Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween?

I am supposed to be going trick-or-treating tonight. My mom was planning on coming to Rochester today to spend time with me (manis and pedis were the plan I think). I was going to go to Best Buy and get a new hard drive so I could start the new website....

But I'm sick. So is Matthew. The nurse sent him home yesterday from school with a fever of 105. I called Steve last night to check on Matthew because I saw all this scary stuff on the news about kids dying from H1N1. In addition to that, a friend of mine who works for the NJ Dept of Health was on CBS national news talking about their H1N1 call center having received 10,000 calls about it since Oct 6 (!). Steve told me Matthew seemed fine after some medicine and time on the couch, but he'd check in today too about trick-or-treating later. At this point, even if I feel any better, I don't think I'll go.

Long story short, I'd like to thank whoever infected me at the Health Benefits Fair this week with whatever I have that I passed on to all the other people whose blood pressure I checked... :) It's actually a good reminder for me that even though I'm generally healthy, I'm not invincible.

I wanted to go to yoga today, and I could still probably make it to Best Buy and to get a pedi....but I'm trying to take my own advice and stay home to not infect other people (in addition to just feeling yucky and not being able to breathe).

If you're sick, please stay home. I'm going to---even though I don't want to.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Change of Plans

Remember when I said I was leaving RIT? Well, I was just kidding about that. Not really, but things have changed. I'm staying. I'm sure some people will ask why, and the answer is that circumstances just changed.

Kristina is great (and reminds me a lot of my cousin Kristen). Early last week she suggested I stay, and I had never considered that option after I put in my notice in August. But then HR people caught on to the idea, and I proposed a solution involving me staying to my manager. They liked it. I'm staying. I'll still be teaching online, and working at Rotork.

So, I am going to spend the next week catching up with those of you who have been neglected since Kristina started (not her fault, just because of training stuff and spending time at the benefits fair).

We'll be working as a team on the conclusion of the pilot, and also collaborating on the expansion. That should be an interesting journey, since there are over 3000 of you altogether. We're going to do a collaborative effort online with a new blog and other resources, so you can get to know both of us.

I'll keep you posted.

Rotork Friends, I will continue to be there on Friday mornings. We'll start our second annual Maintain Don't Gain Campaign in two weeks, followed by a New Year's Evolution program. So start thinking about what your goals for the new year might be!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


In general, I'm not in favor of taking medicine. There, I said it. I also would rather only eat raw cashews (vs. roasted), and I don't think most whole grain cereals are overly healthy.

The reason I'm telling you this is because people frequently ask me about what I do in the realm of health and wellness (i.e. what do I eat? what do I do for workouts? ...etc.). I don't like to answer those questions because then people turn it around on me, saying I'm giving them advice that isn't practical. But I wasn't actually giving advice---I was just talking about what I do when asked.

This happened two days ago at the RIT benefits fair---Kristina (the new coach, have you met her yet?) and I were set up taking BP and body composition (boring, but easy). The table next to us was manned by the Better Me program, and one of my very good friends who works for them chatted with us throughout the day. Not only did she make sarcastic (jokingly, of course) comments at lunchtime when Kristina and I did not grab one of the boxed lunches, but she also made sort of a scene to passersby saying the wellness coaches don't eat. Later, she handed me her bag of snack mix and asked me if it was something I would eat. I looked at it and said no. She asked why, so I told her why. Then she got all offended-acting about it because I had said she was eating something bad.

She said, "I'm just not going to ask you anymore---you always (?) tell me what I'm eating is bad."

I said, "I didn't tell you this is bad. You just asked me if I would eat it, and I told you the truth. I didn't say you shouldn't eat it."

She acknowledged that, and I offered to tell her what I would say if she has asked more generally about the quality of the snack. She was happier with that dialogue, and then we dropped it.

First off, I won't defend my own food choices, and if you know me, you know that no matter what my food values are I still eat junk with the best of them. I might not support the idea of eating white pasta, but that doesn't stop me from doing it occasionally. I might not want myself to eat certain things, but I sometimes do it. Really, the point is that when I'm wellness coaching, we talk about what you do, not what I do. I told my friend that I don't coach to my needs, I coach to the person I'm speaking with. It's not that what I do is better, it's just what fits me right now (and I expect that to change continuously).

In the same light, we shouldn't compare ourselves or our habits to other people. Don't judge others for what they do, even if you think you're more evolved. We need to just make the decisions that fit ourselves now, and be open to new ideas too. It's much more pleasant that way. And if you want my opinion about something you do, I'll give it in whatever context you ask! There is no universal right or wrong when it comes to wellness---its a continuum, and yours is different from that of everyone else.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Today I was going to walk the 10K in DC while Joey runs the marathon (which has not started yet). We drove down yesterday in several torrential rainstorms, but overall it was an easy drive. When we got to the hotel (which is strategically near the finish line), we were getting ready to go to dinner and I realized that a whole pile of stuff I was going to pack in my bag was still on the chair in my bedroom. That means I'm in DC and all I have to wear is fitness clothes---my first thought was---what is wrong with me? I never do that---I always over-pack and have way more than I need. Luckily this area is filled with runners this weekend so no one would flinch at me being out to dinner in my fanciest athletic pants (I still felt stupid though).

Then, I figured out how convenient it was because I would be done walking the 10K way earlier than Joey finished the marathon, so I'd go shopping. It would be great---I could buy new jeans and shoes (all I remembered to bring were the uggs I wore on the way and my running shoes).

I got up this morning and started to get ready--------------and then I went to put on my shoes. I did have them---two running shoes: two right shoes of two different pairs that look the same. I feel like I did this on purpose because I knew I didn't really want to walk the race (who walks a race?), but I intended to do it. There's no way I could do it in my uggs (I walked at lunch one time in my uggs and it was not good).

So now I'm stuck here in the hotel room by myself, waiting till its late enough to go shopping---and since its Sunday that won't happen till 11. I swear on my mother's life that I did not forget all that stuff on purpose, but Joe said maybe it was subconsciously on purpose---maybe he's right. I feel guilty, but I'm sure I'll get over it once I get out of here and do something besides track the 4 people I know in the race online. In any case, Joey's running for the Organization for Autism Research, and I raised money for it and didn't run. It's not my finest moment, but I swear I'll make up for it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Marathon

This weekend is the marathon I signed up for in April. I really appreciate all the money people donated to the Organization for Autism Research in order for me to run in it.

By late August, I was really loving the running---my ritual was to go by myself to the Canal Path and run with my favorite podcasts or with Spezzano and Sandy. There was usually haze over the canal, lots of sleepy ducks and geese, and just the feeling of being alone in the middle of the city. I really just loved that feeling.

On one of my longer runs on a Saturday, the air conditions were so perfect, and I was doing great improving my pace to under 8min miles.........and somewhere around mile 9 it started to feel like someone stuck a fork in the bottom outside corner of my right knee, right in the meaty part. It hurt, but not in a way that made me stop. So I kept going for the remainder (I think it was 14 miles---from lock 32 to the airport and back). Long story short-----I am quite certain I tore my meniscus that day. I took a week off, and then ran short distances for a week, with the pain during the next long weekend run stopping me. I could sort of walk, but certainly could not run after 8 miles (and had 4 miles to walk back to my car). I secretly hoped I could take a month off and focus on spinning and the elliptical to stay in good cardio shape---to then return to running and finish training. It didn't work. It doesn't hurt unless I run, but 3 miles into any run I become crippled again. And I'm sort of sad about that. I liked running (did I really say that?). I wanted to do the marathon, but mostly I'm unhappy about not being able to do the short fun runs I did last year---the Turkey Trot in Webster, the St. Patty's Day run downtown.

I also thought about all the money people donated for me to run ($500 total). I decided I would pay everyone back out of my pocket, and then I changed my mind. I can still go to DC and walk the 10K while Joe is running the marathon, and I feel weird about reimbursing people for money they donated to a really great cause (even though I know they only did it because of me running a marathon). So although I will pay anyone back who wants me to, I think my next action is to just contribute to the cause. I joined the Rochester Autism Council board of directors, so I'm going to be participating on several of the committees, and also going into group homes and volunteering my time to help teach people with autism about healthy living habits. I'm looking for a partner to help me with this---so let me know if you're interested :)

In the end, the whole thing didn't turn out to be about me running (or not), or about my knee. It's just about helping other people, and going with the flow.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Make a Decision....

....and then make it right.

I've been faced with some decisions recently. Kind of big ones. It surprises me how quickly and easily I can flip flop from wanting one thing to wanting the opposite. I was discussing my options with my mom, and she finally just told me it doesn't really matter what I do---the part that matters is that once I decide, I just make it work.

I never thought about it that way before, but I think she's right.

How often are we sure that when we get that one thing, reach that one goal, or have that one certain thing happen....that we will then be content or happy? Then, when we get that thing? Does it work? Not usually, at least not long term. I'm wondering what would happen if instead of focusing on the things in our lives, about our jobs, about ourselves that we don't like, we just accepted those things and focused on the good parts. It's pretty obvious that it might make us feel more positive, and it's nothing new to suggest trying that. However, have you ever really picked a thing that you're unhappy with and tried to take that approach? I see people do it---they obsess about their weight for a lifetime, and then all of a sudden they shift and begin focusing on their health. They might lose weight, or they might not, but in both cases they feel happier than before.

Why wouldn't we try that?

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Year's Evolution

I know it's early to talk about the new year already, but I think it's a good time to start for a few different reasons.

I have a problem with New Year's Resolutions.

The word resolution itself comes from the word "resolve." When we resolve something it is finished, right? How can we be starting a new habit by finishing something? I can see it in one sense---quit smoking to start being healthier, start exercising to stop being unhealthy....but the wording doesn't totally seem to fit for what we're really trying to do. If I'm resolving something by finally starting an exercise program (quitting smoking, losing weight, managing my stress, etc.), doesn't it sound like a last resort?

I know last year I talked about how busy the gym was after January 1st, and I'm sure it will be again this year. It's great that people try to start an exercise program, but aren't you sick of trying and not having it stick? This leads us to the question of why it doesn't stick. WHY? Because we don't change anything except saying we are going to force ourselves to go to the gym. Who are we kidding? Does that ever work permanently?

Not very often.

The society we live in forces us into survival mode much of the time, whether it's about money, food, health, time, or something else. We are also fed the idea that we can find a magic bullet for reaching our goals, and also that we should be able to change our lifestyle instantly if we decide to.

The fact is, we are really bad at doing that....and there are no magic bullets. So maybe if we just look those facts in the face, we can deside not to resolve something this year in January, but to begin our evolution in the positive direction. We are always evolving, whether we try to or not---but whether it is going in the right direction or not is a different story.

Evolving in the right direction is up to you to plan. Your wellness coach (or friends or personal trainer, etc) can help, but you have to really decide for yourself where you want to go. Once you do, you can begin to take the steps to get there. What if your New Year's Evolution plan is to lose 20 pounds in a year? Can you break that year into months, and then begin to take small steps leading you to that goal? All of a sudden, 20 pounds (although the end goal) is not the entire focus. The focus is on what would you do today if you were going to work toward weighing 20 pounds less. You are not just trying to reduce a number with this approach, you are trying to change the type of person you are---you are evolving into a person who weighs less, not acting like a person who already weighs 20 pounds less than you do.

My direction after I leave RIT is going to be on evolution, not flip-flopping or resolving bad habits. You could start thinking about it today----figure out what your long-term evolution would include, and then break it down into smaller pieces to figure out what to do today. I hope you stay in touch with me and share what you're working on.


Hi :)
I know, I haven't been posting. Sorry about that. Have I mentioned I'm leaving my job? Well, I have a few things going on that have been taking precedence over posting here. But, good news! My replacement at RIT started today, and she's really nice. I'll be bringing her around tomorrow (and throughout the rest of the week) to meet all of you. That means I'll be leaving by the end of next week----but I'll be stuck at the benefits fair from 9-3 on Tues and Wed so you can come by CIMS and say hi and bye.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Fall can be a tough time of year for many reasons----the light is less, the air is colder....its really time to hibernate right? Its almost NO-vember, which makes it easier to feel down rather than up.

I've had a lot of people talk to me in the past week who are depressed and overwhelmed, mostly with work issues. Its amazing how stressed out one person can really get and still function! Someone joked with me this week that at least the Prozac makes her numb to some of it. She's relatively new to her job at RIT, and she took it as a transfer from another department where she was really just a coffee filler-upper. She wasn't fulfilled there, so she took a busier job and now she's completely overwhelmed, in over her head, having stress chest pains, and upping her meds. She's not fulfilled now, can't even think about taking care of her health, and sees no end in sight.

My first reaction is to feel like she's just screwed. But really, she's not. We talked about a lot of strategies and different ways of approaching things and thinking about things. Options---what are they? Mindset---what can you do about it?

Easy? No. Simple? Yes. The bottom line is that no situation is perfect, and you have more control than you might first think you do about how you feel as you go through your days. That's not to say you should just decide to feel better and then you will, its just to say its worth figuring out what the right formula is for you to start working on feeling better!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


For the past week or so, I have been really tired. Partly because I have been working on training for my new online teaching job, which is great but (unpaid and) takes about 3 hours a day. Have I mentioned that I never watch TV? I don't know how anyone fits it in. Seriously.

I'm not excited about leaving all the great people I've met at RIT and Rotork. Its beginning to sink in that I won't see you anymore, and I'm just kind of sad about that. I wish I could keep the fun chatty parts of the job and ditch the logistics and data entry. But I can't. And I am excited to only have my teaching jobs taking up my time, and working on some other things too. I might get to see my friends again :)

This has happened before---where I met and built relationships with people in a professional context---and then I have to leave, and its like leaving friends, even though we didn't really call ourselves friends because it was just a work thing.

So, I'm sitting here procrastinating grading fake papers for my online teacher training, and I'm thinking about all the people I will miss seeing throughout the week. I would like to name you all right here, but what if I forgot somebody?!?! So, you know I'm talking to you.

Back to what I meant to talk about in this post---
I might hibernate this winter, only going outside to get to Wegmans to eat, or Midtown to work out, or Blue Lotus to do yoga. So we might have to just keep in touch here on the Internet. I'm going to have a new website and move the blog somewhere else. But I hope you'll starting talking back to me---this relationship is feeling pretty one sided :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Worth Reading.

"The brain is a three-pound supercomputer. It is the command and control center running your life. It is involved in absolutely everything you do. Your brain determines how you think, how you feel, how you act, and how well you get along with other people. Your brain even determines the kind of person you are. It determines how thoughtful you are; how polite or how rude you are. It determines how well you think on your feet, and it is involved with how well you do at work and with your family. Your brain also influences your emotional well being and how well you do with the opposite sex.
Your brain is more complicated than any computer we can imagine. Did you know that you have one hundred billion nerve cells in your brain, and every nerve cell has many connections to other nerve cells? In fact, your brain has more connections in it than there are stars in the universe! Optimizing your brain's function is essential to being the best you can be, whether at work, in leisure, or in your relationships."

Friday, October 2, 2009


Yesterday as I walked the three miles in from the parking lot to the Eastman Building at RIT (only a small exaggeration), I realized my feet were freezing.....and then I realized I should have had a coat on....and also that I haven't worn socks or outerwear to work since May.

I'm horrible with socks--some unknown sock monster eats them, one at a time. So I never have a match. Thankfully, I'm not opposed to wearing unmatched socks, and Uggs don't require them at all. This is the major underlying reason why I should live in a climate where socks are never required. And shoes should be optional. That being said, there is something comforting about the chill in the air (Did I really say that?!)---I don't have big plans this weekend (yoga, gym, work, repeat), just staying inside drinking tea and wearing daytime pajamas. This is the best attempt I can make at looking forward to winter. {shiver}

Maybe I'll buy a crockpot.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

You're coming into your own, Dear Leo

Before you think I'm crazy and click away, read on for a bit. I read my horoscope every month, and is my horoscope of choice (thanks Mom). Don't ask me if I believe in it, because I don't know. But reading it for the past couple months has really made me think about how we are influenced by what others say to us.

My horoscope for Sept was a little down and for Oct, it's much more hopeful, with the summary beginning by saying, "You're coming into your own, Dear Leo." I have no idea why, but that made me feel good. And, of course (you know me by now!), it made me think...

I talk to a lot of people who tell me about how they interact with their doctors. A general complaint among women is that their Primary Care Provider (PCP) doesn't understand them. This is usually found by women who would like to lose some weight (or their doctors would like them to). They dread going to the doctor knowing they'll be lectured about their weight. I find this very unfortunate because doctors are in a position that could potentially be very helpful to their patients. Instead, they tell women (and men too, probably) what a bad job they're doing and that they just need to lose weight.

Today I spoke with a woman who was thrilled that her doctor's office called to push back this week's appointment until December. She spent much of last year navigating through weight loss and losing 15 pounds very slowly. Then, life caught up with her, job pressures increased, and she gained the weight back. Not only is she struggling with how to get started again, but she's dreading facing her doctor who will just berate her for the failure and tell her to lose the weight. On top of that, when she's asked her doctor for help with how to lose weight, she has gotten no useful information.

It's clear to me that being negative and making someone feel badly is 100% counterproductive. We strive to give our kids positive feedback to elicit more positive behavior, right? Well, adults work that way too. I know that some people joke that no matter what they do, I will always find something good to pick out and focus on (after a week off the wagon, or whatever the case may be). In fact, I generally ask people before they tell me what they "screwed up" to tell me at least one thing they did well. There is always something. And it might sound funny or not important, but that's my #1 goal. When you are done talking to me, you should feel better about yourself than before. Also, you should have at least one thing you're going to work on in a positive way (not as punishment).

So when Susan Miller gave me some good motivating advice in my horoscope this month, it gave me a boost. Silly? yes. Do I care? No. Take it where you can get it! :)