I’m Joshua Buchbinder: a Fitness Manager at 24 Hour Fitness, mid-thirties dad and husband. Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz around the Dad Bod. The article from Mackenzie Pearson, “Why Girls Love the Dad Bod” basically suggests girls want someone to co-sign all their excuses and don’t want a fitness model for a boyfriend because they’re insecure. Maybe. But have no fear, fitness models don’t usually go for the girl who’d rather go out drinking or eat an entire pizza. Most people want someone with similar interests and goals.
My wife and I met in the gym (shocker!). We started dating, worked out together regularly, and then got pregnant and a lot changed. For one thing, we were bringing another human into the world. Second, due to complications, it was very hard for her to exercise and our mutual priorities changed. Spending time together preparing for our son became paramount to exercising, and as a result I gained some weight.
Then after my son was born, I didn’t sleep more than four hours a night for over six months. As a result of not sleeping, not training properly, life stressors and hormonal imbalances, I went into adrenal fatigue. I had the “dad-bod” or what felt to me like a dad-bod, without drinking beer or eating pizza and wings. I had to make serious changes to lifestyle, stress and training to get back to having the health I wanted.
Articles like the “Dad Bod” and posts like that fit mom’s family photo, captioned “What’s your excuse?,” really stir things up. Who determines what a dad bod is? Does having a dad bod mean you make fun a bigger priority than your health and fitness? Does it give us permission to make excuses and blame the demands of parenting for our declining health and physique?
Perhaps. But from this dad’s perspective, what’s most disturbing about the “Dad Bod” article is that it’s about young men who aren’t fathers and have no idea what it means to be a dad. It suggests all dads are beer-swilling, pizza-eating lumps. Let’s be honest: Real dads work their butts off to support their families and aren’t focused on partying instead of going to the gym.
As a father, I balance time with my family, work, working out and living life. The way my body looks isn’t my focus, but it’s a fantastic side effect. I’m no fitness model and have no desire to be one. I also have no desire to have the dad bod, so I train regularly, eat pretty clean, play with my son and work hard. That’s what makes a real dad bod!
Make being a dad work for your bod
Tip 1: Be active with your kids – don’t just spend time with the family by watching TV. Get outside, kick a soccer ball around, go for a hike, or chase them through the yard. Being a dad should be fun! So get up and have a blast.
Tip 2: Make exercise a game with your kids. If you’re going to watch TV, take a deck of cards and shuffle them really well. During commercials, pull a card and whatever the number is, do that many push-ups, squats or sit-ups. You can pick any exercise you like but get the whole family involved!
Tip 3: Make “Me Time.” Being a dad, spouse and working full time can be all-consuming. It’s okay to take care of yourself, find a workout routine you enjoy and a gym with a child center you trust. Do compound movements (like squatting and pressing) to boost testosterone production. Always remember to stretch and foam roll, and you’ll create a real dad bod!