Monday, December 27, 2010

Natural Disasters, Telomeres and the Promise of a New Year

A lot went on in the world this year. 2010 was sadly a year of severe natural disasters; earthquakes, heatwaves, floods and continued disease, hunger and lost lives. It almost felt like it was the year mother earth spoke up. For our planet and it's inhabitants this was a challenging year. In reality we are such a small fraction of the world's population and so far from what is going on around us. Sure, we see so much on our television but this degree of loss, destruction, terror and suffering is not really part of our day-to-day lives. Our normal is really not so outside our borders. I realize it's much easier to view the world on a large scale. When you break everything down, put a child's face, a sibling, a parent – when you put faces and names to the lost lives it's unbearable. If only we could change the world...

This was also a year with much focus on cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In 2010 there were many who were touched by these life altering diseases. But the focus was not only on their negative impact on our lives and health system but there was also progress in fighting disease and promise to a better life. Perhaps this was the year that thousands decided to make better lifestyle choices for the rest of their lives. What I found most fascinating this year was the amazing research and breakthroughs on telomeres and genes and, more specifically, how exercise keeps our cells young. The discovery of telomere function won several scientists the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine. I think my clients are tired of hearing me talk about these “tiny caps on the end of DNA strands.” “Dr. Dean Ornish shared new research that showed how adopting healthy lifestyle habits can affect a person at a genetic level. For instance...when you live healthier, eat better, exercise and love more, your brain cells actually increase..when you make comprehensive lifestyle changes they affect gene expression “turning on” disease-preventing genes and “turning off” genes that promote cancer and heart disease, as well as increasing telomerase, an enzyme that lengthens telomeres, the ends of our chromosomes which control aging” This is pretty freaking exciting.

The research supporting the benefits of good diet and exercise is endless. As our society becomes a reflection of the times, or are the times a reflection of society, we seem to bore easily. Things are pretty fast paced to accommodate our demands for the new and varied, so we have many options to stay active with a buffets worth of fitness tools. It's all good if it gets you moving. But never forget the classics. Because they work. When people ask me what I do to stay fit quite often they expect a complicated answer. I use free weights and regularly do my chin-ups, push-ups and squats. I can't say that anyone gets bored while training with me. The “classics” are the foundation multiple routines are built from. Sure I might get a few eye rolls here and there and sometimes I hear “you want me to do what?!?!” but its all good and in the end everyone is happy...

So what will it be for you this year? Are you resolving to exercise – more? To eat “right”? I suggest you make your exercise goals visual. Mark your workouts on your calendar for the week. You'll be more accountable if it's booked in advance. And if you don't workout you will have to scribble it out and that sucks. Nobody wants a calendar full of scribbles. Actually this is the great thing about what I do. Whether I'm on the calendar or not, I'm at at door – whether you feel like working out or not. Sorry. And finally to “eat right” is not really specific. "I will eat breakfast consisting of... I will pack a lunch on Monday, Wednesday, Friday consisting of...I will eat a fruit and vegetable at each meal" is more specific. For me this year will be about continued growth and development; Professionally, in my personal relationships and in my health and well being. And I too am setting out a specific road map. My calendar has consistent reminders that pop up to keep me focused and give me perspective.

I wish you much success in all that you set out to do. Be good to yourself and others. All good comes from a place of love. Move ahead even if things don't go as planned. If you mess up at one meal don't throw out your efforts for the rest of the day. Move on and eat right at your next meal. If you miss your workout, get one in the next day. Don't let it slide. Make every decision a mindful one and make 2011 your year of successful, long term change. Happy New Year Kids.

Enjoy yourself if good health and fitness. All the best/gena.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Proud Transformation...Make 2011 Your Year

I love to write about my experiences as a trainer. But this time, with great pleasure, a dear client took the liberty to share her experience...

"...This has changed my life. Not just because of the weight loss but because you have helped me figured out what was holding me back and what pushes me ahead. Besides getting leaner and stronger, I have gained so much confidence. Gena you're my support system. You clear all the negativity. When we train a lot happens through your direction, motivation, instruction and our goal setting. The thing is that it's not just the time we spend training, it's this open communication and accessibility that keeps me on track and accountable. This benefits all areas of my life.

It's been an awesome experience. Did I work hard?!?!?! You know I did! And I continue to work hard (even on my own G!):) But I actually enjoy it now! 15 pounds lighter, 10k stronger and 5 sizes smaller. I have the energy to get through every day, every workout and be my best. Gena, you've helped me take care of myself and everyone benefits from this. And I have become a role model! Now my friends and family turn to me for advice on exercise and clean eating! Thanks G, couldn't do it without you!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Marathon of Life

I haven't lived through a war. I haven't experienced poverty, illness, hunger or neglect. I've never been starving or homeless. I am very fortunate. So what I have experienced? Call them poor choices, bad timing, aimless ambition; much of the anxiety, pain and torment I have encountered has often been self inflicted. I don't blame the world. But I've run a few marathons, physically and metaphorically, and I compare life to that. The marathon of life. There is a start, a finish and many kilometers in between. Along the way you may loose sight, question your reasons, doubt your strengths, find fault in the surroundings. But everyone who is running one and living one with honest effort is successful. Successful, whether the result was the initial goal or not. There is success in honest effort.

I have a friend who is running the marathon of her life and beating childhood cancer. There is nothing worse than witnessing your child fall critically ill. When I actually begin to imagine this I fall apart. The thought leaves me speechless. Terrified. But she and her family take it on and I'm amazed with their ammunition. I have around me people who can't imagine breaking a sweat. They say "What do you mean exercise?!?! like, sweating!?!?" Yes...similarly some people refuse to watch or read something disturbing: "Why would I watch something that makes me feel bad?" So why would you exercise to failure? Why run so far? Why sweat? Why tire? Why bother? Sometimes we do all of the above just to feel alive. In many things that make us uncomfortable, that challenge us, try to defeat us or continue to defy us, we are forced to seek answers. We are pushed to think, contemplate and feel. We may search for new meaning, purpose, strength and belief. So I think we somehow become better.

You don't have to do things to an extreme. I have been and can be all about the speed, the weight, distance, intensity - go, go, go! There's a time and place for that. But eventually it's about balance, peace, purpose. There's a purpose to staying fit and eating well. There's meaning in your health and fitness.

Often it's hard to make sense of everything. Sometimes you just blindly trust and believe that everything, even the most difficult challenges, contribute to something greater...but since you are here and well, or unwell, then you have every reason to do something to take care of your body.

Enjoy yourself in good health and fitness/gena.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sambuca, Shifting & Some Hard Core Exercise Atheists

All of the things I’ve needed to work out in my life I’ve resolved while running. Well, perhaps not everything – some things I’ve resolved with a lawyer, with a friend, with love or a Flaming Sambuca. But to a large extent it’s true. In the time it takes to get myself in motion, to run without having to think about the biomechanics of running, I’m lost in thought and eventually, and often quite suddenly, I find clarity. And with clarity I find solutions. Sometimes the solution is just that. Clarity. Sometimes a solution isn’t necessary because there really isn’t a problem. Just a need to shift perspective. This has worked for me because I love doing it – running that is. I know not everyone loves to exercise. I know that many don’t even like to exercise. In fact most people I know hate to exercise. And this is where perspective matters.

One of the best parts of my job is witnessing the occurrence of a shift. I’m talking about a shift in beliefs, perspective, in attitude and in ones self. I’m talking about a shift in folks who approach me as hard core exercise atheists. Infidels. These are the people who don’t want to convert, who would rather have permanent cankers on the entire surface of their mouth than do the plank. You see, the truth is that sometimes we have to do things because we just have to do things. We don’t have to like it but we have to do it. And when there’s accountability things get done. And through the many phases and stages of resistance, denial and four letter words good things happen.

That’s when my hard core haters become believers. Not necessarily lovers but believers, followers and leaders…of exercise. No, for many it’s not the exercise itself they end up loving but the cause and effect of exercise. The feelings, the outcome, the results. We all do things we don’t like doing but we do it because of the end result. I hate cleaning. The thought of it tires and bores me. I hate it the whole time I’m doing it but when it’s done I soak in the satisfying results of a spotless tub.

Being sick this week I had to take a day away from some of my clients. Personally this was my least productive day, but the most rewarding. Calls and messages came through from former non-believers who have converted. From those who did nothing unless I showed up. These same individuals called to inform me that they still made their way to the gym, their basement or condo corridor. My fellow believers embraced the free weights, resistance bands and treadmill. You have to understand that some of these people avoided the treadmill like the Bubonic Plague, whether because they were afraid of falling, tripping or just sweating, on this specific day they walked, ran and even danced on the treadmill. These individuals ran up and down their stairs, forward lunged through their corridors and planked to the point of failure. People, this was a great day…Are you a believer?

Enjoy your self in good health and fitness/gena.