Monday, August 27, 2007

Problems with Stick-With-It-Ness? What if You Redefined Exercise?

Exercise and Diet. We link them together like Death and Taxes. And, like it or not, the subliminal message we send to ourselves when we hear those two words is one of negativity. I call it the DEF principle. Diet+Exercise=Failure.

So what if we redefined exercise (or diet, for that matter) in our minds?

The topic came up at a gathering of girlfriends this weekend. One who struggles with both the E&D words, complained that she didn’t have any problems getting motivated to start a new regime, but that each time, the ‘itty-bitty-shitty-committee’ in her head just kept telling her she was going to fail, until she gave in and gave up.

So what if the effort wasn’t about exercise? Don’t start walking or running (or dieting) because it’s good for you and good for your health (although it is!). Make it the ultimate answer to something that you associate with enjoyment…..stress release, relaxation, solitude. If you’re the martyr type, make it about another’s needs…. walking the dog, motivating or connecting with a friend, or spending quality time with family.

I’ve always wanted to run another marathon. But every time I started a program, I fizzled. I like to encourage others but am not great at encouraging myself, so when a friend said she wanted to run a half marathon (26 km) someday, I said I’d train with her. So it became about her goal, not mine. My motivation came from the necessity to motivate her.

Another friend says she just can’t find extra time for her girlfriends, so at least once a week, she calls one and suggests a walk together. Exercise has become her ‘catching up with friends time’. She walks further (and faster!).

The light came on. My friend with the “itty-bitty-shitty-committee” voice has a five-year old son who often follows her on his bike when she walks. So, she decided to redefine her exercise. She’s going to make her nightly walk about him. She wants her son to develop healthy habits in his life, to connect exercise with enjoyment and the best way is to show him how is through her own habits. Her walk becomes his bike ride and their special time, just a mom & son doing something together.

Itty-bitty voices can’t argue with that one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What if We Didn't Care About Our Past?

A committee has presented a proposal to Alma Village Council to create a heritage site for the birthplace of Capt. Molly Cool. Captain Molly was the first female sea captain in North America (in case you didn't know), and her modest birthplace in Alma was almost dismantled last month; saved in the nick of time by our own 'Lady of Heritage Protection', Mary Majka.

I sincerely hope this proposal becomes a reality. I am proud and thankful that our community has involved itself in heritage protection at the urging of Mary Majka and David Christie and risen to the challenge of preserving our precious - and very colourful - past on so many occasions.

It leads me to wonder, what if Albert County didn't have our covered bridges, trails and wetland parks, shorebird sanctuary, Cape Enrage and Anderson Hollow Lighthouses, the Harvey Hall, beautiful churches and halls, heritage parks, and museums? These wonderful sites are treasures and they support and enhance the visitor experience of the Fundy tides, Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park.

But they also enhance our experience of the place we live. We often take them for granted, but they represent part of who we are as a community. When I travel to other places and see a town that has gone the extra mile to preserve and share its past, this shows me where the heart and soul of the community rests.

It tells me it is a community that works together, that respects where it came from and knows where it is going. It is a community with vision as well as retrospect.

We need to make every effort to enhance our history, to tell the story of our ancestors and promote the struggles of those who paved the way for the rest of us.

We need this for ourselves - for our own growth and sense of identity - as much as for the visitors who come each summer. The people in our past were strong, they were courageous, they were innovators.

Capt. Molly Cool played a significant role in the women's history of our nation. She blazed the way for other women - her successors - to follow.

Someday, we will all be the people in Albert County's past...I wonder...what if we have done nothing that our children and grandchildren will want to celebrate?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Albert County Goes Green!

Rumour has it that it was a Sea of Green in Alma Wed. night at the Footloose! support session.

What a great turnout with lots of success stories and all these participants collecting their milestone t-shirts.

If you're not in green, you won't be seen!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What If We Followed Linda's Example?

What if everyone tucked a plastic grocery bag in his or her pocket when going for a walk?

Like Linda Geldart, for example. Every day, she collects roadside trash as she walks through Hillsborough – she’s made it a conscious choice and a habit to be concerned for her surroundings and her community.

Sometimes Linda has filled as many as six bags on her route – “I had to go get my car and come back to pick them up,” she laughs. Normally, she drops the garbage in a public dumpster, but she takes the recyclable cans and bottles to Nelson’s Remediation, where the money builds a fund for the Lower Cape youth group. In fact, Nelson’s has several community groups benefiting from bottle/can collection (hint, hint).

Her example is an encouragement and example to all of us. Linda’s dedication to beautifying our community hasn’t gone unnoticed. She was presented a Merit Award by the Hillsborough Village Council on New Brunswick Day, signed by Mayor Donna Bennett and Premier Shawn Graham.

Have bags; will travelI think of Linda every time I’m out for a walk and see garbage lying at the side of our beautiful roadways, then I berate myself because I didn’t remember to bring a bag along. So, what I’ve done is stuff plastic bags in my sneakers, so I can’t leave the house without remembering to tuck a couple in my pockets as well.

What if more of us followed Linda’s Example?

What if the people who litter started seeing their mothers and grandmothers and sisters, their fathers and brothers and friends picking up what they’ve thrown away?

What if they then thought twice the next time they rolled down the window to chuck a beer can, a coffee cup, or a bag of McDonald's food wrappers?

What if we all took responsibility for our community? What might happen then?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Excuses Excuses!

After our 6th Healthy Lifestyle Club, Doris and I have noticed something...that there are a multitude of excuses for not exercising. As a general rule , it doesn't take much convincing to suggest one isn't eating healthy, yet it takes a lot of persuading to convince people that they need to exercise daily.

We've started taking note of the excuses:

1. I just don't have the time after a long day at work.
2. I can't walk or exercise since I got the arthritis in my knees.
3. The weather has been so bad...I just can't get out. 4. The weather has been so hot.
5. I have a heart condition.
6. I get enough exercise at work.
7. I don't have the time.
8. I'm just getting older and I can't do things like I used to. 9. I've worked hard all my life and now it's time to take it easy!
10 . It's hard for me to get away from the kids.

We have always said that you need to consult your family physician before starting an exercise listen to your body and take it slow BUT some of us give up before even starting. Dr. Ken Mitton, family physician and Ironman competitor offered no sympathy when it came to discussing pain during exercise. He lives with chronic back pain. He told us all that his quality of life would be and has been worse before he started a regular exercise program. " Yes, I have pain " he said, "but my back pain is worse if I don't exercise and besides, I am enjoying life".

For every excuse you have, there will be someone available to disprove it!

I received a phone call on Saturday night. Phyllis Sutherland was excited and inspired by one of her employees. David Chase and his wife works for the Sutherlands at Ponderosa Pines Campground during the summer. David's wife told Phyllis that the Footloose program has created a monster. Her husband David has taken off with the program. David has had heart problems and even has a pacemaker - defibrillator. Since starting footloose, David's competitive nature has started him on a path to overcoming the obstacles that kept him from beginning an exercise program. Apparently David is out-walking and challenging the other employees at Ponderosa Pines.
Lloyd Trites has been an inspiration to me. Lloyd and his wife have experienced huge health obstacles but both of them are out there on the trails. Lloyd told me that for the past several years he thought it would not be good for him to exercise because of his health problems. "I thought it would make everything worse" he said. He told me that he feels "so much better" since he started walking with footloose.

The body is an amazing machine and you will be surprised at it's adaptability when it comes to exercise. For most of us it all comes down to the mental push...and not so much the physical. It's been said that overcoming obstacles is 3 % physical and 97% mental. Change your mind and you can change your exercise habits!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What if You Hit a RoadBlock?

“I’ve pulled a ligament in my knee,” my friend wailed. “Just when I was starting to get somewhere in my running program! I’m so discouraged!” A first time runner, my friend had been doing a run/walk routine of one minute each for a couple of weeks and was about to progress to a two minute run/one minute walk when she felt the pain begin.

“So walk, instead,” I advised. “Don’t interrupt your routine. What matters most is to continue allotting that time for you and your health. If you can’t walk, then bike; if you can’t bike, then swim. But the important thing is to keep doing what you are able to do and don't break with your routine.”

When I was training for my first (and only!) marathon, a month before the race, I severely injured my knee. It would have been easy to give up if I hadn’t invested so much time and effort into my training. Rather than quit, I asked my physiotherapist what I could do to speed up the healing process. She suggested swimming, so instead of strapping on my sneakers each morning, I went to a neighbour’s pool, donned a life jacket and ‘ran’ around the deep end of the pool. My leg healed quickly, I maintained my aerobic levels, increased muscle strength, and discovered a new way to exercise that I never would have considered on my own. It’s hard work running through water.

An obstacle can give us an excuse to quit or present a new challenge, with a new solution– and I’ve often found the best path to a goal is not a direct routing. A goal is simply a direction to move in and working around an obstacle often takes us along a different path that enriches the journey.

Here is my friend Daryl. Although he suffers from psoriatic arthritis, a condition causing joint swelling and pain and fusing in his wrist joints and vertebrae, he kept at a training program, sometimes walking, sometimes running, until he was able to complete a half marathon. This literally took years, but in the meantime, he became so knowledgeable that he became a trainer/coach for the Arthritis Society's Joints in Motion Marathon training program. Eventually, Daryl completed a full marathon, but his main goal was just to keep moving as long as he was able. He is now a Nordic Walking enthusiast (but still coaches runners) and is very close to achieving his goal of 1000 kilometers in 20 weeks by Nordic walking and running. Now there's a great exercise for progressive walkers.

People like Daryl are a true inspiration. He has taught me to remain positive, to truly appreciate health and well-being, and to find a way beyond my roadblocks.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thursday, August 9, 2007

What if I’m a Walker, not a Runner?

We talk about running a lot, but we also recognize not everyone is a runner. Not everyone wants to be. And, it’s a good idea to build a good base of walking before even attempting to start a running program.

As Leo has pointed out, patience, perseverance and progression are key elements to any program of exercise. If you’ve taken the plunge with Footloose! and just started walking, then make sure you add progression to your regimen. Each week, try to increase in one of the following ways:

Time: walk longer – add 5-10-15-30 minutes to your time.
Distance: walk farther – add another kilometre or five – or add in one looong walk every week
Speed: walk faster – increase your pace until you notice a change in your breathing
Endurance: walk hills – change your route several times a week to include a hill or two

And, don't forget Pals. One of my own running partners once said, “Sometimes I think you can find words with a running (or walking) partner that you can’t even find with a close friend.”

I believe she is right. You develop a level of trust when you exercise regularly with someone. There is something about putting out an effort together, walking or running side-by-side, facing forward, encouraging and sharing strength, that grows trust and opens the flow of communication. I know the gals I ran my first marathon with will be lifelong friends. (Each of them had a form of arthritis; some were able to run, some walked the marathon. You can read about that experience here. ).

Carol Shannon and Golda Elderkin of Riverside-Albert have been supporting and encouraging each other throughout the Footloose! program. Each day, they walk the Crooked Creek Trail in Riverside-Albert. It’s a great uphill workout, if you haven't tried it yet. And they enjoy each other’s company. Carol says the thing she loves about Footloose! is having an incentive, a goal, and a friend to walk with. At the end of the day, if she hasn’t logged her 10,000 steps, then she heads out to the back yard and walks around the barn until she reaches her goal.

Now that’s commitment!

What if you joined a Yoga Class?

What is Kripalu Yoga? by Deva Parnell

Kripalu Yoga is an interplay of body, mind and energy. Within the physical body is a subtle flow of rhythmic, energy pulsations that we call prana, or life force. Even the most insignificant thought can disturb or block this flow of energy, creating imbalance or even disease.

Every act of the body is invariably accompanied and strongly influenced by mental and emotional conditions, the awareness of which forms the more subtle aspect of the practice which includes physical postures, breathing techniques, deep relaxation and meditation.

By fully experiencing and objectively observing your physical, mental and emotional experience, blockages begin to dissolve, energy is freed, and healing can to happen on all levels.

Each day, as you encounter and release layers of stress, pain, and unconscious resistance lodged in the body, you progressively accelerate the natural, internal healing processes that enable you to awaken to the higher levels of emotional stability, mental clarity and physical well-being.

On your way to the Footloose Group Session in Alma on August 15th 7:00 p.m. What if you stopped here?

WHAT: A Ten Thousand Villages Craft Festival
WHERE: Riverside-Albert Recreational Centre
9 Bicentennial Rd.
Riverside, New Brunswick
CONTACT: Fundy Youth Project, Phone: 506-882-2568
WHEN: Wednesday August 15, 10am-8pm and
Thursday August 16, 9am-2pm.
Support your community as well as your global neighbour by becoming a conscious consumer this holiday season

About Us - A History of Helping Artisans
Ten Thousand Villages began in 1946 when Edna Ruth Byler, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) worker, visited volunteers in Puerto Rico who were teaching sewing classes in an effort to help improve the lives of women living in poverty.

From this trip, Edna brought several pieces of embroidery home to sell to friends and neighbours. The pieces became quite popular and she soon added cross-stitch needlework from Palestinian refugees and hand carved Haitian woodenware to her inventory.

In the early 1970s, the flourishing project moved out of Byler’s basement and became SELFHELP CRAFTS, an official MCC program. Thousands of loyal customers and volunteers have helped to build this program into the strong alternative trading organization that, in 1996, became known as Ten Thousand Villages.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Shipyard Heritage Park
Harvey Bank, Albert Co., N.B.

An Invitation, Aug. 11-12, 2007

Dear friends;
Last year we had a very successful opening of the Shipyard Park. Except for the sudden downpour, it was a wonderful occasion to celebrate the 168th anniversary of shipbuilder Gaius Turner's birth. For a few decades, that remarkable entrepreneur benevolently dominated our area, employing hundreds of people, working as our political representative and developing and enriching this area.

We've decided to make August 12 an annual occasion, not only celebrating our past but informing our visitors about the shipbuilding and shipping industries that played an important part in the history of the development of our country. Canadian-built ships were deemed to be among the best in the world. They carried not only goods and passengers, but the fame of Canadian achievement.Our celebration will take place at Harvey.

On Saturday, the 11th, there will be a one-day museum in the beautiful Harvey Hall, where artifacts and mementos pertaining to the shipbuilding industry and the lives of the workers and mariners will be on display.

On Sunday, at 1 p.m. a small celebration will take place in the Shipyard Park, after which we will enjoy a potluck picnic and some entertainment. (In case of wet weather this will be held in the Harvey Hall.)We hope to see you there.
Mary Majka

Sat., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., One-day museum at Harvey Community Hall, 29 Mary's Point Rd.
Sun., 1 p.m., Ceremony and picnic at Shipyard Heritage Park, 161 Mary's Point Rd.

P.S. The tide will be high in mid-day. For those interested in viewing the migrant shorebirds at Mary's Point the birds will be present on the beach from about 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. on Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What if we started thinking "Healthy" when we are children?

I love my job. I am passionate about Health Promotion.

Have you ever heard the story about the village that kept fishing bodies out of the river? The village decided that they needed a quicker response time and put thousands of dollars into better rescue boats, ambulance services and even built their hospital closer to the river. Response time was quicker..and yes...they saved some, but more bodies kept coming down the river.

Finally 2 people asked a question. "Maybe we should hike up the river to find out where these bodies are coming from?" They asked the town to finance their expedition but the mayor and council told them that it was more important to put money into their new Emergency Department. The rescues attempts were increasing and they were managing to save lives! It was impossible to finance such an expedition that would take crucial Health care dollars from the village.

They smirked at the 2 villagers and questioned their loyalty to their town..."It must be nice to have time to hike...when we're giving our lives to save others!" The expedition was scorned, the 2 villagers decided that they would still make the trip on their own time and with their own savings.

It was a long arduous journey following the river. They met people along the way who were moving to the village. There was a shortage of workers in the village and people were needed to help with the increasing rescue attempts. Finally they came to a cliff where crowds of people walked close to the edge and were horrified as they witnessed one person after another plunging into the river.

They quickly made danger signs and built a strong metal fence along the pathway that crossed the cliff. The next morning the people in the village noticed that the river was silent. There were no bodies floating past its shores. They didn't realize that upstream 2 of their villagers had made the difference...

I met a retired nurse the other day we talked about how health care is starting to change its focus from " treating the already injured " to "catching them before they fall". I loved her gruff comment. The non-political answer from an old nurse... " For years I've said that if it weren't for people smokin', drinkin' and runnin' around, I'd be out of a job!".

One of my surgeon colleagues would agree. While performing an operation I listened to him fume and vent ( so what else is new). Most of his OR procedures involved cases that resulted from unhealthy lifestyles. His voice was getting louder and louder...and his choice of words, well definitely not G rated. My hands shook as I passed him instruments but I understood his frustration when he said, "You know...sometimes when I go into a place like Montana's and see a guy sitting there who weighs about 300lbs, eating a huge steak and plate full of french fries, I just want to grab him and say...Hey you ...get the hell outta here!" Sorry for the language, but I can't do his frustration justice without it.

As health care providers we know that we will eventually see these people in our offices, in our emergency rooms and on our operating room tables. It's really frustrating!!! Now, after all that being said, can you understand why I love my job? I want to live upstream. I want to help put up the danger signs and build metal fences. Sometimes as nurses we build Ivory Towers. Nurses are only important if they are emergency room nurses or ICU nurses. That's where the real action is!!!

I've asked this question several times to make a point. "Which is more important: The purchase of an MRI machine or a nurse teaching a classroom full of children the correct way to wear a bicycle helmet?" I know there's a need for both...but I'm putting my health care buck on the nurse teaching the child how to wear his helmet.

Today I was talking to Marion Stevens. Her 9 year old grandson Zachary was so enthused with the footloose program that his mom "Tracy" went out and bought him his own pedometer( Footloose is sold out!). Tracy has been logging his mileage daily. Last week at the beach Zach figured he must have put on "at least 3 miles" from swimming at the beach and wanted that noted on his daily total. Marion told me that she took Zach to McDonalds and Zach informed her that he couldn't eat there because it wasn't a healthy place to eat.

Somewhere along the way this child is learning upstream. What if every child did?

Monday, August 6, 2007

See The "P"s - Pals

After a great long weekend I am ready to conclude my ramblings on the letter "P".

The fourth “P” – Pals - Read Rhonda’s “Let’s all meet at the barn” posting. Whether you are getting out to walk with a friend, getting together with a group of runners or meeting once a week to do a special workout, doing it with someone else can turn a chore into cheer. It becomes something you look forward to rather than dread. We are social beasts and it only makes sense to do something you enjoy with friends. It’s OK to enjoy the solitude too but if your motivation is sagging bring in a buddy.

Don’t have someone to go with? Put a posting on here and, chances are someone else will want to do the same workout at the same time as you. I am always keen to run with others and, despite what Rhonda may have hinted at, I can be very pleasant to run with!! People are still gathering at the barn most weeknights- the time has shifted to 8:30 and, although the pace is fairly relaxed, there is always someone ( usually me ) who is delighted to go even slower. So come out and join us if you are up for 5 km at whatever speed.

Albert County, I am proud of you! There are already so many wonderful success stories and, with the overwhelming response to “Footloose” there are many more stories now in the making. Yours can and, with a little patience, progression and perseverance, WILL be one of them. Good luck!

Friday, August 3, 2007

See the "P"s - Perseverance

P#3: Perseverance – This is the old “stick to it” advice you’ve heard with every exercise program you’ve ever started, read about or seen on TV. The reason you see it so much is that it really is the heart of everything.

Regardless of progression or how much faith you have in your effort, no matter what new piece of exercise equipment you have or how beautiful your walking trail is, you have to get up and do something to get the benefits. As long as you keep doing things, the good stuff will keep happening. Sure, there are lots of special things you can do to make yourself faster or stronger or make your workouts more efficient but the absolute most important thing is to simply get out and do something!

There will be days when you are too sick or the weather is absolutely atrocious. There will always be excuses and often good reasons why you cannot do your exercise thing. The trick is to move your valuable exercise routine up (way up !) in the list of your priorities.

I’m sure that my athletes over the years got sick of me saying, “You’ll never find enough time to run, you have to MAKE time”. The interesting thing is that, as you invest more in it, your exercise routine takes on a higher value in your mind. You will have invested so much in your efforts that you will want to keep adding to it so as not to lose the value of what you have already put in.

Finally, a word on being “too tired” for your work out. This can actually happen – extra and unaccustomed physical work can bring you to the point where exercise may be neither wise nor beneficial. However, before you give in to being too tired, ask yourself why you are feeling this way. If there is no obvious answer, don’t believe the tired feeling and get up and go. This was never more evident to me than when I was teaching at Riverside and would come home after a long day and have to go out for my run. Most days I felt totally exhausted and struggled to even get up the stairs to put on my running gear. Amazingly, after my run I almost always felt better – invigorated enough to do a few yard chores before even coming back into the house. What I was feeling before the run was mental fatigue and what my body needed most – physical exercise – was the thing I felt least like doing.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

What if We Were Creative Loggers?

Footloose! in Albert County has become the coolest thing to happen in the county since Abraham Gesner discovered Albertite…but the creativity it has sparked is another story altogether.

How about Bob Wells, who has logged over 100 miles in the first two weeks of the challenge by combining an activity he loves (geo-caching) with walking?

Geo-caching involves using handheld global positioning satellite technology (GPS) to find caches stashed around the world. These caches are identified online using north/south coordinates so searchers can hunt for the caches in their geographic area using a GPS. It's a New Age Treasure Hunt.

Bob used to take his GPS and head to woods and field to search for ‘treasures’ hidden by other geo-cache enthusiasts, but now he has another piece of equipment to take along. His Footloose! pedometer faithfully tracks every step he takes.

Those days when he’s not gallivanting about geo-caching, he and Ellen are walking all the Footloose! Trails. Their aim is to try each one at least once. Way to go, Bob and Ellen!!

Last week, although confined on a bus for an eleven-hour journey to Boston and back to attend a two-day “Women of Faith” conference, six pedometer-toting Footloose! women still managed to log 94 miles in spite of endless hours sitting on our backsides. During the conference Fancy Footloose! pedometers could be seen circling the stadium walkways during breaks and wandering the streets of Boston at lunchtime. But we have to confess; we suspect more miles were logged at the outlets in Kittery and wading through Boston malls than anywhere else…

More Creative Logger stories to come!

See the "P"s - Progression

The next "P": Progression – This is the tough one – especially in the “gung ho” stage. Start sensibly – doing too much too soon will only make the body rebel and you just don’t want that. Worse than this, overdoing it takes the fun out of your exercise and, if it’s not fun, few people are going to be able to keep doing it. The guarantee here is that, as your body adapts to low levels of exercise, it will be able to handle more and more. In this way, and using some of that patience we talked about, you can safely and enjoyably improve your efforts. It’s a great feeling to find that you are doing so much more distance, speed or effort than when you started. Leah and I did eight fast runs in our workout last week and it was all we could do to finish them. In a few weeks we will be doing twelve – just as fast and more comfortably. I know this will happen because of the great truth of progression ( and because I have seen it work many times before). This improvement is also very motivating and will serve to reinforce that you are on the right track. Start sensibly, add small increases as the work outs become easier and you will be surprised at what your body will do for you.