About a week earlier I took my fitness routine to a new level by running every other day. It’s easy to do around the summer home as beautiful nature and a sandy beach make for ideal running conditions. Some evening runs were magical with the soothing sounds of nature, pure air and dazzling early evening sunlight. In the past 35 days I have run 16 times for a total of 90 kilometers (a distance of more than two marathons). I took two days off, once for a massage and another time for a weary yet fantastic round of golf.
When I turned 40, I made a promise to myself to take my exercise to a new level every 5 years. Back then I began the process of preparing for my first marathon which I successfully completed in 2006. It wasn’t easy but not difficult either as I “put in the time” training for it six months in advance. If you have the desire to run a marathon for the first time, I encourage you to do it although I implore you to train properly and run the race wisely or it could be the worst experience of your life. My article on the subject can be found at the following link:
45 is the new 35 as 2009 finds Gswede in better health and shape than in 1999. Many elements have improved since the age of 35 as I eat more nutritiously, feel and look better, work out more consistently and have improved health statistics. The enhancement has a lot to do with my move to Sweden in 2004 as the adaptation to the quality food and way of life has been an easy adjustment for me. Swedes have one of the top life expectancies in the world - in large part due to the social welfare system, modest eating habits and active lifestyle. I plan to hang on to that Swedish longevity.
In addition, I have always made it a top priority to minimize stress as best as I could. During my decade in New York City (NYC), reducing stress wasn’t an easy task yet I made sure to spend quality time alone, get massages, travel outside of NYC, exercise and relax. Lowering stress should be a high priority as it can cause a number of life complications and if one doesn’t take a slice of “Me Time” (preferably daily) on a consistent basis, it can easily creep up and put a python strangle on your mind and body. I am no stranger to stress but I am a firm believer in doing the things necessary to keep the stress low and the spirit high.
A good friend told me today how stress affected a friend’s 39 year old brother; he had an aneurysm in the front yard and has been in a coma for two months. Stress nearly killed my father at age 53 when he had a massive heart attack – lucky for him that they were able to get him to the hospital quickly and he survived. Cardiac arrest is a major killer and it will pay a visit to many of those who neglect proper eating habits, don’t exercise or have elevated stress levels.
I would love to say that I am better now than 20 years ago but that would be foolish because unless one totally disregards basic eating and exercise habits, it’s difficult to not feel and look good in the mid twenties. I remember playing basketball at a torrid pace when I was 25 and never feeling any aches afterwards. That would never happen at 45. A spring was frequently in my step as a twenty something and the bounce is still there yet doesn’t come as easily today.
A message to all 40 something’s or older – stay within your abilities or comfort zone when competing athletically and don’t try to act as if you are twenty again. I have seen numerous people injured (often with pain for years) simply because they trained or competed as if they were still in college. A woman in my hometown was playing softball and ran the bases as if she was a track star; she never made it to home base and died. If she had run easily and comfortably, she might be on this earth today. Quality of life should be important and as we get older there needs to be a focus of sound judgment in any chosen athletic endeavor or you could have an aching knee or bad back for the rest of your life.
Whether you are 65, 55 or 45, it is never too late to change some lifestyle habits in order to enjoy a life equal to or better than ten years earlier. I am blessed in my 45th year – I wake up almost every day feeling good, without any aches or pains except the occasional back strain due to many years of basketball (including four intense ones in college) and a current dose of small children to lift up. In addition, I have not had a serious injury since my sophomore year in high school when I broke my collarbone.
And here’s the ultimate benefit of taking care of one’s physical, mental and spiritual being – I have only been sick 3 days in my life. That’s right, 3 days. There has never been a headache or the flu and none of those aforementioned three days found me bound to the bed. I have been truly fortunate in that regard.
Consider making a pledge with yourself to be more responsible, improve your health and help those in your circle to become more aware. If you care about your friends or family, don’t be afraid to get in their face and encourage them to make a change. Only they can make the necessary changes although a true friend will make the neglect and laziness very apparent.
Nothing is more important than your health. Without good health, the road in life will be full of cracks, extremely bad weather or a major car accident.
I will leave you with a thought provoking quote from one of my favorite authors; a man that has improved his life dramatically.
Try to realize that what stands between you and a different life are matters of a responsible choice.
Happy Gswede Sunday!
Barefoot on the Beach - Gswede's birthday bash ended on the sandy beaches of southern Sweden.
Great: notable; remarkable; exceptionally outstanding.
It’s not possible to be great in all 4 areas as greatness in just one aspect of life takes immense time, skill, sacrifice and dedication. I’ve only done one great thing in my life which was achieving a Division 1 collegiate basketball scholarship; a goal that found me practicing for hours nearly every day from ages 9-18. My only focus during those years was a) getting good grades in school and b) perfecting my basketball skills; everything else took a back seat. To give you an idea of the enormity of this task, consider that one only has a 3% chance (http://www.ncaa.org/) of playing NCAA collegiate basketball in the USA with less than 1% of high school seniors obtaining a Division 1 basketball scholarship.
Actually, I have two notable achievements as marrying my wife was my greatest move off the court!
I know women (in and outside my family) who are:
-- GREAT Mothers, GREAT Wives, Good Shape, Good Career…OR
-- GREAT Mothers, Good Wives, Great Shape, Good Career…OR
-- Good Mothers, Good Wives, Good Shape, Good Career
What I have never seen (or heard of) is a woman who is great in all four areas. In my opinion, it’s unachievable particularly if one wants to be great in a career. To reach the top in any profession will inevitably take away from the other three. Likewise, being a great mother and/or great wife will sap away the energy required to be in top management at work.
What a mother should be striving for is to be GOOD in all four areas and even this category is not easy to achieve.
How I define good:
1) Good Mother – Elements include (but not limited to) teaching/educating a child well, giving them love and values, setting boundaries, protecting them, feeding them nutritiously, giving them quality sleep, providing discipline and being consistent in her actions. Then she “lets them fly” and make their own mistakes and doesn’t suffocate them or show an abundance of criticism. A good mother lets their child bloom once adulthood arrives and tries not to be their best friend, destroy their dreams or live life vicariously through them.
It’s difficult to be a good mother (or father) if you don’t:
a) Master your Me Time – Men tend to do this better than women but it is extremely important to feed your soul or life might just pass you by. (See the link below to gain some “Me Time”.)
b) Know that life is about Benefits – If YOU are not first in your life, how can you be of benefit to others? Living one’s life for others while never taking care of YOU could lead to disaster in various aspects of life. (See the link below to learn about benefits.)
c) Respect Marriage – Infidelity is a serious wrecker of marriages and relationships. Have the courage to tell your partner that you are not happy or want to get out of the union instead of practicing unfaithfulness. (See the link below regarding falling for the flesh.)
2) Good Wife – There are a variety of elements to being a good wife and many ways to achieve it - depending on what the woman values, the man she is married to and what is important for both in the union. There are different strokes for different folks so in order not to misrepresent my thoughts, I won’t generalize.
Below are a few paragraphs I wrote about my wife last year in the article “Has Marriage been your Best Decision?” (The link follows)
When I met my wife, I could sense the sweetness in her soul and I knew in my heart that I wanted to explore and learn more about her. We were both fortunate to have that moment when we knew a life together could happen. From that time, a magnificent love has blossomed in ways I could have never imagined.
Good Mother – After meeting my wife's loving and warm mother, I knew that the acclamation to motherhood would be fairly easy for her. She impresses me in this area daily. Our son is very fortunate for her comforting ways.
Only you know if you are a good wife (or husband) as the face that some couples present to friends or the general public is quite different from what goes on behind closed doors. If marriage HAS NOT been your best decision, chances are that being a good wife (or husband) will remain elusive.
In talking with men over the years, a few elements were critical in order to be good:
a) Making your man feel appreciated -. Most men just want to know that they are appreciated for what they do. Take the time to tell or show your man the things you like, appreciate or admire about him.
b) Don’t nag your man - I have yet to meet a man who liked to be nagged. If there is an issue to address, talk about it openly and don’t nag.
c) No Drama – Both women and men can feel blue or have bad days. It’s never good to put one’s misery on the shoulder of another. Keep your drama to a bare minimum and when possible to yourself or a good friend.
3) Good Shape – If you are not in shape or overweight, what kind of example does that show your children? It does not take an incredible amount of time to eat nutriously, work out a few times a week and be in good shape. Both women and men complain about the lack of time to get in shape yet they will find the time to watch a few hours of TV each week! Having "no time" is a poor excuse. Keep in mind that being in good shape usually makes life easier, more productive and more enjoyable. Most of the women in my circle take this seriously although a few I know (in Sweden and the USA) don’t seem worried and are unfit or 10-15 kilos (22-33 lbs) overweight under the age of 40.
For those in the unfit category, it only gets tougher to lose weight or become fit as you age so I implore you to make a lifestyle change if you care about being healthy enough to enjoy playing with your grandchildren. If not, those golden years could be the most painful period in your life.
One of my articles about being in shape can be found at the following link:http://gswede-sunday.blogspot.com/2009/01/if-obama-has-time-for-exercise-what-is.html
4) Good Career – When a woman consistently achieves, is motivated and satisfied. The career should not take away from the family unit. Most women are the ROCK in the family and it can fracture or disintegrate if a career takes up the majority of the time unless the husband is a stay at home dad. That doesn’t mean that a woman cannot travel for weeks or work late nights. Time away can actually be good for the family especially with a father taking on more responsibility and spending time with the children alone.
Just being a mom, a wife, in shape and having a career is a job that requires immense energy, love, endurance, patience and discipline. I marvel at how some women excel in being proficient in these areas and I have profound respect for them! Most men could never understand or fathom the dedication and discipline it takes to manage the family triangle not to mention that a woman’s efforts are often taken for granted or under-appreciated.
If you’re a woman who wants to do it all, go for it but keep your focus grounded in reality! Make sure to go after it in a strategic way and don’t waste time, energy and years by striving for the unreachable “GREAT Mom/Wife/Shape/Career” status.
Good, Good, Good, Good is the wiser and more sensible choice.
Happy Gswede Sunday!
He thought my words were harsh and they were although I know he appreciated my sincerity. My intention was for it to be a wake-up call to act and move forward with his life. Sometimes, reading about a portion of one’s life can help one see the situation in a different light. I believe that my words (and subsequent conversations) helped as he finally made a positive Power Move – leaving NYC; something he should have done years ago.
He’s currently living in a much smaller and normal American city. As expected the adjustment has been damaging to his psyche because no matter how bad life is in NYC, one can always rely on the energy and electricity that only Manhattan can provide. I made a similar move away from NYC in the early 90’s but I (unlike him) embraced it and left in order to “get back to the basics” and re-gain some of the focus that had been lost. It worked wonders for me and in time I think he will feel the same way.
Now what to do?
Understandably, he’s having trouble figuring out which path to take with his life. I suggested getting a part time job in the public eye (i.e. Starbucks) so that he can meet potential connections and enjoy the lively interaction of customers. Maybe he meets someone who can help him get an important interview or a new friend – the key is keeping his spirit high as he continues to struggle with confidence. A job where he gets to enjoy the camaraderie of ordinary people is a good way to begin.
In early June, I read a blog post from Mark Cuban’s dynamic and always interesting blog, http://www.blogmaverick.com/. One of the things I admire about Mark is that he makes the time to blog while being a top businessman including ownership of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team. I met him once at the Reebok Sports Club in NYC and our talk about the NBA was short yet insightful. His life story is fascinating and inspiring so I encourage you to read about him.
The title of the post is called “Success and Motivation 2009” and inspired me to look at various elements in my own life to make sure I am doing ALL it takes to succeed. One of the points from the post is on being positive and my friend needs a dose of that as his energy and attitude are frequently low unlike the man I fondly remember when he was flying high in his twenties. Below is a point from the post followed by the link to the full text:
5. Start the day motivated with a positive attitude.
You are going to screw up. We all do. I cant tell you how many times I did and do. It happens too often. No matter what happens, every morning, the minute after you wipe away the crust from your eyes, remind yourself that you are going to enjoy every minute of the day. You are going to enjoy the 20 interviews you have. You are going to enjoy waiting in the heat for your roommate to pick you up afterwards. You are going to enjoy realizing how frayed your collar is becoming and how sick you are of your one tie. You are going to enjoy all the bullshit you have to deal with as you chase your goals and dreams because you want to remember them all. Each and every experience will serve as motivation and provide great memories when you finally make it all happen.
I implore everyone to click on the link above, most urgently those who have lost their way, fallen on hard times, lost a job or are unsure about what direction to take in life.
My friend had the courage and motivation to get away from the excitement, perils and temptations of NYC – a move that he had to make. That was Act 1.
Act 2 could be a job where he can earn a decent wage and bring an atmosphere of stability to his life. This act can and should include getting in shape, enjoying the calmness of middle America and doing a bit of volunteering.
While working he can begin to figure out Act 3, namely what does he want to do and who can help him get there. Along the way he needs to absorb inspiration from a variety of sources which can include books, friends, family, Internet or mentors. I offered him the chance to speak with one of my closest mentors and I hope he has.
Act 4 could be paying close attention to three points in Mark Cuban’s post as my friend tackles the uphill climb and strives to get back to the glorious mountaintop of his past. They are:
1) Take lots of chances
2) Figure out how to be the best
3) The cheaper you can live, the greater your options.
His final act, number 5 is the one I and many of his friends will be waiting for and expecting. In it, I see him getting his life back to a happy and fulfilled state although the steps to happiness will only be successful if he makes responsible choices and avoids the enticing yet dangerous world of irresponsibility. There is no easy road to a quality life without desire, discipline, relentlessness, passion, energy, giving, responsibility, ethics and common sense; elements my friend displayed wonderfully in Europe yet threw by the wayside in NYC. He has a chance (maybe his last) to get back on Broadway and enjoy a life worthy of his talents.
I usually give parting words at the end of my articles but in this case I will let Mark Cuban’s final words from his post provide the urgent question to my friend:
It’s your choice. What are you going to do?
Happy Gswede Sunday!
The 5th year of my "American Basketball Coach in Sweden" program. It was a big success in 2009 and our best year ever! Coach Steve (black shorts) from Pennsylvania ran the 3 day clinic in Stockholm. (www.Gswede.blogspot.com)
For first time visitors or those who don’t know the city well, I would advise you to connect with someone who has lived there or is currently living there so you don’t “spin your wheels” trying to do to much, not enough or the wrong things. Random exploration of a city is a beautiful thing and can be a cool way to see NYC but planning a few things of interest might be a wiser choice.
Below is a NYC visitor’s guide that my good friends (Manfred and Bill) and I came up with to help fulfil the needs of those visiting soon or in the future. Manfred grew up in NYC while Bill has lived there for many years. This is not a definitive list as there are a plethora of elements to experience or explore. Take a taste from our list and talk to those who know the city well so that you come up with a NYC package suited to your palette that will bloom once it’s opened!
If you ever have the desire or opportunity to live in NYC, I strongly suggest a whole hearted embrace. It’s not for everyone and frankly many avoid the experience as they can’t or don’t want to handle the daily grind in one of the most challenging places on earth. It will test you on any level that you can imagine with the highs being magical or dreamlike and the lows being chaotic, overwhelming, stressful or burnout. It usually takes about a year or two to find that comfortable middle ground and once there, NYC is beyond intoxicating.
And let’s not forget how we bounced back beautifully after the horrific tragedy on September 11, 2001. What other city could have done that? My article on the day can be found at the following link:
Two personal recommendations:
1) Henry’s (www.henrysnyc.com) – Go see my friend Henry at his American Noveau restaurant on 105 and Broadway. His brunch has great food and the hamburger I had last time was absolutely delicious! There is always a diverse mix of people and the atmosphere is lively. In addition, it’s a wonderful meeting place for a large group of people. (More information is below)
2) Driving around Manhattan at Night – If you have access to a car, take 30-60 minutes and drive solo up and down NYC after midnight. It’s a unique and fascinating way to view the city with its random action, beautiful architecture, and famous sites – not to mention the jolt from the general pulse of the city that a car so coolly provides. I have done it several times and each time was exhilarating and quite relaxing after a busy day. Often, you can hit all the green lights going from lower Manhattan to the upper east or west side which is a soothing experience. Whether a first time visitor or a long time resident, you will not be disappointed.
Enjoy our guide and feel free to comment at the end on any must do’s or places/experiences you have found worthwhile and would recommend for my readers.
Absorb all you can on your first or next visit to the Big Apple!
Happy Gswede Sunday!
Sites and Attractions:
Central Park – (A magnificent place and a must see)
-- Central Park Zoo
-- Shakespeare Gardens behind the castle in Central Park
-- Playground for Kids – Great play area down near the Time Warner building in the park – huge with water.
Walk across Brooklyn Bridge (could combine with brunch at Superfine in Brooklyn)
Brooklyn Heights Promenade (could combine with lunch at Grimaldi’s) – Amazing view of Southeast Manhattan!
Cloisters (Take A train up to Dyckman Street) – Note view of Palisades in New Jersey so go on a clear day to see the views from up high.
Walk along Riverside Park (Take the #1 train to 79th Street and walk all the way west. The rotunda will take you to steps that lead to a restaurant that leads to the riverside park. Walk due south all the way to 59th street.
Central Park Boat House (take B or C to 72nd Street and walk to the center of Central Park). Ask and people will direct you.
MOMA - Museum of Modern Art – 11 West 53rd Street (take E or V train to 5th Avenue stop)
Guggenheim – 1071 5th Avenue at 89th Street (4, 5, or 6 train to 86th Street. Walk west on 86th Street, turn right at 5th Avenue and proceed north to 88th Street)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – 1000 5th Avenue (take #6 to 77th Street and walk due West to 5th avenue)
Whitney Museum – 945 Madison Avenue (take #6 train to 77th Street stop. Walk due west to Madison ave between 74th and 75th streets)
A cheap Bus tour – take the Limited city bus from 96th and 5th all the way downtown…
See the Statue of Liberty in the evening from Battery Park downtown.
Chelsea Galleries – Take A train to 23rd Street. Walk due west. All the galleries are between 21st street and 26th street between 10th and 11th streets
Shopping: The village
Bleeker Street in the village -- get a Magnolia cupcake near Bleeker and Hudson
United Nations – Guided Tour of the General Assembly Building – 405 East 42nd Street (take #6 to 42nd Street stop and walk due east to 1st avenue. Tourist entrance at 45th street entrance. Note the exhibits in the main lobby as well.
Madison Square Garden (MSG) – 33rd and Broadway. Take a tour of the “World’s most Famous Arena”. Catch a NY Knick basketball or NY Ranger hockey game if you can!
Haru (multiple locations in city)
433 Amsterdam Avenue (between 80th and 81st Street)
Sunday brunch: (it’s called the Blue-grass brunch with a live band)
126 Front Street
Directions: Take F train to York Street stop. Exit and walk down the hill and make a right on Front Street
Henry’s (American Noveau)
2745 Broadway at 105th Street
Directions: Take number 1 train to 103rd Street
51 Avenue B (4th and Avenue B)
Lunch: (Italian pizza)
19 Old Fulton Street
Directions: Take A or C train to High Street. Exit in the back of the train. Walk downhill because Cadman Plaza West Street turns into Old Fulton.
17 Prince Street
Directions: Take #6 to Spring Street stop. Walk to corner of Prince and Elisabeth)
Kelly and Ping
127 Greene Street
Directions: Take F, D or B to Broadway/Lafayette stop. Walk to Greene between West Houston and Prince
Dinner: (Spanish Tapas)
125 East 17th Street
Directions: Take #6 to 14th street. Walk up Park Avenue and make right on 17th street.
79 Orchard Street
Directions: Take F train to Delancey Street, Walk up Orchard Street, between Grand and Broome.
Dinner: (New England Seafood)
Mary’s Fish Camp
64 Charles Street
Directions: Take #1 Train to Christopher Street. Walk up West 4th Street to Charles Street.
Dinner: (Asian Fusion)
75 9th Avenue
Directions: Take A or C to 14th Street. Walk to 9th Avenue and 15th Street
88 10th Avenue
Directions: Take A or C to 14th Street. Walk to 10th Avenue and 16th Street
Dinner: (Cuban-Asian Fusion)
Asia de Cuba
237 Madison Avenue
Directions: Take #6 train to 33rd Street. Walk to 37th and Madison Avenue
Bars: (All in Soho)
Soho Grand Hotel (West Broadway north of Canal Street)
Thompson Hotel (Thompson and north of Broome)
Lucky Strike (Grand between West Broadway and Wooster)
Café Noir (Corner of Grand and Thompson)
Village Vanguard – 178 7th Avenue (take #1, 2 or 3 to 14th street stop. Walk south on 7th Avenue)
SOB’s – 204 Varick Street (take #1 to Houston Street stop. Walk to corner of Varick and Houston)
The magnificent beauty of Central Park in Manhattan