Post by Pamela Hernandez | June 17th, 2013
Today I learned you can’t out run grief.
I write this as my dear sweet friend, Mr. Kennedy T Cat, is lying beside me. He is 18 years old and his time with me has come to an end.
His health hasn’t been the best for some time. He’s always had a problem with is back left leg that caused him to hop like a rabbit instead of run like a normal cat. Arthritis made it worse. He has spent the last year or so in the comfort of my office, greeting me in the morning by meowing for his ice water. Funny, I don't even remember when or why I started putting ice in his dish every morning.
After our usual morning conversation he would spend the rest of the day sleeping, getting up on occasion to eat or take care of other critical business. He was no longer the cat jumping in the window to growl at the roaming neighborhood cats or whom I had to shoo away when I was trying to cook. But he was still my faithful companion, sitting next to my as I worked on programs and blog posts.
It became apparent last night that the end was near when he could no longer get up to get his food. His back legs simply wouldn’t work. He didn't cry. He just gave up. I spent the evening stroking his head and telling him how grateful I was for his love all these years.
My life is certainly much different than it was when Kennedy entered it. I was a depressed and unhealthy mess. He was a barn cat, taken from his mother too young and thus somewhat lacking in basic cat skills. We both suffered during a dark and unhealthy relationship, before Brian came into our lives. We both bristled at affection, craving it but only on our terms. We both learned to trust and live a little easier, a little happier. As I got stronger, got more confident, he was moving toward old age. I slept less, he slept more. Now my best years are just beginning as I watch his ending.
I prayed last night when I went to bed that he might go in his sleep, calm and peacefully. I awoke early, quietly entering the office. At first, I thought he was gone but when I stroked his head he looked up and mewed softly. I tried to give him ice water but he ignored it. So I started to work, watching him out of the corner of my eye. After an hour, with the sun coming up, I wondered if a run would do me good. I decided it couldn’t hurt, so I gave him a kiss on the head and promised to back in two miles.
I tried to focus on my breathing but knowing what was to come, the tears started to flow instead. Despite his advanced age I wasn’t ready to say good bye. I kept thinking of him in his younger more spry days. I would try to steady myself, checking my pace and making my feet move. I didn’t go far, promising myself only two miles in case he needed me. The tears would stop only to be triggered by again another memory, another vision of his sweet face.
It was probably my fastest 2 miles outside of a race. All I wanted to do was get back and be by his side. Nothing was going to stop the sadness in me from flowing out, not even the usual peace I find in exercise. Exercise is the answer for many things but it would not stop my heart from breaking today.
I got home to find Brian beside him, Kennedy still hanging on. We wanted him to finish out his life at home. He hated the vet more than anything. I didn't want his last moments to be filled with fear. I just wanted him to feel the love that at times I may have been too busy over the last few years to show him adequately. So I write and wait.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. He started to cry a bit and, fearful he was in pain, we took him to the vet. It was there, after many tears, we made the decision to let him go. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I appreciate everyone’s kindness as Brian and I mourn the loss of our little buddy. I appreciate you reading this, letting this blog be a part of the grieving process. I am thankful for my clients and the needed distraction they have brought me in the days since. I have become even more aware of how truly lucky I am to have so much love and support in my time of need. This fit family I belong to is truly amazing.
Post by Pamela Hernandez | June 13th, 2013
A fitness journey often starts with three things:
- Detailed questions (How many grams of fat is okay?).
- Excitement/fear of the unknown (What are we going to do in the first session?)
- Unbridled enthusiasm (I am so pumped!)
My Better U team is no different. Our assessment appointments had some nerves, tears and shy giggles. Emails and Facebook messages have been coming in with questions like:
Is this granola bar a good choice?
Should I have smoothies?
How do I say no to chocolate cravings during that time of the month?
What else can I do??
I love talking about what I do and answering questions. The problem is too much information can be overwhelming in the beginning. I make a very concerted effort to share information and give homework assignments in small doses.
This can be frustrating but I do this for a reason.
We like to think we are good at multi tasking. Research into habit change says otherwise. As I told the group at our very first team meeting:
If we focus on one thing our rate of success is about 85%. If we add another, we drop to about 35%. Add a third and now it’s 10% or less.
Better U is a health makeover not a weight loss transformation contest. I want to set them up for success, give them a foundation for which to build a healthy life upon. So, to start, each of them only has 1-2 pieces of homework. They include things like:
- Drink only one 12 oz soda a week. (Goal: Reduce liquid calorie/sugar intake.)
- Walk 5 minutes a day. (Goal: Build an activity habit.)
- Do a plank a day. (Goal: Build an activity habit.)
- Keep a food journal. (Goal: What does 1600 calories a day of food really look like?)
- Keep sweets to every other day. (Goal: Reducing sugar consumption.)
Each of these items may seem small but, as you can see, there is logic behind each assignment. Each one is also small and manageable. If it’s not, I scale it back till it is. It needs to be so doable that when they leave they have no doubt in their mind they can do it. To be successful you need to know what it feels like to be successful. These small goals plant the seeds of bigger successes.
This is one of the reasons I say diets don't work. Fad diets focus on short term gains (or I guess losses) without care for long term health and happiness. I want something more positive for my Better U team and for YOU. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a healthy life. Build it brick by brick, habit by habit.
Post by Pamela Hernandez | June 10th, 2013
Habit change is the same process, no matter if it’s starting to exercise, remembering to log your food or quitting smoking. There will be stops and starts. There will be bargaining and frustration. It often won’t “take” the first time.
Julie found this out the hard way.
Julie was at a new job, super stressed out and feeling as though her body was no longer under her own control when she came to work with me the first time.
I was sick of feeling…well, sick. My 40-hour work week was draining my energy and I couldn’t even enjoy my weekends. I would get home on Fridays and just want to go to bed. When I was younger I was always skinny and full of energy. In fact, I used to get made fun of for being too skinny, something I now realize could have played a part in eating more and gaining weight as I got older.
She heard about me from her friend, Denee, who was also a client of mine at the time. They were discussing how all of the stress was wreaking havoc on Julie’s system and Denee suggested exercise as a way to help manage stress as well as get back into shape. Julie contacted me and signed up for a 3 month program with one session a week.
One session a week is a gamble for beginners. When you are trying to form new habits regular coaching and reinforcement is important. Only seeing each other one time a week means there is plenty of time to veer off course between sessions. One session a week also means trying to pack a lot information into the small amount of time we do have.
Julie was dedicated during her sessions and diligently kept her food log. However when she had to stop attending training after 3 months it became clear that while she was motivated, she was not yet fully committed to a fit lifestyle.
I felt that I had a lot more knowledge, but I wasn’t completely ready to change. I still needed to get my stress levels under control. I’ve always loved cardio, but during the hiatus I did very little strength training and wasn’t consistent with my workouts. Around the holidays I took a picture for a Christmas card I realized I was back to where I was before we met. Even a bit worse. I decided I needed to stop making excuses and go all in.
She came back earlier this year with a new mindset and a new set of goals. This time she was mentally as well a physically ready to change. She committed to another 3 months of sessions, this time working with me twice a week. She committed to a 5K and living a healthy lifestyle. It paid off in 16 pounds lost, renewed energy and a reclaiming of her life.
Not only have I been losing weight in otherwise difficult places, but I feel less stressed and more full of energy. I’m getting back to my goofy self that I didn’t even realize had gone away. I thought eating healthy around friends would be difficult, but instead I have several of them asking me for food advice! Completing my first 5k was such a rush!
Julie’s experience is a true testament to the importance of not just motivation but also commitment when we want to make a true lifestyle change. It also shows that perseverance pays off. Just because it doesn't click the first time doesn't mean it won't on the second or third. Her changed mindset helped her make great progress the second time around. This time going out on her own she is armed with new habits, a new mindset and a new feeling of confidence.
Post by Pamela Hernandez | June 7th, 2013
Personal Trainer Pamela Hernandez answers a viewer's question about looking too thin in the face.
In this video is advice for:
- Losing Weight Too Fast.
- How we should exercise.
Post by Pamela Hernandez | June 6th, 2013
My husband, Brian, and I do not work out together. We’ve never even belonged to the same gym. He won’t let me design a workout program for him. (He hates lunges and just knows I will put them in there.)
But we do stay active as a family. Whether at home or on the road, we love to get outdoors together.
- We’ve hiked the volcano in Haleakala State Park.
- We’ve visited General Sherman in Sequoia.
- We’ve tackled the trails around Crystal Bridges in Arkansas before checking out the art inside.
- We love taking our bikes out on the Ozarks Greenways trails as soon as the weather starts to turn warm.
- We walk in the little park not far from our house as often as we can, year round as the weather allows.
What’s great about all these things, besides the physical activity, is the opportunity to connect with each other when we are separated from technology. When we walk or bike, I’m not distracted by the Ellen DeGeneres Show or basketball. He’s not catching up on Twitter or checking email. We can have a genuine conversation while we do something good for our bodies. It automatically de-stresses both of us. We can connect, brainstorm and laugh in a way that seems to escape us indoors
This Saturday June 8 is National Get Outdoors Day. I want to challenge you to take your activity outside this weekend. And take your family with you for some active IRL time. There are a 141 official locations to celebrate nationwide but don't worry if there isn’t one close to you. Get outside where ever you can, even if it’s just your own back yard. Your lawn is perfect for croquet and badminton, two of my personal favorite family friendly sports. Need some other ideas?
- Visit a local park you’ve never been to before. Do my playground workout or just have some fun on the swings.
- Check out historical sites, like my own local Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. Many sites have walking or bike paths.
- Float or canoe a local water way. You can rent a canoe, pack a picnic and get a workout in the process. Plus it’s a great way to see a side of nature different than your local running trail.
How do you plan to celebrate National Get Outdoors Day? What’s your favorite local outdoor adventure?