Chris is the founder of Father Fit, online personal training designed specifically for dads. He’s now on a mission to fight dad bods.
Does the thought of training or exercise just feel like effort? Perhaps it feels intimidating, you’re not sure what exercises you should do? Maybe the journey back to health seems out of reach? Not enough time in the day to factor it in alongside work and family?
Let me tell you, all these feelings are valid and more common than you think.
The average dad gains 8.5kg when they join the father band of brothers! Are you surprised by that? You may be surprised to hear that even I, a trainer with over 10 years experience across the world’s leading PT gyms, built my very own ‘Dadbod’ after my son Beau was born. Allow me to set the scene..
It was lockdown, a tiny human had taken permanent residence in my home, newborn chaos was in full swing and on-piled the pounds. What did we do with all our time before kids? Did we just hang out in our pants?
I digress. Our bundles of joy pop along and the door of fatherhood swings wide open. Therein lies a tiny human, hurling a pramload of new responsibilities our way. Guilt creeps in at the prospect of nipping off to the gym, nutrition takes a hit as we inhale whatever we can find to fill a hole and all the while, work carries on in the background (quite possibly with very tired eyes).
Being Dad is one of life’s greatest treasures, a privilege, but it’s ok to acknowledge the struggles it can bring and the impact it can have on our health, both mentally and physically. In turn, did you know that our own health can impact the health of those we love most – our kids?
I wasn’t happy with the direction my health was taking or how I was looking, and I was driven to be the best dad possible. That meant looking after me for a moment. News flash: a healthy, happy dad has benefits that trickle through the whole family. We all know the importance of being a present, happy and active dad, in relation to the future outcomes of our kids. Long story short, kids are way more likely to be overweight or obese if their father is. The good news? With the right guidance, fat loss is pretty simple.
So, how did I bring it back? Like so many other dad’s who I coach, I didn’t feel it was practical or fair to leave my wife before or after work to train. It felt selfish, she needed a moment to breathe. What was practical at that time? Committing to 4x 30 minute gym sessions on my lunch break a week, hitting at least 10k steps a day and healthy nutrition. I dropped the stone I had gained in just over eight weeks, bringing me back to my comfortable, strong and confident self. The mind followed and I was happy and in control again, the man my family needed me to be.
Where to start? Moving more is a good place to start. So, what simple tweaks can you make to move more? Here are three simple, family friendly tips.
Encourage everyone to go for a walk and make it fun (obviously how you do this will depend on how old your kids are!). Race each other, spot yellow cars, set competitions; see who can find the longest stick! If you have a small one, make sure you are the one to carry or push them for some added load, choose the hilly route and believe me, you’ll feel great for it afterwards.
You can’t let your kids train harder than you, can you?! Even if they give you the side-eye to begin with, you’re still leading by example and showing them it’s important and normal to make time to move your body. Chances are they won’t be able to resist joining in and chances are they’ll squat better than you! Bonus: extra bonding time with fun dad!
Routine is something that you can control and the benefits of having one are huge. Guess what? When you carve out a routine that includes the things you want to do, you no longer need to try and pigeonhole them into life, they become habits, simply the way you live your life. Schedule a time to workout or even just to walk, and prioritise that time. Do you only have an hour lunch break? 30 minutes, 4x a week is 2 hours of training. It may not sound much, but trust me, it’ll make all the difference.
For more tips, follow me on Instagram @FatherFitPT