Starting Over


It has been a while.  It has been a long while.  Well, it’s a new year and a new start.  Time to hit the refresh button.  Throw out all excuses, because I don’t want to hear them.  Do not tell me you don’t have time to carry on a healthy lifestyle.  Do not tell me you are too tired.  It’s all crap.  I know, because I am talking to myself.  It’s time to reload, recharge and re-energize.

My wife and I have tried to carry on a healthy lifestyle for the better part of 10 years.  We were once avid runners who conquered goals and overcame obstacles.  Then, kids happened and somehow time became scarce.  Instead of running for 5 miles on a Saturday morning, we were chasing our son around the house.  He is now a little older and suddenly we have swim practice, baseball practice, and birthday parties.  Thus, it has become difficult to find time to work out.  Throw in another son and, well, time almost becomes non-existent.  One goes down for a nap and the other wakes up.  You are playing a constant game of whack a mole.  Meanwhile, your waistline is growing and the healthy lifestyle you once held so dear suddenly vanishes into thin air.

I am not going to lie, it’s difficult to find time to work out.  You are in this sort of retrograde motion.  Mentally your body wants to move in a healthy manner, but physically, well, that’s another story.  What I have found is that in order to move you must want to do it.  That desire, no matter how minimal, needs to be present.  Without desire the chances of embarking on the wonderful journey that is health dissipates drastically.  Luckily, Rachel and I have that desire and we figured it’s 2020 and time to get back to our old selves.

Getting back to the way we were also requires determination, which we definitely have.  The hard part is the follow through.  We must begin with small goals.  We have maintained a somewhat healthy diet the last few years.  Diet is one of the easiest things to control and it’s how we have maintained our weight.  However, we are still not where we would like to be.  That means we need to amp up our workout routines.  How do we do that with no time?  We must make the time.  We figure waking up at 5:20 is our best bet, which we have done sporadically over the years.  We must get to bed at a decent time to ensure we get adequate sleep, which can help make waking up early a consistent part of our routine.  We also plan to get a gym membership close to work and workout at least twice a week during lunch.  Getting home and working out is just not in the cards.  We want to spend time with our boys and that time is non-negotiable.  Kids grow fast and we are determined to make the most of our time with them.  Thus, trips to the park must not be as bystanders.  We must be active participants.  If they are moving, we need to be moving.  I know, it sounds exhausting and at times it is.  Kids have an unmatched energy that tends to be lost on adults.  Sometimes it’s okay to attempt to match that energy.  It will keep us young…right?

We are better and happier people when we are working towards goals.  They should be the fundamental part of everyone’s life.  Without goals what do you have to work towards?  They give us a reason to awake in the morning.  Honestly, it has been a while since we have really set attainable goals for ourselves.  It’s time to enter races again.  I want my sons to grow up seeing their parents cross finish lines.  I want them seeing their parents set and accomplish goals.  I want them to see the both of us be the best versions of ourselves both mentally and physically.  No more excuses.  The time is now.

We Must Adapt

Turns out having a baby makes it a lot harder to work out.  Just when you think you have it all figured out, everything you thought you knew completely changes and you are forced to scramble.  Then, it becomes a ridiculous case of confusion and mass hysteria before it all calms down and you figure it out again.  You get used to this vicious cycle because, well, there’s nothing else you can do.  You have to adapt.  It’s the same thing with working out and doing your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle even while you are entering the fray on a daily basis.

My son is a toddler now, which has been a total game changer.  He has an opinion, which oftentimes we don’t agree with.  He has an unbelievable amount of energy with a motor that never quits.  He is an early riser…We are not.  He wakes up as if he ate pure sugar all night.  His first words are usually, “I want breakfast” and “Where are we going?”  When I woke up as a kid I would sit like a zombie as I ate my cereal, as well as on the drive to school.  With my son, that is not the case.  Thus, we had to take extreme measures.  We decided, after a lot of soul searching, to wake up early every other morning and workout.  Yes, I mean earlier than he gets us up.  If you are wondering, that means we have to wake up at 5:20.  This was not an easy transition to make.  I won’t lie, it was a total mind f_ _k in the beginning.  I thought we would never get used to it.  We never thought we would adapt.  Well, okay, we didn’t really adapt.  I’m not sure we can.  We just kind of dove headfirst and didn’t look back.  It was either get up or don’t workout.  Some days are definitely harder than others.  Some days we don’t even bother to get up and just turn over in the bed only to suddenly awake to a child screaming “I have to go pee” five minutes after we decided to enjoy another hour of sleep.  So goes the life of parents.  We go as our son goes.  We are just sort of spectators in his world.  We just have to make sure we are doing our best to stay on track with eating as healthy as possible and working out when the time allows.

In life, as I have said many times before, we have to adapt constantly.  That is especially the case with kids.  Apparently babies get bigger and require even more work.  For now, I guess, we have figured out a way to maintain a somewhat healthy lifestyle.  The only problem is, our world is about to change yet again.  We are expecting baby number two.  I guess that means everything we thought we knew is no longer relevant.  Adapt.  We must adapt.  I will just keep telling myself that.

Tag Team


Finding time to work out when you have a child is extremely difficult.  It takes strategic planning, flexibility, and most of all, desire.  Let’s be honest, taking care of a baby/toddler is a workout in itself.  We come home from work only to put on our parent hats and entertain our little boy for three hours before bedtime.  Fit in the diaper changes, dinner, bath, laundry and…wait, where did the time go?  Throw in the generous amounts of hugs and kisses and we are flat out drained for time.  So, how does a working couple with a baby find the time to work out?  Well, we make the time.

For years Rachel and I worked out together.  We would push each other to run faster, further and stronger.  But, throw a child into the mix and things had to change quickly.  We agreed that in order to stay on track we would have to tag team it every day.  That means we each get a day to work out while the other plays court jester and entertains the little one.  It is a win-win in our minds.  The one working out gets a little bit of alone time, while the other gets quality one on one time with our baby boy.  There are times when I am working out and I can hear my baby boy laughing in the other room.  I miss spending time with him, but I remember that the next day it’s our time together.  Maybe my day with him will involve running, jumping and laughing.  Maybe he will be fussy.  Maybe he will fall asleep in my arms and I will pull him close and watch him sleep.  It changes from day to day.  In the end, every workout is worth it and every second spent with my child is second to none.

As parents, we get through each day because we work together.  That’s what parenting is though, finding the best way to be present for your child (all in), but also not losing site of important things in life, like making sure you take care of yourself and each other.  I’m not saying it’s always easy to ensure we get to work out.  You must throw in the occasional sick baby and parents, which seems to happen more often than not.  But, you just have to find a way to keep going and make the time to work out.  If you don’t plan for it, you won’t do it.  If you aren’t flexible with time, you won’t do it.  If you don’t have the desire to work out, then frankly, you won’t do it.  Remember, plan for it, be flexible with your time and make sure you have the desire to do it.

An Indescribable Love


Parenthood is an absurd undertaking.  It’s a complete change in lifestyle, an overall adjustment in perspective and a rebellion on all that you once viewed as normal.  It is, as many will tell you, absolutely tough as nails.  You spend the better part of nine months preparing for something you have no real business preparing for, because the reality is, nothing can prepare you.  I’m not talking about the sleepless nights.  I’m not talking about the endless diaper changes or the seemingly never ending feedings.  I’m not even talking about the crying or the inability to do as you please.  I’m talking about the immense amounts of love that will undoubtedly fill your soul the second your child is born.

I worried about what being a parent would entail and if I was even cutout for such an important responsibility.  But, the second my son was born my free fall into parenthood began and I knew there was no turning back.  No longer was I just a son, brother and husband, I was, in a matter of just a few seconds, a father.

Words can never describe the feelings that run through you the first time you hold your child in your arms.  Everything that seemed important before suddenly vanishes in an instant.  You realize that somehow, someway, you were meant to be a parent.  You may not necessarily know how you are going to do it but you don’t care because you just know that you will, in fact, do it.

The love you feel for your child is indescribable.  It’s what allows you to wake up in the middle of the night when all you want to do is sleep.  It’s what allows you to change the worst diapers while smiling at your baby as he/she smiles back at you.  It’s what keeps you patient when sometimes all you want to do is scream.  It’s what makes your former life inconsequential and life without your child unimaginable.  It’s love that makes every day spent with your child completely worth it.

I cannot describe the feelings that run through my body the second my son catches my eye in the morning and his face lights up.  I grab him, pull him close and for that moment all is right in the world.  He bounces around like a wild monkey as I smother him with morning kisses and for a brief moment in time I am his hero.  I know that one day these mornings will pass and that he won’t always be excited to see me so bright and early.  He won’t always squeal with delight at the sight of me.  For now, though, I cherish it.

It seems as though every time I blink he hits a new milestone.  One day he’s rolling over, another he is eating his first solid food, and suddenly he’s sitting up.  All the while I’m trying desperately to slow down time, because every moment is special, even the bad ones.  Every single moment is unique and a memory I will cherish, always.

It is true that nothing can prepare you for a child.  Even when you are in the moment as a parent it feels surreal.  There’s a love that is completely impossible to explain.  It strengthens you.  It humbles you.  It warms your heart and enriches your soul.  It’s not that nothing can prepare for the work that having a child entails.  It’s really that nothing, and I mean nothing, can prepare for the love you have for your child.

Experience Life


Oftentimes we get caught up in what we believe is truth, without ever fully comprehending it.  We prevent ourselves from experiencing exciting new things out of fear.  We do this because of perception.  We forget that it’s all conjecture and sometimes, unfortunately, we avoid the experience altogether.  I did that with running, until I ran my first 5K.  I spent years avoiding long distance running because of how I perceived the experience.  To me it seemed daunting and I subsequently stayed away.  However, after becoming a runner I realized I spent too much of my life shying away from great experiences simply because I thought they would be too hard.  Then, one day, I became a father and the one experience that terrified me the most, ended up being the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

Being a parent is hard and I am just beginning.  However, I knew it would be, which is why the thought of becoming a father terrified me.  I knew being a parent would be difficult, as well as life changing.  I knew the days of sleeping in would vanish in an instant.  I knew that my life would no longer be about me, but rather my child.  I knew all of this, but I didn’t fully comprehend it because I had never experienced it.  It was all perception based on stories and other people’s experiences.  I had no idea what to expect for myself, and I suppose nobody ever really does.  When my wife and I decided to have a baby we did so knowing that it would be hard.  We knew that it wasn’t like running a race where the finish line is just a few miles away.  It was going to be a lifelong marathon with on the job training.   However, it was an experience we wanted to share in.  We heard so many horror stories, as well as wonderful stories, but in the end, we knew we would never understand until we had a child of our own.

Everyone tells you that, no matter what, your children are always worth it.  When you don’t have kids this statement falls on deaf ears.  People would tell us about being peed on, pooped on, lack of sleep, and having your world flipped upside down.  In the end, though, they would say, “Oh, but it’s all worth it.”  Of course we would stand there thinking, ‘what does that even mean?’

When my son was born it was immediately the best experience of my life.  I watched him gaze into his mother’s beautiful blue eyes, smile, and lay his head on her chest as if he knew he was home.  I watched him respond to my voice as he turned his eyes in my direction and I was filled with a moment of clarity, as well as immense amounts of joy and love.  In that moment I knew why I was on this earth.  I wondered what had taken me so long to experience this feeling.  I had let my perceptions of becoming a father cloud the beauty of what it truly means to be a parent.

In the short time my son has been on this earth I have been pooped on, peed on, and kept up late.  I have seen the world change in unimaginable ways.  In the end though, even when I am up late changing a dirty diaper that has found its way onto my clothes, I look at my son, smile, and think about how he is worth it.  It is a feeling that I cannot even put into words.

Never be afraid to experience the beauty this life has to offer simply because of perception.  There are too many things to experience. There are too many moments that could pass you by.  Life is too short to sit and wait for things to happen.  Remember, there’s no limit on experiences.

Do What You Can Do


Why do I run?  I ask myself this question all of the time. I wonder how it enriches my life, especially when I don’t feel like running.  I wonder what the point is when my knees hurt or I’m exhausted from pushing myself too hard.  I think about the fatigue.  I think about the mental anguish of not finishing.  Then, I lace up my shoes and I run.  I run because I can.

The answer to why I run doesn’t really matter.  To be honest, it shouldn’t.  Running just has to be something that I do.  It doesn’t always have to be cathartic.  It doesn’t have to relieve my stress or lend itself to some existential existence apart from the reality of my everyday life.  I don’t even have to like it all of the time.

I have never forced myself to run.  I don’t begrudgingly put on my running shoes every time.  I do it because my legs can move faster than just a walk when I want them to.  I run because I have the ability to do so.  As ridiculously simple as that sounds, it’s the truth.  The ability to do something because you can should be the motivation behind anything you do.  There shouldn’t always have to be a payoff.

If you are thinking about becoming a runner then do it.  Don’t go in search of some motivation that may not even exist.  Don’t overanalyze the process or search for some deeper meaning.  Run because you can.

Stay Focused – Choose Success

Stay-FocusedIt has been a while since my last post.  It’s not that I have forgotten about how important running is to me, or my health in general.  It’s just a matter of finding the time.  Between starting a new job and purchasing a new home with my wife things have been a bit chaotic.  During this exciting transition somehow the ever important goal of working out has faded.  I guess life has a way of disrupting goals, even when it’s not intentional. 

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, my wife and I went for a nice run outside.  Although it was followed by almost instant soreness and fatigue, I enjoyed every single minute of it.  Suddenly, I could think clearer and I felt more alive.  Every stressful thing in my life that was attempting to weigh me down lifted instantaneously.  I kept saying, “Why did we allow ourselves to stop running?”  Never mind the fact that we were sick for a week or that I was also dealing with a groin pull which prevented me from doing much with my legs.  It still shouldn’t have stopped us.  Somehow we let the hustle and bustle of life get in the way.  It wasn’t until after the run last night that I realized what we are doing incorrectly.  We are always trying to find time to work out.  The thing is that we have to make time to work out.  We can’t be trying to find a way to fit it into our schedule.

I also realized it’s important to never let life overwhelm us and prevent us from staying on task.  In the four years that Rachel and I have spent in “get and stay healthy” mode we have always made sure that we never stop focusing on our most important goals.  I know it’s easy to get distracted and lose sight of our primary objectives.  There’s always, at least in our minds, something more important.  But, we need to set priorities and begin to decipher what truly enriches our lives.  For us working out truly improves our livelihoods.  It gives us a better, more refreshing, perspective on life.  Without it I feel like I am just watching life pass me by, instead of at least running alongside it. 

I have had to suffer through my fair share of injuries.  I have had a variety of setbacks, but one thing has always remained constant – my will to succeed.  I choose, on a daily basis, to never give up or give in, no matter how frustrating things can get.  Some days it does seem easier to just not workout, especially lately.  It seems easier to throw in the towel and refuse to put forth even the slightest effort, but giving up is too easy.  Who said life is supposed to be easy?

We all have the ability to fail, just like we all have the ability to succeed.  The mistake people make is in the follow through, or the lack thereof.  If you choose to not attempt to succeed, then you will surely fail.  But, if you fail in spite of your attempts to succeed, you never really fail.  Success comes in the effort made.  It comes in never giving up.  You must keep in mind that none of us are weak.  In fact, I believe weakness is really just underutilized strength.  We are all built for success. 

Focus on making time for what’s important in your life, rather than trying to find the time.  Remember to stay the course, even when the road gets a little bumpy and unfamiliar.  Keep in mind that success is inherent in all of us, sometimes we just have to choose to try.  Lastly, it’s the hardest goals to achieve that are always the most rewarding.

Overcoming Obstacles

Raul Enchanted RockOvercoming obstacles can be difficult, especially when they seem out of your control.  But, I have come to realize that if you fight with every fiber of your being and never lose hope it’s possible to overcome anything.  Over a year ago I tore a muscle in my back.  I wondered if I would ever run again or even be able to lift a weight without pain.  After a month of physical therapy, a series of trigger point injections in my back and a demanding, as well as time consuming, stretching/workout regimen, I finally feel like I have reached the top of the mountain.

My goal, from the first day of my injury, was to do everything in my power to stay healthy and active.  However, as days turned into weeks and then months, I began to feel further and further from my goal.  I began to lose muscle and my endurance dropped steadily.  I was aggravated, frustrated, and lost.  I wanted to writhe in a world of self-pity.  I wanted to quit and accept the fact that I would never be able to run or lift weights comfortably again.  However, I knew that I couldn’t lose hope because I could see the mountain and I knew that the view was a hell of a lot better from the top. I just had to figure out how to get there.

I was limited for months in my ability to work out.  Running caused extreme pain and lifting weights resulted in re-injury.  However, I was committed to overcoming my obstacle and I made sure that I never lost hope.  I would head to physical therapy with joy, instead of complaining.  I would do my stretches, as well as workout regimen provided by my therapist, religiously, because I knew that it was important to do everything possible to get better.  When my Dr. said she was going to give me a series of trigger point injections in my back I happily plopped down on the table, lifted my shirt and said, “Have at it!”  Instead of crumble in defeat I stood steadfast in my commitment to overcome my injury.

In life we are faced with a series of obstacles and it is how we approach those obstacles that determine if and how we will overcome them.  To this day, more than a year later, I am not completely 100% (I’m about 85%), but I keep my head up and work hard to get there.  I never lose hope, because if I did then I wouldn’t try.  All I know is that today I am back to running three miles again and looking to sign up for a 5K in the fall, as well as a half marathon in the near future.  I am lifting weights and seeing my strength return.  I am not just looking to get back to where I was before.  I am looking to improve, because what would be the point of getting injured if something good didn’t come from it?

In my mind I have reached the top of the mountain.  I am sitting up here and enjoying the view, wondering if there’s an even better mountain to climb.  I think obstacles make life a little more interesting and lot more satisfying when you overcome them.  Just make sure that whenever you face an obstacle in life you do everything in your power to fight through it and you never, ever, lose hope.  There’s always going to be a mountain to climb, so you better start making your way to the top!

Setting Goals

set and reach goal conceptOne of the most important things in life is setting goals, because they allow you to develop a framework of expectations that can realistically be obtained.  They are a map to a destination, with a set of checkpoints along the way.  They not only signal our departure, but also our arrival, and without them we would become endless wanderers searching for direction.

If you want to get something done right you have to do it with purpose.  You have to want it.  You have to desire it.  Most of all, you have to try to attain it.  The hard part is getting started.  Whether it’s trying to lose weight or working hard for a promotion, you have to be deliberate in setting goals.  The goals are what you will need to propel you into action.  They aren’t just words, but rather, visualizations. You have to imagine what it is you want to accomplish and then you have to see yourself performing the tasks that will lead to your eventual success.  You can write down on paper that you want to lose 10 pounds.  You can look at it over and over, but can you see it?  Can you see yourself performing the actions that will help you lose the 10 pounds?  If you can’t then they are just words on paper.  You have to imagine yourself putting in the work.  You have to see the success, as well as the failure.  In fact, you have to plan for the failure and be prepared to overcome it.  The reality is that there are always going to be bumps in the road and if you don’t plan for them then sometimes they are impossible to avoid.  You can’t always go in with the belief that failure is not an option, because, unfortunately, sometimes it is.  But, you can never, and I mean never, let it stop you.  You have to envision yourself falling and getting back up.  You have to feel it make you stronger.  You have to learn from it.  You have to see yourself moving forward despite the setbacks.  You have to foresee success.

Setting goals can sometimes feel overwhelming, because you have to stand in front of this ominous mountain and somehow see yourself reaching the top of it.  But you must always keep in mind that it is a process with several steps along the way.  Reaching the top of the mountain is a long term goal.  It’s really the short term goals that will push you to the top, because you won’t get there in one giant leap.  If you are trying to get a promotion visualize yourself in your new position and make that image stick.  Then, think about what it is you need to get there.  For example, you may need to learn how the implementation process works for new accounts as one variable to being considered for a new position – there’s a short term goal.  Write that down and imagine yourself talking to the person who can teach you the process.  Then, write down another short term goal, visualize it, and so on and so on.  Write down and visualize every short term goal that will lead you to your ultimate goal.  Suddenly, everything becomes clearer and you can begin the process of making your goals come into fruition.

Remember, it’s important to always set goals, both big and small.  Writing your goals down on paper is not enough, so visualize the whole process.  Constantly imagine success, and plan for failure.  Never let the failure prevent you from moving forward.  If you are overwhelmed with your long term goal, break it down into smaller ones and see them as checkpoints on your road map to your ultimate destination.   Be deliberate in setting your goals and allow them to propel you into action.  Keep in mind that anything is possible.

By Raul Alanis

Plant the Seeds of Regrowth

regrowthThe New Year has begun, which means change is imminent.  For some it will mean a new gym membership and plans to reenergize their bodies.  For others it will be an opportunity to gain a renewed sense of self and a chance to reboot their minds.  Whatever the change may be and for whatever reason, let your passion take control.  Free your mind and body of all the clutter that accumulated from the year before and begin the process of regrowth.

We are not defined by the things that have happened in the past.  We are defined by what and who we are in the moment.  That’s why every single thing you do, whether it’s brushing your teeth in the morning or putting gas in your car, needs to be done with passion.  Even the seemingly insignificant moments can define you.  They can determine your direction and prevent you from tasting the true splendors that life has to offer.

The year is young and true contentment is ripe for the picking.  There is never a better excuse to ask for change in your life than right now.  Too many times our ambitions are diluted by the perception that we are incapable of change.  However, we are only incapable of change when we believe that we are incapable of change.  Still, some people will never attempt it, but what they fail to realize is that even an attempt at change is change.  Do not fear it – embrace it.

Your life won’t change the second you cross the finish line of your first marathon.  It will change the second you decide to run for the first time.  Your life won’t change when you finish your first painting.  It will change when you pick up your first brush.  It really is that easy.  But you’re never going to grow if you don’t plant the seeds.

Let this New Year provide the perfect opportunity to progress in a way that promotes self growth.  I don’t care if your past year was wonderful or horrible, because there is no reason this year can’t be better than the last.  Remember to set goals for yourself, do everything with passion and proactively seek change.   

A Long December by the Counting Crows is one of my favorite songs of all time.  I always hearken back to this one specific line: “And the feeling that it’s all a lot of oysters but no pearls.”  I always think, ‘I do get that feeling sometimes, but I just have to keep finding more oysters and hoping I get a pearl at some point.’ Luckily, I have always been able to find a lot of pearls.  Honestly, every New Year I think about this song and remember, “It’s been a long December, but there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.”