How I Traded My Dad Bod For A Rad Bod – And You Can Too

From the age of 29 until about 37, I ballooned from a lean and mean 175 pounds to a not-so-lean and definitely-not-mean 232 pounds, transforming an otherwise tall, statuesque six-foot frame into something that looked more like a turnip with legs. I had a dad bod and it wasn’t going to get any better unless I did something about it. I had to take action, and that’s exactly what I did. Here’s the plan that got me back down to a comfortable 192 pounds, where I’ve been ever since.

  1. Plan, plan, plan. Dieting is too tough to “wing it.” You need to write down exactly what you’re going to start and stop eating, what type of exercise you’re going to do and when, how much weight you want to lose, and when you want to lose it by. Research healthy eating online and discuss your goals with a knowledgeable nutritionist or fitness expert. Write out a meal plan detailing your breakfast, lunch, and dinner each week, which you should stick to the refrigerator door, and a regular workout routine that is likely to get you much closer to your ideal weight. Also, make sure the new routine fits your schedule and provides a measurable yardstick for success.
  2. Find an ally. One of the biggest obstacles to a successful weight loss plan is watching your significant other shovel down plates full of taboo goodies while you’re forced to watch helplessly from a bed of kale and quinoa. Instead, recruit him or her into your quest. Maybe your true love has a few extra pounds to lose as well and it would make the whole exercise more productive if you could shop together, cook together, and eat together. You would simultaneously become each other’s cheerleaders and teammates.
  3. Portion control. The number one factor in this grand plan – one that can’t be stressed enough – is the need to practice the elusive art of portion control. Many people eat until they’re utterly stuffed. You have to practice eating slower so your mind and stomach are in sync. Learn to say uncle when you’re content even though you technically could eat more. You’ll find it’s better to leave your body wanting just a little bit. Funny thing is that the more you do this, the faster you’ll get full. Your stomach will actually shrink. You’ll get used to eating smaller portions, so smaller will become the new normal.
  4. Cut out processed sweets. As any recovering sodaholic will admit, quitting soda alone will lead to weight loss. But try cutting out cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy bars, and just about anything with a high sugar content as well. Stop adding sugar to your Corn Flakes and replace sugary juices with filtered water. You should even cut back on fruit (fructose is still sugar), limiting it to a few mornings a week. Sugar just turns to fat in your body, so cut that fat off at the source.
  5. Cut out starchy carbs. Bread, pasta, noodles, rice – those are tough ones. But see if you can find ways to replace them with surrogate foods or eliminate them altogether. You could do tuna salad inside an avocado instead of on whole wheat. Why not? Especially if you like avocados. Or, you could do noodles made from veggies. After all, it’s hard to tell a difference once it’s all drenched in tomato sauce. Yes, you have to cut out some stuff you enjoy, but you can replace it with other stuff you enjoy.
  6. Ratchet up the workouts. Many people do routine workouts but stopped breaking a sweat years ago. Maybe your power walks in the park have become a stroll. Maybe bike rides have become a leisurely morning tour of the neighborhood. You need to get your heart rate up. You need to push yourself. Start hiking in the hills with an occasional sprint up inclines or go on longer bike rides using harder gears. Make Sunday morning tennis more intense. Muscles you forgot will become just sore enough to let you know you’re doing something right. While diet is a greater factor in losing weight than exercise, the right workout will ensure fat reduction is accompanied by some nicely toned muscles.
  7. Reduce fatty meats. Rabid carnivores enjoy the taste and the abundance of protein that meat provides. But certain meats like steak and pork products have an abundance of fat that’s anathema to weight loss goals. Sure, fat is a great source of energy, but you want to burn the fat that your body has already stored up, not the fat in the meat. So instead, focus on recipes that include leaner meats like chicken, turkey, and fish.
  8. Meal replacement. Nutritionists regularly note the importance of regulating your metabolism by eating several smaller meals throughout the day. However, if your schedule doesn’t really allow you the time to eat three squares (let alone six), work into your routine a meal replacement shake. They’re portable, fill you up, and provided the nutrients you need on a low-calorie basis. (I like Herbalife Café Latte or Dutch Chocolate, personally.) You might find that a shake for either breakfast or lunch and two square meals is a perfect fit for your lifestyle.
  9. Cheat days. It would be pretty difficult to do all of this if you never thought you’d be able to eat pizza or ice cream again. So, work in cheat days. Every two weeks that you stay faithful to your diet regimen, reward yourself with one full day when you can eat any food you want. (If two weeks seems too much, try doing one cheat meal every week.) Apparently, cheat meals are not only good for you psychologically, but physically as well since they shock your metabolism into high gear – a metabolism that has otherwise slowed down to conserve energy as your calorie intake decreases.
  10. Make it a lifestyle. Losing weight is actually the easy part; keeping it off is the hard part. I know I keep calling this a “diet,” but getting in shape really becomes easier when you stop seeing it as a diet and start seeing it as a lifestyle. Start enjoying it. It should become something you can see yourself doing for the long term. Ride the momentum and you’ll gain more confidence as you see the results take hold. And when friends ask you how you’re able to stay so disciplined, all as they inhale their BBQ beef sliders or mac-and-cheese, simply tell them with a shrug, “Looking and feeling this good is better than your food tastes.” Trust me, it’s true. Plus, you don’t need to tell them about cheat day. That’ll be our little secret.