The Ripple Effect

My girls pushing their grandma on the tire swing.

My girls pushing their grandma on the tire swing.

As I sat in an interview the other day, I was asked why I had decided to switch careers and focus on teaching fitness classes rather than cute little first graders.  It was the day after my stepmother had just passed away so the answer came right to me.  It was such an easy question to answer, but my emotions almost took over.

As a child I was raised pretty much in the same way most kids around me were raised: eating meat and potatoes for dinner and Captain Crunch for breakfast.  Even now, my dad sees nothing wrong with this type of diet.  Well, my husband doesn’t really either, but he is a bit more willing to follow suit.  When it comes to my own kids, I know that I will not apply my childhood eating habits.  Often I am given grief (even by my own family members) for the food journeys we currently partake in.  My husband will feed the kids bacon when I am gone, but then adheres to the meatless version upon my return.  My friends just find it rather fascinating and occasionally ask what is so great and healthy about eating cardboard.  Then there are the “no candy” policies I have to enforce with teachers.  Eating healthy is basically a daily battle so I can see why most people might just throw their hands up and roll through a McDonald’s drive-thru.  I know I am not perfect either, but I keep coming back to fight.

However, after the toll that heart disease and cancer has taken on my own family, I can’t stop fighting the battle.  If you can avoid a heart attack or cancer, why not at least try?  It’s not going to hurt anybody if you decide to add a few extra veggies to your plate or try a few meatless dishes each week.  Sure, you might still have a heart attack or get cancer, but maybe it will be just a little easier to fight back.  I tried very hard when I spent a spring break with my stepmother (already sick with cancer at the time). I fed her vegan meals all week in hopes that it would make her better.  Of course there are forces of nature beyond our control, but we can at least try, right?

Yes, I know it is hard to chew on that piece of tofu when you would rather be chewing on a piece of meaty steak.  Maybe you have never been a morning person and can’t seem to roll out of bed in time to get to the gym before work.  Those are your choices to make and sometimes you choose not to.  It is especially challenging when you think you are alone and feel like you have no power to make positive changes in your life.

This is where I step in.  This is where I can be there to hold someone accountable with making the change.  I can encourage someone to come back to the boot camp class after finding the courage to try it out one day.  I can encourage someone to join me for a personal training session and find out that it really can be a simple process that fits nicely into your busy schedule.  I can encourage someone to find the strength within and train for and finish a half marathon.  That’s what I can do.  Or at least I can try to do just that.  I know I will not always succeed, but as with teaching small children, if I can at least make the difference in one person’s life, then I have done something meaningful and it will truly be worth the time and effort.

Running has always been an important part of my life and I have my mother to thank for introducing me to the sport as a child (even though I never liked running as a child).   I grew to love running and I strongly believe that it has made me a better person in so many ways.  A few years ago I decided that I would move beyond my personal love of running and learn to share my love of the sport with others.  And that has been an extraordinary experience thus far.  It would take me too long to write about all of the amazing adventures and stories I have experienced through my clients.

Here I am now, a few years after starting Inspired Miles Coaching LLC, and I have decided to take it even further.  It’s not about me becoming a better runner or more fit.  It’s not even about making money (however, an extra income would be helpful in raising 3 girls).  It’s about guiding others down this path to a healthier and stronger life.  I do realize it is not an easy task.  It takes motivation, dedication and a whole lot of patience.  A WHOLE LOT OF PATIENCE.  Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight.  They might not even happen in a year.  It just takes small steps and a lot of faith in the process.

To me, being fit and healthy is not about looking good in a swimsuit (however, that is a nice bonus) and it is not about fitting in with the latest trends (crossfit, paleo, etc.).  It is just about being a better version of yourself…. from the inside out.  In the process, you might have some extra energy to keep up with your kids or add a few years to your life so you can watch your grandchildren grow.

Yes, the answer to that interview question was easy.  I am here because I am inspired to make a difference and help others see that they can make a change.  Their inspirational stories may then ripple out and touch the lives of others.  This is so big and important that someone out there may save another person’s life through this ripple effect.  My stepmother’s life could not be saved, but she fought so hard until the end.  Her fight lives on through me and I will continue the fight in her memory, my mother’s memory, my grandmother’s memory and my grandfather’s memory.  They all loved me so much and that will give me the strength to continue on this journey.


Inspirational Motivation

Thanksgiving Day Subaru Half Marathon

Team in Training is about running for a cause.  It is about running for someone other than yourself.  You feel more dedicated to running when it is about something greater than yourself.  You get swept up in the waves of inspiration that seem to be around every corner.  Amazing families doing amazing things under tragic circumstances.  During my time with the TEAM, I met mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends of someone who had battled cancer… not to mention actual cancer survivors. Unfortunately, cancer was everywhere.  I couldn’t avoid talking about my own father’s battle with cancer, nor could I avoid listening to all of the stories of others who had faced similar fates… some not as fortunate as my father.  It was extremely sad knowing that children were also suffering from this evil disease.

I remember seeing Alan at the information meeting I attended.  I learned about his battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I don’t know why, but he immediately reminded me of my own father (I told him not to be offended because my dad is still young :)).  Alan shared his stories with me as we ran together.  He became a new running buddy and I always enjoyed our conversations.  I ran that first marathon in honor of Alan and my father.  They were my inspiration to get across the finish line.

But that wasn’t the end of the inspiration.  A few months after I had completed my marathon, Alan suffered a terrible loss.  His beautiful wife, Carmen, had passed away.  I was at a loss for words.  I knew that there wasn’t anything I could do or say that would make anything better.  Yet, there was always running.  I knew a bit about running and I knew how Alan felt about running.  It was his saving grace after he had cancer.

A couple of months later, Alan made the decision to run the Never Quit 5K… a fitting race title.  He was supposed to do it with Carmen and he still kept his promise to do just that.  All I could do was say that I would be there and run by his side if he wanted me to.  So, that is what Tracey and I did.  Now, every time I look at that beautiful sea turtle pendant I think of that moment when Alan crossed the finish line as he looked up into the sky.  That was truly an inspiration.

Alan never quit despite the many obstacles he had faced.  I would often see him at group runs and he even talked me into doing an overnight relay for another great cause.  Sometimes injuries prevented him from running, but Alan would always come back.  He is definitely a fighter and I admire him for that.  Sure, Alan wasn’t as fast as me back then, but I hear he will be passing me soon!  Somehow that tough guy has managed to surprise even his own doctors with that determination!  Alan was the running buddy that I could always talk to about anything.  I truly miss that.