Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Fitness Solutions: Not for Sissies!

The past 48 hours I have been bumbling around my house gasping and whining. I have avoided the stairs at all cost. If I have dropped something I have left it. I have contemplated signing up for a service dog to do things for me like retrieve my shoes and pick things up. My writing teachers would not approve of my word choice, but they would have to support my clarity of making the point: This AIN'T for sissies!

This strength training is making a total chick out of me. I mean a real chick. One that is powerful and may soon buy a Harley Davidson and clothes made of leather. I have already told my sons ages 19 and 21 that when I meet my goals I am going to get a tattoo and a bikini. They had been really encouraging me until I made this proclamation. You should have seen the terror on their faces. It is hard to make young men at this age and over 6 feet tall wince, but this did it.

My trainer and I did a leg workout the day before yesterday. I skipped in the studio and gave her a chirpy,"Hey." Then she said,"We are going to do legs." I thought how could this hurt? I mean it is legs. I walk and run everyday. I have been doing this for almost half a century. Then she got started. I am sure that our session lasted for 8 hours. Not really, but it was the slowest hour ever recorded by Timex. I have felt it ever since. Who knew legs could hurt so much?

I went to yoga the following day to try to stretch it out. Then woke up this morning and was ready to get back in the gym with my trainer, in fact I am going to miss her while I am headed out on vacation! We got back together and worked really hard on backs today.As we were leaving the studio a lady said to my trainer, Rebecca and me, "Oh the trainers are taking the elevator?" I did an inner happy dance that she had mistakenly thought, I was a trainer. (I guess she thought there was a senior citizen group that met on Thursday morning!)

I am seeing differences, and I have already lost 4 pounds! Even if I am having to tough it out a bit after some of the sessions it is worth it! I am seeing the results quickly.

Today I went to get my hair cut and my sweet, dear stylist said, "You look great! I can tell you have been working out!" She had no idea how much her words meant to me. The work has been hard, but I am liking the results!

Nothing worth having ever comes easy, right? As I was checking out an hour later from the salon this much younger lady (I didn't know her) looked at me and said, "You know I need to start working out. I really need to do something. I keep saying I am going to it." I told her,"You should if for no other reasons, it is fun and makes you feel great!"

My trainer and I made plans for when I return from vacation. I am ready to go out of town to have fun, but I have got to keep the program going so I don't lose my edge and have to start all over. We also discussed some things I can do while I am out of town to keep the momentum with me. If you are interested I may blog and let you know how the efforts go by myself. I am headed to Colorado in a few days to get in touch with my family and my inner cowgirl! Yee Hi! See ya round, partner!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Fitness Solutions: Day 8

" I have been standing by the door trying to think how I can tell you this the most delicate way. When a woman your age . . ." this was the beginning of a discussion with my doctor last year. He was trying to respond to my suggestion that although I had pneumonia, I just needed an antibiotic and I would be riding a bike in the afternoon. I hate it when anyone starts a conversation with responses such as these or "act your age." What is the new fifty? It is NOT dead yet! Why not live out loud to the very end? Why slow down?  I am not quitting. I think life is getting better every day!

I do get this. When a "woman gets my age" it is super difficult to lose weight. I have been trying to lose the same 5 pounds for a year. I lose a pound and then gain back 6 the next day. If there was an occasion for me to go out to dinner I could plan not to eat for a month afterwards. I would eat out and realize that as I ate I would be having nothing but water and tuna for 14 days. Of course the thing that really deepens the pain is that I would turn on the TV and see Hollywood skinny stars in bikinis eating an extra large pizza supreme, a bag of cookies, a cheeseburger and drinking a pitcher of margaritas! That is when I feel the pinch of those words, "A woman of your age."

With all of this baggage, you can celebrate with me when I tell you that in a week with Rebecca at My Fitness Solutions I have lost 3 pounds! That is really great news for a girl who thought that her scale was cruel, insenstive and inhumane.

It is working! I get measured on Thursday. Let's see how that goes. Then I am hoping that I have learned enough to manage all this while on my vacation. Rebecca reminds me of different exercises that she says I do well enough to do by myself while out of town. She is giving me tools that I can use to make me empowered for my own health.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Fitness Solutions: Day 6: 1 week done

Woo Hoo! Wonderful Monday! Monday means I am back at the My Fitness Solutions studio with my trainer. Today was chest, abs, biceps and triceps. I worked to the point of failure. I had to have help on the Smith Machine to complete my final rep.  All this and I didn't feel overwhelmed. It is great working with an expert!

 I did all that I could and when I needed help my trainer, Rebecca encouraged me and gave me a hand so I could actually finish the rep. At times she had to readjust the weight. I am getting stronger. It is happening. I still have lots to learn and accomplish.

Today was a better day for me. I am on step one learning about weights. It is all about the form and using the correct muscle to contract and squeeze a weight where you want it to go. It is not about using the momentum of the swing. I was feeling a bit more confident until my son told me that the first time that he went to the studio that  Fadi and his brother were hanging from one of the bars doing inverted, hanging sit ups! That is why both of these men look like their bodies were chiseled out of marble by Michaelangelo. Then my trainer chirped in that she could do it too! I am NO where near that, but I am feeling better. I do know that consistency wins everytime. What if one day I could do that? Me? The old girl?!

This program is not just strength training. I am walking briskly every morning to give  my metabolism a jump start and then trying to make sure that I have my heart rate up at least 2 additional times during the day. After my walk this morning, I headed to the studio and then after getting some real life things done I headed to the pool to get my heart rate up again. I swam 1600 meters this afternoon. I was whipped when I got out of the pool.How will I ever keep this up when I go back to work?

My diet is pretty much the same thing everyday. Breakfast is rolled oats and fruit.  I am eating about 3 oz of meat and a salad with water for lunch. I usually have left overs so I eat this again at dinner. Today after swimming I threw in a protein bar. Then I repeated what I had for lunch. The next 2 weeks I will be at of town . . . that is going to take some dedication. I can do it, the scales were moving in the right direction this morning already!

The highlight of the day was that my hubby told me he could tell I was toning up. This is all the encouragement that I need to keep going! There is also the fact that I will soon be at the beach! Nothing keeps a girl honest like wearing a swimsuit!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Body by Fadi: The Weekend

I left the gym yesterday with my convertible open in my car. I was zipping down Sugarloaf Highway just about lunchtime. I began to become intoxicated by all of the smells. The air was saturated with pizza and fried chicken parts. There was even a guy in a sandwich board trying to wave me in to have Mexican food for $5.99. I tried to ignore him. I refused to look at him because to be honest a quesidilla pollo sounded perfect at that moment. Of course, I got caught at the light right beside him. It would have been an easy right turn too!

It is really hard to eat correctly when so much is pushed on you. Bad food choices are everywhere and easily accessible. It would have been a lot easier to stop and eat the Mexican food for $5.99 instead of going home and grilling my chicken and making my salad, but I did it.

Today I went to a wedding. I looked at the choices on the bar and realized that most of the foods that were  offered were not on my eating plan. I saw little children loading up on starchy potatoes and fried chicken parts. I saw adults pounding their plates with rolls, sauces, cheese, chicken, more potatoes and then there was the wedding cake!

Eating well takes effort. I am hoping that I see some evidence from the self discipline in a few weeks. The next few weeks are going to be hard because I am leaving my trainer and kitchen and heading out of town for 2 weeks. I have to stick it out while I am on my own. I like to think that if you are out of town that WHAT you eat doesn't really matter. This mind set has not helped me in the past reach my goals. Let's see how I do.

It takes commitment. You have got to be all in it!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 5: Younger Next Year for Women

"You do have to age, but You Don't Have to Rot," (Chris Crowley). I grabbed this quote from the book, Younger Next Year for Women that I am currently reading. It is my favorite of the summer so far. Now that is a fluid statement, as I still have many books to go before the sun sets on Labor Day, and I am back at work.  I read a variety of genres and can be entertained and intrigued by many ideas, but this one is making me really evaluate how I spend my time, better known as my life.

The book's author points out that if we fully engage in exercise 6 days a week we can, "eliminate 70% of the normal decay, that's rot, associated with aging . . . the weakness, the sore joints, the lousy balance, the feeling crappy can be forestalled almost until the end." Now that makes me wants to grab  my Brooks shoes and go running!

I want to be active until the end. I want to feel powerful and strong. The biggest commitment that I have to make is 6 days of exercise at 65% of my maximum heart rate and 2 days of strength training? Wow! That is like being handed Jack's magic beans. It is the gold!

There is a phenomenal analogy in the book about how as a species we have had a "job" to survive. We have had to "work." We have had to forage and hunt for millions of years. Our bodies got stronger and more resistant as we developed. The fittest really did survive. Our current lifestyle of technology, desk jobs, fast food and instant everything has sent the abhorrent message to our physical brain that we are done; that our bodies have finished the job. We can now decay. We are no longer active, hunting, foraging or for that matter living! When our physical brain gets this subconscious message it begins to rot. It begins to die.

 I am thinking about this every time I watch TV, a movie, Internet surf or just lay around and read even great books! I am grabbing this information and pushing it around. I am going to start really living. I am stopping decay. I have got work to do!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Body by Fadi, Day 4: All by Myself

This is a off day with a trainer. I get up early and head to my normal gym. I spend an hour just stretching and stretching. I tell myself that when I am finished I want to feel like bubble gum. I find my favorite spot . It is a hidden corner where if it is clear I like to go work out without any traffic. Usually it is the corner where a trainer takes their client. I have already staked my spot. I begin to stretch.

Soon a trainer brings over their client and they begin to workout. I am at a vantage point and get to just observe. One thing I notice is that the client is constantly on the phone and that ruins the effectiveness of the workout. Then they start working out again. She is doing squats with a medicine ball. They are standing at the end of my mat as I am stretching. I am shocked as the trainer keeps counting and the client keeps "squatting" with her knees way over her feet and her back leaning too! The trainer just keeps counting. I want to say something so badly.

Then I get to observe another trainer and client. This trainer is all talk. He is leaning on a railing and keeps chirping out a non-convincing, "Good job." He doesn't really seem engaged in the workout. He is talking the smack, but he just not attentive.

This has not been my experience with my trainer. I reluctantly-sometimes get all of her attention. She is totally focused on my form and how I am executing each rep. She doesn't hesitate to ask me to put a weight down and start again. I am nudged to,"give me another one." I have been called the morning after a workout to see how I am feeling. I have been given workouts that are determined ahead of time with my name on them. It is specifically for me! It is not cookie cutter. What works for anyone else is not necessarily what I need to achieve my fitness goals. This is what I needed. I read lots of health magazines and am smart enough to follow a program, but I couldn't get the results that I wanted.  I have also been given list of foods and supplements. I needed the experts!

At Fitness Solutions, I get treated  professionally. It is not a weight loss program or a body building program in isolation. They are really trying to meet my individual needs.  My trainer understands why I am there and we use our time. She is prepared and so am I. She is open for questions and easily gives me suggestions. She is available for me to call later. So far, I feel like I am really getting what I wanted. 56 days to go! Can I see this to the end?  Can I keep up the motivation? Will I achieve what I hope to this summer? Will I see a difference in just 60 days?

Next workout is tomorrow at 11:00!

Body by Fadi Day 3. My Fitness Solutions

I contemplate what life will be like here in the driver seat of my car. This is where I will stay. Today was the leg workout at My Fitness Solutions. I am home from the hour workout, and now I can't get out of my car. Realizing that it is now past time for me to eat "protein" I throw both legs and feet so they land squarely on the floor of the garage in one swoop. I lean so the car door is allowed to close without effort and walk as though Frankenstein has been resurrected all the way to the backdoor. Who knew that we put a step up before you enter the backdoor? Was it here before?

I make it past the kitchen and forego the well meaning 'protein' for a bit and collapse into the recliner. Fortunately there is a big blanket left, so I wrap up. I begin to take deep breaths and realize that now rigor mortis has begun to set in. If I continue to sit then buzzards will begin to circle the house and my golden retrievers will be upset.

We work out so hard. My trainer, Rebecca keeps encouraging me as I do climbing sprints, 1, 2,3’s, and squats, “I see a muscle. It is there. Are you feeling the muscle?" I assure her that I am "feeling the muscle." I am sure that in one more set I will look like Dara Torres. Obviously, I don't yet look like Dara because Rebecca begins to tell me about the next set. I give it all that I have. I have already had a 45 minute inclined walk before I got here.

She then walks me over and introduces me to the leg machines. I was happy with the introduction and wanted to just stand there, maybe breathe and get better acquainted. I have always felt that relationships take time to develop. She insists that I move quickly and keep my heart rate up. I climb on and she explains to me the next set. I start pushing the weights with my legs that feel as though they are becoming disconnected from my body except for the one nerve that is pulsating all the way to my abs. She watches me like a first grade teacher at penmanship time. "Why are you lifting your back? Why is your stomach coming off the machine?" She stops me. She climbs on the machine and demonstrates. Then I get back on. Now that I am focusing on the foundation of doing the exercise correctly I start AGAIN.

After the workout, I do look like a professional body builder. Not because of my muscles, but I am washed down in the glisten of a workout. I look as though I have been oiled down. I feel so good, crazy good. I am feeling power. I am claiming my strength one painful workout at a time. I am getting it. Yes, it hurts but my body is responding. My trainer says she is seeing a difference. "Now you got it. We just have to keep toning," she says. I am re-energized.  My next workout is Friday morning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Body by Fadi Day 2, By My Self

The morning after is always uncertain. You never know how to act or what to say.  I was outside feeding the dog when my trainer called me, "Did I scare you off? How are you feeling?" "Well, I can do basic movements, like feed the dog and brush my teeth," I answered. She tells me that I should eat a banana, stay heavy on the protein, take an ibuprofen and then she shares the secret: Alka Seltzer. I have already decided that even though I am a bit sore, I will go ahead with my plans to go for a brisk 4 mile walk and then to go swim. I have already contacted a park ranger earlier and asked if I can swim outside the buoys to see if I can possibly swim 1.2 miles.

I take out with my husband for a 4 mile walk at a local park. This is the suggestion from My Fitness Solutions: Walk for about an hour on an empty stomach. Even though it is only 9:00 in the morning, the thermometer in Georgia is beginning to drool at 83 degrees. As we walk, I name another body part that I am now aware of that hurts. How does my butt hurt? It must have been that set of crunches where I held my trainer's heels and she threw my feet to each side.  After we walk at a quick pace, the humidity bends and twists the thermometer. We finally finish as the thermometer gives in to 93 degrees. The thermometer's tongue is now hanging out and gasping for oxygen.

Next, I head home for breakfast. It is oatmeal with berries and whey protein with some decaf coffee and water. I take my regular handful of vitamins that I am convinced will keep me alive forever. Every time I tell my husband this, he exhales as though I make him tired, and I remind him that he will have to be alive forever too, so he can take care of me. He smiles. He is in it. He loves me. I keep his life interesting. Then I ask him if instead of what he had planned to do with the rest of the morning, if he will go with me and hydro-bike while I try to swim a mile at a local lake. I just need a little reassurance in case I get tired, since I am swimming without a life guard and the lake is DEEP. He starts heading toward the car. He is such support. We go and I swim for about an hour.

On the way home, we stop by the store.  I can't tell you how hungry I am! The cakes looks so tempting, I am salivating at the smells drifting out of the deli. I want to eat. The breads, oh my! It is hot! I start fantasizing about a loaf with melted butter dribbling over the top and down the sides. I pick up the Alka Seltzer in case I might need it on another day and a few other items that we need. I head home. Protein is waiting. I get through the store without getting a "quick fix."

I get home and suck down a protein shake and a grilled chicken salad. For dessert I have some watermelon. Honestly, I am feeling better. I needed the food. I made it. I won. I got through it. Battle won. My lunch fed me. I head back to the pool to meet some friends.

I spend the day in the pool, hanging out with some friends. We chat and float. We catch up. We reapply sunscreen.  They drink cold beer. I am drinking water. Just water. I am really trying to win this thing. At the end of the afternoon, I head home and eat more protein, a salad and a bit of a sweet potato. Again, watermelon for dessert. Then I fall on the sofa for an unattended nap.

When I awaken about 2 hours later, I am hurting all over. It hurts to breathe. I can't laugh without feeling like I need to call for medical attention. I try to stand to get the Alka Seltzer. I am whipped. I want to lift my arms to push myself up from the sofa. I decide it will be easier if I attempt to lean and roll up to a standing position. Got it. Ibuprofen and Alka Seltzer . . . I want the banana, but that is all the way down the stairs. I wonder if I could pay a teenager to bring it to me.

I won. I have stuck it out today. It was hard. I meet my trainer for day 3 at 11:00 tomorrow for legs. Now to get that banana.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Commitment, Experts, Power, Strength = Results

Commitment + Endurance.

I have been committed to the sport. I have spent a life time running down endurance.  I have chased running all over Georgia. I have run with the Marines in a marathon in Washington, DC and run with and without shoes along the coast in Florida. I have rounded corners while inhaling plumeria in Hawaii and run up snowcapped mountains in the spring near Seattle, Washington.

Now is the time to go after power and strength with the help of an expert so I can get the results that I want. It is Day 1 of a 60 day training, commitment and discipline program at My Fitness Solutions, in Duluth. I meet Rebecca Pitts, my trainer at 11:00 am. I have to admit that the appointment makes the commitment to improving my health important. I am investing in my body at 47 years old. My body is the only one I will have to get  through this life. I can avoid injury and disease at much as I possible by investing in myself.  I will increase my flexibility, strength and power. I have to invest in myself. I am my own future. Exercising is taking charge of my body. Fueling it with the better foods and pushing it so I can live life larger, better and longer.

Rebecca, my trainer

When first arriving at MFS I have Rebecca's undivided attention and expertise. She leans in and asks me questions, listens and begins to dig into the workout. Today is arms, shoulders, chest and abs. I am pushing light weights repetitively, and then moving to the floor for abs. My arms give in quickly as I push the weight and Rebecca offers her support. I am going to have to work for this. After a few repeats we move to the weight bar, front and side raises. Rebecca is adamant that I maintain correct posture, form and technique. This requires me to stay focused.

Push ups with legs crossed in the air

Day 1. Great workout. I realize that tomorrow I may not be able to hold my phone to my ear or push down on the soap dispenser to wash my hands. I worked out hard. My arms are responding.  As I am driving home, Rebecca calls and suggests that for my cardio for the evening I do the Stairmaster to continue to build strength and power. She reminds me to go heavy on the protein when I eat.

I have confidence in the program. The personal attention to my health and training is encouraging. This is refreshing as I have read a plethora of articles on how to tone arms and abs only to hit the gym and see no results of the promised physical difference. I have gotten discouraged in the past when I have worked from a point of lack of knowledge about strength training, correct form, and technique. I am seeing that I really needed the guidance of an expert if I want results.

Day 1. 59 to go. Commitment + Experts + Power + Strength = Results.

My next appmt is Wednesday @ 11:00.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chasing a Dream

"Are you having a convention at your house?" my neighbor asked yesterday when I ran into him at Publix. "I mean, there are so many cars," he quipped with an I-know-better smile.

"Well, it is summer and that means I have lots of guests, and they are all under 30 years old,"  I answered. The rhythm of the house changes as my home is pretty much invaded with friends of my sons, ages 21 and 19. They sleep late and stay up late. They sit on the deck and play music. They leave at odd hours, when any person my age would be already in bed with the dog tucked in, a favorite book, comfy socks, tomorrow's "to do" list lying on the nightstand beside the bed, and an extra pillow to support the back.

The wonderful thing is that during the midst of this summer mayhem, I am enjoying the energy. Friends in that 18 to 25 age group still have their eye on chasing a dream and putting it in their pocket. They have few dire responsibilities, other than themselves. The world is their oyster. I am fed off their dreams and eagerness. I love that these young people are getting closer every day to grabbing that celestial hook that lifts them right up to the stars.

                                                                      Young America

A regular group of guests are members of my son's band, Young America. All of them. These are the greatest guys and gal. They have been hanging out here in a variety of assortments like cookies for years. Now they are older, organized, and going for it. Last fall they released their first CD and are taking every show they can find over the summer while school is out to showcase their talent. Lead singer Taylor Alexander just won a Texaco Country Showdown preliminary round and is headed for the next round in August. We will be there! They can't find 2 nickels to rub together between them but they are going for it. They are realizing their dream. They are nudging and rubbing elbows with what they all want. They are following their muse. They are striking it out to a main stage at Cornerstone in Chicago at the beginning of July.

NEW ALBUM )    Catherine Kimbro
This is Catherine!
Speaking of  following the muse, another guest this summer has been the next star on the horizon, Catherine Kimbro. She is running after that dream. She is a performer and songwriter that can still capture innocence and sweetness and lock you into a song. This week she is going from Atlanta to Nashville to Albuquerque, singing her heart out. It has been almost surreal watching her perform and listening to her as she speaks on radio shows.

Muscles are being developed, too! My oldest son, who already stands at an attention-demanding 6’3", is body building. He is working with Fadi Malouf at My Fitness Solution, in Duluth. He is eating egg whites, chicken and water while the rest of us have been gobbling down pizza. He is hitting the gym twice a day. It is not magic, I know, but a transformation has occurred in just 35 days. Muscles, definition and rips that weren't there while we were snuggled in over winter have emerged. T-shirts are crinkling up at the ridges in his biceps. He has a habit now of picking me up and moving me around the house. I have assured him that I am still in control.

There is also 'my Garrbear.' (that is what I call him). He has hung out over here since 7th grade. He is now in college and wants to travel and become an endodonist. I was so happy when he got his grades and came by to show me, "All A's, Miss Kim." Then of course, he took off to England to scour around and hang out. But he is back. I heard the door close this morning when he had to go to work.
                                                            Erica Grainger

Then there is my model. She is doing shoots, wearing too cute shoes, getting professionally painted  in makeup, and getting haircuts by leading stylists. She is asking questions and trying to figure out how to get into the business while she is taking statistics over the summer. She is wearing wedding dresses, funky rock clothes, and swimsuits. She is driving around to different locals for photo shoots, and having a blast. She has already appeared in TV show promos and her image adorns the sides of buses in New York. She is packing today to go play in Germany for 3 weeks.

The Americans
 Of course, I can't forget the night that my son and several of his friends went to see Ryan Bingham at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA. They stayed after the show and met the opening band, The Americans, a band from California. They went out to Waffle House together at 2:30 am to eat, then The Americans' lead singer asked if my son knew of a decent motel . . . "Oh come on to my house. My parents won't care. My mom is like the mom in The Blindside." All 14 of the late night muscians arrived at our house about 4 am, came in and spent the night. I am so thankful for hot n' fresh Krispy Kreme donuts when you end up with surprise guests for breakfast. (Don't worry, this only the the 2nd time he has brought home an entire band, other than his own, in the middle of the night! I met the first band that slept over, from Florida, when I came downstairs the next morning).

All this energy! All these dreams! All the vision and imagination just flows in the door during the summer like a summer breeze. They remind you to keep looking ahead. Don't stop dreaming. Keep going.  Oh the days of summer!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Southern Daughter's Appreciation on Father's Day

If I tell you that John Wayne's my daddy, you get the picture. I grew up in the down-reaching part of the country, in a place where palm trees would grow if they could edge out the long lash pines. It is a place where speech flows like Karo Syrup: clear, sweet, and slow. It's a place where hugs wrap all the way around you and rub your cheeks. They leave a lingering smell on your clothes of White Diamonds or Old Spice. I grew up in the 60's and 70's, before all the roles of men and women got swirled around and pureed. It was a time when right and wrong hadn't faded to tepid gray.

My dad is still that man. It is 2011. He is the hitchpost of our family. The place that is stable and we can tie ourselves to from time to time to get a perspective on the world. He is a man that loves his wife and daughters. He gets an understated smile when spending time with his 4 grandchildren. He gets a sparkle in his eye when he has reeled you in to a joke. He has a couple of friends for which he'd take a bullet.

He is a man that will not change his mind, even if you butter it up and try to use big words. He loves a steak and if he likes you he'd be happy for you to pull up a chair. He still likes a hot cup of black coffee and a working man's breakfast . He works until he is sweating and his hands blistered. Then it is time to "knock off and have a drink of tea." He will not waste your time chatting, but if he has something to say, you had better put your drink down and lean in because he is not going to repeat it. He opens doors for women and keeps wood on the fire in the winter. He carries a hankerchief in the breast pocket of his jacket. He probably has a firearm somewhere close.

 He still expects my sister and me to do the right thing and say,"Yes sir." He'd call us if he heard different. He still asks if we have gas in the car, air in the tires, and oil in the engine. He wants us home by dark; no need to be out that late, even though we live hundreds of miles apart. He asks how we are doing and how is work. He calls, "just to check in." He would come immediately if we needed him. No questions. He'd be there.

That's my dad!
 Happy Father's Day, Earl Sasser

It means a lot to an 'ol Southern gal to know that my dad is still keeping an eye on the old homeplace. He is still the hitchpost of our family no matter how far we have wondered out in this big world. He hasn't changed a bit. I still feel at home just thinking about him. Happy Father's Day, Dad! 

Winning the Lottery

My boys won the lottery! They got gold! They rolled bank! Every morning of their lives that have gotten up and felt an invisible hand on their backs. They step out into the world knowing that their dad unconditionally supports  them. Their dad believes and buys into their dreams and then sees the vision even bigger than they first imagined.

It is has though they have lived a presidential life with the Secret Service going ahead of them and looking out for them always. Each day all of their needs, wants, and comforts have been considered before his own. He is selfless in how he supports them and me.

Although their dad has only loved them and not intended to prove anything or set any examples he has. He has actually lived the life that shows how a man loves his family. He has by his daily life lived a life that mirrors how God loves us. They have felt the security and comfort of being  loved, just like a Christian feels the comfort of resting in the steadfastness of God. He has loved them unconditionally, but is always quick to give a word of advice, encouragement and redirection.

They have learned how to have fun! Their dad has shown them! He has coached t-ball, baseball, soccer, and hockey (that was a stretch for a man who has been planted in the south). I don't recall him ever missing a game. In fact he was always early. He took weekends to go watch them play ball.  He has gotten tickets for concerts to their favorite bands and actually GONE to the show, even though the music was loud, undecipherable,  he was up way past his bed time and had to go to work the next morning. He has ridden the same rollercoaster multiple times.He has buried nickels in the backyard so my  then preschool boys would think they found buried treasure on St Patrick's Day. He has stood in lines for Power Rangers and cellphones. He has made pancakes and loaded them with all kinds of tasty ingredients. He has made brownies in the middle of the night so they can watch movies with fast cars, robots and space creatures. He has driven miles to get them to see exhibits that they have found interesting. He has supplied them with money for dances and dates. He has bought guitars and amps and computers and gadgets! He has scoured book stores and libraries to find books that support their passions.

They won! They lucked out! They hit jackpot! Happy Father's Day, Dean!

Body By Fadi

There is sweat on the mat. My arms are shaking. My despised nemesis, an inner voice that wants to defeat me, is growling at me. ”You are tired. That is it. That is all you have got. You will never get to the number that is acceptable. ” I recognize the voice; it is me. I’m on a mat with Fadi Malouf, trying to see how long I can hold a plank. I held the plank 1.04 minutes. Three minutes is considered good; six minutes is excellent. I hate missing the mark.
When I give in Fadi tells me, “Keep going.” Without expressing  it verbally,  I communicate to him, “Why? I just blew it.” He looks at me and says, “Just do it. Then you will see what excellence feels like.” I push myself back up to the plank position and go at it again. Over and over, until the seemingly unreachable 6 minute timer flashes that time is up.  I am now gasping for breath, like an underwater sea diver who just realized that she jumped overboard with a balloon helium tank. Fadi congratulates me and says, “Now you know how to do it. “
It felt as if this moment were lifted from a twisted, psychological, cinematic thriller. Instead of feeling defeated, however, I feel refocused, re-energized, and almost like I was on the cusp of winning something. There was a mysterious exchange of Fadi’s confidence that passed to me.
Fadi Malouf
Fadi Malouf
It is T-1 and counting. I am at My Fitness Solution in Duluth for a fitness evaluation. Fadi has been helping my 21-year-old son for about 35 days and the conditioning is remarkable. His body has begun to become more defined and toned. So I posed the question to Fadi, “What can you do for a woman knocking on 50?” His answer, “Can you be at the studio at 8:00 in the morning?”
After several different evaluations and questions, I received an overall fitness score of C-. This doesn’t work for me, a marathoner and triathlete. I made As in some areas, but Fadi’s concern is overall fitness and personal integrity -- not just strength. His program involves a comprehensive BALANCE chart. (Breath, Agua, (water), Lengthen, Anaerobic exercise, Nutrition and Supplementation, Cleansing, and Energize). Being a runner, I did well on breathing, drinking water, and energizing. But my lack of participating in any yoga or lengthening exercises showed up in my poor flexibility. He evaluated my running form to see if he could determine where I am damaging my left knee. After a few minutes he tells me that I am running on my toes. I work over and over to make my foot hit the mat as I keep running. He patiently acts like an inner echo and tells me to put my whole foot down. I begin to successfully create heel strikes.
Evaluation gives you clarity of where you are.  I have some targets now that I know I am hitting, and others I am missing, like a school kid shooting at moving ducks but still hoping to win an oversized  teddy bear.
I know where I am going. How do I get there? My question still remains, “What can you do for a woman knocking on 50?” (Although the half century mark remains three years away!) He tells me to come back next week.
Dara Torres
Here's my  goal!
(Dara Torres)
Age Is Just A Number
I am eager to see what Fadi and his staff can do for me mentally and physically. He says that if I follow the program I will see a marked difference in 60 days. Sixty days? For real? I can almost hold my breath for 60 days. Let’s see what happens.