22 Tips for Dads to Get Back in Shape

22 Tips for Dads to Get Back in Shape

Staying in shape when you were younger and childless can feel like a lifetime ago.  Once you have a baby, your personal health tends to get knocked down a peg or two as you have a new number one priority in your life.  Mix that with sleep deprivation, stress, lack of free time, inconsistent schedules, always running late, caffeine, skipped breakfasts, quick and easy dinners…and you will likely not recognize the shape of the person in the mirror.  Getting back to your thinner and healthier weight may seem like a lost cause but with a few changes, you may be able to get into a routine that is relatively sustainable.  We have compiled a list of tips from sources around the web that should allow you to take the first steps to getting back on the right track.

1. Don’t let the little one take over your life.

Source: Good Men Project
So many people lose themselves when their children are born. I love our little nugget, don’t get me wrong, but in order for me to have some balance in my life I have to exercise. Thankfully, my wife understands this and allows me to hit the trails once or twice each week. I do my best to give her a break from completely being attached to our little one.

2. List the reasons you must get fit.

Source: All Pro Dad
You need a big why to get you started and keep you going.

3. Schedule It.

Source: Parenting Squad
We schedule meetings at work. We schedule date nights with our wives. We schedule doctor appointments.
schedule it image
If fitness is a priority for you, schedule it and treat it as if it's an appointment that cannot be changed.

4. Start Small.

Source: Parenting Squad
If finding time to exercise is challenging, try to carve out only a small amount of time at first. For instance, try to build one hour a week into your schedule. As you progress in your workouts, you will likely want to find more time to exercise and you will.

5. Start at home.

Source: All Pro Dad
Don’t go broke with gym memberships or personal training. Start small.
dad workout at home
Starting at home with some exercise tapes will eliminate your concern of gear, looking bad in front of others, and even a lack of funds.

6. Sleep comes first.

Source: Fatherhood Fitness Finance
It is easy to buy a gym member or start a diet and feel like we are making progress because we took some action. The problem is you didn't take the right first step!  Sleep is critical because that is when our body regulates hormone levels.
dad sleep deprived
Growth hormone surges at night while insulin decreases to help your metabolism and cortisol decreases as well. Improper sleep will leave you fighting against your hormones and that's just a battle we can't win!
In fact, a recent University of Chicago study found that people trying to lose weight with inadequate sleep actually lost muscle instead of fat. Talk about a terrible outcome for a diet plan.

7. Pick fitness activities that you enjoy. 

Source: Liveabout.com
Dads tell me that finding activities that you really enjoy is a critical component to making time for exercise. I have a friend who is a triathlon participant, so he runs, cycles, and swims. Being constantly in training for a triathlon is a passion, and so my friend always makes time for his fitness regimen.

8. Walk with the family. 

Source: Liveabout.com
One of my neighbors has smaller children, and his strategy is to jog with his kids. His six-year-old jogs alongside him and the two-year-old rides in a stroller.
stroller walk
Jogging, walking or cycling with your kids can help you stay committed to the exercise program (they will remind you) and will help build your relationships.

9. Do bodyweight activities.

Source: Good Men Project
So many workouts only require your own body weight. Do some pushups, do some squats, and do some crunches. It doesn’t take much to keep yourself in shape, just a commitment.

10. Take a bike.

Source: Liveabout.com
Our office had a recent "bike to work month" with cash incentives and drawings for people who opted to ride their bicycle to and from work each day. I participated and found that I could get about 40 minutes of cycling each work day that way.
riding bike to work
And given that I would spend about 20 minutes commuting in my car daily, I got 40 minutes of exercise with only 20 additional minutes of time.

11. Do yoga.

Source: Good Men Project
All you need is a mat. You really don’t even need a mat. Make sure you move your body and breathe with those movements. Yoga has been a huge part of my wellness over the years and continues to be the perfect medicine for my mental and physical well-being. All it takes is 20 minutes of moving and breathing to get centered.

12. Best Time of Day.

Source: Parenting Squad
If you're not a morning person, try not to build your workout schedule around the early morning hours because you'll be more than likely to cancel it. Instead, look for the time of day that works best for you. Would it be easier for you to jump on an elliptical machine in your basement once the kids have gone to bed? Could you get up an hour earlier in the morning and fit in a quick trip to the gym? Maybe you have a gym near your office and could spend part of your lunch break taking a quick class. Whichever way works for you, figure it out and stick to it.

13. Do something during commercials.

Source: Liveabout.com
My family doctor shared with me his secret of fitting in fitness. He has a treadmill at home set up near their television, and he walks during TV commercials and during the late night news.
commercial break
Again, he does not have to take time away from his regular activities; he just multi-tasks with his treadmill.

14. Make It Fun.

Source: Parenting Squad
If you hate biking, then by all means don't build your workouts around cycling. If you hate lifting weights, don't join a gym where weights are the focus. Stop and ask yourself what kind of exercise do you enjoy? Is it running? Yoga? Tennis? Figure out what you like to do and start doing it.

15. Make it a team effort.

Source: All Pro Dad
I wasn’t always a fan of working out with my wife, but after training for a 5k and going through a home exercise video together, I am a big proponent of it.
family workout
If you aren’t married, find someone close to you who is dependable and will hold you accountable.

16. Drink lots of water.

Source: Liveabout.com
Whatever your job, you can usually bring a water bottle along with you. One dad who recently got his act together and lost 40 pounds in the last year told me that one of the keys for him was drinking a gallon of water a day. He works at a computer most of the day and he kept a 24-ounce water bottle in his cubicle and drank all day long, filling it up on breaks.

17. Make small changes.

Source: Liveabout.com
Many fathers have reported that working fitness into their daily routine has helped. One dad told me that he parks at the far end of the parking lot at work and gets an extra couple of minutes walking to and from work. Another whose office is on the fourth floor of his office building has started using the stairs every day instead of the elevator. Another dad wears a fitness tracker and tries to get 10,000 steps each day. Checking the tracker several times each day, he looks for ways to get steps and if at the end of the day, he is not there, he slips on his walking shoes and hits the neighborhood sidewalks or the treadmill until he hits the 10,000 mark.

18. Walk or exercise during lunch hour.

Source: Liveabout.com
If you have regular lunch hours at work, a good strategy is to spend part of it exercising. Walking for 30 minutes every day can, all by itself, make a big difference in your personal health. And if you bring a light lunch or grab a salad at a local lunch spot, you can fit it all in.

19. Track your progress.

Source: All Pro Dad
There is no greater feeling than to be able to check off tasks or goals as you progress.
track your progress
It is also a good idea to write down not just how many days and pounds, but also to reflect on your workouts and your body.

20. Adjust your diet.

Source: Good Men Project
I’ve noticed that since I’m not burning as many calories, I’ve had to hold back on some of my intake. I am eating smaller salads, limiting my deserts, and consuming very little carbohydrates. It’s really a scaled down version of how I eat. All you have to do is tone down the calories, eat mostly plant based foods and you’ll maintain, if not lose weight. I’ve noticed I dropped a few pounds and I’m sure it’s because my nights are being broken into much 2 or 3 naps instead of an entire night sleep.

21. Set milestones and reward yourself.

Source: All Pro Dad
Set some milestones along the way to your big goal. When you hit your goals, reward yourself. Small victories over time will lead to big victories in the end. It also helps break up your journey, and it feels good to hit a goal and reward yourself.

22. Remind yourself why you must do this, frequently.

Source: All Pro Dad
Your why doesn’t just come into play when you first get off the couch. Your why will keep you off the couch, out of the donut shop, and moving toward getting fit throughout your journey. Never lose sight of why you must get fit for you and your family.

So there you have it… our top 22 tips for dads to get back in shape.

How about you?  What are your challenges or successes?  Share with us!


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