6 Steps to a Better Dad Bod

 In cortisol, Dad-Bod, Family fitness, Fitness, Habits of healthy people, health, health practices for the average adult, healthy parents

I was recently tasked with coming up with health tips for the “average guy who wants to be healthy and is cool with a bit of a dad bod” by a friend. Let’s face it, most of us will never have a rock hard six-pack or a butt that you can bounce a quarter off of, but this doesn’t mean you’re not healthy or fit. The majority of people do not have the time to put in the hours it takes at the gym or meal prepping with busy lives, work, kids, etc. to look as if they were about to enter a fitness competition (which, personally, I think is a bit frightening and unhealthy, but that’s a whole different article). You can, and should, however, take time for yourself everyday for self-care to be the healthiest person you can be without stressing yourself out to look like a supermodel. Here are some tips for the average adult to live a healthy life and rock that awesome dad (or mom) bod with pride:

  1. Exercise 5 times per week for at least 30 minutes. You can get in a great workout in 30 minutes if you make that your sole focus for those 30 minutes. Whether it be a jog, a lifting circuit in the gym, a yoga video, etc., just move your body for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. If your kids are old enough, have them join you! This will instill the importance of activity in them, and set them up for a healthy lifestyle in the future.
  2. Live by the 80/20 rule. You don’t have to eat healthy and clean 100% of the time, but if you do 80% of the time, you’re going to be feeling pretty good about the way you look and feel. You’ll have more energy, less sick time, and reduced unwanted fat as well. Of course it’s okay to indulge every now and again. Just try to space those occasions out, and if you know you are going to have a huge Italian dinner, eat lighter during the day and get a workout in.
  3. Limit alcohol consumption to 1-2 days per week. This is the biggest culprit for people trying to lose excess belly fat. Although alcohol doesn’t have fat per se, it stores in the body as fat because your liver gets overworked trying to break down the poison (which is what alcohol is, essentially) and it doesn’t process food or other toxins as efficiently as it should. Enjoy a few cocktails on the weekend, but try to rope it in during the week.
  4. Get adequate amounts of sleep. Studies have proven that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, as it raises your stress hormone, cortisol. When your cortisol is elevated, your appetite increases, and you crave sugary, high-carb foods to relax your body. In addition, when you are exhausted, your metabolism is slower, as your body is trying to maintain your calories for energy.
  5. Plan a healthy date-night. Instead of dinner and a movie where you’re going to load up on calories and sugar, plan an active date such as a hike, bike ride, indoor rock-climbing, sunset golf or even bowling. Afterward, find a healthy new restaurant in town (very easy to find here in Denver or most big cities right now) or one where you know you can make healthier choices. If you are going to have a drink, skip the dessert and vice-versa.
  6. Have a general plan for your meals. Usually, when I ask my clients where they are falling short of meeting their goals, it’s at dinner time. Most people stay on track during the day and eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, and then the wheels come completely off the bus in the evening. Dinner doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. The key is to have everything you need readily available. You can make a hearty salad for the whole family in under 10 minutes if you have the ingredients. There are also healthy, organic pre-made meals these days, or you can make a crockpot full of healthy soup or chili that will last for a few nights. Go grocery shopping on Sunday for the week so you have no excuse to order a pizza or call for greasy take-out.

Being healthy doesn’t have to be stressful or a full-time job. Once you incorporate these daily practices into your life, they eventually become habit and virtually effortless.


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