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Family & Relationships

7 Healthy 'Dad-isms' That Ring True Today

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When I think of my dad, I think of a hilarious, creative, smart and lovingly weird man who helped me become the person I am.

While I was growing up, my dad was a man of few words (still is, really), but the words he chose to share were packed with the experience and insights that come with a lifetime. Admittedly, in my younger days, there were times that his “dad-isms” seemed trite. But today, when looking back at his fatherly advice through my own lens of age and wisdom, I appreciate, even more, where he was coming from. Here are some favorite dad-style musings that resonate.  

“Be grateful for what you have.” Studies have shown that gratitude is good for your health. While dad may not have exactly been suggesting with this statement that I should start a daily gratitude journal, he had a great point: Don’t mourn what you lack; embrace and be thankful for the things that are yours.

“Never forget where you come from.” You can try to be someone you’re not, but when it all comes down to it, your family and your heritage made you who you are. If I were a dad — and I’m not — I’d take this one step further and say “Try and understand where you come from.” Connecting with your family heritage can be enlightening. You can get a better sense of who you are and even where you’re going. Within your family lies a code to your health — your DNA — and by unlocking that code, and becoming aware of your family health history, you can take measures that may help you stay healthy well into your golden years.

“The early bird gets the worm.” Another eye roller as a kid, right? But today, there’s so much truth to those six words! Don’t think of this phrase literally, but as a metaphor: when you arrive early (and stay late), you can actually change your attitude on aging. Be eager, curious, energetic, open-minded and it may keep you can feeling young at heart, even as your body grows older.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Ok, ok, so as a kid, this was usually the last thing I wanted to hear. It was generally another way of Dad saying, “No, you can’t have that.” But today, having not yet discovered a money tree of my own, I can admit it was a fair point. Money should be spent mindfully on things that bring you joy, or items that you truly need.

“You can never be too prepared.” No, you really can’t. Preparation can pay off in just about every area of life. When it comes to your health, being prepared means eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, developing a relationship with your physician and having regular health screenings done. That way, if a medical concern arises, you may be more likely to catch it early and be in the best possible physical shape to take it on.

“Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” I had a bit of a baking habit growing up (pineapple upside down cake was my weakness). And of course, when you bake it, the next step is to eat it. My dad encouraged moderation, and that’s a valuable lesson throughout life. It’s ok to allow yourself cake. Just temper your cravings, and load up on fruits and vegetables at the next meal. And maybe go for a jog or brisk walk after washing off the cake crumbs.

“Eat your spinach.” We were a Popeye-loving household. And as much as I hated — hated! — eating spinach as a kid, I tried to tolerate it when my dad reminded me that it, along with other green vegetables, was good for growing up healthy and strong, like that cartoon sailor man. Today, I eat a spinach salad almost every day for lunch. And as a healthy adult, I don’t have to conjure up images of Popeye anymore to enjoy it.

What are some “dad-isms” you remember that, today, still ring true?

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