Using Travel to Reconnect

So as many of you know, and for those who do not, my wife and I love to travel. I lived abroad for almost 10 years in the UK and experienced many countries and cultures growing up. Since meeting my spouse I have tried to share that with her, and she has become addicted to it.

For us, its not just saying we went somewhere and saw something. We do it for the experiences. Bavaria, Germany and Austria are where my soul feels at home sometimes and I long to go back. Ireland and Northern Europe, my ancestral routes. Italy, where a quarter of my heritage originated, Iceland – where I experienced a spiritual awakening and connection with the earth that I must return to.

With everything opening back up due to COVID ending as WW3 begins, my wife and I thought against Europe, but are instead going on another adventure trip, this time to Alaska. MG and his wife will be joining us as we head into the great white north to experience arctic terrain again with unprecedented beauty.

What I find when we travel though, is my wife and I reconnect and enjoy being together again. Our normal issues from day to day life seem to fall away and we have that spark and excitement again. It lets us experience new things together that we can think back on in the future. To identify more and more different things we like to do, and experience all our lives have to offer us.

Now am I saying this is a panacea to all of marriages/relationship woes? No. But if you and your partner can connect and reestablish healthy activities together, experience new things together, work and forge that commitment again, together – you are going to find you are probably happier together as well.

Now I am not saying book a trip to Europe and all will be fine. A lot of people can’t afford that or Alaska, but you can afford camping, maybe staying with friends in other states, or hitting up motels along classic Route 66. Either way, you can find ways to affordably see things you never have before, even in your own country. Do not let life slip you by, the world is too big and beautiful with great peoples and cultures to only stay one place.

Go live life, reconnect with your honey, and enjoy what time you have!

Heck one day … maybe you even take the kids!

AFD 1 *

New Writer Incoming

Hey all

Happy 2022 – or you know 2020 part 3.
We have a new father coming on board to contribute to the site and bring in a fresh set of eyes as BPD and I have been up to ours in diapers!

MG is the new contributor and is also a new father. We share a love off Brewing, Sports and Fishing. We are friends and alumni of the same University ( WE ARE.. PENN STATE) as myself and BPD.

New stuff coming down the pike at you fast and hard for 2022.

Till then Keep Frosty

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AFD

How to have a happy(er) life.

With that lofty title I present to you 4 things to make you happier
1. Workout
2. Eat good food (not crap from a box or pre-made)
3. Try to meditate/clear your mind/ brain dump
4. Get some intimacy from your partner.

There you go. Simple right?

Now of course that isn’t as simple as it sounds – but why? I am going to suggest a rather Spartan approach you can take and try for a week to see how it makes you feel.

1. Start a workout program – anything is better then nothing, do it 3 times a week. A kettlebell will give you more then enough exercises for you to get the blood going and the muscles pumping.

2. Try to eat better food – meats, eggs fruits veggies. Avoid dairy if you can and “white” carbs – any carb that is or could be made white.

3. Meditate – use box breathing from a previous post or the calm app with its *free* meditations or google Mokuso Meditation and perform any for at least 5 minutes daily. You will think of other things, that’s ok, just acknowledge that and move on.

4. Talk to your partner, start “dating” them again. Make the effort and increase your intimacy.

Now that’s 4 easy things that take just a little effort that will reap rewards.
Physically performing and feeling better – adding muscle and losing weight will increase your testosterone.
Meditation reduces cortisol which increases/preserves testosterone.
Eating good food will cure most hormonal issues and – you guessed it- helps with testosterone levels.
Sex is Sex and will help you keep your hormone levels in check.

Testosterone is the foundation of men being healthy, looking younger, staying fitter and living longer.
Also – reduce how much you are drinking. It will help as booze converts testosterone into estrogen and you don’t wanna lose your gains, bro.

Keep frosty, structure this stuff in for a few weeks and you will see you feel better, sleep better, and are thinking more clearly with less stress and ALL of this will help you feel better and happier.

-AFD 1*

Martial Arts during lock down. Comparing the different options I have found. Ninja, Aikido, or JKD/ Krav Maga -Oh My!

By AFD

So for anyone who has read this blog for a while, you know that both authors are Dads who care about our families, like to train and workout, but also that we are both seasoned martial artists.

Both of us have trained together for 7 years. We training in Tiger Kenpo Aiki Jujutsu. I made it 2nd Kyu, B made 2ns degree black belt – Nidon. We are both also instructors in Contemporary Jeet Kune Do, under the curriculum by Paul Vunak, and his Progressive Fighting System. I have trained for a few years in Krav Maga, and recently have begun training in Aikido. Way different then my previous arts and training styles. Very traditional Japanese.

Why do I tell you all this? Simply to give me and B credit when we critique or are critical of different arts/styles and quality of instruction. Our instructors are some of the very best. From our local Sensei who was a state champ and led many winners in fighting and style competitions. To Vunak and his crew who have trained military units and special forces around the world.

So thanks to the current world situation and lock downs/ pandemic procedures most gyms/dojo’s/training centers are closed or limited in their reopening. I am also one to be cautious as my son still has a heart condition and I am not wanting to bring anything home (esp. COVID19) to get him sick. He has already been sick once since we brought him home and I felt terrible about that.

Where does that leave training? Well my dojo for Aikido is doing some classes online, but in an art based on energy and feel, that is a bit tough to train. I could go in person but until everyone besides me gets vaccinated, I don’t want to put my kid at risk. I also train Krav Maga there and that is even more hands on as we are heavy into grappling and BJJ.

That leaves online tutelage – either an online school with live classes in arts you can learn solo with striking, kicks, kata etc. or pre recorded lessons with drills and muscle memory exercises ( like much of our JKD training to supplement or remind of more complex movements taught at seminars etc.)

I have found 4 different opportunities that have worked out in some situations, and not as much as others.

4 Options:
1. Ninjutsu (Ninpo) martial Arts training online via a private web portal and training videos with interaction with other members during live web training and facebook groups.

2. Live stream of Ninjutsu and Japanese Jujutsu dojo classes that are live monitored and put up in a private facebook group to rewatch. Supplementary live class training outside once lockdown ends and weather gets warmed.

3. Live online video stream from a live Aikido class I could go attend in person. OR just attending said class in person – mentioned above.

4. Live Stream/Recorded live stream of JKD Concepts in an instructors group to train with B in person for the length of training )2 day seminar in this case). The was live with Q&A, weapons etc. B and I went to his house and spent houses watching the feed and training as if we were there in the seminar.

So – What did I Figure Out?
1 and 4 are good if you are a dedicated person and can create class like training sessions for yourself and/or can practice long without someone watching you… I had trouble with this – I need more structure and to have interaction.

2 and 4 were my best options.
The JKD with B and having a live training as well as being able to watch (and rewatch later) the live training and seeing others training helped keep us engaged and got in a good lesson and workout.
The Ninjutsu and Jujutsu online with the interactive Zoom class and the online private group with postings of the videos and other training materials to supplement was my favorite “pandemic”/Solo training option. Where I would have needed a partner imagination and or my freestanding weight bag helped add in the resistance and striking targets I needed.
The forms can be done like Kata and in most cases are preformed slowly at first and then accelerated later.
The break falls and kicking/striking from the break fall (Ukemi) are different then in Aikido and over all the class very much feels like a Shotokan Style Karate class.
I enjoy it and the welcoming and friendliness of the other group members is refreshing. With the option to train in person when things get nice and back to normal as well as having online training when not/ unable to it helps progress more quickly.
The ability to then go back and watch classes where you were involved lets you see your training issues and how to correct all under the eye of a dutiful Sensei.

I highly suggest making yourself harder to kill. I also suggest it as a means of defense for yourself but also you family. It’s a critical skill most people think they have but never test in a safe way.
Martial Arts especially is helpful when teaching your kids confidence and self control. Respect for an authority figure but also helping keep themselves safe, when you aren’t there.

1*
AFD

Full Body fitness to support you while you carry your kids..or their stuff for them. Dad Life!

Hey All

It has been a hot second since we have had a chance to talk about the necessity for over all strength when dealing with your kids.

I know myself, I have let an injury and being a new Dad be an excuse to let my diet and exercise go out the window. Especially with a pandemic and no need to see other people.

That is not an excuse for the Dad Bod I was letting myself get. Too much beer/mead and sitting on my ass all day working or taking care of GAD (my son). I found that even with a herniated disk in my neck I could walk, I just chose not to. I had an excuse every time – Oh I am tired, my arm hurts, I didn’t sleep well, I’m so busy – What that was is me not owning the day, owning self, or my mental and physical well being.

I started getting weaker and not being able to hold my son as long before needing to transition him or sit him down on my lap. He was only 13 lbs and I couldn’t carry him more than 5 minutes. My back would hurt or my neck. It was because I was letting muscle atrophy by not using them. The same goes when I would carry him in his car carrier, or transport any of the crap you need when you go somewhere with a baby. I was getting weak and fat.

What did I do you ask to motivate myself and get back into shape? I had my wife tell me and be honest about how I looked. I wanted to be attractive to her and I wasn’t. I wanted to feel strong and confident, but I didn’t. I owned that I was being a lazy bitch and decided I needed to start working out again, and also get medical help with my neck injury.

8 weeks of not working out due to a herniated C5-6 in my neck led to nerve damage down my right arm. Physical Therapy twice weekly as well as Gabapentin helped me get back into the gym (my basement). I went back to 3 days a week, 3-5×5 reps of compound lifts, 3 times a week. I also did at home PT exercises. I limited myself to only 2-3 glasses of mead or wine a day and reduced all carbohydrate and sugar consumption to a minimum.

In 3 weeks I dropped 7 pounds. In the mirror you could see my gut getting smaller and my love handles going away. I was starting to feel stronger again even though all my weights had gone down.

Slowly but surely, I am almost back to my original weights. I do no cardio but I do stretch and meditate more. The big lifts – Squat, Bench, Deadlift, OHP and Weighted Pull Ups – have helped me rebuild functional strength carrying my son or his shit. It has helped and is continuing to help me bulletproof my body from the ravages that other poor lift choices and injuries try to impose upon you.

That all said here are the resources I used to change myself in a brief 2 month period that you too can implement and begin to see change.

Diet:
The Slow Carb Diet & The Drink Your Carbs Diet – Both the 4 hour body book and The Drink your Carbs Book are worth the read and will give you more insight into simple dieting that works.

Training:
Tactical Barbell & The Ageless Athlete. Simple & Sinister.
These 3 books will help you develop a daily routine (M-F) that will give you functional strength ( and size if you want it) while also giving you a condition program to keep your cardiovascular system operating well.

You can get Slow Carb Diet info here – 1 page cheat sheet
Everything else you can get on Amazon or somewhere else online.

Invest in yourself for you, and a longer healthier life with your family. Be the role model you want to be for your kids. Everyone knows Daddy is the strongest- now do what it takes to back that up.

AFD 1*

2021, vaccines, getting back to normal?

So we are almost 3 months into 2021 and the world is still a pretty screwy place. A new regime leading a puppet and now finally vaccines being distributed to get the world to a place of “herd immunity”.

Between older parents with co-morbidities and a new son with heart defects, this pandemic has led to the need for more isolation then my wife or I would have otherwise allowed. Feeling like prisoners in our home due to relatives and media hyped risks.

That all said – my wife and I are now vaccinated as are our parents. We are returning to going out to eat, visiting places and in time – a week or 2 – I will be returning to training martial arts in the dojo. Ninpo, Aikido and Krav Maga will be back and getting this last 5 lbs of lock-down fat off.

It is time for the world to return to normal. Fuck all this “new normal” shit. If we don’t go back out to be the social animals we are and experience the interactions and exchanges with others in our country and countries we won’t get as much joy and pleasure out of this life as we should.

More posts to come in 2021 – more brewing – more martial arts and more DAD life tips.

It’s time gentlemen to carpe drum and become the best partners and fathers we can be.

Brew Day 2: Peach Session Mead

Today I am writing about a recent brew I did that I bottled today. It tastes AWESOME. If you like Peach with just a touch of honey flavor on the back end, then you will love this mead.

Now I know its cinco de mayo and I will be enjoying a taco salad and cerveza later, but right now I need to express how great this mead is and would go well with some flan or Churros! Now to get on with how I brewed it –

I used a flavorful Peach Tea blend (2 bags) and 3 pounds of clover honey to create this spring/summer sipper in just 5 days. That’s right, just 5 days. Some people will say that is sacrilege, but anyone who has tried this mead will protest! I steeped the tea in 4 cups of water and let it sit till it was room temperature. I then added 3 pounds of honey and .5 oz of Wyeast nutrient into my (clean and sterilized) fermentor and mixed the hell out of the solution. I then added more water to get my final volume to 2.5 gallons. a final stir to make sure everything is all mixed together and a good amount of oxygen taken in, I pitch my D47 yeast (2 packs).

I let the wort ( un-fermented beer or mead/wine) ferment for 3 days at 68 degrees. On the 3rd day I sampled the mead and it was semi-dry, flavorful of peach and some vanilla and petulant ( slightly fizzy). It had a good aroma on it and hazy very hazy ( think Wheat Beer). I did a gravity reading and the mead was sitting at 6% AVB on the nose.

I decided I liked the ABV and flavor so much that I cold crashed the mead by placing in my fridge for 48 hours. Now some will argue that technically the mead was still fermenting and I could have gotten the ABV higher and had the mead clear more if I just has waited. Well screw that. I liked how it tastes, its at the alcohol level I want and it frees up a fermentor for another brew!

I bottled the mead this morning and have enjoyed it chilled with a splash of seltzer as well as straight in a highball glass over some ice. Its very reminiscent of peach tea and can be served similarly.

Training for busy guys, physically and mentally

Training is critical to keep skills up, strength and conditioning going, and to be honest a boost of endorphins to reduce stress and help you feel good. You could be training in strength, skill, martial arts, doesn’t matter; what does is finding time to get the most out of whatever it is you are doing. I personally train in the martial arts and strength/conditioning as a prior and current first responder. For me then with a full-time job, preparing for a new baby, helping my wife, and regular house hold chores, finding time for self care is something I have the schedule. Here are the tips and tricks I use.

Make training a Meeting with yourself you can not cancel. If you have it on your calendar, and you have it reserved, you will be more apt to show up. I schedule a 45-1 hr block daily immediately after work. This keeps me on a schedule and it also helps it become a habit, a decision you don’t have to think about.

Be efficient and effective so you aren’t wasting your time. Use the 80/20 principal here. 80 of your benefit will come from 20 of your actions. You can also think of this as the Minimum Effective Dose or MED. This is again, what is the minimalist amount of work/activity I need to do, to get the most out of the time I am putting in? This applies to Strength and conditioning, but also works for combatives/Martial Arts/ other skills training.

KISS – Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t make things more complicated then they need to be, because once you do that, you may make excuses to not do it because of the complexity you have injected into the skills training. This rule can apply to all areas of your life, reducing stress and limiting mental drain.

Pick a training type that fits into the above in any skill, and you will succeed. It will be small victories each day that will compound into big wins. Just like compounding interest on a loan, use these smaller sessions to achieve that victory everyday – so even if the rest of the day goes to hell, you accomplished this.

For Physical Training – get kettlebells and dumbbells. Barbells are even better and train full body 2-3 days a week. The bigger the movement like compound lifts ( Bench Press, Deadlift, Back Squat) the more bang for your buck. Use any of the 5×5/5×3, 531 programs out there, or my own choice of Tactical Barbell. I am in and out of the gym weight training in 35-45 minutes. I always have something in the tank when I need it. I am as strong as ever and its simple so I am not mentally drained about my lifts.

For Conditioning – using kettlebells and HIIT will get you smoked, breathing hard and soaked with sweat in as little as 15-20 minutes, 2-3 days a week. That’s all it takes to get into good shape or maintain your current build while handling the rest of your day and keeping you strong for a lifetime.

For Martial Arts/ Flexibility/Combatives/Skills Training – 15-20 minutes of mental focus and minimal space is needed. I run through imaginary attacks based on scenarios I have done in training or on the street. I do Aikido and Krav Maga so you have drills or Kata you can do to keep your mind sharp and ready. If you have a training partner, that’s even better. 10-15 of stretching, dynamic stretching or light yoga will keep you from being locked up and weak in your older years, extending your quality of life. Think of it as a long term investment in being able to do what you want for longer. Be that golfing, fishing, hiking to just being able to get out of your chair without help.

For mental training – 5 minutes, do box breathing from my previous posts, do a simple body scan, or install and use a free app like Calm. Everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, to multi-millionaires do some type of mental training to keep them focused, calm and happier. 5 minutes can be used when you wake up to prepare for your day, while out for a walk, or as you are laying in bed at night before sleep. This is a large ROI right here.

So taking all of the above into totals:
Physical training + flexibility + mental training = 45-60 minutes a day.
Flexibility + Mental = 15 minutes a day
Skills work = 15- 20 minutes to any of the above.

That’s it. You don’t have to do it all every day. Just try to do something little everyday for those small victories to help supplement your life as a husband and father. Stay frosty.

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Keep Calm, Carry On, Breathe.

Hope Everyone had a good holiday weekend this past weekend. I know being separated from Family and friends can make these times seem even harder.

Between being under pseudo- house arrest, and continued social isolation, many fathers are finding it hard to balance the increase in home time where now, home is home, work is home, and in some, unemployment is home; how long will we have our home?

There has been a resurgence recently in the Mediations of Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism as a whole. While I personally do not promote stoicism outright, the concepts from Aurelius in regards to self-control and calmness are a way to overcome negative emotions. The concept of Logos or a form of logic that drives all things as “fate” is a bit too woowoo for me, but how the Stoics respond to such actions is more attractive.

Marcus Aurelius - Wikipedia
A marble bust of Marcus Aurelius at the Musée Saint-RaymondToulouse, France

Keep Calm, Carry On – This is my understanding of Stoicism: no matter how bad a situation or how good, how you choose to respond and look at a situation dictates how you ultimately fair in the event. It does you no good dwelling on how bad a situation is, how much pain you may feel, or how hopeless it may seem. All that does it keep you were you are, burning your most precious commodity, TIME, while not getting you back to a position where you can actualize change to better yourself or life for your family. Some may see it as putting on a brave face, or “fake it till you make it”, but it has been shown that how other see you respond to a situation, will directly impact how they react.

With all that said, being around you family all the time, dealing with a nagging spouse, kids, barking dog, coworkers on yet another obligatory “virtual” happy hour, or the new job search, just remember that this is an opportunity to enhance those relationships, engagement with your kids, grow your career with coworkers, or even a find a new, better position to help you find peace/ happiness with a new job. You need to identify what is bothering you, evaluate how you are responding to the situation and step back for a second. Calm your mind, look for some positives in what can or will be next, and act as if those things are already going to happen.

Finally, take a breath. It will help you with all of the above as well as give your brain and nervous system the resource it needs to help you make actionable that which you now are trying to execute.

In the words of Winston Churchill – ” If you are going through hell, KEEP GOING.” Only by going through will you get out!

Winston Churchill - Wikipedia
The Roaring Lion, a portrait by Yousuf Karsh at the Canadian Parliament, 30 December 1941.

Things to Do and Learn During Isolation This Easter/Passover (Keep Sane and Make Your Own Booze!)

Happy Friday All,

I know the coming weekend is a popular holiday with many of the world’s big 3 religions, Easter, Passover, Ramadan. It will be very different this year with the social lock down and stay at home orders. Just because you can’t go out doesn’t mean you still can’t celebrate with friends and family.

Thanks to the advent of different technologies you can Zoom/ Facebook Message or FaceTime your friends/families/parents/dog or cat/ goldfish(?). Regardless you can use this weekend and downtime to advance your skills that you can share with those people (and almost all of them over video chat). I am going to list some options below and then link out to other posts and sites I have either made or have found extremely helpful. Lists of ingredients/tools/materials needed are listed as well. So without further adieu:

Learn an instrument: I personally love playing the ukulele and have a few. You can find affordable starter soprano and tenor (bigger, lower tones, better for bigger hands) on Amazon, MusiciansFriend, and other sites. I personally love my Makala ukuleles with Nygut strings. Sites to help you learn basic chords with TONS of songs are out there but I love this site. This is also awesome as its a great starting point for your kids to get into other musical instruments such as guitar!,

Learn another Language: My wife and I love to travel. I lived abroad for many years and was exposed to many languages in Europe. Since my wife and I have started seeing each other we make it a point to go adventure! Now I know right now that’s not an option but that gives you more time to learn a language in as little as 5 minute a day playing games and listening to stories. https://www.duolingo.com/learn is a free resource that allows you to create a profile and go out an learn TONS of languages _FREE_. I have used this to teach myself German, which I used to navigate Munich,Germany, Austria and Switzerland! “Eins Mas, Bitte” ( a Mas (1L stein) of beer please!) I used it to help me remember my high school and college French and I have even started learning DANISH on there – Jeg Drikker Ol! (“I drink Beer”, remember start with the essentials). There is an app that you can download as well from Duolingo and can be installed on you iPad/phone/android devices. This is a great way to expose your children to another language and help educate them when online school meetings have lost their appeal.

Learn to make your own Alcohol: Beer, Wine, Mead – All use the same basic principals for fermenting sugar into alcohol. How they taste, the volumes, and the creativity in formulating recipes are all up to you!
I will add more posts in regards to wine and beer, but go online to find resources locally, such as local brew shops, who can provide you a vast knowledge of where and how to start brewing, but also to help you with any questions you may have. This also helps your local communities and the economy so do your civic duty and drink up. Personally I have been brewing only Mead (Honey Wine) recently. I do it many ways mixing in fruit or spices or Hops. I primarily make Mead in 2 styles, wine style ( 12-15% alcohol), or Session style (4-7% alcohol and carbonated like beer). You can get a decent Session mead from raw ingredients to something you can drink in as little as a week!

Dry Hopped Session Mead

The folks over at Groennfell Meadery in VT have great resources online to teach you how to make and trouble shoot your own meads at home, and the head Meadmaker Ricky, is a delight with his knowledge and awesome “Ask the Meadmaker” YouTube videos. https://www.groennfell.com/blog

Self care – Meditation: There are many apps out there that will give you guided meditations and many more videos on YouTube etc. to help. The simplest tool I have found to help anyone start is Box breathing. Here is how is goes:
1. Find a quiet area and sit comfortably or lay down and close your eyes.

2. Clear your mind and just focus on your breath, coming in, going out and how it feels in your head/chest/back then arms and legs.

3. Now just focus on the breath, inhale for a count of 4. Hold it in for a count of 4. slowly breath out for a count of 4. Hold you breath without air in your lungs for a count of 4. Then repeat inhalation instructions. Do this once or twice a day for 5-10 minutes. You will feel clear headed and calmer with lower levels of anxiety after.

This is a technique taught to first responder’s, Navy SEALs, Military and other professions of high stress situations. You do not even need to sit down and close your eyes but this activity helps calm the nervous system and is an essential *Life Hack* when things are just getting too intense.

Alright everyone – I hope you enjoyed these tips and advice. Much much more to come in the future around these topics and many more. The meditation/Breath technique will definitely help during this pandemic and being stuck at home. Thanks all for reading! Happy Easter/Oester/Passover!

1*

AFD

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