Friday, December 13, 2013

The Pope on Modern Capitalism

This Business Insider article is a fascinating read. It's not a joke, but rather a powerful critique that contains profound wisdom regardless of whether or not you're a bleedin' papist. Haha. Wink @ many of my family and friends.

I did read a further chunk of the original document, and I recommend digging a little deeper into what Pope Francis has to say if you're so inclined and have time. There's some good stuff there (the  link to the full text is provided at the beginning of the Business Insider article).

After you read that, enjoy this wonderful story my aunt sent me that captures the real meaning of Christmas. I loved it. I printed the story and shared it with David and my kids. 

I need these messages and meaningful stories as a foil to the rampant commercialism and excess in which we all seem to find ourselves at this time of year. Not that indulgence is always a bad thing, but balance is best. Even "gifting" can start to feel like empty consumerism sometimes.

Anyway, I hope the story warms your heart as much as it did mine. Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Super Bowl Commercial for Girls' Toys? Maybe...

I threw a post up on LinkedIn yesterday about GoldieBlox, my new favorite toy company/business (partly because I rallied people to vote for this company in the contest and we were successful!!):
For the first time, a small business will have a commercial on the Big Game. That's right, a small business will have a slot in the Super Bowl. GoldieBlox, Inc. has made it into the top 4 businesses vying for this coveted commercial time slot. GoldieBlox, Inc. makes construction toys marketed to girls with the express purpose of getting more girls excited about math and science and ultimately interested in pursuing careers in engineering. After all, as GoldieBlox, Inc. founder Debbie Sterling is quick to point out, we're not suffering from a national shortage of princesses, are we?, the commercial is causing all kinds of controversy because of the parody of The Beastie Boys song "Girls" used in the original commercial:

If we want to empower women, one very effective way to do so is to get YOUNG women/girls focused on something besides how they look, makeup, and boys. GoldieBlox is a company that gets this concept. Booyaa!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Online Bullying

... is a cancer and a plague in our modern, technologically rich but spiritually bereft, society. IT DOESN'T GO AWAY IF YOU WALK AWAY. Repeat that a hundred times or tweet it or whatever. BULLYING DOESN'T GO AWAY IF YOU WALK AWAY. It just spreads and grows, exactly like a cancer.

You may wish to see people take the high road. You may wish to see people go with the flow and let it go. And that's all well and good. But it doesn't always work. At it's most horrible extreme, bullying results in genocide (Nazis, Khmer Rouge, Jihadists, anyone?). In its less lethal forms, bullying still results in a kind of  death: a death of fellowship, respect, consideration, good feeling, humanity... LOVE. Bullying is the deliberate targeting of another human being or group of human beings for an outpouring of negativity and/or scapegoating. It says the perpetrators feel shitty and want someone else to share their misery.

Bullying MUST be deflected. You must put up your defensives and protect yourself and/or your loved ones. Doing NOTHING is not an option. Doing NOTHING feeds the monster and absolutely ensures that some other soul is next in line. Standing up to bullying is like holding up a mirror to Medusa. Standing up to bullying is the only way to end it.

Yes, the title of this post is Online Bullying, because that is where it seems to me otherwise right-thinking, educated adults feel they can hide and act like malicious children with impunity. The power of social media is such that any negative, hurtful, plain old mean act is magnified exponentially (and the same is true of positive acts) along with peoples' egos and lack of conscience, decorum, and respect for others. People do and say things in an online environment that we know they wouldn't dream of doing in a face-to-face social encounter.

This is OUR technology and OUR media. Let's start teaching those who don't yet seem to know them the rules in this high-tech playground.

Zero freaking tolerance, people. ZERO.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Noel Clark Maximum Fitness Consulting

2013-Mar-24: I've added a few more pictures, etc. to this blog post, which will be my last on this topic of theft/plagiarism (I hope). Once again, judge for yourself. And please, do not engage in cyber bullying or validate it when it happens. Public online shaming via social media is WRONG. I hope to not have to post anything else on the topic of cyber bullying, but that hope may be unrealistic.

In 2007, Scott Abel created and released a DVD training package called 5 Day Met Training, which is for sale presently on his web site ( Here's a picture of the back of the DVD case:

In 2008, while a client of Scott's, Erik Ledin created and charged a client for this program:

Below, I've posted some screen captures from the hard copy of the program everyone receives when they purchase Scott Abel's 5 Day MET Training. To protect Scott's work, I've tried to limit the amount of the program I've posted.

I don't think I need to say any more.


And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

Written by former Scott Abel client, Erik Ledin:

Written by Scott Abel, first published as a blog in 2007:

Plagiarism? You decide.

The first screen capture is Erik's (LBC) bi-weekly report. Look at questions 7, 8, and 9. The last one is from Precision Nutrition, Dr. John Berardi.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

First-World Problems

Scott Abel's FB posts are always thought-provoking, but this one got me thinking along a different line:

And everyone is so easily aghast when confronted with the morbidly obese and assuming the physical restrictions and limitations it must place on its host. And then feeling empathy for them. Well I am as equally aghast at the mobidly self-rejecting and morbidly self-denying, morbidly self-depriving female and the PSYCHOLOGICAL limitations and restrictions this places on its hosts - sapping the crea...tivity of young girls and just as equally restricting and limiting their mental and emotional and spiritual health. True progess stulted by morbidly self-rejecting psyches about their female body. And the more thoughts and emotions take on these anxieties and morbid self-rejections - the less room there is there for personal growth and true creative achievements. You can be "aghast" in the presense of morbid obesity if you care to - But at least that is visible. What is more pervasive and more pronounced among females in our culture, is 'morbid self-rejection' over your bodies. And it's time to challenge this cultural pathology.
I mean how can we possibly continue this madness? Maybe you need to be the mother of a daughter to get it, but NOTHING made me sit up and take notice of my off-kilter thinking more than becoming a mother. And lately as I'm doing some reading about TRUE hunger, TRUE starvation, TRUE hand-to-mouth existence juxtaposed with this abundance (and excess) that we have in North America, things become even more clear.

Even physique competitions were not about self-loathing for me, they were about self control/mastery and striving to balance my head and my heart. And to be honest, my stage body always felt like wearing someone else's clothing. I was quite happy to put on some fat after every show.

My daughter shares so much of my genetic material. How can I POSSIBLY loath my body? It would mean loathing HERS as well. And I love my children more than life, but I also love life a great deal, so I choose to be grateful for mine and live it not in loathing but in love.

Does any of this make any sense? Perhaps not. But the words "There are no victims, only volunteers," just run through my head over and over and over when I read again and again and again about women's battles with their body image and self worth. It's not a REAL battle. It's not a REAL problem. Well, it is a "real problem" nowadays, but it's a first-world problem and, in that sense, it's more than a little indulgent.

If what you see in the mirror is not enough to convince you of your worth (and god knows it should be enough no matter what size pants you wear), then it's time to stop looking at your reflection and see yourself through someone else's eyes. Your child's? God's? Your parents'? I don't know. Whatever works. But you really need to get your head out of your ass (sorry... being a little harsh here) because it's awfully dark in there.

We know nothing of real hardship in North America. Yes, there's no denying it's really bad for some people and some people have experienced abuse and a lifestyle I can only imagine. But something strikes me about a lot of people I've come to know who've known real hardship, not suburban-I-can't-afford-a-new-car-yet and I-can't-get-rid-of-these-ten-pounds hardship, but real nasty poverty and abuse: what does not kill them has made them stronger, and more importantly GRATEFUL. Those who've walked through fire and come out singed but alive to tell the tale are a different breed. If they suffered enough to take them from victimhood to having truly overcome, they're simply on a different plane of existence. I find these people really easy to love. They tend not to suffer fools easily, they offer perspectives I don't always have, and they exhibit very, very little self pity. And very, very few of them seem to "suffer" through life.

We're better than these modern, first-world afflictions. When there's true suffering happening in the world, right this very moment, doesn't it feel a bit odd to adopt the mantle of victimhood because you don't feel like your thighs are the right size?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

R.I.P. Grandpa

My Grandpa died January 30, just a few hundred yards from home. I think he would have preferred that to slowly becoming more infirm, having  to leave the farm, and living out the remainder of his years in a rest home.

I've had the privilege of lots of good men in my life. In addition to my Dad, my exes (husbands and boyfriends... yes, they were good, too), teachers, coaches, and the love of my life, David, there was my Grandpa.

Of course he wasn't perfect, but he did a few things perfectly. For one, he did not force his will on my Mom. He let her make her own choices about what to do with her life, even when he didn't agree with or understand those choices. Of course this had an impact on me, because I was raised by that woman. A woman who is allowed to make her own choices and understands that she is responsible for accepting the consequences of those choices, for better or for worse, is going to raise children with the same qualities of character. And I'm so grateful for that.

Grandpa had a perfect sense of home. His farm was a part of him. From him I learned a deep respect for nature and animals, and out of that love came many years covered in horse and cow manure and sweat from good old-fashioned country living. I think my natural seat on a horse and affinity for agricultural things was something I inherited from my Grandpa. Whether or not those things can be inherited doesn't matter. I felt (and still do feel) most deeply connected to my roots with the smell of leather and hay and horse in my nostrils.

From my Grandpa I learned the art of stillness and the value of silence. Once of my most vivid memories is sitting beside him while he smoked, not saying a word, watching the sun sink down to meet the horizon. I wasn't conscious of The Tao or the value of just being in the moment at that time, but I instinctively followed his lead, not needing to fill the silence with conversation or the stillness with activity. It was a gift to be able to see someone truly present in the now. The word that defines those moments for me is PEACE.

From my Grandpa, I learned about tenderness. The way he held my Grandma's hand when she was dying, the gentle way he spoke to her and called her "Mom," awakened in me something I'd long been missing. Yes they acted like a typical old married couple most of the time, but that was only one tiny facet of the complex and long-lasting relationship they had. That was another thing my Grandpa did perfectly in my eyes: he helped my Grandma take her final steps from this world to the next in the most loving way possible. And how I adored and loved him for what I saw in those final moments of my Grandma's life... and how I knew that I wanted that same sort of love and connection with another person in mine.

Thank you, Grandpa. You were the perfect Grandpa for me. Everything that I am today is what I have built on the solid foundation formed by my family.

 Rest in peace. I'll see you when I see you...

(I'm the big kid in the pictures.)


Monday, January 14, 2013

Keeping Your Diet and Fitness Resolutions

A 2012 study done at the University of Scranton discovered the number one New Year's resolution is to lose weight and/or make a healthy self-improvement. Out of the 45% of folks who make a New Year's resolution, only 8% will fully accomplish it, with 39% experiencing infrequent success.
There are myriad tips and suggestions in the media for sticking to your resolutions, but the key to long-term success when it comes to health is small incremental changes that “stick”and become habit, not radical, unsustainable diet or training regimens. When it comes to New Year's resolutions, there's a good chance you've set your sights too high.
What’s the alternative to lofty health and fitness goals? Simple: adapt your goals and lower your expectations. If your goal was "to lose 20 pounds," and your new diet and workout regimen fails by Valentine's Day (or sooner), DO NOT browbeat yourself or engage in negative self-talk. The diet and fitness industry is successful in part because, statistically, people FAIL repeatedly and continue buying into the latest fad diets and exercise gadgets/programs in search of the magic solution.
What actually works?Again, it’s simple: small changes that become habit. Instead of eating a muffin or cereal (most are highly processed) at breakfast, switch to steel cut oatmeal and fruit, OR pack a healthy, balanced brown-bag lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Go for a twenty-minute walk every day, OR join the yoga class at work. Pick ONE of these changes and stick with it religiously for two full weeks or until it feels like a part of your routine. Then add another healthy habit, but only one and not until you've mastered the first change, for another full two weeks or until this second change, too, feels like second nature.
At this point, you may notice that you feel different enough to WANT to continue with these baby steps toward a healthier lifestyle, or you may want to stop with the one or two small changes that you’ve already made. Either way, you've established habits that will provide you with significant residual and cumulative effects over the long-term. Instead of seeing results for a few short weeks (or even days) following a fad diet that's doomed to fail (again, statistics prove this and the diet and fitness industry counts on it), changing one or two small things mean you'll achieve results that you'll still be able to see and feel NEXT December and beyond.
Good habits and healthy living are catching, IF you start with small and sustainable changes.
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step," ~ Lao-tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

1500 Calories Per Day: The Nazis Thought it Was Plenty, Too

I'm just throwing out a quotation from a book called The Taste of War: World War Two and the Battle for Food because of how shocked I am to read about the number of people who wasted away to skin and bones in Germany during WWII on 1500 CALORIES A DAY, which many of us have been brainwashed into thinking is a sufficient amount of food to be eating in a day while training, even when not dieting for a contest (or to lose fat).

The quotation below talks about workers, so we're talking people in a deficit from activity (like women in contest prep), but I've also discovered that German people who were not in work camps, for example women who were working clerical jobs or nursing, ALSO wasted away on 1500 calories per day (and then many were repeatedly raped by their liberators at the end of the war, but I digress). Everyone in the country, not just people in the work camps, was skin and bones.
In 1942 Göring told leaders of the occupied countries "The Führer repeatedly said, and I repeat after him, if anyone has to go hungry, it shall not be the Germans but other peoples." Below the normal rationing system, a second tier of food allocation operated for non-Aryans. From 1939, Jews were charged an extra 10% for food and were only allowed to shop after 4 p.m., when most food shops had run out of stocks. By 1942, Jews were not allowed to buy meat, eggs, or milk. A similar starvation policy was applied to the mentally ill and disabled living in institutions, particularly to children. But these policies did not work when applied to people who were expected to work for German industry. The 6.5 million industrial workers brought in from the east were each only allowed 1500 calories a day, but it soon became apparent that few could not carry out physical work at that level. Speer wanted the rations to be improved, pointing out that two workers on 1500 calories could not do the same work as one worker receiving 3000 calories. But this request came up against Nazi ideology. "It would be politically unthinkable to improve the diet of these subhumans...".
More (from Wikipedia's Morgenthau Plan entry for efficiency):
In early 1946 U.S. President Harry S. Truman finally bowed to pressure from Senators, Congress and public to allow foreign relief organization to enter Germany in order to review the food situation. In mid-1946 non-German relief organizations were finally permitted to help starving German children. During 1946 the average German adult received less than 1,500 calories a day. 2,000 calories was then considered the minimum an individual can endure on for a limited period of time with reasonable health.

Ladies, if you think a sub 1000 calorie contest prep diet is okay, followed by a 1500 calorie per day offseason, please rethink your thinking. If you're being coached or otherwise advised by someone who thinks this amount of food is okay, fire that person's ass NOW!!

If you're abusing yourself in this way for whatever reason, think of what these low calories did over time to people on war rations.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Frank Forencich Blog

My goodness. Seek and ye shall find.

I'm never less than consistently amazed by the way I ALWAYS find what I'm looking for. Yes, sometimes it would be better if I didn't find what I seek, but fortunately most of the time it's serendipitous, beneficial, and another step forward in my self actualization.

I found a brilliant blog today, one that reflects my current worldview in so many ways.

Thanks, Frank!

Just to be clear, I'm not advocating against hiring a contest prep coach or a personal trainer. I'm just saying there's a time and a place for everything, and if there comes a point where you start to doubt your own autonomy and instincts, perhaps you're ready to go it on your own for awhile. It can be very liberating!

That's all. :)

Here's the link:

And here's the lead-in:

You are the one
by Frank Forencich on December 23, 2012

Hi! I’m a health expert and I’m going to tell you how to live.

I’m going to tell you how to exercise, what to eat and when to eat it. I’m going to tell you how to succeed in athletic training and how to avoid injury. I’m going to tell you how much water to drink and how much sleep you need to get. I’m going to tell you what supplements to take and what products to buy. And since stress is such an important part of health, I’m even going to tell you what to think about your life and your world.

But what makes me such an omniscient health expert? Well, maybe I’ve read a big stack of books and/or I have a bunch of letters after my name and/or I’ve won some big athletic competitions and/or I have some testimonials from some really famous clients and/or I have a really hot bod and/or I’m just a good talker.

In any case, I’m claiming to know what’s good for your body and your life which, if you think about it, is a truly preposterous claim. After all, I don’t know you and I haven’t done any assessments of your body, your genes or your life. I don’t know your personality, your history or your life goals. I don’t know your biomechanical profile or your biochemistry. And even if I did know all of these things, it would be a outrageous leap to suggest that I could integrate all of that knowledge into a concrete, practical, personalized prescription for a healthy life.

So, why should you listen to me?

Well, perhaps you shouldn’t be listening to health experts at all. Maybe, just maybe, health experts are part of our problem... (Read more)