Exercise tips to help survive a zombie-like snow apocalypse

atlanta traffic in snowYesterday I got proof that if a zombie apocalypse happens, we’re all toast. Not just because of the brain sucking zombies mind you, which is bad enough. I’m talking about the seemingly minor snow and ice event that hit Atlanta yesterday around noon. Without any coordination, the local government, businesses and schools shut down at once, releasing what felt like a million motorists on the city’s highways simultaneously. People got stuck with a capital “S”;  some friends took seven or eight hours to drive six miles, and they were the lucky ones compared to the thousands stranded on the roads overnight in icy conditions. But when the chips are down, you’ve got to get moving…literally. Here are some great exercise tips you can do when home-bound by snow, ice or any challenging weather situation.

At a time when I keep getting emails about closings and cancellations from fitness studios because of the treacherous driving conditions, what really stood out is this at-home training routine Dan FitzSimons of BodyFitz studios sent to his followers today.

“When it seems like everything is shut down, there are more than a few things we can do!” notes Dan. He created this challenging routine for his wife Tracy which can be modified however you like:

  1. Walk up and down the stairs for one minute. What? No stairs?  Grab a stool, or march in place for the same amount of time.  Then perform 20 “standing super peoples”! (alternating right arm/left leg)
  2. Get back on the stairs, up and down for one more minute…now perform 10 squats.  Perfect squats please ! Push the rear end backwards, keep the back strong and straight with your eyes elevated.
  3. Arm Circles…yup, just like sounds: standing with plenty of room around you. Straighten out your arms to the side and parallel to the floor. Make small circles with your arms for ten seconds in one direction and then ten seconds in the opposite direction..rest.
  4. Time for a Wall Sit.  Once again, just as it sounds.  Put your back against the wall and get into a sitting position.  Make sure that your feet are out front under your knees.  Meaning your knee and hip joint should be a perfect 90 degrees. (square)
  5. Back to the stairs, this time for 90 seconds,(if you can).  Jog if you want, or take two stairs at a time.  Push yourself a little bit more this time as you are getting more and more warmed up.
    Water break…Remember we can still get results…we just need to get enough intensity to work up a sweat.

In addition, Dan offered these bonus exercises to be executed at your own max potential in 20-30 second bursts, followed by 10-20 seconds of recovery:

  • Let’s do push-ups, modified push ups or maybe get into a plank and hold that position. Hands can be under the shoulders with the elbows pointing back and slightly to the sides (close stance push-up).  This position is good for the plank and the push up.  Perform 3,5, or 10 push-ups, or a 20 second plank.
  • Stand and start squatting again. 20 squats, get low and feel those quads, glutes and hamstrings working! 
  • Go right into arm circles again (hold  2lb weights or two water bottles for resistance) 20 seconds each direction.
  • 15 jumping jacks or marching in place for 20 seconds
  • Stairs for 30 seconds…
  • Repeat two more times…or more! Give it YOUR all! Finish with a good cool down and some stretching. Drink plenty of water and enjoy your next healthy meal!

You might want to check out helpful videos and tips from online resources like Fitness Blender,  Workout Nirvana, Fun And Fit and Thrive Fit for more in-home exercise moves too. Have you ever been stuck in your home by a weather event and if so, how did you handle it? What are some of your favorite exercise moves that can be done at home or anywhere?

Want real change? Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions and focus on supported goals instead

Ditch the New Year's Resolutions According to a recent Marist Poll, 44% of Americans are planning to make a change in the New Year. Many of the survey respondents are making New Year’s resolutions for better health or a happier life, with the largest amount aiming to lose pounds, exercise more or eat better. However – no surprise here – only 8% of people actually keep those resolutions according to a University of Scranton study.  Bummer, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Here are a few steps you can take to create real, positive change in 2014:

  • Set realistic, clear goals. Let’s say that you vow to be happier in 2014. What does that actually mean? Do you crave more alone time, want less stress, desire a new job or a better relationship? Break down that big desire into a clear goal in order to make it actionable and obtainable. For example. if decreasing stress is your objective, then your action steps could include installing a smart phone app that takes you through a guided meditation three times a week and stop checking emails at least two hours before bedtime to give your mind time to rest.
  • Plan ahead. Haven’t tried to exercise since George W was in the White House but now understand that moving more will give you more energy? Awesome goal. But don’t just try to jog on the treadmill wearing flip-flops and street clothes (no lie, saw a dude in just that garb at our hotel gym in the Bahamas last week). Do some research and create your fitness plans in advance to ensure better results and minimize injuries. Many gyms offer a complimentary session with a personal trainer who can teach you the most effective ways to exercise. Search online for “how to” videos and content on running, Yoga, swimming better or just about any other activity. Tell the  Zumba instructor this is your first time in class so he/she can give you pointers and keep an eye out for you. And dress for exercise success to maximize your performance and comfort.
  • Make it real. The more you can bring a goal to life increases your chances of long-term success.  One of my big goals for 2014 is to finish writing and publish my book, which focuses on helping people get unstuck and have the life of their dreams.  I’m visual, so making this goal a reality for me includes journaling about it, having it become one of the cornerstones of the vision board I’m creating this weekend with friends, posting positive messages about it on the edge of my computer screen and more. Pick one of your goals for a moment and think about how you can bring it to life. Since weight loss tops the list of so many people, could it be motivating to take photos of your progress each month to share via social media, pick out clothes you plan to buy in advance when certain milestones are met, put a photo of yourself at your hottest on the front of the fridge as a motivator to make healthier food selections?
  • Get support. Sharing a goal with like-minded, positive souls can increase your chances of success. My husband, who is already fit as an Ironman triathlete, is about to start a 30-day Paleo eating program to clean up his nutrition. His triathlon coach is doing the same, which creates a direct connection of support, while I’m reinforcing my own clean eating habits by ensuring we won’t have any processed foods, sweets, items with gluten or dairy around that don’t meet his goals or mine either. Even this little circle of support will help us all succeed in our healthier eating objectives. Whatever you are focusing on, talking about your goals and sharing milestones, challenges and tips with others can really make a difference.

What are some of your goals for 2014? Do you set New Year’s Resolutions and if so, what makes or breaks them?

Four Ways to Get Ready for Fall Wellness

With the high today in Atlanta topping 82 degrees and triple-digit temperatures forecast for my impending trip to Tucson, Arizona, it does not feel like summer has relinquished its grip yet.  But on September 22, fall officially begins – and here are four ways to help you get ready for wellness this season.

1)      Add warmth with functional, fashionable layers

Chances are good that the “go-to” running tank top and shorts look that so efficiently wicked sweat away this summer isn’t going to give you enough warmth during outdoor exercise in the upcoming months. No matter where you reside, you will also need something to wear post work-out before hitting the shower. I don’t spotlight many products in this blog, but here are two that I use for functional yet fashionable exercise cover-ups:

  •  At first glance, I don’t have much in common with Olympic Volleyball Gold Medalist and tall, blonde goddess Kerri Walsh…okay, make that a second and third look too. But we both dig BORELLI active performance scarves, which can be turned into wrap-around jackets and even sarongs depending on size. While some women “glow” after killer workouts, I am sweating hard and appreciate how this item wicks away sweat four times faster than cotton while helping me vie for the title of gym fashionista.  A triathlete herself, founder Marissa Borelli Casellini is passionate about creating products that marry fitness and style; you can wear her creations to ward off post-workout chills or as a chic accessory in daily life. Never very intrepid when it comes to geometry and angles, I found their demo video essential in figuring out how to wear this with flair.  Visit http://www.borellidesign.com/ to learn more.
  •  Then there is my lululemon hoodie jacket. Perfect to wear while driving home after an exercise class or running errands, I love its vibrant purple color and how it keeps my nicely warm before changing. Plus it lasts. I’ve had this jacket for three years now and it keeps on ticking.

2)      Embrace Seasonal Foods

If you’ll miss summer offerings like strawberries and watermelon, take heart with all of the seasonal foods options like cranberries, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, apples, winter squash and much more. Here’s a handy guide to fall produce from Cooking Light magazine that spotlights selections and recipes. As for me, I’m all about the pumpkin, opting for smoothies over pies these days. Here is my favorite pumpkin smoothie recipe:

PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE

Courtesy of Citron Nutrition, adapted from Tasty Yummies

¾ cup cooked pumpkin (you can use canned, but fresh is much better)

1½ cups unsweetened organic vanilla almond milk

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced

2-3 Medjool dates, pits removed (soak first if they aren’t soft)

Clean additions:

1 scoop of vegan protein powder or 1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Directions: Add all of your ingredients to the blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. If your pumpkin and/or almond milk isn’t cold, you could add a handful of ice, although this may make it less creamy. You can also add a splash of water or additional almond milk if your smoothie is too thick. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

 

3)      Plan workouts to take advantage of seasonal changes

Consider changing up your exercise routine to enjoy the crisp fall weather. If you typically run on a treadmill or cycle city streets, head out to the countryside or mountains to experience these activities and more while savoring the beauty of changing leaves. I found great resources such as Hike New England and Autumn Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains with a quick online search and am sure you can do the same for your own area.  

4)      Focus on blossoming internally

There might not be flowers outside, but the fall is a wonderful time to start blossoming internally through personal growth. You don’t face the stupid pressure of New Year’s resolutions and with school back in swing, it feels like the season to learn something new. Last fall I took swimming lessons to combat a long-time fear of being in the water. While I’m never going to be Diana Nyad – and have no desire to ever wear a jellyfish-proof mask or adopt a distance swimming-friendly hairstyle – I can now get in a pool with a kickboard and sometimes no accessories at all without freaking out.  Or maybe you really want to meet your soul mate and it’s time to push yourself to put up an online dating profile to start getting out there. Whatever the case, nurture yourself and see how the happiness grows within.

What is your favorite part of fall? How do you plan to challenge yourself or grow during this season?

Can you tone your body while expanding your mind?

Erin Stutland, creator of Shrink Session

Pardon me for sounding like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, but two of my favorite things are personal growth and exercise (much better than raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, right?). So you can imagine my delight in discovering Shrink Session from Erin Stutland, powerful movement classes which create a change in your body and your mind simultaneously. If you want to learn more about stepping into a more empowered, ass-kicking version of yourself, read on!

I first heard about Shrink Session when I met Erin, whose positive energy is off-the-charts, at the 2012 Fitbloggin conference. A high-octane blend of cardio-dance, HIIT, kick-boxing and yoga, Shrink Session integrates powerful mantras and joy in movement to help you feel and look your best, inside and out. “It’s so damn fun, you don’t feel like you are working out,” explains Erin.  “That said, your thighs are going to burn, your face is going to glow and your heart is going to be opened. You will stand taller and prouder than ever before.”

Always on the lookout for new creative workouts, I interviewed Erin to learn more:

Q; How does Shrink Session empower you?

A: It’s not often that we walk around speaking words of empowerment to and about ourselves. Shrink Session gives you that opportunity. For 45 minutes, you are focused on words that empower and lift you up while you are sweating, and it’s impossible not to feel the positive effects. Throughout the workout you and I are saying mantras, out loud. Not just thinking them but actually SAYING them. That can sound a little weird and some people are like, “There is no way I am going to say something out loud while I workout.” But those are the same individuals that usually end up crying during the meditation because they are so moved by what the workout brought up within them.

Q: What prompted you to create it?

A: Having worked with mantras and affirmations since I was 18 years old, I realized that moving myself into an empowered physical state while focused on these words made me feel and act completely different. So I used to say mantras while in dance class or going for walks. Studying with a teacher who encouraged me to speak these words out loud while working out really changed my life, because it combined what I was already doing and took it to a new level. As time went on, I took what I learned from this teacher and all my other spiritual teachers and artistic folks to create my own thing.

Q: What has the reaction been so far?

A: Outstanding. The thing that blows me away is that the ‘target market’ keeps expanding. At first I thought only women aged 25-40 years old who are fairly fit are going to like this, but then it got introduced to a market of 40-55 year-old females who were not nearly as fit. In fact some had not exercised in years and Shrink Session was moving them to tears as they were “in” their bodies for the first time in years. That is when I realized this is bigger than originally thought and has the ability to affect millions.

Shrink Session classes energize and empower participants.

Intrigued? I am, and wish that I could take a Shrink Session class in-person. But since New York City is a thousand miles away from my life in Atlanta, and I don’t have a private jet at my disposal, that isn’t going to easily happen. Luckily, Erin has launched a video series that you can do at home, and offers a free, 15 minute workout on her website to test it out – http://shrinksessionworkout.com/

Have you ever combined personal growth with exercise? Tell us about the last time that a workout inspired you on a mental or spiritual level as well!

Walking on Sunshine

Think exercise has to involve complicated moves that feel like you are being deployed to a war zone, or prepping for a “Dancing with the Stars” audition?  You might actually get more bang for your buck by kicking it old school and taking a walk. It’s easy to get started as a newbie, and even hard core fitness types can sweat like crazy by putting one foot in front of the other.

For me, walking often gets overlooked as I head to the gym instead five or six days a week. Then after nearly a two week stint with bronchitis sidelined my regular exercise schedule, I decided to slowly get active again with a walk around the neighborhood. What I didn’t expect was how much that time outside in the sunshine clarified my thinking and improved my spirits. So I donned a heart rate monitor and did it again yesterday for over an hour, adding in an elastic band and bosu strength routine my trainer taught me afterwards. And I ended up burning up just as many calories as I would at the gym, but had more fun in the process.

Here are five tips to help you start walking on sunshine:

  1. Protect your feet. A supportive pair of shoes is critical for healthy fitness at any level. Rather than just buying the coolest looking sneakers on display, consider visiting a sports specialty store that can fit you into the right pair. I did this two years ago, and was surprised to learn my feet responded best to size 8 ½ athletic trainers, rather than the 7 ½ I’d incorrectly worn for years which probably contributed to past injuries.
  2. Dress to promote movement. If you want to roll out of bed in a t-shirt and sweats and stroll around the neighborhood, go for it! But as you increase your distance and intensity, investing in supportive active wear that wicks away sweat can improve your performance and motivation.
  3. Plan the experience. Warm-up and stretching is just as important as the walk itself.  Check out these helpful resources for creating a personalized walking, stretching and strength-building plan that have been developed by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in collaboration with the American Heart Association. The same is true if you’re looking to add something different to an established fitness routine. Plan ways to add strength training into the walk itself, or immediately afterwards. For ideas on effective moves that don’t require a visit to the gym, check out Workout Nirvana, Fun and Fit, Fitknitchick and these tips from Greatist.
  4. Partner with a friend. Ever take a walk with a buddy and because you’ve had so much fun gabbing, suddenly 45 minutes have passed and you feel a lovely surge of endorphins? Find someone who lives nearby with the same schedule that can join us, so you motivate each other. The American Heart Association shares these great tips for creating a walking club to ensure there’s always someone available to keep you company.
  5. Move to the music. Making walking fun increases your chances of stepping out into it! Load up on great tunes that motivate you while increasing your heart rate. Here’s a walking playlist that I’ve created just for you:

Shira’s Walking Playlist:

  • The Walker – Fitz & the Tantrums
  • Twisted – Usher
  • All Night – Icona Pop
  • Let the Groove Get In – Justin Timberlake
  • Yeah Yeah – Willy Moon
  • Turn Me Lose – Madcon
  • Run – Gnarls Barkley
  • Before We Fall in Love – Damato
  • Women’s World – Cher
  • Applause – Lady GaGa
  • All Things (Just Keep Getting Better) – Widelife & Simone Denny
  • Dancing the Whole Way Home – Miss Li
  • Merry Go Round – The JaneDear Girls
  • The Boots Were Made for Walking – Nancy Sinatra
  • Take a Walk – Passion Pit

Do you incorporate walking into your fitness routine, or have you ever thought about it? Have any other tips to share with people interested in walking for exercise?

Additional Resources:

12 Week Walking Schedule from the Mayo Clinic

Overview: How to Start Walking – Runner’s World Magazine

Walk Off 10 Pounds – Fitness Magazine

Will the Boston Marathon bombing change your race day behavior?

Dehydration, sprained ankles and cramped muscles used to be what most well-trained athletes had to worry about during marathons. But after this afternoon’s explosion of two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, those stakes have changed forever.  As reported here by Time Magazine, today’s blast killed at least two people and more than 20 were injured. At publication time of this post, we don’t know if it is an act of foreign terrorism or some demented citizens at work.  No matter what the circumstances may be, the question arises – how will the Boston Marathon bombing change your attitude about competing in, watching or preparing for large public races, swims and biking events moving forward?

I’m not a runner, but a lot of my friends compete in triathlons worldwide. My fiancée is training for his first Half Ironman in June and I can’t wait to watch him cross the finish line. Immediately after 911, I remember approaching the airport, or driving by potential local targets of attack like the Centers for Disease Control or the Federal Reserve Building, with a sense of apprehension. It faded over time and like most of us, I’ve felt relatively safe going about the activities of daily life. With the seemingly increased number of violent acts in schools and public places such as movie theaters or shopping malls, I guess you shouldn’t take anything for granted.

How does today’s bombing impact you? Did you have any friends or family competing in the Boston Marathon? Will it change the way you evaluate which races to participate in or watch? Or will it be business as usual with your training, putting personal safety into the hands of the event planners without a second thought?

Can changing your gym reinvigorate workouts?

We have all read that changing up your workouts is essential to prevent boredom and keep your metabolic furnace burning. But what about the fitness club itself? I’m pondering this thought after 15 years at the same gym and would love some feedback.

Now I’m a loyal sort of individual. When my last car died after 11 years, I promptly bought the latest model of that brand and I keep going back to the same hairstylist, massage therapist and manicurist because they deliver excellent results every time.  So it was no stretch to stick around my gym since the end of the Clinton administration. It became a constant through job changes, a divorce, the recession and the joy of meeting the right guy for good. Plus chatting with buddies in the locker room was almost as much fun as the workouts themselves.

Then things began to change. Favorite instructors left while I grew bored with the same old spin and Pilates classes on the schedule. My requests to add new classes, like Drums Alive or the escalated treadmill training I enjoyed at Canyon Ranch, were ignored. About nine months ago, there was a schism at our club with a new, state-of-the-art facility opening nearby. A big chunk of friends departed for the new venue and the social ties that kept me in place started to unravel as well.

But I kept chugging along. When my budget permitted, I worked out with a trainer to build more muscle mass and have been taking swimming lessons to combat a lifetime of being afraid of the water. Nevertheless, the malaise remained. So now it dawns on me that it’s probably time to check out the new fitness club and shake things up by experiencing different classes and challenges in a fresh environment.

Do you think changing your gym can add new energy to your workouts? Any advice to share as I ponder this decision?

Row, Row, Row Your Boat to a More Buff Body

Getting tired of the treadmill or elliptical machines? Has your passion for running or cycling outdoors waned over the years? Rather than rowing a boat gently down the stream as the popular nursery rhyme advocates, maybe it’s time to explore how that sport can increase your fitness levels, endurance and burn fat.

Way before the movies “Oxford Blues” and “Social Network” ever premiered, the sport of rowing was considered elite by the general public. You know, the kind of thing British royalty endorsed and Ivy League kids did in between polo matches and society affairs. But that’s changed in recent years, as more people of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels are turning to rowing for recreation, exercise and the thrill of competition.

Just ask Micah Boyd, who won a Bronze Medal in the Men’s 8+ Rowing Event at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. A self-described former fat kid, Micah took up rowing in high school at the urging of his twin brother. The sport quickly became a passion, leading to international competitions during his stint at the University of Wisconsin and on the Olympic stage. He has coached newbies and former national champions alike at the Atlanta Rowing Club and currently works with the novice men’s team at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“Rowing is the lowest impact endurance sport,” explains Micah. “Aerobic and anaerobic at the same time, it has both technical and physical aspects. People with competitive drive can push themselves to do another five minutes on the water, and rowing on a team motivates you to make your boat better.”

Ready to get started? Here are a few tips:

  1. Find your local rowing club. An Internet search can probably locate one near most metropolitan areas with nearby lakes, rivers or other bodies of water. Being on the water is the ideal way to enjoy rowing. As Micah notes, “rowing is one of the few sports where you can go outside and be with nature.”  Many clubs offer “Learn to Row” courses for beginners several times a year.
  2. Build proper technique indoors.  Concept 2, the company that makes the best-selling rowing machines in the world, offers these helpful technique videos and educational resources to learn how to row and track your progress.  A word of caution, though, against treating the indoor rower like a weight machine; working it hard without the proper form only results in muscle strains and injuries.
  3. Erg for intense exercise. Indoor rowers, called ergs (short for ergometers, an exercise device that measures the amount of work done by a muscle or group of muscles) can give you a great full-body workout. Some boutique training studios are offering erg classes for aerobics, and most gyms have at least a couple of machines on hand. There are even indoor rowing competitions, which get quite fierce. My super cool fiancée won his category at the 2012 Atlanta Erg Sprints and similar events exist on a national and global level.

Have you ever rowed for sport or exercise, or thought about doing so? When is the last time you challenged yourself with a completely difference workout?

Dealing with Injuries & Setbacks

Cue the theme music from “Chariots of Fire” as you cross the finish line of your first run, reach a major weight loss milestone or complete a Boot Camp course much leaner and less meaner than before. Shucks, it’s all going to be easy street now that you’ve got your momentum going – right?  Well, not-so-much when injuries or physical setbacks strike, causing the equivalent of a ten car pile-up on your wellness journey. That’s why I wanted to share some helpful advice from fitness enthusiasts who have weathered setbacks and continue to move forward.

Adopting healthier habits helped Meegan Dowe of the Redstar5 blog lose 120 pounds. She could run a 10k without walking and had started to pursue weight lifting until getting hit by a truck last November while walking in a crosswalk. The Halifax, Nova Scotia resident suffered soft tissue damage in her left arm and hip, with additional symptoms emerging in her arm due to an impinged elbow nerve and thoracic outlet syndrome. Nothing has been the same since.

Meegan has been on short-term disability, away from working a job she loves. Rehab was frustrating, though acupuncture and a few other treatments have helped. She is still not back to her pre-injury strength and has difficulty running consistently. But her healthy habits have mostly continued, with support from spouse Tara, a fellow 120 pound success story. The 20 pounds Meegan regained is now coming off again as she realizes that healing is much more than a physical process. Treatment and time is helping her recovery slowly but surely advance.

“My advice for anyone who has been injured is to remember first and foremost to be patient since healing takes time,” says Meegan.  “Injured or not, we are not broken. Allow yourself to feel the pain and mourn what has been lost; there is a grieving process, a very active one. Talk to someone. It will help more than you know to seek the support.”

One week from her second half-marathon, Jen Newman of the Listen, Learn, Love Mend blog felt her knee pop during a 10-mile training run. Experienced with previous knee injuries, she immediately saw an orthopedic surgeon, who recommended physical therapy. Then she tripped over a dog toy in her living room, causing an ankle sprain on top of everything else. Surgery was needed to repair all of the damage.  Off her feet for eight weeks, she went to physical therapy for months and still isn’t in pre-injury shape. Jen admits that she has been part of the problem, not keeping up with therapeutic exercises, overdoing it at the gym and not taking care of herself properly mentally or physically. But now she’s gotten out of her own head, dropped the self-pity and self-sabotage and is seeing real progress.

“Never give up,” urges Jen. “An injury is not the end of something but the start of a new adventure. Take time to listen to your body as it heals and do what is right for you.  Beating yourself up will only prolong recovery. If you stay positive, loving and gentle with yourself, you will be stronger on the other side of that injury.”

If you know hilarious, feisty fitness expert Alexandra Williams of the Fun and Fit blog, it will come as no surprise that she posted this video about exercising on one leg the week following her foot surgery.  She shares these tips for dealing with injuries and setbacks:

 

  1. Always check with your doctor after experiencing physical pain or injuries. If you are cleared medically for activity, then start thinking about ways to exercise anything except the healing part of your body. For example, people recuperating from knee surgery can still work their upper body.
  2. Find people who will provide encouragement and support as you engage in the physical activities your body can handle.
  3. Have confidence that you will still be a strong person, although it might look different.
  4. Be prepared for impacts that aren’t just physical. Mental aspects can come into play with changes with mood, attitude and energy levels.

Have you ever experienced an injury or physical setback? How did you handle it, and what was the outcome?

 

Lance Armstrong: Bemoaning the Fall of a Fitness Legend

Say it isn’t so, my heart cried out in protest, when I absorbed the recent headlines about Lance Armstrong’s decision to stop fighting allegations of doping.  You see, I never really believed the rumors before. It seemed impossible that a man who has inspired millions of people to push past their limits and raised over $300 million to fight cancer could be guilty of those charges.  Then I kept on reading and found the penalties he could receive – the loss of all seven tour de France titles and a lifetime ban on competing – to be equally shocking.

I know Armstrong said he felt the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s process was unfair and that it was time to drop the fight and focus on his family. But here’s the conundrum…how could a man who never gave up in competition or while challenged with cancer at a young age stop trying to clear his name?  I’ve handled a lot of crisis situations for clients over the past 20 years in my “day job” as a strategic communications consultant. And if you’re not guilty, it’s better to keep protesting until you’re blue in the face rather than give up.

Even the most talented people can make bad decisions. Like Elton John, who has no problem slamming Madonna, Bill Joel or any other celeb who has pissed him off in whatever public forum he can muster. Oprah was thought to be invincible in business before she launched her network, which has low ratings and is hemorrhaging cash. The respective decisions of those aforementioned, gifted individuals don’t chip away at their core talents. When it comes to Lance Armstrong though, I expected great sportsmanship to be at his core. Now I’m left wondering if he became so focused on winning that Armstrong forgot how you play the game is even more important.

What are your thoughts on this situation? Do you feel his punishment was too harsh or completely justified? How will this impact the legacy of Lance Armstrong moving forward?