127: Running Routines and the Drive to Be a Better Dad

127: Running Routines and the Drive to Be a Better Dad

This week’s guest, Andrew Wilcox is the creator of “Eat Live Dream ADD”, a blog about his experiences living with ADHD. It explores topics such as routine, exercise, running, health & wellness, motivation, fear, acceptance, self-loathing, sex, emotions, adult tantrums, relationships and parenting. Andrew is married and a father of three and the only person in his home diagnosed with ADHD. He was diagnosed at age 5 and took Ritalin on and off for most of his life until he was 28 and made the decision to regulate his ADHD through coffee, exercise, and routine.

Medication: Having been diagnosed with ADHD at a very young age and having to take medication to manage it left a big impression on Andrew and his views towards medication. He tells the story of how he was shamed by a teacher in front of his whole class for failing to understand a math problem and then thrown out of class when he retaliated. Being singled out for being different from his peers and constantly being judged for it made him make the connection that medication was bad. After suddenly quitting medication at the age of 17, his life began to take a downward spiral until a friend intervened and had an honest conversation with him.  His father offered him a place to stay and to get him back on medication. Recognizing this as “fork in the road moment”, he got back on medication and began to piece his life together. Today it has been 7 years since he has given up medication in favor of managing ADHD through exercise, coffee and a routine. He has at this time, made the conscious decision that while medication can be effective for some individuals, he will choose a different path to regulating his ADHD. Regarding medication, Andrew believes that just as it is important to wean yourself off medication when you decide to stop taking it, it is important to get back on it gradually. He also believes that our bodies will take some time to adjust to the dosage and not giving up during this transition period is key to making the  medication work for you.

Routine: According to Andrew the hardest thing about staying on an exercise routine is (1) allowing yourself to have an “off” day where you choose to do a less intense version of your regular workout (2) stop beating yourself up when you do break the routine and instead channel that frustration into your workout when you get back into it.

Coaching: In the coaching segment of the show, Andrew talks about how in the face of a stressful situation he is likely to react poorly and he would like to work on keeping this reaction in check. An example of this situation is when Andrew is trying to get his two daughters to bed. How can he keep himself from letting stress takeover in such a situation? Eric gave him the following strategies to help manage this:

  • Consider that in a scale of 0 – 10, your current stress levels have not gone beyond 6. This is a good time to use logic and reason to bring yourself back. A meditation/mindfulness practice will allow you to put yourself in the observer position and slow down.

  • Have a conversation with your family and come up with a code word that can help you recognize your increasing stress levels in a situation.

  • Channel your physical energy into exercise. Remove yourself from the situation

  • Allow yourself to make mistakes and forgive yourself when you do have a slip-up.

  • Come up with creative solutions to get the children to bed: different schedules for both kids, a 1-minute dance party, collaborating with them to come with a solution that works and reviewing this from time to time.

Andrew will follow up with Eric in 2 weeks to talk about how he is using these strategies to manage his stress reaction.

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