Posted in exercise, food, know better do better, mindset, physical health

You can’t outrun a bad diet

The other day, I talked about how diet and exercise aren’t opposite sides of a balance, that each has its own unique benefits to health.

Even if we’re ignoring all health ramifications beyond weight, most people are still unlikely to “win” the diet versus exercise game.

I’ve worked with a lot of people over time, both one-on-one mentoring, in classes, as well as just casual conversations, and by far, the most common reason given for not exercising is not having enough time.

If you don’t have enough time to exercise at all, how are you going to have enough time to “work off” all of the extra food?

But what about the athletes? The people who are already making time to exercise? Especially the ones who are training for endurance races and the like?

The Climbing Daddy was recently diagnosed with a fatty liver. The two most common causes of a fatty liver are too much alcohol and too much sugar.

The Climbing Daddy has also done a handful of IronMans. For those who don’t know, an IronMan is a triathlon where participants first swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles, then run a marathon (26.2 miles). They have 17 hours to complete it.

He happened to be wearing his finisher’s jacket at his appointment with the gastroenterologist. She had something to say about that.

“You cannot fix this even if you run three IronMan races. You have to fix your diet.”

When I gave the class at our Wellness Expo regarding sugar (recap still to be posted), there was a woman in the class who wanted a way out and asked about mitigating the effects of a high-sugar diet with exercise.

No matter how much exercise you do, your body has to process what you eat.

You can’t outrun a bad diet.



Posted in know better do better, thoughtfulness

Concert etiquette

I am a classically-trained musician.

I hate the custom of not clapping between movements of classical works (regardless of the ensemble performing them) and I think we should go back to the old way (which, from what I understand, was changed by Mahler).

But people, when you’re in the audience at a formal performance, be quiet.

At the beginning of every school concert that I’m the teacher for, I make an announcement explaining that it’s hurtful to the children when the audience talks, because they think the audience isn’t listening. And it’s distracting — playing an instrument takes a lot of concentration.

These things are all true, and explaining them has helped the noise level.

For the performances I run, the songs are between 10 seconds and 3 minutes. It’s really and truly not that hard to be quiet for that long. Really.

When The Kid was younger, he could sit quietly through the first half of a formal performance. (We haven’t been to one recently.) We went to see the Phoenix Symphony once. We went to see The Tall Daddy perform quite a few times. We went to other performances as well. Often, there were adults sitting near us who were not as well-behaved as my two- or three- or four-year-old.

Just stop talking.

There are announcements at the front end of performances to turn cell phones off (“vibrate” still makes noise!) but we’re not told to be quiet and apparently need to be.

Whether the performance is young kids, teens, adults, music, theatre, dance—be quiet.

Respect the performers.

It’s hard. No, not hard to be quiet—hard to perform. A lot of work to have the skill to have something worth presenting to an audience. It’s scary to stand or sit on a stage in front of people.

Due to the acoustics in the space I most recently performed in, from the stage, we could pretty clearly hear people whispering on the balcony. It was maddening and distracting.

Not interested in the performance? Daydream. Without your phone, and without sharing those dreams until intermission.

It’s not a sporting event. It’s not a band in a bar or ambient music at a restaurant. Different events call for different behavior. Adjust accordingly.

[curtain closes; you can talk now]

Posted in exercise, food, know better do better, mental health, mindset, physical health

Diet vs. exercise: the balance

The title is bait. They don’t balance. They’re not on opposing sides.

Exercise is not punishment for eating.

What you eat fuels you, affects your hormone balance and contributes to the maintenance and eventual regeneration of most cells. (Not all cells regenerate, and almost all body functions are controlled by hormones.)

I know a growing number of people who changed their diets (just to “healthier”—nothing extreme) and were shocked at how much more energy they had.

Yup. And it seems that until you do it, you don’t believe it, but the sugar, the highly-processed carbs, the alcohol, the fried and deep-fried—as a regular diet, they all have tangible negative effects on your body, in addition to the long-term ramifications.

Exercise stresses bones and muscles, which is a good thing! It helps them to become and stay strong. It maintains or improves cardiovascular health. It sometimes increases flexibility and/or balance (which are both important). It has profound impact on our brains, in terms of mood, of mental health, and of mental acuity. (We have better moods, better mental health, learn better, work better when we exercise regularly.)

So diet does things that exercise doesn’t, and exercise does things that diet doesn’t. Both are important.

Exercise can’t counteract all of the things that happen in our bodies when we eat a lot of junk.

Eat well. Exercise daily. You need them both.

Posted in know better do better, mindset, thoughtfulness

The value of creative work

There’s a strongly held cultural belief that people who engage in creative work are poor, deserve to be poor, and, in many cases, need to be poor in order to continue to do creative work.

This is all bullshit. Well, except that many are poor.

We scoff at degrees in the arts. We tell people who want to pursue creative careers to get real jobs or to have back up plans.

Creative work is necessary for all of us. It’s part of what it is to be human. But that’s an argument I’ll flesh out more on another day.

Other people’s creative work is infused in our lives. We take it for granted and don’t realize how grey our lives would be if all of those people “just got real jobs.”

Writing: no books. No magazines. No blogs. No movies (someone has to write the script). No plays or musicals.

Graphic arts: no paintings (works hung on walls, works painted on walls). No mosaic works (various outdoor spaces, tabletops, walls). No book or magazine covers. No photographs (family portraits, places and things you’ve seen and not seen, wedding and other special events). Because I wasn’t sure where else to put this: no flower arrangements.

Live performances: no plays or musicals. No stand up comedy or improv comedy. No musical performances in bars or restaurants. No concerts in concert venues. No talk radio.

Recorded performances: all of the same as live performances plus: no movies. No podcasts. No audiobooks.

Music: no CDs/records/mp3s/streaming subscriptions/music radio. No background music in movies. No ambient music on the phone, in offices, in shopping centers, in the gym, at events.

Clothes and accessories: no “cute” clothes or shoes. No pretty scarves, hats, gloves, ties, jewelry, sunglasses. This category runs deep enough—I can’t say no clothes or shoes or bags, because we have made rules that we have to wear clothes and for general functionality, we need some sort of carrying cases, but it’s hard to imagine what the choices would be with no creative work involved. Also: no costumes.

Culinary: No decorated cakes or cookies. No new recipes. No food with good presentation.

I’m sure that list isn’t exhaustive and there are many others I missed. Hit me up and point out where I’ve left holes, and I’ll come back and add a list of things I missed.

Do you really believe that none of those are worth anything? That the people who have spent their lives creating so we can consume the arts should have gotten “real jobs”?

I encourage you to notice today and this week everywhere you consume creative work. And then to advocate for this work to be seen as real, to be paid like any other, not to be stolen on a regular basis. (While a handful of people who do this work are extremely wealthy, the majority of people who do this work are not.)

Posted in know better do better, mental health, podcasts

Podcast quote: variations on a theme

There’s a short podcast series (four episodes) called UnErased, talking about the history of gay conversion therapy in the US.

It’s captivating.

You’ll experience at least most of the span of human emotions listening to it—or at least, I did.

In the last episode, they spend time with John Smid, a man among the leadership for 25 years—many of them as the top dog—of Love in Action, a giant inpatient evangelical gay conversion program—”ex-gay ministry.”

Unsurprisingly, John is gay. (The most vitriolic anti-gays almost always are.)

He had this to say.

“I don’t like my life to be painted as a villain, and that’s kinda the way I feel about this movie [Boy Erased]. It’s like, I don’t like it, it’s uncomfortable. I don’t like the movie. I don’t like the book. I don’t like what people are saying. I don’t like hearing Garrett talk about it. I don’t like it; it’s uncomfortable. At the same time, there is truth in that I was a forerunner and a spokesperson and a national and international leader that said you must eradicate homosexuality from your life.”

I’ve written here about “when you know better, do better,” and I thought this quote exemplifies that so clearly. No, he doesn’t like it, but it’s real, and he owns it.

(Later in the podcast, they get into some philosophy behind that—with all of the suffering he induced, should he get to just walk away? So interesting!)



Posted in about me, know better do better, mindset

Black Friday deals

When I was very first starting out as a personal trainer, I used to run Black Friday deals in preparation for New Years.

Eventually, I stopped, and if/when I have more services to offer, I won’t offer deals.


1- Twice now I have been on the consumer end of “I just bought that a week/a month ago but now it’s way cheaper. The retailer’s response is always “too bad so sad” (my paraphrase). That doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t leave me wanting to do business with that retailer again.

In my business, I have always been about building relationships and, when practical and possible, community. The above is antithetical to that.

1b- In response to “You could always just retroactively apply the discount”… To purchases back how long? For all purchases or just people who ask? Do I want to establish a culture of people asking me if they can pay less for my services?

2- I price my services in such a way that my clients feel at least like they’ve gotten their money’s worth, or hopefully like they’ve gotten a great deal. I don’t need to discount it.

That said, I do occasionally throw in freebies or discounts for repeat customers.

What do you think? Do you like periodic big sales? Have you been on the losing end of that?

Posted in know better do better, mental health, mindset

Toxic families

The thing about families … it’s most often the people who are unpleasant who “win” because we don’t want to cause problems. We somehow take ownership of others’ bad behavior.

When we avoid saying something or trying to change something, when we show up even though it’s awful and silently wait for it to pass, we’re letting ourselves be treated badly.

“We don’t say anything because s/he gets angry and it just makes it worse” is a sign of an abusive situation.

Stop placating the abusers.

It’s hard. It breaks relationships, because those people are vested in making everything your fault. You can’t have a rational conversation with them. You can’t reason. You can’t say, “When you do this thing, it hurts me,” because they aren’t emotionally equipped to acknowledge hurting you.

This is really variations on a theme from Sunday’s book quote. They’re taking their hurt out on you. It does not help them to heal, and it makes it harder for you to become/stay healthy.

But it’s wicked hard to set boundaries, to take a step back, for three reasons that I can think of.

1- The immediate situation is hard. Standing up for yourself (or for your spouse, or for you kids, or for whomever) when you know you’re going to get yelled at is hard. It’s hard to summon the courage to do it, and it’s hard to withstand the blowback, especially when setting a boundary is a new thing.

2- People who are not on board with you setting and maintaining a healthy boundary are going to blame you for making The Mean Person angry. You ruined the day by making them yell. (I’m here to tell you it is not your fault.)

It’s really hard, when you’ve just summoned the emotional grit to get through both parts of the boundary-setting (summoning the courage and withstanding the blowback) to get more blowback from others in the room.

They do it for so many different reasons, and I don’t want to prattle on about all that right now. Suffice it to say, until this moment, you were acting in such a way as to protect yourself, and they’re acting in a way to protect themselves. Even if it’s at your expense.

3- People at large expect us to “be nice to your family,” regardless of how you’re being treated. (No one tells The Mean Person to be nice to their family because they spin it so they are the victim. Always.) I know of one person who was regularly hit—as an adult—by family, and was blamed by (former) friends for cutting ties.

If people won’t accept physical abuse as a reason not to show up, they certainly don’t accept mental or emotional abuse. (Don’t get me started on girls being blamed for “seducing” their uncles.)

Don’t let those people weaken your ownership of the problem. (It’s so easy to second-guess yourself. Especially if you happen to be in the role of Family Scapegoat and have always been blamed.) No, you are not perfect. But when reasonable and healthy requests are met with ire, it is not your fault.

I’m here to tell you—there are people who believe you, who empathize, who will not blame you. Find them. They are your lifeline in this journey.

Break the cycle. Find support. Get a good therapist. Take care of yourself.

Posted in know better do better, mindset, thoughtfulness

Happy Thanksgiving?

This holiday is such a big part of American culture …

I think that gathering with people who are important to you is important, and we’ve created such a culture of busy-ness that we need a holiday to make us stop and do it.

I think preparing a large, formal meal is something lost (see: busy) and there’s something to be said for it. For people who like that sort of thing. Or for people who can delegate well. Or both.

I think that showing gratitude and taking a moment or a day to be mindful of what we have is important (and needs to be done way more often!).

But I think that we should disconnect the holiday from its roots. I think we should get rid of pilgrims and Indians happily sharing a meal and the feel-good fiction that goes along with it.

(Ideally, we’d use this opportunity to teach the reality of the relationship between those two groups of people, but I think that would be Step 2. Which I think would naturally lead to Step 3: working to right wrongs as much as possible. Or at the very least, ceasing to continue wronging…)

What do you think?

Posted in know better do better, mindset, motivation, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

When you know better…

…do better

I’ve had so many conversations in so many realms in recent weeks that play into this notion.

In a training, we were talking about why people are resistant to change. This was my contribution to the conversation.

My parents are loud-and-proud racist. (I’ll refrain from listing examples.) In order for them to change, they have decades of their own bad behavior to contend with.

This is more than many people can deal with. It’s easier for people just to pretend they still don’t know better, to dig deeper, cover their ears and sing LALALA louder rather than acknowledge that they were wrong and have done immeasurable damage along the way.

People, here’s your permission slip: it is OK for you to change. It is OK for the person you ARE and the person you WERE to be at odds with each other.

There are people I was shitty towards, because of beliefs and attitudes I had. (Dear all the people I proselytized in high school: I’m sorry.)

Instead of thinking I need to stay on that path—which ultimately makes me shitty towards more people going forwards—I can (and have) change(d), and the damage, while not negated, is minimized.

This applies to everything. Social attitudes. Diet/exercise/sleep habits. Parenting styles. Education. Financial health. Interpersonal relationship habits. Anger management.

When you know better, do better. Forgive your past self. Thank your past self for all she/he has taught you. As needed/possible, make amends with people you’ve hurt. And move forward. But you don’t move forward or grow staying stuck in the past.

(Where are you stuck?)