A Season of Change…

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The long, languid days of late summer are transforming into crisp and colorful ones. It seems September has once again caught us.

The children, decked out in their new fall attire, wonder what discoveries will await them as the new school year approaches.

The college football fans sport colors of  Maize and Blue or Spartan Green every Saturday as they cheer their favorites teams to victory.

The leaves redefine themselves from the dark green of August, to an explosion of red and gold.

September signals a time of change. Just as instinctively as nature senses transition, so do humans.

From my work in the wellness field, I have observed there are three major times a year when people really contemplate making changes.

  • New Years-Beginning of the new year; gotta get on those changes!
  • Spring-Oh crap, spring break is just around the corner; gotta get beach ready!
  • September-It’s time

There is just something about September….I have noticed people tend to be more successful with changes, lifestyle or others, in September.

Perhaps it is the more relaxed atmosphere. Or maybe, we just have more time to ourselves, with the busy-ness of summer behind us. And for some, we may return to those long forgotten New Years resolutions with new and readjusted eyes.

For me, it’s time to get back to work. On this blog. On my running program. On my travels.

Join me this fall as I travel west to Colorado for fall, and south to Texas to enjoy the winter months.

And while you anxiously await my next blog post and the insights I may have…

…imagine making a few changes of your own as we navigate through the remainder of 2017 on this amazing journey we call life.

See ya next time….img_5004-4

 

A Day in the Week (end)

The Weekend-

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I just like this pic and saying

Oh the weekend! Just as I feel the universal negative vibes on Monday, I also feel the positive energy the weekend provides.

Like many distance runners, I utilize the energy of Saturday morning for my long run. Then I get on with my weekend. A bit of leisure, some social time, some sports watching, a couple cocktails, and some junk style food.

Today concludes my series on “A Day in the Week.” Writing daily posts (my process takes several hours for about 1000 words and a few pics, how am I ever going to write a book!?) is proving a challenge. I will be taking a small break to get this rig spring cleaned, and ready to head north. See you in a couple weeks

I will leave you with a few pics of a typical Florida weekend for us.

Enjoy your weekend and stay present in the moment…

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I call this guy “rogue rooster”, he flew the coop just like me

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A legend concert; Mr.  Willie Nelson!

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Festival!

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Maybe a dip in the pool

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Flea market finds

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shopping truck

 

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The Universe likes to leave me reminders of home

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Love this glass

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The mall, only if I have to!

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Live your life…

A Week in the Life…

 

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a rig, the woods, and Socrates

Hey there! I have been diligently researching and composing informative and helpful blog posts for the last 10 weeks or so. I think we all deserve a breather, don’t you?  What the heck, it’s nearly spring, maybe you can’t get away to the Sunshine State or other points of sun and warmth at this time. Ride along with me this week.

People seem to be interested in the somewhat bohemian lifestyle I lead these days. And many folks wonder what it is I do all day long while I am away from the, as we fondly call it, the Mitten. I enjoy my simple life here, but as you will see, it is not all rainbows and unicorns, as one might believe.

So, hey, hop on this cyber vehicle, and ride along with me for a week. Don’t forget the sunblock and running shoes. I will be posting daily this week. 

Monday: Or “Sheryle’s Very Long Day”

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the brightest part of the day

Oh man, you may have picked an off week to be here. The weather lady predicts a day of rain. This is good, Florida is now in a drought, not severe, but a drought nonetheless. But the rest of the week looks chilly. It’s been hot all winter, why now? Oh well…

The gloomy weather did nothing for my mood. Despite being retired (mostly), Mondays are still Mondays. The only time I liked Monday is when it was my scheduled day off way back in the day. Not only is it Monday today, it’s “spring ahead” Monday, the Monday after a full moon, and it’s gonna rain all day? WTH. I hope this rig doesn’t spring a leak.

On the plus side, it is also National Nap Day. I wonder if NND is intentionally planned with all the other Monday stuff going on. Who thinks up this stuff? I won’t be going for a run in this weather, and now I will have to fit it in later on in the week.  I ate breakfast and opted for a walk in the RV park since the rain had not yet started.

A dark cloud of a bad mood is hanging over me today. Since I am already in a rotten mood, I will commit to the nasty task of my month-end financial work. Bruce keeps track of our daily expenses, and I compile the monthly and yearlies. Yes, every penny spent. And I usually procrastinate this quite well. I don’t care for this task, but it was my idea. So I must. I dislike going back on my word more than I dislike math and tedious work.

We have been tracking money for a couple years now and find it a very helpful financial tool. I am not fond of throwing money away. I am also not fond of going back to work. I have learned to like my nearly retired lifestyle. So we live within our budget. It’s not hard once you get the hang of it. Like my grandma said, “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how good of a steward to your money you are that makes the difference.”

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Bruce taking care of business

I tried to get in the mood to write a witty blog post after lunch and my afternoon walk. It was lightly sprinkling, and if you have ever listened to rain on a RV rooftop, well, it is just about the most soothing sound ever. Why fight the feeling? In honor of National Nap Day, I did just that. And it was wonderful.

Lounged about, putzied around, made dinner. My mood lightened, the rain did not. Bruce and I try to walk, at least 10 minutes after every meal most days. We recently saw a morning show segment recommending this to control blood sugar after meals. He has a family history of diabetes, I like to walk, so we incorporated this into our lifestyle. We absolutely love our evening walks. And I am excited to see how his blood sugar numbers look on his next bloodwork. Yes, I am a wellness geek.

Pre-walking days we would finish our evening meal around 8ish and plop into those easy chairs, and veg. Nowadays, we make sure we have eaten, and cleaned the kitchen (dinner ain’t done til the dishes are!!!) by 7:15. Then out the door we go for around 30-40 minutes. Relaxing after a walk is a much better plan.

Tonight it was still raining, so we, meaning Bruce, ran out to the truck and found our umbrellas and my rain boots. I have not taken a walk in the rain since I was in New Mexico in 2014. I stomped through mud puddles with glee, as my granddaughter Sofia taught me, and Bruce worked to avoid them. Why did you not get your rain boots out of the truck Bruce? Stomping puddles is a hoot! Thanks for reminding me Sofia.

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dry feet for me

All in all, it was not a spectacular day. But it wasn’t horrible either. I got a bit of work done, a quality nap, 3 good meals, and 3 good walks. Neither the rig nor the truck sprung a leak (both have been known to do so)  Who could ask for more?

Oh my, now the power is out at 9:15pm. I take this as a sign the Universe would like me to get more rest. I do not wish to argue with the Universe. I never win….Goodnight, see you bright and early tomorrow.

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Take a Stand

Human Beings evolved as a walking entity exploring the world on our feet…The strangest thing in the world is that people spend all day scrunched in a chair. It’s a form of physical entrapment.-James Levine MD author of Move a Little Lose a Lot

 

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Just as the good doctor says, we spend much of our day trapped in a seated position. We sit and drink our coffee while we catch the morning news. We sit to and from work. Some of us sit many hours at work. We sit on a plane, at the movie theater, on our devices. Sit, sit, sit, sit.

That’s a lot of sitting and sitting is very hard on our framework. The skeleton, joints, muscles, organs are all affected. Our human bodies were not designed to sit for long periods of time.

Extended sitting leads to poor posture. And poor posture is tough, not only on your spine and back muscles, it scrunches all your internal organs so they do not get good blood flow, and work efficiently. Prolonged sitting places the entire weight of your torso on your butt and lower spine area, for most of us too long, and some of us nearly all day long.

All of the collective time we spend seated has the very strong potential to create some serious weak links in the body. Like a weak link in any type of machinery, if not properly addressed and fixed, it’s gonna blow.

You may or may not feel the weak link depending on where it is deteriorating. It may appear as a small nagging pain, or it may come on you suddenly when you are out for a run, raking the yard, bending over to feed the dog, or stepping off a curb.

In my research, I have found numerous problems chronic sitting disease can cause. Here’s a few:

  • back and spinal injuries
  • weight gain and slowing of the metabolism
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • repetitive use injuries
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • flattening of the gluteal muscles
  • sciatica
  • poor core strength and mobility

There is a solution…

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If we could incorporate a few specific movements daily to offset some of the negative effects of sitting throughout the course of the day, we can begin to ward off some or all of these effects. And potentially avoid a visit to the orthopedic surgeon (the car mechanics of the human body frame), physical therapist, or orthopedic fitness specialist. Or worse yet, the cardiologist.

Modern sedentary lifestyles do not support standing much less moving.  Most of us are no longer hunting and gathering for a career. According to a NY Times article, 80% of U.S. jobs are sedentary or require light movement at best. Add this to our leisure screen time (4.4 hrs on average) coupled with the quest to ever make life ever easier, our bodies are paying the price.

Our mind has evolved to perform seated work, our bodies have not. Until this happens in a few thousand years or so, we must bridge the gap with movement.

Unfortunately, and counter to common belief, a few hours a week spent in yoga, bootcamp, cycle, whatever class is not enough to keep these conditions caused by sitting at bay. There has been a new term coined for fitness folks who exercise regularly, but spend a good amount of time in the chair either due to work or leisure…

Active Couch Potato

My previous jobs, restaurant serving, preschool work, and fitness training were highly active jobs, and I never had to worry about prolonged sitting. And I am grateful for those jobs, and the fact they kept me upright. Sometimes I would not sit, other than to eat, from 8 in the morning til 8 at night.

Now I am semi-retired, travel the country with my honey, teach class occasionally, and write blog posts. I sit more than I ever have since, well, since I have been walking this earth. And all this sitting set me up for a nice injury a few weeks back.

In addition to my sitting hours, I had a great active week. The kind that makes me smile. I mastered (I thought) a new yoga pose I have been working on for years. I upped my speedwork day for running to 10 intervals,  I ran a 7 mile stretch, and took a few epic walks. The activity took place over several days, and I made sure I got a day of rest as well. I try very hard to be a good steward of my body. I thought I did everything right.

On the Saturday following all this great fitness work (and my hours of sitting),  I was walking to the car after attending a fest in downtown Tampa, and I stepped off a curb I did not see. It gave me a good jolt, but I didn’t think about it too much until I returned to the car, and it felt as if I was sitting on a golf ball. Ouch, and annoying. I hurt a muscle in my glute. And it worsened. Then I ran on it. Then it worsened even more.

I created a perfect storm. I sat too much, worked out too hard, and BOOM, stepping off that curb activated my weak link.

Fortunately, I am an orthopedic fitness specialist, so I was able to rehab my injury, once I stopped denying I had one, and am now pain-free. But I had to take 2 weeks off from running. I don’t know if you know any runners, but they do not appreciate time off. Sorry Bruce, I hope I wasn’t too grumpy…

My point is…If it can happen to me, it can happen to you. No matter how fit you may believe you are; if you sit too much you will create weak links. No way around it.

Here’s a few tips:

  • stand or move 1-3 minutes for every 1/2 hr you are seated
  • stand or pace while texting or talking on your phone
  • stand up and move while watching your favorite TV shows. Quit using your DVR and use commerial breaks for movement breaks
  • park out from the store, doctor, work, etc
  • take the stairs
  • get a dog and walk it or walk the neighbors dog
  • actively play with your kids or grandkids (and lead by example, they are watching!)

I have created a small 3 minute movement pattern to get us up off our butts while we are at work or leisure-ing. The sequence will be located in my next post.

In fact, I have been sitting here over an hour, I think I need to use it…So if you will forgive me while I enjoy a movement break, I will leave with a few words from the folks at Harvard Health Publications who used the findings of 47 studies to come to this conclusion:

…people who sat for long periods of time had a higher risk of dying from all causes-even those who exercise regularly. The negative effects were more pronounced in people who did little or no exercise…

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Take a stand

Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 10

Sometimes when striving for a goal, no matter how good the intention may be, we might find ourselves unable to set a goal and begin the work, the plan stalls in some manner, or the whole project gets abandoned completely.

While I am all for self-motivation, there are times we need to call in the professionals. Someone who can help develop and oversee our plan, find some insights we may be missing, or direct us when we become overwhelmed and feel like giving up.

This step should be taken slowly and with intent. There are an abundance of personal trainers, health coaches, and life coaches to choose from. The field is growing rapidly. A word of warning here:

Buyer beware.

The fitness and wellness business, as well as the life-coaching business, is largely unregulated in the U.S. Any person can claim to be one or all of those professionals with no credentials. This is very disappointing to those of us who have worked hard to become educated and certified. It reflects badly upon the whole industry of wellness and motivation.

We are working hard to establish minimum standards within our industry, but until that day comes I have a few suggestions to help you find a qualified fitness/wellness professional.

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First, get it in your mind, you are making an investment in yourself. Your health is everything.  You would not invest your retirement money with an uncertified financial manager, and neither should you invest in your health with an uncertified trainer or coach.

#1)  Check your trainer’s credentials *

Do not assume just because your trainer or instructor is employed by a facility they hold certifications. Some facilities do not require their trainers/instructors to be certified. Or at minimum may give them a quick 2 week training course, and most of that concerns marketing and selling over actual fitness knowledge. Several popular fitness brands require no group fitness or trainer certs to take their training. After a few hours on the weekend,  you are, according to their standards, qualified to teach their classes. This might be okay if you could ensure everyone taking your class was a generally healthy person. I have yet to teach a class in 20 years in which every single participant was generally healthy. There is always someone with a tweaked knee, a sore hip, pregnant, bad shoulder. It is helpful to have addition knowledge on common conditions, and the modifications that taken to ensure the participant has a safe and successful experience.

I will happily show my certs to anyone who asks. My certs ensure I have, at the absolute minimum:

  • a general knowledge of the human body and how it functions related to exercise in a healthy person.
  •  I keep my knowledge current through continuing education and re-certification every two years.
  • I am qualified to purchase liability insurance (if your trainer or coach works independently, as I do, make sure they have liability insurance)
  • I keep my CPR training current.

#2) Shop around-the price of training varies greatly. Rates are generally based on the facility, the trainer’s education, and the trainer’s experience. In my area it ranges from $25-$100/hr. Just like grandma always said, “You get what you pay for.” Another grandma said, “Don’t buy the cheapest item, don’t buy the most expensive item, if you find one that is mid-priced, you will likely find your best value.”  Keep this in mind when determining what you are willing to invest in yourself.

#3) Check your options-most trainers offer session packages, the more you buy the less it costs. Consider small group training which is personal training with generally 2-4 people and can cut costs considerably. Online or in-home training with the right trainer is a nice alternative when time is tight. If you are a self-motivator you might only need a program design and  run-through.

Maybe you just need a well-organized group fitness class. Most group fitness programs are less expensive than personal training, and some classes, like the ones I run, are designed and taught by a personal trainer, the downfall being less attention to the individual goals. Most experienced instructors will offer modifications to either make the movements easier for those who need a lighter workout, and progressions to pump it up for those wanting a bit more. The upside to this type of training is a lot of social interaction which also keeps us healthy. Win-win

#4) Make sure you and your trainer “click.” Many trainers offer a free initial consultation. This is the perfect time to evaluate if this person will be a good fit for you. If you are not feeling the love, move on. They should be discussing you and your goals. If most of the consultation is focused on selling you their skills, run. Find the right trainer with the right attitude to help you achieve your goals.

#5) Do you need specialty work due to your age or an injury? Some trainers now specialize in various formats. My clientele is getting older and so am I. I now carry additional specialty certs in Senior Fitness, Mind and Body Fitness, and Orthopedic Fitness to accommodate my clients and participants. And most of my continuing education is on these topics so I can stay informed on the subjects. Older adult fitness is a rapidly expanding field.

#6) Ask for references.

With a little bit of work on your part, you should be able to find a trainer or instructor who is well-suited to help you achieve your goals. And you will soon be on your way to success.

* Nationally recognized fitness certifications:

Personal Training: the top four- American Council on Exercise (ACE)/ American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)/ National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)/ National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Group Exercise: the top three-American Council on Exercise (ACE)/ Aerobics and Fitness Association (AFAA)/ National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA)

Health and Life Coaching: these are relatively new additions to the wellness world, and I cannot find enough research on the effectiveness of current programs to recommend any. I do carry my Health Coach cert through ACE. It used to be called a Lifestyle and Weight Management cert, which I previously held. I liked the idea of wellness/ health coaching so I went for it. I do not know much about life coaching, but do know of several people who swear by it. It is a new and emerging field, my best advice is to do your homework, and check references.

* Please make note there are many online certifications which are not worth the paper they are printed on. They require no knowledge, just a credit card. If a trainer has not invested in their education, do not invest in them to take care of your well-being.

Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-Part 8

While researching the factors that keep us from completing or even attempting new goals one main theme kept popping up. Fear.

I know all about fear. I feel it every single time I step in front of a class. Even thinking about my very first class 20 years ago is leaving me feeling somewhat anxious.

There I was, about to go in front of 25 strangers, and lead a Basic Fitness class.Confession time; I had never even taken a live fitness class, much less led one.

I had done everything right up to that point.

I had a personal fitness program I had been working on for a couple years. I did my research and found the best fitness certification, studied intensely, took the exam and passed. I got a gig, and created, practiced, created, practiced.

This was old school aerobics my friends, and much, much harder to create and teach than the bootcampy or yoga type classes I currently teach. Even though I had done everything correctly, as I cued up the music and adjusted my headset, every freaking cell in my body yelled:

“Get out of here while you can…what business do you have to teach these people…you are too old (I was 37) to be doing this…what if they don’t like my music, my moves, my clothes, my hair…you are going to make a fool out of yourself…” and on and on.

With shaking knees and trembling voice I went on to teach a pretty bad class.  But oddly enough, no one seemed to notice or even care. They showed up the next week. They even complimented me on it. My fears were irrational. And still are.

I know intellectually, I have good teaching and motivating skills, but there is always the little corner of my mind that holds my fear that I am a fraud.

The inner critic seems to be the voice of our fears. Taking the first step to walk through the fear on my very first class made it easier each time. Had I not taken the first step to walk through the fear, I would not be sitting here writing this article. And it may have stopped me from trying new things altogether.

Fear is an universal emotion. It’s okay to have it. It is not okay to let it paralyze you. If we take a bit of time to understand fear, it will lose some of it’s power. And hopefully, you will find the courage to walk through it when it appears.

There are 4 main types of fear regarding achievement:

  1. Fear of failure
  2. Fear of success
  3. Fear of rejection
  4. Fear of being uncomfortable

Fear of failure, atychiphobia, is a fairly simple concept that most of us understand. It is quite common to feel we cannot succeed. If you are reluctant to try new things, you may suffer from this fear.

Fear of success, sometimes referred to as achievemephobia, seems like it would be less common, but is actually very similar to fear of failure. In this fear, your success may provoke negative emotions in others such as envy, jealousy, and resentment. Some people may find you threatening at this point. Fear of success has many questioning whether they are up to the new task or challenge.

Fear of rejection, there are several medical names for this fear, may flood our bodies with feelings of isolation, being alone, or cut off from our tribe. Rejection may lead to the deepest of human fears, the feeling that we are unlovable. Feelings of pain and hurt occur when we are feeling rejected. Anger is a function of this type of fear. We see it a lot in our society today.

Fear of being uncomfortable, anthrophobia, can range from shyness and timidity, the fear of annoying or inconveniencing other people, or the simple fear of being judged. I didn’t even know this was a “thing.” I have this feeling of inconveniencing people, to the point I will inconvenience myself before anyone else. No wonder everyone thinks I am “nice.” Now I know it’s there, I can acknowledge it and work on it. Toughen up a bit, maybe inconvenience someone else for a change.

There are some folks whose fears become out of control, full-blown phobias and anxiety disorders. These extreme disorders should be addressed by the proper mental-health professionals and are well out of my scope of practice. I would like to be clear on that issue.

For our purposes, I am referring to the more garden-type variety of fear most of us suffer from from time to time. An appropriate acronym for these common fears is:

False Evidence Appearing Real

Most of these fears are made up stories we tell ourselves. They are not real. No one has actually said this to us. We visualize crazy scenarios in our heads. We are quite sure the outside world views us as losers who can accomplish nothing, or as in my case, a fraud. And in the process of negative thinking we wire our brains to think this way and become our own worst enemy.

The good news is, what has been wired, can be rewired. Here are a few ideas to help you get moving if fear is causing procrastination, or worse yet, stopping you from trying anything new or challenging:

  • You have heard me say many times, get comfortable being uncomfortable-do this in small doses if fear plagues you. Maybe you don’t want to give the speech, but perhaps you could introduce the speaker, if the fear of public speaking is something you would like to overcome.
  • Make a list of small successes. Maybe you didn’t get your run in today, but you took a walk and did some light stretching.
  • Challenge yourself. You tried the yoga class and liked it. Try branching out to Pilates or some other form of mind-body program
  • Observe yourself from a detached point of view when you find yourself shrinking from fear. See how you respond. Be aware of what is going on.
  • Get in touch with your support network, discuss your fears with them.
  • My favorite, imagine the worse case scenario, make it as hideous as you can, so awful it’s laughable. This one can be fun. Fear hates good humor and laughter, and will generally dissipate in it’s presence.
  • Be on the lookout for the naysayers. These are negatively charged people who can spread bad feelings and unreal fears in a heartbeat. I can only guess something went terribly awry in the life of the chronic naysayer. They are the least supportive of all people, their life is stuck and they want everyone around them stuck right with them in the swamp of negativity. Run away as fast as you can away from these types of people so you don’t get sucked into their chronic pity party. You deserve better.
  • Look in the mirror, and tell your inner critic to shut the (insert favorite cuss word here) up. Then laugh…loudly

Working on small tasks and repeating them over and over will help develop any skill we put our mind to, and is a strong step toward rewiring our brain to a more positive viewpoint. Face the fear. Practice walking through it.

I did it, and so can you.

I learned courage was not the absence of fear, but triumph over it.-Nelson Mandela

 

Strategies to Stay Motivated and on Track with Your Goal-part 6

After a month or two of working diligently on your chosen goal, you should be experiencing a decent amount of progress, and this success will help fuel the desire to complete the goal. The feelings of deprivation appear less often, and are being replaced with the feelings of mastery.

Most of the time…

Sometimes within the goal process, it seems we get blocked at every corner and cross road on the path to achieving the goal. The flow is not there; the universe, your spouse, your boss, whatever or whoever is not cooperating,  no forward progress is being made, and motivation is wearing thin.

Should you give up at this point? You could.

However, I would recommend you revisit the original goal, and look it over carefully.

Maybe you misjudged the the stage of change you were in, Goal Setting: Part 1, and you weren’t quite as ready as you thought you might be to begin working on that specific goal at this time.

Could the goal be broken down into series of smaller, more achievable goals?

Is the goal itself not clear enough to be followed through in a logical manner, Goal Setting: Part 2?

Look yourself in the mirror, straight in the eye and ask your image if you really tried as hard as you could/should have? If the answer is no, give yourself a pep talk, contact someone in your support network, and see if you can get yourself re-motivated to try again.

If you can honestly answer yes, you have really tried, then it’s time to give yourself a break.

This is no time for guilt feelings. Once you can get a bit of space away from the goal and begin to reflect, non-judgementally on your experience, and you an can begin to deconstruct the goal to find out, not only what went wrong, but more importantly, what went right.

Even if the goal is not a complete success, you will have learned some valuable insights and information for the next time you set a goal. And hopefully, you will have learned a bit about yourself in the process as well.

You got in the game. You played. You lost the round, not the match. Practice does make perfect. Next time you will do better, and the next time after,even better yet. Each failed attempt will build your strength with new knowledge and skills. Before you know it, your goal will be achieved, and you will be moving forward with a new intention.

I did then what I knew best, when I knew better, I did better-Maya Angelou