Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I Am Now Officially an Overweight Vegan (176 pounds, 5’ 9”, Age 36, Medium Frame)

I am fundamentally opposed to New Year’s Resolutions. I have always said that if a person is truly ready to make a change in their life, then why wait for some arbitrary date on a calendar?

So for me, the first day of the rest of my life was not January 1st, but instead, it happens to be January 8th.

Last night after I took my shower and put on my size large t-shirt, I couldn’t help but notice how tight it felt. So I did something I rarely do: I weighed myself on the scale.

It took me a moment to accept my reality: I now weigh around 176 pounds. The most I’ve ever weighed was 178 pounds, and that was when I was in my late 20s and still eating meat, eggs, and dairy.

The lowest I’ve ever weighed since high school was 153 pounds; easily fitting into size 31 pants. Check out this video I made just 2 and a half years ago in May 2015, to see me in the ideal weight range for my height:

But there was a subtle change that began just a couple of months later, once my wife got pregnant with our now 20 month-old daughter back in July 2015. As my wife began eating more during the pregnancy, so did I… and I never stopped!

For over two years now, I have been slowly and steadily gaining weight; yet remaining faithful to my diet consisting of only vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. That means no meat, no eggs, no dairy.

In two months from now, it will be 5 whole years that I’ve been a vegan.

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this “vegan weight gain”. I first brought it up in September, a month before I became a stay-at-home dad, in my first Dad Bod post.

What’s interesting, as my wife recently pointed out, is I’m actually eating one less meal a day now that I work from home and take care of our kids. Back when I worked at the office, I always had a huge bowl of oatmeal; full of protein and saturated fat, thanks to the nuts and unsweetened cocoa I put in it.

But now that I’m constantly caring for a 20 month-old daughter all day long, plus a 7 year-old son before and after school, plus writing and shooting videos whenever I get a chance, I just don’t have much time to eat… until we all eat dinner as family each night; which is apparently when I make up for any lack of calories.

I am convinced that my strategy to get back to my ideal weight is to aggressively eliminate empty or unnecessary calories; especially during dinner, which is my biggest meal. It’s important to me that I don’t go hungry, but instead, that I stop eating once I get enough food. I need to do a better job of telling the two apart.

Just imagine the irony of an overweight vegan. Imagine all those well-meaning, yet concerned people telling me over the years, “Well, just make sure you get enough protein…”

Uh, yeah, that’s clearly not a problem for me.

And in case anyone is skeptical that I am indeed overweight, perhaps because I don’t “look” overweight, just check out the height and weight chart. For my height of 5’ 9” and having a medium frame, I officially became overweight once I crossed 170 pounds. That was about 6 pounds ago.

What’s my motivation to get back into that ideal weight range where I was back in May 2015? It’s not about self-esteem. My confidence is not effected by my weight gain.

Instead, it’s important to my identity that I have control over my own body. In the same way I refuse to let other people control my emotions, I now must refuse to let my overeating habits effect my weight.

No kidding: As I was putting this blog post together, my daughter who was sitting on my lap, looked up at the picture below of my belly, and in all sincerity asked, “Baby?”

I am an overweight vegan. We do exist, yes. But I do plan to change that.

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My Pitch to the Studios, as a Children’s TV Show Host

dichotomy

Editor’s Note:

I will be emailing the following letter to the same casting agency that reached out to me a few months ago to interview and potentially invite my family to participate in the upcoming reality TV show, The Family Project on NBC.

After that, this letter will then be going out to the all the casting agencies and directors for all the major children’s (and family) television networks; including PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney, TLC, Animal Planet, and The Discovery Channel.

Dear [casting agencies for television studios of major networks that feature children’s programming],

I believe you may be interested in meeting me. I think I can solve your problem in that I am who you are looking for if you are currently in need of a children’s television host.

However, please do not take my word for it…

Instead, simply watch me at work. My passion is creating original content to entertain children; as I have a 5 year-old son, as well as a daughter due to be born in April.

Just watch this quick webisode of my newest web series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest. Everything you see here is original content. I write, produce, and direct my shows; as well as serve as the protagonist and voices to the animal characters:

I write and perform my own songs, just like the beloved Mr. Fred Rogers did. I play both guitar and harmonica; and obviously sing.

You will see how I simply engage children in nostalgic ways, similar to that beloved uncle everyone has.

To further showcase my acting and production skills, as well as my musical talent and over all creativity, I also ask you to watch a short webisode of my other original web series, Jack-Man; which is a sci-fi super hero show starring my son and me.

In this series, you will see my acting skills as a villain; not just simply the kind and warm “Uncle Nick” character I play on my other series. Again, I created all of this content from scratch, including the lyrics, music, and performance of the songs.

Also, I already have a following on my website, Family Friendly Daddy Blog; where I maintain a minimum of 15,000 views per month. (For 3 years, I had previously served as the official daddy blogger for Parents.com; the website for the legendary Parents magazine.)

Thank you so much for your time and consideration today. Even if I never hear back from you, please know I will continue creating original content to entertain and engage children in the YouTube world; knowing that one day I will get my big break.

Granted, I hope that “big break” comes from you.

Sincerely,

Nick Shell of Family Friendly Daddy Blog

For My Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am Today

To My Health Nut Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am

This morning as my wife and I were getting ready for work, we were talking about the concept of how parents can influence their kids, even without trying to.

For example, no matter how much you praise your child on their abilities, talents, and looks, they can be just as influenced by the way you, the parent, see yourself.

As Bekah on The Wally Show explained yesterday morning, a mother who picks herself apart in front of the mirror will often, by default, teach her daughter to do the same; no matter how much the mother compliments the daughter.

We learn so much from our parents.

Today is my dad’s 59th birthday. So naturally, having just had this conversation, I’ve been thinking all day about the ways my dad made me who I am; whether he meant to or not.

I easily thought of 5 ways:

1)      Diet:

The first story that comes to mind was back in the late 80s one time when my dad stopped to get gas for his Ford Ranchero.

I asked him if I could get a candy bar inside the gas station. He reluctantly said yes, but went on to explain how unhealthy candy bars were, because of “all that sugar”. He told me how little boys my age needed to be eating healthier foods.

That made me curious. I then asked him when the last time he had eaten he candy bar. He replied, “Years… I probably was a boy. But I shouldn’t have, because those things aren’t healthy.”

Similarly, I can also specifically remember, around the same time, we were watching 20/20 on TV and there was a special about how kids were having heart attacks because of their diets.

My dad warned me if I didn’t start eating healthier foods, I could end up like those kids on TV who had heart attacks.

1To My Health Nut Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am

In our house, we never had white bread; only wheat. I felt deprived.

Granted, those elementary school years passed, then my teens, then my college years, and I ate horribly the whole time; whenever it was up to me. I didn’t heed his advice.

But by the time I reached my late 20s, I started seeing my processed food diet catch up with me…

Now, look at me. I am the strictest vegan anyone personally knows. If it weren’t for my dad, though, I wouldn’t currently be the healthy man I am.

(And when I say I’m healthy, that’s based on Dr. Thomas John at Vanderbilt Primary Care in Spring Hill, TN; during my visit with him back in April.)

If it weren’t for my dad, these days I would be a highly medicated guy: I would take something daily for severe allergy and sinus issues; and I would still constantly be suffering eczema, paying for prescription medicine to attempt to alleviate it, but not cure it.

That all went away when I became a vegan 2 and a half years ago; not to mention I’ve effortlessly remained in the perfect weight range for my height and weight since then.

I am confident that my dad’s “you better stop eating candy cars or you’re going to be a kid who has a heart attack” comments greatly influenced me for the good; even if I couldn’t appreciate it at the time.

It was ingrained in me from my dad that it’s important to prevent cancer and disease; not simply focus on the cure.

Here’s a webisode that he and I made with my son; which hints on the fact we don’t trust microwaves:

2)      Being active:

Plus, my dad was always physically active. During my entire childhood, he participated in martial arts; he was a black belt. Back in 1992, he even won 1st place in the sparring competition, for his division in northern Alabama.

(As for me in modern day, I regularly run and go mountain biking; plus I take at least two 10 minute walks outside during my breaks.)

Quite regularly, I when I was a kid, I would go with my dad to his Tuesday night practices and workouts. I knew that he would let me get a cheeseburger at Hardee’s on the way home if I went with him.

Here’s another webisode that my dad and I made with my son; which features my dad in one of his classic karate uniforms:

3)      Letting me make my own decisions

And perhaps that’s another way he influenced me: He let me make my own decisions, even sometimes when he knew there was a better way.

I’m not sure I’ll be as hands off with my own son. I don’t know that I can be as Libertarian with my son as my dad was with me.

But had my dad not been so laissez-faire with me (a policy or attitude of letting things take their own course, without interfering), there’s a good chance I would rebelled and acted out as a kid, teenager, and even a young adult.

So twenty years ago, during the reign of grunge, I had the long hair and the baggy jeans; and my dad never once revealed he was concerned about it.

Of course, my dad also taught me, by default, to be calm-assertive.

These qualities are only the tip of the iceberg. In all this, it was not only his words, but more importantly, his actions that inspired me how to live my life.

4)      Faith

Going deeper, I grew up with my dad reading me stories from the Bible for my bedtime stories, teaching my Sunday School classes at our church, and leading the youth group at church.

Therefore, I do my best to lead my own family in the teachings of Christianity; not out of tradition, but as a way of life- serving others, not judging them.

I seriously doubt my blog would be called Family Friendly Daddy Blog if it weren’t for him. He never cussed, so neither do I. Curse words never seemed necessary in order to communicate something worth saying.

For My Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am

5)      Politics

And when it comes to politics, I see that I have become my dad as well:

“Vote for the lesser of the two evils; whether that happens to be a Democrat or a Republican.” I remember he told me that a couple elections ago and it’s stuck with me.

A mindset like that requires an individual to use critical thinking beyond what they are taught by either the left wing or the right wing.

After all, they are both wings of the same bird.

Ultimately, he taught me to question the norm. And I do. That is a huge part of who I am.

It’s even one of  the main reasons my wife started dating me, as she has told me before, “You always seem so confident in what you believe, even if it not what most other people believe.”

So really, the way I see it, it’s undeniable that my dad greatly influenced who I am. Today he turns 59 years old. Despite whatever gift card my wife and I mailed him for his birthday, these words today are my gift to him more than anything else.

My Blog Readers are Female, but My YouTube Watchers are Male

Dear Jack: Webisode 20 of Jack-Man- “The Ole Switcheroo”

I am very aware of the importance of knowing my audience, so that I can better create content for what people want to be entertained by while they’re trying to kill time on smart phones.

Thanks to the analytics screen for my Facebook page for Family Friendly Daddy Blog, and thanks to the analytics screen for my YouTube channel, I have recently learned a paradox about my audience:

They don’t have a lot in common… They are segregated by gender demographics.

Most of the people reading Family Friendly Daddy Blog are women…

Women
72%
Men
27%

While most of the people watching my videos on YouTube are men:

MALE
83%
FEMALE
17%

For my Jack-Man series, I spend a minimum of 6 hours per video (writing, filming, producing music, editing, publishing) and there are currently 22 Jack-Man videos. When you do the math, that’s a minimum of 132 hours (or 5.5 straight days) of work for that series; and I only started the series 5 months ago.

However, I’m lucky to get 100 views on any of my Jack-Man videos. All that creativity mainly goes unwatched.

Meanwhile, I’ve carelessly thrown together a few unedited and unscripted videos on receding hairlines on my YouTube channel.

Those are the videos that easily get more than 100 views every day.

That’s because it’s mainly men are watching my YouTube channel, not as many women.

And mainly women are reading my blog, not as many men.

So now, behind the scenes, I am sketching out the best ways to blend my blog posts with my videos.

Ultimately, I guess it means that I’ll be publishing more blog posts about receding hairlines to feature my receding hairline videos, and making more videos about parenting to feature my usual daddy blog material.

I am attempting to use my blog to promote my videos and my videos to promote my blog.

So when you see me doing blog posts on seemingly irrelevant material, just know it’s for the other half of my demographics: men.

Dear Jack: Webisode 22 of Jack-Man, “Tin Roof Rusted” (Pregnancy Announcement Video)

4 years, 10 months.

Webisode 22 of Jack-Man, “Tin Roof Rusted” (Pregnancy Announcement Video)

Dear Jack,

On Thursday we finally officially revealed to the world that you are going to be a big brother.

But the day before, I published Webisode 22 of Jack-Man, “Tin Roof Rusted,” which announced that Jack-Man is going to be a big brother; it even showed the sonogram.

It is our “pregnancy announcement video.”

For over 24 hours, our video was live on YouTube, having been promoted on Facebook and Twitter as well. But it flew under the radar.

It wasn’t until Thursday morning that our news started spreading, but I embedded our video in that post so everyone see it which definitely helped bring up traffic to it.

I just loved the idea of incorporating our family’s pregnancy announcement in a video format; especially in our already established web series.

Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the help of your teacher, Ms. Aimee Cornelius, who served as a “camera woman.”

With me in full costume, it was impossible to both direct and film the webisode.

In “Tin Roof Rusted,” things pick up immediately from the point the previous webisode left off; with Vegan Bear taking the 2015 Toyota Corolla for a drive, with Jack-Man in the back seat.

Once they arrive back in the driveway, Jack-Man decides to check the mail, only to discover a mysterious letter which he can’t see to keep his hands on…

You have already asked me when we can do our next Jack-Man video that features Vegan Bear.

Even though you obviously know it’s just me in that costume, I think on some level, interacting with the character of Vegan Bear helps to sustain your imagination enough to believe you are actually friends with a real life mutant vegan bear.

But it’s just me. It’s father and son bonding via a silly costume and a silly video.

Works for us.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Webisode 20 of Jack-Man- “The Ole Switcheroo”

4 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Dear Jack: Webisode 20 of Jack-Man- “The Ole Switcheroo”

Last weekend Nonna and Papa visited us, as I finally was able to take Mommy to the Lady Antebellum/Hunter Hayes concert that I had bought tickets for on her birthday a month ago.

It wasn’t on my mind at all, but you asked me if we could do a new Jack-Man episode while Papa was in town.

So we did.

For months now, you and I have been scheming a Jack-Man plot in which you and I would swap roles:

You would become “Baby Green Meanie” and I would “Grown Up Jack-Man.”

Dear Jack: Webisode 20 of Jack-Man- “The Ole Switcheroo”

I had been revising the script this whole time. Webisode 20, though it may not appear this way, it was actually one of the most complicated to webisodes we’ve ever filmed.

Perhaps that’s because we had to film it out of order to avoid so many costume changes.

But in the end, I’m very pleased with how it turned out and we had a lot of fun together making the project.

Webisode 20 premieres the concept of having background music during the monologues, instead of just the action and transition screens.

Here it is:

I’ve never mentioned this to you before, but back in college, I recorded 3 demo CDs. Since then, I’ve taken the musical breaks from those tracks to serve as the background music for my videos.

Speaking of music, “The Ole Switcheroo” features this new original song:

Panic Attack!

P-p-p-panic attack! P-p-p-panic attack!

I’m gonna give you a panic attack!

Have your chill pills ready

Keep your position steady

You’re running out of time

Running out of time

You’re getting tunnel vision

Here comes the big collision

Adrenaline freely flows

Freely flows

(note goes up, slower)

P-p-p-panic attack! P-p-p-panic attack!

I’m gonna give you…

You’re getting quite sleepy, so tired, light-headed

And coming up next, it looks like we may be buying a “new” old car…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Webisode 20 of Jack-Man- “The Ole Switcheroo”

Dear Jack: Webisode 19 of Jack-Man- “Chinese Field Trip”

4 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Webisode 19- “Chinese Field Trip”

Dear Jack,

Two weeks ago when our family was on vacation in Sacramento, you and I shot a webisode of Jack-Man.

Right across the Sacramento River from Grandma’s house is a little village called Locke, which was populated by Chinese immigrants about a hundred years ago.

Dear Jack: Webisode 19- “Chinese Field Trip”

I decided it would make a fun locale for us, so I wrote the webisode around it, also tying it in to the 2015 Camry our family was given that week to review. (I’ll have plenty more pictures and videos of all the other cool stuff we did, too.)

In “Chinese Field Trip,” things are shaken up when Jack-Man and Green Meanie have to work together in order to find their way back from China to Sacramento; when they both mysteriously end up in a geographical loop hole, or portal, that transports them both, along with the 2015 Camry, to the other side of the globe.

Dear Jack: Webisode 19- “Chinese Field Trip”

Basically, I just wanted to explore the tiny Chinese village with you, but I figured it would cool if we captured it on camera while wearing our funny costumes.

I also custom wrote this little song for the Webisode 19:

“Keys to the Camry”

The keys to the Camry, I gotta find

This puts me in a bind, not gonna lie

China’s quite lovely this time of year

But I’m not supposed to be here

The only way back to Sacramento’s in that Toyota

If we don’t make it back to California I’d settle for a

Place just a little closer even if it’s Minnesota

I do appreciate this field trip

The culture and the ambience is so hip

Right about now I could really use a selfie stick

I’d impress my Facebook friends

And here it is!

Be on the look-out for several more fun videos and stories coming up, based on our family’s adventures in Sacramento; including a trip to the Monterey Aquarium and the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

Also, here’s the walk around video of the 2015 Toyota Camera that is referenced in “Chinese Field Trip.”

Love,

Daddy

c2 c3