The big, bold and colorful mural on the outside wall of Columbus Drive Gyros hits you like a storm surge while entering the building.
It’s a life-size painting of hometown hero Kawann Short, defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers, in his No. 99 uniform and holding the Super Bowl 50 trophy triumphantly in his right hand, an event that was not to be.
Throughout Northwest Indiana, there were banners, posters and pep rallies throughout the city in support of the E.C. Central grad. Social media kept him in touch daily with the Region, as if he were standing at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard, taking it all in.
One particular banner stretched across Columbus Drive at Alder Street, proclaimed: “East Chicago is proud of our hometown Kawann Short. We are East Chicago — Super Bowl 50. Go Panthers!”
That 10-by-10-foot mural at Columbus Drive Gyros was painted Jan. 28 by the artist known as Fhat Cousins, who worked on his labor of love for eight hours.
“I’m 6-foot, and I still have to look up at it,” said restaurant owner John Troupis. “It’s a win-win for the city because it went viral on social media. People are always pulling up, taking pictures of it.
“Kawann loved it and ended up sharing it (on social media). It lit a fire under everybody to join the celebrating.”
E.C. Central and middle school football players watched the 2016 Super Bowl in the high school’s mini-theater, with a pre-game video message delivered by Kawann Short.
“I’ve seen so much of the love coming from home. It’s sincere and coming from the heart,” he said by phone prior to the game. “East Chicago isn’t very big. It has only about 30,000 but they respect people who get out and do things with their lives.
“And when you do, they gladly jump on board and support you 100 percent.”
The 44th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Short went from five sacks combined over his first two seasons to an eye-popping 11 in 2105-16 — a team record for defensive tackles — before the NFL championship game.
But what really jumps out to students of the game is 11 sacks, 55 tackles and three forced fumbles by a 4-3 interior lineman who also is a fierce pass rusher on the edge.
Short has transformed from a player who flashed across the screen once a game to a surefire Pro Bowler.
“I’m just out here doing what I’m doing and trying to help this team win. It’s the only thing I can ask or work for,” said the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Short.
Short has partnered with Athletes for Charity, HealthLinc and the East Chicago Fire and Police Departments to create academic incentives to benefit youth. He’s launched a Youth Literacy Project to deliver books and academic incentives to children in need of encouragement when it comes
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I’m a simple man. I like my coffee black, my whisky neat and my workouts free of superfluous distractions. I’ve never cared much for the marriage of app-based technology and strength training. I don’t even like listening to music while exercising. I prefer to focus on the task at hand rather than trick my brain into thinking it’s having a good time.
But resistance to technology’s pull is futile. Even old-school gym culture has been seduced. Check out the Google Play store and you’ll find apps to analyze lifting form, apps to measure bar speed, even apps that count your reps. In certain situations, I can see some value: If you’re into Olympic lifting, where speed and explosiveness take a back seat only to form and technique, then knowing how fast that barbell flies off the floor is important. For everyone else? Not so much.
This is not to say I have no room in my heart for health and fitness apps. A few have become essential to either my own well-being or that of my clients. These are ones that help with stress management, behaviour change and nutrition – each an important aspect of health that enhance the results promised by a steady diet of strength training.
It’s good sense to ensure your mental muscles get the TLC they deserve. Plenty of science-backed evidence supports the many benefits of simply sitting still with the unquiet mind, and over the years I’ve dabbled with all sorts of meditation programs. My favourite is Waking Up, a subscription-based app created by neuroscientist, author and podcast star Sam Harris.
I love it for many reasons. Number one is, the default length of the daily meditation is 10 minutes. Everyone has 10 minutes to spare, I don’t care how busy your schedule is. Next, the program begins with a 28-day introductory course to help newbies. And, finally, the paid version offers a much deeper and more beneficial experience, but if you’re not ready to drop $100 for an annual subscription, free memberships are offered on a request basis, with 100 per cent being honoured.
The myth of motivation (or, what we mistakenly understand motivation to be) is responsible for more failed attempts at getting fit than anything else. After the initial enthusiasm of taking charge of your health fades – and believe me, it will fade – all you’re left with is yourself. This is why it’s so important to cultivate genuine behaviour change: Once you rewire your brain to actually value a process, you no longer have to channel artificial means to psych yourself up.
Enter Carrot Rewards. The premise couldn’t be more basic: Give people a financial incentive to make healthy decisions and that behaviour will eventually become automatic. Hit your daily step goal? You get a reward!
At its peak popularity, this Canadian-made app had more than one