Why fit

Some times I bang on about training.

I work out most days; more times than not. Sometimes twice a day.  I have been known to overtrain, but I’ve also grown quite good at listening to my body now I’m in my 40’s.

I’ve also recognised just how stressful modern living can be. 24 hour connectivity means little time to properly unwind. Never ending emails, rising costs v falling wages all add up to some really awful stress levels with people just being unable to switch off.

To combat this, personal physical fitness is essential. Make your body strong and your mind will be too. To some extent it doesn’t matter what form of exercise you take as long as you do something. I also have this motto:

If it doesn’t challenge you; it doesn’t change you.


Digging around in the garage

I found the old Wii fit board. My daughter was delighted! So was I secretly. Once I’d managed to shoo her off of it, I discovered an old routine I used to do.

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If you’re not familiar with Wii Fit, it’s a games console and a special board (digital scales with no readout) and a load of different games and exercises.

You get a personal trainer who will demonstrate the exercises for you, then you perform them yourself. The majority of them use the balance board, which uses witchcraft to tell you if you’re doing it right. It judges you if you’re not.

A feature of the game is customised workouts. You string the exercises together to make a workout, for a set duration; simple. All you have to do is start.

Will it make you fitter? In my opinion yes.

Will it make you fit? No

It doesn’t give you willpower, you still have to switch it on and it doesn’t tell you what to eat, 6-packs are made in the kitchen.

Like those ads you see for ab crunchers etc, sold to you by Amazons and Adonis’, what they don’t tell you is that you’ll probably need to make some serious lifestyle changes to get in shape. It’s not easy but the rewards are so worth it. Not just the ability to master your stressful lifestyle but also feeling great and having abundant energy.

Yesterday I created two personalised workouts for family members; I’ve challenged them to complete the exercises for one month. Three times a week for her and four times a week for him.

As they both read my blog, here’s my workout:

  1. Warm up – 200 star jumps
  2. Chair squat
  3. Front squat
  4. Press-up with side stand
  5. Tricep extension
  6. Single-leg reach
  7. V sits
  8. Parallel stretch.

As I said before, you’ll need to supplement any exercises here with lifestyle changes to make a real difference but the usefulness of Wii Fit shouldn’t be underestimated. Will power not included.

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Follow this link to buy your very own!

BSD

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Blueprint for a grand day out.

We’re halfway through the summer break..

and I’m intent on making great memories for the cubs. As a boy, one of my favourite pastimes was fishing. I kept it up into adulthood even though I rarely make time for it nowadays.

I love the peace and tranquility beside a river or lake; being near water seems to wash my troubles away. I want to share that feeling and memories with them, so for my daughter’s birthday I bought her a junior fishing kit. She was ecstatic.

Balance

I had noticed her watching fishing programs beforehand, and it seemed to fit in with her desire to be outdoors. I leant her a couple of my fishing books, so she could learn a few techniques and some of the different types of fish. The questions weren’t far behind.

How do you catch them? how do they stay on the line? do you eat them? does it hurt them?’

I watched her face go through several emotions as I answered her, then she thought about it for a bit.

OK

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Rite of passage

There was no way on the Lord’s sweet earth that I was going to teach her to fish and keep a safe eye on the youngest cub on the waterfront so mum came along too. We made a picnic for good measure and off we trotted.

I explained to her that when daddy goes fishing, set up can take hours. ‘First you have to find a likely spot, then you have to….‘ I turned around and she had wandered off. The youngest had found a feather from a Buzzard and this was much more interesting.

I managed to get her back and we set up. She only got pricked by a hook once and was a little reluctant to bait up but she got on with it.

I taught her how to cast…

The bait sailed into the water and the bodycount stayed at 0. Success.

How long before I get a fish?

Well that’s the art my dear! you have to be…’

Her float dipped under the water.

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Unfortunately our adventure was a short one. This was only a taster session to whet her appetite and it had done just that.

My fish was bigger than yours dad!’

It wasn’t.

BSD

Co-parenting goal

The beginning of this week was a test

My ex and I had recently been discussing joint holidays due to the cub’s ages. Stories of child abductions etc. are enough to make any parent shiver so we decided (for the time being anyway) that we would plan a trip together.

Nothing major, just a camping trip in the New Forest. My daughter’s love of wildlife would be satiated and my son would be in a new environment, great for his development.

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Mental set

What I didn’t want to do was ruin the experience by relentless arguing.

Whilst our relationship was deteriorating we’d successfully managed not to argue in front of the kids. I wasn’t about to foul this now whilst on a break so I went about adjusting my behavioural confirmation biases through a process of autosuggestion.

I believe in quite a few things. I was raised as a Christian, fell out with the premise but have recently fallen in again. I believe in the law of attraction, in that what you think about most you will manifest. I also believe that with practice, you can control your environment by altering your perception to whatever the heck is in front of you.

I’d be lying if I said it was easy but the application of counter scripts to the behaviours that you know you will witness work wonders when they do indeed arise. This made responding to them, or not, slightly less stressful. After all, what better way to put all those years together to good use than by counter-scripting every single element of their behaviour that caused frustration.

All for a good cause

She arrived. We loaded the already packed car and set off. I promptly went to sleep. Tactic one completed.

I woke up for a snack break then we set off again; I went to sleep again.

We arrived. It was a lovely site if a little water logged so we looked for a suitable pitch. Found one, in a clearing under light canopy; perfect.

Tent pitched; no dramas

Sleeping quarters sorted; no dramas.

Cubs running relatively free in a beautiful forest and staring in amazement at wild cows and horses.

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Proper planning prevents poor performance

Success! 3 days passed and we remained civil throughout. More importantly the cubs loved it. My daughter, ever the adventurer discovered a total of 4 frogs, 2 newts, an extremely tame Robin and a Treecreeper. She missed the Tawny Owl, whose mid-night screech went right to my very D.N.A and had me wide eyed and staring for quite a while.

There was one fall from grace; a heated sentence or two regarding dirty clothes but this was quickly quashed. It was probably more to do with 3 nights on a hard forest floor whilst my camping mat remained safe and warm in the garage, than our normal head butting.

Advice

So that’s the key; prepare yourself mentally and you can get the outcome you require. I’m sure it was equally as testing for her as I’m no saint. It also helped that it was a short period of time or I’m sure we’d both have got more snappy.

Autosuggestion wins the day. And sleep.

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BSD

 

If you learn one thing; make it this.

You have the power to save a life.

Potentially anyway. Effective first aid, CPR and even simply calling for help can make all the difference when seconds count.

BSD is my alter-ego. I use him to express things that I might not be able to professionally, or just to get things off my chest. The real me knows a bit about saving lives, having dedicated over two decades to it.

CPR, Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation can greatly increase an individual’s chances of survival if administered as soon as possible after an accident or incident. In basic terms, pumping the chest and breathing exhaled air into someone else’s mouth.

chest compressions

Education

A debate rages in this country as to whether CPR should be taught in the national curriculum; it’s one that has gone on for ages but seems to be going unanswered. My opinion is ‘don’t wait for the state to educate you’ in what I think is one of life’s greatest skills.

From a very young age children can comprehend things such as helping someone. We’ve all heard seen those videos of a cute child calmly explaining to an emergency call handler that ‘mummy won’t wake up’ and we’ve no doubt all held our breath waiting for the sound of sirens.

There are some advocates that teach preschoolers to do chest compressions but personally I think this can be counter-productive. It’s unlikely that they will have the strength the do effective chest compressions and while something is better than nothing, I would rather that the under 5’s know the following.

  • How to call the emergency services
  • Where they live

and at the most,

  • How to check for breathing
  • How to clear an airway.

Every child will be different and some will have better language skills than others but that initial summoning of professional help is vital as seconds will count.

Once children get older, the more advanced lessons can be taught, such as DR,ABC.

  • Dangers
  • Response (and assistance)
  • Airway
  • Breathing
  • Circulation.

Knowing these five things really makes a world of difference. Wound management such as controlling bleeds and infection control can also be introduced, depending on aptitude.

Learn now and remember forever

Exactly how to resuscitate people changes year on year as more information is gathered from clinical practice and elsewhere and because of that, I purposely haven’t gone into great detail on here.

My advice is this: seek out trained professionals and learn the basics. In the UK we have many providers such as St John, the Red Cross et al. Heck; I’m sure if you knocked the door of your local ambulance station they’d run through the basics with you (they are extremely busy though).

As I said earlier, I speak from experience, both professional and personal.

In his first 18 months my son suffered from a series of febrile convulsions and a full tonic/clonic seizure. It was terrifying. With everything I know the shock rendered me able to do very little, other than summon help. Thank God, our amazing ambulance service were at our door in minutes.

He’s fine now but the whole episode reinforced what I already believed; we should all get some training.

If you use it once in your entire life to save a life, then it’s time well spent.

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BSD

The lessons they teach us..

Today is my birthday (relax; I don’t want anything..)

We planned to visit the local Sea-Life centre but by the time I’d managed to mobilise the cubs, it was too late. I decided that we should go for a bite to eat instead.

‘McUsual dad?’ my daughter asked. ‘Nope’ I replied, wondering if I go there more often than I think. I decided to try an american diner that I drive past every day on my way home from work.

My son was asleep almost as soon as I’d shut the car door; I guess he’s growing again.

Table manners

In and seated by a very gregarious waiter who then spent an enormous amount of time and energy attempting to de-wobble our table. Fail.

‘DAD; IS HE A SERVANT?’

‘no’

Her voice was still set to outdoor but I think he was out of earshot.

Service; eventually..

The place wasn’t overly busy but there seemed to be more managers than waiters. We eventually got served but when the food arrived, my daughter’s order was wrong. I politely refused and asked for our original request.

After a few minutes he came back ‘It’ll be about 5 minutes i’m afraid’

‘That’s fine; thank you’

After another few minutes he came back again;

‘You did say beefburger right?’

‘No; cheeseburger; please’

I hadn’t managed to convince my son of the correct etiquette of the 50% rule of waiting; he had shifted the figures to 33% and was already pushing hotdog into his face hole.

Lonely

Her food arrived and we all tucked in. It was absolutely average. The cubs were already planning dessert. Then came the wait.

We waited; and waited; and waited but still the table remained uncleared, let alone a dessert enquiry. The two managers were now having some food at the bar, talking to a 3rd member of staff.

The cubs decided that we’d had enough and that they’d rather just go home now. As the smiling waiter came over I asked for the bill.

Then we waited; and waited…

Time

I eventually got up and put my coat on; the cubs duly followed. The waiter took the hint and rang everything up. He handed me the card machine at the gratuity screen. I hit the no button and entered my PIN. He looked disappointed when I handed the terminal back to him.

Before we walked out, he let the cubs take a balloon each from the static display.

We walked back to the car and drove home; I was already planning a tripadvisor roasting. As I did so, I must have muttered my discontent aloud. My daughter asked what was wrong, so I regaled everything that wasn’t right about our meal. She thought carefully and replied:

Well he was a very smiley person and seemed like he was the only one doing any work. He also apologised for messing up my food and was very nice to give us a colouring sheet and balloons; you probably shouldn’t be too hard on him because he looked like he was trying.

That 10% now sits heavily in my pocket.

learning

BSD

I really, really should listen to my body.

Yesterday was a training day.

What I mean by this is that it was a day that I go and see my Shiye (Kung Fu instructor when you’re a Sifu yourself) for a catch up.

I’ve been training with him for 30 years this year and he has led me to great success. I was a little late for this class so foolishly only did a small warm up.

A new guy was there and wanted to know some tricks to add to his own toolbox. We went to work. He learnt a new throw; he threw me; I landed correctly, then popped my knee getting up.

I couldn’t hide it and my instructor noticed.

The class ended and we had the normal catch up chat. I reminded him that I was 44 next week. He informed me that there was a competition coming up in the USA at the end of the year and that I wasn’t too old to get back in the ring.

Where do I sign?

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The lessons they learn.

I often wonder about the lessons we teach our children.

I’ve always been mindful of these and as such I’m very conscious of who I am. This is a thought that has grown over the last eight years or so as I got my head around becoming and being a parent. I had to establish an inner integrity that would manifest itself in my unconscious actions.

It wasn’t enough to act like a good person around my kids; I had to be a good person.

A while ago I was in the car park of the golden arched one taking on some empty calories. The day was warm and my windows were down. Another dad was walking briskly back to his car with his son; I could see that dad wasn’t happy. He stopped to talk to his child and the conversation went something like this:

“I’m really p***ed off with the way you behaved in there! you were an absolute f***ing embarrassment to me and if you keep it up we’ll never go there again”

Now understand this; I swear. I like to think I swear appropriately but yes I do swear. I won’t swear on this blog, because I want you to read it and I can articulate myself appropriately without the use of expletives. I will never, I repeat, never swear in front of my children whilst they are in their formative years. In my mind, this is tantamount to child-abuse.

School

 

The son in the example above was about 6 years old. I watched his face as his dad scolded him and it was a horrific mixture of fear and shame. Dad then saw me looking, gave me a look, which I returned with interest, raising him a head shake for good measure.

Understand this.

What this dad failed to understand was that to a great extent whatever action his son was displaying within that restaurant was probably learned behaviour from his most influential teacher, dear daddy himself. Our kids are a mirror of who we are and in this fine example, dad was showing the behaviours that he was berating his child for. Awesome.

Be better

The trick is this; your kids will learn from you by osmosis. Doing what you do daily and unconsciously are the things that they learn. The reason for this is simple; it’s to do with the way that all of us learn things, repetition and reward.

The repetition is the behaviour that we keep doing over and over and over…you get the picture. This could be anything; the language we use, the way we interact with a significant other or the way we treat difference in general. Our children see this behaviour as the norm and they will emulate it.

The reward can be positive or negative. Behaviours that have a positive outcome are usually repeated, whereas those with a negative outcome are avoided. Again, this is human behaviour and learning. We are wired to avoid pain, physical and emotional. If something has caused us pain historically then we will avoid anything like it in the future as long as we’ve learnt that lesson of course. So a child, learning behaviours from a parent’s unconscious actions has no idea whether these actions are good or bad, but if those actions go unpunished (in that child’s eyes) then the assumption is that they behaviour is the social norm and therefore acceptable; that behaviour is then perpetuated.

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My point

My youngest cub rushed into my bedroom last week and in his broken English, he gestured me towards his room and reached for my hand. I took it and followed.

I had spent the last few occasions telling my oldest that she should make her bed in the morning once she gets out of it.

He proudly pointed towards his bed which was in a state of being made. It wasn’t perfect (it didn’t need to be) but had definitely had something done to it. He pointed to it and looked at me with a look of pride on his face. I praised him both verbally and physically, in the form of a hug.

In his broken English, he then asked for a high five; he got it.

BSD