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Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.

Proverbs 10:17

Last Friday I wrote about the myth about human trafficking and the Super Bowl.  It was my response after reading this by this “health” blogger.  The blogger and I have had our philosophical differences in the past, but to me, this was pretty cut and dry.  I left a few comments with links to groups that are in the trenches of human trafficking, pointing out that they, these advocacy groups for the victims of human trafficking, were saying that this myth was hurting, not helping, the victims of this horrible crime.

Her response?  Nothing.

I pointed out that some of the very sources she linked to at the bottom of her post had altered their opinions on the matter, so shouldn’t she?

Nothing.

The very people she is claiming to care so much about are asking her to change her stance and her response is…silence.  Now, I don’t doubt that this blogger’s heart is in the right place, but when you let pride overwhelm what is right, what does that say about you and everything else you supposedly stand for?  What does that say about all of the “out of the box” remedies and life style choices (some of which are brilliant) she advocates for?  If she can’t go back and admit she is wrong on something like human trafficking, how can we trust that the health choices she advocates for haven’t been debunked or even classified as unsafe?

Pride…it can make you do stupid things.

***

The other day fitness model and personal trainer Bella Falconi posted this on her Instagram Feed:

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Inspiring, right?  I used to feel the same way until someone pointed out to me years ago that although everyone does in fact have the same 24 hour every day, some must work 2 or 3 jobs, through no fault of their own other than life, just to put a roof over their children’s head and food in their children’s stomachs.  After a 16 hour day, as a parent, would you choose to go work out or spend some quality time with your children?  I said as much in the comments section, noting that perhaps until one is a parent, one cannot understand.  I can’t actually tell you exactly what I said because Bella Falconi’s response was to delete and block.  Now granted, this wasn’t the first time I had called her out on something.  It was the second.  The first was when she used the term “retard” in a derogatory manner.  Then, just like the blogger above, the response was silence.  At 27, this may simply be the immaturity of youth or that she has lived in the bubble of her success for too long.  I don’t know her, so I can’t say.  What I can say is that the response, much like the one above, seems to be rooted in pride.

***

A few month ago, Autism Speaks held a “March on Washington” event.  Leading up to it, Suzanne Wright wrote her now famous op-ed about lost children, broken families and cities build for autistic people.  As Autism Speaks patted itself on the back with a lavish party in DC complete with a Broadway review, thousands of autistic individuals and their families tried to make it clear to Suzanne and Autism Speaks that in order to truly speak for autistic people, the organization needed to let those people actually speak…but more importantly, Autism Speaks needed to listen.

The response?  Nothing.  Autism Speaks continues to believe that autistic individuals should not have a voice in how the world’s largest autism advocacy group operates.  One doesn’t have to have a Ph.D. to see just how wrong this is.

***

This all led me to posting this the other day:

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And maybe that is what it comes down to.  Perhaps Sarah, Bella and Suzanne all feel that admitting that they are wrong on something will be perceived as a sign of weakness.  Perhaps they are afraid that if they admit they are wrong on something that people will call into question everything that has come before.  I believe the exact opposite to be true, because if you are willing to admit that you make mistakes, it shows me that you actually care about what you are putting forth; that at some point, you will go back and double-check and triple-check your work; that if someone says, “hmm. I don’t know about that…”, you’ll go back, see if there are new facts or new science either backing or refuting what you say, and you will act appropriately.

Admitting you are wrong, when you are wrong, is a sign of strength.  As my friend Allissa said, “Knowledge + Humility = Power”.

***

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.
Proverbs 10:17
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Time & Money

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There are a lot of empty excuses out there for not taking care of yourself.

I’m not good at taking responsibility…

I don’t know what’s in the food I eat…

I don’t like the taste of water…

Then there’s the excuse about Time and Money.

It takes too much time…

It costs too much…

A lot of people will frown upon those last two excuses.  I used to be one of those people.  My response was, “you can make the time” and “can you put a price on your health and well-being?”  I was taken aback when several people, including my father, pointed out that saying things like “make the time” and “it’s cheaper than being unhealthy” were narrow-minded, insensitive and, to put it not so nicely, ignorant.

No matter how the economy is doing, there are people who struggle simply to put food on the dinner table and clothes on the backs of their families; this while working 12, 14, 16 hour days.

Yes, your health is important.  True, if being fit is an overwhelming priority, you will make time for it.  No doubt that being healthy is less expensive over the long haul than being sick – but here’s the question, at what cost?  I love how many of the “experts” out there will whip people they see on the street over and over again about their unhealthy life-style, how they’re killing themselves and their kids, how cancer is a choice and blah, blah, blah, and as it ultimately turns out, they, the “experts”, have never had to take care of anyone other than themselves – they have no family; they have no real responsibility other than to themselves and their business.

Yes, family health matters, but you want to know what matters more?  Children spending quality time with mom and dad; children going to bed with a belly full of food; children having clothes and shoes that fit to wear to school; children having an environment where they feel safe – these things take both Time AND Money.

So though I agree that people will often use Time and Money as empty excuses to avoid the perceived hard work of becoming fit and healthy, I believe we in the health & fitness profession need to think a little more sensitively about those who are struggling simply to get by – offer real solutions (like family walks) as opposed to generalized judgements (like “if you care, you will make the time and spend more wisely.”).

Not everyone is as fortunate or as well off as many seem to assume they are.

My one piece of advice to those struggling to feel better overall?  Start small – whether that’s a promise to yourself to drink more water or take the stairs instead of the elevator (don’t start with 20 flights!!!) or eat out one meal less per week or play tag with your kids…whatever it is, start small.  Give yourself a true opportunity to succeed and then, after a few weeks of that, fold something else in and then another and then another and then another…before you know it, a year or two will have gone by and you won’t recognize yourself or your family from a year before.

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Image

So a little earlier today I received an email from the NSCA.

I.

Am.

Officially.

CERTIFIED!!!

…now comes the hard part.  The next few weeks will be spent organizing a business plan and, hopefully, meeting with prospective clients. 

Time to get to work!

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I recently read a blog post of an acquaintance of mine where the poster came clean about having gained back nearly the 100 lbs lost over the previous few years.  This was particularly hard for the blogger because the blog had become a source of inspiration for so many trying to lose weight and get fit.  What was the main reason for the weight gain?  After watching food intake and running regularly, the blogger stopped doing both.  Having reached the goal weight, the “scaffolding” was put away.

***

Recently it was suggested by some people who have a direct impact on Brooke’s education that certain support services be phased out or removed.  The argument was made that she didn’t need them anymore, evidenced by just how well she was doing; that the scaffolding was no longer necessary.

***

There are short-term projects, there are long-term projects and then there are life-long projects.  In both the short- and long-term projects, eventually, usually with some hard work, one will reach a goal, bask in the glory of achievement and then move on to the next goal.  The supports used for attaining that goal can either be passed on to others or put away for the next time they become necessary.

But then there is the lifetime-goal or maybe more appropriately, the lifestyle-goal.  I don’t mean Robin Leach’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” kind of lifestyle, I mean the “way you live your life” kind of lifestyle.  These kind of goals, if different from the way we currently live our lives, demand changes in the way we go about doing things.  They require us to buy into a system so to speak; to drink the kool-aid.

***

A few years ago I set a goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  Using a variety of tools that included core work, interval training, tempo run and many others, I accomplished that.  For quite some time afterward, I did not feel the need to push myself as hard.  I still ran marathons (halves, fulls and ultras), but my approach to them changed.  I simply wanted to be able to enjoy them and spread the enjoyment of them to those around me.  I was able to put away some of those tools that I had used so intensely during BQ-training because I no longer needed them.  I will pull them out again, in the near future, as I attempt to qualify for Boston again in either 2014 or 2015.

In the meantime, I do continue to run on a regular (and currently daily) basis.  Why?  Because I know that unlike qualifying for Boston (which is a specific point in time goal), I also want to live a long, healthy life and be physically able to care for my wife and children as long as I can.  Physical fitness is NOT a “point in time” goal.  It is a lifetime goal.  Therefore that “scaffolding” that helps me build my fitness is not just scaffolding – it becomes part of the permanent structure.

***

Brooke has autism.  She will always have autism.  She will acquire skills and develop the ability to adapt over the course of time, but autism will always be a part of her.  Those skills and ability to adapt come from the scaffolding that is put in place around her.  It’s true that eventually she may not need all of the supports she receives and someday I hope that she will be able to live as independently and be as societaly productive as any of her neurotypical peers, but the tools will have to always remain present in one form or another.

I don’t see the logic in taking away support because the support is working as some administrators might suggest.

The same goes for fitness and health.  It’s one thing to join a gym, take a class, change the way you eat or whatever works for you to achieve a fitness goal – just remember what got you there.

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It was over 12 years ago that I sought out the advice of a friend of mine.  I was about to start a new “job” – Stay At Home Dad/Homemaker.  This friend had done it for several years (an incredible story for another time).  I trusted his judgement and advice.  He started with 2 words – “Embrace It”.  I remember cocking my head as if to ask, “what do you mean?”  He told me that too often, whether or not a father had chosen to or had been forced to due to circumstance to become a Stay At Home Dad, men would brush off the title as a “temporary gig”.  They would always follow up “I’m a Stay At Home Dad” with some kind of qualifier – “but it’s temporary” or “but I’m really a salesman, actor, lawyer, construction worker, businessman”, etc, etc.  He told me that if I didn’t jump in with two feet, I would be unhappy and as a result, so would my kids.

“You’ve got to completely embrace that this is what you do.  Yes, you are your kid’s dad, but you’ve got to understand that this will be the hardest, most rewarding job you will ever have…but only if you embrace it,” he said.

It sounded like sage advice to me, and so I did – and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.  What I have discovered years later it that the advice, when truly boiled down to its essence was not about child-rearing – it was about being happy with one’s self and embracing the choices made.

***

Recently a friend of mine, knowing that I am this close to getting my CSCS certification asked me for some advice.  This person wanted to lose some weight and do some body sculpting by a certain date for a big event in the late Fall.  After an intake interview, I drew up a plan that included both nutritional and exercise goals.  Both started off very easy, practically guaranteeing early successes at small tasks requiring very little time that would serve as a foundation for the more intense and difficult work ahead.  Although this person asked about specific exercises, I made it clear that we wanted to start easy to make sure there was a foundation in place when we introduced specific exercises later on.

From the start though there were excuses – I’m going to a party.  I didn’t sleep well last night.  It was a busy day.   I pushed back a little bit with encouragement and a reminder of what the ultimate goal was and the fact that the current time demands were minimal.

Change is hard.  I get it.  It’s easier for some than others.  Jess will tell you that I will change, but like a huge super-sized steamship on the ocean, it takes me a while to make a turn in a different direction – I’ll get there, but it takes a little while.  I truly understand that making a change is scary, difficult and most of all, overwhelming even when the changes are small.  After consecutive days of excuses, I stopped talking as Friend Luau and brought out Trainer Luau – I told my friend that change wasn’t going to happen simply by thinking about it.  In order to achieve the stated goals, work was going to have to be done on a regular, consistent, daily basis.

“Fortunately,” I said, “there is a specific goal, both physically and chronologically.  It gives you an endpoint, a peak, a destination.”

And then I remembered my friend’s advice from so many years ago.

“Embrace it!”

I then said, “in order to achieve the stated goal, you’re going to have to embrace the program, make it a priority OR embrace where you are and be happy with that.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But if you half-ass it, you’re not going to be happy with the results because you’ll feel like you are over-sacrificing for less that optimal returns.”

We’ll see what happens.

I understand that not everyone is gung-ho about fitness and/or running like I am.  I understand that embracing the vehicle of change is not easy for most (including myself).

I’m not sure what it is I am trying to convey in this post other than this – if you have a fitness goal and you are presented with a choice between immediate gratification that works against that stated goal and the goal itself, take a moment to think about what it is you really want.  There’s nothing wrong with a day of debauchery every now and again – in fact, I highly recommend it to keep yourself sane, but at some point, a consistent choice has to be made, especially when there is a time aspect to your stated goal – am I happy where I am?  or do I want to achieve this goal?  And if you consistently choose the immediate gratification over the fitness goal, don’t beat yourself up for it.  Perhaps you didn’t really want that goal in the first place.  Perhaps that goal was placed there by others or by society.

Choose the spot where you will be happy and then embrace it because ultimately, happiness is beautiful.

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Today I have the pleasure of handing the reins to a guest-blogger who shall remain anonymous.  She has fought demons that many “fitness” types will never admit they battle on a daily, even hourly basis.  Has she won, lost or fought to a draw?  I will let you be the judge – but be kind.  Despite posting anonymously, I think she is courageous to share her story.   I find the honestly in this post enlightening and ultimately uplifting, especially as I move ever closer to joining the fitness industry.
-Luau

***

People look at me and congratulate me on my weight. They see the outside, borne of exercise and hard work.
And starvation.
And obsession.
They don’t realize that every compliment drives me back onto the road, pounding down another two miles. They don’t realize that, some days, I survived on less than 500 calories and gallons of Diet Coke.
That starvation is control.
And that, if your world is falling apart, sometimes the only thing you can control is yourself. But I went about it the wrong way.

***

I approached Luau about writing this piece a while back; after therapy, I’d finally admitted what my husband and mother already knew: that was I starving myself. That it was a badge of courage for me.
I’d started running after finally being healthy enough to do so. Combined with being the primary caregiver of two small children, working a stressful job, and dealing with a strained marriage, running gave me an outlet for all the stress in my life.  But, as my husband worked longer hours, and as stress piled up, I couldn’t handle it. I started eating less and less. I told myself that I looked good, and that I was happy.

That was a lie.

I saw the truth in the mirror. The gaunt cheeks, the sallow skin. The dry hair falling out in handfuls. I felt my ribs in the middle of my chest, between my breasts, and was terrified that I had some sort of tumor. But I realized that those were my bones, rising up to meet skin because there was no fat between them. On I went, admiring the gap between my thighs, and the slimness of my calves, and the sharpness of my shoulders and collarbones.

You are beautiful, I told myself. I could model clothes with this figure, right? Most women who’d never given birth weren’t this thin; I wore my slimness as a medal of honor. My sharp angles were an award; they were a matter of pride. Every compliment fed the obsession; every word of praise was fuel to the fire of control burning within.

With help, I realized that my relationship with food, and my obsession with thinness…it was all a way to control myself. To get a hold of my life. To stop the downward spiral. She told me that I was an anorexic; I don’t know if that is true, but I think that the label “eating disorder” applies. I told my mother, and I reached out to another friend who I knew was a master of the Starving Arts.

I stopped running.

I started eating.

Later on, life improved. My marriage improved. And after I’d put on five doctor-ordered pounds, a friend said, “Thank God; you looked like a stick figure.” Those words hurt, but I know now that they were true. When my mother recently came to visit, she praised that my “face had filled out;” it took every fiber of my being not to stop eating entirely when I heard that. This, from a woman who had once criticized my heavier self in college, and who belittled her own body. Who had had breast implants and liposuction at some point to make herself more attractive.

Did she not see the walking contradiction? Did she not understand why I couldn’t believe her words?

I knew, though, that the day my beautiful daughter said her round little tummy was “too heavy,” I had to change. I immediately told her how beautiful her stomach was, and decide to commit to a life of self-love, as best as I could. And that meant admitting that I couldn’t control everything, and that I had to control myself in a healthy way. Which meant that I could no longer starve myself; I had to control that obsession and need.

Today, I look at pictures of beautiful friends, friends with soft bodies and ample breasts and hips. Friends who have a comfortable place for babies to rest on, instead of shuffling to get comfortable, as mine do on me. And I think to myself: You were happier when you were heavier. And I think again that I wish I had the courage to have their softness. Even if it isn’t necessarily the healthiest choice, that body takes the same courage that it does to run a marathon.

Their bravery is legendary to me, because I’m not sure I’ll ever have it again.

But I’ve written this story after eating a good dinner. And in a minute, I’ll have a brownie. Pretty good for a girl who used to say that no meal could be over 200 calories, huh?

And someday soon, I will run again. Not out of a need to control, but to know that my body is strong and healthy.

And that I am sound.

That life is better, and I am, too.

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Step One

This morning I took my first step toward becoming a CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist).

I became a member of a national fitness organization (NSCA – National Strength & Conditioning Association) and ordered the study materials for certification.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And now I am on my way.

I am…

Excited.

Nervous.

Hopeful.

Absolutely scared.

Totally thrilled!

I can’t wait for my study materials to arrive. I can’t wait to get started, to find out how much I already know; how much I have to learn. I want to start right now! I’m targeting March as my certification date, so keep me in mind if you need help getting ready for Summer Pool Days!

My request to you?

Let yourselves go this Fall and Winter. Eat like it’s Thanksgiving every day from October until March, and then give me a call. I’ll be waiting, ready to help!

Can’t wait!

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