The look on Andre Agassi’s face was one I recognised from childhood. The very same expression that would flick across his sweaty features when he dumped a cross-court forehand into the net. It was a wince.
“Three kids under three?” He said.
“Yep. Three. Under three.”
“Man, you’re pretty much in triage…”
Triage. The place where doctors decide on “the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties”. What a genius. That’s exactly what I’m in.
But let’s go back in time a little bit. I am interviewing Andre Agassi on the subject of watches. My whole life revolves around three things: my kids, who are aged just under three, a bit under two and about three months over born. My wife, who is aged 36, and a remarkable woman, for reasons already established, and watches.
A little over two and a half years ago, I started a digital media business purely about luxury Swiss watches. From Melbourne, mind you, the city that is surely the most remote to Switzerland. Didn’t really think the logistics of that one through… It has, in fact, gone quite well. Long-haul travel, however, is a constant.
Put these two things together – a house teeming with tiny humans, a business with regular overseas flights and a growing number of staff and you have the perfect combination of ingredients for a brutal physical decline. Suddenly, the day-to-day has gone from one with a standard daily run or workout to a world of weighing up a nappy change versus a toddler standing precariously on a balcony railing to a wife who needs a coffee – now.
It’s a lifestyle propped up by caffeine, alcohol and paracetamol, three amigos I have taken to affectionately calling “Coff-ohol-adol”. Coffee to feel human after four hours sleep. A vodka and soda or four to take the edge off a workday that will end in domestic chaos. And Panadol to dull all. Of. The. Loud. Noises. The solid food component of this #dadlife is really whatever you can prise from the fingers of your children and the odd boiled egg in the Qantas lounge on an early morning flight. Other important nutrients are gleaned, hopefully, from all those good things in red wine I read about in Men’s Health…
The mark of this lifestyle is quick, soft and hard to take if you’re used to being fit. Metabolism slows down and testosterone comes at a dribble. All of a sudden, no abs, no arms and absolutely no love for the bathroom mirror when you’re getting out of the shower.
The only comfort I felt looking at the man in the mirror was that, apparently, there’s a new hashtag ready to love and accept the new me: enter #dadbod. Women love it! It’s a thing! Seth Rogen has one! Scratch that – Leo has one! And he has an Oscar…
So, gents, there it is. The out. The exit. The excuse. Surrender is trending on Twitter. Muffin tops are just fine for the new-age man. There are, according to several opinion columns, throngs of adoring female fans. All that’s left to do is put down the kettlebell and pick up the white flag.
But I can’t.
Perhaps I have self-acceptance issues. I may well be in denial. But I’m just too young to give up. I’m not even 40. I mean, I had a six-pack just over six months ago. I don’t want a dadbod. And that’s because of what’s happening underneath the surface, too. The stiffening of joints from lack of use, the couching of vital organs in layers of oozy fat, the tightening of the lower back from the picking up of toys and toddlers.
I want to keep doing what I’ve done all through my 20s and 30s. But more than that, I want to redefine the term in the positive. A dadbod should be like a beachbod – a physique fit for the task. It should have a strong core for lifting kids of any age, a rock solid lower back for picking up Lego like a boss, and enough of a gun show that you can rock your newborn to sleep without running out of firepower. And lastly, I don’t want my wife to be retiring to bed with a spare tyre where my waist used to be. I am officially waging war on the dadbod.
But I am doing so with more than a faint sense of trepidation. For this is no retro-written column from a happy place of nine per cent body fat and peaceful slumbers. If you take into account all the obstacles a new father faces every day – sick kids, niggling injuries, scant restorative sleep, a crippling workload – there is absolutely no guarantee I’ll win this one. For example, I’m drinking red wine as I write this, while racking my sleepless brain for the last time I saw the Panadol. In the morning, if I don’t have coffee I will die.
So we’re going to be building this together, if you join me. I hate the word journey almost as much as I hate the band Journey, but that’s exactly what this will be. I’ll be asking fit dads for advice and then passing on their tips. Because, at the end of the day, while I enjoy Seth Rogen’s relaxed take on masculinity, but I sure as hell don’t want his manboobs.
Watch this space for updates on the author's war on dadbod
Defeat Dadbod in 10 Minutes With This Workout
Targeting the big muscle groups in your legs and core, this no-fuss, body-weight workout from PT Phil Sims can be squeezed in between naps and nappy changes.
Perform these 5 exercises as a continuous circuit. Rest for 30 seconds at the end of each circuit. Complete as many circuits a possible in 10 minutes.
(10 reps each leg)
(10 reps each leg)