Too Much of a Good Thing

I contemplated sharing this incident publicly and decided that if it helps anyone, then it was worth being vulnerable.

Inundated with COVID-19 talk in every direction, I became very stressed. Toward the end of April, I got sick and thought if I increased my Zinc intake, it would help. I couldn’t afford to miss training days for the Empire State Ride. The more vitamins and minerals I took, the better, right? WRONG!

I took one Zinc/Copper pill and 10 – 15 drops of pure concentrated liquid Zinc in my green tea every day, totaling more than 30 mg, a sharp contrast to the recommended daily dose of Zinc for women, which is 8 mg. My goal was to blast my infection away, but I ended up blasting my body.

I felt falsely better the first day and then started getting sicker—scary sicker. I was severely nauseous, fatigued, had bowel issues, chills, massive headaches, an intense metallic taste in my mouth, and became very weak.

During that time, I had a video appointment with my doctor. He asked what I was taking. My brain was thinking in terms of prescription-type medicine, so I replied nothing except my Synthroid. I never thought to tell him about the daily vitamins, minerals, and supplements I was taking—another mistake on my part. Days later, when I told him what was going on, I learned that I had Zinc toxicity and was poisoning myself but didn’t know it!

I’m still fighting to be out of the woods as my body continues to detox. I lost two key weeks of training for the cancer ride. Why? Because I falsely believed that more would be better to boost my health.

I understand with all of the overwhelming news about COVID-19, you want to protect yourself and ward off the virus as best you can by doing whatever possible. But I urge you to talk with your doctor first before you take anything, even if it’s something familiar and seemingly harmless, like vitamins, minerals, and supplements.

Stay well!

The Power of Support

  • Positive Mindset Quote
  • Guardian Angle Healing Stone front
  • Guardian Angle Healing Stone back

Since 2015, I have challenged myself in a range of physical feats from Spartan Trifectas to Tougher Mudders, Ragnar Relays, Seaweeze half marathons, and soon my biggest one of all in July, the 500-mile Empire State Ride (#ESR20) for cancer research. I wouldn’t have the courage to do them if it weren’t for the support of friends, family, volunteers, and donors.

Physicality is a crucial aspect of training and performance, BUT never underestimate the power of positive mentality. Even though I trained hard, I wasn’t the strongest or the fittest in any of the races I have done. I cannot control those factors for a variety of reasons. Instead, I turn to what I can control, my mental focus, and attitude.

I repeatedly say to myself while training and during events that I am my only competitor. I never look at courses in advance in detail. I read about what a course consists of to help me train properly, but that’s it. I rather face the challenges at the moment and not give in to potential thoughts of psyching myself out.

Also, I don’t believe that mental strength is a solo accomplishment. Think of all of the times you mentally call upon living or deceased family member(s) or friend(s) to help pull you through a situation.

What about the influence of volunteers? A volunteer cheering for you along a race route can have a powerful effect on lifting your energy level and your mental spirit. That is one of many reasons why I have gratitude for event volunteers. When you travel solo and do races, a volunteer’s physical presence and encouraging words can have a significant impact on your success by helping refocus your mindset when you start to feel drained!

Then there are donors, who play a key role in fundraising events. Whether it’s in the form of money for the charity or goods from a company. Each time I receive a donation from a person or business, no matter how small or large, I am grateful. It makes me feel like the person or company believes in me!

The moment of clarity about the power of support by others came to me during a peaceful training ride this past Sunday while I was “talking with” a friend who recently crossed from living to deceased.

I received word nearly two months ago that my friend Beth, battling breast cancer for the second time, was moving to California at the end of February to be with her daughter. I spoke with Beth, and the last thing she said to me was wow, about the 500-mile ride, and that once she is back on her feet, I have to come to visit her in California. But two weeks later, on March 13, she passed away. Beth was super kind and spunky with an F cancer attitude. If anyone was going to beat cancer, I thought it would be her.

Three days after Beth’s death, my friend Maureen, Beth’s best friend, contacted me to say she had a healing stone for me with a guardian angel on one side and Beth’s thumbprint on the other. Maureen explained to me that hospital volunteers helped Beth to make them. The healing stone came in a small powder blue drawstring pouch.

I immediately went home and attached the pouch to the front of my bike handlebars. Each time before I do a training ride, I say, are you ready, Beth? Let’s do this!!! Some of my training days go better than others, but I always know and feel that Beth is with me, nudging me on.

The Empire State Ride benefits cancer research at a time when funding is needed more than ever to help those battling all forms of cancer. The pandemic significantly increases cancer patients’ vulnerability to losing their fight.

I have a lot more physical training ahead of me for the ESR, but I know from the past, that with positive mental focus drawn from the support of others I can do it! Especially with Beth riding my handlebars and steering me along the way!

If you would like to make a contribution on #GIVEFROMHOMEDAY to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, and help me reach my goal of raising $3,500, please click on the link to my donation page. THANK YOU

Shout-Out to My Supporters:

Thank you to each of my Empire State Ride donors, especially those who gave during the pandemic financial crash. Also, recognition to Terry Bicycles, particularly Lisa and Camarin, who have generously helped me to get the quality and safe cycling gear that I need.

Maureen Kennedy
Rita Rich
Stephanie Khan
Philip Avner
Marion Anthony
Kirk Nangreaves
Alicia Zimmerman Kenney
Linda Barefoot
Nicolas Stutzman
Jerri Limer
Christina Lemucchi
Lori Joyce

Teaming Up With Terry

I have been a loyal Terry Bicycles customer for a few years after an employee from REI recommended the company to me for a saddle (LIBERATOR X GEL) for my Cannondale Quick. I reached out to Terry to share the news about my upcoming participation in the Empire State Ride to end cancer, and their response blew me away!!!! They asked me to be a brand ambassador and sent me two pairs of riding shorts perfect for a 500-mile ride. As if that were not generous enough, they also offered me a 40% discount toward supplies I will need for the cancer ride.

Check out my Gal on the Go YouTube video opening my first ambassador package from Terry:

About the Shorts They Sent Me:
NOTE: I will add reviews about the shorts after I wear them on a few rides. If they are anything like my fav Soleil Cycling Short by Terry, then yay!

  • EURO SHORT for all-day riding comfort
    Item No.:610079
  • TOURING SHORT/REGULAR for multi-day bike touring
    Item No.:610054

About Terry:
This kick-butt company, based out of Burlington, VT, was started by a woman named Georgena Terry. For more than 30 years, they have designed innovative bikes, saddles, apparel, and accessories that fit women on the go like myself. They believe in the transformational power of cycling, not just about selling products. They strive to help women be the best cyclist they’re capable of being! I hope you will check them out. A company that makes and sells great products is one thing, BUT to invest in members of their community in support of their goals like my ride for cancer research funds is above and beyond honorable. Terry is a company I am truly proud to be affiliated!

Start to Finish: The Road to ESR20

Shout-out to Tori Menneto at Roswell Park for her constant communication with #ESR20 participants. She just sent us a detailed Travel Planner with tons of info on the things we need to know about the event route and more. I’m impressed with how well organized the Foundation has been, and I feel like I’m in excellent hands! They have taken every measure to provide us with as safe as an experience as possible.

esr20 route
Here’s the route for the Empire State Ride this year… every day will be a mental and physical challenge, but it appears Day 4 may be the most difficult. We will receive daily cue sheets, the route will be marked with orange arrows, and mechanics will be with us along the way to assist if we have a problem.

DATE ROUTE POINTS MILES
Day 1: Sunday, July 26 New York City to Yorktown Heights 56+ miles
Day 2: Monday, July 27 Yorktown Heights to Rhinebeck 54+ miles
Day 3: Tuesday, July 28 Rhinebeck to Albany 62+ miles
Day 4: Wednesday, July 29 Albany to Utica 95+ miles
Day 5: Thursday, July 30 Utica to Weedsport 82+ miles
Day 6: Friday, July 31 Weedsport to Spencerport 76+ miles
Day 7: Saturday, August 1 Spencerport to Niagara Falls 75+ miles

Saturday, August 1, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. riders will gather at a Niagara Falls rest stop for a police-escorted group ride to the FINISH LINE at Old Falls Street in downtown Niagara Falls!!!! (They estimate us reaching it at approximately 4:00 p.m.)

Friends and family can cheer riders on and join an outdoor reception at the end. To all of my Buffalo peeps, I would be beyond grateful to see your faces at the finish!

Gearing Up for ESR20

Sooo I signed up for an event, the Empire State Ride (#ESR20), without doing much research, after becoming increasingly frustrated by many people close to me battling or losing the battle to forms of cancer. The final push to register for the ESR came from a rousing speech made by Katie Couric about cancer research during an event I attended at the Smithsonian.

Mind you; this is not just any event, ESR is a 500-mile cycling expedition across the state of New York, starting in NYC and ending in my hometown area of Niagara Falls (Buffalo). Only 250 people dare to participate. Each come with different levels of riding experience and a shared goal to conquer cancer!!!! It will take seven days to complete the route, logging an average of up to 100 miles per day. To say I feel overwhelmed by it is an understatement, BUT ambition is a driving force behind tackling my goals. I have trained for and competed in Spartan Trifectas, Ragnar Relays, Seawheeze half marathons, and more! However, this will be the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken. I will share my journey with you along the way through my blog, Gal on the Go, my Instagram account @gal0tgo, and video clips.

What is the starting point for any goal? A plan of action to train properly! That said, I finally finished taking Coach Charlie’s awesome 22-week training program and entering all of the details on my Google Calendar. I have been training indoors unofficially at New Trail Cycling Studio in Reston, Va., since Thanksgiving. However, as of Monday, February 24, things are about to ramp up. Any big commitment takes sacrifice(s), so to my friends and family, I say please note the training schedule above, and I’ll see you again in August. THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING.

All ESR20 participants have access to an experienced coach named Charlie Livermore and a physical therapist named Easton Osborn. Both of who will be doing the ride with us. I share some of their key advice on training, bike gear, apparel, and more along the road to ESR20!

Training Tips From Coach Charlie:

I asked Coach Charlie advice about prepping my bike and he replied with words that really impacted me… “More important than the vehicle (bike) is the engine, and that’s you. The better prepared you are physically, the more you’ll enjoy the ride.” 

  • Consistency is the most important component of preparing to ride more than 500 miles.
  • Training begins with three rides per week and progresses to five rides per week.
  • Consistency and frequency are more important than any of the specific workouts in the program.
  • It is a progressive program beginning with steady-pace rides, followed by a block of tempo work, intervals, and then focus on climbing with repeats.
  • If you have to shorten workouts or intervals, it’s alright; it’s better than skipping them altogether.
  • If you have to miss a workout here or there, proceed forward and get back on track!

Every dollar counts! To make a DONATION, please go to… http://give.roswellpark.org/site/TR/SpecialEvents/General?px=1413083&pg=personal&fr_id=1550

Funds raised through the Empire State Ride are managed by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that manages all donations made to Roswell Park. The Foundation earned the highest possible rating on Charity Navigator for the fourth consecutive year.

Check out the fun Empire State Ride feature story on newbie rider, Gal on the Go!
THANK YOU! YOU ROCK!

2019 Retrospective and Glimpse Ahead

What a year 2019 has been! It felt like a bad one, BUT when I reflected with a more positive mindset, I realized that it was actually a year filled with many wonderful life moments!

The pinnacle of fun was hosting my friend Hona, aka my sister from another mister, on her first-ever trip to the US. [Quick background story: Hona is from Poland, now living in England, and we first met in 2014 during the Winter Olympics when we were randomly placed together as roommates. She was there working as an Olympic News Service reporter for ski jumping and I was an Olympic News Service reporter for hockey. We hit it off instantly, which is super unusual, especially under those conditions!]

Hona’s trip in September was 10 years in the making! On a limited budget and with only so many days, we hit up the major east coast cities of DC – PHILLY – NYC. Hona created a documentary about our whirlwind adventures and presented it to me via IM the other day as a post-Christmas present. She worked very hard on editing the weeks of video footage that she shot during her visit and it’s KICK A**!!!! I will cherish it for the rest of my life.

Check out Hona’s video on YouTube…

USA 2019 – Kimberly and Hona Conquer the East Coast

Some other highlights of 2019 were…
  • launching my company Rock n Flow Yoga and starting my own LLC (a scary, yet rewarding learning experience)
  • becoming the only yoga permitee by the National Park Service to host private sessions at the Lincoln Memorial and being picked up by Airbnb as an Experience: Yoga Flow With President Lincoln
  • leading a yoga power flow class at the Kennedy Center to a sold-out crowd of more than 100
  • running in my absolute fav race Seawheeze, in my favorite city, Vancouver, BC
  • participating in Ragnar Sunset DC, meeting my teammates from all over the US for the first time on the day of the race, and forming an instant bond
  • meeting and talking one-on-one with Katie Couric, one of my broadcast journalism idols, at her Smithsonian award honor NOTE: It was Katie who inspired me to sign up for the Empire State Ride.
  • rocking out with my buds at awesome concerts like the X Ambassadors
  • meeting DJ Felix Cartel and sharing my gratitude for his music
  • making new friends with smart and fun women like Laura Hitchman
  • meeting and interviewing fascinating people for my blog Gal on the Go, the most special being my Uncle Joe who I idolize
  • leading yoga at the Music Is Art Festival in my hometown of Buffalo, NY, BUT even better, the support of my loyal friend Julie Wisner and new friend Samantha Wulff who attended the event and were my rocks
  • teaching puppy yoga classes to help raise funds for Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses
  • starting a mentorship under Alison, owner of Homegrown Yoga

A Glimpse Into 2020

My race and adventure plans for 2020 are still a work in progress, except for the Empire State Ride to End Cancer. That fundraising event has a permanent block of seven days reserved on my calendar; July 26 through August 1.

The Empire State Ride entails me cycling with other cancer eradicating enthusiasts for 500+ miles (no, that’s not a typo) across the state of NY. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that starts in New York City and ends at one of the natural wonders of the world, Niagara Falls. Each rider must raise a minimum of $3,500 for the Roswell Park Foundation. However, I hope to exceed that goal!

In the past decade, way too many of my friends/family members have been battling or lost their battle to cancer… brain (2), breast (1), colon (1), lung (1), pancreatic (2), and skin (3). Even though I’m super intimidated to ride almost 100 miles a day for seven days, it’s nothing compared to the battles they are and have faced. One thing that greatly appeals to me about this ride is that the money raised goes toward cancer research in all areas, not just one.

I look forward to you following me this summer as I document my journey online. Most importantly, I hope that you please make a donation in support of my fundraising efforts to help Roswell Park with its cutting-edge cancer research (you can select “donate to rider” then enter my name Kimberly Evering)… http://give.roswellpark.org/site/TR/SpecialEvents/General?px=1413083&pg=personal&fr_id=1550

Wishing all of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR as we enter another exciting decade of Roaring Twenties!!

Keep on Moving

Stewart Beazell; Photo credit: Jennifer Heffner PhotographyCyclist: Stewart
Insta: @ridewithstew
Studio: New Trail Cycling

When Dr. Stewart Beazell isn’t practicing psychology, you will find her at New Trail Cycling Studio in Reston, Va., taking classes or coaching on Saturday mornings. I’m excited that Stewart took the time to sit down with me for an interview because cycling has been a passion of mine since I was a little girl. I hope this interview inspires other young girls to take up the sport of cycling, especially considering that many reports show that the percentage of kids learning to ride bikes in the U.S. has dramatically dropped in recent years! (see stats below)

Q: When did you first take up the sport of cycling, and why?
A: Both of my parents cycled together for years. They did bike races and things like that when I was growing up. We learned how to ride bikes early on and went on bike tours as a family to places like the Grand Canyon and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was a family event, and always fun! With indoor cycling, my mom took classes at our local gym from a friend decked out in full outdoor gear. The classes were long, like an hour and a half, because the teacher was an outdoor cyclist. I would go to the classes with my mom and I liked them. Then when I was in college, I took a group fitness class that was indoor cycling, and that’s when I fell in love with it! I liked the incorporation of current music, and you could get your friends to come to classes with you. I continued indoor cycling ever since. It’s an activity easy to find everywhere — there has always been a gym or a boutique studio that offers cycling classes near where I live. It’s a stress reliever for me. I love indoor and outdoor cycling equally, but for different reasons.

Q: Why did you become a cycling instructor?
A: I realized that as much as I loved taking other people’s classes, there were benefits to teaching, like not having to pay for classes. Being a grad student at the time, I thought, free membership, great, let’s do it! Why don’t I teach and see how it goes? I wasn’t excited about being in front of the room. I’m not a performer in that way — in front of a group of people, and I was kind of intimidated. At the same time, what pushed me to do it was encouragement from instructors who I was a regular in their classes. They would say to me; you should do it, you’d be great, you’re in here all the time. I said OK, I’ll try! You have to be certified to coach, and I was investing in the certifications, not sure where it was all going to lead me. I taught at local gyms for about a year before I started teaching at New Trail. I thought OK, this is what I want, to be at a place that focuses just on indoor cycling, and there’s a sense of genuine community. In the big box gyms, people don’t really know each other. But at New Trail, it feels more like home. I found out about Liz Kamp, the founder of New Trail Cycling, the summer before she opened the studio. I emailed her out of the blue and said, I like what your studio sounds like it’s going to be — creating a community rather than focusings on the instructors. I would like to teach there and be part of it! We’re Schwinn certified instructors at New Trail, and our style follows more of an authentic outdoor style of riding a bike.

I’m always riding even when I’m not teaching because I enjoy it so much. I love taking classes from other instructors because that’s how I learn. I look up to Liz. She’s a great instructor and a great example of a woman entrepreneur — how to start your own business, how to promote it, and how to be a great boss. She’s also a great owner; so cool and open to client feedback. She wants the studio to be a place where everyone feels welcome.

Q: What role does New Trail play in clients’ lives?|
A: For many people who come to New Trail, a positive aspect they can gain beyond a sense of community is learning how to work with their numbers. We have consoles, and we can help our clients look at their stats from when they first started and how their stats have changed over time. Whether it’s looking at average power (watts) for each class or how many miles someone averages per class. Those are ways clients can use the numbers to see their progress. Within that, we can look at those numbers and apply them to individuals in their upcoming classes. For instance, this is where your number is now, and if you increase the resistance and maintain your speed (RPM), this is how your power number will change. And, we tell them to pay attention to how they feel when change happens. Does it feel harder? If yes, where? In your legs? Breathing? Providing them with more of a mind-body connection. There are days when maybe your body doesn’t feel so great, and you know you won’t get the numbers you want. But, you can have the mentality of you know what, I’m going to take this class as it comes and do my best. I may not get my top numbers today, but I’m here, and I’m working at the capacity I can manage at this time. This helps clients have more bodily awareness. We purposely don’t put individual’s names or bike numbers up on a monitor for everyone in the class to see. That way, no matter what reason someone is coming to class, they can get out of it what they want and not feel like they are competing with others. New riders won’t be at the same level as those who have been coming to classes for a while. Our goal isn’t to get everyone to be at the same level; it’s to help people to reach their individual goals. People come to class for different reasons — some to relax and make time for themselves, some for their health, and some for race training. Pinning them against each other on a display board can be demotivating.

Q: What are the top three benefits of indoor cycling, and why?
A: It depends on the individual. General benefits are decreased fatigue and increased stamina over time. I would say the top three benefits are:

  1. You have a dedicated amount of time that you are on a bike, and you can work toward better health.
  2. You can track your fitness levels and see what changes occur and how your body feels different over time.
  3. It can help you manage mood, stress, and anxiety by allowing yourself time and space to focus on your mental health, get out of your head, tune into the music, and have some fun.

Q: Are there any areas in which people should be cautious?
A: Yes. Clients need to know the importance of rest and recovery. I didn’t learn that until about five years ago in grad school. It’s not sustainable to cycle daily long-term. It’s good to cross-train in whatever ways that means to you. If you cycle and lift weights, cycle and practice yoga — maybe all three if you choose, but not back-to-back. Give yourself time to recover in between. If you constantly go, your body will suffer, your progress will suffer, and if you get injured, that will ultimately prevent you from doing those things you enjoy. Finding balance and paying attention to how your body feels are very important.

Q: What is your greatest reward as a cycling coach?
A: The stories I hear from clients about how their lives changed for the better in terms of feeling stronger, more confident and being part of clients’ experience of feeling a sense of belonging and growth.

Q: Where do you see indoor cycling as part of your future?
A: I have casually thought about how I can marry my professional life and my life as a fitness instructor. I’ve wondered, is there a way I can do both in one space? A studio in which you can engage in therapy as a mindful aspect, space where you can take indoor cycling as a physical aspect, and maybe other classes like yoga. A wellness hub where you can go and instead of buying packages for each one of those things, figuring out a way where you can do each of them a few times a week in the same space. I think it would be cool to incorporate all of them — make them more integrated because they are each important and beneficial. I’m copywriting my idea now! 😉

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with my blog readers?
A: We need to figure out ways for girls and women alike to engage in fitness and be more supportive of one another. There’s a lot of competition in fitness created by our culture. We should focus on connecting and lifting each other up in all areas of life. Support is so important — like a mentorship with a woman entrepreneur like Liz. There are many resources that you can find and make connections with other women. Women who have been in their careers for 20 plus years love to share their wisdom and have you pick their brains. Don’t be afraid to ask other women for their advice!

INTERESTING FACTOIDS:

  • On average, boys cycle nearly 6 times as much as girls (138 miles/year versus 24 miles/year). National Children’s Bureau, November 2009
  • People who are confident biking as adults are more likely to have biked frequently when they were younger than those people who didn’t. Dill, J., and McNeil, N., Testing a Typology to Better Understand Bicycling Behavior and Potential, 2012
  • The number of women cycling decreased by 13% between 2000 and 2010. The American Bicyclist Study, https://www.bicycle-guider.com/
  • In the U.S., 24% of all bicycle trips are made by women and 76% are made by men. National Household Travel Survey, 2009
  • 87% of U.S. competitive cyclists are male, and 12% are female. USA Cycling, Active Member Demographics, 2009

My Mat Is…

When I read my friend Laura’s candid post about her yoga mat, it moved me. I asked her if I could share her story, and she said, “yes”. Gratitude for #Manduka and our mats, a valued tool of the trade!

Laura Hitchman practicing self-care on her Manduka mat.

#mymatis my home. I feel safe, secure, and able to be myself when I’m on my mat. It’s not the integral yet supportive nature of the quarter-inch rubber mandukayoga under my body, but rather what it has come to represent over the past eight years. A gift from an ex, I could’ve allowed my mat to represent that relationship. I chose to let go instead. While I rid my life of a lot of physical things that reminded me of that time, I knew in my heart that my mat wasn’t one of those things I needed to purge to cleanse. I’ve taken time to build a strong practice, and my mat has seen a lot of sweat. I’d venture to say pounds upon pounds of toxins have been absorbed into that rubber along with many tears and lots of laughter. It’s been through endless hours of training. It’s traveled with me. It’s provided me with a place to take a nap. It’s witnessed countless yoga injuries because if you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying. It’s gone camping (never again). It’s seen the likes of lovemaking (maybe more than once and yes, you should give it a try; I know you’re thinking about it now). I’ve shared it with friends. It now holds their sweat. Maybe some of their tears, and I know it holds their love. It’s provided me with a safe space to feel love, to allow my heart to be open. I’ve danced on it. Farted on it. Taken my time to heal on it from chronic illness and heartache. It even melted once in my trunk, into a shoebox. Somehow it got its shape back. No harm, no foul. It’s hosted the likes of small children doing Down Dog. It’s held up to my drool. It’s carried me through to the present moment. It’s been to the beach. I’ve squatted on it with friends to watch the full moon and listen to drums beat in my chest. I’ve eaten on it (bad yogi, I know, pizza and subway (Ewww). I’ve shared wine on it with friends. It’s witnessed so much of who I am. I’ve gotten funky on it, created flow upon flow on it. Gotten naked by myself on it. Flowed in that way on it. A judgment-free zone, a cathartic warm hug from my main squeeze. So there you have it, #mymatis home!

If you would like to share your personal story about your mat on Laura’s Insta page, go to: https://www.instagram.com/ovpoweryoga/ 

Instructions for posting under her #mymatis Insta story:
1. Post a photo of yourself in your natural habitat! Something that depicts who you are!
2. Share what your mat means to you.
3. Use the hashtag #mymatis with your post.
4. Tag and mention the studio @ovpoweryoga in your post. (they can’t track it if you don’t do it)
5. Tag a friend or 2 to play along. *Post deadline is November 30. They will select a post to win an unlimited annual membership; all are eligible!

You may recognize Laura from my Yogi Insight section. She is the owner of OVPY in Wheeling, WV. I encourage you to get your flow on there if you are in the area!

Fitness Is in My Genes

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I was reflecting on the origins of Gal on the Go. Who inspired me to change and live a more active and healthful existence? I was fixated on coming up with a woman in my life; then it dawned on me; it’s my Uncle Joe!!!!

Ever since I was a little girl, I was aware of my Uncle Joe’s commanding presence and dedication to fitness. However, I didn’t realize the impact his healthy lifestyle had on my mindset. In my teens and college years, I was preoccupied with navigating my life. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the power of his influence by way of example through his fitness work ethic.

Today, at age 75, my uncle could put many 20 somethings to shame! I was curious about how 61 years of daily fitness became a part of his life. So, I picked up the phone, called him, and had a lengthy heartfelt discussion with him.

The following is part of our conversation. I hope you find it insightful and inspirational…

Q: How old were you when you first started working out?
A: 14; I was a freshman in high school.

Q: Who or what influenced you to start exercising?
A: You know, we come from a big family. I didn’t have much growing up, and I didn’t know anything about exercise. One day, Uncle Phil and his son came to our house. They lived four doors down on the same side of the street. Phil was my favorite uncle. Phil told my father that he joined this health club and was working out, and my cousin made a muscle, a bicep. I looked at it like wow! Uncle Phil talked my father into allowing me to join the gym with my cousin, who was already a member.

I believe Uncle Phil paid for my first year — it was around $50 for a one-year membership back then. At that time in the 1950s, I didn’t even know what weight training was. I never heard of it. I didn’t know anybody who was lifting weights. I just knew my cousin’s muscles looked huge. I didn’t know how he got them.

As I got older, I added cardio to my weight lifting regiment because heart problems run in my father’s side of the family. There were five boys, and all of them died of heart issues. I felt doing cardiovascular exercises on a regular basis would help to minimize my chance of having a heart attack or something.

Q: What was the first gym you ever belonged to?
A: American Health Studio. It was a bodybuilding place — strictly weight training. Back in the 1950s, they didn’t have an indoor track, and all the other stuff gyms have today. It was just bodybuilding. There were two sides to the gym; one for competitive members, and another for beginners. We lifted on the non-competitive side, and I was grateful because when you start as a kid, you’re benching like 75 pounds. If I had watched the guys on the competitive side, I would have been intimidated by how much they lifted.

Q: How many gyms have you belonged to in 61 years?
A: At least 13. The average life span of a gym is usually seven to eight years. There’s so much competition. I belong to two gyms at a time for a challenge and change of pace, you know, different scenery. I was given the keys to several gyms over the years because the owners respected me. So I was able to work out any time I wanted, even on days when the gym was closed, like on Christmas. I prefer family-owned gyms because I feel that when you go to a smaller gym, you’re never among strangers. When you walk into a large commercial gym where there are 500+ members, it’s not the same. At smaller gyms, you get to know everybody, and it’s more personal.

Back in the day, there were very few gyms; now there is one every two blocks. Also, years ago, you would never see a woman in the gym. In the 1960s, I saw some women at the gym, but they were using vibration machines. I never saw them lifting weights. In the 1980s, I saw a few women weight training. Now I go to the Lockport YMCA, and there are an equal number of women, if not more women than men strength training.

Q: How many times a week did you go to the gym when you started in your teens?
A: About three times a week at the most. It was hard when I was younger because I didn’t have a car. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 26, so for years, I had to take a bus to the gym. In the beginning, there were periods when I would take a few weeks off from working out, but then I always returned. I think the periods of rest were good for me. When you go back, even though it’s challenging to start up again, you get stronger and stronger, because your body is rested.

One time, for some reason I hadn’t worked out for a long time because I was very sick. When I returned to lifting, it was tough for me to get back into shape. I swore that I was going to make sure I was disciplined. I had gained some weight, and I didn’t like it. It took a lot of effort for me to get down to the weight that was best for me. I vowed that I was never going to put myself through that again, and I never did. For more than 40 years, I’ve been very consistent.

I felt so good lifting. As I became stronger, I gained confidence. I had a newfound realization. When you are a freshman in high school, guys pick on you, but as I grew stronger and stronger, no one would bother me. I went to school at Canisius where kids had cars at age 16 and came from families with lots of money. I didn’t have any money, you know, I was the second eldest of eight kids from a family on the west side. The only thing I had to give my friends was protection from other kids. They counted on me if they were having trouble to solve their problems.

I’m not proud of this, but one day I went to school on a Saturday and hit a kid because he was picking on a friend of mine. A friend drove me. I went to school, knocked on the door, and told the kid to come out. He was a year ahead of me. He wouldn’t come out, but I kept knocking. Finally, he came out, and I said something like I heard you’re picking on my buddy Tom. I hit the kid and the next thing you know, we were in a priest’s office. The priest punched me with his knuckle right in my chest cavity. I couldn’t breathe. He told me to get out of school. I figured I deserved it. I never got into further trouble.

Q: How many times a week do you work out now?
A: Seven days a week. Every other day I go to a gym. I belong to two gyms and alternate between them. On my “off days,” I work out at home briefly in the morning and then at night. When I work out at home, I use light weights and walk on the treadmill. Every day, in the early morning I warm up at home for about 20 minutes with light weights, then I go to the gym for two and a half hours and do a mix of cardio, free weights and some of the weight machines, and then at night I do another 20-minute light workout at home. I like exercising in the morning because it sets the tone for the day. I can commit to other projects the rest of the day and not feel resentful if I didn’t get my workout in.

Q: What are some changes you have experienced since you started weight lifting in your teens?
A: When I was younger, I thought a true man doesn’t work out on machines. He uses free weights, but as I have gotten older, I see things differently. If they didn’t have machines at gyms now, I probably wouldn’t be able to get much of a workout. Years ago I wouldn’t join a gym unless they had over 100-pound dumbbells because I had already mastered the hundreds and I could do many reps with a 100. Now, I go to a gym, and the first thing I ask is, do you have anything lighter? I’m at the other end of the rack now.

When I was in my 20s until about age 48, I used to lift weights, run five miles a day in Delaware Park, and play basketball. I liked to mix things up. I didn’t listen to my body. I had the “no pain, no gain” mentality. It was the philosophy at that time. I learned that there’s a difference between pain and discomfort. If your body is in pain that’s a problem, but sometimes your ego gets in the way, and you continue to bench press and exercise too intensely; that’s not good.

Over the years, I heard about a lot of the bodybuilders I knew who were not doing so well. Some of them were taking things over a period of time and paid the price. I never took anything but Creatine and Protein. Unfortunately, I knew people who took things and committed suicide — they would go into rages. At one point, there was a cleaning chemical called Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) that some guys used to put on their skin to absorb because they thought it helped with the pain.

Q: What is your favorite weight exercise?
A: French curls, also known as tricep extensions. I think because people always made positive comments about my arms. I used to curl 175 pounds.

Q: What impact has exercise had in your life and in what way?
A: It has kept me healthy. I have only taken off from work a few days ever my whole life. Also, I was very shy and lacked confidence. It took a while, but weight training made me feel like I was on equal footing with others.

When I became a school teacher, I ran a weight training program for elementary and high school kids. I would show up early, around 7 a.m., and we would work out for an hour or so a couple of times a week. An assistant principal asked me to do it; the board of education didn’t want it for insurance reasons, but the assistant principal still gave me the OK to do it. One of my students, Mike Pariso, became a competitive bodybuilder on a national level and is known as the “Man of Steel.”

Over the years, people nicknamed me Jack LaLanne. They still call me that to this day. I consider it a compliment. Jack did a lot for fitness — he brought it into our homes in the 1950s. He did nothing but good for healthy living and bodybuilding.

Q: Who is your idol?
A: My son Joey. I say that because of all he went through. He never once lamented or felt pity for himself. He was determined to fight. I admire that kid; he’s something. (Quick Background: Joey is my cousin, who is my age and the son of my Uncle Joe. A few years ago, with no warning, he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, underwent drastic surgery, fought for his life, and is doing great today.)

Q: What advice would you give others?
A: The biggest thing I tell people is to listen to their body. You can remain uninjured by listening to the little signals your body sends you — this is too much; you don’t need to do this; rest, etc. There’s a difference between being sore the next day, and hearing tears as you do exercises. If you listen to your body, you can continue for many many years.

I don’t see why you can’t keep exercising, even in modified form for decades. My buddy Herbie, a retired police officer, is in his early 80s. We used to work out together back in the day at Turner’s gymnasium, a gymnastics place that had weights. Herbie still tries to exercise and seems to enjoy it. His body is broken down, but his will is strong! I have always looked forward to working out. As long as I can retain that enthusiasm, I’ll continue to work out. I don’t see it waning. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I didn’t get into fitness and develop confidence. I credit weight lifting with a lot. I enjoy it immensely and hope that I can continue to do it for years and years.

___________

[The end of our conversation… Listen, Kimmy, you made my day. I love ya. Bye, dear.]
My uncle rocks!!!! ❤️

A main goal of Gal on the Go is to motivate people to lead active fearless lives. I hope that you have an Uncle Joe in your life who positively influenced you or that you are an inspiration to someone else!

A Sure Sign: Creative Branding

at GALOTGO

hashtag GALOTGO

Four and a half years ago, I was brainstorming creative ways to market my Gal on the Go brand when I had an actual aha moment. It was right in front of my face!!!! I thought, why not take my personalized license plate, GALOTGO, and place a hashtag in front of it?! A unique way of marketing to a captive audience of fellow drivers. During my initial search for the symbol, I couldn’t find a hashtag sticker anywhere, so I bought four number 1 stickers from a Home Depot store and made a hashtag. About a year later, I sold my Prius and had to remove my homemade hashtag. I researched the symbol again online, and this time found a 4″ vinyl version on Amazon. Score! The reaction to the sticker has been a lot of fun over the years… people tell me frequently how creative it is, they take photos of the back of my car, and ask me if I mind if they copy my idea. If you follow my blog, you know that I recently did an overhaul on the look of my brand, which got me thinking… how can I update the use of my hashtag? I know, replace the # with an @ sign!!!! All of my marketing materials — business cards, flyers, etc. use @gal0tgo and @rocknflowyoga, so it made sense. I’m happy to share that the at sign has received a lot of positive feedback. If you see my car on the road, give me a honk or a shout!