Today I woke up at 4 am. I clicked on the TV and the early morning news was on. My chest felt heavy. My heart was beating to the point where I noticed it. What was wrong with me? Hmm…let's see….lives in Orlando were completely shredded, Trump could possibly become president, and my sister carries a gun in her purse. I had lots to say about all of this, but I couldn't decide if writing about it would make me feel better or just make me more upset.
I decided to step back and think about the best way to deal with the anxiety today's world brings us. I realized it's not about the issues or people's choices and opinions because I could argue and post all day long and at the end of the day the issues would still be the issues and people's choices and opinions will still be their choices and opinions. So what is the answer? How do I find peace and quiet that anxiety I woke up with?
Instead of firing up the iPad and cranking out my own views and opinions, I headed to my exercise room and commenced with my morning workout. Ended with a few yoga stretches, then laid in corpse pose and gave a minute of thanks that at almost 63 I can do the things I do and nothing hurts.
Why was this the best move? Because instead of focusing on other peoples choices and opinions and feeling the need to defend my own, it's what is in my head that will ultimately lift me up or bring me down. Our heads dictate what our bodies become. Anger and emotional fits over things and people that we cannot control can actually hurt a person physically. The emotional upheaval causes our muscles and ligaments to tense up, holding our joints in a chronic state of stress. Venting, ranting, posting, and reading stuff on Facebook cranks those tendons and ligaments tighter – and eventually things begin to hurt. Exercise in some form counteracts this and relaxes the muscles and loosens the hold on the joints. So, I need to take care of my head in order to maintain a healthy body in the years to come.
First thing I do is hide all negative posters from my newsfeed. I know they all have their opinions and arguments and reasons – and they have every right to them – but they can hurt me a lot in this stage of life I'm in and I have to guard against that. A dear client of mine in her seventies said something to me in conversation a few months ago that stuck in my head and rattled around there. She said, “When I turned 70 I realized it is all about my health. Anything or anyone that is negative is out.” In the weeks to come I realized she was right. I listen to the news once a day, catch CBS This Morning a few times a week because I believe it's important to be informed, but I don't allow drama in my life (unless my children or family are in crisis). I spend my time with like-minded people who are positive and focus on health and strength.
No, I am not “burying my head in the sand.” As you can see by the way I woke up at 4 am I am well aware of what is going on, but it is not healthy or in my best interest to sit on Facebook or in front of the TV and bombard my head with it for hours on end. Nor is it in the best interest of my aging body to get into debates and rants with people whose opinions differ from mine, because guess what? Nobody wins. Constant turmoil burrows itself in my brain and my head starts wreaking havoc on my body so what I allow inside my head has to be carefully guarded because nobody is going to take care of me except me.
I find peace in these troubled times in exercise that allows my mind to relax and my body to strengthen. I focus on only the things I can control each day and do not waste precious energy on things I can't. We only get so much energy in a 24 hour period and as we age that amount severely diminishes with slowing metabolism and gun debates and presidential nominees are not going to steal mine. I work too hard building muscle to keep that metabolism burning. I would rather spend my energy on helping people at work and enjoying my home and my family in the off hours. By doing that I am keeping peace in my head and taking care of the body that has to serve me in the years ahead.
And so, as another day goes by, it's difficult to attain peace of mind and heart in these troubled times, but not impossible, and…I have written.
I don't discuss politics. I don't rant on Facebook. What I think is what I think and I keep it home, inside my family. How I am going to vote and the candidate I choose is no one's business. I watch the debates. I watch the news. I read the stories and opinion pages in the newspaper. I respect the opinions of others both in person, and on social media. But…and it's a really big BUT – am I the only one who sees this?
All I see is a plethora of candidates with laundry lists of what THEY are going to do. They repeat their mantras over and over, but has even one of them addressed the key word – HOW? To date, not a one of them has followed their lofty promises by a detailed plan stating this is what I am going to do and this is how I am going to do it.
Would it be too much to ask, that instead of these incessant debates where they all rant the same laundry list over and over, how about we put each one on stage for 30 minutes with a white board and a marker and have them present their detailed plans for accomplishing those things they are tauting to “make America great?” Then I might be able to make an informed decision, having the facts laid out in front of me. Right now it's just a big game of “who do I believe?” with no credibility to back it up.
I want to change things and get things done in this country right along with the rest of you, but I have some questions. Hillary – HOW are you going to get free college for everyone and HOW are you going to get equal pay for women? Bernie – HOW are you going to get the money from the 1% and redistribute it among the rest of us? Donald – HOW are you going to “crush” Isis? HOW – are you going to stop the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants? (And please don't say the word wall one more time.) And the rest of the Republican candidates – HOW are you going to hang in here against the Donald?
Am I the only one that sees a bunch of people up there inciting anger and emotion with no substance behind any of it? I worry that what we are going to end up with is a huge celebration of a winner where we can all raise our voices and our fists in victory – and the next day? Nothing. We will stand there among the dead confetti and broken pieces of red, white and blue balloons and realize we just elected a person that is a great actor, a charismatic leader, but never really had anything that they could put on paper in front of the American people that laid out their plan for the big change they promised. Did they even realize that the way our forefathers laid out our governement, they made it impossible for one person to even have that kind of influence? We are not electing a king here. Do these candidates even have a clue that they just can't march in there and demand their demands be met? And do they really think so little of us Americans that they think we will continue to rise up and follow them based on the anger and emotion they are elicting alone? I hate to break it to them, but we are not a stupid society. Sooner or later all their hoopla isn't going to hold up and they are going to be called on the carpet to explain to us “fans” just how they are going to keep these promises.
And so, as another day goes by, I once again sit in front of my TV set and wonder if I am the only one who sees this, and…I have written.
In the past 24 hours I heard this message twice so far. Once from a person considering a gym membership, but found out during his trial he does not like to work out. “It's not fun,” he said. Next from someone who finally found a fitness program that worked for her, but said all others she tried fizzled out because after the excitement wore off, it just wasn't fun anymore.
Where is it written that fitness has to be “fun”? Fitness is necessary. Just like brushing your teeth to stay healthy. Is brushing your teeth fun? Did you quit after the novelty wore off when you were six? No. You were taught and understood that brushing your teeth daily was necessary for your health and you just do it.
We need to start changing our perception of fitness. There are just as many choices for fitness as there are toothbrushes for brushing your teeth and it's all a matter of what does the job best for your body. You can change fitness routines like you change toothbrushes, but you don't quit. You get it set in your mind that it is essential for your health, and whether it's “fun” or not doesn't matter.
Everything we do in life has a downside. Nothing and no one is perfect. Even things we like and consider fun, challenge us on some days. There are just days we don't want to take the time to brush our teeth just as there are days we don't want to do our exercises. But we do it. That's the point here, people. We do it.
There is another avenue to consider here. We are raising children and they are watching our every move. I remember my kindergarteners complaining about some tasks we had to do everyday to hone our skills. I had to teach them that we all have to do activities in our daily life that we don't like or don't feel like doing. I used to tell them that I hated cleaning the toilet, but it had to be done and I had to do it whether I liked it or not. I would hope as they grew up they could apply that to exercise and toothbrushing alike.
We need to put this “but it's not fun” attitude aside and just get it done because it needs to be done and it's essential to our physical and mental well-being. Fitness is not entertainment. It's not something you have a choice – to watch or not, or to attend or not. Granted, it is nice when we can find some enjoyment in whatever we choose to do for fitness, but it is not a requirement to get us to do it.
To me, fitness is a serious health issue and that is why I built my second career around it. I have a passion for helping people realize they need to do it. They need to incorporate it into their daily routine. If I can contribute to making it enjoyable for them, it's a bonus, but my main goal is to make it attainable for them. To start where they are and encourage them and make them see that fitness is necessary for everyone.
Don't get me wrong – I do have fun in this job, just as I had fun being a K teacher, but fun wasn't the object. Children have no choice in the matter of going to school and sometimes when hard lessons have to be learned, it's not always fun. Same thing in my gym. My clients have to learn that they have no choice whether to do fitness or not, and it's not always going to be fun because they, too, have some hard things to overcome. And that's where I, the coach, the teacher, come in. I am there for them during the times it isn't fun. If it was always “fun” and never hard, they wouldn't need me and I wouldn't be writing this blog.
My dear readers, if anything I said here today resonates with you, please go find that coach. In fitness, which is not meant to be “fun”, the coach is everything. The coach understands where you're coming from. The coach understands how hard it is to take those first steps and then keep it up after the newness and excitement wear off. The coach has been where you are. Like finding that brand new kind of toothbrush, go find that coach and turn your fitness life into something that is integral to your everyday life.
And so, as another day goes by, remember: EVERYTHING starts with the decision to try, and…I have written. This is for your fridge:
I started the 21 Day Fix on September 3rd. The concept of simple exercise and simple food has completely changed my life. This is not just a diet with a goal and an end in sight. This is a whole new way of life. I started the exercises feeling heavy and fatigued, but the way they are structured I did not feel discouraged. Autumn taught me to start where I was and just do what little I could each day. At the time I was rehabilitating a frozen shoulder and these exercises have completely healed it and helped me regain the strength in my right shoulder that I haven't had for a year. I started the exercises with no weights and using all the modifications provided. Now, 5 months later, I use the recommended weights and no modifications. The food plan, which is real food and very simple to follow, along with the exercise program has resulted in muscle gain, 5 inches lost on my waist, making me feel light and fit and able to resume my yoga practice, along with a boost in energy that I could never have imagined I'd ever reach again. I am 62 years old and thanks to the 21 Day Fix, I don't feel old at all!
If you are looking for a way to feel better this year, I recommend you try the 21 day plan. In addition to the Fix, I maintained my weight training three times a week at Koko FitClub. Today Michael Wood published a blog on preventing sarcopenia – the slow and gradual loss of bone and muscle mass that begins to occur after age 30. After reading that post I cannot tell you how happy I am that I started weight training when I was 50 and diagnosed with osteoporosis. When the doctor told me weight training was the only thing I could do to reverse it, I started immediately and never stopped. How thankful I am today that I kept it up. I cannot imagine how limited in mobility and fatigued I would be today if I hadn't done that. Back then I did not understand that weight training and exercise are literally the fountain of youth.
Read Michael's article then check out the 21 Day Fix. My daughter Ashley is a coach and I am sending you her way. It is due to her encouraging me to “just give it a try” that has lead to this wonderful life change that I never thought possible at my age. We have a private group on Facebook and the ideas and encouragement you receive there makes it impossible to fail. When you don't feel like working out or want to eat bad food, just post it and someone is there to commiserate and encourage. Don't wait. Michael points out that by age 70 we have lost half of the muscle mass that we were born with, leading to weakness and fatigue – and it CAN be avoided. I don't know about you, but using a walker to just get through my day 8 short years from now isn't in my life plan. Go to Ashley's Facebook, check it out, then click sign up and she will reach out to you and help you change your life like she did mine.
And so, as another day goes by, every accomplishment begins with the decision to try, and…I have written.
You might think to be awesome in 2016 you should make a few resolutions and then stick to them. Simple, right? Wrong. Today I found a new formula leading to awesomeness. I follow Thomas Plummer on Facebook. We, at Koko, use Thom and his writings as sort of a point person to help us stay focused on our mission to help people change their lives through fitness. Today Thom posted about reslolutions and his take on them.
I found it very interesting that he suggests bagging that concept and looking at a vision of yourself in the future – sort of who would you like “to be when you grow up.” This resonates with me in a big way because that is precisely how I lived my life. When I was a child I always visualized myself acutalizing that which I wanted to become. Not only did I become accustomed to visualizing long term goals, but I used visualization each morning to take a complete walk through of my day in my mind. As a kindergarten teacher that was very helpful in heading off things I planned to do that day that were not going to work – especially logistics wise. Whether it was daily or long term, visualization went a long way in helping me become the person I’d always imagined myself to be.
In addition to Thom’s writings, I also found something else floating around on Facebook that is really worth sharing as we stand on this precipice of 2016 and consider what we want to do with ourselves in this new year. It was titled “6 Things Mentally Strong People Do.” I was drawn to it because I wanted to know if I was mentally strong and if I found I wasn’t, I thought it’d be helpful in showing me how to get there. I’m very happy to report that the result was good – I am mentally strong. The third one on the list resonated with me the loudest because that is my number one rule I live by – I don’t waste time and energy trying to change things I can’t control, instead I throw my energy into the things I can change and make a difference somewhere. After all, we are only given so much energy in a 24 hour period and it just doesn’t make sense to use it all on something that is totally our of control.
And so, as the second day of 2016 goes by, I’d like like to share Thomas Plummer’s Facebook post and the list of 6 things mentally strong people do as we all consider our future selves in this new year, and…for the first time in 2016, I have written.
This is the sequel to the Xmas tree debacle of 2014, And Then There Were Two
Last November while putting up a tiny tree in our NY apartment, a commercial for real-looking Christmas trees, the kind they use on sets on TV, came on the TV. When the big Christmas tree debacle happened a few weeks later, I couldn’t remember the site.
The week before Thanksgiving the commercial was back on TV. I stopped what I was doing and went right to the site, thinking these trees will be outrageously priced and I’ll never be able to afford them. What a pleasant surprise I got. They were having a two day sale with free shipping. My perfect, 6 1/2 foot blue spruce was on sale for $179. I immediately pushed “add to cart” and completed my order. THIS year I was not living with that hideous oversized dark green monster sitting next to my fireplace.
After buying it, I was a bit anxious. When I told my husband I bought a new tree, he just laughed and said he sincerely hoped it would be what I wanted. Thoughts of “Oh my, I just spent another $179 on a tree, there are now two of them sitting in my basement, and what if this one is a big disappointment?
The next night when I came home from work my new tree was sitting on my porch. Not only did I get free shipping, but it came the next day. I was so excited I dragged the box into the house and opened it up before I even took off my coat. And what did I see? Perfect, realistic slim branches peeking out from under the cardboard. I quickly took a pic and texted it to my husband and told him I think it’s going to be so pretty. He said, “Great! We’ll put it up this weekend!” I answered back, “We are soooo putting up this tree this weekend!”
I planned the day. Saturday we would go get the wreath for the outside of the house, decorate the light pole and then put on mulled wine and the new Adele album and stay inside the rest of the day and put up this magnificent tree. The day went as planned. When it was time to open up the box and remove the tree parts, we found a folder – glossy, with color pics, a letter congratulating us on our purchase of such a prized tree and a booklet describing just how to assemble and shape our little beauty. After all, they said, the beauty of the tree lies in the shaping. Oh that wasn’t all there was in the box. In a little plastic bag there were two pair of gray silk gloves – two sizes – to be worn while performing the shaping and a note saying there is a video online to describe the proper way to do it.
Well needless to say we didn’t bother with the video. My husband and I have spent 40 Christmases putting up trees and we certainly know how to go about shaping a tree. We donned our silk gloves, set the bottom of the tree in the stand and began the tedious work of opening up each branch. I still had apprehensions of what the final product would look like. Slowly the bottom half bloomed. Next, section 2 began taking shape. After about 40 minutes we were finishing the top. When we stood back to take a look, I was so happy. Yes, THIS is the tree I had pictured in my head.
During this procedure, my daughter texted me a picture of her tree she had just assembled and asked why she didn’t get silk gloves with her tree. I told her because she got hers from her sister and she’s lucky it has branches.
Pouring some more mulled wine, we began the lights. I bought 10 boxes of tiny clear lights ($1.99 Xmas Tree Shop) and we used five. The big moment came to plug them in. Instead of the Ahhh… I was waiting for, my husband said, “Hey, the top part isn’t lit.” Great. Off with the top part and on with a new set. Finally we got our Ahhh… moment. It looked beautiful.
Pouring another mug of mug of mulled wine, we finished the decorations. Oh my…. it was perfect. It looked exactly like my bug tree from last year.
And so, as another day goes by, some things are really worth working and waiting for, and…I have written.
It doesn’t matter. The first thing that matters in this election is that across both parties all of the candidates are inherently good people. None of them want to lie to, cheat or steal from the American people. They all share the common goal that something needs to be done. They all have different ways as to how that should be accomplished. Hence, creating the choice that faces all of us come Election Day.
Personally, in order to make my choice I have had to take a few steps back before diving headlong into a candidate and digging in my heals. I considered my own career and what it leaves me qualified to do. After teaching young children for 35 years I feel I can be depended on to teach a five year old to read. I cannot be depended upon to solve climate change issues. I know first hand that I can only do my job successfully because of all my experience has taught me. When I was 22, and a brand new teacher, I would never have been put in charge of running a school. Now, 35 years later, holding 2 Masters degrees, I can be trusted to do that, with a high degree of success.
In my opinion I cannot vote in good conscience to hand over our country to someone who has not been in the trenches on capital hill and knows through experience how things are done. One candidate in last night’s Republican debate pointed out that you can’t just go in there with a budget plan completely drafted out of your own mind without a working knowledge of what already exists when you walk in the door of the White House. You’ll look like an ass and get your hat handed to you.
So, how does one go about contracting the change we need? By using years of experience to craft a plan. If I suddenly became principal of a school today, the first thing I would do, after observing the current climate, would be to rely on what I have learned in the past about group dynamics and how they operate in a building. Knowledge I could not possibly possess if I were a first year teacher or have never been a teacher at all and know nothing about how children learn.
In making my choice for a presidential candidate, I want experience. I will not hand my country over to someone who has never dealt with foreign diplomats, sat for many years on capital hill, or has never crafted a budget for the masses. I need a level headed individual who does not grandstand to garner votes. I need someone who is articulate and not a bully. Above all this, I need someone who is extremely smart. Only an extremely intelligent individual will be able to draw on experience AND use it to craft the changes our country needs.
I wish myself much luck in making my choice.
I have not felt that “first day of school” feeling in six years. Last night I locked the door on my Mashpee Koko FitClub for the last time. I packed my car and prepared for the first day at my new club in Centerville. I was apprehensive, my members were apprehensive – none of us knew what to expect today in our new digs.
This morning I was up at 5 am, just like on the first day of school. I was ready hours early. Of course, I went early because I wanted to be there for my members on their first day, just like I used to do for the kids. And those questions: What will the drive be like on my new route? How will working out before work go there? What will it be like working with other fit coaches after being the only one in Mashpee? Will I like my new position? How will my members transition?
And, just like every first day for 35 years, all my fears were unfounded. We all had a great time. Mikayla, the manager, and I blended our stuff, organized the place and decided how we were going to run things. (Let me just say Mikayla taught preschool so we were really on the same page.) I can’t be happier to be sharing a club with her. My mornings are so much easier and a lot less hectic and stressful with my new schedule. My members came in and did well adapting to the change. One even said the tiny club was cute. Lol!
As if the day wasn’t going well enough, our area manager came in and said she had a surprise for me. She told me I am going to take the course to become a certified personal trainer. Imagine that! 62 years old and I’m going back to school to train for a new career. I was ecstatic. I really want to be more help to my members, but I knew I needed more training and now Koko is going to give me that opportunity.
Talk about change. Phew. It came in like a blast of wind on still night. First my club suddenly has to close and now I’m going back to school. I have written in the past about the Prayer of Jabez that I utter every morning and I always marvel at the line that says “enlarge my territory.” Everyday I entice God to give me more with that line. Well this month he took me seriously. My territory is bursting at the seams with all the changes and new opportunities coming my way.
I have finally learned to embrace change and use the fear that comes with it to empower myself. When new things are flung at me unexpectedly, I now look at it as an adventure instead of complaining about it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- change is hard, but necessary and good things always come from it.
And so, as another day goes by, I thank God that He has given me another chance to experience “a first day of school ” again, and…I have written.