Thursday, October 30, 2008

Defy and Ascend

One day per week I spend a lunch hour feeding an elderly person. I sit in a room surrounded by older adults who unfortunately cannot feed or look after themselves. It’s a sad but very real state for these people and their families. When I first started doing this it was suggested that it must make me happy. I’m not sure about that. Actually I’m not sure what it makes me. When I leave I’m pretty detached but when I’m there I’m there wholly and I’m harshly reminded of the value and importance of good health. Getting older can stink sometimes but aging in good health with physical independence and strength is far better.

I’m reading a novel where the main character feels that his “…life has crested”. He’s climbed to the peek and peering over the edge to view what lies ahead he sees “…only deterioration-descent into aging…” and then goes on to say “… it’s not descending that is troubling but it’s the not ascending…” Pretty dramatic, no?

For the past year I’ve been working with an older adult who is in their 70’s and they are incredible; not afraid to try anything with total confidence in their physical strength and abilities. I guess this is what one might call a “dream client” – the kind that follows what is recommended, carries through and works just as hard even when I’m not around. And from where they were a year ago they have indeed ascended.

I read a slogan on a poster recently that read “Getting Old Is Not For Sissies”and it displayed a mature gentleman doing one mean pushup. Which reminds me – how many pushups and chin-ups can you do? Most people I ask haven’t done a chin-up since grade school. Let’s face it – from the day we’re born we just keep getting older and although aging is a complex process it is a process we can defy along the way. At least I intend to. So go ahead and be defiant - one pushup at a time.

Enjoy yourself in good health/gena.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Make It Your Olympics

A few months ago while training for a marathon I developed an injury. When you’re an active individual an injury can be crippling to your soul. So I laid off the running and during that time I was offered various words of “consolation”. There was the typical “oh you’ll be o.k.” and the “ugh that sucks” and my favourite “stop running you’re going to be crippled!” Although I think they all came from a place of deep regard one was most intense and came at me in a firm, matter-of-fact kind of tone: “GENA! Olympic athletes train for years and withdraw from the games due to injuries.” I’d call this a reality check and not because of the tone but because of the…well - the reality of it. My reaction to this? (rhetorical question) “But marathons are MY Olympics!”

This leads me to my next question (not rhetorical). Have you thought of doing a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon? If you really want too but think you can’t you’ll have to find a better excuse. It starts in your head. Set a goal, do some research, talk to someone who knows a little more than you do and establish a safe training plan.

Every time I go for a run I’m humbled by the fact that my feet always carry me back home. They just know what to do. During my recent marathon I passed and was passed by people of all ages, shapes and sizes. There was a woman in her late 60’s who ran across the finish line seven minutes ahead of me. I’m thirty years her junior by the way and this was a new personal best or me.

If you can see it in your head you can do it. I don’t doubt that about anyone who wants to do something. I have to warn you though; the exhilaration at the finish line, any finish line, can sometimes be addictive and life altering. Everyone has an athlete within. Make whatever it is your Olympics.

Enjoy yourself in good health/gena.

Friday, October 17, 2008

First Get Uncomfortable. Then Get Comfortable In Your Body

After a brisk walk this morning it occurred to me that although I had worked up a sweat I still had some in me to go. It’s sometimes hard to push ourselves during our workouts but maintaining comfort during most workouts will leave you, well – just feeling comfortable.

Being creatures of habit and comfort the biggest challenge is getting uncomfortable. And really, at the end of the day who really wants to feel uncomfortable? I’m running my third marathon in a five month span. My second and third marathons are 21 days apart. I also have kids. Two of them. I think I know a little something about discomfort.

Well, if you want to see changes in your body composition, endurance and overall well being at some point you will have to feel uncomfortable. During your walk, run or resistance training exercises incorporate bursts of high intensity: increase your speed for 30-60 second intervals or go to failure on at least one of your resistance training sets.

Not every workout requires maximum effort for the whole time but push yourself a little further and you’ll be surprised how much is really in you. After all, I spend a good part of my day reminding people of that. And I’m always right. When you think you can’t do one more or run anymore or any faster – do it anyways.

Enjoy yourself in good health/gena