Welcome back to week 4 of our summer #WhyIExercise series. It’s an honor to welcome guest bloggers, Vicki King and Colin Hanna. Join us as they share their fitness journeys.
Please welcome our first guest, Vicki King. Vicki is from Lindenhurst, Illinois. She is an educational partner and advocate as well as a leadership coach. She has earned her BS in Education and her MS and Ed.S in Ed Leadership. Vicki is currently a doctoral student researching Social Justice & Equity in Education. Vicky is an active member of #EquityLiteracy founded by, @pgorski, dedicated to dismantling injustices in educational settings and beyond. She is also an inspiring member of the #FitLeaders and #RunAndRant communities. Follow Vicki on Twitter @vicking02.
Let’s hear from Vicki.
#WhyIExercise . . . Vicki
I remember running the forest preserve and park paths with my grandpa when I was still in grade-school. After our runs . . . well, I was probably the one running and my grandpa was more likely jogging with me. Afterwards, we would hit the pool or jacuzzi in the backyard. My grandma would bring out lemonade or ice water for us. There was no competition; there was just my grandpa and me running.
I can vaguely recall going to the high school track in Chico, California with my mom and dad. They would sit on the bleachers and just watch me run around the tracks. I would pick up an acorn or rock every time I took a lap and hand them to my parents to keep track of the number of laps I had completed. I loved the way they would smile or laugh when I’d toss them another marker. There was no competition; there was just my parents smiling and me running.
At some point, I entered a local race with other kids roughly my age. I was the youngest in the group. I remember being disappointment at not winning; I placed third. I remember the celebration afterward with my parents and grandparents. I remember them giving me a bright yellow jumpsuit with a silly phrase across the top about being a champion or something. I remember feeling their full support and pride. But that was the last time I remember running until I was 18 and started dating my husband and our first run was so far from pretty and I was miles away from the runner and athlete I had been 10 years earlier.
The first run I did with my boyfriend, BK (now husband), was only ten or twenty minutes long. I didn’t own any running attire or running shoes. I was sucking air loudly. It’s funny to recall because he had to ask me several times if I was going to be okay. I couldn’t answer him, but I kept going. We kept running around the park on the one-mile track. We did that together everyday for weeks. Months went by and we had eventually gotten me shoes and appropriate exercise attire. There was no competition; there was just my best-friend and me running.
Eventually, I found myself running seven to eight miles around that park all by myself. It felt freeing. I felt alive. There was no competition; it was just my thoughts and me running.
Since then, I have realized that I am at my best, emotionally and physically when I am not living life as if it were a competition. I am an Achiever by nature and it is a strength that keeps me pushing limits and my boundaries. But sometimes I run a fine-line with my goals, and get my wires crossed about why I am exercising or running with an unhealthy and unnecessary need to be faster, better, stronger . . . Faster, better, and stronger than who?! Even when it is myself I am competing against to achieve a fitness goal, it isn’t always a healthy competition.
I exercise, I run, I lead, I learn, and I serve because I enjoy doing those things. Those things bring me life. I especially love doing all those things with people I love! I am also immensely grateful for the relationships on social media I have developed with others who are like-minded on their exercise and fitness journey. There is no competition; there is just a couple thousand of my closest social media friends, my hot hubby, and me sharing a fitness journey.
Please welcome Colin Hanna from Saint Louis, Missouri. Colin is a physical education and health teacher as well as an assistant football coach with a focus on strength training. He earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education and Health, a Master’s of Science in Educational Administration, and is currently completing his Doctorate of Education in K-12 Educational Leadership. Colin is active with the #FitLeaders tribe. Follow him on Twitter @coachcolinhanna.
#WhyIExercise . . . Colin
I have always loved to exercise. As far back as I can remember, I was moving and shaking. Exercise was interchangeable with neighborhood games and team sports. Whether it was tag in the neighborhood or basketball games on the weekend, I found joy in exercise. As a high school student, I enjoyed participating in three-sports and working out. I was then blessed with an opportunity to play collegiate football at The University of Central Missouri. This love and passion for movement led me to a career in education as a physical education and health teacher, as well as coaching football and strength and conditioning. It has been in that arena that I have been able to develop relationships and support students and players in their pursuit of overall health. I really appreciate that I get to work with students and players with varying exercise and health goals. It is truly a metaphor for exercise as we continue into adulthood. Some of us enjoy running, others lifting, other people love tennis, golf, hiking, CrossFit, basketball and the list goes on and on in terms of the ‘how’ of our exercise and fitness.
As I have gotten older, I have worked to be a more reflective and introspective person. In that reflection, I have found that my ‘why’ comes down to three distinct ‘whys’.
· Family: Family over everything. My family is part of my why because I want to be my absolute best for them. I want to be as healthy and fit as I can be to ensure that I live a long and healthy life. When my wife and I had our son, it was another great reminder of the gifts and joys of this life, and family is most certainly a gift. I want to be my best for both of them!
· Competition: Competing makes things fun. As I have grown, I have been better, with some help from great coaches and mentors, about healthy competition. I firmly believe competition should start within oneself, but doesn’t have to remain there. I have found that if I focus on competing with myself, it allows me to appreciate a competition with others and respect their work toward competition. This could be a weight lifting competition, marathon, sports, etc. My encouragement to students, players and peers is to never take away competition between yourself and others, but rather remember and learn the skill of healthy competition with self and others.
· Being My Best: I simply feel my best when I exercise. It may be the simplest why, but I just have to keep that in mind at all times. Getting in the gym and starting is the biggest part of success. Stay consistent, it makes you feel sharp and prepared to take on anything.
My ‘whys’ drive most, if not all, of my decisions and help me to continue toward my true north. I am so thankful for my ‘why’.
Accountability, Follow-Through and Support
Every day I challenge myself to remember all of the support that I have around me from my family and friends. Like many of you, I work to maintain a high-level of discipline and motivation, but having accountability is still something we all benefit from. A few reminders I like to use when times are tough and days get busy:
1. Consistency beats programs: having a plan is key, but if a day gets away and all you have time to do is a walk, instead of your normal high intensity workout, take the walk - your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.
2. Maintain a healthy, but realistic outlook on food: many times ‘diet’ and nutrition are the bane of our existence. Don’t spend unnecessary time beating yourself up if you don’t eat the healthiest meal. The focus is being present and conscious about your eating. Conscious eating says, “I am going to have this ice cream because I want to enjoy it with some friends.” It puts the control back in your hands. When you do this, you will find that your conscious choices become more health focused, with occasional treats.
3. Find the fun in exercise: find exercise that you enjoy. If it is weight lifting, perfect. Running, great. Playing pick-up basketball, soccer or softball, go for it. Hiking or walking, put those shoes on. The only requisite is that YOU enjoy it. If you make an exercise choice based on your interest it will never feel like work.
4. Put family first: this one isn’t directly related to fitness, rather overall health. Family and close friends should come first. Build a regimen around your loved ones and your daily schedule. The reason I advise this is because what is a healthy body if you never visit, fellowship, or spend time with those you love? It is in the balance that we can truly enjoy our commitment to our health.
I implore you to find your why and then find your exercise bliss! I look forward to connecting with many of you as educators, leaders and fitness fanatics. Cannot wait to hear your story, too! #FitLeaders
Thank you so much, Vicki and Colin, for sharing your stories. Vicki, your story is full of love and connectedness. You are so blessed to be surrounded by loved ones that have nurtured you and your desire to run. Colin, your tips and reminders are spot on. Each one of us is different. And that’s o’kay. At the end of the day, find what you love and do it. Fitness and healthy living is a lifelong pursuit. Whether we find motivation in competitions with ourselves or others, keep striving to be better everyday. Thank you again, Vicki and Colin, for sharing, inspiring, and leading.
On a side note, Colin and I have an interesting connection. When I first saw Colin on Twitter, I was in shock. You see, I have a son named Colin and a daughter named Hannah. Needless to say, Mr. Colin Hanna is one great guy.
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 ❤
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.