Fitness for New Fathers: How to Avoid Being a Fat Dad

by A Manly Guest Contributor on September 26, 2012 · 54 comments

in Fitness, Health & Sports

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jon Finkel.

It was the immortal Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School who said, “You gotta look out for number one… But don’t step in number two!”

Yes, Dangerfield’s character in the movie was known for armpit farting and doing the esteemed Triple Lindy dive, but he was also a self-made millionaire and the CEO of a major company. He even cared about his son graduating college so much that he actually moved into a dorm on campus (a souped-up dorm, of course) and enrolled in school with him. The above quote is the cornerstone of his commencement address at the fictional Grand Lakes University. In the speech, he was talking about going out into the real world, but the same rule applies to men as they enter fatherhood.

After being your own “number one” your whole life, once you have a baby, you get knocked down a peg. Looking out for number one now means looking out for your kids. Not stepping in number two is a combination of the following: stress, 3am feedings, 6am feedings, no sleep, no time to exercise, fast food, caffeine, candy, sugar, skipped breakfasts, rushed lunches, high fat dinners, energy loss, weight gain and, eventually, a chubbier, slower, exhausted you. Most men step right into a steaming pile of the above immediately after becoming a father. The result: a man you barely recognize in the mirror.

At a time when you should be at your absolute physical peak, you’re spent. Why does this happen? Because the one thing we took for granted throughout most of our lives as single men, or as part of a married couple with no children, is long gone: free time. Once you have a baby, your time is no longer free. Every second costs something. If your baby is colicky and it takes you an extra half hour to get her to sleep after her 4am feeding, that costs you 30 minutes of sleep. If you unexpectedly run out of formula in the morning and you have to race out to get some before work, that costs you 20 minutes at the office. If you’re giving your kid a bath before bed and she poops in the tub, the cleaning time costs you 10 minutes you could have had alone with your wife. Every second you spend looking out for the new number one, no matter how wonderful and amazing and fun that can be, costs you a second that you didn’t have to worry about when you were number one.

Eventually, all those seconds add up to a time-stealing conspiracy that forces you to start eliminating things you once looked forward to: reading for pleasure, re-watching The Godfather on HBO on a Tuesday night just because it’s on, spending Sunday watching football. Whatever it is you did in your spare time you no longer do because you don’t have time to spare. Unfortunately, the first thing that usually gets cut isn’t one of the lazy activities I mentioned above. No, the first thing to get cut is the thing you actually like the least (but will help you the most): working out.

She’s putting her baby bod through the paces — you should do likewise!

Maybe you lift weights, maybe you play hoops, maybe you run or play racquetball or swim or bike. Maybe you simply bang out 30 minutes on the treadmill three days a week. Whatever you normally do, the one thing I can assure you, at least for a while after you have a kid, is that you will no longer “normally” do anything. Having a child redefines what normal will be. And while there are countless magazines and blogs and books for women about pregnancy and exercise and post-pregnancy exercise, there is a staggeringly small number of outlets for men to learn how to take care of themselves after their child is born. Somehow, society has made it acceptable, cute even, for a man to gain weight along with his pregnant wife. Some men even go pound for pound with their significant other. Unfortunately, men don’t have access to the one-day miracle weight loss plan that women utilize called giving birth.

One minute, a woman is bursting at the seams with child, the next minute; she’s 15 pounds lighter. For men, what was once affectionately called “sympathy weight” is now referred to as “being fat.” Once you’re fat for a certain amount of time, you have officially “let yourself go.” And once you’ve “let yourself go,” it’s not easy to get yourself back.

In order to avoid this all-too-common fate of fatherhood, you need to come up with a strategy to help you bridge the gap between your, “I’m in great shape and about to have a kid,” days and your, “My kid sleeps all night and I sort of have my life back,” days. Ideally, this will help you avoid the, “I haven’t worked out or slept in three months, I eat like crap, and I’ve gained 15 pounds,” days.

For all the dads out there who think they don’t have the time to exercise, if you stop and think about it, you do have the time, it’s just hiding in plain sight. It only takes a minute or two here and there to crank out some push-ups, sit-ups, body squats, or something else just to get the blood moving. Want some examples? No problem. Here are five times in your day where you’re burning a minute or two and don’t even realize it:

While the water is getting warm in the shower: It usually takes about a half-minute for the water in your shower to get to the temperature that you’d like. Turn the water on and instead of just standing there looking at yourself in the mirror, drop and do a set of push-ups.

At night, while the water is getting warm in the tub for the baby: One of the first things you’ll need to understand as a new dad is that you don’t have to hold the baby every second to keep it from crying. It’s okay if it cries for a while. This means that you don’t have to hold the baby on your knee if you’re readying a bath. Put her down for a few minutes of all-important “tummy time” (this usually makes them cry anyway, so you might as well have her work on her upper-body strength while she’s bawling), get in a quick set of sit-ups or leg lifts, then pick her up when the water’s ready.

Bonus exercise #1: Baby bench press

While you’re warming a bottle: Whether it’s first thing in the morning or late at night, it usually takes a few minutes to get your baby’s bottle to the ideal temperature. If you’re using formula or your wife is pumping and freezing the milk, you’ll have a few minutes while the milk soaks in hot water and warms up. That’s plenty of time for a quick set of body squats and for you to check your fantasy football standings on your iPhone.

While your computer is turning on: I found this one ideal for the office. It takes, on average, 2-3 minutes for your office computer to boot up and load all of your company’s firewalls and stuff. When you first get into work, turn your computer on, shut your door, bang out a quick set of push-ups, open your door and start your day. If you’re in a cubicle, find an empty conference room and do it. Yeah, it’ll be weird if you get caught, but so what?

Bonus exercise #2: Baby medicine ball toss

Anytime you microwave something: This mainly goes for when you’re home, but if you’re heating up or defrosting something, chances are you’re just going to pace the kitchen, stare at the timer, or putter around the house for a few minutes. Make those minutes count by doing a set of push-ups or squats.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When you stop and think about it, you can turn dozens of everyday activities, chores, and even burping your kid into a calorie burner and muscle builder. Looking out for number two just got a whole lot easier.

How did you stay in shape as a new dad? Share your tips with us in the comments!

__________________

For tons of manly advice about how to stay in peak form when you become a father, Jon Finkel’s book, The Dadvantage: Stay in Shape on No Sleep, with No Time and No Equipment, is available today. For more information on Jon, The Dadvantage, or his previous work, visit www.jonfinkel.com. Follow Jon on Twitter: @3dollarscholar. Jon Finkel has written for GQ, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, ComedyCentral.com, and the New York Times, among others.

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Craven September 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I got really excited and thought this article was by Johnny Magic

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Finkel

2 Gwenny September 26, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Being a manly father means supporting your wife in breastfeeding. Gentlemen, you may not be aware, but bottle-feeding breast milk is technically “mixed feeding.” You can support your wife in *breastfeeding* by helping her settle into her favorite nursing spot and bringing her a glass of water. Because breastfeeding is so cozy and relaxing for mother and baby, I’m sure you can duck out for a ten minute run while she nurses the baby. Happy fatherhood!

3 Chris O. September 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Thanks for this! Just had baby number two, and I went up a waist size over the past 6 months (and my collar doesn’t fit anymore)… This gives me something to work on!

4 Mike September 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I run. Before kids, I ran by myself. That progressed to running while pushing a stroller (with 2 kids at one point). Which turned into running with a kid or two along a bicycle. Remember the Dr. Seuss book, “we like our Mike when the hills get high”? That’s me. Now I’m running with the older ones to help them train for the school’s cross country team. I don’t take them along every time but it sure is fun and gives Mom a badly needed break.

Short version: pick an activity you like and share it with them.

5 Erswi September 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Working in an office make this problem even worse. Before graduating architecture school I worked at Home Depot slinging 80 lb bags of concrete and 10 ft sheets of drywall. Now? Now I sit on my rear all day and move a mouse back and forth. First thing you can do to improve this at work is institute a similar workout plan every time you have to get up from your chair. Going to the bathroom? Knock out 10 pushups first. Going to get a glass or bottle of water? Seated dips using your chair as a bench. Who’s got any other in-office workout suggestions?

6 Brad September 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

One of the things I’ve started doing on a more intentional basis since we’ve had our son (who is now a week away from being 1 year old) is taking advantage of our home’s location and bike to work and to the grocery store. My workplace is only about 4.5km (2.8mi) away from my house, so it’s a fairly quick bike ride and, should my commute take me through morning or afternoon rush hour, it’s often quicker than driving. We have a good grocery store only about 3km (1.85mi) away from the house which is also pretty easy to get to.

They aren’t long bike rides, but it certainly adds up after a while, and biking 9km every workday certainly isn’t going to hurt! It’s helped me get in exercise when things are simply too hectic at home to be able to try and remember to fit it in. As a bonus, I feel like if I ride my bike on a regular basis to work, I can help set an example for our son that cars aren’t (where we live) an essential part of every day life. With gas prices going up and up (meanwhile, my wife’s granola bars price has plateaued), a slightly bigger appetite can be a pretty attractive trade-off for the savings in gas money.

7 Rob September 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm

A breastfeeding Nazi on a men’s site, on a article for dad’s? Is there nowhere they can’t find us!?

8 Brad September 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm

@Erswi: One thing you should ask your IT department is if they can add a small program to your computer that will remind you to take a break. We recently got them added to our computers (I do 12 hour shifts sitting in front of 4 monitors), and it’s amazing how much better I feel when I’m reminded every 20-30 minutes to just stop for a minute. I usually make a point to either look out the window for 20 seconds or so, get up and go ask someone a question that needs answering, or to go refill my water/coffee or grab a snack.

It interjected into my workflow quite a bit at the beginning, but once I got used to it, you learn to just restructure your work habits a little bit and I’m just as productive as ever and I feel better.

Should the IT department complain, you can easily bring it up with your office’s occupational health and safety board,w which is already recommending the 20/20/20 rule for working at computers. Numerous little reminder timers can be found at no cost to your company.

9 Alec September 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I wake up early Saturday morning to do the house cleaning- while moving from cleaning the upstairs toilet to taking out the cat litter I’ll bust out a set of 10 pullups on my home pull up bar and 10 pushups. Then I’ll walk downstairs, throw in the laundry, come back upstairs and do 10 more pullups and pushups. In about an hour I’ve cleaned the whole house (except for vacuuming) and gotten in a decent workout, just in time for when my 2 year old wakes up so I can cook her breakfast (eggs and liver!) and give her lots of attention.

Of course after the great recent AOM article I now let her help cook breakfast (put the butter in the pan, put the eggshells in the compost bin, etc.) and let her help me put away the clean dishes form the dishwasher.

I am a happy Dad indeed.

10 Erwin September 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Tore my ACL a couple months ago and now in recovery with a 9 month old. Decided to get surgery now so that when baby gets a walking, I can be a little more mobile to keep up with him and help mommy out. Gonna try to take the stairs as often as possible instead of elevator. If stairs aren’t possible and I have to go in elevator, I’ll do some stretches, luckily I live in a complex and work in a building where there isn’t too much elevator traffic.

11 Ken September 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I left for work early to beat traffic and go to the gym. Would have spent the same time in rush hour, basically a wash. Kids are high school so now have plenty of time.

12 Vince September 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Fellow fathers,

First, what I do is portion control on all meals. I don’t give up anything I love or whatever is being served for me during meals. I just eat less of it. Works wonders and I would say losing weight and maintaining is 80-90% diet.

I also do my workouts during the lunch hour. I have enough time to do a quick 5km, shower (we have showers/locker rooms at work) and get back to my office. I’ll usually eat a quick sandwich in the afternoon (2-3pm) to make up for the fact that I didn’t eat anything during the lunch hour.

On top of all this I also have this app on my IPhone called ITreadmill. I aim for 10,000 steps everyday (which is possible if you get up from your desk every hour and walk for a bit around your office).

With the portion control, 5km’s and the 10,000 steps I can say that I am in the best shape of my life.

Hope this helps gentlemen :-)

13 Buzz September 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Another great one I did with all of my kids when we first got home from the hospital is while Mom and baby sleep go out for a 30 minute run. In those first few weeks it is great to get fresh air and get out of the house!

14 jaklumen September 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Sorry guys, I can’t give you an inspiration story. I trimmed down working very hard when my daughter was young. I walked 3 hours a day, sometimes with her on my shoulders up and down hills, weights one hour every other day, and a strict diet.

And then I felt I couldn’t maintain… and it all came back and then tons more. Chronic health issues and special needs with my son about five years later just piled up. Then there was the back surgery. I worked VERY hard on recovery but I’m just not going to fit the ideal of the “dad on the comeback trail after kid is born” here. Get back to me in maybe 5-10 years.

15 MKelley September 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm

@Alec:

Eggs and liver? Best dad ever!

16 brand September 26, 2012 at 11:23 pm

I’ve always stuck to the thought pattern that a workout should be treated like an important doctor appointment. It takes dedication and willpower to stick to a program and usually that involves sacrificing you enjoy doing, after getting married I had to stop my 4 hours video game playing and turn that into manly time; which involves 1/2 of studying and at least 1/2 hour of lifting weights in my home gym. My wife understands that I need man time to keep myself balanced around the woman time.

If you’re pressed for time and only have 5 or so minutes to work out I suggest right when you wake up (I know that’s rough and it takes getting used to) 25 push ups, 25 bodyweight squats, and plank for a minute. It may take a few weeks to get into the routine without feeling like crap, but it will go a good ways to improving willpower and may help you get yourself set in an exercise routine that can grow over time.

You have to love exercising to do it long term, you really do.

17 Damien September 27, 2012 at 12:17 am

This is a very timely article for me – I’ve just been looking in to this. I’ve got a 3 year old and a 1 year old, and we live a long way from other family members so my wife and I pretty much just have each other for support. It seems selfish for me to head off on a half-hour run or something while she looks after both our little ones.

However I’ve just (starting yesterday) started cranking out 10 pushups at work whenever I get up from my desk.. around every hour or so. I’m pretty sore.. the 10 that are easy at 7:30 in the morning are not so simple by 3:30 in the afternoon :)

We’ll be moving interstate to be near family, and I’ll be working from home, so I’m thinking about setting up a timer that goes off regularly and doing a quick set of something high intensity whenever it does. I’d love advice on what timing I should be looking at – every hour? Every half hour? Is it better to cycle exercises every time, or each day? Anyone got any experience and can give me advice on this one?

Thanks :)

18 Troutt September 27, 2012 at 7:24 am

I really appreciate the timing and title of this article. We are expecting our first little bundle of joy in April 2013. One of my goals in the months leading up to the arrival is to institute a fitness routine for myself. I have been telling my wife, “I don’t want to be Fat-Daddy!” I have recently switched careers and moved into an office/cubicle setting. I have told myself a couple times this week that I’d hop around the corner before taking a break and knock out some push-ups, but still haven’t done it. This gives me some encouragement. I’m going to print off some of these ideas, and the article on desk jockey fitness (or whatever it was called) and post it in my cubicle.

19 LabanM September 27, 2012 at 7:54 am

I recently became a new dad and have had no chance to work out. I do however have a chance to eat healthy, I have cut out sugar and anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup. I also eat smaller portions and try not to stuff myself during mealtime. The results, I’ve dropped 10 pounds in 6 months. Not a large amount but for a smaller guy like me it’s a big difference.

20 Nathan Graves September 27, 2012 at 9:21 am

At first, I thought this article was going to be really great, but as I started reading the “problems” of Life With Baby and then the suggested outlets for fitness, I realized that the author seems to be basing this piece on a flawed premise.

That premise being that when you have a child, you have to learn how to fit that child into your life, and that things you used to do all go out the window.

In actuality, that’s backwards. Truth be told, when you have child, you aren’t learning how to fit it into your life, you *should* be learning how to rearrange your life so you can do everything in your power to best raise your child.

During my wife’s pregnancy, I supported her and did everything I could to remain fit and active and, most importantly, able-bodied and loaded with energy so I could be there for whatever was needed. Then, after Dashiell (our son) was born, my fitness regimen took a blow. Instead of 6 days a week of 1-hour workouts, I was knocked down to 2 (3 at best), and while I hated it at first, I was redeemed by the fact that I was learning how to care for a new life, and once I got the hang of some of those new skills, I was able to sleep better at night (as was my son), and then I could get up again at 5am and go running, or take my gym back to work and workout over lunch.

The point being – we shouldn’t be trying to squeeze in little bits of fitness here and there. If your life truly is *that* busy, then perhaps you’re looking at life from a skewed lens.

For me, being a husband is intentional. Being a father is intentional. Eating clean and working out regularly, so that I am in tip top shape to be in service to my wife and son is intentional and mandatory as a husband and father and as such, I make a point to devote time to it.

21 Mark Ruddick September 27, 2012 at 9:27 am

I guess I’ve officially let myself go. Adopted to special needs kids 8 years ago and I’m up 150lbs. Once in a while I get the urge to excercise, but I lie down until the feeling goes away.

22 Jon Finkel September 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the great comments! I think everyone is on the same page. The key is to take care of yourself as best you can. The idea of The Dadvantage was to help guys do that while also maintaining their hectic dad/work schedule. The book has dozens of ideas and easy things you can incorporate into your day-to-day to help you stay in shape. It’s also short (50 pages) inexpensive, and ideal to keep on your phone. Good luck!

Jon

23 Marcus September 27, 2012 at 10:59 am

Pressed for time as a Dad?

Eat healthy.

If you are only putting things into your body that will benefit it there will be less fat to get rid of and garbage to fight while exercising, less garbage building up inside your body and arteries, less garbage your metabolism has to try to deal with, and you may even begin to reverse the damage done in previous years.

Work smart, not just hard.

Your family needs you now more then ever and deserves the best man it can get.

24 Tony A September 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

Upon the arrival of our daughter things were hectic in the beginning. Great friends and family bringing meals over the first few weeks as we adjusted to our addition. Then a few months later came the lack of sleep at night followed by long days working. You eat and grab what you can any chance you get. I realized I needed to lose some weight and get back in a shape other then round. Short workouts throughout the day gave me the energy boost I needed and helped shed some unwanted pounds. Over the weeks the workouts get a little easier and better eating isn’t so bad anymore. I encourage all new dads, if time and schedules permit, to try and get off that couch and work to be the man you want to be! Stay Happy My Friends and Good Luck -TA

25 ErikS September 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I’m with Troutt. A well timed, simple article. Among the many rewards of having a 6 month old has been the additional weight I’m now carrying.

The advice in your article, and the great ideas from the comments following are just the inspiration I needed. Thanks.

26 AndHeDrew September 28, 2012 at 7:49 am

This lovely four-minute workout is a lifesaver:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AimPOSXe7n4

27 Ian September 28, 2012 at 11:07 am

Every day when I get home I take the time to let my 3 boys ‘fly’ by tossing them in the air for 5 times each. I usually go oldest to youngest (45#, 35#, and 30#) but also mix it up as well. Great fully body workout if I squat to pick them up. Although I may have to stop when the oldest gets to 60#.

28 J. Delancy September 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Thanks for bringing light to a growing (pun intended) problem. Some form of exercise that involves new dad, new mum and baby would be ideal.

29 xtp77 September 30, 2012 at 4:57 am

OUCH! This one hits home. As a father of a 4year old and a 1year old, I was letting myself go woth +9kg / +20lbs and losing muscle. Since June, I’m happy to report I’m down 6kg (14lbs), with 3kg to go back to pre-pregnancy weight (isn’t it weird to say that as a man?)

What has worked for me so far has been:

1, Eating clean. I spiked my sugar consumption upon becoming a dad. Big time. It was my go-to energy crutch. Cutting down that nasty habit has worked wonders. Only change in my diet (rest I eat is pretty clean, Michael Pollen style of food, yet I still eat generously) and #1 driver of fat loss.

2, Reduce time spent on non-workout tasks. As Jon said, time disappears. So I no longer have time to drive to a place (forest, gym), get changed, workout for 1h+, get changed, drive back, collapse. My optimal plan now is wake up early, prepare breakfast, clothes, the day in general as a warm up, and then still in my pajamas (normally worn down sports clothes anyway), crank calisthenics at home. I’m becoming a big fan of “You Are Your Own Gym”, which has 35min workouts which progress in difficulty. After being done, I throw my pajamas in the laundry basket, shower, get ready for the day. Not too elegant, but effective and I save on driving time, only one change, and utilize the shower I already needed.

3, Fitocracy. I’m a sucker for getting points and level up, so that sites gives me a motivation edge.

Good luck to all dads out there.

30 Rob September 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I don’t have a child but I am a very busy person and don’t have much time to hit the gym during the week. The basic idea of this article is right, do simple exercises when ever you have a spare moment. I always keep grip trainers in the car for my commute and I just alternate hands while driving. Fast paced shadow boxing, 30 sec of jump rope, 30 jumping jacks, push ups when ever I have a few seconds, situps when ever I have a few seconds, I always take the stairs, eat healthy. It is simple guys.

31 LM October 1, 2012 at 8:06 am

I’m not a father, but my wife and I are planning on having children soon. I am also 27 working a few jobs learning what it is I am good at doing and trying my best to do it well. My concern as an upcoming father is the loss of time. This is selfish of me, but I am afraid when my first child comes I’ll have no time to stay in shape, improve my work skills and find exactly where it is I am to work. Suggestions? Has anyone else had these fears?

32 S October 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm
33 BryanM October 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I am a Licensed Massage Therapist specializing in sports and injury rehab with military and martial arts training. I HATE GYMS! I am also a Father of 7 children. It was difficult to tell my patients to ‘eat right, drink more water and exercise more’ with my expanding waist line and the McDonald’s bag in the trash can. Like many Dads, I found my personal time simply disappearing between Boy Scouts, Doctor’s appointments and other obligations.
One day I decided that I want to be around after age 55 and, with my knowledge and training I simply have no excuse. I now get up at 0530 every morning before anyone else is up and on alternating days either go running or I do a combination of calisthenics (fancy word for body weight exercise) and kettlebell work. Each workout is no longer than 45 minutes. Sometimes I’ll run for an hour.
If you absolutely cannot exercise make sure you are eating right for YOUR physiological needs. Clean eating is important. See your doctor or Primary Care Provider and find out what your body’s needs are. Then do your homework. Become an expert on how and why the diet works.
Remember that elite warriors from Spartans to SEALS have been using body weight exercise to get fighting fit. You don’t need a gym.
Look up the following for body weight; Insanity workout, Paul “Coach” Wade, Rich Bryda, Gray Cook The Naked Warrior.

For kettlebell training; dragondoor.com, mikemahler.com, shihan.com, Steve Maxwell, and roguefitness.com
Kettlebells are great way to get a fat torching workout that builds functional strength in a minimal amount of time. If you are not trained in Sports or Exercise Sciences I recommend taking the time find a Certified Kettlebell trainer, IKFF, RKC or WKC.

There are many ways to get in and stay in shape. The important thing IS TO GET STARTED AND BE CONSISTENT. You don’t have to start by benching your body weight and running 5 miles in under one hour. start with some push ups on your knees. do Hindu Squats. Cut out the sodas. Start small BUT START. xtp77 has some good advice. I have a friend who is doing Fitocracy and she loves it.

God Bless the Dads. We need it. :)

34 Tom Macaluso October 2, 2012 at 7:27 am

I’ve become a big fan of convict conditioning http://www.amazon.com/Convict-Conditioning-Weakness-Survival-Strength/dp/0938045768
short workouts little to no equipment needed

35 BourbonBass 44 October 2, 2012 at 10:27 am

I’ve been doing Insanity during my lunch break at work. If you have a private office and a computer, this is a nice option.

36 Becca October 3, 2012 at 6:52 am

I’m a mom, not a dad, but my husband and I trade off exercise times and have done so since the beginning. It helps that fitness has always been one of my top priorities, so it’s his top priority too ;) And if you don’t have the time to do that, get a baby carrier/stroller and go for walks (one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done was carrying my youngest in a chest carrier and pushing my oldest in a stroller up and down hills), or do squats while holding the baby, crunches while holding the baby, etc. When they get older they can pretend daddy’s a “horsey” and get on while he’s doing pushups. You don’t even have to spring for heavier weights once it gets easier, since they keep on growing.

37 Brian October 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm

When my wife got pregnant, I was just out of grad school, where I walked to and from school an hour each way and worked out regularly. After several months with a bun in the oven and no job, I finally landed a job 1.5 hrs away and 8 hrs of desk time. That coupled with “supporting” my wife’s every diet whim added at least two inches to my waist and 13% to my weight.
This would have been worse, but we are vegetarian and eat 90%+ organic, so fast food and ho-ho’s played no part in my belly.
In addition to mommy loosing 15+ lb in an instant, having a baby literally suck the fat off had her back “you just had a baby?!” fitness in no time flat. I was not so lucky.
However, the nice thing about bundles of joy is that they sleep a lot and at times when you don’t sleep. So there is always time for a 1 mile run (10 minutes tops). After we found a book that told us the cure for a baby who won’t go to sleep is to put them down before they “look” tired, we get adult time from 6pm until we go to sleep, loads of time for workout.
A few months ago a friend who has a similarly aged baby and I entered into an “ab race”. The first one to a six pack wins…I’m now down to high school weight, biked nearly 20 miles last weekend and did a 5 mile run the other day. I soon hope to win our race.
Bottom line, is that there is always time, just a lack of motivation. Baby is now 14 months and we are discussing number 2. I know everything changes when you switch from a powerplay to man-to-man, but I am sure my workout routine will continue in some form.

38 Nick October 5, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Listen men, the newborn thing I what it is. Just hold on till it’s equalized a bit. Then be sure you haven’t forgotten what makes you, you. I have two boys and they mean the world to me along with my most perfect helper wife, but you’ll run square out of gas trying to be superdad like everynight is an “all-nighter” in school. The first thing I had to learn was that taking time to run at night didn’t make me a bad or absent dad. Sometimes that means I miss bedtime but I have to be ok with that to stick to the larger goal of being ABLE to be a capable dad for my lads. I always come in and kiss my boys and whisper to them I love them and Jesus does too.
And hey, sometimes you loose. I think that’s a good lesson to pass on to my boys too. Ok so Dada didn’t make his run tonight, it’s not over. You make choices everyday. And what you chose today you can choose differently tomorrow. Boys, “choose life that you and your seed may live!”

39 Mark October 12, 2012 at 3:37 am

As a new father of a 1 year old, I can totally relate to the desire to keep in shape while at the same time keep on top of the Dad duties. I have to admit though that some of the suggestions in the article above are a bit corny. Like doing push ups while water is running or just suddenly doing sit ups while preparing milk?! Sorry, but I think my wife and my baby would probably think I’m nuts. I have found however that staying in shape has required a) a flexible notion of WHEN to work out and b) a new concept of exercise and fitness. I’ve found that night time is the best time to run because baby and wife are sleeping. Nobody needs me for anything so I don’t have to feel guilty and there’s a minimal chance that anything will spring up and interfere with that time. Before having a baby I enjoyed exercising in the mornings or after work but that time belongs to my family now. As for exercising itself, I find running is great because it boosts your energy levels as opposed to weightlifting that tires you out. I find a 2.5 mile run followed by 50 pushups and 50 sit ups is perfect. Tennis on Sundays with a friend who also has a baby (the wives can chill with the kids) and riding my bike to work (also saves money). That’s it. Anymore exercise aspirations are impossible. This is not how or when I exercised before I had a baby but you have to adjust. By the way, your site is really cool. Glad I found it.

40 JJ. October 23, 2012 at 10:54 am

You can always use the baby to do some exercises, for example, overhead presses while standing or chest presses while laying down, put him/her on your shoulders and do some squats just make sure not to do them too fast and not to do any jerky movements… the kid will probably get a kick out of it too… u can also do peek a boo sit ups with babies too, which always gets a little chuckle out of them.. just use your imagination

41 Josh October 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm

As a new father, I found that cycling to work rather than driving is a pretty decent way to get some exercise. I haven’t driven my car in weeks. 22 miles a day, round trip. For some reason, I expected it to be hard, but it just wasn’t except for the first week.

As a bonus, i’m saving money on gas.

42 Nutties November 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm

My son is 7 months old and weighs 25 pounds. He loves to be lifted up and down and after about 100 reps I can get a decent bur from this. Last night i took his sensory ball, laid on my back and threw it up in the air. Did a sit up while catching it. He watched me do this for half an hour without a peep. My abs are killing me today. He also loves watching me pound the heck out of my heavy bag. He will sit there and watch me for a solid 20 minutes. Get one of those baby backpacks for hiking. They are about $100 on amazon. He spends most of his weekend on my back and just loves it. Even sleeps in it while my wife and I are climbing hills. If your wife is into fitness do rotating situps together and pass the baby back and forth. I find that the more active everyone is the happier everyone seems to be.

43 Mike December 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

For those who don’t have too much time in their hands, I also recommend trying out some home fitness workouts. They are effective, quick and really easy to do while being able to fit into any time of your day. From experience and from what I heard, the best nowadays would be GSP Rushfit, TapoutXT, and p90X.

44 Anthony December 11, 2012 at 11:16 am

My son is 5 months old now, I gained 15lbs in about 3 months. I just ran out of time to go to the gym, or spend an hour a day exercising. The biggest problem was that I still ate food like before. I had make my body understand I didnt need the same amount of food. I started by drinking water except for one soda a day. Then I ate about half as much as I normally would, instead filling time between meals with a pack of wheat crackers to tide me over.

I have lost 10 lbs since then and feel much better, I plan to keep doing this. Me and my wife are going to try a p90x type home workout atleast two days a week to be more active.

Kids change everything but I wouldnt trade it for the world.

45 Jack's Dad February 26, 2013 at 1:36 am

Good article. I actually work for a living, meaning in my business I use my body, it being a trade related business.

I liked the point made that you don’t need a gym membership to have the opportunities to work out. There are no excuses except the ones you choose to make.

I just started up a routine again. I actually use my 2.5 year old as weight and lift him. I do squats and he has fun imitating me. You can incorporate a workout and playtime.

No excuses

46 Joe Malone March 28, 2013 at 5:24 pm

When it comes to fitness in the world, we need help! In the end, a healthy diet and exercise are what people need. We just need to find a way to convince them all of that.

47 Stoke gym April 27, 2013 at 11:51 am

A good stroll around the local park normally does it for me. Plus the kids really enjoy it.

48 Wills Kitchen June 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

Got a 2 week old daughter here. I was going to the gym for one hour of HIIT training 3-4 times a week. YEA…..THATS OUT THE WINDOW FOR SURE!!! No choice but to get up earlier….get out on the back porch….and do an hour of 2:1 before work. I completely ditto the comments about gym equipment not being needed. We didn’t have any equipment in Army basic training and we all got in shape anyway. Use your body. If you have the motivation to make the exercises hard, you will see an effect. Babies change everything. Plus sweating out some testosterone makes calmly dealing with colic enormously easier. You don’t get as mad.

49 Lucas August 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm

I’m in the Marine Corps and I gained plenty of weight when my wife got pregnant; I wasn’t obese by any standards but I lost definition in jaw, I couldn’t fit in my trimly tailored uniforms, and my PT scores dropped. Every day I would take the wife and son the the park and knock out some HIIT. Or I would find a hill and sprint up that piece and full intensity a couple times. Worked for me! I already lost 10lbs!!

50 Greg September 12, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I became a new dad last year. All my life I was an avid runner and enjoyed doing calisthenics. Now here I am with 60 lbs of blubber on me, all gained in less than a year. Embarrassing to say the least. Everyone jokes that I decided to carry our next child. I have finally started working out daily again and eating much better, but the scale has barely budged. It’s depressing knowing how long I have to go to get back into shape, but I just have to stick with it. I don’t want to be a fat guy for the rest of my life

51 Mike Wever November 13, 2013 at 8:37 am

I had to become a morning person. Up at 4:45 a.m. to workout before work so I can spend time with our infant after work. Took awhile to make it a habit, and had to give up watching some ball games later at night, but totally worth it.

52 Adam December 9, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for this article! My wife and I had a wonderful little baby girl in September, and this motivated me to start exercising around the house when I get the chance to. Today, I placed little Norah down in her bouncy seat and started doing squats, and she grinned real big and laughed at me for the first time. Thanks AOM – you’ve helped make this new dad very happy. :)

53 Jeffrey Kaplan December 16, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Great article in very good timing. I have an almost 3 year old and another baby on the way (due in January), and I’m still trying to work off the weight I added with my eldest daughter’s pregnancy. It was so easy to match my wife’s eating habbits and especially when she had morning sickness, to stop by for fast food instead of going on her typically amazing home cooking. However, I’m happy to say I’ve had a different approach with baby #2, and I feel way more able to maintain my regimen.

I am not in shape. By a longshot. However, all I did was to download a calorie counter app on my phone, and input my caloric intake each day. I still don’t eat spectacularly well, but it at least makes me accountable for what I put into my body. Due to my work as a psychotherapist, I literally spend all day long sitting and talking with people, with very little movement. For excercise, I started simply taking my lunch hour to walk to wherever I’m going for lunch that day, or if I bring lunch, I walk for about 45 min total. I keep a brisk pace, but it’s certainly not a run. And, since finding out we were pregnant, I’ve lost 40 lbs and am back in the 100′s for the first time since I was in high school. Pretty cool.

54 Jimmy April 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm

I was recently forwarded this article, as I just had a newborn son a few weeks ago and going through the regular ups and downs. Staying in shape has definitely been hard and has changed the way I train and reassess my goals. Great tips and hoping to add them in starting today!

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