Tips to avoid the dreaded “dad bod”

Amazingly, after your missus gave birth, she looked a lot slimmer… you, on the other hand, don't. Here's how to fix that.

Dad Baby Yoga

There are some things you know you’ll never see again once you become a father — your boss’s scowl when you tell him you’re late because you slept in, a barman’s creased face as he tells you he can’t give you another drink at 5am, a surprisingly bulging bank balance — and there are some that come as a genuine, gargantuan shock, like your penis.

It’s not that you can’t see it because you cut it off in a desperate bid to prevent your partner from making you go through the first year of parenting again, or that she’s cut it off after you dared to suggest that women are lucky they don’t need as much sleep as men.

No, sadly you can’t see your oldest friend because your newest one — your ever expanding gut — is in the way.

If you’re really unlucky, or unwise, you might lose sight of your feet as well. But you won’t miss them as much, until you need to put socks on.

While it’s not uncommon to hear men whispering conspiratorially about how their wives have failed to shift the baby weight, but they’re too frightened to mention it, what’s less often discussed is that men can also find themselves packing on the pounds after the baby arrives, and their lives, and routines, are not so much disrupted as reinvented.

It can be hard to keep up an exercise routine when you’re so exhausted that you find yourself day-dreaming about actual dreaming, and your eyes look like you’ve poured red jelly crystals into them.

Equally, it can be difficult to eat well when your priority has suddenly become getting your child to eat anything, at all, ever.

I don’t have hard stats to back this up, but I’m betting the frequency of home deliveries of comfort foods like pizza goes up in houses with new infants in them, at least if my house was anything to go by.

As for just popping down to the gym for an hour, your suddenly time-poor life, and your hugely harried wife, can make that seem as fantastical as lying in until 10am on a Sunday.

Say hello to my little friend

Just giving up and kissing your penis goodbye, however (don’t try this, literally, unless you’ve been doing a lot of yoga) is not recommended.

If you think your sexual frequency is going to drop off after the baby arrives, you’re damn right, but getting fat isn’t going to help bring the good times back.

Ryan Florido (@flofitnesstraining) is a fitness trainer and father of five, who has been through the not-so-lean times and come out the other side, annoyingly, looking like a sock full of walnuts.

He says the dreaded “Dad-bod” is genuinely a thing, but one that can be avoided with perseverance and planning.

“I think the best way for new Dads to avoid putting on weight is to keep things simple,” Florido says.

“New-born life is complicated enough as it is, so aim for small wins that will end up being big victories for new fathers trying to keep the weight gain to a minimum.

“Things go south for many people when they fail to plan ahead. Preparation is the best thing a time-poor Dad can do. Probably the best piece of advice I can offer is to spend some time on meal preparation. An hour in the kitchen on a Sunday morning can equate to several hours saved later in the week.

“Parents’ eating times are usually dictated by when baby’s asleep, and once they are it’s usually a mad scramble to whip something up, quick and nasty, and scoff it down all before baby wakes again.

“There’s no enjoyment to it, and it’s eating at a primal level; for survival.

“As a plus, the more free time you have, by cooking in advance, the more time you can focus on being active.”

Therein lies the rub, of course, because the time you need for a 5km run might no longer be as easily available.

Simple tricks actually work

Getting rid of the dad bod

Florido says the trick is just to keep as active as you possibly can.

Walk to the shops instead of taking the car, push the pram down to the local park and, if baby is sleeping, slam out a 15-minute workout on that outdoor gym you’ve always been too scared to use.

You have no shame any more, there’s probably vomit on your shirt somewhere, so who cares if people are staring at your barge-sized backside?

“There are also dozens of body-weight exercises you can do at home that don’t take up much room or space and require almost zero equipment – squats, lunges, push-ups, dips, planks, sit-ups,” Florido adds.

“For time-poor Dads, I’d recommend circuit work that would incorporate all of the above exercises; 60 seconds doing each one can take as little as six to eight minutes, and if baby’s still asleep, go for another round and all of a sudden you’ve done a useful amount of exercise.

“Every calorie-burning minute counts”

While your usual schedule has gone out the window, right behind eight-hour-long sleep cycles, it’s also important to try and eat the right things at the right time.

Eating a big meal just before the bed time is just injecting food that’s not going to be burned off, even if you are getting up four times a night.

Breakfast, which is now a lot earlier than it used to be, is your most important meal of the day, Florido says.

“Once you wake up it’s important to kick-start your day with a nutritiously high-protein meal, like eggs, cheese or cottage cheese, and lean meats like ham or turkey, then you’ll be fuelling your body for whatever challenges being a Dad has in store,” he says.

The big problem, as any new parent will tell you, is motivation, and energy.

Even if you want to exercise, and you can feel your belt cutting into you uncomfortably when you bend over the cot, you just feel like you can’t possibly get yourself out the door, or even on to the floor to do a push-up.

Does crying quietly and rocking yourself in a foetal position count?

Sadly no, but do keep in mind that exercise, bizarrely and magically, actually gives your body more energy, and provides your brain with endorphins, which are almost as good as those magical “baby chemicals” that keep Mums going for the first six months, and which blokes sadly miss out on.

All you know for sure is that you have to try, otherwise you really will be kissing your penis goodbye…