Irene (Lafferty) Nunes

Live Life Stronger

Live Life Stronger

Like the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream. That dream is to change the world one person at a time. I want to see the lifestyle norms in this country move from one where obesity and chronic disease due to sedentary and unhealthy living are a thing of the past to one where eating right and exercising are the cultural precedence.

A brilliant friend of mine gave me the book “Change or Die” By Alan Deutschman. The premise of the book is that real change comes slowly. Like the cultural shift away from smoking where after realizing the adverse effects, it took years to change people’s perception enough to change their behavior. The strategy to start the shift is to 1) Relate to the people who we want to help change. Find common ground and be respectful. 2) Reframe their world. Help them see the value in making that change a priority. 3) Repeat that over and over.

So in that light, I have decided to begin a series of blogs about the people (relate) who inspire (reframe) me to LIVE LIFE STRONGER!

Who better to kick off an inspirational blog with than mom? My mother is the most influential and inspiring person in my life. She has always LIVED LIFE STRONGER.

My mother, Irene, is a great natural athlete and physically strong, which helps when trying to live an active lifestyle. Mom was a competitive swimmer and tennis player. She would organize many a tennis tournament in the summers while I was growing up. She still enjoys swimming in her pool today. She has always lived an active life and set a culture where that lifestyle was valued in her home.

As far back as I can remember, mom understood the value of exercise. Home all day with five children under the age of seven with no car and no gym membership, I can still see her using my younger siblings as weights while she did squats or put one child on each foot to do knee extensions.

When we got a little older,  mom held various “exercise” jobs. Some of you may remember Elaine Powers where women came to lose weight and exercise. Even then I remember my mom laughing at the insanity of using the “belt machine” to shake the fat off.  She also spent years leading aerobic dance class for other moms during the day. Every time I hear the song “Ventura Highway” I still see her class wiggling to the tune.

She was responsible for organizing the first annual “Nunes Triathlon” in her back yard two years ago. She had the whole family design a course consisting of a swim in the pool,  a bike ride and a run down her street. Participants had to go in shifts as the pool could only safely hold 2 competitors.

If you don’t count peer pressure and maybe a wager or two as “voluntary” most everyone voluntarily participated. As the bravest souls began the race, the others got swept up in the cheers and encouragement that ensued regardless of ability

The ages ranged from 6-72, and of course there was a clay “medal” to the winner. I think mainly she did that to get all 35 people visiting out of her house for a while, but it is an example of how creativity and a culture of active living got even the most resistant 16 year old off the couch.

She instilled in all of her children the value of staying fit and healthy. She created a culture that fostered that value.  She continues to be an inspiration and a role model for us now.  Today she practices yoga daily, swims in the summer and enjoys other activities including line dancing and playing with her grandchildren.  She is coming up on her 70th birthday, but she does not move like a 70 year old.  She tore her rotator cuff skiing and had it repaired in 2010.  The picture in this post is testament that even at 69 years of age, even after rotator cuff repir (reframe)…if you keep working at it, you can LIVE LIFE STRONGER.  Go mom!

About Natalie Conway PT OCS ATC

Natalie Conway PT OCS ATC is currently the Area Manager for the Gloucester/West Point area of Pivot Physical Therapy (Formerly Tidewater Physical Therapy Inc.) including three physical therapy clinics and a performance center. Natalie lives in Williamsburg and coaches at Williamsburg Gymnastics in her spare time. She is married to Todd and they are busy raising three very active children, Mikey, Peter and Kayleigh.

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