Category Archives: family fun

How To: Meal Prep for the week

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.

  1. One, 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper
  2. Pen, pencil, marker, chicken blood or other writing instrument.
  3. Recipes.

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.

Good luck!!!!


Beef Satay (I subbed the beef for chicken and adjusted the calories

Kangaroo (I’m using cow…c’mon now.)

Chicken Nuggets

Buffalo Chicken

Beef with Sweet Potatoes




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Halloween Costumes

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*



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Better Days

“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”

~Better Days by Bruce Springsteen.

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!!!!!

And it’s over.  Ha, I un-liked Spartan Race and several related people and sites on Facebook.  Is this what breaking up is like now?   Didn’t have Facebook when I was dating.  IMG_3987

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.


I’m the one that DOESN’T look like a fitness guru.











“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.

spartan door

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.


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I’m VERY Thankful this Year

There’s an informal fallacy called the Fallacy of Relative Privation.  Simply put, when you say ” had such a hard day at work.” and someone responds “Hey, my grandfather worked 16 hour days on his hands and knees in the coal mines…your day wasn’t THAT hard.” you should stop talking to them because they’re minimizing your argument by presenting a worst case scenario.

But, I think you need to head down this path a bit to appreciate and be thankful for what you really have.  There’s always someone worse off than you, and it doesn’t hurt to reflect on your blessings (no matter how grand or meager they may seem to you) and give thanks.   So, as an exercise for me, a celebration of the holiday, and a formal declaration and thank you to those involved, here’s what I am thankful for.

My family. My lovely wife, amazing little girls, parents, sister and in laws.  Without them I would be (at best) lost and (at worst) unable to enjoy the rest of the items in this list.

Karch and Kona, my cats.  Karch has been with me for 16 years and shows no signs of slowing down.  Kona is 2 and reminds me what life with a kitten is like.  I think she also keeps Karch young.

My job.  Yeah, I love and hate it alternately on any given day….but who doesn’t feel that way about their job.  I’m fortunate enough to usually get to do things I love (tech and teaching) and do it with some pretty cool people.

My friends.  Old friends, many of whom are surrogate brothers and sisters for me, and new ones, who week to week keep me from being a hermit.  This includes the college friends who I don’t see or talk to nearly enough, and the neighbors who have made our development an amazing place to live.

My home.  We built our dream house, ’nuff said.

My goals.  Some will be achieved, and some will fuel forward progress.   No matter, I’m thankful that I can consistently set new goals for myself and work toward them.

My health.   There’s nothing but me standing in my way the Spartan Trifecta, traveling, playing with the girls or finding another adventure. Special thanks to Matt at Sandbag Fitness, the folks at Brute Force, Stephanie at SKFitlife, Rose and everyone else at Spartan Race for being inspirations.

Star Wars:  C’mon, like I have to explain this one.

There’s more, but I’ll start boring you, and this is the big stuff.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



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A Letter to Spartan Race

Dear Spartan Race,

How’s it going?   You had a pretty great year, it would appear.  More races, a killer location for your World Championships and NBC seemed to be really heavily promoting your races on tv.  Heck, even in my neck of the woods, Northeast Pennsylvania, you added a Super and managed 3 days of races.   I’m happy for you, really I am.



We’ve been companions for 4 years now.  I’ve completed 6 races, 5 of which were at Palmerton, one of your (self-proclaimed) toughest courses.   But I’ve not been exclusive, I’ve run other races.  I’ve done Warrior Dashes and 5k’s.   (side note:There’s even a 7k at a nudist resort near Palmerton that has me intrigued.  It beats a naked Spartan Race…think of the superbug that would grow on the top of the walls.  Yeah, exactly.)   My greatest accomplishment, though, was the Scranton Half Marathon this spring.   For someone who was never a runner, and picked it up just to start Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) that’s a huge milestone.

Spartan Race, they’re exploiting some of your blind spots and I hope you start paying attention.


They out-after party you.  Bands, things for spectators to do, food, beverages…especially the grown up kind.   They give people a reason to stick around, talk about the race and solidify their plans to do it again next year. Oh, and they tend to have seating/tables/picnic areas!!!   You give a medal, a banana, maybe a protein drink and a free beer.  Good luck finding a seat.    I know, you’re not trying to be one of those party races.  It’s not about that; it’s about my close friend and I getting together from opposite sides of the state and having time to BS about the race.  It’s about my lovely wife and amazing daughters having something to do and somewhere to sit outside the blazing sun for the 3 hours I’m on the mountain.  My loved ones stopped coming, and crossing the finish line hasn’t been the same since.

Your Obstacles need to respect the rest of us.   The sport is evolving and you need to challenge your elites.  I know, I’ve read the recaps of the 2015 season…the good and the bad.   I’m telling you that your obstacles aren’t as fun as they once were.   Say all you want about mental toughness and pushing people beyond their limits.   A 1.5 mile hike up slippery, rocky terrain isn’t fun for the people who are your bread and butter: weekend warriors/desk jockeys.  We can’t run it, can barely hike it, and turn our ankles so many times we just get frustrated.   Add some modifications to obstacles that require more technique and skill as well.  The Z-Wall is a great candidate: you need good technique and a lot of your Sprinters don’t have it.  Instead of making it a burpee-fest for people who were couchpotatoes 8 weeks prior, make it a little easier for them.  Their self-pride will translate into a registration for next year.   Finally, some complain about putting a bunch of obstacles near spectators and having long stretches of nothing.   If that nothing isn’t the aforementioned terrain of Mordor, I don’t mind.    What I do mind putting high-failure obstacles at the end of a race.   Look, I want to finish strong.  I don’t want to fail the rig in front of my family…but I’m gonna, and It’s going to suck for me and I’m not going to finish with the high I would have had.  Seriously, you’ve had your way with me for the past 4 miles…let this last hill be the cab fare and breakfast before I leave.

Finally, get off the mountains.  The Citizens Bank Park race was more fun than a Warrior Dash.  I loved every minute of that race…and you had me lugging a sandbag and running up hundreds of steps.   I’d have done 10 miles of that!    I think you need to get away from ski slopes because they make it too easy to give into the vocal idiots who tell you any given race was too easy because they didn’t soil themselves.   I’m always up for a challenge, but even your WODs and suggested training don’t prepare me/you/us for the races I’ve experienced.  Ditch the ‘the mountain is the obstacle’ idea, because it’s a crutch.   I’ve seen 5 and 10ks done on trails, paintball sites, parks and  lakes.   You’ve done events in Times Square!   Be the true innovators in the sport and find ways to bring it to cities and towns and public areas.

Also, it’s going to make it easier for spectators and camera crews to see more.   I suspect you have a pretty good percentage of racers who started as spectators, right?


This post comes from a place of frustration.   In 2014 I did the Palmerton Sprint and the CB Park Sprint.  You know what I’m going to say….how am I supposed to view those medals?  In your eyes, they’re equal…red piece of the Trifecta.   In reality, they’re not even close.   In 2012 your Palmerton announcer said “we have a mini-beast here” when discussing a Sprint…your ENTRY LEVEL race.  I know each race is different and will have its own challenges, but I’m seeing a distance and suffer-creep that really bothers me.  Don’t play to ones who feel the need to lug tires the whole way or whine that the sandbags weren’t heavy enough.  Give them a tape measure to pass around so they can settle what they’re really concerned about proving to one another.

You’ve got me for at least 3 more races.  I want that trifecta in 2016 and I want my wife and daughters to be there (maybe with medals of their own) to celebrate with me.   I’m not asking for easy races…challenge me.  I’m just asking that you think about what I have to say.  I’m someone who wants you to succeed, not someone who wants to use you to prove how tough he is to his ‘brahs’.




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One Week Later…

I’m one week into changing the way I live.  It’s going about as well as can be expected, and I’m pleased with that.

The good: I’m enjoying my workouts again and feeling really good.  Not doing the two-a-days yet, back to school week for the kids, new schedule; just have to figure it all out.  What I am doing it getting at least 30 minutes in each day, whether it’s T25, sandbag workouts or even a run.  I’m also free to experiment with my workouts; tie a rope to a bag and pull it across the yard.

The bad: Still having trouble with the knife and fork, but I’m working on it.  Ate well 5 days last week.  Saturday, Sunday and today…not really that well, but that’s in the past.   I’ll not going to realize all these changes overnight.

What is my eating plan?   I’ve had a lot of luck with simply counting calories, so I’m starting there: about 2200/day.  I’m looking to put on some muscle (arms, shoulders, back…things that will help with rope climbs, monkey bars, etc) so I should start looking at my protein intake.  I want to hit about 210 lbs… that’s 210 grams of protein each day as a target.  4 calories per gram; that’s 840 calories, subtracted from my 2200, leaving me with 1360 to split between carbs and fats.    I’m working on a 50/50 split there with an eye on healthy fats and complex, close to how nature made them, carbs. There are about 4 cals per carb and 9 per g of fat and that gives me a good idea of what I can eat at any given time.

Why this plan?   As I said, calorie counting has worked in the past.  Where it goes off the rails, for me, is carbs.   I can have 2 slices of whole wheat toast for 140 calories, or 3 slices of bacon for 90.   Duh!!!!    I make my tradeoffs; stir fry sauce instead of extra rice.  I can have pasta, but throw some chicken in.   I’m finding it more conducive to a life with 2 kids and a wife.   I can also track it on the MyFitnessPal app on my phone.

Just as I’m not going bust out 10 pullups next week, I’m not expecting to hit my diet goals every day.  If I can do Monday through Friday, and 2-3 meals on weekend, I’ll be happy.

Came up with my Spartan Test workout.   Feel free to share, adapt and adjust as need be.  I’m planning on increasing the run distances each workout (100 m, 250 m, 500m, etc) Let me know how you do.




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Black Widow IS a Monster: My Opinion

Alright folks, I’m wading into the deep in here.   Wish me luck.

The internet has been ablaze in the last week over Marvel’s new film, Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Several news outlets, blogs and the unwashed masses of Twitter have gotten all bunched up over the way Black Widow, Natasha Romanov is portrayed in the film.  The list of crimes accuses Marvel and Joss Whedon of giving female heroes less attention, making them secondary characters, and, in Romanov’s case, placing motherhood and monsterhood as opposite ends of the female spectrum.

I’ll admit they have some valid points on the first two criticisms.  I wish there were more female heroes for my girls to look up to. I also wish comics would dress them better.  I’m not of fan of how hyper-sexualized women are in comics, but at least the men are drawn with physiques just as unattainable.  (For real, I have pretty muscular legs and I can’t get my quads and hamstrings to ripple through chainmail.)

I have to challenge them on the last argument though.

To set the scene for the debate: (spoilers for the movie from here on out).    Black Widow is shown to have some level of control over the Hulk, a beauty and the beast dynamic.   At an afterparty, Romanov and Banner (the humans behind the heroes) have a romance beginning with Romanov as the aggressor.  She’s the take charge, confident one, while Banner is befuddled, shy and introverted.  They’re both holding secrets.   He pushed people away because of his habit of turning into a giant green rage monster.   Her spy training required her to do things that would have an effect on anyone, let alone a teenage girl.

Later, she presses him.   He barks that a relationship is a bad idea.  He can’t give her a family, can’t ever be safe, can’t ever be in complete control of his rage.   ANY father can empathize.  How many times have you lost your cool?   What if that meant turning into the Hulk?  Yeah, not a good situation.   She replies by opening herself up in a way nobody could see coming.  She was trained from a very, very young age (7?  8?) to be a KGB spy.  We’ve seen what the Black Widows are capable of (it ain’t pretty.)  As part of her ‘graduation’, she was surgically sterilized to “make sure nothing could even come before the mission.”   Banner is shocked, the audience is shocked.   As a young girl, not only was she made to be a killer, but a future that many of us would call the norm, was taken away from her.  She finishes by saying ‘you’re not the only monster on this team.”

Those 8 words set off the internet.  The argument is that her inability to be a mother makes her a monster.

That’s a load of bull!

They took away her ability to have a child.  They didn’t take away her ability to nurture, care and parent.  We actually see some of this with the Hulk.   Her ‘mothering’ instincts are on display with Hawkeye’s family, her relationship with Hawkeye in the first film, and I’d argue in every scene where she holds her own with the Avengers.   Come on, you’ve got a literal Norse god, a super soldier, a billionaire genius playboy: it’s amazing she’s not growing a beard being around that much testosterone!!!!

They took away her ability to have a child because seduction is part of the job.  You don’t want a bunch of pregnant super spies running around.  You also don’t want them prioritizing the pregnancy, a birthday, a soccer game, over the next mission.


So why is she a monster?


It’s a sum of everything.   It’s the psychological damage inflicted upon her as part of her training.  It’s the lengths she’s willing to goto,  to get what she needs.   It’s the the idea that since 7 or 8 years old she was cuffed to a bed every night, trained to kill, to fight, to manipulate and lie.  She wasn’t a person all this time, she was a tool of the government.   She can be anything she needs to be in order to complete the mission.

We’d all love to be a Norse God, a physically perfect human, or have the genius to build a flying suit of armor.  Would any of us want to cause millions in damage when we lose our temper, like Banner?   Would any of us want to be Black Widow?   Would any of us want to have to fight to get past that kind of baggage???   NO!  No way at all!  Romanov and Banner are monsters because of the monster they fight to control.   His is just easier to spot when it gets out.

So in that scene, she’s letting him know that he’s not alone.  He’s got someone on the team who knows exactly what he feels, and why.   They’ve got more in common with one another than they have with anyone else on the team.  Thor and Cap are incapable of being anything worse than insufferable good guys.  Stark is a jerk, but he owns it and tries to channel it into good things.  Hawkeye just wants to go home to his family and convert the dining room into an office for his wife.

These are issues Banner and Romanov WISH they had.

Agree?  Disagree?  Are you Joss Whedon?   Let me know in the comments.



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Working out with Kids Around

I love working out at home.   Yes my treadmill is collecting dust, but running on a treadmill in a basement was one of the ‘Enhanced Interrogation” methods that Cheney agreed to remove from the list, lest it appear too inhumane.   My rings, bags and pullup bar get a TON (no weight jokes) of use.  I can adapt just about any crossfit-style workout I see online, or do some old fashioned strength training/bodybuilding stuff.

But the girls…   I love them.  I love spending time with them.   Nothing kills workout mojo like balancing #beastmode with #dadmode and 2 kids swinging from the rings.    I understand them, I do.  There’s stuff to jump from, swing on, do flips, handstands and more.  To me, the workout area is a place to forge myself.  To them, it’s an indoor jungle gym.

And that’s my problem.   I want to encourage them.  I want them to enjoy their time in the gym.  I want to plant healthy seeds that they’ll thank me for later in life.  I don’t want them to think it’s off limits or time there ends in getting yelled at.   But I’m struggling.

They’re good kids.   There have been times they’d do part of a workout with me.  They WANT to run and jump and swing and be active.  It really comes down to if I have the time and the workout that can be done with them.  If I say ‘No, Daddy has to do this by himself” they’ll listen, but I don’t want to discourage them.

Ideas anyone?

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Wine Snob Training

This past weekend, my wonderful wife and I celebrated out 10th wedding anniversary in NY’s Finger Lakes region.  We hit many of the local wineries, had an amazing time, and picked up some fun memories.   A lot of the wineries tend to blur together…partially due to the wine, but partially due to how they don’t really stand out from one another.   But, there were a few and I’m going to digress from the usual tech and fitness stuff and sprinkle in a few posts about wineries that really stood out for us.

Maybe it’s because I’m a trainer, maybe it’s how I’m wired; I’m always looking at how information is conveyed.  I’m observing how I or the crowd is being taught.  I got to see it done brilliantly at Silver Thread Vineyard.

You’ve heard people say “I don’t like wine” or “I only like red wine.”   You’ve probably also seen a stereotypical wine snob taste a wine and tell you where the grapes were grown, the type of soil, etc.  Silver Thread helps get you past the first, and strangely enough on the path to being the second!

How?  A Riesling Flight!


One of their options is to taste 4 of their Rieslings, each from a different vineyard.  One vineyard has a lot of mineral content, another is close to the lake, another is from a commercial vineyard and I don’t recall what (if anything) was unique about the other.

If you say you don’t like wine, chances are you haven’t had it in the right circumstances.  You had cheap stuff, maybe someone’s grandfather’s homemade jet fuel (not that THAT’S a bad thing), or one of the big 3 out of California: Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot.   (I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of Cabs or Merlot.  I thought I wasn’t a wine drinker because of them.)

When you taste the first Riesling, you taste Riesling; usually a bit sweet, crisp like a tart apple, maybe some pear flavors or a floral aroma.  Then you taste the next and HEY!   How’s that a Riesling from here when it’s clearly a different wine!?!?   That’s where the magic starts to happen.  You taste the first again…Hmm, this is almost citrusy where (sipping the second) this one isn’t.  Maybe it’s the minerals you’re tasting?  Move onto the third.  Okay, now you’re just completely messing with me!

You just tasted 4 of the exact same wine variety, from the same winery, but from different vineyards.  You can taste the difference from vineyard to vineyard and know why they taste that way.   You’re on the path to being a wine snob.   Never thought THAT would happen, did you?  When you think about it, it does make sense.  Do all burgers taste the same?  Does every vanilla ice cream taste exactly the same?  No, and why should wines?

Silver Thread is a small winery that does a huge service to its customers; it teaches them something about wine.   So many wineries shuffle you through like cattle, giving you whatever they can pour as fast as they can pour, it’s a treat to visit a place that wants to make good wine and good wine drinkers.

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How I Train: New Ground

A few weeks ago, in this post, I discussed the hows and whys I work out at home.  I’m going to say right now:  I’ve never had George Lucas call me and say ‘Sean, come hang at the ranch for a week or two.”, nor has Tim Cook emailed me to say “Sean, I’d like to match your current salary +50% for 5 years, so you can focus on being an IOS developer.”  Bruce Springsteen has DEFINITELY never showed up at my house saying “heard you were a fan, mind if I crash on the couch for a few days?   Let’s throw a huge block party this weekend; I’ll play, and buy the beer.”  I doubt those things will ever happen.  (wink wink)


At the end of a chain of events I never saw coming, my lovely wife and I checked out a new Crossfit gym near our house.  We loved it.   That’s important…WE loved it.   With sandbags, I’ve been doing modified Crossfit for a few years.  I’ve read the pros and cons, winced at the meatheads on YouTube and the ones who can’t be EXTREME!!!! enough.  I’ve seen the average people make amazing changes.   I’ve always been open to it, but needed that push.  She gave me that push.

What did I see?    I saw a coach who walked us through each exercise and stressed form.   The workout was ‘Fran’, 21 reps of thrusters then ring rows (or pullups if you can do them), then 15 reps, then 9 reps….all for time.   I saw it modified in such a way that we both nailed the workout and we NEVER encouraged to take on more than we could.  In fact, it was suggested we do them with PVC pipe and not the barbells.   We decided to do the barbells.

I also saw a subtle psychological trick.  I do sandbag thrusters with an 80lb bag.  I had the 45 lb bar and looked for some 10 and 5 lb weights to put on it.   All I saw were ‘plates’, which I assumed were the standard 45lbs.   They weren’t!!  They were rubber, and some we 10 lbs.   They also had 15 lb bars that looks like 45 lb ones.   Once could grab 10’s and put them on the light bar and look like they’re lifting 135 lbs to an average gym goer.   It’s the illusion of putting up a lot of weight.   That’s powerful!!!!!   You walk into a gym, haven’t done the workouts; you’re nervous.   You don’t want to look like a newb.    If you’re putting up 35 or 55 lbs next to someone doing 135….and your bars look similar, you’re going to feel less self-conscious.

What didn’t I see?   The jacked up, over caffeinated, super shredded, ‘brah’s’.   I also didn’t see any 3/4 naked women with 2% bodyfat, parading and flexing.   I saw people that looked like us; hopeful, encouraged AND encouraging.  I didn’t see ANYONE push anyone to do more than they could do.  I didn’t see form sacrificed.   I didn’t see ANY unsafe activities.

Hey, I’ll be honest, I’ve been injured because of bad form.   I’m not going to encourage my wife to do ANYTHING that could hurt her.   If I see someone encouraging time or reps over good form, that’s it…done.

This is new territory for me.   I’m excited.   I’m doing this with my best friend; someone who’s going to inspire and motivate me.   We’re going to have something new in common, something new to talk about;  Changes we’re making together.

My training has taken a turn for the better.   There’s something new and exciting on the horizon.    I’m going to be tracking progress here.   If you’re curious about Crossfit, I promise to do my best to be an objective source.

And, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Cook and Mr. Springsteen, feel free to message me right here.


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