Don’t passively accept your slide into inactivity and weight gain when kids come along – take these steps to staying in shape, says fitness and fatherhood author Dan Fallon.
Millions of men across the UK will identify with starting to put weight on and getting out of shape after becoming a father and it is often put down to a natural part of ageing or a declining metabolism.
However, the reality is at this stage of life many men simply become less active and the pressures of family life mean a dad’s own personal fitness becomes less of a priority.
If you are a dad, like me, who has lost the reigns a bit, or you’ve let the waistline grow without even realising it, here are my top tips to get right back on track…
1. Start With One Thing
If you think you’re going to get straight into the gym routine you did when you were 20-years-old and not suffer the consequences, think again.
Start with something as simple as walking. Power-walking can burn up to 350 calories per 30 minutes if you are going at a good pace (13-14-minute miles).
Do this for ten days and that is 1lb of body fat gone. As you build momentum then you can start adding in extras.
Keeping it basic and mastering the fundamentals is critical for long-term engagement in fitness.
2. Win the Morning
Most parents are time-poor. They feel guilty if they sacrifice any time with the family for anything other than work. That’s why mornings are the best time of the day.
Most people go to bed around 10pm and wake up at 6.30am. That’s 8.5 hours of sleep. Considering evidence suggests that we can survive very well off 7 or 7.5, sacrificing an hour in the morning to burn some calories is a good trade-off.
My tip is to put your alarm on the other side of the room. As soon as it goes off, go straight to the bathroom and brush your teeth – this stops your brain negotiating.
3. Keep On Your Feet
Most people think that fat loss is won by doing 45 minutes in the gym. The reality is that although this has huge benefits on your health, it’s not wholly necessary. You just need to keep moving – it burns energy and energy is calories. This is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Get geeky and track your steps.
Once you’ve started to walk regularly and consistently, you are likely to notice that your mood has elevated. When we are in a better state of mind, we tend to make better choices in what we eat.
4. Seek Support
Accountability is really powerful when you’re trying to lose weight and get fit. Get your friends and family involved so they can support you – when the going gets tough you will need them. Look for online groups to join where you can compare notes and get advice and support. The Super You Project is a good place to start (superyouproject.com).
Not wanting to let people down is a powerful tool for staying on track and it can be the most important ingredient for a successful long-term fitness journey.
5. Do Epic Stuff
After dads have been encouraged to start with one thing, they often get the wind in their sails. They start believing in the super versions of themselves. They start doing their bit for charities and raising awareness for research projects that can help fight critical illnesses. This is super motivating and can ignite the drive to train harder.
If you want to go from being a fat dad to a fit dad, just start with one thing. You can be a fantastic role model in your household and really inspire your kids to value their health and fitness, too.
Dan Fallon is author of Start with ONE THING: the dad’s no BS approach to fat loss and fitness (Rethink Press, £12.99) and founder of the Super You Project, the Dad’s online fitness community facebook.com/superyouproject.