I’m Over 40, and I Just Did Yoga for the First Time.

CBUS Dads dad blogger Dan Farkas' son enjoys a yoga session with his dad

This is now on the Internet. And I think you should think about doing yoga too.

How did we get here? The story involves common themes in modern storytelling: money, ego and a higher power.

As with many things in life, my journey begins with my two kids, Leah and Will. At times, both of them (like all children) tend to get a little bit upset. Unlike other kids, those emotional roller coasters tend to have more significant consequences. Leah’s ADHD makes stressful situations go from 0-60 really fast. Will’s asthma makes it harder for him to breathe.

Meltdowns happen. Fixing them fast is a priority for our family.

Enter deep breathing, just like you would do in yoga. Through various parenting courses, we learned how to teach our kids to breathe, think and focus on themselves. It’s worked wonders.

Parenting is stressful, but here’s what I know:

  • We all tell our kids to get out of our comfort zones
  • We spend a lot of time and money helping our kids find ways to solve problems
  • We don’t heed our own advice or the advice of our kids’ doctors, teachers, etc.

If I tell my kids to get out of their comfort zone and look for ways to be a better version of themselves, why am I not doing the same? It was time to think about leading by example.

It was also time to accept a brutal truth. While I’m thrilled with my new effort at running and weight loss (down 55 pounds since January!), I’m not thrilled with some back pain and lack of flexibility. I feel like my body makes a wooden board look like a rubber band.

I didn’t think I had time to deal with back issues. I didn’t think I had time to be self-reflective. I did hear several people mention how yoga helped them with both. What was there to lose?

  • Ego: I didn’t want to be the only guy in a class of people who knew what they were doing
  • Ego: I didn’t want to suck at something I’ve never done
  • Ego: I didn’t want to justify to others why I did something that isn’t in my Type A world

Upon further review, I had to judge irrational fear vs. tangible benefit. The business person in me convinced the rest of me to let it go and try something new. To the Powell Go Yoga I went for a 30-day trial. Thank goodness I did. Here’s why you should think about it, too:

  • Get over worries about working out with other people. There were men and women in the class. There were older people and younger people. Some were really good. Some were new like me. Nobody cared. Really. Nobody cared. That’s why they have instructors who instruct you to do better. Get over yourself. I quickly got over my narcissism and focused on a bigger picture.
  • I do suck at yoga, and that’s totally OK. I could barely do some of the poses, I sweat an alarmingly uncomfortable amount and I felt a degree of soreness I couldn’t have ever fathomed. My hamstrings were still sore three days after the fact.
  • I was a mess, and it was awesome. It also helped me as a parent. I felt more relaxed, did the deep breathing with them when they faced stressed and made more of the time we had together. They’ve even replicated poses on occasion.

CBUS Dads dad blogger Dan Farkas' son enjoys a yoga session with his dad

There’s a larger benefit that goes far beyond a session:

  • I constantly tell my kids (and college students) you will screw something up the first time you do anything. Golf, taxes, Common Core math, and yoga for sure. It’s all about how you learn, grow and adapt. It’s also about trying again, preferably in a nurturing environment. Teachers want you to succeed, and most will bend over backwards if you show some effort. My yoga teacher literally bent over backward to help me better understand how to do the right moves with the body I have in hopes of getting the body I want to have a year from now. Go Yoga is incredible, and they aren’t giving me anything to say that. I’m sure other places are awesome too. Seriously, try this.
  • I should define who I am, not anyone else. After two yoga sessions, I felt like I had better posture and set a personal record on a five-mile run. I felt more relaxed, slept better and got more done at work. I was a better me, a better spouse, a better parent, and a better person. That’s more important than anyone’s perception of who I’m supposed to be.

In the end, we run the race against ourselves. This bears repeating.

The only person who judges us in a way that matters is a higher power we can’t fathom. If I’m the only person who sees myself in the mirror every day, don’t I have an obligation to make myself the best person possible? Not just for me but the people and powers around me? Sometimes that means getting out of that comfort zone, even if your first foray doesn’t go the way you want.

I’m Dan Farkas. I’m over 40, terrible at yoga, and incredibly eager to end this blog so I can give this new adventure one more try.

-By Dan Farkas, Regular Contributor

Dead Last Has Never Felt Like Such a Victory

My road to last place started on New Year’s Day.  Even though I wrote about the importance of being active, I wasn’t, and it ballooned (literally and figuratively) into a big problem.

I could blame running around with kids , driving to Athens and a host of other things. The fact is I wasn’t disciplined or accountable to me, my wife, the kids, or anyone else for that matter.

During one of those drives to Athens, I heard a podcast that addressed pain. Pain stinks. Pain is also inevitable. Would you rather be in pain waking up early in the morning and taking care of yourself or be in pain from the health challenges of inactivity and fear of not being there for your kids one day? One will happen. Which will you pick?

On 33 East near the Lancaster bypass, Project 200 was born. I was going to get to 200 pounds in 2018 for me, Leah, William, and everyone else who mattered in my life.

  • How much would I have to lose?
  • How long would it take?
  • How would I do this while still being the same parent to Leah and Will?

I had no idea.

The first question was answered on New Year’s Day when I stepped on scale. I needed to drop 60 pounds to make Project 200 a success. 60 pounds. Seriously, how did that happen?

The pain I felt from seeing that number motivated me to move; the pain of complex division then motivated me to open Excel. If I lost 1.2 pounds per week, I would meet my Project 200 goal in December. I had no clue how to lose 60 pounds (seriously, how did that happen). I thought I could find a way to lose 1.2 pounds per week.

Hello darkness my old friend.
I didn’t want to sacrifice time with the kids; so, my first plan to was to wake up an hour earlier and run. This plan stunk. I had no energy, could barely run a mile without stopping and felt terrible. That’s when a concept from Heather Whaling popped up on my feed and changed my perspective.

Design your day.
We live in a 24/7 world; make it your own. I still woke up early but worked for an hour instead. This freed up time in the afternoon to run and spend the same amount of time with Leah and Will. As an added plus, I also didn’t walk around like a zombie. My time with the kids has higher quality.

Weight started to come off, until our family trip to Disney where a combination of sugar, meat, sugar, beer, and more sugar erased my gains. I lost it. Then I went to LoseIt.

It’s 40 bucks a year, and I’m a cheap parent who would prefer to spend that money on Pokemon cards and Power Ranger accessories for the kids. I didn’t want to spend the money on me but realized the financial pain (which really isn’t that painful) was more tolerable than the number on my scale. Tracking what you eat makes you accountable. Being Type A hyper-competitive made me want to beat myself.

I quickly learned what to eat and not eat and realized my diet best resembled a grease fire inside of a dumpster fire. We pack healthy food for our kids daily. Why not do the same for ourselves? Changes took place. I didn’t stop eating food and rely solely on kale smoothies; I did make sure I ran a few extra minutes if I was going out for wings and beer because wings and beer are delicious. Nachos too.

Results started to show on the scale and clock; I started running longer and faster distances. The kids noticed and made sure I kept going. I could be better and healthier parent at the same time. Plus, results arrived in ways I didn’t expect.

Paying It Forward
I run faster with other people around; so, I started signing up for races. Project 200 helped support food pantries, breast cancer research and kids with Down Syndrome. Dads always complain about a lack of time. Racing helped me help others while helping myself.

It also gave me a chance to show Leah and Will how activities can help others. They saw kids with disabilities achieve and learned how cancer impacted our family. I even pushed Will for one 5K, and Leah (at 7) ran with me the entire way. Plus, both went to sleep on time that night. Double bonus.

Pounding Pavement
Project 200 is way ahead of schedule, but it’s not complete. The latest stop on the journey was a Thursday night 10k in Dublin. I beat my goal by 3 minutes and immediately went to a computer to see where I placed. The results were telling.

  • Dead last in my age range!
  • Next to last overall!

I had three immediate reactions. The first involved words I can’t use in this blog. The second was “Good for me.” Hundreds participated in the event. Less than 20 did the 10k. The final thought was how I needed to block a few hours to write a blog about this.

I haven’t told anyone about Project 200 prior to this post. Wife, parents, friends, kids, random strangers. Nobody. I was embarrassed with where I was and didn’t want anyone to know. That pain now motivates me to do more, and if it helps one dad think about ways to better himself, even better.

I always tell my kids the only race you ever really run is against yourself. Even though I finished dead last, Leah and Will said they were proud I finished. They listened to my advice. Shouldn’t I? I may have finished dead last, but when you considered where I started, this sure looks like a victory.

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-By Dan Farkas, Contributor