It’s Father’s Day. The day where your kid makes you something out of dry macaroni and you get to secretly buy yourself something you actually want. I’ve got a great idea for a Father’s Day present we can all give each other. We can re-take the idea of the “dad bod”. “Dad bod” is a ridiculous phrase for a doughy, out of shape middle-aged body. I’m a dad and if you’re reading this you’re probably a dad, too. I have a “dad bod” and I’m not going to just roll my eyes and shrug at the camera as the studio audience laughs at me for a sloppy, well-meaning doofus.
Instead, this Father’s day I’m launching a nationwide reclamation of “dad bod” as a phrase. As of this moment, we’re going to start making “dad bod” something to be proud of. We’re going to pack on slabs of fatherly muscle, charge ourselves with high voltage paternal energy and become an example to everyone who isn’t lucky enough to have this “new dad bod.”
YOU MEAN I HAVE TO EXERCISE?
YUP! You know the phrase, “Spend money to make money.”? I always thought it was just some trick used by salespeople to get you to go to a motivational business seminar in a motel basement. Turns out, there’s actually a bit of truth to it. As a new dad, the idea of working out while being totally exhausted seemed crazy. But it worked. If you want more energy you’ve got to expend energy. Working out makes you tired but that’s a short-term price. Exercise builds muscle and improves your cardiovascular strength and endurance which in turn gives you more energy. I’m sure if you’re reading this you already know this but hey, a little extra motivation to hit the gym when you don’t feel like it is always good. And, as a fellow dad, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be feeling like it. This becomes critically important when your day is spent picking up actual human feces and cursing the potty training gods for their fickle nature. You think a toddler won’t wear you down? Buddy, a toddler given a single piece of chocolate can destroy you. My home sometimes looks like a post-apocalyptic Toys-R-Us with unidentifiable puddles. I needed energy. This is war. You don’t go to war without boot camp. Let’s get in the gym.
DADS DRINK BEER, NOT WATER, RIGHT?
Wrong! I noticed that I was barely drinking any water. The day would just slip by and I’d realize I had maybe put my mouth under the faucet for 3 seconds that day. A study by the Center For Disease Control, you know, the people who are trying to prevent things like “Outbreak” and “The Walking Dead” from happening, claim that the vast majority of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Getting enough water was key for me fighting the traditional “dad bod” energy slumps. Water contains oxygen and helps to increase your energy levels as well as assisting in myriad metabolic functions such as cellular repair and converting fat and digested food into energy. Water is a zero calorie nutrient, so by itself it’s not necessarily giving you energy but it facilitates the processes in your body that are responsible for increasing your energy levels.
If you skimp out on water, you’re going to be run down as the systems in your body that keep you bouncing back start to slow. You want to recover quickly and feel energetic, so chug that water, pimp. Try it for a week and see how much of a difference it makes in your overall energy levels. It had a huge impact on mine and as a side bonus, it made my skin look way better. There’s a little Father’s Day present. You don’t need to slather yourself in moisturizer with a picture of lumberjack’s fighting to the death on it just so you don’t feel girly putting it on. You can just drink more water.
OKAY, SO WHEN DO I SLEEP?
As much as possible! One of my biggest hurdles was getting enough rest. Just a cursory hunt through Google reveals all kinds of terrible stuff that happens to people if they don’t get enough sleep. When my daughter was just born I think my wife and I averaged four hours of sleep a night (and I hear that’s pretty good). It was brutal and let me tell you, I had enough energy to maybe sit on the can and check Facebook. That was it. I was a zombie. I couldn’t remember the right words for things. “Honey, have you seen the…after eating tube? For dentists. The tube for dentists. Toothpaste!” My life was like a low-stakes version of the movie “Memento.” So make sleep a priority. Netflix can wait. Twitter is only going to spoil Game of Thrones for you anyway. There’s no reason not to hit the sack a little earlier and get some quality sleep. It’s made a huge impact on my energy, cognition, and overall performance. In fact, lack of sleep is a nasty contributor to insulin resistance which makes you feel extremely run down and lethargic. I’d like to see someone with poor insulin response bouncing along and whistling on their way to work. They don’t call it a sugar coma for nothing. Wouldn’t you rather earn your sugar coma through an ill-advised pounding of a dozen Krispy Creme donuts on a cheat day than simply by staying up to watch Joffery Lannister choke to death on poison again?
Let’s say you just don’t have time for the typical 8 hours of sleep everyone recommends. Alright, dude, then check this out: why not get the most out of the sleep you’re getting? I tried rocking a little meditation into my daily life. It makes me feel like a Jedi plus meditation has been shown to boost melatonin production which allows you to have a deeper, more restful sleep – plus it only takes fifteen to thirty minutes a day. Are you telling me you don’t have fifteen minutes to practice being “one with the Force”?
Also, be a man and wear a sleep mask. A Chinese study of ICU patients found that patients who were administered ear plugs and sleep masks were producing significantly more melatonin and less of the stress hormone, cortisol which could result in getting more out of the limited sleep you have. Plus you get to look like either a fancy rich person who needs “beauty sleep” or Daredevil. So it’s a win-win.
EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE SO FAR, SO WHAT DO I EAT?
One of the biggest ways I’ve positively impacted my energy is by deciding to eat like an actual human and not a garbage monster. Foods high in water concentration like fruits and vegetables keep you hydrated, which we’ve already covered. Also, consider eating lower glycemic indexed foods as these tend to get broken down into energy slower giving you more consistent, lasting energy.
A big change for me was switching to a ketogenic diet. Once I got through a fairly rough transition period I noticed an increase in overall energy and mood as my body was using fat stores for fuel. It felt different to me. Fewer hills and valleys with my energy and more reliable, long lasting endurance. Also, I get the added benefit of losing my dad bod pod, which is my new cool word for a gut.
UNWIND/PUMP UP WITH SOME SWEET JAMS
Studies have shown that sweet, sweet jams release sweet, sweet dopamine which is basically the happiness chemical. Talk about a great Father’s Day present. The gift of joy. When I’m in a good mood, I’m way more likely to have enough energy to get those diapers changed, pick the kids up from Baby MMA, Vegan Rock Climbing For Toddlers, Learn to Read Yoga or whatever they guilt parents into doing nowadays. Plus, you get to create the soundtrack for your life. That’s pretty epic. I know when I’m dragging my ass out of the house to go get the oil changed or trudging through Ikea like Frodo through Mordor, if I’m rocking something awesome like the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, my entire day is different. If you feel good, you’ll perform gooder (better, but that’s not nearly as stylized).
I hope you’ll take this Father’s Day as a launching point to join me in a little “dad bod” revolution. Let’s take back the dad bod from the couch potato, media-numbed, zombified masses and make it about something awesome. Let’s make our dad bods totally sweet. Your body is the automobile of your life’s voyage. Don’t drive down the road in a lemon. I’m with you on this. We’ve got each other’s backs. Happy Father’s day, dads.