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What is the #FitLeaders Movement?

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If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably seen me use the FitLeaders hashtag quite often. You may have searched the hashtag and come across a variety of posts by a lot of different people. This still may not give you a true idea about what the #FitLeaders movement is all about. This idea originated with Dr. Ryan B. Jackson in January of this year and gained significant traction ever since. He wrote a blog post titled "Empower Yourself! #FitLeaders" that highlights the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of being fit, as well as how it can positively impact your school.

Ryan and I met during a Saturday #LeadUpChat session and we have challenged each other ever since. The #FitLeaders movement includes educators from all walks of life with different fitness goals. We like to tag one another in our workout pics to increase accountability and raise the bar for each other. It has allowed us to build a community based on support, encouragement, and a genuine desire to see all of us become our best self.

Recently, I have found myself reflecting on my meaning of the #FitLeaders movement. If you look at the posts that include the hashtag, you will see a heavy focus on the physical fitness aspect. What is not immediately clear to an outsider is the impact that the physical fitness part has on one's mental and emotional fitness. If you have ever worked out, I can guarantee that you have benefitted from the release of endorphins that make you feel like you are on top of the world. Ever experienced "Runner's High"? I know I have and it is an amazing feeling! These endorphins can impact your mental and emotional fitness as well. Being fit is as much about your emotional and mental fitness as it is your physical fitness. Here is how you can take control of all three key components to build a better you!

Physical Fitness - This one is kind of a no-brainer, right? Work out and improve the way your body looks, feels, and functions. Seems simple enough, but here's the thing. So many us cannot get out of our heads and get out of our way when it comes to starting something. Let me explain something to you. I don't care if you are a professional athlete, are extremely overweight, or fall somewhere in-between. Everybody has to start somewhere. All of our starting points are different and focus on what our goals are. I run elite Spartan Races, but I was not always capable of doing this. Don't believe me? Check out these two posts about my Spartan Journey here and here. Stop psyching yourself out and get started somewhere. Go for a walk or a jog, go buy a workout series (there are so many, but I am incredibly partial to BeachBody products), sign up for a gym membership and talk with a trainer, or get involved yourself with #FitLeaders on Twitter (we will help you, I promise!). Bring the best you have on a regular basis and always look for opportunities to improve on the previous day. Do yourself a favor and remember there are ups and downs, every single day. Don't believe that? Check out the differences in times from two of my trail runs that were completed 3 days apart!


Remember, every day and every workout is different! Some days we feel better than others!

 Mental Fitness - How are you keeping your brain fit? are you a reader of books and blogs? do you watch how-to videos and learn new skills?  Do you like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or other brain-teasers? Personally, I read a lot of blogs and listen to a lot of podcasts. I can say that I am not the largest consumer of books, but I challenge myself and my brain on a daily basis because of the content in the blogs and podcasts that I consume. Long commutes are perfect for podcasts and audiobooks. Are you a daily listener to morning radio shows? Give them a break and check out something different. I promise you that you won't miss a thing. There will always be Kardashian drama, issues around various professional sports, and DJs doing prank calls. Do you play a lot of Candy Crush on your down time or veg in front of the TV aimlessly? Check out some blogs and read up on things that apply to your area of expertise. Look, I love Candy Crush along with Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead (and a slew of other TV shows), but cut down on that time and improve your mental fitness.

Emotional Fitness - This is arguably the most important fitness that one can strive to meet. Your emotional fitness is a combination of your physical and mental fitness with other variables. It is incredibly difficult to establish a high level of emotional fitness if you are lacking in the areas of physical and mental fitness. As a life-long sufferer of ADHD, this has been one of the most difficult tasks for me to meet, but I have gotten better. One of the most effective methods to increase this is meditation. I learned about meditation through Tara Brach's interview on the Tim Ferriss podcast. After listening to that, I read her book (okay, listened to the audiobook), "Radical Acceptance". I now meditate for 12-15 minutes every morning since and it has done wonders for me. When I say wonders, what I mean to say is that I cannot function properly without meditating. If I don't meditate, those who know me can notice it very quickly. Sometimes, I can meditate and calm my mind during a run (just don't close your eyes!). By the way, I wrote this whole piece in my head during my slower run that I previously shared. I also carve out significant time for my family and the other things that matter to me in life (riding my motorcycle is a new hobby!). My family centers and balances me in ways that nothing else ever has. After almost 31 years on this planet, I can finally say that I am firmly planted on the path to emotional fitness.

Remember, there is not a pinnacle or a peak to any one of these 3 types of fitness. You can be LeBron James, but if he doesn't work out and put the effort in, he will no longer be the best basketball player on the planet (sorry Steph Curry fans). #FitLeaders recognize this and find ways to work on all three of these aspects daily. So let me urge you to join our movement and better yourself. The person you are right this second is a base, a starting point. Imagine where you may be in a year if you created the time to better yourself and focus on you. Doing this will lead to an improved you which will allow you to give more to your students, colleagues, and family! Leave a comment below and tell me how you plan on being a part of the #FitLeaders movement. Or drop some tweets including the hashtag #FitLeaders and share what you are doing and how you are doing it. We would love to hear from you! #FitLeaders unite!


Take the step and join the #FitLeaders movement!

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Sean is currently an 8th grade science teacher and science department head at Camden Promise Middle School, which is a part of the Camden Charter School Network. The goal of the network is to give all children in Camden an equal opportunity to achieve their greatest potential, to raise awareness through educational policy, to expand resources, to build leadership, and support program capacity for the city of Camden. Prior to this, Sean spent 2 years serving as the principal of a private, out-of-district school for students with behavioral and emotional issues. Sean began his educational career by teaching middle school science for 6 years throughout New Jersey (in Hoboken, Camden, and Millville). 

Sean completed his undergraduate work at Rutgers University, where he majored in Communication, with a minor focus in Organizational Leadership. He attended graduate school at the University of Scranton, where he earned his MS in Educational Administration. 

In addition to being an educator, Sean has received a patent for a student-centered teacher feedback system. This approach takes the focus solely off of student output and examines student input. The process allows students to provide instant feedback on any one of several key aspects of a lesson. He is currently developing a plan to get this system in the hands of students as soon as possible. If you would like to collaborate with him on this, please reach out! 

When he is not focused on his professional endeavors, Sean loves to spend time with his wife, their two sons, and their two dogs. He enjoys running, mountain biking, training for and running Spartan Races, riding his motorcycle, and doing whatever he can to stay active and involved.

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Guest Thursday, 20 July 2017