Saturday, February 11, 2017

Q & A with Myself: "Why do you like Tom Brady (and the Patriots) so much?"

Yesterday I was wearing my new Alabama Crimson Tide baseball hat and my thirteen year old called me a "front-runner." I wasn't offended. I'm actually used to being harassed for the teams/colleges I cheer for. As a fan of Notre Dame, Boston Red Sox, Patriots, and the Cleveland Cavs I am accustomed to people calling me bandwagon and all other sorts of harassments. It is pretty easy to take in stride.

It is a fair question though. I am Minnesotan, born and raised, and yet many of my most passionate cheering interests extend outside state lines. Of course I want my local teams to do well. All my life I have been a Minnesota Gopher hockey fan (although to be honest I have cheered for Boston College, Colorado College, and even Wisconsin..eeek....a time or two). I want to see the MN Wild win the Stanley Cup as much as the next Minnesota hockey fan. In the end though, my heart doesn't find it's happiness here in "Loserville USA."

That still doesn't answer the question, "Why Tom Brady? And why the Patriots?" So let me offer you 6 seasons I cheer for Tom Brady.

*In many ways I see Brady as the image of the Patriots in general, so I will refer from now on simply to Brady.

1. His dedication to his success

From diet, to off-season workouts, to weekly preparation, Tom Brady is dedicated to doing everything he can to achieve success. He is always prepared. He workouts out wth his players during the off-season. I have read about Brady's commitment to health and diet and alternative medicine. Brady pushes the envelope and does things other people won't do to achieve success.

2. His mental toughness

It couldn't have been easy for Brady to be suspended the first four games of the 2016-2017 season. But did that detour him or negatively affect his performance? No way! He went on to have a fantastic season and he capped it off by winning his 5th Super Bowl. A lot of guys couldn't have overcome the mental obstacle of what Brady went through. They would have developed a chip on their shoulder. They would have lost focus. Rather than being negative, Brady focused that energy, he prepared hard even though he wasn't playing, and when the time came he stepped right back into his spot without missing a beat.

3. His leadership

The Patriot motto is "Do Your Job" and no one exemplifies this better than Brady. Brady is professional, old school, quinteessintial quarterback. He understand what is means to lead his team. He doesn't seek out the spotlight for himself, he lets his play do the talking. Brady is quick to praise his teammates. You can tell Brady buy-ins to his coach's philosophy and he doesn't do or say things outside the lines of that. Brady represents his ownership, coach and teammates in a professional manner at all time. He is a guy others respect.

4. His ability to make everyone better

No quarterback has done more to elevate his teammates play, year after year, than Brady. It seems like the Patriot roster turns over again and again, with new players coming and old players leaving each season. And yet the one constant is Brady, standing tall in the middle of it all, waiting to welcome the new group of players and mold them into Champions. Brady has won 5 Super Bowls (played in seven) and not one set of offensive personal looks the same. Remarkable.

5. His longevity

Brady has said he wants to play until he's forty-five. Watching him in the Super Bowl this year and seeing the way he led his team to the most dramatic Super Bowl win in history made me think he can. It is amazing to think of the continued success Brady and the Patriots have had. Brady is doing the right things on, and off, the field to take of himself and give himself a chance to prolong his career. I enjoy rooting for a dynasty over an underdog, and Brady has given me that.

6. His happiness in what he does

I love the passion and happiness Brady exhibits when he plays. It is similar to what I loved about watching Brett Favre. You can see on their face how much playing football, and winning, means to them. Seeing Brady pump his first and yell "Let's go!" absolutely fires me up. Give me a set of pads and I'd run out onto the field next to him, believing I could handle any lineman on the field.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Q & A with Myself: "Why do you post so many meal and workout pictures?"

If you follow me on social media you have likely been inundated with pictures of the meals I am eating and the workouts I am doing.

I'm guessing you may even be wondering what's with all the pictures. Well, here goes with my first Q & A with myself.

"Brenton, why do post pictures of your meals and workouts? And why do you have Balvin Get Fit accounts on Facebook (Balvin Get Fit page) and Instagram (@BalvinGetFit)?"

Thanks for asking!

There are a few reasons why I do this.

1. It keeps me accountable.

I have found that the more public I am with my fitness journey the more likely I am to stay on track. I am in a routine of posting meals now, and so when I am tempted to eat junk I ask myself, "Would you post this?" If the answer is no it is easier for me to say no to the temptation. Of course I eat some things I wouldn't post, I'm not trying to hide anything, but being in the routine of posting good meals helps me to keep in the routine of eating good meals. Same goes for the work-outs. Posting #GymPics means I am in the gym. Working out, Which is where I wanna be. The 'pressure' of posting helps keep me going.

2. It makes me a part of a tribe.

There is quite a community of fitness bloggers, Facebookers and Instragrammers. My participation in the social media stream joins me with these other folks. It makes me a part of a tribe of like-minded people that encourage and support and inspire one another. I pick up tips and tricks and ideas. I can then pass them along to others who are looking for the same inspiration.

3. I like to share good things.

The cleaner I cook and eat, the better I feel. My natural inclination is simply to share this with others. I hope that as other people see what I am eating, and see the positive effects it has on my body, they will be motivated to give it a try themselves. Maybe someone will see a meal I've made and try making it them-self. I do it all the time. I have tons of saved images and recipes from other people I follow that I plan on trying to make for myself.

4. It documents my progress.

I have always been a writer and journal-er and document-er. I like to take notes, and keep records, and chart progress. In today's digital age I can do this quickly and with photographic evidence. I still write my workouts down in a notebook I bring to the gym, but social media gives me instant access to see my journey from an entirely different perspective.

5. It feels good.

Of course there is an emotional aspect to this all too. It feels good when people like a post of share it with others. Enjoying affirmation from others for the hard work you do is natural. Posting and amazing meal or sharing the gains I've made in my lifts, and being cheered on helps keep me moving forward and pushing through tougher times.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Review of Zenni Optical and My New Glasses

I'm stoked. Yesterday I got new glasses. It's my first new pair in about eight years.

I hate buying new glasses. I hate going through the exam. I hate trying on all the frames. I hate the outrageous costs associated with it all.

So, I've stretched every pair of glasses I've ever owned as far as I possibly could.

But the time had come. My wife couldn't stand looking at my old frames anymore. I needed an upgrade, but I wasn't sure where to go.

Then a friend of mine told me about Zenni Optical. Zenni is a web based company that offers a full range of prescription glasses at ridiculously low prices. It was started by a couple scientists in San Francisco. You may have seen their Facebook ads and not even realized what an awesome company this is.

The website looked good, but I was a little skeptical at first. Could you really get glasses as inexpensive as advertised. And if you could, I figured they would probably be pretty junky. Bad lenses, cheap frames, incorrect prescriptions. I wasn't ready to take the leap until I felt more confident I'd be getting a good product. But when my friend got her pair of Zenni glasses in the mail she loved them. The looked great and worked just as well as advertised. I decided to give it a shot.

I went to the Zenni website and spent about thirty minutes browsing the many frames available. It was easy to upload my photo so I could see how the frames would look on my face. I used the online tools to measure the distance between my pupils. I was even able to save a few of the frames I liked so I could review them with my wife later. We picked a pair, answered a few additional questions about the upgrade options I had, and made the purchase. My entire purchase was less than $45 and I even received a code for 10% off my purchase.

In less than two weeks I received my new glasses and I am super impressed! I wore them to work today and I've already gotten compliments from my co-workers on how great they look. It will be easy for me to recommend Zenni to others and I am already thinking about going online to order another pair.

For a guy who hates buying new glasses, Zenni Optical could be a game changer! 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

If You Aim at Nothing, You'll Hit It Every Time

"If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." - Zig Ziglar

The main idea behind this quote is obvious. If you want to achieve something you have to set a goal, direct you energy at it, and go after it. If you don't have any goals or any direction you are aiming, you won't do anything. It's like hoping in a car and driving around in a circle. You never really go anywhere.

I've had times in my life where I have experienced the thrill of working hard and achieving a goal. One of the primary examples of this was in high school grade 10 when I set the goal of being the best hockey player in my grade. Whether or not I actually was the best could be debated, but in my mind I know I succeeded because of the growth and development I experienced as a young man and a player. I set the goal, I took aim, and then I directed all my energy at that target.

As I've gotten older I have had to set new targets.

Graduate college.
Help launch a new church.
Improve my fitness.
Pass interviews for pay grade increases.
Pass interviews for a new job.
Achieve budgetary goals.
Improve fitness.
Find a new house.
Be the best husband I can.
Be the best Dad I can.
Grow spiritually.
Complete a couple marathons.
Complete a few triathlons.

Some of these were short term goals. Some were long term. Some required a tremendous amount of effort. Some not as much. But moving the needle on any of these goals required that I first identified where I wanted to go, and then planned out the route to get there.

I feel like I'm in another season of "taking aim" at a bunch of things. To be honest it takes me a little bit to get my head around recalibrating things. I have a tendency to want to arrive and then get complacent. I have a tendency to slip into aiming at nothing and wanting to go through the motions. But whenever I do I inevitably begin to feel restless and frustrated inside myself. There is some motor in me that won't allow me to stop completely.

There are a couple challenges for me in this process.

#1 - Staying happy and finding joy in the times when I am recalibrating my aim.
#2 - Staying focused and moving forward when the progress seems slow.

The reality is the we rarely achieve of goals quickly.

I was complaining to someone about how, after working out 5 days, I didn't see the number on the scale significantly dropping. They responded by asking me if the scale went up to that number in five days. The point was obvious. It took time to get where I was, and it will take time to get where I want to go. I don't really like that. Like a kid in the backseat of a long car ride, I want to be there now. But that's not how life works. At least not anything that is worth something. You don't microwave a great rack of ribs, you grill them long and slow and patiently. And when that process is done you have something amazing to savor and delight in.

So, I'm working on taking aim at a few things. I'm reordering my life and prioritizing where I want to go. Then I'll engage in the deliberate, intentional, possibly prolonged process of headed in that direction until I reach my goals. And when I get there, I'll enjoy it for a season, and then it will be time to reset and begin working towards a new goal.

Keep aiming, working the plan, arriving, recalibrating, and moving forward friends.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"No More Bedtime Song Please Dad"

Almost every night, for as long as I can remember, I have sung the kids the same song before tucking them into bed. I'm sure you've heard it before.

"I love you, you love me, we're a happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss form me to you, won't you say you love me too."

Stephanie and I sang it before Barney did, just for the record!

Last night as we were watching the Alabama football game Jacob asked me, "Dad can you not sing the I love you song anymore at bed? It doesn't mean that much anymore."


I  had wondered when this day would come. Jacob turned 13 in September and he is in the process of becoming a young man. Even though I knew someday he wouldn't want a song, hug and kiss before bed, I still wasn't completely prepared for it actually happening.

Jake is an emotional, sweet boy and I'm a touchy dad so he won't escape my hugs and kisses for ever, but I have to admit it was a little strange walking out of his bedroom after prayers without having sung him his goodnight song.

I closed the door and thought about how a door on his childhood was closing along with it.

Gopher football game in Nov 2016.

Pheasant hunting trip to SD Nov 2016.

Eating Buffalo Wings in Brainerd Dec 2016.

Goofing around in Shakoppe at Izzy bball Jan 2017.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Present with a Purpose

Yesterday I had the privilege of sharing a sermon at Main Street Church in Northfield. It was a cold morning with temperatures below zero, but inside the old church it was warm with fellowship and the love of Jesus.

My sermon was called "A Present with a Purpose." I spoke about how God is a loving Father who delights in giving good gifts to his children (James 1:17). I introduced the 5 love languages and explained that God is pentalingual, meaning he speaks all five love languages fluently. During the Christmas holiday, however, the focus is on God's love language of giving, when we remember and celebrate the greatest gift he ever gave, His Son Jesus.

Jesus came so that we could be reunited with our Heavenly Father. Our sins, those times when we (knowingly and unknowingly) turn our backs to God's ways and will, separates us from God. But thanks to Christ, our sin is forgiven and we are welcomed back into God's family. Paul talks more about this special gift in Romans 6:23.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."

Remarkably, God spoke the love language of gifts when his Son was born to Joseph and Mary in the manger. And the divine gift giving didn't stop there. Because we are so sinful and rebellious God knew we would overlook the gift of his Son. He knew we would continue to turn our backs to Him, and so he gave us another gift, the gift of faith, which enables us to see Jesus clearly and to lay ourselves before him in worship and adoration and surrender. As it says in Ephesians 2:8,

"For it is by grace you saved been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the GIFT of God."

So now at Christmas we come face to face with three gifts which demonstrate and declare to us the love of our father. The baby Jesus, faith in Christ, and eternal life by Him. And a choice is laid before us. What will we do with these gifts?

I see four options.

1. We can overlook the gift, leave it unwrapped under the tree.
2. We can accept the gift, and then place it on a shelf unused.
3. We can accept the gift, enjoy it for a while, and then discard it when it breaks or is no longer of value and use to us.
4. We can accept the gift, and place it in the place of prime importance in our lives.

I encourage you to choose #4. Receive the gift of faith and eternal life offered to you through the coming , life and death of Jesus. Treasure it daily and press into Christ more and more.