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Finding Your Creative Inspiration: My Guest Post at My Super-Charged Life!

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

I am excited to announce that Jeff over at the My Super-Charged Life blog has graciously published an article that I recently wrote on his site.  My Super-Charged Life is a favorite site of mine that provides great tips, information and resources aimed at helping us live life to the fullest.

My article is entitled “7 Awesome Ways to Find Your Creative Inspiration” and I will assume the title is self-explanatory.

Please take a minute to visit Jeff’s site and read the post.  It would mean a great deal to me if you could show your support in this way, and we would both love to hear from you in the comments section!

Welcome to the Readers of My Super-Charged Life !

If you are a visitor from My Super-Charged Life, I would like to welcome you to Engaged Marriage and say Thank You for taking the time to come over for a look.  While you are here, I’d encourage you to check out the “About” page to get a feel for the idea behind the site, and please take a tour through some of the categories along the right side of the site and check out some posts.

If you like what you see, please subscribe via RSS or sign up to get updates by email.

The mission of Engaged Marriage basically boils down to this: I want to help others take their good/normal marriages to the next level…so you can have an Awesome Marriage and an Extraordinary Family Life!

P.S. – If my post at My Super-Charged Life piqued your interest about No More Mondays, you can read my review of that book here: No More Mondays Book Review.

Go Sit in a Tree! (and Improve Your Marriage)

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

It is officially Fall, and that means one important thing around our household.  My wife will soon become what she (jokingly, I hope) refers to as a “Whitetail Widow” for a couple of months.

You see, I have a small seasonal hobby (i.e., maniacal obsession) known as bowhunting for whitetail deer.  In my defense, she has known about my disorder since we met back in our high school days, so she knew what she was signing up for when she married an outdoorsmen.

Before I go on, let me state for the record that I hunt too much.  Way too much, and my wife deserves better.  She is a Saint, and if I get a vote she’s going straight to Heaven for the good work she is doing to control the rampant deer population.  Sweetie Pie, when you read this (as I know you will), please know that I love you dearly and think you are the best!

But Honey, Deer Hunting is Good for Our Marriage…Experts Say So!

I have always known that I felt a real primal need to spend time in the woods during this time of the year.  I thoroughly enjoy being outdoors, and I really do like chasing whitetails and trying to master the sport.  But only recently did it really hit me that bowhunting is true therapy for me, and something I need to feed my mind.

I am a fan of Dan Miller who is a career coach and the all-around motivational guy behind the 48 Days network.  I was reading his recent newsletter where he mentioned the idea of “Sitting for Ideas,” a term used by Andrew Carnegie to describe the hours he would spend sitting alone in a room, undistracted, to solve problems.

Likewise, Thomas Edison would go down to the water’s edge each morning, throw out his line – with no bait – and then watch the bobber for an hour until his thinking was ready for the day.  Hen r y Ford insisted that his executives spend a great deal of their work day relaxing to allow them to dream up new ideas.

Even the Apostle Paul would purposely take long walks between cities to give himself time to think and reflect.  See, it is Saintly to support my time in the woods!

The Outdoorsmen’s Version of “Sitting for Ideas”

As I was reading the article, I realized that I share at least one thing in common with all of these brilliant men.  I like to sit in trees!

If you are a hunter, and Midwest bowhunter in particular, you know that our sport involves a lot of isolation.  There is a reason my wife (and others) think I am crazy…a reason other than the fact that it is probably clinically true for a few months a year.

If you get serious about bowhunting, you will find yourself sitting in a treestand as much as an hour before the sun even rises in the morning.  In the evening, you’ll often be 20 feet in the air until well after dusk.  And your sits coul d last anywhere from two hours to a full 14-hour day (if your wife will let you out for an all-day hunt during the rut), often in freezing temperatures.

This time can be spent precisely as Carnegie and Edison described!  Aside from tuning in when a twig cracks under the foot of a nearby animal or movement catches your eye, the majority of time spent hunting from a treestand consists of, well, nothing.

It is just you and God’s creation. Silence.  Sunrises and Sunsets.  Nothing to do but think, reflect and create in your idle mind.  It is a period of true, beautiful peace.

Find Your Own Version of Sitting in a Tree

Now, I realize that not everyone who reads this article will have the desire to become a bowhunter (it’s already tough enough to find a good place to hunt).  However, I bet you can find your own way to sit for ideas, clear your head and open up your creative thinking by “tuning out” for a while.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Do some landscaping
  • Take a quiet bath
  • Play with your children
  • Take long walks
  • Put together a model car
  • Go golfing by yourself and walk the course
  • Take a hike in the woods
  • Try yoga
  • Listen to classical music in an empty room
  • Go fishing
  • Do some knitting

There are many ways to get away from all of life’s constant distractions and allow your mind to solve problems, create, and simply replenish itself.

And offer to watch the kids while your spouse gets their time.  I guarantee your life and your marriage will benefit from a fresh mind, and you may just find enough Zen to maintain your composure when the buck of your dreams sneaks into view!


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” — Henry David Thoreau


Tree photo by by vlod007, Think photo by Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis, Deer photo by Charles & Clint

Get Fit and Have a Healthy Marriage: Where Do I Find the Time?

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Family Fitness Fun

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this little series, we have covered how I discovered the value of a healthy lifestyle and then looked at some specific ways that a regular fitness routine can benefit your marriage.

Now after reading these articles, I know that you are completely fired up and ready to bust your bottom on your way to rock-hard abs and some buns of steel.  You’ve pulled the Thighmaster out of the closet and found those vintage Jane Fonda workout tapes.  Now what could possibly be standing in your way?

Ah, yes.  You are thinking of all of the other things you have to do each day.  Working, commuting, eating, bathing, graduate school, spending time with your kids, volunteer activities, reading, watching Biggest Loser, spending 15 minutes with your spouse and trying to fit in a few hours of (sex and) sleep each day or so.  There is no way that a regular exercise plan can fit within your already busy day, right?

Wrong.  This post is aimed at providing you with advice so you can fin d the time to improve your health and improve your marriage along the way.  With the six tips below, I hope you will see that a traditional exercise routine like you may have in mind is not actually necessarily.  The key to fitness, like the key to a great marriage, is to make it a priority and put your best effort forward.

Six Steps to a Happier, Healthier Life

1. Make Your Fitness a PriorityExercise is Easy

I hope that the first two parts of this series have lit a bit of a fire under your rear.  Not only will your commitment to fitness help your health, but it will seriously improve your marriage.

The bottom line is you need to understand and feel the importance of physical activity, and I guarantee you can find the time.  Let me put it to you this way: if I would give you one million dollars to exercise everyday for the next month while maintaining your primary roles (job, wife, mother, etc.), could you do it?

I bet you could!  It would be a priority and you would make the necessary time.

2. Do a Time Audit

Spend a few days logging how you currently spend your time.  I am willing to bet that you spend several hours each day doing mindless activities like watching T.V. or surfing the internet.  While this may feel like recreation, many of these things are really just a waste of time (except for time spent on this site, that’s essential).

Ask yourself if you are better off at the end of the week for the time you have spent on each item in your time audit.  This will point you to the time you could instead be devoting to a better you and a happier spouse.

3. Realize How Little Time is Really Required

How much time do you think you need to exercise each day?  I’ve mentioned earlier that I was using P90X from Tony Horton and working out intensely for more than an hour six days a week.  Is this what is needed?

No!  I was very (probably overly) intense about shaping up and I took it to an extreme.  Not incidentally, I also got burnt out after following my P90X routine and then moving to an intense cycling regimen.  After getting lazy for several weeks, I am now back to a reasonable and maintainable routine.

Research has shown that you can achieve great benefits even if you cannot follow a routine that allows for all of your exercise to occur in one block of time each day.  Couldn’t you find a few 10-15 minute periods in your day to be active?

4. Don’t Answer “No” to that Last Question!

Yes, you can find at least some small stints of time to be active.  The average adult spends 16 hours watching T.V. each week.  Spend 2-3 of those hours exercising instead.  Heck, you can even use a treadmill, do some crunches, ride a stationary bike, hold yoga poses, etc. and get fit while you watch your favorite shows.

Find a little more time by going for a walk over your lunch break.  Take the stairs.  Park far away from the store when you run your errands.  Spend some of your “kid time” in the evening going for a walk, playing tag, riding bikes or playing soccer.  I bet your kids would be very happy to share this time with you.

5. Find a Time that Works & Schedule It

This is the key to consistency.  If you make the effort, you can find the time to work out for a total of 30 minutes a day several times per week.  I know you can and you know you can.

Now, you must make this part of your schedule.  It’s no longer optional, it is a top priority each day that must be planned around.  You want an awesome marriage, right?

For me, the best way to achieve this is to work out first thing in the morning.  I am not a morning person and this takes some getting used to, but you will be amazed how great you feel the rest of the day after you have invested some time in your health.  The best part is that you cannot find any excuses throughout the rest of the day to miss your workouts.  Get up, get it done and enjoy a great day!

6. Do Something YOU Enjoy

You may love the feel of polyester leotards and rainbow ankle warmers, which would probably make Options for Fitnessyou a great candidate for those Jane Fonda VHS tapes I mentioned earlier.  Perhaps you love the oldies, sweatin’ to them, and small, shiny-legged gay men.  Clearly, Mr. Simmons will motivate you.

For those of you who are not overly strange, I would suggest you do something you really enjoy.  For me, this means riding my bike on our area trails before work in the morning.  My wife loves to take a jog around the neighborhood in the evening before it gets dark.  Maybe you like to visit a gym environment, play some pick-up basketball, chase the kids around the yard, jump on a backyard trampoline, chat with friends while you climb stairs over lunch or go for a family hike over the weekend.

Just think of the possibilities, especially those that you can enjoy with your spouse.  You can invest in the health of your marriage while you spend some quality time together…you simply cannot beat that!

I really hope that this series has helped open your eyes to see the need for fitness in your married life, and I hope that you can now see some ways to implement a reasonable exercise routine into your already busy life.  Please leave comments with your own thoughts and suggestions so we can all expand our thinking on this incredibly important topic.

Do it for your spouse.  Or better yet, do “it” with your spouse since that is also great exercise!

Photos 1 &3 courtesy of kevindooley; Photo 2 courtesy of bobster855

Get Fit and Have a Healthy Marriage: The Reasons

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Exercise and Marriage

Welcome to Part 2 of the mini-series on Fitness and Marriage!  In Part 1, I shared my story about how I realized that exercising and feeling great physically benefited my own marriage.

As promised, in this follow-up, we will take a look at the Mayo Clinic’s article outlining the Seven Benefits of Regular Physical Activity.  However, instead of following their lead and talking about how exercise helps you personally, makes your heart beat more efficiently, yada, yada, yada, we are going to give a little thought to how these Benefits relate to our marriages.  What else would you expect from EngagedMarriage.com?

So, here are the Mayo Clinic’s Seven Benefits with my own commentary explaining why you should actually care about this stuff (other than that whole heart thing):

1. Exercise Improves Your Mood

Have you ever had a small issue turn into an all-out fight with your spouse for what seemed like no good reason?  Chances are one of you was just in a pissy mood to start with and things spiraled out of control unnecessarily.

Physical activity stimulates chemicals in your brain that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.  Not to mention the fact that you’ll be looking good and feeling more self-confident (and perhaps a bit less defensive).  Bottom line: you don’t pick silly fights when you’re fresh off a “runner’s high”.

2. Exercise Combats Chronic Diseases

This goes back to the heartbeat issue and well beyond it.  If you stick to an exercise ritual, you will greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and a host of other major diseases.  You will be around longer and enjoy a higher quality of life with your spouse.  Heck, maybe you’ll even win an Anniversary Dance one day if you really get in gear.

3. Exercise Helps You Manage Your Weight

Do you think your spouse would find you more attractive if you lost a few pounds?  To me, that’s not even the real question.  The key is that you feel attractive and confident about your looks.  That will have a huge impact on your marriage and your sex life.

It’s pretty simple: when you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to keep your weight under control.  No beer belly = more confidence!

4. Exercise Boosts Your Energy Level

Personally, this is probably the biggest benefit I see from regular exercise.  After a long day of work, I will spend time playing with the kids, getting them ready for bed, doing chores around the house, trying to maintain a connection with my hobbies (like blogging) and all of the other duties I need to fulfill as the man of the house.  My wife has even more to do.  Where does that leave us at the end of the night when we need to spend some quality time together?

With the need for more energy!  The good news is that your cardiovascular efficiency and your overall energy levels will improve with regular exercise.  Here’s to late night blogging (and “quality time”)!

5. Exercise Promotes Better Sleep

I don’t know about you, but the core of most of the “disagreements” in our marriage stem from my wife or I being crabby due to a lack of sleep. With all of the demands of modern life, sleep is the easiest thing to give up.

But it doesn’t stop with your sleep schedule.  You need to have quality sleep during the precious time that you devote to rejuvenation. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.  And that will help your marriage.

6. Exercise can put the Spark Back in Your Sex Life

Do you like sex?  Then exercise.  Enough said.

Okay, so I guess I should provide some facts here to clarify how this correlation occurs (although all you really need to know is that time on the treadmill improves time in the sack). Not only does exercise leave you feeling energized and looking better, but it can actually lead to enhanced arousal for women.  And men with regular fitness routines are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise (especially as they get older).

Do you really need any more reasons?

7. Exercise can be Fun!

While I love P90X and the results it provided me, you really don’t have to be as intense and overt with your fitness routine.  Your activity can be purely fun as long as you do it consistently.

You could take a dance class (not my cup of tea, but maybe that works for you).  On the more manly side of things, you could try rock climbing or take a long hike.  Get your whole family involved with a trip to the park.  Plan a neighborhood kickball or touch football game. Find a physical activity that you enjoy, and go for it. If you get bored, try something new. If you’re moving, it’s exercise!

Now that you have read these benefits and thought about how fitness not only benefits your physical health but your relationship and your family life, I bet you are fired up.  Heck, you’re probably running in place and taking your pulse right now, just hoping I would cut this post a little short so you could get outside to knock out a few sets of wind sprints before you ride your bike to work today.

Personally, I’ve written this entire post while maintaining a perfect Downward Dog yoga pose.

Okay, I realize that it will take more than my posts to get you into a regular fitness routine.  However, I do sincerely hope that you will consider your spouse and your marriage when you are looking for motivation to get to the gym, go for a walk or pop in your Tony Horton DVD.

So, now you have all the reasons you should ever need to take action and improve your level of fitness.  What could possibly be holding you back?

Oh, right.  You are letting that whole finite, 24 hours in a day baloney hold you back.  Trust me, I feel your pain and I have some advice that I hope will help you see that you can (and really must) make time to invest in your health and your marriage.  T-I-M-E is what Part 3 of this little series is all about!

Photo courtesy of bobster855

Get Fit and Have a Healthy Marriage: The Realization

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Exercise for Family FunDid you know that regular exercise is good for you?  Have you heard that there are benefits to your health if you make physical fitness a key part of your lifestyle?

Given that you are taking the time to read an article on a site dedicated to proactively improving your married life, I’m gonna go ahead and assume you are not a moron and you do not currently live in a cave.  Of course you know that exercise is good for you!

So do you have a regular fitness routine that you maintain as a high priority in your life?  Me neither, at least not on the consistent basis that I should.  I tend to operate in extremes with my exercise commitment.  Earlier this year, I came to the sober realization that I was fat.  Not obese, not disgusting, but fat, soft and lazy nonetheless.  I got fired up.

I decided that it was time (again) for a change.  I bought the P90X Extreme Home Fitness System that you may have seen on TV, as it is one of the most successful infomercials of all time.  I can tell you that P90X is tough, its intense and it works remarkably well if you commit yourself to the program.  I was totally plugged in to the workouts, waking up at 6:00 a.m. six days a week to sweat my butt off in my basement while Tony Horton implored me to “Bring It” day after day on my wide-screen TV.

Over the course of about eight weeks, I lost 23 pounds and felt fantastic.  I turned my attention to cycling and completed my first Century (100 mile) bicycle ride on my 30th birthday in July.  I was never a threat to Lance Armstrong, but I was in the best shape of my life.  In the weeks since this pinnacle, I’ve slacked off a bit but remain at a healthy weight that I can maintain with a moderate fitness plan working out three mornings per week.Great Move!

It just so happened that my wife discovered a love of (and talent for) running this summer as well.  She would get out in the evenings after we got the kids to b ed to take a brisk run around the neighborhood.  She “peaked out” in her own way by participating in several 5K events in our area, and let me tell you that she is looking great!

But this article is not about specific fitness routines or getting you to Sweat to the Oldies.  And, although I’m pretty pumped about my accomplishments this year, it’s also not about tooting my horn (I am happy to brag on my running wife, though).  This article is about something much more important that I realized along the way.

Getting physically fit can really benefit your marriage!

It makes a lot of sense when you take the time to think about it.  Exercise reduces stress, increases self-esteem and helps you to feel more attractive (I love it when my wife feels more attractive:)).

Seriously.  Take a moment to visualize yourself and your spouse (unless they already look like a Greek Goddess like my dear wife…she does read this blog, you know) in great physical condition.  I bet you are both smiling in your vision, and for good reason.

I think we have all heard repeatedly about the great benefits of exercise as they pertain to our personal health.  But I doubt you have given much thought to the important role your own fitness can play in your marriage and family life.

In Part 2 of this series, I want to share with you a short article that was recently released by the Mayo Clinic outlining the Seven Benefits of Regular Physical Activity.  Predictably, the article is focused almost entirely on personal health benefits.  I think it will be fun and motivational to look at these same Seven Benefits and how they can help make your marriage awesome.

After all, what good is a great body without a spouse to share it with?


Photos courtesy of kevindooley

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