Monday, December 23, 2013

37 Things You'll Regret At The End Of 2014

Last week, Buzzfeed ran up one of its longer but curiously more profound lists entitled "37 Things You'll Regret When You're Old." Although littered with GIFs (as Buzzfeed tends to do), the actual list is worthy enough of attention.

In fact, I'm posting the list with my own commentary here as 37 Things You'll Regret At The End Of 2014. Because I don't think there's anything here I or anyone else would be unable to pull off in the next year.

...and doing so would make it a hell of a good year!

Here's your checklist:

37 Things You'll Regret At The End Of 2014

1. Not traveling when you had the chance.
Make a trip this year. It doesn't have to be to another country, but make a point of going somewhere...preferably on a plane, and preferably as a full-blown tourist. You can worry about dreamlining and "going native" in the Tim Ferriss sense some other time, but if it's been a while since you've gone outside of your glass and concrete filing cabinet, get out in the world.

2. Not learning another language.
This is ridiculously easy. Choose one: Berlitz or Pimsleur (I prefer Pimsleur myself). Take six weeks and get fluent enough to order dinner in the country you're traveling to in #1 above.

3. Staying in a bad relationship.
Not my personal issue, but if you're in a bad relationship, fix it. As the meme says, if you choose to stay in a bad relationship you're making a choice to be unhappy.

4. Forgoing sunscreen.
Not much to say here. Sun burns suck. Skin cancer sucks worse. It's not hard to grease up before hitting the beach or slopes, so just take the time and do it right.

5. Missing the chance to see your favorite musicians.
I blew this one in 2013 by missing out on seeing Black Sabbath in Toronto. They're playing Winnipeg in April...I may have to do something about that, because a long time ago I held tickets to see Ozzy in Winnipeg, and missed out because my ride bailed.

6. Being scared to do things.
"What are you waiting for? If you cannot answer this without restoring to the previously-rejected concept of 'good timing,' the answer is simple: you're afraid." Yup. Another Tim Ferriss reference.

7. Failing to make physical fitness a priority.
This has become my priority since kicking off last year's list of goals. I made it to the best shape of my life, and this year will mark the beginning of what I hope will be a lifetime of peak physical condition (I'm already regretting ancient shoulder and knee injuries that have reared their ugly heads again, however...)

8. Letting yourself be defined by gender roles.
We've already established the fact that I built a fairy garden for my daughter, and she liked it a lot. She also likes big construction machines. My gender roles aren't at stake...I can cook and sew, and I want her to change tires and saw wood. That's how my parents did it, and my sisters and I are quite functional thanks very much.

9. Not quitting a terrible job.
Paying the bills is one thing. Doing so at the expense of your soul and dignity is another thing altogether. Find some bliss and get the hell out. It's OK to fire a crappy boss (just get your bases covered before you do!).

10. Not trying harder in school.
I'm a terrible student in a lot of ways. But this is the year to take on learning something new, and when you do, settle for nothing less than the highest grades possible, even if you have to take the webinar five times before you can score a perfect quiz.

11. Not realizing how beautiful you were.
Feel better about yourself. You're amazing, and you work like a beast. Revel in that fact. In fact, ask your youngest how they think you look. You'll be surprised at how amazing you'll feel when you just learn to love yourself as much as they do.

12. Being afraid to say “I love you.”
Nothing else to say about this.

13. Not listening to your parents’ advice.
Well, they may not have been right about everything, but a good quote from my dad may suffice: "Anything you're thinking of doing I've already done, screwed up, and paid for."

14. Spending your youth self-absorbed.
Yup...being too self-absorbed is one of the downfalls of "kids today." But hey, we did it too, and in retrospect it is embarrassing. Do some analysis and see whether you're still doing this...and then knock it off!

15. Caring too much about what other people think.
Down the road you won't care about those people and they won't care about you. So just ignore their opinions and get on with your life.

16. Supporting others’ dreams over your own.
I'm a big proponent of supporting others, but don't lose sight of your own dreams and goals. You have a right to their support too.

17. Not moving on fast enough.
Don't waste time getting over things. Get up, dust off, and get back in the game. Major tragedies notwithstanding, most incidents are just blips on the radar of your life. What could you do with that year instead of wallowing in self-pity?

18. Holding grudges, especially with those you love.
Get over it.

19. Not standing up for yourself.
Grow some and don't take crap from anyone...least of all that bad relationship, crummy job, and people who don't support your dreams.

20. Not volunteering enough.
Contribution is a major source of personal satisfaction, and a terrific networking tool as well. Don't go to the end of your life, or even this coming year, without having given something back. The benefits to your whole outlook on life will far outweigh any potential sacrifices you make with your time.

21. Neglecting your teeth.
Brush. Floss. Do it. It's not hard, and it actually goes a long way to improving your overall health. I don't care if they're a bit stained from coffee; mine are. But proper oral hygiene reduces a pile of health risks, from cardiac disease to cancers. And you'll never regret going to the grave with your own teeth! (Plus, maintenance is cheaper than repair.)

22. Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.
I was fortunate enough to have had some very good conversations with my grandparents while they were alive. Even if you don't have any specific questions, just get them talking. They love to talk about their lives and the past. Make a point of getting them started, and enjoy every word. This year, if your grandparents are no longer around, find an older person and strike up a conversation anyway. I have yet to meet someone over the age of 70 who doesn't like to talk when there's a willing ear to listen. It'll brighten their day, and you'll walk away wiser.

23. Working too much.
Do you wish you'd spent more time at the office? probably won't later in life either. So for this year, leave the office at the office.

24. Not learning how to cook one awesome meal.
If you're kitchen impaired, fix it now. Cooking is easy, and if you have one go-to meal that's a guaranteed winner you'll never be at a loss for a dinner party, date, or any other occasion. You can have lots of simple meals, but here we're talking about something amazing and mind-blowing. The internet is your friend. Find out how to do this and you'll be a rock star whenever you make it happen.

25. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.
Life is full of moments that really need your attention. Take some of those moments seriously and make the most of them. Those become things you'll later recall as memories. Why not have a bunch from this year?

26. Failing to finish what you start.
Get the job done. That's all there is to it.

OK, I have to go back to my philosophy that if something sucks or isn't productive you can and should cut it loose and stop wasting time on it. There's no use in the old work-for-work's-sake mentality when it's a waste of time. But don't mistake that for an excuse to bail when things get hard. If you start a project or a course with the intent of making yourself better in some way, finish it. You'll never regret the time spent.

27. Never mastering one awesome party trick.
I like this one. I'm working on a card trick right now. I'll let you know how it goes.

28. Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.
I'm not sure what to do with this one. But be on the lookout. If someone says, "we don't do that," do it anyway. The fallout will probably be so minuscule they won't remember it anyway (and if they do, who cares?).

29. Refusing to let friendships run their course.
Sometimes friendships end. That's OK. Let them. There's a natural progress to all relationships, and clinging to something because of established cultural norms (there's one for #28!) of "friends for life" can really be frustrating. If you're not into the same stuff anymore, just move on.

30. Not playing with your kids enough.
No explanation necessary. Put down the remote and go outside.

31. Never taking a big risk (especially in love).
Leaps of faith present themselves all the time. Maybe it's time you took one. Sure, it could be in love, but any time a big risk presents itself, the results are always life-changing. Do a little risk analysis and see how much is really at stake.

32. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network.
Do some serious networking this year. Make things happen. You'll always have those people in your contacts, and there will always be an opportunity to build your brand, but not if you're isolated from the world. Get to know people. They'll help you on your path.

33. Worrying too much.
It's probably not that big a deal, and it'll blow over. Worry if your plane is currently going down over the Atlantic. In pretty well every other circumstance, give it your concern and then either correct it or come to grips with it.

34. Getting caught up in needless drama.
Drama is generally perpetuated by the self-absorbed. Distance yourself from it as quickly as possible.

35. Not spending enough time with loved ones.
Just make it happen. It can be time on the phone, on Skype, or in person. Regardless, this is the most important improvement you can make to your life this year, because it will improve everyone's life this year.

36. Never performing in front of others.
I'm a musician, so this is a given for me. But I haven't done a concert in a while, so it's fortunate I was approached last week with the opportunity to present a Cole Porter program in February with a group of singers. Should be fun!

37. Not being grateful sooner.
You're incredibly lucky. You have a place to live. You have food. You have people around you. Chances are the people surrounding you aren't at constant war with each other (I hope). Take some time each day to count your blessings. It's hard at first, but over time you'll start to find your outlook is greatly improved.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My exact supplement routine (easy meal plan included)

A lot of people have asked what supplement routines I follow for fat loss and muscle gain. I have to say I’m flattered: while I’m not exactly fitness model stature (yet LOL), I have done a lot of work over the last year and lost a considerable amount of fat while maintaining and even building my muscle tone.

So, here it is...the whole routine (including what I eat and when). Just remember, none of this works without exercise!

Fat Burning Cycle:

  • Pre-workout: Creatine
  • Post-workout: BCAAs

Power Shake:

  • 8 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 big handful of spinach
  • 1 cup water
  • Krill Oil
  • Multi-vitamin

PB&B Shake:

  • 8 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 big handful of spinach
  • 1 cup water


  • Portion of meat, 2 cups vegetables, 1 tbsp coconut oil
    • I try to have 2 servings of beef and 2 servings of fish a week. On the days I have chicken, I’ll also include some cheese.


  • Something high in protein. Favourites include:
    • 1 cup of Greek yogurt with 1 scoop of protein powder
    • 2 eggs, 1 banana, and 1 scoop of protein powder (mash or blend it up and fry like pancakes. Amazing!)


  • BCAAs

The moral of the story here is, it’s high in nutrients, low in carbs, and generally low in calories. You'll also notice there's no breakfast. That's because I stick to an 8-hour window for the whole fat loss thing...generally getting all my calories in between noon and 8:00 p.m..

One day a week (usually Saturday), I eat whatever I want throughout the day. The next day I fast. On my “cheat” day, I skip the creatine, but maintain the other supplements, taking BCAAs with breakfast. On my fast day, I take up to six servings of BCAAs, and maintain the krill oil and multivitamin.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Jump off the Stress Express--Bring Back the Holiday Spirit with Family Christmas Traditions

Twas the week before Christmas and all though the house everything was in shambles. Too much to do and not enough time. More shopping to be done, presents to wrap, cookies to bake and decorating await. Oh the hustle and bustle, the extra work and the stress. Is it any wonder you feel like the Kranks?
If your holiday season rings in more stress than joy, you’re not alone. Consider these facts:
  • In a recent survey, 96% of 8-12 year olds included a big screen TV in their wish list. This despite 73% of parents wanting to limit their children’s TV time.
  • It takes an average of 4 months for a credit card user to pay off what they buy during the holidays.
  • Americans plan to spend $1,564 per household during the holidays. $1,042 for gifts.
  • A national survey suggests that 70% of Americans would like less emphasis put on spending and giving gifts.
Helpless to resist the pressures of a “Spend it” society, many people feel obligated to get on the frenzied commercialized Christmas train—and they don’t know how to get off.
If your holiday season tends to exhaust rather than uplift, maybe it’s time to wrestle the holidays from the clutches of commercialism. Pump joy and love back into your holiday filling it with the true spirit of Christmas.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Coming up for 2014

With a goal-oriented platform like The Man Sphere, you had to know I was eventually going to start blogging about 2014. There's only a month left of this year, after all!

One of the major stumbling points I've encountered over 2013 is time. There never seems to be quite enough, and so I'm resolving now, well in advance of the new year, to start managing my time better. My routine does get everything done that has to get done, but most of the stuff I want to get done gets waylaid...sometimes for months longer than expected.

2013 was dedicated mainly to fitness, and I've dropped over 30 lbs. and cut a pretty decent physique. I'm not quite Tough Mudder read, but I'm definitely in the best overall condition of my life.

2014, then, will be dedicated to financial matters, mostly pertaining to building my business. I have two key goals in my professional life that leverage the two things I do particularly well: educating others, and writing music. The music goal is the harder of the two (obviously), but will come with the freedom of time I hope to achieve by meeting my goal as an educator.

My main goal, then, is to get to work helping as many guys as possible get their shit together. After the launch of the 2013 Women We Love Dating Compilation (more on that soon), I'll be launching a new web-based personal coaching service called Your Personal Reset Button.

This service is the culmination of my work in personal development and coaching over the last four years, and showcases the strategies and processes I've found worked best for me (and others I've worked with) in recovering from a breakup.

Keep an eye out for that one. It'll be a game changer for a lot of people. And hopefully it will see the start of a new and exciting chapter in the life I'm looking to live as well.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finding and Leveraging Legitimate Opportunity Online

Yesterday I ran an experiment with an online operation called "The Task Pay." The test was simple: run traffic to the website, reach the "instant payment" threshold, and then see if they actually follow through.

The first challenge of legitimacy failed: the supposed pay scale is $5 for click referrals, and $10 for signups. As it turns out, my balance went up by $10 for every click. What's worse, it went up $10 every time I logged in, which means it was registering MY clicks. This is a cautionary note, because they do say on the site that they have anit-cheating measures in place. They could say that I cheated by clicking on my own link, and use that as an excuse not to pay me. Not cool, and not a good structure.

The second challenge also failed: multiple payment options mentioned on the landing page (Western Union, Moneygram, PayPal), but no place on the website itself to actually include information on how to get the money to these services. One could presume you might do this when cashing out, but again this is usually the first step in registering, not something you do after the fact.

The third challenge failed. This has to do with the details. On one section of the site, it says the minimum payment threshold is $300. On another, it says $200. Within the member section, it says there are multiple tiers of payment, and each takes a different length of time to process.

Hold the phone...process? This is the internet, folks. When you get paid, you get paid. There's no time to process.

I actually hit the payment threshold for "instant payment" -- $1,000 -- overnight. So I clicked on the redemption button. This took me to a page where I could "download" the form to request payment.

Hold the phone is this "instant?"

Anyway, when you click the download button, you're taken to a typical CPA (cost per action) site where you pick from a list of advertiser "special offers." In this case, there was an offer for a $50 Coke or Pepsi reward with which you can buy a 24-pack of whichever you like ($50 for pop? yeah...right). To get it, however, you have to complete THEIR advertisers' offers: one bronze, one silver, one gold, and TWO platinum level offers.

Are you with me? You have to BUY stuff in order to complete the offers that would qualify you to be able to download the form so you can request your payment from The Task Pay. And therein lies the death of the legitimacy. There's no mention anywhere on the original site of having to buy stuff in order to get paid. By my definition, The Task Pay is not a legitimate opportunity.

Why Does It Matter?

I like finding legitimate opportunities; things that actually pay when they're supposed to in the way they're supposed to. This is because, like most people in business (I like to believe), I want the people on my team to be able to benefit as much as I do. If the system is legit, I'd like others to have a crack at it.

This is why I prefer, whenever possible, to leverage existing networks. For example, one of my favourite opportunities is with a company that specializes in website hosting. Everyone in business needs a website, so that's a piece of cake. But this particular opportunity (costing all of $10 a month) happens to pay a commission on website sales. The commissions aren't big, but they add up.

This particular website/domain host happens to include cPanel hosting, and can use a Wordpress blog as the main feature of the site, which is great for ease-of-use and client side design and content. If it's a personal or business blog, info or content site, photo, portfolio, music, resume, or a general marketing platform using HTML, all the standard tools (including branded email) are available.

It happens to be that this opportunity pays $1 from every monthly payment. That's not a lot, but it's decent considering you only need 10 referrals to essentially have a free website. What's more, it pays this on five levels, meaning you get paid a dollar for every referral your referrals make, and so on down five levels. The paranoid in the crowd will say, "that's a pyarmid scheme!" ...but in reality it's not. It's just a way of multiplying commissions for an actual product. If you do the math, the company still makes its profits, and you only get paid for your actual work.

Having said that, there are a few types of professionals I like to present this opportunity to, simply because the nature of their business centres around providing web space for those who work with them.

[Read more...]

To view the opportunity directly, visit:

Friday, September 20, 2013

4 Harmful Muscle-Building Myths Uncovered

If you’re serious about making a solid commitment to a muscle-building program, you need to be very careful of who you take advice from. Bodybuilding and fitness is literally a multi-billion dollar industry with new websites popping up every single day. Many of the so-called “experts” out there really don’t have a clue of what they’re talking about and are only motivated by pushing expensive pills, powders and “miracle programs” on you that you don’t really need. If you don’t watch your step you may end up falling for some fatal muscle-building pitfalls that will literally destroy your gains and prevent you from ever achieving the impressive, muscular physique you desire. In this article I’m going to expose 4 very common muscle-building myths in order to keep you on the proper path to the mind-blowing muscle and strength gains you deserve.

[Read more...]

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Building Your Confidence in Dating Women

When it comes to dating (or even seducing) a woman, confidence is vital. Women often equate “self confidence” with the ability to be successful. While many men believe that women look for successful men because they’re likely to make more money, that’s simply not true.
While it’s a given, women actually look for successful men because they’re more likely to be satisfied. So you may be wondering what a man being satisfied has to do with anything. You see, women know that men who are satisfied with themselves are less likely to go out looking for someone to satisfy them and are more stable.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

4 Essential Steps You Must Take To Succeed With Anything

There are 4 essential steps you must take if you want to succeed with any project. A project is anything that requires a plan. It can be simple like making a plan to go to a movie, or could be complicated like setting up an Internet business. But simple or not, if you want your project to succeed you need to take the these four steps:

Step 1 Picture the Purpose.

Before you start any project you need to ask yourself what you really want. This might sound obvious, but it is amazing the number of people who don't know what they really want when they start a project. When you have answered that question you then need to ask yourself why you want what you want. This is very important as many people want something but don't really know why they want it. In the case of the movie your answer might be that your favourite star is in it. To the Internet business you might answer that you want to work from home so you can spend more time with your family.

Step 2 Plan the Procedure.

Once you have found the answers to the questions above you then need to ask yourself how you can get what you want. The best way to answer this question is to imagine you already have what you want! Now that might sound strange, but if you think about it, when you answered your first question you had some sort of picture in your mind. And when you answered your second question that picture must have become clearer. Now all you have to do is make the picture clearer still by imagining that you already have what you want. Then you ask yourself how you got it! In the case of the movie that should be easy. The steps to an Internet business maybe harder to see, but if you keep thinking, keep imagining you have what you want, something amazing will happen. You will start to see the steps you need to take. You will begin to see opportunities you haven't seen before. This may sound like magic but it is actually the Law of Attraction working for you. This is the law that works for everyone who truly wants success.

Step 3 Prepare with Patience.

So many people fail to prepare a project. They have an idea and they plunge right in. Sometimes it works but mainly it doesn't! You need to prepare both mentally and physically. If you are not prepared mentally the chances are you will fail physically. Preparation also requires patience. You would like to get going immediately but sometimes you have to wait. Maybe your project requires a lot of practice before you are ready to go. Or maybe you might have to rely on others who are not ready when you are.

Step 4 Perform with Pleasure.

So you now you know what you want, why you want it and how to get it. You have prepared and practiced and you are ready to go. However if your project involves other people, it may take time to get what you want. They may not have the same agenda or the same priorities as you. This is where you have got to keep focused on what you want to make happen. The way to do this is to continually imagine how great you will feel when you have got what you wanted. You must enjoy the whole "journey" to your success. Ask any successful person if they really enjoy what they do and I guarantee the answer will be yes! One last thing, keep records of your activity, they can help you when things are not going as well or as fast as you want. They can also remind you of the steps you took to get what you wanted.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

11 Tips to Making the Best Pork Ribs

Summer may be over, but there’s nothing like a great cookout in the brisk fall air! Here are 11 tips to making the best pork ribs of your late BBQ season (you can transfer some of these inside if you want to do them in the oven…but who says you can only fire up the grill in the summer?):
1. Purchase ribs that are evenly covered in meat. In other words, don’t buy a slab that is fatty on one end and fleshy on the other. Avoid slabs that have exposed bones!
2. Allow for one pound of ribs per guest. This is a generous helping but for more impressive appetites, make it two!
3. When preparing the meat, make sure you remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs with a sharp knife. If you don’t it blocks the flavor intake.
4. Always marinate your ribs in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Women We Love: Julia Mei

Julia Mei is a talented and ambitious young lady who’s always interested in new challenges. She was born in China, and raised in Canada; fluent in both English and Mandarin. She began her training in dance and piano when she was 4 and this eventually led to her vigorous training in the other arts such as singing and acting as well as modeling.
She is also a talented pianist, makeup artist, and hostess.
Her love for the spotlight pushes her to reach new heights of excellence in everything she pursues.
Name: Julia Mei
Occupation: Student/Model
Education: Graphic Communications Management
Stats: Pianist, Singer, Dancer, Model
How did you get started on your current career track?
I would say, I started modeling just as a hobby. My best friend enjoys photography, so it all started from there. We’d go and have photoshoots just for fun. And eventually she entered artwork into contests, and I became more serious with modeling as well. Now a days, I do alot of Fashion and Editorial modeling for magazines. Often times I also model for car shows because they’re honestly a lot of fun, and you get to meet a lot of great people.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

10 Easy Tips To Save Money On Your Home Heating Bills

With energy costs higher than they have ever been in recent history, it pays to find ways to save money on your home heating bills. Here are some tips that are easy, cost effective and will all add up to reduce your home heating bills by a significant amount! You don’t need to be Bob Villa either. Some take just a minute or two. Now is the time to start thinking about them, and even small changes will add up to big savings over the course of this cold winter!

Here are the 10 tips that will help to save on home heating costs:

1. Head down to the basement and reduce the setting on your hot water thermostat by about 10 degrees. Don’t go below 120-115 degrees. The adjustment dial is typically a red knob towards the bottom of the water tank.

2. While you are downstairs, make sure you have clean filters for your central air-heating unit. A dirty and clogged filter will force your unit to work much harder and stay on longer as it struggles to fresh air through the clogged filter to heat the rest of your house.

3. Check your air ducts for gaps, leaks or disconnects. If you have any disconnects or leaks in your ductwork, your heating bills could be 25% higher than they need to be if these gaps were sealed. If you can’t do this on your own, hire a professional. This expert can also clean your ducts for added efficiency.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

3 Great Coconut Shrimp Recipes

Summer is coming to a close, and that means the social season is just starting to heat up. If you're planning on hosting any game day parties, you'll need snacks. One of our favourites is coconut shrimp. If you love coconut shrimp, here are three different but very good coconut shrimp recipes to try, whether the guys are over for a game or you just need a quick appetizer for a quiet dinner for two.

Coconut Beer Batter Fried Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa

2 eggs
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup beer
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
coconut oil
3 cups grated coconut
Seasoning mix:
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2-1/4 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1-1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Thoroughly combine the ingredients for the seasoning mix in a small bowl and set aside.
Mix 1-1/4 cups of the flour, 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix, baking powder, eggs, and beer together in a bowl, breaking up all lumps until it is smooth.
Combine the remaining flour with 1-1/2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix and set aside. Place the coconut in a separate bowl.
Sprinkle both sides of the shrimps with the remaining seasoning mix. Then hold each shrimp by the tail, dredge in the flour mixture, shake off excess, dip in batter and allow excess to drip off. Coat each shrimp with the coconut and place on a baking sheet.
Heat deep fryer to 350°F. Drop each shrimp into the hot oil and cook until golden brown, approximately 1/2 to 1 minute on each side. Do not crowd the fryer. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Lay shrimp on large lettuce leaves and serve with Pineapple Salsa dip. Garnish with lemon, orange, or lime wedges.

Pineapple Salsa

1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
1/3 cup chopped red onion, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup pineapple preserves (or apricot-pineapple preserves)
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeno chili
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine ingredients and gently toss.

Coconut Shrimp Kabobs with Island Coconut Salsa

1 lb. shell-on shrimp, uncooked
1/3 cup coconut milk, canned and sweetened
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon red chili peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
12 to 18 fresh pineapple chunks

Island Coconut Salsa

1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons minced garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil or macadamia nut oil
Peel and devein shrimp retaining tails; set aside. Combine coconut milk, lime juice, garlic, red peppers, cumin, coriander and pepper; pour over shrimp. Marinate no more than 1 hour. Thread shrimp and pineapple chunks on skewers. Broil or grill, 3 minutes per side, or until shrimp are done. Arrange coconut shrimp on large lettuce leaves. Serve with Island Coconut Salsa on the side.

Caribbean Shrimp Run Down

1 lb shell-on shrimp, uncooked
3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
3 cups coconut milk
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
Finely chopped hot pepper to taste
1 lb. tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 t. fresh chopped thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Peel and devein shrimp retaining tails. Pour the lime juice over the shrimp and set aside. Cook the coconut milk in a heavy frying pan until it is oily. Add the onion, garlic and cook until the onion is tender. Add the hot pepper, tomatoes, salt and pepper, thyme and vinegar. Stir and cook very gently for 10 minutes.
Drain the shrimp, add the other ingredients and cook until the shrimp is tender, about 10 minutes. Serve hot over rice. Preparation time: 30 minutes.


Monday, September 9, 2013

New kinds of ouchness...

Work sometimes provides interesting opportunities to hurt myself in various creative ways. A few weeks ago, we determined that an interesting approach to engaging audiences with our series would be to look at the martial arts aspect. This lead directly to me whacking myself in the head with a piece of wood.

OK, it was a staff, and yes I have training, and yes I got sloppy. That's all beside the point.

The series is set in South India, specifically in the Kongu region of Tamilnadu. To the casual observer this means very little with regard to martial arts, but to those in the know, it means our heroes--the legendary kings Ponnar and Shankar--would most likely have been trained in the Tamil stick fighting style called Silambam. This is supported by several passages in the original legend referring to "32 fighting postures" and positions of the sword.

As it turns out, there is no Silambam school in Toronto, so we expanded our reach and found a Kalaripayattu school instead. This style is native to Kerala, which borders the region in which the story is set and therefore has a similar cultural background.

The styles, however, are quite different. Even so, with IMPACT hosting a workshop with German kalari expert Klaus Seewald, the research opportunity was too good to pass up.

And I discovered new kinds of ouchness...

Indian martial arts are very different from Chinese martial arts where my experience lies. The postures are quite low but extremely narrow, which is where the ouch factor came from for me. It was surprising to Klaus that my quads weren't sore given the low postures, but I did confess that my back and glutes were feeling it. The angle of the stances and the positioning of the spine in the low postures were unique to me in this form, and that's where I felt it.

At the same time, there was a significant yoga factor, as we spent the first hour of each session (3-4 hours per session, three days in a row) working on stretches and breathing. I'm the first to admit that I'm not as flexible as I should be, and this is what I've been looking at improving through these workshops anyway.

Am I converted to kalari? Not really, although structurally and physiologically I can see (and feel) the benefits. There hasn't been much discussion about the martial applications of the forms yet, as it's been pretty esoteric and linked to considerations like body alignment and breathing. But all fighting styles have fighting applications to go with them, so I'm sure if that's where your interest lies you could find value in it on that level.

There's another three-day session next weekend. I'm looking forward to breaking a lot more sweat.

Women We Love: Amanda Ranger

With a flair for dramatic images and a boundless energy for her work, Amanda (Amandy) Ranger has leaped up the social media mountain and attained a following and a fandom that is rapidly accelerating. A social worker by trade, her passion for her chosen occupation reflects her personal drive and motivation, especially when it comes to making a real difference. But to balance her life, taking up modelling as a "hobby" has taken on a new path of epic adventure.

Her fans, and the photographers who are lining up to shoot her, are all very happy about that.

edited handName: Amanda Ranger

Occupation: Social Work with the mental health population and the forensic mental health population.

Education: B.S.W/ R.S.W & Model (independent)

Stats: I am an eccentric, outgoing, energetic, motivated, odd, self diagnosed ADD, kind of a geek type of girl. I love people, travelling, trying new things, conquering new goals and living life to the fullest.

How did you get started on your current career track?
I always wanted to help people so initially I went into psychology and then decided social work was a better direction and would allow for more job opportunities. Then I recently started modelling which has become a hobby that is fun, creative and sometimes pays some bills :) I have the best of both worlds if you ask me.
[Read more... ]

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Who will grace the cover of The Man Sphere's 2013 Women We Love Dating Compilation?

As we get ready to close out 2013, we’ve once again collected the dating advice from all the amazing Women We Love interviews over the past year. The trouble is, we can’t decide who should be featured on the cover! So cast your vote and help us out. Voting ends Sept. 30.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Men We Admire: Denis Theriault

Canadian Actor Denis Theriault stars in comedic drama All the Wrong Reasons, premiering Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 6:45 PM at Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond St. W.) in Auditorium One during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). An additional screening will take place Monday, September 9, 2013 at 10 PM at Scotiabank Theatre’s Auditorium 10.
All the Wrong Reasons is an ensemble of four everyday people: a store manager, security guard, fire fighter and a clerk who struggle in the aftermath of trauma.
Denis is most recognized for his role in the feature film Growing Op as Shaun Leblanc, a high school reject who guides the lead actor through the troubles of teenage social hierarchy. Starring alongside Rosanna Arquette, Rachel Blanchard and Wallace Langham, Growing Op premiered at The Atlantic Film Festival in 2008.
His performances can also be seen on City’s Seed, HBO’s Call Me Fitz, The Movie Network/Showcase’sG-Spot and more. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Women We Love: Trenna Keating

Canadian actress Trenna Keating stars as Doc Yewll on SyFy and Showcase’s new hit series Defiance airing Monday evenings at 9 PM on SyFy and 10 PM on Showcase. 

With dangerous clashes between humans and aliens, military scavengers and other treacherous visitors, Defiance is a refugee camp left after a war between humans and aliens known as Votans.

Trenna’s character Doc Yewll arrived in Defiance following the Pale Wars, intending to stay a week before moving on to dispense medical care in other war-torn areas. Eight years later, Yewll still serves as the town’s doctor. As an Indogene – a technologically advanced Voltan race – she often finds her natural pragmatism perceived as a lack of bedside manner by most humans. However, Yewll’s unflappable brilliance is indisputably one of Defiance’s greatest assets.

Trenna can be recognized from her roles as Sergeant Hannah Corday on Global’s Combat Hospital. She can also be seen on Corner Gas, Little Mosque on the Prairie and Born and raised in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Trenna Keating likes spending her time off screen outdoors hiking and camping. She also has a passion for writing plays, cooking, playing Scrabble and Settler’s of Catan and of course, dancing in her living room.

  Name: Trenna Keating

  Occupation: Actor

  Education: BFA from the University of Regina, SK

  How did you get started on your current career track?
Trenna 3132 RGBI studied acting in university and spent several years after working in theatre and doing crew work in film. I have also spent several years in the casting room. I was a background casting director, a casting assistant and a casting director. When I moved to Toronto I began working as a reader for auditions.This was my introduction to the Toronto film industry. Most of what I have learned about acting has come from being on the other side of the camera watching actors work.

[Read more...]

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My first-ever progress pic (and ignoring naysayers)

Last night I was culling my wardrobe.

The process is a necessary one when you're losing weight. At each stage you toss out the size that no longer fits. It cleanses you, makes room for clothes that are suited to the new version of you. And it burns the ships.

I can't tell you how many times in the last year I've heard, "maybe you should hang onto know, in case you gain the weight back."

Sorry to be blunt, but fuck that. I don't want that as a "just in case" scenario. The objective here is to live better and leaner and stronger and make THAT my reality.

So as I pulled on this pair of pants; pants which, a little better than a year ago, fit me perfectly; my five-year-old daughter was playing with my phone. She clicked some pictures of stuff in my room, and a couple of me trying on old clothes. I saw this picture and was floored.

I don't normally post progress pictures. I take them, but that progress is for me, not you. Standing there trying on pants, I knew without a doubt that those size 38 slacks were too big. That was obvious. But just how much too big...well, here's the reveal:

I was just amazed at the difference. I had to share this pic. I put it on Facebook. I texted it to people. I emailed it to my mom. And I got a lot of congratulatory messages. But over the last year the messages I've had from people, even very recently, have been really mixed, and that's been a little surprising. So I'm going to offer some advice for those of you who are interested in improving. Fundamentally, ignore what other people say.

1. "That doesn't sound healthy"

As soon as I started training and losing weight, the negatives came out. People of all stripes had advice and suggestions of course, but I was able to ignore the negatives because I had done my research. I apply caloric control, regulate my carb intake, and practice intermittent fasting...all concepts recommended by top fitness experts and supported by a mountain of research.

2. "I believe in moderation"

Again, that's great. I recognize the fact that you're trying to help. But moderation doesn't work. I have a diet that appears weird to a lot of people. I don't own a toaster, because I don't buy bread. I don't own a microwave because I eat real food (actually, it just took up too much space for something I only used to heat up a cup of coffee at a time...I have a Keurig now -- problem solved!). By controlling my carb intake, I'm actually able to sneak an occasional cookie or ice cream with my kid, or have some bread with my dinner when I go to a restaurant.

3. "You need a balanced diet"

"Balance" in the diet is a myth. You NEED protein and fats for sure. You ADD carbohydrates in the form of vegetables and fruits. To most people, a balanced diet is one that incorporates a comfortable amount of foods they're addicted to (most likely cereals). In reality, "balance" means optimization, not equal amounts of good stuff to crap.

4. "I don't think you should do doctor suggested..."

Did it work? Awesome. But I'm betting it didn't, because doctors are on average about 15 years behind the current research in actual weight loss.

5. "Be careful. You don't want to get too thin."

Really? REALLY?? I'm working my ass off to get my weight down and add some muscle, and I'm being cautioned to not lose too much weight? This warning comes from at least two people: one of whom has never had any issue with their weight, and another who is chronically overweight. Trust me...I'm easily 30 lbs away from even approaching "too thin," and still have some inches to go before I even start showing abs. There's ZERO danger that "too thin" will be an issue.

You've read about my diet. You've read about my workout strategy. There's really nothing more to say apart from, "this shit works." It's a line I've heard repeatedly from people who have asked me for the solution to their weight problem. They see the results, and thanks to a camera-happy little kid, you can see the results too.

The fight's far from over, but so far, 2013 is working for me. How's yours going?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Time Training

Well, the stats are in. Although I haven't gained significant muscle mass (by measure), my weight has come down to 180 lbs., and my waist down to 35 inches (that's a loss of 12 lbs. and 2 inches). If we're using the Golden Ratio, I do need to cut 2-3 more inches from my waist, but so far I'm liking the results.

That was on the first 12-week AGR program, geared only towards losing fat. What didn't work was the diet plan. It was totally confusing, and even the "done-for-you" meal plans were strange. There was a lot of calculation left to do, and the complexity of it was a real nightmare, especially when following the weekly shopping list.

As you may know, I always try to follow a program to the letter as provided in order to give an honest review. In this case, it was impossible. The shopping list was literally compiled from the weekly servings, which meant (and I'm not joking) buying 1/6 of a grapefruit, and 5/6 of an apple. Not exactly strong planning. The argument in the forum was that it's "only a guideline." For twenty bucks, I don't expect a guideline, and I don't expect to spend time calculating substitutions on a list that was supposed to be done already.

Anyway, to make up for it, I switched to an eating plan that's sort of a cross between the Man 2.0 plan by Romaniello and Bornstein, and the 1-Day Diet by Josh Bezoni (via BioTrust). Bezoni suggests cutting calories by focusing on two liquid meals a day (read "protein shakes"), followed by a sensible dinner. This is similar to other programs, including the Visalus and Isagenix programs, as well as the Slim-Fast Plan. The major difference here is you're in control of what goes in the shakes.

In the Man 2.0 plan, the rules are straightforward as well: eat what you want (if it fits your macros), but do it within eight hours. This enables you to implement intermittent fasting by extending your overnight fast. It also does various hormonal things that amplify fat burning while controlling that dreaded insulin response. Adding to this, there's a day where I eat what I want, and one where I eat nothing.

Not sure about your macros? We took the Man 2.0 diet numbers and created a spreadsheet that does the math for you. ==>Here it is.<==

So, in the most general possible sense, my diet looks like this:

  • Lunch: Smoothie + Apple (noon)
  • Snack: Smoothie + Apple (mid-afternoonish)
  • Supper: Meat + Veggies (suppertime-ish)
  • Snack: maybe

Total daily cals = about 1200-1500 (where my maintenance is about 1800). Sounds weak, right? But I'm not lacking energy, my sugar and cholesterol numbers are awesome, and I'm losing fat and gaining muscle. Not huge muscle...that's still to come. But the muscle is building for sure (I even bought a barbell).

Now, that's for Monday through Saturday. Sunday is usually cheat day, where I eat whatever I want (including breakfast). Good news for festival and carnival season! (mmmm...Ribfest) Monday, then, is a fast day, which resets Leptin levels and burns fat. Tuesday is a regular day on the above plan, but I don't have my first meal until noon, so it's really like a 36-hour fast. It sounds awful, but it's totally doable.

So, now we're onto the next 12 weeks, and I was struggling with what to do for workouts. The solution was to just keep doing what I was doing, and move on to the next part of the same program. So for the next three months, I'm on the "Build & Burn" cycle of the Adonis Golden Ratio. Why not? The Burn program worked, so I'll just move forward with this.

I have an older copy which does recommend using some HIIT workouts. It just happens that I've found my muscles and joints have been getting stiff, so to increase mobility I'm also applying the no-intensity and low-intensity workouts from TACFIT (sort of a calisthenics and light stretching program for recovery and mobility). I'm also using Craig's 4-minute metabolic miracles to amp up the metabolism on off days, and supplementing with the Maybe Mudder workouts on Saturdays (this is right from the Tough Mudder website).

So, if you want to know, the whole plan looks like this:

  • Monday: (fast day; regular day if Sunday is a fast day instead)
    • Morning: Adonis Golden Ratio
    • Evening: TACFIT Day 1 (low intensity, mostly joint mobility)
  • Tuesday: (regular day)
    • Morning: TACFIT Day 2 (low intensity, mostly stretching), 4 Minute Miracle
  • Wednesday: (regular day)
    • Morning: AGR
    • Evening: TACFIT Day 1
  • Thursday: (regular day, sometimes extra fast day)
    • Morning: TACFIT Day 2, 4 Minute Miracle
  • Friday: (regular day)
    • Morning: AGR
  • Saturday: (regular day; cheat day if something's going on)
    • Morning: Maybe Mudder (do this outside!!)
    • Afternoon: AGR
  • Sunday: (cheat day; fast day if I decide to cheat on Saturday instead)
    • Rest

Got it? go break a sweat.

Here's a great smoothie, to give you an idea:

1 cup (8 oz) unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3/4 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
2 scoops vanilla BioTrust LowCarb protein powder (or whey protein of your choice)

Mix. Drink.

Cal: 383.5. P: 40.75. C: 15.75. F: 16.6

You can add a handful of baby spinach if you need an extra veggie boost to your day. This stuff is low enough that I don't count it in my calorie numbers in this quantity.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rackin' frackin' hackin'...

So, regular readers may have noticed there's been a definite slow down in the posting routine at The Man Sphere in the last couple of months.

It turns out the template we were using on the site had actually suffered from a fairly intrusive hack. Now, what happened was the hackers somehow got into the template files and added a whole bunch of invisible URLs to the home page. These URLs would turn up on search engines, allowing the hacker to claim them as backlinks to their websites.

Their many, many websites.

Well, Google caught hold of this, and apparently having dozens of hidden links with invisible text on your website is a violation of their advertising policy. To this end, they shut down our entire account (as a publisher, that is). This is the only explanation we can think of, because Google has the ability to cancel your advertising account without warning, and without having to actually provide an explanation as to why they're doing it. It means I'm never allowed to participate in their ad programs again for as long as I live (nice, eh?)

Anyway, in addition to this, we also found an extra web page that was added to an inactive Wordpress theme that was apparently redirecting people to a fake Citibank phishing site. Derp! This page went entirely unnoticed by us or the hosting company. The net result was we got spanked way down the search engine rankings, and as a result we've been playing catch up like mad just getting the housekeeping done.

New passwords, new databases, new template, and new ad platforms. And no new articles. In short, it's been a bit of a nightmare.

But all that's about to change. As you know, we've put out a stack of new products, and will be rolling out more in short order. In addition, we've just launched the Man Under Construction Project, which is the most exciting development.

The Man Under Construction Project is designed to be a six-month e-course for men recovering from divorce, or who are just trying to get their lives back in order. The trial run is happening right now on The Man Sphere, and will be free for the remainder of 2013. Just swing over there, get signed up, and you'll be in the loop.

That's exciting stuff, because it's the project I've been working on for the better part of the last four years...and it's finally coming to life! So if you're a regular reader, and a regular dude, I encourage you to have a look at the course, and come along for the ride. You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Five New Products on The Man Sphere

It's been a really hectic couple of weeks. Last week I was on holidays from work, so I took the time to get The Man Sphere tweaked up a bit with some new articles (published this week), along with putting the finishing touches through my affiliate network on the launch of the TMS Metabolic Nightmare.

In addition, I really put the hammer down on my diet and workout programs in preparation for Monday's photo shoot with Revolve Talent. By switching to an intermittent That alone was worth the price of admission, but I'll save the pics for after the touch ups are done!

This week, even though I'm back to work and scrambling to get caught up on correspondence and other items of emergent crisis, I finally also got the first category of new retail info products ready for the Sphere. The first set is entirely devoted to self-confidence and overcoming the basic block most guys have with moving forward after they've suffered a demoralizing setback like divorce or job loss.

These are the products we just launched today:

Positive Thinking and Self-Talk Tactics Revealed: A comprehensive guide to using self-talk to produce positive thinking and project a happier, more confident, and more successful self. Self-talk is one of the primary motivators in both driving people into a depressive state and pulling them out of one, and this guide helps the reader through that process to create a healthy, positive state of mind.

How to Build Your Self EsteemA great guide to not only reveal what self esteem is and how to determine your own level of self esteem, but also on how to enhance your own self esteem and that of others. Becoming a leader who encourages others and takes pride in their own accomplishments is one of the hardest balancing acts there is, and this report shows you how to do just that.

51 Ways to Overcome ShynessAn excellent addition to any course on confidence, this short, easy to follow report walks you through overcoming one of the biggest obstacles most guys face in trying to achieve their goals. Whether it's engaging in conversation with a stranger, speaking your mind at work, or getting a girl's phone number, shyness is one of those unfortunate states that gets in the way of true confidence. This report tackles all of that.

The Power of Self ConfidenceThis four-page report is packed with useful advice on how to build self-confidence. The power of self-confidence lies in creating new opportunities, and trusting oneself to see them through. Even just using the simple daily exercises in this report can help guys get back on track and taking charge of their lives. A must have free report for anyone looking to boost their confidence.

These haven't been released as affiliate products (as yet), but they are starting to generate some buzz already. We're merely retailing them of course, but they will form one of the info product cornerstones of the Man Under Construction project, which is the whole point. Watch for more products in the coming weeks, as we build our platform for the big release of Man Under Construction (can you tell I'm getting excited?).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The strange lives of bass

Some of you might know that I work at a small, out of the way animation studio in the country. Right outside my window is a beautiful vista, complete with a nicely stocked bass pond.

Watching the birds and following the signs of spring as they've gradually unfurled has been a great distraction over the last couple of weeks, and now that the weather is finally becoming reliably warm getting out for a walk (and hopefully soon also some terrain training) is a daily ritual.

Well, let me tell you about this bass pond...

There's a pretty healthy population of largemouth bass, and an even bigger population of various sunfish. Pumpkinseed and bluegill seem to be the most prevalent. No, I haven't done much fishing, but I may this year just because it's been a while since I've wet a line.

Anyway, there is one large-ish bass my bosses have named Freddy. Freddy lives under the dock, and is missing most of his tail fin. He's also fairly tame, and enjoys a snack of cat kibble from time to time.

But that's not what I'm writing about today. Today I saw the strangest thing I've ever seen bass do. Along the shoreline, where it's nice and warm (but still devoid of weeds, being early spring and all), smaller bass and sunfish like to sit and warm themselves. So do the minnows they snack on.

Under normal conditions, bass are ambush predators. They hide in cover or rest suspended in deeper water and strike at unsuspecting prey fish. That's important.

Today, I watched smaller bass -- sometimes alone, sometimes as a group -- rush at schools of minnows and then suddenly stop short of striking. It thought this was bizarre so I observed. Well, damned if they didn't pause a moment, and then strike one at a time.

Follow me on this. What they were doing was rushing towards a school of minnows and the stopping. The startled minnows fled into shallower water, but were trapped against the shore. From there, the bass could just dart in and grab whatever minnow they wanted.

No word of a lie, these bass were actually corralling the minnows against the shoreline for easy pickings. Yikes!

Since I've never heard of bass either a) working as a team or b) strategically corralling their prey, my only conclusion (until I hear otherwise, of course) is that this is an adaptive behaviour...something they've figured out, and then taught to others. We know they remember -- Freddy, for example, always returns to his territory under the dock, and knows the sound of footsteps will get him some kibble, even though it's been half a year since he's been hand fed. The rest of the fish know when a human silhouette appears on the shore there's a chance someone will be dumping a bucket of minnows (my boss keeps the pond stocked with bait fish as well, to feed the bass), and flock closer to the shore.

But this was a complete surprise. I find animals fascinating, because the more we learn about them, the more we realize how adaptable we are. If they're so remarkable as to develop a new hunting strategy in the absence of good cover, how remarkable must we be in overcoming obstacles that block our success? I think I'm going to mull this one over for a while.

And get my tackle ready for the season.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just one more exercise...

As I sat there, already exhausted, I looked at the clock.

6:07. I'd been at this shit since 5:30.

I looked at the chart again. I couldn't even fathom the ridiculousness of doing that circuit again. The protocol called for one more time, but my brain, fogged with sweat and oxygen and fatigue and the laundry list of things that needed doing before my daughter even got out of bed, started up the conversation.
"You can stop now," it said. "'re beat. Just drink some water and get started on breakfast. You don't have time to finish anyway." 
"Oh, there's time," my other brain said. "You're right though...I'm beat."
This back-and-forth went on for a while. Finally the timer went off. Three minutes I'd been resting, waiting to start up the last circuit. I said to myself, " can stop now and pat yourself on the back for doing things half-assed. Or you can nut up and do what you said you were going to do."

"Yeah yeah," I answered. "But my legs are shaking and my gut's tight. I feel like I'm going to puke."

I could go on with my life just fine without finishing this workout. But I expect others to do what they say they're going to do. My turn to step up to the plate.

"You're not going to puke and you know it. How can you publish a story like that, and then not finish one damn workout? You're tired? That's it? ...OK...just do the push ups and call it quits."

I hit the floor and banged out the push ups. 21, full form. "Huh," I thought, "...not so bad. Maybe just the step ups then..." and out rolled 13 step ups.

"See?" I chided myself. "You only have one left on this round...go ahead and do the roll outs. That'll be the round."

So I did.

The conversation proceeded in this manner until all five of the rounds had disappeared. At each stage, I offered myself the respite of "just one more exercise." And when that one was done, it was just one more again.

Fifteen exercises in total. No breaks. Don't ask me how many reps. But got through it without puking and without crashing. And when I caught my breath, I felt good.

And, in case you're wondering, I finished by 6:30, and had time to make breakfast before my daughter woke up.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Excuses, anyone?

I'm great at procrastinating.

There, I said it. But the fact that I said it is the important part, because it means I recognize that weakness in myself and I'm able to make a point of avoiding it. What I don't do -- or try to avoid doing -- is make excuses that enable my procrastination.

Except when it comes to housework...but that's another post.

Yesterday I got stuck waiting for a train, which almost made me miss my daughter's drop off time at daycare (they walk the kids over to school), which almost made me have to wait half an hour to drive her to school (because there's only so early you can leave a kid alone in a schoolyard), which would have made me very late for a video shoot in Scarborough. I texted my friend while sitting at the rail crossing that I could be screwed.

"Screwed?" he texted back. "No understanding from the boss? Being the single dad of a 5 year old girl? Things happen?"

My response: "That's not an excuse. That's a single mom excuse."

Now, he knows what I'm talking about, but readers here might appreciate a bit of context before jumping all over me on that comment.

Here's the thing: I know a lot of single moms, and my friend; being a teacher; does as well. Some of them are fantastically dynamic. Others like to use what we call the "single mom excuse."
"Why are you so tired?"
"I'm a single mom."
"Why didn't you pay your phone bill?"
"I'm a single mom."
"Why are you always late for work?"
"I'm a single mom."
You know the pattern -- and don't pretend you haven't heard the excuse. There's absolutely no denying that being a single parent is extremely challenging. I know, because I live it. And unlike a lot of dads out there, I live it Monday to Friday, which means I get the school day morning rush part of the equation.

But one thing I refuse to do is to fall into single mom excuses. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it's unavoidable. But there are things that have to happen in life:

  • You have to pay your bills.
  • You have to be at work on time.
  • You have to eat.
  • You have to be clean.
  • You have get your kid to school.
These things are non-negotiable. All of them. So yes, sometimes there's a train. Sometimes you sleep in (but that's a poor excuse under any circumstances). Sometimes kids get sick. Sometimes there's a snow storm. The difference between the excuse and the action is that it's always been my view -- and you and I can thank my parents for this world view -- that what an adult does is mitigate the damage of these things that happen. 

Get stopped by a train on your way to work? Skip stopping at Tim's to get your coffee and get your ass to work. No cash for your phone bill? Call them and warn them it's going to be paid on payday (yup, they'll actually work with you to get your account paid). No cash for gas? Get a ride...and don't go out on the weekend! Slept in? You're missing your workout, buddy.

I don't claim to have all the answers to single parenthood. Not by a long shot. My tricks are a combination of remembering how I was raised and making stuff up as I go along. Here are a few pointers, though, that can help you keep your sanity:

1.,, and Since she was two years old, my daughter has known how to navigate to these buttons on my browser bar using the touchpad on my laptop. Good news: these are fun, educational channels full of activities. Better news: she stays glued to the screen while I grab my shower in the morning.

2. Contrary to popular belief, small children are perfectly capable of helping. In fact, they thrive on it. My daughter is in school on Tuesdays and Thursdays (junior Kindergarten, after all). So she packs her lunches on Monday and Wednesday, and puts them in the fridge overnight. She also picks out her clothes before bedtime, so we don't have to rush. Guess what. She LIKES doing this stuff, because it gives her some control over her world and a sense of responsibility.

3. She now gets dressed and brushes her teeth while I'm in the shower, so there's no longer a need to do things in sequence...we can, in fact, each take care of our different routines at the same time.

4. I know a few single moms who often feel defeated because they have to shovel the driveway (or mow the lawn), make supper, wash the dishes, and get the kids' lunches ready for the next day. I get all of that...what irks me, though, is when the "kids" are aged 13 and 16. "Oh, but they have homework." Uh huh. From the age of 8 I was washing and/or drying the dishes and sweeping the kitchen floor (as were both my sisters). From age 12 I was mowing the lawn -- reluctantly, but I did it. I made all my own breakfasts and lunches, and I helped with the laundry. In fact, from age 16 I mostly washed my own clothes and helped with the family's laundry (again, somewhat reluctantly...I was a teenage boy after all). From the time I started wearing dress shirts and suits (which was in high school, for various music-related jobs), I can't remember a time when I didn't do the lion's share of ironing my clothes. And I had homework the whole time. Get over it. It's just homework.

My point is, being a single parent is a pain in the ass, no doubt about it. But the responsibility to avoid excuses falls to the parent, and it's perfectly possible to make life happen within the scope of having to look after kids. Just to give you an idea, so you don't think I'm slacking off or have it easy in any way, here's what's required of my day:
  • Wake up at 5:30 a.m.
  • Work out for 30-60 minutes (because as you'll see, this is the only time I have to do this).
  • Feed myself and my daughter.
  • Make my lunch, and my daughter's.
  • Shower, shave, etc.
  • Dress myself and my daughter.
  • Get her teeth brushed. Remember to brush mine.
  • Scramble to the door.
  • Notice the cat has no food and respond accordingly.
  • Remember the fish needs to be fed too.
  • Pack lunches, computers, homework, and miscellaneous things that she needs for school (which can be anything from a show-and-share toy to ensuring she's in full Supergirl costume; or the latest "Fairy Storm Trooper Biker Scout Super Mario Ballerina" regalia; for random costume days).
  • Get her to daycare by 8.
  • Rush home to grab the computer and/or lunch that I forgot on the way out the door.
  • Get to work by 8:30 with only a few moving violations to make up for time (work is 20 minutes away from the daycare).
  • Text "good morning" to about 30 people who otherwise would feel neglected if I didn't -- or sometimes perform the experiment and see who texts me first (usually about 3 of those people...I'm thinking of skipping the texts altogether, except it's the closest thing I have to a social life).
  • Work 8 hours.
  • Pick her up by 5:30.
  • Put food in both of us.
  • Chase down advertisers for the website.
  • Write. Write. Write some more.
  • Bathe and entertain her.
  • Tuck her into bed, hopefully by 8:30 (luckily she's a very good bedtimer).
  • Try to be engagingly social via text and social media while all of this is going on.
  • Crash in my bed by about 10:30.
That's on regular days. On Thursdays I also have two hours of private teaching and a choir to conduct, so my work day goes to about 10 p.m..

I think you can understand why I find the question, "What?! You don't have cable?!" utterly laughable.

I believe it's also understandable, therefore, when I occasionally skip a workout, or opt for McDonalds as an occasional time saver, or don't sign my kid up for soccer (really? a 4 p.m. soccer game when I get off work at 5? ...really?).

The point, once again, is not that I'm looking for pity or praise. I'm not even looking for donations to keep the website running (although I wouldn't refuse them). I'm not looking to single any group out as being lazy by contrast either. The point is, I'm an adult, and I take it as my job to keep excuses to a minimum and just get this shit done. And if your kids are old enough to talk, they're old enough to start doing some things for themselves. 

Being a single parent doesn't mean you have a free pass to miss appointments or fall behind. So now when somebody tells me they don't have time to exercise, I simply tell them what they don't have time for is sleeping in or watching late-night TV. 

And yes, I reserve the right to be pissed off when a train rolls through town at rush hour. Not everyone can live in a blissed-out state of Zen all the time. Sometimes you're just pissed about being late.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Progress in the workout...but...

This morning I gunned through the entire circuit workout, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. I'm not totally out of shape, but those long circuit sets are a killer if you're not used to more than 30 minutes of work, so I'm really pleased that I was able to push through.

The secret is going in shorter bursts. I don't think "21 reps" ...I think, "give me 4. OK...4 more. OK, now three plus two..." until all the reps are finished.

So, for three months I was working other programs, and working like a dog, and staying stable at 195 with a 37" waist. I got that down to 192 on starting AGR, but I was perplexed as to why all of my measurements stayed the same.

Consulting several trainers (including a few high-profile online guys I know...and you've heard of them), the general consensus was that I'm not eating enough to sustain muscle growth, and therefore not firing up my metabolism.

Jumping on the AGR, I've been pretty optimistic. Now, I'm used to the whole "muscle weighs more than fat" thing...I've been doing this for a long time. But I've been following the eating fat loss workout and meal plan to the letter for a week. As of this morning, I'm up three lbs and have gained half an inch on my waist. 

This is INCREASING my normal daily meals from about 1200 to about 1600-1800. I don't see that as a huge factor, but it was given as a reason my fat hasn't been coming off. My major foods have always been meat, vegetables and fruit. I generally avoid starches except for oatmeal and occasionally rice. So, I'm totally open to suggestions. I know it's only a week in so I don't expect a lot of change, but if there's going to be change I'd obviously prefer it be in the other direction!