Monday, August 27, 2012

Have You Seen Me?

The gym is that place that single people, or divorcees go to.  The mall is for teeny-boppers, retirees, and people who care too much about Apple products.  The local beach might as well be an exotic island reserved for honeymooners.  You have a better chance of landing on Mars than you do going out, say to a night club, your favorite restaurant, sporting event, or anything else resembling a "night out".

This, my friends, is what it means to be the parent of a newborn.

Sure, maybe my abs have disintegrated over the past two months.  And I'm pretty confident that I haven't ironed a single item of my wardrobe in as much time.  No, I did not get into a fist fight.....that's what happens when you don't get 8 hours of sleep for two months.  You just look like that.

I may not recognize myself anymore, but I found something that made all the above worthwhile - my son recognizes me.  Now you may be thinking that this is the point where I tell you that it's not that hard, or that nothing else in the world matters when you see them smile.  You'd be wrong.  Let me give you the straight and narrow on new parenting.

- Your life, as you knew it, is over.  Just accept it.  Your new life is different.  Great....but different.
- You're lucky if you get to eat, sleep, shower, shit, get dressed, make coffee, etc. when you WANT to.
- There will be a lot of crying....some of which from the baby.
- When your wife/better half gives you a look that suggests she may want to kill you in your sleep, it's probably because she wants to kill you in your sleep.
- Changing a shitty diaper isn't really that bad unless you're changing said diaper and they're still shitting.
- The only thing precious about bath time is when it's over.
- The kid is king....followed by caffeine.
- Having a nanny becomes more exciting than having a Ferrari.
- Get used to saying, "Has it been two hours already!?!?" and "He just ate!"
- Pretending you didn't hear them cry so that you're not the one to have to wake up doesn't work.
- If given the option of changing the diaper or giving them a bottle...always go with the diaper.
- Your friends without kids are replaced with people you don't like nearly as much, but who also have kids.
- The value of babysitting will surpass the price of gold starting week 2.
- When they sleep, you sleep.....oh wait, that's right, you have shit to do.  Nevermind.
- Keep saying to yourself, it gets easier, it gets easier, it gets easier.
- The day your baby makes landfall you become exponentially more paranoid....which is still nothing in comparison to how paranoid mom will be.
- You will think your kid is the cutest, most amazing kid in the world.....but he's not.....ours is.

I allowed myself to think, just for a second, while writing this, about what my life was like prior to becoming a father (it's better to forget).  Would I give up the most amazing thing I've ever done or made?  Would I trade our son's laugh for eight hours of sleep?  Would I trade all that we will experience as a family, together, for anything I could have experienced alone?  Would I rather work 10 hours straight than give my son a bath?  Would I trade the chance to become my son and his mothers hero for more free time?


Being a father isn't easy.  But it is worth it.  Change your expectations, and let them show you what really matters in life.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pointless Parenting Advice

A-holes are like advice for new parents.....or is it advice for new parents are like A-holes....??  I guess it doesn't really matter, either way, everyone has advice, most of which is either obvious, or total crap.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no expert.  I certainly don't know everything, or what to expect when our little guy arrives.  But, unless you're a doctor, Super Nanny, Jesus, or we seek you out personally for information - keep it to yourself.

I'm sure all parents, especially new ones, can relate to what we're going through. The abundance of unwarranted advice from every family member, neighbor and even random passerby when they learn you're expecting is causing me to feel colicky.

Your knowledge and skill sets do NOT grow in direct proportion to the number of children you have.  See:  Octomom/Duggar Family.  Oh, you have 3 kids!  That's so great. I'm happy for you and your family, I really am.  But, if you tell me one more time about how I'm probably not going to get as much sleep I'm probably going to kick you in the throat.  I'm aware.  And, more importantly, I don't care!

We're excited.  Better yet, we're elated.  As happy as we've ever been in our lives.  A feeling that will probably only be surpassed by the baby actually being here.  The same one that we are totally aware is going to shit, eat, sleep, cry, not sleep, shit some more, grow up, turn into a teenager, etc, etc, etc. And we can't wait.

We know there will be ups, and most certainly downs.  That's not just parenting.  That's life.

Maybe I just don't like negativity.  Maybe writing about how much I hate negative people is hypocritical. Not sure.  What I am sure of though is that I didn't need to be told that I will need to buy a lot of diapers, how much they cost, that breastfeeding is healthier, that touching a hot stove will burn them, and that a car seat needs to be installed properly.

So, unless you are solicited for specific advice or an opinion, feel free to just give us that look of "you have no idea what you're in for", mentally shake your head at us, and say something positive, like, "You guys are going to be great parents.  Cheers!"

I'd gladly take fake reassurance over another comment about how my golf game is going to take a hit for the remainder of the pregnancy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sh*t First Time Fathers Say/Think

You know that saying, "You don't know what you don't know"?  It was created because of first-time fathers and new parents. Stuff you never thought about, that you didn't think you had to think about consume your thoughts nowadays.

The amount of info that begins to clutter your mind once entering the parenting universe makes you feel like a mental hoarder.  It's real, and we're aware there's a lot of crap piling up.  We do our best to act like its really not that bad, but internally we're panicking about where to even start.

And a little voice in the back of our mind asks, "How did it get THIS bad?"  or  "You didn't know this was a problem?"

Moms-to-be, listen carefully - It's not that we're not listening to you, its just that we're trying to listen to you AND ourselves, at the same time.

Not sure if your guy is engaged in a mental tug-of- war with himself??  Here's an easy way to find out:  Start talking to him about the baby shower and/or redecorating the baby's room, then, out of nowhere, ask him what he thinks.....

If he straightens up, starts oddly touching his own face, avoiding eye-contact, and says, "Uh, whatever you want babe"....he's not all there.

We're excited....and confused.  Almost in equal amounts.

Some of the Sh*t First Time Fathers Say/Think would include, but are not limited to:

  • What in the world is maple-syrup urine disorder?
  • "So how long after the baby is born before we can, you know....?"
  • Does the hospital have free wi-fi?
  • I wish they sold diapers by the pound
  • "What do you mean we have to point "it" down??"
  • "So how much longer before we can, you know...?"
  • Where can I get an infant sized tuxedo?
  • Is it legal to pump in public?
  • Is it still organic if its not certified?
  • "So what exactly is cord blood, and why does it cost that much?"
  • "Yea, of course I think a baby wipe warmer is a necessity"
  • I think my son would win the Hunger Games
  • I'll just sleep when he naps
  • "Lactation class??  Yea, I'd love to go with you to that!"
  • "Was that him kicking?  What about that?  Was that it?  There? How about now?"
  • "Of course I'll make you pancakes, won-ton soup and ice cream for dinner!"
  • "Are you sure it hasn't been six weeks yet??"
What are some impossible, funny, ridiculous things you thought or said as a debut daddy!!??

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm Going To Be A Lame Dad....I Hope

I'm cool.  At least I think I'm cool.  My girlfriend thinks I'm cool.  I know my mom thinks I'm great.  I'm in my so called prime, and I'm only getting better.  But I've recently come to the realization that its only a matter of time before our son will think I'm a square (which I'm sure nobody says anymore).

If you're a parent, and you've survived raising teenagers, I need your advice.  How do you go from being Super Dad and Mom to old, out of fashion intruders??

I know I'm fighting the laws of the universe, but is there any chance that our son will think I'm as cool when he's sixteen, as he hopefully does when he's four??  And more importantly, do I even WANT to be a "cool dad"??

I remember being a teenager myself, and if you had "cool parents" it meant you had parents that let you do whatever the hell you wanted to do.  Many of these same kids became addicted to drugs, struggled to graduate even the simplest of classes, and are still struggling to find their place many years later.

One of my favorite sayings is, "Learn to give your kids roots and wings, instead of loot and things".  Roots to keep them grounded and humble, and wings that still lets them know they can be whatever and whoever they want.  In a world where kids are being taught to take, take, take in exchange for very little - I'd rather be firm and lame while having their respect, than spoil them, stunt their growth yet seem cool.  I just have to accept the fact that they'll hate us sometimes, but will still love us no matter what.

I'm never going to be that dad who smokes pot with his son (which happens more than you think).  Or rides around with him on my Harley.  I don't want to go to a concert with him, or play beer pong together.  I'll probably hate his music, his choice of clothing, his hair style.  And I'm sure the feeling will be mutual.

Sure, I'm not always going to seem like Superman to him.  But maybe when he's older he'll still appreciate the things that make me and mom cool.  Our uniqueness, independence, work ethic, style, love of food, travel and music.  If you think about it, how could he NOT think his dad is dope, and his mom is da bomb.......crap......I'm screwed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Our Son, In 26 Years

I wish I could see the future.

For myself - Where am I? What am I doing? How happy am I? Am I successful, healthy, wiser?

For my girlfriend -  Are we married.....nevermind, yes, we're definitely married.  Are we happily married? Is she spending her time how she wants to spend it?  Is she proud of her husband? Are we going where we want to go, when we want to go, and how we want to go?

For our son - What's he like? What's he into?  Is he like his dad? His mom? A little of both? Where does he live? What does he do for a living?  Is he happy, motivated, positive?  Does he look up to his parents?

I'm not a visionary, but I do know how I can all but guarantee that our son is living life the "right" way.  In fact, there's only one way.  And that's to be an example our son would be proud to emulate.

Simple question - "If my son or daughter were living how I'm living, would I be ok with that?"  I said simple - not easy.  That could certainly be a painful question for some.  I know for me there are certain things I would want him to copy, and certain things I would hypocritically teach him not to do.

I don't know what the world will be like when our son is my age, but I do know what type of world I'd like to create for him.  That part is up to me and mom.  We're responsible for shaping the type of man he'll hopefully grow into.  Its our job to imagine who we want our son to become, and then get busy being that!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Who's Raising Who?

We're now officially passed the half-way point of the pregnancy.  And when I say "we" I mean "her".  I'm exactly as far along physically as I was 22 weeks ago.  Mentally?  Well, that's a different story.

Is it normal to gauge every decision on whether or not we would find it acceptable if our children were acting the same way?  When I find myself getting bent out of shape over something, I simply ask myself, "How would you feel if your son were reacting the same way to a similar circumstance?"  

Its become not just about being proud of myself, but being someone I not only want my son to be proud of, but someone he would be proud to emulate.  Isn't it strange how we grow up seeking our fathers approval, and then raise children that we hope are also proud of us?  Its a cycle that continues from generation to generation, from father to son, and so on and so on.

I've already started noticing the differences in my personality since finding out about impending fatherhood.  He's not here quite yet, but here's what I've learned so far:

  1. Our son will fill up a diaper, whether I enjoy the smell of excrement in the morning or not.  He doesn't need to adjust, I need to.
  2. They say 93% of communication is non-verbal.  Well that's not going to cut it considering 100% of their communication is non-verbal early on.  I've learned how to voice my opinion well, but acting out opinions in a game of baby charades is going to be a new experience.
  3. Mom is always right.  Enough said.
  4. My role is ever evolving.  There will be times when I need to play housekeeper, and times when I need to be the "boss", still second to Mom, but a boss nonetheless.  Being flexible is key.
  5. Being stupid is also ok.  If I need to put face paint on, bark like a dog, or dress up like Santa, than thats the breaks.  Being stupid for our sons enjoyment?  Priceless.
  6. Sleep is overrated.  I don't sleep much to begin with, which should help once baby makes landfall.  I'm being told I will have a new found respect for sleep once the baby is here.  We'll see.
  7. Being a "Stay At Home CEO" is going to be a huge advantage, with some disadvantages, all at once.
  8. Mom is always right.  Worth repeating.
  9. There will probably be a day where baby, Mom and dog are all crying, upset, and hungry.  My mission, which I've already accepted, is to be the cooler head.  Its my job to put one to bed, sooth another, and feed the no particular order.
  10. Its possible to read everything about fatherhood, and know absolutely nothing, yet feel excited about it at the same time.  

I still remember the first time I felt the baby kicking......well, not exactly kicking.  I've been feeling flutters for weeks, and the butterflies are in a frenzy for sure.  Its almost like interviewing for a job that you've already been hired for, that you're not entirely sure if your suited or prepared for.  You're grateful for the job, couldn't imagine not having it, but know there will be moments when you question your ability.  But the best approach - jump in head first, mom in one hand, baby in the other.  If this isn't "On-The-Job Training" I don't know what is.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Parents Scared Straight

We are to parenthood, what hurricane warnings are to Floridians.  The scare tactics companies (and close friends and relatives) use once learning we were having a baby boy are disrespectful, rude, imposing, negative.....and effective.

If there's not a YouTube video for "Crazy Sh*t New Parents Say", there should be...and there probably will be. With each week that passes by my partner in parenting gets a little bigger, slightly less mobile, and even more gorgeous than I thought possible.  She's amazing, and in spite of a full plate (sometimes literally) she's avoided binge eating on pickles, and hasn't had a serious case of morning sickness to date.  The one downside - as the due date nears, "our" fears grow alongside it.

I say "ours" en quote because I didn't even know we were suppose to worry about many of these things.  It's the classic case of "you don't know what you don't know" syndrome.  While I was skipping along ignorantly in bliss-land, she was consuming every baby book, magazine and newsletter available to her.  Most of which are filled with extremely helpful information that I'll learn the hard way, I'm sure.  I still think I prefer that method over the scared straight program aimed at unsuspecting new parents like myself.  Things I know for a fact that OUR parents and grandparents never had to consider.....and are likely laughing over at this very moment.

Here's my list of  "Ridiculous Sh*t New Parents Have To Worry About in 2012":

- Crib bumpers are now a serious health hazard, and even banned in certain states.

- Multiple air bags in car seats.....which should only be installed by a fire fighter, or someone certified to install baby car seats, who has at least 6 children of their own.

- Air quality in the baby's room.  And stressing the importance of an air purifier and humidifier in their room.  What's next?  The Toddler Sauna System by Whirlpool??

- Anything and everything that moves needs anti-lock breaks.  That means strollers, bassinets, swings, those bouncy seats, etc.  Until they reach the age of which point we just put the wheels directly into their shoes.

- Motion sensors under their mattress to detect lack of movement.....isn't the whole point of a mattress to get them to stop moving?

- Organic bed sheets, clothes, soap...and everything for that matter.  If its not organic they may morph into some type of mutant zombie baby.

- Baby wipe warmers, because parents prefer a diaper change to more closely resemble a spa experience for their little one.

- High chairs with or without the iPod dock??  As if getting kids to eat healthy wasn't hard enough - now we have to make sure their pureed carrots come with a touchscreen tv. (Not happening)

- Aroma baby bath salts.

I should probably mention that as much as I make fun of all the insanity that comes along with parenting warnings, I've bought into most of them.  I figure organic baby food may cost more, and may not make a huge difference, but if it helps even a minuscule amount - why wouldn't I?  I guess that's why we fall into most of these traps.  The majority of "New Age Parents" gladly pay the price associated with being paranoid parents.  The risk of doing nothing is too great.

Sure, my parents probably had no idea that warm wipes were more comfortable for me as a baby....but they probably didn't care either.  Not in a bad way, but in a "you'll be fine without all that jazz" kind of way.  I'm not sure if it's totally out of hand yet - but it's certainly heading in that direction.  I'm all about safety and using technology to improve the growth of our children.  But more than anything else I fear over technology, a lack of self reliance, and over coddling kids these days.

What are some of your legitimate fears, and some that you're sure are overboard?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Week 6 of 26: WOD in The AM = FML

Completing the Workout of the Day, or "WOD", is a challenge in itself.  Completing the WOD at the 6, 7 or 8 AM slots is cruel and unusual punishment.  I envy those of you who can jump out of bed, and into workout gear before the sun is shining.  And I'm one of those people who doesn't sleep much to begin with.  I'm totally functional with 3-5 hours of sleep.  But swapping out the part of my morning dedicated to coffee and reading for burpees, box jumps and kettle bell swings is just not natural.

With less than five months until our little man is born, my schedule is becoming more and more demanding.  My normal 2:00 and 4:00 work out sessions have been pushed aside for extra appointments and meetings with clients.  In my head I told myself, "No problem, people workout in the morning every day."  After all, I'm up by 6:00 anyway, so an 8:00am workout should be no sweat.  Boy was I wrong.

Working out before my body (or my mind) is prepared is like water-boarding while still under the blankets.  OK, maybe that's a little extreme or dramatic.  But for those of you who have made early morning exercises a part of your daily routine, congratulations.  I'm looking more forward to pre-dawn diaper changes than I am 7am WOD's.

Aside from adding an early morning workout to my schedule, I've also already gained 4 pounds.  Some say of "mass", I'm saying of muscle....Pure. Muscle.  Four pounds in 6 weeks is better than I was expecting, but I still have 16 pounds to go, and 20 more weeks to do it in.  Maybe I've bitten off more than I can chew.  Or maybe I need to just continue biting off more than I can chew.  See what I did I there?

164 lbs (+4 lbs total)

Any sage advice for Crossfitting in the AM???  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Out Of The First Trimester, and Into The Fire

Having your first child hits each person differently and at different times.  For some, it might be the second you see a positive test result.  For others, maybe it's not until the baby is delivered.  For me, it was somewhere in between all of that.

Regardless of when the parenting chip kicks in, we all find ourselves going through a roller coaster of emotions, most of which (for men especially) are totally new and foreign.  I went from being a care-free, cock-eyed optimist to being an overly paranoid slightly schizophrenic father-to-be.  I never even paid much attention to children while out in public until I found out I was joining their club.  Now, with absolutely zero parenting experience, I find myself judging and critiquing others parenting abilities in ways that don't even make sense. ....

"Honestly, who straps their kid into the stroller like that!?"  

"Hmmm, hey babe, is it me or are they intentionally trying to make their kid look like Pauly-D??" 

"Oooo, look, look at this lady try and feed her kid goldfish!!  HAHA, you call that feeding???"

"Wow, chicken nuggets??!! You might as well start auditioning her for The Biggest Loser for Toddlers Season 7 now!"

Not sure if I'm the only one who felt that the first trimester would never pass, but now that we're half way through the second trimester, I can hardly keep up.  The list of honey-do's is steadily growing, almost in direct proportion to my lady's stomach.  As uneasy as the first 3 months made me feel, the next 6 are going to be amazingly hectic.  And though I'm sure every parent reading this is saying to themselves "You aint seen nothing yet!", I am already bracing for impact with one hand, and multi-tasking with the other.

High-Five Friday from the Little Man!

I should probably mention something about how all of this has nothing to do with my better half, who has been nothing but amazing over these past 19 weeks.  She's been calm 99% of the time, never gorging herself on pickles or unnecessarily hurling expletives or canned goods in my direction. She focuses on how to redecorate the little guys room, while still working out and an insane schedule, all at the same time.  I don't blame her for making sacrifices in order to continue doing the things that make her feel a sense of normalcy during all the chaos.  And if it means me taking cold showers now and again in order for her to sleep, than so be it.  Sex is SO overrated anyway.....SH*TF%CKBAST&RDMOTH#REFFDEARGODWHY??!!.....ahhhhhh, that's better.

How would we (men) be if we were in their shoes?  Hmmm, maybe this is a subject in itself, but what do you think would be the biggest difference??  What positive/negative traits would we develop upon finding out we were now plus one, and eating on their behalf??  

We still have a ways to go, and even though we're in the middle of an amazingly beautiful and terrifying fire, I'm learning that I have the ability to either fan the flames with my stupidity, or heroically rescue her from the blazing inferno known as planning for first time parenthood. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's Just Toothpaste - Bottle-Necking My Relationships

How many of our "strengths" could also be viewed as "weaknesses"?  Are there beliefs or ideals in our lives that we wear like badges of honor, that should probably be treated as scarlet letters?

I'm stubborn - to say the least.  In business, that can (sometimes) be very beneficial.  It helps me to hold onto my strongest pursuits, in spite of any difficulties or challenges.  It keeps me steadfast at times where it's crucial that I not give up.

However, the same traits that are (in my opinion) helping me grow professionally, can really screw things up personally.  Glen Beaman once said, "Stubbornness does have its helpful features.  You always know what you're going to be thinking tomorrow." - That's not good, by the way.

Let's say you possess a strong work ethic, for example.  This positive habit has served you well in the work place.  But the higher you advance in your career, the larger the toll it takes on your relationship with your family, and maybe even your health.  The same things that bring you up in one area, can bring you down in another.

I'm finding that being stubborn can really stunt the growth of a relationship.  I'm quick to argue - sometimes over meaningless things - just to prove a point.  Add to that the fact that I'm a Leo, and what you get is someone who is up for a fight, and rarely willing to back down.  Add another Leo into the mix, and you get a relationship that sometimes feels like its strapped to a case of C-4, with each of us holding a match saying, "You think I wont???"

The best way I can describe my personality is with the classic Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry clip, where he says, "Go ahead, make my day."

I've literally just finished Googling "how to stop being a stubborn boyfriend" - which yielded 4,360,000 results - none of which were helpful.  The first step towards change is admitting you have a problem.  Listen, I have a problem, and I'm as aware of it as the people it effects.  But what to do??

The easy answer is to start backing down, be more humble, less aggressive and take a back seat approach.  They say men don't change, and that women shouldn't expect them to.  I couldn't agree less with such an age old adage.  I believe the right people, in the right situation, will willingly change, for the BETTER, for one another.  One of my favorite sayings is, "You take care of you for me, and I'll take care of me for you."

This is my attempt to "Take care of me".  Apologizing would be so easy, if I just didn't have to say "I'm sorry".  Arguing would seem so much less appealing, if I didn't feel like I needed to "win" at everything.  Making a meaningless point wouldn't be important, if I didn't care about the score.

Obviously I have a lot to think about, and even more to learn.  But how many of us have held onto traits that really only hold us back?  Sure it effects us individually, but it also has a significant impact on those closest to us.  I'm learning, albeit slowly and painfully, that I need to stop competing, and start completing.  Squeezing the toothpaste from the middle of the tube, in the grand scheme of things, isn't a big deal, right?  And I'm learning to not care about the score, and just enjoy how lucky I am to be playing the game with someone who makes me better.  I'd rather concede and be the happiest man and father alive, than be conceited and alone.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Pug and Our Pregnancy

Playing the fiddle sucks.  Other than the triangle, there may be no lamer instrument.  Playing third fiddle....well, that's as low as it gets.  And ever since the lady and I found out we were having our first child, I was knocked out of the starting lineup, and into the role of full-time fiddling.

The pecking order seems out of whack lately, thanks to the pug.  They say that dogs can sense a pregnancy.  And ours is acting stranger than usual.  He spends his time now one step behind mom, looking at me with disgust, out of the corner of his smug pug face. It's as if he's thinking, "Look at you!  Look what you did. Now I need to step in and make sure the dog sh*t doesn't hit the fan.  Do you even know how to raise a child??  Didn't think so - so why don't you just go fill my bowl or fetch the paper or something.  Make yourself useful, while I keep mom entertained."

And the worst part of it all....there's nothing I can do about it.  While mom is prepping herself for motherhood and baby showers, the pug is protecting her, offering all the support she needs.  He just crept right in, and took my starting spot, before I had a chance to defend myself.

I'm left wandering around the house like some tourist in a foreign country where everyone speaks a language I don't understand.  "Food....I think I want food.  I will walk to the kitchen now and look for food.  Then I will eat said food.  And it will be great."  The pug laughs at my simpleness......and goes back to being the ugliest cute dog ever made.

How did this happen?  Just a few months ago, I was the man of the house.  I called the shots.  I had all the power.  Now the pug is in the passenger seat, while I'm hanging out the back window just happy to be in the car with my new owners.

A funny thing happens to us men when we learn about becoming a father for the first time.  Hundreds of books talk about what to do when the little one arrives. But there are very few that give us instructions prior to the baby's arrival.  My preggo partner now weilds all power.  And it's sexy.  And I can't help but smile over her strength, her calm, her cool.  Sex during pregnancy is safe, right?  They say the sex drive really picks up during the second trimester......hers too.  Her hair looks amazing.....and those definitely look bigger....God, how long has it been??  Maybe tonight is the night!!  

I move closer.

She looks at me out of the corner of her eye.

I put my arm around her.  Give her a kiss.  "How you feeling?"

"Pretty good", she says.

"Oh yea?" is the best line I come up with.

"Yea", she responds.

"Well...."  I inch closer......"Why don't we.....


Damn you dog!  Damn you!!  He stares a hole right through me.  I stare back, as if it's a contest.  And I'm not blinking.  I consider jabbing him in the ribs, but realize that would ruin any chance of moving back into the starting lineup and scoring tonight.  She thinks he's being cute.....which means he wins.  Again.  And I go back to resuming my role as head chef/dog walker/errand boy.  I'm getting pretty good at this actually, and only five more months to go!!  I'm learning how to prepare for our growing, and sometimes growling, family - from the end of the bench.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Give Up To Go Up

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way".  It's a humbling moment when one realizes that the person responsible for their current circumstances is the one staring back at them in the mirror.  Some learn this early.  Some need to be reminded.  And for some, unfortunately, they never quite learn this lesson.

When I was twenty years old, a mentor of mine sat me down and asked me to take out a pen and paper.  He then instructed me to draw a very large "T" on the sheet of paper.  On the top left he said to write, "Things I want".  On the top right I wrote, "Things I'll have to sacrifice or give up".

In his "Good 'ol Boy" drawl he said, "Bo, think carefully about what you want in life.  Be specific.  What type of car, how large of a house, how much money, etc. And write 'em down.  Now, on the other side, start thinking about the sacrifices you're gunna need to start makin' so you can get all them nice things!"

I started to have fun with this little drill.  I knew what I needed to do in order to accomplish my goals.....or so I thought.  When I was finished writing, the list of "what I want" was nearly three times as long as "what I was willing to sacrifice or give up".  He took one look at my list and said, "Bo, you got no chance".

I went on to learn that if we're not willing to list much on the right side of the page, we're not going to accomplish what we want on the left side.  This way of setting goals can help you immensely.  In order for us to go up, sometimes we need to give up.  What we need to decide from the onset is whether or not it's worth it.

For example:

Say you want to take your family on vacation to Europe.  You and your spouse are in total agreement, and are excited to start planning.  But, in order for you to afford to take this time off and pay for a lavish trip, you're going to have to start working more and saving for the next 90 days. It will require your spouse to pick up your slack in the form of cooking dinner, picking up and dropping off the kids, cleaning up, maybe missing a tee-ball game or dance recital.  Is it worth it??  Only you and your family can decide that one.

See, the idea of the vacation is great, but what comes after we make the decision is much more important.  The bigger the desire, the greater the sacrifices sometimes are.

If you want to live a healthier life, you're going to have to give up smoking and watching too much TV.  Is it worth it?  If you want to get out of debt, you're going to have to cut back on frivolous spending until you're back to even.  If you want your relationship to improve, you're going to have to push your ego and pride aside, and focus on the other person.

Someone always says there's a smarter, easier way to become successful.  The reason why people hate "Get Rich Quick" schemes is simple - they don't work.  Why would we despise something that worked and made everyone rich??  We need to pay the price, and enjoy the results.  Like Abe Lincoln said, "My father taught me how to work hard, not to love it."

That might just be good enough.  Fall in love with the results and accomplishments, and have enough industriousness to see it through.  Spend some time making your "T-List" and make sure that your goals and expectations are aligned.

What have you had to give up to go up??  How'd you see it through?? Was it worth it??

Friday, January 27, 2012

One Simple Step To Accomplishing 75% More In Life

Don't worry, I'm not going to package this as some "secret".  This isn't some mystical, mental internal message that you should serenade to yourself while sitting Indian-style on your roof during sunrise.  However, this one simple step is a step that only 2% of the population does, that helps you accomplish 75% more.  And it's a step that you've heard many times before.

When it comes to goal setting, the pen is mightier than the WORD.  Simply put, studies show that those who write their goals down are 75% more likely to accomplish them.

Simply writing them down, however, is not enough.  There are some additional steps that, if taken, will all but guarantee your success.

1 - Write clear, specific goals.  Creating crystal clear images of what you want stirs the soul into action.  To say, "I want to lose weight" isn't nearly good enough.  Write down how much weight you want to lose, and imagine what you'll look/feel like when that goal is reached.

2 - Put an action plan behind each goal.  One of my favorite quotes is by John Foster Dulles, who said, "The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year." Figure out exactly what steps you need to take, daily, weekly and monthly in order to see it through.

3 - Share them with those closest to you.  Don't keep your goals a secret.  There are plenty of people who'd like to see us start succeeding beyond our current levels.  Clue them in, and don't be too proud to ask for support or advice.

4 - Review them regularly.  Keep your list of goals and plans in plain site.  Maybe on the bathroom mirror, or in the kitchen.  Anywhere that will work as a regular reminder of what your striving for.  It also gives you an opportunity to measure your progress on a frequent enough basis.  You don't want to go too long without making necessary adjustments.

5 - Discipline your disappointments.  Making a goal is easy, even exciting.  It puts us in a frame of mind of "what could be".  It's managing those decisions each day that's the work.  There will be push back, and resistance.  Don't quit, and keep the end in mind.  This is why having a deadline is so crucial to goal setting.  If there's no finish line, how do you know when the race is over??

Whether you're trying to lose weight, earn a promotion, save for retirement, buy a new car or home, putting your goals to paper will instantly increase your chances in bringing them to fruition.  One of the first steps we take with a new sales professional is what we call a "Blueprint".  It's a short list of questions that helps us figure out what their short-term and long term goals are, and what they are committing in order to reach those goals.  As long as your goals and commitments are aligned, nothing can stop you!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Week 4 of 26: 10 CrossFit Lessons Learned in 21 Days

Week one sucked.  Week two and three weren't a walk in the park (the park is free, and pleasant....and easy).  Week four probably won't be much easier.  And that's the idea, right??  I mean, if it's easy it's probably not worth it.  In business I was taught that any worthwhile goal comes with it's fair share of obstacles.  In my pursuit of personal records and regular Rx workouts, those obstacles are literal.

They say that things become habitual after three consistent weeks of doing them.  That goes for good habits, as well as bad habits.  So, three weeks into CrossFitting, and even as the challenge grows, so does the excitement and addiction.  It's at the point now where missing a CrossFit session would make me feel worse than the workout itself.

Here's what I've learned so far:
1 - Don't quit.  Push for YOUR best time, that's all YOU can control.

2 - It's all about form and technique.  The best work outs done incorrectly won't fact, it will hurt.  Literally.

3 - Push yourself to get as close to Rx weight as possible.  It's recommended for a reason.  This step might not apply to everyone, but it's surprising how much progress you could/should be making in as little as 2-3 weeks.

4 - Warm up 15 minutes prior to the WOD.  Stretching is an absolute must.

5 - Learn the WOD BEFORE you get to the gym.  It saves a lot of time.

6 - Trust the trainer

7 - Invest in a, GREAT heating pad.  Don't know about you, but I'm wearing mine out!

8 - Get familiar with the most unfamiliar exercises before class, and during open gym.

9 - Get to know other CrossFitters, there will be moments when they are your only proof that the workout can actually be completed.

10 - One bottle of water is NOT enough.....bring a back up.

164 lbs. (+4 lbs)

What lessons should I heed for the days, weeks, and months to come??  Would love to hear your feedback!  Off to spoon with the massage chair......

Monday, January 23, 2012

Things I Would Tell My "Younger" Self

"Don't do as I do, do as I say" was a popular line in the Stewart household growing up.  My dad had his habits, good and bad. And he determined it would be much easier to just inform me of which ones were acceptable for me to pick up on, and which ones were not.  Smoking - bad.  Meatloaf (the band) - good.  Foul language - bad.  Hot Rods - good.  Feet on the couch - bad.  Grilling - good.

I just grew up assuming everyone's parents barbecued, drank and played darts every weekend.  I've since learned, that's not the case.  We all have the opportunity to learn from the good things, as well as the bad things that we experience - as a child, and as adults.  Even through the mixed messages growing up, I deciphered between right and wrong, which habits I would hold onto, and which ones I should pass on - in my opinion.  And since learning I, myself, am going to be a father, I started thinking about some of the things I would go back and whisper to my five year old, eight year old, twelve year old and teenage self.  Here's what I would say:

@ Age 5:  "Your little brother isn't that bad.  He's just different from you.  He looks like your mom, and he's the baby, and he'll get a lot of attention from her, and from her friends.  Don't take that personally, because you'll always be your dad's favorite.  They'll never say that, but trust me, it's true.  Later in life, your brother and you will become the best of friends.  He'll stay young a lot longer than you, which will be a breathe of fresh air at times, and make you scratch your head equally as much.  He'll figure it out, and it will be in large part because of how you act as an older brother.  Don't be too hard on him."

@ Age 8:  "Savor this.  Enjoy this time.  The next few years of you playing little league baseball will be critical.  Don't take it too seriously.  I know you hate losing, but relax.  It's just a game, and you'll end up winning much more than losing.  Your dad is your #1 fan, and your coach, which isn't easy - for either of you. Life right now is a big game, play it right.  Oh, and be nice to girls.  You'll have your hands full before you know it!"

@ Age 12:  "Ok, remember I said not to be too hard on your brother?  He's only eight, so don't kill him.  Lighten up.  No matter how bad something is, it's not that bad.  And, no matter how good something is, it's honestly not that good.  Don't be so dramatic.  You'll be starting high school in a couple of years, and it's ok to be different, you don't need to copy every one else - just be yourself.  Read more, you'll learn to love it.  Write more, you'll learn to rely on it.  And brush your teeth, for your own sake - it gets expensive."

@ Age 16:   "Listen, life is more than just girls and sports.  Stop rolling your eyes. And no, before you ask, we're not done here yet.  I'm not ruining your life, trust me.  Neither are your parents.  In fact, I think you're ruining dad's life more than anything.  Let me share something with you that you'll read someday; For the first twenty years of your life, you think everyone is thinking about you.  For the next twenty years of your life, you don't give a damn what people think about you.  And for the next twenty years, you realize no one was really thinking about you to begin with.  Instead of being overly moody and awkward, try being less selfish, and realize the world doesn't revolve around you.  You've got a lot on your plate, and even though your parents aren't "perfect", you turn out just fine.  College will be an option for you - but don't freak out if you don't go.  Again, you turn out just fine.  Get a job, save some money, and stop speeding!  Oh yea, remember I said to be nice to girls - not that nice!"

What would you tell your younger self???  What do you know now, that you wish you knew as a kid???

**The comment box is now open to the public**

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Week 3 of 26: Weight For Me

There's burpees, wall ball shots and kettle bell swings - of the american variety.  We'll run around the "island", down to Southern, and follow it with some rowing.  Dead lifting, thrusting and dipping with chains are of the norm.  Front squats, power cleans, pull ups and chin ups will rock your world.  Do "AMRAP" (as many rounds as possible) and you'll be left feeling like you're DOA.  Pushing myself to my "PR" (personal record) made me feel like I needed the ER.

It's just a workout, and I'm not a paid spokesman.  But you will question your manhood in this "box" (gym).  More than learning all the acronyms and abbreviations, I'm learning to push myself....sometimes to the limit, but always past my comfort level.  This theory has worked for me professionally, financially, relationally....and now, physically.

162.5 lbs (+2.5 lbs)
The scale is not broken. It's accurate. Trust me.                                                   

Making the decision is the easy part, but true success and results come from making important decisions, and then managing those decisions every single day.  What decisions have you made, for 2012, that are helping you grow, and reach your goals?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Health, Wealth and Legos - My Top 11 Fatherhood Influencers To Pass Down

We all want more for our children than we want for ourselves.  Selfishness goes out the window, and we begin doing what we can to set them up for success.  For anyone with a soul or an ounce of decency, it comes naturally, and it comes easily.

Some of the advantages I hope to give our child are the obvious ones:  a healthy, loving environment, food on their plate, clothes on their back, ride a bike, etc. etc.  The things that all parents are "expected" to be able to provide for their son or daughter.

There are other things on my list though, things that I feel helped mold me.  I'm sure we all have our list of influencers that made us who we are.  Some items should be passed down, and some items don't exist any more.  I'm certainly not suggesting you force your kids to play your old antique Atari.  But here's my ever evolving and expanding list:

1 - Legos:  The "building blocks of life"????  Maybe, maybe not.  But, every kid should have plenty of Lego's for them to use as a creative outlet - and for their parents to step on.  It's life, and it's natural.

2 - Plenty of Coloring Books and Crayons:  In my head our child is going to be a combination of Picasso, Mickey Mantle, Michael Jordan, Sinatra, Walt Disney, Princess Diana, and Albert my list is pro-son driven with a dash of Di - and I'm sure my girlfriends list would be pro-daughter, with a dash of Gosling.  Crayons and coloring, inside the lines or out, are essential for creativity and imagination.

3 - A dog:  Is anything cuter than a cute baby and a cute dog doing cute stuff??  I think not.  It also teaches companionship and a love for animals.  Show me someone who doesn't love animals and I'll show you someone who probably doesn't love people much either.  They can't be trusted.

4 - Love for their mother:  Shocking news - The divorce rate is high.  I look forward to the day when people stop announcing that, and start focusing on a solution.  One of the best quotes I've read so far is, "The best thing you can do for your child is to love their mother."  I want my son or daughter to know love, see love, and feel love.  That must come from both parents, and, ideally, directed towards each other.

5 - Charity:  Our child is going to be coming into a very financially secure environment, and will live a life free from lacking the necessities.  We're extremely blessed when it comes to our careers, but we don't want our son/daughter to not understand or empathize with what it's like to be on the "other side".  Charity is the best way to convey that message, while helping those less fortunate.

6 - Bank Account:  Even at a young age my girlfriends parents opened her a bank account.  What an awesome way to teach responsibility, independence and financial maturity to a child.  Debt is more rampant than divorce, and a lesson that needs to be heeded early on.

7 - TOO Tech or not TOO Tech:  I wrestle with this idea of giving our child too much technology too soon.  I'm 100% AGAINST kids living through video games.  It makes me surprisingly angry when I see a kid listening to their iPod at a restaurant, or playing a video game while sitting in a shopping cart.  I don't want them in the stone age, but I don't want them to lose touch with the real world.

8 - Books:  Actual books.  Not books on cell phone.  Or books that a robot reads to you.  For God's sake people, read to your kids.  Read as many Dr. Seuss books as you can possibly stomach, and then keep reading.  It was one of the most important things my parents did for me.  One that too many kids are missing out on today.

9 - Learning multiple languages:  We live in the greatest country in the world, yet nearly every other country raises children to know and actually speak more than one language.  Could you imagine where the US would be if we adopted that same philosophy?  And closer to home, how your 5 year old would feel knowing that he/she can communicate in ways other kids can't??

10 - Music:  All types of music. To play, and to enjoy.  Maybe this is just a desire to instill independence in our little one, but I grew up with noise.  A lot of noise.  Music late into the night, and plenty of partying.  It drove me crazy sometimes as a kid, but later in life I learned to appreciate it.  I know music that most people my age don't know, and learned it's possible to live an exciting life full of action and excitement, even with kids.  I'm not talking about neglecting them, I'm talking about including them.  Music will get kids of all ages through life's ups and downs.

11 - Travel:  Life is short, and you'll never have time to see it all.  But that's no reason not to try!  I know my parents wish they would have seen more, and shown us more.  But, like many people in that generation, all they knew was work.  They worked, and provided for the family.  And then worked some more.  We're blessed to have a strong desire to travel, and a means in which to do it.  To be able to show your children the world is something more valuable then what I can put into words.

No kid is perfect, and no parent has it all figured out.  Sometimes your plans go out the window, but it's sure as hell better than not having a plan at all!  If we've learned life lessons, we owe it to our children to teach them the same lessons early on.  Over the next 80-100 years the kids that learn the most, change the fastest, adjust on the fly, have fun and stay positive, will be the ones that rule the world.  Why not have it be yours??

What would be on YOUR list???
Would love the comments!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Week 2 of 26: Same Weight, Different Day

Five CrossFit sessions in six days.  Not bad, right?  I feel great, and am feeling better after each class.  To my surprise I had begun to transform into some sort of human walrus, and developed a layer of blubber to help keep my core temperature up during the winter months, from lack of cardio.  I'm happy to say that I was able to shed my coat of fat in just a few, albeit intense and painful, workouts.

I've heard several people compare CrossFit to drug usage.  Now understand I might be the worst person to compare anything to drugs or hallucinogens. The only high I've ever experienced has been a food high after a Victoria & Alberts meal.  But, courtesy of CrossFit iQ, in less than a week I have seen stars, felt winded beyond belief, on the verge of light-headedness, and thought I was dying.  Again, not speaking from experience, I can now understand why CrossFit is sometimes compared to paranoid pill poppers.

In a great way, of course.  I've never felt better about working out, and where I'm heading.  Something amazing happens when you see the clock hit 3 - 2 - 1, and the trainer say "GO!" My body flips a switch.  A switch that triggers adrenaline, excitement, determination,  and I begin to anticipate the pleasure that comes from the pain.  With nothing to compare it to, this is the best kind of drug I've taken.

Now, with that being said, you also should expect to feel a type of hangover way more painful than any you've experienced after a weekend bender you went on in college.  It hurts, and it hurts so good.  It's like a regular reminder every time you stand up that whatever the hell a "Sumo Dead-Lift High Pull" is, works!  You want to rest, but your body is already hooked.  As if that's not scary enough, you're surrounded by the worst kind of enablers imaginable.  The kind that actually WANT you to do more, feel more, hurt more, and take you to your limit.

160 lbs.

My philosophy is, one day at a time, one workout at a time, one pound at a time.  Regardless of how much weight I gain over the course of 26 weeks, there's no question that my body will see the side effects of regular 30-45 minute binge exercises from CrossFit iQ.  If you're not excited about getting your fix from your neighborhood gym routine - come find us in the back alley, we'll be the ones that the out-of-shapers cross the street to avoid, shake their heads at, don't quite understand, yet secretly envy.

How is YOUR CrossFit experience going??

What advice do you have for a new gym rat??

What are you eating/drinking in addition to your workouts??

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fatherhood: The Newest & Biggest Chapter of My Life

The story of my life is a book I would want to read.  But, equally as important, and much less narcissistic, I think it would be a story others would want to read.  Sure, I'm young, and maybe right now it resembles a short story more than a novel or collection.  But it's also still in production - every day.  You can find it in the humor/business/drama/inspirational/cooking/non-fiction section.  The newest chapter will likely be the largest, most interesting of them all.  And it's in a department of the bookstore I have yet to venture in to.

Who knew that a small plastic stick would have such a huge impact?  Learning you're going to be a father is possibly the biggest reality check a man can experience.  Like a kaleidoscopic on speed, images start popping up in your head faster than you can actually process them.  Boy or girl? What will they look like? Things you want to experience with them.  Your parents.  How to raise them?  Finances?  Taking care of their mother during the next 8 months.  Home size, car safety, college planning.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

Within 24 hours I start motoring through websites, magazines and books that are parent related.  I figure THIS new job I just landed as a father is my most important, so I better be prepared.  But, does anything really prepare you for it?  Like in sports, you can practice all you want.  But nothing really prepares you for actual game speed and the pressure associated with it.  I know I'm suppose to be "nervous".....but I'm just not.  Not sure if that's entirely normal or not, but my male ego kicks in and gets excited about the challenge.

Maybe the two best bits of advice I've gotten so far have been:

- The most important thing a father can do for their children is to love their mother.
- Think about the things you wished your father had done with/for you, and then commit to doing those things with/for your children. [from my uncle]

I think I like both of those most because they're so simple, so straightforward.  Certainly not always easy, but definitely doable.  What I've gathered so far is that it comes down to caring more than you've ever cared about something before, and learning from those around you - both from the positives and the negatives.

But, let's be honest here:  Its obvious that the child is helping this new father grow as much as I am committed to raising them.  So far, they seem to be doing a great job publishing the next chapter of my life.  I'm learning quickly, my mind is still absorbing information rapidly, I'm optimistic, and I have energy in abundance.  I'm learning so much from him/her, and I'm looking forward to repaying them and sharing all they've taught me in July.  Stay tuned.....this story is getting interesting!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Week 1 of 26: Fit To The Death

Is it possible to die from trying to live a healthy lifestyle?  Granted, working out hadn't even entered my mind over the past 10 days of vacation.  And yes, it's true, I did eat my way across nearly every city in between Los Angeles and San Francisco while away.  Still, I walked into my first CrossFit iQ session confident - maybe even slightly arrogant.  "I work out 3-4 days per week, how hard can this be? I can do this!" , I announced to myself.

And within 5 minutes I was gasping harder than a fish not just left out of water, but dropped in the Sahara.  Pushed to my sooner than expected limit, I just start sucking in whatever oxygen my lungs will allow.  The trainer asks, "How's it going Jack??"  I force a pained smile, trying to mask the fact that my respiratory system is acting like it's not yet ready for the New Year and decided to take another week off. I manage to give him a "thumbs up".  In my head I'm saying, "Screw you trainer guy!!  I hope you drop this kettle bell  on your toe, which probably also has muscles."  My pained poker face fools no one, especially him.  He's seen this look a million times before, I'm sure.  I'm grateful that the music is blasting, because my wheezing sounds like the opener to the Andy Griffith Show.

Listen, there are a lot of horrible things that a human body can go through, and I'm convinced that Burpies are near the top of that list.  I keep thinking that my second wind is surely right around the corner...wait for it.....wait for it......nothing.  Still struggling, still (somehow) managing to get another rep in. Until, what seemed like 3 hours, the hardest 30 minute workout of my life is over.  That's right, 30 minutes.  Seems like nothing now that I think about it, but don't make the same wrong assumptions I did.  It's no joke.  It's not easy, and I'm convinced that CrossFit will totally humble anyone not in tip-top shape.

My mission (or challenge from my unsympathetic, cruel yet sweet significant other) - gain 20 healthy pounds of muscle by June 15th.  Each week I'll take a picture of the weight that registers on the scale, and we'll see how it goes. No cheating, no excuses, just hard work.  Most people are trying to lose weight as a New Years resolution - and I'm trying to gain weight.  In truth, continue to do what I can to be as healthy as possible.  If you're resolving to do the same in 2012, check out CrossFit iQ in West Palm Beach.

For anyone wondering, yes, it IS possible for your ears, chest, arms, lips, legs, and feet to all be sore simultaneously.  Next class is on Thursday - and like Bart Scott, "Can't Wait!".