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Part 1:  Children

My children are ridiculous.

I mean that in the loving way that parents mean most backhanded things that they say about their children.  They are goofs in the best possible way.

1240361_10151833489747921_1907332558_nMy oldest sings and dances constantly, to the point that she inspired other people to sing while on a horse-drawn wagon ride to Christmastown.  She loves pigtails and princesses and tickle fights, and she wants to build a house that will be half pink and half purple for us to live in.  She insists that she will need a large tool bag filled with many tools in order to build it.

My youngest finds all of this to be side-splittingly hilarious.  She spends most of her day following her sister around and laughing at her.

It is beautiful.

Part 2:  Physical Well-Being

I wish – I so wish – that I had discovered Starting Strength ten years ago.  I’ve always been on the lean side of skinny.  I have the bone structure of a ten-year-old girl.  I build muscle at roughly half the rate of the Middle East peace talks.  I’m 6’ 1.5”, but for most of my adult life I weighed exactly 147 pounds, regardless of how much I ate (and I can eat a lot).  When I tried a popular Men’s Health lifting program five years ago, I was able to drag my bodyweight up to 156 pounds after over a year or work, but it then refused to budge so much as an ounce.

Part of the problem is the vast range of ineffective systems available, both online and in bookstores and in magazines.  It’s all crap.  It really is.  It’s just a bunch of 15-minute lies and muscle-isolating tricks.  Dedicated abdominal machines, useless arm curl variations, and calf raises.  Garbage.

starting-strength_1There is a reason why Starting Strength is still in print after twenty years.  In six months it moved my weight up from 156 pounds to 174, with no increase in body fat.  It’s added hundreds of pounds to my big three lifts, particularly my deadlift (I just set a PR of 355 pounds last night, as my aching posterior chain and traps can attest).  I feel and look far stronger than I did a year ago, and I was able to do all of it in my garage with nothing fancier than a bench, a barbell set, a squat rack, and a chinup bar.

I’ve recently started to play around with another highly recommended book, The New Rules of Lifting, a book that follows many of the same basic principles, but Starting Strength remains my main source of guidance for lifting and gaining.

Part 3:  School

For all of the success I have had in strength training, an equal level of failure has occurred in my higher education.  After a year of false starts, changed topics, and an absolute inability to get focused have led me to dump this last and most prestigious aspect of my masters.

I really thought that I could do it.  I thought I was good enough at this stuff.  I was wrong.  I hit my academic ceiling.  And really, the reasons why I wanted to have a completed thesis no longer make sense.  I figured it was going to be the step to my doctorate, but with two young children and a marriage to maintain I don’t know how I ever planned on doing that.  Maybe it will be a retirement project, if it ever happens.

So, I’m back to taking courses.  I should have the remaining ones done within a year, ending a rather twisting, convoluted path to my third degree.

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