Archive for September, 2013

100 Miles for charity, why Not?

Friday night I received a text message from my brother saying he signed up for a 100 mile bike ride.  This is no ordinary bike ride.  It’s the Best Buddies ride.  On October 19th, he and 1,000’s of others will embark on a beautiful fall ride through the Washington DC area, all to raise money for a wonderful cause, Best Buddies.

Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant, international organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,700 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Best Buddies programs engage participants in each of the 50 United States, and in 50 countries around the world.

If you would like to donate towards this wonderful cause, check out my brother’s page:

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We Have Come To Be Danced

Wednesdays are always a great day for me.  I have the privilege of getting together every week with a small group of teenage girls who are in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. Together, we have a Yoga of 12 Step Recovery (Y12SR) class.  Y12SR is a concept that brings the ancient philosophy of yoga and the tools of a traditional 12 Step Program together.

I begin the class with a check-in.  How do their bodies feel?  What is their mood?  Are there any emotions they are dealing with in particular.  I take them as they are, and develop the class from there.

Yesterday was a very small group, only three girls and their councilor.  I am finding that the smaller the class, the more benefits they receive.  There are fewer distractions and some feel more comfortable when opening up and sharing their story.

We began the class with breathing.  This is a very important concept in yoga and our everyday lives.  The rhythm of breath is usually the first sign of disconnect.  I encourage them to use their breath as an anchor point.  As we moved toward the asana practice, only two of the four really participated.  This is to be expected once in a while.  I don’t mind if the students don’t participate in the asana practice, as long as, they are not disruptive to the rest of the class.  Yesterday was one of the most peaceful, gentle practices they have taken part in.

At the end of the asana practice, I took them through a guided meditation.  I chose to have them imagine different colors, guiding them from one to the next.  Colors can represent so many things such as energy or emotions.  So when some colors are more vivid than others, that comes as no surprise.

Once the mediation was complete, I set them up for savasana, their favorite part of the whole practice.  They made their way to corpse pose, feeling a little more at peace then when first walking into the room.  I made subtle adjustments and let them be for a long period of time.

Before pulling them out of savasana, I read the following poem:

We Have Come To Be Danced– Jewel Mathieson

We have come to be danced

Not the pretty dance

Not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance

But the claw our way back into the belly

Of the sacred, sensual animal dance

The unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance

The holding the precious moment in the palms

Of our hands and feet dance.

We have come to be danced

Not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance

But the wring the sadness from our skin dance

The blow the chip off our shoulder dance.

The slap the apology from our posture dance.

We have come to be danced

Not the monkey see, monkey do dance

One two dance like you

One two three, dance like me dance

but the grave robber, tomb stalker

Tearing scabs and scars open dance

The rub the rhythm raw against our soul dance.

We have come to be danced

Not the nice, invisible, self-conscious shuffle

But the matted hair flying, voodoo mama

Shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance

The strip us from our casings, return our wings

Sharpen our claws and tongues dance

The shed dead cells and slip into

The luminous skin of love dance.

We have come to be danced

Not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance

But the meeting of the trinity, the body breath and beat dance

The shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance

The mother may I?

Yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance

The olly olly oxen free free free dance

The everyone can come to our heaven dance.

We have come to be danced

Where the kingdom’s collide

In the cathedral of flesh

To burn back into the light

To unravel, to play, to fly, to pray

To root in skin sanctuary

We have come to be danced


I once again checked in to see how they were feeling.  And I got the most heart-felt, amazing responses from one of the girls-

“I came in here feeling all tense and stressed out.  Once I figured out my breathing, things started to calm down.  I was able to see all the colors during the meditation and could imagine the colors fading to the next before you led us there.  I felt a chill through the whole body when you massaged my head during savasana.  But then, when you read the poem, I felt like a warm blanket was covering me.  I have never felt that connection to any of this before today.”

It is responses like this, that I continue working with this community.  I am forever grateful for the opportunity to share my passion, knowledge and experience with Boston’s youth in recovery.

be well-


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Earlier this year I saw a video on YouTube talking about the rise of deaths in Asia, in particular, Japan and China.  They were calling it Karōshi,  which can be translated literally from Japanese as “death from overwork.”

Being overworked doesn’t directly kill you. It leads to a series of poor health  decisions, such as irregular diets, chronic stress, lack of exercise, and  exhaustion.  There are multiple ways of reducing stress at work.  Here are a few examples from ACE:

Work Mindfully

Mindfulness is a way of zeroing in on the here and now instead of ruminating over the past, mulling over the future, or doing several things at once. Give your full attention to the task at hand, whether it’s a call, a meeting, or a project. Scrolling through your messages while on a phone conference may feel productive — but in the long run, multitasking will only add to your stress and drain your energy.

Be Nice

Get to know your co-workers by asking about their weekends, inviting their opinions, and eating lunch together. Collegial co-worker relationships make the workplace more pleasant for everyone —and studies even show that a positive outlook is contagious. Offer genuine compliments. Smile frequently — it’ll boost your mood and encourage those around you to lighten up.

Communicate Well

Miscommunication is the root of many workplace conflicts. Clarify details and expectations for every job task. Check for understanding if you’re the one dishing out assignments.

Annoying co-workers are best dealt with immediately and directly — or the behavior may get worse.  If your co-worker distracts you with loud, lengthy personal calls, talk with her privately instead of just getting frustrated. If it continues, speak with your manager.

Practice Smart Self-Care

Regular exercise and good nutrition — along with time for fun and relaxation —boosts your ability to cope with stress. And when you’re well-rested, stressors are more manageable. Consider taking a walk at break time, or meeting a friend for lunch. Learn relaxation breathing and stretching exercises to do at your desk. Choose high-energy, nutritious foods for meals and snacks. Cultivate a healthy sense of humor; look for the laughable moments in everyday life at work.

Get Help

If your best efforts don’t reduce your stress and talking with your manager doesn’t help, seek advice from your human resources department or employee relations representative. Some employers offer employee assistance programs (EAP) that provide confidential, 24/7 phone consultation with professional counselors for personal matters and workplace issues. If your employer offers this benefit, don’t hesitate to use it.

Make a Change

Life is too short to spend it in a toxic workplace — and living with chronic stress isn’t a long-term solution. No job is stress-free, but if your current job isn’t a good match for your interests, talents, and goals, create a plan to move on. Paint a realistic picture of your dream job by talking with others in your desired line of work before you make the leap.

Reducing the level of stress will lead to better overall health.  I strongly encourage you to find ways in creating a healthier, more well-balanced lifestyle if you feel that work is taking over your life.

be well-


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If the shoe fits…

As a child I remember going into our local shoe store and buying shoes for whatever sport was in season.  When I got to be fourteen years old I began working at the store.  

The store carried everything from Nike to Reebok to SAS to Red Wing boots to Teva.  Over 180 major brands were represented.  I started out as a stocker in the back, putting shoes away that customers no longer needed.  When large shipment orders arrived, we took inventory and put away.  Soon I became a runner.  This meant I would help gather shoes for one of the retailers so they could help with multiple customers at a time.  I watched how the interacted with customers of all personality types, how they fit shoes and how they closed the sale.  Toward my late teens I had become a retailer.  This was my first real exposure to if the shoe fits….

Sizing customers for a proper shoe fitting can vary.  Some never deviate from what they have worn in the past.  Kids often fib about the fit so they can get what they want.  Others don’t mind when you ask if they can be measured.


Having proper fitting shoes can be all the difference if how you feel at the end of the night.  Here are a few tips to a good shoe fitting:The size of your feet changes as you grow older so always have your feet measured before buying shoes. The best time to measure your feet is at the end of the day when your feet are largest.

  1. The size of your feet changes as you grow older so always have your feet measured before buying shoes. The best time to measure your feet is at the end of the day when your feet are largest.
  2. Most of us have one foot that is larger than the other, so fit your shoe to your larger foot.
  3. Don’t select shoes by the size marked inside the shoe but by how the shoe fits your foot.
  4. Select a shoe that is shaped like your foot.
  5. During the fitting process, make sure there is enough space (3/8″ to 1/2″) for your longest toe at the end of each shoe when you are standing up.
  6. Make sure the ball of your foot fits comfortably into the widest part of the shoe.
  7. Don’t buy shoes that feel too tight and expect them to stretch to fit.
  8. Your heel should fit comfortably in the shoe with a minimum amount of slipping – the shoes should not ride up and down on your heel when you walk.
  9. Walk in the shoes to make sure they fit and feel right. Then take them home and spend some time walking on carpet to make sure the fit is a good one.
  10. The upper part of the shoes should be made of a soft, flexible material to match the shape of your foot. Shoes made of leather can reduce the possibility of skin irritations. Soles should provide solid footing and not be slippery. Thick soles cushion your feet when walking on hard surfaces. Low-heeled shoes are more comfortable, safer, and less damaging than high-heeled shoes.

Do yourself a favor and take care of your feet.

be well-

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Hey Buddy, are you okay?

While many of my friends and family have been posting pictures of their little ones for the first day of school, I myself, was sitting in a classroom for seven hours on Monday.  Every few years I need to recertify for CPR/AED/First Aid. If you’ve never taken one of these classes, I STRONGLY encourage you to do so.

Working in a health club increases my chances of seeing a member falling victim to something such cardiac arrest.  Through proper execution, I have been part of saving a man’s life.  While he was playing squash, it was evident he was experiencing a heart attack.  Our team played a vital role to keep blood and oxygen flowing through his body until paramedics arrived.  No matter what role one plays, whether it is hands on CPR, crowd control or directing personnel to the victim, all are equally important.

Fact– 70 percent of Americans feel helpless during a cardiac emergency because they do not know CPR.  This is alarming because nearly 80 percent of cardiac arrests happen at home.

Fact– Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack.

o Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating.
o A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked. A heart attack may cause cardiac arrest.

Fact– Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.

There are millions of people who have a vague idea of what CPR is.  CPR is something everyone can and should learn.  Protocols have changed over the last few years to allow more people to feel confident with performing CPR when needed.  There is such thing as a Hands-Only® CPR.  Check out the video: 

The American Heart Association trains more than 12 million people in CPR annually, to equip Americans with the skills they need to perform bystander CPR.  I strongly encourage you to attend a CPR class.  It might save a loved one’s life.

be well-

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“You are an IronMan!”  This announcement is made as one crosses the finish line after completing 140.6 miles of an all day event of swimming, biking and running.

Last year about this time I was rooting for a dear friend as he was a guide to a visually impaired triathlete for IronMan Wisconsin.  Today my brother, who is volunteering, will be waiting for that same friend to finish as he crosses the line once again.

Triathlons, just like people come in all shapes and sizes.  This is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.  They are typically classified as sprints, olympic distances, half-IronMan or IronMan.

Sprint Distance; 750 meter (.465 mi) swim, 20 kilometer (12.5 mi) bike, 5 kilometer (3.1 mi) run- distances may vary slightly

Olympic Distance; 1.5 kilometer (.93 mi) swim, 40 kilometer (25 mi) bike, 10 kilometer (6.2 mi) run- distances may vary slightly

70.3 or the ‘half-Ironman‘; 1.9 kilometer (1.2 mi) swim, 90 kilometer (56 mi) bike, and a 21.1 kilometer (13.1 mi) run

140.6 or the ‘Ironman’; 3.8 kilometer (2.4 mi) swim, 180.2 kilometer (112 mi) bike, and a full marathon: 42.2 kilometer (26.2 mi) run

Sprints are a great way to test out the sport.  Whether an adult or child, this offers the opportunity to be active, maybe get back into shape, or a motivation to learn how to swim or ride a bike.  Olympic distances are nice because they offer a little longer race, can be a little more competitive.  The 70.3 and 1406. are much more intense and having a well established training plan is key.

While I have only competed in the sprints, olympic distance and 70.3, my hope for 2015 is to complete IMWI.

Below are some pics of friends where I draw much of my inspiration.  There are many others I draw upon, unfortunately I don’t have their pics.

A. Figueroat IronMan Canada 2013

D. Austin qualifying for Kona at IronMan COEUR D’ALENE 2013

K. Griego with Rod at IronMan Wisconsin 2012

It takes a village.  Triathletes rely on their IronMates to help them through the race.  Support, whether it is holding a sign, yelling one’s name or sending good vibes from across the country helps an athlete push through.

There are many who think “Why would anyone want to swim, bike and run for 15 hours?”  Think about this:

“People who think that an IRONMAN is unattainable – I tell them that it is possible. I can take anyone – a person that does not have an athletic bone in their body and make them into a triathlete if they’re willing to put in the time. I’m the perfect example. I am not a great athlete, just a hard worker.” – John Duke, IRONMAN Legend

be well-

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There is a difference

This is a time of year when athletes and spectators are running high off of endorphins.  Crossing the finish line for marathons, IronMans, Tough Mudders, and countless other events.  For many of us, this seems like something beyond our ability.

As a professional, I understand that very few of my clients will ever want to enter an event like these.  But that does not hold me back from pushing them beyond their comfort zone.  I must be very clear, there is a difference between pushing someone beyond their comfort zone and pushing them beyond their ability.

Pushing one beyond their comfort zone may include:

  • just getting them to sweat
  • elevating their heart rate for a quick period of time
  • using body movements such as crawling rather than machines
  • lifting significantly heavier weights for fewer reps, while keeping proper form
  • getting in touch with their emotions

Pushing one beyond their ability may include:

  • working a deconditioned client to the point of nausea
  • avoiding proper breaks to recover heart rate or grab some water
  • ignoring the aches and pains or in some cases, trying to “heal” a client when it is beyond a trainer’s scope of practice
  • trying to do too much too fast, in both reps and weight
  • using toys such as boxes, ropes, TRX, kb’s, agility ladders, hurdles, BOSU balls without proper instruction or assistance

Working with personal trainers has become an increasingly popular way of getting fit, training for a race/event or working on general wellness.  It is crucial that you communicate with your trainer about specific goals, injuries from your past that you may not think are relevant, current injuries you are dealing with, and any health concern that could raise a red flag.  Creating an awareness of your own fitness level is also important.  Understanding the fine line between have you pushed yourself far enough or have you pushed too far.

With today being the beginning of a new month, a new goal I am setting for myself…come off the plateau of comfort and play along that fine line.  Results are sure to happen.

be well-



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