This is a post from Fit Dad Nation member, Zabi.
My name is Zabi Khan and I am a full time single dad from Orlando Florida. I have been single handedly raising my daughter for the last 3 years (since she turned 5)
I moved here from Canada a little over 3 years ago and was thrown into the most challenging situation of my life. My ex had a serious mental illness, which had been challenging enough over the last 10 years but the manic episodes really blew up in my face when we moved to Florida.
It had barely been 2 months since we moved and life turned into a crazy roller coaster ride involving various psychiatric wards, 911 calls, Baker Acts and putting up with a lot of abuse. I didn’t have family or any friends here for support and barely knew anyone around here…I felt very alone with my 5 year old in tow…It was the darkest phase of my life.
After more than a year of intense struggle and feeling like I was stuck in quicksand, I finally decided I couldn’t live like that and it would be devastating for my child to grow up in such a disturbing environment. I had no idea how I was going to raise my daughter alone with no family to support me in this country but I bit the bullet and filed for divorce…
It was around this time of extreme stress that someone suggested I work out to help me deal with the stress. I had never set foot in a gym my entire life and at one point, weighed almost 200lbs. I was very fortunate to find a facility that had friendly and motivating fitness instructors.
I began by taking boot camp classes twice a week and remember it being so difficult that I would be totally out of breath in half an hour. But I stuck to it and within 2-3 weeks I began to love how I felt after each workout.
I slowly began working out more and trying various types of group workouts, spin class, kickboxing etc. and soon realized that working out was kinda becoming my anti-depressant.
My outlook in life slowly began to brighten up and I signed up for a body transformation challenge to keep me accountable. When I won that challenge, it was such a huge motivator and got me rolling in the right direction.
I’d set a short 2-month goal, achieve it and make another more aggressive goal, achieve it, set another goal and just keep going on that way. My motivation has been to set an example for my daughter so she can see that setting goals and achieving them is possible if you take it one step at a time.
The group workouts always had music going and soon I began enjoying listening to music again; in fact something strange happened when my heart rate was up and there was music in the background, I just felt like dancing so I pursued dancing as well!
It All Started With Small Steps
Fast forward to today and I work out like a nutcase cause I love it! I do everything from CrossFit, spin classes, kickboxing, boot camps, obstacle races, gymnastics and dancing!
What began as a simple attempt to shed the stress that I was undergoing, turned my whole life around. A good friend of mine had said that a small 2-degree shift in your thinking and attitude can lead to a huge shift over a few years if you stick to it. That is exactly what I am experiencing; I am so different from the depressed person I was two years ago.
Parenting is hard enough but it’s even more challenging as a full time single dad 100% of the time. I find working out keeps me in a happy place mentally, which allows me to deal with all the ups and downs of single parenting in a calmer way.
My lil girl is 8 now and it fills me with pride whenever I see her accomplish even the smallest of victories because I know my hard work is paying off and I’m leading by example!
I’m 41 and in the best shape of my life and can easily say that I’ve never been happier in my entire life! A friend recently asked me why I’m doing gymnastics at this age… I said, “Well because I can!” 😉
Never in my wildest dreams would I have even thought about trying gymnastics two years ago… I wonder what I’ll be up to two years from now?!?