure early in the day helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which in turn helps you sleep. This simple activity also helps your body manufacture Vitamin D — and Vitamin D has specific benefits for men. I find it boosts my energy and mood. This is a low-commitment, big pay-off healthy dad goal.
Don’t wear sunglasses, the sun’s rays need to hit your eyes. But also, don’t stare into the sun silly.
10. Limit Artificial Sugar
But, here’s how I’ve adapted:
- Natural Sugar. Enjoy sweet foods via fruit, 1o0% maple syrup, and local raw and unfiltered honey — it’s just as satisfying (but better for you!)
- Control environment. Don’t regularly buy candies/cookies and bring them into the house.
- Reserve the sugar. Save trips to our fave ice cream or donut shop for Saturdays, vacations, & special events. As you know Dads, there’s always something to celebrate!
This approach helped me cut out a ton of artificial sugar, and it feels great.
Ensure the maple syrup is 100%!
11. Cold Water exposure daily
Guys, cold therapy WORKS. It’s not only a critical activity for my physical health but my mental as well. It completely zaps any morning fog I may wake up with. Cold exposure’s benefits are well documented:
Cold exposure increases the production of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine (focus, attention, vigilance, mood). As a result, cold therapy can produce a feeling of calm, happiness, and well-being.
Though I wish I had time to sit in an ice bath daily, I take a dual approach every week:
- Cold showers in the morning
- Fully submerged ice baths, at or below 58 degrees (this is key), 1-2x a week for 5-8 minutes
There are some incredibly fancy and pricey cold plunge products out there, including the Ice Barrel and Cold Plunge for a whopping $5,000! I’d recommend starting cheap, first, to develop a routine. Go to your local hardware store and pick up the Rubbermaid 100-gallon tank (shown in pic above) for under $125. Or, get one from Amazon below. Each ice bath will cost you ~$10 of ice (5 bags) to drop the water to 58 degrees.
12. Water: Drink half body weight in oz
We all know to drink more water. Here are two things I’ve learned about my water intake:
- Drink half your body weight in water. For me, that’s over 100oz daily.
- Up your salt intake to avoid stripping away electrolytes. I use a supplement. More on the FDA’s (mis)guidance on sodium.
Here are some 100oz+ bottles on Amazon to help with this goal:
13. Chiropractor Care 2x month
I first started seeing a chiropractor regularly in 2019 because my mattress sucked and it f’d up my back. I had stiffness and aches that needed correcting.
Once I was fixed up, I kept going for maintenance. Why? Because my mobility felt awesome and came to realize chiro care is more than just alleviating existing back/neck pain.
You are as old as your spine.Chinese Proverb
Maintenance adjustments take a few minutes each session and come with an array of benefits, why wouldn’t you find a local chiro and incorporate this into your life? My goal is twice a month, and I look forward to every adjustment.
14. Constantly clear my head of Ideas
This goal may seem odd at first, but I believe it impacts a Dad’s ability to be present. When you’re constantly distracted with big ideas, and don’t have a system for those ideas, it’ll consume your mind and attention. It’s our responsibility to flush it out!
My system is rooted in using an app to capture and organize my ideas. In this comparison guide, you’ll find many options to choose from.
Remember, ideas are worthless until you act on them. Keeping them swirling in your head does the idea, and your family, no good.
15. Standing Desk
“Sitting is the new smoking”, they say.
I’m not quite ready to go to that extreme, but there is enough evidence out there to conclude that sitting on my butt for 8+ hours, 5+ days a week, will negatively impact my posture, circulation, muscles, energy level, and overall mood.
I can’t live without my UpDesk electronic standing desk. I have 2 positions programmed: sitting and standing. It takes less than 13 seconds to switch to either position. If I feel my energy or focus slipping, I immediately switch to standing and it reorients me. It’s like a mild slap in the face. 🙂
I toggle back and forth throughout a normal day, but I do have a single rule: STAND for all meetings under 60 minutes. Thinking on your feet is real stuff, science shows cognitive function improves when standing.
16. Have Fun & Socialize!
Data shows that people who commit to socialization improve their quality life and it impacts longevity. Unless you’re Vincent van Gogh who used his solitude to create (he still experienced loneliness), you should ensure having regular fun with people is a priority. Social isolation is a real thing with real health implications.
There are times to be serious with structure and discipline, and there are times to balance out that grind with shenanigans. My homemade DIY Ultimate Warrior costume is proof!
Future Goals I’m exploring
I don’t have it all figured it. Here are a few goals I’m still working through.
- Stretching (daily). I know this is important, I do a little, but not enough.
- Oxalate intake under 200mg. Oxalates are animal acids found in plants. Since I stick with Animal-based foods 90% of the time (see whole food diet above), by practice I’m naturally avoiding oxalate-heavy foods such as leaves, legumes, and seeds. I’m early on in this research, but if this piques your interest read up on Sally K. Norton’s oxalate research and her book Toxic Superfoods.
Dad’s Final Thoughts
I believe becoming and staying a healthy Dad is a choice. It doesn’t happen automatically or with good intentions.
We can “pay it forward” with the decisions we make today so that we’re physically and mentally strong in 5, 10, and even 50 years — God willing. Being a healthy Dad takes planning, goals, discipline, focus, and execution. Just like in our careers.
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Can you win at Dadhood AND everywhere else in life? I'm just crazy enough to believe we can. With the right knowledge, hacks, habits, and motivation — we can crush it ALL!
Eric Sharp is the founder of Healthy Dad Hacks. He married the love of his life (Sarah) and proud Dad of a blended family (Hazel & Roman). When not thinking about being a better Dad, he enjoys; CrossFit, entrepreneurship, eating carnivore, learning and writing about his findings, staying loyal to his Chicago Bears, music, and fancy sneakers.
[Picture: Turkey Trot 2021]