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!
Sending you wishes for a safe and happy Independence Day. Yes, I know I”m day early but I couldn’t wait! As you probably guessed, this is one of my favorite holidays and I got a new bikini just to celebrate it…but now I’m wondering if it will hard to walk on the beach in these shoes…
The following quotes are some of my favorites. I think it’s good to reflect a little on the rich and abundant gifts we enjoy as Americans and to remember that it’s our responsibility to protect and nurture them so that we may pass them on to our children. Matters of freedom and liberty require our attention…and our work.
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” — Thomas Paine
“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
“For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
*It has come to my attention through a good friend who wrote to me, that there is a good veteran’s support organization that might be of interest to some of you. This seemed like just the right time to tell you about it. This is the information he sent me.
“The Veteran Tickets Foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to giving back to those who gave us so much. They team up with major sports teams, leagues, promoters, organizations, venues and everyday ticket holders to provide free and discounted tickets to more than 21 million Military and Veterans in the United States. Check out the link below.”
Those of you who hang out in the gym like I do, know that sometimes you’ve got the mojo and sometimes you don’t. Not having the mojo doesn’t mean you don’t show up at the gym but it does mean that it’s more of a grind and not as much fun as when you’re “in the groove.” Over the last 22 years I’ve noticed that it’s a cyclical thing. Most of the time I feel very strong, energetic and I look forward to my time lifting but inevitably there are those times that I have to drag myself in the door and I can’t seem to muster the kind of intensity that I like. That’s what I mean when I say I’m suffering from low mojo…and it must be battled. When that feeling steals over my inner landscape, I look for new things to peak my interest, get the juices flowing and challenge me. That’s why I’m going to use the next few months to prep for my first competition. November 1st is the day…and I’ll be prepping for the bikini division!
I said I’d be prepping…and that’s exactly what I meant. I have absolutely no intention of actually setting foot on any kind of stage in my tiny bikini, posing for a panel of judges BUT I have a good friend who is actually going to get up on stage on November 1st. We decided I could tag along on the journey as a cheerleader…not the kind with pom-poms but the kind who keeps you company even if only in cyberspace. I know from experience it helps to know someone else is suffering…I mean, working along with you. I’m going to do the workouts and the nutrition plan just as if I was going to let a panel of judges have a look at me. I think it will be fun and it gives me something to work towards. It will be interesting to see what my physique looks like on November 1st.
I chose to prep for the bikini division instead of the figure or physique because I don’t think I have enough muscle for figure or physique unless it was a local, small competition. I don’t have time to gain the mass I’d need to really be competitive so I’ll concentrate on just getting good and tight for the bikini division. In reality, I’d probably get marked down in bikini since there are parts of my body (shoulders and back) that typically show some striations which is not what bikini judges want to see. It would be safe to say that as my physique stands now, I’m not a great candidate for any of the divisions.
Now that I’m going to prep for a competition, I have to eat like it. This was my breakfast this morning. See how you have to suffer to prep?
Ha! I just put this photo here to horrify some of you. I know it looks unappetizing but this is what I eat for breakfast almost every morning. I LIKE IT! It has nothing to do with competition prep. It’s a 4 egg white omelette (with nothing inside) and a piece of sourdough toast with butter. Later in morning I had a half a peach and .620z almonds (100 calorie pack), Lunch was two chicken tacos on flour tortillas with guacamole and pico de gallo. Afternoon snack was a peach (I love them) and buffalo jerky…yum! Dinner will be an 8oz beef filet, three large shrimp, broccoli, and a big salad (no dressing…I don’t like it). This represents a normal eating day for me although I often eat green veggies with my lunches. I have no idea how many calories I typically take in.
I won’t change my diet until about 8 weeks out from the competition and then I’ll be more strict with my planning. Until then, I’ll just eat sensibly as I always try to do and keep working hard in the gym. I won’t start a lot of extra cardio until about 8 weeks out either. I’ll just stick with my 15- 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
Gee….all that talk about stricter food intake and more cardio made me hungry….I want a dark chocolate truffle…and some potato chips!