Becoming a dad meant that the dreaded dadbod was looming around the corner. I certainly would be in shape sooner or later even if round was that shape. I have for years struggled with my weight and the psychological effects that go along with that. In high school I had ballooned up to about 220 lbs at a short 5’9″ stocky stature letting myself jiggle through plenty of adolescent bullying. I had never gotten into sports at that time or really into gym class. I was more into science and technology. I liked building rockets more than building muscle.
I had tried a lot of diets and went to the gym a lot. I had a gold’s gym membership and went regularly (granted I didn’t know much about what I was doing). Did a lot of cardio, and quite a bit of weights.
Six months prior to my wedding I got into P90X pretty hardcore, and did that as best as I could and even bought their shakes. They taste great by the way, but are not worth that $120 price tag. Doing that routine, I was able to slim down a bit and looked good for my wedding but still was not great.
At my heaviest I weighed about 250, and was quite fluffy. This happened after we got married which I think really happens to a lot of us. We get comfortable in our lives after we get married or we simply lose the time to spend on ourselves. There is a video of me leading a song in children’s church and I look like a hippo. Occasionally my wife will send that video to me and it absolutely sends me into a tailspin.
So in all the time that passed I had tried several different diets, workout programs, and event gyms with varying degrees of success… Ultimately what worked for me was something that I could get behind and tailor to my life, and the same will be true for you.
For years I wanted a home gym. A place I could work out in peace and not share the equipment with others or have to wait on someone else to use a squat rack. That is so annoying in January when everyone has their new years resolutions going on. It’s nice to just be able to head to the garage or basement or where ever your equipment is and get to work, whenever you want.
For me, I have a long commute to and from the office. An hour to two hours depending on the day. And the days can be long if there is a critical system that needs attention, so if something happens there is likely no time to spend with the family if I want to hit the gym too, or no time to hit the gym. Which is usually the trade off. We discussed getting a membership about six months ago, and I decided against it. The monthly cost compared to the drive time and the usage I would get out of it seemed to make no sense to me. Instead, I commandeered my brothers old weight bench, and my other brothers Olympic bar, and gave myself a starter home gym until I can expand it.
Cost vs Opportunity Cost
So the up front cost of a home gym is what stops most people, that and the space. It does require some space, but even that in the 21st century is not really a problem any more. With solutions such as the PRx Foldable Wall Murphy Rack you’re able to get a full body workout without taking up all the space in your home, you just have to have a few hundred bucks and a tall enough ceiling. So if a squat rack cost $500 bucks shipped and a gym membership cost you $50 a month flat, you’d pay off that rack in less than a year of going to a gym. In my eyes, totally worth it, because that membership is never $50 a month flat. There is always a sign up fee, annual maintenance fees and other specialty fees associated that they just don’t tell you about, like gas, and time.
Having the equipment at home is a huge plus being at the gym in 30 seconds flat is amazing. Needing to get better equipment down the road, yeah we can budget for that and make it happen, but for now what I got will work. Being able to get some kind of exercise in and not have to sacrifice my family time is extremely important to me as a husband and a father at the moment. I wont get these precious moments back and that is worth more than any gym membership.
A gym membership is not without its advantages. Getting access to a good gym that has quality equipment which is maintained well is amazing. Especially at a special price point. Having a good mix of machines, Free weights, cardio equipment, a pool, and even classes to attend is nice to have so long as you utilize all of those features to get the money out of them. If you are focusing on weights, then it doesn’t seem to be worth it to me.
Some people say that the membership gives them the extra reason to get up and go… even I have said that. I have thought about that one and generally I say that is a lie. There is really no difference in having a gym that is 10 miles away and on that is 10 steps away, really it is a matter of preference. If a gym membership really motivates you, go for it. If it doesn’t don’t lie about it because a home gym probably wont motivate you either.
A gym membership does offer the ability to get a spotter just about any time though. You almost never workout alone at a gym. There is always someone there and you can usually get someone to spot you when you need it… Safety first! Last thing you need is a steel bar crushing your neck because you were too macho to ask for help.
But generally with the fees, fuel, and time you could buy your own equipment and have it paid off in about a year or two so long as you have the proper ceiling height and some floor space.
Diet and Exercise
It took me a long time to realize that diet was greater than exercise. I always assumed that getting yourself moving would make you lose weight and be skinny, but that is not necessarily true. I am sure that people will argue with this, and that is fine. People are not fine tuned machines, nor do we each operate in the exact same manner. We are a complex makeup of varying hormones, and chemicals that work in varying degrees of ways. Generally in the same way but diets may need tweaking on an individualized basis.
I worked out hard leading up to my wedding, and ate fairly well following a general Calorie in vs Calorie out diet. Eating less than what I burned. I lost a little weight and looked better than when I started P90X, but overall didn’t have much of a difference. I was measuring body fat percentage, BMI, and weight to watch what was changing and all stayed pretty much the same except my weight fluctuated a bit depending on what I ate. I learned more about water weight retention when I learned about keto later on.
The Calorie in vs Calorie out mantra works for some people however. I have several friends whose metabolism and insulin works much better for them and they shed weight like crazy, yet my body doesn’t work like that.
I did running and heavy cardio when I was fresh out of high school to drop weight because that is what I was told I needed to do to get into shape… yet I remained at the same weight. I didn’t lose a single pound, nor did I gain a pound. I gained some endurance. I was able to run a little longer than before, and was training for the Secret Service or another Police force. The issue was my diet, because I didn’t change the garbage I was fueling my cells with minus some supplements I was putting into my body there was almost no change into my physique. There are some changes you can make with exercise — you will strengthen your muscles, build your endurance and lose some weight but if your goal is to do a total body re-composition and transform how you look, you will need to adjust both your exercise and diet plan.
The Dad Life
Being a husband and father are two of the greatest experiences that I have had in my life, but they are also the two most time consuming things in my life. Right behind that is work. That means there is very little time to do much of anything else. With that being said, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. That is why I make the recommendation on the home gym over the gym subscription. And here is why — Time. Time is our most valuable resource and you will never get it back. Money will come and go, but your time will never return. Your family time you wont get back. Having your workout space at home means you get more time with your family and you have the ability as your kids get older to include them in your workouts with them, or even get your spouse involved as well. Make it an entire family affair.
Facebook, Craigslist, and yard sales and scrap metal are great places to get old workout equipment for pennies on the dollar. New weight plates run up to and exceeding $1 per pound but on Facebook and Craigslist you can get them for as little as $0.35 per pound. One heck of a deal. Still there is nothing wrong with buying new, and if you have an Amazon Prime Membership then you could get equipment with free shipping which accounts for quite a lot on freight like weight plates and squat racks. I found a few lightning deals on kettlebells over the last few weeks that were ridiculously low so I grabbed a few while they were on sale.
It’s amazing to see how my relationship with both my wife and son has improved since I began to workout again in my own home without sacrificing extra time to being away from the house and still being able to focus on my health and family. Its been absolutely amazing to be honest. We highly recommend trying a home gym if you can. It is worth the investment.
Read our Awesome Dad bod section to for more on what we think about diet and exercise.