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Category Archives: physical activity

Regaining Control – One Stride At A Time

I write on this topic quite often, but it can’t be said enough.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you feel rundown. If you feel beat up. If you can’t think straight. If you have the impression that everything is falling apart and you can’t catch a break. Stop what you’re doing, put on some sneakers and go work out. Run for thirty minutes. Go walk for an hour. Go to the gym and lift weights. Go sweat. Put your energy into letting out some aggression. Release the anxiety. Give your mind a break. Give yourself some “me” time. If you have the kids ask someone to come watch them for an hour.

– First: You will have completed an attainable goal and will have a sense of accomplishment.
– Second: Your body will release endorphins and you will have worked muscles that otherwise would be running-cheaper-than-therapy-squareclenched.
– Third: You will clear your head and have time to think without the phone ringing, kids pulling at your shirt, deadlines hanging over your head or clutter around the house overwhelming you.
– Fourth: You will give yourself a sense of control. YOU decided what was going to happen next. YOU chose to take advantage of a beautiful autumn morning. YOU made it happen. And it worked.

I guarantee you this is a priority. Everything else can wait an hour. You cannot.

All too often we let our lives control us. Every once in a while we need to remind ourselves that we have more control than we give ourselves credit for. Our success or failure depends on a lot of things and obviously there are some things we simply cannot control. But we often let things control us simply out of a lack of effort to stand up and take advantage of the strengths we have. We let fear, depression, anxiety, and ourselves keep us from making things happen. They are excuses and we give them too much credit. This is an opportunity to remind us that we do indeed have the ability to change the course of our day. And the benefits are never ending.

Now go sweat and suck in some fresh air and tell me it doesn’t make a difference. Better yet; go to my facebook page (facebook.com/lifeasadivorceddad) and post a picture of where you decided to go.

 

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Scream To High Heaven!

O.k. guys.

Tomorrow morning. You’re going to wake up. You’ll think; “Man, I should really go out and run or something.” Then you’ll lay in bed thinking about it for another ten minutes. You’ll get up. Check your e-mail. Go to facebook, waste another hour. Check the headlines. Weather.com. And suddenly it’ll be too late.Image

So tomorrow break the pattern.

Wake up. Get your ass out of bed. Throw on some treads and head outside. Sweat. Use your stress and pent up anxiety as fuel. Put that negativity you’ve felt building up to good use. Sprint. Scream to high heaven while you’re doing it. Get it out! Just do it. Walk once in a while if you have to. But get out there. Work it out. Move.

Push yourself. I don’t care if you’re in your pajamas. Let the neighbors ask their spouses, “who’s the idiot running through the neighborhood in his boxers?” Just grind it out. Sweat brother! Sweat! For a minimum of thirty minutes focus all of your energy on working every muscle in your body, including your mind. Go until you can’t go any longer.  Then collapse for thirty minutes.

The following day, tell me you weren’t calmer the rest of the day and that you didn’t sleep better. Tell me you weren’t in a much better mental state. Tell me it didn’t feel good to just sweat without twenty seven people pulling at you from all sides. It will change you and your ability to cope with everything you’re going through.

I dare you to prove me wrong.

 

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Not Everyone Gets A Trophy

The question comes up from time to time within my family about the value of sports when it comes to kids. I have four older sisters, three of which are or were teachers at one time. The argument of teaching kids about competition and how to lose are sometimes at the forefront. Personally, I think it’s a sin that every kid gets a trophy regardless of whether they win or not. Life isn’t like that. Not everyone gets the gig or a raise. The argument about building self esteem just doesn’t wash for me. I think you can build more esteem by teaching a kid to bounce back from defeat and overcome that feeling of being let down. How you react to failure and
seq_2_big
adversity is a skill that needs to be taught at an early age (if you ask me anyway). That’s not to say we shouldn’t be pumping our kids up and reminding them about how great they are, but I think we forget that losing isn’t the end. It’s just part of the journey.

I personally believe that there are countless opportunities to teach our kids life lessons through sports. And if you’re not careful, sometimes you can learn a lesson or two yourself in the process.

Case in point: I was coaching my son’s soccer game over the weekend and had a bit of a revelation. He had struggled in the first half and was playing somewhat passively. His tentative approach had him out of position a great deal of the time and he was growing frustrated that he wasn’t getting the ball very often. I kept encouraging him during the third quarter to go after the ball more when the opposing team had control and to take the ball from them. Basically, telling him that if he wanted the ball, he’d have to fight for it. I reminded him that the other team wasn’t just going to hand it to him and his teammates weren’t going to pass it to him if he wasn’t open.

We talked about awareness and opening his eyes to the big picture and recognizing where he needed to be in order to be the most effective. What did he need to do to help be a more productive and valuable member of the team at any given moment? I told him, get your head up and eyes wide.

Early on in the fourth quarter, the action happened to be taking place directly in front of me. The other team was moving up field and my son was standing in front of the guy who had control of the ball. My son was just kind of standing there looking like he wasn’t sure what to do. I was close enough to yell to him and encouraged him to go for it and take the ball from the other guy. And sure enough, he pressured the imagesguy and got a foot on the ball and broke it free. He then proceeded to dribble toward the opposing goal and made a beautiful pass that set up a shot. From that point on he started getting right in the thick of things and started playing with more ferver. His energy and confidence grew each time he managed to gain control of the ball and eventually he even scored a goal.

A few of his teammates had taken notice as well and began to emulate his actions. Suddenly the entire team began to play with more intensity and were controlling the ball better. And don’t tell me winning doesn’t matter to a seven year old. They had no problem reminding themselves and anyone who’d listen who won and what the score was which quickly turned into a lesson on good sportsmanship and being a gracious victor.

As we got in the car, I started thinking about work and a couple of personal goals I hadn’t met. And then it hit me. I’d been living life the past few months like my son was playing soccer in the first half. Waiting for things to come to me and wondering why no one was passing me the ball. Yet I hadn’t really done much to put myself in a position to get the ball. I’d just kind of been standing there waiting for something to happen. And sadly, that’s not how it works. I looked at my son and the other kids on the field and eventually entered this week determined to step up my game and make a stronger effort to put myself in position to score.

From social skills to approaching adversity and challenges, I do believe sports are a valuable tool. But like any tool, it’s important to understand how to use it and the dangers of using it incorrectly. It’s also about balance and understanding when it’s time to back off and not take it too seriously. For us the first rule is to have fun and get exercise. But honestly, appreciating the value of both success and failure are vital aspects of growing up. It’s the cornerstone of what athletics are based upon; winning and losing. And like it or not, a big part of living a life of contentment is learning how to deal with both success and failure. So many life lessons can be taught through athletics and if you’re paying close enough attention, you can likely learn a little something yourself along the way.

 

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Sick of It!

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a single parent, is the fact that you are not allowed to get sick. It’s actually in the bi-laws. Chapter VII, Section IV, Paragraph III, Line II clearly states, “a temperature of 102, severe chills, cold sweats and vomiting, shall not relieve said parent of the duty of making school lunches,
sick-guyfeeding and dressing the children, ensuring teeth and hair are brushed, school field trip permission slips are
signed and everybody is out the door in time to ride the school bus.”

Forget the fact that there’s no one around to take care of you either. And as a guy, I loath doctors. Part of it is the fact that I just love paying $100 to $200 out of my pocket to have someone tell me, “you really should get some rest.”

When you’re basically the sole proprietor of your family, there’s rarely room for even a “day” of stopping. Work, kids, soccer practices, laundry, shopping, meals, all keep coming up on the schedule. E-mails keep coming, phones keep ringing, clients keep asking, bills keep arriving, kids keep needing. You were overwhelmed when you were healthy. Now what? All problems and challenges appear 15 times larger when you’re sick and have no energy.

If you’re like me, your tendency is to fight through it. As my ex used to say, “you can be miserable at home or
miserable at work.” And typically it works. I take some DayQuil, eat an orange, hydrate, get a run or two in to images-13sweat it out, and in a couple of days I’m good to go. OK, and maybe I throw some donuts and coffee in there. But as much as I try to fight it, if after a week I’m still wheezing and dragging my ass, I’ll bee line it for the Kroger clinic in hopes of getting a z-pack. It’s the only way to ensure you’re going to have the energy and the ability to forge through long term.

As a single parent you’ve grown accustomed to “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” But obviously; if after a week you’re still sick, your body is telling you it just isn’t able to recoup on its own and needs some help. Try to recognize when you need to stop and shut down for a day and act accordingly. If you have a kid free day coming up. Cancel your plans that you’ve been waiting two weeks for and take care of yourself. If you have the kids, get them on the bus and take a day off – from everything! When they get home, let them make you tea and tuck you in on the couch. They’ll love it and usually their behavior improves at the same time. You’ll be amazed at how just 24 hours of rest and taking care of yourself can turn things around for you. Your boss will thank you, you’ll thank you and your kids will thank you.

So: single parents who are sick and goin’ it alone: High Five! I feel ya. You’re doing great and your family is better for your efforts. I’m personally cyberly patting you on the back. Hopefully it’ll help break up that cough.

 

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It’s All Downhill From Here

Being born in Western, NY, I grew up with snow. Hence, many of the stories I tell my kids about my childhood involve snow and lots of it. It’s something I think every kid should experience and something I want my kids to know. I want them to know what it feels like to fall face first in it or go, what feels like 120 mph, completely out of control down a hill with 30 mph winds blowing fresh powder in their face. I want them to have a memory ofchesnutridge6 rolling around in 18 inches of fresh pack powder and then defrosting in front of a warm fire, only to go back out into the frozen tundra for another round. I want them to feel huge snowflakes on their eyelashes as they walk up a hill listening to the crunch of the snow packing under their footsteps.

Unfortunately, being that we live in the south those are hard memories to come by.  So every year around this time my kids and I watch the weather forecast in Buffalo, NY very closely. And upon the first sign of a good lake effort storm we pack our bags, grab a new set of long johns, boots, gloves and anything else we may be missing and stay glued to the Weather Channel App. And when it hits, no matter when it is, we jump in the jeep and we head north.

It takes a lot of effort on everyone’s part to make the trip work. Driving that many hours crammed in something other than a mini-van is not something I would recommend for anyone with a weak stomach. But having traveled as much as our kids have in their short lives, they’ve become pros. So they burry their heads in DVD’s, i-pod touches, and Nooks and buckle in for the long journey demanding I go through the drive thru to save 20 minutes. After twelve hours on the road, we usually commandeer an unsuspecting family member’s home. We then proceed to partake in winterpalooza and enjoy two or three days of non-stop sledding, snowman building, chestnutridge5chicken wing eating, snowball fighting and hot chocolate drinking. It’s become a tradition and this year was no different.

I won’t lie. It’s an effort. Twelve hours (both ways) in tight quarters all for the sake of a few hours of playing in the white fluffy stuff is a test for any family. But I’ll tell you. It’s worth it. To hear the first exclamation of “LOOK SNOW!” as we head into Ohio. The giggles of anticipation. To witness the first snowball thrown during a routine stop for fuel and bathroom breaks. And then to see them all bundled up in their snow pants, boots, gloves, scarves, hats and mittens. Ready to brave mother nature’s fury. It’s just amazing and worth every mile.

There was one point on the third day when we had stopped for our last day of sledding. Wind gusts were 50 mph off the lake and it was only about 20 degrees out. One of the kids refused to get out of the car. But I had promised the other two they could have one more day so I literally picked the disgruntled snow bunny out of the car and carried her to the lodge. Three hours later she was the one pleading for one more time down the hill. And that’s how it goes. Part of the trip isn’t just about the experience of the snow and the environment. It’s about continually demonstrating to the kids what happens when you push yourself a bit. When you go outsidechestnutridge4 your comfort zone and try something you otherwise would forgo in leu of sitting on the couch watching an episode of i-Carly.

To accomplish that, we as parents sometimes have to push ourselves as well and go outside our own comfort zones. In the process we ourselves gain experiences we otherwise would never know the joy of. If I’m thankful for anything, it’s not just the memories of playing in the snow. It’s about the experiences I’ve had because of the kids who pushed me to do things I myself would have never attempted. All for the sake of ensuring they themselves had the chance to try something different.

One thing my ex and I agree on is that memories and experiences far outshine things. It’s not always easy, especially when life gets crazy. But I think it’s important to make these kinds of events the highest priority. Jobs will come and go. Tests can be retaken. Bills will always be there waiting. But their seventh year will only happen once. And then they’ll be going off to college; eventually telling their own kids about their childhood memories. Today is the day to create those memories.

If there was ever anything worth the effort. It’s creating moments for your kids that will last a lifetime. For us one of those memories will be snow.

 

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