live it active


For those interested in pursuing graduate school…

…check out my friend Atif’s roundtable discussion (that I am a part of :))!

Awesome idea Atif – keep them rolling!

Happy weekend everyone!

M


Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith”.

The grandson thought about this for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed”.

M

P.S. I want to thank Barbara Wilkinson for sharing this legend with me. I am not sure where she got this story from, but it is powerful and I thank the author, whoever you may be.


On Losing a Childhood Friend to Suicide

On Sunday I attended the memorial service for a childhood friend who committed suicide last week. We rode horses together. His mom helped me find my horse. They live close to my childhood home.

My childhood riding partner was anything but an introvert. He was charismatic, handsome, witty, highly intelligent, and generous. He had a gift with words.

I lost touch with him after I left for university. I heard that he had struggled a bit, but I wasn’t aware of the extent of his struggle – I am not sure anyone was.

He wasn’t a mean, cold, closed-off, rude, hurtful or uncaring individual. He didn’t wear dark clothes, eye-liner or adorn his face with metal or ink. Perhaps our stereotype of what constitutes a troubled youth have shifted in recent years as we have begun to talk about suicide more, albeit only a little more. However, I don’t think they have shifted all that much.

I recently watched a special broadcast by CTV titled “Speak Out Against Suicide”. It featured a number of individuals who had lost either their child, partner, or friend to suicide. It also featured individuals who had attempted and failed. One such individual was Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire who is internationally known for his peace-keeping efforts in Rwanda and his authorship of Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. He spoke about his struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that has plagued him since returning from Rwanda. He spoke about his numerous suicide attempts and self-inflicted body mutilation. He spoke out against suicide.

Hearing a powerful, handsome, intelligent and successful adult man speak about his suicide attempts finally opened my eyes to the reality of suicide. Suicide attempts are made by all types of individuals regardless of their education, level of power or success, experience, intelligence, personality, race or religion. It’s not a choice made by just the introverted, depressed, lonely, isolated, or mean. It is a choice made by different individuals and for different reasons.

At the memorial service, listening to the friends of my childhood friend speak was difficult. Yet, each speech made it clear that his adult character was no different from that of his youth. While he may have experienced a few more demons in his adult years, he remained the loving, gentle and thoughtful individual that he had always been. Just recently, he had gone back to school and things seemed to be improving. From an outside perspective, things were seemingly OK.

The point of this post is to shed light on the individuals who make the choice to commit suicide. These individuals, from the exterior, can often seem like very happy people. Thus, knowing who and when to help becomes exceedingly difficult.

My only advice is to listen. While the individual may never share or hint at their thoughts or plans, it is important that we take time to listen. And if we do in fact hear something that hints towards suicide or self-harm, we must act.

But sometimes there is no indication. Sometimes there is nothing that we could have done. Sometimes we have no reason to take action. This is what makes suicide so difficult. If it were only the outwardly and obviously troubled children/youth/adults who chose to take their lives, it would be easier for us to notice those in need of assistance. As humans, we tend to seek out and desire the easiest, most black and white explanation. In the case of suicide, there is only grey.

“His death is the biggest waste of greatness that I will experience in my lifetime”. Spoken by one of his university friends, this sentence aptly summarizes the loss that many are feeling. He will be forever missed.

My hope in writing this post is that you will start to examine your own perceptions of suicide. My second hope is that you will take more time to listen and potentially act. My third hope is that if you have been or are affected by suicide in the future and there was nothing you could have done, do not spend too much time in a mire of guilt. Think only of the joy that that particular individual shared with the earth during their time.

M

 

If you are in distress here are some resources:

1. Distress Centres Ontario

2. TeleCare Cambridge 519-658-6805

3. Waterloo Region Crisis Line 1866-366-4566

4. Community Torchlight 877-822-0140


Start Your Own Happiness Project

I am about halfway through the book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. If you haven’t read it, put it on your list. It’s good.

It’s so good that I am going to begin my own happiness project. No doubt, I am already a fairly happy person but, I could be happier.

Over the next few weeks I will be developing my year-long Happiness Project.

Want to do one as well? Need help getting started? Here are a couple tips to getting started:

1. Check out Gretchen’s blog;

2. Send me an email at liveitactive@gmail.com;

3. Write down 12 things you would like to work on (e.g. be more active, spend less).

Once I get my plan in order I will start posting. I can’t wait to start this!

M


Wednesday Workout Tip: Integrate “Silly Walks” into your routine

Looking for new ways to walk? Say whaaaat? You heard me – want to change the way you walk?

Perhaps you could integrate some “silly walks” into your routine. If you need inspiration please check out Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks for ideas.

What do you think? Could you integrate some of these steps into your daily walking routine?

(Crickets)

If Monty Python’s silly walking is not for you (and I can’t imagine why not), I have another suggestion – do a dynamic warm-up.

What is it? A dynamic warm-up is a movement based stretching routine performed prior to exercise. Click here to view a short clip that demonstrates a few warm-up exercises you could do.

Why do a dynamic warm-up as opposed to a static stretch (i.e. when you stretch one muscle at a time)? It helps to increase your heart rate and therefore, blood flow to working muscles more efficiently and effectively as compared to static stretching. This will, in turn, help to prevent muscle tearing.  And what’s more, performing a dynamic warm-up will help to increase your daily step-count!

How long should you do it for? I suggest that your warm-up be around 5-10 minutes.

Questions? Drop me a line at liveitactive@gmail.com.

Happy (silly) walking.

M

 


On Crossing the Finish Line with my Momma

Yesterday my Mom ran her first 5 KM race at Octoberfest in Waterloo. Her personal trainer suggested she sign up for the run this past July. My mom agreed to the challenge immediately and began her training. Oh, I forgot to mention that initially my Mom agreed to a 10 KM race without even batting an eye.

When my Mom first mentioned the run to me, I was very very surprised. Not because my Mom was still in the early stages of her training (relatively), but because she had never really “run” before. I put run in quotations because she has obviously run throughout her life, but being a runner or training to become one is very different from sporadic running.

She began her training right away. She coordinated all the runs and asked me to join her. Her primary routes consisted of the country roads surrounding our house which are predominated by the ever-hated hill. Sometimes we would chat, sometimes not. Regardless of our route or conversation, I never stopped smiling. I had never imagined that I would be running with my Momma.

Over the course of her training, my Mom gradually improved her distance, pace, and took fewer walking breaks. Her breathing became more controlled and her face less red at the culmination of each run. She was getting fitter.

She suffered an injury along the way but took the necessary time to rest and heal. She did not let it stop her.

An added bonus of the running – she lost weight. She got into pants that hadn’t fit in years. To my Mom, this was not the point of her running but about trying something different, scary, and G.I.-altering (we’ve all been there). Something that could possibly be (and was) very rewarding. To quote my Mom, “I want to be more fit at 60 than I was at 50”.

Yesterday she ran and completed her first of many 5 KM runs.

She ran faster, longer and with fewer breaks than ever before. I smiled the entire time and tried unsuccessfully not to cry as we crossed the finish line.

Why am I telling you this? Because my Mom’s story is unique? Nope. I bet there were a lot of people running their first 5 KM yesterday. I tell you this because it is inspirational. Because she was never a runner, nor had plans to be one. Because she is turning 60 in a few months. Because she decided that she wanted to make a change and stuck to that decision. Because my Mom’s journey demonstrates that if you really want to make a change you can. And that your change can happen regardless of age, running ability, fitness-level, or injury.

Have you found yourself saying “I can’t”? Why can’t you? What is stopping you? You’re not fit enough? You’re too big? You’re too old? You don’t run? My answers to these self-created barriers? You’ll become more fit as you train. You’ll lose weight as you run/cycle/swim. You’re never too old (just chat with your doc beforehand). And of course you can run. If you don’t like it than find a different activity that is both challenging and fun.

Never ever say never.

M
 


100 Words to Describe Physical Activity

Today marks my 100th post. In celebration, I want to accumulate 100 words that describe physical activity. Examples include: boring, exhilarating, sweaty, etc.

The catch – I want to receive these words from YOU. I want YOU (my lovely readers) to send me in the words that YOU use to describe physical activity.

I would like to receive as many words from as many different people as possible. So please ask your friends, family, and colleagues and get them to post a comment or send in an email!

My email is liveitactive@gmail.com. Once I reach 100, I will post all of them with names (please tell me if you wish to remain anonymous).

I can’t wait to read them!

M


“You are already more than enough”

I came across this quote in my all-time favourite magazine – Real Simple. The author (which I cannot remember the name of right now) of the quote was writing about her experience with breast cancer.

At the end of the article she discusses how her cancer experience (chemo, radiation, losing her hair and her breast) has changed her outlook on life. Prior to her diagnosis she never felt complete: she wasn’t married, had no children, had not written a masterpiece, etc. (we all have these lists). However, following the culmination of her various therapies she talks about taking comfort in the things she has and what she already is – a good daughter, fiancé, aunt, sister, and friend. In her mind she is “already more than enough”.

I like this quote. It doesn’t negate the importance of growth and challenge, but it zeros in on the importance of being appreciative and comfortable with who you are and what you have accomplished.

So if you find that you’re beating yourself up for not getting a better grade, performance review, raise, or losing a nomination or award of some sort, stop. Remember (always remember) that you are already more than enough.

M


Turkey + Wine + Potatoes + Pumpkin Pie = Digestive Disaster

Thanksgiving has arrived (for Canadians) – well, almost. Depending on when your family celebrates it, your dinner could be in 1, 2, or 3 days. Or perhaps you are having a turkey dinner on days 1, 2, and 3. Regardless, most Canadians will be engaging in at least one meal of turkey eating.

Typically, these meals are shared with family or close friends and involve a lot of…laughs. Well, hopefully, but these meals tend to involve a lot of FOOD and ALCOHOL. Yes, I know, you’re excited.

Perhaps in anticipation you have been cutting down your food intake over the last three days (I do hope not), or running extra miles and/or extra crunches. The question is, will performing these crazy antics really help you during turkey fiesta 2011? Likely not.

Why? Well cutting down your food consumption is likely (not 100% likely, but definitely likely) going to slow down your metabolism. When you cut down your calories your body typically goes into starvation/protection mode (i.e. it slows down the metabolism to ensure your survival). Thus, slowing down your metabolism prior to mass consumption is NOT a good idea.

OK so running a few extra miles and doing a couple extra crunches may increase your resting metabolism slightly, but not enough to help you out during your personal turkey gobble. I am not saying don’t do it. Do it, please. Progressively overloading yourself is good – it means you will get fitter faster. Just don’t expect it to help you shed the 5 lbs. of sweet potatoes you consumed any faster.

So what can you do to prevent a digestive disaster. It’s pretty simple:

1. Grab a small plate. We eat with our eyes and thus, having a smaller plate will force you to take smaller portions. And you won’t feel as if you are depriving yourself as the portions will look normal relative to the plate. If you’re still hungry go back and get seconds. The added bonus – more leftovers.

2. Eat slowly. Give your stomach enough time to send out the satiety signal to your brain (takes about 10-15 minutes).

3. Walk before your meal. Take a hike or stroll with the fam jam prior to your meal. It will help you to work up an appetite and help you burn a few extra kcals before eating.

4. Cut the appetizer or the dessert. For me, I would cut the appetizer in order to have the dessert. If you’re a salt person you would likely do the opposite.

5. Don’t overdo it on the booze. Typically, when we drink more we eat more. There are a multitude of reasons for this phenomenon. We likely become more uninhibited and perhaps have fewer feelings of guilt (you shouldn’t feel guilt when eating, however, I know we all do from time to time). There is also a biological/protective reason for eating more (typically more fatty foods) when we drink. More food in the stomach slows down the absorption time of the alcohol. Thus, we will feel the effects more slowly.

6. Talk more. The more we talk, the more time we give ourselves to eat and thus, the less likely we are to over consume and imbibe.

Most importantly, have fun this weekend. It’s going to be beautiful in my neck of the woods and I cannot wait for our family hike!

Happy Thanksgiving,

M


Belated Wednesday Workout Tip: Talk about your mental health issues

I am sure most of you (my lovely readers) have experienced at least 1-2 days spent wallowing in the dumps. We have all had our blue days or weeks, but rarely do we chat about these brief episodes with family (extended), friends, and colleagues. For some, these episodes are a lot longer. When blue feelings carry on for weeks without end, it is time to seek out medical attention.

Why am I talking about mental health issues? Well, because being mentally unwell is going to affect you physically. How? You will likely feel:

1. Lower energy levels

2. Increased feelings of fatigue

3. Muscles and joint aches/pain

4. Moodiness and irritability

Of course there are a variety of other physical symptoms that you will experience and each individual will feel them differently. Oftentimes when you are feeling low you will sleep more/less, eat poorly, stop exercising, potentially bathe irregularly, and push away your social support. Such behaviours will likely worsen your mood and exacerbate the physical symptoms of your mental illness. All in all, you create a negative spiral for yourself that is sometimes difficult to escape from.

So what do I suggest? Well, I am not a doctor (of any sort) so my opinions are my own. But from my education, reading and my own personal experience I have found the following to be unbelievably helpful:

1. Get up

2. Shower

3. Brush your hair, teeth, and take care of all personal hygiene needs

4. Cut the coffee.

5. Do NOT sleep during the day.

6. Grab the dog/call a friend and go for a walk/run/canoe paddle/hike/swim/etc.

7. Go grocery shopping (on a full stomach) and purchase leafy greens and colourful veggies. Buy some red meat (or a substitute if you are a veggie).

8. Stay AWAY from simple carbohydrates (e.g. cookies, cakes, white pasta/bread). While they may taste good on first bite, they will NOT give you energy for the long haul.

9. TALK to your spouse/mom/dad/friend and tell them you are feeling down and need some help.

Have you noticed a trend? ALL my suggestions, apart from talking about your feelings, involve DOING something – eating better, performing light exercise, showering, cutting the coffee.  Why? Because being active will stimulate the production of a variety of endorphins (i.e. feel good chemicals). If you perform the above activities on a regular basis, you will start to experience feel good chemicals all the time. In the long run, they will help to combat (perhaps not solely cure) your low mood and/or your mental illness.

If you have comments, questions or want to share your own strategies please send them my way at liveitactive@gmail.com.

M


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