health

What’s Been Going On With My Face…

November 16, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

MO13-Primary-Logo-Ranged-NEG-copy

Here we are, halfway through November, and you may have seen quite a few new facial hairs growing on the men in your life or around the interwebs. In case you’re not familiar, this is the phenomenon known as MOVEMBER. The “M” is for “mustache” and “men’s health issues” and please give “money.”

Yes, I’m hopping on the scruffy bandwagon to help raise money for research and treatment of health problems commonly found in men, including testicular cancer, prostate cancer and mental health issues. I applaud the Movember movement moguls for adding mental health to the docket. In light of the events of Sandyhook, and the general stigma surrounding mental health (especially when it comes to men), giving exposure to depression, anxiety and other disorders can only help those that suffer, as well as those that love them.

What’s my MOtivation? As I state on my Movember page, it’s plain and simple:
Men’s health is important to me because I’m a man, my husband is a man, and our 4 year-old son will one day be a man. So we all need to be around and healthy a long time so we can all grow mustaches together one day.

Here’s my progress so far…

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Day 1: Baring it all for a good cause.

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Day 8: Having fun while in facial hair flux. Can you name that famous ‘stache?

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Day 14: What? Too Ted Nugent-y?

Click to super-size! Altho I'm not sure why you'd want to...

Click to super-size! Altho I’m not sure why you’d want to…

Please follow along, either on my Movember page or keep an eye out on Facebook or Instagram. And of course, please give as you are able. I’m part of a team of 50 Dad Bloggers, so there’s a healthy dose of competition in our ranks. I’m still in the top 10, but we’ve got half a month to go and lots of aggressive mo-growing going on!

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BONUS: If you make a donation of $20, you’ll receive your very own, super-fancy customized “I GOT MO’ED!” photo, suitable for use on Facebook, Holiday cards or company web sites.

SUPER BONUS: Give $50, and I’ll MO someone else of your choosing!

Here are two of my first Movember victims contributors. Thanks guys!

moed-web

Chuck the Chunk: Keep On Chuckin’

October 25, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Other titles considered for this post, “Slow and Steady is Boring and Slow,” “Two Steps Forward, Three Steps to the Couch,” and “I’m So Lame.”

Yes, I’m still doing this. (This being Chuck the Chunk.) To make a long sob story short, I got as low as 278, then got sick, then got crazy busy with work, then went to a conference, then got even crazier busier. Blah, blah, blah, excuse, excuse, excuse. And I’m admittedly a little bummed (okay, a lot) that no sponsors have stepped up to give our ragtag band of dad bloggers a shiny prize to strive for.

Luckily I’ve not fallen completely off the wagon. I’ve yo-yo’ed between 278-284 for the past month or so, depending on how stressed I was or what time of day I weighed myself. Eating right has been relatively steady, but exercise has taken a vacation. This morning I was at 282, so that’s what I’m sticking with for the sake of this post and to get it down in writing. And to move forward.

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I don’t have anything insightful or motivational to share. Other than I’m still fat and I still need help. I am encouraged by the progress I’ve made, but know winter is my hardest time to stay active and not wallow in comfort food. So I’m always ALWAYS open to cheerleading, success stories, ass-kickings and the like.

A big shout out to my little brother Bryan for texting me a while back to see if I was still doing “that Chunk thing.”

So I will keep on Chuckin’. And I promise to check back in sooner next time.

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Testicular Cancer and Embracing Your Nuts

October 6, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

embracing your nuts

When your last name is “Almond,” you learn at a young age to live with the “nut” jokes. From the constant jingle-singing* (“Almond Joy’s got nuts…”) to the crazy/nuts remarks, the cracks start early and get old fast. And ’round about puberty, anything and everything testicle-related gets thrown at you. But I got used to it, eventually able to celebrate my surname’s uniqueness. I even named my graphic design company Design Nut. You could say that I’ve come to embrace my nuts.

TCF-ParentBlogger-badge-SQUARE-150px150px2SO LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU EMBRACING YOUR NUTS.

I’m proud to be a member of the Testicular Cancer Foundation’s MAN UP MONDAY Blogging Team. I’m doing my part talking about nuts to spread the all-important message of Testicular Cancer self-examination and early detection.

I still remember the video we watched in Junior High health class of the guy feeling himself up in the shower. For a young gay kid, this was ALL KINDS OF AWKWARD. But it left an impression, and I checked myself regularly throughout my youth. I never had any cancer symptoms, but it made me more aware of my body and some of the risks I faced. And it’s not like it hurt or anything.

YOU’D BE NUTS NOT TO KNOW THESE FACTS:

Testicular Cancer is the #1 cancer in young men ages 15 to 35.
 Testicular Cancer is highly survivable if detected early.
Young men should be doing a monthly self-exam. (Which is a no-brainer, since they’re going to be down there anyway…)

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN TO EMBRACE YOUR NUTS?

Stop by the Testicular Cancer Foundation website for more information on Testicular Cancer.
Request a FREE shower card with self-exam instructions – it just might save a young man in your life!
If you’re feeling a little awkward about this conversation, check out this nutty little video from some parents who feel the same way…
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PARENTS, YOU’D BE NUTS TO SEND THIS TO YOUR SONS.

Since we’re being honest, I’m pretty sure most teenage boys would think you’re off your nutter if you showed them this aticle. But you know what? They already think that about you, so what have you got to lose? NOTHING. What have they got to lose if you don’t? EVERYTHING. So nut up and text them this post during gym class. Play the video before family movie night. Sneak a shower card and an Almond Joy into their lunch. Get creative. Get silly. But get them the info. You’d be nuts not to.

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SEMI-RELEVANT EPILOGUE: Think your toddler is too young to talk testicles? The other day JJ and Papa were talking skeletons, as we’re getting close to Halloween. My son was sitting in the tub, pointing to different parts of his body (arm, hand, head) and asking “is there a bone in here?” Inevitably, he pointed to his wee bits. Papa let out long laugh, told him “No, but…” then decided that conversation could wait and splashed around to change the subject. All that to say, A) my son is awesome cute, and B) yup, he’s already talking testicles.

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*At least my last name wasn’t “Mounds”

Chuck the Chunk: “Daddy, your butt is big!”

September 14, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

I made a little more progress this week, but taking (and posting) photos each time reminds me I have a big chunk of work to do. Or maybe I can just avoid being viewed in profile for the rest of my life…

Something else reminded me recently I have a ways to go. My son. For the first time ever — completely out of nowhere — he said, “Daddy, you have a big beyyie.*” This didn’t phase me too much. I pretended to eat his feet and it was all giggles after that. But a couple of days later he pronounced, “Daddy, your butt is BIG!”

This time I told him he shouldn’t say that to people, that is wasn’t nice, blah blah blah. Thing is, I’m not particularly concerned about my butt size — certainly not compared to my belly beyyie. In fact, I’ve always been a little proud of my white boy badonkadonk, thankyouvermuch.

Yet as they say, “Out of the mouths of babes… something something.”

I’m proud of my progress and remain undeterred by these youthful (but truthful) observations. Onward and upward. Or downward, as it were. Later, unwanted 12 pounds!

See you in a fortnight or so.

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chunkSM

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*Toddler translation: “L”s sound like “Y”s

Chuck the Chunk: My Love Affair with Two Men from Vermont

September 1, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED
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I will not be wearing this shirt for weigh-in photos again.

So here we are at the one-month mark of Chuck the Chunk — and I’m proud to say I’ve lost nine pounds! I’ve shed more weight in less time in the past, but I’m really trying my darndest to apply a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race technique. Drastic measures yield more dramatic results, but they rarely ever stick.

Speaking of slow and steady, I recently had a follow-up visit at a weight loss program I participated in a few years ago. While I’m certainly not near where I’d like to be, the doctor looked back on my records and informed me that it was exactly five years from when I first participated in the program, and I’d been able to keep more than half the weight off that I’d lost. He said that put me in the smallest percentile of weight-loss retention, higher even than most people who’d had bariatric surgery (e.g., gastric bypass, lap-band). So yay me!

But I had my share of bad days…days when I wanted to go back to my longstanding, self-abusing love affair with two men named Ben and Jerry.

ben-jerry-froyo-chocolate-fudge-brownie5613

Last Wednesday was particularly rough, with compounded stresses both work- and JJ-related. I was so tempted to “treat” myself to some Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie FroYo. But in a moment of resolve, I told Papa that under no circumstances was he to let me get any. I then hopped online and joined a group of dads on Twitter chatting about healthy eating. It was a great way to vent about my frustrations and share my successes. The day ended, and I didn’t indulge. If I want to treat myself, that’s fine — but I too often fall into using B&J (and other food) to cheer myself up or reward myself.

It’s going to be a long, slow breakup, and I hope we can one day still be friends. But for now I have to be strong. As a famous reality show host once said, “If you can’t love yourself, how the HELL you gonna love somebody else?”

Can I get an AMEN up in here? See you in two weeks.

chunkSM

 

#SuperMilkMan to the Rescue!

August 25, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

As a marketing/design professional and an admitted non-sports fan, the commercials truly ARE my favorite part of the Super Bowl. And last year’s big game featured an awesomely over-the-top spot from the Milk folks featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Here’s a refresher:
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In addition to all the humor, action and special-effects a Super Bowl spot requires, it also showcases the rarely-seen kick-ass Dad (or perhaps the most muscle-bound manny of all time) blowing off helpless kitties, banks being robbed, frightened old ladies, escaped circus lions and an alien invasion, all to provide the much-needed protein and essential nutrients for the munchkins in his charge.

As a follow up, The Rock appears in a new print campaign for Milk, continuing his portrayal of a super milk-powered hero, AKA #SuperMilkMan! He’s finally back to help out that poor, tree-stranded kitty:

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You might be thinking, Okayyy, milk’s great and all. But… whatthehuh?

Well, the fellows at Life of Dad helped Milk rustle up 25 dad bloggers to be Milk Ambassadors, to create an original video promoting Milk’s new ad campaign, and possibly win a trip to either LA or New York to meet The Rock* himself! And yup, I’m one of those 25 Official Entrants!

And here’s my video! Keep in mind the budget was much lower, but my costar is way cuter than a stupid cat:

So, for the love of all that is whole or skim, please tweet, share, like, twerk, etc. this post and the video so I win that trip to LA (I’ve been to NYC, so fingers crossed for Hollywood) and my son gets to meet a darn-near, real-life superhero!

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Important sites and social media thingies and whatnot:

If ya tweet, use #SuperMilkMan

Follow on Twitter: @MilkMustache

Like on Facebook: facebook.com/milkmustache

Visit: www.GotMilkGotProtein.com

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DIRECTOR’S CUT! BONUS MATERIAL!

Never-before-seen storyboard sketches:
storyboarding

Behind-the-scenes celebrity gossip:
During this shoot, the antagonist (Energetic Toddler, played by JJ) — for the first time in his career life — refused to go outside to do the action scenes. He had to be bribed with a snack, a superhero toy, and of course a cold glass of milk. Truly a star in the making.

#SuperMilkMan fun fact: Cinematography by Papa!

Exclusive Designer Daddy contest offer:
In the comments, name your favorite way to enjoy milk AND your favorite movie starring Dwayne Johnson/The Rock for a chance to win a custom pair of gauntlets, just like those worn by #SuperMilkMan! Contest ends midnight 9/6/13.

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*Don’t tell anyone, but I’d be just as happy with a pair of those rockin’ space-themed pajama pants… Or more specifically, an XXL for me, L for Papa, and a kid’s size 4 for JJ. Just sayin’.

[Disclaimer: I am being compensated by Life of Dad, LLC for my participation as an Official Entrant in, and promoter of the #SuperMilkMan Contest. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are mine and/or JJ’s.]

 

Chuck the Chunk: Baby Steps

August 16, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

Scroll down a bit to the lovely infographic of my chunky self, and you’ll see I’ve shed 4 lbs since starting my Chuck the Chunk (CTC) weight loss adventure. I lost all four the first week and then held steady the following week. That probably had something to do with attending a wedding on the weekend, as well as a weeknight of late night concert-going (and more than a bit of revelry) followed by some even later night snacking.

I need to step up my game. (Did I just say that? I think someone says that in every episode of every reality show competition, ever. And also “I’m bringing my A game!” If someone sees me write that, smack me. Or call the police as someone has hijacked my blog.) … Where was I? Oh yeah, I need to step up my game if I’m going to keep up with my fellow Chunkers. Like this guy, who’s our second heaviest, and lost 13 lbs his first week! Or this fella making nasty-looking stuff to drink he calls “Hulk Juice.” Or this dude, who’s been running 5ks right up until (and even after) his wife gave birth to their second child. I’d be stress-eating for weeks before AND after.

weight loss

For your viewing pleasure

I’ve been asked a few times what I’m doing to lose the weight. For the first time ever, I can give the boringest, least-magical answer ever: eating less and exercising. To track all that boringness, I’m using My Fitness Pal, where I set goals for weight and a time period to lose it, and it gives me a calorie total based on my current weight. I’m also “pals” with several of the CTC guys, which adds to the comaraderie/competition.

I’m pleased with the subtle lifestyle choices I’ve made so far, which will hopefully keep me from going to extremes in the wrong direction. I’m fine going slow and steady — as long as I’m steadily losing. See you in two weeks.

weight loss

 

I’m fat. Need help.

July 31, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED

“I’m fat. Need help.”

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That was my plea — in shortened form (the TL;DR*) — to the group of dad bloggers I chat with on Facebook.

News to no one, I’ve been overweight for a very long time. I’ve been struggling with my weight since college, and while I’ve seen my share of successes, I’m in the running with Lindsay Lohan for numbers of relapses. And since becoming a father, I just haven’t found the time/energy/gumption to get off my ass and live healthier again.

So I took some time  to think about what motivates me. Yes, I want to live a long, happy life. I want to be around for (and able to keep up with) my son as long as possible. I want to be fit and frisky for Papa for decades to come. And yes, when I’m in the midst of it, I actually enjoy exercising and eating what’s best for me.

But when I got brutally honest with myself, I realized that FAME AND GLORY are what put a spring in my step and a low-fat yogurt in my mouth.

The thrill of walking into chorus rehearsal and having 200 gay men tell me how great I look. Buying new clothes that express my colorful Designer Daddy style without making me look like an Easter Parade float. Posting uncropped photos of myself on Facebook. That is the kind of attention I crave. The kind that makes me feel warm and fuzzy and glad to be alive. And the kind that keeps me living large, but not too.

I recently registered for my very first dad blogger conference. (Yes, it’s a thing) It’s  in New Orleans in January, and I’ll be meeting many of my bloggery friends in person for the first time. Then I had a Eureka! moment — I’d set a goal of losing weight in time for the conference!

Yet there’s a second part to my opening statement. “Need help.” In the past I’ve done Weight Watchers and weight loss programs at a local medical center, relied on trainers and apps, read diet books and watched fitness videos. While those were all effective at one time, I need something a bit more down-to-earth and in my face. What better than a bunch of other self-involved, overweight blogging dads?

I floated the idea to the group, and what do you know? There’s a lot of out-of-shape dad bloggers out there! Not sure if it’s the being a dad or being a blogger that’s gotten us all so chunky, but out of the 300+ members of our group, 26 signed up for our little friendly(ish) competition. As the group was discussing ways of humiliating the “losers,” someone mentioned doing the Truffle Shuffle. Again, another Eureka! moment hit me, and I came up with an name for our contest: Chuck the Chunk: On the Road to Dad 2.0 Summit 2014. Quite a mouthful, no?

chunk

So… we’ve got a name (and a nifty logo, by yours truly), a deadline, a group of guys, and even a fitness expert in our group to share free advice and humiliating photos of his abs. Did I mention that the founder of Dad 2.0 is also in our group? Yup. And he’s working on drumming up some interest from sponsors — so there may even be ACTUAL fame and glory. Or at least prizes. I’ll keep you posted.

Another BIG part of motivating myself is to document my progress here. So please come back often for updates, successes, failures, and by golly — some better photos!

And if you don’t hear from me for a while, drop me a line and ask me what’s up with that. Words of encouragement and cheering are also welcome. Confetti gets you bonus points.

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Oh yeah, and here’s my official “BEFORE” photo, and the first of many updates. Lucky you.

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*TL;DR = Too long; didn’t read. I’ve learned so much from being a blogger! 😉
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Feeding a Toddler is One Big Game

July 15, 2013 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Okay, so maybe that title isn’t the most revelatory ever. But once in a blue moon I have a moment of true parental creativity. I want to savor those moments, as they are few and far between. So this is me savoring…

Like any average toddler, JJ is a picky eater. I don’t even know why you would qualify a toddler’s eating habits as “picky” — it’s just understood. Sure, there’s the occasional hippie/hipster-type who’s little lamb has been vegan/organic/locally-fed from the womb. Don’t you just wanna slap those parents with a cold fish stick?

One of JJ’s favorite snacks are gummies. For a long time he ate only the Gerber ones, which seemed all fruit-filled and healthy. Then he got seduced by the Dark Side, and now joneses for Spider-Man, Batman, or <shudder> Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-flavored gummies. I can only imagine what manor of chemical imbalance is found in them. But I’ve all but convinced myself they’re still fruit-adjacent, and certainly better than soda, hard candy or Doritos. (Hands off, those are Daddy’s)

We were in Connecticut visiting family over the July 4th holiday, and I ran into a Whole Foods to look for the snooty dog food we forgot to bring (for the dog, just to be clear), and I saw these beauties at the register, looking very natural and juicy and non-turtle shaped:

jujustars

Where in heaven can I find some more?!?

They were labeled with a small white sticker, “Juju Stars.” I snapped them up and then promptly forgot about them.

Fast-forward to Wednesday, and the nightly battle over dinner is in progress. Unless his afternoon snack is timed just right, JJ won’t be hungry at a normal dinner time. It might also have something to do with the tides or cicada migration or something. Who knows? Furthermore, we’re not only arguing that it’s time to eat, but also what to eat, how much to eat, and of course STAY. IN. YOUR. CHAIR.

Then I notice the Juju Stars sparkling on the counter in their little generic plastic cup. Bells, whistles and the Dora theme go off in my head…

“Hey buddy! Do you want to play a game?”

Miraculously, he stops whining.

“How about I give you one of these MAGIC DORA STARS* for every bite of food you eat? How many stars do you think you can win?!?” My voice was probably sounding a bit crazed at this point as I tried to amp up his excitement.

“YAY! I want to win FIVE!”

So the game began. And he ate a fish stick. Then another. Then his spinach patty. Then drank his fruit smoothie. “DUDE! You won ALL FIVE STARS!”

And yes (THANK GOD IN HEAVEN) he liked them.

The game has now been played (and won) for the last three feedings. Woohoo! Daddy wins, too!

But now we’re out of stars. And I Googled the hell out of them, and only found a couple of old photos from 2010. Looks like Daddy will be playing Find the Juju Stars all day tomorrow.

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DORASTARS

*If you’ve watched much Dora the Explorer, you know there are occasional episodes that feature these annoying stars she has to collect on her adventures. Because the show wasn’t already enough like a video game. One morning JJ and I stumbled across this video on YouTube, while having “VIDEOS TIME!” on Daddy’s computer. It’s a video of a video game. So each time JJ begs to watch it, he tries to click on the big green PLAY button, and it pauses the video. DUDE. It’s not going to work. Let’s move on, PLEASE. How about I give you a gummy star?!?
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Kids Battle Cancer Through Design

May 19, 2013 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

I’m always amazed and inspired by the artwork children create. Even more so when it’s for a worthy cause.

Earlier this year Ouchies Bandages sponsored an art contest where kids from around the country submitted designs with messages of hope and healing to battle pediatric cancer. Ouchies’ CEO, Ian Madover explains, “Kids with cancer get pricked many times a day, and we thought it only makes sense to put the two together.”

Hundreds entered, thousands voted online, and five winners were recently chosen to be featured on the new line of bandages to be released this summer, as part of the Ouchies for Others campaign. 100% of the profits will be donated to three national pediatric cancer care organizations.

Below are the winners, whose artwork will be featured on the Fight Against Pediatric Cancer line of bandages:

winner3
Tenia Richardson Age 9  Michigan
“Love is Cure”
I believe with enough love you can cure anything to make a brighter day. READ FULL ARTICLE >>

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