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1 0 Posts in Fitness
July 23, 2013

What’s My Age Again?

What’s My Age Again?

CandlesMy friends say I should act my age

What’s my age again?

What’s my age again?

~ Blink 182

I turned 44 not long ago. Quietly and without fanfare. It was not that I was trying to avoid it, but maybe just trying to let is sneak by unnoticed…

Earlier this year, my friend Larry and I had a conversation about age. It went a lot like this:

Me: I’m still young, lots of time!

Him: What’s your definition of young?

Me: A state of mind, heart and body?

Him: So that means a bright active 85 year old runner is young even though he doesn’t have plenty of time…

Me: Ok, so at what age is someone no longer young regardless of attitude or health? Who is young? Are you young?

Him: No – I am not. Is a 30 yr old young? A 20 yr old? Who is young? And middle age means just that, I won’t live to be over a 100 so I am not middle age I am older then that.

Food for thought right? We live in a youth-oriented culture. Young is a commodity, and aging is a thing we hide at the cost of hair dye, Botox, and perhaps even self-deception. Think about this carefully now: are you young? Really?

Regardless of how we see ourselves, our age is our age. It’s a real number. Just like others that we try to avoid.

I could tell you that one motivation for me to keep up with a pretty aggressive exercise regimen is to stave off time – and there is truth to that. Physical aging happens more quickly in those who don’t actively exercise. And being frankly sedentary will – as many studies now tell us – kill you sooner than otherwise expected.

I rarely feel old, and I am used to being told that I look younger than my years…enough so that sometimes I can fool myself. But if you exercise enough – long enough, hard enough – your age will become more clear.

The first day I walked into a CrossFit class it was intimidating. There was a lot of gear I had never seen and finishing up was a class of exhausted, sweating looking people doing things that I was pretty sure my body was not designed to do. But this is me…I’ll try anything once.

Twice even. Continue reading…

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July 21, 2013

New Days, New Goals, New Challenges

New Days New Goals New Challenges

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
~ Goethe

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I sort of stopped paying attention to this blog some time ago. Life gets busy and writing seems more like a thing that get in the way than…well, than much of anything.

Plus sometimes I think to myself, this thing has served its purpose. I ran for a year, I wrote for a year.

End. Of. Story.

But perhaps not. I think that part of what happened here – and those who followed along bore witness to this, is that I started to really enjoy running – it became part of my life. I still like it now and I still run and it’s now just kind of part of who I am. In the eyes of some, that might be a successful experiment. It has been for me. The minimal learning here was that at least in my life – busy, chaotic, full, but with a priority to stay healthy and fit – the age-old advice that you should chose an activity you like for your regular exercise because you will be more likely to do it – proved to be untrue. What I found – and this might help others too – was that what I really needed was an activity that I could actually accomplish regularly despite my life. Running fit. So I ran with committed effort. I ran and it changed me. At least it made me a runner.

I think it also made me a better person.

I will never be a great runner. I’m not going to be fast, I’m not going for super distance. As a 5 foot tall woman with asthma, I really wasn’t build for this sport. But it gives me results, it gives me a stronger, healthier body – and frankly, it gives me a healthier mind. And once I learned all that, it could have been the end of the story. And perhaps for running it is.

Then there was CrossFit.

I am probably about to make a terrible mistake in writing what comes next. Continue reading…

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May 14, 2012

Races with Girlfriends

Races with Girlfriends

Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.

Oprah Winfrey

So much has changed for me in 11 months of running that it’s hard to wrap my mind around it.

If you had ever ever told me I would even think of entering a race – even months after I started running I might have called you silly to your face. When I first started running, people constantly asked me what I was training for. I quickly realized that this is common conversation between runners – many of whom run (at least in part) so that they can participate in races.

This was a conversation that happened the other day when I was running with a friend. I was a hot day and we were stopped on the side of the path at a drinking fountain. Another runner – I think she was from South Africa – stopped about the same time.

My friend: Hot day, huh?

Other runner: Oh yes!

My friend: Are you out here training for something?

Other runner: Not at the moment…(pause)…but there is always something to train for right!

And she flashes a happy, sweaty smile and takes off. Continue reading…

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March 31, 2012

Playing With Canadians

Playing with Canadians

Ok, I was working with them too.

I have sort of been off the map for a couple of days in beautiful Lake Louise Alberta speaking at and attending the International School for Obesity Research and Management (ISORAM). This amazing course brings together a group of researchers and clinicians – mostly from Canada and Germany – to educate each other on very complex topics related to the disease of obesity. I felt truly honored that course director Dr Arya Sharma asked me to be part of the faculty.

So you might ask, in addition to talking to a remarkable and very smart group of international experts, what about the running?

We have been very active here this week – a foot and a half of snow fell in the first 24 hours – but that has meant once again that things like skiing have take the place of a run. And I am not complaining. Since I started running 9 months ago, I have had a lot of people tell me that I simply have to intersperse it with other things.

One thing I can tell you for sure, my body tolerates sports like skiing much better after all the conditioning I have put it through in the past year. It’s really a lot more enjoyable to ski or hike in the snow when my body enjoys it as much as my spirit does. It’s not that my thighs don’t hurt today – because they do! – but it’s really just that it takes a certain amount of physical fitness to even get to the place where my thighs hurt, and I sort of have a new appreciation of that.

Anyway, it’s 6 AM here in Canada and I am sitting by the shuttle door at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and my ride will be here in just a moment to take me back to Calgary to catch a plane.

So I thought I might leave you with a couple of images of the non-academic activities of the past few days.

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Have a wonderful Saturday, wherever you are.

Jacqueline

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February 28, 2012

Reason (Enough) To Run

Reason (Enough) To Run

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our culture has spawned all sorts of sayings that use the word run.

Run the gauntlet

Run out of steam

(Don’t) Run before you can walk

Run off in all directions

Run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off

I love language and the way we use words. When we hear phrases like this, we learn a lot about the way our culture (or the culture at the time the phrase was coined) thinks about a thing or a concept. Despite all the great things runners (even beginners like me) might say about running, our society has come up with all sort of uses that imply going to fast, being reckless or cavalier, or exhausting yourself.

We use the word run to describe extremes mostly, not norms.

Maybe we have it wrong. Continue reading…

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January 26, 2012

On Keeping the Pace, Outpacing Myself

On Keeping the Pace, Outpacing Myself

A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more 
~ Steve Prefontaine

I think I have mentioned my competitive nature in this blog before? Mostly, I am not so much competitive with others. I am, however, fiercely self-competitive and I am constantly trying to figure out improve on, better and best my own accomplishments. This has pros and cons. On the upside, it has led me to a pretty successful career…on the downside, it can leave me exhausted from spending energy on things that could really be left alone to progress along some natural course.

At the suggestion of a friend I recently read the book Strengths Finder 2.0 (might say more about that another time) and took the associated test. One of my top 5 strengths showed up as “Achiever” which is, in part, defined as one who “needs to prove yourself to yourself each day.” When I read that, I thought, “Yep- pretty much.” You see – and don’t take this personally – I don’t care all that much about how I stack up against you. But I do care a lot that the me of today is better than the me of yesterday.

Continue reading…

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January 24, 2012

The Myth of Loving It

The Myth of Loving It

In my life, I have both read and given a fair amount of lifestyle advice. When I was practicing as a full-time physician, I often talked to my patients about diet, exercise, sleep and other elements of life that could impact their health.

When it comes to making lifestyle change, the recommendations are often pretty simple, but the implementation is hard.

Most people are pretty durable in their habits, and making new ones or changing lifelong patterns is more difficult than they think. It takes perseverance, motivation, and sometimes repeat trial, failure and restart to stay the course.

In taking up the new activity of running for myself, I have been reflecting a lot on what it really takes to make substantial change and the advice we often give and receive around this. We do a funny thing when it comes to exercise. Part of the advice given is almost always:

Chose an activity you enjoy.

Now I admit, I have both thought this and given this advice many many times in my life. It sounds right, doesn’t it? Chose an activity you like and you are much more likely to stick with it? What we don’t usually do is question whether this strategy works.

Continue reading…

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January 19, 2012

The Things That We Learn, The Stories We Tell

The Things That We Learn, The Stories We Tell

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
~ Brandi Carlile

I am a doctor by training. Like most of my colleagues, I graduated from medical school thinking I had already learned about the body and now I was just going to get to go about fixing it. It only takes one day practicing medicine to learn you are wrong about that. Even if you are not a physician, you only have to follow medical headlines for a week to see that even the top level thinkers in medicine often don’t agree about what’s going on in the body.

We have a lot to learn.

When it comes to bodies, you would think you would know your own best – but mine still manages to surprise me.

When I started running, I never assumed it would come naturally. Past experience had already taught me that to some degree. A thing I had not anticipated, however, was that in learning a new physical skill, I might be called upon to reassess some of my previously held notions of what this particular body is (or is not) capable of.

Here are a few: Continue reading…

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January 3, 2012

Up, Up and…Oh

Up, Up and…Oh

Like all of us, there are things I said I would never do. There are also things I never imagined I would want to do. Of course, over and over again in this life, some of us (me) have to re-learn that there is always a danger in this kind of absolutism.

That said: I never mind proving myself wrong.

What we speak becomes the house we live in.
― Hafez

There is a great blog I discovered recently called Another Mother Runner (www.anothermotherrunner.com). They have great stories and advice – and some pretty cute t-shirts (yes, I ordered one). One of the two women who owns the site Sarah Bowen Shea sent me a nice note yesterday saying:

…But I suspect you love running a bit more than you’re owning up to.

The real truth is, if you asked me today, the answer is now complicated. Continue reading…

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December 20, 2011

I Love My Treadmill (and Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say)

I Love My Treadmill (and Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say)

When I first decided to run, I was going to buy a treadmill. After all, I had no idea what I was doing so why on Earth would I want to humiliate myself in public? Then I went and looked at treadmills and changed my mind. I was not going to spend over a thousand dollars on something that:

  1. I did not know how to use
  2. I did not know anything about
  3. I really did not know if I would use because I did not know if I would keep my commitment to running

So I decided that I had better learn to run first and also learn a thing or two about treadmills before making a major purchase on something that might just end up as a coat rack.  So I bought a cute pair of running shoes (more on that another time) and started to run. I live at the beach, so I have great flat roads and trails, and I quickly decided that I was not going to care what the neighbors thought. I also travel a lot for work. Last year I logged about 200,000 air miles both in and out of the US. This means hotels. Hotels have treadmills.

Continue reading…

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