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Monday-Morning Quarterback

2 Feb
Courtesy of Tumblr

Courtesy of Tumblr

You’ve made it through the Super Bowl and Katy Perry’s Missy Elliot‘s performance (along with Lenny, lions, tigers and bears, etc.). Congratulations Patriots…I guess. Your coach still sucks.

By the time many of you read this, you will have been bombarded by numerous pundits on TV and the interwebs giving their take on the game last night. Many of them have never held a football. Some of them think a perfect spiral is a curl pattern. A few have only heard of a “Hail Mary” in reference to Tupac.

These are your Monday-morning quarterbacks. Now that the football season is officially over, you won’t hear the white noise that comes with uninformed opinions about the profession. Lucky you.

On your weight-loss journey, you’ll run into a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacks. They like to offer opinions on the things you should and shouldn’t do. They like to tell you that they know what’s best for you. And best of all, they love to shame you when you fall.

They are, to put it simply, full of shit.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Isn’t that the very nature of this blog? To tell me what I’m doing right or wrong?” I really hope you don’t see it that way. This blog is a platform for me to share some of my stories and for us to have a dialog about the weight-loss process. What worked for me will not always work for the next person. I’m not here to shame anyone.

Your wight-loss Monday-morning quarterbacks like to offer opinions when none are requested or required. You will run into them everywhere. Unless it’s your doctor, trainer or nutritionist—a credentialed someone whose job is to offer their take on your progress—then you might want to take their opinion with a grain of salt.

On your weight-loss journey, you’re going to try numerous methods that will get you toward your goal. You may give up meat, make your workouts solely cardio or even go on cleanse. Weight loss is a process. Figuring out what works for you is going to take time. Having others buzz in your ear about the things they think you’re doing wrong will only delay your progress.

So how do you mute-button all the unwanted opinions?

1. Just say no. Just like the devil on your shoulder who told you to kill off those last Oreos in the bag, the “angel” on your shoulder is going to offer you tips on some cleanse she found in the back of Glamour. If it doesn’t sound inviting to you, just say you don’t want to do it. You know what you’re capable of. If living off of lemon water and cayenne pepper for week isn’t it, say so.

2. Be a loner. The weight-loss journey is traveled alone. You may be invited to take classes and join clubs, but no one is losing the weight for you. It’s not a group project to shed the pounds off of your body. If there’s some group activity that you’re being invited to, do it because it’s something you want to do not because it’s something the group is doing. Group’s are good for moral support. Participating in every activity isn’t a requirement.

3. Lie. We all have those friends who want your best interests at heart…but really just want you to agree with them. If one of them comes to you with a rando piece of equipment or workout video that’s “changed their lives,” just go with it. Some people can’t accept a no, so they’ll have to settle for a “sure, that sounds great,” so you can move on to other things in life. Like many Monday morning quarterbacks, they just want someone to nod in agreement even if they don’t agree.

What did you think of the Super Bowl? How are you drowning out the pundits today?

Girls Can Play Baseball

22 Aug

moneI grew up around boys: one older cousin, my brother and two younger cousins. Add to that my father and his five brothers and you have a girl surrounded by testosterone.

My brother, cousins and I would play the typical childhood games: tag, hide and go seek, etc. But mostly we spent our time in our grandparents’ basement wrestling. Let me rephrase: they spent most of their time in our grandparents’ basement wrestling. I was relegated to ring girl.

“Why can’t I wrestle?,” I would ask.

“Because you’re a girl,” one of the boys would reply

“But there are girl wrestlers.”

“We don’t have anyone to wrestle with you. Just sit over there and look cute.”

And sit I would—until I got bored and told an adult they wouldn’t let me play. The options were either I play or nobody plays. I like to think that’s the way Mo’ne Davis is looking at her competitors.

Mo’ne, the Little League World Series pitching phenomenon, has taken the country by storm with her tremendous athleticism. I can’t help but look with awe and admiration as she continues to kill the game.

Let’s run down the laurels: the first girl to pitch a shutout in Little League postseason history with a 70-mph fastball; the first girl to win a series game with her pitching prowess; and the first Little League player to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. While the rest of the world is having a crappy August, Mo’ne is shutting stuff down—literally.

Mo’ne is an amazing pitcher, not just for a girl, but because she just is. And she knows it.

“I throw my curve ball like Clayton Kershaw and my fast ball like Mo’ne Davis,” she told a reporter.

To have that kind of confidence under all the media attention added on top of the pressure of leading your team through the Little League World Series is astounding. We could all take a page from Mo’ne as we continue our journeys toward a healthy lifestyle.

This 5-foot-4, 100-pound 13 year old has been playing sports practically forever. She’s not just an awesome pitcher, she plays basketball and soccer. She challenges herself to do more, even with continuing pressure mounting up. For baseball players under the age of 13, this is as big as it gets. And Mo’ne is ready for it.

We can all challenge ourselves to do more and try harder, even when it seems like we can’t. We can take comfort in the fact that if we fail, we at least tried. We can learn from the things that tripped us up so that we can continue doing better.

Mo’ne has had to deal with hecklers in the stands who wondered what a girl was doing on the baseball field. (She’s only the 4th American girl to play in the Little League World Series since the competition began in 1947.) But instead of allowing that negativity into her head, she focused on her game.

You can do the same. Do a mental vs. physical check. Understand the difference between what your mind is telling you vs. what your body is telling you. The challenge will be completely worth it.

Mo’ne has done some excellent work for herself, her team and the Little League. However, she won’t continue to play in the tournament as her team lost on Thursday night. But we all know this isn’t the end of her. Basketball season is still coming up!

photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

One Time for the Little People

21 Jul

Meet Kacy Cantanzaro.

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She’s my new hero. Kacy is an athlete like you’ve never seen. She’s 5’0″, barely 100 pounds and she is a mother-effing beast. Kacy competed on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” and wrecked shop. On four different obstacle courses, she barely stumbled. She faced each task at her own pace and killed shit.

In a conversation with pop-culture site Vulture.com, Kacy says “I … wanted to make these big steps for everyone, for all the women out there and for everybody else that thinks that they can’t do something or that they have an excuse.”

She has. Kacy is a little dynamo. She’s a NCAA Division 1 gymnast, so she was already used to heavy competition. She just wanted to challenge herself a bit more.

And that’s what we can all learn from her. This is the second time she’s competed on the show. The first time didn’t go as well as she’d liked, so she tried again. She continued to train to meet her goal. Nowhere in the interview does she say she wanted to just make it to this round. Kacy is a competitor. Her boyfriend/trainer even acknowledges this in while she’s on the course. An “American Ninja Warrior” participant himself, he calls her “the best competitor I’ve ever met.”

Not the best female competitor, but the best competitor. Kacy accomplished something no other woman has done on the show. And she’s not even done yet. The fact that she’s a woman was brought up several times by the hosts. I tried not to let that bother me so much. The fact that she’s small seemed to be a disadvantage, at least to the hosts. But watching the video, it seemed like a benefit. Kacy is small and light. Sure, running up the vertical would require great thigh strength, but she’s a gymnast so that’s taken care of. That thing with the poles would seem difficult if you had to stretch, but she’s light so she can leap.

Kacy took what would seem like disadvantages and used them to her advantage. She even had a great response for the Vulture interviewer who brought up her height as a disadvantage.  “Obviously, I’ve been on the shorter side my whole life, so I just know that sometimes I need to make adjustments and find my own way to do it,”

Obviously.

You don’t have to be in any major competition to feel the need to prove something to yourself. If you are still on your weight-loss journey or even if you’re trying to maintain, you are still in competition, only with yourself. Your are trying to meet your goals and you will hit some roadblocks. They may not be the quad steps (the first part of the obstacle course). Your goals could be breaking a 10-minute mile, running up a set of steps, pressing 100 pounds or even getting into a headstand at yoga.

It doesn’t matter what your goals are. It matters what you’re willing to do to achieve them. Kacy was willing to go on a strict diet and train for two years straight to prove to herself and inspire others that women could compete at the top levels on this insane show.

I’d never watched the show before I saw the clip. Now that Kacy is moving forward, I really want to see what else she can do.

What are you willing to do to get to the next level for you health, your fitness or even your training?

Kacy competed in the Dallas quarterfinals. Tonight’s episode goes to my hometown of St. Louis. I’ll be watching on NBC.

photo courtesy of NBC

World Cup Observations

2 Jul
This man, Tim Howard, was incredible. Stellar goalie.

This man, Tim Howard, was incredible. Stellar goalie.

Like many Americans, I am a new (and disgruntled) soccer fan. The game is full of near misses and frustrating endings. The team that’s been playing crazy defense all game can get tripped up in the last 30 seconds and lose it all. It’s a frustrating thing to watch. But I love sports, so I’m learning to love soccer.

The World Cup has been so exciting this year. Despite yesterday’s loss, it’s been easy to root for the U.S. Men’s team. Having only really paid attention to soccer for the first time ever two and a half weeks ago, I can’t claim to be an expert. But there are a few things I’ve noticed so far.

1. Thighs. Soccer players have some of the most beautiful thighs I’ve ever seen on men. They are ridiculously toned. I’ve been an avid runner for about five years now and am nowhere near that kind of definition. Those beautiful quads and hams have to be well taken care of in order to kick the ball with such precision.

2. Abs. Core strength is key to almost any physical activity. These fellas have great cores. It keeps them agile and allows for some awesome scissor kicks.

3. Faces. It’s not called a beautiful game for nothing. Soccer is the CW network of sports. Marginally attractive people aren’t employed there. The only sport that comes somewhat close in the ratio of fine athletes to their less-attractive brethren is tennis, and that sport doesn’t has nearly as many players. Sure, most soccer players average about 5’7″.* But with faces like these, you have to give them a pass.

4. Speed. I heard somewhere that for the 90 minutes that soccer players are on the field, they’re averaging about seven miles of running. Seven miles! For comparison, I run six miles an hour, and I’m not chasing a ball, trying to control it with my feet, dodging 10 other people and trying to kick it into a goal.

Good job, fellas.

Good job, fellas.

5. Sportsmanship. In high-stakes competitions like the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl, you’re bound to have a few scuffles. I have yet to see any real blowups on the pitch. These guys are running around in Brazilian heat (which is no joke) for 45 minutes straight each half with other people kicking at them, tripping them, pulling at their uniforms…and no one has thrown dem bows. My favorite part is the end when the teams exchange jerseys—partly because of observation No. 2, but also because the players appreciate the other team’s hard work. It’s a really special moment.

6. Dedication. I ran a race on Saturday (five miles in 50:35, thank you very much) and the sun was beating me up. I was frustrated with the organizers for having only two misting stations and myself for not stopping for water more often. I finished, but I was not pleased at the amenities. Soccer players play through each half with no timeouts, no water breaks, no ref challenges. Nothing.** You’re just out there until your half is up. And they do it with no complaint. It’s inspiring.

Even though my team is out, I’m going to continue to watch the Cup through the end. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the sport. Will I try it? Probably not because I’m an old. But I can definitely see its universal appeal.

Now that the U.S. is out, will you continue to watch? What’s been your favorite moment so far? Mine was anytime Tim Howard let out his inner beast.

*I’m 5’2″, so I have no real right to complain about height. But a girl’s got preferences (not necessarily prerequisites).

**Players do find a way to take a breather by doing I what I call the “Paul Pierce.” Old Navy doesn’t have as many flip flops as I’ve seen during these matches. It’s hilarious, but at the same time a bit of a “Come on!” moment.

Photos courtesy of FIFA/Getty Images