Tag Archives: Mark Sisson

How To Incorporate Fitness Into Your Parenting Routine

Arizonans have the great fortune of mostly great weather from September (fine…October) through May.  Summer gets a little on the hot side, but air conditioning takes the edge off.

Photo Credit: MattB.net via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: MattB.net via Compfight cc

On Saturday, my son and I went trail riding with a buddy and his son.  For just over an hour we biked around the North Mountain trail system, had a blast in perfect weather, and began planning the next outing.

I drove away thinking about how much I despise exercise bikes but love getting outside and doing an activity with my son and our friends.  I also recalled how much fun I had a few summers ago at Core CrossFit where I did a two month stint with some great people and really improved my physical and mental health.  I thought about how my son loves to be thrown in the pool and how much exercise I get launching him and his buddies into the deep end.

I also thought about a post by Mark Sisson – one of my favorite fitness and health gurus – wrote about the importance of play.  In fact, it earns a spot on his definitive guide to primal living.

Why do I mention all this?  Because I suspect, like me, you struggle to find time to train, to lift, to play a pick-up game of basketball or anything.

But, if Mark is right, we can figure out ways to play with our kids and train at the same time.  Maybe we just play a little harder…put our bikes a lower gear…make a game out of throwing those 40-80 pound weights into the deep end and consciously creating a full-body workout.

Some thoughts…

  • Build play time into your routine.  Assuming you raise your kids alone, and assuming they are on the younger side, it goes without saying you should not sneak out before they get up to go to the gym.  Maybe you have the flexibility to stop by the gym after work and before you pick your kids up from their daycare/after-school program.  If not, set aside time two or three times per week to play with them – you can play harder than them to both work up a sweat and strengthen your relationship with them.
  • Use kettlebells at home.  I love my kettlebells.  My son used to call them kettleballs and I’m just immature enough to laugh just thinking about it.  They do not take up much room and you can get a great workout.  My chiropractor recommend them to me years ago and I got hooked.  You can find them at just about any sporting goods store, but I recommend you get them from the master – Pavel Tsatsouline (I have no .
    Photo Credit: pullsh_active via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: pullsh_active via Compfight cc

    I had the chance to attend a seminar by Pavel several years ago, and he’s the real deal.  His most recent book, by far my favorite, lays out a simple and straightforward way to train efficiently and effectively.  Note: if you have never used kettlebells, please find someone in your area trained in the proper use and go get a one-on-one lesson or attend a class.  If you do not have access to that or do not want to spend a ton of money, check out Steve Cotter’s excellent DVD – he gives about the best training on proper form you could get from a video.

  • Use bodyweight exercises at home.  You cannot beat the cost of doing bodyweight exercises at home.  And you can do them when you only have a few minutes to allocate toward exercise.  Push ups.  Pull ups.  Lunges.  Squats.  Simple.  While this guide can be a little over-the-top in terms of the back story, Convict Conditioning provides a great road map for an effective, measured approach to bodyweight exercises.

and, finally…

  • MovNat.  In 2010, I attended a MovNat workshop in Phoenix.  I, along with about 20 others, spent the day at a park balancing on benches, shimmying up playground equipment, crawling in the grass, learning how to tumble, and generally having an awesome time.  Our instructor was Clifton Harski who kept us in stitches and taught the fundamentals of movement, balance, and having a great time.  My classmates were gym owners, fitness enthusiasts, and people far more flexible and strong than me.  If you sign up for MovNat’s newsletter, you get a weekly email with a type of movement to incorporate into your training – things like climbing techniques, balancing, jumping, throwing.  You could take one of the weekly suggestions and do them with your kids on your play/fitness days.

I struggle to do all of this.  I often want to just sit down and rest.  But I feel better when I move.  I feel better when I get dirty.  I feel better when I can laugh with my son out on a trail.  I feel better knowing I am modeling healthy activity for him.

What is your favorite “fitness” activity with your kids?  What activity would you like to try?

“Ts” Of Single Fatherhood – Teach

Photo Credit: anastasia_vito via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: anastasia_vito via Compfight cc

Do your friends always seem to somehow teach their kid a life lesson about something like “finding margin in life” while they were both changing the oil in the family minivan and some oil overflows?  I often miss those teachable moments with my son, and I admittedly cannot change the oil in my SUV.

Those teachable moments seem to escape me when I am:

  • Distracted
  • Disconnected
  • Exhausted
  • Exasperated

In fact, most teaching suffers under the above conditions.  It suffers because we miss opportunities.  It suffers because our kids learn from our distraction, disconnection, exhaustion, and exasperation — they learn from us and become like us.

I became a full-time single father when my son was six.  Sons naturally learn from their fathers at all ages, but at six, he was particularly interested in what I had to say and how I acted.  I know he closely observed me and wanted to help in the kitchen, exercise with kettlebells, and go trail riding.  He seemed to want to learn things I did around the house and for recreation much more than he wanted to learn spelling or math at school.

As he aged, his interest in what I did and how I did it increased.  As did his observation about how I spoke, what words I used, how I let life affect my mood, and how I spoke about the divorce and his mom.

Our kids pay very close attention all all we say and do.  So, if the grind of work, laundry, cooking, cleaning, dating, homework, finances, and dealing with our exes leads us to become easily distracted and disconnected from our kids or exhausted and exasperated by our kids, we need to stop and assess the situation and make some changes.

Each one of us faces different daily challenges, but we all teach our kids about life in the midst of them.  How can we avoid missing those teachable moments or modeling less-than-desirable traits?  These practices have helped me:

Take care of yourself.  Eat well, get some exercise, play, and get plenty of sleep.  This will do wonders for your mental state and your ability to stay focused and positive.  One of my favorite lifestyle books is “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson.  I’ve been reading his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple, for a number of years and find his approach to diet and fitness to be spot on.  I highly recommend it…and your kids will love his emphasis on play.  Some of the best teachable moments come when we play games and get away from electronics (which we are just as or more addicted to as our kids).  Plus, teaching our kids to care for themselves and their health will pay dividends well into the future.

Read.  I received a degree in English literature in college and used to read voraciously.  Now, when I get into bed and open a book, I barely make it past a few pages before falling asleep.  I set a goal to read more consistently in 2015 for several reasons.  First, I enjoy reading all sorts of books.  I have not read enough fiction and miss a good story.  Second, reading keeps the mind sharp and makes us better teachers.  Most leaders in business, politics and culture read consistently.  Even picking a few blogs on topics of interest to read every day will sharpen the mind and broaden the materials you can draw from to teach your kids.  Plus, they’ll see you read and may even mimic you.

Include your kids.  The more you invite your kids into your chores and routine, the more opportunity you will have to speak into their lives and teach them both the practical and the conceptual.  Sometimes we get things done more quickly when the kids have their noses pressed up against the iPad…and that is OK sometimes.  But how much more opportunity would you have to connect with your kids and teach life lessons when they join you in the garage, the kitchen, or the yard?

What is the best “teachable moment” you have had with your kids?