Category Archives: Health and Wellness
Amen Iseghohi is the Founder and CEO of Amenzone Fitness and the Amenzone Fitness Franchising entity. He has both business and fitness background with a BA in International Business. Mr. Iseghohi also founded the Amenzone Foundation, a 501c3 created to help fight childhood obesity and encourage better self-esteem.
The AmenZone PE Foundation is founded on the belief that many of the issues facing today’s youth are a result of low self-esteem, poor nutrition and lack of fitness.
How do we address the problem of teen dating and sexual violence? A conversation with Gordon Braxton, Suzanne Casemento and Quentin Walcott about gender based violence and how to speak our sons and daughters about healthy relationships, dating and sexual violence. We’ll also address bystanders syndrome and how to empower them to speak up.
To learn that you have a special needs, handicap, deaf child is the most powerful journey I have ever been on. Ethan, who is almost 11 years old is an amazing young man. Life is very normal and easy with him. It was not always that way. He was born with a condition
called “Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct”. I could see early on that “something” was not quite right. Only I was unsure of that “something”. He never startled as an infant, slept 20 hours a day, and fixed his eyes on me. I used to say, “I have birthed an Einstein.”
When Ethan was 5 months old, his condition was confirmed. This news came to me, while we were shopping in a fabric store. He was in an infant front pack and there I was standing at the check-out counter crying my eyes out. My husband called me with this news. Ethan has these stunning blue big eyes and that sweet baby just looked into my crying face with a drooling smile. His world was perfect and mine had just been shattered. I immediately began asking myself questions. No family history, what happens next? He was already learning how to do baby signing so I thought this was going to be easy. The moment I realized that my baby could never hear me singing to him is when hard really started. It was that moment when I cried almost every day for many years.
I was angry. I was mad at God. I questioned my healthy lifestyle. Was I too lean, should I have forced myself to swallow prenatal vitamins? Did I do this to my baby? My thoughts were all consumed daily of his care, his appointments, and his therapy. I was depressed and ate myself into 85 extra pounds. I cried every day and I was distracted away from the care of my husband and family. I tried to work through the loss of that hope I had for this beautiful boy. I was desperate to find a reason that did not reflect on my mothering. I was lost and alone.
I was angry that my husband went off to work each day leaving me to endure the challenges. That little baby boy grew into a toddler that was angry and frustrated. He could not hear my voice around a corner. When he could not see me, his volume was loud. When he wanted something he was even louder. Car rides were intolerable. I was angry and felt I was doing all the work with therapy. I thought my husband should be more involved. He worked 10 hours days at a demanding job. His energy was gone before he pulled into the driveway at night. Even though my husband was grieving, at that time I was only thinking of myself.
One afternoon I called his office and said, “I need some drugs, depression drugs, coping drugs.” I had never been on any kind of medication, so I did not know what I needed. He kindly spoke into me, “This is situational and you are going to be fine.” That evening he showed up with my favorite wine to have when I couldn’t cope. This was his way of saying, “I know it’s hard & we are going to get through this.” Just having permission to sip a glass of wine at 10am was enough of a drug. Funny thing is over a years’ time I might have done that once.
I didn’t know how to communicate my needs, which made it hard on friendships. We had a fourth child, I was tired, and it was too hard to even think of my own needs. Ethan was loud; people could not be around him. Friends were uncomfortable. and play dates that were scheduled over a few hours were cut very short. Slowly friends dropped off and I was very much alone. I felt isolated and accepted this as my journey and cross to bear. I was tired of having to explain over and over that he is deaf. It was exhausting. No one understood him. I felt I had to educate each person. I had few friends who could tolerate Ethan. Not even my closet of friends would come hang out in my home. I had to learn to have grace and understanding for them. It was not easy.
What I had to do was re-frame my thinking and my process. One day I realized that my identity and my structure of life must change. Ethan is a hard child. Hard is what grows us into something. I grew into a deeper, caring and understanding of the human soul. I took that time, leaving my job, work I loved, to understand and grow this boy into a functioning and healthy life. I embraced Ethan, right where he was. The therapist told me that deaf children have problems with balance, especially climbing and parks. I took that boy to the park almost daily. I was told swimming is hard and scary for toddlers who are deaf. He had swimming lessons.
Nothing about being deaf would hold Ethan captive in what he enjoyed. Having people express their discomfort & recognize the challenge in this journey. Doing this by asking questions to draw others out in their process. I began to trust others, and venture out with girlfriends. My husband encouraged many evenings out with friends, so I could have a break. I had to acknowledge my own needs. Most important was realizing that my life could not be dictated or defined by a special needs child.
Insights I learned with a special needs son:
- Ethan’s normal is not my normal. It’s okay to cry and it’s going to be hard to figure all this out.
- People that have not had a special needs child will not understand you. Take no offenses.
- You must take time away for you with alone time or girlfriends.
- Don’t allow the circumstance of a special needs child dictate how you run the household. The entire family is important.
- Have one on one mom dates w/each child away from the challenges. Today, almost eleven years later those one on one mom dates continue. Imagine with five kids how many dates I go on. Even my 23 and 25 year old look forward to those dates. You must stay connected with all your children no matter how much extra time or work.
- Your husband will handle this very different than you. Embrace his journey. Regardless of how tired, mad, disconnected you are with your man, treat him well. I am reaping the rewards and honoring and respecting my husband in those hardest and darkest of days.
No one signs up for the journey of a special needs child. Each has a story that is very different. My hard may look different than your hard. I would walk through this journey again to have that boy named Ethan in my life. He is that boy who sings, and can’t carry a tune. Who loves airplanes and history. His had Cochlear Implants that allow him to function beautifully in a hearing world. His story is still being written and he has much favor in his life. I am blessed to be his mother. That little baby an infant in my arms now as a boy hears me sing. We sing together.
Elizabeth Traub is a Portland, OR mom of 5. She has spent the past 20 years working as a consultant with business start-ups, and existing
businesses. For 15 years, she has also mentored & coached women to live in the design of their dreams and passions. You can find her online at Hung Out To Buy www.hungouttobuy.com and Girlfriends Hub www.girlfriendshub.com.
The past few weeks, I’ve been troubled by how some adults are reacting to the rape case in Steubenville. Making generalizations about teens doesn’t help other teens to understand the severity of rape. We need to address the “boys will be boys” attitude that permeates our society and we need to be honest about how much we really don’t tell boys about self-control and respecting boundaries.
Our first mistake is rushing to tell boys what rape is instead of asking them “What is rape?” Once we know what they’re thinking we can proceed to have a conversation about rape. We have to let them ask questions no matter how much we want to avoid answering them.
As parents of boys, how may of us have in-depth conversations with our sons about rape. Yes, it’s an uncomfortable and complex subject but we can’t just keep telling them that “No means no”, “Respect women” and “Don’t rape.”
We have to teach them self-control and not to use their power or strength to over power a woman who is weak, vulnerable, promiscuous or inebriated. We have to let our sons know that under no circumstance is it ever okay to use words, physical force, drugs or alcohol to rape a woman. It starts with teaching boys at an early age to have self-control.
It’s not about just raising our sons to be gentleman, because there are men who by society’s standards are gentlemen, that rape women. There are nice guys that rape women. Let’s stop projecting an image of a rapist as an feral animal or a monster. A rapist can be cleverly disguised as a friendly, well-respected neighbor, co-worker or associate. Boys need to know that no matter how popular, good looking, sexy, well-liked or charming they are, no matter no much money or time they spend with a girl, they are NOT entitled to sex.
I was almost raped by a “nice guy” who I thought was my friend. After he helped me move into my apartment, he tried to rape me. The thought that ran through my head as I was fighting him off was”No one would believe me because he’s a nice guy.” He never gave me any indication that he had this side to him. I never flirted or led him to believe we were anything more than friends. This is why it was so painful. I thank God that at some point he came to his senses and realized what was happening and left quickly. The next day he called to apologize but the damage had already been done. He crossed the boundaries and broke a trust. There was no turning back and our friendship was over.
Years later, what I learned about that night is that it was about control. He tried to use physical force and persuasive words to convince me that I led him on and I wanted this. This is what we need to remind our sons that no matter how charming, good looking, wealthy, educated or successful they are, they have no right to take away a woman’s dignity, her self-respect, her pride and her trust. We have to remind our sons that no woman “asks for it” because she is promiscuous, flirty, sexy, or confident.
Rape is a sexual act that is sometimes violent in nature. Anytime someone is forced to do something against their will, it’s not mutual and consenting.We have to teach them that they may face a situation in which a woman is sending mixed messages and she is enticing him. I don’t care if she’s buck naked and waiting, once her lips say “No” or “Stop”, you have to control your urges and stop. Only “yes” means yes.
We have to tell our sons that just because a woman is giving him signs that she is interested in having sex, these signs could be misconstrued.
If at any point the message is unclear, don’t try to proceed with sex. Alcohol played a major role in the Steubenville case and we have to let
our sons know that alcohol inhibits your thinking and reasoning. A “nice guy” can make bad choices when he has been drinking.
We need to teach our sons that if they witnessed another guy trying to coerce a girl into sex or is taking advantage of her weakened state to speak up and do something. Let’s stop with the “boys club” and “no snitching” mentality. Let your son know that if he sees something and doesn’t take action, he is just as responsible. Sharing pictures and videos or making comments about the victim is also something we need to discuss.
Our conversations with our sons about sex and rape are not one shot deals. They have to be continuous and unabridged. No matter how often we talk about it, the message should be clear: “It’s about respecting boundaries and getting consent.”
The Authentic Happiness site has a great strength survey for children to help them discover their 24 character strengths.
This tool is helpful in getting boys to focus on their strengths and to use these strengths to be their best. I had my son complete the questionnaire and post the results on his wall as a a visual aid. It also helps to reinforce positive feelings when he is having a bad day.
Puberty can be a challenging time for boys because they are going through physical, emotional, and mental changes. These changes can come about suddenly or slowly and can cause mixed feelings in boys. They start to compare themselves to other boys and doubt their abilities. If your son knows his hidden talents, he is better equipped to deal with peer pressure. It also gives him the self determination to succeed in life.
Having a tool that showcases his strengths is a great way to help ease some of those challenges.
You have to register for free on the site, but it's worth it. Authentic Happiness
How are you helping your son to discover his strengths?
There is very little information about how body image issues affect boys. The truth is boys are as inundated with images that contribute to obsession with their bodies as girls. According to a 2007 Harvard, “25% of anorexic and bulimic adults and 40% of binge eaters are men”.
Many boys do not speak up about their problem out of fear of being teased or stigmatized. We need to support our boys and help them to not only feel comfortable about their bodies but also to feel comfortable enough to come forward and speak up about their challenges with their body image. This resource from Common Sense Media helps parents and educators to guide boys to developing a healthier outlook. Check out The Pressure for Boys video.
What are your thoughts on boys and body image issues?
The father/son relationship is the least nurtured in the family. Fathers play an important role in their son's lives and as moms of boys we need to support and encourage these relationships.
- How to have self-control
- How to value his money
- How to manage his time
- How to practice safe sex
- How to give back to society
- How to tie a tie
- How to be self-disciplined
- How to lose graciously
- How to buy a suit
- How to change a tire
- How to buy a gift for the women in his life
- How to choose the right woman
- How to do laundry properly
- How to engage in a meaningful relationship
- How to tip at a restaurant
- How to properly shake a hand
- How to be accountable for his actions
- How to get out of an unhealthy relationship responsibly
- How to travel internationally
- How to dress for a job interview
- How to negotiate
- How to speak up and stand up for justice
- How to take care of his family
- How to rely on his faith
- How to put the seat down
What do you think should be added to the list?
I do my best to meditate twice a day. On the days, I do not meditate, I can feel the difference in how I feel about myself and how I interact with others. I have been meditating for over 5 years and know the benefits of taking even 10 minutes a day to calm your mind and body and sit in silence.
Many people think meditation is new-age or goes against their religious values. Meditation is simply quieting the mind. You can use whatever method works best for you. Some people choose to sit in silence, some choose a mantra or word, others use affirmations or music. It's a matter of preference.
I introduced my son to meditation when he was five years old and naturally he did not gravitate towards it. Boys tend to be more active and need movement throughout the day. Moms of boys know asking a boy to sit still for at least 10 minutes is like asking a fish to survive out of water for 10 minutes. However, research has shown that boys benefit from mindfulness meditation and it increases their overall well-being.
There are various options for introducing your son to meditation. No one tool works for every child, so you have to find the one that makes your son feel comfortable.
The one trick that has worked is to get him to just sit for as long as he can and do absolutely nothing. I used to make a game out of it and challenge him to sit longer than me. This is a challenge for adults, so you can imagine how challenging it can be for kids. However, choosing to sit for even 2 minutes helps him to calm down and "be still."
A fun way to get your son to meditate is to visit Do Nothing for 2 Minutes which invites you to sit still and do nothing. There is a countdown on the screen as well as a calming view and sounds of ocean waves.
As moms, we often put the needs of our children before our own needs. We put off or delay our basic needs in order to accomodate the needs of others. This TED Talk is about being healthy for yourself and for your family.
You Are Responsible for Your Own Happiness
No one has the power to make you happy. You are responsible for your own happiness. Your happiness depends on your beliefs and attitudes. You can’t change the past or predict the future, so be content with what you have today. Happiness feeds your spirits and helps you regain your passion for life. It is up to you to make the strides towards your happiness. If you are constantly dealing with difficult people, develop a plan that will help you keep your sanity when dealing with them. If you find that your interactions with certain people control your mood, and then make the decision to control whether or not you will be affected by them. You are in control of your thoughts and emotions. If you are blaming others for your state of unhappiness, ask yourself how are contributing to the problem too?
Change Your Approach to Life
What is controlling your life right now? Are you controlled by your emotions, by your past experiences, or by your thoughts? The way you approach life is the way you will live your life. If you see your life as miserable and a failure, then that is the way you will live your life. By allowing yourself to grow in resentment and regret each day, you are cheating yourself of a quality life. You were not destined to live a life of uncertainty and emotional distress. Your negative experiences and disappointing past is what keep you in desperation and frustration. Start to see things as getting better rather than getting worse. Start each day with a clean slate and with the determination to be at your best. Think about what’s possible, not what’s implausible. Stop complaining about what isn’t right in your life and start to embrace what is good in your life. Don’t look back at what you have missed out on and what you have lost; think about all you have to gain. Anticipate the best for your life, be clear on what you want in your life, and then start to create life changing strategies. It’s not easy to change your approach; it takes time and commitment to living a better life. On useful way to change your approach is to not put any expectations on the day and to incorporate a bright attitude in your day.
Let People Know How You Want to Be Treated
Don’t expect your friends and family to know what you want. If you have needs that aren’t being met, you must clearly communicate what you want. You have to let people know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable you. Be firm with your boundaries and let people know when they have crossed the line. Don’t assume because you wouldn’t do something to someone, that they wouldn’t do it to you. When dealing with strong personalities, let them know in an assertive manner what is not acceptable to you. If you continue to let people disrespect you, then they will just assume that it is acceptable. Be honest with people about how their behavior makes you feel. Don’t look for them to change right away, but at least by telling them you are giving the message that you have self-respect.
Stop Putting Up With People and Situations that You Have Outgrown
What are you still tolerating that no longer works for you? Why are you still putting up with it? Tolerations can become old reliable friends once we’ve had them for awhile. Although you know that you need to make changes, you avoid doing so because you are so comfortable with the toleration. Getting rid of tolerations requires you to be honest with yourself about what isn’t working in your life and then you have to make the decision whether to change it or live with it. But what will it cost you in the long run? After some time, this toleration will drain your energy and sap your enthusiasm for life. If you have been desensitizing yourself from what you are allowing in your life, you will deprive yourself of a fulfilling life. Take some time to write down what you are putting up with and create a plan to change it.
Maintain Your Individuality
Are you giving up so much of yourself that you don’t even know your true self anymore? If you are living someone else’s idea life, then you are not living a self actualized life. You can not make people accept or love you based on who they want you to be. You must be yourself at all times. What is great about you? What are your strengths, your natural gifts? The things that make you who you are can sometimes conflict with other people’s expectations. You don’t want to look back on your life with regret or resentment because you gave up yourself for someone else. Don’t compromise your individuality.