An Uncommen Blog

Stress and Fitness

Stress. How Are You Coping with It?  Is it Killing You?

Life and stress – they go hand in hand. You will experience lots of stress in your life. There is no getting around it. I believe that the degree to which you effectively manage and cope with the stressors in your life will, to a very large extent, determine the degree to which you are healthy. When you turn to unhealthy behaviors to cope with the stress, your physical and emotional health will suffer. As well, your body’s immediate reaction to stress can result in physical symptoms.

When you are unhealthy, or engaged in unhealthy habits, you are prevented from being your best!

There are many, many things and circumstances that can be stressors for a person. Inconveniences such as weather, traffic and unexpected emergencies are a category of stressors. Chronic issues like relationship conflicts, job insecurity, financial strain or uncertainty, work problems and long-term health issues can all be stressful. Life events and transitions can be a challenge for us.  Things like a death of a loved one, a job change, a divorce and a relocation to a new town can all be unsettling.

Early life trauma, and its associated memory, can be a unique source of stress for a person. Medical research shows that negative experiences from decades past can be underlying issues that impact on a person’s health-related behaviors in the present. Recurrent emotional, sexual or physical abuse, an alcoholic parent, a single parent home are examples of childhood trauma that might cause health problems in adulthood. (Read more about the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study)

Stressors like those previously mentioned, and other challenging life circumstances, can impact on our behaviors. Many men turn to food as a way to cope with stress. Others turn to the use of drugs. Some turn to alcohol. Some turn to pornography or illicit sex. Still others light up a cigarette. Some burn the midnight oil surfing the Internet and pay for it the next day because they have had inadequate sleep. There are innumerable unhealthy ways in which a person might attempt to cope with the various stressors in their life.

Poorly managed stress, especially chronic stress, can also adversely impact your physical health in many, many ways. The hormones and chemicals that are released into the body and the associated inflammation that occurs can wreck havoc on the systems and organs of the body. Heart disease, intestinal issues, and muscular pain are examples. In fact, some research shows that up to 90% of physician office visits have stress-related components! (Read more details about how stress affects your health by visiting this link on the American Psychological Association’s website.)

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We view potential stressors of life and react to events in life through “lenses.” This diagram demonstrates how aspects of one’s life can impact on their beliefs and attitudes, which can have a corresponding impact on their choices and resulting lifestyle habits.  Our repeated behaviors will become our habits and it’s one’s habits that determine how they respond to potential stressors. This, in turn, will hugely impact on one’s health and quality of life.

I have a few questions for you. How do you cope with your stress?  Is it in a healthy way or an unhealthy way? Could poorly managed chronic stress be taking a toll on your mental, emotional or physical health?

At the link provided above to the American Psychological Association’s website you’ll find some techniques to better manage the stressors of your life. If you recognize that your life is spiraling out of control, due to excessive or chronic stress, you may also benefit from seeking and receiving help from a professional.

Your faith can also be a resource, an anchor, which keeps you steady in times of stress.  If embraced and practiced, there are many biblical principles that can be a cornerstone for your life and enable you to live a life that is less impacted by stressful circumstances. Read more about stress and health from a faith perspective at this link on my website – Stress, Health and Faith.

Stress can even kill you if you don’t manage or cope with it adequately. Many fatal heart attacks stem from a stressful event or series of stressful events.

Uncommen men make a regular habit of taking time to reflect on their life and evaluate how they’re managing their stress. And they also practice habits to effectively cope with their stressors. Because, when they do a good job managing their stressors, they are creating an environment within themselves to be healthier.

When Uncommen men are healthier, they’re better able to do what God put them on earth to do.

Dale Fletcher, M.S., is the Founder and Executive Director of Faith and Health Connection ministry where he shares biblical truths about health and wholeness. Connect with him at www.FaithandHealthConnection.org.

 

 

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Fitness and Your Future

prayercircleIt was the Spring of 2013. My wife was in the hospital for at least the fifth time. Some months earlier she had suffered a stroke for no apparent reason. 36 years old, relatively healthy, mother of four. The doctors were at a loss as to the exact reason, but all we knew was that every couple of weeks or so, she would experience debilitating fatigue and occasional migraines that gave the appearance of another stroke. Whenever these hit, we knew the drill. Lay down flat, pray, wait to see if the inability to talk or feel her left side would go away within a minute. Pray some more. If she struggled much more than that, we would go the ER. We learned over the months that doctors don’t play when it comes to former stroke victims. Every episode turned into an all-inclusive stay at the “luxurious” hospital room for a not-so restful 24-48 hours. You’ve probably stayed at this sort of resort before- where they serve the worst food, wake you up multiple times in the middle of the night, have four different people come in and ask you the same questions that are in your chart, and then tell you results are negative, but they want you to come back in a week for more tests. Then you get the bill. Whoa! All of that for the price of a week in Hawaii!

It was during this season that both my wife and I started taking our health serious. It was actually just a couple of months before her stroke that I started going to the gym and we had adjusted our diet. I was 30 lbs heavier back then, and largely uncomfortable with my physical appearance and emotional health. When I started working out with my buddy Josh Elmore, something awoke in me. The athlete from high school, the physically disciplined kid from college, the competitor was alive again. Then the stroke happened.

When my wife was resting in her hospital bed, I had a choice. Do I stick to my newfound discipline of working out hard for about 15 minutes three times a week, or do I use these overwhelming circumstances as an excuse to forfeit my goals? Do I eat the extra piece cake that the nurse would bring to me, or do I resolutely (or reluctantly) say, “no thanks, I’m reducing my sugar and carb intake.”  Do I sit in the room for hours, though working, and simply sit and watch TV, or do I choose to take the stairs, walk outside, and pray while walking around the building? Pray for my wife, pray for my three girls and boy, pray that these hospital bills somehow get taken care of.

That was easily the hardest season of my life. The fear of losing my best friend. The terrifying thoughts of raising my children without their mom. The paralyzing uncertainty of how to take care of my family with the mountains of medical debt accumulating. Two things got us through that season. Prayer, and taking care of my body. I couldn’t change my wife’s condition, that was out of my hands. The best I could do was take care of my body and emotional health, to stay strong for my family. I chose, pushups, crunches, mountain climbers, planks, wall-sits, burpees, and to not eat cake. It helped.

Have you considered how taking care of your body can help you take better care of your family? If not, I encourage you to do so. If you’ve considered it, I encourage you to act. If you have been acting, I encourage you to continue. Trust me, it helps.

Written by UNCOMMEN Head Coach, Dee Lanier

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The Swish Talk

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March Dadness Championship Round: The Swish Talk

This is the year that everyone, including the analysts predicted chalk across the board in the NCAA Tournament. There wouldn’t be any upsets. Boy, were they wrong. We had a #15 knock off a #2 for only the 8th time ever! Plus, a handful of double-digit-seeds danced their Cinderella slippers into the Round of 32.

But that was as far as they got. The Sweet-16 held the names of schools with worthy rankings, except for perennial powers Syracuse and Gonzaga who danced through as a 10 and 11-seed, respectively Since they play each other, the Elite-8 is guaranteed at least one “Cinderella” double-digit seed.

What does that matter? The Sweet-16 and Elite-8 are ancient history. It does matter. That’s the best part of the Tourney. It’s the MADNESS of the unpredictable 15-seed, a buzzer-beater from half court, or a 12-0 run in the final 45 seconds of play to seal the game. March “Madness” got its name for a reason.

It’s no different here – anything goes. You cruised through the first 3 rounds of March Dadness with decisive wins of “Dreams“, “The Difficulty of Fatherhood“, and “Inside-Jokes“. Those games were scripted. You could study the film and look for tendencies, weaknesses in the defense, stuff like that.

Your momentum carried you past the Midwest’s 1-seed in your Final Four match-up. Amazing! Dad, you rock! But uh-oh! You only get one day of rest and prep before the Championship Game on Monday night and you just found out that you’re playing the pesky 8-seed from the West. They pulled a Butler from the 2010-2011 season and shocked the world. You were prepared for the other team, not this “unexpected” one.

Now, I’ve got you where I want you. This week’s conversation is the “unexpected” question. I call it… “The Swish Talk“. You know, it’s the old… “Hey Dad, can you tell me about Swish? Use your imagination. You don’t know what or when this question is going to come. Once there is enough Dadnamics in the water, it will surface like a shark.

Championship Round – “Dad, can we talk about… Swish?”

Take your son (or daughter) to the nearest basketball hoop with a decent net. Stand between the foul line and the basket and explain these rules.

“We will each shoot 10 shots from right here to start. If you swish (or make the basket without touching anything but net), YOU get 3 points. If you miss the basket, YOU lose 9 points. Lastly, if you make the basket, but the ball touches rim or backboard… YOU lose 9 points.”

He or she will say, “What?! That’s crazy talk!’

“That’s right son (or daughter). It is crazy. YOU better be perfect in your shots. Now, let’s go! 10 shots each!”

Who won? My guess is that you both lost with negative points, unless Steph Curry or Ray Allen is reading this article.

Keep playing. Change it up from different spots. Modify the rules. While you do, I’m going to explain the philosophy behind this game in terms of conversations. A “Swish” is like making a GOOD decision. You move ahead 3 points of trust with your Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Teacher, Friend, or Coach with each “Swish“. You strive for the swish. But what about a BAD decision? Those are the air balls and misses for sure. But the rim and backboard shots that went in, count too. All non-swishes send you 3-times further backward in trust than you gained from a swish. It’s unfair. It’s discouraging. It’s life.

Try to teach your son (or daughter) that TRUST is very hard to earn and very easy to lose.

And that goes for us too, Dads. We have to make “Swishes” with our wives, kids, co-workers, and friends so that when our child shows up at the Championship Game like Butler with his Swish Question… We are prepared with a clear conscious and a positive score ourselves with the people around us.

If you are interesting in learning more about Dadnamics, which includes interactive and creative ideas to connect with your kids… go to www.dadnamics.com. I hope to meet you because we’re all on the same team, Dads. 

Written by Ken Carfagno, Founder of Dadnamics

www.dadnamics.com

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Inside Jokes & Dolphin Slippers

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March Dadness, Round #3: Dolphin Slippers

“So, Kenny, what would you think about having a brother or sister?” My mom asked with my step-dad Paul sitting next to her. I was an only child to this point.

“Umm. I don’t know… I guess it would be nice.”

“Good, cause I’m pregnant.”

Even at 12, I knew that I had no say in the matter. What would my mom have done if I said, “no”?

By the age of 19, I was the oldest of 6! And I loved every second. The relationships I still have with my siblings are VERY unique and gave me many insights into fatherhood.

I want to share this week’s conversation starter in a different way.

Round #3 – “Dad, what do I look for in a husband?”

Let’s do the pre-game warm-up for this week’s BIG GAME against the 2-seed. Both teams are evenly matched, but if we don’t prepare well. It’s over.

I gave this to my sister 15 years ago. She was ecstatic. We went to the local mall and had a blast.

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You know those mall kiosks where they sell trinkets? Well, we stopped at one and immediately started flipping through one of the Far Side calendars. We laughed out loud. But suddenly, I flipped to a page where a man walked into the shoe store with these giant dolphins as slippers. The man was upset and the caption read. “I can’t get these to stop squeaking.”

It was a corny joke, but for some reason, Amanda and I started laughing louder. We kept looking at the picture, at each other, and hysteria began. It was quite the scene in the mall kiosk.

We finally left to get a snack. But the joke of the “Dolphin Slippers” was quickly becoming legendary.

We strolled into the food court, clutching our sides as they hurt from the laughter. Cinnabon was our stop as we bought a few tasty pastries with extra frosting, of course. I was cutting mine with a fork, carefully and purposely enjoying each bite. Not Amanda. I looked over and my sister looked like a chipmunk. No joke. Half of her Cinnabon was stuffed in her mouth and bulging out her cheeks. I lost it. She lost it. The 1-2 punch of the Dolphin Slippers and Cinna-Chipmunk gave way to silent laughter… the last phase before wetting thyself.

We didn’t do that. Luckily, she forced the pastry down and we finished our shopping spree. Neither of us remembers what else we did at the mall or what I bought for her that day. But the memory of the Dolphin Slippers and Cinna-Chipmunk became an “inside-joke” and constant source of bonding between us. I actually bought her Dolphin Slippers for her 13th birthday.

They actually squeaked.

On her 14th birthday, I took her out again….with a motive. Chivalry. I wanted her to know what it felt like to be treated like a lady. I was newlywed and was concerned that my sister might fall for a lie as she entered high school. I called it her 14-year-old Big Brother Date and told her that we would try to have fun. For some reason, she thought we would laugh a lot.

Halt! Yes, this has everything to do with March Dadness and the match-up with the #2-seed. If you have a daughter, the dating years may be the hardest challenge you’ll ever face. To advance to Round #4, let me finish the pre-game with the conclusion to this story.

Amanda is 26-years-old now. We’re still super close. I called her a few weeks ago and interviewed her for this article. We couldn’t remember the details of where we went or what we did on her 12th or 14th birthday. We just talked. Besides the obvious, you know… the Dolphin Slippers and the Cinna-Chipmunk… Amanda told me some truly remarkable things.

“Kenny, you came to the front door, knocked, and asked for me. You held my arm to the car as we walked down the steps to the driveway.” Amanda said. Then her voice trembled a bit. “You opened the door for me, helped me in. You told me I was beautiful and how excited you were to spend time with me.”

Wow! I didn’t see that coming, Dads! I had taught her things that day, but all she remembered was HOW I TREATED HER. And I should have known this because every time she found a potential “winner”, she called me to say…

“Kenny, he opened the car door for me!”

This simple 14-year-old date became a litmus test for future boyfriends. But you have to understand, I earned her trust in the years prior through connection, especially the birthday trip just 2 years prior.

Dads, it’s game time. The 2-seed is ready. You’re ready. The whistle is about to blow. The ball will be tossed high at center court for the big 2-3 showdown. If your daughter is young, start the connection process NOW! If she is 8-10, connect more and tell her, with excitement, that her BIG DADDY-DAUGHTER DATE is coming.

And if she’s over 10, go for it! Take her on this date. SHOW her how a man should be treating her and you will walk right into Round #4 of March Dadness!

I’ll be doing this with my own daughter in a few years. She’s 8 now. I wonder where I can find some Dolphin Slippers.

If you are interesting in learning more about Dadnamics, which includes interactive and creative ideas to connect with your kids… go to www.dadnamics.com. I hope to meet you because we’re all on the same team, Dads. 

Written by Ken Carfagno, Founder of Dadnamics

www.dadnamics.com

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March Dadness, Round #2: Difficulty of Fatherhood

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March Dadness, Round #2: Difficulty of Fatherhood

Picture this. It’s the second grade and math class is in full swing. Each kid scratching their head or tapping their #2 pencil on the desktop as the teacher talks arithmetic. But there’s something amiss. Two kids are in the back of the room, building card castles. Are they in trouble? How could they be? They’re playing while the rest of the class is working.

Hello Dads! I was one of those kids. And no… we weren’t in trouble. We just aced the math work before everyone else, so the teacher excused us to the back of the room to build card castles. It wasn’t a perfect system.Think of it this way. The teacher was giving us opportunity to be “unschooled” as we dueled for the tallest castle (using math, of course).

Speaking of math, how’s your bracketology going? Selection Sunday just passed and the first round begins any… time… [tic, toc, tic…] I took Kansas all-the-way for the 26th straight year. It’s safe to say that I really like the Jayhawks. Anyway, let’s check back with our REAL brackets. Congratulations Dads! You have made it to Round #2 of March Dadness.

Round #2 – “How Difficult IS Fatherhood, Dad?”

You may not have been perfecting the art of card castle construction as a 2nd grader,  but have you ever tried? I’ll pause for dramatic effect… [Jeopardy music plays…]

Okay good. To anyone who said NO, “Ouch, I’m so sorry!” You’re never too old to start. It’s simple. Lean and lay. Got it, if not… Google it!

Follow these simple instructions and begin. Get cards and build! The winner is the master builder with the largest and tallest card castle.

[More Jeopardy music…] I have to check my brackets one last time anyway. Be right back.

You didn’t like those instructions, did you? I did it on purpose because of the PERFECT segway into this week’s convo-starter. Most Dads aren’t given instructions to this “fatherhood” thing. Let’s do the card castles again, but this time with the conversation of fatherhood.

You are the 3-seed in the East Bracket and expected to win this one. Your opponent has been gunning for you and wants to take you down. As your March Dadness coach, I’m going to draw up the plays to secure the “W” and ticket to Round #3.

1st Play: When you lean two cards together, did you notice that they slide? As an experiment, try to build a simple triangle with two cards on: (1) hard-surface floor, (2) carpet, (3) rubber or mat.

Tell your son that the “stickier” the surface, the better the castle. Explain that being a Dad is hard, but the first step is to decide to stick around, no matter what.

2nd Play: Now that you’re sticky, let’s build the right base. You can align your triangle pieces or construct them in a circular pattern before you start laying down the “first floor”. There are other methods too, but which will prove most durable?

Explain to your boy that the foundation is really, really important. What we believe and place our trust in will determine the strength of your fatherly influence… or the strength of our card castle.

3rd Play: I never told you how many cards to use. Ha! You probably got one deck and split them up. But isn’t that limiting? What if you had 10 decks each? Ask your child. “How many cards were we supposed to use?”

He’ll say, “I don’t know.”

Now you can say. “Son, being the best Dad requires lots of cards. The more cards, the bigger you can build. Each ‘card’ could be a book, a podcast, a conference, a church or church group. Cards are resources.”

4th Play: You’re ahead by 15 points and this game is in the bag. Go for the jugular and execute these final two plays. Google “best card castles” and see what you can mimic.

“Being a Dad is difficult and we need to find those doing it well, and copy them. That’s called finding a mentor. My mentor is (_____).” (Name your mentor. If you don’t have one, get one.)

5th Play: Ask your son, “What was the time limit for this activity?”

He’ll say again, “I don’t know.”

Perfect, you’re in the closing minute. You’re soooo close!

“Son, the more time we invest together into our card castle, the stronger it will become. It’s the same with being a Dad. We have to spend time together.”

Now pause while your son beams back at you.

Round #3, here we come!

If you are interesting in learning more about Dadnamics, which includes interactive and creative ideas to connect with your kids… go to www.dadnamics.com. I hope to meet you because we’re all on the same team, Dads. 

Written by Ken Carfagno, Founder of Dadnamics

www.dadnamics.com

 

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Dreams

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Triple Clap.

Did someone say, “Q-Time”!?

Last week, you heard how Uncommen’s own, Dee Lanier, rocks the convo from his car to his home. I’m not going to try to top that. No need. Instead, allow me to re-introduce myself…

I am Ken, founder of Dadnamics. I want every bracket-loving man (and lady) out there to check the calendar. What month is it? Repeat after me.

Q-time!”… Wait, oops. Dee’s game was still in the crevices of my brain. Try again. What month is it!?

“MARCH DADNESS!”

Oh yeah, that’s right. In a few weeks, many of you will be printing out and picking brackets. If you’re like our family, the guys with a clue about b-ball will lose miserably. And the 5-year-old will win it all because they picked Georgia State, a 14-seed to upset #3 Baylor in the second round.

That was 100% intentional that I gave love to Georgia State. The 2016 NCAA Tournament is about to start and there isn’t a better man to be recognized than the head coach of Georgia State, Ron Hunter. Trust me. Google his name with the word “Dad”. The Hunters stole our hearts on the basketball floor last March, but it didn’t… just happen. Ron and R.J.’s relationship is an accumulation of connection over 18 years. Let’s talk about how we can have what the Hunters have.

Last week, Dee set the table for an incredible month of real-talk. He tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Yo Ken, you’re going in. Play the low post and drive the ball through the nylon.”

So here’s the game plan. Each week, we’re going to delve into a conversation that many Dads wished their own fathers had talked to them about… but didn’t. I’m going to draw it up. All you have to do is EXECUTE the play and we will make it to the second round. Can I count on you?

Triple clap.

“Q-time!”

Sorry again, I’m getting a little carried away with that.

 Round #1 – “Let’s talk about dreams!”

Not the kind where you wake up, sweat on your brow, and a distant memory of a giant sponge creature licking you like a lollipop. Nah, man. Let’s talk about the dreams you have when you’re awake (and if they’re about a giant sponge monster, stop reading NOW… that’s just wrong!)

Let’s try the “The Dream Story” tonight during tuck-ins. It’s a Dadnamics favorite. You will need the following materials: (a) tongue (b) voice (c) kids (d) bed. That’s simple enough. Here’s what I did with my son, Kenny, when he was 5.

While tucking him in at night, I would strategically choose a worthy career. Then I’d start The Dream Story with Kenny at age 5, becoming the best (  blank  ) in the world. One night, it was an engineer. In other nights, it was a doctor, home builder, baseball player, and an explorer. I would just make up a story of how Kenny grew his dream, worked hard, studied, practiced, endured, lost, fell on his face, and eventually accomplished that goal. It was a silly story, but it definitely illustrated that becoming the best involves a lot of pain and struggle, but also sweet victory. My son LOVED these stories.

Do you get the point? Good! Here’s the playbook. You need three nights of practice before the BIG GAME to be able to advance to Round 2 of March Dadness.

Night 1 – Choose a worthy career like I did with Kenny. Craft a 10-minute Dream Story. Make it funny if you can and end it with them accomplishing this dream BIG TIME as the best in the world. Talk about it and see where the conversation goes.

Night 2 – What was YOUR dream as a boy? Walk your child through your story from dream to whatever you became. It’s okay if the picture of today isn’t what you dreamt yesterday. Just tell the story with the important choices you made along the way. Talk again and see what he (or she) thinks.

Night 3 – Ask your son or daughter for one of their dreams. Tell them that they CAN accomplish it and then make up a final Dream Story, ending with your child as the greatest in the world. Again, try to make it funny and then talk one last time.

Ask which night they liked the best and why? Then, let the conversation steer itself.

It will.

If you are interesting in learning more about Dadnamics, which includes interactive and creative ideas to connect with your kids… go to www.dadnamics.com. I hope to meet you because we’re all on the same team, Dads. 

Written by Ken Carfagno, Founder of Dadnamics

www.dadnamics.com

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