Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Traveling For Your Health

I received an email from a fellow blogger, Mike Manning, who asked me if he could submit a posting to my blog. Mike is a fitness and nutritional enthusiast who realizes the importance of a healthy lifestyle which includes a regular exercise regimen along with a healthy diet. Mike explains below ways to maintain your work out routine and diet throughout your travels, whether on business or pleasure.

Traveling for Your Health
by Mike Manning

Whatever reason you have for traveling, if you do it often, you know well that it can cause stress. Irregular travel schedules, sleeping accommodations, and more can take a toll on your mental and physical health. You work hard keeping to a healthy routine at home. With a little thought and planning, you can minimize the stress of traveling and arrive home feeling as healthy as when you left.

A good trip begins before you leave home. If you have the option of selecting your own accommodations, do a little research before you book a hotel. Make sure that the location you choose offers fitness amenities that suit your lifestyle. On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was able to book a hotel with a 24 hour fitness center and I was extremely glad I did the due diligence to find this hotel.

Before my trip I used a travel review site that gave me a list of the best hotels in San Francisco. From here I was able to find the right amenities and price for me. Runners might want to check for nearby running tracks or neighborhood trails. If you enjoy water fitness, select accommodations that include a public pool and bring along any water weights or other equipment that you use regularly. Yoga enthusiasts will easily find hotels that offer in-room yoga videos or classes in their fitness center.

The night before you leave for your trip, do your best to get plenty of rest, also, make sure you are properly hydrated both before and during your trip. Regardless of your means of travel, take healthy snacks with you to avoid the pitfalls of empty calorie snacks at the stations or airports.

During long drives or flights, spend a few moments stretching in your seat. A few simple exercises will help you arrive refreshed and experience less stiffness, soreness and swelling. Some exercises you can do include ankle rotations, neck and shoulder rolls, an upper body stretch and knee lifts.

Once you arrive, take the time to get familiar with your surroundings. Locate the pool and fitness center. In your room, spend a moment to organize and unpack. Before running to meetings or sightseeing adventures, pause to stretch or move through a few yoga positions.

Throughout your stay remain active but be realistic. You probably will not be able to complete your regular routine every day in the same way you do at home. Play around in the hotel pool for extra exercise or consider walking to destinations rather than driving or taking public transportation.

At mealtimes, make healthy choices and do your best to avoid high-calorie options, but allow yourself to indulge in a local delicacy once or twice.

Always remember: Moderation is an important key to healthy living.

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The following are links are to the references used above:

The San Francisco hotel:

Exercises mentioned:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

It Doesn't Get Any Better

In the few weeks I have been going to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC)  gym, it has been an enlightening experience in many ways. The other day a guy whom I will call Tom, asked me to show him some arm exercises, he said he wanted to have arms like me. As we all know, no one is ever satisfied with the way their body looks, especially to themselves, and this was no exception. I thanked him for his compliment about my arms but only after I prefaced by saying my arms used to look better.

I showed the basic exercises for biceps and triceps , you know like curls, hammer curls, skull crushers etc. Tom is afflicted with multiple sclerosis, particularly on his right side. I understood the magnitude of his disease once I began instructing him on how to do various exercises. I helped him grasp the dumb bells by manually wrapping his hand around the bar part of the dumb bell. Tom asked me to move and hold his right leg out of the way while he did his bicep curls with his right hand, something I was honored and thankful to be able to do for him.  It struck a cord with me at that very moment, that perhaps I should rethink my quasi-dissatisfaction with the way I look and focus on the gratitude I should feel about being able to as much as I actually can do.

My friend Tom was trying his best to lift and curl a ten pound dumb bell and it was as much work for him to do that as it is for me to curl a forty pound dumb bell. This was an eyeopening experience for me, these patrons at RIC are as dedicated a group of individuals as you will ever be privileged to come across in your lifetime.

I know how this is going to  sound to you, but hear me out before you pass judgment. As I was looking around the gym I was reminded of the old Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas special that was hosted by the snowman, whose character was voiced by Burl Ives. You know the one I mean, it wasn't exactly a cartoon, they were characters like Gumby and Pokey. Anyway there is a part in that story about the misfit toys, broken or damaged toys that nobody wanted. If you were to look around at the patrons at this gym you might feel the same way about them.

I have been in quite a few different gyms through the years I have been working out, and I was always struck the superficiality of a lot of people who work out at the gym; people overly concerned with their gym attire or making loud grunting noises to get attention or chatting in clicks reminiscent of high school. As odd as this might sound, I have never felt as comfortable in a gym as I do at RIC. At the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago  gym there is no pretense, no trying to impress each other, no fear or angst about how you look or about your abilities to perform various exercises; in essence it is a genuine place.

Perhaps it is not us physically challenged people who are the misfit toys but rather that we live in a world that too much of the time forgets that we are all members of the same family, that family of humankind.

I have met a variety of people with a variety of physical challenges, and  there is a sense of acceptance on all levels of all people there. One of the regulars at RIC said to me as I was expressing to him how impressed I was with everyone whom I had met thus far, "everyone in this place, has a story." He went on to say, "if they didn't have a story, they wouldn't be here." I took his comments to mean that we are all here because we were seeking a place that could accommodate our special needs and RIC is such a place.

I have always tried to remember to focus on the good in my life and be thankful for what I am still capable of doing, this has become even more apparent to me after having joined the RIC gym. Who would have thought that I, who has lost both of his legs, would be able to help another who has lost even more, accomplish something as seemingly simple as a bicep curl? It puts a lot of things in their proper perspective, one person helping another, it doesn't get any better than that.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Don't Get Catfished

I know it has been a while since I have written, probably because there have been some not so pleasant things going on for the past month or more.

I try to write positive things in this blog but as of late, if I waited to write pleasant things, we might all be waiting a while. So I thought I would just delve into what has been going on.

First of all I have good reason this alleged mentor I named Bruce in the past couple of posts could well be a complete fraud. In a nutshell, I think I have been "catfished." Just in case  you are unfamiliar with that term, it was coined to describe an internet relationship, be it a friendship or a more intimate romantic relationship over the internet whereby the other person with whom you are corresponding is telling you lies about themselves.

These catfish episodes are a lot more commonplace than you might believe, in fact there is a reality show on MTV about this very occurrence. From what I understand, these people who perpetrate these lives of lies, who prey on innocent and honest people do this for a variety of reasons, none of which are admirable.

I think some of these dishonest people perpetuate these lies to see how far they can push their story, in other words to see how gullible the recipient really is. The success with which the dishonest person is capable of continuing their deception, depends on how well they respond to questions that may arise when the person to whom they are lying, becomes suspicious. Someone who is skilled, if you want to call it a skill, at lying successfully, can conceivably continue their web of lies indefinitely.

Obviously one of the first questions that may come to mind is why would these people do this in the first place? Good question. I can only speculate about possible reasons and what I have learned from others who have become victims of such a "prank." It seems that many of the people on the internet who play this cat and mouse game with innocent and unknowing participators, derive some type of pleasure from having fooled someone else.

This sick pleasure is at the expense of the other person, be it making the other person feel loved or cared about, giving them words of encouragement based on false pretenses, or just generally trying deliberately to evoke some type of emotional response. I believe the level of success the perpetrator is capable of achieving, is somewhat dependant  upon how venerable and in some cases lonely the recipient is.

On the flip side of the coin, is the fact these false lives that are created, may be invoked as a substitute for mundane, boring, uneventful and most certainly unhappy lives. People for whatever reason, are disillusioned about their own existence to the degree they feel like creating a "better" more exciting life for themselves, except that they are involving other innocent people in the process.

There may be any of a number of various truths and mistruths intermingled to the degree that it  becomes impossible to decipher which is the truth and which is a lie or there may be no truth at all. The whole story of the this person from their name, age, occupation, where they live, etc.  could be completely contrived.

How does one become involved in such a situation? We all are taking a chance when we communicate with a stranger via the internet. Sometimes we may be seeking like minded individuals with whom we feel we share a common bond, to converse about commonalities or perhaps to gain insight from others in similar life circumstances. The idea of sharing thoughts and ideas with another person starts out perfectly innocent but when someone who has a hidden agenda, perpetuates the building of a friendship or relationship on lies, the whole thing falls apart. The result is at minimum hurt feelings and sometimes even greater devastation can occur.

In my particular scenario, I felt I had finally met another gay double above knee amputee with whom I could talk, trade experiences, and offer mutual advice about how to successfully live our lives more productively. Little did I know I was being played for a fool or so it seems. My friend, Bruce, whom I felt was such an inspiration to me, who was so encouraging to me, it seems was placating me, telling me things he thought I wanted to hear. I now have to question the validity of many of the the things I was told by him, not the least of which is his name, where he lives, whether he is or was a Marine.

I will say this, at least through his words, I did in fact start going to the RIC gym, something I had been postponing for quite some time. The reason I am writing this to you is, first, to get this whole thing out into the open. Of course I realize those of you who regard me as a Polly Anna now have more ammunition with which to continue to believe I live my life by looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

The second,  and I believe most important reason, I am writing this is to warn others of the potential hazards of communicating through the internet, to be very vigilant about what you say and with whom you say it. I am very disappointed that this person, Bruce, who had shone a light of hope into my sometimes uneventful life turned out to be someone whose problems are much greater than my own.

At least I live my life from the point of truth, trying with every fiber of my existence to promote and perpetuate good feelings and giving advice that will help others live happier more fulfilling lives. I wish sometimes I wasn't so inclined to be so open, setting myself up for potential hurt, but then again I am who I am, always looking for the best in people.

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