We’ve all seen the Instagram fitness models, the perfectly sculpted physiques on the cover of Men’s Health and movie stars with the bodies of Gods and Goddesses.
But how realistic is it to have that dream physique whilst juggling the endless challenges of family life?
The answer? Easier than you think – it all comes down to how much you want it.
Tom Whitehead works endless hours in the City with a long daily commute, has two young daughters and still manages to maintain the ‘dad bod’ you do want.
We interviewed Tom to find out just how he manages to be the ultimate fitness father.
How did you end up with a dad bod?
The weight crept up over the years as a result of me prioritising everything else in my life – young family (two children under the age of three), poor sleep, long hours at work, three-hour commute, high stress levels and reverting to my old ways of stress management (comfort food and good quality red wine).
I found myself avoiding situations where I would have to bare my torso, such as swimming with my girls, or stripping off on a hot day to enjoy the sun but these happened infrequently enough for me to be able to brush the embarrassment (and shame) away until next time.
I work alongside some of the most motivated, dedicated Personal Trainers in the World but even with all this support on my door step, I had tried and failed several times to turn the situation around.
The lesson here is that, even with the best support possible, unless you are willing to commit fully to the process, the results will be average at best and a waste of time for all parties at worst.
What things were holding you back from getting in shape?
Time was and is always the biggest issue – juggling family, work and my social life and putting my health last.
You soon find there’s only one direction this will go.
What finally made you want to change your fitness and physique for the better?
My capitulation point came whilst looking back at photographs of me holding my youngest newborn daughter.
The photos had been taken two months prior and despite being a little ‘jowelly’ then, I was struck by how swollen and tired my face had become since.
I jumped on the scales and was slightly taken-a-back by the figure I saw.
In the space of three years I had gone from possessing a body I was proud of, to a full on, bona fide ‘dad bod’. I was angry and disappointed with myself – this would have to change.
What changes did you make that made such a big difference?
I had been training on a regular basis for many years, but without any clear direction – my nutrition had been inconsistent at best.
Eating ‘healthily’ during the week, albeit probably overeating, and massively underestimating what I consumed at the weekend.
I had also reverted to using alcohol as a means of stress management – a glass/bottle of red wine had replaced the Red Bull and vodka I had used in my previous life.
The first few weeks of getting back into training consisted of German Body Composition Training (big compound pressing and pulling movements in ‘supersets’ with relatively high repetitions and short rest periods came as a nasty shock to the system).
Coupled with a very low carb, high protein ‘boot camp’ diet, I can say that, without prejudice, it was horrible. Saying that, the ‘weight’ literally fell off (6kg in two weeks).
Most interesting of all was, that despite this huge weight loss, I had shifted very little, if any fat at all – purely water weight, which is a sign of how inflamed my body had become.
Who would have thought that poor sleep, too much booze and poor diet choices could have such an effect?
Pushing and pulling weighted sleds up and down the AstroTurf which runs through the middle of both UP London facilities. I even came to relishing the much feared ‘Dead Treads’ (powering the treadmill with nothing but leg power and sheer persistence).
It made me leaner, stronger, fitter, I had more energy and that was only the beginning.
The body fat started to shift after two weeks and did so at rate of approximately 1-2% a week.
Tell us about the training you did and why it was so effective at building an impressive physique?
The regular measurement checks, along with feedback to and from my trainer, ensured that the programme and nutrition were continually tweaked to prevent any plateauing. There’s nothing more exciting than getting your next training plan with nutrition amendments following solid body composition progress (getting results does become addictive and I found myself pushing harder the better I did!).
What was the most challenging part of doing a transformation and balancing it with family life? How did you manage/overcome this?
Spending time with the wife and children was key!
At this point I was training four times a week with a PT and training twice a week with HIIT training on my own – hand on my heart, I could see the changes weekly and was loving the process.
My trainer was aware that I did not want to impact family life unduly at weekends, so we scheduled one early morning HIIT session Saturday (before the kids woke up) and to include physical activity, involving the family – autumnal walks, crawling around soft play centres, etc. became the norm…and I loved this part the best.
What changes did you make to your diet and lifestyle that helped you shift the ‘dad bod’?
Preparation was vital – my weekly food was all planned out.
My best advice, and something I have followed through this whole process myself, is to buy a slow cooker, two thermos flasks and a week’s worth of food at one time.
Get home from work and throw in the meat (it can still be frozen), veg (also can be frozen) and spices etc so next morning you have a lovely home cooked, macro nutrient dense batch of food ready to be munched on during the day. Simple.
This, however, initially takes some forethought and planning but once you have set meal plans in place, it will become part of your life and will also ensure the best chance of success.
I would normally batch cook on a Sunday, so when I returned from work, I simply had to take my food out of the freezer for the next day and it would be ready to go the next morning.
What are the best lessons you’ve learned at UP for keeping fit, staying in shape and staving off the ‘dad bod’?
Consistency is key to achieving the result, but once you get there, maintaining it is so much easier!
My biggest mistake previously was not being consistent for any period of time and having many excuses for being that way.
Maintaining a good physique is far easier than getting it – put in the hard work, give up some of the pleasures in life and focus on your goal, whatever that may be.
How has this transformation benefitted you as a father?
I have more energy and joie de vivre, but most of all ensuring I will be around as long as possible to see them grow into beautiful young women!
How have your children benefited from having a healthier, fitter father who is well educated on fitness and nutrition?
Ensuring I instil an active lifestyle as the norm for them and that they eat as well as possible (as well as you can possibly get two small children to eat!).
I’m doing my best to a healthy role model for them! I hope that not lugging around 20kg of excess water and fat will mean I will be around longer to maximise this part of my life.
What advice do you have for anyone else fed up with their dad bod and wanting to get in the best shape of their life?
Nick Mitchell, my boss and founder of UP fitness, has created something very special, which was a huge motivating factor for me joining the company in the first place.
I think this is something that makes UP very special – regardless of whether you are a client, fellow trainer or management, the support from all elements in and around the company will help you get through the hard times and the shared success of all makes the company stronger by the day.
Grab the opportunity while you can and don’t look for reasons why you can’t do it but find ways that you can!
If you want to banish the ‘dad bod’ for good and finally get the body you want, speak to us about our Personal Training Plans or BOOK A CONSULT NOW!