Today, we celebrate Dad’s 61st birthday by spending some time with Grandma. #Love #LoveYourHeart
The American Heart Association puts a lot of effort each and every year into Heart Disease Awareness, and for good reason. Cancer gets a lot of press, as it certainly deserves, but I think that most Americans forget that it is Heart Disease that is the number one killer in America, and most of the developed world. Since 1900, cardiovascular disease has been the number one cause of death in America every year except 1918, and it claims more lives each year than the next five causes of death combined.
Please think about what I just wrote. Heart Disease – more than all cancer, more than chronic lower respiratory disease, more than accidents, more than diabetes, more than influenza/pneumonia – kills more people than all of the above combined. (American Heart Association, 2005.)
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a general term for more than 20 different diseases of the…
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It has been just over two years now. One of those calls you fear getting at some point in your life, wishing it will never actually happen.
He collapsed at work. You need to come to the hospital.
The rearranging of plans. The incoherent racing of thoughts. And on that drive, the assumption that everything is okay, just like the last time. We have been down this road before, and everything was fine in the end.
He’s going to have to slow down. Take it easy. I’ll work with him on some diet changes, he’s liked some of my new recipes.
Emergency Room parking lots at small suburban hospitals are surprisingly empty at night. Peaceful, even. Walking in, approached by two strange men, with knowing faces. I can see the love. I can see the care.
There she is! We’ve been waiting for you, young lady.
Colleagues. Co-workers. Men who knew him far better than I knew him, which will happen after 25 years of working together. Over the course of a lifetime, you spend more time with them than your own family.
I can still see the closed door. The announcement. She’s here. The door opens. My stepmom, so anxious, blurting the only thing she knows to say.
It is surreal how the weight of grief can create the sensation of falling like sand into the earth. The heaviest of burdens and yet you merely disintegrate into the ground.
In the two years that have past, the weight of grief has relented. It is rare these days to fall into its immobilizing state. And yet on those rare occasions my plans take me on the same path towards the small suburban hospital, I still feel every emotion from that short yet endless drive.
You hope that when a loved one passes that you will only remember them as alive and vibrant. Unfortunately, I cannot help but remember him lying in that sterile hospital. After regaining composure, after that first of many reprieves from grief, when it let go enough so I could say goodbye. Cold; him, and yet not at all. A bit battered from the fight his body gave. And this is what it is like at the end. I am not ready for Goodbye.
As of last month, I am now the proud owner of a lifetime of his memories. Baseball tickets and pins and commemorative editions. Books and games and gifts never freed from their packages. Things. Things that hold memory, and yet not coming close to replacing the real thing. All spread about in half of a garage.
The message in our society is very clear; the purpose of our life is to grow up so that we can earn as much money as possible so that we can fill our lives with lots of things. That, they will tell you, is where Happiness can be found. It is what we are supposed to do.
Please. Do not buy in. Happiness is not found in stuff. It is found in Family. Friends. Creating memories rather than buying them. Finer things are indeed very lovely, but it is time to change the meaning of “Success” from the sole pursuit and accumulation of items to living your life to the fullest – whatever that means to you.
Dad’s life was Successful by standard definition. And yet I know that he did not live his life as he wished it would have been. A Successful life is not as complicated as we try to make it.
*Life is for Living.
*Show Love to all and Forgive your enemies.
*Accumulate as much knowledge and experience as possible.
Because our time here is short, no matter how long your life. And we are all Worthy.
Tomorrow, Saturday, July 12 would have been Dad’s 61st birthday. Last year, I declared his birthday as FitMommas Love Your Heart Day. (Which I better rename soon, since this won’t be FitMommas for much longer!) Tomorrow I will repost last year’s message on Heart Health in his honor. But today, I ask that you carve out some time to live life as you would like yours to be, or at least thoughtfully consider what that means to you. Let go of pain and anger that you may be holding towards someone. And go learn something or do something New to You. Life is indeed for Living, and we are all worth it.
The last few months have been an unprecedented level of busy – with a complete computer shutdown and month offline thrown in there! – but I suspect, after an experience I had two weeks ago, that things are not slowing down. Readers, I finally got the gumption to speak at a Conference! Like, where people stand up on a stage. And talk. To strangers.
I walked away with a lot more than just a tack-on to my resume. I learned that:
1. You are capable of a lot more than you give yourself credit for.
Most of us have been raised to fear failure and be wary of trying something out of the ordinary. I have always envied those that just get out there and do it, without fear of repercussion. I stepped up on stage prepared for complete failure. But I learned that when you are passionate about something, with purpose and heart, not to mention a solid dose of outside support, you can get out there and do well. I was not without blunder, I made some professional mistakes. But the “Professionals” that did speak? That have actually done this before, and even got paid for it? I got a “Kid, you got talent!” from those people. Friends, you got Talent, too! What is Your Talent?
2. People love Truth and Transparency.
The talks given at the LaunchOut conference were so inspirational. Everyone brought something to the table. But the ones people could not stop talking about? The ones full of Truth. When speakers got Transparent. Besides fearing failure and not coloring outside the lines, we are often told that personal business is, well, personal. And I will give you that you have to know your audience; a group of CEOs does not want to hear about my Thunder Thighs. But a group of people looking for inspiration and advice on stepping out of their comfort zone? They were ready for Real. My Facebook group page responds better to posts that share difficult parts of my life much more than lists on how to be Perfect. In a world of cynicism, extremes, celebrities out of control, and just plain old weird shit, the average person is going to connect to someone standing up and sharing their reality. Sharing their Story. Because people relate to Truth.
3. Awesomeness is not a one-time thing. It must be practiced. Daily.
I walked into that conference not only sure of failure, but also sure that I had used up all the Awesome I had. And two weeks later, I finally see. When pursuing dreams, when stepping out of your comfort zone, you have to get up and Be Awesome everyday. You do not lose weight and gain muscle by eating perfect and going to the gym for one day. Nope. You get there by making small, consistent changes, sticking with it, deciding that everyday you are going to knock it out of the park. I do not really care what It is. Whatever makes you Awesome, it is your It, and you need to practice It, hone It, be It, daily. And if you are passionate about It, you will welcome and relish this!
4. Nerves will not kill you. Not even a little.
I was pretty sure I was going to throw up as I walked onstage. That is not just a saying, I actually felt the room sway, and my stomach came half way up my throat. And yet. I did not die. (I did not even actually throw up, which was a huge relief.) I am alive to tell about this experience. To share how awesome it was, and to, in turn, encourage you to face those Fears, feel those Nerves, and branch out to do what scares-yet-excites you! There is so much Life out there, waiting for you to Live. Because, in the end, that is what our spin on this Earth is all about. Our Life is meant for Living. Living requires you to get out there and do shit that scares you. Step outside and take the deep breaths. Reach for the stars, and all that motivational mumbo jumbo. Yes. That. Do it. You will not die, I promise you. You are Worth It.
If you do not follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, then you may not have seen the actual talk. Take 15 minutes, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and let me know what you think!
By the time I was in sixth grade, I fully understood that I had Thunder Thighs. In fact, I distinctly remember telling a boy I liked that I had thunder thighs (and I really hope that it somehow fit into the context of our conversation, because that is all I remember, and it haunts me.)
I am now 40 years old, so that puts me in the Sixth Grade in 1985-1986. Reagan was still in office. We were watching The Goonies and listening to Mr. Mister.
And I was an 11 year old girl, already concerned about the size of her thighs.
This trend, this thing that happens to girls, has not only not changed in almost 30 years, but has gotten worse. It starts younger. Boys have since joined the “What I Hate Most About My Body” game. Thanks to social media and smartphones, today’s kids never get a break. It is with them 24/7.
Of my two boys, one resembles me, while the other looks nothing like me. Ever since he was a baby, I have joked, “The only thing Beastie Boy got from me are his thighs!” Because even as babies, my two boys had distinct body composition. While they each went through pudgy and skinny stages as they grew, my second born has thicker thighs than his big brother, every day of the week.
It Is How He Is Made.
So if that is how my kid is made, and he got his Thunder Thighs from me, does it not stand to reason that This Is How I Am Made?
I am a 40 year old woman, who is just now understanding that This is How God Made Me. Thunder Thighs and all.
There were a few months, in 2013, when I had Inner Thigh Clearance, for the first time since I was probably eight years old. Some combination of precise diet, exercise, and supplement plan shred fat off my body that had never dared budge before. Of course, I lost my boobs and my butt, too, and my husband was understandably devastated. I was disappointed, too, but I felt okay about losing two of my favorite parts of my body, because I had lost the one part that I have hated since I was a little girl.
Thanks to a combination of easing off the perfect diet, injuring myself to the point of no exercise, and the Hormone Ambush of 2014 (see Exhibit A – My Acne-Riddled Face), my 40 year old body has reclaimed these body parts.
While my husband is overjoyed, I might have had a complete freak-out a few weeks ago. With the Health and Fitness Marketing Machine in full “Get Bikini Ready” swing, I suddenly wanted to buy every pill, wrap, and cleanse on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feed, just so that I could face the world in a swimsuit this summer without hanging my head in thick-thighed shame.
I am not sure what stopped the madness in my head. There are few logical voices in media, with everyone talking about weight – their weight, your weight, her weight, his weight. I just saw an ad on Instagram yesterday promising to banish Thunder Thighs in time for summer.
I give credit to my best friend in the whole world, my husband, who routinely tells me he loves my body exactly the way it is, as well as my renewed yoga practice, which reminds me at least once a week to honor my body and appreciate where it is today, right now.
And so I have resolved to become a Logical Voice in the media landscape, repenting for all I have said and done in the past that unintentionally added to the “you gotta get thinner!” fervor that plagues our world.
Just eat healthy, real food.
Exercise a little every day.
And Love Your Body. It is how God made you. Thunder Thighs, and all.
You set goals, you make plans, and if you are diligent and persistent, you reach those goals and then set new ones. Always moving forward, no matter what life throws at you, just keep moving. It is a tough place to find yourself, then, when you realize you have been slowly moving backward and did not even realize it.
Have you been there? Because I am there now. No beating around the bush. As of this morning, I have gained 15 pounds since sometime late last year. Now, that number is not necessarily a problem; it is the side effects of carrying extra fat that my frame can not sustain. I am a bit achier. My posture is way off. This is not so much about not fitting into my jeans as it is the fact that I Feel The Weight. And it is wearing me down.
Oh, we all have reasons and excuses, and I certainly have mine. Last summer, I had the first of three minor injuries, all of which slowed me down a bit, but not necessarily enough to take me out. I let that happen anyway. I could not have guessed that I had a real knock-me-down coming, in the form of a severe ankle sprain, one which I am still healing from, three months later.
You know what that is?
Upon reaching a goal or milestone, it can happen. You are so proud of yourself, so exited you got “there,” that you do not stop to think about the long term. We hear it all the time, life is about the journey, not the destination. You never “figure it all out.” You never reach your final goal. You never stop growing and learning. Because when we stop learning and growing, we die.
Okay, so I did not literally die – it is just 15 pounds! – but I did get complacent, and I did stop growing. And now it has caught up to me, both mentally and physically.
So what am I going to do about it?
What do we do when we have found ourselves slipping down the mountain? We reset our grip and start the climb back up. These are not untraveled paths, we have been down these roads before. Just as small daily negative actions cause us to slip down the mountain, small daily positive actions are what we need to continue our climb back up.
You know what to do. I know what to do. Living healthy and fit is not rocket science; we have been reading tips on getting fit since we began to think our worth was wrapped up in our pants size when we were teens. And there it is! I lost my worth.
And I am so worth more than complacency! So are you. Do you want do to this together? Because none of us – even so-called experts – can do this alone. YOU ARE WORTHY. I Am Worthy. Of feeling good, of feeling strong, of loving myself enough to care about the body God put in my hands. I will put down the bag of tortilla chips and head to the gym today. Want to meet me there?
Luckily, I do not think that is a bad thing. Paramore’s little sarcastic ditty “Ain’t It Fun” has all kinds of influences going on, from funk to 90s pop to gospel, so just run with it and enjoy. Seriously, go run. It’s a great cardio song!
Just don’t go cryin’ to your mama when you’re singing this song hours later.
Confession: Who else here first heard Paramore because of that ridiculously addicting Twilight Soundtrack? No? Just me?
This past weekend, I was told by more than one person how not-fun I must be to live with, given how healthy I am. Hey, you know what? I am OK with that. I am in this thing for the long haul, and these are the choices I am making to get there. When I saw this meme a friend posted on Facebook, those sentiments came together and lightbulbs started popping!
I have no idea if the statement in this meme is true, because I do not know the women in the picture, nor do I know the picture’s origins. The image does, however, illustrate the role of lifestyle in aging.
Genetics obviously plays a big role in how we age, and some of us are blessed with good genes while others are born with an uphill battle. I am reminded of a conversation with my children’s dentist, however, when we talked about “bad teeth” running in some families. The doctor made a point to say, “Well, that may be true, but clean teeth don’t rot.” Touche.
The same goes for our bodies. We may come preloaded with some bad genes, but a clean lifestyle will play a larger role in our long term health.
As the deadline looms for enrolling in health care, long term health and the business of being sick is on a lot of people’s minds. While this topic is too big for one simple blog post, the bottom line is our health care system is treatment, not prevention, based. As such, it is incredibly expensive, and we all play a role in those high costs; such as when we call the doctor every time we get the sniffles, or when the uninsured hit the emergency room because of a fever. Doctors play a role, also. My old dermatologist is the person responsible for when I finally got sick of being sick and changed everything about the way I ate. After a lifetime of battling various skin conditions, here was a doctor waving her finger in my face when I asked if she was sure that a change in diet was not a better long term treatment than indefinite use of the various steroids and topical solutions she was prescribing.
Sometimes our bodies get really sick, and we are an advanced society with technology to get us back on our feet; and to that, I say, bring on the meds! Sometimes, however, we seek treatment for chronic conditions that cleaner eating and regular exercise would set right. What might happen to those health care costs if we sought less treatment, and instead switched to overall better living?
Let us be okay with being labeled the “healthy” one. When I visit my grandma in her independent living complex, I see examples of the two older women in the picture above, and it all comes full circle. Life is about living, and I would like to think that I will go out doing a yoga post on a mountain (or is that standing sit-ups in a bathing suit?), rather than leaning on a walker with tubes in my nose.