Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tod and A Fitness Blog?

Tod and A Fitness Blog?
I sit here asking myself: why is a 33-year-old, divorced, unemployed, single dad being asked to write for a fitness blog? I’m thinking of 20 good reasons why I wouldn’t be asked to write for a fitness blog, but then the reason why hits me. 

Maybe my article could serve as a good outlet for
me to tell my story. And if - along the way - it helps someone in my same or similar situation, then maybe blogging should continue to be a regular outlet for me. 

Are there any other 33-year-old, divorced, unemployed, single dads out there? That’s another question I ask myself a lot. Not because I feel sorry for myself, but because just a few short years ago I never would have thought that description would fit me. In fact, writing it twice already, it still sounds absurd. Perhaps you find yourself in your own life changing situation, one that you never foresaw happening. Regardless of the circumstance, the best we can do is hope that our actions and decisions will bring us to a better place in the long run. 

Without getting into the gory details, the last six months of my life have been rather tumultuous and some drastic changes have taken place. Some that I chose to make and others that were forced upon me. In the face of all of this change, I realized that I needed to find some stabilizing idea or belief to get me though the adversity I was facing. Yet, how do we implement the necessary changes in our lives to create this stability, to overcome adversity? What do those changes look like, particularly in the fitness realm?

Previous Success
Back in 2013, I committed to working on my health and fitness to be a good example for my young son, and as a way to break up the day working in my home office. The changes I made weren’t drastic, yet produced good results. It just took a little effort and dedication. I lost close to 20 pounds and felt better about myself in the process. 

However, that feeling of accomplishment was short lived as my personal life began to change for the worse and I fell back into some bad habits. These habits continued up to, and through, my divorce in late 2014. The hard work and dedication I put in to making myself better physically had all but been erased. 

It was then I decided I needed to re-dedicate myself to improving my health. There were things in my life that were out of my control, but one thing I can control right now is my well-being. But, this time I wasn’t sure where to start. My previous success was a guide, but that routine had grown stale and I was ready for a new challenge. This is where my good friend Megan enters the picture. 

A True Professional
Megan and I have known each other since 2002 when we began working together at the Illinois State University student recreation center. Even then, she was dedicated to her workout routines and had made living a healthy lifestyle a priority. I had always admired that quality about her, knowing I lacked the same discipline and self-motivation.

She and I had lost touch in recent years as she began to establish herself as a fitness professional in Chicago and I was living 12+ hours away as a married father to a young son. That said, sometime in the past year we had re-connected superficially on social media. Our conversations were few and far between, but as the thoughts entered my mind about re-committing to my fitness, I felt comfortable asking her for some advice.

A True Friend
It’s intimidating for anyone to admit weaknesses or discuss things that are out of their comfort zone. I was putting myself out there to a certain extent, but I felt like Megan would understand my needs and be able to help me get on the path to success. I’m glad to say that I was right and she has greatly helped me in the last few months. 

Not only has she helped me understand my fitness level and also start me on a program that is sustainable for me, but she has been a source of positive energy in many ways. Most specifically, she has developed a great way of thinking positively through adversity and has transferred those ideals to me. She has made me realize that there are positives to be taken from any situation.

What Now?
So, how best to wrap this up with some actionable items -- in case there are any other 33-year-old, divorced, unemployed, singles dads out there. Actually, I hope that these tips can be applied by anyone facing adversity such as losing a job, struggling in a relationship, or just feeling like you are in a “life rut” and need some help in improving your well-being. 

Consider these thoughts if you find yourself facing hard times and need some structure to help you through whatever you may be facing. 

1) It is going to be OK...it is going to be OK
2) Reach out to your family, friends, former colleagues, former bosses...people want to help
3) Network with your “weak” ties or people you have lost touch with…people want to help
4) Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice...people want to help
5) Write down items swirling in your head, it will help you “un-clutter” the mind
6) Establish a solid sleep and workout routine (the structure is important)
7) If you do nothing else each day, fit in a workout...you’ll feel better about yourself
8) Stay positive and always reflect on the good that you have in your life
I can tell you that putting these thoughts to paper (or word processor) have really helped to reinforce in me that the steps I am taking right now are positive ones that will help lead to a positive outcome. I can also tell you that Megan has played a part in getting me through this, and for that I am grateful. 

Megan has been kind enough to let me be a guest on her blog; so, if you’re reading this and unsure about where to start on your fitness journey, reach out to Megan. Her philosophy that “everyone is unique” and “not every workout works for everyone” is one that resonated with me and I think will make many feel comfortable. She is a true professional and also a great friend and I can’t thank her enough for her support during these trying times. Now, it’s time for me to go do some planks....


Tod Meisner has 10+ years of public and media relations, sports information, digital and traditional marketing, social media and employee communications experience.  He is also a doting father, baseball fan, storyteller, sports humorist, Ticket P1, bourbon drinker and all-around good guy.  He can be reached at todmeisner@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.  You may also subscribe to his blog, Meisner Musings.

Pizza Fries

Eat clean, train dirty right? Keep those meals and snacks healthy with this pile of deliciousness, packed with healthy carbs and nutrient rich tomatoes!

1 baked sweet potato
1/2 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup pasta sauce (this one has just 7g of sugar per serving)
1 Flatout flatbread wrap 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place Flatbread on pan and top with sliced potato, sliced tomato, sauce and cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Beyond the Workout Log: Revealing Wisdom by Journaling

This past week I began a new journal.  The pages were as blank as fresh fallen snow (dare I say that word as we eagerly anticipate spring in Chicago?).  In a lot of ways, keeping a personal journal is similar to keeping a workout log.  Whether or not you record your sets and reps, you are likely familiar with the benefits of doing so.  One of the number one reasons is to track your progress.  If you have no point of reference to what you did last week, six weeks ago or six years ago, how can you identify (and appreciate) how much you have evolved from where you once were?

Journaling is a way to tap into your brain with a new perspective--writing out your thoughts, word by word, triggers a different thought process in the brain.  We communicate differently when writing than when speaking and typing.  I tend to express myself better when writing (or at least that's when I feel most articulate and it is what I'm most comfortable with). 

I have kept a journal for over twenty years.  In the past, my intention was to re-read entries and, along with some added commentary, publish a memoir.  While that thought still enters my mind from time to time, I avoid stressing over it and prefer to focus on one entry at a time, one day at a time.  Sometimes I write with the purpose of clearing my mind and grounding thoughts so they no longer circulate in my head.  Those negative and anxious thoughts tend to die once they've been buried in my journal.  Ironically, on those same pages, I "plant" positive thoughts.  The positive thoughts are able to "grow" and be viewed with new insight.  There have been countless times when I've begun an entry with no other intention than to clear my mind and, shortly after, I have identified moments of pure revelation and inspirational "shifts."  

Here are some thoughts to ponder if you are new to journaling or just need some ideas to break through your writer's block.  Keep in mind, a spiral bound notebook from Barnes & Noble isn't necessary.  Grab piece of paper, pen (or pencil) and get started.
  • Find a quote that inspires you.  Write it down.  What does it make you think?  How does it make you feel?  What is going on in your life that makes you relate to it?
  • Think of a moment you felt accomplished.  What did you do to reach that point?  What specifically happened that made you feel successful?  What can you do in your life now that will make you feel accomplished?
  • What kinds of decisions are you facing in your life right now?  Are you at a crossroad?  What are the outcomes of each choice?  Are you listening to your instincts? What are they saying?
  • What is important to you?  Who do you value in your life and why?  
Even if nothing else seems to come of the entries, at the very least they provide moments to reflect on later in life--remembering how far you have come and how you no longer think of the people you once did and how circumstances that once caused havoc brought you to a much better place that you can only appreciate now, in hind sight.  Other entries will remind you of how far you have come, and how you think of other people and other circumstances, but with gratitude and happiness that reignite every time you indulge in the words and memories.