Dad Bod? Really?

I was sent an email by fitness expert Rusty Moore this week. In the article, he mentioned something called the Dad Bod. This relates to an article that went viral earlier this week on social media. The premise behind it is that women are attracted to a particular look where the man’s body is basically overweight. Some of the reasons listed include these men being more cuddly, more relaxed about their eating and fitness pursuits, and someone more likely to skip the gym and sink a few beers with friends.

Now let me preface the rest of this by saying that I have no issue with someone being overweight. I have been overweight in the past and I am not judging. However, the person who wrote the article clearly has insecurity issues because the reason given for finding this particular type of person attractive were very shallow and were more about how someone who had a better physique would make her feel.

From the article: ‘We don’t want a guy that makes us feel insecure about our body. We are insecure enough as it is. We don’t need a perfectly sculpted guy standing next to us to make us feel worse.’

‘we still like being the center of attention. We want to look skinny and the bigger the guy, the smaller we feel and the better we look next to you in a picture.’

There are other nuggets of non-sense in the article that expose the authors immaturity and lack of confidence. Basically, she is saying that she finds the dad bod attractive because of the way that person makes her feel about her own body. I don’t usually talk about relationships on here, but I have been with my wife for near 11 years so in this area I know what I’m talking about. Physical attraction is essential for a healthy relationship to thrive. There is no doubt about it. However, the physical attraction needs to be genuinely about that person. A relationship has next to no chance of surviving if your attraction to others is more about what you can get out of the other (money, confidence or status and the list goes on)

In the case of the author, she clearly is looking to get her sense of confidence from the appearance of her partner. This is a shaky foundation for self-esteem and will not work. What if Mr Dad Bod decides he wants to get into awesome shape? How would that work for the relationship from that point?

I am also slightly puzzled by the phrase dad bod. I think what she is really describing is sedentary bod or can’t be bothered bod. This does not represent the best fathers and what they show the world through their physical pursuits. I know many dads who treat their bodies with the care and respect it deserves because it is the foundation of their good health and energy levels. Great dads serve as role models for their children and pass on worthy virtues including having good health and vitality. I perform some of my strength training in front of my son deliberately so that it sparks his interest and so that he sees working out as a normal part of life.

I don’t intend on saying too much more about this, it worries me how something like this could go viral, when I see so many more worthy articles that deliver far more wisdom that many people never get the chance to read. Obviously, the subject matter touched a nerve with the public. It certainly did with me. Or maybe it just got on my nerves I haven’t quite decided.

Live and let live is what I believe, but sometimes you have to call someone out when you detect the smell of bulls**t in the air. To all the guys out there, being the strongest version of yourself will lead to the relationship and partner that you want. Whatever your body looks like, if we develop our characters and have a positive aura about us you will be attractive to others.

I wish you the best.

Post 021: Don’t kid yourself

I’m exhausted today. I have been up all night with the little one and she is currently having a sleep whilst I get on with my day. I know this means I will make slight changes to how I do my workout later on today. I used to be someone who would religiously follow the plan given to me. This could lead to a mindset where nothing would happen if everything wasn’t just right. This use to lead to missed workouts and disappointment that I was creating for myself by not taking action on my goals. The problem was, I was setting myself up for failure with expectations that were not in alignment with how much I could realistically commit to.

I sketched out what my training is going to look like for the next few months last night. I got very excited when I penciled in all my strength training workouts, and got even more excited when I wrote out my cardio programme as well. Yes, it looked all well and good. Loads of opportunities to train were crammed into my week. There would be no doubt that if I followed the routine, I would make amazing progress.

Just then, I felt myself being slapped in the face very hard by reality and started laughing out loud. My wife Annemarie asked what I was laughing at and I told her the training programme I had planned for myself. She laughed heartily as well.

You see, I had forgotten that I’m not a fitness model and don’t have to train like one. I had myself down for 5 strength sessions a week and an additional 4 cardio sessions in the same week. This level of training, coupled with my hectic schedule at home and work would have led to burnout, fatigue, and stress and injury.

This is an error in judgement I’ve made before. When I adopt the mentality of more is better, it doesn’t work out too well. I become to rigid and dogmatic with my endeavors and sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture.

Also, if you throw everything and the kitchen sink at a fitness strategy, it’s difficult to then make tweaks for additional improvements. For example, I am going to start with three cardio sessions a week and increase it only if I have to. Starting with the foundation and then building on that is far more effective than building a house on weak undeveloped foundations.

The optimal training for me right now, is a schedule where I am working hard without burning myself out. I will strive for quality not quantity. The body sees all stress in the same way. With my sleep deprivation at full whack, my body is simply not operating at it’s best so hammering it with more stress will probably do the opposite to what I want and deliver no results.

So I cut my strength training down to three sessions a week. These sessions are much shorter, but focused on pushing my levels of intensity and increasing my fitness by beating my personal bests for repetitions in a certain time frame. This is known as density training. Density work is great if you enjoy working at beating your previous best, and also works well with kettlebells when you might not have a massive range of different bells to use at home. You simply take an exercise and perform it for time not reps. You then try to beat your score the next time. Simple yet effective.

I feel much better about the new routine I have sketched out for the next few months. The positive feelings about my training mean I am far more likely to keep up with the training without getting annoyed at myself and others around me when I miss a session.

I am trying to extend this thinking into other areas of my life. I’ve had the epiphany that I don’t need to be superman, superteacher, and superdad all day every day. I’ve got one life of which to make the most of. I don’t want to spend it stressing about my weight, how I look and workouts. It’s just not healthy mentally and it drains the spirit. I have embraced the idea that I am not perfect. Therefore, having hiccups with consistency or having some lower belly fat doesn’t mean that all is lost.

I’m trying to be the best version of myself that I can. That will be more than enough for me.

How do you manage to strike up a balance between setting goals that are attainable and yet really exciting?

Have you ever found yourself creating grand plans that were not in alignment with your true desires?

I find that questions help me. I ask a few that help me decide if something is going to work for me or not.

1. Do I have the time, energy and resources to commit to this?

2. Is there anyone who can help me achieve this goal?

3. Why do I want to achieve this goal? What makes it important?

4. How can I achieve this goal whilst attending to all my responsibilities?

5. Imagine how you will feel when you finally reach your goal?

Get your plans and mentality right, and success will follow. Here’s to yours.

Post 009: Why I don’t bother with the gym.

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I Love Kettlebell training!

For years I used to go to the gym on a regular basis. When I lived in Liverpool, I lived near an amazing gym where I used to go and workout using weights, kettlebells and cardio equipment. The experience was always great but there were issues. One of the key issues was the time it took to travel to the gym, get prepared to work out, set up my weights and everything else. It was quite a list. When my son was born, the time pressure increased and so I found myself trying to fit workouts in after work when in reality I wanted to be home spending time with my son. I know that successful people have to sacrifice certain things to get what they want, but missing out on time with my boy in his early months was something I didn’t agree with at all. I had to make adjustments. I wanted to work out and be in good shape, but didn’t want to do it at the gym. This was when I got seriously into Kettlebell training.

For those unfamiliar, Kettlebells have been around for centuries and although the origins are argued over, most people believe they were created in Russia during the 17th Century and were used as a device tio measure goods for ships.

They were later used as a means to develop strength with strong men and circus performers using them on a regular basis. During the early 20th Century well known strongmen like Arthur Saxon, Edgar Mueller and Eugene Sandow used kettlebells in their strongman shows.

Fast forward to today’s time, and kettlebells are popping up every where. I have seen them being used in video footage from commercial gyms, many sports teams and athletes use kettlebells, and they are very popular as a training tool in the world of Mixed martial arts.

There are many reasons why I love kettlebell training and why they may be useful for you to. Let me list some for you here.

1: They are simple to use.

The most useful kettlebell moves have the same starting point and travel through similar ranges of motion. This means that focussing on form reaps huge rewards and benefits.

2: They work the whole body.

Kettlebell work involves the whole body. With moves like the kettlebell swing and snatch, the body’s chain of movement is all engaged simultaneously. Basically speaking, your body works harder than if you were doing isolation moves like bicep curls and leg extensions.

3: Anyone can use them with correct instruction

The range of kettlebell weights is so vast that anyone can be taught how to use one with a weight that is appropriate to them.

4: They can be used anywhere.

This one is so important to me. Kettlebells allowed me to spend time with my family and get in shape at the same time because I could work out at home. I would train in the back yard, sometimes in the cellar. Sometimes I would throw the bells into the car and workout after work in the park before driving home. They are versatile, portable and fit in beautifully with a busy lifestyle allowing you workout exactly when you want.

5: Workouts can be short and effective.

Sometimes less is more. One of the kettlebell coaches who I follow (Geoff Neupert) is a huge fan of 15-20 minute workouts on a more frequent basis as opposed to the marathon workouts that people believe they must do to get results. My workouts are rarely longer than 30 minutes when I factor in warm up and training. This frees up much more of my time to do other things that I enjoy like reading, writing blog posts, teaching children and spending time with my family and friends.

6: You feel bad ass using them. In other words they build your confidence.

There’s something cool about taking a cast iron ball and being able to press it over your head or to be able to swing the kettlebell with one hand and swap the bell in mid air. You start to gain in confidence and belief. Then before you know it, you are ready to work out with heavier weights or double kettlebells.

7: Kettlbells encourage consistency.

Having the kettlebells allowed me to become more consistent. I schedule in when I plan to train and try and stick to that, but when life happens and you need to make adjustments, it’s easier to do that on your own terms rather than being a slave to the opening times of your local gym. Consistency is what I strive for now more than new workout programmes or equipment.

8:They encourage natural whole body movement.

With the Turkish get up for example, most muscles in the body are used.  This is important because it teaches you to move in a more efficient manner.  I found when using kettlebells, it allowed to move much easier and with increased athleticism and agility. I have eliminated my niggling lower back pain, have much stronger legs and my chronically sore shoulder is now much stronger. My cardio ability is also improving from using kettlebells.

9: You can do workouts that improve strength, increase cardio, or target both in one workout.

Kettlebell training has a wide variety of lifts that promote ballistic lifting (Fast explosive movements) and grind patterns (Slower strength based lifts). This allows you to target different energy systems within your body and allows for you to train with higher frequency by alternating between the two.

10: Having kettlebells around at home means my son is already getting interested in exercise.

The other day I caught my boy trying to lift one of my kettlebells as he has seen me lifting them every now and then. Because he is seeing exercise happening in his environment, he will hopefully come to see exercise as part of his day to day life. This influence was not really that present in my early years and I do think it’s important to instil the values of physical exercise early in life. I’m blessed that Nathan loves the outdoors, running throwing balls around and jumping. Maybe because I value it I’m trying to make sure he does to. I digress, but the point remains that Nathan seeing me exercise is inspiring him to be really active.

There are many more benefits that I could list, but ten seems like more than enough to write about.

If you have been looking for a new way to exercise and improve your health and strength, then kettlebells are an excellent option. They are just a tool like any other, but the principle I’m following is that you reap what you sow. Kettlebells allow me to workout out consistently which will allow me to reap the rewards far better than I have found with other forms of exercise. I do supplement my training with early morning walks and jogging as well as being conscious about my diet. These three things for me mean I can improve my health and fitness in a way that’s enjoyable and fun for me.

If you are interested in getting involved with kettlebell training, my advice would be to look for a certified coach who can show you correct technique and execution of the main lifts. If that isn’t possible, there are books and resources online that you can look to that can help you with learning proper form and technique.

Google search these guys for more on kettlebells as I’m no expert. All I can comment on is my experience. These guys are certified kettlebell professionals and will take your understanding forward much better than I can.

Pavel Tsatsouline

Mike Mahler

Chris Lopez

Steve Cotter

Geoff Neupert

Marianne Kane

Girls Gone Strong. G.G.S is a brilliant website that promotes health fitness and well being to women everywhere. They don’t focus specifically on kettlebells, but I’m sure you find some stuff there.

Till next time

Shaun

Post 006:My principles of health and fitness

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One thing that I have noticed during the years when reading about and participating in health and fitness is the myriad of choices, advice and confusing information that seems to be available today. One minute everyone is talking about manipulating your carbs, the next day no carbs, the next day high carb. High fat, low fat, no fat. It’s overwhelming! It amazes me that so many of us (including myself) have strayed from our intuitive sense of what is best for our bodies.

I have had issues with my weight in the past and have had periods of my life where I have been quite overweight. For years, I thought that the issue was that I hadn’t found the right information yet and so I kept on searching and searching for the latest and best information available. This allowed me to do two things. Firstly, it satisfied the human need to search for meaning and novel ideas. It was fun to find all of these different workouts and see which one looked the best. I looked forward to having a go and trying out new things.

Secondly, it kept me distracted  from seeing the real issue that was stopping me from achieving results. Basically I wasn’t consistent enough. I allowed my constant searching and hopping from one idea to the next to interrupt my focus on what I wanted.

Reading so much on the subject did have benefits though. It allowed me to search and find the golden nuggets inherent in each strategy that combined to create the basic principles that I now look for to check I am on track with my training and nutrition.

When I look to these principles for guidance rather than new fangled fads, I tend to find that they result in me having a changeless set of ideas which I can apply daily.

Principle 1: Nutrition is king. You would struggle to find a fitness professional or anyone with much sense to argue with this. What we eat is critical to our health and fitness. It’s as simple as that. When we are getting the best food we can and nourishing our bodies with that, you will feel better. What I did quite recently was rank my biggest challenges with my eating in order of negative consequences for my health. I then take one of these each week and focus on this single thing and nothing else. This allows me to really celebrate these small achievements and create a compounding impact on my health as these small changes start to stack on top of each other. This is working really well for me.

Principle 1.5: Drink enough water. It amazes me how many people I see at work and in my family circle who don’t drink much water. Ironically, you see people drinking all kinds of things that are advertised to improve your health and do all sorts of magical things. None of them will improve on water.

Principle 2: Try to incorporate strength training of some sort to your regime. There is so much depth to this one subject that I might write about this separately on another post, but there are so many different ways that you can incorporate strength work and progressive improvement into your training regime. Maybe it’s doing bodyweight exercises and being able to do them for more reps. It could be going to the gym and improving in certain lifts by lifting heavier or more times. I believe that strength training has lots of carry over into your day to day life and allows you to carry out tasks so much easier. If you think about the opposite, like when your body is injured in some way, you then really appreciate having your vitality and strength. So we should look to build upon what we have to create an even stronger foundation.

Principle 3: Movement is critical. Our bodies were designed to be active and moving. This principle was really brought home for me when I watch my son playing and interacting with the world. He is at an age where he is really exploring everything around him and he moves all of the time. It’s in his nature to do so, and within all of us is the inclination for movement and exploration.I wouldn’t get too fixated on how you do that either. Whether it’s a fitness class, walking, running, a sports club, dancing or doing some gardening, movement is movement. One thing that I don’t like about some professionals in the fitness industry is that they demonize some exercise regimens because they are not the most efficient way to lose fat. We are forced to think constantly about fat loss and surface level appearances, that we can sometimes forget that movement is natural and the way I see it, if someone wants to walk for their exercise it’s all good. My two year old son doesn’t climb, run and jump because he wants to be ripped. He does it because it’s what he loves to do which leads me to……………………

Principle 4: If you’re not enjoying it, you won’t keep doing it.

The best decision I ever made when it came to my health and fitness was to stop buying so many magazines and reading so many articles on the internet (Ironic I know). I decided what I loved doing, and I stick to that. Football (Soccer for any American readers), walking, running, bodyweight training, kettlebells, and lifting really heavy weights in the gym. I don’t do all of that all the time as changes in my life mean changes in my training. However, these are the activities that I come back to because I love doing them and that makes me consistent. The best thing you can do for your physical fitness is discover the activities that you love and make time to do them consistently.

Principle 5: Trust the process. This speaks for itself. If you don’t have any belief in yourself or the programme you are following, the chances are that you won’t find the success that you were searching for. Each day you stick to your nutrition that you set for yourself, each day you workout, each day that you choose to invest in your health and fitness brings you that little closer to your goal. It’s like watering a seed in the soil. In order to see the fruit, you must trust the process and continually give the seed the right conditions it needs in order to thrive. If you do that for long enough, you will start to see results.

Principle 6: Tweak and repeat. You need to check that you are getting the results that you intended. If things are going great, then it makes sense to keep going with it and keep everything as it is. However life is rarely a linear path, and you may find that you have to do some tweaking to your original plans in order to get the results that you want. This work is critical and having this level of awareness to tweak and change things slightly will make success much more likely. Being rigid with your approach will not help in the long term. Focus on the results you would like, and then commit to finding the path that gets you there. I believe this work is a work in progress for everyone. If we can always be aware of the need and benefit of having our health, then the task becomes less about do I have to?, and more about I must!

I wish you the best

Shaun