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)