Tag Archives: choices

I want to be like you when I grow up….

6 Nov

 

This past weekend I was privileged to meet an extraordinary couple who attend The Rock Church in Sunnyvale, California.  They are proof that age is just a number and that wellbeing can be achieved no matter your date of birth.  I did not get their first names so I’ll refer to them as the people there refer to them…..Momma and Papa Leaman.  He is a spry 90-year old gentleman and she is an energetic 85-year old lady.

There are several choices they make that enable them to live such full lives.

1.   They recognize the importance of moving their bodies.  They attend their local health club three mornings a week and walk for 45 minutes and participate in an aqua fitness class.  Because of the ladies conference this past weekend, they were not able participate in their typical Friday morning fitness routine, and Papa Leaman was disappointed that they had to miss.

2.  They are active members in their church.  They attend services and special events that their local church sponsors.  They help when they can and where they can – they know that they are a part of a community and you can see how the other members of the congregation interact with them and let them know that they are loved, honored, and appreciated.  I was there this past February for a dinner at the church and they were both in the kitchen helping out….and Momma Leaman is quite the chef.  She helps with the food when she is able.

3.  They are madly in love with each other.  They have been married 66 years and she refers to him as her “latin lover” 🙂 (He is Italian and Spanish.)  Upon meeting him, he will proudly pull out a picture from his wallet to show you–it’s a little worn and faded but the beauty of the young lady is breathtaking.  It is one of the first pictures she gave to her sweetheart.  As I watched them talking to other members of the congregation, I saw that they still like to hold hands.

4.  Travel and adventure is still vital in their lives – they don’t leave that for the young people.  The last few years they’ve went with family members to Hawaii for one month to vacation.  Then last year, they decided to take a cruise all by themselves without any family members.  They refuse to let fear of the unknown keep them in their comfort zones.

5.  They realize they have talents and abilities to share with others and realize that hanging out with children can put some energy, fun, and laughter into your day. She has a workshop behind their garage and once a week she has girls of all ages come to her workshop and she teaches them to knit, embroider, sew, and crochet.  Many of these young girls will make Christmas gifts for their family members during these weekly lessons – the week before Christmas, she has wrapping paper for them and they prepare their gifts.  Then they go into the kitchen and she all the ingredients ready for homemade gingerbread men.  They decorate their cookies and then clean up the mess before she takes them out for lunch. I told her I wished I live there so I could go over her house once a week 🙂

6.  They refuse to allow health issues to run their lives and they make whatever changes they need to in order to keep disease from diminishing their quality of life.  When he was diagnosed with diabetes, they went to informative sessions for two weeks to learn everything they could do to help the symptoms from escalating.  They made lifestyle changes and it’s working….he is only has to take one pill a day.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer and she did her research and made her choices and is cancer free.  At age 85, she is only on two prescription meds per day.

This couple radiates warmth, love, and well-being.  I wish all of you could meet them because I know they would inspire you as much as they inspired me! Momma and Papa Leaman, I want to be like you when I grow up!

Alignment

28 Sep

This morning I made my way to Dr. Eddie, my chiropractor, so he could make some adjustments and continue helping my spinal column to be in good alignment.  The vertebrae in our spinal column can get out of alignment due to lifestyle, poor posture, stress, weight, etc.  The spinal column has a very important job of protecting the central nervous system; our central nervous system is VITAL to our well being….it’s how we live, move and breathe! I’m very aware of the importance of good alignment in the spinal column.

Another important alignment that has to be made every so often is on the tires of my car.  This has to be done so that the tires are set to the car maker’s specifications.  It reduces tire wear and ensures that my trusty, little Toyota Corolla will travel straight and true and not pull to one side.

I have to make alignments in my spiritual life, as well.  I have to align my thoughts, my hopes, and my purpose with God’s.  I have to put my trust and hope in Him and know that He is my provider and works all things out and brings about good things in my life.  When I neglect to keep myself in proper alignment vertically (between God and I), the relationships in my life get out of alignment horizontally.  I begin to put people into a position that is not fair to them.This puts unrealistic expectations on them as I begin to expect them to meet my needs or make me happy.   My peace of mind is not dependent on what others do and don’t do; my happiness is not based on people.  However, if I’m out of alignment spiritually, my emotions, thoughts and feelings will be based on others and their actions.  This makes for a very rocky/bumpy roller coaster ride….it’s not fun for anyone – me or the people in my life!  When I’m out of alignment, doubt, fear and worry will fill my mind and these things will make me want to react in negative ways.

As I align my thoughts with the Word, peace, contentment, joy, purpose, hope, trust, faith, and rest enter into my life, my heart, and my mind…..no matter what is going on around me, in me, or in my life.  The following scriptures come alive and bring peace:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble. Psalms 46:1

I sought the Lord and He answered me.  He delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him.  Psalms 37:4-5

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

And there’s many more words that bring value, rest, peace, contentment and hope.  That is why it is imperative that I keep my vertical alignment at my top priority…when that is in perfect alignment, all is well.

How’s your alignment?

Lessons learned in the classroom

14 Aug

As a group exercise instructor, it is my mission to give each class participant motivation, encouragement, a challenge, and a fun time during class so when he/she walks out of my class, he/she feels better, stronger, more energetic, and glad that he/she made the effort to attend my class.

Last Wednesday morning in Zumba at Northside YMCA, I had a new class participant and she had never tried a Zumba class before.  I made sure to chat with her after class and encourage her to come back.  She proceeded to tell me that it’s the first class she has been back to after losing her mother unexpectedly at the end of June.  I could tell she wanted to talk, so for 20 minutes I listened….shared a little bit of my story of losing my grandmother a few weeks ago…and shared how being physically active can help us through dark, emotional moments. We both shed a few tears and then she gave me a hug and a little kiss on the cheek and thanked me for listening and said she would be back.

In this same class I have a senior lady who attends….I figured she was in her late 60s…she has been attending for a few weeks now…always smiles…has a great time….and makes sure to thank me after class.  I was moved to tears when another participant shared me the story of this lady, Phyllis.  Phyllis is 79 and is the caregiver for her husband who has Alzheimer’s.  She hires a sitter once a week so she can attend my class. I was overwhelmed with emotions after hearing the stories of these two ladies.

That is why it is vital for me as an instructor to give 110% in every class…no matter how I feel or no matter the day that I am having.  It is not about me….it is about my class participants.  Health and wellness is more than just physical fitness….it is emotional wellness…..it is mental wellbeing….it is experiencing moments of joy, happiness, and fulfillment.

I want my class participants to leave my class feeling like a better person…a stronger person…a healthier person….and feeling empowered, encouraged, and motivated to face the rest of their day no matter what may come their way.

More lessons I’m learning from the classroom….

Lessons I’ve Learned While Watching The Olympics

5 Aug

I am one of the millions who has been staying up way too late to watch the world’s top athletes compete in the London 2012 Summer Olympics.  As I’ve watched, I have learned some valuable lessons that I hope to apply in my own life.

As I watched 16-year-old Gabby Douglas go through her gymnastics routines, I could not help but be drawn in by her engaging smile and her fun attitude.  She had me smiling as I watched her have fun while performing her floor work.  Yes, she knew she was at the Olympics; and, yes, she knew she was performing for the chance to win a medal.  However, for Gabby, it appears as if it was just another performance doing something she loves and enjoys doing.  Her smile lit up her face the entire time…she was having the time of her life.   I learned from her that if you do what you love and do it with passion while having fun, you will win the gold.

While watching the interview with Carmelita Jeter, it was mind-boggling to hear how people have slammed her, made negative remarks about her, posted things on the internet about her and questioned her authenticity in her performances.  What intrigued me and taught me a valuable lesson was the statement she made towards the end of her interview: You can let what people say consume you or fuel you.  Wow! If it consumes you, it drains you and is negative.  If it consumes you, it energizes you and fuels you to personal best records on the track.

And how can I fail to mention Oscar Pistorius, the first double amputee sprinter to compete in the 400 meter run in the Olympics????? Can we say “NO EXCUSES” to go for your dreams??? He has had to fight adversity and naysayers – people who said, “he has an unfair advantage because of his blades….they give him an edge…”  What???? Someone with legs and feet is at a disadvantage over someone who has had both legs amputated below the knees? I’m sure he is another person who doesn’t let what people say consume him.  I’ve learned from him that no matter how difficult it may seem to achieve your dream, you still have to believe in your dream, hope in it, and go for it.

The human body is an amazing design.  We all have an athlete that lives inside us that wants to be challenged.  It’s never too late to go for the gold in our lives….it’s never too late to train to live our dream.  No matter what anyone says…no matter what anyone thinks….. Do what you love and love what you do.  Live every moment with passion and no regrets.  Just do it!

Reflections

22 Jul

ImageMy journey with Grandma has come to an end……On July 12th around 7:30 in the evening, Grandma took her final breath here in this world.  I’m not sad for her…..but I am sad for me.  This last two years my life has revolved around her….visiting her on a daily basis…feeding her lunch or supper (depending on the day)…spending Friday and Saturday evenings with her….going to church with her at the nursing home on Sunday mornings and then feeding her lunch….decorating her room for holidays and new seasons…..taking her to activities…..watching her sleep…..seeing her sparkly blue eyes light up when I would walk into the room…..laughing as Grandma would crack me up with some random remark…..holding her hands….rubbing her feet….putting lotion on her…..giving her manicures…..bringing her treats…….praying with her…..  Sooooooo many memories and I’m grateful for each one.

I’m so glad I made the decision two years ago to move from Michigan to Knoxville, TN.  I was the assistant to our wellness director at the YMCA in Muskegon, Michigan, and was going to be hired as the director in the next few months….I took a leave of absence for one month and while I was checking things out in Knoxville, I interviewed with a Y and was given the chance to teach Zumba once a week.  That was enough to know that I was supposed to move….my career as a director was put on hold and I quit working 40+ hours per week and started over with just one class per week.  Scary?  Yes! But knew that everything would work out and that Grandma was my mission and my purpose in life at the time.

For two precious years I was able to be with her on a daily basis…I find it interesting that she was my caregiver the first two years of my life (my Mom worked full time when I was born so Grandma was my babysitter) and I was her caregiver the last two years of her life.  And, I wasn’t ready for her to leave just yet….thought I had more time….I spent time with her on Wednesday, July 4th and then I left on Thursday for a few days…went to Delaware to celebrate a wedding.  I got back to the nursing home on Tuesday, July 10th and walked in Grandma’s room to see her on oxygen and not looking well.  I just thought her O2 levels were low and the oxygen would make her all better.  I spent time with her and then had classes to teach.  Wednesday morning, the nursing home called to let us know that Grandma was not doing well and probably would not be with us longer than a few days.  I finished teaching my morning classes and hurriedly showered to get there.  I walked in and knew that she would not rally back for us this time….I called my Mom and told her she needed to get on a plane or get in the car and start driving.

Grandma was not left alone until 6 p.m. on Thursday…..people came to hug on her and love on her.  I stayed by her side until 6:00 Thursday morning….had precious alone time with her and sang her favorite songs and then reminded her of all the things we did together – assured her that she was the best grandmother and that she had done a great job.  She would hear my voice and focus in on me for a moment – or if I got up and did something, she would become alert again before fading out.  I gave her many kisses and just loved, loved, loved on her.  My boyfriend, Jeff, arrived around 1 in the morning and stayed with me until my parents arrived at 5 a.m.  Mom stayed with her while we all left to get a little sleep. We all came back and spent most of Thursday with her – I decided to go ahead and teach one class – my parents and uncle went to get a bite to eat….and while we were all gone, Grandma took her final breath.  I really believe she wanted to protect us from seeing her leave us.

Grandma was 85 and would have turned 86 on the 25th of this month.  She lived a full life and made many memories with all of us.  She showered us with love – prayed for us – bragged on us – gave of her time, energy, and money – she never missed a birthday or special occasion – she was a classy lady who dressed like a queen.  She loved  wearing White Diamonds and her clothes still smell like it.  She carried beautiful embroidered handkerchiefs and loved her angel brooches.

Her life was celebrated and remembered by the many people who came to the visitation and funeral.  She was surrounded by pink, her favorite color.  The flowers that arrived were simply breathtaking and would have made her so happy.  One thing she would have been upset with is her thumbnail was snagged and not filed….she would not have liked that!!! 🙂  Her nails were always manicured. I didn’t wear black….i wore ivory and rose because that is what Grandma would have wanted.  And my sister and I sang at her service…something else Grandma would have wanted.

Now we begin the process of continuing life without her being in our daily lives and routines – that is a little unsettling because there will be no more Grandma’s house to go to….and as we all know, there’s no one like Grandma 🙂 My daily routine will seem empty and void for a while….my family has been here so it’s not settled in, yet…and I know I have more tears to cry.  However, the last two years of my life have been filled with so much love and joy and all the moments are priceless.  I’m honored that I was able to have that time with her. Life is short and we never know when we will have to say goodbye to a loved one….that’s why it’s important to focus on what matters and what will last.

Goodbye, my sweet grandmother…..until we meet in Heaven…..

Let’s make a memory….

27 Jun

As I thought about what to put in my intro to my newsletter for the month of July, I decided to google “July Holidays.”  I had NO idea all the things that I need to celebrate in the month of July.  Did you know that July is National Blueberry Month, National Anti-Boredom Month, National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, National Hot Dog Month, and National Ice Cream Month???? I had no idea. And, then we get into the days of the month…it appears that the 16th of July is the only date on the calendar that has no celebration. Here in the US, we are all familiar with Independence Day that we celebrate on July 4th – and those of us that have friends in Canada know that July 1st is Canada Day. But, there are sooooo many more celebrations to have!

For example, July 3rd is Compliment Your Mirror Day. July 7th is Chocolate Day and National Strawberry Sundae Day.  On July 10th, it is Teddy Bear Picnic Day. And on the 13th, we are supposed to embrace our geekness!  I will choose NOT to celebrate National Nude Day on the 14th and don’t want to know if you do 😉  Even the Ratcatchers get a Holiday on the 22nd.You can Take Your Pants for a Walk on the 27th and we would be remiss to miss Father-in-law Day on the 30th!!!  These are just a sampling of the Unique and Bizaare Holidays that one can celebrate in the month of July.  (My source was:  http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/july.htm)

Crazy? Fun? Interesting? Sure!!!! That’s what life is about.  Finding the small things and celebrating them.  Taking ordinary moments and turning them into a joyous occasion and a reason to make memories with friends and family members.  It’s not the big vacations that fill our lives with so much joy…..Yes, they are fun to take and we do create many memories while we are on those vacations.  But, we cannot live at Disney World all year long.  We have to learn to savor the unexpected, fun moments that come our way when we are least expecting it…..and to take a crazy Holiday like, Sidewalk Egg Frying Day, and actually celebrate it.

Too many times we wait for the BIG occasions to make memories and enjoy life….life is too short to just wait for once-a-year vacations.  Every day there is something to celebrate…try it….see how creative you can get…..LIVE in the moment and embrace it!

Into the Deep

20 Jun

This morning I ventured into a part of the Y that I have evaded for years.  THE POOL!!!

What has kept me out of this area for so long?  Ummmmm…..fear of the water would pretty much sum it up.  However, I heard that in aqua fitness classes you get to wear these cool belts that keep you from sinking to the bottom when you go into the deep end. So equipped with that knowledge I decided it was time.

(Additionally, I want to have more of an understanding of how the resistance of the water can create a great workout yet be easier on the joints.)

I made sure to get to the class early so I could tell the instructor that I was a first timer and NOT a lover of water. I have to admit I was somewhat nervous about walking into a new environment all by myself and was a little worried that I might do something that would make me stand out as the newbie.  This was way out of my comfort zone.

Well, right away I stood out because I was the youngest person in the pool….and the smallest – but I sensed this smirk of satisfaction on their faces and I realized they were going to enjoy watching my first time in an aqua fitness class.

I was very relieved to find out that we started in the shallow end…I could handle that – or so I thought until we started running through the water forwards and backwards.  I felt I was pushing against concrete!!! After 20 minutes in the shallow end, the instructor had us put on the belts and grab our weights and jog to the deep end.

Now I don’t know if you have ever jogged from one end of the pool to the other but it is NOT the same as jogging on a treadmill!!! I felt as if I were stuck in the sand and just spinning my tires….feet & legs were moving but I was not moving forward. It was a very disconcerting moment as I realized that my feet were no longer able to touch bottom. I was grateful for my belt and the weights that were holding me up.

We began to incorporate movements that were targeting our core muscles….holding our arms straight out and swinging the legs forwards and backwards, then side to side….and we did it over and over.  I realized that my triceps were beginning to feel the burn and I figured out it was because I had a death grip on those weights and was resisting going any lower in that water than I had to!!! Needless to say, I was not relaxed and my muscles were in permanent isometric contraction!!!

When we finished the work in the deep end, we were to alternate pushing the weights down while jogging back to the shallow end.  All the people older than me had made it back and was waiting for me and I was still stuck by the wall…..the lifeguard and instructor were having a great time watching me work so hard to stay in one place!!! I’m sure my abs are sore because of all the laughing I was doing.

Back at the shallow end, we began to use the weights and work our upper body. Have you ever done a lateral raise followed by a front raise in the pool while using weights? It took every ounce of strength to keep those weights from popping out of the water while I was lifting them straight out in front of me.  I had this mental image of me being catapulted through the air as the weights shot me up out of the pool.

I made it through the hour (while wondering how in the world the other participants could talk so much….It took my total concentration to do the moves correctly!), got out of the pool, and tried to get my “noodle” legs to get me into the locker room.  I was completely exhausted; and as I write this some 15 hours later, I’m already feeling the muscle soreness. (I can only imagine what it would feel like tomorrow!!!)

To sum it up, I had a great time….loved the challenge of doing something new while getting out of my comfort zone….and I will continue to go back until I’m no longer the last one out of the deep end!!!

On the road…in the air

12 Jun

Summer is here and many of us will embark on a few journeys during the next three months.  Weekend getaways to the beach or to the mountains. Long weekends to the cabin. Holiday travel over the 4th of July and over the Labor Day weekend.  Road trips and airports can wreak havoc on our wellbeing if we don’t plan in advance and make wise choices.  All it takes is a little preparation and planning to keep us from the potholes of bad foods.

If you’re traveling by car, packing a picnic basket and cooler is a great way to ensure that you have healthy choices at your fingertips.  Some great memories can be made as you look for fun picnic stops along your way.  Stock the car with fruits, trail mix, water, juice, etc.  The food items that are in your pantry at home can be transferred to your car.  Not only will this decision help your waistline….it will also help save you money!  If you have children, eating a picnic lunch at a park or roadside rest area can provide them an opportunity to play, run, and be loud….something they cannot do (or should not do) in a restaurant.

If you’re traveling by airplane, it is definitely a good choice to bring snacks….most airports snacks are not healthy and are very expensive.  Also, bring your water bottle along…. No, you cannot have water in it when you go through security, but you can take an empty water bottle through security and then all you have to do is find a water fountain.  Some airports have water filtering systems that provide good water for you.  I’ve been in two airports in the last few months that had this kind of system (Portland, Maine, and Chicago, Illinois).

Many hotel rooms now provide a small refrigerator and microwave.  Find a local co-op, farmer’s market, roadside stands, and grocery stores that provides healthy options once you arrive at your destination and stock your room with healthy foods.  If you are staying in a cabin or camper, you can really make great choices because you have the ability to cook, as well.

If you decide to eat out, do the local economy a favor….seek out restaurants that are local and provide farm-fresh foods and regional, ethic cuisine instead of going to national chain restaurants.  If possible, I always seek out local restaurants when I’m traveling just like I do when I’m at home.

On my recent trip to Michigan, I stocked my car with fresh fruit, veggies, hummus, black beans, salsa, blue corn tortilla chips and only had to purchase my soy latte.  It was easy, fast and cost efficient.  On my way back to Tennessee, I did the same and then made a stop at Whole Foods in Indianapolis to purchase my supper and, of course, a vegan chocolate chip cookie for my dessert!

Don’t be at the mercies of gas station convenient marts and fast food!!!  Be proactive and make GOOD choices.  Here are some resources that can help you do this:

www.healthyhighways.com/travelinfo.shtml (Lists 2,800 US healthy eateries, natural food markets and co-ops.)

www.eatwellguide.org (Locate real food via zip code or city and state)

www.localharvest.org (Find a farmers’ market by product or location)

www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php (Vegetarian Journal’s guide to Natural Foods Restaurants in the US and Canada)

Apps for your phone – Bon’ App, Locavore App, Happy Cow App, and iVegetarian App

Happy, healthy traveling!

 

 

 

 

Reflections

5 Jun

Today, I get to celebrate another year of life and this year I’m able to be with the people who matter most in my life….my parents, my sister, and my nieces….I couldn’t ask for a better gift.

As I sit with a cup of coffee, listening to classical music, watching 2 five-week old puppies nap after wrestling/playing, I reflect on where I am today and the life lessons I have learned in the past year.

I’ve learned that betrayal hurts just as bad as an adult as it does when one is a child or teenager.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how old you are it still hurts when a “friend” is one of the reasons why a breakup occurs in a dating relationship.

I’ve learned that it still feels horrible to be the one “left out”.

I’ve learned that even as an adult sometimes we feel like we have to be someone we are not in order for some people to like us and accept us.

BUT……I’ve learned some fabulous things as a result.

I’ve learned that the friends who have been in your life the longest are the ones you can still count on and it doesn’t how many miles separate you.  When you need them, they  are only a phone call away.

I’ve learned you still have to keep trusting and that you have to take a chance again…yes, it’s scary and it may not work out but you have to do it.

I’ve learned that a closed door means there is a better door that will open up.

I’ve learned that I get to choose my reaction and that other people’s opinions &  thoughts are not what define me.

I’ve learned like that I really like who I am and I refuse to let someone else’s insecurity/jealousy try to make me someone I’m not.

I’ve learned that there are valuable lessons to be learned from sorrow, hurt and rejection….even when we think we’ve already learned those lessons!!!

I’ve learned to focus on what really matters and to live in the moment.

Yes, these are alllllll lessons I thought I had already learned; I guess I made the discovery that the lessons continues and sometimes the tests get harder 🙂

As I sit and reflect, I love where I am at today and am very excited about this next year of life.  I’m ready to choose health, wellbeing, challenges, discovery, learning, adventure, travel, going outside my comfort zone, blessings, and LIFE!!!!

 

Ban on Soda?

4 Jun

NYC makes the news once again as Mayor Bloomberg says he wants to set a cap on the size of sodas and other sugary drinks that are sold at city restaurants, movie theaters, and stadiums…..16 ounces and that’s it….nothing larger. This would include street cart vendors, delis, movie theaters, restaurants, ballpark concessions but not include grocery stores and convenient stores.  Vendors who are in violation of the ban would pay a $200 fine after a 3-month phase-in period.  This would not apply to drinks with fewer than 25 calories per 8-ounce serving, diet sodas, certain fruit juices, dairy-based drinks, and alcoholic beverages

As a fitness/wellness coach, do I agree with this?  Do I think it’s a good thing?

NO!!!!!

Wellness choices and healthy lifestyles have to be an individual’s decision.  I do not believe in government control of individual’s freedoms to make choices.

Also, diet sodas are just as bad as regular sodas and studies have been done to show that they can lead to obesity issues, as well.  Fruit juices and dairy-based drinks have calories and sugar.  And don’t even get me started on alcoholic beverages (calories, alcohol issues, drunk driving, etc).  A calorie is a calorie and soft drinks are NOT the cause of obesity…. Have soft drinks contributed to the rise in obesity?  Yes, but they are not the only reason obesity levels have risen.

How about we take the money that would be spent to enforce this law and put it into our school lunch programs to serve our children healthier foods?   Adults at a restaurant have the ability to choose whether or not they drink a soft drink and how much they drink.  Children being served a school lunch don’t have the ability to choose what is being served to them.  Let’s make sure they are served fresh, healthy food AND support local farmers.

I’m always concerned when government begins to step into our freedom….