Sunday, November 16, 2008
The Zen of Fatherhood and Fitness: An Interview with Leo Babuata of ZenHabits.net
With November being the month of GRATITUDE for the Lopez household, I thought it would only be fitting to interview one of the individuals responsible for our family's theme for giving thanks.
My wife and I have been following Leo Babauta for about a year now on his ZenHabits.net blog. Almost everyday Leo has a post about how to transform your life from a life of excess to a life of SIMPLICITY. Through Leo's posts and example, we've managed to strip away a lot of what we feel isn't necessary - donating and purging clothes, toys and other belongings that seem to be just taking up a lot of space and cluttering our home and our lives.
I should also mention that this guy has more kids that I do!
Look out for more from Leo as he'll be one of the experts on the FitAndBusyDad Transformation Team!
F&BD: Leo, please give us a little bit of background on you, your family and your first thoughts on being a father.
LEO: I'm a full-time blogger these days at Zen Habits (zenhabits.net), with a second blog for writers and bloggers called Write To Done (writetodone.com). I've been a writer for 18 years now. I write a lot about simplifying your life, finding happiness, creating positive new habits, getting fit and healthy, family and finance issues, productivity, organization and more.
I'm happily married with six kids (the oldest is 15 and the youngest is 2), and I live on Guam. I'm a runner, training for my third marathon, and I'm just getting into triathlons. I love reading, writing and fitness, and especially spending time with my family.
Being a father is amazing. Of course there are troubles that come with being a parent, but they are nothing in comparison with the amazing joys of fatherhood. My kids are my reason for being, the greatest joy in my life (along with my wife), the best thing I've done and the most
fun way for me to spend my time. We play soccer, go hiking, shoot each other with Nerf dart guns, play board games, watch movies, go running, and much more.
F&BD: Your outlook on life is very unique, especially for today's over-stimulated and over-indulgent world. First, what is this unique lifestyle that you espouse and how do you manage to maintain this life/teach it to your kids?
LEO: I advocate and live a lifestyle that's much simpler than most people live. It's about focusing on what's important in your life and trying to get rid of the non-essential. It's about clearing out the clutter in your home and office to make room for the things you love. It's about clearing space in your mind to make room for your thoughts. It's about doing one thing at a time so you can concentrate, be effective, and live in the moment. It's about being happy.
I try to teach these values -- of living a life full of what's really important -- to my kids simply by living the life myself. They see what I do for a living. They see how I make time for what I really enjoy doing. They see how I make time for them as much as possible. They know how much I enjoy myself doing these things. And they will learn from the example that I live, I hope.
F&BD: Since I do run a health & fitness blog, what do you do to stay in shape?
LEO: I try to get in a pretty good mix of exercise, and try to eat "clean" as much as possible -- eating real foods instead of processed foods.
My exercise includes a mixture of:
* Marathon training -- I do several tough runs a week, including a 16-miler today!
* Triathlon training -- I don't do much of that these days but hope to get back into it after my marathon in December.
* Weight training -- I do about 3 days of full-body strength workouts, mostly heavy barbell stuff including squats, bench, deadlifts, rows, presses, etc.
* Bodyweight exercises -- Sometimes I mix in a circuit of exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, planks, hanging leg raises, and the like.
* Yardwork workouts -- I do some swinging of heavy tools like axes, picks, machetes, and lift heavy objects like rocks, logs, etc.
* Interval and hill training -- lately I've been mixing intervals into my running, along with tough hill repeats. Great workouts!
* Other activities -- I like to stay active with the kids, playing soccer or going hiking or doing other things like that.
I should point out that I don't do all of these things each week. I try to mix it up. Lately I've been doing the marathon training mixed with intervals and hills, along with regular weight training and some yardwork and other activities once in a while.
F&BD: What's your advice on how a busy dad can stay focused, not only on his fitness goals, but on his goals in life as well?
LEO: I recommend focusing on one goal at a time if you really want to be effective. Focus on that goal completely and turn it into a habit. This usually takes about a month or so. Make that habit a part of your daily routine, or you'll forget about it. So if you want to exercise, focus on setting a particular time of day and a particular part of your daily routine just for exercise -- then stick with this for a month, and it will become a habit. Find motivators like positive public pressure and having a partner (like a workout partner) or a coach or being part of a group. Once you've created that habit, focus on your next goal.
F&BD: Please tell us about ZenHabits.net and why you decided to create this website/blog. (ie. What inspired/inspires you to continue writing)?
LEO: I started Zen Habits after more than a year of self-transformation. I quit smoking and took up running and ran my first marathon. I created a bunch of new habits (one at a time) including eating healthy, waking early (I usually get up at 4:30 a.m. to run), being organized and productive (see my ebook, Zen To Done), and so forth. And I wanted to share what I was learning with others in hopes that they might benefit.
It turned out that a lot of other people wanted to learn to do these things, and to live a simpler life. So I gained a lot of enthusiastic readers who have been incredibly encouraging, and this motivates me to keep writing each day. It's a lot of fun!
F&BD: Thanks for sharing, Leo.