self talk

Death to Dadbod: Self Talk/Arguing With Myself

Danial Hooper Death to Dadbod

“It’s not supposed to be easy. If it were, it wouldn’t work. Nothing easy results in growth. You persevere by making choices to overcome and offer more effort than excuses. This is why you train, not to win a trophy, but to flourish physically and mentally… and spiritually. You’re here to improve. Be like the clock, keep moving.” – Me, during a little self talk (er, therapy) session in the middle of a short workout.

Self Talk

I’ve been here before. I did this workout a little over a year ago and it was 6 Sweaty Minutes. Fast workouts are a different kind of emotional torture. Every pause is accompanied by discouragement. The weight is light, the time is short, and your body just needs to go. Sell out. All in. Leap before you look.

Last time, I was covered in baby puke. #akaRoy had some pretty gnarly reflux and puked like a college freshman with a fake ID and his dad’s credit card.  The workout was hard, the baby was distracting. I was under-slept (he was only 6 months old) and overworked.

Not much has changed, honestly. I sleep about 4 hours a night, work about 60 hours a week, but would still say I’m in better shape than I was a year ago. I exercise a lot more, I eat better, and I’ve been able to take myself to some pretty dark places in a workout.

Still, I needed a quick second of self talk in the middle of drowning in my own sweat. Right about minute 4.

And still, my score wasn’t as high as last year. I don’t know why, or how, but that’s just the reality of the situation. Back then, I was also on the verge of a mental breakdown and still outperformed my present self. Is that bad? Should I be upset? After all, I couldn’t beat myself from a year ago, despite feeling awesome physically.

Perception matters.

The other day, I told Pat that I thought he looked like Zac Efron.

It was a nice thing to say to another man.

So nice, apparently, that he didn’t know what to say other than to tell me that people often say he looks like Charlie Day.

Which, come to think of it, here are the three people who I’ve been compared to:

Perception is everything.

Back to the workout.

Sometimes, you just don’t want to workout. Joanie (AKA Rib Rib) has been feeling pretty down lately (end of summer blues) and was in no mood to sweat and grind. She joined me, though. She didn’t smile until the end. No need to fake it. Saddle up and grind, homegirl. You can cry in the workout if you need to.

We’re a couple of headcases  raising some head cases. Loving each other and enjoying each other’s company. We’re a team. Partnership.

But this workout is all about me. Joanie is there. But she ain’t my focus. I’m too tired and grouchy to cheer. It’s only a six minute workout, so all the good vibes can wait until after the WOD ends. I’m trying to saddle up myself.

And that’s when the magic happens.

The Workout

12 Dumbbell Jump Overs

6 Sit Ups

3 Single Arm Dumbbell Squat Snataches


My heaviest dumbbells are 25 lbs.

So this workout should be fast moving.


3… 2… 1… GO!
Round 1

Joanie is already grunting.

Just kidding, that’s me. I’m boing-boing’ing from one end to the other on these Dumbbell Jump Overs and making noises that a grown man shouldn’t make. I sound like my cats heaving up a hairball.

I quickly transition to the sit ups and feel much better than I have in years doing these. This summer has had a major focus on running. Not long distances, but rather short distances several times (as in, 16 sets of 100 meters, which accumulates to a mile). And when you run a lot, your beer belly becomes slightly less bulbous. It’s the difference between a potbellied pig and a regular pig. Which means, my body still belongs in the mud, but it’s a little easy to sit up.

Single Arm Dumbbell Squats Snatches (ahem, SADSS) are smooth and easy. I take my time to keep each arm protected (bad shoulders) and fight for depth at the bottom of each squat.

Sidebar: I think I only did three each round last year, but this year I’m doing 3 each arm each round. So, six total per round.

Round 2


Sit-ups are going well. I can’t believe it.

SADSS are going well, too. My butt feels a little pull at the bottom, but I’m controlled and the weight feels very under control. I always worry about my left shoulder, but this feels right.

Round 3

My wife loves goats. She loves their noises, their little devil faces, and she even loves their dry-heave-sounding bahhhhh’ing. Most of all, though, she loves the way they jump.

As I start my 3rd Round of Dumbbell jump overs, I can almost feel her eyes on me. She’s checking me out. Giving me the bedroom look.

At first, it was a welcomed experience. I mean, let’s be real, one of the best parts of marriage is the pants-off dance-off. Sure, I’m in the middle of a workout, but we can hit pause on the timer and…

… wait a minute.

She’s just watching me jump.

I’m jumping like a goat each rep, huh? Feet kicked out to the side. Joy in my face like a mongrel-faced idiot. She’s watching me, not with lust, but happiness. I’m tugging on her goat-loving-heartstrings.

Eeee. Eee. Eee.

She looks away. I look away. We’re back to the grind. Listen kids, if you’re looking to have a good relationship, it’s important to sweep awkward moments under the rug and pretend they never happened. Just move on. Hide those feelings.


Just because we’re on GIFs. Here’s what I look like doing sit-ups.

Sadds make my booty mads. It’s getting angry down there. Overhead squats and spicy food have the same effect on my escape hatch.

Round 4

I’m not even going to look at her. I feel like these jumps are getting easier, not harder. I’m catching a rhythm. Word class dancer, right here. The music in my head is taking over. Now, we’re just going to leap like a Capra aegagrus hircus.

This hircus belongs in the circus.

Sit-ups are harder, though. Not impossible. But they’e more difficult.

“HALF WAY THERE” My timer shouts, mocking me.

Wait, I’m not even finished with my 4th round and half the timer has already run out?

What in the Goat-raising tarnation is that?

How? I’m in prime condition. Call a full-sized Mat Fraser with 10% of the work ethic and none of the medals.


This is discouraging. I’m bummed. I’ve worked really hard and now I’m being told that I’m not even on pace to where I was last year. There has to be something wrong, only there isn’t. I’m just behind schedule.

I’m not as far along as I thought. As a matter of fact, I’m worse. Back then, my body felt the pull of pain at round 5, but here I’m suffering at round 4.

This is when self talk has to come in. Let’s dive, briefly, into 4 quick tips for self talk that can help get you over whatever self-created obstacle you’re banging your head into.

  1. Stop banging your head. Take a breath. In this moment, I wiped the sweat off my brow and took a deep breath. These Sadds are coming, but I need to fix my ‘tude, dude.
  2. Give yourself grace. Accept your situation as a situation, not an identity. It’s okay to feel like you’re making a stain on the underwear of your life. It’s not okay to rub your face in it.
  3. That’s kind of profound. Let’s go back and read that one again.
  4. Decide that even though you can’t control your current attitude the way you want, you’re going to control your effort. Take control of something. Then chip away.

Back at it, I go. 6 Sadds, three each arm. I try to close my eyes on the way down. just to silence the frustration, but end up losing balance and almost falling over.

Joanie doesn’t notice. She’s probably too busy zoning out with thoughts of goats and living on a farm with someone who can improve year over year.

Round 5

Goat leaping like it’s my job. I’m going to win back my self-respect by overcoming the adversity I put onto myself. Self talk helps when you admit you’re the one who put you in the position. It’s hard to accept your circumstances if you don’t first accept your responsibility.

Sit-ups with a slight cramp in my tum tum. Still, these aren’t as bad.

Sadds make me glad. Sadds make me glad. I love sadds like Aran loves his dad.

Round 6

This must have been how Rocky felt squaring off against Drago.

Round 7

Or maybe how the fights went in Fight Club.

Either way, I’m taking my beating and pushing through. I got less than a minute when I start this round of sadds. Joanie is happy with 5 rounds in 5 minutes, so she’s checking out. Probably just to watch me jump some more.

Round 8

I jump. She smiles.

This pain is totally worth it.

Sit-ups are started, but not finished.


That’s it.

That’s how it ends.

Here rests the beauty of self talk. It’s an argument you have with yourself and can actually win. Sure, you also lose. But that’s just a part of every fight. No one has ever come out of a real fight and felt like the winner. Other than Mike Tyson and Narcissists.

My self talk wasn’t going to help me beat last year’s score, but it helped put those numbers in perspective. I’m stronger. I know it. A score on a random day in the heat of summer doesn’t have to define my improvement. My fitness isn’t on trial during each workout.

It wasn’t my day…

… then again, maybe it was.

Danial Hooper Editor
Word Wizard/Lead Brewmaster/First Contact Seeker
I’m the family lab rat, if your family is a group of mad scientists. I mask my weaknesses by being funny and telling stories. Basically, I write posts for the blog, type up some emails, help where asked, and cry when Taz makes us run. My novels are available on Amazon. Something’s got to pay my daughters’ dance fees. I have four kids, three cats, and one wife. I love all of them dearly.