By Jeremy Koerber, ACSM Exercise Physiologist
First off to all of my fellow dad’s I wish you a happy Father’s Day. It is an awesome privilege and responsibility to be the patriarch of a growing family and you owe it to them to be the best you can possibly be as a dad, provider, husband and employee. The problem is, the wear and tear of the daily grind, long commutes, early mornings/late nights, coaching little league and mowing the yard can wear a man down. So much in fact, some let themselves slide a little. Okay, some slide a lot and even more rationalize that it is okay to let that growing belly fall over the belt buckle embracing a popular mindset called the Dad Bod.
The Urban Dictionary was kind enough to provide a definition for the term which is “a male body type that is best described as ‘softly round.’ It is built on the theory that once a man has found a mate and fathered a child, he doesn’t need to worry about maintaining a sculpted physique.”
That’s right ladies. Your man has met his duties to reproduce and is now comfortable residing on the couch with a Dorito stained tank top and matching protruding belly. He got the girl, he passed on his genes and now he can quit. It is a dangerous mindset; not just for the dad in question but also for the message he is sending to both the mother of his progeny and his kids.
In this day and age, strong men are few and far between so if you are a dude and you are reading this I am going to tell you why you need to reject the dad bod mindset!
Be a provider:
I was fortunate enough to grow up around strong men and when I say strong men, I mean men who were physically fit. No, they didn’t go to the gym; they were farmers who could carry a baby calf, throw a bale of hay over their head and carry buckets of water forever. As a personal trainer who has been training clients in St. Louis, MO for 20 years, I was enamored by the physicality of the men who influenced me to be strong. I wanted to be like them. Grandpa was a fisherman, hunter and physical specimen. These men worked from sun up to sun down and had both the strength and stamina to provide for the family.
Today is a different time and you may have never set foot on a farm or hunted a deer and that is totally fine but you are still a provider. You need the strength and stamina to be successful in your job. To put in the hours, make the sale or nail that presentation as you climb the corporate ladder. All things you can do if you are not in shape but a task that can be much, much easier when you are healthy and fit.
I have told my personal training clients for years that being fit will give you confidence that will be felt in the board room when you give that presentation or in the field when you make that sales pitch to a prospective client. When you are physically fit you will also project confidence and this will give you an edge over those who are not. You may not have to literally hunt or grow your own food but as the provider for your family you owe it to yourself to be fit.
Be careful little eyes:
I am constantly reminded by my wife when she scolds me for colorful language that my kids are listening and learning from me. That song that goes, “be careful little eyes what you see” got me thinking a few years ago about the image I am projecting to my kids. Was I being a good role model for them?
This would mean I not only clean up my language but also demonstrate healthy
behaviors such as regular exercise and healthy eating habits.
Wouldn’t a personal trainer and wellness coach always exercise and eat healthy? Not as much as you might expect. Exercise wasn’t the issue. Eating my fruits, veggies and cutting back on the Bud Light were the main culprits. They fought their mother when it came to eating their veggies so how do you think that looked when I said it was important but didn’t eat them myself? Zero street cred with the kiddies. Since that realization I have cut back on the beers and made a concerted effort to model healthy eating.
Dads, what are you doing to be a role model for your kids? They are learning from you and will copy your physical activity and eating habits.
Let me be clear; you do not have to be a body builder, marathon runner or super fit. You don’t need a six-pack or chiseled chest (although the wife may think differently) nor do you need to drink green smoothies and wear a fit bit everywhere you go.
You do need to be mindful of the image you are projecting to your kids because your habits are being emulated and copied. If you want healthy kids that will turn into healthy adults, be mindful of what those little eyes are witnessing today.
What about her?
Now I am not sure if there is a definition for mom bod but the ladies aren’t immune to letting things slide but tread lightly gentleman. Until you expel another human from your body let’s give the girls a little bit of a pass if they don’t possess the same flat tummy or firm backside they had back in the dating days. But let’s also not forget that the physical attraction that drew you two together in the first place needs to be addressed.
If you are a former gym rat and now find yourself a shell of your former self due to work, coaching little league, striving for yard of the month in your subdivision it’s okay. You may not have the same amount of time to commit to the gym as before but come on gentleman, don’t throw in the towel and give up!
Jam packed schedules and Father Time will make it harder and harder to have that college summer bod forever but you owe it to yourself and her to do what you can to look and feel your best.
She may not ever say it but she’s thinking it. Don’t argue…she’s thinking it. I am a personal trainer who has heard many a female client lament on the b cups and expanding waistline possessed by the husband/boyfriend and their wish that they would take better care of themselves.
This may not be the top reason to avoid the dad bod mindset but if you have been married for a while and are not…how shall we say this….not happy with the action of yesteryear, consider eating a few less doughnuts, hit the gym a little more and see if your bedroom extracurricular activities pick up. Hint: They will.
You need to be around:
Now everything listed above are great reasons to reject the dad bod mindset but the most important one is that you need to be around to raise your kids (and grandkids), get to retirement and keep that twinkle in the wife’s eye; Something hard to do when you are six feet under.
That may sound a bit dramatic but I can attest that what you are doing now will impact who and what you will become 10, 20, 30 and 40+ years down the line. If you are doing it all right (working hard at the job, coaching your kid to crush a fastball and making sure you apply the right amount of weed & feed to get that emerald green yard) but fail to take care of yourself, you are failing and failing big, my friend.
This goes deeper than eating more veggies and lifting a few weights. This includes managing stress, getting your age appropriate health screenings and a yearly physical on top of exercising and eating right. It sounds exhausting but it isn’t. It requires some effort on your part, a little planning and some big picture thinking.
I bet you are a hard worker. One of the saddest things I have had the misfortune to witness more times than I care to count is to watch a dad work hard all of his life only to neglect his health and succumb to complications from diabetes, heart disease or cancer early in his retirement years.
Buddy, we need you around and to increase the odds that you are here for the long haul to provide for your family, raise your kids the right way and see your grandkids…shoot…see your great-grandkids, you need to completely reject the rationale that having a dad bod is okay. It isn’t okay but you have the power to change it. And now, you have the reasons why!
If we can help you lose the dad bod give us a call at 314-807- 8634 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributions made by Fit2Hunt Staff!