Sunday, April 29, 2012


I recently posted on about a fitness program called Tony & The Folks. 

I stated that it is a program that's excellent for people that are: over sixty years old, sedentary, and obese. I have had many questions about this that make me feel the urge to explain why I say that, as well as to explain in detail why you might actually be ready for more. 

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor; the following assessment is my own personal opinion and critique, colored by my life experience with Multiple Sclerosis. 

Before I get into everything, I wanted to explain why "failure", specifically with regards to exercise, is an extremely good thing. Reaching muscle failure while working out is where the real muscle is built. 

Literally going until you can't do anymore and then squeezing out just one to three more - now that's where the money is. 

As we age muscle naturally declines, which is why, to stay fit - you must continue to do strength training exercises. Muscle is what burns the fat from your body. So, we need to keep adding the muscle back on. 
When you feel heavy, 
it's often due to a lack of strong muscle mass. 
When you feel light in the body, 
it's generally because you feel strong. 

I now know that no matter my health condition, I will and must continue to do whatever strength training I can, on any level that I can.

Now on to explain Tony & The Folks...I will use me as an example to explain each of these programs, so you have something to refer to for the sake of comparison. 

When I first started working out in 2007, I had extremely poor balance, chronic migraines, random symptoms of vertigo, lifting a water bottle or soup can (like one to three pound weights) was all I could handle for repetitive lifting, a five pound weight was my limit. 

It was hard to get off the couch or out of a car that had its carriage lower to the ground. It wasn't too difficult to get out of a chair; though I preferred staying in one. It was hard to on be on my feet for long periods of time. 

I was out of breath walking down the hall. I had barely enough energy to do laundry. Above all, my motivation was in the tank. This lack of motivation and mental distress is very likely what made all of the aforementioned more difficult than it really was. On that note....

Tony & The Folks
This is probably very close to the level of activity that I was actually at when my husband showed me P90X. There was NO WAY I could do that program. 

However, I modified it to the hilt and did as much as I could, for as long as I could, the best I could. Those modifications were very similar to the movements and style of the Tony & The Folks program and it may have still been too easy for me in several respects. 

However, I was indeed working out on this level in the Summer of 2007. Long before the Fall of 2007 I had significantly improved. So by the time Fall came, I was simply way too advanced for this program. I hope this gives you an idea of who this program would be good for. 

RECOMMENDATION: I would advise and encourage this as a good starter for anyone who is obese, sedentary, chronically ill, not working out much or at all. You may even be even in a convalescent center and over sixty. It's definitely a good cheap (ten-dollar) disc to find out where you stand, without the need of a trainer. But it's only one disc that's thirty minutes long. 

You can kick it up a notch with the intensity you put behind it and in the weights you can lift while still maintaining correct posture. If you still struggle with maintenance and care of your home or yourself, you may still need to slow it down or modify, but this would definitely be good for you! It's about getting you moving and getting blood pumping.

10 Minute Trainer (TMT)
If you are doing Zumba on a beginner level, playing Wii Sports and being challenged to your limits by it, then this may be a good program for you. 

If you get into it and find it's not challenging enough, then stack the workouts back to back and get twenty minutes out of them, rather than ten. 

NOTE: In all honesty and reality, this is probably the level I was at after about a week to ten days of modifying P90X to the Tony & The Folks level that I had been at. It was my balance that had to catch up and improve... to be challenged.

Power 90 In Home Boot Camp
I continued the modifications as noted above and I improved a great deal very rapidly, though still modifying a quite a bit of the P90X program. 

However, by the time my muscles failed I was following the workout while on the elliptical to do what I could there. By the Fall of 2008 I was working out on a level similar to Power 90 with little modifications. I was still following the program with a stationary bike or elliptical cardio. 

RECOMMENDATION: I would advise and encourage that regardless of your age, if you are fully capable of taking care of your own house, personal and family needs and you have some physical energy reserve left when you enjoy weekend golf, an occasional bike ride, or neighborhood stroll, then Power 90 would probably be a very good thing for you. The modifications to cater to your abilities are in the weights you use and the intensity you bring to the program.

ChaLEAN Extreme and P90X
By mid-2008 I was working out on a level between ChaLEAN Extreme (shorter, still intense workouts) and P90X (longer more intense workouts). 

By 2009 I was at a P90X level for sure! Now there are still some modifications I have to make, depending on my balance and crazy health circumstances of the day, but I can do it! 

The biggest P90X challenge that I still face is Yoga X - thank you balance issues. RECOMMENDATION: I would advise and encourage that regardless of your age, if you are fully capable of taking care of your own house, personal, as well as family needs and you have a some physical energy reserve left for tennis, running, or Power 90 doesn't challenge you as much anymore then ChaLEAN Extreme would absolutely be a very good thing for you and maintaining your lifestyle. 

P90X would be an excellent semi-annual or annual challenge to help keep you humble and or push the limits. Again, the modifications to cater to your abilities are in the weights you use and the intensity you bring to the program.

TurboFire, P90X2, and Insanity are for crazy people or people who need to break through a plateau or enjoy a big challenge. Everyone should be humbled like this from time to time. 

These programs are not for people with bad hips or bad knees. However, through modifications you can still get some of these programs to cater to your abilities. It's all about creativity and the intensity you bring to the programs.

There are many more programs I could talk about, but I hope this has been a good glimpse of assessing your own ability level. The biggest blessing getting fit brings is truly to show the mind that you can do this. 

It builds confidence. If it's not building confidence to see yourself do this stuff, VISUALIZE yourself doing these things frequently. You likely have a negative mindset that needs changing. 

It's also not about "finding time" it's about "making time" to do the things your body needs to be healthy. I know this too, as I have been there and I continue to fight it as well.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Melene's Story

My sister rocks! Melene is my older blister, er, I mean sister and she is genuinely cool without even trying. Melene, like me, has Multiple Sclerosis (diagnosed in 1998). 

Melene used to be an avid volleyball player, leisure Moab Slick Rock biker, and hiker. When MS hit, it was hard, fast - anything but kind. 

Melene was then left to pick up the pieces, somehow cope, be a new mom in her early years of marriage, and redefine her new norm. Her road has been tough and scary. But her humor, kindheartedness, subtle determination, and ingenuity has made this road easier to travel for sure. 

I know of no one else that can make yelling at a fire hydrant to cross the road or receiving a warning for peeing behind a police station sound absolutely hilarious without making you feel sorry for them. 

Melene takes it as it comes and does the best she can with a wonderful, even cheerful attitude. I admire this lady and am pleased to call her my sister. 

Last year Melene discovered a love for recumbent biking and since then she's discovered several other things that she can do, despite predominantly using a cane and a wheelchair in settings where there are large gatherings. 

Thanks to Melene's fighter attitude and the amazing help of National Ability Center, she has returned to biking, skiing, swimming, and will soon try out horseback riding. I lied, skiing wasn't really in the picture pre-diagnosis, so that one is all new! 

When diagnosis and disability came for Melene, she felt unable to continue "active living". Melene honestly thought she'd not be able to do these kind of activities again... she's since found that with a little creativity and patience, that these things can indeed be done. 

Enjoying these activities are not lost after all; just a little altered - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I would like to take a moment here and thank those at the National Ability Center for putting up with Melene during this time. It must be very difficult to laugh and enjoy yourselves so much while helping her redefine her abilities. Thank you for all your hard work!

I simply can't think of a better place for philanthropic efforts to be spent than in support of clinical research to improve medical options or for places like the National Ability Center to improve hope and quality of life. 

If for no other reason than this (benefiting Melene) the funds have been entirely worth it. I'm sure they would appreciate any donation you could give. 

In addition to the National Ability Center, please note that on April 28 I will be walking with a few friends, like we have walked for the MS Walk before. 

If you feel like you would like to make a donation toward MS research, programs, and support please consider donating to team Diana's Dream, by visiting this siteMelene, this is a lifelong walk for sure, isn't it?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday 13th

Every Friday the 13th I can't help but think of the day I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (Friday, June 13, 2003). 

Please know that the dark omen of this date in no way reflects my future. I have the power to alter my own future, even with disease. 

The power of this rests solely in my attitude, which dictates how I respond to life. It is slippery and difficult to hold on to, but I... you... we have the power to give our best response to life. 

What happens in this life doesn't matter that much, rather it's the way we respond to it that shapes our character, our destiny (see Epictetus). You have the power. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Things I've Learned the Hard Way

Do you ever wonder why you have to keep learning things the hard way? Seriously, you've been down that road before and then you head straight for it time and time again. 

I'm human too and this happens to me as well. I don't know why things are such a surprise, but sometimes they creep up on me.

A few things that creep up on me with surprise are:
  • The morning after going to bed too late.
  • Failed communication in specific areas or with specific people.
  • Package serving size notations.
  • Nylons (I hate them, yet I buy them).
  • Going grocery shopping when hungry.
  • Using my credit card without regard to what's actually in the bank.
  • Watching a movie when the weather is good and weeds are in the yard.
  • Not caring for a person, yet mingling with them and then dwelling over what they might think of me.
  • Knowing I should use the bathroom when I see one, then deciding to wait until later.

So the list could go on and could certainly get more specific, but I think I'll stop there (before I say too much and then regret it). The point is, we are human and yet constantly try to deny our own fallibility. 

We err frequently and habitually... as a matter of fact, I would venture to say that half the time we are uncomfortable and frustrated. It may actually be our own doing - not necessarily another persons' fault. 

I'm not sure who I can blame for that last statement, but I'm sure at some point I'll try to find someone to take the heat.