Friday, January 29, 2010

Top Ten Ways To Use Your Child(ren) As Free Weights

Don't have kids? Just read the preamble and go get yourself a decent workout book and some actual weights; THEY are less likely to puke on your head.

So everyone should know the basic benefits of exercise by now. Better sex, more energy, sounder sleeping, and, of course, a better looking body. Unfortunately, when Ace the stork drops a smart bomb on your place of residence (or in my case, a cluster bomb) one of two scenarios tend to play themselves out over the following months and years:

a: Exercise is de-prioritized. You and your partner are so tired/stressed/baby-obsessed/homicidal that you daily decide to forego the very thing that would create more time, energy, and sanity.

b: Exercise is inequitably scheduled. To cite an example for a stereotypical year of maternity leave, Dad gets the gym membership and goes after work; Mom gets the Thai Cho KickPunching DVD set and plans to use it while the wee one naps. Logical, economical, efficient... and a total recipe for disaster. Here's why:

Mom gets a rotten night of sleep followed by an equally rotten day with little Damien. Maybe the workout happens... probably it doesn't. Meanwhile, Dad strolls into the gym, rocks out to Linkin Park in a room full of toned women, and glides through the front door refreshed and stress-free. Mom might not say anything... but the bitterness is there. (Possibly some guilt as well for not having worked out)


Mom lights the Brat Signal and summons Dad home early. Dad, not having witnessed the 360 head spinning and record setting poop jet, might not say anything... but the bitterness is there. (Possibly the stress of a tough day as well)

Solution: Mom gets the regular, scheduled gym escapes- Dad gets the baby... and some glory...and a happier partner... and one hell of a unique exercise regime.

I give you the Top Ten Ways To Use Your Child(ren) As Free Weights

10. Double Car Seat Shoulder Shrugs

Unless your home (like mine) features identical and therefore equal-weighted twins lurking around every corner, you need to spend some money here. Get yourself a used and disastrously unsafe (cheap) near-match to your good one. No need to replace Tickle Me Elmo's stuffing with ball bearings... your baby's weight in plates will do. With the car seats facing each other, slowly shrug your shoulders whilst keeping your back straight. If you want to know what muscles this works out... Google it. I just know from the three weight lifting books I've read that shoulder shrugs are a good exercise.

9. Return-To-Sender Arm Exercises

If you believe in a God above, formally offer him your baby by holding him high in the sky. Then slowly change your mind. Repeat as many times as you can

8. Double Car Seat Bent-Over Rows

An even better core-builder. Bend your knees as close to 90 degrees as you can, KEEP YOUR BACK STRAIGHT by sticking your behind out as far as you can, grab the handles with your palms facing up, and slowly lift the car seats up and down.

7. Video Games

Specifically things like the Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution. Haven't you always wanted to downhill ski, hula hoop, and head soccer balls with a baby in your arms? No? Well your baby has. In fact, your free weight will be laughing and smiling so much that you MAY just forget how much you're sweating. The only reason this option isn't #1 is because I favour muscle building over cardio. Personally, I would rather look like Ryan Reynolds in Wolverine than the last cover man for Runner's World.

6. Baby Bjorn Pull-Ups

If you're in the early stages of weight training (ie. noodle arms or basketball gut) you may want to skip this one. Otherwise, install a chin-up bar in a door frame, strap Baby into a carrier (which are INCREDIBLY handy by the way) and start wearing down your will to live by doing as many controlled, slow pull-ups as you can.

5. Double Car Seat Deadlifts

Along with bench presses and squats, the deadlift stands in the holy trinity of efficient and effective strength building. Assume the starting position of the shoulder shrugs and the bent over posture of the rows, then stand tall and drop slowly. Your quads, the best possible muscle to build if you're interested in burning fat, will be screaming at you within minutes. Your baby won't be though. As with the other exercises, Baby is having a blast. Just keep reminding yourself that she's not laughing AT you.

4. Crunches

Since deadlifts do more for your abs than any other exercise, I'm not fond of this one. However, it's high quality baby bonding time and doesn't require you to strap them into anything.

3. Piggy Back Push-Ups

By now your 3-7 year old IS laughing AT you. They also want in on the fun. That's when I lie face down on the floor, tell my four year old to climb on my back, and try to do as many push-ups as I can. Arms wide, back straight, SLOW throughout. For extra fun, tell your kid to count for you... or cheer for you... or scream, "Work those pansy noodle arms, Private!" until your ear drums explode. Either way.

2. Chair Stands

Hug your child in the centre of your chest while sitting on a firm(ish) chair with your back arrow straight. Now stand up. Now sit down. Now stand up. Now sit down.

1. Lunges

If you don't know what this is, just search it on YouTube to see its proper form. Whether you're like me with a baby in each arm, like most with a single baby, or bold enough to let your baby hold the ball bearing-loaded Elmo doll, this exercise can be done almost anywhere. I can't say enough about working those quads if you've got some pounds to lose.

Next Week: The Top Ten Ways To Get More Free Time

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Top Ten Things This Blog WON'T Be

1. Impractical

Having neither the time nor the GQ Playboy wisdom to create irreverent top tens for everything from political sex scandals to models men want to have sex with, this blog will have an almost singular focus: Men helping men to lead healthier, happier, and hopefully monogamous lives with the people they love; filled with plenty of sex of course. Topics will range from "The Top Ten Signs That Your Kid Might Have Autism" through "The Top Ten Tips For Giving Terrific Oral Sex."

My imaginary "Guide to Blogging" book told me to include the word "sex" four times in my first paragraph to help with "hits." Check.

2. Just About Me

So who the Hell am I to be dishing out such advice!?" you might exclaim. First of all... don't yell at me. Secondly, you're absolutely right. My love of words and abundance of children make me more like Dr. Seuss than Dr. Phil. My hope is that the comment sections will be filled with criticism, alternate top tens, anecdotes of failed/successful use of the blog, platinum credit card numbers, questions, and more. I also plan to recruit some of my friends from time to time.

3. Daily

You know why the NFL is so wildly popular and profitable despite the fact that your team only plays 16 games? (Mine plays more of course :)) It's because they ONLY PLAY 16 GAMES. And even a busy fan's life usually allows them to see most if not all of them if they so choose. I'm hoping for the same kind of lazy loyalty with this blog. I intend to write one every weekend. Unless no one reads it. Or unless it turns out that I actually don't like writing.

4. Long

My polite friends at work have oft-referred to my emails as "a bit wordy." Others have tightened up that criticism to "asshole." I hereby commit to you, my family, and whatever indentured cyborg entities patrol this blogging Interweb that no entry will every be longer than this inaugural constitution of sorts. You know what to call me if I break this promise, but good luck counting all those letters!

5. For Single Men

Here's where I probably lose half of the 7.5 readers my blog and I were hoping to one day ensnare. Observe this well-known fact that I just made up: Single guys have more time, money, and inclination to write helpful blogs, subscribe to Men's Health, any pay their butler to research whatever wild Top Tens strike their surprisingly well tanned fancy. Relationship guys simply don't get the same attention in modern media... and we should. Frankly, I always thought I'd carve out a niche with a sword and territorial peeing, but I guess this is an acceptable e-equivalent.

6. Politically Correct

I'm the father of a 4 year old girl and an infant set of twin girls. I am a middle school teacher who is rarely permitted to speak his mind with students. I am an athiest who is happily married to the love of my life who, oddly enough, happens to be rather religious. I walk on eggshells around an ex-wife for fear of losing even more time with my oldest. In other words, to say that my walking-around life is PC would be to put it mildly. My typing-around life intends to be nothing of the sort. Though I'm told you can't swear on here. And I guess I probably wouldn't anyway. Damn it!

7. Nonymous (Not an acutal word apparently)

I'll be honest with you: My real name won't appear anywhere in this blog. I will not be telling my friends to follow my posts. The reasoning here is simple. The Top Ten Ways Of Dealing With A Bad Teacher could get me fired. The Top Ten Ways To Strike Up A Bromance could earn me an eternity of mockery from the male friends I cherish. (And you should too. Not my friends though. Get your own) And, of course, the Top Ten Sex Toys (That's 6 now) that Men and Women can Enjoy Together could get me uninvited to Thanksgiving Dinner.

8. Macho

Let me be clear. I have absolutely nothing against guys who can fix a gasperator with one hand whilst crushing a beer bottle in the other. Guys who scoff at romantic comedies and would probably scoff at a dragon too. I am just not one of them. I may play sports, watch football, and lift weights, but I also love candles and have never changed a tire. The male gender deserves better than to be pigeonholed and stereotyped into a certain tiny box of so-called "manliness." Men are complex. In other words, this blog won't help you thatch or de-thatch your roof.

9. Angry

I think there are enough angry blogs out there already. Next.

10. Perfect

The only reason I feel remotely qualified to attempt a blog such as this is because, despite my short life to date, I have managed to experience both failures and successes in the realms of health, parenthood, and most spectacularly... love. I read widely and intend to recruit experts when necessary, but I will inevitably screw up anyway. When I do, I hope one of my 3.75 readers will call me on it.

Next Week: The Top Ten Ways To Use Your Child(ren) As Free Weights