Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Time for a rant.

I try not to rant much, and I try not to let some of the things I see and hear around me get to me much.  And I promise that I will get back to health and fitness posts after this.  But I feel the need to rant today.  This is turning out to be very similar to the rant I posted last time I ranted, but I feel like being redundant today.

You see, there's new fury running rampant because California had the gall to suggest "No Meat Mondays--" that the average American might possibly be doing a good thing for their health and for the environment by not eating meat for one day per week, which has, of course, has led to an onslaught of vegan-bashing. 

As a vegan member of the strength community, I get that I am in the absolute minority, and I get that my way of life is not for everyone.  I do not push my views on anyone else, just as I would not want others to push theirs on me.  But I am living proof that it is not only possible, but easy to be very healthy, very strong, and very lean without animal products. 

What is comical is that even with documented proof (blood tests, body fat measurements, and so on), people still try to find an explanation for my success-- maybe my heritage is full of vegetarians?  (Nope-- Romanians and Russians are not known for their vegetarianism)  Maybe I should have such and such test done to PROVE that there is SOMETHING wrong with me?  (Dude.  Really?)  Oh, and my favorite-- "Well, you're fine for now, but later on, your brain is going to deteriorate."  (Yeah, after 13 years as a strict vegan, I'm still fine.  And please show me the peer-reviewed, published, irrefutable scientific proof that vegans have brain rot after a certain age.  If it's science you want, I can [and have done in previous blog posts, actually] pull up many peer-reviewed, published scientific articles that demonstrate that people following vegetarian diets tend to be healthier, have less disease, and live longer, higher-quality lives than those who do not).

I do not understand why my food choices, which are all 100% moral choices, make other people so incensed.  I am an animal lover and a lover of life, and I care deeply for the environment.  I do not wish to contribute to the death of any living creature inasmuch as I am able to avoid it.  The manner in which most meat is raised is absolutely detrimental to the planet.  So for me, it's a no-brainer.  When it comes down to it, my food choices are my business.  I am hurting no one (and saving many animal lives) by being vegan, and I am clearly benefiting myself, whether or not others can handle that fact. 

In any case, Meatless Mondays is not a law-- you are not going to be arrested if you don't follow it.  But if you do try it, I guarantee that meatless Mondays isn't going to turn anyone into a weak, sick, Twizzler-munching hippie.  It might give some people a newfound love for vegetables they'd never tried before.  It might help some people realize they don't need fast food every day to survive.  And it might just save the lives of a few animals, and maybe give the planet a little bit of the love it deserves.  But it most certainly does not deserve the fire and brimstone rage that it seems to incite.

Calm down, people.  You can have your two pounds of bacon on Tuesday.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Melody's Mantras

I have not written for a while.  Shame on me!  The good news is, I've been very busy getting some things in place that you should hear about in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned.  :)

Recently, my friend Bret Contreras (you know, the Glute Guy) posted this gem on his blog.  I liked it.  I liked it so much that I was inspired by it, and I would like to add a few little rules of my own.  I have learned maybe one or two things in my lifetime, and these are the things that get me through every day.  I know this isn't my usual health and fitness spiel, but honestly, I think all of this stuff fits right in there perfectly.  When it comes down to it, we're all trying to get better in some way, shape, or form.  So thank you, Bret, for inspiring me to write this one!

1)  Never settle.  For anything.  One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing someone complain about some aspect of his/her life constantly and never doing one thing to improve upon it.  Excuses are easy.  Change is hard.  But making your own happiness is worth every bit of effort.  If you're unhappy with your physique, figure out what is making you unhappy, and take healthy (HEALTHY being the key word) steps to change it.  Are you under/overexercising?  Is your diet clean?  Are you eating enough, or too much?  Are you sleeping enough?  Are you being honest with yourself about your habits?

If you're unhappy in your relationship, think about this first-- are you happy with yourself?  It's impossible to truly be happy with anyone else if you don't love yourself.  This is the first place you need to look.  Learn to love yourself, and life becomes a lot easier.  Next: is the problem resolvable?  Is it worth fixing?  If it is, take the proper steps to make that happen, and realize that every relationship is a two-way street.  Both parties must be willing to put in the effort necessary to make things right.  If it is not worth fixing, I have always been strongly of the opinion that it is far better to be alone than in the wrong relationship.

If you're unhappy in your job, start looking for a career that makes you happy and take the steps necessary to make that path happen for you.  If you're going to spend 8+ hours doing something 5+ days per week, it had better be something that really makes you happy.  Some of the wisest words ever said to me were: "Figure out what you love doing.  Then figure out a way to make money doing it."

Whatever it is, if it matters, don't settle.  Life is too short.

2)  Never stop learning.  I get a lot of good-humored ribbing from my friends because I am constantly getting this certification or that degree or traveling to some country or buying some book or checking out some workshop or taking some class or seeking out some guru.  I find the world absolutely fascinating.  There is so much to discover, and so many ways you can grow and benefit from what these discoveries have to offer.  You might find a new talent, a new passion, a subject or person or creature that fascinates you.  You might change your opinions about things you never thought you would.  You might discover what you don't like, which is often just as valuable as knowing what you do.  Knowledge has nothing to do with degrees and paperwork.  It is passion, talent, and most importantly, the ability to apply what you know well and appropriately.  Anyone who thinks they have no need for further learning is not someone I have much interest in speaking to. 

3)  Keep a positive attitude.  I cannot stress this enough.  Just today, a client of mine who tends to think negative thoughts pressed a weight she'd never been able to press before with her weaker arm just by doing a positive thinking drill with me.  The mind is a supremely powerful device, and it can make you capable of things you never dreamed possible.  It can make you sick or make you well.  It can make you strong or make you weak.  It can help you realize your dreams, or keep you from ever leaving the house.  You are in charge of your destiny, and you deserve to have what you want out of life, whether it's your dream job, your dream guy/girl, or your triple bodyweight deadlift.  It's out there if you want it.  You just need to know you can do it, do the work necessary to get it, and grab it.  And be very proud of and grateful for your results.  :)   Besides, who wants to hang out with someone who is negative all the time?  Think about it.

4)  Take the time to do things beyond work that make you happy.   I am currently the lead singer in two bands-- an 80's/classic rock cover band and an Iron Maiden tribute band.  People look at me like I'm crazy, knowing my schedule.  But the fact of the matter is, this is my sanity and my biggest passion (besides health and fitness).  My basic needs are food, water, air, and performing music.  This is something I will never give up.  You'll see, when I'm 105 years old, up on stage, still belting out Van Halen.  :)  Make the time to do the things that put a smile on your face.  Your life will be far richer for it.

5)  Never regret.  I know this is hard to believe, but I've done some really dumb things  in my life.  I mean, really dumb.  I've made a lot of bad choices, and dealt with a lot of not-so-nice things.  But I have never regretted one thing I've ever done.  Life is a learning experience, and everything you've done in it has gotten you where you are now.  It's up to you to use those experiences, good and bad, to keep improving yourself.

I hope you guys have found this helpful somehow.  You can only get better.

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!