Some reckon ‘dad bod’ is sexy and desirable but if you don’t see it that way, here are five basic tips to guard against the extra pudginess.
The ‘dad bod’ phenomenon was one of those overnight social trends which emerged a couple of years back. Depending on who you listen to, it might have started with a post by blogger Mackenzie Pearson, entitled ‘Why Girls Love the Dad Bod’, which detailed the ‘not fit… but not fat either’ character of the body shape.
It described fathers who might do some weekly exercise, in terms of organised sport, gym, running, etc, but who also still drink alcohol, eat pizza and chocolate. Essentially, most of us.
And while it was generally applied to guys in their mid-to-late 30s and beyond, dad bod can definitely also happen to younger fathers. Why? Plenty of legit theories. Perhaps it’s because, with a partner and a new child, we now feel ‘comfortable’. Domesticity is suddenly much more preferable to clubbing. In our heads, the certainty of family life means we don’t need to be as attractive to someone anymore. The result is more indulgence and less activity.
More definitely, there’s the stress and fatigue factor. Small children consume your time, deprive you of sleep, and limit your independence to do things you formerly did, including gym, surfing, biking, or any other physical activity which helped you stay trim and terrific. We begin to make excuses to skip these things and before you know it, you’ve gained five kegs.
Identifying dad bod of course birthed a plethora of fitness programs and regimes to address it. Many of them fall into one of two categories: the ones that believe you want to swap dad bod for Chris Hemsworth-like form, and the ones that are too laughably soft to land even a punch on that paunch.
We read a stack of these (so you don’t have to) to distil the most useful advice for toning up dad bod, should you actually want to…
Don’t put off exercise, of any sort.
As mentioned above, fatigue and lack of time leads to making easy excuses for regular physical activity in your week. And if you think, ‘I’ll do something when the kids are asleep’ it’s odds-on you won’t, as that’s when the exhaustion really sets in. The key is to use dad activity as an opportunity to work-out, from long walks with the kid, pram and dog, to push-ups and pull-ups on the kiddie equipment in the park while they’re playing. Chasing your kids around the yard a couple of times a week won’t do it. It needs to be regular and it needs to involve some genuine exertion.
Concentrate on the basics.
As suggested by the first point, you don’t need to be in a well-equipped gym or have a $6,000 bike to fend off your dad bod. Concentrate on simple exercises which create stress and resistance on the body and complete them with perfect technique – running on the spot, step-ups on a park bench, burpees, the plank etc – to get the heart rate up and some calories burned off.
Focus on your health.
Fatherhood brings with it – for the first time in their life, for many men – a selfless approach in which it’s the health and welfare of their child and partner which takes priority over their own. And while this is admirable and expected, it can also take a toll on your own health. Better to remember that without a physically and mentally healthy dad, the whole family shebang might fall apart. That means making some time for a walk, jog or swim, ideally without your mobile, to clear the head and return to your family with unbridled enthusiasm. We’ve found additional motivation from using wearable devices that track fitness activity and monitor, heart rate, weight. Add some other dads to your Strava feed for a bit of healthy competition.
Dispense with vanity.
While some dads may want to look like they’ve stepped from the pages of Men’s Health, and that’s perfectly fine, for most of us regular exercise should be less about six-packs and huge traps and more about the basic benefit to our blood pressure, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, cholesterol levels and the like from staying active.
Diet diet diet…
With tiredness, stress, restricted time and all the other challenges of parenthood generally comes ‘comfort’ eating and other bad dietary choices. Just because your kids don’t or won’t eat salad and vegetables, doesn’t give you a leave pass to do the same. While we all need a bowl of ice cream from time to time, check how often you’re making the convenient choice over fresh, healthy food that may yet take time to properly prepare. Dad bod is a creeper… little bad habits develop here and there and before you know it, you’re a lot heavier than you were. Be vigilant. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to take a week off the booze once a month.
Read up on some tips from PT Richard Kerrigan offering advice on how to lose weight after becoming a new parent.