Stop using your kids as an excuse

Stop using your kids as an excuse

If you’ve ever felt that your kids and their schedules eat up time that you would otherwise be able to focus on yourself and your health, you’re not alone. Parents use their kids as the number one reason that they can’t be active, says Dai Manuel.

Maybe the following sounds familiar: “I can’t get to the gym on Wednesday because I have to take Betty to soccer.” “Sorry, I can’t make yoga on Saturday morning, Henry has a birthday party.” Um, yup, guilty. But Dai says he’s never used his kids as an excuse to be unhealthy. On the contrary, they are his reason to take care of himself. I’m pretty sure most parents would agree with this in principle but sometimes it’s harder to live it.

In a reader survey he conducted last year, parents cited their kids as one of the primary reasons why they couldn’t exercise. When people start working with him, they often tell him that they can’t exercise because they’re over-committed or because their kids are doing so many activities.

Dai’s reaction is, “Oh my goodness, you just told me that your kids are the reason that you’re unhealthy, what does that tell your kids? … kids absorb all of this and that is where it rattles me to the core”.


We’re proud to have Dai Manuel on our team of Active for Life role models. His passion and enthusiasm for living an awesome life built on a foundation of health is contagious. He is a cool dad, husband, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, author, blogger & digital influencer. Anyone needing some inspiration to get moving will benefit from visiting his informative blog.

His passion comes from overcoming his own experience. From the ages of 9 to 14, Dai was morbidly obese. At that time, it wasn’t as common to see overweight kids and Dai struggled against the stigma that went along with being an obese child. But then something amazing happened. He made some lifestyles choices, focusing on eating healthier and exercising, and underwent a huge transformation. Dai got his health back. And it was after that, that Dai committed to helping others reclaim their own health, building a foundation for an awesome life.

He and his family, who live quite transparently, post photos and videos of their active family outings on social media inspiring other families to get together and play.

I asked Dai what tips he would offer to a parent who is having trouble being an active role model for their child and he told me that this is really the premise of his new book, “The Whole Life Fitness Manifesto”, which comes out in January 2016. It’s about creating a lifestyle that is sustainable long term. He suggests the way to create lasting change in your health is to do the following three things every day:

  1. 15 minutes of movement with purpose (these workouts can be done in your living room, no equipment required)
  2. Followed by 5 minutes of mindfulness/meditation
  3. 10 minutes of concentrated personal development

Compounded over time it’s amazing to see the shift in peoples mind, body, and spirit. All prompts and instructions are provided in the weekly emails and for all those that register, they get access to the private Facebook community. There’s no cost to participate, just a commitment of 30 minutes (2% of our 24 hour day) for 60 days.

However much time you think you spend on a device, double it

And please don’t tell Manuel you don’t have the time because he’s got your number:

When he asks how much TV or Netflix we’re watching he wants us to be honest. “I always know people are going to under-pitch, they’re going to tell me ‘oh I’m only on it for x amount of hours’ and I usually double it because I know, as a rule of thumb, they’re just not really honest about it and they’re not mindful about how much they’re using.” When we do look at how much time we’re on Facebook, or Netflix, or all our other screens, it’s clear that we really do have the time. Most of us are not as busy as we think we are.

The Whole Life Fitness Manifesto is a commitment to this 30 minute recipe for 60 days and Manuel says he’s seen enormous changes occur after just one month. Imagine if you felt better, and were stronger and healthier, how much that would impact every aspect of your life, and especially how it would affect your children. You wouldn’t necessarily need to sign them up for as many extra curricular activities because you would have the energy to take them to the park and play with them yourself. Then you’d all be getting the activity you need without the over-commitment, without the driving around, and without the mad rush that always seems to come with kids’ busy schedules.

Play with your kids and don’t worry about what you look like

Manuel encourages people to just have fun with their kids, go to the playground, play tag, or follow the leader, but “parents have to shake that uncomfortableness where they think, ‘oh geez I look funny doing this’ and they have to realize it doesn’t matter what you look like. Just move your body, have fun, play with your kids.” Dai believes that being able to play is something that gets lost as people become adults and parents.

When we sit on a bench watching our kids running, climbing, throwing, jumping, and having fun, and comment about how they’re getting such a great workout, Manuel says that’s the time to shift the perspective. “It’s funny how we’ve put these labels on things and we’ve put things into buckets, and we’ve got to empty those buckets and start afresh and teach people that there are new ways to incorporate fitness as a family.”

The Manuels love hiking as a family, walking the half hour that it takes to get to the ice cream store and back home, or going to the park to kick around the soccer ball. But Dai emphasizes that there are countless things that families can do. “Use your imaginations, people,” he says, “there are lots of [ways to get active as a family].”

You don’t need to make all the changes at once

The hardest part of making this kind of change is really the first step, according to Dai. But he believes that once you start and find something that is fun to do, and you keep doing it, you’ll start feeling better and that will become a pattern you naturally want to repeat. By the same token, as a coach, Dai doesn’t expect people to go from 0-100 in a day, giving up all kinds of things and spending countless hours in a gym. In fact, all he asks from his clients that are starting at square one is that they walk for 15 minutes without stopping. And to him that’s a victory. Because if one month of walking makes that person feel better, they’ll be ready for more little tweaks that will keep them progressing.

“You’re going to get addicted to feeling good, and feeling good in a legal way. You won’t have to medicate. And that’s what I’ve found has been the most successful: small little baby steps. And those will eventually lead into bigger things.”

For those struggling with their health, who haven’t been able to find the time to be active, or who just need a new way of viewing fitness and self-care, Dai Manuel’s “Whole Life Fitness Manifesto” is just what the doctor ordered.

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