Asian man fat bellyAccording to popular TV Dr. Oz, a man’s waist size should be less than half his height. That means at 6ft tall (72 inches) your waist should be less than 36 inches. Not sure about your waist size? Pull out the tape measure. Larger than half your height means you’ve got the dad bod look – a little extra padding around the middle. Here’s how to get rid of it.

Avoid unmanaged stress

It is tough to make smart food choices when you are under stress. That’s because you are more likely to reach for high calorie comfort foods and give less attention to how much you’re taking in. On top of that stress hormones flood the body and lead to belly bloat. Since stress is a normal part of life it is important to plan ways to keep yours at a manageable level. Common strategies include exercise, yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Commit to doing something each day that feels restorative.

Watch what you eat

Simple carbs like white pasta and bread are the stuff dad bod’s are made of. Skip the white foods and reach instead for protein and fiber. Good choices include beans, lean meats such as chicken breast, tuna, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Limit the beer

There nothing like a cold one! Keep the emphasis on “one” and resolve to stop there. That spare tire in the middle isn’t called a beer belly for no reason. Skip that second beer and finally stop sucking in your beer gut.

Reach for water

Keep water on hand and sip it throughout the day.  Dehydration slows metabolism, which leads to weight gain. Dehydration also contributes to weight gain since thirst is often mistaken for hunger causing you to take in calories you really don’t need.

SleepingGet some Zzzz’s

Just as with stress, it is tough to make good food choices when you’re hungry. To make matters worse, sleep deprivation also leads to carb craving. You can expect the chips, beer, pasta and bread to head straight for your middle. Sleep enough to keep them away. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Power down technology at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light your phone or tablet screen emits interferes with the sleep hormone melatonin. Inadequate melatonin production has been directly linked to obesity and heart disease. If you must use your device close to bedtime, opt for an app that reduces blue light colors.

Move more

Exercise is a must. Choose a weight bearing activity such as walking, running or jogging and pair it with a regular weight training regimen. Ideally, you will workout at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes. Break it up into ten or 15 minute increments throughout the day if your schedule is too tight for 30 minutes all at once.

Practice interval training when you can. Intervals help you get more bang for your exercise buck. Simply alternate periods of high intensity with more moderate intensity exercise. For example, run full out for 10 seconds and walk or jog for 50 seconds. The duration of your high intensity period and number of cycles will depend on your fitness level. Intervals help you burn more calories and fat in less time. You will also quickly build endurance and stamina.

Especially if the idea of embracing new habits sends you into a panic, make gradual changes for best results. One of the best gifts you can give your loved ones is you. Stay healthy to increase the likelihood that you’ll stay around.