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The Greatest Gift

Love. Family. Health. Friends. Time. These are the first and best of things that come to mind when I think of gifts. Time is definitely in short supply as I begin preparing for a 24-day work schedule out of town. This means early a.m. sessions in the gym as I begin re-entry to full-on strong after surgery and prepping for my first figure competition, coming up this November ( ). In addition, I will try to squeeze in study time for updating 3 personal training certifications, with hopes of being ready to test for the first level within 10 days of returning home. And as such, this trip feels more like a sojourn to boot-camp consisting of balls-to-the-wall 15-17 hour days, with a little torture thrown in for good measure. Actually, make that A LOT of torture. In the form of little to no sleep.

Yet this time, there is a very special gift awaiting mid-trip. There is to be a reunion of several past personal training clients I haven't seen in almost 20 years. We've stayed in touch and as it turns out, these ladies are all now training at the same place with another trainer who utilizes the basic protocol I started them on. And, since this means Super Slow (I conducted CDAT, a closely-associated exercise method), I expect to see them all in excellent condition (ladies-if you're reading this, absolutely NO pressure, LOL) and fighting shape! I know they will be eyeing me up, assessing my current physical stature, as well they should. Akin to a 20-year high school reunion, everyone present will be thinking the same thoughts about each other: "How much weight has she gained/lost; how well has she aged; I look way worse/better than her after 20 years." Of course, there will be other thoughts, but these are the silly little one's we'll all have that we probably won't actually discuss! It's just human nature and the JUDGMENT ZONE.

I would expect this judgment assessment from these ladies and they've earned the right to hand it down on me. After all, I collected thousands of dollars from them-some as long as an 8 year period-so I better be ready to show them that one of the things I used to drill into their heads is still so true: the benefits of properly conducted weight training and its affects on aging. I am so ready to be the poster child, ahem, poster cougar (LOL) for saying "I told you so!" I'm pretty sure they understand the concept, considering they're all still training, and I am so proud of them! Seriously though-I know the judgments will be there but I am proud of them all regardless of how they look. That's another conversation I used to pound on as well-embracing training for something far more important than how it makes one look. Your body and its health are truly gifts and when treated that way through the years, it will treat you like a good friend-another one of the great gifts!

Now look at that beautiful wrapping your gift comes in! How could you possibly want to do anything to jeopardize its ability to thrive?! This upcoming reunion caused me to think back to when I first started in the fitness business, instructing aerobics classes in 1980, and all the wonderful clients through the years. Many became friends. Notice how the greatest gifts seem to be so closely related? TIME to take care of your HEALTH often creates a FAMILY of FRIENDS who LOVE fitness, creating bonds that can last a lifetime. We shared common struggles surrounding all of these blessings and the many issues that arise around them. Ironic that these gifts oftentimes carry immense complications, isn't it? Don't let your health become one of them-it's not a matter of whether you can or not, but more a question of will you? Will you commit to health on a full-time basis, adopting it as a lifestyle and see that any other choice is less than acceptable? Because it really is that simple: you either do it, or you don't. If you're not doing it, than you're doing something else; the time it takes to do that something else is really no different than the time you take to live healthy. The 'something else' is just a series of bad habits that can be trained into good habits which ultimately become as effortless as doing the 'something else' you used to waste time on. Are you following me?

I know there are clients from the last 36 years that must think "I wonder what ever happened to what's-her-name, that relentless Hell-hound of a trainer..." Some of them really did love me though. One wrote this priceless poem for me on my 23rd birthday:

Happy Birthday, Stacey K.

Hope you have a super day!

Twenty-three lit candles on your treat,

But if you can't stand the fire

Then get out of the heat!

But really-you're still just a kid

There's so many things that you haven't did

And eighty years from now, just to get your kicks

You'll still be pumping iron at a hundred-six

And leading geriatric aerobics for those still around

While the rest of us are underground.

So birthdays are just another measure

The older we get, the more we treasure

The youth we had that time did steal

Remember-you're only as old as you feel!

I know your intentions to stay firm and fit:

Keep active, think young and that's what you'll get!

The point that I'm trying to make really clear

Is that birthdays are great if you don't think of the year!

I'm glad you were born on this special date

Because knowing you has been really great!

So Stace, I'll end my poem and no longer stall

To wish you the Happiest Birthday of all!

Wow! What a gift! Thirty years later, this poem easily conjures the image of the woman who credited me with changing her life. I only helped her find her inner champion and in doing so, gifted her with HEALTH-and she lived FIERCELY ever after!

*Stacey will reply to all 'Comment' submissions, though blog entries will be on a brief hiatus for August. A good time to catch up on reading the blog in it's entirety!

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