Welcome back to our summer edition of #WhyIExercise. We’re excited to spotlight two phenomenal and fun educators, Karen and Jennifer. Join us as they share their fitness stories.
#WhyIExercise . . . Karen
Please welcome Karen from Narragansett, Rhode Island. Karen is a special education teacher. Karen earned her bachelor’s degree from Salve Regina University, her master’s degree from Rhode Island College, and her Special Education Administration Certificate from Providence College. She was her district's Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the Rhode Island state Teacher of the Year. Follow Karen on Twitter @Teach4SpclNeeds.
Let’s hear from Karen.
I may have pushed myself to the limit this year and that doesn’t surprise me one bit! As my 40th birthday approaches, I have set a goal to run my very first marathon. Why now? How about . . . why not??? I’ve had a vision to run a full marathon since I was in high school. I’ve run 1/2 marathons and ultra relays, but never a full marathon. Am I crazy? Heck yeah, I am! Bring it!!!
The race is in October, which allows me the entire summer to build up to 26.2 solid miles. I started running a few days a week after school back in April. I found an amazing colleague (much younger and so much cuter than myself) to run with. Tori and I set off after school on our runs by the ocean feeling the breeze on our faces as we shared smiles and talked about our school days. As the months went by, I realized that I truly enjoyed having Tori as a running partner. I asked Tori if she would be interested in running an upcoming 10 mile road race with me in July. With hesitation in her voice, she explained she had never run more than 3 miles. With excitement and positive energy in my voice, I replied, “I’ll train you!” She said, “Yes!” Oh, I could just feel the excitement and giggles inside my body as I could NOT wait to help Tori set and reach a goal!!!
But wait . . . I have a goal myself . . . why do I always do this? I honestly cannot help it . . . I LOVE to help others. I’m convinced that my mission in life is to build up those around me and help them feel like they are a gift in this world.
As I plan out my own personal running distances, I will help Tori navigate hers. There’s nothing more exciting to me as a special education teacher than helping others crush their goals, no matter what age or how large or small the goal might be. It’s a passion of mine that comes from deep within my heart and bursts like fireworks when we experience “mission accomplished!”
Two days ago, Tori and I set a goal to run 5 miles. Little did she know, I had a hidden goal of pushing her further without her knowing it. We started off our run with a wonderful chat about what we’ve been doing since school ended. We shared stories, we laughed, and at times, we took long silent pauses to clear our minds. All the while, I kept her at a comfortable pace and continually checked in with how her body was feeling. At the end of our run, I glanced at my Garmin which reported 6.94 miles and grinned from ear to ear. “Don’t be mad at me Tori . . . but you just crushed almost 7 miles girl!” I told her as we exchanged a high-five. She could not believe it and I was incredibly proud of her. We capped off 7 glorious miles with high fives and smiles. I was so proud of her!
As I work towards my own exercise goals, it’s important to stop along the way and reflect on how we can inspire those around us. Take time for others. The feeling of encapsulating that goal-crushing moment with another is a reward within itself.
I challenge you to set a goal for yourself this week. And if you really want to lift the level of inspiration, help someone else achieve theirs!
Best wishes for a healthy summer,
#WhyIExercise . . . Jennifer
Please welcome Jennifer Dean from Palm Desert, California. Jennifer is a first grade teacher. She earned her B.S. in Elementary Education, an M.A. in Early Childhood Education, and an additional M.S. in Instructional Technology. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator and Trainer and is a Coachella CUE Board Member. Follow her on Twitter @Techy_Jenn.
Let’s her from Jennifer.
Exercise, healthy eating and weight in general has been something that has been difficult for me over the last several years. I used to do 5ks every month, exercise regularly and be part of different fitness groups. However, over the last two years I have done less and less of that. This year, it really caught up to me, and I realized I needed to make a change.
Obviously, gaining weight was a big struggle for me, but it was not the reason I decided I needed to get back on track. I realized that my lifestyle was not only causing me to gain weight but it was leading to other issues. I realized that I was developing unhealthy habits and not taking care of my body the way I should be. I also do not yet have children, but want to start our family. I realized in order to do this, I needed to be not just lose weight, but really develop some healthy habits, change my lifestyle, and take care of my body the way I should.
I had a parent of a former student who owns a gym and does nutritional courses and etc. She has become a friend of mine and knew a lot about my journey. I contacted her because I wanted to not just go on a “diet” or do a “meal plan”. I wanted to really change my lifestyle. My goal wasn’t to just lose weight and fit into a pair of jeans. I truly wanted to develop healthier habits and completely change my lifestyle. She helped me identify my goals, set my macros on myfitnesspal, and holds me accountable.
Healthier eating habits was a major part of what I needed to change, but I also wanted to get back into being more active. Luckily, I live in a beautiful place where I can be outside every single day. Even in the summer, as long as I get up early, I can be active outside. I also have a dog (who is on Twitter too @CharlestonPup) and I love being with him. I started just making the goal of walking him for 20 minutes a day. Once I was able to do that for a week, I increased it to 30 minutes a day. Now I walk him about 4 miles 4-5 times per week. I love it because I am just “walking” but I get to enjoy the beautiful weather, admire the scenery, feel my body getting what it needs and even stopping to socialize a little with other walkers.
Since starting this journey in early May, I have lost just a little over 20 pounds. Although this is very exciting, it is not the best part. I have found that I have more energy, my self-confidence is coming back, stress is relieved and I can just feel this change. It is hard to describe with exact words but as I have changed my lifestyle and started making these small progressions, I feel healthier, happier, and just different. It is not about a diet or completing an exercise program for me. It is about truly living a healthier lifestyle that enables me to accomplish more than I could before. I still have a long way to go in this journey, but I am excited to continue and be a healthier me, so I can create a healthier “us” soon!
Thank you so much, Karen and Jennifer, for sharing your stories. Karen, what a blessing you are to your friend, Tori. We’ll be waiting to get a glowing report on your full marathon in October. Jennifer, your journey is so relatable. We all go through phases of life that get us off track. But the great news is that we can get right back in the game. It’s clear that both of you are exercising not only for yourselves, but also others. Karen, you’re inspiring Tori. Jennifer, you’re taking control of your health in preparation for motherhood. We can’t wait for that report as well!
Most of us are now on summer vacation. With a little more time on our hands, be sure to take care of yourselves both physically, mentally, and spiritually. We are servant leaders to our students, staff, and others in our circle of influence. As we’ve heard the saying, “You can’t take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself.”
As always, if you’re looking for a tribe, there are many to choose from. Follow these hashtags for inspiration: #FitnessEdu, #FitLeaders, #RunAndRant, and #TeacherFit.
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn ❤
Welcome to another installment of #WhyIExercise. We’re excited to spotlight a fabulous duo! Please welcome husband and wife, Angela Rivas and Brent Klug from Michigan. Angela is a high school special education teacher. Brent is a world history teacher and soccer coach. Both Angela and Brent earned their Bachelor’s degrees from Grand Valley State University. Additionally, Angela earned her Master’s degree in Education Technology from Grand Valley. Angela is a member of Nick Mann’s Fire and Flow Crossfit group and #TeacherFit community on Twitter. Follow Angela on Twitter @MsRivas2U.
#WhyIExercise . . . Angela
I’ve broken up and made up with exercise for most of my adult life. I have lost count of how many times I’ve heard, “You’re so skinny--you don’t need to exercise!” Yes, I’m naturally small. I got it from my mother. We are smaller women. However, skinny doesn’t mean healthy. I’ve always dreamed of being one of those women with defined muscles. Not bulky, but more muscular than I am now. Unfortunately, it was easy to put off exercising. I had kids, I had a job, there are always things to do. There was always a reason. If I was exercising regularly and missed a few days, it was easy to leave it altogether, thinking I already failed at it. Now that I’ve leveled up to Level 40 in life, it’s become much more important to me. First of all, it has been a big help with my anxiety. I have struggled with anxiety almost all of my life and exercise is a temporary release from it. I tend to overthink and worry about everything. When I exercise, I’m just focusing on that and any other worry disappears. At that moment, I’m just trying to concentrate on my breathing and survive the workout. I truly believe exercise is a cure for so many things. There has never been a workout that I’ve regretted. I may have regretted it during the workout, but when all is said and done, I’m proud of myself for getting it done.
About 7 months ago, I sprained my ankle really bad. I am still recovering. I remember at that time thinking, “I wish I could work out or do something.” I knew I would get better eventually, but I also knew there are people who have conditions who would love to be able to do what I can do but can’t exercise for whatever reason. I’m able. So I should. And I want to. I like to challenge myself to see how far I go in my fitness journey. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you can’t be fit! I’d love to be those ladies, who in their 70s or 80s are still going strong with their fitness! I never want to workout because a doctor tells me I need to due to a health condition. It should never get to that point. I think just 30 minutes of physical activity a day is more realistic at keeping the doctor away than an apple.
Lastly, I have 4 children. I want to set a good example. My husband and I both exercise and we ask them all the time to work out with us, which they find annoying. I encourage them to just go on walks. It doesn’t have to be a heavy workout. I think that’s where dread starts to set in. If it seems too daunting, they don’t want to do it and I’ll admit- it can be like that for us as well. Honestly, it still takes some pushing on our part. However, they see that taking care of ourselves is something we prioritize. We try to limit junk as much as we can in the house, but will allow a little here and there. I remember my now 18 year-old went on a Spring Break trip with her friend’s family. She said they ate fast food the whole time and wished for a salad just once. This is coming from one of my pickiest eaters! I know my children will make their own choices as adults someday but hope they take on some of the habits we’ve tried to instill in them.
I exercise because I have a genuine desire to better myself, both mentally and physically. However, as a teacher and a parent, I have teenagers watching me on a daily basis. I want exercise to be just as normal and routine as taking showers or brushing your teeth. In an age where my students and my own children are bombarded with junk food advertisements and products and spend hours a day on social media, it’s a battle we need to keep fighting. The more they see us do it, the greater the chances that they’ll consider it as a positive change for themselves.
#WhyIExercise . . . Brent
Are they looking at me? Do I look in shape? Do I have the “Dad Bod”? Yo, why am I flexing in front of this mirror, does this make me conceited? All thoughts I have had. The insecurities can be solved by exercise and the pride can be caused by exercise. I am a proud husband, father of four, coach of two soccer teams and a teacher of 150 students. People are looking at me.
What I want them to see is a person who looks like they take care of themselves. I want my kids to see a good example of what taking care of yourself results in. Yeah, I want my students to appreciate the academic aspects of the things I teach them, but that’s not it. I give them life stories and advice about life. One piece of advice is their health. I want to be a solid example of what I preach to them about. I talk about eating healthy in front of them. I eat healthy in front of them. So if I talk about the benefits of exercise and living healthy, I better be a good example of what I am preaching. As a coach, my players want to see me do “Beast Mode” not just preach about it. They ask me why I do it, and I simply say because I want to be a beast and you can too. I show them the grind. I show them heart and passion. Because I exercise, I show them the results.
I’ve slipped in and out of shape. I have hit low places in my health. I have lost my muscle definition and had to bust my ass to get it back. I know I am not the fittest person, but I know I am better than the average 34 year old. Yes, people are looking at me. Yes, I feel I am in shape. No, I don’t have the dad bod. And no, I am not conceded. Our bodies are works of art. We all have a different ideal of what we want to look like, and I am looking into that mirror evaluating the art of my hard work and dedication.
I exercise almost everyday because I have the eyes of our youth on me. I want to be a great example of a healthy human. I also do it because it is good for my mental health. My physical appearance is something that has made me insecure, and I don’t want to go back to that.
Thank you so much, Angela and Brent. What fantastic stories from both of you. Angela, you are a true testimony to your children of what a healthy woman can be. Your focus on physical and mental health is a great reminder for all of us. Brent, your passion for your health on and off the field is surely not going unnoticed. Our youth are watching. As educators, parents, and members of our communities, we have tremendous amounts of influence. Thank you both for sharing your fitness journeys and mindsets. It’s an honor to have you as guests on #WhyIExercise.
Educators, if you’re ready to start or ramp up your fitness journey, I highly recommend Nick Mann’s “Fire and Flow” online coaching and community. Angela and I are both members and are already seeing tremendous results. For more information, click here. Angela and Brent were recent guests on his podcast. Take a listen here. Follow Nick on Twitter @S2Change2.
There are some amazingly motivating fitness communities on Twitter. Be sure to follow the hashtags: #FitnessEdu, #FitLeaders, #TeacherFit, and #RunAndRant.
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn 💕
Welcome back! This is our fourth summer of #WhyIExercise. Be ready to be inspired and motivated by our guest bloggers this summer. It’s so exciting to share the health and fitness journeys of amazing educators. I anticipate an exceptional summer of sharing.
Join us in celebrating this week’s guest bloggers Lori Green and Tim McDermott.
#WhyIExercise . . . Lori
Please welcome Lori Green from Canal Winchester, Ohio. Lori is the School Improvement Coordinator for Groveport Madison Schools. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, her master’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University, and her Urban Principal Licensure from IUPUI. Lori is one of the founding members of the #FitnessEdu tribe. Follow Lori on Twitter @loriannegreen.
Let’s hear from Lori.
In 2006, I turned 40. I was just coming out of an abusive relationship and I was very unhealthy. I watched an episode of Oprah where this lady was talking about The Law of Attraction. I made a decision that I wanted to be healthy: physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially. I began the work with no end goal in mind. Seeing a counselor helped me with the difficult inner emotional work, but it was so worth it!
I knew that it was also time for me to get started on the outer work. I started walking, but then I decided I wanted to give running a try. I talked with a neighbor who suggested heart rate training. Wearing a heart rate monitor transformed my running! As I continued to apply positive words to my inner and outer work, my desire of being fit in those areas came to fruition. I started running half marathons, I completed many triathlons and duathlons, and I even ran two full marathons!
THEN I turned 50 . . . and while I won’t go into too much detail, I will say menopause hit me hard. The physical activities no longer were benefiting my weight maintenance. My heart is very healthy, but over the past 2 years, I have come to realize that my overall wellness is not determined by what my body weight is. I have a very healthy heart and very low blood pressure. I have reduced my running due to some issues with my feet, but I have found walking and strength training to be what works best for me right now.
So #WhyIExercise is to be at my best health! My husband and my children and their partners deserve to have a healthy wife and mom . . . and most importantly, I deserve to be at my best health! When our intention is to be healthy, and when we can remove any expectation about how that may or may not look physically, we will be healthy! That’s where I am on my journey, and it’s exciting to think about what will happen in the future!
#WhyIExercise . . . Tim
Please welcome Tim McDermott from Oswego, Illinois. Tim is the principal at Alice Gustafson Elementary School in the Batavia Public School system. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Early Education from Arizona State University, his master’s in School Leadership from Concordia University, and his Doctor of Education from Aurora University. Follow Tim on Twitter @Tim_McDermott1.
I first started my journey into exercise ten years ago. There was a new gym that was built a few miles from our home and my wife and I decided to join. Like many newcomers to the gym it was a bit overwhelming. I would go on occasion, but I found little success in creating a new habit. I tried going after school, but I found that I had a lot less energy and desire to work out.
A few years went by with some on and off success. It wasn’t until I became a principal and started my doctoral program that exercise became a regular part of my life. I realized that I was 20 pounds overweight, stressed out, and literally eating anything that was in front of me. I knew that something had to change so I rededicated myself to go to the gym every morning before work. I found that starting my day at the gym and lifting weights provided me a great deal of stress relief.
Twenty eight months ago my world came crashing down around me as my wife, Jenna, was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer. Watching Jenna go through a nine hour surgery to remove multiple tumors, chemotherapy, another round of chemotherapy due to a recurrence, and now being on a maintenance drug has been heart wrenching. Jenna battles everyday and puts on a brave face for our teenage daughters. She tries incredibly hard to not let anyone know that she is always exhausted and is in some kind of pain.
Jenna’s incredible strength and courage has inspired me to tackle something that I used to hate doing - running. I started to run to deal with my own pain. Running provided relief and I started to look forward to it. I challenged myself to run farther and then to do a few races. I surprised myself with being able to complete a 5k and then a 10k. As Jenna was battling her recurrence this past fall I poured myself into running and completed two half marathons. I wanted to do some small act to show her how much I loved her.
Running and lifting weights has given me an outlet and helps me deal with my anxiety about the future. Exercise has helped me to better support Jenna, to be a better dad, and a better principal.
Thank you so much, Lori and Tim, for sharing your stories. Lori, you are conquering 50 with dignity, grace, and strength. What a motivation for us as we transition through the many stages of life. The reminder to be “intentional” about our health surely resonates. Tim, your wife and family are so fortunate to have you as their rock. I’m so glad you found that place of relief and even started enjoying running. It’s an honor to have both of you share with the #WhyIExercise readers.
Be sure to check back in for the next 6 Saturdays as more amazing educators share their #WhyIExercise stories. And follow the #FitnessEdu, #FitLeaders, and #TeacherFit tribes for weekly motivation.
#MuchLove . . . 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.