The Saturday before St. Pats means one thing in Scranton.
It’s also makes me happy to have seannanigans.com.
Play safe kids!
The Saturday before St. Pats means one thing in Scranton.
It’s also makes me happy to have seannanigans.com.
Play safe kids!
It’s no secret I’m a Disney geek. The draw is that they have their act together on levels you didn’t even know there was an act. Everything they do is designed, carefully, to reinforce something else. I couldn’t find the image, but there’s one out there from Walt Disney himself that shows how tv shows feed a park ride, and a park ride feeds merchandise, and merchandise on the street feeds the tv show, and so on. Their planning and thinking is so well respected that every other ‘amusement park’ company tries to mimic them! There would be no Wizarding World of Harry Potter without Tomorrowland, Frontierland or Fantasyland. They’re not selling you a ticket to a bunch of rides, they’re selling you an experience. The uber-geek in me would say they’re making you a LARPer for the day. Before Disney, amusement parks were a bunch of individual rides….the ride was the fun part and that’s it.
Topic switch: I have experience to prove this, and you can look it up for yourself if you wish, but on an average day in the Disney parks, you can walk 7-10 miles. Adding in the heat, a stroller, backpack and/or souvenir bags, you’re looking at 700-1000+ calories burned. And you’re probably loving every minute of it and can’t wait to get back there tomorrow!!!
What about a beach vacation? If you’re simply playing in the waves, jumping, swimming, treading water, you can burn 200-300 calories in an hour. I tend to be lazy on the beach, but even I spent 2+ hours a day in the water with family and friends.
So, it’s ‘New Year, New Me!” time and a lot of us are joining gyms. We’re strapping on our tracking devices and taking classes, feeling the burn and digging deep for those last few reps/minutes/quarter miles. We’re energized now and that will last for a few more weeks. Then most of us will slip back into our old habits. There’s got to be something better out there. There’s got to be something that harnesses the distraction of 10 miles in Disney or 2 hours in the ocean. Why does going to a gym have to be rows of machines and weights? Where’s the experience? Where’s the excitement? I see Ninja Warrior gyms trying new things and being pretty successful. Rock climbing gyms do this as well, but other than difference uses of existing gym equipment, who’s really innovating?
Who’s creating an experience in fitness? Who’s making the gym someplace you look forward to going to AND spending time there? Some are trying to encourage friendship and community (like Crossfit) and that’s awesome. It’s a proven method to keep people going. Some are creating more social areas of their facilities for people to hang out, work, socialize. Again, I applaud that. But who’s making the work part of the workout less visible?
Where I’m going is looking at a gym as a place isn’t isn’t purely functional. Make it FUN! Make it that integrated experience where you can’t wait to hit the weights again because each weight has an RFID chip in and each rep is tracked and every million pounds lifted triggers a 90 second party instead of a lunk-alarm. And, those weights are big metal or rubber discs….they’re shaped like tires and donuts and manhole covers. That treadmill has Call of Duty hooked up to it so your movement in-game is tied to your movement on the treadmill.
I see hints and pieces of this….but can’t find anyone who’s really cracking it. Google ‘innovation in fitness’ and it’s all about tracking and technology. That’s great and can solve problems for existing athletes (anyone want to carry a tape deck on a run anymore? Exactly.) Who’s trying to disrupt the whole thing and make it an experience? Who’s really showing us how taking care of our health can be fun?
I’d love to see examples in the comments.
I’m going to just say it. Loopy as he is sometimes, Matthew McConaughey has a pretty solid personal philosophy that resonates with me. It first came to light in this Men’s Health article years ago and this one a few years later., and I was recently reminded of its simply wisdom while rewatching his Oscar acceptance speech.
Me in 5 years….what’s he like? I know me today. Not a bad guy at all; I’d like to think a good dad, husband, son, brother, friend. Still have some wild dreams and some not so wild; gotta keep it interesting. Still have some work to do; manage my health and stress much better. So, if I’m fortunate enough to have another 5 years, what does 50 year old Sean look like?
He doesn’t post about new workout programs; he’s stuck to one and found the results he wants.
If he is posting about working out; he’s getting paid very well for it. That means he’s ruminating on it for a purpose.
He’s just as passionate about Star Wars as he’s ever been. The 3rd trilogy will be complete and he’s excited for the next story.
He’s still wearing Hawaiian shirts.
He’s gone to ComicCon in costume.
He’s taken time for himself and his friends. He’s recaptured the vibe of that night at Rocky’s with the guys.
He’s got the power and courage to put things into perspective.
He’s enjoying every sandwich.
He’s no longer learning how the play this game; he’s well on his way to mastering it.
He’s followed through on several of those goals/dreams.
He’s set new goals and has new dreams.
He’s been a good role model and dad to the girls.
He’s made Heidi very, very happy.
He’s been a good son and brother.
50 year old Sean is happy.
I’ve been working on my ‘reset’ this week with adequate results. Life is life and doesn’t get in the way, as much as it simply exists and our reactions to it get in the way of us. One thing I’m trying to do is look less at what’s wrong, and instead look at what’s right and good. Part of this is realizing what you have and finding joy in that, and part is accepting places where you don’t have control and grasping whatever control you can.
8 years ago today a completely uncontrolled series of events came to an end for us, but we didn’t know it yet. Sept 15, 2009 was the day after our last miscarriage and the first day we’d begin preparing for Evie. Looking back on that day, through all the pain we had amazing examples of what’s right, and good in our lives. From the calls and support of our families, to the incredible care of my wife’s doctor and the over and above service from Disney, to the in person support and distraction (especially for Giada) offered by our friend Deneen and her family; Heidi and I were inundated with proof that our lives were full, despite the path we were on being pretty brutal. These people, working together (without realizing it) gave us a sense of control and paved the way for us to continue completing our family.
I’m collecting the full story below. This isn’t for attention or hits, but the hope that it will help someone; whether giving hope, support, or simply knowing it’s not their fault.
Wandering the Wilds of Miscarriage:
I’m still here; just hasn’t been a lot to say. I want to change that. I want to change a lot of things. I’m kinda’ fed up with the status quo and the direction I’ve been taking. Big picture; family is healthy and happy, bills are paid and there’s a roof over our head. I’m very content with all of that. It’s all the rest; my daily routine, my responses to everyday stresses, my new, unhealthy habits and how often I’ve been letting that negative little voice run things around here.
I’m trying to change a lot of that.
Tomorrow, 9/11/17, I’m starting the 8 Weeks to Sealfit program. I’m not sponsored or paid or in contact with Sealfit in any way (but, if you want to talk, I’m willing to chat) and I’m going to do my best to follow the book for the next 16 weeks. At that time, it will be time for New Years Resolutions and a review of what I’ve learned on this program.
But, Sean, why? And, for the record, isn’t this the 300th post about new beginnings and getting back on track? Aren’t you going to punk out in a week or so and 6 more months will go by until something fires you up again and you post how you’re going to change everything?
I hope not?
Hey, all of that is part of what’s driving me here. Those aborted attempts at improvement are symptoms of an underlying problem. That’s what got me thinking about trying this program: it’s really just Crossfit, as far as the exercises go. I’m interested in the “mental toughness’ part of this. My mind and body are so very similar. I’m physically strong as an ox but my endurance SUCKS. I’ve nailed the ‘wall of meat‘ thing. Mentally, the same; I’m confident that I can handle a situation and I don’t rattle too easily, but if I can’t make it all better RIGHT NOW, then I’m useless until things get back to normal. Yeah, I get through it, but not without heaping misery and frustration on those around me because I just can’t deal.
When the going gets tough…I’m awesome, at first. I want to be awesome after that too, and THAT is what drew me to this program.
So, where does this begin? With a baseline. I think the paragraph above covers my mental baseline. What about physical? There’s a workout in the book that you do before you start. I did better than I thought:
You know what? I’m really happy with these scores. It tells me there’s more than I give myself credit for when I need it.
I start tomorrow with the first workout, exercises and….a before pic (ughhh.) Let’s see where this goes!!!!
How’re those New Years resolutions going? Still eating good? Still hitting the gym? It’s ok if you’re not…change is hard. I know, I’ve tried and failed before. They say abs are built 80% in the kitchen and 20% in the gym. You also can’t out-exercise a bad diet. So how do you maximize your chances of success in the kitchen?
Try prepping meals for the week. It’s an old bodybuilder trick that’s getting more and more popular among Crossfit, weekend athletes and soccer moms. You plan 3 meals a day for each person and do one or two cookups; one on Sunday and one on Wednesday or Thursday. You end up with every meal being ready for you and minimizing the chances of takeout because you don’t feel like cooking. Oh, and you control what you’re eating…portions, macronutrients, calories, whatever!
So how do you start?
You need 3 things.
Grab that sheet of paper and fold it into quadrants (in half lengthwise and across)
Top Left: Find 6 recipes. Write the names and cookbooks/pages or YouTube links. (I’m going to suggest Fit Couple Cooks to start.)
Top Right: That’s your shopping list. Put all the stuff you need to buy there.
Bottom Left: Make a grid: Monday-Sunday, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Check off each one you have planned.
Bottom Right: Make notes there. I usually put stuff like “Beef Satay and Chicken Nuggets are in containers. Chipotle chicken and beef salad is ready to go (not in single serving containers) and Buffalo chicken and beef w/sweet potatoes is cut up and ready to cook on Wednesday.)
Congratulations! You have a plan!!!! You’re 50% there!
Now go shopping and get everything you need. Come home, arrange it nicely and throw it up on Instagram!
Then get to work. Cut up all your meat. I grab my scale and measure out 4 portion batches. Then I start any brown rice or quinoa while I start chopping my veggies. It’s wasteful, but I find paper plate and bowls help out here. I try to keep 2 things cooking at once.
2 hours later, I’m putting 8-16 fully cooked meals in single serving bowls or lumped into food containers. A piece of blue painters tape on each tells me what it is, how many calories (since that’s what I’m counting. You can do macros or whatever.) and all that’s left is the cleanup. My meals are ready, portioned and my head is clear for other things.
As of this writing, I have every meal for my wife, kids and I planned for the week. For Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we have 4 different lunches and dinners ready. We tend to eat the same things for breakfast, so any pre-prep for that is done for the whole week. I’ll cook the rest on Wednesday or Thursday…give us meals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I leave 3 meals out so we can have flexibility: yes we order pizza or make pancakes for breakfast. Hey, we gotta live and it doesn’t make sense to obsess over this stuff.
If you want to give it a shot, I’ll link to the online recipes I’m using this week, below.
If you have any other recipes or ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments.
Beef Satay (I subbed the beef for chicken and adjusted the calories
Kangaroo (I’m using cow…c’mon now.)
Show of hands, how many of you are planning on losing weight/building muscle/getting fit? Welcome to the club…it’s called ‘MOST OF US’ and we meet at Taco Tuesdays at Planet Fitness in about 3 weeks.
Look, there’s a lot of reasons why we make these resolutions. They’re the same reasons we don’t keep them year after year: We’re the problem and think we can be the solution. Think about it; most of us ‘know’ how to fly a plane; pull the stick back to go up, push forward to go down….don’t crash. I own a Canon EOS digital camera that I paid $1000 for, so I can take as good pictures as any photographer. I’m out of shape, so I know that all I have to do is go to the gym and it will all take care of itself.
Let me save you the time, effort, money and disappointment now. If you’re planning on JUST joining a gym for the new year and don’t have a plan, program or coach….just stop. You most likely are not capable of making the changes you want. There’s 1000% nothing wrong with that; you simply need the right information and advice.
I’m planning a few posts to get me (and hopefully you) through the new year. I have my circle of influence…and I’m sharing it with you here. These are the blogs, books and people that I go to for help, advice and education. I promise you there are no gimmicks, get ripped quick schemes or flawed logic here. Every link here contains enough to help you reach your goals. In no particular order:
NerdFitness. I love the way the site is laid out and really appreciate the one time fee for all the resources. If you’re a total newb, the free workouts are a good place to start. They fly their Paleo flag, and if you’re into that, great. If you’re not…there is still a lot of solid eating advice here as well.
Sandbag Fitness. Matt hasn’t updated it in awhile, but this was the site that started it all for me. I have a few of his books and sandbags from Brute Force, and really, you don’t need much more. If you want to get started, cheap, pick up an athlete bag and never pay a gym membership again.
Blondponytail. Moms, this ones for you. Jess is a mom to 2 young kids and understands that not everyone has hours a week to spend at the gym. Her home and gym workouts will have you gasping for breath, seeing results and coming back for more because you can fit this into your schedule.
SKFitlife Stephanie and Steve have one of the best podcasts on fitness. They promote smart eating and exercise, no shortcuts and getting the root of your obstacles so you can achieve results. You won’t find much in the way of workouts here, but you’ll be overloaded with good advice to get your head on straight. They are Spartan racers and recently launched a killer podcast for anyone interested in getting started with Obstacle Course Racing.
Men’s Health Power Training. This is my favorite fitness book of all time. This was written by someone who knows his stuff and at a time when Men’s Health wasn’t trying to create the next Insanity or Boot Camp or whatever. You’ll find nothing but clear advice and a plan to maximize your gym time.
Ok folks, you have 3 days to peruse these and decide what you’re going to do come the new year. If you choose to follow any of them, let me know! I don’t get any money, but I’ll be happy knowing I set some people in the right direction.
Good luck and Happy New Year!!!!
Alright, I’m going to get soapboxey here. I don’t think little girls should be dressing up as Harley Quinn for Halloween. It sends all the wrong messages, encourages all the wrong behaviors and sexualizes them way to early.
“But Sean! It’s Halloween. If we follow that logic, kids, even girls, can’t dress up as zombies, Jason, Freddy, werewolves or mad scientists. Get off your soapbox and rethink your position!”
You’re right…I can’t decry all the Harleys and allow the slasher-flick characters. Well, I can, with some explanation. First, I need you to do an image search of Harley Quinn. I’ll wait. Ok, THAT is what I’m talking about. If you’re 21 and hitting a club like that, more power to you. If you’re 9…no.
Let’s take a look at the character of Ms. Quinn. She was the Joker’s psychotherapist, fell in love with him, helped him escape and was treated truly horrible by him at every turn…only to fight even harder for his attention. Everyone who every loved someone who treated them like crap and kept going back; she’s that times one million. The version of Ms. Quinn that girls are dressing as is portrayed by Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad. As good as Ms. Robbie is in the character (note: I haven’t seen the film, but what I have seen and been told, she’s FANTASTIC) she’s eye candy and exists, at least partially, to be gorgeous and lusted after by male characters.
Hey, I’m a dude, I like a beautiful woman just as much as the next guy. This isn’t about objectifying adult women.
So, you have your 5th grader dressed as Ms. Quinn in her “Daddy’s Little Monster” tshirt (shudder) and pigtails and shorts and smudged makeup and baseball bat. THINK ABOUT THAT!!!! Is it not just the least bit creepy? Anyone who knows the character is going to think of (in some order) her appearance in the film, her truly damaged psyche and that she’s essentially a battered lover with no self-esteem.
Really??? That’s appropriate?
“Um, Sean…is a werewolf, devil or axe murderer appropriate?”
Yes, in context. Not many of us are going to be identified by our horns, bloody aprons, chainsaws or rotting flesh. Ok, a lot us dudes are going to have to deal with back hair, but that’s really very minor compared to what women will have to deal with. These little girls are going to grow up being judged by appearance..and the more attractive they are, the better. In too many ways, the things that identify Harley aren’t the things we want our girls to least identify with…especially at a young age.
“Why is it ok for boys to be violent characters but girls can’t be ‘sexy’ characters?”
Yeah, I know. Part of it is our culture. As a child you probably see mom or dad, brother or sister naked in a non-sexual way. You (hopefully) don’t see Mom hack up the neighbor with an axe, or Dad turn into a wolf and eat someone. Go to a movie and you’ll see people killing each other in ever more creative and violent ways, but a glimpse of skin is forbidden.
A few years ago there was a backlash against the Disney Princesses and how they were (up till not too long ago) passive characters in their own stories who were waiting for a prince. Then came Mulan, Merida, Tianna, Rapunzel, Anna and Elsa; quite the opposite of damsels in distress waiting for a man to save them. I TOTALLY get that! As the dad of two girls, I want nothing more than for them to be self-sufficient. Not in the man-hating “I don’t need you and all your Neanderthal habits” way, but in the “I can take care of myself.” way.
So where were these characters? I saw some princesses (note: I’ll lump all princesses together as a relative positive role model) and the usual cats, hotdogs and hippies. Didn’t see too many Reys or Supergirls. Wonder Woman and Agent Carter were missing in action. Unscientifically, I think there were just as many Harley Quinns as all female heroes combined.
Moms and Dads….pay attention. The hearts and minds of our daughters are being won over by all the wrong characters. We can, and need to do better.
*steps of his soapbox and goes back to his day*
“Now a life of leisure and a pirate’s treasure
Don’t make much for tragedy
But it’s a sad man my friend who’s livin’ in his own skin
And can’t stand the company
Every fool’s got a reason for feelin’ sorry for himself
And turning his heart to stone
Tonight this fool’s halfway to heaven and just a mile outta hell
And I feel like I’m comin’ home”
Last week I attempted my first Spartan Beast and failed. For reasons both within and without of my control I came up short, and I’m stuck with a sour taste in my mouth for the whole thing. I’ll spare you the details, save for one important one: technically I DNF’d (did not finish) because I didn’t reach the last checkpoint in time. I had gas in the tank, so I know I would have finished if the clock had been on my side, or I’d been faster earlier on.
I was really angry. I had the bumps, bruises, scrapes and aches that Finishers had. I had no shirt or finisher medal…and no real chance at a Trifecta this year. It was a helpless anger, that led me to a lot of thinking, reflecting and realizations I needed to come to.
For a long time now, Spartan Race was dictating my exercise, my goals, my fitness levels…and everything has been slipping. I lost the joy in exercise!!! I knew this last summer and thought I had time to get it back…I didn’t. The race hanging over my head, a several hour event I was dreading, was an anchor; dragging me down and slowing my progress.
I don’t know that I’ll ever get a Spartan Trifecta. I’m very, very okay with that, I don’t want it bad enough. Sour grapes? Nope. I wasn’t having fun in my last 2 races. Seriously, I wanted them over before they began. I was subjecting myself to this, and would continue to do so! If I’d finished on Saturday, I’d have booked a back to back Super and Sprint in July, just so I’d have the trifecta and wouldn’t have to wait for September! This stopped being about health, fitness and fun and became about 3 pie shaped pieces of metal!!!!!
Haven’t figured out all my next steps. Going to do some running because I used to enjoy that a lot. Gonna throw around the heavy sandbag (which I got signed by my friend Stephanie and the rest of Team Charleston Warriors!!!) and my goals will be 1: Do something about my midsection and, 2 have fun doing it. In August I’ll be doing a Warrior Dash because they’re still fun for me. Till then, I’m thinking of trying yoga, and getting back on the mountain bike.
“So Sean, why the song?” I’m getting there. I crapped out at mile 11 of a 15 mile mud run over obnoxiously hilly and rocky terrain. I’m not one to undermine my troubles by thinking someone else has it worse. But, in context, not many people would have bothered to do 11 miles last week. I’m pretty lucky that here, at age 43 I have the health, time, money and sense of adventure to even try something like this. Spartan didn’t give me those, I cultivated them. Spartan was simply a way to express them….and now I want a different way to do that.
My good friend Ed ran a much earlier heat and texted me that night, the next day and several times since. This level of athleticism comes easier for him and he struggled with the course. (Edit: This is not to diminish his hard work and sacrifice to get to where he is. In truth, I’m envious at times.) Had I finished, my time would have been respectable compared to him, and I’ll take that as a small victory. He’s going for the trifecta and I’m wishing him nothing but a great time doing so, and an amazing feeling when he crosses those finish lines.
I did the race my friend Cheryl as well. She DNF’d as well and was my ride home, so we had 90 minutes to talk. We really didn’t talk about the race. She let me sulk and then we slipped back into the nonsense we joke about all the time; whatever guy she’s met online, some dumb thing we’d done in the past, or breaking into long winded diatribes on simple things. By the time we got to my house, I was definitely better than when we left the mountain.
As I walked up the driveway and saw what my wife, Heidi, and daughters had done. The front door was plastered with signs of encouragement.
This fool has every reason for feeling sorry for himself….but I just can’t. I can’t call it unfinished business or a personal failure. I took a shot, didn’t make it, and am opening new doors within myself because of it. I don’t want to go back down the Spartan Path right now. I started OCR for the excitement of something new and completely different. That led me to running for fun for the first time in my life; even to doing a half-marathon! Right now, I’m missing running for fun and lifting heavy weights because I feel like it.
The fun is just starting; I got some ideas, a sense of adventure and proof I can do some amazing things and most importantly, friends and family who care. Let’s see where this takes me.
Going through this, we connected with several people who were dealing with infertility. One suggestion kept coming up…given to us or suggested to someone else from a doctor, family member, etc. “Stop trying, relax, take some time off. When you’re not trying, that’s when it will happen.” I don’t know if there’s science behind it, but anecdotally I know several people who can attest to this working.
We got back from Disney, tried in Feb, no luck, tried in March, pregnant for the 5th time. Testing began anew; good hCG levels, ultrasounds showed a heartbeat…all good signs. For anyone else, there would be a little bit of concern in the back of their minds, but not us. We don’t get the happy pregnancies, we spend our time waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Heidi started spotting again. Tests and ultrasounds, everything seemed ok. Still she bled. Weeks went by, I can remember us talking to her belly “stay in there…we want to meet you but not yet.’ The spotting continued and on an ultrasound we finally learned the source; a subchorionic hemorrhage. It’s not completely uncommon, and usually resolves itself. We breathed a sigh of relief, but there was never complete relief. We made it to 21 weeks, which we knew was a point where if this did go south, a NICU could probably keep the baby alive.
In November of 2010 we welcomed Evangeline Violet to our family. This happy, healthy, vibrant baby girl completed our family and is the perfect ending to this horrible story.
What did we take from this? A greater appreciation for our children. Evie had reflux, and any parent who’s dealt with that knows how miserable it is. When we got frustrated, we’d remind ourselves ‘We waited a long time for her. Don’t be mad at her for something she’s not happy about either.” We’ve probably spoiled Giada and Evie, making sure we show them as much love as we possibly can.
We wouldn’t have done it without the help of our families. They never gave up and were there for us when we couldn’t be.
We learned the incredible important of a good doctor. Dr. Brian Wilcox is the man…plain and simple. He understood that we were both his patients through this…not just Heidi and not just Heidi’s reproductive system. When we discuss all of this with his class each year, he stresses treating the whole patient.
Why do we talk about this? We do it for the doctors-to-be so they can see that there’s more than just the science and meat involved here. They’re dealing with people who are going to respond in as many different ways as there are ways to respond. We hope that our story helps them be better, more compassionate doctors.
We talk about this because so many people won’t. People don’t know what to say. It’s a fear all parents have and I’m sure there’s a touch of ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ when they think of it. Some friends have told us they didn’t know what to say, and said nothing out of fear of saying the wrong thing. I completely understand that. Heidi and I don’t hold ANYTHING against anyone for what they said, through good intentions.
We don’t let this define us. We’re a family of 4 now and completely happy with that. Once in a while someone will say ‘when are you going to try for a boy?” We smile and say we’re done. The world was built for families of 4. We joke that I don’t want to lose my home office and move the subject along.
That’s our story. If you’re going through this, or have gone through this, please leave a comment with your thoughts and insights. We’d love to hear it. We hope you find a bit of hope, or at least shared misery here. If your wondering ‘What do I say to friends going through this?” It’s pretty easy. Be their friend. Tell them “I’m sorry, I’m sure it’s not your fault, I’m here to do that thing we do as friends.”
Thank you for reading.