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WAGS are Wonderful!

Posted on November 29, 2015 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Fitness has kept me young in so many ways.  Yet as I reach my mid-fifties I can't escape the reality that time has still taken a toll on my body.  Some parts remind me that my twenties have long since faded into the rearview mirror.  Osteo arthritis now affects several of my joints, including my hands and wrists.  Wrist extension while bearing weight can be especially painful if I'm not careful.  My students and clients have shown me that I am far from alone with this challenge.  

  

While shopping for some new weightlifting gloves in search of better wrist support, I discovered Wrist Assured Gloves or WAGS.  I have had been using them since early October and love them!  They not only support my wrists and hands, they have a wedge built in that raises the heels of my hands, taking pressure off my wrists.  I can lift heavier weights.  I no longer have to juggle props when doing sun salutations. I highly recommend these to my students and clients.  If you or someone you know is seeking a solution to wrist pain in the gym or yoga studio, check out this website: http://www.wristassuredgloves.com/    They have a Cyber Monday special good through December 1st: 25% off if you use the promo code BEJOLLY15  

Warm Reunion on a Cold Rainy Night

Posted on October 31, 2015 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Last night was a special "back to school" night for my husband, Bill. His high school cross country team gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their state team championship. It was the first in any sport for the school. The evening's festivities were to start with a chili supper in the school cafeteria and then all would head across the parking lot to watch the football game and be honored at halftime.

 

Bill entered the cafeteria to be greeted immediately by their head coach. Although the once stocky man has become thin and frail with age, his no-nonsense, ride-your-butt-because-he-cares-about-you presence was felt as soon as we entered the room.


We had packed warm layers and rain gear as temperatures were in the low 40's with a steady drizzle. One of his team mates had grown up and become the president (a.k.a. princlpal) of this same school. He offered us the opportunity to hang out in the cafeteria through most of the first half of the football game. Stay warm and dry or shiver in the stands? That was a no-brainer


The extended time indoors gave each of the guys more time to reminisce and share how coach had influenced their lives. They stood up one by one and updated the group about life after high school and how their being part of this team had shaped their paths. Over and over, the recurring theme was how coach communicated that he believed in each one of them. That in turn helped a bunch of then teen-aged boys believe in themselves. From that belief came the discovery of strength within to push their own physical limits AND the discipline to work together as a team. These ended up being great gifts to be carried forward as these boys became men, laying a foundation as they built careers and raised families, through good times and bad.


As a spouse taking all this in, it was a good reminder that coaches can profoundly touch lives. Whether a teen with athletic aspirations or an adult at midlife seeking better health, there is strength within to draw from. A good coach can plan challenging workouts and bark at their clients to get them to push harder. A great coach cares. A great coach earns trust. A great coach plants seeds, helping their client connect with their own personal strengths. The greatest successes and gains come from within.


You won't find coach's name in a google search. But he is living proof that great coaches don't always become household names. They do touch lives. As these now middle aged men, some retired, many with grandchildren will tell you, coach was a connector. After all of the tributes, he only had a few words when it was his turn to speak last night, saying "you all had it in you to win this title, it was my job to help you see what I could see in you." I wasn't on his team, I can see his influence in Bill and can use his message and example in my own coaching practice.


 

 

Climbing Over a Molehill or Mountain?

Posted on October 5, 2015 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Change isn't easy.  Lasting change takes time.  Step by step.  Obstacles will arise and force you to revise your approach.  Commitment will be tested again and again. Yet if you keep taking steps, you will reach a point where you can look back and see just how far you've come.  Each person's journey will be their own.  As a trainer, a my job is to meet you where you are.  

To illustrate this, I'd like to share the journey of one of my clients, a woman in her mid-sixties.  She hired me in early 2013 hoping that yoga could help her find relief from back pain, knee pain and plantar fasciitis.  She was also seeking to improve her balance and flexibility.  I started coming to her home to for a private yoga lesson once a week.  Over the next few months she took what she was learning and started doing yoga on her own in the mornings before starting her day.  By fall, her back, knee and foot were feeling better and she started taking 20 minute walks on her lunch break. Winter came and she kept up her yoga at home and found an indoor walking route at work.  At our one-year anniversary, we celebrated her progress.  Then life happened.  A misstep on one of her walks tweaked her knee.  She scaled back the walking but continued her daily yoga and weekly sessions with me.   Her adult daughter moved back home.   She continued her yoga practice and said she was ready to add some strength training exercises.  Right around the two year mark, she and her daughter started following the Glycemic Load Diet based on the book by Rob Thompson, M.D. She lost just over 20 lbs in six months.  Her daughter moved out.  She continued her more mindful approach to eating and lost another four pounds.  She had to replace her AC and furnace.  She asked that we space our sessions further apart to allow her to save money and test her wings.  We were meeting every three weeks by late August.  Then it happened. An obstacle appeared in the form of mandatory overtime at work.  Her report time was moved up by an hour.  She tried without success to get up earlier.  When she didn't do her morning yoga, she found herself unmotivated to walk at lunch as well.   She was discouraged when we met so we spent a significant part of that session brainstorming.  The solution was for her to just do three yoga poses each morning and resume our sessions on a weekly basis. The following week, she reported that she had been able to do three poses four of five mornings.  She had also walked at lunch.  The overtime situation will only last through the end of this month and she is looking forward to getting back on track.  

I learn so much from my clients.  The takeaway from this story is that you can't predict which obstacles will knock you off course...one person's molehill is another person's mountain.  You have to be prepared to step back an assess your path at times.  It's also important to pause along the way and take note of how you are changing and to see how far you've come.  Seemingly small changes become a big deal if you can sustain them for the longer term.   Do what you are ready to do.  Take it a step at a time and build from there.  Enjoy your journey!

The Kid with the Slowest Bike

Posted on May 13, 2015 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Time and again life's lessons become clearest when seen in the rearview mirror.  With May being a month where riding bikes becomes the cool thing to do whether for fitness or transportation, I can't help but look back to a time when I was the kid with the slowest bike.  By the time I was twelve, my banana seat bike was too small so my parents bought a more grown-up sized Free Spirit from Sears.  No more kiddie coaster brakes or single speed silliness.  With the flick of my finger, I now had three...count them THREE gears.  All of my friends seemed to be graduating straight to ten-speeds but I didn't feel like I was missing out.  My bike was the same size as everyone else's and I always kept up when we rode around the neighborhood.  

That all changed one afternoon, on a ride with our church youth group.  An adult who accompanied us pointed me out saying that the kid with the slowest bike was hanging right with the group.  Gee thanks...I think.  Then to prove his point, he let me try out someone else's ten speed.  I hated it for the first few minutes as I fumbled through the gears, hoping that I wouldn't crash in front of my friends.  Then I found the right gear and realized that this bike felt so much faster, so much easier to ride than mine.  I had to get one!


When I got home, I announced to my parents that I wanted a ten speed.  My mom responded "you already have a perfectly good bike.  If  you want a ten speed, start saving your money."  They did take me bike shopping at Sears, Montgomery Wards and the Schwinn dealer to let me see how much a brand new ten speed bike would cost. It was going to take a lot of babysitting to come up with $100+.  Fast forward a few months.  I had managed to save around $70 when my mom came back from hitting some garage sales one morning and told me that someone had a used bike for sale.  It was a yellow Schwinn Varsity ten speed that looked like it had hardly been ridden.  For $75, it was mine.  That bike was with me through high school, college and even my first triathlon.  


I've bought three bikes in the years since, each one costing considerably more than $75.  But the bigger thing is that I've never stopped riding. Those other ten speeds, bought by parents for their children, ended up sitting unridden in garages and basements just a few years later as my friends left their bikes behind with other vestiges of childhood.  I had no idea that I had a slow bike so I didn't realize that I was to working harder to keep up.  Did this make me a stronger cyclist?  I don't know.  What I do know is that when my parents made me earn the money to buy a better bike, I realized that this was something that I really wanted and not something to take for granted...priceless life lessons.  



Turning Points

Posted on March 27, 2015 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Three years ago on a Thursday morning my life changed course as a job that I had held for over two decades ended.   This week and this day continue to be significant, although as time passes that significance evolves.  After the first year passed, I was just starting to get my feet under me in my new venture; close enough that I could all too easily look back and allow myself to be drawn into a tug-of-war between forgiveness and resentment.   Now that three years have passed, what was has faded from my sight and from my heart.  I am doing things I never dreamed I'd be doing.  So many doors have opened and continue to open.  My heart fills with love and gratitude on a dailiy basis, leaving no room for resentment and anger.  

When I finished up my Master's degree in Exercise Phys, my advisor encouraged me, as he did all students in my position, to continue to work toward a PhD.  I never felt drawn to that.   I truly enjoy teaching college students, but sitting in a lab doing research and writing scholarly articles is not my calling.  Research is fascinating and I love learning more about how our bodies work.   But it is all for naught if someone doesn't help pass this knowledge on to those who can use it to live healthier lives.  One of my favorite speakers, Ruby Newell-Legner, once said that her personal mission is to touch at least one person in a positive way each day.  This really connected with me when I heard it several years ago, but I had moved up the ladder in a large fitness center, gaining a loftier title and salary, but losing touch why I had originally chosen this career path.  

We all have turning points in our lives.  Some hit us in the face while others only become apparent in hindsight.  Even positive outcomes come with moments of pain, of self-doubt, of betrayal.  Three years down this new road, I can look back and see how my passion, my spark had faded.  I am so grateful that it has been re-kindled and now burns bright.   

Get Out!

Posted on March 13, 2015 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The weather in our area has been beautiful the past few days with highs around 70 degrees.  I have loved the outdoors for as long as I can remember and even more so when the conditions are as perfect as they are right now.   I took the opportunity to move two of my classes outdoors.  I teach yoga at MNU as an adjunct and yesterday's class was the last one before they go on spring break.  My students clearly had a case of spring fever and needed a break from our usual routine so we held class outside.  The campus has a small prayer trail through a wooded section that made a perfect place to walk in silent meditation along with a sunny, more open space for us to do a simple sequence of yoga poses.   When I arrived at the gym later in the afternoon to teach Boot Camp, the empty treadmills just reinforced the notion that people don't want to be indoors on such a nice day.  Even an early 1960's strip mall can provide all that is needed for a challenging workout circuit.  

My direct work with clients and students happens around their work and school schedules.   That means that I am busy at the beginning, middle and end of the day, but have chunks of time in between.  At first, I would go hang out at a coffee shop and work on my laptop, but the money I was spending there and the noise level led me to seek another place to plan and work.  I tried going to a library branch, but found that being online was often too much of a distraction.  The solution for me was to start going to parks and just disconnecting.  I have my pen and paper journal that I use to write down my thoughts, plan classes and workouts and brainstorm new ideas.   If it is cold, I sit in my car.  If it is nice, I'll find a bench or rock to sit on, or just walk around.  One outcome is that I have started to discover some really neat parks in the Kansas City area that would be awesome places to hold fitness and yoga classes.  As I get things firmed up (pun intended), I'll post details on my website and FB page.  In the meantime, I encourage everyone to get out if at all possible...enjoy the sunshine and fresh air!


A Little Bit of Chocolate

Posted on December 27, 2014 at 11:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Tis' the season of family dinners and friends sharing cookies and treats.  Based on my belief that food is fuel, my eating plan is built around fruits, veggies, lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs while indulging in treats in moderation.  But this time of year, moderation can fly out the window.  Like a little kid, I end up spoiling my dinner, allowing goodies to displace those healthier things my body needs to feel, function and perform its best.   Because of that, when I am on the giving end, I seek a happy medium between carrot sticks and rich, gooey fudge.  

I don't especially enjoy cooking and baking.   A recipe that grabs my attention online or in a magazine can quickly lose its appeal with a lengthy ingredient list (5+ items is lengthy in my book) or complex instructions.   A favorite concoction of mine is creating simple combinations of dried fruit and nuts.  A dried apricot pairs up well with an english walnut half; a pitted date with a pecan.  They are sweet and are easy to put together, but also prone to falling apart when packaged for sharing.   This year I tried dipping them in melted chocolate covering enough of the fruit nut combo to hold it all together plus make it seem a bit more indulgent to boot.   Give this a try if it appeals to you (an you aren't allergic to nuts).  


Never Count Yourself Out

Posted on October 31, 2014 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

October was exhilarating in Kansas City this year, not in terms of crisp fall weather, but rather a red hot baseball team.  The Kansas City Royals made a historic run through the playoffs, down to the last out of the ninth inning of seventh and final game.   I have to confess to having been a bandwagon fan only to be swept up in this city's enthusiasm for our boys in blue these past four weeks.  

The major league baseball season is long with many games to be played.  Every team starts spring training working toward the goal of extending their season even further, ultimately winning the World Series.  They do this one day, one game at a time.  No team wins every game they play. Many lose more games than they win, as the Royals have been done several times in the past 29 years.   But the goal remains. This year, the Royals lost 73 regular season games, yet these guys never counted themselves out.  We shouldn't either; whether it's the Royals or ourselves.  

The Royals also developed their strengths with a focus on putting fast players on their roster and using speed to win games.  They scored many runs as a result of aggressive base-running and prevented their opponents from scoring runs with spectacular plays in the field.  

It's easy to be on the bandwagon when we are winning.  The trick is to stay the course when that bandwagon hits a pot hole or a wheel falls off. The 2014 baseball season may be over, but your own bandwagon will keep rolling forward with if you keep these three things in mind :  

  • Have a clear goal or vision of where you want to be
  • Discover your strengths and work tirelessly to develop them
  • Never count yourself out

Anything worthwhile takes persistent effort.  Celebrate the successes and learn from the losses, but never give up, even when the game goes into extra innings.  I'm back on the bandwagon and will try harder to stay on board going forward.  Will you?


Take the National Bike Challenge!

Posted on May 4, 2014 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (1)

 

In case name of my business didn't make it clear, I love cycling outdoors. A big chunk of my time in the saddle is spent commuting. I ride to save one to two gallons of gas per week, to reduce my carbon footprint and dependence on my car. I ride to burn extra calories, to push myself up hills and against the wind to stay strong for racing. Most importantly, I ride to feel a connection with my journey that just isn't there when I drive my car. Body and mind engage with the wind, the smells, the sounds, and at times the quiet. I arrive in a less stressed state of mind, ready to be fully present with the tasks at hand whether it be training a client or teaching a class.

May gives us a "two-fer" being designated as both National Bike Month and National Fitness Month. This is your chance to be part of something BIG! Check out the National Bike Challenge at www.nationalbikechallenge.org. The goal is to unite 50,000 bike riders to ride 30 million miles. You can track your own progress by manually reporting your mileage or downloading it from one of several phone app. You can then see how the your efforts and those of all participants add up in terms of calories burned, dollars saved and pounds of CO2 saved. On top of that, see what is being offered in your own community to see if there are any Bike to Work or Bike to School events in the works.

If you are interested in getting into cycling, even just a little bit, take a few minutes this week to think about things that you feel will present the greatest challenges. Feel free to share those challenges here and also watch for my suggestions in how to deal with the most common commuting challenges in upcoming posts.

 





Blender Hired - Juicer Retired

Posted on March 9, 2014 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (1)

Three years ago, I bought a juicer.   While I've enjoyed drinking the juice it produces, the cons of using it started to outweigh the pros and it is now just an object taking up valuable cabinet space.   The benefits of drinking home-made juices as a way of consuming more fruits and veggies are  well accepted.   It is also important to me to know where and how the produce is grown and what ingredients are added.   That said, I truly wonder how many pricey juicers are gathering dust simply because they can be a hassle to use and can be wasteful to boot.


First, it takes a lot of fruits and veggies to yield a mere four to six ounces of juice.  That was handy when we'd bring home a bag full of produce from our CSA or need to clean out the veggie bin.  However, one of my motivations for making things at home is to save money.   At least one of those cups of juice was churned out at a cost of more than eight dollars.


Secondly, the process leaves behind far more glop than juice.  Not wanting to waste this nutrient packed slime, I have tried baking it into muffins and mixing it into pasta sauces.  That works, but when we juiced more than once or twice per week, there was so much left over that I tried freezing some for later use.   Ultimately, much of it ended up expensive compost.  


Finally, the thing is a beast to clean up.   Although it comes apart easily enough, the pieces either don't fit or don't come clean in the dishwasher ...so many places for the veggie glop to hide.   I would scrub the part that chews up the fruits and veggies with the brush provided and put it in the dish drainer thinking I had gotten it clean only to look at it again minutes or hours later and see now dried-on vegetable matter.


One of goals this year has been to increase my consumption of liquids, veggies and fruits.  Early in January, with my left hand in a splint, I opened my kitchen cabinet and looked up at my juicer.   I could swear that it sneered at me.   I looked at shelf below and saw the appliance that I have had in my kitchen for decades, my lowly blender.   The blender that has made protein shakes for years. The blender that mixed freshly extracted juice with almond milk and protein powder to make smoothies.  Talk about a "well duh" moment!


Now I use my blender to make green smoothies three to five times per week.  I start with 8 ounces of kefir water (watch for my video to show how I make this) or almond milk plus a scoop of protein powder.  Then I add a banana or cup of some other fresh fruit and a cup of greens. Blend it all on low for 15 seconds and then high for another 15 seconds and pour into a cup with a lid and I'm ready to go.  To clean-up, I just run the blender with some soapy water in it and then take it apart and put it in the dishwasher.  


My juicer is now officially retired.  There may be some who think that the juicer is still the way to go.  I just know that my blender is doing the job for me.   I need the cabinet space so I would love to send the juicer to a new home.   If you would like it, message me by March 15th.  If I get no takers by then, it goes on Craig's List.  


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