So You Can Stay Longer: A Letter to My Fellow Fathers

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  • November 8, 2016
So You Can Stay Longer: A Letter to My Fellow Fathers

As fathers, one of the greatest blessings of our lives are the births of our children. I can’t speak for all of you, but I’m sure the vast majority of you dads feel the way I do about my kids. I love them so much it hurts. I have three, a boy and two girls and they are the best part of my day.

There is no better job in the world than being a dad, and no more critical one. I might ruffle some feathers with this one, but the state of affairs here in the United States can often be traced back to a household where the father was either absent or not pulling his weight.

I am not a sociologist or a psychologist by trade, but I work in an environment where I see the outcomes of these homes. I am a college coach and have over 500 athletes I deal with every day. I can tell you from years of anecdotal data that the most well-adjusted, responsible, well behaved young adults are the ones where mom and dad have been present and actively involved in their lives. The opposite can be said when dad has not been around.

So You Can Stay Longer: A Letter to My Fellow Fathers

I know you fathers who are raising little girls want to raise strong, independent, driven, and worthy feeling young ladies. We want our girls to make great choices for themselves and respect themselves — especially when it comes to interacting with boys. And we fathers of boys want our guys to grow up and be strong willed, smart, forward thinking, and, at least in my house, gentlemen.

The only way we can do all this is to be around.

My Personal Wake-up Call

I have always been healthy as a horse, even though I have spent my entire life neglecting my health by eating a terrible diet. Well, right around my most recent birthday, the wheels finally came off.

I spent my 41st birthday in the emergency room with a blood pressure of 170/110 and staring into the face of some questionable blood work. And, like any red-blooded American man would do, I freaked. After doing the most ill-advised thing you could do (i.e. Google my symptoms), I went on a multi-week binge of fear, convincing myself I had every terminal disease you can think of. Fortunately, my doctor is a level-headed guy and we put a plan together about how to tackle my situation. (Mind you, I didn’t have a terminal disease, even though I was certain I did.)

So I got to work. I cleaned my diet up, front to back. I ramped up my exercise and nurtured myself with my Qigong practice and meditation. I made these things a priority. I had to. And guess what?

In one month, my blood pressure dropped to a consistent 128/78, my blood sugar normalized, and all of my panels on organ function were right where they needed to be. In a month, I had blood work that looked like a completely different person. All because I decided to take care of myself.

Guess what motivated me to make these changes?

Three little reasons to stop being a slob and to start being responsible and kick some ass. Their names are Elogious, Delaney, and Avery. Yes, my wife was certainly a motivator, but when I found myself in those dark times of self-inflicted worry and terror, the saddest part was considering not seeing my kids grow up. It shattered me more than I can put to words.

So You Can Stay Longer: A Letter to My Fellow Fathers

Me and my three children.

Volvo has a commercial where a handsome older man is sitting in the back of a car, doing some reflecting on his wife and his life as she drives them to a church to give his daughter away. Watching that commercial and thinking of my two little girls, ages five and three, and the idea of that time of their lives and the potential of me not being there was more than I could bear.

After being brought to my knees by this, I got up and said, “It ends here,” and got to work. Those girls and my son are the center of the universe. They make the sun rise and set, and my heart beats only for them and their mother. I had to get my act together.

Unfortunate Statistics

According to the American Cancer Society, 39% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. In 2013, over fourteen million Americans were living with cancer. Prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers were the most prevalent in men.

Listen, I know this sounds dramatic, especially for someone who wasn’t given a diagnosis that rattled his life. But what you need to understand, and how this might apply to you, is even though I wasn’t given a terminal disease to face, I was walking the path of someone whose destination was eventually going to be that exactly that diagnosis. I was lucky. I just got a big scare that was exactly what I needed to set a new course in my life.

All this is precisely what the Whole Life Challenge is all about. It’s about making healthy, lasting, worthwhile decisions that enrich your life and the lives of those you love.

Think about the ones we love whom we have lost. We have all lost someone in our family who is sorely missed. I’m not talking about that person who provided security or financial support. I’m talking about that person who made the Fourth of July or Christmas morning better simply because they were there. I want to be that person for my kids.

I want to be that dad who shows up to the senior night on their last game as a college athlete, shining with pride. I want to be that dad who is sitting outside the waiting room the moment all of my grandchildren take their first breaths. I want to be that dad who, when my kids are succeeding in their lives, is there to celebrate with them.

So You Can Stay Longer: A Letter to My Fellow Fathers

I want to be there to celebrate with them.

It Doesn’t Take Much

Guys, we over-complicate things. Truly. If you find yourself in a situation like mine, where you know you aren’t doing the best job taking care of yourself, it doesn’t take some herculean effort to get things turned around. And, it’s one of those times of your life where being legitimately selfish is a good thing.

There are scores and scores of articles on WLC that can point you in the right direction. Nutrition, exercise, spirituality and meditation. The Challenge itself outlines ways to get things moving forward. It outlines ways for you to take your life back one small step at a time.

If it feels overwhelming or if you feel like there are too many areas that need fixing, then pick one thing:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Give up sugar for thirty days.
  • Go for a walk every day at lunch.
  • Quit caffeine.
  • Commit to sitting down for ten minutes each day and doing nothing but breathe.
  • Get a notebook and fill one page with writing each day.
  • Make a list every day of three things you are grateful for.
  • Play the next Challenge and pick just one of the 7 Habits to focus on.

The great part about feeling like a total train wreck is that any positive change you make is going to have a massive impact. So pick one thing and start doing it today.

Parting Thoughts

The title for this article comes from an interaction I had with my middle daughter, Delaney, when she was three years old. Our kids are wise beyond our understanding. Delaney and I, along with my son who was five at the time, were outside getting ready to barbecue and we were talking about me living a hundred more years.

My son said, “Dad can’t live that long. It would make him 139.”

So, I turned to Delaney and said, “Would you like for me to live that long?”

Without hesitation, her little mind came up with the most eloquent and wise answer for me, she said, “If you were to work out more, you can stay longer.”

I wish all you fathers the best in health, life, and love. Remember why you are here.

Chris Holder
Chris Holder comes to The Whole Life Challenge with an incredibly diversified background. With over thirty years as an athlete and strength and conditioning coach, Chris is also a Daoist Priest and Medical Qigong Doctor.

Under the tutelage of legendary Kung Fu and Qigong Grand Master Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson, Chris has been at the forefront of Qigong research at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. Dr. Holder has created a working laboratory within his strength program blending both eastern medical and spiritual practices with western scientific strength training protocols. Having concluded the first-of-its-kind Qigong/strength training study in the winter of 2015, Dr. Holder and his staff are preparing research on Qigong and the induction of flow states along with research investigating Qigong's impact on inflammation in high-level CrossFit athletes.

Known in many circles as a pioneer of kettlebell training at the college level, Chris, a Senior RKC, opened the door in the early 2000s to break the mold and monotony of the traditional methods of training college student-athletes. Having been mentored by some of the most recognizable gurus in the strength training world, Chris is an accomplished Olympic lifting coach, a fully decorated Z-Health Trainer, and a go-to expert on fixing issues with CrossFit competitors.
  • Grif Frost

    Aloha Chris! So good to see your essay on this WLC. Thank you for sharing. We have launched the MQ Mobility classes at the Hilo Health Co-op, to complement our 50 minute CORE classes which are high intensity, strength and endurance capacity building focused. The MQ Mobility classes have 83 movements, based on Medical QiGong, which we perform SLOWLY, in 50 minutes, using an average of 3 reps for each movement. Using the same class lesson for 3 months, then will introduce 83 new moves for the next quarter. Cherry picked from a lot of different QiGong schools but have come to like Holden QiGong the best, as a model for our MQ Mobility. Believe what we are doing is fairly innovative…the goal is to offer 3 days of CORE and 3 days of MQ for those who want to practice daily. Whole focus is getting people on, and helping keep them on, the path to Optimum Health. We have found that offering Medical Studies of Cooperative Exercise, with the local MD community, has helped us collect some good data but most importantly gets people into the routine of regular SMART exercise and nutrition (WLC is part of the study). We start our next Medical Study with the next WLC. Hoping to connect with you via email, when the time is right for you.

    • Dr. Chris Holder

      Grif!- One of my favorite things about working with WLC is knowing you will check in with me when one of my articles hits the net… and, like I tell you every chance I get, I love what you and your people are doing… Lee Holden’s stuff mirrors my Sifu’s work… Lee spent some time with him years ago and so I feel good about what he’s doing… He’s the face of Qigong for the western born population, so he has a very big responsibility pushing the work forward… prayers and blessings to him… again, the work you guys are doing is exceptional… we can’t push this agenda hard enough because it’s truly life changing… Aloha my brother!

  • Adam Stanecki

    Another great article Chris.
    As dads we often neglect ourselves as we care for our loved ones. It’s somehow uncommon sense to take care of ourselves first, even though we know deep down that we are all better for it. We’re all still learning, I guess.

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