We’ve all heard this terrible term, Dad Bod. Time to refocus on what we can control in this area. All dads (and moms, for that matter), experience a post-child lethargy. Perhaps because all of your time is spent rearing these amazing human projects, or because you are just burned out trying to stay in shape, we can all let ourselves go. We wanted to delve into the root of the problem and find some more solutions to the question of how to get back in shape after having kids avoid the dreaded dad bod.

What is the Effect of Habit?

There are numerous scholarly articles about the power of habit (even a book about the subject on Amazon). We tend to associate the concept of habit with things we’re not especially proud of. A habit of smoking, for instance, is not a good thing. But a routine habit of moderate exercise–certainly no sane individual would assail the virtues of such. Yet when I did a deep dive on the findings of what habit really accomplishes, something was missing. Researchers have concluded that habit alone will not be enough to stave off post-child “fitness loss.”

Staying Motivated Can Help You Get Back in Shape

If getting into good habits is not going to be enough, then what is missing? This is where the power of intrinsic motivation comes in. This has to be the main driver of your success. There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Exercise must be able to fit into your day. You must make it a priority to do at least SOMETHING during the day. I recommend at least 15 minutes a day doing some sort of vigorous exercise. I use high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You can enter this space using Amazon Prime videos, for instance. Here are some I like.
  • Piggybacking off of the previous point, you cannot work so hard that it creates a deterrent or a disincentive. Frankly, this Orange Fitness craze perplexes me. I hear how hard people have to work in those classes. No thank you! I wouldn’t keep that up for more than a few months. If you make it a huge part of your life, good for you, and you probably don’t need my post!
  • Habit will help you here if you can plan on a regular time to do your HIIT. I prefer early mornings before everyone’s woken. That is a habit that has helped me over the years. Some people use it as a treat while at work–something to look forward to. I think that concept works as well
  • Use a good music set up. Do not be shy about using the exercise as a way to listen to new music without the kids bugging you. This may be your only time to listen to music these days!

At the end of the day, you have to enjoy what you are doing. If you cannot make it fun, you will get burned out and not want to do it. When it becomes something you look forward to, that is the holy grail of avoiding Dad Bod. But research has supported this notion–that motivation is going to get you over the top.

“whereas enjoyment, motivation, and feelings of personal accomplishment support adherence to physical activity programs”

Researchers in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports

Getting Back in Shape Main Takeaways

Whether you have to shed a few pounds, or have really neglected your fitness over the years since you had kids, you have to know what you are up against. I feel like fitness and diet programs aren’t completely honest with people. These programs don’t tap into the key ingredient of motivation. A cool app, or cutting edge new routine, or guy yelling at you virtually while on your Peleton–these things all have something in common: They aren’t going to work unless you enjoy them! So make sure to listen to the inner demons on this one. Make sure you are really enjoying the plan that was laid out for your fitness. If you cannot get that right, this may be a losing battle. But if you do tap into intrinsic motivation, you’ll be ready for that next beach trip!

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