The Daily Beet

07 Aug Guest Post by Joel: Being a New Dad and Staying Plant-Strong

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Where do I start?! As of today, my daughter Alyssa is 10 weeks old and she’s amazing! Not only is she beautiful, healthy and strong but she has the gift of having Plant-Based parents. My wife and I decided to raise Alyssa Plant-Based because we made a conscious effort to ask “the important questions” and took the time to find those answers. You can say we made an educated decision! Our daughters growth rate is more than average and she continues to surprise and inspire us everyday with her strong legs (as evident when she kicks and pushes herself across the bed) and her continuously improving sensory/motor skills. In other words, my kid is going to be stronger and smarter than I ever was (don’t we all say that about our kids?)

Since becoming a new father, I’ve transferred to a slower Fire Station and have made some adjustments in my life. The Fire Station I previously worked in was one of the busiest in my county. My goals of becoming an active and productive father was becoming very difficult after long 24 hour shifts with no sleep. I put my pride aside and made a conscious decision to make every effort in becoming a better man for my family. I’ve been faced with animosity from some co-workers and confronted with comments such as “we all have kids, why are you so different?”
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I’ll answer why I’m different. One thing I refuse to do is become complacent. I never want to complain about responding to someone’s emergency and I never want my family to feel neglected. As soon as I get home from my shift, I assume daddy responsibilities and make sure my significant other has time for herself. Being a new father isn’t difficult but it requires a lot of attention and redundant physical activity. Balancing being a father, a family man and an athlete, I have to be able to perform. Although I can’t control the 9-1-1 call, I can certainly reduce the call load by transferring to a rural station. In the Fire Department, this is not viewed as an honorable decision, however, my decision to be a better and much more productive father/husband is honorable in itself. I’ve never understood ones decision to remain in an uncertain and/or complacent situation when we can actively change the outcome. I’ve learned that life is all about priorities and I’m now much more capable of seeing what and who my priorities are.
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A few adjustments I’ve made in my training schedule are frequency and location. My Crossfit gym is located 2 miles from my home but because I can’t always make the scheduled times, I joined a second Crossfit gym for time convenience. I even purchased kettlebells, battle ropes, a barbell and bumper plates for times I can’t make it to either gym. When I don’t have time for either gym and when we manage to have my mother available for babysitting, my wife and I go to the local park with our equipment to train. Their are often times when I need a break from high intensity training and when we aren’t able to get a babysitter, yet we dismiss any reason not to do any physical activity. During those times we walk with the baby in a sling, stroller or while she sleeps, we do intense training with kettlebells on the balcony of our condominium. No excuses!
As many of you are aware, I LOVE TO COOK PLANT-BASED FOOD! Cooking at home hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s only gotten more creative! I’ve found being a parent has inspired me to utilize vegetables and leafy greens in dishes such as pancakes, snacks and dessert. My inspiration came from Rip’s experience as a parent when his children wouldn’t eat anything that was green for week. I found myself thinking of ways to incorporate many different veggies in my dishes in case my daughter (and future children) develop a temporary fuss. I’d like to share that my wife and I both agree that we will never make Alyssa feel uncomfortable with food. As children, we have all experienced feeling left out. We also know how developing negative associations with food could possibly cause eating disorders. As parents, we will only provide a home full of delicious and nutritious Plant-Based food, a solid foundation of understanding where our food comes from and how diet is related to health and its impact on the environment. Having that foundation, we will never judge or discipline her for any dietary decisions she makes outside of our home as she grows. We are confident she will make the right decisions through the nutrition, confidence and education we provide and instill in her. After all, it took me 25 years to even consider consuming a Plant-Based diet!
To sum it all up, being a new parent while juggling everything else in life isn’t hard at all as long as you understand and are willing to adapt and accept change. Their are definitely many difficult situations but how we respond during those situations speaks mountains about our character. image (6)
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My name is Joel and I’m a 27 year old Firefighter Paramedic for Montgomery County, MD. I’m an adrenaline junkie and an aspiring personal trainer. I have a passion for fitness and health with a natural instinct to help people. I’ve been a Firefighter Paramedic for 8 years and have witnessed countless emergencies when the public is at their worse. Every shift I’m reminded of how unhealthy we are as a society when I walk into a patient’s home and witness the countless medications the patient is prescribed. I am reminded how many of my patient’s symptoms and diagnosed conditions could be prevented and/or reversed by a whole food Plant-Based diet. 17 months ago, I began my journey into a Plant-Based diet and have not looked back. I’ve made it my mission to live Plant-Strong and help lead others to a guilt-free dietary lifestyle.

  • Sue
    Posted at 12:53h, 07 August

    Good for you for doing what is best for your family. I was a paramedic for 16 years, but quit to stay home and raise our daughters. We have never regretted that decision. I hated being away from them for 24 hours at a time, then was exhausted on my days off. I was a much better mama after I quit. We don’t have new cars or take extravagant vacations since we lived on one income, but the time we invested in our daughters lives has paid off. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Congrats to you and your wife. Your daughter is beautiful.

  • jcribbs
    Posted at 13:06h, 07 August

    Love this message. I am an RN and recently shared info with a pt’s family member who is currently having radiation treatments for colon cancer. Her docs never mentioned the nutrition link. I am also about to make a change in my career so I will be able to help care for a grandchild, which I am so excited about. It was a hard decision, but I know its the right one. Good for you for doing what you know in your heart is the right thing!!!

  • Becky Knutson
    Posted at 13:13h, 07 August

    Thank you for sharing! Great message!

  • Jordan Hoffmann
    Posted at 13:18h, 07 August

    Loved hearing about your journey as a new dad, as we are getting set to begin that chapter in our life. As a nurse I try to educate on the nutritional piece of healthcare any chance I get. It is amazing how little information people are given about how to change their situation with a few nutritional tweaks. In fact, a prediabetic patient recently reported being told to decrease portion sizes and cut her sugar intake, but was given no suggestions on what she should eat, or increase in her diet. I was shocked and saddened. Thankfully I was able go send her and her grandmother away feeling empowered to make a lifestyle change!

  • Dawn Martin
    Posted at 13:29h, 07 August

    LOVE this. We just had our first baby 5 days ago.. I’m plant strong but my guy isnt. I want our son to be plant strong and all this is good insight to what it takes!

  • me
    Posted at 13:47h, 07 August

    what are your thoughts of vaccination. Have you done it already or do you think not to do it.

    • Engine 2 Team
      Posted at 13:59h, 07 August

      That is something you should discuss with an MD

  • Mary Rounds Tagliarino
    Posted at 14:28h, 07 August

    You two are wonderful! What an intelligent and inspiring response to parenthood!

  • Teri
    Posted at 22:38h, 07 August

    So proud for you. This is one decision that you will never regret. Babies grow up, go to school, move out and get married before you even know it. Enjoy every day to its’ fullest.

  • Janet Dubac
    Posted at 08:02h, 08 August

    Very good story! I am so proud of you both. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing a part of other people’s stories and learning new things in the process. You guys gave out a wonderful message to all the parents out there. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

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