So there are all sorts of “pain” related discussions that really get on my nerves.
One is when clients who are working hard for the first time in their life tell you that an exercise “hurts” when, upon further investigation, you find out that it is merely making their muscles fatigued and that they aren’t used to the burning sensation of a muscle working.
While I don’t like the phrase “no pain, no gain,” being sore and working hard isn’t always “comfortable.”
But at the same time having the attitude “no pain, no gain” and never recognizing when something hurts isn’t good either.
While I can get annoyed when someone can’t recognize the difference between “injury pain” and “discomfort from muscles working hard,” I get way more annoyed by the client who thinks they are cool because they push through the pain.
And honestly this “no pain, no gain” client WAY worse than the client that mistakes muscles working for pain.
You may be shaking your head and going, “Heck no! They aren’t near the same! You have to work through the pain sometimes! You are TOUGH if you just push through!”
Uhm no…I’m sorry….You don’t…and you aren’t.
You are stupid.
Yep that’s right…STUPID.
I can say this as someone who has been stupid one too many times in her past. I have the torn muscles and scar tissue to prove it.
And guess what I have now?
Improperly rehabbed injuries that years later I’m now having to deal with.
Trust me…injuries aren’t cool.
You aren’t “bad-ass” if you push through.
Honestly, unless you are a highly paid athlete, there is never a reason to push through true pain and injury. And even if you are a highly paid athlete, there is a very fine line between stupid and something you push through because it is your job.
When you work through the pain, generally all you do is make the injury worse. And then you are either eventually going to have to take time off, and probably MORE time than if you had rested and rehabbed it immediately, OR you are going to have something that restricts your movement and causes pain for the rest of your life.
Doesn’t sound like great options if you don’t just DEAL with the pain immediately.
But rehab and pre-hab aren’t “cool.”
It is way cooler to be like, “I can’t do push ups because of my shoulder.”…Right!?!
I can’t tell you how many people recently I’ve encountered coming from other gyms who say they “can’t do” something because of an injury they’ve never dealt with and just “worked through.”
And every time I say to them the same thing, “Well what have you been doing for rehab?”
And I always get the same answer…NOTHING.
Can someone please explain this to me?
Why is pain cool and rehab not cool?
Don’t we workout to feel BETTER!?! Don’t we go to look BETTER? Perform BETTER?
If we want exercise to make us BETTER, how do we expect to do that if we are restricted and in PAIN?!
If you have an ankle injury, even one from decades ago, and you never rehabbed it, it may be causing problems up your leg. It may be why you have low back and hip pain. It may be why you have balance issues. It may be why you can’t lift as much as you want to. It may be why your butt isn’t as strong and perky as you would like!
It may be causing a whole load of problems that aren’t even related to the initial injury!
But it is better to just push through…huh?
Ok here is your chance to stop being an idiot and stop accepting pain.
Take five minutes at the beginning of your workout and add in an exercise or two to rehab or better yet “pre-hab” any weak points or areas of past injury. (Just because at one point in your life you did some rehab for an injury doesn’t mean you are just now done with it now. That area may always need some extra TLC.)
Here are a couple quick things you can do for four common areas of injuries…
- ANKLE/FOOT PAIN/INJURY (Heck these are even good for some knee and hip problems) – Roll out the bottom of your foot, your shin and your calf with a roller or small ball. Then work on your balance. My favorite balancing drill is when you either stand on one foot on the ground or on a foam pad and then you swing the other leg. Do swings forwards and backwards, side to side and even rotational (like you are lifting your foot to step back over a fence and then bringing it back forward over the fence without touching down). Then do glute activation drills. Pick one or two from this list and do 1-2 rounds of 10-20 reps.
- LOW BACK/HIP PAIN/INJURY – Low back pain is a super common problem. While rolling out the whole leg is ideal to find all trigger points, you can start with your hips, glutes and low back. A great way to roll out your hips, can be to take a bigger, foam ball and lay over it. The ball will actually be pressing into your abs right above your hip and beside your belly button. Relax over the ball as much as you can. You will also want to stretch your glutes and hips. Here are some more great trigger point release tips for your hip area. You will also probably want to do some stretches and trigger point release for your thoracic spine and lats. We can sometimes compensate and use our low back because our thoracic mobility is bad. A great thoracic stretch is one you do when kneeling. Kneel on the ground with one hand planted on the ground under the shoulder. Then reach your other hand back over your head with your finger tips pointing down your spine. Then rotate your elbow of the hand down your spine, under your arm that is down. Then rotate open, reaching the elbow up toward the ceiling. Again, glute activation exercises are key. If our glutes aren’t firing, we are going to use our low back and hamstrings more than we should!
- WRIST/ELBOW PAIN/INJURY – Yup…you can even roll out your forearms. If you have wrist or elbow pain, rolling our your forearms, triceps and biceps can help, especially if you target the areas of insertion. Wrist/forearms stretches are also important. We sit at computers all day with our wrists flexed and never really think to do anything to extend and release the muscles. One of my favorite wrist stretches is, when I kneel down and place my hands on the ground under my shoulders. I then turn my finger tips to face my knees with my palms flat on the ground. I then rock back and sit on my heels, keeping my palms flat on the ground, and then return back to kneeling and release. To also help activate the extensors of my wrist and forearm, I use a trick I was taught by Corey…The rubber band extension. Take a rubber band and place it around the outside of your fingers when they are all together. Then spread your fingers out as wide apart as you can before bringing them back together. This really helps with a lot of elbow pain!
- SHOULDER/UPPER BACK/NECK PAIN/INJURY – Roll out your traps, chest and lats. You will also want to stretch your chest and neck. You can easily stretch your chest using a wall or doorway. Place your hand and even your forearm on the wall or door frame and then step forward till you feel a stretch. To stretch your neck, lean your head to one side and gentle pull your head down toward your shoulder, making sure you keep your shoulders relaxed. To change exactly which muscles you hit, look up, down and straight ahead. Then you will want to do a scapular wall hold. If you do it correctly, you will activate your lower traps which will help you relax your upper traps and usually helps with neck pain. YTWLs are great too to activate the muscles in your upper back and strengthen your rotator cuff. Check out this video by Nick Tumminello on how to do them.
Here is another article with some essential mobility drills that can help you move better!
You don’t have to do these every day, but you do want to make sure that spots that need improvement get attention! So stop accepting pain and start doing something about it. It really doesn’t take that much time.
Be smart…It’s way more “bad-ass!”
NOTE: If you are suffering from an injury, it is best to get checked out by a doctor. Most of these drills are meant for already diagnosed injuries or minor recurring injuries/pains. Also, this list is by no means comprehensive. It is just to give you an idea that there are some quick things you can do before your workouts, to correct problems!
So this weekend Ryan and I were out in Palm Springs with our parents trying to finish up wedding planning.
During the weekend, my mom and I went to a make-up artist since I thought it would be fun to have someone do my make-up for the wedding.
I was trying to explain to the guy that I never put on make-up but wanted something not too light. We then also somehow started talking about the fact that I work as a personal trainer.
He put the two together and then at some point mentioned that I was a “tom boy.”
I didn’t say anything, but I sort of thought…”Well not really…I like wearing heels and getting dressed up even if I do like working up a sweat and wearing loose t-shirts and picking up really heavy things.”
He then made another comment that I most definitely wasn’t a “girly girl.”
I guess so…But I mean what does that even really mean? Just because I’m an idiot when it comes to make-up I’m not girly? I’m a “tom boy?”
I wasn’t offended by his comments…I long ago stopped trying to be what I wasn’t. I’m a girl who enjoys sports and sweating and calluses (that’s right…no gloves for me…), but I’m also a girl who likes dresses, high heels and make-up (on occasion…when I feel like it…And am not too frustrated to do numerous applications).
I’m not a girly girl or a tom boy…I’m just a girl…I’m just a girl who is really stupid when it comes to make-up.
It has nothing to do with being feminine.
Anyway, he did tell me during our meeting that I needed to exfoliate and moisturize and that I had like “years” of built up dry skin on my face.
I’ll admit, I’m awful when it comes to that stuff. There are really no frills when I wash.
BUT I do want to feel amazing on my wedding day, so I was willing to do whatever he said to make my skin hold the make-up better.
And I was happily surprised when he told me I didn’t need to go out and get a ton of creams to exfoliate.
Instead he told me I could make one with two ingredients at home…coconut oil and sea salt.
Seriously coconut oil is a cure-all. It is good for you inside and out. Here is a link with two articles about the benefits of coconuts and one is even by Dr. Oz!
I mean of course I eat coconut flakes/milk/oil for internal health benefits – all that GOOD FAT! But I’ve also used coconut oil to prevent sunburns. To help heal sunburns. To treat Ryan’s dandruff (sorry Ryan).
And now, I can even use it to exfoliate!
I don’t need to go to a stupid drug or make-up store and stare at all the freaking different exfoliating options! I don’t need to spend 50 bucks on a tub of cream so small it last through only two uses.
I can simply use something natural that I always have at home!
Coconut oil…I love you!
What other ailments have you found that coconut helps with? Do you use it to exfoliate?
When was the last time you were called a “girly girl” or “tom boy” and thought to yourself…”HMMM…Are those really our only two options!?!”
So I’ve been asked to design a “fitness” obstacle course for this family event in June. Most of the kids doing the course will be between the ages of like 5 and 10 years old.
I was told it needs to be something FUN but at the same time active and fitness-related.
When she said, “FUN and FITNESS-RELATED” she almost said it as if the two together weren’t completely possible…Most adults don’t consider something fitness-related fun…they call it working out.
But what we call working out, kids call PLAY.
Seriously, when did it change?
When did accomplishing something physical NOT become something super exciting but instead something we avoid?
I mean I see all the children come into the gym and get so excited to swing and lift up heavy things. The kids get SO EXCITED when they can pick up something heavy or climb the rope.
They get so excited because they see it as expanding their boundaries and accomplishing something they either couldn’t do or hadn’t done before.
Their parents on the other hand, sometimes roll their eyes and groan when they have to climb the rope…Or they grab a lighter weight then they really should be doing.
Kids see the exercises as proving that they CAN DO something. Parents see exercises as something they have to do.
Which honestly makes me kind of sad.
Working out is something I GET TO DO. Something I look forward to. Something I love.
And I want to instill that same love in everyone I meet.
So I’ve now been considering, what obstacles/exercises should I include in the course at the event in June? What will make kids fall in love with exercising so that it always remains PLAY!?!
When I started doing some research, I stumbled across a ton of activities I LOVED when I was little. Like double-dutch, four square, kickball, hopscotch, climbing trees, Red Rover…and Skip It…Dude I want to do it right now…
And to think most adults think of “jumping rope” or “hopping” as exercise. Skip It was basically jumping rope, except you NEVER wanted to stop!
What were your favorite outdoor games and activities?
So on days where I don’t feel like doing yoga and my body isn’t really ready to do a full workout, I will do a “Recovery workout.”
These workouts are usually hard but focus more on postural strength and balance then on developing maximal strength or burning a ton of fat. They work on activating all the correct muscles as you work on perfecting form.
These workouts are the prep that most people need to do so that they can move well and really get the most out of their metabolic or strength training workouts.
The recovery workout below can be done on its own or shortened into a warm up for a full body workout day.
The good part about the workout too is that you can easily do it at home with no equipment even when you don’t have much time!
3-5 rounds of all the exercises below. Perform a 1 minute hold of each exercise. Try not to rest between each exercise. Try only to rest after each round is complete.
Balance on toes (So literally stand up on your toes and hold. If this is easy, balance on your toes on one foot for 30 seconds and then switch to the other foot. Stay as high on your toes as you can and don’t rock to the outside of your foot.)
Squat Hold (Squat down to parallel, not below, and hold. Focus on keeping your chest up and not leaning forward. Push the butt back and really sit into your heels. This is a great time to really assess and work on your squat form.)
Scapular Hold (So you will “lean” back against the wall with only your elbows touching the wall. The further out you walk your feet away from the wall, the harder the move will be. As you lean back with only your elbows against the wall, you really want to press your chest out and pull your shoulder blades down and together.)
High Plank Hold (So hold at the top of the push up from your hands and toes if possible. You can make this easier by doing it from your knees. Make sure to brace your abs by pulling your belly button into your spine and tucking your hips under. Don’t arch your low back or round your upper back. Keep the shoulder blades retracted and everything tight from your shoulders to your core, butt and quads.)
Glute Bridge (Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips up as high as you can and squeeze your butt cheeks. You shouldn’t feel this in your low back. You should feel it in your glutes and a bit in your hamstrings.)
With all of these moves, you should struggle within the first 20 seconds if you are really challenging yourself. Fight to squeeze as hard as you can as you hold the moves!
So Saturday I hosted two workshops at the Limitless Women’s Conference.
The slogan for the conference was “I can. I will. I AM.”
And the goal of the conference was to inspire people to have more faith in themselves…To make people believe in themselves!
Because let’s face it…most people never make changes or better their lives not because they don’t have the ability or resources, not because someone else holds them back, not even because someone else tells them that they can’t…
But because they tell themselves, “I can’t. I won’t. I’m not.”
Most people are their own worst enemies.
We shoot ourselves down before we even give ourselves a shot. We look at our long-term goal and see just how far off we are from it, and maybe even think about the times before when we’ve failed, and give up either before we even gotten started or at the slightest sign of struggle.
We have it in our mind that success is a straight line and we get so focused on the end result that we can’t see all the small successes we achieve every day.
I mean think about it…How many times have you gotten down on yourself because you aren’t there YET instead of thinking about all the great things you’ve done today and the last few days, weeks and months to get yourself increasingly closer to your goal?
LIke all the time right!?!
Stop being your worst enemy and start believing in yourself!
And building that confidence doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t happen just because you hit your big goal.
You actually build confidence through small victories.You need to celebrate even the tiniest of successes because even small successes build momentum and get you closer to your goal.
The small successes add up both in terms of actual results and MINDSET – actually most importantly in terms of MINDSET.
When you start to BELIEVE you CAN, you WILL.
When you set even the easiest, most simple goal and accomplish it, you will believe more in yourself.
It sounds stupid. But trust me it really really works.
When I have days where I’m stressed and I don’t even want to get started on work, I write down on my list some really stupid and simple tasks just so I can cross them off pretty early in the day and already feel like I’ve gotten a ton of stuff down.
For example, I check my email every morning when I wake up, but sometimes when I feel overloaded, I will actually write down on my daily task list, “check email” just so I can basically get up and cross something off my list. Seeing one thing done always motivates me to get started. And even then, I don’t necessarily do the things that NEED to be done first, I do the things that have the lowest barrier to entry first.
Because those small successes and accomplishments get the momentum going on days when I don’t even want to get started!
So start today. Make a list of easy and small things you can start doing that will at least prepare you to move forward on your goal.
Once you get the momentum going, the bigger changes won’t seem as daunting.
So stop telling yourself “NO..I can’t. I won’t. I’m not.”
Find even the smallest piece that you CAN DO today and start with that. Let everything else fall in to place as you progress.
One step at a time!!!
So as I’ve been preparing for this Women’s Conference this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about female role models and the transformative power of exercise/sports.
And then the other week, when Ryan and I were watching TV, I stumbled across a woman who’d undergone a great transformation and was also a GREAT role model – Nicole Eggert.
So I don’t know how many of you have seen the show “SPLASH”…And it is actually really really stupid but for some reason we watched it anyway…And now I’m sort of glad we did because I came across Nicole…
But anyway, it is a diving show in which celebrities who have never dived before compete.
And Nicole Eggert, a lifeguard on Baywatch, was one of the participants.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – sports and exercise are incredibly empowering.
Over the course of the show, you saw a huge transformation in Nicole. She became stronger, more confident and empowered as she overcame physical challenges day in and day out.
At the beginning of the show, you could tell that she wasn’t confident in her body or in her abilities. But she had decided to compete and didn’t want to give up with her daughter looking on. She even bounced back after suffering a bad fall when practicing one of her dives publicly before the show.
She could have given up and even done an easier dive when she fell from the board in warm up.
But she didn’t.
She had worked hard and she was willing to risk everything to prove to herself that she COULD do it.
And guess what!?!
She did do it!
And each week, her dives got better and you could see her confidence grow.
Nicole wasn’t a world-class athlete competing for huge rewards. Many people won’t even remember what she did because she didn’t end up evening winning the Splash title.
But she was a REAL woman working hard to overcome challenges she’d never faced before. She was a REAL woman battling the same self-doubt that most of us women struggle with daily.
Nicole did probably the hardest thing that many of us could do – she put herself out there and risked failure…and in this case…very public failure.
She put herself outside her comfort zone and didn’t give up when the going got rough. She competed to the very end.
Nicole was a REAL woman who found REAL STRENGTH through sports.
Nicole is a REAL role model.
So this weekend, decide to become your own real role model. Set some goals and take a risk to achieve something you previously thought impossible.
So I had coffee with a great friend and inspirational woman today and we got onto the subject of females and personal training.
She mentioned that her significant other said to her the other day, “Why do you need a personal trainer still? You’ve worked with a whole bunch of different ones enough that you know a ton about working out already. You could easily design your own workouts.”
She said her response to him was, “But I don’t want to have to make the decisions. I don’t want to have to decide what exercises to do and what weight to use. I already have to make a bazillion choices every day!”
She then looked at me and said, “Having a personal trainer, having your workouts designed for you, is one less decision we, women, who are already overloaded with choices every day, have to make.”
Working out for many women is their one chance during the day to really do something for themselves. A time when they don’t have to make any decisions or worry about what anyone else needs. It is a chance for them to focus on themselves- to have some ME time.
And while I know that not everyone is like me and that some women do, in fact, enjoy running, I think that many women turn to the cardio machines because it is an EASY decision. They don’t have to think about what they are going to do – they can just get on and go until they are tired.
Whereas coming up with a workout when you get to the gym (and figuring out what equipment to use when a lot of the weight room space taken over) is more challenging and not near as relaxing.
So some women either avoid lifting weights or they turn to classes and personal trainers.
And while, of course, I’m in favor of using a personal trainer, I do think that you CAN great your own workouts without adding in the stress of making a whole bunch of decisions when you get to the gym.
And one of those ways is to sit down and plan out your workouts for the week, or even the month, ahead of time.
I mean think about it…It is way less stressful when you plan out, and even cook, your meals ahead of time. Then when you are tired and stressed out during the week, you don’t have to figure out what to make and then spend time cooking it. You also don’t get the urge to just eat anything because you are too tired to care.
Same thing goes for working out. When you create your workouts ahead of time, and I don’t just mean earlier that day, you create workouts that will challenge you and help you grow.
Whereas a lot of the time when we have to design something in the moment, we design something based on how we feel – which sometimes can mean doing 10 push ups instead of 20…or using half the weight we should be using.
It can even mean that we skip the workout altogether because we just don’t have the energy to make another decision.
So take a second and think…After a long day at work, do you do the workout that requires the least amount of thought or the one that will get you the best results?
Maybe planning out your workouts ahead of time (or getting a personal trainer) may be just want you need to hit your goals!
Do you plan out your workouts?
So I’ve always known days or meals where you indulge in foods that aren’t necessarily healthy as cheat days or cheat meals.
But recently there has been a lot of talk about whether or not “cheat” is really the proper word to describe the meal or day.
CHEAT implies that you are doing something wrong…something bad…something breaking from what you shouldn’t be doing.
There can be a negative connotation to calling a day or meal a “CHEAT.”
So I’ve heard some people call it a TREAT meal instead.
But personally, TREAT almost bothers me even more. You aren’t a dog…You don’t need a treat for eating well. Eating well is what you should be doing.
Both can really imply, in a way, that eating well isn’t really all that fun, tasty or enjoyable.
Which honestly really isn’t the case.
Healthy food can be delicious. And it not only makes you feel good but helps your body and mind truly run well.
BUT as good as healthy food is and as great as you really do feel when you eat well…there are just times you want to indulge even if that means your belly is going to grumble a bit the next day.
Like for me, a vacation isn’t a vacation if I’m worried about finding something healthy on the menu – If I’m more worried about eating well than on trying new things.
Cheat days, treat days, whatever you call them, are about more than eating bad food. They aren’t even about indulging in things you are “deprived off” otherwise.
They are more about a mental release and enjoying something in life that you don’t necessarily get to do every day.
Maybe a more apt description of cheat days is VACATION.
I mean think about it…Why do you take vacation?
Because you need a break. You need a break from routine. A break from exercising self-control day in and day out. Because you need both a mental and physical rest.
A VACATION is a chance to recharge!
For me…a “cheat day” is exactly that…a chance to re-charge.
It is a mini vacation from self-control and it can mean a ton of different things.
It isn’t always about eating food that is bad for me. I mean sometimes it is…Sometimes it is indulging in those nachos because they just take so good and I really really love food. Sometimes it is getting to try new foods when I’m on vacation and really let go.
But most importantly it is about relaxing and enjoying be it nachos or simply a glass of wine. It is about enjoying something and taking a mini vacation from the normal routine.
It is about “cheating” for the sake of cheating. It isn’t about eating something bad just because it is there or because I’ve had a bad day or because someone else pressures me.
It is about doing something, eating something, that I enjoy because I WANT it.
A big part of making a healthy diet into a lifestyle is about also realizing that you don’t have to be perfect all the time.
You need vacations from work…from family…from daily life…
So why wouldn’t you need a vacation from eating well or working out every once in a while?
We need chances to recharge and indulge be it a glass of wine and dark chocolate, a piece of bread with butter or a whole pizza and pint of ice cream. Shoot maybe it isn’t even eating something unhealthy…Sometimes it is just about telling yourself that you can do WHATEVER that day IF you end up really craving something.
Sometimes you just need a break from your daily habits because those daily habits do wear down your self-control no matter how ingrained they seemed to be.
So whatever your cheat/treat/indulgence/splurge/break/vacation/(whatever you call the snack, meal or day) is, make sure it is something you are going to enjoy to the fullest without guilt.
Do you include a “cheat” something into your daily, weekly or monthly diet plan? What do you prefer to call that “treat?”
So on Thursday Ryan and I started our road trip up the Cali coast for Carmel where a friend of Ryan’s was getting married on Clint Eastwood’s ranch.
While I’ve been to a few spots in Northern Cali, I’ve never taken a road trip up the coast and let me tell you…it was an eye-opener!
Along the way I kept rambling on to Ryan about two certain thoughts…one was about “cheat days” and the whole debate over them and whether they should even be called “cheat days” and the other was about our farming systems and the environment.
And while I’ll talk about cheat days tomorrow after my food hangover wears off, today I do want to talk about the nature of farming while the images from our drive are still fresh in my mind.
So I am a Midwest girl. And I grew up driving through farmland. Just about every tennis trip we took, my mom and I would drive through hours and hours of farmland.
Mostly I just thought it was boring. Super flat land with rows and rows of the same crop. Basically just corn as far as the eye could see.
There would be a few horses…Maybe some cattle…But mostly just CORN.
But anyway, my point is, I’ve seen lots of farmland before and never really given it a second thought…until now.
And I don’t know if it was all the cool and new scenery or the fact that I’m more conscious about where my food comes from now, but a lot of what I saw really made me question…
Ryan told me the scenery would be cool even though we would be driving through a lot of desert. He said we would also drive by the ocean, through some interesting scenery in the hills, through more forested areas and then finally on our way home…lots of farmland.
What I didn’t realize is that I was going to see everything right next to each other and at times, all at once. I saw ocean next to farm next to desert next to forest next to great huge hills.
I also didn’t expect to see wildfires right next to the road.
When I was younger, I remember learning that wildfires could be good and necessary for some ecosystems. But that wasn’t the case with all of the fires popping up around Southern Cali. These fires were damaging not only potentially to people’s property but also to the land and natural vegetation.
The fires made me shake my head in disbelief. I never thought I would see one.
As we drove on through a slightly flatter area a bit away from the ocean, we passed strawberry fields and blueberry farms.
And then as we entered back into a few more hills, we saw a whole bunch of cattle roaming the hillside….
I was like “AH!” Grass-fed, free range BEEF!
So right now if you are a vegetarian, you may want to tune out as I’m going to start my whole YAY for meat thing. Just giving you a heads up…
Anyway, I was excited to see the cattle roaming the hillside so close to our home especially since a local meat shop owner here had recently told me that the reason it was hard to get grass-fed beef is because we are so surrounded by desert terrain.
Here was proof that there actually was local grass-fed beef!!!
All those happy cows roaming and eating and enjoying the sun.
I was excited!
But then I turned to Ryan and said, “I wonder why there are so few. There could be whole herds roaming these hills!”
And I’m sure now if you are a vegetarian still reading you want to now tell me about all the bad things the animals we raise on farms do to our environment.
But don’t. Because pasture-raised animals don’t have the same impact on our environment that industrial farms’ conventionally raised animals do. Pasture-raised animals are actually GOOD for our environment. They actually help regulate the ecosystem and can help keep it way healthier than our freaking monocrop farming does…but I’m getting to that…
Anyway, I was excited to see the pasture-raised cows and just sad that I didn’t see more of them. There was a ton of hillside that could be grazed and as Ryan pointed out, “The areas where the cows seemed to have grazed look healthier!” (Which in fact they did…way more green on the hillside with cows!)
Maybe if we had more animals eating the grass and renewing the soil like they used to, we wouldn’t have as many devastating wildfires as we do now….Just a thought….
So sometime after seeing the cows and the wildfires, we stopped in San Luis Obispo. We met with a friend for a hike, which ended up turning into more a mile straight up climb…AH!…before heading out to dinner in town.
We were also super lucky in that there was a farmer’s market going on that night. And on top of produce and meat from a ton of local farms, there was a stand with RAW MILK!
It was the first time I’d seen a stand with raw milk since there is so much pressure by the government NOT to sell it…And it isn’t usually worth the headache for the farmers.
As cheesy (bad pun?) as it sounds, seeing that raw milk and pasture-raised cows really made my day.
I was like “YESSSSS! There is some hope for good, naturally raised and grown food here!”
After leaving San Luis Obispo, we began to move a bit more out of farmland as we wound through the hills by the ocean although I do swear we saw farmland with cattle roaming free and ZEBRAS…although I didn’t manage to snap a picture, but instead failed epically getting only a picture of my finger…
The view on our drive we beautiful and definitely different from anything I’d seen in the Midwest or even on the East Coast. And as I raved about the view, Ryan told me to just wait till we drove back home the less scenic way.
On our way back home, we were going to drive through Salinas, which is a huge farming community. It most definitely reminded me more of the farmland in the Midwest even though it wasn’t endless corn.
As we drove through Salinas, the winds were terrible. Ryan then remarked that the winds were a problem when it came to organic farming and pesticides.
He said that most of the time organic farms and pesticide-using farms were right next to each other and that when the wind blew, the pesticides would be blown right on to the organic produce.
So much for thinking your organic produce was so much better huh?
Of course, if we didn’t promote monocrop farming, maybe we wouldn’t have the same insect and soil problems that we have now and wouldn’t need to use the pesticides…But then I forgot….It isn’t plant farming that is causing the environmental problems is it?
Anyway, even worse than the fact that our organic produce isn’t really organic, is the serious health problems created by pesticides for people within the community.
Ryan then started telling me about how the community has a whole bunch of health issues because of the pesticides.
I couldn’t believe it.
Like honestly, couldn’t believe it.
What the heck is wrong with us? For all we talk about “eating well” and “living a healthy lifestyle” we don’t seem to really care that we are using all this crap and following farming practices that will kill us.
Quality matters people.
Anyway, what was a very scenic drive really opened my eyes and made me look around and think.
I’ve driven through farmland before, but this is the first time I think I’ve ever really looked at it.
So occasionally Ryan and I will watch the ESPN series 30 for 30.
They are always interesting and while some are uplifting, many of the stories are about athletes that weren’t able to live up to the hype or that were in some way prevented from living up to their full potential – many are stories of “what if?”.
What if the person hadn’t gotten injured? What if the person had gotten another shot? What if….?
For me stories of “what if?” are always a slight bit depressing and leave me rambling on to Ryan for hours after about all of the “what ifs?”.
But last night I watched one of the most motivational documentaries I’ve seen in a long time – one that really spoke to me.
It was the Dewey Bozella Story. Below is his basic biography. I took it from his website as I didn’t want to leave anything out.
In 1983, Bozella’s life took a dramatic turn when he was convicted of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to 20 years to life in Sing Sing prison, Bozella maintained his innocence and exhausted every appeal. He was offered more than four separate chances for an early release if he would only admit guilt and show remorse, but Bozella consistently refused to accept freedom under such conditions. Anger at his imprisonment gave way to determination and instead of becoming embittered, he became a model prisoner: earning his GED, bachelors and masters degrees; working as a counselor for other prisoners; and eventually even falling in love and getting married. Through it all, Bozella found strength and purpose through boxing, becoming the light heavyweight champion of Sing Sing Prison.
Unyielding in his innocence, Bozella never gave up fighting in or out of the ring. He wrote to the Innocence Project daily in his quest for a ray of hope. The law firm WilmerHale eventually took on Bozella’s case and uncovered new evidence that exonerated him. After being in prison more than 26 years, he was finally released in October 2009. Today, Bozella devotes his life to helping others, working with a non-profit that helps recently released prisoners rehabilitate back into the world. He has also returned to boxing as a trainer to kids and aspiring fighters, all the while maintaining his dream to fight one professional fight as a free man.
On July 13th, 2011, Dewey Bozella was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at The 2011 ESPYs. The 2011 ESPYs celebrated the courage and conviction that lead Bozella to the ultimate path of freedom after 26 years of imprisonment. Following the awards, Dewey Bozella realized his dream of becoming a professional boxer, winning his first pro fight on October 15th, 2011 on the undercard for Bernard versus Dawson.
Just reading this story again touches me.
I don’t know what it is…Maybe it is his un-wavering determination or his refusal to give up hope. Maybe its the fact that he worked to always make the best of his situation. Maybe it is the fact that he never comprised his integrity and refused to lie even for his freedom. Maybe it was his courage and conviction. Maybe it was the fact that he found empowerment and strength through sports.
Maybe it was the fact that he never gave up and got, at least a little, to realize “what if?”.
No, he will never know if he could have been one of the best professional boxers had he not been imprisoned during his prime, but at least he knew he could have been great…and there is some peace in that.
At least he never gave up on his dream and did everything he could to get it.
“Never let fear determine who you are,” said Bozella. “Never let where you come from determine where you’re going.”
Some of us never get started because we hate failing, we fear failing, maybe even more than we love winning.
Bozella failed time and time again and never gave up because he knew that winning was worth it.
While we may not be fighting for our freedom or our chance to compete in a professional sport, we are all fighting for some victory no matter how small.
The question is…will we let our fear of failure get in the way or will we realize that always asking “what if?” is far worse?
NOTE: I would like to take a second and also recognize some of the really inspiration things going on in athletics right now. We have some really brave athletes on our hands. Whether or not they will be recognized for their bravery or burned for it has yet to truly be seen, but I will continue to hope for the best!