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June 19, 2022

How to Fight Off the Dad Bod

What prize did the inventor of the knock-knock joke get? The No-Bell prize. Get it? Where do you find a dog with no legs? Right where you left him. Ha Ha!

Everybody loves a good dad joke. . . And most dads tell great jokes. Dads need to be funny, strong, dependable, protective, and inexhaustible. And those qualities need to continue at least until their children grow old enough to take care of themselves.

For dads, taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do to take care of your family. It’s like the flight attendant tells you before takeoff, “. . . if you’re traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, put on your oxygen mask first before you assist others.”

But for dad’s, especially new ones, taking time to take care of themselves is rough. About 50 percent of dads gain weight during pregnancy—some as much as 30 pounds. I mean come on; mom can’t eat that ice cream by herself. The problem with that—dads don’t give birth to their extra 30 pounds; moms do.

Then the baby comes, and everything changes. Dad’s whole world turns upside down in ways he never expected or could have prepared for. There’s 2:00 am feedings, 5:00 am diaper changes, the baby cries all night and takes hours to fall asleep, you run out of diapers at 9:00 pm. Now you’re with no sleep, no breakfast, fast food for lunch, skipped workouts, stress and no time to mow the lawn. Many dads end up becoming a chubbier, slower version of themselves at a time when they need to be on their A-games.

But dad’s need to take care of themselves because they are critical to the health of the family. And good dads are in short supply. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home.

Research shows that a father’s absence affects children in numerous unfortunate ways, while a father’s presence makes a positive difference in the lives of both children and mothers.

A child raised in a home without a father is at four times greater risk of poverty and seven times more likely to become pregnant as a teen. They are also twice as likely to drop out of school.

While most men don’t choose to be absent, more good men are becoming absent because of some changes in when and how we do start a family.

Dads are getting older. In 1972 the average age of fathers of newborns was 27; now it’s 32. That’s significant because it puts dads 5 years closer to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. At age 45, a man’s risk of heart disease increases significantly. That puts most kids at 13 when the chances of dad dying greatly increase.

Dads also experience significant hormonal changes at childbirth. A five-year study published in 2011, found that men, on average, experience a 34-percent drop in testosterone when they become fathers. This makes sense because testosterone is largely responsible for motivating men to find partners. Being a successful father requires focusing inward on the family and resisting the drive to seek out another partner.

Studies have suggested that this paternal drop in testosterone can cause an increase in oxytocin and dopamine, which are key reward and bonding hormones. This makes childcare for new dads a rewarding experience filled with happiness and contentment—a great trade-off for the task at hand.

But the drop in testosterone presents another huge blow to dad’s physique and his ego. If testosterone drops, so does your ability to maintain and build muscle. Also, lower testosterone means you will store more fat.

For a lot of dads, the combination of stress, lack of time, bad eating habits and lower testosterone starts a downward health spiral towards obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Dads, you can live differently, for the betterment of you and your family. Let’s look at a few tips to help you fight off that dad bod.

Establish You Time

Work with your spouse to set aside time every day just for you. That time could last 15 minutes, or an hour. Start with something that works with everyone’s schedule; then stick to it. Remember you must put on your oxygen mask first before you assist others. Do everything you can to keep this time sacred. If it means getting up at 4:30 am, then turn off the TV and go to bed at 9:30 pm (that’s what I do).

Exercise Every Day

Do something active every day for 20 to 30 minutes. Walk or ride a bike at least 5 days a week. Strength train at least once a week. Your family needs you to be strong and healthy. Plan your exercise sessions every week and never miss. Put in the reps because your family needs you to.

Play with Your Kids Every Day

If you spend 15 minutes playing with your kids every day, it will seem like an hour to them. Meg Meeker, author of Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need, says it’s not the amount of time you spend with your kids, but the quality of that time that matters. When kids get your undivided attention, time slows down for them.

Read Something to Make You a Better Person Every Day

As a dad, you should always be working to be the best version of you possible. You need to lead your family. Leaders are readers. Reading great books on marriage, finances, parenting, or self-improvement will help you become a better dad. Some of the books that have helped me be a better dad are: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink, Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, The Go-Getter by Peter Kyne, The Travelers Gift by Andy Andrews, and The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. If you want to be a great dad, start reading one great book a month.

Practice Your Spirituality

Every major religion designates the men as the spiritual leaders of the family. If you want to be a great dad, start by practicing your spirituality. Lead your family by example. Meditate, read scriptures, and pray on a daily basis. If you take the lead, your family will follow. By becoming more spiritual, you will dramatically lower your stress. This will allow you to lose weight and build more muscle.

One last thing. I made a pencil with an eraser on both ends. It was pointless.

Happy Father’s Day!

Stay Strong!

Bo Railey