Good morning to you all. I have to tell you this is going to be one of the strangest blog posts that I have done . . . ever. First, my brain seems to be in some magnificent kind of fog. Whether you can have a magnificent foggy brain I will leave you to decide. I was invited to my first media day event as part of being a blogger. While this was exciting, it changed my focus. I had to figure out all of the things for the day of the event, and not focus on the tasks that I needed to accomplish for my blog. Furthermore, I still feel behind in my fitness week blogging, and trying to account for five days’ worth of fitness did not feel appropriate. So when this event came up, I knew I had to blog about my fitness . . . in advance.
So I knew this was going to be weird. Plus it’s week eighteen. It means I have three weeks left to accomplish the goals I had set out. I remember one of my early blogs for fitness being two down, nineteen to go. Can you imagine thinking that next week I could be typing up nineteen down, two to go? Furthermore, then I have had new people come along for the journey at this point. Hard to imagine, but one person commented on last week’s blog that they came along late in the game.
And while this is true, I don’t want anyone to think that once through this twenty-one weeks, fitness will leave my mind permanently. It will not. I believe that fitness is important. I will transition to more specific fitness topics rather than my journey. Although possibly not a weekly post. And who knows? I may do this journey again next year. We shall see.
As for completing the eighteenth week, there are a lot more significant things that happen when you are 18. Usually, you graduate from secondary school at 18. You can get your driver’s license at 18. You can drink in many places, although the U.S. is not one of them. A person is able to vote once they turn 18. The Hebrew word for “life” has the numerical value of 18. In the Talmud, Rabbi Yehudah ben Teime says that 18 is the right age at which to get married. Catch-22 was originally supposed to be called Catch-18 because of the Hebrew meaning of the word. (They changed it due to possible confusion with another novel. Can you imagine being in a situation calling it a Catch-18? Life is funny sometimes.) A golf course consists of 18 holes.
For whatever reason, we have chosen 18 to be another one of those magical years. But getting caught on the number 18 this week wasn’t important to me. I was thinking about looking back on the past week, but I really want to save that for the final post in this series. What really has my thoughts going this week comes to the nature of fatherhood, and how that impacts my fitness journey. In many regions of the world, the third Sunday in June is Father’s Day. While I am not sure why they chose June, it ended up being significant in my life because it was my Father’s birth month.
A Tribute To My Father
Allen Dale Elliott was born in Vancouver, Washington, June 20th of 1945. He was the third child in the family that would eventually see five children born to it. So he was the exact middle child. And what was worse, he was one of the smallest in the family. This meant that he had to fight and struggle harder for the things he got. At about the age of five, the family moved from Vancouver, Washington to a small town in Oregon called Alvadore, approximately 10 miles outside of Eugene.
And this is where the family would put down roots. For the next fifteen years, my dad would be involved in community activities, be part of the wrestling team, help my uncle and grandfather plant a 4-acre cherry orchard in the back yard, be a volunteer for the local fire department, and be the best son that he could be. But my father struggled with this last one more than most. First, he suffered from dyslexia, a condition they did not know a lot about back then. He was yelled for mixing up his letters at school like kids who were left-handed used to be yelled at. Second, he represented the smaller, less gifted version of his older brother Jim. Jim got the accolades. My father got the leftovers. And being the middle child he was often forgotten in his family of five. This affected him tremendously.
Even in his struggling, my dad wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, being interested in electrical engineering. But my dad’s learning abilities held him back. This did not make him dumb though. I remember the story my grandfather told many times of having to confront my dad’s teacher at school. He desperately wanted to be in the advanced electronics class but the teacher didn’t want him to be involved because of his low academic skills.
So my grandfather made a visit personally to the teacher. The teacher happened to love my dad’s brother as a student and stated so to my grandfather when the confrontation began. My grandfather assured the teacher that while my uncle Jim could pick up a book and read it, finding out what he needed to know to fix a TV, my dad could pull apart a TV and find all the individual parts and then piece them back together by memory. Being dyslexic, my dad had to adapt his skills. His memory and intuition about motors and moving parts made him more of a natural talent.
This would serve him well when he was recruited out of community college to be an aircraft mechanic for a well-known airline at the time, TWA. But this meant a move down south, several hundred miles, to work out of the Los Angeles International Airport. My dad, always up for an adventure, was up for the challenge. And so he moved away from his family to seek his own way in the world.
Unfortunately, this would be interrupted by the advent of the Vietnam War. They were recruiting people to participate and my dad, being the patriotic person he was, felt like he needed to be involved. Still, in the LBJ heyday of the conflict, my dad volunteered to go personally. Unfortunately, his eyes were never very good, and the Air Force saw fit to station him in Thailand for his tour of duty.
I often heard the joke told growing up that only a crazy person would volunteer for the war, so they sent them to Thailand. Only the rational people didn’t want to participate so they sent those to help out in the conflict. Whether true or not, it made me laugh. My dad did come back with many stories and plenty of pictures from his time out there in Thailand. I saw them a couple of times. I know the pictures inspired me to want to travel from an early age.
Coming back from the war, my dad got involved with a church group and would eventually meet my mother. I probably have heard so many different stories about it from when I was a kid that my mind has developed a composite of all of them together. And the romantic in me embellished them. They involved a car accident, a chance meeting, and love. Maybe there is some truth in it. Maybe it’s all fiction. But I prefer my version of events I know nothing about. So let me keep my illusions alive.
I do know that after meeting my mother, seven months later, on May 27th, 1971, my mother and father would marry. My dad appeared to be a very happy man. There are also pictures of my mom’s father in the wedding, a grandfather I would never get to meet. He did not survive many months after the taking of these pictures. I always felt like something was missing because I did not get to meet him.
I believe the first few years of the marriage for my father were his happiest. Despite a broken leg and ten months out of work to heal, the pictures of my dad when I was born show him to have an infectious smile. (Despite his seventies sideburns . . . scary. I suppose I should be thankful that he did not have gold chains on.) But happy times do not last forever. And my father would experience tragedy when I was six weeks old. A toboggan accident and some idiotic nurse who told my uncle he could go to sleep while he was in shock robbed my family of my uncle Jim. This sent shockwaves in the family. He was always the bright star and now he was gone. His absence left my dad to pick up the pieces.
I am not sure my dad knew how to do this very well. I know he desperately wanted his dad’sappreciation, as I have wanted mine. He never seemed to know how to get it. My dad spiraled for many years not being sure of what he wanted. Those were tumultuous times for my family. It wasn’t just the loss of his brother that ate at him. Graveyard work and not being able to sleep during the day added to the stress and the strain. In addition, at the age of seven, my mother went back to work to help with income.
Unfortunately, this left my dad in charge of the two of us boys when many times he had barely slept at all. You can imagine that anger about loss and lack of sleep would get to him many days. Punishments could often be severe. This time would create a hole in the relationship I always wanted with my dad, which I am still trying to repair to this day.
If those years had gone on, much like Andy Duphresne in Shawshank Redemption with “the Sisters” , my father would not have survived. Eventually, through changing schedules and finding ways to engage withmy mother, he would make it back to some semblance of his former self. Their relationship is not perfect. I am not sure anyone’s relationship is perfect. But it is good. And they love each other. They have stuck it out for forty-six year of good and bad. And I believe they are better for it. Marriages are not clean. But they can be beautiful. And theirs represents marriage in all of its inglorious beauty. I respect the heck out of them for it.
So today I pay tribute to my father, the air force mechanic, the wrestler, the firefighting volunteer, and the dad who spent his nights working so that his family could thrive. You have a son who is a pastor and a professor. You have another who is a librarian and a blogger. We love you, dad. We wouldn’t be here without you.
My father has influenced me more than I can possibly say, for good and bad. But he reminds me every day of what it takes to be healthy. I know he has struggled with it for much of his life. But I know that even with a broken hip, a broken leg and a stressful day, he still spent yesterday evening going to the gym with my mother, even if it was for only 27 minutes. I know he doesn’t always want to do certain things. But he does those things anyway. I know that this is where my drive as a worker comes from. And I know my dad also affects the way I tackle the fitness goals I have too. Without anymore wasting of time I will get on to my fitness week. So how did I do on my fitness goals this week?
Fitness Week Eighteen Goals
Four Days at the Gym or on an Outing –
Just as you are reading this right now, or possibly afterward, I will be spending my day at an outing at Knott’s Berry Farm . . . so that’s one. One. Ummmm…. Yeah, one. I actually did more than just one thing this week. I did actually spend an hour doing exercise around the house two different days this week. So I would give myself a three out of four on the gym or outing scale. I really need to focus on getting back to the gym this week. I know I have been really busy, but I have let this slide. And part of this whole deal was to keep myself accountable. So I am. I am going to make sure that I go at least twice to the gym this week, aside from whatever else I may do. And for all you gym rats out there, maybe I catch you at the gym this week.
Eight Glasses Of Water Per Day –
I know that when I started this goal, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be doing well at this goal. Honestly, I still don’t love the taste of water like I would like. But I am doing vastly better than when I started adding this to my list of fitness goals. Sometimes I will take several glasses of water at a time and drink up because my body just seems to want it. And sometimes I can drink them because I have been doing a lot of exercises and my body just seems to need it. Regardless of the reasons, I am taking the water, and I am not feeling like I am bloated or that someone needs to wheel me out the door once I have had a few glasses. And this is a definite victory. So eight glasses of water a day? Check!!!
Counting My Calories –
This week was an utter failure when it came to counting my calories. Maybe not quite that big of a failure, but when I only use the MyFitnessPal app for one day this week, I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing. And the bad part is, I should be looking at it because it gives me a good idea of how much I have been burning through exercise. I miss out on knowing how I need to adjust my diet when I am not doing this. And diet is just as big an indicator of health fitness as exercise is. This makes me kind of sad to know this. I need to be more focused on it this week.
Getting Eight Hours Of Sleep Per Night –
I don’t think I had any days like last week where I just failed at it. I was getting closer to seven this week. But I need to really push myself to get that last hour. Things just work so much better for me when I get it. I can definitely feel that my body is not at it’s optimum when I am not getting the eight hours of sleep that it really requires. Everything is just a little more sluggish. My brain doesn’t operate in quite the way I would like it to. This is unfortunate but true. So while I got close to my goals for this week, I did not quite make them.
Overall Grade: B-
Next Weeks Goals:
I know that I have a lot to live up to with the way things worked out this last week. And that starts with today . .. or tomorrow . . . or whatever day is the day after this post drops. I get so confused anymore I don’t know which way is up. Ah well! We are getting to the end and so I can see the finish line from here. The only question is whether or not I will stumble over it or whether I will run that last 100 meters with pride. So will I change up? Not from here on out.
I am going to focus on the standards I have set for myself and do what I need to do to accomplish them each week. And I have that planner. I need to plan better. Organize better. Do more where I can, and do less where I have to. Confused? So am I. What I basically mean is that I need to decide internally that slow growth is the best growth for this blog. And ultimately it is, even if there are ways to up it. Because I also need to live life, be healthy, get exercise, etc. And I will do that. That is my resolution, new years be darned.
As such, what are my goals for next week?
Week Nineteen Goals –
1) Four Times At The Gym, Workout, Or All-Day Outing
2) Eight Glasses Of Water Per Day
3) Counting My Calories
4) Eight Hours Of Sleep Per Night
Continue The Conversation –
As Father’s Day is almost upon us, I would love to know what is one thing you remember about your dad? Even better, what is one thing you remember about your dad and fitness? I would love to know what and how he inspired you. If you never had a dad in your life I would love to know how your mother inspired you as regards to fitness as well. Sometimes as single parents, one has to suffice when two should be present. And I admire mom’s who have to give their all under those circumstances. They all deserve a hand. But I hope that the dad in your life wasn’t like that. And I encourage all dads to stick with it. Because our kid’s lives are infinitely better when we are in them, and regularly participate in them.
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As always, it is a pleasure to have you stop by. Please feel free to contact me anytime. I would love to hear from you. Questions, comments, and suggestions are always welcome.
Until next time, this is me signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life
Other Fitness Weeks:
Seventeenth Week – The Countdown Begins
Fifteenth Week – As The Fitness World Turns
Twelfth Week – Happily Ever After
Eleventh Week – Tooth Wars
Sixth Week – The Great DST Conspiracy
Second Week – Two Down, Nineteen to Go
Week 0 – Not Another Fitness Blog