Things only dads do

I think the best decision I ever made as a parent was to let my husband parent too. Sounds obvious and ridiculous all at the same time, but I will be honest here, most women I know DON”T let fathers actually father. They let them babysit and participate, but they rarely let them make decisions or do what they want.

The first time I left my husband alone with our first born, both my sisters  said “Oh my God! Why would you do that?  Aren’t you worried about what he will do or what will happen?” My response, “Oh crap! Did I just leave my child with a pack of wolves? A silverback gorilla? a 10 year old? Wait, whew! Calm down woman, I left him with his dad.” I remember telling them both “Look, he may not do what I would do, but he isn’t going to kill him and for all I know his way is the better way.”

I feel like my kids are lucky to have their father in their lives, and I think it is important that he have a say, that he be able to influence their young minds. I think the best way to parent is to expose your children to your personality and who you are, as well as who their father is and what his personality is. I married this man because I love him and thought he was an amazing person, why wouldn’t I want my children to be like him? Why wouldn’t I want my kids to be silly, fearless, thoughtful, funny, and easy going? Why wouldn’t I want them to know more about life than just what I would choose to teach them? Wouldn’t it be amazing and magical if they some how ended up with qualities from both their mom and dad? What if they got the mix of awesome and amazing that make their parents such a good match?

That being said, I will admit that there are still moments when I have to leave the room, shut off my ears, or say “what the hell?”, because if I didn’t, then I’d be making a huge mistake. I might interfere and stop that moment of great dad son bonding. I may not do everything right as a parent. In fact, I probably make loads of mistakes; but the best thing I’ve done, and swear I will always do, is let my husband be the dad my kids deserve, unedited by me. After all, what do I know about being a dad? or being a little boy? or the moment between father and son when all is magical and right? I don’t and I never will; but damn it if I’m not lucky enough to get to watch it unfold everyday. So moms, let dads be parents. When your kids turn out awesome you can still pretend it was all your idea, I mean, you are the one who let them do it right? :)

So here is a moment of happiness, of things only dads do. You’re welcome in advance. I love you, my wonderful husband.

How You Are Wasting Your Time at the Gym

I go to the gym at least 4 times a week. Before I had children it was more. This week, while I am on vacation, I am trying to go everyday. I love the gym. I admit it freely and without fear of persecution. I know lots of people don’t get this or they think of the gym as a terrible evil place where demons live, but I love it. I will make no apologies or pretend otherwise. If it makes you uncomfortable that is your problem- note to yourself maybe you should look at why you care if I love the gym.

I see lots of regulars at the gym working out hard and just as often as myself, but they never seem to make any progress. They lift the same weights day in and out, their body never changes and they never seem to get that high I love so much. It makes me sad to see so many people who obviously want to reach a goal, who are putting in the time and probably the effort, but who go home everyday exactly as they were the day before. If it bothers me, I can only assume it bothers them even more. I would NEVER go to the gym on a daily basis if I didn’t experience results. Even I’m not that dedicated.

These people are wasting their time. I watch it and it is painful. Here are the top 8 ways people waste their time at the gym; don’t be one of these people.

  1. Changing music or checking their phones. I’ve blasted through whole workouts in the amount of time it took one guy to find the right song on his iPod. Seriously, create a play list for working out and leave your phone in the locker. Unless someone is about to die or your baby is alone with a sitter for the first time you don’t need your phone, whoever is calling can wait.
  2. Standing around talking. Sorry folks, this isn’t social hour or even happy hour. This is a workout, if you can talk you aren’t working out hard enough. If someone you know wants to chat just tell them politely that you really need to finish up with no distractions can they call you later? Smile and put your ear phones back in.
  3. Resting between sets. What the hell are you resting for? You “rest” about 22 hours in the day. Trust me, your body doesn’t need a rest; be it 30 seconds or 2 minutes, you do not need to rest. If you are between sets then do a set for an alternate body part while you “rest” the first muscle. But for god’s sake do not stop and sit. If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to pick something heavy up.
  4. Lifting 5-10 pounds. Seriously, women stop doing this. They should just take 5 pound weights out of the gym. Unless you are old or doing rehab you should never be caught holding a 5 pound dumbbell. Waste of time. Go home, sit on your couch and lift your pocket dog up and down. Same thing and just as useless for getting in shape.
  5. Avoiding cardio or weight training.  To get fit fast and see results you need both. Sorry, but you really do. Nothing can take the place of lifting weights and nothing works your heart or burns calories the way cardio does. So don’t tell me you are trying to bulk up so you can’t run or you are trying to “lean out” so you can’t lift. It just makes you sound ignorant.
  6. Going home and eating ice cream. Or whatever your thing may be. Bottom line is the rest of your day, including what you eat, has more impact on your overall health and ability to lose weight than what you do at the gym. Don’t negate your hard work with over indulgence. Might as well not go to the gym, or you can lift the gallon of ice cream for 10 reps before indulging. I just saved you time and the money for a gym membership. You’re welcome.
  7. Waiting on a machine. You have to be flexible at the gym, especially if it is a peak hour. You don’t have time to wait for a specific machine to clear up. Bottom line, for every body part you want to work there are about 20 ways minimum that you can work it. So if your favorite machine is busy, take this opportunity to break a rut and find something new to do. If you don’t know what other exercises work that particular muscle then ask someone. Everyone was new once. Everyone knows what it was like to feel stupid in the gym.
  8. Leaning on cardio equipment. Get your hands off the cardio machine! Now! Unless you need it to balance yourself, or it is an elliptical machine (though I do these hands free too), your hand should ever touch a piece of cardio equipment again. If you are leaning, clutching, pulling, or vice gripping a machine then you are not working out hard enough. Let go!

Now that you know what not to do, let’s talk about what you should do. Here is a quick outline of what you should be doing with your gym time. This will get you the results you’ve been looking for and it takes about the same amount of time you are probably already spending in the gym. Now that you aren’t doing the 8 deadly sins of the gym you should have plenty of free time to get it right.

  1. Lift weights first. It helps to burn the glucose in your blood and the glycogen in your muscles which forces your body to burn more fat for energy when you get to cardio. Don’t argue, just do it.
  2. Lift as heavy as you can. Seriously. If you don’t know how heavy you can lift just start picking things up. I lift pretty heavy, for an out of shape girl, and I don’t think anyone would ever call me bulky. So if your fear is bulking up, I suggest you avoid the ‘roids and lift something heavy. Lift for at least 8 reps and 3 sets. If you can lift whatever it is for more than 8 times, it isn’t heavy enough.
  3. Learn the major muscle groups and work out at least 2 groups a day with at least a 2 day break before working them again. Try Chest/Triceps one day, Back/Biceps the next day, Legs/shoulders the third day. Then repeat or take a day off. I do abs everyday I go to the gym. Everyday. After 6 weeks or so of this schedule switch the order up or do new exercises to avoid hitting a plateau. Right now I am doing 1 exercise per body part everyday. Everyday it is a different set of exercises than the day before. No day is the same. I am doing this this week because I finally get to go to the gym every day, I finally put down the ice cream spoon, and I am looking to blast through a plateau I’m stuck on. Its going to suck because I’m not doing a lot of down time, but that is why I will only do this for a week.
  4. Do abs between sets. This way you are staying active but letting the muscles have a break. So do 8 squat reps, then do something for abs, then 8 squats reps, abs etc.
  5. Do fast, high intensity cardio for 2-4 minutes between exercises. So when your 3 sets are done, do cardio at a super high intensity for 2-4 minutes. I mean, you can barely breathe, you certainly can’t talk, and you are actually sweating intensity level cardio. Studies show that high intensity interval training burns loads of fat and is actually better for your cardiovascular health than long duration cardio. Plus, by the time you are done lifting you will have done about 30 min of cardio without really trying or getting bored.
  6. Work your way up to at least 3 exercises per body part every day you work them. So for example, if it is chest day, you could do chest press, incline chest press, and flys. This works the muscles from slightly different angles and it ensures that the muscles work to their fullest extent.
  7. Once weight lifting is over, do at least 20 min of cardio. If you did the cardio intervals while lifting, then you already have about 30 min give or take under your belt. So now you just need about 20-40 min more depending on your energy level and time allowance. I hate cardio. I think it is boring and it makes my lungs hurt, but it is a necessary evil. To spice it up avoid sitting on one machine, move around to stay motivated. Do 5 minutes per machine or a different machine each day. Or you can do interval training on 1 machine. I hate to run but I have found that if I do the treadmill and vary my speed between running fast on a low incline and walking fast on a high incline that I get a great calorie burning workout without the burning lungs and vomit.
  8. Don’t forget to stretch and warm up. It prevents injury and helps your body move easier through the exercises and real life. You can never stretch too often or too much.

The bottom line is this, If you are already putting in the time at the gym, but you aren’t seeing the results you wanted, then you are doing something wrong. If you avoid the 8 gym sins listed above and engage in the 8 must do tips then you should start seeing results in a very short period of time. You’re putting in the time, shouldn’t that time count? Good luck and get moving!

This post assumes certain things are true about you, the reader. If these things are not true, please do not follow the suggestions contained within. This post assumes you are relatively healthy with no major medical issues. It further assumes you are capable of moderate level exercise and do not have any pre-existing conditions that would effect your ability to exercise or try new things- laziness and excuses not withstanding. If you have pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness during exercise or you get injured, STOP immediately and seek professional guidance.

In case you question my ability to give advice concerning this topic, please rest assured that I not only have a degree in Biology and have been a certified personal trainer since 2002, but I have owned and operated a body for a significant number of years and can attest to it’s responses to high intensity, frequent exercise. Enjoy!


Here is your Zen and the Art of Friends moment about gyms.

Wholly cow!

It is week 13 of this journey, and I am on vacation. Not a real vacation, I’m still sitting in my house, but I’m not logging into work and I’m doing whatever I darn well please- that my toddlers will allow that is.  I can’t believe this is week 13, really, even just sticking with this blog and sticking to my goal for 13 weeks is amazing to me given all the things I start and never come back to. 13 weeks of dedicated truth finding, fun finding, bliss finding, Zen finding, peace work. I am a work in progress, and if you don’t count my first 38 years of life-which of course I do but not for this- then I have been acting for 13 weeks toward one single goal. Happiness. True unadulterated happiness. Not, gee things in my life are pretty good. Not wow I love my husband and I still think about kissing him when he gets home kind of happy; but pure blissed out, just doing what I do and I have a sense of peace and happiness while I’m doing it.

Let me explain. What I am searching for, what this blog and this 13 week journey has been about is finding the secret to overall happiness. Finding that balance between what life demands we do and what we want to do or feel compelled to do. I want my life to be lived intentionally. I do not want to be a slave to what the world think I should be doing or who others think I should be. I want to live my life exactly as I see fit, and be exactly who I want to be. With no apologies, no regrets. I want to choose happiness, the kind of happiness that is all pervasive and seeps so far into ever crevice of life that I can’t get away from it, and no matter how many terrible things happen, or shoes drop I am still whole and satisfied and strong as I keeping pressing forward propelled by the knowledge that I am happy, I am good.

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In the past 13 weeks I have been working on myself and my life. I have been researching happiness and peace in corners near and far, resources obvious and hidden. I have found value in the small minutia of life and insight from the grand and spectacular. I have even gained insight and knowledge into my intentional life from the sorrow of life and our culture, our politics, and country’s struggle.  It has felt good to discover that I am not alone. From the blogs of others I have haunted, to the wonderful readers who haunt me here, I have discovered that my quest for more is more common than I suspected, my efforts to find truth and blissfulness not a solitary effort. I have discovered there is strength in numbers and the moment I put myself out there, all my fears and trials, I was welcomed with open arms by a community of people who could relate, who could champion me on, who maybe, finally felt motivated to find their own intentional life and start making their own tough choices.

The goals of the last 13 weeks have varied from a series of letting go efforts- which to be honest were more difficult than I imagined and I had imagined them being near impossible- to identifying what I liked about me, what identifiers I want to work toward and how to truly just feel the moment of now instead of being terrified of the moment next. I have had great successes and I have had crying jags- thank you Children’s Hospital (you bastards). I have found a peace with my children, had tough and long over due confrontations with my husband- which I never do- and made hard decisions for our financial future that seem to have cost us family members we will miss. This journey has been hard, but I will tell you a secret, it has been SO worth it. I feel like I am finally on the road to living intentionally, that I am finally finding a balance between taking care of myself and taking care of others, that I am finally finding the ability to confront when necessary and let go of the things I cannot change. It has been a great ride, an eye-opening journey and I am just getting started. I hope you will continue to take this ride with me. I hope you will share it with friends or family who might be feeling the same kind of stuck, the same kind of always being a passenger of life and never the driver.

So on week 13, because I am lucky enough to avoid work for the whole week, my goal is to do whatever I want, even if that whatever is a whole lot of nothing. I will not make apologies for my actions. I will not be sorry I have taken this time for me and mine. I will laugh much, feed my soul, nourish my spirit and with any luck come back next week with renewed purpose and energy to put toward the next 13 weeks. Thanks for taking this ride with me. I’m honored and excited that you are here. You rock!

What I am reading: Promises to Keep by Jane Green. It makes me wish I had the kind of family that would be by my side in a crisis.

What else I am reading: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, I’ve highlighted so much in this book I might as well just paint the thing yellow.

What I am listening to: By suggestion from Kerry- and I am so glad she did. I want to make out with this man’s voice. No seriously, I want to do things to his voice that I can’t talk about in public. Hey its okay by Antonio Lulic. Yummy.

Favorite Now Moment: My youngest son’s 2nd birthday. Watching a little boy run,  jump, laugh, and giggle without a care in the world. Finally acting well, finally appearing healed. My heart aches when I think of how far he has come. We have finally gone a whole three weeks without 1 single doctor appointment.  You go little man!

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Inspirations from the ether: 23 things every woman should stop doing, I bet you are doing at least 1. And I bet you’ll be happier if you stop.