Today the calendar says I am 63 years old. When I was younger, I never pictured myself doing what I am doing at this age. If you told me when I was still teaching that when I retired I'd be working full time managing a health club and training people, I would never have believed you. I guess “Never say never” has an element of truth to it.
I went to work this morning not grumbling because I had to get up at 6 and go to work on my birthday, no, I went to work this morning feeling blessed that I CAN go to this wonderful job and help people get on their own path to a healthy lifestyle. There is no greater birthday present that you can give to yourself. This morning on Facebook my nephew posted a great post. He said people ask him what he does for fun. He says he works. He is an amazing artist and built a tattoo business that is really taking off. His work he does everyday is his passion. It IS his fun. He and I are both of the camp that if you choose a career that sparks your passion, you will never work a day in your life. And I haven't. 35 years teaching and three years in the fitness industry, and I can honestly say I haven't ever worked a day in my life.
My nephew also said, “If you ever find yourself bored, that's a problem.” He is so right. I spent the first three years of my retirement trying to just write. I was alone and it was boring and scary. Now, everyday at my job, I am back in my element and loving it. Even the crazy days when the club is full and everyone wants my attention, I have appointments and in the middle of it all, a new person walks in the door wanting to know what we are all about. Those kinds of days just fuel my passion and revive my energy. My nephew and I get our energy from our work. I told him people say to me all the time “but you're retired” when they find out I work 40 hours a week. They don't get it. You don't retire from your life. You may leave one job after thirty something years, but you jump right back into life and live your passion in a new way. If you are bored in your job or in retirement, it really is a problem and you need to get right back out there and do something about it.
I got a lot of birthday coupons and messages in my email today, but the best and most helpful one was from Spark People, a health and wellness app that I have used for years, and I'd like to share it with you:
And so, as another birthday goes by, I'd like to think I heed this advice, and …I have written.
And that's okay. This week I had yet another political discussion with an old friend who is on the opposite side as me. And, once again, we discussed the issues and parted friends with mutual respect for each other. Awhile ago when debating with my little brother, he said “It's my feeling and my opinion and my choice and my right to have it.” No one could have put it better. I respect my friends and my brother who are on opposite sides as me to maintain their support for their candidate, but not berate me and hate me for my choice.
I'm with her. That's my choice. It's not debatable. I don't want to be convinced to jump ship and I am not interested in preaching to anyone else to come over to my side. I like engaging and seeing how others feel, but that's not what is important in this next hundred days. Two things are paramount. One, pick and support your candidate through the all the mud slinging – stick by your convictions and don't let anyone sway you. Two, on November 8th get out there and vote.
Having the freedom to choose – as my little brother pointed out -is what this and any election is all about. No one is forcing you to go against what your heart is telling you, so stop doing that to other people. Be thankful for the right to choose. Be respectful of those with views different from yours. I'm with her. You may think she's a liar and murderer etc. and it is your right to think that, but I don't and that is my right to choose. You can block me or unfollow me if you can't engage about your candidate intelligently and respectfully, but don't try to change my mind. I have taken my stand. It's time to stop waffling and pick a side without the fear that you will be ridiculed and pressured to change. Both candidates are getting it from all sides and being dragged through the mud, so put on your T shirt and go on the mud run with them. Exercise your right to vote. Above Hillary versus Trump, what is important is the fact that we are ALL Americans and we live in a democracy and we DO have the right to choose.
And so, as another day goes by, my tank top came today and I will wear it proudly to support my candidate, and…I have written.
If you have been riding around with your candidate's sticker on the back of your vehicle for almost a year, you are not the person I am interested in hearing from. Your views are set in stone and your blinders are on. The people I would like to hear from are those that can fill in and finish this sentence:
“I was supporting_______, but now I am going to vote for____________because__________________.”
You are the person that is going to make a difference in this election. You think, you read, you watch, you engage with others without using rhetoric and you do not consider the news your Bible. You carefully vet your sources before deciding “Yes, that is a fact.” You do not fill your Facebook page with flip, snide, sarcastic posts thinking you are actually going to sway someone's allegiance with that stuff.
There is no shame in jumping ship if it appears a lifeboat is within reach. When faced with two choices, I always insert myself into both positions and try on both views and see what I think and feel. There was a moment, be it a brief one, where I considered Trump a change agent and this attracted me because all my life I have looked forward to and embraced change. Michelle Obama's mic drop last night sealed it. I felt deep in my heart that that was the America I wanted to support. She is so right. America already is great – we can't discard how far we have come as she so eloquently pointed out. But we cannot be complacent either. We cannot and should not be satisfied to just sit and vegetate at the point we are at presently. We can always be better. It doesn't matter whether we are talking about our own personal lives or the country as a whole – we can always strive to be better today than we were yesterday and move forward. I stand with Michelle and truly feel Hillary, along with Bernie and bunch, will be the best person to do that.
On Hillary – I refuse to enter into the ridiculous rhetoric that Trump supporters spout. All the email and Benghazi stuff was thrown at me in soundbites and colored by the media to increase their audience so they can what? Make more money for having the most viewers on their stations. Sorry. Sounds like a Trump move to me. I prefer to actually go back through her 25 years of history and figure out for myself what kind of person she is instead of taking my Facebook friend's word for it. Although, I do have one Facebook friend who couldn't have said it better:
” If people would stop reading the headlines, stop listening to soundbites, quit watching FOX news and do some research of their own, they would see that she is a strong, thoughtful, smart, trustworthy woman that has been under a microscope for over 25yrs with No – NOT ONE – charge against her. And some of those investigations lasted YEARS. A lot of people hate her, want to see her fail so they twist the truth. The sad part of all of that is that so many people believe the lies. All they can say about her is she is evil, she lies, she's a murderer, she should be in jail. I keep asking for one factual example of something she has done that she should be in jail for.” — Cathy Powers —
Notice she says factual.
I do love how Trump can say something – anything – and people take it as fact and re-post it like it is truly so because Trump said it. For me, there is so so so much about him that I cannot even entertain the thought of getting on the Trump train for; and if you bag up Hillary's baggage and stand it next to him, it pales in comparison.
And then today I find this post – NOT written by Hillary, but so totally reflects how I feel about the type of person she is. She is badass in a good way and it's just what we need. Badass AND smart. Let Me Remind You F**** Who I Am.
And so, as another politically charged day goes by, I stand with Bernie – enough is enough and we have a country to think of, so I'm with her…and I have written.
I just can't stay quiet and sit idly by while this election year pushes forward. Everyone else has jumped on the election train and graced social media with their opinions. It's my turn. This week I had my first conversation with someone outside my husband and children about the election who is a very dear friend of mine. We are on different sides and guess what? We still love and respect each other, which is more than I can say for our two candidates who are supposed to be an example. I say we are on different sides, but I am really not “on a side.” Once again we must be forced to choose the “lesser of two evils.” And therein is the rub.
You can take Hillary's lies and emails and Benghazi and put them in a bag, but at least she is not a psychopath, nor is she dangerous. Today I read an article in The New Yorker that confirmed my feelings of fear where Trump is concerned. It was a long article, but very in depth. If Trump wins, we are going to pull back the curtain and there ain't gonna be no wizard behind it. All we are going to find is an funny little man grasping at levers wildly, and he is gonna turn to us and say “Gotcha!”
Hillary is Lucifer, Hillary should be in stripes, and, yes, Hillary should be shot. All of that coming from a camp that wants to seriously take on the problems our country faces? That kind of rhetoric is going to “make America great again?” Anyone who knows me, I mean really knows me, knows I will never condone such disrespect for anyone. And policy? Has Trump uttered one word of real policy or offered one rational solution for “making America great again?” All Trump does is tell us how great Trump is. He is on the TV right now telling me how he is going to stop the violence on our streets today. He is telling me how on January 21st safety is going to be the number one priority. He is spouting violence statistics. But what he hasn't said, even once, in the last eight months, is HOW!! HOW is he going to make America great again? His whole speech tonight is all drama. The look on his face on that stage just screams “Look at me! Look how great I am!” “Nobody knows the system better than ME. I ALONE can fix it” And still, after 30 minutes, no HOW. Hillary this and Hillary that. Still no HOW. “We (him and Mike) will liberate our citizens from the violence that plagues us.” Still no HOW. “When I take the office next January I will restore law and order to our country, believe me. I am the law and order candidate.” Again, HOW? In this whole speech tonight, not ONE idea. Just pure listing of all the problems we face and how bad Hillary is. His posture and demeanor were downright scary. “We are going to defeat the barbarians of ISIS and we're going to defeat them fast.” Again, HOW? And I can go on…list after list of problems, and NOT ONE SOLUTION. Just look how great I am. I am your savior. Really? This is someone you want for president? It's 11:18 and he is still up there telling us what he is going to do – fast – like he does not have to work with the opposite party or congress. Like he is going to be crowned King and will have full say and power over the rest of the government. Really? Does he even realize our forefathers made that impossible when they set up our government? And don't forget to notice how he stops to rake in the applause – because that is all he really cares about. And now he's thanking the evangelical community. Too much. I have to go to bed.
And these have been my feelings up until today. Today my feelings turned into real fear after reading an article in The New Yorker and then watching him on that stage tonight. I dare you to read it. It's long and in depth and it pulls back the curtain. And then, if after reading it, he still has your vote, have at it. Trust a dangerous psychopath to “make America great again.”
And so, as another day goes by, my fear is reflected in this article, and finally …I have written.
And I'm really trying….
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.