Mrs. Eklund was my favorite teacher

I went to Lincoln Elementary School. It is apartments now. It was on Prospect Street. When I was in second grade I had the best teacher. My most favorite teacher ever. Her name was Mrs. Eklund. She was a tiny lady and seemed old, although I doubt she was. She always wore a dress with a belt and nylons. I guess the technical term is pantyhose. I hate that word. It sounds super weird to me, so I’m calling them nylons. She always had her hair pulled back in a low bun. Super professional and such a nice, caring lady. She was such a good teacher and I remember always wanting to please her, and always wanting to do the best I could for her. Something in the way she taught made me feel special. She made me want to work hard. I was just in awe of her. She made every single kid in that class feel like they were the most important kid EVER. I remember being so anxious for Halloween, because her house was where I couldn’t wait to go. She lived on Grand Street. To this day when I drive up that street I always look over to the right and remember Mrs. Eklund.

One day we were doing some sort of project where we had to put everything in alphabetical order. I can’t remember exactly what it was. It seems like it had something to do with Abraham Lincoln. Anyway, instead of listening intently, I rushed through the project and just wrote the words on my tan paper, with the light blue lines and dashes, with my big fat second grader pencil. No alphabetical order for me. I’ll show you how great I am. Look at how fast I am doing this project. Aren’t I great? I just wanted to please her. Once I realized my mistake, I was so mad at myself. My heart sank. Filled with dread. You know the feeling. The one where you kind of get butterflies in your stomach, and the fast heart beat thing going on, because you know you messed up. Sinking, sinking feeling. Because I was too focused on pleasing Mrs. Eklund, I totally forgot to focus on myself. Oh my gosh. I was totally going to disappoint her. I was devastated. I remember being able to fix my mistake, but I wasn’t the first one done. She didn’t care. That’s how she was. Nobody was more special than anyone else. That’s why she was such a great teacher.

I think everyone should have a role model. I think it is super important for all of us to look up to someone and want to have that healthy relationship with them. I believe we all need that. Because human nature.

Buuuut, we should also be able to focus on ourselves and be able to differentiate between ourselves and that special person. Don’t focus so much on someone else and want to please someone else that you lose sight of who you are. Make your own noise. Don’t try to please someone so much that it becomes your be all and end all. We are all unique individuals. God made us that way. Find the balance. It’s there. You just might have to uncover it.

His Name Was Gary

Tomorrow (April 21st) is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 77. Hard to believe. I wonder what he would look like today. My boys looks like him, I think, especially my oldest. My dad was very athletic and super cool. I looked up to him and I respected him. His name was Gary.

When I got divorced I could tell he was disappointed. When John and I started dating, he asked my mom, “Is she really dating that hippie?” Hilarious as hell. John had long-ish (not really long) hair when we met. It did not take long at all for my dad to realize that John was pretty special. Thanks Dad!

My dad was 60 years old (so young) when he died. My husband is 61. Stew on that perspective.

Dad’s crummy health history began at a pretty young age. I know he had high blood pressure. I’m not sure when that was diagnosed. I can remember him getting really bad bloody noses that would not stop. He also had heart problems. When he was 48 years old, he had quadruple bypass surgery. He smoked before that. He didn’t smoke after that. They say that procedure usually lasts about ten years. So after about 10 years, he had double bypass surgery. I remember that surgery being really hard on him. He had a hard time sleeping. I remember him saying he had a hard time sleeping because he wasn’t sure he was going to wake up again. His brother had it too. They would joke about how it felt like there was a little man with an axe standing on their chest and breaking it open, one little chunk at a time. He had a great sense of humor.

I can remember clearly when he died. He and my mom had been over at our house for supper. He was playing with Tayler. He absolutely adored her. She was ten months old at the time. He was so good with all my kids.

While they were over, he complained about how tired he was. He had been doing yard work that day before they came over. He kept telling mom that he was tired and he just wanted to go home. That was the last time I saw my dad alive.

I can still hear the way he said my name. I can still hear him saying, “Peg Leg Jones come rattle your bones.” He said that to me all the time. I can still see him coming down the steps with his hair all crazy and pretending to be Jack Nicholson in The Shining, and saying, “Heeerre’s Johnny.” He would laugh and laugh. So many good and funny memories of him. He liked life. He lived it well. He liked fast cars, dogs and country music. I miss him every day and think about him every day.

When you see things about people setting goals or reasons why they want to do something, such as lose weight or eat healthy, or whatever. Finding your why, which by the way, I wish there was a better way to say it. Finding your why sounds weird to me. Maybe finding your proof, or your reason or your motive. But, whatever.

I came to the realization that my reason is my Dad. I believe his health or lack of good health is why I work out. It’s why I eat as healthy as I can. It’s why I bust my ass. He had a strong work ethic and I believe he passed that on to all of us kids. None of us are lazy. It’s why I became a fitness professional. It’s why I became certified in nutrition and training. It’s my reason. It’s my “why.”

His poor health pushed me to be better about my health. It pushed me to not want to be like him. It pushed me to change the family history. It was very important to me to be healthy. I did not want to feel like crap when I got older. I wanted to stay in shape. I wanted to be healthy. That’s why I do what I do. I want to help as many people as possible to get healthy and stay healthy. I want them to be able to outsmart their genetic predispositions.

It’s NOT all genetics. My dad had several brothers and sisters. Two sisters and I think four brothers. There is one brother left. The other brothers all died from heart issues. The sisters had different health histories. My dad’s brother will be 92 this year. Not one of the others made it past 70. The interesting thing about Uncle Bob, that I can remember from when I was 14 or 15, is that he ate well and exercised every day. I remember being at their house and he would have eggs and grapefruit for breakfast. He took pretty good care of himself. There is a saying I heard one day that is totally relevant here: “Genetics are like a loaded gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.” This could not be more true in this situation.

After dad died, two weeks later one of his sisters died. She told someone that since Gary was gone it was okay for her to go. He was the baby. Maybe she felt obligated. Two weeks after that, his brother, Don, died of a heart attack. Some pretty whacked out family history.

Every year I put a pic of Dad on Facebook in remembrance of his birthday. I will continue to do that. Also this year I am getting a cardinal tattoo. Have you heard the history behind the appearance of cardinals?

“A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they’ll appear.”

Cardinals visit our house all the time and tap on the windows or the door. One time when my sister was visiting, a cardinal showed up at the deck door and was suspended in the air, just looking in at us.

His name was Gary.

Body Image Without Prejudice

Do you train for looks or do you train for health? Is there anything wrong with either?
I know I will never be skinny. I’m not built that way, nor would I want to be. I actually really like my muscles. I worked my ass off for them. I started weight training when I was 12 years old. But, sometimes it can be a little frustrating. I want to look different – for me – not for anyone else. My husband always tells me he wouldn’t care what I looked like. Thanks sweetie. He really is the best. But for me, I would like to have a little less bodyfat and be a little more defined. At the same time, am I willing to put in the work it takes to get that way? Do I feel like it right now? Do I want to change my eating habits and workout habits right now? Not sure. I mean yeah, it would be nice for it just to happen. I struggle, just like you guys do. I would love a magic pill too. Wouldn’t that be awesome? For right now, though, at this very moment, I am perfectly fine with how I look. Body image without prejudice.

But at the same time just because I am okay with how I look and I accept myself, that doesn’t give me a free pass to do nothing! Can you imagine? I cannot imagine what would happen if I did nothing. Meaning if I didn’t exercise at all and just ate whatever I wanted. There has to be some restriction. There has to be some control. There has to be some discipline. I would love to be able to do that, but that is never going to happen.

So there is the notion that right now, even though I am not willing to put in the work to change the way I look, I know I am healthy otherwise. I sleep well, I eat well, and I workout well. So what’s the deal then? Why can’t I have that aesthetic body right now? The same reason why you can’t…

I don’t want it bad enough right now and I am not willing to put in the work…yet. I will get there. Just like everyone else, I have to get to the point. I can’t just be like okay, today’s the day. I have to get in that mindset where I are willing to do the work to change. Same mindset when you get a new program and get motivated to start. That’s what I’m talking about. And then, though, the most important part to me— I really do say it all the time—CONSISTENCY. That’s it. I’m not being as consistent as I should be in order for my appearance to change. It’s nutrition for me. I know I don’t get enough protein and I know I don’t eat enough. Even though I am eating quality food 90 percent of the time, I am not getting enough. My workouts are consistent, but my nutrition is not. That’s the difference between healthy and aesthetic. I get closer to it every day though. I am a constant work in progress. And, I’m fine with that. Body image without prejudice. Ruminate on that a little bit.

Finish what you start

 

Finish your program or whatever project your are doing.

I know, it’s hard. I even have trouble finishing a program. You either get bored with it, or you find something else that looks better or more fun, or more something. Why are we always looking for something better or something more? We aren’t squirrels!

 

Maybe we should concentrate on one thing and finish it before moving on to the next cool thing or the next fad. That’s what marketers want. They want the next best thing to knock you off your program. They want you to think you can’t live without what they are selling. They want you to think it’s the magic pill or the best thing since sliced bread.

When you sign up for something you have to finish it. Isn’t this what we teach our children? How many times has your kid wanted to quit something and you tell them, “No, you signed up, you’re finishing.” It’s the right thing to do, after all.

I am doing a program right now and it is pretty much traditional weightlifting. It has some kettlebell stuff in it, but I can tell you I am itching to get back to the bells. Some of my “cardio” has been bells though. I have programmed some pretty wicked #kettlebellcardio workouts.

I have a new in studio Program starting in a few weeks. It is called Rebuild, Renew and Restore. It includes traditional weight lifting and so that is part of the reason I have been doing some testing with the program I am following. The new Program does include a day with #kettlebellcardio. My other training clients have been testing that for me, unbeknownst to them. I think I told them one time that they were testers for the particular workout they were doing that day. It was definitely cardio.

My point it, if you don’t finish, you will never know how far you’ve come. It is so easy to just say screw it, I want to try this instead, or I want to try that workout. But again, you never know what would have happened if you had stuck to your program. How many times have you wondered about that. I have! Just think what I could have done if I had stuck to the program!! We need to get our minds right and call on that discipline so that we finish what we started. Even if the program sucks or it seems too hard or too easy. You never know, sometimes our bodies need easy. It’s not like most of us don’t beat up our bodies. I say it all the time, more is not better! Seriously, when are people going to realize that. They think the harder something is the better it is. I call bullshit on that one.

Anyway….I have one more week in this program. Could I have done better? Sure I could have. There is always room for improvement. I am finishing it, because I said I would. I wasn’t perfect, but I don’t care. I’m finishing it!