The ADD/HD Challenge to Health and Fitness
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The ADD/HD Challenge to Health and Fitness

I would like to introduce you to a highly creative man who is good husband to his wife and father to three young children. Seth, one of the founders of Outside the Box and artist who goes by SirReal on Deviant Art, has a flair for all things geek. He works 70-80 hours a week in two other jobs, juggles home life, and does podcasts for Outside the Box with his co-host who lives a few hours away. He has an additional challenge with dyspraxia, a fine motor skills disorder which affects his writing, so he has learned to "draw" his letters instead or simply write them. Oh, by the way, he has adult ADD and he's my son. His ADD has been a blessing and a challenge all at the same time. Seth, age 32, has issues with food and exercise while the ADD factor puts a twist on it.

Attention Deficit Disorder, with or without Hyperactivity, is a neurological condition causing the person affected to struggle to pay attention in a variety of settings. The reason is the blizzard of thoughts racing in and out of the person's mind randomly. Neurotransmitters don't make the proper connections primarily in the motor skills area of the brain. Some exercises can be challenging if the body is unable to handle some of the motor skills and coordination involved. This also affects impulse control, realizing consequences for actions, social difficulties, memory problems, and poor testing skills. These individuals are highly intelligent which causes them to become bored very quickly. For someone like Seth with ADD/HD, it is hard to control the impulse to eat foods he really likes, especially if it is out in view or easily found. Instead of taking a medication for ADD, strong coffee is his friend, an old remedy used for what used to be called Hyper-kinetic Disorder. Coffee and caffeinated soda are the most common sources. Exercise is a challenge unless it is really interesting, so functional training, bootcamp, and other fast-paced, creative exercise forms are much more interesting. Walking or running on a treadmills means they need some tunes to keep their brains happy!

Seth always had a challenge with food as did his dad, who also had adult ADD. He is in the healthy weight category for his height, though. His body burns carbs quickly. He was super-thin as a child yet ate like crazy. His pickiness with food had to do with aversion to textures and some strong flavors.He would sometimes sneak into the kitchen and eat sugar or honey straight from the container. He still does that now every once in a while, but not so much now. He craves carbs and cheese. Leftovers of mac and cheese are his favorite; he used to be the one who wanted seconds and thirds. As an adult, this caused him weight gain, but he has made a concerted effort to eat more veggies and cut back on extras. Seth has slimmed down over the past few months.

Seth doesn't belong to a gym because he doesn't have the time or free money to go. He does a lot of walking and carrying weight with his morning job, a newspaper route. At one time, Seth sent the superhero workout plan he found online for me to review. It looked like a great plan, but a bit advanced. So I told him how to begin and improvise with things he already had around the house. His love of comic books fueled his interest in the workout.

Seth's thoughts about marriage: " In marriage, the right partner is everything. Becky understands when I'm having trouble focusing. It frustrates her, but she is willing to repeat herself often. In faith, I have the same trouble paying attention in church as I did in school. As for other relationships, it depends on the other person's level of understanding."

As for ADD being a family thing, it usually is. He said they see traits in their children, but it's too soon for them to tell.

Exercise and Food helps for those of you who have ADD/HD:

  1. Find an exercise class that looks interesting to you. Begin at the side of the room where you can see and follow the instructor, but not feel like you are "in the way" of the other class members.
  2. If the fitness center seems more appealing, have a trainer show you how to use the equipment properly, what exercises to perform, and the number of repetitions and sets. Have periodic meetings with him or her to help you stay motivated. 1/2 hour sessions are usually adequate for periodic check ups after the first 12 weeks.
  3. Use a headset with your favorite music when you use cardio equipment or watch television if it is available.
  4. Be sure to wear well-fitting exercise shoes tied properly to protect your feet well. It's not unusual for people with ADD/HD to struggle with motor control of the feet.
  5. Always pack your gym bag the night before with a check list of what you need to take with you. This way, you don't find yourself going home to get your shoes or something else important you forgot.
  6. Find an interesting app to track your food and exercise. FitBits are great, but keep track of the charging cord!
  7. Have the trainer or a friend set up a non-food reward system every three or four weeks of continuous exercise. Make sure they are things you would enjoy being able to do.Free ones are the best ones!
  8. Set up a big reward for the every 5-10 pounds lost.Make a big one for hitting your goal weight.
  9. Avoid having foods at home you crave.Stay away from the fast food drive thru. Learn to cook or make your own food.
  10. Put food in serving size packs to avoid overeating.
  11. Set up healthy snacks you like 2-1/2 to 3 hours after your meals to maintain blood sugar levels.
  12. Very, very important! Every time you come home from working out at the gym, WASH YOUR CLOTHES AND TAKE A SHOWER BEFORE YOU FORGET! You want to win friends and positively influence people, you know.

Seth is a dedicated husband and father, loyal employee, and radical Jesus follower. His house he calls "The House of Chaos". You can follow his podcasts for Outside the Box on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. His artwork is on Deviant Art.

A special note to my readers: God gave you a valuable gift with ADD/HD. He made no mistakes. Psalm 139. You may well be in good company with the Apostle Peter!

Many blessings to you!


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