You Think You Have Barriers to Health? Check Shar Out!

The reason that I write books, blogs, email responses or sayings on the gym board is to educate AND motivate the reader to make conscious and smarter health choices. I preach resilience and to keep moving forward even when you have setbacks. The story I am going to share with you today takes that last sentence to a whole new level. Many of us have things in life that present barriers to “being our healthiest selves.”  Whether it is health limitations, scheduling, non-supportive family members, or lack of knowledge most of us have something sincerely legitimate that we can say holds us back from our health goals. But before you decide that all is lost and there is no hope, read the story of Shar.

The Only Barrier is the Thing You Say is a Barrier

Shar is a 62 year old female who sought me out to lose weight. Being a 62 year old female in itself is a barrier to weight loss. Postmenopausal women generally have more trouble losing weight than males of any age or women who have yet to go through menopause. Shar accepted this barrier and decided to move forward with her weight loss goal. That is only the beginning. Just a few years before that, Shar was diagnosed with an aneurysm on one side of her brain (sub arrachnoid hemorrhage). Brain aneurysms are fatal in nearly 50% of the cases with 15% never making to the hospital. Approximately 66% of the people who survive have a severe cognitive deficit. The surgeons performed a procedure called a craniotomy on Shar which included literally having her face removed while they performed the procedure. It does not stop there either. While the surgeons were removing the first aneurysm and hoping for the best, they discovered a SECOND aneurysm on the other side of her brain. Double the complications, double the risk, double the fear. As you may have guessed, Shar survived the two brain surgeries. This is a “feel good” story in itself but Shar’s story of breaking down barriers does not stop there. Many of the medications Shar is prescribed presents barriers to her weight loss goals. Having battled weight and lifestyle issues her whole life was also a barrier. She lived with a husband who was her “food buddy” and made the environment at home a barrier. She has physical limitations that made her ability to exercise more difficult. She could not walk very far and resistance training was more painful for her than most. That is STILL not where her barriers end. She was also diagnosed with Lupus and peripheral neuropathy in both feet. The steroids prescribed to her for the Lupus created cataracts in both eyes. In 2012 she had surgery to remove one of the cataracts and has had MAJOR balance issues since. Doctors still have not been able to figure out the reasons for the balance issues or treat it in any way. She has fallen over 10 times since the cataract surgery. NONE OF THIS WAS A BARRIER FOR HER! She continued to move forward in her goal of being healthier. And despite all that she had been through, one of the toughest decisions of her life was still to come. Shar recognized that the relationship with her husband was not a healthy one. After 37 years of marriage, Shar decided to seek a life living on her own.  Moving in itself is a high stressor but living alone for the first time in nearly four decades added more barriers to someone that already could argue that she had more challenges than most. But did it stop her from seeking out her goal of improved health and weight loss? NO! She fought on…

Everyone Has a Little Shar Inside

We all have our own stories, our own barriers, our own self-limiting belief systems, and our own fears for not moving forward in our lives. All of our barriers are real and big to us, and seem like they are impossible to overcome.  But as Shar and others have demonstrated, the only limitations you have are the ones you tell yourself. The longer you focus on the barriers that you have, the longer you will struggle to improve your health and the way you respond to life challenges.  Shar had barriers of many kinds and still has several. She has struggled with finding a sustainable eating plan (like many of us) and has had days where she has not eaten perfectly. She still cannot workout as hard as some but trains extremely hard for where she is physically. SHE JUST KEEPS MOVING FORWARD, TRYING HER BEST, AND NEVER GIVES UP! And despite all of the barriers Shar has lost 73 pounds. 73 pounds of determination and resiliency!  Even with her physical limitations she lifted weights with me just yesterday. While we were training she told me that she walked 1.75 miles a couple of days before. A 1.75 mile walk by someone who could not walk even 100 yards in the not too distant past! And you are not reaching your goals because you have barriers? I always end my writing by asking everyone to BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE and today is no different. But today when you think of a miracle think of Shar! When you think about the barriers that you face think of Shar! If you think you cannot overcome your life think of Shar! BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE! BE YOUR OWN SHAR!

Miracles of Phoenix Fitness Owner Coe Kirby combines evidence based behavioral health research with 12+ years as a personal trainer to provide the most extensive lifestyle modification program for mental and physical wellbeing in America. He has helped hundreds of people overcome self-defeating behaviors and achieve goals of all levels. His unique style and skill set as a personal trainer and life coach make him comfortable to be open with while pursuing the growth or change you desire. Knowing that each individual is different with where they are in the change process, he guides the client on a journey of self-discovery that helps the individual learn his or her own method to success while giving strong support and proven tools to assist them. His two books, Your Health is Your Wealth: Working Out the Inner Self For a Fit Outer Self and Rebuilding Your Temple From the Inside Out have helped people from all walks of life learn how to create healthier lifestyles for themselves and their families. Both books are available through http://www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com.  Good luck on your health journey!

Me Teach a Stress Management Class? That stresses me out!

I felt so honored recently to have been asked to speak to two groups of students at ASU. I was asked to speak on how to use exercise as a way to manage stress. As I got into the car to drive to the classes, I noticed my right rear tire was nearly flat. Thankfully my wonderful wife Nadine switched cars with me and I was on my way.  Knowing that she had only a small distance to go to the tire repair shop, I was able to relax and concentrate on my presentation as I drove. I parked in the recommended lot of the ASU faculty, paid my fare, and began to walk. Except for I walked the wrong way. I walked the opposite way of the university and did not realize it for ¼ of a mile. The classroom where I was supposed to present at was approximately ¾ of a mile from my parking space which made it a full mile from where I was at. And I was late already. And my feet hurt. And then I got lost and could not find the building where I was supposed to speak at. I was becoming more stressed inside of myself. After wandering around aimlessly for several minutes, I finally let go of my male genetics and asked an ASU employee for help. He didn’t know where the building was either. I became irritated and started to laugh at myself. Yes started to laugh at myself. I was the most stressed out person on the campus and going to teach students how to manage stress. It was funny and I knew that it was my natural and autopilot reaction to stress. I work with many people who work and live stressful lives. Each has his or own personal story of why they experience or perceive stress in the way that they do. But all are learning how to manage the stress with healthier alternatives. They realize that they have two options: 1) They can try to change the environments and the world that they are in or 2) they can change the way they respond to the environment they are in. It is healthy to accept the world and those around you and to change the way you respond to all of the external events and people in your life. If you are allowing the external events of your life to control the internal events of your emotions, perceptions, belief systems, and behaviors you will find it very difficult to manage stress. To be happy and healthy, the internal must be heard over the external. But how does that happen? We are taught from early in life that jobs, money, food, drugs, alcohol, people, cars, and other external things will be the path to happiness. But this is not true and numerous forms of research agree. Creating true happiness will also create better health and research agrees with that also but how is that done? Everyone is an individual but the people at Harvard who study true internal happiness have compiled a list of qualities that make up someone who is truly happy.

  1. They have or have created optimism in life. The happy person sees life through a lens of sincere gratitude and appreciates the beauty of people and natural things. Be thankful.
  2. They all examine themselves for growth and betterment and do not place that responsibility on others in their life.
  3. They all EXERCISE. Physical exercise changes the way that not only the body looks and works but also the brain. The body loves to be moved, the brain releases ‘happy stuff” when the body is moved.
  4. They do some form of meditation or prayer. Focusing yourself on internal thoughts will lead to a better ability to set boundaries with stressful external events and people in life. The internal cues become more developed than the external.
  5. They see stressors as a challenge and not as a barrier. Again viewpoint and outlook matters.

I eventually made it to the ASU function and shared with the group about the stressful adventure on my way there. After a good laugh at my expense I had one of the greatest times ever presenting to the class. More than likely stress will never be eliminated in most of our lives. For your health it is most important to develop internal methods to deal with external madness of the world. Many have done it and you can too. You deserve to be as healthy and as happy as you can be during this life. It is never what happens to us in life that matters, only HOW WE RESPOND. Respond with peace, control, and good health. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!

 Phoenix

Miracles of Phoenix Fitness Owner Coe Kirby combines evidence based behavioral health research with 12+ years as a personal trainer to provide the most extensive lifestyle modification program for mental and physical wellbeing in America. He has helped hundreds of people overcome self-defeating behaviors and achieve goals of all levels. His unique style and skill set as a personal trainer and life coach make him comfortable to be open with while pursuing the growth or change you desire. Knowing that each individual is different with where they are in the change process, he guides the client on a journey of self-discovery that helps the individual learn his or her own method to success while giving strong support and proven tools to assist them. His two books, Your Health is Your Wealth: Working Out the Inner Self For a Fit Outer Self and Rebuilding Your Temple From the Inside Out have helped people from all walks of life learn how to create healthier lifestyles for themselves and their families. Both books are available through http://www.miraclesofphoenixfitness.com.  Good luck on your health journey!