I just received an e-mail which prompts me to depart from the fitness world onto an issue close to my heart.
A well-meaning e-mail was written on behalf of an elderly neighbor whose cat just had seven “adorable” kittens. Unfortunately, all that adorability did not help them to be accepted by the ASPCA or other local animal shelters because they are already full of equally adorable kittens.
So now there are seven little kitties looking for a home, and I sincerely hope that somebody will just be looking for a cat.
I must confess: the e-mail got my hackles up. I am an avid advocate of the spaying and neutering of pets, and here is just another great example why this is so important. Our pets will do what all animals are programmed to do: be fruitful and multiply. They live – hopefully – in an environment where they are well-cared for, have food and shelter and are free from natural enemies. The perfect background for successful procreation. One seven-kitty-litter per year for the duration of 10 years results in 70 direct offspring but if it is extrapolated on the assumption that those cats have their own litters, the number becomes staggering and exceeds 282 million! True, this is just a matter of math but it demonstrates well the magnitude of the problem if our pets are not controlled.
I won’t talk about the debate of whether or not a cat should be allowed to be outside. However, if allowed, then spaying or neutering should be an even greater priority, and the failure to do so constitutes irresponsible pet ownership.
Please spay and neuter your pet.
The next IDEA World Fitness Convention is just around the corner. Flight and hotel are booked, sessions selected, a dog sitter hired.
As I am contemplating the sessions that I will participate in, it struck me that I am no longer looking to experience the challenge of battling ropes and the latest agility drills. Why’s that? I am – by any standard – in great shape but, BUT in capital letters, I am not in the kind of shape that my body would need to be in for those styles of workouts.
I have often returned from conferences feeling utterly beaten, sometimes even hurting. Obviously, I am a slow learner because the reason is so clear, and I would have told all of my clients: if you want to do something different, particularly if it is intense, then you have to get your body ready for it. At the conferences, the very best presenters show their stuff. They demonstrate movements that they have practiced over the years. It is a good reminder that some caution is not cowardly but smart.
The very SAID (specific adaptation to imposed demand) principle applies to me as much as it applies to everybody else.
Of course, that means that I will MELT with Sue Hitzmann who will present three lectures. MELT is one of those modalities, though, for which no special preparation is needed. Everybody can MELT, no matter what shape they are in.
Looking forward to reporting back.
Obesity has recently been classified as a disease, starting the debate anew why we should give ‘those lazy people’ yet another excuse why they ‘don’t pull themselves together and just show a little more self-discipline’.
The fitness industry bears its share of blame for this attitude, pointing to the fact that we as fitness professionals are confronted with the same food choices and, for the most part, go for the green and low calorie options. We also exercise, get our heart rate just were it needs to be, and some have a great story how they were able to shed x number of pounds by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Good for them; I could not be happier. But can we really extrapolate so easily from ‘us’ to ‘them’?
There are not many ways in which I can relate to a person who is overweight and goes to food for comfort. When I get stressed, I lose my appetite to the point that the mere thought of food makes my nauseous. Come to think of it, my survival chances would have been very marginal if I still lived in a cave.
However, I remember my struggle to quit smoking when I was 21, after having smoked for about 5 years. Well, I pulled myself together and showed self-discipline and quit cold turkey. 37 years later, I never touched another cigarette, and for the longest time I would not have dared to for fear to start over again.
So why don’t these ‘lazy obese people’ do the same? But wait – you can’t just stop eating. Not only are the overweight confronted with the challenge of consistently reducing their food intake, they are at the same time constantly bombarded with enticements of any imaginable kind. It is hardly surprising that so many are just giving up. We are hard-wired to eat as much as possible when food is available. For millennia, this has ensured the survival of any species, humans included.
So: do I have an answer to this problem? No; if I did, I would not write a blog but a book and make millions. But I hope that everybody will support those who are trying to lose weight in any way possible and by not judging and stereotyping just because their personal genetic make-up makes it easier for them to control what for others is uncontrollable.
I have nothing against lawyers and chiropractors. I use a chiropractor myself when I need this kind of treatment, and lawyers can provide valuable assistance to maneuver the legal jungle.
I was in a car accident last Saturday. Rear-ended and then pushed against the car in front of me. Nobody got hurt but my car got the short end of the stick. After I got home, I MELTed and found that all the components were where they have always been. The insurance company took over. My car is in the shop to get fixed, I have a rental car, and my life resumes as normal.
One day after the accident, a Sunday, I received the first phone call from a lawyer offering his services. He seemed clearly disappointed to hear that, thank you, I am just fine. Since then the beleaguered US Postal Service has enjoyed an unexpected increase in mailings, about half and half lawyers and chiropractors.
By all appearances, lawyers have more money to spend because there are glossy brochures and heavy envelopes that require additional postage. In contrast, mostly postcards from chiropractors.
Personally, I find this distasteful - to say the least. I know it is the practice in the United States (in moments like this, my German-ness dominates). But I keep a list to make sure that I will not use any of those lawyers or chiropractors that are pushing their services on me!
Okay, my fellow pocketbook carriers, we have to talk!
What on earth are you putting into your pocketbooks that turns them into devices that will double up for weight training and as a self-defense weapon when hurled at the aggressor?
My question is prompted by two occurrences on the same day. One suspected that she hurt her shoulder by reaching for her pocketbook. The other came with an aching back and a body hurting overall. In either case, I would not have used more than an 8 lbs. dumbbell (if that much) for weight training with controlled movements but when I picked up the pocketbooks to check it out, I hardly believed what I felt.
When inquiring what could possibly turn the innocent pocketbooks into such a lethal force, it appeared that they were clearly prepared for any circumstance that life may throw at them. All these things – just in case – do add up, and they may have made perfect sense when hiking off into the wilderness. But just for getting around town?
So here is my challenge: check the content of your pocketbook and ask yourself whether you really need to carry it all on you all the time. Many items can find a place in the car, maybe in a separate bag, so that you can travel light when you walk around places where you actually have to carry your pocketbook.
As of late, I have seen more and more clients who come to me for MELT instructions and who proudly tell me that they own a foam roller. Some of them even bring it along when they see me. I am informed that they would like to know how to use it correctly. Invariably, those are the hard foam rollers, often the white Styrofoam version, sometimes even the black one that to me feels nothing short of lightweight concrete.
When I ask how they are using it, they often confess that they are really not because it hurts so badly. In one case, a guy told me that he had actually made matters worse rather than better.
The MELT roller is made of much softer material which yields gently to the touch. It has a textured surface. Before I start my MELT instructions, I ask them to suspend the belief that a roller needs to hurt in order to do any good, and off we MELT.
The first time my new MELTers get on the soft roller, I always hear a sigh of “Oh that feels much better”, and that’s all the convincing I need to do thereafter.
There may be a place for a hard roller and all the other devices out there. I have taken classes at conferences with them, and, frankly, I felt as if I had been beaten up with a baseball bat rather than feeling better. So no more hard rollers for me. Not at all.
And from all I have heard from the new soft roller converts, the question now is what to do with the hard roller. I am collecting ideas of creative uses for the hard foam rollers.
I always wondered what that term about ‘aging gracefully’ means. Similarly: what does it mean to ‘act your age’? What is allowed and what is forbidden?
I guess it really depends where you stand when you look at those questions. I am 58 now, and I have been spared those health challenges that come out of nowhere and that disregard the fact that you have done nothing to bring it on.
I must admit: I do just about everything that I ‘should’ do by the standards of health recommendations. I also have to admit that I enjoy most of that stuff really a lot. If somebody asks my favorite activity: walking my dog, hands down. The more, the better. I love to move, I even move when I sit still which got me the term ‘Zappelphilipp’ at an early age. That is a German word for somebody in constant motion. And while MELT has a funny way of keeping me in one place for a while, it has even further enhanced my sense of well-being.
I am a vegetarian because I do not think that somebody needs to die so that I can eat. But I also really like all that green stuff, and after we recently joined a CSA, I am taking ‘green leafy vegetables’ to new heights.
I did smoke at one point in my life but gave that up when I was 21. Never touched another cigarette but certainly understand the power of addiction.
Right now, I am as healthy as can be, and my physical abilities are not a limiting factor in the choices I make. I sometimes marvel how little has changed between the current version of me and the one from many years ago. Oh sure, some grey hair and ‘laugh lines’! On close inspection, not all parts of my body should be exposed to detailed scrutiny but I choose not to inspect too closely. I have no interest to compete with my younger self because that version has evolved to where I am now, and I would not go back to any earlier point in my life.
So what does ‘aging’ really mean? Adding years – yes. Acting smarter – I hope so. Embracing new challenges – absolutely!
About two months ago, I got a call from a young lady named Charman Driver. She introduced herself as a reporter for the “Walter” magazine and was asking me about MELT. She writes the fitness column for “Walter” and only about things after she had gained some personal experience.
Well, we spoke, and I explained as well as I can what MELT is all about. MELT is one of those techniques that, while explainable, have to be experienced to ‘get it’. But Charman promised me to attend one of my classes.
A few weeks later, she came with photographer Mark Petko in tow. I put her in the front row so that I could keep a good eye on her, and then I conducted the class in my usual way. It was immediately obvious that Charman was on the ‘very fit’ end of my participants’ spectrum, and her exceptional body awareness enabled her to perform exercises very well that usually have a bit of a learning curve, such as the low back decompression.
At the end of the class, it was quite obvious to me that MELT had just acquired a new fan. Her article appeared in the April addition of “Walter”, and I want to share the link here http://www.waltermagazine.com/melting-away/.
Alexandria, VA, begins to grow on me, and the proximity to Raleigh has a lot to do with it. The much smaller size of the conference itself with only about 800 participants (as opposed to 5000 for the IDEA World event) makes it feel almost intimate. It’s funny to compare this conference to its big brother. The absence of group exercise instructors makes it a lot more low key, and the reduced noise level is most welcome to me.
Since Sue Hitzmann presented at this conference, 3 time slots for lectures and/or workshops were automatically assigned because I use any opportunity to re-learn the MELT material. As such, her sessions were the highlights of the conference for me, particularly her one lecture on chronic pain. The rest of the sessions were informative. I enjoyed the one with the Dynamax ball but will first need to get a non-weighted beach ball to practice before throwing 6 lbs. at my clients. The other sessions may have provided some insights to newer trainers but – let’s face is – I am a veteran now in the field. So I should feel good if there is no ‘take home’ message in some cases because it is already there.
The next two conferences are already on the books. The IDEA World Fitness conference will be in August in Los Angeles, and the Personal Trainer Institute in 2014 will mean another trip to Alexandria.
If you are interested in all conference notes, you will find those on my web site http://www.meltnc.com/page718.html.
Since last week, I feel particularly virtuous. I have joined a CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) and have started indulging in truly fresh vegetables which I pick up once a week.
The concept of my chosen farm is a little different from others: I get to pick from a list which is forwarded to me once a week. I can also skip a week if I want to. What had prevented me from joining before where the stories of people getting delivery of whatever vegetable is abundant, and while I like vegetables in general, I did not cherish the thought of a box full of one which I may not be particularly fond of.
So now I am off to expand my vegetable horizon, and have already encountered a new one: Red Russian Kale. Courtesy of the internet, a recipe was quickly on hand, and it was a wonderful choice. Picking vegetables from a list works really well for me because I am not an adventurous cook. If I don’t know what to do with it, I don’t buy it unless I am reasonably sure that I can eat it raw.
I am looking forward to a year of fresh veggies. In case you want to know: go to www.wildonionfarms.com and see for yourself.