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"Gratitude feels best, not when it gets breathed in, but when it is blown into the sails of others, that the vehicle of their journey has more power"
--- Friend

"Love and truth are the two primary manifestations of divinity in which we can partake, and by partaking in them we become truer manifestations of the divine."

--- Robert Wright


Monday, March 11, 2013

Teresa


"Gratitude feels best, not when it gets breathed in, but when it is blown into the sails of others, that the vehicle of their journey has more power" ---- Friend - this post is, with gratitude, for you


I have not blogged in ages and I won't be making promises that I will again. Partly because of lack of time to read all the blogs I want to read. And then there is something, I have no idea what, writer's block or who knows what that prevents me from posting. Trust me that I miss you guys, especially those who are not on Facebook. Yes, I am on Facebook, a lot... quick posts, quick responses - for now this seems to be working for me.

A dear friend suggested that maybe I should write this one post so I am...

I have always been inspired by people who overcome adversity, any adversity, whether it be depression, handicap, addiction, or abusive childhood. For some reason, since high school, I have been especially fascinated by blind people who manage to live full lives. There is a blind guy who bikes despite numerous spills and countless broken bones. There is a blind lady who hikes places like Grand Canyon and competes in triathlons. Or how about a blind guy who hiked The Appalachian Trail? One of my Facebook friends plays amazing music.There are many, many more. And then there is Teresa**...

Teresa lost her eyesight ten years ago. It was a gradual, and I am sure terrifying process, that left her depressed, severely overweight, drinking and smoking. Her boyfriend of many years left her without a word five years after she had lost her sight. Who am I to complain about my life?

About a year ago I decided to spend some of my time volunteering and that is how I met Teresa. I was very happy to see that we hit it off right away. She is fine talking my overly sarcastic sense of humor and even joking about her blindness. She even liked it when without telling her I raised her weights since she could not see only to prove she could do it. But I am getting ahead of myself.

If you are thinking that this post is going to be about this amazing transformation, that I will post jaw dropping before and after pictures of her, you will be quite disappointed. Teresa hasn't really lost much weight, if any. She is very reluctant to do any cardio. But she keeps on trying and that makes me want to keep on helping her.

She comes with a huge baggage of misconceptions. Running is bad for you, really bad. Since heart disease runs in her family, she should avoid cardio. Since lifting weights will make her heavier, she cannot go snowshoeing because it will be just too hard. And so on, and so on. Most of those myths come from her friends and family who maybe are afraid she will injure herself and are trying to protect her. Whatever the source, at times I want to scream when I hear her talk. 

For some reason she trusts me and at least is trying to do the things I know worked for me when I battled my weight and total lack of fitness. I am not ashamed to tell her how many times I failed. I am not ashamed to share with her how hard it is to keep motivated. 

Teresa doing leg presses and even breathing this time :-)
I've been working with her for a year. Her progress though painfully slow by now has reached a plateau. She still likes lifting weights but maanges to avoid cardio every time I suggest it. No goal, no matter how exciting, seemed to motivate her.
Quite depressed, I called upon a friend who has been a personal trainer for decades, yeah, the same one who talked me into writing this post, and asked for advice. He told me not to expect much but offered some suggestions about re-introducing cardio into her workouts. Ultimately, he said, she is in the driver's seat. Darn, I thought, I was... :-)

It is funny how a small change in the routine can make a huge difference. All we did was to do some intervals. Some weights, some cardio, more weights, more cardio. In Teresa's mind she does not have to sweat on the treadmill, rower or a stepper for a long time. The reality is that after her first modified workout she did 4 times as much cardio as in the best workout ever. What is more, she was so excited about it, she could not stop talking about how much she liked that session all the way back to her house.

Why am I writing this? Two reasons. One: people like Teresa, despite slow progress inspire me a lot. She is open to suggestions and keeps on trying.  Two: we all hit the wall when our routines get boring. Even a small change can make a huge difference.

Do I think Teresa will ever climb mountains or run a marathon? Who knows. I am not holding my breath but I am going to be there to support her if that is what she wants to do. What makes me happy is to see that even though very slowly she is making positive changes in her life, and that she is excited about her new routine.

So if ever you feel like giving up think of Teresa who, just keeps on trying. I know I would get discouraged a long time ago. 



_______________________
**Teresa gave me permission to use her pictures and to write about her.

15 comments:

Mary said...

So glad to see you in the blogosphere. I have missed your posts and hope you can pop in occasionally. Haven't we all been a Teresa at some point, it does not matter if our obstacles are less, only that we somehow found the will to go on, whether aided by a friend like you or something else. You are making a big difference in her life regardless of whether she chooses to increase her cardio or not because you believe in her. Good work, my friend.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to hearing more about Teresa's success -- and yours :-) rc

Johann said...

Good to see you here Ewa! I really think this is very special. Years ago I often ran as a guide for two blind runners. It inspired me a great lot. It was hard work but so worth it. I ran up to marathon distance with them. We used to hold a piece of cloth to "attach" us for the run. These people are all awesome!

Kenley said...

Wow, what a story! Thanks for sharing this. I could not in a million years imagine being with out my eye sight. But when I am at the gym, what fascinates me the most is not the very fit people, but those that are over weight, but are there constantly every day improving. I wish the best for you and your new friend.

affectionforfitness said...

Hi Ewa! Nice to hear from you!

As much as I love my athletic status, I really don't believe a person has to have such a high/crazy standard to get a lot out of fitness. Everyone's different. The reason why I especially love the hard stuff because it is during the big challenges that I learn/explore who I am. But with Teresa, maybe just being there provides enough challenge to do that.

:-) Marion

Glenn Jones said...

Nice post Ewa!

Char said...

Thanks for sharing that Ewa. That was inspiring to me too. Good on you for persisting on finding a way to get her to do cardio.

Jody - Fit at 55 said...

You & Teresa are amazing in my eyes!!! I love that you want to give back & that you chose to do it in so many ways including Teresa!!!

Yes, it may be slow progress but it is better than no progress & who knows, things may change - it has happened! ;)

She really went thru some tough stuff so I am sure there is still "baggage" to deal with.. maybe she just wants to do what she wants but I have faith in your ability to connect with people!!!

I am not sure what she is looking for in transformation but as we know, food is a huge part of it too.

HUGS! Ewa - amazing you & Teresa!

Dr. J said...

I'm very glad the world brought the two of you together. It doesn't matter if any more happens. What has stands on its own.

My mother had a fear of flying. I managed to get her to fly with me one time. She expressed with so much happiness how much it meant to her to share that with her son. No, she never went again.

But it was enough.

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Giorgio said...

Great to hear you're back blogging.
Beautiful post, as usual!

Joy said...

Ewa, what a beautiful living story. I so needed to read this today! Your love and devotion for Teresa and your determination to help her with her journey has touched many lives. You are an inspiration!!

No Fear!!!

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