PARENTS

How To Lose Your Dad Flab: One Father's Bid To Beat The Bulge

14/08/2014 16:57 | Updated 20 May 2015

Overweight

I looked in the mirror and realised it had to go – my dad pad. Before I had children I was pretty skinny, but since they've arrived my gut has been slowly expanding.

Coaxing my wife and two sons out of bed I shouted: "Come on we're going swimming!" as if one trip to the local pool would miraculously burst my ballooning tum.

I'm not alone in having put on weight since my other half gave birth. According to one study, British men put on an average of one and a half stone after having a child.

Yet while the magazine shelves are full of tips on how women can lose that post pregnancy tummy there seems to be little help or advice around for men, especially fathers.

Perhaps part of this is our fault. Like most dads I know, I've been in denial for some time.

While my wife quietly got back her pre-baby figure and now looks fabulous I have blithely let myself get to the point where I look, frankly, flabulous.

But it wasn't my wife's example that finally snapped me out of my self-delusion. It was a casual remark from my four-year-old son.

During a day out with some other adults he playfully referred to me as 'Daddy the Fatty'.

None of the grown-ups said anything. It was at this moment that I realised the truth. It wasn't just him - other people thought I was overweight too.

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I started thinking about why I got fat. When the kids came along there seemed to be no time for exercise and, of course, I happily joined in when my wife was 'eating for two' during pregnancy. The sleepless nights and exhaustion of being a new father meant I was always reaching for sneaky chocolate bars for a sugar hit – a habit I forgot to give up when they became toddlers.

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Of course, when the Christmas break came along I forgot all about my wake up call and joined in with the rest of the family, tucking into all those festive treats.

But when the cold light of January hit I knew I had to do change my ways. I want to be around to see my children grow up and have more energy to play with them. It's time to whittle my waist for good.

First of all, I needed to find out just how fat I am.

I haven't weighed myself for years. So, getting the dusty scales out of the back of the bathroom cupboard, I tentatively stepped on.

It read: 14 and a half stone. I checked the scales to make sure they were working and weighed myself again. The same result.

Then I decided to go check my Body Mass Index on the NHS website. I'm just over 6ft tall, and 41. At 14 stone 7lbs, that gives me a BMI of 27. Verdict: Overweight.

dad weight loss

At least I'm not obese. But at this weight I'm still at risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

To get back to my ideal weight I need to lose at least a stone and a half. The question is how to do it? I'm too cynical to try the latest fad diet and all the research seems to suggest that crash weight loss programmes don't work in the long term.

In fact, according to figures from Bupa 26 per cent of men ditch their diet in the first 24 hours. I suspect that I'm like a lot of blokes. If I try to take drastic action, I'll just fail.

Then I noticed a new government campaign called Smart Swaps. Maybe by making a few simple changes I can slowly zap my belly?

A study from the University of Colorado reveals that dropping as little as 100 calories a day from your diet could turn the tide. Doing a bit of research I realised that I could drop 120 calories a day just by switching my normal morning cappuccino to an Americano. Swapping a chocolate bar for a banana as a mid-morning snack saves another 150 calories.

But what about exercise? There's no way to work off my waist without it. The gym's too expensive, but I read that you can burn 500 calories an hour by cycling. That's the same as the number in a whole burger. I decided to dig my old bike out from the back of the shed. Pumping up the tyres alone left me exhausted. But I have vowed to do an hour or two on it once a week.

So here goes. And every three weeks I'll be letting you know how I get on with my bid to fight the flab.

Now just what am I going to do with all that chocolate and booze we were given over Christmas?

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