Monday, December 08, 2008
Three years ago my mom was struggling with Liver Cancer. She had just retired and was looking forward to moving down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to her beach house when she was diagnosed. It started with some pain in her side and progressed from there. After what seemed like months of tests, the doctors determined that she had Liver Cancer and was in Stage 4. Only 5% of people this far along survive, and unfortunately, my mom was not one of the lucky ones. In January 29, 2006 she passed away, six months before she could move to the ocean. My dad is there now, and I think of mom whenever I walk the beaches. This was her favorite time of the year down there - no tourists and nice cool days to shell hunt. I count myself fortunate that I was able to get to the East Coast from the West in order to see her one final time before she passed away. Now, my mom did not do drugs, did not have Hepatitis C, and was a very moderate drinker (2 glasses of wine and she was looped). There was nothing in her life that should have caused liver cancer, except a family history - my great grandmother had passed away of it many years ago.
I have since been looking for ways to remember my outgoing and fun mother. I wanted to raise funds for liver cancer, but most of those funds go to preventative care like drug and alcohol counciling - and while those are indeed worthy causes, they are not a way to remember my mom. When LiveStrong Announced that they were holding a bike ride in 2008 with the funds going to cancer research and helping families cope with cancer, I decided I had found my way of honoring my mother's memory. I bought a new road bike and trained for the 50 mile ride. I also raised $1000.00 for cancer research. I was very happy.
This year, when the ride was annouced, I realized that I truly wanted to expand my goals. I have signed up for the 100 mile ride and here in the Bay Area, that will mean a HILLY 100 miles, so I will be training hard. And I set my goal for fund raising for $3000.00. I will blog my journey to reach those goals here. I'd like a record of my journey.
I rode 30 miles this past weekend, and realized how much I have let slide. It was a hard 30 miles, and I'm kind of beating myself up for not having stayed on top of my cycling, but it will come back. As the ride is in July, I'm focusing more on leg conditioning at this point, and I would like to drop 20 pounds - so I don't want any really long rides at this point. I will work up to a base of 50 miles, and then when it's time to train hard, I will have the base to do it.
If you are interested in learning more about the LiveStrong foundation, please go to www.livestrong.com.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Two and a half years ago, my mom passed away due to cancer. We don't know what caused the cancer, but I do know she did not have the most healthy life style. I've been wanting to do something in remembrance of my mother, but was not sure what.
That changed yesterday when a friend told me about a 65 mile bike ride for Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong Foundation. This is a foundation I completely support, and I jumped on board (literally!) the idea of this ride in order to honor my mom. Thanks to Sparkpeople and the fitness and health belonging to these forums has given me, I can do this ride, and I am very excited!!
If you would like to help me meet my donation goals, please use this link: sanjose08.livestrong.org/*/forjoangr
Every little bit helps! If you're in San Jose on July 13th, come on by and cheer us on!! Or better yet, ride with us!
Monday, April 14, 2008
Do you remember the Dieter's Prayer? The line that I remember most is
"We Are What We Eat," said a wise old man!
Lord, if that's true, I'm a garbage can.
That was me the past week. And once I get like that, all good eating habits fly out the window. I cannot for the life me understand why I was so hungry! I did not change anything, add intensity, or add heavier weights. I just don't know, but it happened. Fortunately that was last week, and this is a new week, so I'm starting over again on a good foot and have spent the last two days eating well. What damage occurred will be reversed, etc. So, it's not that big a deal - just a bit frustrating.
But one thing I did realize is that when I eat like that, several things happen.
1. Once I start eating badly, it's tough to go back to healthy eating. It takes a real conscious effort and a flat order to myself that we WILL do this.
2. I had a major loss of energy - almost a lethargy - come over me. I usually workout hard for 60 minutes 6 days a week. I did that, but it was tough this past week.
3. I felt horrible! Bloated, gassy - heck my tummy jiggled when I did step aerobics or ran. ICK! I haven't had that for a while.
4. I realized that I LOVE the way I feel when I eat right.
I wonder how many people in the US go through life feeling bloated and gassy, suffering from heartburn because they insist on eating things that may taste good but are so bad for them. I think it's a vicious circle. Once you get there, it takes so much energy to climb out. With so much of the bad icky food out there, it's no wonder so many people are overweight. Oh, I slip every now and again like I did last week, but honestly, what keeps me on the "straight and narrow" is knowing that there is not one dish in the world that tastes as good as the way I feel when I'm at the top of my game. That is what has helped me get my determination back and make the right decisions about my diet.
And incase you were wondering - here's the Dieter's Prayer in its entirety. Enjoy!
A Dieter's Prayer
Lord, my soul is ripped with riot
incited by my wicked diet.
"We Are What We Eat," said a wise old man!
Lord, if that's true, I'm a garbage can.
To rise on Judgment Day, it's plain!
With my present weight, I'll need a crane.
So grant me strength, that I may not fall
into the clutches of cholesterol.
May my flesh with carrot-curls be dated,
that my soul may be poly unsaturated
And show me the light, that I may bear witness
to the President's Council on Physical Fitness.
And at oleo margarine I'll never mutter,
for the road to Hell is spread with butter.
And cream is cursed; and cake is awful;
and Satan is hiding in every waffle.
Mephistopheles lurks in provolone;
the Devil is in each slice of baloney,
Beelzebub is a chocolate drop,
and Lucifer is a lollipop.
Give me this day my daily slice
Cut it thin and toast it twice.
I beg upon my dimpled knees,
deliver me from jujube's.
And when my days of trial are done,
and my war with malted milk is won,
Let me stand with Heavenly throng,
In a shining robe -- size 30 long.
I can do it Lord, if you'll show to me,
the virtues of lettuce and celery.
Teach me the evil of mayonnaise,
And of pasta a la Milanese
and crisp-fried chicken from the South.
Lord, if you love me, shut my mouth.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I know, I know, mutually exclusive right? How can the kind of weight workout you do affect the way you run other than some minor gains from stronger legs. Right?
Well, this is my experience - judge for yourself. I do run. I ran a half marathon in October, so running is not new to me. However, since my half marathon last October, I ran a total of 3 miles. That half was hard and I gave myself a break. Well, I signed up for a 10k in July and decided yesterday that I should go out and give a run a whirl.
Since October I've discovered Kettlebells. They work your body in a very unique way. The foundation of the kettlebell workout is the swing. Basically you take this cannonball with a handle and swing it between your legs. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is - to learn. Once you get the form correct, you start swinging with heavier bells and wow! Your hips, you butt and your hamstrings - not to mention your upperbody as well (especially your core) - all get nice and toasted. All of the moves in kettlebells are really compound moves. You think they are working one thing, then the next day, you are reminded that you've worked others. And there is a huge focus on core (not just abs, core). They also work your flexibility, and your endurance. I am sweaty and burned out after a tough kettlebell workout.
So, what does that have to do with running? Well, remember I have not run for close to six months. I went out yesterday and ran 5 miles. I ran 5 miles with a lower heart rate than ever before (I averaged 142 - I typically average 158), I finished the 5 miles feeling as if I could run another 5 miles (which is very unusual for me - last year to start I could do more than 3 without being in pain), and I feel great today. Oh, I feel the run a little in my quads and glutes, but nothing like I would have just last year. The only difference in my training is the replacement of traditional weights with kettlebells (I am even the same weight).
I'm a believer!!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Today was a little break in my Enter the Kettlebell program so I decided to get on my bike and ride to Cardio Coach Press Play. Now Cardio Coach is a wonderful idea. Basically you make a fairly generic program with intervals of hills and sprints and put in inspiring music so that people are not bored while working out on the elliptical, or treadmill, or bike - whatever cardio machine the gym (or the house) has to offer. You can see more at www.cardiocoach.com But Press Play is special. It has Jim MacLaren speaking about choosing to live. Sounds simple, but you have to know who Jim MacLaren is and what happened to him. If anyone has a reason to choose to NOT live, it's him. I have his story below. Please read it. It's one of the most inspirational stories I've heard. So, when Jim says that every morning we have the choice to do something that will lead us six feet under or six miles into the sky, I listen. If you want more out of your workouts than just a way to lose weight, I highly recommend Cardio Coach.
"There are times I don't like the way my life went, but that doesnít mean that I'm not in love with life," says the 43-year-old motivational speaker who created the Choose Living Foundation. "Is it fair what's happened to me? No, of course not. So what? I still have to get up in the morning. By engaging life, by moving what few muscles I have, my bed suddenly becomes an exercise mat."
At 14, MacLaren found acceptance at Vermont Academy, an exclusive boarding school where "there's nothing to do but play sports and studyĀE Following his passions for sports and performance brought Jim to the next level. His academic success propelled MacLaren to an Ivy League education at Yale where he not only excelled in his course studies, but also lacrosse and football. He majored in theater studies while morphing into a 300-pound defensive end for the Bull Dogs.
Finishing his undergraduate work in 1985, he ventured to New York City, to train at the Circle in the Square Theatre School on Broadway. Three weeks later, leaving a late-night rehearsal session on his motorcycle, MacLaren was broadsided by a 40,000-pound city bus. Rushed to Bellevue Hospital, he was initially diagnosed as "dead on arrival."
After 18 hours of surgery doctors stabilized a comatose MacLaren and made a decision that would shape the next eight years of his life. They amputated his left leg below the knee. He awoke from his coma, rehabbed diligently, and attempted to resume his graduate studies at the Yale School of Drama. There, he started swimming, and picked up a book on triathlons that sparked his imagination. Soon, MacLaren was ready to resume life as an athlete, as a triathlete. "I felt like I was back in it, back in life," he says. "I didn't compete against other people. I was competing against me. A buddy once said, 'Mac, nobody cares how fast you go, they just love that you're doing it.' "I told him I care. I never wanted to be taken for granted, as that guy with the fake leg. So I just kept pushing myself."
MacLaren became a media sensation in the fledgling sport of triathlons, paving the way for a new generation of disabled athletes. He competed and set scores of records in some of the toughest races on the planet, including the New York City Marathon and the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, and routinely finished ahead of 80 percent of the able-bodied athletes.
Then, on June 6, 1993, his life took another cruel turn. He was in Mission Viejo, California, racing another triathlon. Two miles into the bike leg, on a closed course, a traffic marshal misjudged MacLaren's speed approaching an intersection. The marshal directed a van to cross the street, and the van and MacLaren collided. Hurled into a signpost, MacLaren broke his neck at the C5 vertebrae, paralyzing him.
Slowly, MacLaren pulled himself back again, grappling with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and even reclaiming some motor function of his limbs. Most importantly, he fostered an inner force that enabled him to act in ways he couldn't as an able-bodied athlete. "It took two years of self study, going deep, and then deeper again," he says. "And, sometime in 2000-2001, I chose life."
MacLaren's Choose Living Foundation, which he launched in 2005, and his ongoing speaking engagements are a distillation of those experiences that have shaped and changed Jimís every day. While it sounds simple, even simplistic, MacLaren doesn't shy from the no-nonsense challenge that such a straightforward moniker entails.
Today, MacLaren considers himself blessed not only because of the enlightenment achieved through his recoveries, his studies and self-exploration, but also because his speaking schedule allows him to impart those lessons. He's grateful for the exposure that came his way when he and Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2005 ESPY Awards, and the ensuing widespread media attention, including televised appearances with Oprah Winfrey and Jim Rome.
While working as a motivational speaker, Jim refuses to cast himself as a victim and has garnered two masters' degrees, and is currently working toward his Ph. D. in mythology and depth psychology. MacLaren also understands the opportunity he's been given to motivate others, and readily accepts that responsibility, offering his own experience as example. A friend recently told him of a girl at a high school basketball game in rural Pennsylvania wearing a T-shirt that said: "What would Jim MacLaren do?" The answer is obvious. He'd choose to live life to the fullest, without excuses, without regret.
"It's a journey," says MacLaren today, acknowledging the universal truth of his life. "Rather than overcoming adversity, it's a journey about living with adversity.
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