If you feel like you need to hit the gym to build up those kid-carrying muscles, or play outside with your children, then this might help inspire you.
Seb Delaval (pictured above), 38, is the Head of Sales in a financial services company and father to two young boys aged, four and two. But while he’d always been pretty fit, the pandemic made him feel like he was getting more sluggish and lazy and he worried he wasn’t as energetic and able to play as well as he could with his kids. So after seeing his wife and brother-in-law lose weight with Ultimate Performance, he decided to give it a crack. He tells us how it went (as you can see from the picture – it went, er, well).
You’ve recently been through a remarkable physical transformation. How did you balance the competing demands of work and being a dad to two young boys, with going to the gym and working on your health and fitness?
It was an organisational challenge but a rewarding one. Training at U.P. would have had to be during lunch time or in the evening after the kids went to bed regarding home workouts (that time usually allocated to Netflix!), I am fortunate to have a good home gym with a multi-gym equipment, dumbbells and a bench allowing me to perform a good workout. Otherwise, a visit to the local David Lloyd was the go-to solution. Meal planning was key to save lots of time and I used to cook a week worth of carefully prepped meals on Sunday evening, plus ordering some of the great U.P. Meals when necessary. This almost military-style health routine allowed me to spend quality time with my sons whenever possible.
Has it increased your concentration and productivity at work? Or improved the quality of your family time?
The rapid effects of such a training are increased energy levels and cognitive alertness, due to lots of exercise, good food/nutrients and supplementation (Omega 3-6, Multi-Vitamins, Magnesium for improved sleep…) I felt more alert and switched on at work and in life, although being in a calorie deficit was hard at times.
Mentally, I have always been an optimistic and positive person, changing my lifestyle completely (nutrition, training, sleep habits) has provided me with even better mental benefits, such as feeling energised, more cognitively switched-on and less stressed. I also used to have constant back or shoulder pains due to stress, all of which disappeared thanks to getting stronger over time.
What advice would you give to a working dad who is feeling sluggish and a lack of energy at the end of a working day and being too tired to play with their children?
Simple things like increased exercise in the form of resistance training mostly and some mild cardio, prioritising sleep (8 hours minimum of quality sleep), nutrition is so important either if you want to lose or maintain weight, selecting good quality whole foods is key (i.e. try and reduce carbs intake, privilege good proteins and fats, drink lots of water) and let’s not forget reduction or suppression of alcohol especially at night which prevents good sleep habits.
What practical steps did you take to incorporate changes to your diet and fitness into your daily habits?
Whether your thing is cardio or strength training (or both!), practicing regularly and enjoying is great but the key is to start adopting a good nutrition plan and acquiring an awareness of calories in versus calories expended. For fat loss or maintaining weight, a clean diet that you can stick to more likely represents over 90% of the work.
My number one advice would be: do not give up, believe in your ability to follow your trainer’s program and nutrition plan. Even with the best trainer in the world, only you can be fully compliant by prepping your meals, tracking calories/macros, notwithstanding completing 15,000 steps per day to accelerate fat loss.
My next tip, enjoy every second of it, as I did!
I’m sure a lot of dads will agree with you that physically carrying two children can be tiring! Particularly if you’re out shopping and the children are tired? Have you noticed it is easier to carry them now you’re in good physical shape?
Getting stronger and healthier rapidly was a game changer in the way I interacted with my kids and fulfilled my role as a father. My two boys are especially boisterous and love being carried, thrown in the air and play rough… I saw this as an extension of my workouts ! More seriously, lots of young parents get injured (mothers, and fathers included) as they carry babies or toddlers for long periods of time, without good balance etc. I myself had a back muscle injury after repeatedly picking up my oldest son when he was a baby, this muscle group was telling me ‘I have had enough, use your legs mate!’, and it lasted three weeks!
What did you find were the mental health benefits?
First of all, working out releases good hormones and relieves stress, as we all know. But the importance of feeling more energetic, healthy and switched on has an implicit impact on how one feels mentally with increased confidence and overall state physically. For instance, I used to have back and shoulder pains (I have an office job) and all of that disappeared with resistance training, weight (fat) loss and feeling less stressed generally. It is a free medicine (that and good sleep), so use it profusely!