We're out of shape because with family and work responsibilities, we never have both the time AND energy to get started, or to stick to any plans we make.
So is there any other option, other than shipping our families off to another country for a few months to we can get a ton of Me-Time?
Are we stuck with these flabby pecs and belt-overhang until we magically find a window of 3 months of spare time? Believe me, I tried this approach, waiting until 'things were settled' to start getting back in shape. As I'm sure you know, things are never settled once you have a family!
Here's why the odds are stacked against us
I mean, it's all very well gazing down at our bellies and thinking 'Man, I have got to shift this', but when we then come to figuring out when we're going to find the time to lose fat and gain muscle, start training and eating right, we hit a road block:
- We see a training program in a magazine that promises to have us 'shredded', 'ripped', and 'cut' (a lot of chopping up going on there) in no time - as long as you train for 90 minutes, 5 times a week.
- We spot a nutrition plan on a men's fitness site that promises to allow us to build muscle while getting rid of the excess body fat that is causing fledgling man-boobs and belt-overhang - just eat these low-fat high-protein meals 6 times a day, and take supplements X, Y and Z.
That combination of training program and nutrition plan WILL work, it's not like they're lying, and people can get in amazing shape by following those plans - the problem is that as busy dads, husbands and employees we are setting ourselves up for failure because honestly, we don't have a hope in hell of finding the time and having the discipline to stick to those plans for long enough to see progress.
Why those pesky kids mess things up
So, now that we have these responsibilities... is it actually your wife and kids that have made you, and are keeping you overweight and out-of-shape?
Well, yes, in that the lack-of-time factor that is stopping you training as much as those training plans advise, is caused by our relentless gotta-do-that, gotta-pick-that-up, can't-do-tuesdays-thats-jimmys-soccer-day whirlwind of a life.
And yes, it's unworkable for us to prep our own 'special fit person' meals every day alongside something for the rest of the family. If it was just me to cook for, I could prep all those necessary meals and snacks and get 'shredded' in no time.
Pesky wife and kids eh? We love them, but they are stopping us looking awesome.
Just give up less than halfway through our lives?
So should we just accept that we are going to slowly morph into those 'cuddly dads', great at giving bear hugs to the kids, not so great at lifting them without endangering our backs, or running around with them too much before we need a sit-down?
And just because your wife or partner isn't telling you she'd like you in better shape, because she loves you just-the-way-you-are, doesn't mean she's doing cartwheels every time you're going up a size in jeans.
By using our family lives as an excuse, it means that at around the halfway point of our lives we are giving up on looking and feeling great.
And when you put it that way, that kind of sucks doesn't it?
Why us Dads just need to be smart
But think about how smart we already are at being able to fit our work, partners, kids, social lives, random errands, etc into our crazy lives. We are pretty damn good at finding time to get things done when they absolutely need doing.
You don't just not pick your kids up from somewhere because time was tight and you couldn't make it - you found a way to get it done on time, as it was non-negotiable.
And I'm not about to start some rant about
If you really want to get in shape, you need 100% commitment, nothing else matters, ignore your family, and get to the gym!
...that practically every bodybuilding website spouts.
However, if you really DO want to get in shape, then you owe it to yourself and your family to look beyond the standard long-training-sessions and complicated diets approach, and find a way of training and eating that you CAN work into your crazy schedule.
Yes, your wife and kids are making you fat by stopping you following that standard approach, but they are not stopping you using your ample brain-power to find other ways of getting in shape and just getting it done and making it non-negotiable.
How to lose fat and gain muscle and still be a family man
To lose body fat you need to put yourself in a calorie-deficit, burning more than you take in. How you choose to split up your meals throughout the day is largely unimportant, as the research shows little difference in fat-loss between people having 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 meals a day.
So forget the 'gotta-keep-that-metabolism-burning-all-day' stuff peddled by cereal-bar and meal-replacement-drink companies. Think about how you can split up your daily 2000 kcals (ish) per day across whatever number of meals works for your day.
In the free Bulky to Buff Daddio Guide and my Buff Daddio Podcasts I recommend a 2-meals per day intermittent fasting approach as this allows us to have proper dad-sized portions and still lose body fat.
To build muscle you need to challenge those muscles sufficiently for them to need to adapt and grow (with the right nutrition). Whether you do that through 30, 45, 60, 90 minute sessions 2, 3, 4, 5 times a week comes down to HOW you train.
For example, for busy, tired dads like us, I recommend using 2 x 45 minute strength sessions and 2 x 10-15 minute high intensity cardio sessions per week, so you only train two hours max per week, yet still get great results as long as you put in a good shift in each workout.
We can have it all!
So you owe it to yourself to stop using your family and crazy, busy life as an excuse for staying out-of-shape. I know it's practically impossible to stick with the standard long-sessions & complicated diet approaches, but the fact is we don't have to.
By getting yourself in a calorie deficit on a weekly basis, training in shorter, intense bursts, and just making sure you get enough protein in your diet, dads really can have it all - lose fat and gain muscle, lose the belly, get in shape... and still have time for the pesky wife and kids!