Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
In Defence of the ‘Dad Bod’
I have to make a confession, I was one of those people, the people who can eat what they like, when they like and never put weight on, in fact I even complained about it. Forgive me, I knew not how insufferable I was. I didn’t exercise, definitely didn’t do cardio and I ate sweets and rubbish all the time. I ate good food too, by the bucketload. That all changed when I hit my early 30s, suddenly my jeans did not fit so well, and my shirts felt tight around the belly. I was confused, and frightened. For a while I ignored it and, predictably, things got worse. Then I tried to tackle it but in the wrong way, using cardio as a straight swap, calories out on the bike = calories munched (carbs, sweets etc) unsurprisingly this did no good. My realisation came after Tough Guy in 2015. I was so proud I’d completed it but in the pictures so unhappy with my amount of weight I was carrying and how I looked.
I’d always despised blokes who got into their 30s, gave up, had kids and got fat. I didn’t want to be like that and I saw that I was. I’d tried to reason this out as what happens when you get a bit older but I really hated what I saw. So I started using My Fitness Pal to track the food I was eating, match it up to decent cardio exercise. I got down to about 75kg and felt pretty happy with that.
That was 6 months ago and things have gone a little awry. A lot of business travel with my new job has meant lots of interruptions to my exercise regime and trouble being disciplined with my eating. I upped the cardio and reduced the calories again but, try as I might, I could not get back to down 75kg.
I’ve also started to do much more work in terms of calisthenics to try and improve strength to help with obstacle racing and I think that is playing a part but ultimately, I’m somewhere between 80 and 85kg and I can’t get lower. This isn’t an issue in terms of BMI, I”m right in the middle of healthy, but it means I have a little ‘dad belly’ just above the waistband of my jeans and I have decided that the time has come to be cool with that.
I could look at steps to reduce this, ketogenic diets, multiple small meals, giving up meat and animal products but it’s all going towards a really extreme place. Sometimes extreme measures are needed, but to get rid of a belly bulge? Seemed like too much vanity. That’s not to say I’m against vanity, show me someone who exercises who doesn’t do it (just a little) to improve what they see in the mirror, but going mad with food just for better abs? Too much.
I’ve also got to look at the example I am setting for my kids. The example I was taught (that I utterly ignored) was that moderation in most things is ok. If my kids see me obsessively preparing meals ahead, with long lists of things I can’t or won’t eat, what are they going to take from that. What they see now is someone who eats good amounts of fruit and veg, cooks at home, has meat no more than once a day and red meat about once a week. I’m not perfect in terms of what I eat but that seems reasonable to me. That’s what I want to show them, a balanced diet, regular exercise and also the ability to enjoy cooking at eating food.
Finally I need to get straight with who I am. I’m getting towards 40, I work a high intensity job and I have two beautiful children and a beautiful wife. I’m simply not prepared to invest any more time and effort into weight loss than I already am so the only alternative is to put in the reasonable effort and have the serenity to accept the rest as it is. It’s going to be weird at first but, while there are parts of me that want to control every aspect of my life, including my weight, I don’t think that’s necessarily a healthy or happy place to be. I need to be happy, and if I can’t be happy right now, with all of the good things I have going, when am I ever going to be.