Embracing aging…

     So…it’s my birthday. I am sitting on the plane for the 2 hour leg of my flights back home. I started passing the time by talking with my “neighbor” about getting older. A friendly man about my age from a nearby city. Not sure how age came up. Maybe it was his comment about falling asleep and possibly drooling on me, or maybe it was me saying that I was already motion sick from my first flight and that I hoped he wouldn’t have to see me throw up! And that I only seem to get worse motion sickness with age.
     Here I am, coming from a great and relaxing long weekend in Austin with a couple of my closest friends, and thinking about getting old. One friend had seen some hard times financially and decided to move back to Texas, and one friend sold her house, bought an RV, and has been toodling around the country the past 5 months. They are 12 years older than I am. I have always joked that I keep them around as friends just to make me look younger! Good thing they love me or they might not have put up with my verbal abuse the past 18 years!😉 All three of us lost a parent way too young. We agreed that it’s much better to get older than face the alternative! As much as I trust I will someday live an eternal life, I’m definitely not ready to leave this earth yet! Only God knows. But, now that my 40s are sliding downhill to 50, I seem to be re-examining my life quite often: where I’ve been and what is to come.
      I had an epiphany recently. I realized that I don’t mind getting older. I actually embrace it. The wisdom and experience that come with aging is immeasurable. I have noticed that my 40s have brought me so much peace about who I truly am. I have learned to be more assertive (my M.O. was usually passive-aggressive!) I have learned that some things are better left unsaid. And that some things need to be said. I have learned to embrace my quirks and accept that everyone else might not embrace them the same way. I have learned to not sweat the small stuff…most of the time!
     What I don’t like is looking older! Ugh, the “vanity”! Don’t judge me- I come by it naturally with a long line of women who care about their health and appearance🤣 and I don’t really think it’s vain to care about taking care of ourselves, inside and out. It’s ok to care about our appearances, as long as we have a healthy and realistic outlook. Not the outlook that magazines with photoshopped models, or movie stars with endless makeup artists and money, portray. But if we can take care of our bodies, inside and out, with a healthy diet and exercise, isn’t it ok to try to look and feel good while doing it? And if we have a healthy state of mind towards aging gracefully (maybe not always “naturally” for some😉) then I believe it’s ok to work on being the best self we can be.
     Being on a trip for a few days, I also realized how many people I deal with professionally and personally, really have a tough time letting themselves “live a little”.  People who won’t go a day without a rest from their intense workouts, or who won’t let themselves splurge on a dessert occasionally.
     Although we walked about 12 miles in two days, I didn’t feel the need to find a gym and workout. It is good for our bodies to take a bit of a rest. I did make sure I did a lot of stretching though! My hips and back ain’t like they used to be! And my boots weren’t made for walking!

     And yes, I ate a donut! And a cupcake! I have always liked the yummy stuff that isn’t so good for me, but as I age, I’ve had to learn how to let myself enjoy these things in moderation once in a while. And work hard and eat clean the rest of time. It doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” life as many people so often think. I paid my dues years ago and now I like to have some “fun” by eating my goodies and giving my body a break.

     “Age is cruel!” exclaimed Winston Churchill in The Crown. He didn’t like the artist’s representation of him in his commissioned painting. He struggled to admit he was aging, unhealthy, and losing his ability to lead as prime minister. Aging can often be a struggle. Especially when it takes us a little bit longer to stand up straight when we get out of bed in the morning (or when we walk around exploring a new city on a trip and our backs or feet hurt quicker than they use to).Or when we look in the mirror and see those “crows feet” or sagging necks staring back at us. Or when we notice the first gray hair pop out of nowhere. Ha, ha! Making you feel old yet?
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     Why is it so hard for so many people to accept getting older? Or even just admit their age or feel the need to lie about it? If one isn’t ready to meet their maker, then isn’t getting older the better and only choice? Maybe we need to start thinking about aging differently?
     Let me tell ya that I have three clients in their 80s! One has been with me almost 19 years, and the other two have only been around a few months. It’s NEVER too late to take control of your body and health! Remember, getting older is a blessing. Another year to be the best person you can be, inside and out. Live life to the fullest, take care of yourself, and love others to the absolute best of your ability. God’s speed…

“Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess:

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen”
Margot Benary-Isbert

Just had to share this little gem, too…
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Winning at relationships in a “me” world…

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 Hi all! I have been a bit of a slacker as of late and did not stick with my goal of posting once a week. Last week was a bit tough: extreme fatigue, headaches, and a very non-compliant body. It made me extremely lazy (and procrastinate). I did what my mind and body thought was good, but had to force myself to do a couple of “wimpy” workouts. (Speaking of workouts, I hope you weren’t expecting a bunch of workouts on here…I’m realizing that I don’t really enjoy trying to teach exercises via writing and pictures- I’m a face to face kind of trainer. I will try to get another goodie out for ya soon though! They don’t call me Buff Grandma for nothing!) I didn’t even hike last week, and we had record high temps here in Colorado Springs. Oh, and I ate brownies and donuts over the weekend… I think I heard somewhere that they would help my MS?! Haha!
But seriously, I can’t beat myself up, and I have to remind myself that I have a disease that might force me to slow down sometimes. I am human (some personal trainers aren’t!) And I love my junk food occasionally. The problem is, so does my hubby. We can be so bad together! Especially when we decide to go to Whole Foods to pick up some kind of “healthy” dessert to go with our post-movie takeout dinner! But, we can be oh so good, too! I am extremely blessed to be married to my best friend for the past 24 years-someone who’d jump in front of a bus for me. Someone who hates to see me struggling or hurting. As a self-admittedly selfish man, he has a huge heart, and he loves me unconditionally… as I do him.
 So, how the heck are relationships, friendships or romantic, supposed to survive in a world where it seems like everyone is out for themselves? So many play the victim, are easily offended at anything said or done that is in direct opposition of their views, or are just purely selfish and self absorbed.  Why are mature, loving relationships so hard? You would think that when one is deeply in love with somebody that only positive words and actions would follow. But, “people are people” and it just doesn’t seem like that is the case with 90% of us. Ok, maybe it’s more like 100% of us! None of us love someone the way they should be loved 100% of time. If that happened, it’d be a perfect world, and that is definitely not the case! But, the world hasn’t totally gone mad, even though it seems we are well on the way sometimes. I truly believe we can still be the light in a dark world, and have amazing, loving relationships with one another. We are called to this kind of love, Christian or not.  Even though human beings are inherently selfish- maybe it goes back to the early days of survival of the fittest, kill or be killed, every man out for themselves. We have the ability, unlike most mammals, to show emotions, to love, and to choose HOW to love. Are we going to waste the potential we have for love by being rude, selfish, and hateful? Many will, unfortunately. Maybe they grew up in horrible conditions, no one showing them unconditional love, or literally had to fight for their survival. Some of us might have to work on it more than others, but it is possible, unless a true mental illness exists.
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Genuine love isn’t “I love you and I want you to make me happy”, it is “I love you and I want you to be happy”. Ideally, before people come together in a relationship, each person should already embrace their own sense of self-love, self-fulfillment, and self-respect; then they can appreciate that in another. No one should expect another person to give him/her that sense of fulfillment.
A good friend recently made the comment that she finally realized after 25 years of marriage, that deep, down to the soul, long term love required her to “100% give up her own selfishness”.  Wow! Can you imagine not thinking about your own needs in a relationship? Just focusing on the other’s? What would happen? Complete Godly, other-self love. God is love! If we want the perfect example of love, it is in our Creator. Often, God’s love is referred to as agape love, which is the highest form of love: selfless and sacrificial. It is steadfast, unchanging, and unconditional. We shouldn’t love someone for what they give us or what we are getting. We should love for what we can give to him/her. The hope is, that the same would start to be returned to you… it’s a perfect cycle. The beauty we’d see in them would be a reflection of God’s love. To love in any other way is to be dependent on another, with expectations and demands, and will only set us up for disappointment.
So how many of you are shaking your heads at my words and wondering, “what about me? What if I am being treated horribly, or being abused emotionally or physically?” I am absolutely not saying to stay in a friendship or romantic relationship when the other person is abusive, using you, treating you badly, etc. I am talking about how to enhance relationships that aren’t already lost or dysfunctional, or even how to get a new relationship off to an amazing start. Maybe you’ve hit a rut in a new relationship and are starting to focus on all of the bad habits the other person has or the things the other isn’t  doing for you. Or maybe you’ve been together for decades and are finding yourself nagging again or feeling disconnected emotionally.
How about a little challenge as we start February, the month of love? What if you dedicated an entire seven days (it won’t make you “weak”!) to being as selfless as possible to another person, whether a friend that has been difficult, or your significant other/spouse? In every word and action, think first, “will this hurt or uplift the other?” What can you do to show someone you love them and are dedicated to his/her happiness? Does it really matter if your husband left the cabinet open when he got a glass? I bet he didn’t do it to make you mad. If he’s like my husband, he just has his mind on so many things that he completely forgets sometimes. Maybe offer to pour him a glass of wine… after quietly shutting the cabinet (not like me when I slam it to make a point that he left it open… again!) Do you need to point out to your wife that the house is a big mess when you get home? Maybe she had a long, rough day with the kids putting toys in the toilet, the dog ate the remote, and the vacuum broke.  Maybe ask her if there’s anything you can do to help or offer to rub her feet after the kids go to bed. After you get home from a hard day of work, instead of racing off to your room or to shower, sit and catch up with your loved one for 15 minutes first. Let your loved one pick the movie or choose the restaurant. You get what I’m saying, right? Sometimes when we focus on other people, we start to feel better, and they might just start treating you differently, too. Try it for a week and just make note of the amazing changes in your relationship. I promise it won’t hurt you… at least not TOO bad!
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Showing Empathy…does it come naturally for you?

 

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 I’ve been thinking a lot about empathy lately. During December, I came across many people who were either sick with the flu, stomach junk, or just all around horrible viruses. How I managed to avoid any of this, when about 84.9% of the people I was around for several weeks were sick (including my entire immediate family), is amazing! Take that MS! Hear me roar! Sorry, I’m off topic…I also talked with many people who were struggling with Christmas being their first Christmas without a loved one who had died. And a dear, long-term friend of mine whose mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September, was experiencing what would probably be the last Christmas with her mom (unfortunately her sweet momma passed away 3 days ago). I noticed during the past month, that everyone has different ways of reacting to people who are going through tough times. It is fascinating how many people seem to have little capacity for empathy. But, what exactly is empathy?
Empathy is often confused with sympathy. As time has gone on, it seems that the two have pulled away from each other and have come to mean fairly different things. Both of the terms deal with the relationship one has to the feelings and experiences of another, and in fact are very similar, but they do differ. Dictionary.com describes empathy as ‘the psychological identification with or vicarious experiences of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another’. In layman‘s terms, it’s basically putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Sympathy is defined as ‘the fact or power of sharing the feelings of another, especially in sorrow or trouble; full of feeling, compassion, or commiseration’. Today, sympathy is mostly used to convey pity or feelings of sorrow for someone who is experiencing grief or misfortune. You can think of a greeting card, offering messages of sorrow and support for those people in their time of need. Empathy does not only mean to “feel sorry” for someone in their time of need or distress, but to be able to walk hand in hand with the person, see through one’s eyes, and feel what one might be feeling.
“Empathy is walking a mile in someone else’s shoes…sympathy is being sorry for them that their feet hurt”
Is empathy something that human beings come by naturally or something that needs to be learned? How can we help ourselves or others be more empathetic? This has been something I have been trying to wrap my mind around for awhile. In a world where it seems like so many people are selfish and only out for themselves, it can be very distressing when you are one of the individuals who is empathetic. But, does it mean that if we are one of those individuals, that we should become cynical and just stop doing it? Is there a way that we can help ourselves or others learn how to be empathetic?
I believe empathy, and acts of care and compassion, are often learned by watching those with whom we grow up and hang around. I also think that some people are just born more empathetic than others. But, and it’s a big but, empathy can be learned if one is willing. Things like watching emotional movies and reading more books – basically being immersed in characters lives – can help develop skills of feeling what someone else is feeling. But the skills can be internalized: taking the time to listen more to others, sharing in other people’s problems and joys, paying attention to people’s facial expressions, and using eye contact, can help give you tools to be more empathetic. Sometimes simply imagining what it would be like to be in the same position as another, even if you haven’t actually experienced the same thing, can help you feel what they are feeling to a certain extent.
Empathy can help build and strengthen personal relationships. Have you ever opened up to a friend or spouse about something you are really struggling with and you get, “Im sorry. So do you wanna go get a coffee?” (insert fidgeting and eyes dancing around). Or you are really sick and you get absolutely no offer of help or care, but then your significant other moans until you wait on them hand and foot when they’re in the same boat? This is exaggerated, but people talk to me about similar situations all the time. Remember, personal trainers are like bartenders or hairdressers- we hear it all;) Some people have a hard time showing empathy when they are going through a hard time themselves- it’s hard to give when one is already knee deep in their own stuff. But showing others compassion and empathy doesn’t mean we can’t still take care of our own needs. In fact, if you truly love and care about yourself, then you are able to look outside yourself and show others more concern and empathy. So next time you see someone hurting, physically or emotionally, just take a moment to try to feel what they feel, or remember how you felt in a similar situation, and give them the care and compassion that you might want if it was you. I know, I know…I’m asking a lot! How the heck are you supposed to help someone else if you, yourself, are busy or hurting?? Well, funny you should ask. I’ve noticed that when we take the time to help others, our minds suddenly shift the focus off of ourselves and our own pain. It’ll work…just give it a try!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

 

 

 

New year, new you?!

This is the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t necessarily believe in making them, but it does seem like perfect timing to start over and make changes, especially after the holidays. This is the time of year that many trainers call “job security”. After the month and a half  long “holiday season”, many of us are over stressed, under exercised, and overfed! We can all get out of our normal routines during November and December- the approaching new year is a great excuse to hit the reset button. But I think resolutions can sometimes be overused; people become complacent and “wait til the new year” and companies blast their marketing to take advantage of people who are feeling the “blahs”. The weight loss industry is a $60 billion a year industry (and no doubt you’ve seen the 1000s of daily commercials this past week or two!) Currently, approximately 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, with half of them being in the morbidly obese range! With obesity being one of the leading causes of PREVENTABLE death, why are people so complacent about their health?? Here are just some of the risks of being overweight: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, early onset of arthritis (due to extra weight on joints), mental illness, and unneccesary body pain and loss of movement. A healthy weight is NOT just about vanity or looking good. It’s your life.

And what about a healthy heart?? Here are some of the risk factors for heart disease and heart attacks: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking/tobacco use, being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, having an unhealthy diet, and having a family history of heart disease. All of these, but one, can be changed by you! Do you see how weight and heart health are so intertwined? Imagine!?

No matter what you want to call it, it is a new year and you can make those changes! Maybe you simply want to feel better, lose a little weight, be stronger so you can climb a 14’er this summer (it’s a Colorado thing), cut down on your sugar intake (it is the devil, but it’s so good sometimes!), getting off of tobacco, or get off of your blood pressure medication. Well, it IS up to YOU! You have the control of what you will make your body do and what you choose to fuel it with. No one can do it for you (although I wish I could have someone workout for me sometimes!) Figure out what you want to change and why you want to change it. That is usually the easy part for people. Then it is finding a way to actually do it- making yourself accountable is the most important thing. There are lots of ways to do that. Get a device that reminds you to stand up and get moving, or clocks your steps and heart rate. Get an app to log your daily movement and calorie intake. Get a hiking buddy that will commit to hiking with you twice a week. Get a trainer (I happen to know a couple of good ones!) Get a life coach or online trainer who checks in with you (or find an annoying friend who’d be happy to keep bugging you!) Set your alarm to wake up half an hour early so you can get on the treadmill and walk for 30 minutes before your day gets started. Set a goal to do a 10 minute, all over body circuit three days a week and then work your way up to longer periods of time. Join one of the diet groups if you need that structure and accountability (Oprah needs more money so she’d be happy to have you join!)

I know I could go on forever about the “why” you should be taking the best care of yourself, and “how” to achieve your goals- remember, I do get paid to listen to people give me excuses every day;) We all have excuses though, but I believe we all want to feel the best we can, lower disease risks, be alive to enjoy our loved ones as long as possible, and have a good quality of life. I admit there’s some vanity to my lifestyle, but I mostly want to keep being able to run and play with my grandchildren, and watch them grow up and have children of their own. I want to avoid further progression of my MS and decrease chances of debilitating symptoms. I’m not ready to slow down (or have someone help me up from the floor when I decide to drop it too low on the dance floor!)

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My two little motivators…

I hope I gave you something to think about, and that you can find at least one way to make a positive change to your health in 2018. Don’t put it off another year or another month- this is your only life, your only body, and your health! If you don’t do it, who will? Blessings to you and your loved ones, and may 2018 be a happy, healthy NEW YEAR!

Need a little post-Christmas booty workout???

Hello faithful blog readers! My hope is that you all had a very blessed Christmas, and that you enjoyed every moment of making holiday memories with your loved ones as much as I did! And, if you’re anything like me, you overindulged in all of the holiday goodies- and enjoyed every bite of it (or sip!) I might as well have just taken my homemade cinnamon rolls and attached them directly to my butt! But that wouldn’t have been as much fun as enjoying eating them a couple times a day until they were out of my house! It has been awhile since I have done a workout blog, so here is a little “quickie but goodie” for you to enjoy as you wrap up 2017. This can be done in less than 10 minutes, and it can stand alone as your quick glute workout if you don’t have time for anything else. These exercises can be done with or without a weight in one hand. I usually hold a 15 pound dumbbell or kettlebell, but people often get sore with this booty set no matter what. These will help tone and lift your booty- and maybe work off a few of those holiday indulgences😉 Shoot for 10-12 reps of each exercise, on one leg. Do the giant set (all exercises in succession) with one leg, then switch legs. By the time you’re on the third exercise, your booty/hip should be feeling the burn on the working leg. Take a minute to rest/stretch, rinse and repeat. Try to do three sets total.

Curtsy Lunge-

Start by standing with feet together and weight in right hand. With your bodyweight staying on your right leg, reach your left foot back and to the right, and bend left knee towards the floor. Return your left foot back to starting position by pushing off of your right leg through the booty, keeping hips and shoulders square the entire movement. To keep my knees happy, I often don’t have as big as a sideways curtsy as some of my clients- my back foot often finds itself just slightly to the outside of my standing hip. Pay attention to your range of motion and specific needs. 

“One Leg” Stiff Legged Deadlifts-

This is a variation of a typical Stiff Legged Deadlift. It targets the hamstrings and the booty, and is great for stabilizing/strengthening the hips. It is also great for balance! Don’t feel bad if you do a little wobbling as you get these down. Standing with the feet together and weight in the right hand, slowly hinge at the hips and lift left leg in the air. Keep the hips and shoulders square and look straight ahead or gaze slightly down. Make sure you keep your core tight, spine straight, and don’t let your low back sway. Remind yourself to create a straight line with your lifted leg and upper body. Lower yourself to the point of feeling a good stretch in your hamstring and then lift back through the hips, tapping your left foot on the ground if needed for balance before repeating all of your reps.

One Legged Squat (with reach across)-

This is a great One Legged Squat variation and will put the finishing touches on the booty burn. Switch your weight to the left hand, but stay standing on your right leg. Lift your left leg in the air slightly, engage your core, and find your balance point on your right leg with your weight centered in your booty and middle of your foot. Leaning forward will put a lot of weight into your knee and may cause pain. Keep your chest up, shoulders back, and look ahead or slightly out and down. Reach your left hand in front of your right knee and bend/squat as deep as you can without any pain. If you can tap the weight on the floor in front of your right foot, then you are an expert!

Happy booty burning and have a healthy, happy 2018! Love to you all!

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Star Wars and Christmas go together like….hmm…let me think about that…