fitness and dads

This Dad Wonders If He Is Fit, Fat, Or Simply Has A Dad-Bod!

When I was growing up, I was always considered ‘fat’. It’s probably not polite to say it now, but back then there was no place for me to hide, both literally and figuratively. Until I was about 15 years old, I was plain ‘big’. I played a lot of sport, and I was very active despite my weight, so when I started getting taller, the inches dropped quickly. By adulthood, I had shed enough weight to be considered ‘normal'.

Recently, I heard the term ‘Dad bod’. It’s a body type found across all over the world, generally found on males over the age of 30, usually someone who has fathered at least one child. It is a soft, comfortable body that might have been lean at some point but now feels no need to hold that shape anymore. Even Leonardo DiCaprio is apparently sporting the look these days. During the time I was growing up, it would probably be called ’normal’ too or even fit by some standards.

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The Indian man's journey- from macho to chubby:

I grew up in a generation where kids saw their thirty-something, lean, non-muscular fathers transform into pot-bellied, chubby ‘prosperous' forty-year-olds. It was (and probably, still is) considered normal for Indian men to ‘let go’ once they’d delivered on their promise of having children and completing fifteen to twenty years of marriage. That same generation of fathers probably kick-started the trend of lifestyle diseases we have today.

Our fathers, for the most part, never really worked hard to stay in shape. The sports they played as young men, were relegated to being just ‘play'. Work consumed their wakeful existence as they all turned into dull Jacks. Exercise never figured into their daily routine until they started going on morning walks in their fifties, and then started Yoga closer to the age of sixty. By then, we were in the new millennium and it was fast becoming virtuous to talk of exercise. So it’s likely that the generation was driven by the bragging rights those morning Pranayam sessions afforded them.

"Who am I out to impress?"

I think the generation that started the Dad Bod trend, my generation, is still a little bit like our own dads. Most of us have guts, some due to beer, some due to sitting at a desk too long and some because "I’m a father of two, so who am I out to impress?”.

My answer to that last question is that we ought to be able to show our children that staying in shape is important. This isn’t about body shaming. Yet, if you don’t respect your own body, your kids aren’t going to respect theirs. Look around us, and we’ll be hard pressed to find people who don’t suffer from any lifestyle disease at all. And that is why it’s important to pass on that message to our kids – We have to keep trying to improve. It doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you make the effort.

I’d choose to focus on one end of the body type spectrum – lean, athletic, mobile – so that I have a goal to aspire to. Having a six pack is about as important to me as learning the lyrics to the new Katy Perry hit (no disrespect!). Yet, I work out as often as I can to make sure that as I grow older, my body will keep allowing me to do the things it did when I was younger and my girls recognise that the way to a healthier lifestyle isn’t just about dieting trends or the latest super foods.

Our fathers didn’t have the benefit of all the information we have today, so we can cut them some slack. But I’m not so sure about those in my generation who complain about not having time for exercise. I think of it as work I must put in for my family just like the effort I put into my job to earn a living.

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My personal goal is to never go back to being an adult version of that ‘fat kid’. I know I’ll never end up with washboard abs and chiselled back, but I’m determined to keep moving, to keep sweating it out and to keep getting fitter. If my kids want to label me as having a ‘Dad Bod’ I won’t complain, as long as they see that I spend more time working out and playing sports than I do vegetating in front of the television. If because of me they make movement and fitness a natural part of their lives, then it’s not important what shape I am.

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