Wow, we’re on to week three in our #WhyIExercise summer series. This week’s spotlight educator has a true transformational story, epitomizes the word grit, and leads both his family and school with passion and pizzazz. It’s a privilege to introduce Matthew Arend. Matt was born in Pierre, South Dakota and was raised in Ankeny, Iowa. Matt says he, “Made it to Texas as quickly as I could.” Side note - my parents and siblings are from Texas, so I completely get it. As my mom says, “Once a Texan, always a Texan.” Matt received his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Peru State College in Peru, Nebraska and his Master’s of Education from University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Currently, Matt is the principal at Sigler Elementary in Plano, Texas. On Twitter, you can follow the @SiglerStars and Matt @matthew_arend.
Without further ado, let’s hear from Matt.
I have always been active playing sports as a kid including high school and college. It was in high school I discovered the deep relationships that can be developed through playing team sports and having to count on your teammates to achieve greatness. Clearly, there are parallels in my job today as a principal and the relationships developed with our staff (aka the team). After winning the high school football state championship as a senior in the state of Iowa, I continued playing football in college receiving a scholarship from Peru State College. College football allowed me to continue to develop relationships, focus on teamwork and taught me lessons in grit and perseverance. I had to overcome a foot surgery, broken leg, and knee injuries over my college football career, but learned valuable life lessons about myself through the process and came out stronger as a competitor and more importantly as a person. As an offensive lineman in high school and college, maintaining strength and weight was just part of life. At my heaviest, I weighed in a 280 lbs. After my last game, I knew life as a football player was over and so was weighing nearly 300 lbs. It was then that I took up running. I started with 5Ks which led to 10Ks and half marathons then ultimately marathons. 80lbs later I have over a dozen marathons under my belt and have successfully completed one (sprint) triathlon. While weights are still a part of my workout regimen, the heavy weight lifting from the football years are waaaay behind me.
Exercising is part of life. For some it is something they must do and for others it is something they choose to do. For me...I would say it is both. In a weird way, I like the way my muscles feel after putting them through a grueling workout or how I feel waking up the next morning after attempting a workout I have not tried before.
My trips to the gym include my son who I am growing as a future #fitleader. As a principal, I model the balance I want my teachers to have, but as a father, I model the lifestyle I would want my son to have. I want him to enjoy going to the gym, being fit, and balanced. I cannot think of a better way to model that than having him be a part of the journey.
If those two reasons are not reasons enough for #whyIexcercise, the last is easy. I never want to weigh 280lbs again….ever!
I am one month into training for the Marine Corp. Marathon that will be in Washington DC in October, so my regime is running, running, and running some more. When I am not running, I count on the support of the #fitleader family to serve up some motivating workout routines and some #WODs. While there are some great CrossFit workouts to complete, I was in Florida last December and cooked up my own #WOD which I titled the “Texas 50”. All together it is a 5 mile run, but at each ¼ mile you do 50 reps of an exercise. I have substituted a variety of exercises depending upon the tools at my disposal, but I would love to see you give the “Texas 50” a try.
As the saying goes, abs are not created in the gym. Abs are created in the kitchen so food and diet is important. My wife plays an important role in supporting my fitness and takes great care of our family in the kitchen. We regularly use JuicePlus which encourages our clean eating. A smoothie for breakfast, a clean lunch, and a clean dinner help the body metabolize the healthy foods and keep the unhealthy foods at arms length. Once every two months or so, we will participate in a 10 day cleanse removing the following from our diet completely:
No food after 6PM
Exercise also provides the balance I need to be a #fitleader. I love being a principal and I only know one gear. I go hard. Knowing I go hard, I need to find an outlet that allows me to reflect, recharge, and be ready to go the next day. Exercise is my outlet. Whether it is a run to clear my head or a WOD to blow off some steam, I know I will find my center, be a better leader the next day, and model the #fitleader mindset and lifestyle for the teachers and community I serve.
“Sleep when you’re dead.” My grandpa used to share this quote with me when I was in high school and college and the message he was getting me to understand was “seize the day”. Yes, #fitleaders must rest, but there is a difference between rest/recovery and being lazy. “Ain’t no one got time for that.” I go hard, play hard, and push my body to it’s limit. Call me crazy.
Personal: Being a principal can be a demanding job. Personally, I strive to find a balance between being a husband, father, and principal and in that order. Easier said than done, but that is the goal. My family comes first and I need to remind myself of that often. (Sometimes they remind me too!)
Professional: Be the best principal I can be. I will not be a principal for the rest of my life, as I do want to move up the professional ladder, sharing my gifts and experiences, but until then...I want to grow #SiglerNation and share just how amazing our teachers, students, and school community is.
Athletic: Each marathon I run I set out to PR. My previous best is 3:19, so when I hit the streets of DC in October, the goal is to improve. When I am not running, it is to keep a healthy baseline and push myself, introducing workouts I have not completed before.
Grow - I am entering my 7th year at Sigler Elementary and we are ready to take off! Our theme for the upcoming year is #SiglerNation and it is taking the voices of our students and staff and putting them out there for others to connect with, learn from, and grow with us. We hope you join our efforts and connect with #SiglerNation.
A teacher who will be joining #SiglerNation next year shared with quote with me and I believe it fits each of us, regardless of our journey. “Go where you’re sent, stay where you’re put, give all you’ve got.”
For those reading who are new to the #WhyIExercise or the #Fitleaders movement...you are at a starting point. Put one foot in front of the other and take the next step. Some days it is a big one, some days it may be smaller but always keep moving forward.
I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to Matt for sharing his fitness and educational journeys with us. I’ve been a fan of Matt’s for about two years now. He keeps me motivated athletically and fills my Twitter feed with exceptional educational blogs and articles.
Matt’s one word, grow, is one that we can all latch on to. We can grow as role-models in our homes, we can grow as influencers in our classrooms and schools, and we can grow as athletes in our gyms, courts, tracks, or garages. I challenge you to be inspired by Matt and choose one area where you would like to grow. Follow us on the #FitnessEdu and #FitLeaders hashtags to share your journey.
Welcome back to #WhyIExercise. I feel privileged to introduce this week’s spotlight educator. It’s our very own, Lori Vandeborne, leader of the #FitnessEdu tribe. Lori grew up in Weirton, West Virginia and now resides in Marion, Ohio. She is the Continuous Improvement Officer at Rushmore Academy. Lori holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and Special Education Mild to Moderate (PreK-12) and her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership Curriculum and Instruction. For her professional biography, click here. Follow Lori on Twitter @MrsVandeborne.
Hold on to your seat, as we hear from Lori.
Exercise has always been a big part of my life. I think my competitive spirit started in my neighborhood where the kids would always congregate at my house or the playground. We would play outside all summer which was always centered around some sort of competition whether it be foot races, bike races, basketball games, playground challenges, lowering the rim to have slam dunk contests, building our own bike park for BMX bikes in the tennis courts, or using the fence posts as balance beams. The kids I grew up with still brag about the races we won in organized playground competitions more so than our state championships. Broken bones and bandaged knees were pretty normal and expected in my neighborhood. Many of those kids I grew up with became college athletes including myself.
I ran track (High Jump and Hurdles) and played volleyball since 7th grade. When I was in my sophomore year of high school, I gave up track to focus on playing Volleyball for the Renaissance Volleyball Junior Olympic team in Pittsburgh, PA. Because the WV volleyball season was still in the winter, I practiced and played both at my high school and Junior Olympic games during the same season for the first two years. Then, WV shifted their season to match the surrounding states. During that time, I would leave school practice and drive an hour to Pitt University or high school gyms in the Pittsburgh area to practice with my team. On the weekend, we would either play regional tournaments or fly across the nation. During this experience I got to participate in three national tournaments and play with and against the best in the nation, some of who ended up on the actual Olympic team. I went on to play Division 1 Volleyball at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida. While there, I took my training to a new level. I would spend every morning doing cardio, lunch time in the weightroom, and evenings in the gym. Plyometrics, Leg-Circuits, Cardio and sprints took on a whole new meaning. I got down to 16% Body Fat and was in the best shape of my life physically. However, I wasn’t taking care of my whole self and being so far away from family became difficult. I learned the importance of being surrounded by people who love you and who you love so I transferred back to Fairmont State College in Fairmont, WV to play for a coach that had recruited me in high school. While there, I led the team to a Conference and Regional Championship and had the opportunity to play on a national team in Europe during the summer of my Junior year. Unfortunately, I fractured my L4/L5 vertebrae at the beginning of my Senior year and had to end my college athletic career. This was very difficult because Volleyball was my first love so it was like losing a part of me and who I was and am. Read more of Lori’s journey here.
In the past it was to perform, compete, and win. Now I exercise to stay healthy, keep a positive mindset, have some me time and to set a good example for my own kids.
I am currently coming off of an injury to my hip and then to my arm. However, what I usually do is cardio at least five days a week where I either run outside 1-4 miles, ride my bike 10-16 miles, or ride my stationary bike inside. I love to strength train and push my limits in the weight room. I tend to hurt myself if I focus on lifting heavy but I have found a routine that works very well for me to stay strong, feel challenged, and burn cardio at the same time.
My strength training routine I do every other day.
Of the following combination exercises I take no rest between working my upper and lower body. This becomes more of a cardio routine due to no rest.
For each exercise, I start with low weight and do a set of 12 then increase the weight and do a set of 10 then increase the weight and do a set of 8 then max out and do a set of 6. I then pick a weight I am comfortable with and do a set of 24. After the set of 24, I rest for two minutes and move into the next combination of upper and lower body exercises. Here are the combinations I work through:
This routine has been the one I have followed for the past 7 years since my children have gone to school and I went to work.
A big part of my routine is keeping a cadence of accountability with the #FitnessEdu chat. This chat has provided me with a support system to help with the luls that occur in fitness routines. If I am going to be leading others in setting fitness goals and sharing their achievements every week, I have to be living what I lead. This chat has also helped with my emotional and social well being. It keeps me connected to others and accountable for my health. For more on #FitnessEdu, read this newspaper article and listen to this podcast.
As a college athlete, I know how to eat in order to help increase the effectiveness of my work outs. I try to eat more protein and vegetables than carbohydrates. The most important part of my diet for me is to drink only water and stay away from carbonated drinks. I can always tell a difference in my mood, performance, and the way I feel when I am not drinking enough water.
Fitness is essential for me to stay positive and effective as a professional. Being in educational leadership is a very stressful and often emotionally exhausting. For me, my fitness routine is my way to help me process my thinking, clear my head, and provide me with the adrenaline and strength needed to make the difficult decisions that I face daily.
I like to remember that all of my actions affect others. As a leader, this is one of my favorite quotes:
“Teams do not exist in a vacuum. “We are all parts of multiple webs of significance”: different teams, units, and social groups. When the values and expected behaviors change in one group we belong to, it affects how we behave in other groups.” - Clifford Geertz
Personal: To focus on my family’s and my overall health and wellness and not just my physical health. I need to get better at making my emotional and spiritual health a priority.
Professional: To be a more of an active listener so that I can be a proactive leader with plans and processes in place that will help build relationships and maximize both student and adult learning.
Athletic: I would like to to gain more consistency in my fitness routine and build endurance, muscle, and strength.
My one word is purpose. I would like to make sure that everything I am doing has a purpose behind it. Going through the motions or actions to complete a task without knowing the purpose is often draining for me. I want to keep my focus on doing the things that are necessary to make a difference in the lives of my family, my students, my colleagues, and the staff that I serve.
It’s been a joy to have Lori share her fitness, life, and professional journey with us. From the moment I met Lori on Twitter, she’s been a source of encouragement and inspiration. Her influence on her family, students and staff that she leads, and the TwitterEdu community is far reaching. If there’s one thing we can learn from Lori, it’s combining belonging and individuality on our quest for success.
If you’re just starting or continuing to set fitness goals, please join Lori and the rest of the #FitnessEdu tribe on Sundays at 7:00 EST for sharing glows, a 30 minute chat, and setting goals.
Thank you again, Lori, for sharing your story on the #WhyIExercise summer blog series.
Marilyn . .
Welcome to our second summer of #WhyIExercise. I hope you had an exceptional 2016-2017 school. Summer is the perfect time to relax, reflect, and recharge. Our first spotlight educator knows all about the rigors of a productive school year. It’s an absolute honor to introduce Ryan Jackson as our first spotlight educator for #WhyIExercise this summer. He is currently the Executive Lead Principal at Mount Pleasant Arts Innovation Zone, the nation’s first K-12 STEAM Campus, aka #TheMount. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Indiana and his master’s and Ed.D from Trevecca University in Tennessee. He is also the founder of the #FitLeaders tribe. Ryan can be found @RyanBJackson1 on Twitter.
Without further ado, let’s get started . . .
I graduated from Harrison High School in Evansville, IN class of 1998, lettering in cross country. I committed myself to running after it became apparent I couldn't hit a curveball, a high school curveball at that. I ran cross country and track in high school, but would not get back into exercising until my 30’s.
I got a divorce, started my doctorate, began mentally planning for my transition to education administration and stopped drinking alcohol. I quit drinking on New Year’s Eve 2012 and have been sober ever since. I used an intense weight lifting regimen to combat alcoholism, leveraging it’s mind/body/spiritual effects to overcome a genetic disease. I had an unwavering focus and progress monitoring system. My wife was instrumental in my transition. She taught me how to love myself in order to begin healing.
I workout 5-6 times a week; 5 day isometric bodypart rotation; stairclimber and jumprope for cardio, depending on leaning/bulking goals. Some of my best workouts are in The Mount gym as I develop relationships beyond academics with students. On weekends, my workouts continue at Anytime Fitness.
I eat almost zero processed sugar (absolutely no soft drinks); eat in 2 hour intervals to keep body in homeostasis; high protein/conscious of carb intake; lots and lots of water (and coffee in the morning); GNC performance/vitality pack once a day; pre-workout/BCAA during workout/protein shake post-workout.
There are so many benefits of regular exercise: improved health/strength bolsters my immune system - as an educator this is HUGE. Goal - setting and reflection boost my intrapersonal leadership; also, to quote John Medina’s Brain Rules, “physical fitness is cognitive candy.” Thus, my thinking, my focus, perseverance are all dramatically improved by my physical fitness.
(Read more about Ryan’s journey here. Ryan’s transparency and purpose is clearly revealed.)
Personal: Lead my family into the digital age, modeling balance, awareness, and growth.
Professional: Continue to grow my brands; #TheMount, #FitLeaders; Position The Mount as a beacon for STEAM curriculum and culture, where districts from around the country come to learn and gain insight from our cutting-edge pedagogy/ideology.
Athletic: Reach 205 lbs of lean mass; compete in drug-free powerlifting competition.
Progress: too often we’re prohibited from progress due to distractions and doubt. The key is goal-setting, embracing incremental growth and celebrating each and every win.
The stressors of leadership can be devastating physically, mentally, and emotionally. In order to sustain, more importantly in order to thrive, we must first set our sights on leading from within. Once we can control over ourselves through discipline, goal-setting, and striving for personal excellence, only then can we truly be prepared to successfully lead others, weathering leadership’s tumultuous journey.
It’s been a delight to have Ryan as our first spotlight educator of the summer. His insights are just what we need to help us forge new roads of success at work, at home, in the gym, on the court, or on the pavement. Ryan’s quote by Tony Robbins is a place to start, “Progress equals Happiness.” With a plan and perseverance, happiness and greatness are sure to come.
Ryan has been a guest on the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast, been a Tedx speaker, and has his own blog. It’s no surprise that Ryan helped turn a struggling school around. Watch this video of how Ryan partnered with the community to make a difference.
As you seek your fitness and educational goals, please share them with the #FitLeaders and #FitnessEdu tribes.
Thank you again, Ryan, for sharing your incredible journey with us. It’s not over yet! We can’t wait to see and hear more about your continued success.
Marilyn . . .
As educators, we know the importance fitness has on both our bodies and minds. This blog is a celebration of educators and the role exercise plays in our lives.