Weight Loss Success Story – Kathy Perham!

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Boot Camp Success Story:  Kathy Perham
Kathy has lost 19 pounds, doing it all the healthy way!
 
Kathy and I became friends over the last few years, and because she felt I was very upbeat and motivating, she joined my garage for Boot Camp in January.   She started coming to my classes twice a week and exercising at home on her own, too.  She now brings some of my boot camp workouts along with her on vacation and has her husband George do them with her!  He himself has lost 22 pounds, thanks to Kathy’s inspiration.
 
Along with exercise, Kathy really dialed in her nutrition.  She and her husband had gained weight, and she was getting concerned about their health.  She joined us for a 5-week group nutrition challenge and motivated her husband to join as well.  Now they are both very conscious about what they eat.  She says she feels better when she eats well.  She has more energy now, and her acid reflux has gone away.  Best of all, George’s doctor said his blood work had improved dramatically since his last visit!
 
 “I feel healthy and look healthy.  I want to keep going; I’m not getting any younger,” says Kathy.  Her advice is, “Start taking better care of yourself now before it’s too late!”
 
Kathy did a lot of things right:  she addressed both diet and exercise at the same time, and got a buddy to do it with her!  And she doesn’t go overboard – she treats herself every once in a while, and thoroughly enjoys it!
 
Way to go, Kathy and George!  Enjoy shopping for all those new clothes in smaller sizes!
PS:  If you would like to join us for Boot Camp or for our next nutrition challenge on September 12th, send me an email today!
xo,
Ginny  
Ginny@yourmovefitness.com

 

5 Unintentional Habits That Could Derail Your Healthy Eating

 

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If someone were to ask me what I do to stay healthy, I’d tell them the surface-level things.  I’d say that I exercise a lot and try to eat whole foods whenever possible, and I make conscious efforts to de-stress my life.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are a lot of things that I’ve learned to do over time that make everything else fall into place a lot easier.

These are a few of the mistakes I used to make that have made a BIG difference since I changed them.

  1. Not getting enough sleep.   If you’re tired, you’re stressed.  And when you’re stressed, you crave carbohydrates.  It’s that simple.  At Weight Watchers, they wrote it out this way:  “Stressed spelled backwards is D-E-S-S-E-R-T-S.”  When you’re tired, you’ll also tend to make poor food decisions, and then be too tired to make a healthy dinner, or maybe too exhausted to exercise.  I recently read about establishing an “Amish hour” before bed, where you turn off all electronics and unplug your mind a little!  Love that idea!  Here’s a link from “Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple”  with tips for getting a better night’s sleep tonight:  http://bit.ly/1jzoaQ5
  2. Over-exercising!  In a cruel twist of fate, over-exercising backfires.  The old mantra of “eat less and move more” is a fallacy that’s worthy of a whole blog in itself.  HOW you move matters.  The body perceives high-intensity exercise as a stressor.  While some stress is good, too much isn’t.  Excessive high-intensity exercise will cause carb cravings, and in the end, you’ll be eating all your profits!  Also, make sure your exercise is fun!  If you’re doing it for pleasure instead of punishment, you’ll be less tempted to use it as an excuse to overeat.  (Been there, done that!)
  3. Not being ready when the sweet tooth hits.  My friends calls her son’s after-dinner snacking  “late night foraging.”  My kids call it “second dinner.”  Whatever you call it, be prepared!  Having healthy, fresh snacks at eye level in the refrigerator will make it more likely to be eaten.  Studies show that you’re more likely to eat food that is visible to you (obvious, right?).  Cut-up fresh fruit works well in these impulsive eating situations.  Hummus with sugar snap peas and carrots are good for mindless munching, too.  I know that when I run out of those snacks in the house, batten down the hatches!
  4. Not drinking enough water.  This is SO easy to do; but it’s also easy NOT to do!  According to Paul Chek, internationally known health and kinesiology expert, the ideal amount of water to drink per day is 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water per day.  “Water is important since dehydration can cause a drop in blood pressure and blood sugar levels,” leading to … you guessed it …. sugar cravings!  Water helps your organs and even your cells function correctly and makes your stomach feel more full.
  5. Not grocery shopping often enough.  If you can get away with going to the grocery store once a week, you might be undermining your healthy eating efforts.  Why?  Because healthy food rots.  If you can go a whole week without grocery shopping, you might be eating too many processed foods that are full of preservatives.  (Exception:  Frozen whole food is the next best thing.)

    See you at the grocery store!

Are You Wasting Your Time At the Gym?

Is Cardio Making You Fat

You think you’re doing everything the doctor ordered.  Three times per week, you step on the treadmill and watch as the “calories burned” number racks up on the monitor, and then you step off 30 minutes later, having burned your desired number of calories, and having gotten in your prescribed amount of cardio.  And you even watched your favorite show on TV.

But lately you notice you’re not getting anywhere.  You seem to be staying at the same weight and your clothes aren’t getting any looser.  If someone asked you, you’d tell them that you go to the gym to be healthy.  But underneath it all, you really did expect to lose some weight, right?  I get it.  Been there, done that.

Here’s what’s going on:  With long bouts of low-intensity cardio (steady-state aerobics), your body adapts over time.  So if you just consistently log in for 30 minutes, the treadmill screen will tell you that you burned the same number of calories, but in reality, you’re not!  In a cruel twist of biology, your body adapts by getting more efficient at that exercise.  Furthermore, as soon as you step off the machine, your metabolism immediately returns to its pre-exercise rate.  (If you think you can outsmart your body by spending even more time on the treadmill, think again – over time you will find yourself hungrier and craving carbs like crazy!)

If the goal is fat loss, using cardio machines is not the most effective way to do it.  In fact, according to Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove, owners of Results Fitness in California (one of the most successful gyms in the country), steady-state cardio is the fifth-best choice for effective exercise for fat loss!

Here’s the best way to manage your time at the gym if you want to burn fat:

  1. If you have 3 hours per week spend at the gym, spend it doing resistance training.  Grab some heavy weights and start lifting!  Body sculpting doesn’t count.  If you can do more than 20 reps, you’re just doing aerobics, so go back and grab some bigger weights!  This will boost your calorie burn 24/7.
  2. If you have time 3-5 hours per week to spend at the gym, do weight training and add in some high-intensity anaerobic interval training.  (Example:  hill sprints!)  I’m talking MAX effort!  You’ll probably need a trainer to “encourage” you through these!  Now you’ll be boosting calorie burn 24/7 and raising your post-exercise metabolism.
  3. If you have 5-6 hours per week for the gym, add in some high-intensity aerobic intervals. (Example:  jog/run intervals.)  It’s still a higher intensity overall than steady-state aerobics.
  4. If you have 6-8 hours per week for the gym, and you’re still not losing fat, then you’d better take a very close look at your diet.  At this point, add a long bike ride or run at 75% of your maximum heart rate.  Why not do this all the time?  It will take away from other higher-priority fat-burning activities.
  5. If you have even more time, now add in your slow, steady cardio.  Go for long, fast walks or slow jogs.  This type of exercise is fifth on the list as far as effectiveness on fat loss, according to the Cosgrove coaches!

The Takeaway:  Overall, weight lifting is the best exercise for fat loss.  And if you’re going to be on a treadmill, make sure you get in bouts of high intensity.

Photo credit:  www.wewomen.com

How To Stop Those Sugar Cravings!


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Do you ever crave sugar, even when you’ve just finished eating?

Do you start foraging the cabinets for just a little something to satisfy a sweet craving, especially after dinner?  Then before you even realize it, you’ve added another 200-400 calories of crap to an otherwise healthy day?  If this happens to you, you are not alone!  And it could be causing you a lot of undesired weight gain and unhealthy side-effects.  In case you didn’t know, this is the exact method that Sumo wrestlers use to put on weight; they eat a lot of empty calories and then go to bed.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The 10-Day Detox Diet,” it’s not a matter of having poor self-discipline.  “What happens is that your hormones are out of balance.”   There are a number of hormones that regulate your appetite including insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and peptide YY.  If you can learn to regulate those hormones, then your appetite and cravings for sweets will diminish.  These four hormone levels are all disturbed by eating sugar, flour, and processed foods.  Another important hormone is cortisone, which is your stress hormone.  When you’re stressed, your level of cortisol increases, which raises your blood sugar level and your appetite (for sugar in particular).

So what can you do to regulate those hormones and stop those post-meal sweet cravings, and end the night-time binges on desserts and snacks?  Dr. Hyman suggests the following:

1.  Have protein for breakfast.  I usually eat eggs, but if you’re not a fan of eggs, try a protein shake.  You can put the following in a blender, and it will satisfy you for hours:  a tablespoon of hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almond butter, and coconut butter.  Then add some frozen cranberries and blueberries, topped with a little almond or hemp milk (unsweetened).  Blend until smooth.  If you’re not usually hungry for breakfast, I suspect that it’s because you ate a lot after dinner last night.  It’s all tied together.

2.  Don’t drink your calories.  Avoid any sweetened drinks like soda, iced tea, sports drinks, juices, lattes, or what I call “crappucinos.”  Many people don’t think of these drinks as sugar-laden, but they are, and they spike your blood sugar levels and increase your appetite.  Try to avoid adding artificial sugars to everything – even Stevia.  You want to stop whetting your appetite for the flavor of sugar all the time.

3.  Eat at regular times.  Have your breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner at regular intervals.  This will help keep your appetite and blood sugar levels regulated, and keep your body in a good biological rhythm.

4.  Eat a combination of protein and healthy fat every time you eat.   Have some combination of nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, or olive oil, together with chicken, fish, or  grass-fed beef every time you eat.  Add lots of green leafy vegetables.  This will go a long way towards regulating your appetite and blood sugar levels.

5.  Manage your stress levels.  Have you ever heard that “Stressed spelled backwards is desserts?”  It’s true!  When you’re anxious or stressed, your appetite increases, and you will crave sweet food.  Try yoga, meditation, or exercise to help you balance your hormones again and reset your brain chemistry.

6.  GO TO BED!   Get a good night’s rest.  If you don’t get adequate, high-quality sleep, your hormones will be out of whack. The hormone that signals hunger (ghrelin) will increase, and the hormone that signals you to feel full (PYY) goes down.  So you will be hungry AND crave all the wrong things:  carbs and sugar.   The whole spectrum of health professionals recommend this consistently, but most people either don’t prioritize it, or vastly underestimate how much it affects their weight and health.

7.  Address your food allergies.  Most people don’t realize that a common sign of an allergy is that you crave the very food that you’re allergic or sensitive to.  And the two most common food sensitivities are dairy and gluten.   Try eliminating those two foods (dairy, flour and sugar) from your diet for a few weeks and see if your cravings stop.

8.  Supplements.  Fish oil, omega 3, and vitamin D3 tablets all help to regulate hormones and balance insulin levels.  Dr. Hyman also recommends what he refers to as a “Super Fiber” supplement called PGX.  If taken 10-15 minutes before meals and again after dinner, PGX will help to cut cravings, make you feel satisfied, and slow down insulin spiking.  NOTE:  You might be tempted to immediately order PGX on Amazon.com and then skip the rest of Dr. Hyman’s suggestions.  However, you can’t just supplement your way out of unhealthy eating habits.  To get off on to a running start, sure, this might be one way to get going.  But you need to COMMIT TO YOURSELF to a healthier way of eating, not just buy your way out of it or fix it with a pill.  (Takes one to know one – I myself felt like ordering a case of PGX when I heard his video).

As always, I suggest that you adopt ONE of these habits at a time, and then let me know how your night-time or after-dinner cravings go!  Good luck!

 

 

Photo from FitDay.com

Is Your Exercise Stressing You Out?

insanity

 Maybe there’s a reason it’s called “Insanity!”

One of my favorite things is taking a group cardio class, and catching everyone in the mirror in perfect synch with the music.  I love that!  I get a rush when there’s a great bass line thumping away, pumping everyone up.  I still get a rush out of high-intensity cardio like kickboxing.   I love a good cardio workout.  I’m one of those chicks who whoops and hollers when it all gets flowing.

However, rather than relieving stress levels, as most people think, those types of high-intensity workouts might be increasing your stress levels.

According to Holistic Health Practitioner Paul Chek, the body perceives high-intensity aerobic exercise as a stressor.  To a certain extent, that’s a very good thing.  That’s how you get stronger.  But if that’s the only kind of exercise you get, then you’re actually putting your body into a chronic state of stress, activating the sympathetic nervous system, or the fight-or-flight response.  That, in turn, increases the body’s cravings for starchy carbohydrates, sugar in particular!  Furthermore, that exercise could be slowing down your metabolism because of all the increased stress.   (It’s a cruel world, isn’t it?)

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What can you do?

Chek says that we need to balance our work OUTs with work INs! 

Working IN would be something like deep breathing, massage, yoga, Pilates, or his favorite, Tai Chi.   Those types of exercise help the body slow down, relax, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.  That speeds up metabolism.  (For example, did you ever hear your stomach growl when you’re getting a massage, but you know you just ate?  That’s why.)  You’re finally calm enough for your body to start digesting normally again.

So be sure to mix up your exercise.  If you like to spin until the wheels burn off the bike, try out yoga and see what happens.  If you’re the type of person who says,”Yoga would drive me CRAZY,” then you’d benefit the most.  Really.

So try out a work IN this week, and let me know what happens!  You might like it!  Mikey did!

Are You Making These Common Mistakes At the Gym?

Let me preface this post with the fact that I have made ALL of these mistakes at some time!  And at least if you’re at the gym, you’re trying!  

But here are the top ones I see:

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Mistake #1: You hold the railings of the treadmill.

A lot of people hold the railings, perhaps because they’re afraid of falling.  But when you’re at the gym, that’s where you want to train for real life.  And in real life, your arms would be swinging while you walk.  Let go!  Be free!  It will train your balance better, be a more aerobic workout, help prevent rounded shoulders and even make you burn more calories!

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Mistake #2:  You only use the cardio equipment!

Cardio equipment has its place, but if your goal is to lose weight, you want to hit the weights, too.  Did you know that your body returns to its pre-workout calorie-burning level as soon as you leave the gym if you’re just doing long cardio sessions?  But if you want to burn even more calories for 24- 48 hours after your workout (known as “EPOC,” or excess post-oxygen consumption), you’ll want to lift weights and do some high-intensity intervals.  So if you’re using the treadmill, check out some of those interval programs.

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Mistake #3:  You saw someone do an exercise and, without instruction, 

you try it on your own.  

I love to get new exercises ideas at the gym, but more often than not, I see a lot of what NOT to do! One of the most dangerous gym crimes I see is bad kettlebell swings.  Kettlebells aren’t really that different from weights, but when you start swinging around all that iron, you’d better know what you’re doing.  Check out this link for an excellent kettlebell swing lesson: https://www.girlsgonestrong.com/exercise-spotlight-kettlebell-swing/

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Mistake #4:  You use the equipment incorrectly.

There’s a reason that most gyms offer a free session with a trainer to orient you to the machines.  Yes, they want you to sign up for personal training sessions (and by all means, sign up!).  But the other reason is so that you don’t get hurt.  Take advantage of the free session.  Most gyms also encourage the trainers to circulate the gym while they’re not with a client so that they’re available for your questions.  So ask away!  That’s why they’re there!

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Mistake #5:  You eat your profits after your workout.  

I will always remember the time I saw someone all sweaty at Starbuck’s, wearing a t-shirt from the new gym in town.  I asked her how she liked the gym, and she said that she loved it.  “The workouts are so hard that I always come here and reward myself with a crappuccino.”  (Okay, I added that last word.)  But seriously, even an intense workout can be canceled out with the calories of just one muffin!  Make the most of your exercise by having a whey protein shake immediately following it!

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Mistake #6:  If you still look pretty after your workout!

Some people read books, talk on the phone, or distract themselves so much that they leave the gym without having worked up a sweat at all.  If you still look cute, you probably didn’t work out hard enough.

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Mistake #7:  Lifting weights that are too light.  

This infraction ties in with Mistake #6.  If you can lift that weight more than 20 times, it’s time to bump it up to a heavier weight.  While you don’t want to overdo it, you do want your workout to be worth your time.  Oh, and don’t worry about bulking up.  It takes months, if not years, for weight lifters to get that bulked-up look.  And they lift the big weights down at the end!

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Mistake #8:  You don’t go to the gym at all!

This gym looks so lonely!  I love to see the gym in January when it’s full of people enthusiastic about exercise! I think the biggest mistake people make is being over-zealous when they first start out.  Just start easy, and keep going.  Never give up.  It’s intimidating at first, but it will get easier over time.  In fact, most of the trainers I know were very overweight or out of shape at some point in their lives, and their efforts to become healthier actually brought them to their present careers.  So if anyone would understand, it’s the other people at the gym.  The door is always open!  Who knows?  Maybe you’re the next trainer-to-be!

10 Ideas To Spring Into Action

I can’t wait to get outside after this looong winter!  The sun is finally shining, I hear the birds again and the snow is slowly melting!  It’s a great time to change up my workout and get outside. So here are my top ten ideas for taking things up a notch for this season:

new sneakers

1.  Get yourself some new kicks!  Sneakers only last about 4-6 months.  If you can’t remember when you bought your sneakers, it’s probably time for new ones! I love the feeling of lacing up some new colorful sneakers and feeling cushiony new socks (I love my Thorlo’s!) under my feet.  It literally puts spring in my step!

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2.  Commit to an upcoming event.  Look around for a local 5K walk or run.  Maybe a Mudderella or Warrior Dash!  Having that deadline will give you a goal to strive towards.  Okay, you don’t have to get as muddy as we were, but you get the idea!

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3.  Get a friend or family member to exercise with you.  Exercising with a buddy makes it more fun, and makes you more likely to stick with it.  Commit to regular early morning walks or weekend tennis matches.

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4. If you’re still listening to December’s music, splurge on a new playlist!  I just created an 80’s playlist that really makes me move!  (I just posted it on my Facebook page if you want to check it out here).

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5. Try outdoor exercise!  If you’ve always wanted to try canoeing or hiking or even yoga on a paddleboard, you can start now and be ready for some real adventure by summer!  (You can tell from the three colliding canoes above that my family always makes these sports violent, as in jousting on canoes.)

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6.  Change up how you’re fueling your workout. Spring is a great time to overhaul your snacks. Try some different seasonal fruits and veggies in your smoothie, like fresh berries, spinach, and arugula.  Watch your juicing, though!  If you wouldn’t eat a banana, an apple and a pint of blueberries in one sitting (that’s a lot of food), why would you drink it?

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7.  Reward yourself!  Find an awesome summer top that you can reward yourself with, and post a picture of it in your kitchen so you’ll be inspired by it throughout the day.  Then buy it for yourself when you accomplish your goal.  For me, it’s absolutely anything from the Boston Proper catalogue!  (Oh, and always get the earrings, too!)

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8.  Get a fun new water bottle!  Let’s face it – drinking water isn’t the most exciting thing, but having a cute water bottle makes it just a little bit easier to stay hydrated!  The more you sweat, the more water you need to drink.  Keep it next to you all day long.

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9.  Take lessons in a new sport!  Tennis or golf lessons are great ways to get outside and meet new people.  And lessons make the sport so much more enjoyable (Sorry, Frank.  I saw this photo, and just had to put it in!)  Bonus:  What’s more fun than shopping for new tennis or golf clothes?

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10.  Plan an family outdoor adventure vacation!  Book the ultimate escapade for you and your family.  Hike one of the national parks, or ride horses at a dude ranch, or climb an island volcano.  I think I just talked myself into it!

Whatever you do, enjoy it!

 

 

“How Do I Get This Spot Right Here?” Can You Spot-Reduce?

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“How do I get this spot right here?”

My clients ask me this question all the time.  Those areas where fat loves to live:  love handles, thighs, abdomen, and triceps.  (Who remembers “Thin Thighs In Thirty Days” and Jane Fonda’s hydrants, hydrants, hydrants!)  We all have trouble spots on our body, spots where the fat just likes to accumulate.  It’s just where any extra weight wants to go.

Can you actually spot-reduce it away?  Can you perform exercises that target that area and reduce the amount of the fat there?  Well, yes.  And no.  (Did you really think you’d get a straight answer from me?)  Here’s the thing:  while you can perform exercises that target the muscles in that area (crunches for the ab fat, side bends for love handles, etc),  there will be very negligible effect on reducing the amount of fat stored in that particular spot.  Numerous studies have proven this over and over again.  But the myth lives on!

However, there’s a more interesting question here:  

Why does the fat in your body gravitate to that area?

Well, now we’re talking!  Internationally renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin, of Canada, has created the Biosignature Modulation Method.  This method is gaining in popularity with healthcare professionals, personal trainers and nutritionists.  Poliquin’s method focuses on achieving specific body fat reduction through hormone balance.  He says that fat accumulates in certain areas because certain hormones are out of whack.

Here’s a quick reference to how his system works:

  • Upper arms and chest – testosterone
  • Love handles and upper back – insulin
  • Upper abs and ribs – thyroid
  • Abdomen – cortisol
  • Bottom and thighs – estrogen
  • Chest and triceps – testosterone

If you’re having problems shifting weight from certain areas, have your body measured with skin-fold calipers by a qualified professional (ahem – me!).  Your trainer can then use that information to address the underlying hormone problems by designing an individualized nutrition plan, supplementation, lifestyle, or exercise schedule to address those areas, and re-test monthly to track changes.  Solutions can range from eating a higher protein diet and fewer carbs, to changing the types of exercise you perform, to eliminating the foods that are stressing your body.

It’s not a concept that everyone buys into, and it is not without its critics.  But there is mounting research that finds that hormones do play a role in deciding where your body stores fat.

“This system will never replace a medically conducted blood and hormone test,” says Joseph Coyne, a sports nutritionist, performance coach, and qualified Biosignature Practitioner.  “But it will give you a good approximation of what your problems might be, and is an excellent starting point for lose weight from a certain area.”

 

Great Way To Chisel Off The Weight – Get “NEAT”

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Those last few stubborn pounds.  How many times have you lost them and put them back on again?  You can’t do much more – you get a lot of exercise, you eat pretty healthy, and you still have to fit in the rest of life, too.  But this tip is a no-brainer!  Chisel off the weight by getting NEAT!

What is NEAT?  NEAT stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis.  It’s the movement you get in all day when you’re NOT at the gym.  It’s the stuff my mother always said to do; park the car at the furthest spot in the parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to your co-workers’ office instead of emailing or calling them.  You can get creative with this; drink lots of water every day and then use the furthest bathroom, dance to music while you make dinner (sure to embarrass your kids)!  And according to research from Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of Arizona, it adds up to a whopping 350 calories per day! Times 7 days a week, times 52 weeks per year:  that’s 36 pounds per year!  You can do that!

Here are some other easy ways to get in those extra steps:

  • Do yard work.
  • Clean the house.
  • When folding laundry, do a squat as you pick up each item.
  • Bring in the groceries one bag at a time.
  • Take the dog for a quick walk to the corner after dinner.
  • Walk to your friends’ house instead of calling.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator.
  • Stand or do lunges in place when you’re on the phone.
  • Get up off the couch every time there’s a commercial.
  • Walk up and down the stairs between TV shows.
  • Do ten squats every time you sit down at the desk or couch.

It all adds up!  Sure, it’s a little quirky, but for 36 pounds a year?  You can do that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Inspiring Workout I’ve Ever Seen

10514684_10152855161295435_4579993386483610974_nI am a gym rat and I’ve seen a lot of amazing athletes there.  I’ve seen one-arm pull-ups, jumps onto a Swiss ball, and dead-lifts that bent the bar.  But the workout that I’m thinking of was a few years ago.  I was feeling sorry for myself because I’d had tennis elbow surgery on my right arm, which rendered my right hand and fingers useless for the time being.  Due to Hurricane Irene, we had lost power for a week after the surgery, so I was doing everything one-handed and lefty.  Try putting on a bra with one hand.  Or cutting anything with a knife.  Or even opening mail.  Woe was me!  It was about the same time that a movie came out about the surfer whose arm had been bitten off by a shark, and previews showed her tucking her surfboard under her good arm, happily running back into the water.  I felt so sorry for myself, but there she was, a story of the triumph of the human spirit.  “Show-off,” I thought.  She was made me look bad, so I turned off the TV.  “No one is that good.”

During that time that I would stoically go to the gym and do whatever I could with one arm.  I had already done a year of physical therapy before the surgery, so I was used to the single-arm workouts, but I was in a full blown state of mental martyrdom after the surgery. “Unable to even hold a pen,” I would tell anyone who asked about the sling.  As I started my warmup, I saw an empty wheelchair, and nearby there was an older woman face down on the floor!  I thought she had fallen, but as I looked a little closer, I realized she was with a trainer, who was guiding her through a barely perceptible motion with her leg. The trainer counted, “Eight, come on, come on, nine.  That’s it.”  You could see the determination in her eyes, and you could see her leg shake as she lifted her foot just a few inches off the floor.  She was so proud when she got to 20!  Heck, I was proud of her, too.  And a little ashamed of myself.

When I thought of not just the physical strength, but the mental fortitude it took, I was blown away by her.  God only knows how she became wheelchair-bound, or what she had gone through just to get to this point.  I could only imagine that this was probably an improvement from wherever she was before.  Just think of her sustained determination: to make the appointment, arrange the ride, and then go out to a public gym to work out with a trainer!  Later the trainer helped her back into the wheelchair to do some more exercises, and she was still there when I left the gym.

There were a few lesson there for me.  The first was that I am only a victim if I choose to see it that way.  The other way to see it is that I was fortunate enough to have an excellent surgeon to restore proper function to my arm and hand.  I was also lucky enough to have a hand with five fingers that would work properly again one day; for me, this was only temporary.  The final lesson was never to underestimate the power of mental strength.  I will always remember that woman when I say to myself, “I can’t do that.”  The question really is, “What CAN I do?”  That’s where I’ll start.  That’s the only place to start.  And then I won’t quit.