When the dadbod was first introduced to the world, it was meant to be a way to celebrate the slightly out-of-shape bodies that men often develop shortly after they have kids. But these days, it seems that dadbods have transformed from schlubby to sexy thanks to celebrity dads who manage to somehow be in the best shape of their lives despite being in their early 40s and having multiple kids. Chris Pratt went from charmingly chubby to a goddam smoke-show. The Rock remains the ideal human specimen. Even Mac from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia got ripped as a goof.
For normal dads, this shift in fatherly figure standards can be intimidating. After all, while you move further away from the best shape of your life with each skipped work out and late-night donut, these demigod dads are like muscle-bound versions of Dorian Gray paintings. But while it can be easy to see all of this as discouraging, there is a silver line that is unexpectedly found lying in the subtext of the Instagram account of none other than Mark Wahlberg.
At first, the idea of finding hope in someone like Wahlberg might seem puzzling. The 47-year-old father of four is as jacked as they come and he is clearly proud of his rockin’ bod, to the extent that his kids have mocked him for his shirtless workout selfies. But honestly, why shouldn’t Marky Mark show off a bit? He’s got it and logic dictates he deserves to flaunt it. But he doesn’t just want you to acknowledge his anti-dad bod; he wants you to acknowledge how he got it.
The man behind the Entourage empire isn’t pretending that he just woke up like this. To the contrary, in a refreshing bit of celebrity honesty, the totally jacked actor has made no attempt to hide how fucking hard it is to stay in that good of shape. The majority of Wahlberg’s Instagram presence are videos of himself before, during, or after a workout and the subtext of these videos is clear: I worked hard to get here. This message has never been more transparent than when Wahlberg shared his daily routine on his Instagram story, which showed just how much time and effort it takes to fit into the traditional definition of male attractiveness.
According to the schedule, Wahlberg has to get up every day at 2:30 AM and after about an hour of prayer and breakfast, he begins his first workout, which lasts a little over 90 minutes. By 7:30 AM, he is golfing for a half hour (driving range? two quick holes? It’s unclear) and at 9:30 AM he begins his “cryo chamber recovery.” Wahlberg then spends about five-and-a-half hours doing work/dad things before getting in another fucking workout at 4:00 PM but don’t worry, this one only lasts an hour. After some dinner and family time, he’s in bed by 7:30 PM because that’s the price of beauty.
And while some may find it obnoxious, Wahlberg’s methodical documentation of maintaining his six-pack and killer pecs should come as a huge relief to the average dad who is too busy working and raising a tiny human being to find time to look like a living and breathing Michelangelo sculpture. The only reason Wahlberg is able to stay ripped is that he is a megarich celebrity who can have a home gym that is likely bigger and nicer than your local 24-Hour Fitness.
Plus, being in shape isn’t just a vanity thing for guys like Wahlberg or Pratt, it’s a part of their career and, in a way, they are literally getting paid stupid amounts of money to keep their body in tip-top shape. Pratt didn’t discover his abs until he was brought on as Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy and has told fans they probably shouldn’t try to have a body like his unless they have to. And Rob McElhenny (Mac from Sunny) has repeatedly mocked the idea of thinking that it is remotely realistic for anyone to be in great shape who isn’t getting paid to be in great shape.
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Look, it’s not that hard. All you need to do is lift weights six days a week, stop drinking alcohol, don’t eat anything after 7pm, don’t eat any carbs or sugar at all, in fact just don’t eat anything you like, get the personal trainer from Magic Mike, sleep nine hours a night, run three miles a day, and have a studio pay for the whole thing over a six to seven month span. I don’t know why everyone’s not doing this. It’s a super realistic lifestyle and an appropriate body image to compare oneself to. #hollywood
For the Average Joe, staying in shape is a borderline impossible task that takes a level of discipline and commitment that simply is not practical, especially for new parents. A regular workout routine and a healthy diet? Get real. New dads are mainly praying to get a decent night’s sleep and something resembling a decent meal. It could be easy for other dads to look at Wahlberg’s glistening torso and feel discouraged as they look at their increasingly expanding belly and love handles but Wahlberg is giving his followers a behind-the-scenes look to see how the sausage is made and revealing that there is nothing normal about his definition of dad bod.
So hopefully, the next time you (and the rest of the everyday dads) are taking a good hard look at your lovably flabby torsos in the mirror, you won’t let the burden of unrealistic expectations destroy your rapidly deteriorating confidence. Instead, remember that you are doing the best with the time and resources you have and maybe even take some solace in realizing that they would need an extra five hours in the day to even have a prayer at being in the same shape as celebrities like Wahlberg or the Rock.