Book Review: Bigger, Leaner, Stronger

To continue my summer of self improvement, I was able to read another book this summer, just before my vacation. The second book I read (after the School of Greatness) was titled ‘Bigger, Leaner, Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body’ by Michael Matthews. I actually had a few reasons for reading so much this summer. The first reasons was there was not a whole lot on tv. Second, I wanted to start getting my mind ready for school. Third, I truly want to start improving my life as much as I can in different areas. And finally, I had a Google coupon for some cheaper books, and figured I would pick a few that stood out to me (one of which is the book I am reviewing now).

Growing up , I was always very active, playing with friends, running in the street, or playing sports. As I got into High School I focused on swimming as my only sport and did everything I could to better myself. That sort of mentality has always stuck with me, especially when it comes to being in shape and taking care of myself. Overall I am in fairly good shape, with the exception of being more on the thinner side. I have always been slim… almost as if it was a curse. For the life of me, I have always had a problem gaining weight (I know some of you wish you had this problem, but for me, it is frustrating, as just like overweight people, I have body issues as well). I eat and eat and work out and never seem to be able to change my look, and that is where this book comes in,

I had recently heard about this book as it helps to debunk a lot of myths we believe about weightlifting, and it helps to focus in on what you are trying to do, and without wasting time. I have tried different workout routines, followed advice from trainer and professionals alike, and never am able to stick to a routine that has shown me results. But for some reason, I feel this time will be different. I have recently started working out following this routine and have already felt a difference in my strength. The best part about this book too is he not only tells you the science behind everything, but explains why certain things will work and others do not. From there he actually provides you not only a workout plan that fits your schedule, but he also provides you a nutritional spreadsheet too to help you maximize your gains.

At the end of the day, for me it gives me a new reason to be excited about going to the gym as well as a way to focus on my lifting and eating habits, and hope to start feeling better about myself here soon.

If you are interested in reading this book, you can check it out here.

If you want to follow Michael Matthews, you can find his Instagram here (his other social media links are on his website), and his website here.

Have you check out this book before, or have another workout read that is worth exploring? Please share your findings and results below!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

The Art of Self-Discipline

As I have now mentioned numerous time (and will likely mention again… that is what I do), I do not enjoy writing. One of those reasons is that I have a hard time of coming up with things to write about. Because of this, I started to keep a task list of different blog titles and what to write about. Today’s blog post, for the last month was actually geared to be written as part of the “Self-Improvement series” articles I have written in the past (and will write about again in the future).

I wanted to write about Self-Discipline, my struggles with this and what I am doing to work on it. However, a couple weeks ago, I was speaking with my therapist about this and she helped me really see this differently. For as long as I can remember, I have always felt that I have struggled with self-discipline (as I am sure many of you have as well). I feel that far too often I start something and never finish. In all honesty, I am surprised I am still writing blog posts!! Far too often I will do things such as starting a new gym routine, or eating healthier or reading more books…. and then after a week, a month or maybe a year, I slip up and find myself back exactly where I started.

Now in reality, this is something I still need to work on, so it does fit in line with my self-improvement process. However, I have come to learn I am not as big a failure at this as I originally thought. As it turns out, this is common. Extremely common. The problem is not that I lack self-discipline. In reality, the fact I am attempting these things shows the drive and determination needed to have self-discipline. My problem is that I am attempting to do something, that I do not generally like, alone. If I was extremely happy and loved what I was doing, the motivation to do this would be easier. I love going to the gym for example, however after a period of time, the routine gets boring and I no longer enjoy it and I find it harder to go. Eating healthy is easy at first because I feel better and see results, however I am such a picky eater I end up craving some sweets, and before I know it, I have consumed 4 Cinnabon’s in 3 days.

In speaking with my therapist, the secret I have discovered to this, is that failure rate when going about these things alone, is much higher than when you do these things with others. I.e. if you are having trouble going to the gym, get a gym partner? Not eating well? Get a friend to eat well with you. Do not enjoy writing or journaling? Come up with a good topic about something you are passionate about and start a blog. A blog that others are reading and keep you accountable for continuing to write. For me, I feel as if I am letting my readers (the handful of you who keep coming back) down.

So the truth is, I do not necessarily lack self-discipline. I lack the support to do a lot of what is needed of me. For years I have been unhappy with my job and my motivation to stay has always been to support my family. But that in itself has caused problems. My wife has always supported me going back to school, but that is now just becoming a reality. And with her support, and the support of the rest of my family, and my drive to help others and be happy, is all the self-discipline I need to better my life.

Do you struggle with Self-Discipline? What are some of your secrets to staying on track? Please share your secrets below, or any other comments you may have!

Please also feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Off to Portugal!

I write this blog post full of excitement, as tomorrow morning, my family an I are off to the Azores Islands! This is especially fun for me, as I have never been out of the country!

My Father-In-Law turned 70 this year so he is flying the whole family (him and his wife, my wife, kids and myself, My wife’s sister and her husband and 2 kids as well as my wife’s brother) out to his home island for a week of fun and celebration. Even my parents will be stopping over for a few days as my Dad celebrates his retirement!

I have been practicing and teaching myself Portuguese the last couple years (I am usually awful with foreign language) and I am very much looking forward to seeing how much I really know. Also, I have school starting in mid-August as well, so this will be a good final R&R before school begins… life is about to get really crazy and hectic I think…

I do plan to schedule a blog post to be posted while I am gone, but other than that, you can follow me on Instagram and check out some of the pictures I will (hopefully) be posting while I am there!

If you have ever been to the Azores (specifically Faial or Pico) please share some of your favorite things to do there. Otherwise, what do you like to do when traveling?

Self Improvement: Relinquishing Control

My journey to starting my new career is a fairly new ambition of mine (although I have been thinking about it since the day I left my first job. However for the last couple years, I have tried doing things to better myself as a person, often time I fall flat. Whether it be going to the gym more, eating right, working on my temper or something else: I am able to make it work for a short period before I fall back to my old ways. In the last year, it has dawned on me that I have been going about it all wrong. I focus on the wrong things to change and how I go about it.

Last year in the process of selling our house, living with my in-laws, buying a new house, starting a new job, and.. a few other things, I realized how difficult I can be to be around sometimes. Sure part of this was unhappiness, that likely stems from my career choices. But I also fall victim to different characteristics of mine that get the better of me and make me a pain in the ass. My plan here, along my journey to a new career, is to also document some of the self improvement tasks I am working on. Characteristics that can make me difficult to be around, or make me a worse person, and how I am working to better myself (and ultimately those around me). This blog is about my journey to starting a new career and inspiring others along the way. My journey involves much more than just the career choice, but life choices as well, as everything is related and builds off each other. So with that, today’s topic is: I am a control freak

Now, I shouldn’t really say I am a control freak, as I can be fairly laid back and easy going. But I do like things done a certain way. And I can be very defensive and manipulative when it comes to things I want done a certain way. There is something about knowing what is going on and having a sense of control to a situation. In reality, I tend to get more controlling over things I am passionate about: my kids, my marriage, my friends, my house, etc.

Being in control, and wanting to be in control and not generally a bad thing, I would usually not list that as a characteristic that could make me hard to get along with. However, I tend to take it too far. If things are not done my way, I get extremely argumentative (that is a topic for another day) and defensive and tend to not back down. I become irrational and do not listen to what others have to say. Hell, even after I know I am wrong I will stick to my guns (stubborn.. yet another topic perhaps), I will argue and argue till I get my way, that way I can stay in control of the situation. Sometimes, it is not very obvious. I tend to manipulate people (or try) to do things I want. For instance, if my wife happens to leave dishes in the sink and I have been putting mine away, I may passive aggressively say something like “WE need to be better about putting our dishes away.” I Obviously mean ‘YOU’ as I have been putting mine away (and this is probably a bad analogy, as I am more likely to not put my dishes away… shhhhh…). Sure sometimes, I do mean ‘WE,” but often times, I mean ‘YOU,’ and lets be honest, that is not fair, regardless of who I am dealing with.

So the real question is, how do I work on this? I am still a work in progress, but here are some of the things I am doing to better myself and Relinquish Control:

  1. Discuss the issues as they come up with my therapist
  2. Take a deep breath and try to understand where others are coming from
  3. Ask myself why do I feel the need to be in control here
  4. Let others lead. I am not always right (I am hardly right)
  5. Exercise. Exercising allows me to release any pent up aggression
  6. Practice letting others win. As I don’t always have to be right, perhaps let someone else “win” even when I know I am right (its good practice
  7. Last, and probably most important: Listen. Listen to what others are saying and doing. Everything else listed above can come after I listen, and understand

Perhaps not everything listed here is truly about relinquishing control. Perhaps a lot of my other issues I need to work on are highlighted more-so here than intended. But the main point here is, is that I am a work in progress. I have identified areas of my life that need to be improved, for not only myself but those around me. This is one big journey to a better me.

Do you also have issues with control and having to own the situation? Share some of your experiences and how you practice relinquishing control, below.

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

A Week with No Kids

I am a father of two. I have a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy. They are the light of my life and I love everything about them. I love their personalities, their little voices and their compassion. I love them when they are happy, and I love them when they are sad. Both of my kids are absolutely wonderful humans and I miss them when they are not around… most of the time.

Do not get me wrong, I love my children more than life itself and I would do anything for them. And I truly do miss them when I do not get to be around them. However, sometimes it is nice to have a break. I have never been one to think that, but as they get older and our lives get more and more hectic, I see the need for some alone time. And what it took to discover that, was actual alone time.

This week, my parents took the kids to their home out of state and my wife and I had the week off. Missing my kids is a given, but at the same time it has been kind of nice at time. Normally my routine has me coming home from work, playing with the kids, fighting with them to eat dinner, getting them in the bath, and dressed and teeth brushed, reading them a few books and then putting them in bed and laying with them a bit. When all is said and done, I am usually not able to change my clothes and relax until close to 8:30 at night. This week? This week, I am able to come home, and sit on the couch and unwind for a bit. Eat dinner when I want and not argue with anyone over what food to eat. Instead of waking up to get in my workout before anyone is awake, I can sleep in and then work out at night.

Sleeping in! That is another thing. When you have kids, you never know what time you are going to wake up. The kids could sleep till 8 or they could be up at 5:30. But either way, I have to get up early to work out just in case they also get up early. But now I can sleep in a little longer and relax and just not have to parent.

Do not get me wrong, I love so much about parenting, but it is hard. Not that I would EVER leave my kids, but I see why some people do: they are tired and stressed and can’t handle it, so they run from their problems. But is parenting really a problem? Is life really a problem? As Rocky balboa said (in one of my favorite quotes) “The world aint all sunshine and rainbows..” Life i shard and will keep you on your toes, but you can’t run away from it… and not that i ever would. But what I have learned is that you need time to recuperate.  It doesn’t have to be a week, but a weekend every now and then, or a night with the boys/girls: something to let you have some “you” time and refresh.

AS much as I have missed my kids this week, I think it was a week like this to really help me realize how important these breaks are. I would much rather see my kids every day than not, but the occasional weekend or day off I think is best for everyone.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.