Sculpt Your Bod

Andrew Siegel MD  9/22/2018

David by Michelangelo Florence Galleria dell'Accademia

David by Michelangelo Florence Galleria dell’Accademia

Image above by Jörg Bittner Unna [CC BY 3.0  (, from Wikimedia Commons”

Dad bod is a slang term in popular culture referring to a body shape particular to middle-aged men. The phrase has been adopted in U.S. culture as a celebration of this particular type of physique, with references generally skewing toward a positive and light-hearted tone. This masculine body type is a unique cross between muscular and overweight physiques.” ….Wikipedia

You can think of your body as a dynamic piece of sculpture, capable of being modified at will by you—the artist—who has some definite say regarding its appearance.  This human sculpture is not static and fixed in composition, but forever evolving, continually being remodeled, restructured and refashioned in accordance with the availability of building materials, how they are used, and in response to the cut of the chisel or lack thereof.

Every human being starts with a unique block of matter that has certain fixed structural features—based upon what was inherited from one’s parents—but other aspects that are capable of being modified, for better or worse. Since the sculpture is dynamic and constantly being restructured, one can think of the “sculpting materials” as one’s diet and energy intake and of the “actions of the chisel” as exercise and physical activity.

For the optimally-shaped sculpture, it is vital to use the finest sculpting materials in the proper quantities, i.e., a diet that is both wholesome and nutritious—”real” food that is not over-refined, over-processed, and nutritionally-empty—and provides the right balance of calories to satisfy metabolic demands, but not so much that the excess energy is stored as fat.  A calorie-rich, nutrient-poor, typical Western diet overloaded with processed foods will result in a bloated sculpture with over-ample proportions.

The actions of the chisel are equally—if not more—important to the sculpted product as are the proper quality and quantity of sculpting materials.  The chisel—when properly and deftly applied—will remove extraneous materials in a proportionate manner and nicely shape and fashion the sculpture. The chisel represents the cumulative total of exercise, physical activities and bio-mechanical forces, resistances, and stresses applied to the sculpture.

At any given moment in time the sculpture’s appearance is the living record of the lifetime integrated sum total of nutritional input, energy expenditure, exercise and physical activity. Obviously, this is a gross simplification; this entire schema ignores the other internal and external elements that contribute to our physique, including a lifetime of metabolic and hormonal factors, trauma, injury, disease, aging, environmental factors, etc.  Nonetheless, the artist has some genuine say in the shape of the sculpture and it is a matter of what and how much we eat or don’t and what kind of and how much we exercise and stay physically active or don’t that figures prominently in the ultimate form of the sculpture.

With some applied discipline, the artist is capable of changing the appearance of the sculpture for the better, or without discipline the artist is capable of changing the appearance of the sculpture for the worse. The proper quality and quantity of sculpting materials will give rise to a pleasing appearance of the sculpture when veiled with clothing, but it is the actions of the chisel that provide the attractive sculpted and chiseled appearance when the sculpture is unveiled.

Losing weight makes you look good in clothes,

Exercise makes you look good naked.

As I am giving thought to the human-as-sculpture metaphor, I am at the Jersey shore relaxing in a beach chair under an umbrella, gazing into the surf and observing a myriad of different bodies—of varying sizes, shapes and forms—walking by.  Some are rail thin, some sinewy and muscular, many overweight and far too many are obese.  I can’t help but think that each and every one of us has the power to sculpt their bodies—certainly to some extent—and that prior to making the decision to put a food item in our mouth– or not– or engage in physical activity– or not–a tiny bit of thought about what effect that may or may not have on our body as sculpture might be in order.



fat david

Image above attribution:; no changes made to image

With the creative touch of the chisel and other sculpting tools, Michelangelo transformed a solid block of marble into the magnificently sculpted David. You, too, can wield the power of the artist and optimize your body’s form (and function for that matter), understanding that the process will be a slow, steady and gradual evolution.  While the initial motivation may be vanity, the deeper reward will be improved health and fitness.

Upon returning from an awesome vacation in Iceland where I had certainly enjoyed the gorgeous terrain as well as the lamb, arctic char and beer, I felt an uncomfortable (and unattractive) roll in my mid-section.  I could certainly “pinch more than an inch”—more like 4 inches—and this, in combination with my tightening pants, both repulsed and motivated me.  Starting in June, I made a concerted effort with both “sculpture materials” and the “actions of the chisel” to modify the “dad bod” and whittle myself back into optimal shape. Clearly, this kind of effort that becomes more challenging as we get older. I tried to maintain the healthy diet that I genuinely enjoy— Mediterranean-style—and ate clean, lean and mostly green, actively avoiding (as much as feasible) cheese and other animal fats (replacing them with fats from seafood, olives/olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, etc.).  On the avoid list were cookies, cake, candy and other sweets. I never drink carbs (sodas, juices, sports drinks, sweetened tea, lemonade, etc.) with the exception of alcohol (in moderation). I stepped up the exercise, doing a balance of cardio, core and strength training. Without a great deal of difficulty, I managed to drop the pounds and carve the body for the better and my daughters now describe my physique as “partial dad bod,” which might be the best I will ever be able to do, although I will continue to challenge that in the future.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community.

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food


These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

New video on female pelvic floor exercises:  Learn about your pelvic floor









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