I’ve been a bit unmoored the past couple of weeks. I found out that my friend, who I was keeping company on his way to a bodybuilding competition in November wasn’t going to be able to compete after all because of a work commitment. I had been having fun on my quest to see what my physique would look like on that November day if I tried to get competition ready (even if I wasn’t really going to step on stage). I didn’t feel the same commitment knowing that my friend was delaying his debut under the lights until next year. For a while I wasn’t sure what to do with myself since I felt exactly like a balloon with the air let out. I kept working out and eating reasonably but my enthusiasm was most definitely on low.
I decided to do what I always do when I’m not sure what goal to pursue. I decided to concentrate my workouts on the body parts I get the most pleasure out of seeing improve. I’ve recently focused my attention on workouts designed to improve biceps, triceps and shoulders. I will keep that as my primary goal for the next little while and I do have a good reason (besides just liking working on biceps, triceps and shoulders) to put quality effort into it. I have to post a birthday photo in November.
Yes, it’s almost that time again. I’ve made it a point to post a birthday photo documenting the state of my physique each of the past 6 years. I don’t want to see a side by side comparison of where I was last year compared to this year and be disappointed in my effort/results. That’s plenty of motivation for me!
Sometimes gym goals are interrupted and you have to change course. That’s OK, you just adjust and keep moving forward. I always wish for smooth sailing but when I get blown off course, I know I can still end up in a good place. I just remind myself that…
Here we go again. If you remember, I recently wrote about a possible public health issue I anticipated becoming problematic. My concern centered on the great number of people who have crossed the border over the last few months from Central America, then were flown by the Feds all over our country and deposited (often without notice given to local officials) in American cities far and wide. The morality and/or wisdom of such action aside, my admonishment was to watch your local classrooms and communities for new faces and to be unafraid to ask specific, pointed questions of administrators regarding the immunization status of all students. It’s a documented fact that the Feds were aware that some of the children were not properly immunized but the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, made it clear to school districts that the children MUST be allowed to attend public school if they showed up.
The advice I gave wasn’t meant to be alarming, just informative since I believe you deserve to know if your children may be at risk from this policy.
As you may or may not know, there is now a virus on the scene sweeping through the country. It’s called Enterovirus 68, it’s a respiratory in nature and seems to affect young children, who already present with asthma, the most severely. According to the CDC, as of September 19th, the virus had a presence in 22 states. Emergency rooms in many places have been overwhelmed by the number of children coming in. The virus seems to have popped up in several places simultaneously. The CDC and other organizations have declined to say where the virus might have originated. Further impeding the matter regarding pinpointing the origin is the fact the Feds are reluctant to release information regarding where, exactly, the children who came across the border were placed. We also don’t have good information regarding where all the adults went. Some of the locations of the children are known and the map below details places some of them were released to people who claimed to be their family members (many living in the United States without having gone through lawful immigration channels themselves).
This map was taken from the following article and you can read the entire content here. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2743817/Revealed-Where-37-000-illegal-immigrant-children-released-guardians-Connecticut-Kentucky-feds-hiding-tens-thousands-more.html Keep in mind that although about half of the 66,000 children who were detained were placed with guardians and half were placed in foster homes/government sponsored facilities, we have no idea where those who walked across but avoided being detained ended up.
True, Enterovirus has been around for a long time. It was first seen in the United States in 1962 in a small cluster but this strain has not been seen in recent years and never in such numbers. True, we can’t really do an overlay of where the children were placed (since the Feds aren’t keen on sharing that information) and where the virus has appeared to see if that is a possible source. We can only speculate using our good sense and intuition but there are now doctors and other health professionals who are speaking out to say that the great influx of children from Central America over the summer may well be the origin of the outbreak. There’s certainly more than a small possibility that this is true. Time will tell. We do know that government officials flew and drove the Central American children all around the country often without taking time to wait until it was known if they were carrying infectious diseases and they forced schools to accept them whether or not they were immunized.
Would immunizations have helped quell the spread of Enterovirus? No, there is no immunization for it but keeping them under proper supervision to see that they didn’t develop illnesses that could be passed to the communities they were placed in was entirely possible. Unfortunately, the optics of children, detained in medical quarantine was too much for the Feds to stomach. They knew that outrage over the mass influx could grow unmanageable and might open them to questions they’d rather not answer.
They were absolutely intent on dispersing the incoming children (and adults) as quickly as possible. They wanted them out of the sight of the public. Doing what they should have to impede the spread of infectious disease might have damaged their message that there isn’t anything at all wrong with people coming en masse over our southern border. It might have drawn scrutiny conflicting with what Alejandro Mayorkas, the Deputy Homeland Security Secretary, said in a September 16th Time Magazine article, “The border is more secure than ever before” or Vice President Biden’s July 13th press briefing statement that, “The border is secure” or the President’s statement that “We strengthened security at the borders so that we could finally stem the tide of illegal immigrants. We put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at any time in our history. And today, illegal crossings are down nearly 80 percent from their peak in 2000.”
Oh…oopsie…the President said that on, January 29, 2013…well before 66,000 children simply walked across our southern border and into the United States.
Luckily, Enterovirus has proven to be concerning, sometimes scary, but not deadly. That’s very fortunate for us but remember, there are other communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis that are still much more prevalent in countries to our south. The Feds were well aware of this but that but that didn’t stop them from surreptitiously mixing people who had an unknown health status with our population. Knowing this, I again caution you to be aware of what’s happening in your communities and schools. We know good health is the most precious thing we have and it’s worth protecting.
*in light of the recent evidence that our officials will knowingly put our population at risk if it serves their overall purpose, I must add that I have serious reservations about sending our military to Africa to “combat Ebola.” We keep hearing it’s not a risk to us here at home or to our troops who will be trained to deal with it. If the risk of transmission is so low when you know proper procedure, it doesn’t make sense that so many medical professionals with excellent training, who have bravely volunteered to help, have contracted it and died. Add to this that the Africans are often distrustful of outsiders and suspect them of actually giving them the disease (they run and hide from aid workers and they have attacked and killed people trying to help them) and it’s a bad mix. I do think they need and deserve help containing the virus. I just question if that’s a job for the American military (on the ground in Africa). With the record this administration has displayed regarding rules and procedures to keep American troops safe and knowing the way they’ve been playing fast and loose with other infectious disease, it just doesn’t sit well.
Guard your health, my friends!
The puppies are growing fast. They’re happy, healthy and great cardio companions. I knew when we brought them home that they would need a great deal of exercise and I was prepared to see that they got it. It’s been a learning experience for all of us. At first I tried walking them on separate leashes but when one would be trotting forward at a nice pace, the other would veer off to the right, left or even run behind me. We were a funny disaster going down the street. I was sure I was eventually going to trip over one of them and couldn’t figure out what to do to prevent squished puppy. Luckily a friend with more experience advised me to get a Y-leash. It’s been a life saver. I can walk both dogs holding one leash. They like the Y-leash since it keeps them moving in roughly the same direction and therefore they aren’t getting tangled in each other’s leashes anymore.
Thankfully, they’re learning better manners when we encounter other dogs on our walks. Their instinct is to bound over to them in a wildly rambunctious fashion. Obviously that’s undesirable since other dogs don’t necessarily want to see them up close and personal, especially since their approach is so energetic. We’ve got that down pretty well. They now wait nicely (most of the time) and are able to walk up to other dogs in a more relaxed manner.
They approach other dogs more quietly and gently these days but they don’t approach other small animals that way at all. They are quite good hunters. So far the body count in the backyard is as follows
TWO RATS – (I never knew we HAD rats in our neighborhood, I had never seen even one but they managed to catch two over the last few weeks. Chasing them to take the rat away from them before they actually eat it is quite the cardio workout.
THREE BIRDS (a blackbird, a dove and a robin)
They also managed to trap a squirrel in the woodpile and would have eventually gotten it but I heard it screeching and managed to get them out of the area before they could complete the deed. Two days ago they treed a raccoon early in the morning.
We’re having lots of fun over here learning, exploring and exercising together each and every day!
Caution – This post goes off topic. You have been warned. Ha, ha…
Everyone knows that there is a whole industry devoted to helping fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders reach their goals. They sell pills and potions by the gross and promise amazing results if only you’ll fork over some money to buy their product. They lie. We all know it and yet there must be people who buy such things because the manufacturers keep spending money creating and advertising their wares. In the old days people who sold such stuff used to be called snake oil salesmen…They were traveling salesmen and they went from town to town selling to the gullible.
Most of us ignore the ads and move on when confronted with obviously ridiculous claims (pills that will melt fat off your body, crystals you can sprinkle on your food to neutralize calories, tablets that suppress your appetite without any negative side effects). These are little lies but they draw people in who want to believe things that are simply not true.
Those snake oil salesmen tell little lies. Last night a man standing behind a podium, the leader of the free world told a whopper….an enormous whopper. What did he say? His exact quote was “ISIL is not Islamic.” WHAT? What nonsense! Members of ISIL have been quite clear. The man behind the podium may call them ISIL but they call themselves the Islamic State. THE ISLAMIC STATE. What’s not to understand? Ask THEM if they’re Islamic. Read their writing. There is no grey area in their definition of themselves. We aren’t stupid. We know that not all adherents to Islam have the same understanding of proper conduct…that’s a given…but members of the Islamic State most certainly rely on their particular understanding of Islam to inform and support their actions in the world. Telling us that they aren’t practicing Islam (the way they see it) when they’re shouting from the rooftops that they are, is an insult to our intelligence.
Point number one – When someone declares that they are at war with you….you should probably believe them.
Point number two – If you can’t even say who the people are who have declared war on you, if you can’t or won’t properly define them, you cannot prevail against them. Wearing a blindfold while defending yourself is not a good strategy.
Point number three – If you don’t educate yourself, if you don’t try to dig out the truth for yourself you won’t have the information you need to know when someone is blatantly and obviously misleading you about who has declared war on you. Please start reading. Pay attention. The stakes are your lives (and those of your children). Ignorance will not protect you. Being PC won’t protect you. Going along to get along won’t protect you.
On this September 11th, I wish you a peaceful and productive day. Hug your babies, thank those who’ve made a positive difference in your life, hold your friends close…and above all don’t buy snake oil.
I made a commitment to keep a friend of mine company on his way to the stage this November. I thought it would be interesting to tag along and try to get myself into top shape just as if I was going to compete myself. To that end, I’ve been lifting hard and heavy and I’ve just started trying to focus on my diet so that I’ll be nice and cut when show time arrives.
That being said, I have to admit I’ve not done the best job with my food intake this week. Actually, I can’t think of one, single thing I cut portions on or denied myself in the last 7 days. I have increased my water and green vegetable intake so that’s got to count for something. Perhaps it’s a good thing I never actually entered a contest….
We’ll see how the next few weeks goes.
Uh oh…I’m off on another tangent. I hereby issue a warning…this post has nothing to do with the gym so please feel free to close your eyes while reading it! As you know, I’m sometimes moved to pen and post a few lines that are off topic. Tomorrow I’ll post a progress photo…
There is a perspective you may not see on TV or in print these days regarding being black and being an American. It’s not the vision advanced by the powers that be. For what reason…I cannot say. I’m currently mulling it over and I have some ideas but I’ll leave the expression of them for another day.
If you haven’t heard it recently, there are plenty of black people who are proud to be American. I am only one of them. I love this country. I’m grateful to God that I had the good fortune to be born here. Over the course of it’s history America has provided greater opportunity for economic (and social) advancement and a higher standard of living to more of its people than any other country on the face of the earth. Is it perfect? No. Has it had dark days? Yes. And even so, it stands out as the best example we have of a country that embraced a philosophy, set forth at it’s inception, that allowed vast numbers of its citizens to enjoy levels of prosperity not seen anywhere else.
Perhaps it will surprise you to know that my father was a physician, my mother was a chemist (when she retired from that work, she went back to school and became an accountant), my aunt was a nurse (then went back to school and became an attorney), one of my uncles was a pediatrician and another one a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force. I have countless other relatives who worked as teachers and owners of small businesses. They were all black. They were all born in the 1920s and 1930s.
Not one of them came from privileged families. They were almost all born into poverty…but it was economic, not mental poverty. They were never told they couldn’t make it in the world (except by outsiders) or that they couldn’t advance because of the egregious and deeply injurious injustices of slavery and segregation. They were encouraged in every way possible by their parents and teachers to take advantage of the opportunities they had. They were told and expected to work hard and to grab every chance at education that came by…and they did. It wasn’t easy. It came at great sacrifice. When other, less dedicated students were out having fun and enjoying themselves they sat at home studying and planning for the future. That work and dedication is what eventually moved them out of economic poverty. They believed they could triumph and indeed that belief coupled with diligence bore fruit.
Today I see many people deemed black “leaders” (many of whom enjoy great wealth and hold positions of national power) and white apologists joining a deafening chorus that tells black people in poverty that they have no way out because the system is rigged to prevent their success. The blame is placed at the feet of the rich, of white people, of a political system not created for “them.” The constant repetition of this refrain has taken hold in the minds of those they’re proporting to help. Stripped of the thought that they can be successful, they move through the world dispirited, and mentally impoverished. Hope is drained and people are left unmoored…and angry. These same “leaders” show up when incendiary things happen bringing sympathy but no solutions. They take any chance they get to stoke the fire by telling people that, indeed, things are so unfair and difficult that any reaction (looting, shooting, rioting, throwing molotov cocktails) is understandable. They’ll stop short of actually saying it’s acceptable but any intelligent person reading between the lines feels the undercurrent of support for those actions.
The helpers aren’t helping. They’re so enamored with the narrative that America is marred and that whole groups of people can’t advance that they studiously ignore millions of great success stories like those of my parents, my relatives and their friends.
Nowhere else is there such ripe possibility for moving up and changing fortunes, for those born in poverty, as there is in the United States and yet the story advanced at every turn is one of the impossibility of such progress. Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
What we see in the news is the result of the belief that there can be a better future, replaced with rage and self-pity, and therefore the abandonment of dignified behavior. We observe the actions and railings of people who’ve swallowed the poison pill of perceived personal helplessness…and you see disingenuous people from outside the community rushing in to soothe them by telling them they’re right. They only pretend to make the situation better. They give the community reinforcement and support for wrong action with one hand while continuing to steal their belief in the possibility of a brighter future with the other.
Until the dominant narrative changes, nothing in the community will change. In order for people to enjoy success, they have to first believe it’s possible. We need leaders who broadcast that message, who urge people to make decisions that help and don’t hinder their progress and who showcase people who have already blazed a path. We need leaders who love America, and who understand and communicate that the opportunity for prosperity here is better than in any other place on the planet.
Yesterday I got two catalogues in the mail. Both were selling undergarments. One was from Victoria’s Secret and the other from a company I’ve never heard of before. As you know, Victoria’s Secret has lots of cute, flirty little things to offer, most of them designed to look best on a reasonably fit body.
The other catalogue featured undergarments for those who need extra help with shaping. The funny thing is that they used models who obviously don’t need the undergarments.
For those of you men out there who think the undergarments in the catalogue don’t look so terrible, good news…they have “solutions” for you too!
Looking through both catalogues taught me something. I NEVER want to feel compelled to wear some medieval looking, fat restraining garment to help me feel better about how I look. Fat or not, there’s no possible way I’d ever resort to stuffing myself into such things. The truth is that if you feel you need to wear something displayed in that catalogue, you should consider increasing your fitness activities. It doesn’t matter if you can put something on to make the lumps and bumps look more pleasing under clothing, you still have to take the thing off when you get home for the day. It’s not a solution for lack of exercise, poor nutrition or lack of will and ultimately it’s not going to make you feel any better about yourself.
I say do your best to keep yourself in reasonable physical condition so you don’t WANT to rely on tight bodysuits to look better. Imagine how you’d feel on a hot, summer day encased in one of those things. The very thought is enough to motivate me to go for a long run. Suddenly, I have even more incentive to try and stay on the Victoria’s Secret side of life!
In general, I stick to light topics here but now and again I feel called to speak out about particular things. The thoughts that have taken up space in my mind lately are directly related to physical health and well-being and as such, I’ve decided that it’s an appropriate topic for this blog.
As some of you know, my mother was a scientist, a chemist by training and she worked in the Infectious Diseases Department at the University of San Francisco Medical center. Growing up I was often privy to conversations between her and her colleagues about disease migration and listened to discussions surrounding the in and outs of things such as the Bubonic Plague, Trachoma, influenza and AIDS. My mother was one of the first to work with other scientists who were trying to uncover what was causing the illness and death of so many young men in San Francisco in the late 70’s/80’s (HIV/AIDS).
I’m not a scientist, My doctorate is in Education. I’ve spent my professional life working in schools with young children (and now with college age students). I served as the Director of a private, non-profit school for 15 years. I have devoted much to my time and energy to keeping children happy and most importantly, safe. Perhaps its a mix of my exposure to matters of infectious disease at an early age and my work with children all of these years but I have some rather pointed thoughts to share.
We currently have an influx of both adults and children (a huge number of them are 14-17 year old males who are not considered children in their countries of origin but are considered children under American law) from Central America (and other places too) flooding across our southern border. There are differing opinions of why this is happening but the fact is that it IS happening (yes…men, women and children have been coming across regularly for many years but there is an enormous spike in numbers currently). The facilities available for caring for them on the border are inadequate and therefore the Feds are moving them into the interior of the US…via bus, van and even flying them around on airplanes.
I have my own feelings about this whole issue and the absurd (and tragic) circus surrounding transporting minors and family groups around this country without background information on them or on a significant number of the people they’re being placed with once here. I will spare you further comment on that subject, however you do need to know that while there is an attempt on the part of government agencies to screen and vaccinate the people who’ve crossed the border before they are transported there are certainly some slipping through the cracks.. There are cases of serious infectious diseases being carried….drug resistant TB is only one of them. Since many of the school aged children have been (and will continue to be) taken to the interior of the U.S. and many are never detained in the first place, my admonition to you is to be aware of what’s happening in your local community and schools. If there are new, shiny faces in class when school starts don’t be afraid to ask questions or insist your administrators be sure immunization records are in order for all students. Make them answer direct questions regarding the immunization status of the new arrivals. Don’t just assume it’s taken care of. You have a right to know. You have a responsibility to protect your children and those who already live in your community.
We all love children. We all want to see them thrive. I don’t blame the Central American children being dispersed in this country for any of this. I am extremely sympathetic to their plight but I refuse to let my compassion and love for children be used as a weapon against me, my children or the children in my community. My first responsibility is to protect my own children. My primary loyalty is to the children already here who will be sitting side by side with the recently arrived children in classrooms all over this country. I’m not afraid to be a voice for them even though I know there is a strong possibility of being labeled all kinds of nasty things….xenophobic, anti-immigrant, mean, anti-child, lacking in compassion, hateful, ignorant, hard-hearted, a fear monger, anti-Christian, racist, hispanophobic and all the rest.
All kids depend on adults to protect and care for them. My heart is heavy for the Central American children who were sent by adults, charged with their welfare, on long, treacherous journeys into a foreign land. I hate that the adults in their countries can’t provide them a safe, healthy environment. I’m sorry for the conditions that pushed (and pulled) them into the country. It’s not a pretty story any way you look at it. A good number of children died, many were abused and many more psychologically damaged by the ordeal. It’s a horror for any reasonable adult to contemplate. This does not mean, however, we should just shut our mouths and not insist that the children already here in our schools be protected. It’s our responsibility as adults not to further extend the wreckage of this crush of people crossing into the country on our southern border.
*The intent of this is not to alarm you, It’s to make sure you’re aware of what’s going on so that you can make informed decisions. The chances of these children passing infectious diseases isn’t at an extreme level but it absolutely DOES exist. There are actually more worrying people crossing the border (from countries currently stricken by the Ebola virus and people from groups who are ideologically opposed to the American way of life and who bear us ill will)….but that’s for a different conversation.
Until next time…keep going and stay strong!
Yesterday I took my ten-year old to his second day of football camp. I was watching the practice which was two hours long and toward the end I noticed that many of the boys were starting to wilt. They were just tired out. That’s a normal thing after a summer spent just sitting around for many of them and the purpose of the football camp is to start getting them back into the physical condition that athletics requires. It happens every year. For the first week especially, there are a whole group of kids who droop toward the end of the practice. I’m happy to say that my son wasn’t among them. We had already decided at the beginning of the summer that physical activity was on the menu. He attended three weeks of a formal sports camp over the course of the summer but when he wasn’t in sports camp we did lots of exercise together. We went swimming, hiking and toward the time for football camp to begin we’d go down to the track each morning while it was cool and do a little easy jogging. He loved it and I loved it. Our time spent together doing something active was wonderful. It’s when we had our best conversations without any distractions from the TV or electronic devices including the cell phone. I would have to say that those undistracted conversations have been the highlight of my summer days with him.
I’m a people watcher and waiting a couple of hours for football camp to conclude gives me ample opportunity to observe. The past two days, I’ve set up my chair fairly close to where another woman sits. When her son has a water break, he trots over to get his thermos and she always asks him if he’s working hard. She asks him if coach is happy with him. She tells him he needs to run faster in the drills, that it doesn’t look like he’s working hard enough. She says it nicely and she isn’t pushing him too hard. She’s encouraging him but I’m fascinated by the conversation….and fixated on the fact that she’s clinically, morbidly obese. She can only walk a little, with great effort. For all intents and purposes she’s a prisoner in her own body. I think about what she says to her son, about the way she firmly pushes him to exert himself and it strikes me as odd that the things she wants for her son; physical excellence, maximum effort in pursuit of a sport and competitive competence (which are the rewards of sustained effort) are things that she doesn’t require or pursue for herself. I wish she knew the deep pleasure of a body in motion…one that feels good, strong and capable. She clearly sees the value in it for her son. I wonder why she doesn’t see the value in it for herself?
I’m diligently working to get into top shape by November 1st.. I’m having a great time with my workouts now that I have a specific goal and timetable. It’s been a real pleasure digging in and putting some energy into my quest. I’m still not messing around with my diet. I’m just being sensible but not “dieting.” I probably won’t do much with my nutritional intake plan before the middle of August. Even then, I don’t plan to go overboard with restrictions. I’ll just increase my cardio to help me shed fluff and shred up a little. So far, so good….
As most of you know, I’ve decided to keep my friend company on his road to the stage this November by doing the contest prep with him. I’m not going to actually enter the competition but I decided it would be fun to pretend I was and to see what would happen with my physique if I concentrated on getting stage-ready. My intention is to post photos as I go so I can track my progress and to keep myself accountable. I figured on November 1st (the day of the competition) I would post photos of myself doing the traditional bikini poses to see how my physique had developed over the previous three months. That’s until I saw the rear bikini pose.
Uhhhh…..NO! I’m not a prude by any means but this is a pose I wouldn’t feel dignified doing. It seems more like a “come hither” pose….like one I’d save for a person I was in an intimate relationship with and not something I’d be interested in doing for the public at large. This is not to criticize bikini competitors in general or this particular competitor. To each her own. She’s striking a required pose perfectly and her physique looks great but I wouldn’t be willing to stand like that, on a stage, under the lights for all to see….or to post photos with me in this position. When I tried to pinpoint what I don’t like about the pose, I finally came up with the fact that it’s the leaning forward posture I’m not comfortable with. You don’t just turn around to let the judges/audience see if you have a nice v-taper, good muscle development and your legs look proportionally pleasing, you have to lean forward (thereby pushing your behind out) to smooth the appearance of your glutes/hams. To me, it’s a much more provocative stance than the one figure/bodybuilding women perform.
In contrast, I don’t mind this rear pose at all. I would feel perfectly fine standing on stage like this. Call me Grandma (I don’t mind…she was a great person) but the bikini pose and I most definitely won’t be going public!