Archive for November, 2012

Rock the RED

I grew up about five miles outside of our town village.   Our “next door” neighbor was actually a half mile away.  So neighborhood gatherings consisted of those within a one mile radius of our home.  When I was around nine years old a very nice gentleman moved in next door.  His name was Norm and my siblings and I loved that he put up a tee-pee in his yard.  Our family welcomed him with open arms.  One night I remember mom and dad going to his house, he had asked a few of the neighbors to come by for a party in the tee-pee.  Unfortunately this was an adult only gathering.  Later that night when my parents got home I saw mom was upset but did not understand why.  It wasn’t long after that gathering I was sitting down on my mother’s lap and she told me that Norm was sick.  She told me he had AIDS but I didn’t really understand what that meant.

As a kid growing up in the 80’s there was a lot of talk about a newly discovered disease that brought “fear” to our nation.  Because there was so little information about AIDS itself, fear was a natural feeling or emotion to have.  Contrary to popular belief around our nation, my parents made sure we understood that nothing would happen to us when we spoke with Norm or gave him a hug, that we couldn’t catch what he had.  Norm was deteriorating so quickly that mom and dad no longer let us visit him.  They wanted us to remember him as the healthy, fun-loving guy.  The last several weeks of his life my mother became his main caretaker.  If she could spend all day with him and not get sick, then I knew there was nothing to fear from AIDS.  This personal experience at such a young age helped me develop an understanding of what it means to help someone in need that we don’t have to fear AIDS.

There has been a steady decrease in AIDS cases being reported which means educating our youth and at risk populations is working.  The CDC released a Vital Signs report about HIV Among Youth.  The full report can be seen here:

Tomorrow, December 1st, is considered World AIDS Day.  If you support the research and education for AIDS, then rock the red.

“While the finish line is not yet in sight, we know we can get there, because now we know the route we need to take.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
(watch videoExternal Web Site Icon)

be well-


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Get knocked down 7 times, GET Up 8

An old saying is that “things come in threes”.  Well, after this weekend, I think it was meant for me to write this particular post.  Each story I encountered one way or another had to do with mind over matter or survival between life or death.

This got me thinking about how much the body and mind can really endure during times of crisis.  All too often our mind gives up well before the body.  But if we can learn to push both beyond our normal limits once in a while, when it is time to get back up, it could be easier than we realize.

The first story is about finding that one person that will NOT give up on you.  When you think there might be no hope, there is a helping hand to help you defy all odds.  Watch for yourself:

The next story I heard on NPR’s The Moth called Shipwrecked.  It is about a newly sober young man who has become shipwrecked with a small group of people aboard a sailboat.  He determines he will be the one to go find help.  Listen to him describe his story here:

Last, a client told me about a documentary he watched called Touching the Void.  It was based on a book about two British friends that decided to be the first to climb a particular mountain in Peru that had never been done before.  I watched it last night and was captured throughout the whole movie.  See a trailer to the documentary here:

There are moments in our life where we feel like staying down.  Get back up! 

be well-



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A few of the Many things I am Grateful for…

A wonderful and supportive family

My partner that accepts all my flaws and strengthens me every day

Friends that don’t judge

Freedom of choice

The ability to help inspire others everyday at work

Our three “crazy in their own way” dogs

My love of books and art

To live in a city so close to both the mountains and the ocean

Having small town roots which are deeply embedded

For the kids I work with every week

Clothes on my back, a roof over head and food on the table

Mentors and coaches who have helped me grow personally and professionally

The opportunity to serve others

A wood burning stove to help keep me warm

Granny’s Gang

All the extended Heims’

Fresh cut flowers

Change of seasons

Yoga Sutras

Belief in something greater than myself

Hiking and biking

Our military and all those who have sacrificed

Having grown up in a small town

Being true to myself

Facebook which has reconnected me with  friends from long ago

Dr. Michael McKenna

My ability to read, write, see and hear

For all those who have walked into my life, for you have helped shaped me into the person I am today.

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Fit for the Job

We all have our reasoning for wanting to be fit and healthy.  Often times I work with clients that want to be fit for the job.

In addition to all the great benefits of strength training, cardiovascular health, flexibility and more, staying fit and healthy is essential for my career.  First impressions are huge.  If a new client came to me and I were 30 pounds overweight, described my nutritional habits as being very poor and could not lead by example, chances are, I will be unsuccessful in gaining them as a regular client.  I think it is extremely important for me to lead by example.  That way I can share what I have learned what works for me.  Having the ability to explain how a certain piece of equipment functions or describe what muscles are working helps them to understand the purpose or movement of an exercise.  Overall, being fit and healthy helps me grow in my both my personal and professional journey.

I reached out to several friends with varying career choices such as acupuncture, occupational therapy, fireman, and more to find out why they stay fit and how it pertains to their career.  Here are some of their answers:

I use kettlebells and body-weight exercises to do a very fast HIIT type workout at home. I feel this keeps me strong and fit to have energy to see a long day of acupuncture clients.  Alternatively I practice yin yoga to deeply relax, unwind and unload after a day of working with clients…


Here is an example of what I call the functional fitness training that I do for my job.  I do this along with regular strength training so it’s not a daily routine but once a week.  My typical strength routine is the bigger faster stronger work out mixed in with medium distance runs.

-1000 revolutions of jumping rope (warm up)

3-5 rounds of

-Walking lunges with a hose bundle on my shoulders down then back I hold the hose above my head with my arms extended and repeat the lunge

-10 axe swings against an oak log with each hand (left and right) paying attention to striking accuracy(simulates forcible entry and chopping vent holes in roofs)

-shoulder thrust a combine rim (throw as far as I can) 25yds down and back (simulates the motion of breaching ceiling)

-drag semi tires with improvised webbing sling both standing and crawling (simulate rescue a victim) 25yds to where I park my truck

-43” box jumps X10

-drag semi tires back

-run to where my lunges start and in between stations

Sometimes on off days I jump rope wearing my scba and face mask while on air to simulate working with my air pack on in a high intensity environment.  This helps me gauge how long my air bottle will last when I’m at 100% working capacity and helps me work on air conservation.  Our bottles only last about 25 min.  Depending on how close I am to running a race dictates my mileage that I run.

 A lot of what we do is a combination of anaerobic intensity and long duration working on scenes.   You may have a short period of working so hard that you feel like puking, but then it will back off a little and last for hours.  I have yet to go to a fire that’s done in 25 min, some guys like Crossfit but the cardio portion of that work out is not enough.  It shows, the Crossfit guys are commonly found lying on the front lawn while others finish putting the fire out.

( A special Thank You to my cousin Jason for this entry, we need more people like him in this world.)


My job as a therapist means I teach/educate people how to get the most out of their bodies in a healthy manner.  If I don’t stay healthy, why should my patients take my word for it.  I need to practice what I preach.  As a wife, mother, friend, employee, etc, I am always around people.  Exercise is my “me time”.  It helps me find my balance.  I can recharge and be fresh for everyone else that needs me.  I’m very grumpy if I don’t get my exercise/me time.   I exercise by:
1.  Running 3 days a week (typically only on my days off due to time constraints)
2.  I play volleyball 1x/week.
3.  I walk Yoshi around the block
4.  I do some P90X, yoga, strength training exercise programs I find on Pinterest.
5.  I do some standing hip abductions while I brush my teeth
6.  Sitting up w/ good posture while I am stretching my patients out
Benefits that effect job performance:  I work in a busy clinic so I must have endurance to make it through a 10 hour work day.


I choose to stay fit not only because it’s my job, but because it makes me feel fierce… mentally and physically. I enjoy knowing I probably won’t throw out my back when I lean forward to brush my teeth. I feel free- independent- knowing that I can bolt up 4 flights of stairs in the parking garage instead of waiting for the elevator with a herd of hopeless, disgruntled people. Last but not least, exercise keeps my mind alert and my mood positive. Exerting myself physically calms me and allows me to reestablish presence, to release anxiety and to experience the Now acutely… with all of my senses. Balance.  How:  Latin African dance. Pilates. Pure strength exercises.  Benefits:  Nobody can keep up with me: I’m the fastest to pick up papers off the floor (as opposed to being tetanized into a hunched position from excessive computer use and lack of exercise). And I’m often the first to greet people and feel capable of solving problems for clients because I’m happy, alert and full of energy. 


I have always been active however my goal is to stay in shape to avoid a knee replacement.  However if this does happen I will be in great shape for a faster recovery.


I feel better about myself and that has residual effects as far down as I can think.  I show my family that boundaries only exist between your ears and finishing is always the goal.   How do I do this:  I sign up for races.  There may be one big end goal race (Ironman) but in between I’m racing as much as I can because I feel that races are the reward.  Races are what make the training worth it.  Also, I volunteer to guide visually impaired/blind athletes; I’ve found it easier to train for them than it is to train for myself.  I may skip a training run for me, but if someone is depending on me, I’m not skipping anything!  How does it affect my non FIT job:  I work at my job so I can live FIT.  Without my job I wouldn’t be able to support my FIT habit

No matter what your career path is, being fit and healthy will allow you to be productive.  Having strength and endurance, better posture, or improved balance at the physical and mental level are all reasons to help you stay fit for you job.  I encourage you to think about how being fit for the job can and will make you more productive.

be well-

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Exercise vs Diet


This morning I went to brunch with a few friends and naturally part of our conversation revolved around food and exercise.  As all three of us are in the fitness industry, we see how clients progress or regress to/from their goals.  I feel like the number one culprit for struggle to losing weight is diet.  No matter how many hours you spend at the gym or outside walking your dog, if you consistently have poor nutritional habits, losing weight is going to be a struggle.

An average boot camp class may burn 400-500 calories.  A typical personal training session may burn 300-500 calories.  It takes an effort to burn these calories.  Then take a look at a meal such as brunch.  Mine this morning was french toast with fruit, two sausages and a glass of orange juice.  That meal alone was just over 500 calories.

So if I were to look at calories in vs. calories out, I would need to workout for a minimum of one hour at a high intensity just to balance out that ONE meal.

Imagine the following chart:


Above is showing three full meals equating to almost 3,000 calories.  Add that with zero exercise for the day.  That means I am regressing toward my goals. This chart suggests I eat 1,590 calories per day in order to reach my goal in five weeks.  According to this chart I have almost doubled what is suggested.

Nutritional habits (I prefer this term over diet) such as the above chart are far too common.  Poor nutritional habits and lack of exercise  make it that more difficult to reach the finish line.  I encourage you to think about your nutritional habits vs quality exercise habits.  If you need a little help for tracking calories in and out, My Fitness Pal is a great resource.  They have both a website and mobile app.  By keeping track of nutrition and exercise, you can see where more time, energy and emphasis may need to be placed.

be well-

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Breaking through Barriers

Last week I made a change in my typical everyday diet.  Instead of the three main meals and a few snacks which usually amounts to 2000 calories per day, I opted for a juice/smoothie meal for breakfast and lunch and a salad for dinner.  I did this for a couple of reasons.  One, to make a simple change in my diet would shock the system.  Make my body react differently, and hopefully shed a few pounds.  Another reason was just to see if I could mentally push through by eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar.  While I may not run to this way of life on a regular basis, it was wonderful to know I was able to make the through the week with some resistance both physically and mentally.  Mission accomplished.

About a year ago I started working with a new client.  At the time he was struggling with a nagging shoulder problem.  It was difficult to bench press 95 pounds pain-free.  Over the next ten months he has gained strength and better range of motion.  Yesterday he was pushing 225 pounds on the bench press for three reps.  When I asked what gave out, his chest or triceps, his response was “my mind.”  He took a few moments to gather himself and rocked out three more reps with no problem.  From there, another plate on each side, making it a total of 315.  One rep, mission accomplished.

Mental blocks hinder us from making progress.  Often blocks are based in fear.  Fear of failure, getting hurt, what others may think, etc.  The more we focus on negative thoughts or feelings, the harder it is to break through the barrier.  Try letting go of:

  • guilty thoughts
  • negative self talk
  • excuses
  • need to always be right
  • resistance to change

Use these as stepping-stones in the other direction to propel you forward to a happier, healthier and less stressful life.

be well-






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