What’s that? You don’t know what a Dad Bod is? Don’t feel bad. I’d never heard of the Dad Bod either, until I woke up the other day and realized I couldn’t see my toes.
Despite having been the one who carried the baby in her womb, my partner, Michelle, somehow snapped back to her lithe dancer’s figure a few months after giving birth, but I still look like 10 pounds of chopped meat in a 5-pound bag, only less delicious.
For the 35 years before my son, Lev, was born, I worked out two or three hours a day, and while I never looked that good, I did manage to stave off the usual vagaries of aging and gravity to some degree. But being a new dad comes with a Dad Bod, which is like your old body but it doesn’t fit into any of your clothes, and it doesn’t look good when it’s not covered up.
This is especially problematic since my niece Sonia is getting Bat Mitzvahed in three days, and the only suit I own is something I had custom-made while I was in Thailand on a kickboxing tour. I was in the best shape of my life. I knew that if I gained even one centimeter of girth, the suit would not fit.
I woke up last Saturday and realized I had one week to lose the Dad Bod or I would be unable to wear the only suit I own to my niece’s Bat Mitzvah. At the same time, my ankle started hurting, so I couldn’t rely on my usual workouts to lose weight: running, jumping rope or kicking the heavy bag. And so, with my main sources of exercise off the table, for the first time I decided to try a diet.
Instead of my usual egg and cheese on a bagel for breakfast, I would eat only oatmeal. For lunch, salad. For dinner, salad. No beer.
How hard could that be?
By 9 a.m. on day one of the Dad Bod Diet, I was ravenous. Rather than eat the furniture, Michelle and Lev, I relied on old-fashioned will-power. I made it until 9:15 a.m. I was in the elevator on the way to my local bagel shop when I caught a glimpse of my giant bloated face in the mirror. I looked like John Travolta if you left him in a swimming pool overnight. And somehow the combination of self-loathing and shame and hating John Travolta was strong enough to get me to turn back and stick to the diet for another few hours.
Somehow, I made it through the day, a grumpy, hungry fatty, and the next morning, I stepped on the scale with both eyes closed. Like a man about to read a biopsy report, I slowly opened one eye and glanced down. Boom. I had lost 7 pounds overnight! Suit saved, Bat Mitzah fashion nightmare averted, Dad Bod vanquished!
Then I opened the other eye and realized there was a decimal point on this damn scale. I had only lost .7 pounds.
Still, reason to celebrate.
And what better way to celebrate than with lasagna? If the Lord hadn’t wanted us to wear sweat pants to a Bat Mitzvah he wouldn’t have invented mozzarella.
Dimitri Ehrlich is a New York City-based author, journalist and songwriter. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times and the Huffington Post. His son, Lev, is the love of his life and the inspiration for The Daddy Diaries. @dimitriehrlich