Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Game's Afoot...

a memorial birthday challenge in memory of Thomas Aston...

In February of 2008, I walked into Marathon Sports Brookline to buy my first pair of running shoes. "What are you wearing now?" the incredibly handsome Spencer Aston asked me. "Um well..polio shoes..." Thirty minutes later I walked out of Marathon Sports with my first pair of running shoes and a new friend. Spencer and his Fenway Quintet played a benefit concert for Team McManus' 2009 Boston Marathon run. So when Spencer asked me if I would help him fund raise for his first marathon run in San Diego on June 3, I jumped at the opportunity. Spencer conceptualized "The Game's Afoot...: The memorial birthday challenge is a unique event where every participant gets to choose the challenge. Options are based o participant's age and you have the choice of selecting a distance challenge or a time challenge. For example, if you are 38 years old you have the option of completing a 38K run or a run of 38 minutes in length. It's completely up to you! If you wish to participate as a walker, you can choose the memorial 2 mile walk."

I messaged my facebook friends, we spread word about the facebook event; I posted in L Street and Merrimack Valley Striders running groups pages. I reached out to my yoga friends who run. I helped secure raffle prizes. There was an option for virtual runners/walkers. If people opted to not participate for $30 which included 5 raffle tickets and a New Balance tech shirt (photo below), they would make a $5 donation and be entered into the raffle.

Fifteen people registered for the event including virtual runners. We'd hoped there would be more registrants on game day (which did not happen). Bananas and bagels were donated for apres run/walk. Spencer and his wife Chelsea bought water for the particpants. Despite the 'low' turnout, spirits ran high. Chelsea and Spencer set up a water table at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir just as they would have if 100 people had shown up for the day's event. Team McManus was delighted to be reunited on this glorious day for a wonderful cause and opted for the 2 mile power walk.

After the event, we had a chance to visit with Spencer's sister, her husband and their two adorable daughters. Spencer and his family talked about Spencer's dad. Boy I sure wish I would have known him. He died seven years ago from leukemia. He was an artist, a thespian, a writer - a true Renaissance man. His signature was the design Spencer used for the tech shirts. Thomas Aston's presence was palpable as the family shared memories.

We talked about the girls doing a lemonade stand and selling the New Balance tech shirts that were left over and a benefit concert in his sister's home town in Connecticut to help Spencer meet and exceed his fund raising goal. The song I chose for today's blog post is Fanfare. Spencer is a quiet, humble man who lives an honest life of integrity and passion. He does so with little fanfare. Despite being a trumpet player, Dr. Aston (he has a Ph.D.) does not blow his own horn. So I'm doing it for him. Open your heart and your checkbook and donate whatever you can to Spencer's San Diego Marathon run as part of Team in Training on his fund raising page. If you'd like to donate to receive the New Balance tech t shirt valued at $40, please email Spencer at Please take a moment and read his story on his blog, Running With My Father. Tissue warning!

“….I firmly believe that any man’s finest hours – his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” - Vince Lombardi

Here is to your finest hours Spencer as you run with your father at the 2012 San Diego Marathon! God speed.

From my heart to yours
With deepest, admiration and total gratitude

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David - Book Review

When my elderly neighbor invited me over to her yard and offered me pepsi and potato chips as a 'treat', I gave pause and reflected on what Marc David wrote in his book Nourishing Wisdom. He shares how he became a vegetarian when he went off to college. When he came home for Thanksgiving dinner he would refuse to eat the turkey dinner that his grandmother prepared with so much love. Needless to say there was family tension and stress. One year he realized that what he ate was not as important as why he was eating it and the conditions under which he was eating it. He ate the turkey that year and the entire holiday experience was transformed. He said that he was able to completely digest and assimilate the Thanksgiving feast. I sipped on the pepsi and graciously accepted sharing her potato chips with her. After we talked, laughed and reminisced, she gave me a huge hug and said how grateful she was for my company looking forward to the next time we drink soda and eat chips again.

I was talking with my friend Mckenna about how my body has changed since I began to practice yoga. My sugar cravings have greatly diminished. I crave healthy foods and am much more aware of what my body is asking me to feed it. She told me I had to read Marc David's book and she was right. Marc exposes our beliefs about diet and nutrition. He addresses the concepts of ordered and disordered eating pointing out that to some extent we all have disordered eating. There is no one diet that is right for all people. There is not even one diet that is right for one person for all time. He talks about the important factors of health, age, seasons, environment and lifestyle and how they impact our food choices. Food is neither good nor bad, it's about our thoughts and perceptions around food. My favorite analogy was when Marc talks about a butcher knife. A trauma survivor sees it as a weapon; a chef sees it as a tool to prepare food. Marc weaves in spirituality, the mind body connection and anecdotes from his and his clients' experiences to shed light on a subject everyone struggles with - diet and nutrition.

While our relationship with food can be extremely challenging, Marc leads us through the maze and myths about diets to practical advice about becoming AWARE of our relationship with food, our bodies and nourishment. After each chapter Marc offers us a section on Key Lessons and Reflections offering exercises to raise our awareness, become more mindful and expand our consciousness as it pertains to eating, nutrition and nourishment.

On page 176 Marc concludes, "The bottom line is this: No diet is right or wrong. Any method of eating can provide a deeper nourishment as long as the missing ingredient - consciousness - is present. The ability to reflect on our relationship to food and the awareness that we can expand our perspective on eating at any moment help create the life we want most."

Marc has a chapter on what it means to experience 'ordered' eating and describes "expert eaters" as having the following attributes (p. 175)
They eat with freedom from fear, worry or guilt.
They eat with both an intuitive understanding and knowledge of the body's changing nutritional needs.
They accept their body as it is.
They use diet as a transformational tool.
They eat with joy.

Here's to all of us becoming expert eaters finding joy and freedom in our relationship with food and nourishment. Liberate yourself from the guilt, fear and worry about am I eating right and read "Nourishing Wisdom" by Marc David. For more information about the transformational work Marc is doing in the field of the psychology of eating, visit his website Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Be sure to read his compelling blog and explore the wonderful resources on his website. Marc's work is a beacon of light and clarity in the field of nutrition which has been muddied by so many 'expert opinions' on what we 'should' be eating to be healthy. As with everything in life, we have the intuitive wisdom to know what we need to do in order to feel vibrant and healthy. Marc gives us the tools and guidance we need to act on that wisdom.

From my heart to yours
With deepest love and total gratitude,