Advice for Dads: How to Avoid Dad Bod
“192 pounds. You’re a big boy,” commented the anesthesiologist before I went into surgery to repair my ruptured patellar tendon. I sighed and let the anaesthesia do its work. Eight months of rehabilitation was ahead of me when I woke up from surgery. There was no one to blame but me, myself and my dad bod. If I could, I would have told my past self to skip flag football after overindulging in Christmas food (and drink). I would have told myself to get some exercise once in awhile. I would have taught myself how to avoid dad bod 1
It’s stressful starting a new family. You make one adjustment after another. You overcome an obstacle right before another one comes up. You lose sleep. You lose track. You become so preoccupied with your new bundle of joy that you forget to take care of yourself.
You eat more takeout because it’s fast and easy. You skip the gym because you would rather stay at home. You take the elevator because you’re too tired and sleep-deprived to take the stairs.
Eating poorly + lack of exercise = Dad Bod. Luckily, this equation is not a foregone conclusion. There are ways to avoid dad bod.
It’s obvious, but the execution is challenging. It’s tough to turn on the stove after a long day at work – or a long day at home taking care of the little one. Yes, it’s easier to pick up fast food or order food for delivery. But that’s a recipe for more fat, more salt and more ingredients that you can’t pronounce.
If you’re too busy to prepare a home cooked meal invest in a slow cooker. You put all the ingredients in a pot, turn it on and a few hours later, you’ve got a delicious meal. Chilli, pulled pork or chicken soup are tasty and easy to make with a slow cooker.
Again, it’s obvious, but the execution is challenging. Getting up early to run or go to the gym might be too hard or complicated. You can’t necessarily jump out of bed to go for a run anymore. You have to think about the schedule that works for the whole family. If your partner’s been home all day with the baby, the last thing they want to hear is that you’re stepping out for a leg day.
Make it an activity with your partner. Arrange some babysitting and go for a run. Sign up for a team sport together like co-ed ultimate, or soccer. Joining a team sport is a great way to get exercise and a great way to see your friends 2. If you arrange the substitutions right, you can even show off your little one in between scoring goals.
Eating well and being active are great ways to avoid dad bod, but before you reach for that salad or do one pushup, you have to be mindful of what you’re doing. When you hear your child cry, nothing else matters. Parents develop a one track mind that puts everything else in the backseat. Parents have to remember to take care of themselves so that they can take care of their child.
This doesn’t mean taking care of yourself first or only yourself. It means being mindful that you need to take care of yourself alongside your child and your partner.
Having a child and building a family is hard work. Adding another member to your family isnj’t a smooth transition. You become a new person with new responsibilities and a new way of life. You have to work hard to become the best person you can be for yourself and for your family.
I’m not saying I’m a finished product. Far from it. But I know that I want to be better than I was yesterday. I don’t want to end up overweight again 3. I start there. I’ll be mindful. I’ll work hard. I’ll eat well and stay active so that I avoid dad bod.
- In case you’re unfamiliar, dad bod is “A guy who has kids and was once in shape and still has guns that can crush beer cans but also with a belly that says I drank those beers and I can eat 6 slices of pizza in one sitting.” ↩
- Or talk to other adults. ↩
- Or worse. ↩