Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: The Force

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays is a time to remind ourselves that life isn’t really that bad. Right? I mean, you’re here, so that’s good. No matter what else is happening, my Obi-wan is always saying, “Hey, it beats the alternative” and so was born BTAT.

What better theme for BTAT, then, than The Force. If you don’t know what The Force is, please turn around and walk to your nearest computer and immediately watch the original three Star Wars movies. I’m talking the ones with Mark Hammill and Harrison Ford, not that other garbage. They are seriously awesome movies which you should watch in succession on a gloomy day or when you are sick. They rock.

Anywho, The Force can be used for good or for evil and is the most powerful weapon/tool in the whole Galaxy. The light saber doesn’t even come close to the power of The Force. The Force can move objects, choke people to death, make the impossible possible and otherwise overcome the powers of the Dark Side. And, as Obi-wan and Yoda are always telling Luke, The Force is strong with you.” Yoda has all kinds of words of wisdom regarding The Force.

The most powerful moment for me is after Yoda raises Luke’s jet out of the swamp using The Force:

Luke: “I don’t believe it.”

Yoda: “And that is why you fail.”

In my world, my Obi-wans (Mr. & Mrs.) are always telling me and my siblings that The Force is strong in our family.” And, yes, it is something we say to each other during times of trouble and when we need encouragement. We are corny, I know. But there’s truth to it. Because within our family structure, there is a Force, an energy and a determination to succeed and press on in seemingly impossible situations. So, yes, The Force is strong in our family. And we all have it.

And we all believe in it. And believe in it we must (little Yoda-speak for you there). When life seems impossible and there is only darkness, we have to believe that someday there will again be light. Faith, The Force, whatever you want to call it, it must be within us in order for our strength to overcome the Dark Side, to keep going.

Winston Churchill said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” That is what The Force allows us to do, to keep going. You may think it cheesy for us to take something from a movie and actually incorporate it into our everyday lives but I gotta tell you, there’s truth to it. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in eyes of my family members when they were sick with cancer. I’ve seen it in the eyes of my sister running a marathon, of my brother on the football field. I’ve seen it in times of trouble or sadness when there is suddenly one focus, one team and there is nothing we can’t do together. I’ve seen it in the fierce protectiveness we all have over each other when on of us is hurting or in need. It’s very strong and certainly a Force to be reckoned with.

The Force is strong in my family. And for that, I am grateful. And that’s what makes is Better Than the Alternative on this Tuesday. No matter where we go, no matter what we do, The Force is with us and within us and it will keep us going through our darkest times.

I hope you have The Force in some way or another. I hope you know the depths of your strength and can harness it when troubled times abound. It’s in you, you know. You just have to believe it, like Yoda says.

May The Force be with you, friends.

Now go out and run!

Running ≠ Healthy (not all the time, anyway)

(Today’s post was supposed to be an Exercises To Do This Week, but Blackberry RIM has pooped out in the NYC area–found out via Twitter, not from the two people at AT&T whom I spoke with on the phone for a half an hour. Thanks, Twitter. In short, no phone = no photos from workouts to share with ya’ll for the blog. Whatever. Onward!)

Much as we runners like to toot our own horns about being so health-conscious and, hey, we can outrun you, but running is not a get-out-of-jail-free card in the health department.

If you’ve ever watched a marathon, you know full well that there are marathoners of every age, shape and size. Some of the shorter, chubbier ones pass me and I still cannot believe it. Regardless, it is pretty obvious that running isn’t a free pass to a healthy body.

Running giant Alberto Salazar, winner of three consecutive NYC Marathons and legendary running coach, had a heart attack at age 48. Fit, trim, still running serious mileage and working out with world-class athletes, Salazar nearly died in front of his team. He actually did die, but was brought back and survived.

The great Grete Waitz, who won more NYC Marathons than anyone else in the race’s history–NINE, this past spring died after a long battle with cancer at the age of 57.

But we’re invincible, right? I mean, if we can finish marathons and crazy workouts and all that then we must be healthy, right? Wrong. Thin doesn’t always mean healthy. Fit doesn’t always equal healthy. The ability to finish a kick-ass workout doesn’t always equal healthy.

I’m such a downer, I know. Here’s the upside. Running will HELP to keep you healthy but you have to do a little bit of work elsewhere, too.

1. Visit your doctor for baseline blood work, cholesterol count, and possible ECG if you have cardiac disease in your family. And keep all those annual visits rolling.

2. Don’t ignore the warning signs of other stuff. Blood where it ought not be, exhaustion after days and days of rest, and pain that persists are all signs that something is off. Get checked out.

3. If your doctor blows you or your symptoms off, get a new doctor. Doctors are like yoga teachers: the right one is out there, you just gotta find him/her.

4. EAT REAL FOOD. I can’t stress this enough, but what you eat matters even more than what you do. If you eat crap, your insides will look like crap. You can’t run away all that drinking and terrible food. It will come back and haunt you.

5. Do stuff besides running. A well-balanced athlete is a healthy athlete. Don’t be “that runner” who says that running is all you need to do to be healthy/in shape. Seriously. You are smarter than that, I know you are.

Don’t stop running! Just make sure you’re taking care of yourself all-around and not just when you lace up your running shoes. You are too valuable to lose. So, cowboy/cowgirl up and take good care of yourself!

Now go out and run!


Better Than The Alternative Tuesdays: Science

Science gets a bad rap sometimes. Genetically engineered food, pesticides, all of the Terminator and Species movies, plastic surgery, fracking, combustion engines, controlled substances, vaccines…the list of what people are complaining about with regards to science goes on and on (and on and on in social media). I’m here to give science a shout-out today! I LOVE YOU, SCIENCE!!

BTAT are designed for me and you to realize what’s so great about this world that we live in and why it’s so much better to be here than not. Science makes our lives better. It just does. There really is no arguing that point. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and get specific with why science is the topic of our BTAT this week.

Science keeps my loved ones (and me) alive.

Multiple sclerosis, cancer, ulcerative colitis, lupus, Sjogren’s, heart disease, cataracts, nearsightedness, diabetes and asthma are just some of our family’s ailments. And a hearty majority of our family are still here because of science. Science saves lives. Science makes our lives easier, more tolerable. Science allows many of my cousins (and me!) to keep our parents around to meet their grandchildren. Science is GOOD.

The more I learn about science, the more respect I have for those who devote their lives to the field. To them I say: “Thank you. But, you’re not done yet. Cure cancer, please. But most of all, thank you.”

Science made your running shoes. And your GPS watch. And all those wonderful Shot Bloks that get you through long runs. And treadmills. And velcro! Where would we be without velcro? And science made the POJs smell less yucky.

I’m grateful for science and all those wonderful discoveries that allow us to be here rather than there. Science beats the crap out of the alternative again and again.

You go, science.

Now go out and run!