Conversations Over Crunches: The Continuation…

I get to do conversation for a living. Though primary to my business is the designing of, and the implementation of the workout, exercise sessions are laced with discussion.
The two topics which get discussed most in my studio are food, and cancer.
On Food…
Conversations aren’t always about healthy foods, though sometimes they are. Ideas, recipes, and concepts with food are exchanged freely between my clients and me, all day long, and with ZERO judgment from either side. Some ideas can be inspiring and useful, while others are just sinful.
Most often though, the healthy and the sinful are intermingled within the very same frame of moment. A discussion of how protein can be used as an efficient appetite suppressant, might seamlessly segue into which liqueurs are best to use as ice cream toppings.
My takeaway from this duality is that despite the best intentions behind talk of pious eating, thoughts of culinary sin are ever-present, both with the client and the trainer.
On Cancer…
A half-dozen times per day the word cancer comes up in the studio. Probably 1/4th of my current clients have survived some kind of cancer, or had a spouse or child survive it. A smaller percentage have actually lost a spouse or child to cancer. This haunts me, ongoing…
Occasionally, a client might need a biopsy, as one client did yesterday. Details to follow, but hopefully no bad news there. Others might have coworkers, neighbors, or even the family pet receiving chemo or radiation.
Occasionally a client will miss a workout session to attend a memorial service for someone lost to cancer. This happened twice last month.
That these conversations are so matter of fact, is a reminder that cancer is not just a disease, but has become part of daily life for everyone.
People die of other causes, but cancer is the one we discuss the most.
Talking about cancer while helping someone exercise, gives more meaning to the cause, though there is little evidence to suggest exercise stifles cancer. At best, it might make one stronger for the fight.
And of these daily conversations over crunches – of the good, the bad, and the ugly, I simply wonder about it all — all day long… Jhciacb


If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Peter Wolf.  Enjoy…

Stand Up..

I was quite touched when I read this piece by Shannon.  Though the Stand Up TV event is over, cancer remains.  Please take a few moments to appreciate this heartfelt perspective.  Thank you.

Comments are closed this week.


A guest post by, Shannon of


The picture above is from my mom’s funeral program. The sentiment, “There are no other mommys like you.”, scrawled on the back of scrap paper and presented, no-doubt proudly, by a preschooler 35 years ago to her mom, is mine, but it is a sentiment felt by kids young and old about their own moms.

Neither I, when I wrote it, nor my mom when she stashed it away to pull out and look back on years later, thought it would make its next appearance as a final tribute on her funeral program at age 59. Or that I, her 36 year-old-daughter who had written that note on the back of a drawing some thirty years before, would such a relatively short time later, be making the decision to have it buried with her.

It doesn’t matter what age you are or what age they are, losing a loved one is devastating. Losing them to cancer needs to stop. And some day I know it will. My hope is that day will come sooner than later.

I’m not going to give you a lot of facts and statistics. There are plenty of places that can do that better than me.

I am just going to give you my personal story.

Cancer has touched other members of my family and friends, but never like it did when it hit my own mom two years ago. She had been extra tired, exhausted actually. The summer before, she had an unexplained cough that took months to go away. But, life carried on as normal.

Until she woke up August 14, 2012 with a completely limp left arm. She couldn’t move her arm at all, it simply hung at her side. A few days later the weakness spread to her left leg. Then came the diagnosis.

She had seven tumors in her brain.

December 18, 2012 at 4:30pm, 127 days after her first symptom, my mom passed away.

I am going to be honest. I try not to think about cancer every day. I actually don’t even keep too many reminders of my mom around the house. I have a small set of four pictures propped up on the vanity table where I do my makeup every morning, but other than that, I don’t keep a lot of physical reminders around. The emotional reminders are ever-present on a daily basis. Still. Nearly two years after she passed away.


The memories, the happy, the sad, they all mingle together in my head. The shock and confusion of her cancer diagnosis, the physical and emotional struggle of her illness, and the heartbreak of her death, all those memories are hard to handle. Even the happy memories of the past often remind me there are no more happy memories to be made with my mom. So, most times I find myself shying away from mentions of cancer, for my own self-preservation.

But, this year, when I saw the commercial for the Stand Up 2 Cancer event that will be airing on all major television networks tonight, Friday September 5, I decided I wanted to participate. And I wanted to spread the word a bit.

I went to the website and bought a t-shirt that I wore to work today. I will tune in to the televised event tonight at 8/7c. I will make a donation. I will remember my mom and other family and friends I have lost to cancer.

There are millions of women, men, boys, girls, toddlers, and babies fighting cancer.

Some will survive, some will not.

Babies who haven’t had a chance to crawl. Boys who have never ridden a bike without training wheels. Girls who have yet to hit their first home run. Teenagers who are just finding their own voice. Young men and women who just want a chance to make their mark on the world. Young brides and husbands just starting their lives together. Moms and dads with young children. Moms and dads with grown children who still see their babies when they look in their kid’s eyes. Grandparents who have lived a long and storied life, and are prepared to go, but should be able to leave this world not in pain.

Moms. Dads. Daughters. Sons. Sisters. Brothers. Grandpas. Grandmas. Aunts. Uncles. Nieces. Nephews. Cousins. Mentors. Friends.

All over the world, every day, people are fighting, living with, and dying from cancer.

I want to keep other families from going through what I’ve been through, and what millions of other families around the world have been through, and are going through every day.

If you have the means, I urge you to make a donation to support cancer research. If you don’t have the means to donate, simply spread the word and remember your own loved ones tonight.

As they say on the website, “When we all come together, cancer doesn’t stand a chance. This is where the end of cancer begins.”

I’m standing up for my mom, Melinda, who was my best friend, my biggest supporter, and my favorite person to laugh with for 36 years.

Who will you Stand Up For?


I’ll be back, far too soon, with something far less important.  Be well…  rc

On social cancers, building walls, and establising legitimacy…

No real cancer answer…

I have believed for some time that the future of humanity depends largely on religious tolerance.  I believe that through my very core.  To say the same thing from a less optimistic direction, it is my opinion that religious intolerance is a social cancer metastasizing, and preparing to deliver a slow and excruciating and death to mankind.

Of course the conundrum in that scenario is that humanity’s cancer can’t be treated or cured by a select few practitioners such as priests, popes, or prime ministers.  For this cancer to be cured it will need to be an effort in which the entire congregation opens their minds and steps outside of their comfort zone.  Let the followers lead, and the leaders will follow.  Well, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Cancer: Real pretty from the outside...

We can see this pattern unfolding in other areas of life as well – everyday, and all around us.  Divisions in nations, politics, the sciences, and social issues in the media are increasing as time expands.  Chasms extend.  Harder and faster lines are being drawn as cultures and subcultures push further apart, and shore themselves into deeper isolation.  As these divisions become wider, the walls separating them become more important to those behind the walls.

Let’s face it, we just need somebody to fear – or somebody to hate…

Chasms in lesser places…

There is an increasing divisiveness in the fitness communities as well. We have clean eating vs. IIFYM, Yoga vs. Pilates, Paleo eating vs. Mediterranean eating, barefoot running vs. ultra-stabilizing shoes, P90x vs. Tai Chi, and CrossFit vs. the gym on the corner.  Of course, these are just light examples of such divisions.  Hard and fast lines are being drawn, walls are being built, and unwitting insurgents are being bread by way of the social media with each new week, and with each new trend.

Think about it: the ways that fitness factions use their constituencies, information, and the media to increasingly establish their legitimacy is not too different from the ways religions, nations, and causes use their constituencies, information, and the media to establish their legitimacy.  There is a blurry line though, between establishing legitimacy, and creating isolation.  Just look at around…

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.”

Oh, and when you’re done, can we please recycle the materials so we can build a new wall in Gaza, or in Texas…?

We'll teach those barefoot runners who's in charge!"  And I wouldn't want my sister to marry one...

In fitness subcultures, unlike in national or religious identities, loose borders are first established by the followers of organic trends such as barefoot running.  As an organic trend catches on and increases, speculators identify the trends and see them as profit centers.  They then seek to take control of those borders, redraw them, and depend on those who initially carved them out organically, to take protect them.  The followers of the organic trend have then become followers of a corporate trend, and the organic subculture dissipates in favor of a for-profit trend. Then again, maybe that is how happens in states, nations, and faiths…

The leaders of fitness business trends don’t scare me as much as the foot-soldiers who guard these borders do.  The followers, or devotees, of many modern fitness movements are the militia of these fitness factions.  Like other militias, these people often don’t even understand the flexibility of the borders they strive to protect, yet they make the most noise, and throw the first gas cocktails when feeling threatened.  Many aren’t too willing to try and understand the other factions.  Hope fades in fitness, as it does in Gaza.

“For this cancer to be cured it will need to be an effort in which the entire congregation opens their minds and steps outside of their comfort zone.  Let the followers lead, and the leaders will follow.”

Getting good with groups…

There must be some reasons that life, in biological and in social terms, unfolds in groups rather than in singularities.  We have multiple languages, corporations, skin tones, species, radio stations, landscapes, faiths, and fitness pursuits.  Life varies.  There is simply no denying the divisions of life that we live among and between.

I teach a very specific style of strength training.  I see a great deal of utility in what I teach and I’m proud of how I teach it.  I don’t, however, see it as absolute.  Nor do I see what I do as a good fit for everyone.  It’s a good fit for those who see it as a good fit for them.  So too should be Judaism, Hinduism, and Catholicism.

An open mind is a dangerous thing, and must be stopped in our lifetime...

In this age of increasing divisiveness, I don’t find it surprising that people may not agree with one way of eating vs. another way, or of one way of exercise vs. another.  What does surprise me though, is how passionate people become about disagreeing with others.

Building walls and screaming through them is our new national identity.  It just seems to me that channeling all that passion into understanding others, even if we disagree with them, might be a better use of our energy.  I guess I would also like to see that applied to the way we view nations, faiths, and causes as well…  Be well.  rc


Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from the Replacements.  Enjoy…