"What a pleasant surprise Buff Dad was. Not only does Mike Levinson know what he's talking about, the book is actually a funny, insightful read for any dad. A great no-nonsense way to laugh at yourself while you get your fitness act back together."
-James Denton, father of 2 and actor, Desperate Housewives
From Fitness Trainer to Fat Dad:
The Birth of the Buff Dad Program
To be a great champion you must believe you are the best.
If you're not, pretend you are.
It's surprising how fast it happens. One day you're fit, lean, and able to race up a flight of stairs without breaking a sweat. Then suddenly you're overweight, soft in the middle, and can't see your toes when you look down.
Deep down we all know the fat fairy didn't visit us in our sleep and zap us with her love handle–making wand. But while some of us can blame the unexpected weight gain on genetics or growing older, for many of us the reality is that something else changed in our lives: we became fathers.
Even though we had nine months to prepare, it wasn't enough for this wonderful, yet life-altering experience. I know. Two years ago, I became a father myself.
Just like the thousands of men who become first-time dads every year in North America, I was completely unaware of how the miracle of fatherhood was about to change my life. While I love my son, and his birth has brought new meaning to my life, I wasn't ready for what was about to happen to both my life and my body.
The Miracle of Fatherhood
I clearly remember the day we took my son home from the hospital and placed him in the nursery. As I watched his chest rise and fall as he slept, I suddenly realized the nursery wasn't the only thing that was different in our home. I was different too. I was someone's dad—and it was amazing, scary, and exciting all at the same time.
As you know, fatherhood not only changes you mentally, but it also creates an entirely new dynamic in your personal life. Gone are the weekends of sleeping in, the impulsive nights out, and the freewheeling daily routine you once had. Overnight, everything shifts to accommodate someone else's schedule.
Before you know it, you realize you haven't gone for your morning run in eight months, you've eaten more baby cookies and Goldfish crackers than you care to admit, and you vaguely remember seeing your home gym somewhere behind the stroller and portable playpen. The scary thing is, you don't really care, nor do you miss your old self.
Then the inevitable happens. One morning you wake up and realize you've become the one thing you never thought you'd be: fat.
The Road to Poundage Is
Paved with Calories
Working in the fitness field as a personal trainer and nutritionist for most of my adult life, I never had a problem making time to go to the gym. It was part of my daily routine and how I made my living. In my industry, I was fortunate to have worked with some of the top athletic organizations in North America, including the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders.
My clients included celebrities and professional athletes such as Chris Oakley, J.T.Snow, and Sean Rooks of the NBA. I spent my days working with each of my clients on an individual basis, focusing on achieving long-term results through challenging and constantly varied workouts. And with my master's degree in sports nutrition, I was able to help them not only build muscle and lose weight in the gym, but fine-tune their eating habits. In fact, my expertise in functional training and some of my innovative fitness techniques are widely recognized in the industry.
I was also a former amateur bodybuilding champion, so I know how good my body can look and how it feels to be in shape. I spent my whole life living, breathing, and preaching good heath. Never in a million years did I believe I would ever get fat.
My friends and coworkers warned me that my life would change when the baby came, but I didn't believe them. I was convinced they were using fatherhood as an excuse to let themselves go. I imagined them going home, turning on the television, pushing back the reclining chair, and eating potato chips while their child played peacefully in their baby activity center.
Up there on my child-free pedestal I swore that I would never be 'that' dad. How could I? I wasn't the one who had gained 20 to 30 pounds in nine months. I was the father. Besides changing a couple of diapers and waking up for some morning feedings, how different would my life be?
It turned out the joke was on me. With the birth of my son, everything changed. Just like every other dad out there, my priorities changed. In addition to my career and the everyday chores of grocery shopping, car maintenance, and mowing the lawn, there were suddenly relatives coming over to see the baby, doctor's appointments, meals to make, bottles to fill, and schedules to maintain. Amid the hectic rush of parenthood, some things just fell off the priority list. 'Me time' was one of them. I'm sure you've been there, so you can understand that when it came to choosing between an extra hour of undisturbed sleep or going to the gym at 6:00 AM, I'm not ashamed to say I choose the comfort of my bed.
Skipping the gym was only the beginning. While I certainly knew better, I started eating whenever my son ate, and those of you who have kids know babies always have something in their mouths. So, as I'd give my son a cracker, some Cheerios, or a cookie, I'd help myself to a handful. Of course, grazing on my son's snacks wasn't the only dietary change. Because our schedules were so tight, my wife and I often ordered pizza or brought home takeout instead of making the healthy meals we did pre-baby.
The Shocking Moment of Truth
Then, on my son's second birthday it hit me. After my son had gone to bed, I polished off the leftover French fries from his plate, sliced myself a second serving of birthday cake, and joined my in-laws to watch the video of our son's 'first day' in the hospital.
About halfway through the video, my mother-in-law exclaimed, 'Wow, Mike, it looks like you put on more than a few sympathy pounds since the birth. Never thought you'd end up a chubby hubby.'
Everyone laughed and I let the comment slide, but deep down I was shocked. I knew I had gained a few pounds, but I didn't think it was THAT noticeable. Besides, I didn't feel fat. Sure, most of my clothes no longer fit, but I was pretty sure my muscle tone was still there underneath the rolls. All I needed was a week at the gym. Yup, after a couple of intense workouts, I would drop those few extra pounds I had gained and be back to my buff self.
But then I made the fatal mistake. I asked my wife if she noticed my weight gain. She responded with, 'There's just more of you to love,' combined with a sympathy pat on my rounded tummy.
That was it. The moment of truth had arrived. As soon as everyone left, I pulled out the bathroom scale. More of me to love . . . What was my wife talking about? I looked down and there it was: the fateful number. But I hadn't gained just a few pounds like I thought. I had gained a whopping 50 pounds in two years!
Standing on the scale and looking into the mirror, I realized I had become what I promised I would never be: fat. My mother-in-law was right. I was a chubby hubby. I had to do something about it—fast—or 50 pounds might become 60 or 70.
While it was clear that I was on the road to FatTown, I was still a dad, without any extra time to work out or the money to hire a personal chef to prepare healthy meals. I also wasn't about to spend time counting calories, measuring out servings, or calculating my daily carb and fat intake. I needed something simple that fit into my already-packed day; most of all, I needed something that worked.
Buff Dad Dictionary
Dad fat: n. the extra weight and responsibility of fatherhood converted into body mass. Also known as blubber; dreaded spare-tire gut. See also chubby hubby.
Losing the Dad Fat
Time is one of the most valuable things parents have, and once you add one or two kids into the equation, you soon realize there is never enough of it. But becoming a dad does more than take away time. One study conducted by DukeUniversity found that in addition to a change in eating habits and exercise, other physiological factors also occurred once children appeared on the scene. While the study can't explain why the 4,523 fathers involved in the research gained the weight, they did find the risk of obesity went up by 4 percent and that number grew as the couple had more children.
Standing on the scale and barely able to read the number over my bulging stomach, I had to admit I had become one of these men. But there was no way I was going to stay that way. I decided at that moment, I would take my expertise in nutrition and fitness and devise a way to increase my cardiovascular level, reduce my body fat, and get toned—all in less than an hour a day.
I wish I could say the answer came to me overnight, but it didn't happen that way. The core of the Buff Dad program came to me as I was watching my wife talk on the phone while emptying the dishwasher, carrying my son, and cleaning up the kitchen. The solution was to multitask. In order for a weight-loss program to accomplish everything I wanted, all of the components had to be synchronized to work at the same time.
But there was one other important factor I needed to take into consideration. I wanted the program to work—not just for a few weeks, but for the rest of my life. I didn't want to be a fat dad today, and I was pretty sure I didn't want to be one again two years, five years, or even ten years down the line. My plan had to have something that helped me not only lose weight, but also help boost my metabolism and keep me continuously burning calories in the long run.
Combining my nutritional background with research in exercise physiology, I created a plan that took advantage of every man's secret weapon when it comes to weight loss: our testosterone.
One of great things about being a guy is that our testosterone is already built in as part of our chemical makeup. While it helps us in the bedroom, it also provides a big advantage when it comes to weight loss. Aside from making us our manly selves, testosterone helps build more muscle quickly, which increases our metabolism and our ability to burn more fat.
You've probably read or seen in the news stories about pro athletes who pump themselves up with testosterone injections in order to build muscle and look lean, but two other, healthier ways to do the same thing are often overlooked.
The first way is to eat foods that naturally help build the amount of testosterone surging through your body without negative side effects. By eating more testosterone-rich foods, you'll crank up your resting metabolism naturally and you'll burn more fat. The good news is that most of the foods are normal items you can find in the grocery store. You'll learn more about the top-ten testosterone powerfoods and how to add them to your diet using the Buff Dad Dietary Plan in Chapter 2.
The second way to boost your body's testosterone levels is by exercising, but before you pop in a cardio tape and start sweating to the oldies, there's one important thing you need to know: not all exercise will give you the results you want.
Through my research and years of training professional athletes, I've learned the most effective form of exercise is strength training. Keeping the goal of multitasking and having the program work together, I developed a special super-setting workout to help you lose your Fat Dad poundage quickly and keep it off without starving yourself or spending hours in the gym. I've found that when working out this way, you not only increase your metabolism as you build more muscle, but you tone up while you do it—killing two problems with one activity.
Using the Buff Dad workout you'll get results twice as fast than doing only cardio or only weightlifting, because the program takes the idea of multitasking a step further by combining several strength-training exercises to 'overwork' the muscles while providing an aerobic workout. In other words, you're working out faster and doing both aerobics and strength training at one time. I'll cover this more in Chapter 4 when I take you through the Buff Dad Workout Blitz.
Of course, when you're not working out, you'll be feeding your body testosterone foods that, combined with the workout, will help you produce more lean muscle mass, increase bone density, and help improve other aspects of your life that your wife will also enjoy. Using both the diet and the workout together, you'll get double the results without doubling the time it takes or the effort involved.
What You Can Expect from the
Buff Dad Program
Once I started the Buff Dad program, I noticed results right away—and I wasn't the only one. My wife noticed the change in me, too. My body was changing, but so was my energy level and my attitude. I was more positive and had a better outlook on life. While losing weight was one of the reasons for my new upbeat personality, some scientists are now suggesting that healthy testosterone levels can also help improve a guy's mood.
Plus, because I was working out, I slept better at night and was able to think more clearly during the day. It was as if shedding 50 pounds of dad fat put me back in the fast lane of life—physically, personally, and mentally.
By following the four-week Buff Dad program, you will get the results you want, too. You'll see incredible changes in just twenty-eight days. Of course, depending on how much weight you need to lose, not everyone will reach their ideal goal in one month and will need to continue for a longer period of time. But unlike some fad or drastic calorie-reduction programs that are unhealthy to continue indefinitely, my program gives you the tools you need to keep going until you reach your own ideal body weight.
The Buff Dad program also works for men of all ages—whether you're a young father in his twenties or a dad in his late forties. Regardless of your age, the program helps men build muscle, lose fat, and increase testosterone levels. After four weeks, you'll have more energy, more virility, and more tone. The only thing the program doesn't combat is male-pattern baldness. Sorry, but you're on your own with that one.
Most important, the program comes with a maintenance plan. After putting in the time and effort to become buff, the last thing you're going to want is to gain it all back. The Buff Dad program is not a get-fit-quick program but one that teaches you how to incorporate fitness and healthy eating into your hectic life so you can enjoy fatherhood even more. I strongly believe being 'buff' is more than building muscle. It's a lifestyle that affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Whether you're ready for it or not, your life is about to change for the better. Let's get started.
©2008. Mike Levinson and Michelle Ponto. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Buff Dad. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL33442