Battling the "Dadbod"

April 21, 2017

Every night when I go to bed I think about the food I'll get to eat the next day. Sometimes I get so excited that I won't fall asleep for an hour or two. Sometimes I sneak a peek into the fridge or pantry to see the food for myself just one last time before heading off to dreamland. If I'm ever tricked into hiking, I will talk the whole way up and whole way down about the food I'd rather be eating (I call this game "food fantasy" and everyone else hates it). I go to the gym each week with the sole intention of seeing friends, wishing ill on the trainers, and imagining super fit gym rats being forced to eat chocolate cake like that kid on Matilda. So I am the least, LEAST qualified dad out there to talk about battling the "dadbod*." I am a walking "dadbod" myself. I mean the truth is while I'll never be the cover model for Men's Health or Muscle magazine, I do want to be healthier so I feel better and will be around long enough to spoil grandkids.

 

*Dadbod is the affectionate term for a dad who at one point in his life was rather fit, but now, after becoming a father, has gotten a bit fatter, having spent less time at the gym and focusing more on fatherhood than fitness. It's why my pants don't always fit.

 

So I reached out to the fitness dads that follow me on social media and asked for help. I've put their answers to a questionnaire I had them answer on here. I had dads answer from all over the world: Mexico, Norway, Idaho! I've aggregated their responses and put some of their helpful advice on here not to shame anyone, nor to make anyone feel like they need to drop their baby right now and start doing pushups, but to give ideas for you to adopt into your own life as you work at becoming more fit and battling the "Dadbod." 

 

 

1. What is the biggest obstacle to working out you face as a Dad? 

 

"Time restriction for sure. Why wife and I work 8 to 5 every day and some times we need to put a few extra hours in the afternoon. Our baby goes to sleep between 8 and 9 at night, so we just have a few hours a day to enjoy her. In our priorities baby comes first, working out second. So we need to sacrifice sometimes sleep." 

- Jose from Michigan.

 

"Time. I think every other dad out there would agree with me on this. Between work, responsibilities, and ensuring time for your family, time to workout can be the first thing to go."

- Andrew from Vestfossen, Norway. 

 

2. What are three things a dad can do to loose the "DadBod"?

 

"Make a commitment to identify and change habits that got you to the Dad Bod in the first place. Change your eating habits. Eating is the most important part of having a healthy body and, for most of us, the most difficult thing to adjust. The key is to work with someone who understands your goals and nutrition and then start making changes to your eating habits. Exercise consistently and make sure that weight training is part of that. Cardio alone won't get you the results you want." 

-Josh from Utah. 

 

"1) Try to lose stress as stress just makes our bodies store fat 2) Eat healthier 3) Just get active."

- Aaron from Alberta, Canada.

 

"Be as active as possible – working out, playing with kids, go for walks, playing sports, etc. Eat healthy and an amount of calories that fosters a caloric deficit to lose body fat. Get plenty of rest/sleep! – this is often overlooked and tough being a dad, but adequate sleep is needed for optimal metabolism (fat loss) and muscle growth." 

- Robert from Illinois.

 

"Eat right, sleep well, train reasonably. I put “eat right” first because it's probably the second most important, sleep being the first, but we're not in control of our sleeping habits any more, right? Training reasonably means training hard, but in a way that's manageable for you, there's no point having a 5 day training plan if you can't find the time to train 5 days a week. Most dads would benefit from training the whole body at once, rather than bodypart splits."

- Andrew from Vestfossen, Norway. 

 3. What are the best three things a dad should be eating?

 

"1) Chicken as a protein source. 2) More vegetables as most men I know skip this! 3) Not eating, but they need to drink more water!"

- Aaron from Alberta, Canada

 

"Keep it simple - Drink water, eat Fresh fruit and veg, lean fresh meat. Stick to whole grains (brown rice, wholemeal pasta and bread). Don't be too worried about 'super' foods."

- Daniel from Newcastle, Australia. 

 

 "I don't really subscribe to 'best' and 'worst' foods but if I had to break it down: 1. Meat/Protein, 2. Veggies, 3. If you have done 1 and 2 80% of the time eat whatever you want." 

- Jared from Washington

 

4. What are the worst three things a dad could eat? 

 

"Soda-we all get that crash feeling in the afternoon, soda is full of empty calories and processed sugar. Fried Foods- try to cut out those delicious french fries, maybe try roasting potatoes instead. Sweets-it's OK to treat yourself every now and then, but try some roasted fruits with cinnamon for dessert instead of cakes, pies and other creamy desserts"

- Nick from Colorado

 

"Candy, ready meals, junk food. These things are ok SOME of the time, not ALL of the time. The reason being that they are often high in calories with little-to-no nutritional value."

- Andrew from Vestfossen, Norway.

 

 "The worst things you can eat are those that you can't control or that will trigger binge eating." 

- Jared from Washington

5. How do you stay motivated to work out?

 

"Honestly, now my motivation to work out is less about my physique or what I look like and more ensuring I am in great health overall to be around for a long time for my family.  I also get blood tests at least 2x a year to ensure my heart health is great as well." 

-Robert from Illinois. 

 

"I tried to think about my daughter and my coming son and lots of things that I could do with them if I'm not physically health, like play with them for hours, jump, run, dance, and thousand of other activities the love to do."

-Juan from Veracruz. México.

 

"Motivation will always come and go, no one feels motivated all the time (and I say that as a personal trainer), it will take a certain level of dedication to continue with your training. For me, I want to be healthy to enjoy life with my kids, to kick football (soccer), play-fight, take hikes and explore, and when they say to other kids “my dad is stronger than your dad” I want that to be right at least 80% of the time."

- Andrew from Vestfossen, Norway. 

 

6. Any gym etiquette you think a dad should follow?

 

"Number one Re-racking your weight(s) when finished, be courteous to others, and do not make fun of people at the gym! We are all there for the same reasons."

- Josh from Idaho.

 

"Don´t try to impress anybody, do it for yourself, clean your place when you finish, and wear earphones- not everybody loves the music you do!"

-Juan from Veracruz. México.

 

"1. Putting your weights back when done (re-racking weights). 2. No dropping or slamming weights/machines – this is disruptive and risks injury or breaking equipment, plus full control during exercise motions is key! 3. Everyone one is there to better themselves so being supportive and not judgmental is great practice!"

- Robert from Illinois. 

 

7. Any workouts you could do at the office?

 

"I do not have a specific workout, but what I love to recommend is trying to take a few 10 min walks throughout your workday.  Most importantly after meals if possible.  Generally getting in a few walks throughout the day can add up to a good amount of cardio daily and a brief walk after a meal can improve digestion and insulin sensitivity.  Also if you have a desk job and have option to stand while working that is great option for your body and less strain on back."

- Robert from Illinois. 

 

"After three minutes of moderate activity I would need a shower and a new outfit. So, I try to stay active. My job requires me to stay in a desk 90% of the time. When I have a meeting with someone else in the office, I propose to have it walking around the parking lot (of course I won't propose that to a VP or Senior Manager, you know who you can ask this kind of things). I stretch regularly at work, at least 5 minutes every hour. And, I squeeze my Crossfit session at lunch time. It takes me 5 minutes to get there and 5 minutes to take a shower after. So, one hour is good to go, get your workout done, quick shower and back to work."

- Jose from Michigan.

 

"If you're not embarrassed all you need is a space the size of your body, start doing some pushups, situps and air squats when you get into the office, or maybe mid-day. Shoot for 20 of each then try and do 5 more each week. Also try walking on your lunch break. If you have stairs take those instead of the elevator, park as far away from your entrance as possible."

- Nick from Colorado

 8. Three best tips for eating healthy? 

 

"1. Drink lots of water. 2. Snack on nuts, pretzels, trail mix. 3. Learn how to roast most of your food...vegetables and meats. You can control the oil and seasoning by doing so and it brings out great flavors."

- Nick from Colorado

 

"Healthy eating is the most difficult part to stay in shape or get rid of the DadBod, no question about it. So, what I do is: Sunday is meal prep day and I need to do it in 1 hr, for the whole week. My menu is the same for a month, Monday through Friday, it is boring, but I like it and it is easy to prepare. Every Sunday night, I get 15 containers (3 meals a day) and 10 plastic bags (2 snacks a day). If by any reason I forget bringing my lunch to work, I have my secret stash to back me up."

- Jose from Michigan

 

"Plan ahead! Make and bring food to work. Have a healthy snack with you all the time. Listen to your body." 

- Aaron from Alberta, Canada.

 

"Plan your meals, make sure to have vegis with every meal and experiment with different recipes so it doesn't get boring."

- Anthony from California.

 9. Three best tips for working out? 

 

"Weight training is key! Make weight training the focus of your workouts. Be consistent. Learn muscle groups and how to target them. People always joke about this...but DON'T skip leg day! :) Your leg muscles are the biggest in the body. The more leg strength you have, the more calories you'll burn even while at rest."

- Josh from Utah.

 

"Plan your days and keep a workout/food log to track your progress."

- Anthony from California.

 

"Make the most of your workout time. Have a workout you can do at home or on the road when you can't make it to the gym using your bodyweight or minimal equipment. Involve your kids, get them interested in health and fitness from a young age, it can become something you do as a family. And if I can throw in a forth: find something you enjoy."

- Andrew from Vestfossen, Norway. 

 

"1. If you haven't been active for awhile, start by making sure you're posture is good and your core strength is active. This may mean getting some attention from a good physiotherapist and/or starting with something like yoga or pilates. 2. Regular short exercise is better than ambitious gym plans because it has to be sustainable. Bike rides, running, home gym have been the things that keep me going. Otherwise I need group training that i pay for to motivate me and keep me accountable to turn up regularly. 3. Combine it with something you enjoy, if you like riding then ride, if you like boxing do that, because the enjoyment of the activity will help keep you motivated."

- Daniel from Newcastle , Australia

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