What 40 Looks Like Challenge – Fit at 40!

This is a follow up post to one that I did a few months ago. I have been terrible about keeping the blog updated during the challenge, mainly due to just having too much going on. Here’s the “results” post.

In years past, I haven’t been particularly interested in my birthday. Growing up, it really wasn’t that big of a deal, and I’ve carried that into adulthood.

This year, it was a bit different. Not because it’s my birthday, but because of a new significance I placed on that date. You see, I’ve just turned 40… and I started using turmeric curcumin supplements.  For most, including myself, this particular age has signified a sort of turning point in life, middle-age, beginning of the end, Mayans were right, that sort of thing. For me, though, it was a date to prove all of that wrong, that 40 can be better than 30, and anything is possible with the right kind of guidance and hard work.

Here’s my story: Despite a degree in Exercise and Fitness, I have struggled with weight/fat gain over the last few years, and have been searching for a way to get it all under control. While I’m not a “magic pill” kind of a guy, and haven’t gone down that route, I have found that I’ve spent 100′s of hours working out and eating “right,” and still gaining fat and getting less fit. It came to a point where I simply was at a loss for how to “do it right.”

Rewind to 8 months ago, my wife Michelle and I began conversations with our trainer, Pamela Sampson (and STS’s resident expert.) Over the last 8 months, she has helped us develop exercise and nutrition plans to get us to a point of fitness that we’ve never had, and we’re not done yet.

My birthday became a sort of interim goal date for me, trying to get as lean as possible by that date. Unfortunately, like everyone else, sometimes life just gets in the way. I had a couple of set backs. The first one came from a partially torn bicep (not from weight training, from lifting a dishwasher in a bear hug,) and then a fairly serious bacterial infection. While I never stopped working out and eating right, it did derail my overall progress by a few weeks.

So, how did I do? Well, the pictures tell the story pretty well. In 2008, at my heaviest of 205-206lb, and more than 22% body fat (I actually think it was quite a bit higher,) I was absolutely miserable. The sad thing is that I was actually “trying” to keep the weight off, but nothing was working. Even with all my knowledge, I was still failing. It sucked, and I never want to be there again. As I write this, I’m just under 8% body fat, 179lb. The 18lb weight loss is a little misleading, though, as there is a fairly significant amount of Lean Mass gain, along with a ton of fat loss. With the right program, it IS possible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.

This is the before and after from April to December:

This is me at the worst I’ve ever been. Those are 36″ shorts. Now, a pair of 34″ literally fall off, and 32″ are really lose. Interestingly enough, working out also may cause a sudden loss of body hair. ;->

Some specific numbers since I started tracking at the beginning of April 2012.

Total Weight Lost: 18lbs (this is why relying on just scale weight can be misleading.
Fat Loss: 26lbs
Fat Loss %: 13%
Muscle Gain: 9lbs (before I started cutting 6 weeks ago, this was more like 13lbs)
Ab Inches Loss: 5.25inches

My soft goal for my birthday was to be under 8% body fat. I made it there, but I am still somewhat disappointed because without my setbacks, I think I could have been sub 7%. But, it is what it is, and I’m moving on, sights set on April. My lower abs are the hardest part to lose fat for me (we all have those areas,) so it’ll take a lot of work to get that area leaned out.

The new goal is for April 20, 2013. I need to build size, stay lean, and work on my posing…next stop is the stage at my first Men’s Physique bodybuilding competition. For those of you unaware, Men’s Physique is a category that has come along in the last few years, and focuses mainly on the “beach body” look for competitors. Not so much huge muscles and tiny speedos, but rather overall fitness, leanness, shape, and balance, plus stage presence.

Over the next few months, I’ll concentrate on building more of my “wings” on my back, adding some more shoulder mass to keep those “caps,” and continuing to shape my abs and obliques. This will be my building phase, and then I’ll revisit a cutting phase, dropping body fat again to stage-ready levels (somewhere around 4-6% I’d guess.) To get there, my nutrition will basically have to be perfect, down to the gram of my macro-nutrients (protein, fat, carbs.) At this point, I’m more than a little nervous about it all, and realize it’ll take a huge amount of mental fortitude to make it all happen. I’m up for the challenge.

Okay, so enough about all of this bodybuilding stuff. What’s the takeaway for my readers? If you’re a 19-year old male, you can pretty much get ripped abs by eating decent and a few strong sneezes! If you’re not, then let me give you the no-bs answer. Anyone that says getting fit is easy, and you just need this dvd, this supplement, or this program is absolutely full of crap! Getting fit requires guidance, a huge commitment, tons of hard work, and lots of planning. It doesn’t come by cutting out a few junk foods and taking a walk around the block a couple of times a week.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s all good stuff, and will help you be healthier. I’m talking about really being fit. To be really fit, it requires meal planning, knowing what you’re eating for every meal of the day, packing a cooler with you, lifting lots of weights 5-6 days a week, measuring your food, doing HIIT training, stretching, and cardio. As I’ve heard said, “this ain’t no beauty parlor, get your ass to work!”

BUT….do the work, and get the rewards. I’ve never felt better. I’m fitter at 40 than I was at 30, and plan to be fitter at 41 than I am right now. Success comes through perseverance and hard work. So, let’s get our sweat on…we’re all in this together!

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What 40 Looks Like Challenge

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog entry. Summer’s here, and whether it’s travel, working on the yard, or just avoiding it, I haven’t really had much time to write here.

I made a decision yesterday as we were returning from an awesome weekend at the NPCUSA’s body building competition that I want to redefine what 40 looks like for myself by my 40th birthday, which is on December 8, 2012.

After watching my buddy Pamela Sampson rock 3rd place in a national figure competition, and inspired by all of the men’s physique and other competitors, I’m seriously considering entering a regional show of some sort in the Spring. However, since my 4oth is fast approaching, and I believe I can get “stage ready” by that date, I figured why not just make that the goal date instead of some future unknown date in the Spring.

So, I’m challenging myself to do the work required to get myself there, in roughly 4 months. By “the work,” I mean serious workout and nutrition, consistency, fortitude, sweat, blood, tears, and soreness.

The good news is that this journey actually started about 3 months ago already. I had been gaining weight for the last year or so, some muscle, but way too much fat, and had gotten up to 206lbs at a little over 22% body fat. Not good. I felt like crap, looked unfit, and was pretty unhappy. Despite my efforts in the gym, I hadn’t gotten a real handle on my nutrition and overall plan, and even with a lot of time and effort, I continued to go backwards. God answered a prayer and brought an old friend, Pam Sampson into our lives (she has a great studio here in our hometown, www.flexfitnessmontana.com, check it out,) and after 3 months, thanks to her guidance, I have dropped 9% body fat (just under 12% now), which is 17lbs, and gained 10lbs of solid muscle (mostly upper body.) To get to stage ready shape, I could be anywhere between 4%-7% body fat, depending on what looks best on my frame, and my muscle state at that time.

So, a solid foundation is there, now comes the real shaping and molding.

Here’s the plan:

  • For the next 4 weeks, I’m dropping cardio out of the equation, except for our awesome Saturday morning track/stairs sessions, and I’m concentrating on putting more mass on, especially in my legs. I’m already doing legs twice a week, and now we’re looking at twice a day, and twice a week. I’m pretty sure I’ll be using a walker, but my legs will finally get up to speed, so to speak.
  • Sticking with my calorie intake at 40% Protein, 30% Carbs, and 30% Fat, lots and lots of food, especially vegetables (bring on the broccoli!) My funny trainer has dubbed me the “anorexic ballerina” because when eating healthily and keeping my ratios, it’s actually fairly difficult for me to get all of my carbs. She’s 5′ nothing, and out eats me by a mile, at least in quantity. Of course, she’s also stronger and more muscular than me. ;->
  • After 4 weeks, back to cardio 4-6 days a week (maybe).
  • Weights 5 days a week, legs on Monday and Friday, other body parts lifting once a week.
  • Refeed days, higher calories, higher carb ratio. This is intended to refeed the muscle, and has been essential to adding the 10lbs of muscle so far, while losing body fat.
  • Lots of sleep, rest on Sundays.

I’m writing this blog, and will continue to update it weekly on my progress to not only serve as motivation and accountability, but to also maybe inspire some of my contemporaries (ie: facebook friends my age) to join me in the journey. If you’re interested in coming along with me, leave a comment, and we can do the work together. That doesn’t mean we’re all working towards ultra low body fat or whatever, but rather, making fitness and nutrition changes, working our butts off (literally), and getting fit, defining what 40 (or 39, 41, 60, etc…) can look like if the effort is there.

By the way, I’m not using P90x for this challenge, but Tony Horton (pictured) is a stud, and is also 50-friggin-FOUR years old. What an inspiration!

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Study by Scientists Reveals Shocking Truth – Estrogen Causes Brain Damage! Read the AMAZING Results!

Okay, okay, by “scientists,” I mean me. And by “study,” I mean an 8 hour observation at a NASCAR race (plus 17 years of marriage.) However, I still think there is a lot of validity to my results.

Before you literally get your panties in a bunch, ladies, I encourage you to keep reading, this isn’t another “the male brain trumps the female brain,” entry. Much to the contrary. I’ve always contended that women rule the Earth, and just allow men to pretend that men are in charge, this is just further evidence.

So, brain damage…

The basis of my theory starts very close to home, in my own relationship with my hot wife. I hope you caught the adjective use there. Granted, there is a fair amount of public sucking up involved, which is never a bad thing, but in all honesty, she totally is. She is way too hot to hang out with the likes of me, and generally just nicer, smarter, and more enjoyable to be around. Thus, we have test number one for my theory, and the result? She must be brain damaged.

Now, I don’t mean that she’s literally brain damaged, that would be sort of weird, and inconvenient since she’d likely be bumping into things a lot. What I mean is that based on our relative disconnect in overall intrinsic qualities, God must have provided some sort of brain…let’s call it “tweak” to allow her to look past that disconnection, give me a shot, and finally marry me.

While this is sort of the beginning of my theory, the truth in this was further solidified by my recent observations at the Daytona 500. This is not only NASCAR’s biggest race, but evidently the national gathering place of Who’s Who in Today’s Moron Society (WWTMS). Over the course of 8-10 hours, and within about a 50 foot radius, I had the displeasure of seeing the following:

  • A seriously drunk guy barely able to stand up, who offered us all a lovely view of his butt by mooning the general area.
  • Two guys leaning over the railing to taunt crew members of one of the teams, incoherently and without cause.
  • A group of guys that constantly whooped and hollered at every woman that walked by.
  • Another lovely gentleman that proceeded to spew beer all over my back.

You may be wondering how the actions of the WWTMS guys help prove my point that estrogen does cause brain damage, but here’s the shocking revelation….pretty much every one of them had a female companion. That’s right, each one of them actually managed to get a woman to hang out with them for more than 5 minutes. That MUST mean that there is something inherently “tweaked” in the brains of these women that blinds them from the truth…that men are not the brightest bulbs on the tree.

I’m thoroughly convinced that if women were actually in their right mind, the entire human race would have died out not long after Adam pointed to Eve and said, “SHE made me eat of the forbidden fruit!”

I mean seriously, I’ve just got to assume that my hot wife, and every other woman out there is constantly saying, “I have this constant nagging that this guy is a complete idiot, but for some reason, I can’t come up with a reason I shouldn’t stay with him.”

That’s where the estrogen-induced brain damage comes in, it’s blocking all common sense and reason, which is something I give great thanks. Without the brain damage, as well the ability to open a pickle jar, the human race would have died out a long time ago.

As a side note, Father’s, if you’re wanting to demonstrate to your daughters how “smart” men are…I suggest a sporting event where alcohol is served.

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Don’t Tell Anyone, but Hallmark is Lying!

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the truth and wisdom I’ve learned about love, marriage, and family along the way.

When you go into the Hallmark store, or for most guys, stop by the convenience store on the way home from work on Valentine’s day, you see lots of lovey-dovey cards that say things like “You’re the Greatest,” and “I Love You More than Anything.”

I’ve decided the main reason that they sell these cards is that a “I’ll Treat You Just Well Enough to Keep Myself Out of Trouble,” cards don’t really have the same ring to them.

Let me share some truths about the reality of who I am. I would venture to say that this would apply to a majority of people as well.

Even though the greeting card and flower companies would have you believe otherwise, I am:

  •  Self Serving – although I usually say otherwise, a majority of my thoughts and actions have MY best interest in mind.
  • Selfish – I like things my own way most of the time.
  • Stubborn – I really don’t like to change, and I’m highly resistant to do so.
  • Weaker Than I Let On- it’s difficult to admit, but I’m not as strong, and I really don’t have it all together as I like to pretend I do.
  • Scared- there’s something inside of me that always wonders if I’m enough for you.
  • Worried- I worry I’m not the kind of husband, wife, father, mother, partner I’m supposed to be.
  • A Complete Jackwagon – there are just a lot of times when I’m a complete jerk, and not the brightest bulb on the tree.

So, a little self-discovery I think, at least for me. As you can imagine, you’re not likely to see the following Valentine’s Day card in the store:

Happy Valentine’s Day

Since I’m selfish and stubborn, and not all that bright, I bought you this card in the hopes you won’t see through the facade and figure out that I’m worrying today I’m not the person you need and might look someplace else to have your needs met.

Yeah, I don’t think a lot of folks are lining up to pay $5 for that one.

There’s the “let’s get real” section for the day, now…let’s talk about what we can do about it.

I’ve been with my bride now for almost 19 years, and married for 17. At 22 years old, I was an even bigger idiot than I am now, and frankly, my wife must have been too (or at least temporarily brain damaged,) since I managed to convince her to marry me.

Greeting cards lie, otherwise no one would buy them. Marriage, relationships, and family are not all sunshine, roses, and pretty words. Sometimes they suck, and they definitely require lots of work. The biggest struggle I think most people have is that they require ME to do the work DESPITE what I get out of it.

To borrow a phrase from Rick Warren, “It’s not all about you (me)!”

To be successful, it requires me to do everything I can to meet the needs of my spouse, regardless of whether there’s something in it for me. The secret is, by approaching it that way, there almost is something in it for me…long term happiness and fulfillment. The trick is that if both people are doing what they can to meet each other’s needs…everyone’s needs are met!

If you really want to give your spouse/significant other a gift this year for Valentine’s Day, here’s a list of no-bs actions and ideals that would, in my experience, make all the difference in the world:

  • Learn Your Spouse’s Love Language - Buy or borrow a copy of The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman. It’ll change the way you approach your relationships, not just the romantic ones, but those with your kids, friends, etc.
  • Be More Self-Sacrificing - let’s face it, we’re all selfish and pretty much spend our days thinking about how to make life more comfortable for ourselves. Practice doing the exact opposite. It can be simple things like opening doors, getting up from the table to grab something they forgot, doing some of “their” chores around the house, or getting involved in an activity they love, so you can spend more time together.
  • Stop BS-ing – we are all weaker and more worried than we let on, which means we’re all a bunch of little liars. So, stop the cycle, and open up with your spouse, share your fears, wants, and needs. Otherwise, they’ll never know the real you, and they’ll never know the best way to meet you where you are. It’s like GPS  for your relationship, and can open up a closeness you haven’t experienced before.
  • Change – even when you don’t want to, and especially when it’s painful and doesn’t serve your best interests.
  • Don’t be Such a Jackwagon – this is harder for some of us than for others, but it’s possible. Don’t say the things you want to say, be nicer than you normally are, and educate yourself…about your spouse. If you want to be an expert in anything, it requires study and practice, right? What makes you think that this wouldn’t also apply to relationships? Learn about your spouse, study them, and learn to meet their needs. You’re already an expert in YOU…become and expert in THEM.

Now, I don’t claim to be some relationship expert…heck, I’m not even an expert yet in my beautiful bride…but I’m studying, learning, and trying. Most days I should just start out with “I’m sorry,” because it’s highly likely I’m going to do something really stupid that day, and it’ll probably be soon.

That being said, I hope that there are some truths here that might help you be more successful in your relationships, which we can all use.

OH…and Honey, if you’re reading this, here’s your Valentine’s Day card for this year:

Happy Valentine’s Day

I’m a selfish jackwagon, and more often than not, I’ll fail you completely. But, I promise to try harder today than yesterday, and not as hard as tomorrow. I should ask for forgiveness now since I’ll fall on my face a lot, but I’m grateful to have you there to pick me up and dust me off. I can’t wait to spend the next 50 years learning how to be the best me I can be for you.

<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0032CVAQQ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=sho036-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0032CVAQQ”>The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=sho036-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B0032CVAQQ” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”" style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

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It’s Already Been a Freakin’ Week…I Should be Ripped by Now!

If you are like most Americans, you spent the days preceding New Years Eve thinking about all of the ways you’ve been failing…wait, I mean, thinking about all of the ways you can improve yourself with the “new year.” You probably spent at least a few minutes making your New Year’s Resolutions, also known as the Annual Great Set of Empty Promises.

I say “empty promises” because for almost everyone, although there is some semblance of sincerity, most resolutions fall into the same category as “I’ll call you,” or “Hey, it’s been too long, we really should get together!”

He won’t, it really hasn’t, and we probably shouldn’t.

Okay, seriously, New Years resolutions are basically a way to say to yourself on December 31st, “I’ve proven over about the last 51 weeks that I’m a complete screw up, but THIS YEAR I’ll absolutely, positively stop doing these 10 things and also start doing these other 10 things, and this time I mean it. In reality, you’ll keep doing those first 10 things, probably add a couple of more, and completely forget about the other 10.

The whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions has a pretty long history. Back in Babylon, folks promised at the end of the year to pay off their debts and return stuff they’ve “borrowed.” The Roman’s made promises to Janus, the god that January is named for. It even takes on some religious significance with Yom Kippur and Lent.

You would think that with thousands of years of practice and a variety of implementations, that at some point people would either just give up the stupid practice, or at least get it right with some frequency. Uh, no. A guy did a study in 2007 and found that a whopping 88% of people failed to keep their resolutions.

88%? The only people less successful in doing what they say they will do are politicians!

Hey, I might be on to something… can the down-turn in America be traced back to a bunch of people making New Year’s Resolutions? Okay, okay, that might be a stretch, but it doesn’t change one fact…making New Year’s Resolutions is a colossal waste of time.

Coincidentally, so is putting any faith whatsoever in anything a politician says.

Back on topic…I’ve never really understood why people are constantly doing that “I’ll start tomorrow,” thing. It just gets you further away from what you really need to be doing. You also probably spent the entire month of December doing really stupid stuff in preparation for “all the changes you’ll make after the New Year.” I don’t think a set of personal promises are going to make up for drinking like a fish and eating like Homer Simpson for an entire month. All that does is make your liver weaker and your butt bigger!

Alright, I’ve established that I think the whole resolution thing is pretty asinine, but that doesn’t mean I’m not into self-improvement. Heck, anyone that knows me can attest to how many times I’ve “given up coffee.” What I’m really trying to say here is that if you really want to improve yourself, stop self-sabatoging. Stop lying to yourself and convincing yourself that all of the self-destructive behaviors are “not a big deal,” and that you’ll “start/stop ‘whatever’ on Monday.”

Trust me, Monday will come and go, and after a few years, you’ll be farther away from who you keep telling yourself you’re going to be.

I’ve actually been going through this journey myself over the last 3 months. I found myself about 20 pounds heavier than I wanted to be, mostly thanks to the evil product that is known as Nutella. A quick note here, don’t buy that stuff, it’s like heroine, only it makes you fat…I’d personally like to kick that Mom in the commercial feeding it to her kids in the neck. Alternative breakfast…yeah, sure…might as well hand them a chocolate bar and send them off to school.

But, I digress. The point here is that over the last 3 months, I’ve dropped a pretty decent amount of body fat, added some good muscle, and not missed a day of working out (one of my goals) the entire time. I’m not quite where I’m striving to be, but I feel pretty good about how far I’ve come.

In my anti-resolution campaign, I thought it might be helpful to share some quick ideas for moving beyond the resolution phase into the “actually doing something about it” phase.

Here are some ideas about goal setting, based on my own experience and training, as well as some conglomerated ideas from a variety of sources.

Step 1 – Don’t Kid Yourself – I’ve talked about this before, but if you’re over about 25, you’re not going to just “cut back”and lose a few pounds. I don’t care what that infomercial says at 2am, there’s no such thing as “lose weight in a few minutes a day.” It’s more like, “work your butt off for 45-60 minutes a day of cardio and weights 3 days a week, and watch every thing that goes in your mouth.” The first step in success here is to be realistic about not only your goals, but also just how hard it’s going to be to reach them.  Of course, this is assuming your goal is to lose weight, which is pretty likely considering the current state of weight management in this country.

Step 2 – Actually Set Goals – Whether it’s weight loss, quitting smoking, or watching less Jersey Shore (which should be some sort of federal mandate,) the principal is the same. The only way you can reach the destination is to know where you’re going in the first place. Most of the gurus recommend setting long range goals like 3-5 years, then a 1 year goal, a 6 month goal, 3 month goal, and then breaking it down to even weekly and daily goals.

In terms of weight management, it’s actually a pretty simple concept. The latest research verifies it. It doesn’t matter if you’re eating broccoli or Twinkies, if you take in less than you burn, you’ll lose weight, and if you eat more than you work off, you’ll gain it. Of course, it takes a heck of a lot fewer Twinkies than broccoli, but on the flip side, Twinkies don’t give you gas.

To lose weight, then, setting goals around calorie intake and calorie burn makes the most sense. A daily goal is great, but I’ve found in my own experience that a weekly one can also be effective. We all have days that are easier to eat right than others, but if you’re on the right track on a weekly basis, you can drop the recommended 1-2 pounds.

One of the most successful things I’ve found is simply setting “compliance” goals, and then letting the rest sort of fall into place. If you set a goal for say “do some sort of cardio every day,” and you meet that goal, then you’re much more likely to meet the body fat/body weight goals as a result. Plus, it’s easier to track (see step 3.)

Step 3 – Track Your Progress – Again, returning to the destination analogy, if you blacked out the windows of your car, you’d have a pretty hard time getting where you intended and you’d kill a bunch of people. It’s impossible to reach your goals long term if you don’t know if you’re also reaching them in the short term. For weight management, that means stuff like weekly progress pictures, taking your weight and body fat, and tracking your strength and cardio levels.  If you’re trying to quit smoking or drinking, for example, that may mean counting the number of drinks or cigarettes you’ve had each day or something along those lines. Breaking it down and tracking it that way will help you figure out if you’re on the right track, and subsequently, make it easier to make adjustments along the way.

Step 4 – Get Some Accountability – Like I’ve said above, resolutions are basically just an elaborate way to lie to yourself. Goals, however, are a means to reach a desired destination. It’s always easier to be successful if you have someone else keeping track with you. Sure, you can lie to them too, but it’s far less likely, and by doing something “together,” you significantly increase the likelihood of success. In my recent weight/fat loss endeavor (still ongoing, btw,) I agreed to do a Friday report to my buddy where we gave a weekly summary of compliance, results, and struggles.

As it turns out, I was far more motivated to be compliant than if I was just on my own. If Wednesday rolled around and I’d been dropping the ball, I knew I had to step it up a bit to have a good report on Friday. Finding someone that you trust, and, if possible, is taking the same steps you are can be a huge help. Someone that can tell you the truth is also important, check the co-dependency at the door. Heck, if you can find someone to come stand in front of the Oreos and smack you in the face when you reach for them…all the better!

This has sort of been a multiple-personality disorder type article, I suppose, but I hope it all ties together. I know in my own life, consistently BS’ing myself has proven time and time again to bring nothing but heartache and failure. I also hope this will assist you with actually making some real changes this year and leaving the futility of New Year’s Resolutions behind. You’ve got 51 more weeks to make it happen.

Here’s a good long-term goal for you…how about being able to say on December 31 this year, “Nah, I don’t make resolutions, I set goals, and as a matter of fact, this year was one of the most successful years of my life!”

The executive summary here is that to be successful you should: a) be realistic, b) set goals, c) track your progress, and d) be accountable. Oh, and…don’t eat Nutella, and don’t make stupid New Year’s Resolutions.

Now, put down that Oreo, and go for a run!

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Honey, Where are the keys to the Minivan?

I’ll warn you right off the bat, if you’re like most American families, this little article is probably going to offend you. If you’re a woman, it’s almost certain that it will offend you. Warnings aside, I hope it’s entertaining, and really spurs some thought.

Get this Man to a Ferrari Dealership...STAT!

Still with me? Good.

Imagine a typical family on a Saturday afternoon, ready to enjoy their day. A husband and wife have the following brief, but very telling, exchange:

Husband: “Honey!? I’m heading out to my aerobics class, have you seen the minivan keys?”

Wife: (with a secret, deep-seeded disdain, and shame,) “The last time I saw them, they were in the foyer next to your crocs!”

Knowing that this type of exchange is happening all over our country hurts me deeply and in a multitude of ways. At the very heart of the issue, one single factor…THE MINIVAN!

Yep, I said it, I firmly believe that minivans are essentially evil. These semi-utilitarian vehicles disguised as good family cars have almost single-handedly ruined the modern man.

“How has he been ruined”, you might ask?

He’s been ruined because he is turning into a croc-wearing, aerobics-loving, sniveling-little-whiner that spends a majority of his life watching TLC while sitting on the bed in his underwear waiting for his wife to dress him.

The wife dressing him part, however, might actually be a good thing, because left to his own devices, he’ll be walking around the mall in a pair of crocs, black socks, a t-shirt that he’s “had since high school”, and “golf shorts.” I don’t care who you are, that’s just scary, and not just a little sad.

Speaking of Crocs:

The crocs and socks routine are really just symptomatic of all-things-ruined with men these days. To paraphrase a friend’s recent tweet, “crocs are a symbol to the world that you never plan on being with a woman again.” Each time a guy puts on a pair of crocs, a little part of him dies, and eventually, there’s very little left (hence the TLC on the bed scene.) Have you ever seen an old man walking around the mall with is wife looking as if he’s seriously considering leaping off the 2nd floor, just for a change of pace? Chances are he’s traded in his crocs for a set of orthotics, but I’d guarantee you he’s got at least one pair at home in his closet. He’ll be better dressed, of course, having completely given up on picking his clothes somewhere around 40.

Okay, a bit of a diversion there on crocs, but like I said, they are symptomatic. The real culprit is the minivan, which, ironically, is the croc of the automotive world!

He was secretly plotting to ruin the modern man.

A little history: (feel free to tune out for a bit)

The modern minivan was born, thanks largely in part to Lee Iacocca, back in 1983 as the Dodge Caravan. Sure, VW made the minibus in many configurations well before that, but as far as the market in the US goes, that was the grand daddy (who, coincidentally, bears a striking resemblance to our balcony-diving old guy from earlier paragraphs) of what we know today as the most popular family vehicle type of all time.

Since the Caravan, numerous variations of that same concept both foreign and domestic have appeared, including the SUV, mini-SUV, holy-crap-that-things-huge-SUV, and a plethora of others.

Each one of them has at one time, stolen a little piece of the souls of the male drivers that have been forced to use them.

Why am I a Hater?

Why be so hard on the minivan? It all comes down to this. Men need adventure. At the heart of every man is someone longing to storm the castle, brave the seas, tame the beast, and chop something down. It is that desire that makes a man a man, and it is that part of him that dies with every slide of the minivan door.

Driving is supposed to be fun and exciting, and a car is something a guy is supposed to be proud of. I’d venture to say you never see a guy spouting off the 122 horsepower, seating for 8, and collapsible storage in his minivan, but you sure as hell will hear one talk about the 300 foot pounds of torque his latest project has!

This is why thousands of men attend car shows of all kinds, new, vintage, hot rods; it doesn’t really matter which type they are. The men there all just 8-year-old boys, fantasizing about being behind the wheel of that new Camaro convertible, Ferrari, or Aston Martin, that is, until his wife is done shopping and picks him up around back.

I told her I didn't want the caravan!

Although I’ve never seen one, I suspect there is a pickup and drop off area designed just for the minivan crowd, similar to what you’d see at your local elementary school. Just a line of beaten men, ready to sit in the passenger seat of their Honda Oddessy while their wives describe the great new blouse they just got “on sale.”

Even more sad is a little known fact about minivans that the salesperson only tells the wives while the husband is over looking at the new Charger. There is a special place in the glove box of most minivans, designed to hold…you guessed it…man parts. Sorry ladies, the secret’s out.

What should we be driving? (help me kevi-wan, you’re my only hope!)

As I see it, a man should never have to drive or own a minivan. Sure, I’ll concede that some families have a need to carry ½ a soccer team around and their groceries, but that’s why God invented crew cab dually pick-ups and the conversion van. I mean, come on, not only can you carry 15 people, but you can tow your boat or snow mobiles behind it. Heaven.

Now, you might be thinking its all Ferrari’s, Porsche’s, and supercars, but that’s not my point. There are a variety of cars out there that can provide the fun and excitement to rebuild a man’s soul; a ’69 Camaro comes to mind, but I’ll concede it’s not for everyone. How about a nice hot-hatchback? Golf GTI, Ford Focus SVT, or Audi A3. There are a TON of good used ones out there…Christmas is just around the corner ladies! BTW, although you’ll see them listed, a mini-cooper doesn’t count, its way to fru-fru to adequately restore manhood.

For the record, I have 3 vehicles that I consider mine, a 1965 FFR Cobra Replica, a Yukon XL, and a very old manified (technical term) Jeep Grand Cherokee. My wife has a baby blue VW Beetle Convertible, which, I’ll admit is fun to drive, but I wouldn’t be caught dead in it during the daylight by myself.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point, which is this: the minivan is gradually sucking the life out of the men forced to own them, and I’m convinced that most of the women they are married too secretly feel sadness, pity, and shame in that, despite what the sales guy or commercial says.

So ladies, do the world a favor, and buy your husband that Camaro. After all, it seats at least 4 and has room in the trunk for groceries!

It's a thing of beauty!

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Pass the Cake and Find my Man-groomer!

Although the goal for this blog is ultimately to provide some information, advice, and guidance on a variety of subjects, the occasional rant is sure to be found here and there.

Do you Feel Lucky Punk?

This is the herepart.

Yesterday was my birthday, so the natural thought process as I turn 39 is to reflect on what this whole age thing means, and also to ask the obvious questions men of my age often ask:
1) What am I doing with my life?
2) Am I satisfied with how this middle age thing is shaping up?
3) Holy crap, when did THAT get there?
4) And many more disgusting questions that are better suited for the bathroom, in private, behind a locked door.

It’s been said, that “age is just a number.” Frankly, this is just BS. It’s what people say to keep themselves from spending large amounts of time curled up in a ball on the ballroom floor crying.
The real truth here, as I’m reminded more and more each day, is that age is just a number ONLY if that number happens to be less than 35.

It seems that God gave the human body a “duty cycle” of about 34.9 years, and when that human odometer rolls over to 35, crap just starts falling apart. Just like a used car, rolling back the odometer (which is car-slang for plastic surgery and Botox,) just hides the truth. It also makes you look like you’re constantly in a wind tunnel. Just ask Kenny Rogers, or the guy that used to be Kenny Rogers, I guess.

For all of you fortunate folks out there under 35, we’re into the deep secrets of human existence now. I’m here to share with you all the things that older people are hiding. This is what goes through their minds when they say “fine” to that “how are you today” question. In reality, they are probably tired, sore, mildly confused, looking for their keys, and likely trying to figure out how many miles on the treadmill they need to do today to work off all the brownies they ate at 2am.

I could go on at length with descriptions of age-related issues, but it might be more succinct to just give a little glimpse as to a day in the life of being over 35.

1) What’s that Noise? When you get out of bed, it wakes up your spouse, and they think someone started making microwave popcorn.
2) Pass the Cheesecake (to someone younger). No longer are desserts a luxury that can be included with your meals. You must now spend time during the main course calculating how freakin’ long you have to work out to burn off the calories in a brownie (are these made with agave, perhaps?) No, they aren’t.
3) Anyone Seen my Mangroomer? One of your favorite games now involves discovering which region of hair has now decided to relocate itself to an entirely new, surprising, and unlikely area of your body. This is especially true for men. We all end up with less hair where it started, and more hair in places you never thought possible. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?
4) Ouch, and…Ouch! Another exciting pass time is “guess which part of my body will hurt today.” Pain becomes a sort of house guest, only the type that shows up at your house for Christmas with an “open ended ticket.” Here’s a type, you’ll need a Costco membership just for the bulk advil.
5) Did I Come in Here to Make a Sandwich or Balance my Checkbook? You spend way too much time standing and staring blankly into space trying to remember “what in the hell did I come in here for?”

Here’s my advice to the young people reading this, or at least the ones that got past the first paragraph since it didn’t include any LMAO’s, LOL’s, OMG’s, or any of those great text terms.

Here we go:

1) Don’t waste that extra testosterone! This one’s just for the Young men. Of course, I’m making the assumption here that you’re not brain damaged already by it so much that you can no longer focus on anything but women you can’t have and Call of Duty. Find a gym, pick up heavy stuff, over, and over, and over again. Use those hormones for good, you’ll thank me later.
2) Don’t gain weight. After years of education, training, and my own experience, I have discovered the secret to lasting weight loss. Don’t gain weight in the first place, otherwise, it’s a complete pain in the ass to get it off, I don’t care if it’s 10lbs or 100lbs, it sucks, it’s hard, it’s work, I don’t care what those people in the infomercials say. Get yourself a good pair of jeans that “just fit,” and make sure you wear them every week so you can tell if they still fit. Elastic is your enemy! If all else fails, a good roll of duct tape might come in handy.
3) Keep up with technology as it changes. This is sort of a no brainer, until you reach about 25. At that point, you find yourself staring blankly when some 19 year old mentions all of the cool features of the iPhone 75G.
4) Act your age. I don’t care what the guy at Aeropostle says, those skinny jeans look ridiculous, unless you’re Zac Efron or dressing up for Halloween. Same goes for you older ladies…age appropriate clothing is not just for your benefit, but really for the benefit of others. If you’ve ever seen a 60 year old in a pair of hot pants and a tube top, you’ll understand what I mean.
5) Get married and have your kids early in life. I’m convinced there is a great retail industry that targets the over 35 female demographic. What they don’t tell you is that trying to keep up with a 12 year old when you are 35 is hard, trying to do it at 45 is dang near impossible. Ask anyone who has ever tried to sit in on a junior high cross-country practice.
• Btw, if you do wait, you might want to get used to being confused for your kids grandpa when they are in high school.
6) Move somewhere warm. Don’t let your spouse talk you into moving somewhere cold early in your life to enjoy the “outdoor activities.” First of all, you will just hurt yourself, and secondly, being cold sucks and thirdly, being cold when you are old sucks even more. Why do you think your grandma’s house thermostat is set to “inferno?”
Footnote for the guys out there: this advice is especially pertinent for you since you will have lots of opportunities to enjoy the cold. And by “enjoy” I mean freeze your butt off as you are shoveling the driveway, warming up the car, and taking the dogs out to do their business, of course, after shoveling the grass for them.

Now, as to not appear to be completely morose, I should say that it isn’t all bad with age. The alternative is obviously worse, you generally have more disposable income, so it’s easier to hop a plane to the Caribbean, and you generally get more leeway in being a cranky old fart. That last one doesn’t give you permission to be a jackass though. I don’t care how old you are, no one likes a jackass!

So, there’s one moderately old guy’s perspective on aging. Now, where did I put my nose hair trimmers?

Maybe that’s why I came in here.

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Hand Me the Screwdriver, Will Ya?

I’m a generalist…what does that mean? A generalist is a person that, well, personifies that old saying, Jack of All Trades, Master of None. That is to say that I’m one of those guys that sort of has learned how to do a bunch of different things along the way, and therefore, has a fairly decent arsenal of information and skills in the old back pocket.

That’s the good news, but what’s the bad news? I suppose the bad news is that we generalists don’t usually find any particular discipline interesting enough to pursue it for any length of time. So, we get bored easily “SQUIRREL!”…and, distracted. In many cases, you’ll find that a generalist has ADHD, surprisingly, as that provides a means by which to be involved in a bunch of different things at the same time. The downside, again, is that things sometimes don’t come to fruition. A quick walk around my house right now will find an unfinished at the very least a set of trim that needs fill and paint, and a plethora of yard projects to be completed, not to mention a substantial amount of body work on my cobra project.

One reason this happens is not only the generalist’s propensity to get involved in too many projects, both self imposed and given to him from others, but also a strong tendency to be a cheap bastard (since I’m speaking of myself here, I can just use the masculine, so forgive any nonPC-ness. When you think you can do almost any task, it’s basically a miracle if you ever hire someone else to do the work “that you can damn well do yourself!” Unfortunately, most generalists like myself dig a bit of a hole of tasks, but it is what it is.

What makes a generalist moderately successful at so many different things? Well, it all comes down to one simple phrase…”what’s the worst that can happen?” For some unknown reason, be it nature or nurture, I was born without that thing in most people’s brain that tells them, “maybe you shouldn’t,” or, “maybe you should call someone to do that for you.” It’s just not there. I’m also fond of saying “it ain’t rocket science, any monkey can do it, you just need the tools.” If you’re following along, you can see the basis of the url and tagline for the blog.

Again, this comes with it’s own set of pros and cons. We’ve already covered the pros, (big skill set, multitasking,) but there are some downsides to be had here, the biggest of which is that almost all of the skills that are learned come through a set of often painful, and sometimes expensive failures, as well as the occasional visit to Urgent Care ! I’m thinking here of a quote credited to Thomas Edison…something about learning how NOT to make a light bulb. I would venture to say Edison was a generalist. He was an inventor, and successful business man, and it seemed he had his hands in just about everything.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, let’s just call this blog and the associated videos a bit of my own electronic squirrel. A distraction from the sometimes mundane occupational pursuits of web development and running my own business (which turns 14 this January.) But, it’s also an attempt to serve the overall community (of the internet I suppose,) as well.

What I’m hoping to provide here are some videos and tutorials of many of the little projects and skills that I work on regularly. I am also hoping to blend in some product reviews that might help people avoid wasting time, money, and effort on things that aren’t worthwhile. Along the way, I’ll share with the viewers and readers my own spin on life, which at the ripe old age of 39, is probably a bit crotchety…so stay off my freakin’ lawn, will ya?

It’s funny, I think, that most of the time, when you think of DIY, you think kitchen, bath, and yard projects. But, what about DIYing life? What about marriage, family, kids, and dogs? Well, I’m hoping to touch a bit on that stuff as well. Like I said, I’m a generalist, not an expert. I fail all of the time, but also learn a lot. I hope you’ll come along with me and we can fail, learn, and often succeed as we work our way through.

I’ve got a few ideas brewing right now from a topic standpoint, and would love to hear what else you’d like to see, and if I don’t know how to do it, maybe I’ll try it anyway…what’s the worst that could happen, right?

Coming soon…

Installation of a Kenwood DNX6060 Navigation Stereo – I’m currently installing one in our new-to-us GMC Denali (2007), and I’ve definitely learned some tricks that I can share…here’s a hint, start shopping for a soldering gun!

Repair of an HP Pavilion Entertainment PC Fan – I also have the joy of completely taking apart my laptop just to replace a very noisy and inefficient fan. There are lots of repairs you can do yourself with computers, so this will show you a few skills there, and I’m sure you’ll hear me complain along the way about the dumb design and why HP will have to win me over a bit before I shell out money on another one.

So, see you soon, and remember…if you don’t try it, how will you know if you can do it? Everyone should experience being elbow deep in a toilet, right?

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