Monday, August 3, 2015

Rocket Ship

When I was a little boy I used to love everything about NASA. I was fascinated by the training to become an astronaut and the study of different planets. My parents fueled this fascination by taking me to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC many times as a kid. I just loved looking at all the older and newer spaceship technology. I remember being inspired and in awe of pictures of different planets and commentary about space exploration. While I certainly have not gone on to become an astronaut, the feeling of discovering new things and searching for what else might be out there continues to provide a large source of inspiration for me.

That inspiration was recently ignited even more by the movie Interstellar. In the movie, explorers go looking for a new home for our population since our planet is dying. Now this is a three plus hour movie and I've watched it about eight times already and that number will go into double digits very soon. I still find tremendous joy in watching a rocket launch whether it is real or in a movie. In the movies there is this grand and majestic ascension of the rocket, which represents and symbolizes the global hope of humankind. Its a collaborated and bold effort to seek out something that is greater than ourselves. Lifting that ship beyond the parameters of our earth is something that still emboldens me to think beyond the limits of my own mind.

We all have this incredible ability to be our own and even better, someone else's rocket ship. So many of us need someone to help us launch into a greater purpose in our lives. I know for me, my parents served as mission control from the moment I was born. They encouraged me and fueled my efforts and my dreams. Once I was in orbit from my parents tremendous initial launch, I hit some rough spots as a very young adult. There was debris flying everywhere in my life at one point and I couldn't make sense of where I was headed. I wanted to explore further out in the universe of my life, but I was hitting bumpy times. That's when other people helped to repair my ship and helped me blast off to further galaxies. My friends such as Nick Langridge, Rob Montgomery, Josh Moyer, Aaron Profitt took my broken ship and ascended me into a new star system. They helped direct me back to God. For that I am eternally grateful. Then my wife came along and she was and still is my generation ship. Her presence in my life has given me the strength for the long journey to seek out amazing new life forms and opportunities. Then my job with WTS International and the continued guidance from my boss, Allen Jakubauskas, bolstered my engines. Finally, adopting my daughter, Anna Rose Parker, gave way to the introduction of warp speed to my ship. I can now not only explore the cosmos of my life, but the greatest gift is now I can better understand, explore and guide the journeys of so many other people.

What's really happening here is that when you surround yourself with amazing people and make good decisions then you get the opportunity to be a rocket ship for some else. I have come to understand that in my life that my purpose is to lift other people up to help set them on a journey to explore planetary systems in their life that they have never known. I love being a rocket ship for my family, for my friends, for my staff and for my personal training clients. We are launching rocket ships from all over the planet, We are writing a space log for their lives that is meaningful and full of hope for their present and their future. And the beautiful thing is that while I may have helped to launch those ships, eventually they get to take the steering wheel and lead their own missions. Its a beautiful thing.

Who are you launching this week, this month or this year? Have you even launched your own mission of self discovery so that you can then help launch someone else's rocket ship? I URGE you to take a look at your life and think....just think....where am I going? What am I doing? If you can't answer that question...if you can't articulate your pathway towards the stars then take the time right now to fix that ship. Make those repairs and then do that countdown towards beginning a new life. Its in your hands. I want to fly with you and explore with you as long as you are willing to fly with me. Here's to a safe lift off and a wonderful exploration of your life. Be a rocket ship.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The "No" Word Perspective

Life as a child is often very different in terms of how you see the world. I remember when I was a kid we moved around a lot due to my father being in the military. One of my favorite places that we we lived was Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Everything on the base seemed super sized to me. From the base itself to our house...everything was massive in my eyes as a child. When I became an adult I went back to visit Ft. Leavenworth and it wasn't the same. The house that we lived in was now very small to me. The yard, which seemed to cover a vast distance in my mind when I was 10, now looked like a small patch of grass. What changed? Was it the size of the house or the yard? Nope, it was me. I grew up and I changed. My view of the world had morphed and my perspective had changed as well. I was no longer attached to that place as I had filled my life with newer experiences and people. Still, I have fond memories of that time in my life.

So, what does it all mean? For me, the journey of life is so much about your awareness and understanding of the time you are in. You can't travel backwards to relive what you had, but you can always respect and learn from the past. The same can be said about the future. You can't predict or know the future. However, you can make your best preparations for a desired outcome. And will that desired outcome happen? Maybe...maybe not, but planning for it will make it more likely than not. 

And the real truth is that in life your improved perspective (hopefully as you age) will help you deal with the fact that life sometimes life tells you no. We can't have everything we want and we can't always hear the word yes. Rejection is hard to take, but sometimes its necessary. Sometimes getting kicked and roughed up a bit prepares us for future obstacles we will face. And it can help us better enjoy the good times when the word "yes" flows abundantly.

In the end "no" doesn't have to be a bad thing. It might just be a bridge towards something else. Or maybe someone told you no because it was in your best interest at that time in your life. Whatever the reasons or circumstances, its important to have perspective either in the moment (which I understand is very hard to do) or gain that perspective by taking some time to reflect upon the situation.

And even so, I understand that hearing no and having perspective is difficult to handle. You will have emotions related to it and that's ok. Emotions are normal, but take the time to understand that moment and just maybe...maybe..."no" will mean some great yes moments in the future. I wish that for all of you.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Highs Than Lows

The past ten years of my life have been rewarding and challenging, which in my mind is just the right combination for happiness. I can't sit here and tell you that every moment has been incredible because that's just not true. Life can be messy. It can be difficult and all of us...know matter our place in life, will always experience great highs and great lows. No matter what you do, you just can't stop the fact that there will be hard times. Hard times don't feel great. They definitely don't feel like in the moment that they will give you sage advice and experience, but they will. Hard times can harden you or they can grow you. However, its important to know that your ratio of highs and lows don't have to consistent heavily of lows. A life filled with lots of lows is many times a product of poor choices. Or it could be the lack of action or doing nothing to challenge yourself that leads to more lows for you. A life of inaction and poor choices always leads to a lot of lows.

So, how can you have more highs than lows? Check out a few points of advice below that will help you have more highs than lows in your life:

1. Challenge Yourself - A life with intermittent challenges will push you in positive directions you won't expect. True growth is about being slightly uncomfortable from time to time. 

2. Be Nice to Others - Its simple, but so true. Being nice to everyone you meet and spreading goodness always gives you a better chance at having more highs than lows in life. People who demean, degrade and act rudely towards others should never wonder why they always are perceived negatively. If you plant something negative you will blossom something negative. If you plant something positive you will blossom something positive. Whatever you grow in your life, positive or negative, it will become that. 

3. Take Vacations - While vacations can be expensive, you can't take your money with you. Creating memorable experiences in new places with people you love and care about goes a long way towards creating regular happy moments. You can't believe the amazing positive change in perspective you receive from experiencing different customs and activities on vacation. Plus, if you do it right, its also a good way to just turn your brain off and let your mind and body truly relax.

4. Look at the Big Picture - Look at your life as a whole and not just what's in front of you. Its so easy to take what happened on one day and then over dramatize it and blow it up. Ask yourself how your actions create consequences not just for today, but for years down the road.

5. Don't Make Emotional Decisions - One of the best classes I took in my undergrad and graduate studies was Philosophy. My favorite content in the class was learning how to base decisions on factual information and not on volatile, knee jerk emotions. Knee jerk emotional reactions are always a recipe for bad decision making. The most successful people I know in my life are excellent at stepping back from situations, analyzing them and then coming up with thoughtful responses. This equals good decisions which will certainly give you more highs than lows in life.

My hope is that you are living or are beginning to live a life full of fulfillment and integrity. I hope you experience tremendous highs associated with smart decision making. Its available to everyone. You just have to be willing to be open to it.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Monday, May 4, 2015

Wild Responsibility

I've been fortunate to meet many people in my life who have had a profound impact on my growth as a human being. My parents were certainly the first people who greatly influenced me. However, once I left home to go to college I began to meet so many influential people in life who still inspire and push me to work very hard at my craft. From college professors, co-workers and friends, I have benefited greatly from their guidance and kindness. At this point in my life one of the biggest influences in how I see the world and how hard I work is my personal training clients. In particular, I have so much to be thankful for from two particular clients. 

These two clients are a husband and wife and they continually provide me with fuel in regards to living a consistently alive and wonder filled life. When I started training them a few years ago I was amazed at how much they traveled. Growing up in a military family I always traveled, but I found myself doing less and less of that as an adult. These two clients would always regale me with stories and pictures of far away lands and crazy adventures. It made me feel like I wasn't living....like I was just...existing. And that's just what was happening. Their pictures of visiting Egypt and talks about Hawaii, the Mediterranean and countless other places inspired me to push myself and my family to travel more. And so we did. We booked a vacation to Iceland on a whim, went to Hawaii last minute and visited as many smaller destinations we could think of in our region. 

However, their inspiration was much greater than just traveling. That inspiration to seek out different parts of the world also bleed into me re-defining how I wanted to live my life as a human being. It helped me craft my philosophy of "Wild Responsibility." While those two words don't normally go together, I found that they could co-exist and man have they co-existed beautifully. Wild Responsibility really just means that while you make responsible decisions, you also take the time to be a little wild and free flowing within that atmosphere of responsibility. I have observed that people who live within this concept are the happiest, most well adjusted and daringly social/innovative people. These folks live within the world, but allow themselves to regularly get off the hamster wheel of life. 

You see, people who are just responsible and straight laced often just lead a life of monotony and are greatly defined by their work/job. On the other hand, those who are completely wild and outrageous often live on the fringes of society and their extreme lack of structure will never allow them to establish any type of long term security and stability. I believe the trick is to make good decisions about your finances, relationships and friendships while at the same time pushing yourself to the outer edges of your comfort zone and sometimes other people's comfort zones. 

A good example beyond traveling is the work environment. Our work environment at Club Ridges is one of the most unorthodox work environments you will ever find. We adhere greatly to the concept of Wild Responsibility. Our interview process is both rigorous and lots of fun because we need to hit home runs with who we hire. Its not enough to want a job with us. You have to want to have tremendous amounts of fun with us while creating outstanding professional results. We don't compete with other fitness facilities. In our world, we are the only facility that operates like us. Hugging, high-fiving, monthly happy hours/parties, and counter culture fitness programming drive our success. We laugh really hard, make lots of weird noises just because, have dance breaks on the fitness floor and we also produce some of the best personal training and tennis in the country. We love being wild, but we also love being responsible and accountable for doing well.  

So you have to ask yourself...how wild is your life? Is it out of control to the point where you are making bad decisions regularly and greatly affecting your personal growth? That's too wild. Or are you just living this humdrum, punching the clock life where everything is on automatic cruise control? That's too boring. 

Instead, live a life that has a routine with good professional habits that help you achieve upward mobility while also making regular time for crazy forays into the unknown. I promise if you do this your life will be filled with copious amounts of joy and excitement. Its the truth! I am a living example of this every day. Life is truly what you make of it. Don't just exist...Live! 

Until next time...

Dr. D

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Listen to Your Mind and Body


I still like to run, but I'm much smarter about it these day
Being an athlete is much harder behind the scenes than what you see on TV or social media. The grind is so monotonous and difficult to maintain over the course of many years. As a former athlete, I am fully aware of how hard it is to push yourself to your limits day in and day out. When I was going through that as a collegiate track and field athlete I just remember thinking that while this experience will definitely harden me mentally and physically in positive ways, that it will also continue to break my body down. As student in the Kinesiology program at James Madison at that time, I was just beginning to learn about the effects of over training and how it detracts from your performance. Now don't get me wrong...I loved my overall experience as a track athlete. However, that grind of constantly being tired and over trained really was difficult to work through. I am fortunate that I had this innate love of being fit so it kept me going after my collegiate running days were over. However, I can understand why so many athletes just stop exercising completely when they are done with their college eligibility or their professional career. Its hard to continue to go to the "well" so many times per week especially when that's what you have been doing for well over a decade straight. It just drains you physically and mentally. 

What's great for me now is that I train just as hard as I did then, but I am much smarter about my recovery methods and frequency of exercise. I do the one thing that I have the choice of doing these days which is....I listen to my body. This is something that I think is being totally ignored by the current 10% of regular exercisers. While we know that so many people just don't like exercise, there is a segment of the population who is crazy about it and that population is getting a lot of publicity on TV and social media. Meme's of squatting, bathroom pics in the gym and so forth are dominating our culture. Apparently being a gym rat is now a badge of honor among many groups and organizations who are big into fitness. 

Exploration...
However, as a long term fitness professional and someone who has a terminal degree in the science and psychology of fitness and wellness, I see the overzealous nature of hitting it hard all the time as a real detriment to the perception of fitness. More than ever people are not listening to their bodies. They are pushing through small injuries that become big injuries. They are maxing out on weights all the time or even worse lifting maximum loads for a tremendous amount of repetitions. This is a recipe not only for physical injury, but mental exhaustion/burnout. Which then ultimately leads to long periods of inactivity and misguided body image issues. It also leads to obsessive behaviors where everything else in your life is dictated by your exercise schedule. That's just unhealthy and does not promote a well rounded person. 

Listen, being fit is absolutely wonderful. I don't want people to mistake this blog entry for pushing against working hard. You should absolutely push yourself and try to reach your ceiling in terms of your physical fitness. However, it should be done in a smart and efficient way. MORE IS NOT BETTER. LIVING AT THE GYM ALL THE TIME IS NOT HEALTHY. Live a life full of rich experiences where fitness and wellness happen to be just one of the cogs of a well rounded person. It should not be your everything. You can take this principle and apply it to almost anything in your life. 

So, the takeaway...remember to listen to your body on a daily basis. Your body is a very active communication tool. It lets you know so many things regularly. You just need to increase your awareness of what it is telling you. And in the same token you need to listen to mental cues of exhaustion as well. You don't have to be a fitness hero on social media or try to be this impossible standard of fitness that you can't sustain over the long term in your life. Train hard, but more importantly train smarter. That's a viable long term approach to becoming and staying fit throughout your life. 

Until next time...

Dr. D