So, what's the deal?

So, what's the deal?
To be defined by our six-packs or sculpted chest or tight bottoms or the lack thereof, implies a degree of vanity or sense of oneself that can be extremely self-defeating. But a recent trend seems to have broken all stereotypes of physique and appearance. I am talking about the ‘dad bod’ phenomenon that is quite a rage today.

The much-talked about ‘dad bod’ shape apparently refers to what I’d call the in-between or gray phase when one is moving from being slim and perhaps fit to being overweight and definitely unfit. It’s when a guy starts to slip up on his workouts, maybe in pursuit of higher studies, his career, or increased family responsibilities and adopts less healthy eating habits and more sedentary, leisurely activities.

A fine balance

There are men who may not have the ‘perfect’ bodies, but who nevertheless, ensure regular workouts through their work and travel schedules and their personal commitments. They definitely enjoy their food and drink and will enjoy a lazy evening (or weekend) instead of attempting to make every minute or day activity-oriented. However, they look to finding a balance between the two without going to extremes on either end. These include men who are dads (with very young to older kids) and also younger men, who are not dads, but are finishing studies or pursuing careers. They look for that
balance because they recognise and understand the need to be fit, healthy and energised. Whatever their age, they want to be able to go toss a ball, go for a swim, a bike ride, go on an active holiday; be it with their children or friends.

This makes the ‘dad bod’ phenomenon interesting. If it’s to create a balance
between working out and eating without turning obsessive, it’s a great approach as compared to extreme positions of all or nothing.

For most men, who move into a phase of their lives where priorities overrule their health, ‘dad bod’ as a concept has always essentially existed. The current focus
appears from a perspective of accepting this change in attitude and body shape for men at a younger age. This could be a result of guys just being lazy or finding the pressure of measuring up to expectations (in terms of their looks and shape) too much; in that case, not very ‘cool’ at all.

Now is the current ‘dad bod’ trend a result of diffusing the pressure, from trying to achieve the buffed look sported by our favourite actors,and taking it to the other end of the spectrum? Giving a ‘being-cool’ twist to laziness and obesity, stemming from a viewpoint that public personalities and actors also look ’real’ in their downtime.

But then, when you think about it, emulating a ‘look’ or body-type similar to popular and famous individuals has always been the norm. It can be motivating to want to achieve a certain look made popular by our favourite public personality. But again, it needs to stay real. More often than not, those public personalities are required to do that as part of their work and do not necessarily follow that all year round.

Are there ‘mom bods’?

The ‘dad bod’ focus naturally leads us to ask the question, “what about mom bods?” And this is interesting, as there is a contradiction here. In my experience, moms are increasingly looking to work harder to get their bodies to look sculpted and be fitter; sometimes, getting extreme to the point of wanting to become thinner or more sculpted than they were before.

This is unfortunately a result of the pressure where women (post-baby or not) are not at the receiving end of being able to flaunt or adopt the female equivalent of a ‘dad bod’; irrespective of their age or others pressures of their lives, be it studies, families, careers. This is definitely most unfair.

Do you want to live pain-free, enjoy active holidays, play a sport for leisure, be able to spend activity-based time with your kids or friends? If yes, then having a body that allows for functional fitness with reasonable lifestyle choices in terms of eating and working out would be the way to go. Trying to keep up with extreme fitness regimes or rigid eating habits is at most times unrealistic in the long-term. And really, it’s the long-term that matters for a happy, healthy and successful life.

The ‘dad bod’ concept is a good shift in focus towards keeping one’s body image – and the fitness and eating lifestyles that we follow - realistic and doable. This obsessive focus on perfection needs to change. Rather than being constantly frustrated or pressured by the unrealistic demands that we place on our minds and bodies, we need to accept our individuality and focus on a healthier, fitter and energised self. And this applies to both men and women. An unfit person by any name is unfit!




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