“It’s not about me anymore, is it Doc?” I hear this all the time from men I helped to become new Dads. New responsibility, new priorities, new love. Maybe that’s why having children has been called one of few “vertical moves” in life.
While fatherhood changes many a life, it’s also no bed of roses. Sleepless nights, startling, middle-of-the-night cries, unpredictable poops and random behavior. Any doubt who’s really the boss? And now, to top things off, a new study suggests that new fathers are fatter than their childless buddies.
Yup, new Dad’s gain an average of 4 lbs. after the little one arrives whereas non-fathers of the same age tend to lose weight (1.5 lbs.). Not a very pleasant finding from a large and highly believable study of 10,253 U.S. men followed for an average of 20 years. Sad but true, longitudinal studies like this one are particularly powerful when it comes to revealing life’s little truths.
Battling the Bulge
It makes sense, though. You don’t have to be a father yourself to know what’s happening with new Dads. Their lives are knocked way out of kilter, both emotionally and physically, kind of like constantly traveling across time zones. Imagine being in a constant jet lag. And because of this, our wonderful little rituals that keep us upright and smiling every day are lost. Routine is replaced with chaos. A good chaos, but chaos nevertheless.
And guess what routines suffer the most when a new bundle of joy arrives: exercise and diet. And this, my friends, is the likely source of expanding waistlines in new Dads.
Getting the Groove Back
Here are some tips to staying slim as a new Dad:
- Keep old routines. Our bodies, like those of pets and babies, thrive best on a schedule. Drink homemade coffee, read the paper, take the walk, read the book.
- Develop new routines. Face it, your life is different now. But this means there are new routines waiting for you. Read that nursery rhyme, do the diaper duty, rock the little one and tend to your partner’s needs.
- Hold a steady diet. Prioritize eating healthy. Eat like your preparing for a marathon (which in fact you are), not to congratulate yourself for surviving.
- Never get too hungry. That fabulous dinner may never happen, so don’t hold off. Keep something in your stomach; eat healthy snacks, hydrate and avoid binge eating.
- Fit in exercise. So you can’t go to the gym the way you used to. Stay fit at home, old school style. Put a chin up bar across the door, buy a jump rope (you’ll need it later anyway) and do sit-ups and pushups like Jack LaLanne did.
As a father, you must continue to treat your body like a temple. If for no other reason than to be around when the little ones grow up. Enjoy this ride while you’re actually on it, as it is the ride of your life!