How The 'Dad Bod' Redefines Fitness For Men
The “dad bod…”
A phrase that is used all over the place now, has gained significant attention, and even sparked numerous debates in recent years. If you don’t know already, a “dad bod” refers to the physique of a man who is neither totally muscular or super slim; but instead carries a comfortable and somewhat “softer” appearance. A few Hollywood elites trending for their “dad bods” are guys like Will Smith, Christ Pratt, Matthew McConaughey, and Leonardo DiCaprio. While most Americans often glorify chiseled abs and bulging biceps as the epitome of male fitness, it’s time to challenge these unrealistic standards and celebrate the “dad bod” for what it truly represents: a balanced and healthy approach to life. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the “dad bod” concept, explore its positive aspects, and shed light on how we approach this as Christian men.
Here's a Biblical thought to keep in mind as we talk about these things. In 1 Timothy 4:8, the Apostle Paul wrote this:
“For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
What’s Paul’s point here? There is value to being physically fit, and doing the required exercise to be fit. However, that value is NOT greater than the value of living a life of godliness. The priority is clear here. Before physical fitness, we should be focused on our spiritual fitness. There is some value to paying attention to our physical well-being, but not at the expense of the care we need to take of our souls, preparing for eternal life. When we’re thinking about our health and our appearance, we need to make sure we’re accounting for our relationship with the LORD, and our eternal condition above ALL other things.
Now, back to the concept of the “dad bod.” Here’s a quick question though. Do you have to be a dad to embrace the “dad bod” concept? I think the “Quarantine 15” and the popularized “Freshman 15” show that weight gain comes from a lot of different factors. Having kids and being a dad isn’t necessarily the only way to have the “dad bod” body-type. In an article from The Guardian’s Barbara Ellen, she wrote this about the female perspective of “the dad bod,” and the perception of men that have that body type:
“The dad bod is about being fit enough, just not narcissistically, ‘it’s all about me’ uber fit. It’s about having minor love handles, not letting yourself go.”
Notice how people develop opinions about our character, based on the appearance of our health and body type. It doesn’t matter if that’s right or fair. It’s reality. Knowing this as Christian men, how important is it for us to embrace a realistic, but Biblical perspective on our overall body type, how we look and feel, along with having a sustainable fitness journey through our time on this earth? Obviously, people make judgments about us based on what they see. The Bible even says in 1 Samuel 16:7 that people focus on the “outward appearance.” The Apostle Paul told Timothy, the young pastor growing in ministry, that our eternal condition is more important than our outward appearance; BUT Paul said that physical exercise still had value. How much value?
We shouldn’t be focused on what others think of our outward appearance. At the same time, we should recognize that there’s an opportunity to testify of our faith based on how we take care of ourselves.
Balance is the key.
Here are five applicable areas that can help guide and direct us to maintain a physically and spiritually healthy balance:
1. Embrace Reality:
The concept of “the dad bod” represents a shift away from unattainable body standards, and promotes a more realistic or feasible body image for us as men. Embrace that reality! This newer way of thinking recognizes that the average guy (that’s you, and me included), may not have hours to spend at the gym. This way of thinking accounts for the fact that we all hate restrictive diets. This new way of thinking considers the reality of most men. We can now embrace reality, rather than fight against it. Our focus should shift to overall well-being, including mental health, family time, and our spiritual journey being the supreme priority.
2. Prioritizing Balance:
One of the key advantages of “the dad bod” concept, is the emphasis it places on balance. Maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean sacrificing all of our time on exercise. We don’t have to give up all of the good food that the LORD has provided either!
I personally, enjoy a Double-Double, animal style, with animal-style fries, and a strawberry shake from In-N-Out Burger.
However, this is an occasional treat, and not regularly part of my food intake. If you’re able to find the right balance between staying active, enjoying good food, and indulging in occasional treats, you have the right recipe for attaining and maintaining the perfect “dad bod.” Not to mention, this sort of balance will likely keep you in a better mood, which makes life more enjoyable for all the people around you, including family, friends, and co-workers.
Here’s to being one step closer to avoiding the “cranky Christian” label!
3. Active Fatherhood:
The reality is that any man can have “the dad bod” physique. Even still, I get the reasoning behind the connection of this body type, to being a dad. Being a parent is a full-time gig and not a side hustle. This role is not only a calling from the Almighty Himself, but it demands relentless spiritual, physical, and mental energy, every day. The “dad bod” concept recognizes that fathers are actively engaged in their children’s lives (not just a baby daddy), spending time playing, coaching them up in life and in the Word of God, and participating in family activities. The “dad bod” philosophy signifies strength, both physical and emotional, and showcases the ability to prioritize family, while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Again, Paul wrote that there is some value to physical exercise. The Bible emphasizes the importance of fatherhood and places a HUGE responsibility on men who are called to be dads. Since so much of that responsibility requires physical and mental strength, our physical fitness should be motivated by our desire to be functionally active Godly dads. If our exercise is keeping us away from our families, crippling our service to them, our priorities are off. If our exercise is energizing and helping our service to our families, we’re on the right track.
4. Mental Well-Being:
According to the CDC, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. As Christians, we should understand that our mental health is chiefly governed by our relationship with the LORD, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and by our connection to the Word of God. That said, fitness isn’t just about physical appearance (although we probably want to look swoll in our BYLT Basics gear); it’s closely intertwined with mental well-being, rooted in our relationship with the LORD. The “dad bod” concept acknowledges the importance of mental health and encourages men to focus on their overall happiness and contentment. The world might not know it, but they’re giving us Christian men a chance to prioritize our relationship with the LORD, to help us have the right mindset as we go through life. By promoting self-acceptance and reducing pressure to conform to unrealistic worldly ideals, men with dad bods can develop a healthier relationship with their bodies and achieve a more positive mindset. If the world isn’t putting that additional pressure on men to look a certain way anymore, why should we place that pressure on ourselves? If the world is encouraging mental health, why shouldn’t we embrace that principle by accepting the “dad bod” concept, and use the extra time and energy to clear our minds through a deeper connection to the LORD in His Word?
5. Sustainable Fitness:
At this point, we all have seen some of the extreme work-out videos on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube, of guys swinging all over the gym, or rolling tires across the country (haven’t seen this yet, but I’m sure it’s out there), or lifting/pulling crazy weight. NextGen Stats can’t account for the amount of content put out there, trying to get us all to work out like pro athletes. How many “26.2” stickers can our cars and water bottles withstand?
How about those extreme diets? Look, extreme workout routines and crash diets are often short-lived and difficult to maintain in the long run, and that’s been proven time-and-time again. The “dad bod” concept represents a sustainable approach to fitness and diet that focuses on longevity rather than quick fixes. It encourages us as men to adopt healthy habits, such as regular and realistic exercise, mindful eating, and self-care that can be kept throughout our lives.
Most of us came from a world where unrealistic body standards placed a crazy amount of pressure on us as men. The “dad bod” concept emerges as a refreshing and truly empowering concept. It promotes a realistic and sustainable approach to fitness while embracing the importance of mental well-being, balance, and active fatherhood – all founded by a highly-prioritized and valued spiritual walk with Jesus Christ. By shifting our perspective and celebrating “the dad bod,” we can redefine what it means to be fit and inspire men to lead healthier, happier lives based on their terms, rooted in a spiritual and eternal mindset. Remember, it’s not about conforming to the world’s expectations, but instead, upholding God’s standards. Since God promises us all new bodies conformed to His glorified condition, why not deal with a “dad bod” for now, trusting in MUCH better things to come later…