90 Miles – 90 Days

This past weekend officially marked 3 months, or 90 days, until Tammi and I get married.

Holy crap. It feels like just yesterday we were in Cleveland getting engaged.

Don’t get me wrong though – it’s not the wedding planning logistics that has me concerned – we’re actually ahead of schedule in a lot of ways. It is, however, the personal wellness part of the equation on my part that has me feeling much more like Grumpy Cat. Early last fall, I had hit a fantastic milestone – I had dropped approximately 20 pounds and was back in a good place with my running and workout routine. That was then. Today, I’m back up those 20 pounds and pretty much lost all the progress I had made throughout 2013 on my running.

So, yesterday I decided to go for a run. While I was out I decided to set a short-term personal goal to make some positive change in my own wellness. That goal?

Complete (at least) 90 miles in 90 days. That’s it.

The plan is just to run – or as Tammi and I often say – “get dem miles”. I’ll use the  Nike+ (during runs) and RunKeeper apps to track my mileage, duration, and so on. While the primary objective is 90 in 90, I’ll also keep track of food intake via the LoseIt! app to track any changes in weight.

 

That’s my goal – what’s yours?

Update: As of today, I’m at 4 miles.

Phil and Maynard

The last week of March / first week of April is not really a great time of the year for me and could best be described as an emotional rollercoaster – complete with the highs, lows, loop-de-loops, sharp turns, and stomach turning moments. But before I touch on that, you might need some back story to bring you up to speed.

***

In September of 2002, I was broadsided with some pretty awful news. Only a few short weeks after I had began my first year of college, I got a phone call from one of my father’s co-workers informing me that he (my father) had been exhibiting some rather odd and erratic behaviors – from as simple as spacing out for long periods of time to as complex as forgetting the combination to the store safe, a combination that had not changed in 28 years. To make a longer story a little shorter, after a number of hospital visits, I was informed that my father had brain cancer, probably the most aggressive type he could have. Doctors did everything they could (which was a LOT) and our family rallied to be as supportive as possible. However, about a year and a half later on March 29, 2004, my father lost his battle.

In 2007, the family found out news of a similar nature, only this time about my grandfather (dad’s dad). He had been experiencing some odd lower abdominal pains, thankfully though not super severe. Unfortunately, this led to one of many doctor appointments which revealed a type of pancreatic cancer. It spread quickly, but you couldn’t really tell because he just kept on going as if it was just another day. This continued until April 2, 2008, when he went peacefully.

***

This year, March 29th and April 2nd marked the 10th and 6th anniversaries of their respective passings. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long. What is more surprising is how that week has actually went - emotionally, that is. I thought for sure, and feared, that I would be a complete mess. However, I find myself in a good place this time around. I kept plenty busy – attending Kappa Kappa Psi North Central District Convention, getting to see my students at Aurora High School perform their way to a 3rd place state finish, attended the ACPA conference in Indianapolis, and even got to meet a first cousin for the very first time after 30 years. Needless to say, there was a lot happening in a span of only a few days, but dad and grandpa were (and still are) heavy on my mind.

So, I suppose there are two significant take-aways from this post. First, being able to take the time to reflect and remember two men who had such a significant impact and influence on who I am today. The other seems cliché, but it does bear repeating and that is a reminder to take advantage of every opportunity you have with someone because the next opportunity isn’t promised.

I miss my dad and I miss my grandpa, but I hope that with each passing day I am doing the things that would have made them proud.

Three Generations – Maynard, Preston, & Philip Ramsey (2001).

Convention Recaps

It’s March and that means convention / conference season for many people. And yes, there are actually other things happening in the world right now besides college basketball – though you wouldn’t be able to tell based on my location (Dayton & Indianapolis). But I digress…

March is prime conference season and this means attending professional development conferences such as ACPA – where I am now in Indy – as well as attending regional conventions of Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma – where I was this past weekend in Dayton and two weeks ago in Atlanta. Busy to say the least, but definitely learning a great deal throughout.

What I hope to do is recap some of the information I’ve gained as a result of attending all of these events over the last few weeks. As an alumnus of Kappa Kappa Psi, I still find that I learn more and more about my organization and how I can help it grow. As a student affairs professional seeking that next gig, I’m building on my existing knowledge base and figuring out how that will allow me to better serve students.

So I hope that you’ll stay tuned over the next week or so as I clean up my notes, put thought-to-keyboard, and re-live some of the highs (and hopefully not many of the lows) of the convention season.

Angry Birds Revisted

Last February, I had the opportunity to travel with five student representatives of the UNC Pembroke Student Government Association to the Conference on Student Government Association, or COSGA, on the campus of Texas A&M University. The conference focused largely on the idea of “Moving from Passion to Action” – taking initial ideas and moving them to an end product, all the while maintaining enthusiasm for the project at hand. As the spring semester begins for many, I thought it appropriate to revisit this post. Note: you can view the presentation at the end of this post.

Having my first conference presentation accepted was a great feeling, even if it was for a smaller niche conference – a presentation is still a presentation. However, then reality set in. How could I make this proposal something palatable for fellow advisors?

The answer came simply and quickly – make it fun.

I think that’s real message behind this post and the presentation itself. In fact, it is something I strive for in everything I do. If it’s not fun to some degree, if you get no enjoyment out of it, then chances are neither will anyone else. Granted, there are times in the things we do when humor and excitement aren’t really smiled upon – and that’s okay.

Just enjoy what you do and have fun doing it.

COMMIT to Wellness

Let me be clear from the onset – never in my life have I ever been overly concerned with the idea of wellness. Sure, I’ve focused here and there on losing some weight, got back into running, and even ate a few carrots rather than a few cookies. However, I have never put a significant amount of effort into my own personal wellness. 

Now that I am in the field of student affairs (and have been for a few years), I find myself often wanting to make healthier choices when it comes to my personal well-being. I find myself encouraging students (and often other colleagues) to do the same. Ed Cabellon hit the nail on the head – asking how can we serve our students when we are not well? Truth is, we probably can, but not nearly to the capacity we could if were well…not even close.

So, as part of my #oneword2013 to commit this year, I am throwing down the gauntlet and making a solid commitment to my personal health. My two big focal points? Smarter food choices and giving myself the kick in the rear I’ve been needing to put the running shoes back on.

Nutrition

With the new year comes a new outlook toward my dietary habits, which – to be honest – have been kind of hit or miss as of late. However, I have noticed that I haven’t been eating out nearly as much over the last few months. It also helps to know that that I haven’t been going overboard with sweets and snacks. All that aside though, I still have some work to do when it comes to how/what I eat. So, a few bullets of my commitment to nutrition in 2013 look something like this:

  • Logging what I eat/drink using the Lose It! app

I began using Lose It! at some point in the early fall last year with not much success initially. However, I re-discovered it later and it proved to be pretty useful. It not only tracks meals and snacks throughout the day, but it lets you set a specific weight loss goal and track calorie intake/output so you can reach that goal. I will say that last year I did lose a good 10 lbs, which was tracked using this app. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure I gained it all back over the holidays…ugh.

  • Cook at Home / Pack my Lunch

Speaking of putting on pounds through food – I grew up as a child of the fast-food nation. And while that statement sounds like a great beginning to a novel, it still remains the truth. In the past, I would eat fast-food once or twice a day – almost every day like clockwork Just thinking about that makes me want to vomit. Now, I’ll swing by McD’s or Subway every now and again at work, but not nearly as often. With Tammi here now (and for the past 4 months) we cook much more often and even though there’s only two of us, we seem to cook for four. And yes – I do cook…just not as often as Tammi. Still though, we hardly ever have a shortage of leftovers, which means I rarely ever have to go “out” for lunch.

Running

Though it sounds cliche, 2013 is my year. I have spent far too long not running consistently like I used to. I’ve run more so far this month alone than I did in all of the last three months of last year combined – and for me, that’s saying something. But I’ve fallen back in love with the one sport that I’m relatively decent at and have begun to make a habit of it again. So, again, 2013 is my year for running and I plan to commit to it by:

  • Running at least 1000 miles before the end of the year
  • Entering and finishing no less than 12 5k races – preferably one per month
  • Participating in at least one Warrior Dash/Spartan Race event in 2013
  • Entering and finishing a half-marathon in the fall
  • Tracking my progress with RunKeeper and Nike+ apps

The first of those goals (1000 miles in 2013) is probably the one I am focusing on the most. In 2012, Tammi and I challenged each other to 366 miles in 366 days. Neither of us “won” because neither of us got close. I plan to not only smash through that mark this year, but blast past it completely and I’m already on my way. Tracking progress towards that goal has gotten much easier as well – utilizing the apps above and the various features within them.

Stay on Course…

Like all “good resolutions”, none of this means anything if it isn’t put into action. Being specific in my goals helps immensely, but I am also thankful to have the support of an amazing significant other, co-workers/friends, and an online student affairs wellness pledge group who have helped keep me accountable thus far. I’m already keeping track of my progress, running consistently, and already eating much better. I’m not planning to go overboard on the wellness idea, but it feels good to know that it is a significant item in my world now where it wasn’t so much in the past.

How are you planning to commit to your personal wellness this year? 

One Word 2013: COMMIT

Let’s start with the obvious – it’s been a few days *cough* almost a year *cough* since I updated last. Funny enough, that provides a fantastic segway into this post. 2012 is behind us and now 2013 presents us all with yet another opportunity to set resolutions…and likely give up on half to all of them. Case in point, I thought 2012 was going to bring me back into the blogging fold a little more often. Oops.

Last year, I joined Mallory Bower and Becca Obergefell as well as many others in student affairs and elsewhere to set what would be my one word resolution  (#oneword2012 or #oneword365), which was focused on the idea of PUSHThis idea behind choosing push was not to push back, but to push forward. In some areas, I feel I was successful, but not nearly to the extent I could have been. This year, as cliche as it sounds, things are going to be a little (a lot) different. Reflecting back on the highs and lows of the past year, and evaluating how push impacted it, my #oneword2013 is COMMIT. 

This seems fitting not just for me, but I think for many others out there as well. We all make choices and too often, those choices lead us into projects, challenges, resolutions, etc that we just cannot finish for one reason or another. In 2012, I wanted to push myself and but came up short. Maybe it was because I didn’t set a clear strategy of how to do that ahead of time. Maybe it was because I got complacent at times. Regardless, there are things to be done this year that I not only want to do, but are things I feel that I need to do.

My strategy to commit in 2013 initially focuses on four areas:

  1. Professional Development
  2. Running / Fitness
  3. Family
  4. Other* (this has potential to expand outward a lot I think…)

Over the next few days and weeks, I’ll go into more detail as to what each of these areas consist of and how I plan to commit to each one and how I will push myself towards the overall end goals. I’ll also explore the potential challenges associated with this goal. But today, I will end with a quote from Chris Esparza, a very energetic and inspiring individual who I met last May through my experience with the LeaderShape Institute. Chris was offering up lessons that he learned throughout the week and his lesson #4 hit home with me the strongest. He said:

LESSON 4: Stay on Course.
“There is meaning in everything we do. Stay with what lights you up.”

This statement is, at least to me, very poignant. There is meaning in everything we do.  Even the most trivial, most mundane, most spontaneous, or the most planned out activity has some meaning behind it. Stay on course, commit to what you love and have fun.

I’m on a mission to commit this year- how will you commit in 2013? Feel free to share through comments and/or via email

P.S. – I’ve been trying (nay, pushing) to find an opportunity to utilize that quote for months.

The Little Things…

A few days back, while working on a few different projects in the office, a link to the Student Affairs – The First Years blog came across my Twitter feed. Of the large number of similar tweets that show up daily, I rarely find myself reading very many of them. However, this one caught my eye for two particular reasons. The first – it is a blog dedicated to the experiences of first year professionals in the field of student affairs. Convenient, as I fall into this category. Secondly, the title of the article (“Student Affairs – I Get a Good Feeling”) just seemed different and worth the read.

Upon further reading, it became clear that this was not just a post about good times, but rather a focus on the little things that get the author through the course of an average day. Naturally, I smiled from ear to ear (as I do when in a LEGO store or a  when I read the first item in the author’s list. “Tap tap tap…the sounds of the marching band in the fall semester through my office window is a good feeling.” Yeah…I’m kind of a band geek. But I digress…

How often do we just take the time to think about those things? In my particular case, not often enough as of late. There are plenty of things that, for one reason or another, keep me pushing forward and get me though the day. Here’s a few of them:

  • Sharing random links with friends and other professionals via various social media networks. Sometimes these are more practical…other times, not so much. I think we all need those at times.
  • Watching various DCI, WGI, and general marching band videos when it is time for a break from something else. Especially videos of the groups I’ve been in or taught.
  • When students come into the office and have/share “ah-ha!” moments. Always a good feeling.
  • Going through old (and recent) photos to re-live some amazing memories.
  • Listening to any of the BGSU Dance Marathon line dances.

So, how often do YOU take the time to think about those little things that make you happy?