I never thought I’d be conscious of my body. I’ve always kept fairly fit; I swam for quite a few years as a kid, played rugby until I was 19 and until recently I fought Muay Thai to a respectable level. The whole time I’ve also dabbled in the gym…I’d never say I ever really, really went for it, but I did some weights. All that’s changed since I’ve had a baby and it’s left me with a bit of a stomach tyre and a deflated ego.
Pre-baby, I didn’t really have much of an excuse to not exercise. I had a gym at work, I enjoyed training and competing and being active was just a part of normal life. I have always loved eating and I could pretty much put away whatever I wanted without consequence. Life was good.
Inevitably, things have changed significantly since our little boy has been on the scene. Any possible opportunity I have to spend time with him after work has taken priority over keeping in shape. I know there are other times to fit training in, but when you’re not getting much kip, you often just don’t fancy exerting yourself. On top of that, the eating situation also goes out of the window. What with being knackered and often having fought a long and drawn out battle to get the baby to sleep, I’ve become less creative and certainly less healthy in the kitchen.
These factors combined have led to what I would have call pre-parenthood “letting it go a bit”. It’s made me feel a bit down at times, especially when you reminisce about a time once passed and remember a now fictional body. In your head, you remember what you looked like, you’ve got the pictures of the honeymoon to remind you, but you’re looking in the mirror and seeing something totally different!
I think because men talk less about body image, it’s a topic that often goes undiscussed. When I brought it up in the comments following a blog I wrote, I was called “pathetic” by one mother. Her argument was that women under go all of the change during and after pregnancy and men need to “man up” if they think having a baby changes them. I think that’s the issue – it sometimes feels like you can’t talk about it because in comparison to what a woman goes through, men have it (physically) a lot easier. But it’s not that, it’s the lifestyle change.
Some of you may be thinking, “well sort it out and get to the gym!” but honestly, in my first year of parenting, I’ve not felt like I’ve had the energy or time to be able to start getting myself on track. I’ve got other priorities and actually, I’m totally ok with that. It’s still hard when you are bombarded with pictures of men on social media getting summer ready and you’re sat patting your baby to sleep, chowing down on another donut. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when your wife is commenting on the new Captain Birdseye’s biceps (see below, quite impressive) and the only thing you’ve bicep curled recently is a full nappy.
Now things are settling down a bit and our boy is nearly a year old, I feel like we get this parenting thing way more. I’m feeling like I’m able to start doing a bit more exercise because I’m not completely exhausted (not exactly what my bloodshot eyes are implying). I totally get the whole Dad Bod thing now and I completely see why and how dads sometimes “let it go” a bit.
The thing is, now the smoke is clearing a bit, I feel like I can start getting back to my old exercising ways. Becoming a parent can leave you shellshocked, so I guess it’s totally normal to break habit…time to get back in shape I think!