Welcome back to week 5 of our summer #WhyIExercise series. It’s an honor to welcome guest bloggers, David Holliday and Jeremy Lowe. Join us as they share their fitness journeys.
Please welcome our first guest, David Holliday. David is from Plano, Texas. He is a 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Reading and Language Arts special education teacher. David earned his Bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University. He has been an educator for 5 years, coming over from corporate. He received the beginning teacher of the year award in 2015 at Rice Middle School, has an honorary lifetime PTA membership for community service to youth in 2019, has served for 3 years, and continues to serve, as a lead sponsor for Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Rice MS, and served on the Professional Learning Commission for Plano ISD in 2018-19. David is an active member of the #FitLeaders and #TeacherFit tribes. Follow him on Twitter @docholliday747.
Let’s hear from David.
#WhyIExercise . . . David
Ever since I was a young man, I have enjoyed sports and exercise. Football, basketball, and baseball were my favorites because I prefer team sports over individual sports. I played a lot of golf in my adolescent and early adult years; however, the expense of the sport doesn’t allow me to play as much as I would like to with a daughter approaching her college years! I played competitively in youth and high school basketball and played in intramural football and basketball leagues with my fraternity brothers at Texas Tech University. I am a big believer that playing and participating in sports in our youth helps us learn a lot about teamwork, perseverance, and winning and losing graciously. Fitness and sports have had a positive effect in my development as a person and help me stay connected to community and friends.
Trying to decipher why I exercise is far more complicated than it may appear. I believe that in order to be my best, I need to maximize my efforts to produce a healthy body, spirit, and mind. If I am lacking in one of these components, I am setting myself up for a fall. For most of my life, I have had a deep fear of loss. This was compounded when I lost my nephew, Jacob, at the precious age of four to cancer in October of 2005. This devastating loss changed everything, especially for my younger brother, Rob. To say the least, at this time of my life, fear consumed me. Over time, I have had a lot of questions about the role of suffering and loss in my faith. I believe exercise somewhat models suffering in its own unique way. When I endure something that isn’t pleasing, it helps me grow and stretches my limits. From a spiritual and mindset perspective, this allows me to build on failure and trust the process of an exercise regimen to strengthen the core of my body and the discipline of my mind. The suffering I have experienced in my life allows me to empathize with my students, many of whom have had deep suffering in their lives. This makes me a better educator.
In addition, the discipline of exercise and diet has enabled me to lose 28 pounds, 9% body fat, and one percentage point in my blood sugar. This is the healthiest I have been since that devastating loss my family experienced in 2005. Exercise keeps me focused on accepting my past, living my best life now, and preparing for a fulfilling and purposeful future.
Basically, I eliminated all sugar from my diet 13 months ago. I try to keep my daily sugar intake below 10 grams. I eat a lot of lean meats and vegetables. Simple, but it takes a lot of discipline. However, denying myself means I am putting something more important above myself. That is empowering and helps me live a life of humility, which I am called to do.
I work in a challenging atmosphere where student anxiety and stress are commonplace. Being of sound body, spirit, and mind allows me to be a comfort for my students when they need me in their most vulnerable moments.
I have a choice to make every day. Who do I serve? Do I serve self or do I serve others? If I do not take care of my body, spirit, and mind, I cannot make the obvious choice in serving others.
Believe. Believe in yourself and believe in others. Believe that people are trying their best, especially on their worst days. Believe that people are giving you their best on your worst days.
Please welcome Jeremy Lowe also from Plano, Texas. Jeremy is an Upper School Principal at Prince of Peace Christian School. He has a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Educational Technology. Jeremy was named the Administrator of the Year (2006) in the Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod, is a board member on the National Association of Lutheran Secondary Schools, and has been named an inaugural Swivl Educational Video Pioneer. He is active in the #FitLeaders and #TeacherFit tribes. Follow Jeremy on Twitter @DrJerLowe.
#WhyIExercise . . . Jeremy
I remember teaching one afternoon in an American literature classroom; it was my second year as a teacher. The day was like any other – I was having some fun with juniors teaching The Scarlet Letter when suddenly, I doubled over in pain right in the middle of my lecture. The worst pain I’d experienced in my life, I wondered if my appendix ruptured. I tried playing it off as a joke but had to leave the classroom and was taken immediately to the ER. Months went by without diagnosis and the problem worsened to the point I struggled walking up steps or even teach for a full day.
Now, I had been an athlete all my life. Three sports in high school and blessed to play college baseball (a dream of mine) in a small NAIA college. I hiked, lifted, ran mud races and was as healthy as I could imagine. But to look at me sick, you would have laughed. I was 5’7” 125 pounds and literally wasting away until I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. A disease that attacks my own digestive system much like diabetes attacks the pancreas or rheumatoid arthritis attacks the joints, Crohn’s came on suddenly and with a vengeance. But, God’s undeserved grace in my life, a loving patient wife, and medications with lifestyle changes helped me turn the corner over the span of three years. I gained weight and strength and returned to the classroom with energy and enthusiasm, eventually becoming the principal, then executive director of a Christian high school in Southern California.
With the shift to administration, and the stresses and workload that come with that responsibility over time, I relapsed then let myself go – I’m embarrassed to admit that. However, this time, I began to gain weight as I didn’t hold fast to the lifestyle changes that were necessary to hold Crohn’s at bay. I ballooned up to 206 pounds frankly tired of fighting it.
To dig a bit deeper into the soul of my situation, in the darkness was an incredible feeling of loneliness. You’ve often heard that leadership is lonely, and it is. I believe it is the driver of burnout for leaders in education, and unless we address that issue, we will lose many great people in our field. You see, that negative inertia of my life was strong until the untimely death of my father-in-law. Life seemed to snap into focus. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and, candidly, scared. So, I leaned into the @fit_leaders #FitLeaders #PLN led by Dr.Ryan Jackson (@RyanBJackson) on Twitter. He encourages us to Live Better – Lead Better. I decided to post about my journey even though I felt a little embarrassed that I wasn’t as strong, or fast, or fit as others I was seeing on Twitter. I doubled down on the accountability I felt there and now my inertia is moving in a whole new direction, thanks to encouraging educators like @MarilynEDU, @matthew_arend, @ctopher73, @docholliday747, @MistahBruno, @literacy_kim and many more. I was blessed to share in a podcast with Nick Mann (@S2Change2), who supports educators through #TeacherFit about my journey and received comments from educators who were encouraged. I’m thankful for these leaders in my life and hope to get to shake their hand one day.
Today, I’m 173 pounds with my Crohn’s in remission and exercise 5X per week. I am incredibly thankful that God continues to give me chances each day to be a better husband, father, and leader in my school. That’s why I exercise. I won’t go back; how could I? I don’t know how much time I’ll have to impact others in this life I’ve been given, so there’s no time to lose!
Thank you so much, David and Jeremy, for sharing your fitness journeys. David, so sorry about the loss of your nephew, Jacob, But, what a way to honor his life by using him as motivation to take control of your health; physically, mentally, and spiritually. Jeremy, your struggle with Crohn’s disease has been difficult. But, it surely propelled you to new heights. (For more information on Crohn’s, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America is a valuable resource.) Thank you both for sharing your personal stories. You are both amazing educators and leaders. More importantly, you are men of God that are touching your communities, families, and PLN.
David, Jeremy, and I are members of Nick Mann’s “Teacher Fit” coaching and online community. We are having fun and seeing tremendous results.
When you become a member, you gain access to the SugarWod app, an online community, instructional videos, and access to a certified Crossfit coach. Jeremy was recently a guest on Nick’s podcast. Take a listen here. If you’re interested in the group, scroll here for more information.
There are some amazingly motivating fitness communities on Twitter. Be sure to follow the hashtags: #FitnessEdu, #FitLeaders, #TeacherFit, and #RunAndRant.
#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.