Advice From Stephen Hawking

Advice I believe is great for everyone, regardless of circumstances…

As someone who has the honor to work with children and adults with disabilities, I can safely say I have never found a more motivational set of individuals. In spite of sometimes substantial adversity, I watch them not only push their limitations, but sometimes also overcome them entirely. I believe it is absolutely crucial to focus on the positive – the unique talents, interests, and abilities of each individual – and to downplay the weaknesses.

Now, that’s not to say we can’t recognize areas that need improvement – whether for ourselves or another individual, we need to know what in our lives and development needs some TLC (or flat-out hard work!) However, making a point to emphasize our abilities is a surefire way to keep us in the most positive head space possible. When facing some of life’s challenges, a great attitude will make all the difference. 

The other day at a volunteer session, a mother was inquiring about activities for her daughter, including Martial Arts – beyond autism, her child has been through surgeries to correct club foot and other impairments to the feet and lower extremities. The doctor was trying to steer her clear of many activities and yet…here was this young lady actually running around. I spoke to the mother, making clear I have no medical background (but a lifetime’s worth as an athlete), and explained that sports can be modified. So long as we have the proper instructor who is aware of our challenges, there is no reason that many more sports could be available to her than suggested.

For example, this young lady was able to participate in ballet to some degree. I watched her not only walk briskly in our gymnasium, but also run at times, further confirming that she has a great deal more ability that it appears she is (externally) being credit for. I encouraged the mother to look into specific Marital Art programs, and to not be discouraged by the “can’t do”s. As Stephen Hawking alludes to, to handicap ourselves mentally can be incredibly damaging – we needn’t add to our own, or another’s physical difficulties.

The truth of it is, we all have strengths, weaknesses, injuries and physical limitations. In the majority of cases, we all have some mental challenges as well – low self-esteem, insecurity, self-doubt to name a few. To focus on what IS possible, and what we ARE able to do can make a massive difference in the quality of our lives overall, as well as contribute to our success in our activities, careers, and relationships.

I will ever and always be in full support of “focusing on the positive.”  It isn’t about being idealistic, but recognizing that what we focus on can literally alter the course of our lives – what we dwell on becomes our reality and all we see.

Focusing on our strengths not only helps us to weather the working-on-our-weaknesses better, but also the ups and downs of life. It gives us the strength and courage to carry forward, to makes strides in spite of anxiety or fear, and to find happiness, fulfillment and success in spite of tipped scales. The sky is the limit when we have the right attitude. Period.

No Treadmill, No Problem, by Eric Velazquez, NSCA-CSCS

Sharing this post (by Eric Velazquez, NSCA-CSCS) because it’s a great little workout when you feel like you need cardio, and you don’t have (or want!) a machine! 

And yes…there is plenty you CAN do without having to be indoors, feeling like an oversized hamster. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a great way to get your heart rate up, and the metabolism burning. I’d personally take running with a log over the treadmill myself!

(C) Cartoonstock

(C) Cartoonstock / Guy & Rodd

 

Fitness Humor – Cardio Motivation

I hate cardio.  Truly… Being on a treadmill, for one thing – for me – takes a bit of mental prep.

That said, I’d take it any day over this alternative (or a web, because that can be horrifying also, though maybe a step down from actual arachnids.)

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(C) John McPherson / Cartoonstock

Halloween Humor – Staying Slim

Did you ever notice this?  Because I did.  And it seriously creeped me out to see the level of cardio fitness this, oh…I don’t know…dead serial killer had!  I’d be doomed!  

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It’s so NOT funny!  I’d be like “hey, Michael, can you hold on a second? I need to put my sneakers on.  Just ONE second, geezuz, Mr. Impatient!  I need a head start.”  And then I’d have to HIIT out of there.

And of course this is incredibly appropriate…for the lady who only ever wears (SLIMMING) black, AND worked in fashion for a dozen years...

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(C) Off the mark, Mark Parisi

It Doesn’t Have To Be Your Best, Just START

I general dread traditional cardio – I DO it, because I know it’s important.  But…it’s a struggle most days!

I recently gave myself a lovely bout of plantar fasciitis from running too hard, too fast, too intensely – I woke up the next day and knew EXACTLY what happened.  

Frustrated I may have been, I knew it was a cue from the grand ol’ Universe telling me to slow down.  My feet have been hurting, I’ve been overly exhausted, and frankly. . .I’ve derided cardio even more than normal.  Did I take a break?  NOPE!

So…the Universe HANDED me one.

Instead of busting my buns of the treadmill, I’ve done a few days of moderate spin.  My session aren’t stellar – I haven’t drilled myself for a while, so my pace and power isn’t necessarily where it could be.  But, I put in the effort.  I get on knowing that it may not be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be – the point is, I’m doing SOMETHING.  I’m getting on and giving it a whirl – there’s no need to be breaking records every time you do an activity (maybe I’m writing that as an extra reminder to myself! 😉 

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So don’t worry about making one session or another your absolute best – just START.  A little CAN go a long way towards your goals of staying fit and healthy. ❤

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For more on Fitness

I’m Not A Cheerleader, But If I Were…

This would totally be my jam.

With black and red pompoms?  Hell yes.

INVADE DESTROY REPEAT

It’s a good tune for the gym, 1,000% – spin bike, lifting, sprints, whatever – and it totally has that “pep rally” sound.  You know, for when getting your ass on a treadmill is (and usually will be) the LAST thing you want to do?

Motivate with some metal!

(C) Powerman 5000 Official YouTube

(C) Powerman 5000 Official YouTube

Fitness Humor – Cardio Woes

Honestly…I think it would be better if I WAS being chased by a bear most mornings.  Cardio I am aware of = T O R T U R E.

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I push through – I’ll get it (or some part of it) done.  Because I have to.  But…I’m not a fan.  At the end of the day, it’s more about the caloric deficit rather than how, necessarily I got there, though, so maybe I’m being too hard on myself.  And my feet.  

When running for my life, I’m certain I’d do a better job of cardiovascular ramping.  If the bear got me? I’m pretty sure he’d still be in a caloric deficit (AND he got the benefit of cardio – how annoying!). . .unless he ate a few of my neighbors as well.

For my Fitness Jazz…

Encouragement

The other morning my exercise-induced asthma kicked in – not fun, and not expected.  One of my Gracie Jiu-Jitsu instructors said “how ironic!  Of all the people, the one who is always active has exercise-induced asthma!”  Sigh.  I know!  (Still, how blessed I am to be able to BE active – health is a gift!)

I was fully determined to sprint hard that day, and I was feeling incredibly disheartened…not only about my poor performance and inability, but the fact that I had set my bar so high, and I wasn’t going to get there.  Ugh.  I got to my fifth sprint (I usually aim for 8 to 10), and I had to call it quits.  As I walked to settle myself down, the lady next to me took out her earbuds…

“You’re doing GREAT,” she said with a smile.

My spirit lifted. Immediately. As if rainbows illuminated the room. (And they did!) 😀

“Thank you so much for saying that!” I replied, aware that my displeasure and difficulty was obvious.

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She continued to speak to me, sharing kind words of encouragement, and truly generous compliments.  At that moment, I really needed it!  I love to encourage others, particularly when it comes to exercise – I love to remind them that just being there is a wonderful start and that they should be proud. But at that moment, I was the one really struggling, and this sweetheart of a lady just lit me up! 

I gave up on the rest of the sprints, feeling a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction despite that I could only get about a third of a normal workout in – typically, I’d feel down about it but there she was telling me how hard I work all the time…  

“Wait…I DO,” I thought.  “It’s okay to slow down if I need to…”

Her thoughtfulness was so appreciated, and reminded me that it was okay if I wasn’t 100%.  It was OKAY to rest.  So often we share kind words with others, and advice about allowing ourselves to rest…and we don’t heed the counsel ourselves!  The reminder was needed.

I’m also blessed to have an amazing man in my Life, who supports and encourages me with my sports (and all that I do.)  He is the first person to tell me to take it easy, and it is often the one thing I really need!  He tells me I work hard enough, and it’s okay to be gentle with myself, especially if I’m not tip-top.

I’m so thankful to him, and to my new gym bunny friend…who is always working her tail off too!  What goes around comes around, for sure…and in this case, it was a wonderful thing. ❤  

 

The eSpin and Cardio Days

A few years ago I got a refurbished Star Trac eSpinner – I am not a Soul Cycler, a spin-class-attender, nor an outdoor cyclist by any stretch.  But I love spin bikes because they are one of those cardio options that are safer for bad knees (I’ve got two!), or when you are just not able to (or up to) the treadmill or outdoor running.  

There are, of course, tons of other cardio options beyond a spin bike or treadmill! For example:

  • Recumbent Bike
  • Stairmaster / Stepper
  • Stairmill
  • Elliptical
  • Adaptive Motion and Arc Trainers
  • Versa Climber
  • Rowing Machines…

It is totally a matter of preference.  For me, the bike is one of the more comfortable choices if I’m not doing treadmill sprints…and the reality of it is that if I was going to spend money on a machine, I wanted it to be the one I’d use most!  I happen to like this older eSpinner because it has a fan, which admittedly helps me push harder longer.  Don’t laugh! 

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Even then, though, it’s not always easy.  When people ask about my cardio they seem to think I must enjoy it – I love activity, but trust me when I say…cardio that I am aware I am doing is not on my “love” list! It does take some self talk and encouragement most of the time, and definitely some good music!

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I also try to focus on the feeling of finishing – there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with getting through a workout, especially one you struggled to start!  It is worth pushing through just for that sense of “I did it!” 

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Even if someone else appears to be loving Life while they sweat profusely and gasp for breath on the treadmill next to you…don’t assume it is a piece of cake for them, and therefore that there is something wrong with you because it feels tough.  There ISN’T – you are doing great (they probably would love to be done themselves!)  

Getting ON the bike, or treadmill, or elliptical is a start.  Once you are THERE, you will push through it, proving you can do more than your brain wanted to trick the rest of you out of doing that day. Your pumping heart, and a body flooded with endorphins will remind the brain that its demotivating techniques just won’t work this time!  🙂

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