More often than not, on Wednesdays we feature a guest blogger that has struck a chord with us. Usually, those posts are predominately from paleo and real-food bloggers that share a yummy recipe, but today we are so happy to share with you an informative guest post from Rev. Katie of Bipolar Spirit. Everyday there is more and more information available about the “Gut-Brain” connection. Did you know that if you have an unhealthy gut you can also be suffering from a whole host of issues related to your brain and how you feel emotionally? Its true!
Rev. Katie blogs about how she uses a paleo diet and CrossFit workouts as a part of her treatment for Bipolar Disorder, and about how what we eat and how we exercise affects how we feel BOTH physically and mentally. Her perspective is really insightful and if you are suffering from Bipolar Disorder or other mental illnesses, we hope you check her blog out! Today she is sharing with us an awesome post about how she and her family have grown together and benefited from training at their local CrossFit box together. We love to take our boys every Saturday morning for family CrossFit and it is always a wonderful start to our weekends together. Rev. Katie shares some more specific reasons about how CrossFit helps her and her husband teach essential life lessons to their son, Jeffrey. She put into words some of our exact feelings about how all kids benefit from positive physical activities.
p.s. I think we ALL have a lot to learn from Jeffrey’s words of wisdom!
Life Lessons from CrossFit Kids
My husband Jeff and I have been at CrossFit Cleveland for a few years. For a while we took our son Jeffrey with us because he was not old enough to be left at home alone. He watched our workouts and decided he really wanted to do CrossFit. We enrolled him in CrossFit Kids and have discovered that participating in CrossFit as a family has changed our lives in many ways.
How CrossFit Benefits our Family
The family that WODs together, stays happy together! ♥
CrossFit has taught us to always see each other’s accomplishments. We have gotten into the habit of cheering each other on even for simple things in daily life. Whenever I finish something that is challenging for me my son will say “Way to go Mommy!” It’s a pretty amazing feeling to have a whole family that supports each other, and of their own accord, recognizes when another person accomplished something they worked hard at.
CrossFit has also taught all of us to be proud of what we can do, rather than criticize ourselves or each other. For instance, if one of us is struggling with work or school and says something like, “I am just not good at this!,” another one of us will remind us that we are good enough. We are good enough just as we are, with what we are able to do in that moment. We can then choose if we want to keep working at something in order to do better next time.
It has become very obvious to all of us that exercise makes us feel better, mentally and physically. Whenever one of us is sad or struggling, we work out together. We can do a short CrossFit WOD (Workout Of the Day) at home or at least just get out for a walk.
It is essential that all of us learn how to manage our emotions, and this is especially hard to teach to children. Our son learned this on his own by being part of CrossFit Kids. One week when Jeffrey had his yearly standardized tests at school, he woke up really tired. He felt as though he could not get through the school day, and he was worried about taking his test. Jeffrey asked if he could go outside and run around to help himself feel better and get more energy. He felt great after his short workout.
The last great thing about CrossFit for our family is that it is an exercise we can all do together, even though we are different ages and we have different physical abilities. This gives us the ability to have more quality time together as a family, which is extremely important.
Values CrossFit Has Taught Our Son
Our son, Jeffrey, post WOD and feeling the burn!
Jeffrey has done quite a few different team sports and while he has liked them, he never liked the constant focus on winning as the most important part of the sport. He felt like this took the fun out of playing the game as well as made teammates too competitive and judgmental of each other. Jeffrey says that at CrossFit, “I learned not to be competitive with other people, like in soccer and stuff. In CrossFit you learn to help each other. No one is “bad” or not good at something. Everyone is just at a different level and that’s okay.”
It is rare that children are taught to see differences in ability as a positive thing and to accept people as they are. I think this is essential to raising a socially aware, kind, ethical person, and CrossFit has taught this to our son. This has a lot to do with how CrossFit promotes working for your personal best, but also how Coach Staci discourages the kids comparing themselves to each other, and encourages them to support each other.
CrossFit has also taught our son a valuable lesson in self-esteem. One of the things that I did not understand and was not prepared for, was the body-shaming that is put upon boys at a very young age.
One day at the age of 8 Jeffrey came home from playing outside in the neighborhood very upset because the other boys were saying Jeffrey was not strong because he was “too skinny.” I did not know how to help Jeffrey with this other than trying to teach him about having a positive self-image and sharing with him the research that shows size is not an indicator of health or strength. Of course, the intellectual explanations do not get to the emotional heart of the matter. After doing CrossFit for a while though, Jeffrey became more self-confident. He did find out that he was both strong and fast, but that really was not what helped him. As he says, “Boys say you have to be big to be strong and fast. That ends up terribly because you start to think badly about yourself and you try to do things to get bigger. CrossFit gets rid of that. CrossFit teaches that size does not show how healthy or strong you are. Anyone can be strong and no one should make fun of another person for their size.”
The work ethic Jeffrey has learned from CrossFit has been invaluable. CrossFit has taught him that not everything comes easy. Things that are important to us take time to learn and perfect. He has also learned that each of us has gifts as well as challenges. We are not good at everything, and that is okay! There will always be movements in CrossFit that are hard for us. CrossFit has taught him to work hard at things, whether he is good at them or not. This helps especially with homework where most kids have a hard time understanding why they would do something that is hard for them, or that they do not like.
It is very hard in our world today to teach our children positive values in a way that is accessible to them. We parents can explain values all we want, but experiencing those values in action is what makes them part of a child’s life. CrossFit gives our son wonderful experiences that instill positive values.
Connect with Rev. Katie!
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://paleoparents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/KatieHeadshot2014-square-740×740.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]About Rev. Kate Norris: Rev. Katie is a wife, mother, and Unitarian Universalist minister. She works in the community providing art programs and outreach for people with mental illness and dementia. Her blog, Bipolar Spirit, includes many posts on how CrossFit and the Paleo diet help Katie manage her bipolar disorder.[/author_info] [/author]