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Why I Embrace My “DadBod”, Sort Of

a man running

I’ve never been a fitness buff. Where some guys in their teens and 20’s sought a body to impress the ladies I was perfectly content with studying and playing video games. I’ve always had a high metabolism so weight was never an issue but a few years after marriage I noticed I had gone from my static weight of 165lbs to 192lbs. It was a wake up call for me that things needed to change. I immediately start to research fitness routines that would give me the greatest results with the least amount of effort… yes, I was doing it wrong. The fastest results I saw were in cutting out pop; I lost 7lbs in a week and felt more alert and healthy than I had in years. One average I drank 2-3 pops a day and was shocked at the difference cutting it out of my diet made but knew I had some other changes to make.

Healthy eating was never a big deal in our family growing up. I mocked those who ate organic/grass-fed/hormone-free foods and prodded those who relied on homeopathic remedies to treat issues that could be easily taken care of by over-the-counter and prescription meds. I often joke about 23 year old me wanting to punch 33 year old me in the face for living like I do now (although I’d like to see him try lol) butย this drastic change in lifestyle has been incredible. Though I’ve made huge steps in my health I still have little definition to my muscles and a nice squishy layer of fat over what I assume is one incredible 6-pack ๐Ÿ™‚ย I know I should be getting up before the kids and working out to “stay in shape” but the available time is just not there right now… and that’s okay.

I am always in awe of dads who are up and to the gym at 4am before they head out to a full day in the office. I’m sure they have communicated the importance of their own fitness with their wife and have set up a system where they can get away while the kids sleep without it becoming a burden on the family; this just isn’t the case for me right now. I often spend 3am-5:30am in my 2 year old daughters bed trying to keep her asleep so she doesn’t wake my wife and sons.ย Ifย I’m able to sneak out I have to do whatever I can in absolute ninja-esque silence or sheย will wake up and come running out all bright eyed and bushy tailed. Once they are up it’s breakfast, coffee and rushing out the door to make it to work on time. Leaving the house while the kids are “asleep” means leaving the responsibility of caring for the 3 of them when I know she has already had little-to-no sleep from nursing out youngest through the night.

Maybe when the kids are a bit older and all sleeping through the night I’ll make more time to work out but for now I’m content with staying active and eating healthy.ย “Dad bods” come in all shapes and sizes and I’m doing my best to be proud of what I have knowing the few extra pounds I’m carrying around my mid-section are directly associated with caring for my amazing family… and maybe a few extra beers ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you work out regularly? If not, what are you doing to stay healthy?

Sean Leacy

Christ follower, husband & father. Geek extraordinaire, SysAdmin & avid outdoorsman. I love to lead worship & write. #DadLife #RedeemingFatherhood

  • JZ

    Another great post that I can really identify with. I too came from a family that ate well and healthy enough, but certainly have habits of unhealthy eating that are difficult to break. I too peaked in the 190 range, while my steady state sits in the 155-165lbs range. Doctor wanted to put me on cholesterol meds and the works. He told me I had 12 months to lose 10 lbs. I bought a bicycle, and rode it for every trip under 5 miles, but that 2011.

    It was certainly difficult, if not impossible, to keep this up with our newborn arriving fall of 2014, but as soon as she was able we had her on the bike. We are lucky enough to live in a city where it is doable to live car-free, and this helps a lot because I get 10 to 15 minutes of light exercise for our short trips to the office, daycare, and grocery store.

    I think the two biggest things for me lately have been my wife cooking up all the food for a successful Whole30 diet in January and tweaking my morning routine. The Whole30 is 30 days of paleo eating, and I noticed it impact my cravings and food consumption, even though I am eating cookies, ice cream, and breads again.

    For the morning routine, I started with stretching after I morning scripture. More specifically, touching my toes. Every morning, no matter what, I touch my toes. Some mornings, I am able to do a little more stretching. I might even do some yoga poses/flow while I reflect on the readings. It gained momentum, and has worked its way up to 15 minutes most mornings. Now it includes some planks, light abs, a few tricep and bicep pushups. That is all. Stretching and pushups. I still have a dad bod with a permanent farmers-tan, but my wife recently noticed the tiniest bit of definition peeking through. I think it will be a little easier to keep up after that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    It is definitely hard to work it in with a toddler and an office job, but making at least 30 minutes in the morning to start the day in the Word, with a little stretching, and some positive reflections on who I choose to be, really makes a difference. I am better able to live my faith, be the father I aspire to become, and be a loving and present husband.

    Thanks for prompting such a long comment, and keep up the good work. I like what you’re doing here.


    • Thanks for taking the time to write out such a great response! It’s encouraging to see more dads willing to do what they can without the stress of “having” to work out every morning. I started doing yoga 3 times a week in the living room (the joys of youtube!) and was loving it but then our 3rd showed up and that went out the window for the time being. I have all the intention of picking it back up once things settle down a but more (and I get my daughter sleeping through the night again) but until then I try and take the stress off of it by recognizing this is just a season and will pass. I get to enjoy some morning cuddles with my daughter right now which I won’t always be able to do ๐Ÿ™‚

      • JZ

        We try to think about what it would be like with more than one. I am sure we would be able to make it work, but it is hard to imagine how. Although it was hard to imagine how we would manage with one.
        Great to remember that all things will pass. Also, I am always happy when she wakes up early and I have the opportunity to trade my fitness time for cuddle time! ๐Ÿ™‚

        • You make do ๐Ÿ™‚ We have 3 under 5 right now and though there is chaos from time to time they get alone pretty well for the most part. Keeping up with them throughout the day should be considered a work out!

  • Greg

    I can definitely relate to the time commitments in fitting fitness in. I’ve found the less time I have (since wife and kids have come along) the more efficient I need to be. I hate to sound like “one of those guys” as much as the fact that there is a brand name associated with it, but I’ve found that “CrossFit” gives me more fitness in less time than anything else I’ve ever done (intense running/swimming/biking and “normal” gym weightlifting routines). The brand name is silly but the idea is just working out as fast as possible – my whole goal. I’ve found each workout from warmup to cool down takes me about 45 minutes and usually 1 hr 15 minutes with changing and shower. If I can get 3 days a week in, it keeps me up well past my fitness goals (not to be a pro athlete, just be healthy and strong enough to have fun). I can’t quantify it but I definitely feel like I get more out of 1 hard 15-20 minute interval workout than a couple 5 mile runs or 2 hours of slow lifting.
    I also try to incorporate squatting to full depth (cleaning, reading, toys), running fast, getting blood pumping in my every day play with my kids. No extra time, just make sure I’m consistently using my body instead of sitting and watching.
    The biggest thing for me is to not band wagon. Sometimes I go down to 1 or 2 workouts in a week(s) and that’s fine. But if I ever drop off the schedule for weeks or months, it’s so much more difficult/time consuming/painful to be where I’m happy. Consistency and efficiency have worked best for me keeping my time commitments to a minimum. But I also don’t sweat it when I’m less in shape than I’d like to be, it’s a long journey.

    • Thanks for the input Greg! I don’t want this post to be a “don’t work out, you don’t have time” article but I’ve found that right now regular work-outs aren’t possible without a perfect set of circumstances. CrossFit has always intrigued me but I don’t have the ability to get to a “center” and back without straining my wife right now. That said I picked up a bike last week and we’re actively looking for a trailer for the two oldest so I can start training for the 7 miles each way it would be for me to start biking to work when my wife needs the car.

      I don’t want to down-play the importance of fitness but more provide an outlook that says “some times it’s just flat out not possible for a season”. In those seasons (may be short for some, long for others) where time/schedule don’t allow for set work out times it’s still important to eat healthy and stay active. We are blessed to live within an hour of the mountains and have a million hiking trails all around us so we try to take advantage of them by getting out as often as we can. The kids are still young enough that we aren’t pushing ourselves as much physically just to allow them to keep up but the ability to get outdoors and breath the fresh air has been incredibly good for us all ๐Ÿ™‚

      Your last paragraph is exactly what I’m talking about. Get rid of the stress of the constant pressure to have an amazing body and focus on what healthy is for you in this season. You don’t need incredible definition to be healthy, strong and live a good life (but it doesn’t hurt) ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Greg

        I 100% agree with the topic of the post, and I thought it was a great topic. I probably should have started with that. I was just adding some things that have worked for me for getting the most out of the smallest time commitment I can spare.

        • Totally, I didn’t take that in a negative way. Knowing we all need to do what is best for ourselves/our families is very core to what this site is all about ๐Ÿ™‚