New Hopes

I am still reeling from the election.  I feel stuck between my promise to leave the country if this particular candidate was elected, and “fighting the good fight” as my close friends are urging me.  On one hand, Chris and I have wanted to move to another country for a very long time.  I mean, since before we ever left Florida!  Our first choice was always England, but others have come in near and dear to our hearts- New Zealand (although it’s SUPER far away and that is a strong strike against it), Ireland (even though we can’t understand a word anyone says there), and Iceland.  We’ve also considered Canada, but we’re not sure if it’s the right place for us as it’s still right next door to the United States…

I had a lackadaisical day yesterday.  But I did accomplish something pretty important to my family.  I made plans to visit South Carolina and my family over Christmas. I got my flight and gave my plans to my parents.  Even though last year I was driven crazy by the political attitude of the south, I love my hometown. I have good friends, and strong happy memories there.  Rock Hill will probably always be “home” no matter where we go.

Going home for the holidays may indeed be the last time I am able to visit for a long time.  This time next year, we may indeed be ex-pats.  But on the other hand, we may be part of a movement to keep checks and balances in place for anti-climate change agenda, anti-environmental protections, and degradation of our planet.  I’d like to be a part of that movement, but right now I am feeling less than hopeful for the challenge. But what a challenge it would be!

I’ve heard climate change called “junk science”.  I’ve been called brainwashed for listening to climate change alarmists.  But looking at the evidence from the Arctic, small Pacific islands, and even populated areas of United States, rural areas of India, and underwater near the beautiful Great Barrier Reef, the effects of climate change are just STAGGERING!  How can anyone see these disasters and say that something isn’t seriously wrong with how we are treating the earth?  And how can anyone who has seen these tragedies starting to unfold NOT choose to stand and fight back?

I’m finding a little more motivation to work on my projects.  I have a recipe/meal plan project I’m working on, a presentation for a nutrition seminar, not to mention “Zookeeper’s Guide”, plus this blog.  It’s slow motivation, creeping back in little surges, but it’s there.  Better than nothing.

Today is an off day, so no workout….

Breakfast- egg white omelette
Lunch- smoked salmon
Snacks- apple butter
Dinner- crock pot pot roast

ZooFit Tip- There is a principle of Operant Conditioning known by animal behaviorists and trainers as “Lowering the Criteria”.  This philosophy is based on knowing when it’s necessary, under special circumstances, to not expect stellar performance on a particular trained behavior.
For example, when I worked with sea otters a few years back, we would prepare our otters for physical examinations every six months.  The procedure would include netting or crating the otter, injecting them with anesthesia, transporting them upstairs to the surgery room, and then returning them to their holding area to wake up.  The part we trained our otters for was letting us net them or for them to enter the crate and let us close the door on them voluntarily.  As you can probably imagine, the otters would wake up from their anesthesia with quite a hangover.  The only thing they would associate with the hangover is going into the crate or net.  So, the next few days after their bi-annual exam, we would lower the criteria of their trained crate or netting behavior.  We didn’t expect them to do something they associated with a huge negative immediately.
In another scenario, while working with elephants, we would have to adjust our whole schedule sometimes to accomodate lowering criteria in certain circumstances.  Once in a while, we would have construction or maintenance crew working on projects in the yard, or even the barn.  The elephants knew something was going on.  They could either hear it, or even smell it.  Strangers in the barn, strange sounds coming from the yard.  They would react pretty cautiously to these occurrences.  Often they reacted so much that if the walls of the ERD (restraint chute we often brought in as desensitization for physical examinations or procedures), they would blatantly refuse to enter the barn.  Since we wanted our girls to have positive, successful husbandry training sessions, when we had activity going on in the barn or in the yards, we would lower the criteria and keep the walls out all the way, and move the elephants straight through the ERD without stopping.  Believe it or not, by lowering the criteria before the session degraded, we had positive “trust” built up in our relationships that they would cooperate with us when we needed them to enter the chute, even in strange and unusual circumstances.
Our fitness is no different.  There are going to be certain circumstances or events in our lives that will warrant us not living up to our highest level of approximations toward our goal.  If you are at the point where you are working out daily, and you one day receive news that you find devastating- your cat died, your project that you put your heart and soul into received poor reviews from peers or your boss, or your hopes for your country to step up and protect this planet come crashing down in a matter of one simple choice for President- it is perfectly acceptable to lower your criteria.  You may skip a workout that day.  You may work out at a lower intensity, or do more mobility than cardio/strength.  You cannot be expected to perform at the same level if you go away on business.  The hotel may have a fitness center, but it won’t have the same equipment you are accustomed to.  You may have to lower your criteria.  It’s okay!  You aren’t going to fall back to square one.  Lowering your criteria for a short period of time will sometimes give you the time you need to regain your motivation and inspiration, or give you the break your body may need so when you return to your normal program, you find yourself refreshed and ready to tackle your goals.

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