It seems gaining a few inches of flab is all part of becoming a new father. But help is at hand, providing you follow some simple self-help steps.

New dad musings: week two

There comes a moment in all our lives when we get the wake-up call we need to make a change. Mine came while doing ‘skin-to-skin’ with baby Thea. Lying on my chest a few minutes before her scheduled feed, she took one look at my less than defined chest – and puckered her lips ready for her feed.

It was a beautiful moment – one confirming it is time for me to lose some weight!

And I am not the only one. Dad bods are real. According to many sobering studies, the average weight gain for a new dad is over a stone in a year. Alas, I think I am on track to achieve that in a month!  

In a bid to halt the spread, I sat down with Mark Ames, a fellow Sorted columnist and ex-Royal Marine turned personal trainer, to get the tips and tricks I need so I can buck the trend. Here are his key tips:

Be kind to yourself

If you do put on weight or your fitness levels dip in this season, don’t give yourself a hard time. It is common and there is a good reason for it. You sleep less, you have less time to exercise, and preparing healthy meals every day is hard to do. As a society, we quite often think we must have the perfect body to have any worth. That’s nonsense. Being a present dad who loves their wife and child(ren) is really important. That said, to be an amazing dad (and husband), you need to be as healthy and well as you can be. So, make that your priority.

Use your new motivation

When your new baby arrives, a powerful desire to protect and love them overwhelms you. Embrace it, it’s here to stay. Here’s the thing about protecting your child. You need to be healthy, strong and energised to do so. Your child will also want you to play with them, adventure with them and take on the world with them. Visualise the father you want to be and write it all down. Then every time you get tempted to eat that big bar of chocolate, ask yourself whether it will get you closer to, or further away, from the dad you want to be?

Embrace ‘exercise snacking’

In the early days, you will have to think again about those two-hour gym sessions, four times every week. But fear not. Instead of condensing your training into one, long session, you can split it into ‘micro-workouts’ at convenient times throughout the day (e.g. when your baby is sleeping or feeding). They can last for 1-10 minutes. Studies into their effectiveness have found they are effective in improving weight, strength and fitness.

Magic food’s winning formula

When you Google ‘healthy eating’ you’ll see about many different diets that all claim to be the best. Don’t get wrapped up in this nonsense. Losing weight is generally very simple: you need to burn more calories than you eat. As a general rule, aim for around 2,000 calories per day and keep active. And eat healthy foods (as much as possible) and drink two litres of water per day. You can keep track of how you’re doing by downloading a free app like MyFitnessPal. If you do cook, try and batch cook a few meals in one go. It will help you eat healthily on those days your baby takes over.

Sleep like a baby

Make sure you snooze when your baby sleeps. In the first year, your usual eight-hour stint may not be possible. That is particularly true in the first weeks of parenthood. So, take every opportunity you can to catch up. Sleep will help your body and mind to recover and help your hormones to balance optimally for weight loss and health.

There we have it. If you do all of these things consistently you will be that healthy dad you want to be.

That’s a relief, as I want Thea to look at me and see Batman – not Fatman!

Chris Kerr is a Sorted columnist and a senior executive in the UK legal industry.

Tip of the week

Don’t feel like you need to have all the answers. Babies bring unique needs/problems that we will never have faced before. Connect with experienced fathers, call your midwife team if you have any concerns (no matter how small they seem) – and read some great books on babies.

Chris Kerr

Chris is a husband to Alicia and father to Thea, who is the subject of his columns on Fatherhood for Sorted.  In his spare time he works for a national law firm in an executive capacity and provides crisis leadership consultancy support for non-profits across the UK.  He attends Urban Crofters Church in Cardiff.  A keen weekend adventurer, Chris is regularly spotted in the sea or on mountains.

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