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The Man Bicep Mom Visits Boston

My mom came to visit this weekend!

One of the few people I look tall next to!!! ūüėČ

We ate lots of deliciously non Primal food. Walked around a ton (and went shopping!). Did an hour of cycling and lifted heavy weights.

The Man Bicep Mom took her first spin class and did 3 pull ups even though she never does them! AWESOME!

It was all in all – WONDERFUL.

A couple of “observations” from this weekend:

  1. We are killing our kids by letting them eat crap and be lazy bums on the couch.
  2. It is SUPER easy to eat Primally at almost any “nicer” restaurant. I mean honestly, you really have no excuse not to stick to your diet.
  3. Circuit training really does prepare you for any physical activity.
  4. Getting older shouldn’t mean just accepting physical decline.

Ok…so let’s start off with the first observation.

My mom and I went to Mike’s Pastry in the North End. It is sort of a tradition for us when she comes to visit. We get chocolate covered cannoli¬†and cappuccinos and we sit and gossip at a table in the bakery for hours.

This last time when we were there, a hoard of 13-14 year olds came swarming in. They were probably on a field trip in the North End – seeing the Old North Church and some of the other landmarks in the area.

What surprised me was the fact that all of the kids were allowed to get HUGE pastries.

And the other thing that surprised me was that about 80% of the children were overweight.

I’m sorry if this sounds mean, but what popped into my head was “Why are these kids being allowed to eat this when they should be outside on this wonderful day running around?”

Why was eating crap at Mike’s Pastry part of this classes field trip? Was this really necessary? Why at least didn’t they take the snacks outside somewhere where they could also run around?

Am I the only one sort of sickened by the fact that the adults and parents didn’t seem to care that their kids were out of shape and really shouldn’t be eating all of the crap? Am I over-thinking this whole incident?

Ok observation number two…It is super easy to eat well at any nice restaurant.

I’ve found it to be very interesting that at nice restaurants they cook mostly Primal foods. Usually they don’t even cook things in vegetable oils, but instead use lard and butter and olive oil.

Also, unless you go to an Italian restaurant, there really aren’t even that many carbs on the menu. At steak houses, they generally serve potatoes. At seafood places, it is usually potatoes or maybe even rice.

And at this restaurant Clio that we went to, there were only even a handful of non-vegetable/fruit carbs served throughout the entire 7 course meal! There were only a few potatoes and parsnips served in a couple of dishes. No rice. No bread. No pasta.

No excuse to really cheat on your diet.

So if culinary tradition says we should cook with animal fats and barely serve any carbs besides fruits and vegetables, why do we load down every meal with carbs and vegetable oils? When did cooking with processed crap and carbs become the norm while only restaurants run by Iron Chefs cook with whole foods?

Don’t you think there is a reason that our culinary tradition avoids using a ton of wheat and vegetable oils? To me this is just more proof of how right the whole idea of eating more “Primally” is.

So my third observation has to do with the Man Bicep Mom. My mom does weight training and plyometric circuits. She never does pull ups and she has never taken a spin class. She also has never done any powerlifting. Yet today she did all three…pretty easily actually.

She survived an hour of spin that would be difficult for even an advanced cyclist (trust me I know…I had people who spin all of the time in my class today who looked like they were dying).

She then also did some powerlifting and busted out three pull ups even though she literally never does them.

Why could she do all of this so easily?

Her weight training and cardio circuits!

She does fast paced circuits that pretty much incorporate everything. She uses dvds from The Firm, which I might add are great for a home exerciser who doesn’t necessarily want to only do powerlifting moves.

The circuits include weights and plyometrics, kettlebells, yoga and even Pilates. They really strengthen the entire body.

And because she is doing all of these different things to build her strength and cardiovascular endurance, she had no problem doing the spinning or the weight training.

I have people who attempt their first spin class after only doing hours of cardio who struggle. And you wouldn’t think they would, would you?

But they do. They aren’t prepared for the short bursts of high intensity sprints. They aren’t prepared for adding a ton of resistance as they climb a hill. They legs aren’t prepared for jumps or even isolation.

They aren’t prepared because they are only used to one thing – long, chronic cardio.

But the Man Bicep Mom? She was prepared. The plyometric drills included in her circuits prepared her for sprint intervals. Her weight training strengthened her legs and core so she could climb hills and easily stabilize her body in and out of the saddle.

Her body was used to variety and used to being pushed.

So if you want to be a¬†renaissance fitness woman, ¬†you’ve got to do circuits and mix it up! Even if you love running, throw in some weight training circuits every once in a while! They will even help your running!!!!

This all leads to my fourth and finally observation for this weekend – Age isn’t an excuse for being out of shape PERIOD. End of story. That’s it.

I have clients that say to me, “Well I’m ____age. I’m not going to be able to do the same things I did when I was young.

Can I just say that the statement above is absolute HORSE SHIT!?! (Sorry but it honestly is.)

Yes your body is going to age. Yes some things may become more difficult and you may decide you don’t like doing certain exercises any more because they do bother your body more.

But you can still be fit and as physically able as when you were young.

Don’t believe me? Just go look at the Man Bicep Mom posts! Just read what I wrote above!

I mean even just today my mom said that she honestly didn’t feel any different from when she was younger except that sometimes she feels like she gets out of shape a bit faster when she takes time off.

So next time you think you can’t do a physical activity because of your age, think about hitting the gym a couple of times a week. A little hard work in the gym can go a long way toward better quality of life and renewed physical strength. You may even find that some great circuit training will make you stronger and help you move better than you even did when you were younger!

So age is no excuse! Workout and stay young!

Anyway, I hope all of you Man Bicepers out there had just as wonderful a weekend with someone close to you as I did. ūüôā

Man Bicep Mom – Are we forcing our children to compete?

Showing off the man bicep!

At the beginning of each speed skating season, my dad would ask me if I was sure I wanted to skate.¬†“Are you sure you like it?¬†Are you sure you want to compete?”

My answer was always yes, but I’m sure that if I had said no, my father would have let me quit.¬†And my father was very involved in the sport.¬† He eventually became the head coach of my speed skating club.

I speed skated because I wanted to, because I loved it, not to please my father.

Now, you know, I’m a big advocate of competitive sports for kids, but sometimes I wonder how many of our kids are doing their sport
because they want to and love it.  Or are they just doing it because we want them to and it looks good on their college application?

In one of Cori’s high school classes, they did a little survey asking them if they liked their extracurricular sports activity.¬† Cori was the only one in her class who liked her sports activity.¬† We were both amazed.

Now, I suppose, there is nothing harmful about strongly encouraging your child to participate in a high school team sport…lots of character building benefits and it does look good on the college application and the exercise is really good for them…unless they hate it.

If your child really doesn’t like their competitive sport or any sport, please, don’t force them to compete.¬† The detrimental effects far outweigh any
benefits.

As the parent of a junior tennis player, I had plenty of opportunity to witness children being forced to play by their parents.¬† Hey, if you’re good and make it to the pros, there’s lots of fame and fortune.¬† That makes for lots of pushy parents.

At least the kid is the one who wants the fame and fortune I guess...

So here is a sad story about parents forcing their child to play a competitive sport.  This family really wanted their children to succeed at tennis.  Before they pulled their children out of all clinics and hired a coach to teach them exclusively, I taught the youngest
daughter in a clinic.  She was six or seven years old.  She definitely had talent, great hand eye coordination.  She was a sweet kid and I enjoyed teaching her.

One day, I found her doing handsprings, round-offs and cartwheels on the tennis court.¬† I told her that I was impressed; she was really good.¬†She said, “I really love gymnastics.¬† That’s what I want to do, but my parents won’t let me.¬† I don’t want to play tennis.¬† I don’t like it.”

I told her to tell her parents that she didn’t want to play.¬† She said that she had, but they said they didn’t care and that she was going to play tennis.

Well, this sweet, talented little girl is now seventeen or eighteen, a senior in high school and still playing tennis.¬† But she hates it and it’s obvious.¬† She cheats, has tantrums on the court and curses at her opponents and coaches.¬† Her behavior is unbelievably rude and outrageous.¬†She makes her coaches miserable and at every event they are deluged with complaints about her.

I contend that this girl is miserable. She hates tennis and doesn’t want to play. She acts out on the court, venting all her rage and frustration.¬† I think she wants someone to yank her off the court.¬† I think she’s hoping her coaches will bench her or her parents will make her stop because of
her bad behavior.

So why do her parents continue to force her to play?  Rumor has it that she plays so that she can get into an Ivy League college.  But this
one may backfire on the parents.¬† College tennis coaches have been known to pass on discipline problems.¬† They don’t want to commit to a four-year headache.

And I ask you ‚Äď is that Ivy League college really so important that you would want to make your child miserable competing in a sport they didn’t like?

And so I repeat – if your child really doesn’t like their competitive sport or any sport, please, don’t force them to compete.¬† The detrimental effects far outweigh any benefits.

P.S.¬† I know one family where the child didn’t like their sport and the parents let them quit.¬† The kid tried some other sports and activities and then, a couple of years later, decided to go back to the original sport.¬† This time the child loved the sport and excelled at it.¬†Everyone was happy!

(P.P.S. The Man Bicep Mom is so right on! In our family, Drew played tennis but didn’t really enjoy it. My mom kept telling her to stop playing if she didn’t like it. When Drew¬†finally decided to quit,¬†she was super happy with her decision and found other hobbies that she loved like music. She stayed active though and came with me to lift weights each summer that I was home during college.¬†Drew did start playing tennis¬†again during high school and found that this time she really enjoyed it (and kicked some major butt while doing it!). PLUS during all that time she wasn’t wasting doing something she didn’t like, Drew fell in love with music and found out that she is an AMAZING saxophone player! She is now a Music Education major at Indiana University (who still remains very active!). So not forcing Drew to play tennis seemed to have¬†turned out pretty darn well…)

Man Bicep Mom – March to the Beat of Your Own Drum

I’m a big believer in competitive sports for kids.¬† Competing in a sport is a wonderful, character building experience.

Thinking back on my own experiences in ice skating and tennis, I marvel at all the things I learned from competing in a sport.

First off, I had to learn to organize my time.  If I wanted to get all my homework done and get good grades, I had to learn to prioritize and use my time efficiently.  Since I had a smaller window for doing my homework each evening, I learned to apply myself when I sat down to study.  The endless evening of studying (or avoiding it) was not an option.

I had to learn to plan ahead for those weekends when I was out-of-town at skating meets.¬† You didn’t study at a skating meet.¬† I think the need to organize and plan ahead gave me a feeling of control and accomplishment.

And then, of course, there were those days when you just didn’t want to skate or workout or play tennis.¬† I remember doing rain dances, pleading with the skies to open up so I didn’t have to go to a skating workout.¬† But most of the time the workouts happened and I went and practiced hard.

I learned how to push myself.  I learned how to push myself in a workout even though I was tired.  I learned how to push past the pain in a race to cross the finish line.  I learned how to push past the nerves in a tennis match and continue to go for my shots.

Once again I had a feeling of control and accomplishment.

I learned about cheating and confronted the kind of person I wanted to be.¬† In tennis it’s very easy to cheat.¬† Unless you’re a pro you call your own lines and your own score.¬† It’s very easy to call that in ball out when you want it to be out so badly.¬† It’s a big decision to decide that you want to win fairly.¬† It’s a decision that can affect your whole life.¬† Too bad more parents and coaches aren’t helping their young athletes make the right choice.¬† Boy, do I have stories about that‚Ķ

So I learned how to organize my time and plan ahead and push myself beyond what I thought I could do.¬† I began to define myself as a person and find my moral center.¬† I felt pretty good about myself ‚Äď mature, accomplished and self-confident. I was busy doing something that I loved.

In talking to friends years later, I realized that I had missed a lot of the sturm und drang of high school.  All the social one-upmanship and petty gossip went right past me.  I was just too busy to pay any attention and, maybe, had enough confidence in myself to ignore it.

I also had enough confidence to march to my own drummer. ¬†I loved my sports, but they often conflicted with parties, social events and dates.¬† I chose the sports ‚Äď skating meets and tennis tournaments ‚Äď and have never regretted it.¬† So did Cori.¬† She chose tennis over parties.

I remember having to fill out a questionnaire for Cori’s guidance counsel to help her with her letter of recommendation for Cori for college.¬† I remembering putting down that Cori marched to her own drummer.¬† I watched Cori ignore the mean, popular girls and side-step the drinking and drugs.¬† She played her tennis and got good grades.¬† She stayed focused and determined.

Of course, you can learn a lot of these lessons doing other activities.  But mix these lessons with endorphins and a possible lifestyle choice and you have a winning combination.

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