Friends can be a tricky avenue to maneuver. Within friendships, you have a person, other than yourself, who can be affected by the choices and decisions you make. There’s conflict and restoration. There’s an external being that feels emotions toward you. There’s someone who cares deeply about your life. This relationship can be both beautiful and broken. As a young adult with little life experience, I’m in no way a friendship expert. However, I’ve had many people in my life who have taught me how important it is to have great friends. Life becomes a wonderful journey when you start to do it with people. Especially when those people are great friends.
You need honest friends. We’ve all heard, “honesty is the best policy”. It’s real, especially with friends. Having people who are honest with you is not as common as one might think. The people that encourage you one hundred percent of the time aren’t great friends. Sounds bold, right? What if that friend encourages you to do something that you will regret for the rest of your life? Great friends tell you what you don’t want to hear. The caveat is it must be in truth. What your friend says must be based on a reputable source for it to be truth.
You need loving friends. To be a loving friend, he or she needs to be a solid friend. These people are so secure that no matter the cause, they will forgive you. It’s an unconditional type of love. It’s a love that won’t leave you because of your own brokenness. Because we are all imperfect. A great friend is someone who sees the parts of you that the world doesn’t see and still chooses to stay.
You need great friends. Life is hard to do on your own. It’s demanding, chaotic, and draining. However, it can also be beautiful. The joyful moment’s everyone has in life are meant to be shared with others. Shared experiences of high points in life that make an impact on you are memories meant to be made with people. We are designed to live life with people and to let others in and to be let in.
Seek great friends. Life’s burdens are too heavy to carry on one back. Let others lighten the load and have the freedom to be vulnerable, laugh without restraint, and be loved unconditionally.
To start, remember that you have got this! You are starting an adventure that will have lasting impacts on you and your family, regardless of your starting support network size. You can do this.
Here are a few tips to make the transition a little less stressful as you go back to school:
Start Building a Support Network
The more support you have through your college experience, even if it is just for yourself, the better it will be in the long run for you and your kids. We’ll talk about some support network ideas for the kids in just a moment.
Begin in your school’s student success center. In the business school, they have been a great resource for me. They have assisted me with my resume and they have been an encouragement for so much of the hard steps.
They even made a way for me to have access to career fairs that would have been difficult to attend with my daughter. The first semester of the evening career fair, they even offered to watch her! The second semester, they asked a MISA (Management Information Student Association) member to watch children for the event. That is an amazing resource! They have been incredibly good to me. They would not have known my need, however if I had not taken the first step to meet with them.
Meet with your Professors
I cannot stress enough how vital this is. Your professors want you to succeed and want to help you!
Every professor in and out of my major has been wonderful. I do feel like I was incredibly blessed haven chosen the MIS degree path. My professors have supported, encouraged, given hard advice, and pushed me to be the best I could be and not limit myself because of the fact that I am a single mom and a non-traditional student. I have signed a contract for an amazing career, before I graduate, because of my professors.
They did things that made it easier for me to succeed. For example, I brought my daughter to class on the days when she was out of school in the middle of the week.
Here is the truth though, I emailed or talked to my professors to make sure it was okay to bring her with me. I never wanted them to think I took it for granted and I wanted them to have an option to say no. They have never not allowed me to bring her with me. Every time I have needed to bring my daughter, all of my professors have been gracious towards me and her.
Do Not Limit Yourself to Just Your College
Ask about resources that will help you succeed in your learning and then follow up and utilize them. Need help with writing? Go to the writing center. If you have a kid that is young enough to go to ASUM childcare, utilize that resource. If you need help with almost any high fail rate class, there is a study jam or tutoring to be found in the evenings or in the Lomasson building.
The generosity of faculty, staff and other students, was one of the things that most surprised me in this experience as a non-traditional single parent student.
Support For Your Child
How Do You Balance Homework And Parenting?
My daughter was 8-years-old when I began school, so we were able to have conversations about what it was like to be in college from the start. We do a lot of talking through her feelings when it gets hard and she feels like she is not getting the level of attention that she needs. I try to be as validating as possible about how challenging it can be for her, too.
We make compromises as well. So, for example, I will set a timer for ten minutes and I will stop working on homework once that goes off just to be present with her. I will sometimes set another timer to know when to get back to my assignments.
How Do You Handle Out Of School Days While Still Having Class?
I typically take my daughter with me. She gets screen time during the classes, which is a treat for her. Plus, I let her know that I am excited that she gets to attend class with me. Like I said before, my professors have been very kind to her and I have also found that other students make her feel welcome to be in the class.
Another option, here in Missoula, are drop-in daycare centers. The one that I will use on occasion is very loving and my daughter feels safe there.
How Do You Handle Your Child Being Sick?
The university does not have a great solution for sick kids. However, after growing my friend base and support group, I have found that there are some faculty, staff and other students are willing to help me and not just from my own college. I have also found that my professors have been very understanding through the process of having a sick child. So seriously, talk to your professors!
The building of a support network is very important to your success as a student. I believe that if you are willing to put yourself out there and be friendly, you will be able to have the support group that you need. I have found that the University of Montana’s faculty, staff and students are an incredible group of people that, on the whole, want to be in your corner as you pursue your educational goals!
Mandy Fischer is a single parent to an amazing 10-year-old daughter. She will be graduating the Spring of 2020 from the University of Montana with a Business Management Information Systems degree. She recently accepted a position with Deloitte that begins after graduation and is excited for the future!
If you’ve played football at any level, you understand the expectations and pressure put on athletes to be able to gain or drop weight quickly. While these pressures can be felt at every position, there’s no position groups that feel these demands more intensely than the offensive and defensive line, where size matters almost as much as talent. I’ve spent the last few years of my life as an NCAA Division I student-athlete, but it wasn’t until football was over that I was finally able to achieve my fitness goals.
First Things First
So I don’t think it’s a secret that a lot of football players (especially the dudes in the trenches) are just wired a little differently than your Average Joe. You’ve gotta be a little bit insane to voluntarily sign up to commit 40 to 50 hours a week (not including school or work) to a jam packed schedule of workouts, 4:45AM wake-up calls, film sessions, training room work, practices, meetings, yada yada yada, all for the reward of bashing your head into another 300 lb grown-ass man over and over again… but for whatever crazy reason, we did that… And that madness instilled a mindset in us that is different than most. A mindset that allows you to face any challenge and attack it without hesitation. The mindset that allowed you to achieve your goals in football is the same mindset that its going to take to achieve your goals after football. Commitment, self-disciple, and a whole lotta that WORK. Easy as that. And just like in football, you’ve gotta have a game plan.
Through hard work and dedication, I’ve been fortunate enough to drop 70+ lbs (in under 7 months) twice in the last 4 years and the things I can point to that contributed the most to my journey were:
Working out with purpose
Keeping your eyes on the prize
You’re a former lineman. You love to eat. I get it. But believe me when I tell you that even though it sounds pretty intimidating, intermittent fasting is going to be your best friend in this whole process. In fact, if you do it right, you can still eat a lot of your favorite not-so-healthy foods somewhat regularly.
Contrary to popular belief, the entire idea behind intermittent fasting is NOT to starve yourself. With intermittent fasting, you’re still supposed to take in the same amount of calories you would normally, but instead of taking in those calories through the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, you instead give yourself a 4-8 hour window (depending on what you can handle) each day where you scarf down an entire day’s worth of calories. After a few weeks, your body will eventually get used to your new eating pattern and you’ll start to not even get hungry outside of the window that you’ve set for yourself. Not only does intermittent fasting offer weight-loss benefits, but there are also cognitive and cell restoration benefits that come along with fasting regimens as your body enters into a state of ketosis.
As great as the benefits of intermittent fasting can be, it is definitely something that you shouldn’t jump into without doing your research first and making sure it’s the right weight loss method for you. Below are a few links to videos and podcasts to help you begin your research and better understand exactly how intermittent fasting works.
So obviously, throughout this process, your workout regimen is going to need to be pretty gnarly if you want to see real results fast. It’s crucial that you’re able to hold yourself accountable to not only get in the gym everyday, but also to work your ass off while you’re there! You don’t have your coaches to yell at you anymore, no more teammates to hype you up when you’re not feeling it, no real consequences for skipping a workout. IT’S 100% ON YOU NOW!
So now that you’re in the gym, you’ve gotta figure out how to transition from the year-round swoll-sesh that is lineman workouts into a workout that’ll get you slim and trim. I get asked all the time what my workout routine is and the answer varies but the one thing that is always a constant is CARDIO! I know… as a big guy, cardio is your worst nightmare and rightfully so! Even when you drop the weight, cardio still sucks but like I said before, you’ve gotta embrace the challenge! If it was easy to drop 85 lbs, everybody would do it!
While I 100% encourage you to attack the gym, it’s important to make sure you’re smart about your cardio and that you don’t try to do too much too fast! You can definitely put yourself in some sketchy situations if you’re going all out too early in the process. Nobody wants to be the guy that passes out at the gym because he was hitting the elliptical too hard so make sure you know your limitations, but cardio definitely needs to be the focal point of your workouts. Everything else is supplementary. You’ve been big as hell your whole damn life, you don’t need to lift anymore! Go ahead and hop on that treadmill big fella!
As many big guys do, I’ve always had some pretty serious knee issues and I know jogging isn’t too easy on the ol’ joints, especially when you’re pushing 300 pounds. I’ve found that the stationary bike is a great alternative to the treadmill and a much more comfortable place to knock-out a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session. I bike at least one hour (22-25 miles) on the stationary bike 5 to 6 times a week, alternating between 30-second and 90-second working sets with 30-second resting sets in between. It’s the worst thing in the world for the first few weeks but it’s a freakin’ game changer once you start getting comfortable with higher-intensity cardio! Find some good thermogenic pre-workout, search for a good playlist, and get crackin’ on that thing!
The first month or so of daily cardio is gonna be killer on your lungs and your legs. Your heart is going to be beating through your chest. You’ll probably be the sweatiest guy in the gym and I promise it won’t be a pretty sight. But as you gradually start to shred more and more, you’re gonna realize how worth it it was and be stoked that you did it!
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Just like chasing any other goal in life, its super important to be able to see the big picture and remember what you’re working towards. The biggest challenge you’ll face in this whole process will be the mental battle you’re going to be fighting with yourself to keep pushing your limits. It’s key that you don’t let yourself get discouraged or lose sight of your goals if you aren’t seeing the results that you want right away! Keeping the right mentality can make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
You’re not gonna lose 10 lbs in a week and you might not even lose 5 lbs in a week, but you’ve always got to remember to keep a level head, put your head down, and keep on grinding! You’ll only get out what you put into your workouts and dieting, so if you give a shitty effort, you’re bound to get shitty results. At the end of the day, nobody else can want it for you. If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen! No excuses.
I hope this helps you in your journey! Good luck, be smart, and get after it!
Have you ever been to a point in life where you wanted nothing to do with the opposite sex? This is exactly where I was ever since I moved to Missoula, MT in the Spring of 2017 to attend the University. After a year had gone by this is when my love story began. The pictures provided will be important events that happened in order.
On Thursday January 25th, 2018 I was reading The Duck Commander Devotional book (Image above) and the topic was on motivation. I’m not usually the person to post things to my instagram story but it motivated me and I wanted others to be motivated by it as well. With that said, it was uploaded to my story within seconds. Shortly after, a girl replied to my story and said, “Sooooo good”. What did I do next? You guessed it! I went to her instagram profile and scrolled through some of her photos. Of course she was attractive so I messaged her back and made conversation. After a week of messaging back and forth, an unplanned appearance occurred.
Downtown at a local coffee shop called, Zootown Brew, there was a church service being held. I decided to go with some of my roommates that evening and of course the most beautiful woman in the world was there that night. During the church service, I had the worst butterflies anyone could ever imagine. After the church service was over, I saw her and a friend heading across the street. I had to make up my mind and I had to do it quick. Do I try to run into her and make conversation or do I let this opportunity slide and maybe get another shot some other time? I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night if I didn’t go talk to her so I went and made conversation. From the very first time I made eye contact with her, I knew there was something special about her.
Over the course of a month we became really good friends and I decided I wanted to start pursuing a relationship with her. After discussing our feelings with one another, I decided to ask her dad if he wanted to get coffee at City Brew.
We had a great conversation and I asked him for his permission to pursue his daughter. He gave me permission as long as I would Respect her with a capital R. I would recommend this to any guy that wants to get on good terms with the father from day 1. Believe me, it will help.
After the conversation with her father, that night I wrote her a letter in a journal. The letter consisted of my intentions with her and I gave it to her when we were out to dinner at Jakers. After she read it I asked her to be my girlfriend. She said yes and when I dropped her off we shared out first kiss together.
Over the course of a few months we shared several memories and wrote back in forth in the journal to each other. Each and everyday I began to fall more and more in love with her. I had a plan in my mind to complete school before I would ever get married. God had different plans… I shared this with my girlfriend at the time and she felt God was leading her down the same path. After some time had passed, I went to one of the most nerve racking conversations I would ever experience in my life. THE CONVERSATION OF WHERE I WOULD ASK MY POTENTIAL FATHER IN LAW FOR HIS DAUGHTERS HAND IN MARRIAGE.
Him and I met at the Cracker Barrel at 9am on a Friday morning. We had some small talk conversation at first and then I lead the conversations into my feelings for his daughter. The rest was a blur until I asked him if I could marry his daughter. He said yes and we both shared some tears as well as some laughs.
Fast forwarding to the proposal! This was one of the most exciting moments of my life. The 1 time in my life that I will get on 1 knee to ask the woman I love, “Will you marry me?” The evening consisted of a nice dinner in Bigfork, MT at When in Rome. After dinner I asked her if she wanted to go catch the sunset on Flathead Lake at a state park called, Wayfarers. She didn’t hesitate to say yes and the ring in my pocket began to itch. As the sun began to go down we arrived at the destination where my sister and her husband were undercover taking photo’s. Neither of us saw them as we walked into my plan to ask her to marry me. I got down on one knee as she began to cry. Then I began to cry. I could hardly get out the words, “Will you Marry me?” I wanted to say all these things that I loved about her before I asked her but the tears down both of our faces said it all. After she composed herself, she said yes. This was the beginning step towards one of the most important days of my life, the wedding!
We had 100 days to plan a wedding over the summertime. My job was to say yes to everything and help where ever I could. It went by so fast and sooner than I knew it, I married my best friend. The 1 thing I wanted to do at our wedding was choreograph a special dance between the two of us. If you’ve gotten this far, don’t hesitate to watch our first dance (click on the picture below). YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.