I hope everyone is having a great summer and getting in some much deserved rest and relaxation. I am very pleased to introduce you to this week’s spotlight educator, Zach Snow. Zach is currently the district coordinator of STEAM and Innovation and also the head Girl’s Cross Country coach in Royse City, Texas. He humbly serves as the community pastor at Four Winds Church. Zach earned his BA from Arlington Baptist University and his MEd from Lamar University. Zach can be found on Twitter @ZachSnow.
Let’s hear from Zach . . .
I have always been active. In high school, I played basketball and baseball then went on to play college baseball. While finishing up my first degree, which then led directly into the birth of my boys (15 months apart), I stopped prioritizing fitness and nutrition. Before I knew it, I was tipping the scales at almost 230lbs (which is not a good look on a 5’9” frame). At this point, I really started to try to right the ship. Shortly after this time, my dad passed away at the age of 53. He just fell asleep and didn’t wake up. Cardiac arrest. Heart disease runs in my family (on both sides) and this was a very big wake up call. I want to be around the see my boys grow up. I want to be around to spoil grandkids. Another flashpoint moment for me was when my big brother finished grad school and told me that now he was done with that he wanted for us to train for a 5K or something together. I jokingly sent him a link to the Spartan Race that would be happening near us toward the end of the year. He said, “Let’s do it!”, I panicked. For the first time since ending my college baseball career I was reminded of the difference between EXERCISING and TRAINING. You see, when you are simply exercising and then one day you don’t really feel like exercising, you simply don’t exercise. When you are training for something, and you choose not to train, you embarrass yourself when it comes time to compete. I began running, really for the first time ever. When I started, I could not run for more than 2 consecutive minutes without stopping to rest. Over the course of the next 7 months I worked my way up to being able to run a full mile, then 2 full miles, then eventually running 5K’s at a sub 10 min pace to ultimately completing the Spartan Beast Race. The Beast is a 15 mile course with 30+ obstacles along the way. During the course of my training, along with a renewed commitment to nutrition, I was able to get down to 185 lbs. About what I was when I was playing ball in college. I can say that I have been able to maintain this program and this weight for 3 years.
Body - This is the only body I get, if I do not take care of it I will not be able to do all of the things that I love to do. I love playing ball with my boys. I love taking walks/runs with my wife. I love just being active. I’m am almost 40 (38 to be exact) and I can truthfully say that I feel 100% healthier and more fit than I did 10 years ago.
Mind - I have a very demanding job. I have a very demanding schedule. Being disciplined with my fitness and nutrition helps to bring clarity to my mind. I am a better, more focused leader for my family, colleagues, the athletes I coach, my district, and my community when I prioritize my fitness.
Spirit - I honestly believe I have a responsibility to my God to take care of the body He gave me.I truly believe that I live where I live and I work where I work for a specific PURPOSE. I see my job as a calling. I take a missional approach to every aspect of my life. Fitness and training, really pushing myself does not only give me clarity of mind, it gives me a connection to Christ. It’s part of my spiritual act of worship.
I run 2-3 miles 3-4 times per week. I will periodically extend into longer runs but I battled runner related injuries so much a couple of years ago I feel like I have learned to find a balance.
I crosstrain using HIIT movements with my running. I do not do a lot of “weight lifting” (moving iron) but mostly body weight movements (lots and LOTS of burpees, squats, planks, push-ups, pull-ups, etc.)
I. Jump. Rope. I jump a lot of rope. This has been a new addition to my program and we have a serious love/hate thing going on. My wife bought me a new jump rope and I use it almost every day now. (Get started jumping rope here.)
I mix up my workouts a lot. I get bored with routines really easily. My wife and I use Beachbody On Demand (think Netflix but with this huge variety of workouts instead of movies or TV series). Recently I have started this series with @ShawnTfitness that is a month long mix of different workouts. It’s pretty killer. I like it though because it’s fun and fast paced and it keeps me on track because it’s laid out for me every day.
Sometimes I will see workouts that my #FitLeaders friends post and I’ll just do that.
I try to keep this pretty simple. The rule is “greens and proteins”. I have recently given up gluten. I went completely gluten free for 8 weeks and will now give an exception occasionally because I did not give it up due to allergy but as a way to cut WAY back on my total carb intake (and it worked). I also have been completely kosher (no pig, no shellfish, no scaleless fish...no vultures) for a little over 2 years. If God said, “don’t eat it”, I don’t eat it. While I believe there was a reason for Him to tell us not to eat those things, it also has a big impact on the one area that my family medical history shows me I have to be mindful of, cholesterol.
Other than the occasional Shakeology smoothie that my wife makes for me, I do not use supplements.
Oh, also, I try to have a bowl of cereal before bed.
My overall fitness affects me professionally in a big way! I am a district employee. We have 8 campuses, almost 400 teachers, and 5400 students. I want to be as involved in the educational process with as many of these people as much as possible. I have become known around the office as the guy who doesn’t sit down. I only have a stand up desk in my office and I also have a mobile stand up desk that I can wheel around to other meetings. As an instructional leader for our district, I feel like it’s my job to be a constant source of positive energy. If I do not properly take care of myself, I cannot be this for my people.
Along with these responsibilities, I am also a cross country/track coach. My fitness regimen allows me to be able to not only coach my kids but I can also get out and workout with them, which is really important to me.
Personal: To be present. Not distracted. Focused on strengthening my marriage. Intentional about growing, developing and disciplining my sons. Read books that stretch me. Lay in a hammock as often as possible.
Professional: Continue to grow and strengthen our district wide STEAM initiative. Develop empowered leaders through our iCoach program. Read books that stretch me. Spend more time in classrooms, lunchrooms, gyms, libraries, and anywhere else students and teachers are. Offer more face-to-face learning opportunities while continuing to develop online learning for our teachers as well. (Follow RCISD STEAM innovations here.)
Athletic: Be disciplined. Be consistent. Be purposeful. I am hoping to finish my first sprint triathlon this year. I am also hoping to complete another Spartan Race. I would like to complete a 5K at a sub 9:00 pace.
My family and I actually did do the #OneWord challenge for 2017 and mine was TIME. I have committed to not saying “I just didn’t have the time to get that done”. I want to be a better steward of the time that I have been given. It’s just a conscious attempt to sanctify it.
I am so grateful to the #FitLeaders family that consistently fills up my feed with motivation.
Zach, thank you so much for sharing your fitness journey and experiences with the #WhyIExercise community. Your passion for your family, work, and church clearly drive your life’s mission.
As we reflect on Zach’s message, there is a point that particularly stands out for me. We only have one body. Zach knows first hand. Our hearts go out to you, Zach. To honor your father, you are sharing the message of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. It is extremely important that each of us know our family medical history. Take some time talk to your relatives about possible concerns. As Zach reminded us, we “want to be around to spoil grand kids.”
It’s an honor sharing these amazing educators and their stories with the #WhyIExercise tribe.
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.