I've lost one dad bod, but there's another one to go...
He's successfully completed his six-week Lose the Dad Bod challenge, yet despite praise from both his trainer and wife, Dave Robbins is still unsure of his accomplishments. He reckons he'll keep going 'till he loses a further 11 pounds
The numbers never lie. After six weeks of dieting and working out five days a week, I am not the man I was. I have lost over a stone in weight - 16lbs in fact - and the space I take up in the world has been reduced by over 16 inches.
The programme of diet and exercise was called Lose the Dad Bod. It was aimed at formerly sporty men who had let themselves go a bit. The problem was that I had let myself go more than most.
So have I lost the dad bod? My wife thinks so. She says that I have got rid of my "frontage" - the weight I used to carry around the shoulders and chest. Pat Henry - the training legend who oversaw the programme - is happy too.
But I'm not so sure. Six weeks ago, I had the equivalent of two dad bods; I've lost one of them, but there's another one to go.
Pat reckons my "fighting weight" is about 13st 7lbs. So I have another 11lbs to lose before I can think about getting into a cage with Conor McGregor.
However, I do feel better. I don't groan and creak any more. I feel more flexible when I move, more alive even when just walking, as if my body is working as it ought to.
I am much more aware of my diet too. They say it takes three weeks to break an old habit and form a new one. After six weeks, I think the low GI eating philosophy drummed into me by Michael Cantwell will stay with me.
I plan to keep up the exercise, but three times a week rather than five. I've joined the gym at DCU, a vast prairie of cardio and weights machines, but I'll miss the friendliness of Pat's gym, and the easy chat that springs up between his clients.
The programme has also taught me a few things about myself. One is that food - especially hearty, rib-sticking food that makes you feel full - was performing an emotional as well as a nutritional role.
Food like that makes you (or at least me) feel safe and can have a kind of nostalgic power to it. Even though I had to think about food a lot - what I could eat, what I couldn't, how much shopping I had to do - that emotional hold was broken.
Food became somehow less important.
It also taught me that a personal trainer - an extravagance I associated with celebrities and botox - is worth it. Pat definitely pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself.
Left to my own devices, would I hang myself off the wall in a harness to do abs exercises? No. But when Pat is in charge, I somehow find myself doing stuff I thought was impossible.
So, if you're planning to get fit after a while away from the gym, I would recommend paying a personal trainer for the first few sessions. He or she will help you get into the training groove, tailor a plan to suit your goals and make sure you're doing the exercises correctly.
Most people give up on an exercise regime after a couple of weeks. The reason is not that the workouts are tough; it's because the time commitment and organisation required becomes too much.
If you accept from the outset that you're going to have to commit two hours a day - which is a lot and will change your work and home routine considerably - then you have a chance. That, and get a lot of T-shirts and shorts.
Tonight, I am going to have something I have dreamt about for six weeks. Well, three things actually. A burger. Fries. A beer. And heaven help anyone who mentions visceral fat levels.