As a child, Christmas time was one of my favorite times of the year. I loved everything about it — time off from school, family visiting, gift-giving, the decorations. But also, the food! Special dishes, candies, and cookies reserved only for that time of year added to the specialness of the season. My chubby little self couldn’t wait to sample Mom’s delights. Our mix of German and Italian ethnicity meant there was a variety, and boy did we eat!
And, when January came, so did the regrets. Everything was just a bit tighter fitting, and the new year began with celebration and lament. Why did I do it…again?
The holiday season should be a special time to step away from our usual routines to enjoy the festivities unique to the season. Whatever your ethnic or religious affiliations, traditions take us to special places. And, that always includes edible treats that help us celebrate. So, too, comes the temptation to overdo it, leading then to the remorse that comes with the January cold. As a physician, I do feel badly for the people who have appointments in my office during those first couple weeks of the new year.
So, how can we enjoy the season and the special treats that come with it and yet not sabotage all the efforts we made throughout the year leading up to that time, and enter the new year without the extra physical and emotional burden? Here are a few tips that will help:
1. Plan ahead. Before you go to a party, have a little pep talk with yourself. Raise your internal awareness that you are about to head into a potentially dangerous territory where the tendency to overeat is high. Forewarned is forearmed.
2. Scan the buffet before making your choices. Before even picking up your plate, see what the host has to offer, then chose the two or three things you like the most and be satisfied with that.
3. Reason with yourself. Tell yourself, “It’s not the last opportunity to have this food in my lifetime.” We have an abundance of all types of foods all year long since seasonal fluctuations don’t exist much anymore. The chance to have any particular food will likely come up again.
4. Don’t graze. Fill your plate with the items (see tip #2), sit down, eat your food, get rid of your plate. Get a low calorie drink to hold for the remainder of the party.
5. Be mindful of calorie content. Consider calories from drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Many party drinks are calorie-laden. Punches, sodas, specialty cocktails, etc., are loaded with sugar but offer very little nutrition. Drink responsibly for the alcohol content, but also remember they are not free of calories. Also, hors d’oeuvres typically are very high in fat and therefore full of calories even if they are small in volume. If it’s shiny, gooey, cheesy, and delicious, partake with caution.
6. Adopt the two-cookie- or one-dessert-a-day holiday rule. Allow yourself a maximum of two cookies a day. These are reasonably sized cookies, not the huge bakery-made Goliath’s often sold. If you anticipate dessert on that day, skip the cookies and save those calories for that treat.
7. Stay or become active. I saw a statement recently that went something like, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” So true! But, keep moving or get moving to increase metabolic burn and help with the additional calorie intake.
8. Anticipate tomorrow — and January. Before you head out to the party, determine how you want to feel after the party and the next day. And ultimately, when the decorations come down and we are back to the usual rhythm of life, how do you want to feel? Start the holiday season with the new year in mind. Perhaps make a pact with yourself to make it through December without gaining weight.
In summary, enjoy the tastes of the season, but overdoing it will lead only to momentary enjoyment and ultimate regret. Prepare now to enter the 2019 without discomfort and with a step forward toward your health goals.
One of the things I value most from my childhood is that I was afforded so much time to think. With only four TV channels, no video games (until my friend Gary got an Atari), farmland for a yard, and no club sports (imagine that!), my siblings and I were required to “find something to do” as my parents would often say in response to our lament, “I’m bored.” It is in the minutes and hours that followed that I made true discovery of myself and the world around me. Child and family psychologist, and author, Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, affirms the value in this when she writes, “Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves.” German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche referred to boredom as the “unpleasant calm that precedes the creative acts.”
Herein lies the problem: we hate discomfort! Technology and advertising bias have effectively trained us that discomfort is to be avoided at all cost; comfort, ease and entertainment right at your fingertips. The reality is that we and our children are laying our own traps. Blogger Gustavo Razzetti puts it this way, “By trying to escape from (this discomfort) you get caught in subtle traps. Once you have realized the side effects, it’s too late — tiny behaviors have turned into a habit.” Never in history have we been able to so rapidly stimulate our senses, assuaging the discomfort of boredom the very moment it is discerned. I saw this very thing in myself a few weeks ago while sitting on an airplane that was delayed in taking off. With what I’m certain was a dullness of expression and while only moving my thumb, I was able to toggle between Facebook to Instagram to email, to my other email, back to Facebook calming the anxiety that was welling within at this interruption to my schedule. A missed opportunity to sit back, close my eyes and follow my thoughts, or better yet, turn to my wife in the seat next to me and explore her thoughts.
Long before social media, Nietzsche articulated how this tendency threatens our potential. He noted that, “He who fortifies himself completely against boredom fortifies himself against himself too. He will never drink the most powerful elixir from his own innermost spring.” It was facing boredom in childhood that drove me to the deepest recesses of my mind, in many ways preparing me to be the physician that I am today.
But even so, I am often convicted of my own parental shortcomings. It is only as I age and grow that I am now recognizing the deep, lasting value of boredom’s discomfort which is the catalyst for reflection, exploration, and creativity. Too often I missed this essential connection, remembering only the “unpleasantness” of boredom. In these moments I was too quick to assuage my children’s own discomfort rather than pressing them to “find something to do.” In spite of its tremendous creative tackiness, “The Karate Kid” demonstrated this principle well as it revealed that the monotonous, and presumed meaningless muscle-aching work of waxing Mr. Miyagi’s cars and painting his fence were the very means by which Daniel-san grew strong in his defensive karate tactics, ultimately winning him the gold-medal and the girl.
I believe that for us to glean the full benefit of boredom’s fruit as individuals or as a parent, it will be essential that we place a higher value on time. My challenge to you is that you take inventory of your time. What are you doing with the fleeting minutes and hours that pass like the wind? Where are you “just passing time,” missing boredom’s call to create, explore, and learn. As you face the temptation to fill your or your children’s moments with empty noise and stimulation provided by a screen, instead, just pause and wait. See what will become of you and them in these moments.
There’s nothing like the passing away of a loved one to cause one to mull over things — important things — what matters and why? My mother recently died at age 89. She finally lost her battle after a catastrophic health event six years ago followed by steadily declining health. Since the path to her death was not a sudden event but rather a rocky, long, slow downward slope, we had had lots of time to talk during the visits my wife, Leslie, and I had with her. Her passing has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on the balanced parenting style by which I was raised.
I was one of the fortunate ones to have had great parents. What made them great? They were parents that taught, served, and sacrificed out of hearts that loved in word and deed. There’s a lot of fear that comes to people who are trying to raise their kids. Not just the typical “what will the world be like for them” kind of fear (although there certainly are plenty of reasons to have that), but rather more about how their children will perceive them in both the distant future, and even more so in the here and now. Fear can tempt us to veer off course onto the rough berm of the relationship road or even onto an entirely different path that we shouldn’t be traveling. We get off course and don’t end up where we truly desire to go. How does that happen? There are potentially numerous ways, but let’s look at two of the most common ways.
The first is the tendency to control the children very carefully and closely. Heavy-handed pressure and hard-line rules are applied to prevent the child from getting off track. The fences in the pasture of the child’s life are constructed high and the grazing area is tight in an effort to keep the little lambs safe by decreasing the options for going astray. Good fences keep bad things out and keep the things inside from escaping towards danger. Unfortunately, sometimes the parent also takes on a harsh, oppressive demeanor assuming it will be even more effective. Their fences are constructed from barbed wire. The assumption is the rules when kept will assure the parent that the child will turn out right, or at least not really badly. The parent taking this approach is the demanding authoritarian, leaving little room for close relationship.
Other parents will choose to be extra lenient, or indulgent. The parent in this situation is trying to make everything very nice for the child so that she can never utter the accusation that something was withheld from her. The parent is hopeful that giving of stuff or privileges will inevitably result in the child developing overwhelming love for the parent and respond in grateful obedience.This often leads to overindulgence through providing material things the child wants or freedom from discomfort of any sort. The result is the child’s expectation that life is always (and should be) pleasant, wonderful, and full of gifts. The parent taking this approach instead of lovingly serving becomes subservient to the whims of the child, putting the child in charge, and leaving little room for a relationship to develop out of respect.
While parents applying each method mean well — they hope their child or children will grow up to be fine young men and women — neither approach works well. The heavy-handed approach prohibits the child from developing her internal compass for how to navigate through the rough waters of life. It reduces life to a simply tough-it-out-and-follow-the-rules approach. The second keeps the child from developing her emotional muscle, i.e., that part of us that learns to endure hardship. Little kids, little problems. The larger problems are coming, but similar to skeletal muscle that has to be trained gradually, so too does our emotional muscle need the gradual training of day-to-day struggles to develop it so that when the big struggles come they are ready.
Ultimately, though, the real loss is the opportunity to do what is a parent’s greatest privilege, and that is to build character into the little ones that have been entrusted to them. Instead of standing on the sidelines of the child’s life, biting their nails on one hand as they cross their fingers on the other, the best approach to parenting is like a shepherd who is clearly there to guide the sheep. The shepherd is with the sheep on the hillside, covering the same ground the sheep are, experiencing the same weather, treading the same rough terrain, leading them to the watering holes or pastures that will both refresh and nurture. Yet their roles are more complicated. The loving shepherd keeps watch for danger, and will need to use his crook to quickly draw back a wandering lamb that is approaching a cliff or pit. In order to grow strong and healthy the sheep must struggle up the hills, chew the grass, and bend down to drink. The crook inappropriately applied when a sheep is trying to get a needed drink from the watering hole would result in dehydration and illness. Alternatively, the sheep that would be allowed to simply stay in the barn and be fed silage would never experience fresh air while wandering the hillsides or the pleasure of eating fresh green grass. It does mean that the shepherd has to be present, attentive, and want to provide what the sheep need even if it’s not what the shepherd wants at the particular moment.
Shepherding is messy, tiring, and frustrating at times, and so it is with parenting. But, it’s of tremendous value as over the years one can see a child morph into a responsible adult with a foundation laid through decades of sacrificial love.
Of course none of us ever gets this exactly right. Parents find themselves teetering back and forth as we try to figure out what’s needed. More pasture? More water? More shelter? Plus, sometimes the sheep are stubborn, right? The bleating can be deafening at times! There are certainly no guarantees with this job, but the efforts are worth it. Giving in to either extreme is dangerous. But, the teeter-totter of parenting must have love as its fulcrum. Parenting with compassion and kindness along with rules gives the best chance for creating adults that will hopefully do the same. And, the world will benefit from it.
I’m thankful to have had parents that struck that balance and I regret the times I resisted. Mom, Dad, your sacrificial love and tireless commitment are appreciated more than I was ever able to adequately express. Thank you.
Every summer we hear the tragic news that another athlete or outdoor worker has suddenly died while training or working in the heat and humidity of the late August summer. This strikes fear in the hearts of parents, coaches, athletes and laborers alike. But how does this happen? How can it be anticipated or prevented? The answer is found in understanding your body.
Your body is designed to maintain a temperature of 98.6 degrees F. (+/- 1.8 degrees). It is tremendously efficient in doing so. Because your cells and organs function best in this range, it uses several mechanisms to cool itself when exposed to high heat environments. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand these principals; you experience them every day!
Yep, sweat and heavy breathing are your body’s most effective means of cooling itself. As water from your skin and breath vaporizes into the atmosphere, you are cooled! So contrary to the commercials claim that you should “never let them see you sweat,” I say you should sweat with pride!
Hey, hot stuff! These are literally heat waves emanating directly from your uncovered body into the cooler atmosphere; heat leaving your body.
Ahhh, nothing like a cool summer breeze. This is when heat is carried away from your body by either moving air or liquid. Think of a breeze, a fan or a cool mist blowing by.
So I guess Mom knew what she was doing when we had a fever and she put that cool rag on our foreheads. This worked by directly transferring heat from our warm bodies to the adjacent cool rag. Just think of how after applying ice to your sprained knee, your skin will feel very cold. This is because the heat from your body was transferred to the ice pack. It wan’t that the cold was transferred to the skin!
So if you find yourself on a deserted island, you will be at your best if you are sweaty and naked on the beach with a southerly breeze and a cold drink in your hand! And there you have it, you are now expert in evaporation, radiation, convection and conduction.
Sweat to Cool Down the Furnace
So if the body is so good at this, how do we get into trouble? Well, during exercise, your muscles generate heat like a furnace. Your body immediately responds by diverting blood to the skin where the increased heat can be transferred away from your body. Being well hydrated also ensures that you can make sufficient sweat for evaporation and that there is plenty of blood flow to the hard working muscles, organs and skin.
So, what’s the problem? Well, radiation, convection and conduction become ineffective when the air temperature is higher than your body’s core temperature. Have you ever tried to cool off in front of a hair dryer? Remember, heat transfers towards cool. Things get especially bad if severe humidity prevents evaporation. That’s why the extreme heat and humidity of August set the stage for trouble.
Tips to Stay Hydrated & Healthy
Hydrate. Hydrate before, during and after exercise. Your ability to make urine is one of the best measures of how well hydrated you are. The better hydrated you are the clearer your urine is. Yellow means CAUTION! If your urine is any shade darker than a light, clear yellow, you are already dehydrated. If you are dehydrated, you will be unable to efficiently carry heat away from your core, make sweat for cooling, and feed your muscles and organs the fuel and oxygen they need. Clear pee, you are free. A little yellow, you better mellow.
Acclimate. Work towards maintaining a base level of fitness prior to entering the hottest and most humid months. Your body change will work much more efficiently, generating less internal heat. Gradually increase your exposure to exercising in the high heat and humidity. This enables your body to adapt, tolerate higher core temperatures, and become more efficient at its cooling strategies.
Listen. Your body is talking to you and you are the only one who can hear it! If you are feeling any of the following, immediately tell someone and get out of the heat and get to a safe, cool area.
– Unsatisfied thirst
– Feeling faint
– Increased sweating and chills
– Muscle cramping
– Abdominal cramping
If you or anyone with you faints or becomes confused or disoriented, it is essential that you seek emergency care immediately!
So hydrate, work hard and stay cool. Your body knows what to do.
“I recently moved from Denver CO and I’m happy to have found a fitness home at AspireFIT. AF was highly recommended as being, “very good and very motivating.” I decided to drop by AF and take a look: I met Matt and discussed my fitness interests and goals. After 5 minutes, I was excited to work with him.
I’ve trained with fitness professionals in the past with good outcomes, but I had issues that weren’t getting addressed. Why can’t I beat this shoulder injury? Why is my sacrum so mobile? Why can’t I strengthen my low back? Matt answered my questions after the first session. He was able to see the weaknesses in my body alignment, educate me on body awareness, motion and function, and he had a system that would create stability and build strength. I knew it was going to take time, but I was ready to do the work. Stronger body, less pain! That was all the motivation I needed.
AspireFIT isn’t a big box gym, bodies in bodies out, or a trendy training style, which can be prone to cause injury. It’s training to reach peak strength and performance for lifelong fitness and health. I’m building functional muscle mass while increasing endurance.
I began training two months ago. I started slow, re-learning basic body mechanics
– like walking properly, correct posture, balance, and body alignment. I know these things seem simple, even innate, but old patterns are hard to break and they have been hampering my wellbeing and fitness growth for years.
I was seriously weak, with no core strength. A 3lb weight was all I could lift. I had multiple movement patterns that needed to be corrected, and I was living with chronic shoulder and low back pain. I can’t believe that in 2 months my shoulder pain is hardly noticeably. I’m learning and able to perform some functional movement patterns correctly (these are very hard for me J) and I have increased muscle strength and energy!
Working with Matt has been amazing! He has great knowledge of human anatomy and can accommodate any personal physical strength or limitation. He easily works with multiple levels of fitness skill, in any class. He’s a stickler on the small details that make a big difference. His passion for training is obvious. His enthusiasm is contagious. Best of all, he is an extremely nice person!
Moving to a new city can be stressful. Meeting the wonderful staff and clients at AspireFIT and starting a healthy fitness routine has helped to make Pennsylvania…Home! Thank you Matt and AspireFIT!”
AspireFIT hosted a F2 Women’s Self Defense class on Saturday, May 13. Fifteen participants learned how to prevent an attack from ever happening, and the techniques to use if worse case scenario does occur.
A huge thank you to Fran and Franca for empowering these amazing ladies to not be afraid to yell “GET BACK!”
We hope to host another F2 Women’s Self Defense class in the future!
F2 Women’s Self Defense was founded by Fran Regan and Franca D’Agostino in 2015. The constant news stories of women being victimized and the dismal statistics (1 out of 4 women will be attacked in their lifetime!) made us think about the important women in our lives – our daughters, our mothers, our teachers, our neighbors, our friends – and how we might be able to help them avoid becoming one of those statistics. Our passion grew, and we decided to use our personal skills to develop a program that teaches women to protect themselves and Find their Fierce. What does F2 stand for? Franca and Fran, Find Your Fierce, Fight or Flight, even Fit and Fabulous!
Aspire Co-founder, Dr. David White, was recently interviewed by the Central Penn Business Journal on urgent care facilities in the mid-state. Read the piece. here.
Congrats to Kate Farley! She is the lucky winner of the January #aspiretoinspire gift basket.
Many thanks to Holistic Touch Massage, Bumble Bee Golf, and Supernola for their generous donations to the gift baskets.
Last night AspireFIT hosted a coffee cupping event, led by Kyle Newkirk, SVP of Global Sourcing for S&D Coffee and Tea – the largest custom coffee roaster in the United States.
Aspire friends and family learned to taste – and smell! – like pros. We explored the distinct flavors of 7 coffees from around the world, experiencing the dramatic aromas and flavors that tell a story of not only unique growing and processing techniques, but of extraordinary places and cultures as well.
Sue Rooke, LMFT, at Aspire Counseling Services
Each month Sue will give professional advice on how to navigate life and family challenges.
First up “Tightening family communication through Family Meetings”
Please join us in welcoming Jen to the AspireFIT physical therapy team.
Thank you, Harrisburg, for voting Aspire as Simply the Best!
SpartanFIT is a fun, diverse, moderate to high intensity fitness class tailored to each participant’s ability and fitness level. Movement Specialist Matt takes advantage of our equipment and space to create a unique class that builds complete fitness.
$120 a month for 8 classes. Call 717-657-2592 to register.