How many of you have jumped on board the smart home wagon? I have to admit that I have tiptoed through setting up my home with smart home devices, starting with two Roku Ultra units I purchased last fall after breaking up with Spectrum Cable. It hasn’t been completely seamless, and I already had a Roku remote stop working after only 5 months, but overall, I have gotten accustomed to watching shows on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.
My next step was setting up a Wyze Camera which I had received as a Christmas gift. I figured it would be a good way to watch my cats while I was away, and also ensure that no unwelcome guests were lurking in my bedroom. What I did not expect was that the camera would randomly scan the room when I wasn’t using the app, and after a couple of unnerving scans, I unplugged the thing and haven’t used it since.
Then I really took the plunge this past July, when I set up two Google Nests and several TP-Link Smart Plugs. I decided to plug in certain key lamps and three humidifiers, and programmed some of them to turn on and off at specified times. I have to admit that I love the convenience, and if I need to override the automated settings, I am able to do so easily simply by telling Google to perform a certain action.
If you are considering setting up your home with smart devices, make sure that you have a strong internet connection and a high quality internet router, or you will not be able to successfully connect your devices. The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to setting up devices in your home, and it can get pretty expensive. But the automation which you can establish in your home is pretty impressive.
I honestly dig the convenience of asking Google for the current weather, and I also love being able to start Spotify or SiriusXM on the Google Nest, so that I can have music playing in the background throughout the day. But there is a part of me which still thinks it is rather bizarre to speak to Alexa, Google, and Siri while we are in the comfort of our own homes. I am also concerned about the collection of information which I am sure is occurring every time we use these devices. It is already pretty unnerving to have a conversation with a friend and mention something like pizza, only to have supposedly random ads pop up in an email browser which feature pizza from Numero Uno. Coincidence? I think not.
At any rate, the convenience of having lights and humidifiers turn on and off automatically is worth it to me. For example, I had set up a series of lights behind my sofa when I moved in over 2 years ago so that I could have cool mood lighting, but I rarely turned them on because I had to do so via a power strip which was wedged behind the sofa. Now that I have the power strip plugged into a TP-Link Smart Plug and have it connected to Kasa and Google Home, I can just tell Google to turn the “uplights” on and off whenever I choose. Consequently, I use these mood lights almost nightly.
What do you have set up in your smart home?
Here’s a collection of some of the signs I encountered during my visit to Japan in March. Clearly there is a need for more accurate Japanese to English translation!
If you’re into fitness, then you probably have encountered elements of the exercise equipment shortage which emerged from the coronavirus lockdown. People began scrambling to pick up all sorts of exercise equipment as soon as lockdown went into effect, and suddenly, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight benches, resistance bands, etc. became as scarce as a 12-pack of Charmin. It turns out that weight training, as an e-commerce category, is the eighth-fastest growing category, even more in demand than toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer. Interest in fitness gear is up over 500% this year.
Part of the shortage is due to the fact that a large percentage of the iron used for exercise equipment is forged in China. In fact, every single piece of exercise equipment I have ordered online since March has been made in China. Many factories in China have been shut down as a result of the pandemic, causing production to plummet, and forcing distributors to find other ways to manufacture items like dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, multi gyms, and barbells.
Hence the shortage and the inflated prices we have been seeing all over the internet. Bowflex Selecttech Dumbbells have been selling on eBay for grossly inflated prices, jumping from as little as $200 for a pair last fall to as much as $1,500 during the peak of the equipment buying panic a couple of months ago. I have had a Bowflex Selecttech 552 set with the stand for eleven years, and I am so grateful to have it. Never once did I think about jumping on the opportunity to make a ridiculous amount of money by selling the set, because I was using the set every single day, and my fitness and sanity mean far more to me than making a quick buck. Plus, they’re pretty awesome, enabling me to select any weight from 5 to 52.5 pounds, in increments of 2.5 pounds.
There were other purchases I made which were a test of my patience. I ordered a hyperextension bench which took two months to arrive, and I went through so many sites and online searches and apps before I found items like the Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G Smith Multi Gym through OfferUp. I also had to pay more than the original sticker price because the demand for such items is so high. However, I swooped in on this item before prices went through the roof. The current lowest price on Amazon for this multi gym is now $2,700.99 and arrives September 25th – October 13th!
If you happen to see a piece of equipment which you want, you had better snap it up immediately, since the demand will not abate any time soon. Gyms have been shuttered, and there’s no telling how long it will be before they will reopen, so we all need to get comfortable with assembling the best home gyms possible.
Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G
This year has certainly been full of surprises, partially from the fear surrounding COVID-19, and partially from the economic upturns which have wracked the entire globe. From long furloughs to unemployment, people everywhere are feeling the financial effects. We are officially in a recession, which makes it even more important for everyone to review their finances and find ways to protect themselves during the financial downturn.
There are general financial guidelines which should always be followed, such as paying down debt, establishing an emergency fund, finding other means to generate income, and continuing to contribute to retirement accounts. Another vital component in good financial health is establishing a budget and really examining your spending habits. Almost invariably, people find out after they create a budget that they are spending money needlessly on frills that they don’t need. By eliminating those hidden money drains, it becomes easier to cover living expenses, thus reducing some of the stress involved in getting by financially.
I have had a budget in place for over 30 years, and I have seen the power it wields. By following a budget, I was able to pay down all credit card debt, pay off a car, establish an emergency fund, and put money aside for retirement, so I know it can all be done. Even at this point, with zero debt, I am acutely aware of my budget, and I review it on an almost weekly basis to make sure I am on track.
If you need help in establishing a budget, you can use a budget calculator. I found a wonderful budget calculator on Pigly.com which is very easy to use, and extremely thorough. It helps you break down all expenses, from the essentials to debts and savings so you can target all your goals and ensure that your income is allocated optimally. All you have to do is plug in your income, and the calculator will automatically generate a low end and high end for all the categories. So even if you have never established a budget before, you can set one up instantly.
When budgeting, don’t be afraid to contribute to your retirement accounts right now, as long as you have your debts paid down and you have an emergency fund in place. I am a big proponent of Dave Ramsey’s investing philosophy, and I am grateful that I educated myself on financial wellness and dug myself out of what once seemed like a desperate situation. It was only after I had paid off all of my credit cards and established an emergency fund back in 2013 that I began aggressively started putting money aside for retirement.
The fact is, we are living in uncertain times and need to be prepared for whatever hits. By buttressing our financial health, getting creative with income streams, and following a budget, we will be better equipped to survive the ebb and flow of the current economy.
Shopping habits have changed dramatically since the appearance of COVID-19 and the subsequent scramble to socially distance and protect ourselves. Grocery stores and retail pharmacies now have plexiglass shields at the checkout stands, and there are shoe stickers on the floors as visual reminders of the six foot distance we are urged to keep from each other.
Malls are nearly empty, and many merchants haven’t even dared open their doors. The days when you could just hop over to a local store and pick up a couple of items have been replaced with long lines of people waiting to get in, and staple items which are perpetually low in stock or completely depleted. Let’s not forget about all that toilet paper hoarding which defined the earlier part of 2020.
The new normal when it comes to consumer spending is largely confined to purchasing only the essentials, but there has also been a peculiar yet predictable surge in what can reasonably be described as online retail therapy. Since we’ve basically been forced to become homebodies, our shopping preferences have changed to reflect this lifestyle shift. Online streaming services have increased dramatically in popularity, as people search for shows and films to chew up some of their time at home.
Industries which have seen an uptick in their sales since the global pandemic hit include food delivery and takeout services, alcohol, exercise equipment, health supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer, and beauty and wellness products.
Some people have been compelled to stock up on bundles of essentials like pasta, toilet paper and the like, while others have fallen into the habit of purchasing unnecessary items, perhaps a long coveted item which was purchased with the attitude, life is short, might as well buy it.
The following excerpt from an article by Leanne Italie is an excellent description of the purchasing habits which many of us might find ourselves falling into as this lockdown continues:
“Shopping as therapy has been shown to reduce negative moods and boost overall happiness,” he said. “The big downside, however, is that such relief is very short-lived. That good feeling very quickly dissipates.”
Mr. Galak said some research points to “shopping while bored” as a variation with less emotional payout.
“Browsing for things that one doesn’t need fills the time and then clicking `buy now’ just naturally follows,” he said. “Consumers may find themselves on page 20 of a search result for a new pair of shoes, a place that when engaged and not bored, they would never reach.”
Jennifer Salgado, 42 of Bloomfield, N.J., is a shopper with many heads these days.
“Resourceful me has purchased: a pasta roller and drying rack, because now I’m Ina Garten; stuff to make hand sanitizer, because I’m now a chemist; and dog nail clippers that my 76-pound bulldog noped out of real fast and is now looking like Snooki from the ‘Jersey Shore,’” she said.
There’s also “luxurious me,” Ms. Salgado said, snapping up 96 macarons from a bulk-buying store, along with the Jennifer who needed 24 pounds of frozen peas.
“Most of the time, I forget what’s coming,” she said, echoing others who accepted long delivery dates out of fear. “And most of the time, I realize I never really needed these things in the first place.”
Kellie Flor-Robinson of Silver Spring, Md., just may be a combination of all of the above.
“I ordered a case of Moet,” she said. “I’m not sure that it was an accident, though — this thing has me buggy.”
DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored post. I was asked by the brand to provide an unbiased review of their products in exchange for free product.
I love the idea of being able to sip a mug of tea which has all the relaxing, mellow goodness of CBD. As it turns out, Hippi CBD Tea took the time to test teas from around the globe, different types and concentrations of CBD to develop proprietary blends and formulations which are flavorful and effective.
Hippi Teas contain a water-soluble form of CBD which allows the CBD to bond to the tea leaves, then release as the tea is steeping. In addition, the CBD which they use is about 90% bio-available, and the effects kick in after about five minutes, which is faster than oil or gummies. These teas are THC-free, so you needn’t worry about getting high from these teas.
Each pyramid sachet contains 10 mg of CBD, which is equivalent to 25 mg of CBD oil. A key step either during steeping, or after allowing the sachet to steep for 3 to 5 minutes, is to stir the tea to help release any CBD from the tea leaves. Once you stir the tea, it’s ready to drink.
The first variety of Hippi CBD Tea I decided to try was Daydreamer. I absolutely loved the packaging, with the VW bus and hippie colors and flowers. I have always loved black tea for its robust flavor, and I can definitely recognize the quality of the tea leaves which are used in Daydreamer. What’s especially cool is that Daydreamer is the first Black CBD Tea on the market, and can be consumed either hot or iced. I actually started out with a hot mug of Daydreamer, then as it cooled down, I added ice and enjoyed the iced version. It’s just what you would expect from a high quality black tea, with the added benefits from CBD.
I had been working on many different things on my to-do list the first time I tried Daydreamer, plus had some distressing news that morning and was on edge. In addition, I was feeling sluggish because I hadn’t slept well the previous night, so it was nice to get a bit of a pick-me-up from the 75 mg of caffeine. My nerves were frazzled, yet I honestly did notice after a few minutes of drinking Daydreamer Tea that I felt much calmer, and was able to power through my tasks without that gnawing feeling of anxiety which threatened to throw a wrench in my busy day. Daydreamer made that much of a difference, instilling a sense of calm while keeping my mind sharp and on task.
A couple of nights later, I tried Mellow CBD Herbal Tea, which is a lovely combination of organic burdock, organic orange peel, organic licorice, organic cinnamon, and water-soluble CBD. Ordinarily, I avoid all things licorice, because I can’t stand the smell or taste, but this tea was so well-balanced that I didn’t even notice it. The aroma of this tea kind of reminds me of Good Earth Organic Original Sweet & Spicy Tea, which I have always loved, but which can be a bit sweet. Mellow CBD Herbal Tea is the perfect blend of earthy, spicy, citrusy, and sweet, delivering a delectable flavor which is incredibly soothing.
I drank Mellow about 20 minutes before bed, and for the first time in a long time, I pretty much fell asleep the instant my head hit the pillow. And while my eyes usually pop open at 6 am (a full hour before I like to wake up), with Mellow CBD Herbal Tea on board, I didn’t wake up until 7 am. Now that’s worth the price of admission!
Since trying both Daydreamer and Mellow, I have enjoyed incorporating them into my daily regimen. I reach for Daydreamer on the days when my energy is low, but need to get through a hectic day. Daydreamer has been perfect for me, especially since I developed a sensitivity to caffeine a couple of months ago. Suddenly, I wasn’t able to drink even a half cup of brewed coffee without getting severe jitters. What’s so strange to me is that I couldn’t tolerate even 45 mg of caffeine from a half cup of brewed coffee, but I don’t get the jitters at all from the 75 mg of caffeine from Daydreamer. Add to that the CBD to erase the edginess I can feel while juggling tasks, and I am set.
Mellow has been a game changer for me with respect to how well I sleep. I have noticed on the nights I don’t drink the tea that I revert back to my old habit of waking up at 6 am, while the nights with Mellow on board reward me with a deep, restful sleep which envelops me until I need to wake up at 7 am. I might need to stock up on this wonderful tea!
Since I am a fan of both teas, I strongly recommend buying the two-pack, which includes a 14 count box of Daydreamer CBD Black Tea, and a 14 count box of Mellow caffeine-free herbal tea. What’s also nice is that you save some money by purchasing the two-pack as opposed to purchasing the two separately.
One last wonderful point about Hippi CBD Teas is that its co-founder Stephen Walker served in the USMC. Because of this, Hippi is committed to supporting U.S. military veterans, so much so that you can designate 10% of your purchase to be donated to the Semper Fi & America’s Fund. Simply use code USMC at checkout.
I am posting a compelling article written by Nina Shapiro which calls attention to an article which went viral, then was retracted due to uproar and outrage.
The original post can be found here.
Viral #MedBikini Response To Controversial Manuscript Leads Editor To Retract Article
Remember that time you saw your teacher at the grocery store? Maybe you’re still recovering from the trauma. Even though nine-year-old you knew that your teacher was, well, human, the idea that he or she engaged in human behaviors similar to those of your own family was a tough pill to swallow. Spotting a teacher on vacation? Perish the thought. What about your doctor? Your surgeon? They don’t actually eat food, do errands, or (gasp) go to the beach like the rest of us, do they? Well if they do, just hope you don’t have to witness it, right? With social media, oftentimes a click of a button will save you a trip out in public to peek at the private lives of those who care for you or your children. One group based in Boston sought to take their own peek into the lives of young surgeons via fabricated social media accounts. And they wrote about it in a highly respected academic journal.
In the August 2020 issue of the Journal of Vascular Surgery, a manuscript entitled “Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content Among Young Vascular Surgeons,” was retracted by the journal’s editorial board yesterday. The article sought to identify what the authors consider to be “inappropriate” and “unprofessional” behavior on various social media platforms by young vascular surgeons, in efforts to recognize and, in turn, discourage, any such behavior which could have a negative impact on patient respect for physicians. While some of the issues addressed are clearly critical for patient care, including patient privacy violations, slander of colleagues, and illegal drug use, many of the other issues addressed can be construed as privacy violations into the lives of young physicians. Particularly female physicians. The investigators focused on recent vascular surgery residency and fellowship graduates, putting the average age of the study subjects (who did not give permission to be studied) at around 30-35 years old. They created “neutral” (translation: fake) Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to search the social media feeds of young surgeons.
The three fake accounts to search for unprofessional behavior were created by male students and fellows, ages 28-37 years old. Included in what they considered to be unprofessional behavior were photographs of “provocative” Halloween costumes and poses in bikinis. In addition, any reference to politically or socially-charged issues such as abortion and gun control were included as unprofessional behavior. The real social media world got word of this publication, and responded loud and clear. The notion that the focus was targeting young female surgeons on how they dress during their non-work time was met with disgust and uproar. The hashtag #MedBikini went viral on Twitter and Instagram, bringing countless women (and men) to proudly post pictures of themselves in bikinis or other casual attire, along with the #MedBikini hashtag, in mutual support of so-called “unprofessional” behavior outside of the operating room.
While the authors did address issues of patient privacy and uncollegial behavior, the focus on female surgeons wearing bikinis, especially tracked by male students and fellows under fake social media accounts, raised the “creep” factor to higher and higher levels as the issue came to the public. Hearkening back to the #ILookLikeASurgeon hashtag, which began in 2016, pointing out that, yes, even bikini-clad, all-shapes-and-sizes, all-genders-regardless-of-identity can be and are surgeons, #MedBikini is a trend to humanize, not de-professionalize, women in a traditionally male profession.
Dr. Mudit Chowdhary, a Chief Resident in Radiation Oncology at Rush University, shared his concerns with the study and on social media. When asked why he felt so strongly about the manuscript, he stated, “I have issues with the definition of unprofessional behavior…it is inappropriate to label social issues as unprofessional. We are humans first before physicians. Plus, the issues they label as controversial (gun control, abortion) are healthcare issues. Physicians are taught to be community leaders in medical school and we need to speak up in order to help our communities.” When asked about whether or not physicians should be held to higher standards, even on social media, he responded, “I do believe physicians should have some higher standards. For example, disclosing HIPAA information is something nobody else has to deal with. However, much of the issue is that the medical field is highly conservative and misogynistic.”
In response to such widely disseminated disgust with this publication, one of the lead authors, Dr. Jeffrey Siracuse, issued a public apology on Twitter:
And soon after, the editors of the journal issued a public statement with plans to retract the article from the journal. In their statement, they reveal that there were errors in the review process, including the issue of conscious and unconscious bias on the part of the investigators, as well as failure to obtain permission from national program directors to use the database in searching private and public social media accounts of recent graduates of training programs. Their retraction statement concluded as follows:
“Finally, we offer an apology to every person who has communicated the sadness, anger, and disappointment caused by this article. We have received an outpouring of constructive commentary on this matter, and we intend to take each point seriously and take resolute steps to improve our review process and increase diversity of our editorial boards.” (Peter Gloviczki, MD and Peter F. Lawrence, MD, Editors, Journal of Vascular Surgery).
There was some favorable response to this statement and retraction, yet many continue to feel that an assessment of professionalism was carried out in an extremely unprofessional manner, underscoring the irony of such an endeavor. Not to mention the lack of diversity in the editorial board, comprised of two male surgeons who happen to share the same first name.
While the issue of professionalism on the part of physicians should remain paramount, and does, indeed, require further exploration, monitoring, and careful attention, especially when it comes to patient privacy, social issues outside of the medical sphere should, perhaps, remain just social. But if you do see your surgeon out at the grocery store, or even at the beach, all that should matter right now is that they (and you) are wearing a mask.
The journal’s editor, Dr. Peter Gloviczki, commented that the paper had gone through the journal’s standard editorial review process, with three reviewers accepting the manuscript after major revisions. While the board is racially diverse, Dr. Gloviczki acknowledges that it lacks gender diversity. Soon after the concerns for the paper were made public, the editorial board “immediately reviewed the data collection, methodology, gender bias, results, and conclusions. It was obvious within our board that we found issues, including the fact that the list of doctors obtained from the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery is designed for internal society use, not for clinical data collection.” In addition, Dr. Gloviczki noted the journal’s failure “to identify definitions of unprofessional behavior and we missed the issue of subjectivity and bias in the review process.” He emphatically apologized for the errors, stating “We learned from this. We will be changing our review process, initiating a series of changes, including expanding the editorial board to include more women.”
One of the hottest trends over the past few years, which definitely intensified this year as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, has been the heightened interest in indoor houseplants and home gardens. There is something about being forced to stay indoors that makes the idea of nurturing different types of flora very appealing.
Before I dive into this topic, I will admit that I have fallen headfirst into the plant obsession trend, and though it has made my wallet leaner than I would have liked, I have gotten immense enjoyment out of nurturing the close to 50 indoor plants and 36 outdoor potted plants (this number doesn’t include the soil-filled lot in my side yard which probably holds about 30 succulents) which are now in my home. Never mind that I had SIX indoor plants and about half the number of outdoor potted plants before lockdown began.
Curious about which plants are the hottest right now? Here’s one article which has a pretty interesting list:
Out of the list of 16 trendy indoor plants featured on the above link, I only own 4 of them:
- Money tree
- Raven ZZ
- Split leaf philodendron
- Monstera deliciosa
As for the other plant species listed in the article, there are numerous reasons why I don’t currently own them. Some plants simply don’t appeal to me, such as snake plants (though I used to have several Sansevierias in my home years ago), cacti, zebrinas, ceropegias, and maranta. I am hesitant to get any type of palm because my home environment is simply not humid enough for palms to flourish. As striking as alocasias are, I try to avoid plants which are toxic to cats, and since this entire genus is known for being toxic to pets, I’m steering clear of them. Stephania erecta caudex is just plain WEIRD and I have zero desire for one. Peperomias are a bit temperamental, so I will just stick with the Peperomia species I have (scandens, caperata “Rosso”, obtusifolia).
I actually have a Euphorbia, but it is not inside my house. It sits on my balcony along with several jade plants, dracaena, aloe vera, and assorted other succulents. As for the White knight philodendron and the Hoya imperialis, well, let’s just say that I am not willing to hunt all over the internet to find either plant, only to spend exorbitant sums of cash on plants which really aren’t that special.
Some plants are so ridiculously rare and expensive that I just had to share them here. The first description is of rare Albo Monstera variegated CUTTINGS (not even a live plant!). The Etsy listing is no longer available, because someone actually purchased it.
Rare Albo Monstera variegated gorgeous multi leaf cuttings US seller
Thaumatophyllum (previously Philodendron) stenobolum VERY RARE Hard to FIND
I have a Monstera adansonii in an 8 inch pot which is not variegated, which I purchased for $15 at a local nursery. Who in the world would want to pay such a ridiculous amount of money on a plant?
If you are interested in reasonably priced and popular houseplants which are easy to maintain, here are some of my personal recommendations.
Pachira: I have one which I purchased in April, and it has more than doubled in size since then. Feng Shui practitioners state that these plants, also known as money plants, bring good luck and good fortune to their owners.
Pothos: Some varieties now fall under the Epipremnum genus, while others fall under Scindapsus, but if you look for the characteristic thick green, heart-shaped leaves, chances are you will easily find Epipremnum aureum, which is found in just about every nursery and big box store. They are very easy to care for and will survive different light and watering conditions.
ZZ plant: If you want a truly indestructible plant which actually PREFERS to be dry, then get a ZZ plant. Zamioculcas zamiifolia features beautiful, glossy, dark green leaves and thick stems which sprout from a very unique root system. The roots are rhizomes, bulbs which are designed to hold water. I purchased several back in late April, two regular ZZ’s, and two ravens, which have glossy black leaves and are considered relatively rare. The large ZZ plant which I purchased is in an 8-inch nursery pot, and the plant itself stood 11 inches in height when I brought it home. The plant is now 24 inches tall, with tons of new growth! The best thing is, I’ve watered it only ONCE since I bought it. ZZ plants can tolerate low light conditions, and actually seem to prefer slightly lower light versus bright indirect light.
Hoyas: Hoyas are my favorite plant genus now, partially because there are several hundred varieties, partially because they are relatively easy to care for, and partially because some of the species have attractive foliage. Most Hoyas also produce very interesting, fragrant clusters of flowers.
I wanted to share this post from artofmanliness.com which discusses the benefits prepubescent children can obtain from weightlifting. I was inspired to discuss this topic after three of my nephews and my niece, all ranging from 7 to 10 years in age, invaded my home gym during my dad’s memorial dinner and begged me to show them how to lift weights. I obliged, all the while monitoring their form and also making sure they were lifting a reasonable amount of weight. They enjoyed the session so much, they have asked their parents to let them have a sleepover at Aunt Stacey’s so they can train, and play with the cats, and have fun in an environment other than their own homes.
Original post can be found here: Art of Manliness Article
Maybe you’ve been following a barbell training program for a while now. Maybe you do your workouts in a garage gym at home, and your curious kids have been hanging out with you while you exercise and cheering you on for getting swol.
Maybe they’ve even wanted to imitate you, and would like to start lifting weights just like Dad. You start letting them hoist an empty bar a few times, and they feel like they’re ready for more.
But your wife catches wind of what you and the gang have been up to and starts raising Mom concerns. “Is it safe for kids to lift weights? Doesn’t it stunt their growth?”
Bless Mom’s heart, but she needn’t be worried.
Below we deconstruct the myths about kids and weightlifting and discuss how to safely get your kiddos started with pumping a little iron.
The Myths About Kids And Weightlifting
Weightlifting can stunt a child’s growth. This is probably the most common fear surrounding kids and weightlifting. Supposedly, if a child lifts weights it can stunt their growth in a couple of ways.
First, there’s concern that weightlifting will cause the growth plates in a child’s bones to fuse together prematurely, which will in turn hinder their overall growth.
The other concern is that weightlifting can somehow fracture growth plates, and consequently stunt growth that way.
But no proof exists that either of these worries are valid. According to Jordan Feigenbaum and Austin Baraki, who are both medical doctors and strength coaches, no evidence exists that suggests weightlifting inhibits a child’s growth. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Further, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, a growth plate fracture from weightlifting hasn’t been reported in any research study. In a Barbell Medicine podcast on this topic, Dr. Feigenbaum explained that growth plate fractures are extremely rare and require a severe amount of trauma, more than a child would ever experience lifting weights safely.
So don’t worry about weightlifting stunting your child’s growth. It’s a myth.
Weightlifting is just dangerous. Okay, weightlifting may not stunt a kid’s growth, but doesn’t the activity carry other dangers? Couldn’t children hurt their back, pull a muscle, injure their rotator cuff, damage their tendons, etc.?
In fact, your kid is more likely to get injured playing soccer or baseball than they are lifting weights. Contrary to popular belief, weightlifting is one of the safest physical activities to take part in, for folks of any age.
In my podcast interview with Dr. Feigenbaum, he highlighted research that shows that the injury rate for weightlifting injuries per thousand participation hours pales in comparison to injuries in other supposedly kid friendly sports. For example, one study found that the injury rate for weightlifting was .013 injuries per thousand practice hours. For soccer it was 1.3 injuries per thousand participation hours. So your kid is 100 times more likely to get injured playing soccer than lifting weights. Yet despite the prodigious injury rate for soccer, you don’t see parents keeping their kids from taking the field.
Bottom line: when done with proper form and supervision, weightlifting is an incredibly safe activity for your kid to do.
At What Age Can a Child Start a Serious Weightlifting Program?
So weightlifting is safe for your kids — it won’t stunt their growth, and they won’t kill themselves doing it. That means you should definitely start your eight-year-old on the Starting Strength program, right?
According to Feigenbaum and Baraki, while it’s perfectly fine to let your kids do a few sets of deadlifts or squats with some light weights, you shouldn’t put them on a regimented, progressive training program (where they’re increasing the weight every session) until they’ve reached Stage 4 on the Tanner Puberty Scale. When a teenager is in Tanner Stage 4, they’re basically in full-blown puberty. Pubic hair is adult-like in both males and females. Females have almost fully developed breasts; males have larger testicles and penis, and their scrotum has become larger and darker. Males in Tanner Stage 4 will have underarm hair and the beginnings of facial hair growth, and their voice will also be deeper.
The reason you don’t want to start regularly weight training a child until they reach Tanner Stage 4 is that before then, they just don’t have the hormone levels (specifically, testosterone) to drive progress and recover from session to session.
Generally, children enter Tanner Stage 4 between ages 11 and 17. It’s different for each child. You might have a 12-year-old who’s in Tanner Stage 4 and physically ready to train when they’re in sixth grade. But you also might have a child who’s a late bloomer and won’t be ready to train until they’re a junior in high school. Don’t try to rush it. Let your child’s physical maturity determine when they start a dedicated training program.
My Prepubescent Kid Wants to Lift: What Should He Do?
Until your child reaches Tanner Stage 4, they don’t need to follow a set program; just let them lift weights in a sporadic and playful way.
Research shows that prepubescent children can get stronger following a supervised weightlifting program, but the strength they gain comes from an increase “in the number of motor neurons that are ‘recruited’ to fire with each muscle contraction.” Basically, as your kids practice the barbell lifts, their motor neurons become more efficient, and they’re better able to display strength. Your kids won’t start packing on real muscle from strength training until they reach Tanner Stage 4 puberty.
Here are a few guidelines on how to guide your prepubescent children in weightlifting:
Don’t force weightlifting on your kids. If they express an interest in lifting, encourage it. But don’t force them to do it. That’s a surefire way to instill a dislike for exercise later on. They’ve got the rest of their lives to be serious with their workouts. Most of the professional, super strong dudes I know who have kids have never proactively tried to get them to lift weights. For example, powerlifter Chris Duffin makes his living being strong and teaching people how to be strong. But he has a policy of not actively encouraging his kids to lift. If they want to, he shows them how, and he keeps the session light and fun.
Keep the weight light. Your kids shouldn’t be grinding out super heavy singles when they lift. The focus should be on form, not weight lifted. Most adult-sized barbells will be too large for a child. Get a bar specifically made for kids from Rogue. They weigh about 11 lbs.
Standard barbell weights should be just fine for kids. They probably won’t be using the 25-45 lb plates for a while, but most kids should be able to lift a barbell with 2.5-10 lb plates depending on the lift. My four-year-old daughter, Scout, can press the Rogue kid’s bar with 2.5 lbs on each side 5 times without any trouble. That’s 16 pounds total.
If you’d like to have your kids lift even lighter weights, consider buying some microplates. They allow you to make .5-2.5 lb increases in load.
Keep weightlifting sessions fun and playful. The primary goal when kids start lifting weights or doing any exercise program is help them get the movements down and to instill a love fitness in them. Also, a lot of young children just don’t have the attention span to follow a regimented program yet. Just let them play with barbells and provide feedback on form. With my kids, when they come down to “train” with Dad, they put some weight on the kid bar and bust out a few sets, then they go play with something else, before maybe coming back to do another set. It’s not structured at all.
If your kid wants a program, keep the reps high and increase weight gradually. If your kid really wants a program, create one for them but keep the reps high, and increase weight in small increments over a long period of time. One study that looked at youth weight training found that 1 to 2 sets with 6 to 15 repetitions per set was ideal for young children.
Start kids with a weight that they can lift 10-15 times, with some fatigue but no muscle failure. Then gradually make small increases in the weight. Once your kid can easily do 15 reps of an exercise, you increase the weight by 5-10%.
Your kid should always be able to do 10 reps without much strain. If they can’t, then the weight has gotten too heavy for them.
If the weight is kept light and you’re not increasing it every session, letting your kids do 2-3 sessions a week (on non-consecutive days) should be fine. Even just one a week may satisfy their nascent curiosity and interest.
Even If Your Kid Is Following a “Program,” Mix Things Up
Even if your 10-year-old is following a semi-structured weightlifting program, make sure they mix in other exercises. Kids should be exposed to as many physical movements as possible when they’re young. Specializing at a young age can be detrimental to athletic performance later in life, so make sure they throw medicine balls, swing a kettlebell, do pull-ups, and perform simple bodyweight movements and MovNat exercises.
Bottom line: Weightlifting is perfectly safe for your children to do. It won’t stunt their growth and they aren’t likely to injure themselves doing it. Before your kid hits puberty, let them practice the movements as much as they want with a light bar made for children. Don’t introduce regular training that progressively adds significant load to each session until they hit Tanner Stage 4 puberty. Keep on being a good example of fitness until they’re out of the house (and beyond!).
On March 5th, when I was waiting to board the plane which would take me from LAX to Haneda, Tokyo, I walked by a Michael Kors store and saw a nice ivory puffer jacket on display. I took it off the hanger and tried it on, and instantly loved it. My reasoning was that since it was a puffer jacket, it would be incredibly warm and would keep me snuggly and comfortable while I was in Sapporo. I promptly decided to purchase it, and decided to wear it out of the store. The sales associate asked me to take it off so that she could scan the tag, whereupon another associate cut the tags off before I could stop her. Though I was upset, I hoped that I wouldn’t have to return the item.
About 30 minutes after I purchased the jacket, I placed it in my carry on bag, deciding that I should wait until I arrived in Japan to wear my new jacket. Then I put the jacket to the test, not in chilly and snowy Sapporo, but in Sendai, which was far more moderate in temperature, with highs in the mid-40’s. Well, I ended up freezing in that darling jacket, and because I purchased the jacket for warmth and not to make a fashion statement, I tucked the jacket away in my luggage and vowed to return it once I was back home in the states.
I returned to Los Angeles on March 19th, and learned that the area was on full lockdown, with retail stores closed. So began the ongoing contact with MichaelKors.com, engaging the chat function, calling local stores, and emailing them regularly, each time inquiring when they thought stores might reopen. This was a major headache for me to deal with, but since I was in possession of a $213 jacket which conferred almost no protection against the cold, I persisted. I was told that return windows were being extended as a result of the lockdown, and I didn’t need to worry about the return window closing on me.
Then on June 29th, I called a local MK store, and not only did someone answer the phone, but she also stated that the store was indeed open to the public. I rushed over to the store the next day, but as I was walking towards the store, I got a funny feeling in my gut that something was about to go very wrong. I walked into the store, explained my situation, and as soon as I mentioned that I had purchased the jacket at the Michael Kors store at LAX, the salesperson grimaced and said, “Oh, I don’t think we can process the return here. You see, the store you went to isn’t owned by Michael Kors, it’s owned by Hudson Group”.
The salesperson tried to enter the SKU, but the number was not accepted by the register, and he told me that I had to contact the phone number on the purchase receipt. By this time, I was fuming, frantically dialing the numbers as I exited the store, cursing under my breath the entire time. I called the number, only to be told that wasn’t the proper number, and that I had to call yet another number.
Little did I know that the second phone call would connect me to the bossiest, bitchiest, rudest woman I have encountered in years. She was VERY nasty to me and kept interrupting me as I told her the situation. It took everything in me to remain calm as I spoke with this witch. She explained that Michael Kors was franchised, yadda yadda yadda…but all I cared about was, would they allow me to return the item? Finally, she stated that the Hudson Group would issue a return, provided I sent numerous specific images of the jacket, a pic of the receipt, and proof that I had been in Japan from March 5th through March 19th.
I sent all the information over, then heard absolutely nothing. So I re-sent the emails from a different email address, thinking maybe there was an issue with the email server. Still nothing. I called her once again, and she got nasty with me, stating that she hadn’t received my emails, and why was I wasting her time? Then she provided a different email address when I implored her to do so, and I re-sent all emails from two different email servers once more.
Once again, I heard nothing. So I sent the Hudson representative another email yesterday, marked urgent, which asked her to please get in contact with me if she received that particular email. She called me today, stating that she had only received the one email, then started yelling at me, stating that I hadn’t followed directions, that I was wasting her time, and that she didn’t have to help me at all. When I tried asking her to check her spam folder, she interrupted me, started yelling again, and HUNG UP ON ME.
I re-sent all the emails yet again, from both email servers, this time with hands shaking in rage. Imagine my surprise when she responded and said that she received all my emails, FINALLY!
This battle isn’t over yet, though. Tomorrow I will mail the jacket to her office, at my expense, and wait to see if a refund is actually granted. This woman should NOT be in customer service.
UPDATE 8/10/2020: I finally received a refund several days ago!