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[dcs_fancy_header color=”#000000″ fweight=”bold”]As a parent, your responsibility to be physically fit is not only important for your own health, but it’s important for the times you may need to move more than just yourself. In this column, Doug shares his approach to fitness, diet, and things to consider while working out.[/dcs_fancy_header]

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Being a parent comes with the added responsibility of caring for those who are weaker, slower, and mentally unprepared for emergency situations. As a parent, it’s important to recognize that there may come a time when you’re going to have to run, fight, or shoot while shielding or carrying children away from a threat. Doing this will take additional physical strength, cardiovascular health, and mental toughness beyond what would be needed to address the same situation without dependents. This consideration is at the core of being a tactical parent.

Not every fight, is a gunfight

There is a saying: “not every fight is a gunfight.” While physical fitness is critical to one’s ability to run, fight and shoot in a personal defensive situation, it’s even more important when you’re fighting for two (or more). Beyond a defensive situation, you also have a basic duty to your children and grandchildren to keep yourself as healthy as possible so you will be around for as long as you can.

Physical health all boils down to the two basic components of diet and exercise. There is a secret, however, to losing weight and getting strong that you won’t find with any diet or exercise program. That secret is that there are no magic diets or exercise programs. In essence, there is no substitute for hard work, sweat, and self-discipline. So, take the fork out of your mouth, get up off the couch, and get fit… because your little ones are counting on you.

Disclaimer: I’m not a personal trainer, nor a nutritionist, but I have spent plenty of time learning what does and doesn’t work for me. I understand the constraints a job and a family put on your ability to work out and have found a program I hope will be as effective for you as it has been for me.

Start your workout with 30-60 minutes of cardio, while maintaining your target heart rate. Whether you’re using a stationary exercise machine, or you’re out running on the street, getting your heart rate up to the right level and keeping it there several times each week will get you well on your way to your goals. Once you’re done with your cardio, hit the weights. If you’re new to resistance training, spend some time with a good personal trainer to learn how to safely lift weight and get the most from your effort. If you’re an experienced lifter, find some new workouts to keep things interesting.

For your diet, here’s the magic way to lose weight… eat fewer calories than you burn. There, now you know the secret to weight loss. Focus on eating lean protein and fiber, avoid fats and carbs, but ultimately just eat fewer calories than you burn. To find out how many calories you should consume, find a calorie calculator and make your adjustments from there. For every 3500 calories you burn (and don’t replace), you will drop a pound of body weight. The key is burning more calories than you consume and making the calories you do consume be as beneficial as possible.

A one hour workout is only 4% of your day

While you’re at gym you still must, as always, consider personal security. First, leave anything of value, credit cards, personal items, etc. in your car, home, or office. Anything of value you can’t leave in your car, such as a firearm, keep with you. In the locker room pick a locker in a high-traffic area and use a large, substantial lock instead of a small easily-breached one. Identity theft is a real issue in gym locker rooms, so make yourself an undesirable target and don’t give them anything they can use should they manage to get into your stuff.

While working out, some people carry gear and others choose not to. The gym is, of course, particularly rich in improvised weapons should you need them. Perhaps more important is keeping aware of your surroundings.

Finally, invest in a quality gym bag. Having a quality gym bag makes going to the gym easier, which means you’ll do it more often. Things to look for in a gym bag are size, functionality, quality construction, and washability.

The bag needs to be large enough to hold all your workout clothes, shoes, shower supplies, etc… yet still fit into a standard locker. For function, look for one with a separate waterproof compartment to hold your sweaty or wet clothing separate from the rest of your stuff. Having this feature will not only extend the life of the bag, but it will lower the frequency you find yourself needing to wash it. The bag should also have a place for ID and an inner compartment to put small things like wallets, watches, and keys. Look for a bag made of Cordura with heavy duty zippers and strong stitching. This will ensure that your regular gym stuff is easily carried along with heavier stuff like water and duty gear.

While looking for a new range bag on Tactical Tailor‘s website following my house fire, I stumbled on their gym bag. For the quality I’ve come to expect from Tactical Tailor, I decided to pick one up. The price is very reasonable given the quality and functionality of the bag and I always prefer to support brands that manufacture quality equipment in America.

80% of success is just showing up

It can be hard to motivate yourself when your alarm goes off following a late night out or a long day of work, but it’s true what is said – 80% of success is just showing up. Whether you exercise before work, at lunch, or in the evening, make time for it and reward yourself for sticking to your commitment. On weekends, my friend has his kids teach him what they’ve learned in gym class. It’s a great way for the whole family to get exercise while giving the child the opportunity to feel valued by making a contribution. This not only promotes self-esteem and confidence, but it strengthens the family bond. My motivation comes from my obligations to both be around for my little ones and to protect them should it be necessary. My reward comes in meeting those obligations.

So whether your motivation is kids, personal health, or making a little extra space for your favorite IWB holster, find your motivation and get moving. Don’t find yourself a year from now wishing you’d started today.

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Doug has a diverse background, both professionally and privately, in firearms, self-defense, and tactics... but most importantly, he’s a parent. He writes from the unique perspective of someone whose life involves combining concealment clothing, tactics training, and “everyday carry gear,” with car seats, exploding diapers, and questions like “why did you paint the dog with yogurt?” In our Tactical Parent series, Doug shares his perspective on gear, tricks and tips, defensive tactics, and best practices for parents who take an active role in protecting their family.