Sunday, January 29, 2012

7 Questions Sunday

Happy Sunday, folks! We’ve made it through another week, and tomorrow we go speeding headlong and headstrong into another one. I can’t wait. Mondays are my favourite days, as they are the start of a brand new week; another chance to shine, to inspire, and to get things Done.

Today I would like to introduce you to someone who has played a HUGE role in my life. She’s known me all of my life, and in spite of that (and ALL of the trials and tribulations that this entails) still give me hugs, encouragement, slaps on the back of the head whenDSCN0543 needed, and laughs at my silly jokes. Yes, I am talking about my Mom. That’s her, waiving to the camera, as we got set up for the Inaugural Hartford 5k last summer. She and my Dad were instrumental in making the morning a success (I hope I can rope them into it again this year!). Below are 7 questions that I asked her recently, and her candid and honest answers. I hope you are able to find some insight and inspiration, just as I have over the years.


Many new health-related terms have been popping up lately. Two of my
favourites are 'wellness' and 'fitness'. I tend to think of wellness as
holistic, while fitness relates more to ones physical being.
1) How would you describe your present level of fitness?

I try to walk 25 miles a week.  I have been doing this for about 5 years.  I have Trochanter bursitis and also trouble with IT Band (just diagnosted after 10 years of issues... doing PT for it).  This is where the wellness impacts the fitness.  I am 66 years old so you youngens' will understand in 30-40 years!  I also do yoga a few times a week.  

2) How would you contrast that with 5 years ago?

This is about the time I started the extended walking.  I retired 8 years ago but it took me a while to get use to it!  Slow learner.  I had been doing some walking but became more consistant.  I have also limited my gluten intake.  More fruit and veggies!

3) Was there an "a-ha" moment for you? Would you care to share it, and is it
still a motivating factor for you?

I have a twin sister.  We were both a bit overweight and although she had been a smoker for 40 years and I never smoked we have a serious history of heart disease in our family.  A little over 3 years ago she was not feeling well for a few months and I nagged her into seeing a doctor.  She was found to have three blockages.  Two near her heart and one in her neck.  During the angioplasty she suffered a stroke!  It was a long recovery and she has many problems.   The main one, of many, is her lack of speech.  Her gait is not always the best, she lacks reasoning skills and is very depressed because of her dependency on others for just about everything.

Dolly was a selfless, lively lady, full of fun and devoted to her children
and grandchildren.  I have lost my best friend, listening ear and wombmate. I love the Dolly I have now but I mourn the loss of her spirit.  This event gave me a huge jolt!  I had to do something about my lack of attention to myself.  I lost 45 pounds and became more faithful about getting exercise and doing something to relieve stress.

4) Have you had any injuries or setbacks along the way?

I have moderate to severe arthritis in my neck, lower back, feet and hands
besides the IT band and trochanter bursitis.  Some days I cannot get out of
bed without a lot of stretching first.  I live in Florida and the weather is much easier on these maladies.  Holiday weight gain can sometimes be an
issue as I love to bake and make desserts but I am able to keep it in check

5) How did you overcome them?

Hard work and a vision of where I want to be healthwise so that I can enjoy my family as much as I can.  

6) What areas of your life have been most impacted by your improved fitness?

I think being retired and having more time for me has helped.  We live in Florida most of the year and summer on our sailboat on Lake Champlain in New York during the summer months.  This makes it possible to walk every day.  This past summer I was able to walk 45-50 miles a week and I missed walking when it rained. Invest in some really good shoes and just go!

7) Any advice for others out there, searching for their "a-ha" moment?

They are all around you... do not wait for a tragedy to occur to open your eyes.  It could be the birth of a child or grandchild, the death of a good friend or relative.  Make it a positive reason for change instead of a negative one.  And it is ok to be a little "selfish".  Take time for you.  The world will not come to an end if supper is a little late so that you can take a walk and unwind after work.  Also.. do not think that getting a dog will force you to walk several times a day.  Find a neighbor that has one and walk with them or volunteer to take an elderly neighbor's dog for a walk for them.  Both the dog and you will love it and you will not have the expense and the responsibility of ownership.  Win-Win!


Thanks for stopping by! Are you ready for a great Monday????


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

not much for something

I have been thinking a lot about trying to raise funds to send our oldest to Thailand. Don't get me wrong, I have also been thinking about raising funds to get him BACK from Thailand...sheesh. While doing this, I was looking around at the ways that other people were raising monies, and my endeavor was missing a key element; the "what's in it for me" factor.
You know the one. Girl Scouts want money, so you give them $50 for 2 boxes of cookies. Boy Scouts want money so you buy outrageously priced pop-corn. We've all done it in one form or another. Do you know how many millions of those yellow wrist bands LiveStrong has sold? Me, either, but I am sure that it is more than 28 Million (see what i did there?).
A coupla weeks ago I posted a letter from Mike, our son who wants to go to Thailand and give baths to elephants and pick up monkey poo. Or something like that. He went into great detail as to what the trip involves, but I was probably playing Angry Birds or updating myfitnesspal (let's many cheese sticks DID I have today??) and missed all of the nitty gritty. If you'd like, you can read about it by clicking the link at the top that says, "elephant baths and monkey poo", or by clicking this.
Thank you for sticking around this post for so long.....NOW I am about to get to the title subject.

Yes, a t-shirt. I have created a shirt over at cafepress, along with 20 bajillion other people. Heck, if it works for them, it just might work for us.

Unlike most shirts out there, though, this one carries a more personal message. Don't get all mushy on me: this isn't about ME, but about YOU. Or someone you know. How so? Here's how: ever been involved in a training run or in the gym or just on errands, having a crap-tastic day? Sure you have. We ALL have. What do many of us do (no, no, I'm NOT offering free pints of Ben & Jerry's) in these situations? We hang our heads. We look toward the ground, searching for something to give us a reason to pick our heads up and get back into the game of life. It is exactly this action that lead me to create this style of shirt. Without giving it all away here, I cordially invite you to go to my shop and look at the shirts. I kept the selection simple and the mark-up low, and am very willing to add products. Simply send me an email with your request and after I have added it to the store I will send you an email letting you know that it has been added.

If you have already contributed, and would like a shirt, please let me know and we can make arrangements.

Again, thank you for sticking with me, and thank you for helping me help our son realize a dream.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Funny Friday (from email)

I rec'd this in my inbox at work today. Seems that someone here has a bit of a sense of humor and wanted to share. Who am I to deny you some chuckles? He says he found it on the web, but can't recall where...
Happy Friday!

Dear Diary,

For my birthday this year, I purchased a week of personal training at
the local health club. Although I am still in great shape since being a
high school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a
good idea to go ahead and give it a try.

I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Christo, who identified himself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear. Friends seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.
Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was
well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Christo waiting
for me. He is something of a Greek god-- with blond hair, dancing eyes,
and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!!
Christo gave me a tour and showed me the machines.. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which he conducted his aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring!
Christo was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time he was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!!
I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door.
Christo made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air
then he put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the
treadmill, but I made the full mile. His rewarding smile made it all
worthwhile. I feel GREAT! It's a whole new life for me.
The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the
counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a
hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn't try to
steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot. Christo
was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club
members.. His voice is a little too perky for that early in the morning
and when he scolds, he gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying. My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Christo put me on the stair
monster. Why the hell would anyone invent a machine to simulate an
activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Christo told me it would help
me get in shape and enjoy life. He said some other crap too.
Butthole was waiting for me with his vampire-like teeth exposed as his
thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn't help
being a half an hour late-- it took me that long to tie my shoes. He
took me to work out with dumbbells. When he was not looking, I ran and
hid in the restroom. He sent some skinny witch to find me. Then, as
punishment, he put me on the rowing machine-- which I sank.
I hate that jackass Christo more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic, anorexic, little aerobic instructor. If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat him with it. Christo
wanted me to work on my triceps. I don't have any triceps! And if you
don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me the darn barbells or
anything that weighs more than a sandwich. The treadmill flung me off
and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher. Why couldn't it have
been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?
Satan left a message on my answering machine in his grating, shrilly
voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just hearing his voice
made me want to smash the machine with my planner; however, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel..
I'm having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and
thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year my
husband will choose a gift for me that is fun-- like a root canal or a
hysterectomy. I still say if God had wanted me to bend over, he would
have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

This is just ME talking....

I am NOT a dietician. I am NOT a personal trainer. I am NOT a therapist. I am a husband, father, brother, son, etc. etc.....I don't have expert advice on anything, but i DO have expert OPINIONS on a great many things. Some of these are fitness, eating, and societal trends. And America.
To wit:
Everyone has their own acceptable level of comfort. Some can't fall asleep until they are in the 'exact' comfort zone, while others can be fine sleeping on tank tracks. Some people can't be satisfied with their fitness levels until they look like a particular person, do better at someone at some event, or catch the eye of that certain someone. Others, well, we know them, too, who are simply content that they wake up each day, and are often surprised that they made it through another night. Still, they aren't moved enough by this to DO something to change their lives, they just accept that this is what it is, and hope for the best.
(side note: i am WAY off track again. i'll try to get back...)
Lemme address eating. Or diet. Or food choices. Whatever you want to call it. "things i put in my pie hole, including pie". I don't care. I am going to call it 'intake'. For those of us who struggle with the amount of intake being greater than the amount of our output, we may find ourselves searching for that be-all-end-all answer to better health/weightmanagement/body composition. I have done it. Sometimes I still do it. Life here in America is about choices. We all have the right to make choices, even bad ones. While I don't necessarily agree that vegan is the way to go, I'm not going to try to stop anyone from doing it. Same with paleo or any of the other diet trends that are out there. Unless i see it as potentially harmful or fatal (phen phen, anyone?), I'm content to just sit back and watch how things unfold.
One thing that I do believe, however, is that trying to make your new intake regime drastically different from your current one in order to lose weight (or obtain some other goal) can be setting yourself up for failure. What? Let's take ME as an example. I consider myself a true omnivore. Except for slugs, insects, and snakes, I'll pretty much eat anything in the 'normal' American (and, well, Japanese for that matter) diet. Ok.
 lemme qualify that. i WON'T eat things like Little Debbie snack cakes, Hostess products, frozen entrees, cheezy poofs, pork rinds, etc. ok? clear on that? good. whew......LAST thing I need is SMART FOOD sending me a case of their stuff to 'try and review' for my blog., thanks. ANYWAY.....
If, after reading some book or article, I come to the conclusion that I must change what I eat and limit myself to only 'beans and greens', as my office mate has done, I will FAIL MISERABLY in my endeavor. I tried it for a day earlier this week. Even though my salad made me feel full, it only had about 200 calories. I 'need' 1800 a day to reach my weight/composition goals. SO. if lunch was to be where i wanted to get most of my calories, i would be hard pressed to reach 1000 calories by eating salad. Even with pinto beans or black beans or garBANZO beans. That, and I'd supply enough natural gas into our room that we'd surely have to evacuate this wing of the hospital.
However, if i take a look at my usual intake trends (either in by using a food diary or by counting calories), I may (will) be able to identify certain trends, and can tweek THOSE to help me reach my goals. Oh, lookie here! I eat 750 calories AFTER dinner, in the shape of ice cream and cookies. Hmmm....maybe i should shift that to earlier in the day, when i am still burning calories. I mean, even if i eat 750 calories worth of salad (holy garden, batman) at 10pm, i am still not doing myself much good. That, and I'd supply enough gas under the covers that the blame would readily shift from the dog to ME, and that's not good. (So far, I don't think my wife knows about dutch ovens, and I hope to keep it that way.)
So what am i driving at here? Simplicity. If you make drastic changes to your current MO, you set yourself up to fail. Hello? Have you never seen Criminal Minds or NCIS? Once the criminal gets sloppy and breaks from their normal patterns, BAM! Busted. Don't let that happen to you. Unless, of course, you are my cousin. I don't think she'd mind getting busted by Derek Morgan. Just sayin!
Keep it simple, but keep it steady. (TWSS)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Which one are you?

The English language is full of fun. I love it, and love how many words that we have to choose from. I am glad, though, that I didn't learn it as a second language. Woa. And punctuation? Yes, it matters. Consider these examples. Same arrangement of words, but the COMMA makes allllll the difference. Especially to a certain someone:

Let's eat Gramma!
Let's eat, Gramma!


But that isn't why i am writing today. Here's why, actually. There are two words that are often used in ways that the person speaking doesn't intend (okok, YES, there are THOUSANDS, but...) to use them.
Sympathy and Empathy. More precisely, sympathetic and empathetic. Which one are you? I recently heard another nurse use empathetic correctly when talking to a patient, and I congratulated him, saying that the misuse of the word is one of my pet-peeves. He had this to say:

"When I was younger, and i'll never forget this, my uncle explained it to me this way: 'Imagine you are in a canoe with another person. Suddenly they fall into the water and begin so sink, as they can't swim. If you jump into the water to help them, knowing that you can't swim either, you are being Empathetic. If you sit in the canoe and toss them something that floats, you are being Sympathetic.'"

So I ask us, which one are you? When your friends come to you with a problem, either IRL or online, which one are you? Do you dive in with them and actually DO the extra workouts, eat better, and continue to offer support, or do you just sit back and tell them that they should be working out harder, and eating better?

This year, I will endeavor to be more empathetic.

Join me?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Elephant baths and monkey poo.

My stepson loves animals. And he loves to travel. Well, he loves the IDEA of travel, as he really hasn't traveled much. But anyway, he has the opportunity to travel to Thailand this spring to help take care of elephants, monkeys, and other 'exotics' that we don't have here in New England. He's on a track at the University of Vermont to study animals in their habitats and such. He needs to raise some money for this, as neither his mom nor I are uber wealthy. I offered to let him plead his case here on my blog, as we all know that I have about seven hundred readers. He isn't looking for much. Just 5 bucks. So make your own coffee and skip that Starbucks treat for a day. Ok. Maybe just one of your cups.
Interestingly, he wrote it as if I wrote is the unedited version. Thank you.
Without further ado, here's Mike. My Paypal button is located over there on the right.-------> Thank you.

Guess who is going to Thailand?!

My step son Michael is headed off to Thailand (or hopefully) on May 24th, 2012. The
problem arises because he is a poor college student. haha :P. The Trip would involve
him going to Thailand to work with monkeys and Elephants. He would be conserving
their environment to ultimately help their well-being. He would be doing everything
from feeding them, cleaning their environments, protecting them, to bathing them and
cleaning up after them (if you know what i mean).
The next part of the trip that he is have opted for is after the two weeks of conservation,
he will be traveling different parts of Thailand doing what is called adventure time! Which
is essentially a ton of different events including rock climbing, snorkeling, and white river
kayaking for another two weeks.
The program is all together 4 weeks long. It is through "ISV" International Student
Volunteers. Their website for more on what he will be doing is posted here: http://
He had to apply to this program and was lucky enough to be accepted to go. Now He is
scavenging the money he can get to be able to go. He is doing everything from sending
letters to corporations to saving every dime that he can on a daily basis.
He has never been out of the country except for Canada, so this is going to be huge for
him if he is able to go!
He has to raise close to $5,200 to be able to go on this trip (this is including the airfare
he has to pay for outside of the program cost/ and a little more for spending money (like
To be able to pay for just the program fees it is about $3,695.
What he is asking of you is to spare $5 dollars or more to contribute to his funds to help
animals in Thailand, and to allow him to experience something more than he has ever
been privileged enough to experience before.
This can be given to him by clicking the Paypal button on the right side of Gene's blog.

Thanks again!!!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Yay, JANATHON, and New Year’s Double

Off to a great start. Janathon, two half marathons. (win!)

A nice blogger lady who I don’t really know very well hosted a New Year’s Double event in Texas. The idea was that you run a race (distances varied) on New Year’s Eve AND New Year’s Day, and you got an awesome medal for each event, and then if you did BOTH days, you got this nifty-neato thing that held them together, kinda like those “best/friend” necklaces that all the cool girls wore back in the 80’s. (Do they still do that, of just get matching tramp stamps? I dunno…) Anyway…I really love the concept, but as we live NOWHERE NEAR Allen, Texas (north and slightly east of Dallas), I decided that I would try to complete my own New Year’s Double. On the treadmill.

Yesterday I didn’t eat much for breakfast (actually, I ate nothing. I had a cup of coffee). After a wonderful conversation with T about working out, nutrition, hydration, and us trying a schedule so that each of us could actually benefit from the treadmill, I set off to run a half marathon. Earlier in the week I did a half marathon for Operation Jack, even thought I had to split it into two runs (see posting below). How hard could it be, right? T had gone shopping and B and I were home alone. We’d been playing video games a bit earlier in the day, and he wanted to play some more by himself. He said to me, “Dad, today I want to beat ModernWarfare3.” I told him to go for it as I got my GenUcan, Nuun, and water ready. I also had some shot bloks and Honey Stingers ready to eat. I set off at a nice, manageable pace that I figured I could maintain for the duration: 6~6.5mph. The plan was that I would have enough in the tank to be able to do it again the next day. I plugged my headphones in to AudioFuel’s two hour long run tracks Run Wild 1&2. I said to B, “I’m going to have headphones on and won’t be able to hear you very well, so jump up and down in front of me if you NEED something, ok?” What I think he heard was, “Now would be a good time for you to try to talk to me about random things that aren’t very important to humans,” because I wasn’t ten seconds into the run when he started blabbing about something. So I stopped to listen. And then started running again. This went on for about 10 minutes until I finally gave up and got off the treadmill. I tried to explain to him what I was doing, and that I really needed to not be bugged for ‘silly’ things.

We compromised, and I used the treadmill’s speakers to hear the music and coaching. It worked out fine, and I only had to take a few potty breaks along the way. I finished up the 13.1 miles by doing the last mile as 2x6.5mph laps + 1 @ 7.5 and then the final lap and a half at 8mph. That made my last mile the fasted mile of the day. “Result”


Quite interestingly, at mile 8.7 the belt stopped (suddenly!) and the timer reset itself to zero. The mileage and calories stayed correct (thankfully!), but the time was off. Same exact thing happened on Sunday’s run, too. Any ideas?

See all those burnt calories? Yea. WELL….I didn’t replace them. After the run I ate a Clif Builder Bar and then some string cheese, and lotsa water. For dinner I ate 2 small-ish lobsters and a small piece of steak. NOT NEARLY enough calories to replace what I spent. I ended yesterday with almost 2400 calories in the bank still to spend. I didn’t. DUMB!

Today I ate some pancakes for breakfast with B, then some American Chop Suey for lunch, about 45 minutes before my run (I’ll bet some of you know where this is going….). I hydrated well, and set out to run at the beginning of the Patriot’s game. Not really a big fan of football, but I was luck to meet Rob Gronkowski early this fall, so I have been trying to watch him play. He’s set some pretty good records this year. Great to have him part of the ArcticEase family, which I also enjoy being a foster kid to. (hahahahaha….)

[Click here to watch an ArcticEase commercial featuring the GRONK. If you pay close attention, you can see ME tossing him the football. Yep. YAY!]

So today’s run wasn’t nearly as ‘easy’ as yesterday’s half. Wow. About 3 miles in my legs felt like cement. My mind just wasn’t into it, and after 8 miles I was mentally ready to check out. The glitch at 8.7miles surprised me, and I ALMOST finished the run after 9. But I was watching the CROSSFIT reruns on ESPN2. Man. Those ladies never quit. Not just in the competition, but in their training and contest prep. You CAN’T QUIT when it gets tough or you get BORED and still expect to attain your goals.

I didn’t quit. I kept on pluggin’ along and finished the 13.1 in 2 hours and 20 minutes. The last few miles were ugly, but I still managed to run the last mile as my fastest mile, redoing the speeds that I did yesterday.


So there it is, my own New Year’s Double and my FIRST run of JANATHON 2012 sorted. Short recovery run planned for tomorrow, then who knows after that? Not I. Now off I go to EAT SOMETHING. Wow….