Pray for Michael – The Littlest Sports Fan

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Sep 06

Pray for Michael“When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”

MichaelI have wanted to write this blog for weeks. Finally I decided to reach out to the parents of Michael Sloan and ask if they minded if I wrote a little bit about Michael’s story, and they graciously agreed. Watching him persevere over the last two months or so has been so inspiring to me. Not only watching him actually, but also watching the love and dedication his mom and dad have shown to him has touched me tremendously. I also wanted to share some pictures of his sweet, adorable face both before and after his accident. You can just see the joy in his face and it has caught my attention in a big way.

Everyone has heard people say that life can change in an instant. PJ and Timberly Sloan were reminded how true this is on July 11th when their six year old son, Michael, was found at the bottom of a pool while swimming at his camp. He was given CPR which saved his life, but unfortunately he had suffered a complete loss of oxygen to his brain. He has spent the last two months in a rehab surprising doctors and doing things that no one ever thought he would do. Initially his parents were told he may never open his eyes again or even come off the ventilator. But just as Michael’s parents said, Michael is a fighter. He has not only opened his eyes and come off of the vent, but he is making progress every day. He has spoken a few words, taken a few steps , pushed pedals on a bike, and enjoyed watching Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesMichael 2 and now the beginning of Vanderbilt’s football season. I am sure by the time this article posts, he will have accomplished even more. Michael’s story hit home for me as it did for many other parents. There is just no pain like the pain of watching your child suffer. I have a son Michael’s age and just weeks before Michael’s accident I had a small scare of my own. My four year old daughter decided to take off her floaties when I turned around and attempted to swim after her sister. I turned back to find her floating in the pool. She looked so dazed and that image has been etched in my mind. Fortunately I got to her in time and she was only stunned with a little water ingestion. It shook me for days. It was the scariest moment of my life.

From the moment I heard Michael’s story and saw his adorable face, I have followed his every step on Facebook. When I get up to go run I always check his mother’s Facebook page to check on his progress. One thing that stands out about Michael is his love for sports. He is a huge Predators fan and above all he loves Vanderbilt Football. If you have followed his story then you have seen it too. He may be the littlest sports fanatic I have ever seen! Seeing how his love for Vanderbilt Football has been a theme in his healing and in his fight has amazed me. I am a UT grad so I know what it means to love a football team, but Michael is six! Yet he has the passion of a grown man when it comes to his team. Michael would always dye his hair black and gold for Vanderbilt games. He told his father he wanted the team to be able to see he was rooting for them. Since Michael’s accident however, the table has turned and it has been Vanderbilt football rooting for Michael. Coach Derek Mason even retired the #1 jersey for this season in Michael’s honor, since Michael is their number one fan. Coach Mason delivered the jersey himself. Michael has received gifts from the team, from the cheerleaders and from other Vanderbilt fans as well. The whole community reached out to support him.

Michael 3

In addition to Vanderbilt’s support, they have received support from the Nashville Predators and the Nashville Fire Department as well. Michael even has a signed hockey stick from Mike Fisher. And September 27th will be Michael Sloan night with the Nashville Fire Department at the Predators game. A portion of the proceeds will be going directly back to Michael’s family. But the support from the sports community didn’t stop there. Michael has received gifts from the Cincinnati Reds and even had a visit from a member of the Belmont basketball team.

Michael’s recovery is going to be a long road. But if you look at the constant theme throughout his fight to recover, it’s perseverance, passion, loyalty, and support. It’s the love from his family and friends and all of the new fans of his own he has acquired. It’s having the drive to keep going, to keep pushing, and most of all having the will to never ever give up. All of these are qualities Michael has not only learned from being loved by his family, but by the love he has for sports and especially his true passion from Vanderbilt football.

I have always been a believer in sports and I have always thought kids could learn a lot from them. Michael Sloan is no Michael 6doubt an example of that. Seeing what the sports community has done to support him shows that being a fan is truly appreciated by these college and professional level teams. Even with all of the rough days he has had, Michael has managed to laugh and smile. One thing that makes him smile the most is hearing Vanderbilt’s fight song. His parents say that was his favorite song to listen to when he would get ready for a soccer game or to get him ready to watch Vandy play. In the very beginning I read an article that His father PJ was quoted in. PJ was saying that the doctors weren’t optimistic about Michael’s recovery. He went on to say however that they just did not know his son. Well apparently he was right because Michael is already exceeding expectations. I have no doubt that Michael 5the start of football season will only give Michael an even bigger reason to get better. He knows his team needs his support!

If you are ever having a bad, busy, or overwhelming day, I would challenge you to follow Michael’s progress to see what he endures with all of his therapies and his tube feedings. Yet there is rarely a day that I don’t see a picture of Michael with a smile on his face. Many times there is even video of his laughter. When I get overwhelmed with my kids and my job, and just life in general…. I think also of his parents. They have to be two of the strongest people there is. I have to be honest and say that I am a UT grad so I pull for the big Orange. However this year, for Michael, I sure hope Vandy has a great season. Michael is coming back from the rehab in Atlanta, but his therapies will continue here in Nashville. If you want to donate to Michael’s fund, you can do so here: http://www.gofundme.com/bi4b1c

You can also follow his progress on his Facebook Page, Pray For Michael.

We are all rooting for you, Michael!

 

 

Essential Football Fan Gear For the Whole Family!

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Aug 29

It’s finally football time in Tennessee! There is a lot I like about fall.  There is the awesome weather, all of the new television shows start, and of course it kicks off football season!  Even if you are not a huge football fan, you are bound to take place in some tailgating and will probably attend a social gathering where everyone is watching and cheering on their team. So it is essential that you look the part!  A few good pieces can get you through a season.  (Unless you are my like my husband who thinks he needs 15 short sleeve UNC T-shirts and a closet full of Titan gear!)Baby Team Gear

Starting from the smallest to the biggest people, I love the kid’s Titans cheerleading outfit, the onesies, and even the small football jerseys.  Kids always love to be like mom and dad so they are always excited to wear what we are wearing.

I have been more excited each year with the improvements and increase in choices of fan gear for women.  You will find them in Titans, Vols, Predators, Vandy, and if you are crazy enough to be an Alabama or Florida football fan…Sport Seasons has those too! I love all of the fitted V neck women’s t-shirts. Even some of the teams’ jerseys come in women’s styles so they are much more flattering.

Lady Vols and Titans ShirtsThere is a huge selection of men’s T-shirts and polo shirts in all of the Tennessee teams and my favorite is the dry fit ones because it is HOT here for a good portion if the Titans game.  Tailgating in dry fit is a huge plus. Speaking of tailgating, the fold up tailgate chairs and tables with cup holders are great! They are easy to travel with because they fold up and are light weight.  However they can also be great right in your living room.

Even before I went to college, I was buying my Vols stuff right here at Sport Seasons, now every time I go in there is something new! I also love all of the fun house decorations such as the trash cans and my very favorite are the new storage cubes that fit in the bookshelves and storage units you can buy just about anywhere now.  If you have an in house rivalry then you can support both teams with more than one storage bin.  (At my house I get dirty looks when I cheer for the Steelers but it didn’t stop me from buying a shirt, Titans first of course, Steelers second!)

Team storage binsTailgate chairs and tables

The thing about football season is that it spans both seasons, fall and winter, with a little bit of summer.  So you start off needing Titans tank tops and dry fit T-shirts but end the season needing a fleece pullover and a blanket.  Having staples for your fan gear wardrobe is just as important as the staples of your running wardrobe or your work wardrobe.  It is worth the investment because the things last for years!  You have to support your team right, so wear it with pride and look the part!!!

Titans Polo: All Ready for Football SeasonVols Grey JerseyVanderbilt Shirt

 

A Change of Scenery: Running in Downtown Disney

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Aug 22

Disney in the DarkAll of our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.”  -Walt Disney

This past week I was on a work trip to Orlando. So of course, I brought along my new Brooks Glycerin’s! I love the experience of running in different cities. The runs in Orlando were quite different than my last work trip to Philly in February. There I got to have a beautiful run in the snow. (Real snow, not ice by the way). I have to say that the humidity in Orlando, wow, it was beyond humid. I would refer to it as swampy.  (Note to self, don’t do Disney World with the kids in August!) The good thing is that I came equipped with all of my favorite Nike dry fit running clothes. (Although at some point with humidity like this, even dry fit can’t help you) Anticipating the humidity, I decided to carry a bottle of water with me. (Thank goodness because I drank every drop along the way) When you run in this level of humidity, you sweat out even more fluid than on a normal run which can cause dehydration a lot faster. Another problem with humidity is that it prevents the sweat from evaporating off your body so you can’t cool down easily.  (That is why you end up with soggy clothes and for me even soggy shoes.) Walking out of the front door of the hotel was like walking straight into a sauna. Side note, I hate saunas! Downtown Disney Since it was a work trip, I did not get to do the fun things you do in Orlando, like visit Disneyworld.  However, we did stay right by the park which made for some great sightseeing while I was running. I love my neighborhood but it sure was nice to have something exciting to look at. The most exciting thing I have seen on a run in my neighborhood lately is an armadillo that I almost tripped over. (Truthfully that was rather gross and not exciting) I ran through Downtown Disney and by all of the shops and restaurants. So of course like any touristy runner would do, I took a few pictures along the way. I loved the palm trees and all the fun shops.  I have to say that one thing that was so cool to see was a huge statue of Aladdin on top of a toy store looking down over Downtown Disney. In light of Robin Williams passing, it seemed very fitting. I also ran by the casting center and by Team Disney headquarters. I loved their statue and tribute they had out front to the seven dwarfs. Home from work we go smallGeanie SmallIts off to work we go small

When I decided to run outside verses the going to the hotel gym, I decide to set low expectations for myself, focusing on a good pace, since it was way more humid than any run I have done this summer.  I just wanted to see the sights and get some exercise in before I sat sedentary in meetings all day.  It was also dark when I went to run and the sun wasn’t set to rise until right when I had to be in for a shower. So I decided to make the best of it. Then much to my surprise both mornings I had two of the best average paces than I had previously had in a good month or so. So being the over analytical person that I am, I tried to figure out why that would be.  Was it the new Brooks Glycerin? They are great but I had run in them before, so probably not. Was it the humidity? Ummm, definitely not! Maybe it was just the magic of Disney? Ok so maybe a little bit of it was the magic of Disney, but I know what it really was for me was the refreshing change of running scenery.  It was such a good reminder for me that changing up your workouts and your runs is so important in preventing burnout.  Burned out is exactly what I have been feeling lately, which is very normal for me in July and August.  This trip was just what I needed to get me through summer running.

Labor Day is always when I kick off my fall training. I have a half marathon in September, October, and November.  Then I have the Memphis full marathon in December. So the running tip that I unintentionally reminded myself of this week is change up your workouts when you’re getting bored with them or feeling unchallenged. I need to make more of an effort to vary my running path and try to drive to other areas on the weekends when possible.  Adding speed work or interval training is also a great way to change your running up.
Running with Mickey
Returning to Nashville now I can say one thing. You will not hear me complain about the humidity anymore. Sometimes you have to experience something worse to appreciate something you have that just may not be so bad after all. I guess that’s not a bad lesson to remember in any situation.  As tough as it was, I enjoyed my hot, humid Florida runs.  I think it gave me the spark I needed to get through summer.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. – Walt Disney

What She Wore at DisneyOnce Upon a Toy

 

Brooks Glycerin 12 Review

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Aug 15

Glycerin 12 Review

If you have followed my blogs at all, then you know I am a long time Saucony  loyalist.  It takes a lot for me to choose another brand over Saucony.  Maybe I am a creature of habit, but I have always had success with them. Second in line of my favorites I would say is definitely Brooks. I have had a few pairs of the Ghost and the Glycerin through the years.  A few months ago I bought both a pair of Saucony Triumphs and a pair of Brooks Glycerin. Both are great shoes with a lot of cushioning.  They are top of the line for both brands, and worth every penny. My issue with the last Glycerin, the Glycerin 11, was that it was a little heavy and kind of bulky.  I actually like wearing them to the gym because they do give a fair amount of support as well. Truthfully, I also felt like my feet got a little hot in the previous Glycerin. So after purchasing both the Saucony Triumph and the Brooks Glycerin at the same time, I definitely ran 80% of the time in the Triumphs and saved my Glycerin for the gym and to wear to the kids soccer games and on trail walks at night. (I do have to say that the yellow Glycerin were aesthetically one of my favorite running shoes yet.)

So when it came time to buy new shoes again, I went straight for the Saucony and have been running in the new Ride 7 which I love.  However since then I have heard several great things about the new Glycerin 12 so I decided last week to give the one more shot.  The changes that they claimed to make are as follows:

- 20% more cushioning

- new, Super DNA

- Lighter weight

- sleeker design, less bulk with more flexibility

- more even cushioning to lessen impact from heel to toe

I do have to hand it to Brooks, they made big improvements on this shoe.  I do think it is better than the previous and without a doubt one of the best, most comfortable shoes I have ever run in.  It is still a fairly heavy running shoe, which for some people that isn’t an issue. With the amount of cushioning in the Glycerin it may never be as light as some other shoes.  The Ride is definitely a lighter shoe, but also doesn’t give the same support as the glycerin.  So it is really a matter of personal preference. I am a neutral runner and I like a good amount of cushioning but I don’t want it so heavy that it slows me down.

I would recommend the new Glycerin without any hesitation. I do think that the improvements they claim to have made are accurate. If you haven’t tried them on I highly suggest you do, you may have never felt comfort I’m a running shoe like you will with the Glycerin 12. (And I am totally loving the purple and turquoise combination.)

Glycerin 12

Often times I get questions from friends about certain things that bother them when they run, such as a foot or knee problem.  The first thing that I ask them is have they gotten new shoes and do they think they are wearing the right shoe.  It is so important to find the right shoe and the right fit.

“Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world.” –Marilyn Monroe

 

Kids and Exercise: How Much Should They Get?

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Aug 05

Play 60

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings” – Ann Landers

It seems like every day there is a news story on how childhood obesity is on the rise.  There has even been a spike in childhood diabetes.  So obviously a big part of fighting this is diet.  As a country we (kids included) eat too much sugar and too big of portions.  But what about exercise?  How much do they need?  How much is too much?   My kids have often asked me if they can run with me (not at 4:30 in the morning, but in the evening!)  So recently this prompted a conversation about kids and exercise when I was at the pediatrician.  I thought the advice was great so I thought I would share it.

In 2007 the NFL launched a campaign called “Play 60”, which encouraged kids to be active for 60 minutes a day.  Today that is still a great guideline and in fact it lines right up with the AHA (American Heart Association) guidelines which also recommends 60 total minutes a day of moderate, age-appropriate activity for children.  (This can be 30 minutes twice a day, whatever you can fit in as long as it totals 60.) This is important to remember since we live in a world where kids are very into video games.  These are the same ideas that were suggested to me by my pediatrician.

One of the reasons why I enjoy having my kids in sports such as soccer and basketball is definitely because of the pure fun and competition of sports, but also because it is guaranteed physical activity at least a couple of times each week.  I am ok with some TV time as well as some video game time, as long as there is plenty of play and active time as well. As parents we of course have to set the right examples of physical activity.

There are plenty of other ways to get kids active other than organized sporting leagues.  For example in our neighborhood we often play games of soccer or kickball in the empty lot across the street. Good and friendly competition is something children like, it is motivating for them.  Kids are typically much more apt to be active or exercise (with or without a parent) if their friends play too.   Even a good old fashioned game of tag or hide and go seek outside are great ways to get kids active.  Taking the dog on a walk is another activity that can be made fun for kids.  Changing it up and making it fun is key to keeping kids interested, and keeping them off the couch.

Here are a few useful websites with more detailed information:

www.nfl.com/play60

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/exerciseforchildren.html

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/HealthierKids/ActivitiesforKids/The-AHAs-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Children_UCM_304053_Article.jsp

http://www.letsmove.gov/blog/2013/08/05/get-kids-and-get-active-national-exercise-your-child-week

Play Ball

The benefits of exercise for kids are for the most part the same as adults.  It improves mood and self- esteem, helps them sleep better, promotes heart health, fights obesity, improves coordination, and has many other benefits as well. Like adults, kids want to feel good when they are active.  Be sure they have shoes that fit properly and have the right support.  Overall keeping kids active and making activity fun shouldn’t be hard, it should be a habit.  Making fitness fun as a family is truly beneficial for everyone!