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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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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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*Inspired in part by some of the unpublished comments I received on my Get Out Of My Village post and tangentially by the hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen.  If you can help me come up with an appropriate hashtag, I would be grateful.

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I am so ashamed…

***

I sometimes eat candy…

I sometimes eat fast food…

I sometimes eat inorganic fruits and veggies…

I sometimes eat meat…

I sometimes eat processed meats & cheeses…

I sometimes drink soda…

I sometimes drink juice from a large company…

I sometimes drink juice that was freshly squeezed from freshly picked fruits that were delivered by a diesel truck…

I sometimes consume HFCS…

I sometimes consume sugar…

I sometimes consume grain…

I sometimes eat organic foods that have been delivered by a truck that consumes gasoline…

I sometimes drive a car that leaves a carbon footprint…

I sometimes travel in a non-solar-powered vehicle…

I sometimes travel in a solar powered vehicle that was manufactured using oil and other non-natural materials…

I sometimes dress in clothes that were made in China…

I sometimes wear clothes that were made in the USA but had to be delivered by truck to the store…

I sometimes have to dispose of garbage…

I sometimes eat at a restaurant that uses electricity that it gets from non-clean sources…

I sometimes turn on a light at home that is connected to the powergrid…

I sometimes read by candlelight from a natural wax candle that was delivered by a vehicle using fossil fuels…

I sometime heat or cool my home because the outside temperature is below 40 degrees or above 90 degrees…

I sometimes go places that are owned by major companies…

I sometimes use the internet with my computer/iPhone that were made in China or Japan…

I sometimes live in the real world…

***

I am so ashamed that I don’t live a vegan life, living on a farm where I eat only food that either I have grown without the use of fertilizers or traded with a neighbor who also didn’t use any fertilizer, wearing only clothes that have been made from materials I can collect within walking distance from my front door, woven together with a loom I made from fallen branches, never traveling by any other method other than my own two feet that are shod in shoes I or my neighbor made from only local products fashioned with tools that I made with rocks, communicating solely through face to face communication or written letters written with a stick and ink I made grinding beets and delivered by foot…

***

There’s nothing wrong with choosing to live a cleaner, healthier life.  There’s nothing wrong with encouraging others to do the same.  One should, for their own sake…for the sake of their children, strive to live healthier, cleaner, less environmentally impactful lives…

But…

But the glass house is big…I mean, it’s really, really big.

Before letting someone shame you for not living cleanly enough because you have crossed some arbitrary line he or she has chosen, ask yourself if that person has truly given up every, single possible connection to “the dirt”…here’s a hint: if they can read this, they haven’t.

You do what you can with the budget and resources you have available.

Have you ever had someone try to shame or scare you for what you were eating or doing?

#ISometimesLiveInTheRealWorld

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Dear Cheryl,

I’m supposed to be hitting the books right now.  I’m in the review stage of my studying, making sure I know what I need to know for the upcoming CSCS exam.  I cannot wait to get certified.  It’s been the big reason why I have taken a break from this blog…from writing, really.

But then I saw this today:

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Now, as many of my readers are well aware, I am a health nut – I encourage regular exercise and a diet that is well balanced, high on the fruits & veggies, low on the refined sugar and chemicals, but this I found to be completely offensive on so many levels.  Let’s forget about the fact that you should have proofread your note before printing off copies, there are so many things wrong with what you are doing:

1. You have no idea whether or not there are any underlying issues with a child who is overweight.  There could be medical issues, medication issues among others.  The child could be going through puberty, which, though a completely natural process, can wreak havoc on the body while it is happening.

2. The fact that you are giving some kids candy, but denying treats to the “fat one” is, well, mind boggling.

3. Even if a child is obese simply due to eating Doritos and Twinkies every day, singling out a child from his or her group of friends is completely inappropriate.  Which brings me to…

4.  You are, no matter how good your intentions are, a bully, plain and simple.  Through your actions you are essentially pointing your finger at every overweight child and saying, “Hey YOU!  Fat kid!  Yeah, that’s right, I called you fat, you Fatty McFatster!”  You try to dress it up with “my hope is that you will step up as a parent and…blah, blah, blah,” but scratch under the surface and you are doing nothing other than making a child feel bad about who he or she is.

For you to selectively decide which kids meet your concept of fit (and therefore deserving of candy) as opposed to those that are fat (therefore undeserving of candy) is both sanctimonious and mean.

But let’s talk about the Village concept, shall we Cheryl?  My town has recently lost two troubled souls to suicide.  What do you think is going to happen to the kids that get singled out?  Who thereafter get teased by their friends incessantly?  I’m gonna tell you something – kids who are overweight, KNOW that they are overweight.  They don’t need you to draw public scrutiny of their shape to be made aware of that.  Your actions could potentially result in a precious child taking his or her own life because you decided to bully and tease – that’s one of the possible results of bullying you self-righteous bitch.

You want to help make your village better and healthier?  How about you just turn off your porch light on Halloween and not hand out ANY candy?  How about you hand out healthful snacks that every kid will throw away to everyone?  How about you help start an after school program that encourages movement and healthful eating?  How about you volunteer at a teen crisis center?  or a homeless shelter?  or a town beautification program?

Better yet, how about you just get the fuck out of our collective Village?

We don’t need bullies.  We don’t need mean people.  We don’t need you.

Don’t be surprised to wake up on November 1st  with a lifetime supply of toilet paper in your yard…that, and maybe a year’s worth of eggs.

Good luck with your notes.

Sincerely,

Luau

 

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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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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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My training plan for June’s 100-miler called for a 24 mile run yesterday.  As a result of the week’s events here in Boston, my training had been a mess, so I was determined to get my long run in.  Jess was kind enough to take the kids out for the day and leave me to my running.

My goal was to run slowly, somewhere in the 10:00 per mile range, to begin the physical, and more importantly psychological adjustment to running at a slower pace than I am used to.  It’s been a tough week here in Boston.  Last Monday’s bombings went right to my heart.  That, followed by the shootout late Thursday night where one brave officer was killed, the lock down of the Metro-West area on Friday and the eventual capture of Suspect #2 Friday night, has made the week a bit of a roller coaster to be sure.  Although I was able to keep #AutismStreaks going, my mileage was minimal.

When my feet finally  hit the pavement yesterday, I knew almost immediately my plans for the run were changing.  Earlier in the day the London Marathon was run, thankfully without incident.  For whatever reason, maybe it was that the Boston Marathon was still fresh in my memory, I just knew that I too would have to run a marathon – and so I did.  I worked my way to the Boston Marathon course and was pleased to find other runners who had the same idea.  Throughout my 22 miles on the course, I chatted with several runners, all of whom, out of some mystical drive had decided that on this day running 26.2 miles was important.  Some may have been running to show support, others may have been running to show defiance.

Me?  I was running for the spectators, the organizers, the security, the runners. I was running for the heroes, for the doctors, the police officers, the citizens who ran toward danger instead of away from it.

I was running for running.

There was something in the air, because every runner I passed made eye contact and nodded – an acknowledgment of unity, of brother and sisterhood.

At about 18 miles into my run, I passed a car at a stop light.  The windows were closed, but I could see the driver’s Boston 2013 jacket.  I shouted something, and pointed at him and continued on.  Moments later when he passed me, he rolled down his window, beeped and gave me a raised fist of defiance.  I did the same and then wept over the next half mile.

***

What was I looking for out there yesterday?
What did I find?

Early in my run I passed a Church that was just letting out of service.  I have not had a relationship with the Guy Upstairs in quite a while, and although I am currently a non-believer, I think I understand why people have religion.  The parishioners were smiling, speaking happily with each other.  Whatever their pastor had spoken about had obviously done some good.  As I watched them smile and chat, I realized that I too, in my own way, was attending church.  I found myself smiling, despite the fact, or maybe because of the fact, that I was pushing my body.

There is a certain peace one finds on the pavement (or trail as the case may be).  Whether running with friends or running alone, the very act of running, to me, is an act of affirmation; affirmation that I am alive, that I can achieve, that I can overcome.  It doesn’t always make me feel 100% good about whatever predicament I may find myself in, but I don’t think any religion or philosophy can do that.

What did I find out there yesterday?

I found a certain amount of peace.

I found the desire to just be.

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After 26.2 miles – 3:50:56

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