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Buy fitness; Buy it for life

Do you hear it? That clock ticking? It's almost maddening sometimes.

Maybe only expectant fathers and first-time homeowners can hear the telltale tock.

In full-fledged nesting mode, I've been pushing myself to my very limits for weeks now. Weeding, sanding, stripping, staining, painting, building, installing, ordering, hanging. You name it, I've either done it, or it's on my to-do list.

But a dozen or so people have been steadfast in reminding me that this is going to be our home for years to come. The list doesn't need completing today.

Well, if that isn't a perfect parallel for what I've learned so far from my diet, as part of The Naturals series.

The results have been phenomenal. Of the 10 pounds I've lost over the past 3 weeks, 9 of them are fat, lowering my body-fat percentage from 29.4 to 25.3. I've added 2 pounds of lean mass, despite – aside from work on the nest – not doing a whole lot more than I did before this diet.

But what if it was going more slowly? What if my vitals don't budge over the next few weeks? Well, I'm just fine with that. I'm cool like Fonzie with that because, first now, at the age of 33, I've come to terms with the fact that this is my body for the rest of my life. It doesn't matter what happened today, or in the past month.

I'm not in this thing for momentary thrills anymore. I'm in it for the lifestyle. Which brings us to the soapbox portion of this column.

We need to teach that kind of lifestyle to our kids.

God bless my mom and dad. On my grading scale, they get a 99 percent as parents. But when the 9-year-old picky little kid version of me said, "I don't want to eat that," my mom accommodated me with meat and potatoes.

Some 25 years later, I adore vegetables, and not just for their nutritional value. I even like eating them, and I'm looking forward to giving my girls the ultimatum: eat the veggies, or go to bed hungry.

I know the drum I'm beating right now is pock-marked, to the point the skin is ready to break, but fixing our nation's obesity problem begins at home, with parents teaching their kids accountability. Knowing what our kids are packing in their lunch is as important as knowing who they're hanging out with.

Newman athletic trainer Andy Accardi – who needs to start getting a byline credit in these summer series' stories – does a nice job of spelling out the uphill battle parents must brave, even if he borrows it from one of his favorite documentaries, Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me":

In the course of a year, our kids will be exposed to about 10,000 advertisements for food. In that same year, what if parents managed to sit down with their kids at all three meals, every day, and talk about nutrition and discuss what those ads are feeding us? Yeah, that's only 1,095 opportunities.

Now let's be honest, how many of those opportunities do you think even the most devoted parents will put to use? Let's just say we're up against it. It's us versus Ronald McDonald and that annoyingly pleasant Wendy's spokesredhead.

Admittedly, there is a vicious cycle, in that crappy food is more affordable. Less-than-affluent folks buy the less expensive, and less nutritious, food. Their health suffers, and their insurance premiums go up. And they pass it on to their kids.

But guess what? The I-can't-afford-to-eat-well argument doesn't fly here. Let me give you a peek behind the newspaper industry's curtain. I don't make a whole lot of money, but I'm finding a way to make it work. And I will continue to do so, because I want healthy, strong and, above all else, happy kids who will pass along that legacy.

Grow your own food. It will taste better, and you will save money. Control your portions. There's a no-brainer: Less food means a more roomy budget.

This is a big year for me, personally, and I couldn't be happier that I took on this series, complete with the dietary overhaul. Because these few weeks mark the first time I have thought critically about what I'm eating – where it's been, and where it's going.

I'm now equipped to make sure my children are equipped. It's sort of frustrating to think it's that simple. But the rewards are undeniable. Feel better. Look better. Perform better.

With any luck, my performance as "Dad" will be my best. Isn't that what we should all strive for?

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