Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Days Like This

I’m not Pollyanna but I’m not Oscar the Grouch either.

I was OBSESSED with Hayley Mills' costumes in Pollyanna. So gorgeous. The bows! (Image courtesy of Disney.com)

I was OBSESSED with Hayley Mills’ costumes in Pollyanna. So gorgeous. The bows!
(Image courtesy of Disney.com)

I’m somewhere in the middle where I don’t let myself wallow in the dumps but I feel my feelings and deal with them. Some days are harder than others, but I try to remind myself that tomorrow is a whole new day and something awesome might happen.

I'm Cookie Monster. He's somewhere in the middle-to-mostly-sunny side of life, isn't he? Plus, I like cookies.

I’m Cookie Monster. He’s somewhere in the middle-to-mostly-sunny side of life, isn’t he? Plus, hello, COOKIES.

Days Like This: when I have a great run.

Days Like This: when a respected friend and colleague asks me to collaborate with them.

Days Like This: when I {finally} don’t feel like I’m going to die in a Refine Method class.

Real life tweets between me and my favorite torturers, er, instructors.

Real life tweets between me and my favorite torturers, er, instructors.

Days Like This: when I have a hard workout one day and I’m not hobbling around for a week.

Days Like This: when I accurately answer a question for one of my classmates or a patient.

Days Like This: when I’m able to coach someone else to the finish line.

Best phone call ever received on vacation: from Sam after she finished the Nashville Half. So proud!

Best phone call ever received on vacation: from Sam after she finished the Nashville Half. So proud!

Days Like This are why we fight through the crappy days. Days like this are we we keep on going when there is no visible light at the end of the tunnel.

One can only hope that Days Like This come along so much more than the ones our mamas told us about. You know, the “Mama said there’d be Days Like This“-days. Then again, many of us have far more of the latter type of Days Like This and for those times, we have our memory and our friends to help us get through it.

I mean, when you've got friends like these...

I mean, when you’ve got friends like these…

We remember when we ran and it felt good and we know that there’ll be Days Like That again.

We remember when we felt normal and could do normal things and we hope for Days Like That.

We remember that life is constantly changing and, although today might not be the same as yesterday, it is a new day and we make of it what we will.

Each race after surgery is even more of a victory than the one before cuz it's one more than before.

Each race after surgery is even more of a victory than the one before cuz it’s one more than before.

Days Like This can lift us up and give us hope but in the end, if we don’t recognize them when they come around, we may never know they were ever there. Enjoy this day, this moment.

Enjoy Days Like This, friends. They are absolutely what make today so much Better Than the Alternative.

Now go out and run.

What are “good” days in your book? Great weather? Good workout? No traffic on the way home from work? I count any day that the train is running on time as a good one. Hooray for public transportation!

Obi-wan: The Emotional Side of Post-Injury Athletes

The following is the third in a series of guest blogs written by my Dad, affectionately nicknamed “Obi-wan” for his sage advice and guidance in using The Force in my life. He is also the inspiration behind Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays and the person who first taught me how to get strong and stay fit.

The classic baseball team photo *awesome*, age7

He also taught me how to throw a ball and swing a bat so I could play baseball at age 5. Whattaguy. Note the excellent grip and form on that bat.

Here he is, ladies and gents, Obi-wan.

May The Force be with you. (Image courtesy of LucasFilm.com)

May The Force be with you. Not my Dad, btw.
(Image courtesy of LucasFilm.com)

As an avid reader of Abby’s blog I read with great interest April’s “Effects of De-Training” with the supporting study data. The study data on the effects of de-training on highly trained runners or cyclists supported what everyone, regardless of fitness level, has found out when starting back into a training regime after a layoff: your fitness levels have tanked!

Since when is 20lbs so much to lift?

Since when is 20lbs so much to lift?

Having never been a highly trained endurance athlete but more of a self trained fitness enthusiast who has had a number of enforced training layoffs due to injury and illness, the data was particularly interesting to me to see the effects of de-training on highly trained athletes.

It also made me wonder about the emotional effects of de-training and re-training on well trained endurance athletes and also the average person working to stay fit in today’s busy world.

Later that day Abby and I had a long discussion about the effects of de-training and how her recent experiences with chronic illness, anesthesia, surgery, and an enforced layoff after her surgeries had affected her. Our conversation ranged into the emotional side of starting to train again after an enforced period of de-training.

Try as you might, the human body does not bounce back after major surgery or de-training. Sigh. I know.

Try as you might, the human body does not bounce back after major surgery or de-training. Sigh. I know.

We agreed that retraining our body to once again be able to perform at the pre-layoff levels had both a physical and emotional component that one needed to understand. It’s more than just pushing ones self to get back into the gym, on the bike, or onto the track.

In other words how does one get their mind around starting again after injury, illness, or enforced layoff for any reason?

So proud of a measly 1.5mi run 4 weeks after surgery. My body felt like jello, but I was mentally SO ready to be running again.

So proud of a measly 1.5mi run 4 weeks after surgery. My body felt like jello, but I was mentally SO ready to be running again.

In trying to get a better handle on the emotional side of re-training after an undesired training layoff, I turned to the source of all wisdom in today’s world, the internet.

After trying a number of searches included “re-training”, “emotional effects of de-training”, “starting training again after de-training” and other searches without gaining much insight into the emotional aspect of re-training, I did come upon an article which gave a helpful acronym which they associated with re-training after de-training:

SMART

 S – Set Specific Goals

M – Set Measurable Goals

A – Set Adjustable Goals

R – Set Realistic Goals

T – Set Time Based Goals

Be SMART. You don't want to end up like this poor fellow.

Be SMART. You don’t want to end up like this poor fellow.

This same acronym has been applied in various different disciplines including business, and while the above would seem to be a helpful way to go about getting started again, it doesn’t in my mind address the emotional component of starting to train again.

When one has the fear of re-injuring yourself, the uncertainty of how the surgery you had will affect your ability to participate, or just the self conscious aspect of reentering the gym or workout facility at a different level of performance, having a plan helps but doesn’t address the fears that we all have of lacing the sneaks back up.

Working out with awesome friends helps A TON when working your way back after a layoff.

Working out with awesome friends helps A TON when working your way back after a layoff.

As with anything in life fear of the unknown and tolerance of ambiguity are the greatest fears that we have as humans and the fears around restarting our exercise regime or fitness program is no different.

Upon reflection I don’t know that there is any easy answer or strategy for overcoming our fears. But as with all things in life, they are lessened by facing them head on and getting started with a realistic plan of action which will allow us to once again “go out and run” (or whatever)!

Thanks again to Obi-wan for another great post. Have you ever had to work your way back into shape after a hiatus? How did you do it?

Now go out and run…or whatever 😉

Friday Fitness Links:

You guys, OMG, Happy Friday!

Play it again, Schroeder. (Image courtesy of Peanuts.com)

Play it again, Schroeder.
(Image courtesy of Peanuts.com)

Friday is my favorite day AND I’m off to work out with my friend. Hip-hip HOORAY! for Friday. Now here’s what’s going on around the fitness world:

  • Good on them: New York Sports Club, Boston Sports Club, Washington Sports Club, and Philadelphia Sports Club gyms will be opening their doors for free whenever the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Speaking of deals, did you hear Revolve Fitness has summer rates? Woohoo! They also have a Spotify account where you can stalk them for new workout tunes.
I am ALWAYS in need of new tunes & affordable classes.

I am ALWAYS in need of new tunes & affordable classes.

 

Me and my friend Jon. I just love volunteering with these athletes!

Me and my friend Jon from Achilles. I just love volunteering with these athletes!

Wings out, y'all. (Image courtesy of Oiselle.com)

Wings out, y’all.
(Image courtesy of Oiselle.com)

Kara's fast, yo. (Image courtesy of EricaSara.com)

Kara’s fast, yo. (Image courtesy of EricaSara.com)

Good news for my slightly underpronating, mostly neutral feet.

Good news for my slightly underpronating, mostly neutral feet.

Did I miss anything? Who did the A to Z survey and didn’t tell me? Who’s racing this weekend? New Yorkers: the Boomer 10K is now a fun run 4-miler, FYI. Anyone else have a race this weekend? Stay safe out there, runners!

Now go out and run.

A to Z

I couldn’t write yesterday because I only had one thing on my mind and I didn’t want to pollute this happy little blog with it so I just didn’t write.

Today is a new day and, in light of my story being recently featured in Psychology Today last week (hello new readers!), I decided to take part in this A to Z About Me Q and A.

A to Z

A. Attached or single?

Attached now for 9 years. And it keeps getting better.

Our wedding was SO FUN!

Our wedding was SO FUN!
(Image courtesy of elisabethmilay.com)

B. Best friend?

JB. The Obi-wans. My 4 sibs and Chi-Chi.

C. Cake or pie?

Hmmm…gotta be really great cake (like from SugarSweet Sunshine or Alice’s Tea Cup) but I’m also a big fan of both Cherry and Apple pie. Why choose just one?

D. Day of choice?

Friday. Always happy for the weekend and it’s Date Night.

E. Essential item?

Beauty: Mascara. Clothing: Perfect jeans. Workout: Chafe-free shorts.

F. Favorite color?

Pink.

"Pink is my signature color."

“Pink is my signature color.”

G. Gummy bears or worms?

Neither. Twizzlers or Snickers, please.

H. Home town?

Born in Glen Ridge, NJ. Lisle and Woodridge, IL for childhood.

I. Favorite indulgence?

Great Jones Spa facial.

J. January or July?

January. Everything feels new in January.

K. Kids?

Love ’em.

L. Life isn’t complete without?

Snuggling next to my man and taking a nap after a long run on a Saturday morning.

No husband? Give me all the pillows then.

No husband? Give me all the pillows then.

M. Marriage date?

11/13/09

N. Number of brothers/sisters?

2 sisters, 2 brothers, 2 sisters-in-law, 2 brothers-in-law, and one special significant other.

O. Oranges or Apples?

Oranges. When they’re perfect, they’re delicious.

P. Phobias?

I don’t like snakes, but I don’t think that’s a phobia. They’re just creepy.

Q. Quotes?

“If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” ~Winston Churchill

…in that vein: “If you just keep going, eventually you’ll get to the finish line.” ~me

R. Reasons to smile?

My gorgeous niece. Flower deliveries. Dates with friends. Too many reasons, really.

S. Season of choice?

Fall. Fall in New York City is magical.

T. Tag 5 People.

Jesica, Tina, Kristin, Jenny, Hillary, BethMichelle…but really, everyone should if they have lost their will to write or need to get their writing mojo back (ahem, Sara).

I want all my friends to do it!

I want all my friends to do it!

U. Unknown fact about me?

I can only crack my middle fingers on each hand.

V. Vegetable?

Before J-pouch: raw green beans. After J-pouch: sautéed zucchini.

W. Worst habit?

Being late/loud.

X. X-Ray or ultrasound?

Ultrasound cuz it’s more than a diagnostic tool. It can treat, diagnose, and image.

Dr. Abby says, "When in doubt, ULTRASOUND!"

Dr. Abby says, “When in doubt, ULTRASOUND!”

Y. Your favorite food?

Sugar cookies. And Two Boots Pizza.

A Monster after my own heart.

A Monster after my own heart.

Z. Zodiac sign?

Gemini. Totally a Gemini.

You can do this survey too! Pingback, tag, or Tweet me if you do. I want to get to know YOU better!

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Heat Wave

It happens every Summer. A Heat Wave sweeps through the City and people act as though they’ve never seen the likes of 90-100 degree temperatures in July. Many residents escape to nearby towns on the water and the rest of us left in the concrete jungle are left to sweat it out and pray we don’t have another blackout.

Northeast Blackout of 2003. (Image courtesy of the New York Times)

Northeast Blackout of 2003.
(Image courtesy of the New York Times)

In August of 2003, I walked home to Brooklyn from 57th St. & 6th Ave. over the Brooklyn Bridge in a Heat Wave producing 80-90 degree temperatures that didn’t quit when the sun went down.

It happened again in August 2006 in Queens, most notably in Astoria, where I used to live. And the power stayed off for NINE DAYS during a Heat Wave.

Those two events were awful.

Now that we’re again in the grips of a Heat Wave that feels like you step out of the A/C and into your oven, Facebook and Twitter are alight with complaints day and night about how it’s too hot to go outside, let alone run.

Being hot during a heat wave is not news. (Image courtesy of CartoonStock.com)

Being hot during a heat wave is not news.
(Image courtesy of CartoonStock.com)

You know what I say?

Go run.

It’s not a popular suggestion in this heat, but if you are healthy, experienced, smart, plan ahead, healthy, know your body and your limits, stay in populated areas, and HEALTHY–why the hell not?

I may complain here and there about the ridiculousness of the temperatures but, seriously? That’s my biggest problem? That it’s HOT IN JULY? I’m gonna go right ahead and get over myself. This Heat Wave has been an important reminder to me that I can run.

They don't let you go running in a hospital gown...with an epidural.

They don’t let you go running in a hospital gown…and on narcotics.

There’s a Heat Wave so I get up early, wait for the sun to go down, find a shady route (even if it means 5 laps around the 1.67 mile Bridle Path) and I run.

There’s a Heat Wave so I wear light…or little clothing, I bring a water bottle full of Nuun, I go with friends, I slow down and I run.

Running in a Heat Wave with friends is fun! And in case you doubt the sincerity of yesterday's post, here I am with my gorgeous friend, Michelle. (Image stolen from PawsitivelyDelightful.com)

Running in a Heat Wave with friends is fun! And in case you doubt the sincerity of yesterday’s post, here I am with my gorgeous friend, Supermodel. (Image stolen from PawsitivelyDelightful.com)

There’s a Heat Wave so I go for time instead of distance, I take walk breaks if I need them, I throw my pace out the window and I run.

Early last week, I took to Twitter to get up on my soap box about all the bitching and complaining everyone who is out running has been doing about the conditions. Guess what? It’s not going to be 50 degrees, sunny and with a tailwind on most of your runs.

Basically, get over it.

Basically, get over it.

It’s time to be grateful you can run. A lot of people who love to run can’t and would give anything to hit the pavement for a sweaty 5-miler in this Heat Wave.

Always #SweatingForAli

Always #SweatingForAli

The Heat Wave is not the problem. It’s the attitude. Are you going to PR in a Heat Wave? Unlikely. Are you going to feel awesome running during a Heat Wave? Not likely. Is it ideal weather for running/living? Not in my book.

But if you can, you should. Embrace the Heat Wave (responsibly) and instead of hashtagging #toodamnhot, try #gratefulrun. Allow this Heat Wave to remind you that you are physically able to run, walk, cycle, skateboard, kayak, swim, or whatever else you can do outside.

Doesn’t being able to run at all, even in a Heat Wave beat the hell out of the alternative? I think so.

And get over it. It’s Summer.

Now go out and run.

Disclaimer: You should always consult a physician before undertaking any physical activity. Running in excessively hot temperatures can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To learn about the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, please see the Mayo Clinic’s website. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek shelter and medical attention immediately. Elderly individuals, children, and those in otherwise less than optimal health should abide by the recommended heat precautions by the New York State Department of Health and Human Services.