Here's how one man decided to "revolutionise" his DadBod in eight months
"I made a promise to myself as a child that I'd have a six pack before I turned 39."
Kevin O'Connor says he made that promise after seeing a copy of Men's Health in a corner shop while growing up in the UK.
"I would have been about 11 when the headline caught my eye: 'Even at 39, you can get a six-pack'. It was written as if this age was so far away. I still had all of my 20s and 30s until I needed to get the body," Kevin told JOE.
"It was only as I got older and closer to 39 that I realised there was a problem. I had no six pack. I wasn't morbidly obese, but I was out of shape. Really, I hadn't an alternative, because the number 39 had been in my head all that time. Every birthday I would think about it. Then when I turned 39, but nothing had changed, I decided that's it. I'm going to get this while I'm 39. So, fuelled by the birth of my daughter, I decided to revolutionise my 'Dadbod'."
Kevin says the arrival of his daughter gave him the impetus to change his lifestyle.
"I didn't want a 'DadBod'," Kevin says.
"It's not like I was the one who had the kid, yet I was the one who was out of shape. But I wanted to be able to pick up my daughter and play with her without having my back creak like an old man. I wanted to be fit and healthy - the best version of myself - what's wrong with that?"
These contributed to what Kevin called his big 'why', or the factor which made him want, not need to go to the gym and fix his diet.
Eight months later, he had dropped 20kg, with his body fat going from 21% to 7%, or down from a 36-inch waist to 28 inches. "It can be done without sacrificing a good life, even if you sit at a desk for a living like myself."
The core of his transformation was diet, even ahead of exercise. "I'd been going to the gym on and off the year before I decided to make the change. The thing is though, you can't outwork bad diets. I could lift heavy weights, but then I'd go home and eat potatoes, bread and butter. Thinking I was making the right choices, but really, I was just ruining it by consuming fattier foods and undoing what I had done."
His first aim was to create a habit of healthy eating. "I had read that it takes 21 days to form a habit, and really the formation of mine created the tipping point. That habit for me was to keep a log and weigh the food I was eating."
Researching BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) - the amount of energy spent while resting - and factoring in the amount of days he would work out per week, he began to carefully control his daily calorie intake. Here, Kevin emphasised to JOE that each individual should set their own standard for a daily intake.
However, a more general recommendation he made was to always have "something green on my plate", while also swearing by yoghurt, walnuts and dried mangoes to start off his day, as opposed to "four slices of white bread covered in butter", which he said was his typical breakfast beforehand.
"Weighing is so important to me, because that's where you can slip and overeat without realising. I use the scales for everything now and keep a log on everything - I've all the food I've eaten in the last year noted down in my log. We're creatures of habit. That's mine. I track things. I used not to track things and I was a fat guy."
"After a month or so of doing this, I was really noticing the weight coming off," Kevin adds.
"Even during the first 21 days of building that habit, I noticed it. I was getting immediate results, good feedback. We live off feedback, so seeing this made the change all the easier."
He also started his weight-loss regime by visiting the gym three times per week. "Now I go six times. That's just because I love going though. Once I started going, I started feeling better and I wanted those results quicker. So I started going four times a week, then five.
"What I was basically doing was just looking up superheroes online; Captain America and Wolverine, guys whose shape I liked. I looked at their routines and started using their workouts; all that is online."
It wasn't long, he says, before he noticed many of the clothes he owned were getting looser. "My jeans, my belt, they were no longer fitting, but the big deal was this shirt I had.
"Don't ask me why I wore it or liked it. It had these stripes... they were horrible. Plus, it was tight around my arms and chest. I couldn't fit into it really. It was a small shirt, but when I wear it now it's like a sack. It was this gauge for my weight loss, becoming looser even after the 20-day and 30-day mark. Again, that feedback is important. Once it was too small. Now it's too big, it looks terrible and I can't figure out why I ever wanted to wear it."
"I'm not a nutritionist," Kevin adds.
"I'm just very into fitness, and while getting healthy differs from person to person, I like the idea of being able to share my journey with other people. The thing is, my transformation wasn't remarkable, but it's relatable. The only challenge has been to get your 'why', or motivator in check. That's why I set up a website, KevinsChallenge.com, to help them overcome the initial hurdle. It's worked. So far, I've tallied up what the people taking my 30-day challenge have lost and it was over 140lbs.
"I spent my 20s in a hangover. My mind was foggy," Kevin says.
"Since that time, I'm clearer up there (his head). It isn't a haze, it's sharper, not like Rain Man or something. Just crisper. You don't need to compromise too much though. For example, I'm not going to restrict myself too much on what I eat, by which I mean, I'm not going to go out with others and eat the horrible low-calorie dinner just because it's a low number. Eat that bad tasting meal at home and still indulge a little when you go out. Just do it in moderation. You can be healthy without going to bed on a half-empty stomach.
"I've had researchers for TV shows saying over the phone, 'Man, you're giving me hope here'. It's not unachievable. You just need to think smart about it."