LAST SUMMER, my 18-year-old son sent me a shirtless selfie.
He was posing in front of a mirror, flexing, and he’d texted me, “im not little joe any-more.”
That’s what I’ve always called him, Lil’ Joe.
Then came the videos: Lil’ Joe doing pushups, Lil’ Joe clanging weights, Lil’ Joe hustling on the treadmill.
I blame Joe’s cousin Trey for all this. Trey does jujitsu and he’s ripped, and after Joe started hanging out with Trey more, Joe started eating better and drinking vanilla protein shakes.
Why Lil’ Joe decided to share his progress with me, I have no clue. But if he was trying to motivate me to lose what my girlfriend [Chelsea Handler] calls my “moon face,” it worked. I told myself all kinds of bullshit in 2020 and 2021 about how I’d get in shape “later.”
But between Lil’ Joe’s discipline and my lady’s longtime commitment to working out, there was so much indirect peer pressure, I felt like I had to make changes. So I stopped buying soda. I started eating salads once a day. I woke up at 6: 30 and went to the gym with my girlfriend.
And things started happening.
After I lost about 15 pounds, I took a selfie and sent it to Lil’ Joe.“Dad caught up,” I texted him.
I never thought I’d be a member of a fit family. I used to weigh a doughy 189; now I’m down to a lean 165. My moon face is waning. My son is almost as jacked as Trey.
I had a choice when Lil’ Joe started working out. I could have embraced my dad bod. But now I’m proud I chose strength. We all feel good.
Maybe I do have to start calling my son Big Joe now—which makes me Medium Jo?
A version of this article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of Men’s Health.
Jo Koy is an actor, a stand-up comedian, the author of the memoir Mixed Plate, and stars in Easter Sunday (in theaters August 5).
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