Stop the Gym Snobbery!

I’ve been noticing something happening on Facebook lately: more and more people are posting about exercising. I think this is awesome (you’re working hard – be proud!), however, what I do take issue with is a sudden onset of “gym snobbery” in some folks.

nogymsnobs

What is gym snobbery? Well, my definition is the act of expressing any sort of superiority over others based solely on the fact that you work out, especially when your comments are directed at other gym go-ers. For example, around New Years, I can’t count how many people posted rants on Facebook about “resolutioners” and how they need to get out of the way / go to another gym / give up already. One particular ranter really grated my nerves when he said these “fat, lazy” people should go “back to their couches where they belong”.

Yikes.

I’m all for freedom of speech, but really people? This really bugs me for several reasons…

1. First, I find it unbearable (and even laughable) how big some people’s “Facebook balls” are. Why has it become acceptable for people to say horrible, hurtful things on social media? I would bet my last dollar that 99.9% of those posting about these so-called “fat, lazy” people would never, ever say something like that to someone’s face. So why is it ok to hide behind the facade of Facebook? In my opinion, it’s not, but I’m sure the reason is because it’s safe. Any retaliation will be minor – and can easily be ignored. So what if you work out and have big muscles – if you have to hide behind social media to rant, you’re a bit of a chicken. And for the record – starting a sentence with “No offense, but…” does not give you free reign to just say whatever rude or callous comment you’d like – in real life OR online. What’s the point of working on your external appearance if what’s on the inside isn’t so pretty?

2. Secondly, be nice. You were not born lifting weights and running a 6-minute mile, so don’t expect that of anyone else. Any time we make a change in our lives, whether that’s eating better, working out or quitting a bad habit, we need to start from square one. Getting into shape takes time and commitment for anyone, including yourself (if you recall), so why are you expecting someone else to know their way around a gym immediately? As someone who will be VERY out of shape once I can start exercising again, I beg you: please give us time. Yes, there will be people who stop going to the gym after a few weeks, but that’s their decision to make. Do you really want your cold stares and eye rolls to be part of the reason they quit? I sure wouldn’t.

3. Finally, isn’t it kind of ironic that people who are so devoted to physical fitness are the ones chastising others’ efforts to get into shape? Exercise is recommended for almost everyone’s well-being, so it should be encouraged and ANY effort applauded. The fitness buffs I respect the most are not the ones with the nicest abs or the fastest mile time. Instead, they all have the following characteristic in common:

They support and encourage others’ accomplishments, no matter how trivial the accomplishment may seem.

A story involving my mom is a perfect example of this. For most of her life, my mom was very active. She played several sports in high school and was part of a co-ed softball team for many of her adult years. But as it often does, work, children and life in general got in the way of maintaining that lifestyle. However, this year, my mom decided she wanted to start doing 5K races. She did her first one this earlier this month, and I am so proud of her!

The new runner - at our celebratory lunch
The new runner – at our celebratory lunch

Did she come in first place? Of course not. In fact, she even took breaks to walk. Did the runners and race volunteers waiting at the finish line roll their eyes and shake their heads when she finished? Of course not. They cheered and encouraged her to finish strong. And you know what? My mom cannot wait to do her next race. I wonder if she would feel the same way had those people reacted negatively.

Bottom line – if a Boston marathoner can congratulate a woman who just ran a 5K more than three times slower than he did, you can certainly support someone who is using the elliptical for the first time.

So – stop the gym snobbery! Instead, be the person others seek out when they have questions, want advice or just need motivation. THAT will make you attractive on the inside, since you clearly already have the outside covered.

I love this. IT'S STILL A MILE!
I love this. IT IS STILL A MILE!
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It’s a Winter Wonderland – But Not for Pets

It’s a snowy, white world out there for half of the United States. Hopefully everyone is taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones from the harsh winter elements. And hopefully our furry friends are included in the definition of “loved ones”.

Animal neglect is considered a misdemeanor in all 50 states and Washington D.C., and in several states, those charges jump to a felony if the animal dies (source). All legal consequences aside – leaving an animal outside when it’s this cold is just plain cruel and awful. So, PLEASE – protect those who cannot protect themselves. The Humane Society has some great tips on how to protect your pets from extreme outdoor temperatures.

colddog2(source)

Our pets trust us to keep them happy and safe – and that means being INSIDE with you!

Unsolicited Advice for High School Grads

“The one piece of advice I would give recent high school graduates is….”

That is the question posed last week by the the dee-jays of a radio station on its “Finish Line Friday” program. People called in with all sorts of endings to that statement, ranging from the silly to the serious (and sort of depressing). As I listened to what everyone else thought was good advice for new high school graduates, I couldn’t help but think of what would say. It actually turned out to be harder than I thought, as the longer I thought about the advice that popped into my head right away, I found they weren’t necessarily the best nuggets of advice to give our high school graduates. For example…

Stay in college as long as possible. Working in the real world isn’t great as it looks. Yes, that may be true: for most working adults, the joys of college are a distant memory. No more month-long breaks for the holidays; no more hanging out with your best friends 24/7; no more functioning on less than 4 hours of sleep. But while staying in college certainly has its perks, those student loan balances you will face later in life won’t be so awesome. When I started working, I was sad that I didn’t take the 5- or 6- or 7-year path to getting my degree. But now as I pay out my hard-earned money each month towards my student loans, I’m so thankful I completed my under-grad in four years. Think forward, grads!

Do what you love, no matter what anyone tells you. I strongly believe this. Certainly, following your dreams and passions is probably the quickest way to happiness. But…to an 18-year-old, perhaps this isn’t the best advice. When I was headed to college, I had big dreams of becoming a famous author and living in a fabulous apartment in NYC. That changed after I took an introductory accounting class my first semester and switched my major to accounting before the class was even over. My decision was fueled by two factors:

1. I was very good at all this debit and credit stuff, and

2. I would never have to look too hard for a job in the accounting field, according to my professor (and my career advisor, my parents, my upper-classmen friends and just about everyone else I told I was going to major in accounting)

And they were right. I was BLESSED to have multiple jobs offers when I graduated from Heidelberg with a bachelors in accounting and later when I graduated with a masters in the same field. And it’s not that I was some sort of accounting wizard – it’s just that accountants are very much needed. Do I have the big apartment in NYC where I spend countless hours pouring my heart and soul into the written word? Um, no. But do I have a stable career and steady income? Yes, I do. Job security is what allows me to follow my passion because of I love to write, not because I need to make rent.

So what would I tell a recent high school graduate?

I’ve thought about it a lot, and what I truly wish someone would have told me when I was 18-years-old was just to RELAX. People all around me kept stressing the importance of going to college, getting a job and finding someone to start a family with, all while enjoying myself because “these are the best years” of my life. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid – and, as I found out, it was unnecessary pressure. As they always do, things work out – and almost nothing like you have planned.

So, class of 2013, here is my advice:

Take your time deciding what you want to do now that you’ll be entering the “real world”.

Don’t stress about letting others down – you’ll never, ever make everyone happy.

Enjoy your college years, but remember that hard work will pay off, so make sure you find time to beef up your resume in between all the fun.

Treat everyone you encounter with respect; that is a true measure of character, and I guarantee you will never regret it.

And finally, whenever anyone says life doesn’t get any better than this, have peace knowing that they are wrong. Because it does.

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there!

I could write a novel of a blog post about my dad and how amazing he is. Instead, I want to write on this Father’s Day about a cause that is near and dear to my family.

In January of 2012, my father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (“MS”). At the time, my mom, sister and I knew nothing about the disease, except that it was something you really, really didn’t want to have. The more we learned about it, and the more we saw my dad suffer, the more we hated everything about it. It’s a horrible disease, and those who have it – and their family members – need support.

This year, my extended family members and some friends are joining the Bike MS Pedal to the Point bike ride on August 3-4. This fundraising ride starts in Brunswick and offers five riding distances:

– 30 miles (Brunswick to Oberlin),

– 75 miles (Brunswick to Sandusky)

– 100 miles (Brunswick to Sandusky, with the addition of the Kent Clapp Extra Lap)

– 150 miles (Brunswick to Sandusky and back, two full days)

– 175 miles (Brunswick to Sandusky and back, with the addition of the Kent Clapp Extra Lap, two full days)

I’m doing the 30 mile ride with my mom, Ryan and some friends are doing the two-day 150 mile ride, and other members of the team are doing the various other distances.

We would LOVE to have any and all people interested in riding to join our team! And if you can’t ride, please consider donating to the cause. When my dad was diagnosed, almost everyone I told about it had a friend or relative who also has MS. It affects so many people. Too many.

To join our team, make a donation or just learn more about MS, please visit my personal page.

Happy  Father’s Day!

Empathy

I have the sweetest, coolest, most caring sister in the entire world. Not to mention she’s gorgeous – I mean, look at her:

Kendybirthday

All that being said: Kendall made me cry last weekend.

Here is what happened: Kendall works as an RN at the Cleveland Clinic and shared this video with me last weekend. The Clinic’s CEO showed this to employees at a staff meeting in February. The video, entitled “Empathy”, is a beautiful, but shocking reminder that everyone has a struggle, a heartbreak, a triumph, a burden, a reason to celebrate.

I was sobbing by the end of it – and a day hasn’t gone by since then that I haven’t thought about its message. So would I treat someone differently if I knew what they were going through? Yes, yes, a hundred times, yes!

So, thanks for sharing, Kendall – I’m glad you made me cry. That video is slowly making me a more emphatic person.

The video is below – and is definitely worth a view. Just be warned: if you have a heart, you will probably cry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDDWvj_q-o8

And because you’ll need something (ANYTHING) to make you feel happy after watching that, here are the 30 Happiest Facts of All-Time. Number 1, 9 and 29 are my favorites 🙂

Kindness Counts: Be the Match!

Happy Friday! For some people, the end of this week is extra exciting, since there is a federal holiday on Monday: Martin Lurther King, Jr. Day.

Most people know that the third Monday of January is reserved as MLK Day, in honor of the man who believed in freedom and justice for all people, but perhaps something you didn’t know is that almost 20 years ago, in 1994, MLK Day was designated a national day of service.

[On a side note – 1994 was almost TWENTY years ago?! Unreal.]

Anyway, hopefully all you lucky guys and gals who have the day off will choose to volunteer your time to contribute to the greater good!

For those of you who will be at work (like me – ugh), there’s still a way you can be a part of the cause: join the Be the Match! bone marrow registry.

I know, I know: bone marrow donation is a big deal. A big, scary deal. Or at least that’s what I always thought before my sister, Kendall, asked me to join the registry a few years ago. I thought there were huge needles and bone-drilling procedures involved – but apparently that is not how things are done anymore. Kendall, an RN at the Cleveland Clinic’s bone marrow ward, explained that the process is actually similar to giving blood, and while there is some prep-work involved on the donor’s end, it’s a [very, very, very, very, very] small sacrifice for a living-saving gift.

So often I hear from my sister how much bone marrow is needed – and that’s just in little Cleveland, Ohio. I can’t imagine how big the need is around the nation. Joining the registry is one of the most selfless – and easy – things you can do.

Can you think of  any greater service to our nation than to volunteer to save someone’s life?

Yes: bone marrow donation IS a big deal. Especially to someone in need of a life-saving transplant.

Take full advantage of MLK Day’s national day of service – join Be the Match! – and challenge someone else to do that same.