Tag Archives: inspiration

Sondra Saylor

Sondra&Kris (2)

When you meet this cheerful, vivacious, outspoken women, you would never imagine she is living every parent’s worst nightmare.  Sondra has a son Kristopher who was born a normal, beautiful bouncing boy.  At 14 months of age that all started to change.  How Sondra has approached that challenge in her life has proved inspirational to all who know her.  Here is her story about Living Life Stronger:

“I’m leaving out a lot of details AND the last 20 years. When people ask, I give them the really short version which is… he had cancer when he was a baby, had numerous complications that left him with multiple disabilities. He remains medically fragile and requires 24/7 care.

Sure, I could be grouchy and depressed. 21 years ago, when they told me that he had three months to live, I could have curled up in a ball on my bed and cried, but I would have been there for 21 years. I could have eaten 7,000 plus packages of cookies, but I would weigh 600 lbs. You always have choice. I chose to make the best of the situation.

I got up from the couch after a night of broken sleep, got medicine ready, did a respiratory treatment, cleared his airway, changed and fed Kristopher all before I even got to brush my teeth or get a cup of coffee. I don’t deserve any donuts or slushies because I didn’t run 3. whatever it is miles and I won’t even get to walk the dog outside. I will try to make healthy choices when I drag myself back to the kitchen, but really I just want to eat an entire tray of brownies.

What keeps me motivated to NOT eat that tray of brownies? The answer is really quite simple, yet very complex. I realize how very lucky I am to simply still have Kristopher with me. I would literally give my life to let him have his (whole) life back. He is the one who was robbed of his childhood. How unfair it is that he doesn’t just get to be a normal kid, play, have friends, fight with his brother, drive a car, grow up and get a job? So unfair, that at the very least, as his mother, I should make his life as healthy and happy as I possibly can. In order to accomplish that, I need to be at my best.

In order to accomplish that, it didn’t take much to figure out that I had to keep moving and eat right. I don’t want to feel like a big cupcake. There is much truth to the statement, you are what you eat. The big secret is to follow through, stick with your plan, and know that you can have a bad day. Since I can’t go run or physically go to the gym right now, it would be pretty easy to just not do anything at all, right?

As drained as I feel, I know that I will be energized when I climb on that elliptical. I might barely make it through the first 7 minutes, but then it will be all downhill from there. I will get Kristopher ready and breathing well enough that we can go outside for a few minutes, it might only be for a few minutes but something is better than nothing. SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. Is it worth the effort? Damn right, it is.

So basically, Kristopher keeps me motivated. Sure it helps that I have this underlying vanity that comes from some psychological manifestation of something or other. I want to look good, more importantly, I want to feel better. It only takes one thing; one deep seeded reason to motivate yourself to be the person you want to be.

When Kristopher is doing well and Sondra has enough help, she will go to the gym or simply walk on the beach.  Sondra spent years in gymnastics as a youth and will pull from those skills to perform body weight strength training and flexibility exercises at home.

Being healthy enough to care for Kristopher is Sondra’s motivation. So, dig deep and find your ONE THING to inspire and motivate you to Live Life Stronger and be the person you want to be.

Go Sondra!

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!

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