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The Father Factor:
Fatherhood Matters

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Dads Playbook Podcast with NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell. Week 6: Getting fit2father

Welcome to the sixth installment of our 10-week podcast series, "Dads Playbook featuring NFL quarterback, Mark Brunell."


Who better to learn about fitness from than an NFL quarterback!? We always say here at NFI (somewhat tongue in cheek) that you can't be an involved father if you are not alive. That is why it is so important for dads to get and stay fit and to help their children do the same. We launched a campaign called fit2father to help dads with this very idea. Let's hear what Mark has to say about fitness.

Click here to download the podcast on Mark’s game plan for being an All-Star Dad when it comes to fitness.

Chef Madison Cowan Helps Dads Get Fit2Father with his Modern Age Pie

Food Network's "Chopped" Champion, Chef Madison Cowan gave us his thoughts on cooking with kids for Fit2Father Week Four!

As a crumb snatcher coming up during the early 70s, pork pies, cheese and onion pasties and (my personal favourite) codfish patties were weekly staples round my yard. These quick snacks, warming in the oven, created a comforting aroma that met you at the door after school. Cheap, delicious and loaded with fat and preservatives but nonetheless spot on when nothing else was ready to hand.

Nowadays when time is limited and funds are short, my daughter and I pop round the shops for fresh ingredients to make quesadillas. Well balanced and nutritious, they’re the perfect meal for a family of any size. Start by heating a dry, non-stick pan over medium-heat, place a multigrain or spinach tortilla in the pan and sprinkle on a large handful of grated, low-sodium cheddar. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the following vegetable mixture over half of the tortilla:

Scallions 3, chopped
Fresh coriander 1 small handful, chopped
Scotch bonnet chili 1 small, seeds removed and finely chopped
Tinned black beans 1 handful, rinsed and drained

Finish it off with tinned tuna (drained and flaked), cooked chicken strips, cooked shrimp or thinly sliced medium rare skirt steak. When the cheese starts to melt, fold the quesadilla in half and toast both sides until golden brown. Remove the quesadilla from the pan and cut in half. Serve with a side of salsa or guacamole and enjoy.

The good thing is they're as wholesome as they are fun and effortless to make. So round up the lil’ ones, get cooking and eat well without breaking the bank.


It's not too late to get Fit2Father! Pledge today!

Fatherhood is as Serious as a Heart Attack... Literally

A new study (described in this article and in many other places) has found that fathers are less likely than other men to die of heart disease.

To summarize, "childless men were 17 percent more likely to have died of heart disease during the decade [under study] than the men who were fathers." The article goes on to talk about the potential link between infertility and heart disease, which is very interesting.

But I really like what the researcher says towards the end of the article:
"There may be more than just a biologic reason" for the childless men’s higher risk of dying of heart disease, (Dr. Michael) Eisenberg says. After all, other studies have shown men who live alone tend to die sooner than men who don’t, he says, and maybe having kids spurs men to take better care of themselves.

We often say here at NFI that in order to be a good father you have to be alive. We know that one of the biggest motivators for men around a variety of issues is their children. Taking care of their health appears to be no different.

I know in my own life that since my son was born, I have been much more interested in staying healthy - my wife and I have gone through P90X, and are doing Insanity as we speak.

And this is why NFI does its fit2father campaign every year. In fact, you should take the pledge today to join other dads in getting healthy for their kids' sakes!

So, we are not necessarily surprised by the conclusion and interpretation of this new study. However, men do still live about 6 years less than women, and one of the reasons is that they don't go to the doctor nearly as often as women do. So, while we know that having children motivates men to do better, they still have a ways to go to make sure they are doing all they can to be around for their children for as long, and as healthily, as possible.

Fit2Father is Around the Corner!



In September, NFI will be launching its nationally recognized Fit2Father program. This is a six week online program to help dads connect to their kids through fitness. Healthy fathers create healthy families and Fit2Father helps dads to achieve just that!



Here are three steps that you can take to get Fit2Father-



1. Take the Pledge to get Fit2Father

When you take the pledge you will receive a weekly email in your inbox with helpful tips to get your family connected and get you Fit2Father. Take the pledge!



2. Register to Host a Fit1Father walk in your area!

Raise awareness of the importance of fatherhood in your community and earn helpful fatherhood resources for your local organization when you register to host a walk. Learn more here.



3. Get walking!

Find a Fit2Father walk in your community, or join us in Washington DC on October 16th as we walk for fatherhood in the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause! Register today!



If there are any questions about Fit2Father, email Brittany DeFrehn at bdefrehn@fatherhood.org









You can only be a better dad if you are alive!

This is a post from NFI's Director of Corporate Relations, Tom Patras.

Six months ago, during church, a friend surprised everyone by wheeling his 85 pound son on stage in a wheel barrow. Pointing to his son, he exclaimed, “This is how much weight I’ve lost!” After receiving a standing ovation from the congregation, my friend went on to share that he’d been facing serious health issues due to an unhealthy lifestyle. He finally woke up when our Pastor confronted him and said, “What are you doing? You have a wife and kids and you are eating yourself to death!”

As I listened to my friend, it took everything in me to keep from crying. I was happy for him, but sobered that my Pastor’s words could easily have been directed at me. Weight issues are a generational plague in my family. After many failed attempts at losing weight (and keeping it off), I felt discouraged and defeated. I’d reached my heaviest weight ever and was frankly disgusted with myself. With health issues mounting, I knew I needed to change the trajectory of my life. So…inspired by my friend’s success with the Take Shape For Life program, I decided that if it worked for him, why not me?

During my first week on the program, I had a pivotal moment. One day, a scene from The Biggest Loser came to mind. In the scene, a 25 year old girl was told by a doctor that based on the condition of her organs, she was living in the body of a 55-year-old woman. Suddenly the thought hit me – “holy cow, that’s 30 years! That’s almost two generations!” I then asked myself, “What kind of an example am I setting for my children? What kind of legacy am I building for future generations? Do I want my wife and kids grieving over my untimely death because I wasn’t willing to do everything in my power to fight for my health?”

In that moment, I said, “I’m done! I’m going to engage in (and win) this battle. I’m going to be a chain breaker and change the legacy of my family for future generations.”

Six months later, I’m 68 pounds lighter! At 39, I’m the same weight I was as a freshmen in high school. I have tons of energy, am much more confident, and feel better than I have in years.

No doubt there are fathers reading this post who are battling weight-related health issues – you may be one of them. If so, I encourage you to join NFI’s 30 Days to Be a Better Dad Campaign and make it a priority to get healthy in 2011.

BUT, don’t go it alone! 85% of people who try to lose weight without support gain it back within 2 years. Also, find a plan that teaches you how to build healthy habits for life. There is no magic pill or medical procedure that will allow you to eat whatever (and however much) you want.

Building a healthy lifestyle takes commitment, but you can only be a better dad if you are alive!

Fit to Retire

My father turned 50 at the beginning of this summer. He’s in great health, but I got a little worried when I noticed that he kept having doctor’s appointments recently. I asked him last week what was going on. He assured me that he was just getting his 50-year check-ups… physical, colonoscopy, prostate exam, cardio test, etc. And everything is fine!

I asked Dad why he thought it was important that he get these check-ups now that he’s 50. I expected him to say something about keeping up with his kids (there’s seven of us – the younger ones are still in high school or elementary school!) and being active for the many grandkids that we’ll be giving him in the future. (My dad figures that since he had seven kids, he should expect to have 49 grandkids. In his dreams, I say!)

I was a bit surprised by his answer to why he’s getting these check-ups. “So I can make sure I have many years to enjoy with your mom after you kids leave.” But when I thought about it, that makes sense. He is in good health now, so no cause for worry, and he is an active and involved father – going to my siblings’ sports games, helping them with homework, guiding them through the teen and young adult years. Parenting consumes an incredible amount of my mom and dad’s time and energy right now.

But eventually those responsibilities will be over. My youngest sisters will move out in about 10 years, and then it’ll be just Mom and Dad. Sure, they’ll always be there for us as adults. But they will only have to worry about taking care of themselves. Dad is taking steps today to make sure that those empty-nest years will be healthy and full of life, just like the parenting years. It will be a different kind of vibrant life, though – hopefully much calmer and less busy without a van-full of kids to cart around!

I’m glad that my dad is taking care of himself physically. But I also appreciate his motive for doing that – his commitment to Mom for life. Dad has every intention of staying healthy so he can enjoy a much-earned retirement and spend it with my mother. As their daughter, that gives me a great sense of security and a good example to follow.

NFI and Supporters Race to End Father Absence

This past Sunday, NFI participated in the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause 8k as the culmination of our fit2father campaign, a six-week initiative designed to help fathers and their families live healthier lifestyles. Fathers and families from around the country took the fit2father pledge and the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause allowed D.C. fit2father participants the opportunity to show their support for NFI and the issue of involved fatherhood!

From NFI staff and family, to local runners, and DC-area supporters, the NFI team had a strong presence. Daddy bloggers like Matt from DC Urban Dad also joined the NFI team as we raced to end father absence.



Acumen Managing Director and NFI Board Member, Andy Schoka, connected NFI to this opportunity. “This year’s Race for a Cause event was our best yet and Acumen Solutions is thrilled to have the NFI participate as one of our benefiting non-profit partners," said Shocka. "The 8K race was challenging and the 1 mile fun run was perfect for families and really aligns well with the NFI’s fit2father message. I’m incredibly thankful for the difference the NFI is making and I’m pleased with the opportunity for Acumen Solutions to help contribute to the NFI’s mission for years to come.”

Missed out on fit2father? Stay tuned! We'll be launching our next opportunity for to get involved in one week!

"X"-Treme Fathering

You've seen the infomercials, but have you felt the pain!? (and I mean that in a good way)

I am talking about the "extreme home fitness training program," P90X.

Six months after our son Vinny was born, my wife had not yet lost all of her pregnancy weight, and I had packed on a few sympathy pounds myself. We decided, based on feedback from friends, to give P90X a try.

What a great decision it was! Doing the program together had huge benefits. Some nights, I did not want to work out, but my wife pushed me. Some nights she did not want to work out, and I pushed her. Since we were both on the plan together, we could easily empty the fridge of the bad foods neither of us should eat anymore and fill it with the good stuff.

Don't get me wrong; it was hard. With an infant to care for, we did most of our workouts from 8:30 to 9:30 at night, after the baby was asleep. Try working out every weeknight for an hour for 13 weeks. Yes - we missed a few workouts. We "made up for" most of them by doing two workouts on a Saturday. But towards the end, we missed workouts and did not make up for them. Sometimes feeding, playing with, and bathing the baby took too much out of us to "bring it" at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday.

But overall, the results have been great. I lost about 12 pounds, and got stronger. I can see my ribs for the first time in 15 years! My wife lost about 15 pounds, and is now below her pre-pregnancy weight. We both feel much better and we continue to eat much more healthily.

As NFI does its fit2father campaign and gears up for the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause 8K, we would love to hear from dads about how they are getting and staying in shape.

How are you staying "fit2father," dads?

Have You Joined the Team?

We're pumped for the upcoming Acumen Solutions Family Fun Run/8k on October 17th in Arlington, VA. It's the culmination of our six week fit2father campaign, focusing on healthy fathers and families. And, it's a great opportunity to get involved and meet other individuals who support NFI and our issue.

Race registrations benefit NFI's programs and initiatives - like providing resources to military families and educating new dads. Even if you're not in D.C. or won't be able to make it, you can still register as a "virtual walker" and we'll receive the proceeds.

Register today and select National Fatherhood Initiative. Join our team and help us end father absence! See you on the 17th!

fit2father: One Thing You Can Do to Safeguard Your Kids

Did you know there is a family activity that is tied to lower rates of drug use and risky behavior in your kids? And no, it's not an 8pm curfew or some other draconian rule or punishment.

It's family dinner.

Not only does family dinner help you and your kids eat healthier, but research suggests that it may keep your kids from getting into trouble. That's why September 27th has been designated Family Day - with the aim of inspiring families to share dinner on a regular basis.

Family dinner is a great way of scheduling in regular time with your kids and gives you an easy way to keep up with their lives, find out how they're feeling about things, and spot signs of trouble early on.

Not sure what to talk about at dinner? Try these five questions and you're sure to spark some interesting conversation. Not sure about what to eat? You're on your own for that one.

Want more ideas on how to stay healthy with your family? Take our fit2father pledge and get our strategies for a healthy, happy family.

fit2father: Have You Taken the Pledge?

We recently launched the fit2father™ Campaign and got an overwhelming response! Dads and families across the country have pledged to take part in a six week campaign to improve their fathering skills and to get healthy.

fit2father™ is based around three key strategies/principles:
  • Condition - living an active lifestyle
  • Nutrition - making healthy choices
  • Connection - connecting fathers and families
Studies show that fathers have a significant impact on the health and well-being of their children. A father’s body mass index is directly related to a child’s activity level. Being fit and being a father go hand in hand.

For our main office and for those in the DC area, the fit2father™ campaign will culminate in the Acumen Solutions Race for a Cause. We are excited for fathers and families to come out and support the fatherhood movement. Not only will this benefit NFI, bit it will help fathers everywhere.

If you have not taken the pledge or are interested in a race in your area visit www.fatherhood.org/fit2father.

If you want to become part of the fatherhood movement become a Fatherhood Ambassador today! www.fatherhood.org/ambassadors

He's Worth It

I took a road trip this summer to visit a college friend in New Jersey. One of the things that I noticed during my time in the Garden State was the billboards lining the highways. I actually found it to be a bit distracting because where I live and work there are no billboards, and I wasn’t used to looking at things along the road while driving. But one in particular caught my eye.

It was an ad for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic in the Philadelphia area. It had a picture of a man holding a toddler with the words “He’s Worth It” written underneath.

Children are good motivation for a host of positive life changes, including getting clean and staying sober. When a dad realizes that his kids need him to be present and involved in their lives, and when he has a heart-to-heart connection with his kids that makes him want to be there for them, he’s more willing to invest the effort and sacrifice to give up the habits that could take him out of the picture. These habits aren’t just limited to substance abuse addictions – unhealthy eating habits that could cause serious medical problems and long hours at the office can also prevent Dad from being involved, both in the long-term and now.

Two examples illustrate this: When NFI’s president Roland C. Warren realized that his family medical history put him at risk for a shortened lifespan, he decided to exercise, change his diet, and lose weight so he could be around not only for his two grown sons, but also for future grandchildren. As Roland likes to say, “To be an involved, responsible, and committed father, you have to be alive."

Second, research shows that men who are released from prison are significantly more likely to have a successful re-entry and avoid additional run-ins with the law if they have a family to go back to. Their relationship with their children motivates them to be law-abiding citizens and avoid the activities that put them behind bars and separated them from their kids.

NFI is focused on helping dads develop a heart-to-heart connection with their children that motivates them to stop bad habits and cultivate good ones. After all, the kids are worth it.

Five Girls Getting Fit2Father?

This post is from Brittany DeFrehn, NFI's Manager of Outreach.

Here at NFI Headquarters we are pounding the pavement…literally.

We are launching our Fit2Father campaign and gearing up for the Acumen Solutions Race for the Cause 8K. Particularly, five of us at headquarters…all girls…have joined together to get ready for this race. You might be wondering why five girls, none of whom have children and all of whom come from different backgrounds, are so excited about working at the National Fatherhood Initiative and spreading the word about fatherhood.

The answer is simple. We realize fatherhood impacts so many aspects of our society. For those interested in education, children in father-absent homes can have lower school performance. For those concerned about hunger, children in homes without fathers are 36% more likely to be below the poverty line. And as for our national outlook, more involved fathers now means more children who become more involved fathers in the future, making an impact on future generations.

So, why wouldn’t we care about fatherhood? Whether you’re a dad, someone who works with dads, have a dad, never had a dad, are married to a dad, or you are just like us five girls who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of children…Make sure to spread the word about NFI and come out to the Fit2Father Walk.

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