10-4 on the 4-1

I was born 41 years ago today.

The world was never the same. Ask my mom.

My father came to visit me, my birthday is a perfect excuse for him to see his grandson. He retold the story of the day I was born just like I can tell you my son’s, 4 years ago. Now you understand how those memories stick with you. I sure do.

My family took me out to dinner, I got a haircut and a new book to read. My son made me a card with my face on it. Although he only drew 4 lines, it looks just like me. My daughter did the 2018 thing and posted her love and thankfulness on Facebook. Carrie shared the best pic collage on my page to date. My friends bombarded my profile with Happy Birthdays!

Today was a great day for me. I saw the love and appreciation around me. I realized (again) how lucky I am. Family, beautiful children, a great path in life and I’ve got purpose. So many things to feel fortunate about.

Why do we do this to ourselves on holidays or special occasions?

Do this to yourself every. day.

~Kevin

Everyday is Leg Day.

Truth.

When you live with lower body Muscular Dystrophy or Hereditary Neuropathy, everyday is leg day. Muscle Atrophy is a fun thing. There goes my muscle, never to be seen again. A CMT-er’s (Charcot-Marie-Tooth) battle is to maintain their leg strength. If you get stronger then you’ve iced your cake but most of us eat our cake plain. Like with no milk plain.

The physical stamina isn’t there to continuously push your legs into rebuilding and growing. Oh, they don’t rebuild anyways. That’s right! Silly me. I’ve been fortunate to get stronger but I’ll attribute 75% of that to learning the exercise properly and working to activate my stabilizer muscles, the few I have left.

For a long time I had fallen into the I can’t mindset on leg day. I dreaded it. I’m sure there must only be 26 people on the planet that enjoy it. Most everyone hates leg day. Ask a person living with neuropathy or dystrophy, they’ll give you new meaning on how to hate leg day. Everyday for us is like the second day after the worst leg workout for others. We live with it. We sleep with it. We loathe it.

Knowing I had to get my ass in gear and go to that side of the gym, I came up with a new plan of attack. Now, this is in no way saying it’s the best idea. It’s far from perfect. It’s not found in any fancy lifting book or tutorial. I have CMT 1A and this works for me. It works well. I’ve maintained, increased strength and my mind no longer makes excuses to not do legs. dog leg

I have no leg day in my routine.

I enjoy working all the muscles that I know work and can see in the mirror. Typical dude, I know. I always keep notes. Keep notes. Buy a notebook and keep notes. Please. In my book there’s a page that has my best leg routine written down. I have about 6-7 leg exercises that I respond to. All the basic stuff. All the stuff that works for me. I have taken squats (my biggest) and I’ve added them to my lightest upper body day. Usually arms. I wouldn’t squat (or leg press) on a chest or back day. It’s too exhausting and dangerous. I add the lighter leg exercises to the end of those days.

Example-

Day 1-

Arm day- 4-5 arm building exercises and finish with 3-4 sets of squats (Or leg press).

Day 2-

Back day- 4-5 exercises for the back and finish with calve work.

Day 3-

Shoulder day- 4-5 exercises and finish with 2 exercises for my quadriceps.

Day 4-

Chest day-  4-5 of whatever I like and 2 sets of hamstring exercises.

I mix core and abs in everyday somehow.

Please note, I’m not a trainer so I’m never going to write down specific routines to follow. I’m a pro at knowing the norm doesn’t work for us. I’m also a pro at finding ways to get things done. I made the struggle for myself so much worse having a designated leg day. After squatting (I have a previous blog with some tricks that helped my squats) I just didn’t have the energy to follow through with the remainder of the workout. The excuses would appear and I always cheated on leg day. It’s leg day so I’ll be home early babe! was the norm. The one thing that needed me the most, I avoided.

Most of us are never going to be body builders or Olympians, so you don’t have to follow their ways. You know what’s best for you. This is an angle that really works for me. It’s also been said that doing a set of leg work last releases an increased amount of testosterone, due to activating the largest muscles in your body. It makes sense and a lot of big folks do some sort of leg press after each day just for that reason.

I at least hope my opinion makes you realize that if you have to modify everything around you to make life work, you can modify some generic routine that’s said to be the best thing going. Make it your own.

Lastly, drop the Monday through Friday crap. If you work out 3 days a week, just count the days and label them 1-3. If you miss day 2, do it the next time you go. Stop with it’s Thursday and Thursdays are chest. Do your workouts in order, keep. them. in. order. A day off doesn’t affect you anywhere near as bad as missing a specific workout because you didn’t make it in and now today’s not that day. 

Be safe. Be smart. Be courteous. Be alive.

Here’s a link to very nice protein no bake cookies. Like my son’s favorite Sesame Street character, me love cookies. Cookies good.

~Kevin

 

Help Others Succeed

I’ve had all these brainstorms about today’s blog. Fitness, life, my children…all sorts of fun stuff. As soon as I start the process a short sweet memory jumps into my head. It’s been there for a full day.  So, with all due respect to my previous ideas, I’ll get to you later because this is important.

I have a love for weight lifting. I’m currently suffering with an injury, but like a sailor on shore, I’m missing a huge part of my life. Following my love for fitness I have found I love sharing within my Hereditary Neuropathy communities. I share my ideas and opinions on things I’ve tried and I find such peace when someone responds with how it has helped them. I’ve decided to really feed my locomotive and keep up my momentum. I recently reached out to companies who offer exercise equipment that I feel will directly help people with the same struggles I have.

They responded.

You can’t imagine the excitement I have knowing I have support for my project of building a bridge between fitness and Muscular Dystrophy/Neuropathy. This opportunity will make my access to equipment and tools endless. So many people are on fixed budgets or lack the knowledge to go alone. They don’t have the ability to try everything. They also find comfort in the opinions of us that share their struggle. I’ve found my key to open this new adventure!

I took my sweetheart out to the movies last night. We struggle to get away and when we do, I cherish our time. We’re full-time parents. We’re a team. We’re also a couple and that seems to take a back seat sometimes. The little time we get for us is priceless.

On our way home an email came through from one of the largest fitness companies in the country. They want to join my project. They chose me.

I shared this good news with Carrie. She reached over and held my forearm, “I’m so proud of you.”

Those five words sank into my heart and have been there ever since. They’ve pushed out every great idea I’ve had for the last 24 hours. Her words have ignited a machine. I’ve made her proud. I know I always have but hearing it just fuels my momentum.

We all want to succeed. We all want to accomplish and conquer. She’s in the middle of her own journey. She’s so busy but she still took a moment out of her day to make mine.

On your journey, I wish all of you the best of luck. I want you to succeed at your dreams and goals. We all have loved ones. They have dreams too. They’re working towards whatever they want in life, just like the rest of us. Take a half second out of your busy day and tell them how proud you are.

Tell your spouse. Tell your children. Your parents, your friends. Just take a moment and ignite their drive and show your love and support. You’ll never miss that half second of your day.

~Kevin

The Duck Doesn’t Complain

Every spring my family and I eagerly await their arrival.

As the snow melts and the ground thaws, a low spot in our back yard transforms into a small pond. In the seven years we’ve owned this house, every spring a pair of Mallards show up to call the lawn their home.

We make sure they have corn and bird food and we adapt our backyard activities to welcome them. Our Labrador is old enough to not care anymore and they realize it. Along with welcoming Spring, it’s fun to have them around. They’re a nice change from the regular critters.

The male is all about his lady. He lets her eat while he stands guard. She always leads as they paddle around the puddle. He’s quite the gentleman.

He’s also injured.

He has a limp that appears to be trouble with his right leg. It’s noticeable when he’s on the lawn but well hidden in the water. I’ve noticed how he’s adapted. He stands on one leg at rest and walks the minimum needed. Maybe it’s my disabled radar going off, but as many others can do, I notice struggles. Especially with walking, legs and posture. I live with it so I’m aware of it.

I watched them for awhile the other day. He kept up with her, did his job and actually did everything very duck. He’s earned his mate and his life, but not without adapting. I watched him position himself in the stream to guard her, not on the lawn. He sleeps in the water while she sits on a stump. When he feeds, he finds the food and sets his body on the ground. She stands. If she wasn’t next to him, you’d never know anything was wrong with him. Having her there really shows just how much more effort he puts into his daily routine.

There’s a saying, “Your mind is your worst enemy.” It is. We overthink. We battle with ourselves. We take the good things for granted and the bad things to heart. I’m sure Mr. Mallard has no recognition of his condition. His simple mind only works on what his life needs in it.

He’s alive, he’s in love and he looks pretty happy to be on my lawn.

~Kevin

 

3 tools that have helped me lift weights with Muscular Dystrophy

What a fantastic idea! Let’s struggle all day just to function and hit the gym later! Sign me up! Idiot. I’m an idiot.

This idiot is also a father. This idiot is a spouse. This idiot is far from tapping out. Step up or step out. I’m fortunate enough to still be able to live a full life. So many souls are worse than I am. I wish I could help them. I’m not a Doctor or a miracle worker. I can listen. I talk a lot. I guess I’ll use some of what I’m good at and try my very best to be supportive and help.

Let’s get at it.

I’m your trainer for the next 15 minutes and I’m not taking excuses. You know your limits, I know mine. I don’t judge and I’m not writing this for everyone. These tools work for me. I hope they work for you. If not…you know where the comment box is and I truly look forward to hearing from you. If you need other options, a different idea on how to get it done, I’ll help find it. Promise.

#1

Legs. God damn legs. Kevin, are you riding a chicken? No, I’m just wearing shorts.

Legs are my weak spot. Load CMT on top of it (my disease) and they’re a nightmare. I do a lot of weights at home now. The discipline is a bitch to go downstairs and do it, I do my best. When I was lifting at the local gym I befriended a lifter. He looked like a lifter. We hit it off, been friends ever since. We’re both engineers so we relate to each other’s mind functions.

Joe. I think a lot of Joe. He’d be a reason why I need to join again. Peer support. Joe preaches squats. Squats. Squats. Squats. If you see Joe, Joe proves he knows what he’s talking about. Squatting never worked for me. Ever. The balance, weakness in my ankles and the lack of stability always kept me from being a squatter. I couldn’t argue with the fact that they’re the best leg and overall exercise. Ok, Joe…let’s do this.

Do you use plates under your heels?

What the hell are you talking about Joe? But…Joe knows. Rack the bar up, set a comfortable weight and do a rep. Under each of my heels go a 5lbs plate. Another rep. 10lbs plate, repeat. A miracle was happening. Joe knows nothing about CMT, at least he didn’t say he did, but he knows lifting and all of its mechanicals. We found a specific height (lift) that put just enough weight forward on my toes and my stability improved ten fold.

Now, buy those Adidas lifting shoes with the raised heel and you’re set Kev.

What the hell are you talking about Joe? They make shoes?! Enter my new footwear. Now, I still hate squats. But I can do them! I’m not a trainer or a professional but I can tell you that the simple process of trying different plate thickness’ under your heels is an eye opener. As you progress up in plate weight, they get larger and thicker. Grab a spotter and set your rack up to where you’re comfortable. Grab a bunch of plates and experiment. Only you will be able to judge how much incline you benefit the most from. Don’t go crazy. An inch makes a world of difference. Go in small increments and remember to keep the weight on the bar manageable. If you have to play tough guy/girl, do it later. Get your form down and work from there. Correct form. Period.

Adidas Weight Lifting Shoes

My old shoes had too many birthdays and I liked the idea of not having to leave plates on the floor while I rested between sets. Gym etiquette. With these shoes my feet are much flatter. I do use small plates under my heels depending on what I want to achieve, but the shoes themselves give a good rise. They’re my game changer.

The squat section of this blog is dedicated to Joe. He’s a “awe it’s nothing, man” kind of guy. It was something to me. An important something to me. Joe is good people.

The neuropathy is also a part of my forearms and hands. My body is ridiculously stronger than my grip. That’s usually the case in many people. Big power lifters will use straps around their wrists to dead lift or shrug. This isn’t us, but the same idea on a smaller scale. I still will use straps to get the weight I need to dead lift or shrug but I can’t ignore my hands. Being an engineer, gear head and now blogger, I need to preserve as much of them as I can!

#2 and #3

IMG_2921

Whenever I do any sort of bicep, tricep or any arm work for that matter, I use as many forms of grip as I can. I don’t care if I had to walk over to the Zumba class and take the pink weights, if it’s working and strengthening my grip, bring on the pink. The most important weights in the gym are the little ones. Case in point.

There’s three basic forms of grip.

Neutral=palms facing in. Pronated=overhand. Supinated=underhand.

I use all three when I do dumbbell work. Pronated is truly a grip builder in curling exercises. The opposite is true when you’re doing tricep work with cable push downs etc. A supinated grip will build grip in the opposite movement. Basically, any time the weight wants to pull out of your hand, your grip will be the weak link.

#2 is a pair of Fat Gripz. (Black in the photo) Fat Gripz website

These slip over and enlarge the shaft part of the dumbbell. Increasing the diameter of your grip puts more attention on grip strength, especially in any motion where the weight wants to fall out of your hand. Obviously, your hand is the strongest when fully closed. It weakens as you open. Working the areas between closed and open have proven beneficial in my case.

Always keep in mind to position the seam of the grips opposite of where the load is. You never want to put yourself in a position for the dumbbell to slip through the split and find a toe.

I love my Fat Gripz. I use them for a number of exercises, including bench press. I like the variation in grip diameter. It works well for me.

#3 are a bit more technical, Grenadier Grips. (Green in the photo) Grenadier Grips website

These little sweethearts will wake you up. With a true sphere shape and grid style grip, you can see where they came up with the name. They install like other grips but the round ball gives you infinite grip positions and styles. I know what works for me and I take notes on my hand placement. Taking notes is a good habit in the gym. Taking notes makes it easy to remember how and where your best position is without wasting a rep or two.

They’re not well suited for a neutral grip. I still use them but be aware that they’re considerably narrower than the shaft width. This can result in the dumbbell slipping through the Grenadier and throwing the balance off, or an accident. Be smart.

I have a love-hate relationship with these. I love how they work for me. I hate how they make me look. I’m 215 lbs and when I yell “anyone have the 7.5’s? I need them” my ego gets a nut kick.

Having said that, leave your ego at the door. Good gyms have good people. Good people don’t want your ego. You don’t want other people’s ego. You’re different. I’m different. We all have mountains to climb. Some hills, some Everest. You just have to climb your own.

I hope my info may help you find some better tools for that climb. Remember, I’m not a pro. I’m a pro for my own body and if you can take this info and make it work for you, go me! I’ll most likely never see you at the gym and hopefully not in my basement but, you can find me here. When I’m not talking, I’m a good listener! Please don’t hesitate to reach out. Suggestion? All are welcome!

Much love and my very best-

~Kevin