A different kind of list


Some group or another published a list of the most influential people in health and fitness for 2013, and though I have some issues with some of the people on there (Dr. Phil? Really?) and have heard of less than half of the others, it pleased me no end to see some of my personal favorites make the cut.

Shaun T. Insanity, T25. Motivation oozing from his Instagram and Facebook posts.

Tony Horton. The man behind the P90X (and all its variations) brand. He’s 55 and corny as heck, but there is no question that his workouts are effective effective effective.

Chalene Johnson, creator of my all-time favorite workout Chalene Extreme. She’s inspiring, motivating, and down-to-earth real despite her very hard-earned success. I would follow her anywhere.

Michael Pollan (of course) – what foodie can resist him? Mark Bittman, for the same reason.

Jonathan Fields, whose inclusion was interesting to me, as his work is in the “life balance” kind of health as opposed to the more traditional “eat right and sweat a lot” advice.

I posted this list on my Facebook wall, where a friend promptly fired back, “Where are you? This is BS!” Which I took as a huge compliment, even though he later on said he’d posted that on the wrong wall.

But it did make me think. Who are our personal gurus, the people we look to for advice and inspiration? I thought I’d share mine here, in no particular order. And yes, I’m focusing on the “health and fitness” angle, though I’ll include the Jonathan Fields definition here too.

  1. Tricia Lucas. Tricia is a friend of mine here in Charlottesville, very knowledgeable about nutrition and alternative therapies. When I have a question about vitamins and nutrients, she’s my absolute GO TO.
  2. Lindsey Neal. Another neighbor (and a Hospice doc to boot), Lindsey manages to infuse everything she does with excitement and energy. She is CONSTANTLY positive and upbeat, and I look to her for a dose of “rah rah” when I need it.
  3. Jen Lucas. I’ve known Jen for a long time (we were sorority sisters together at UVA) and my respect for her has only grown. Her work these days is in helping people find balance in their lives, or really helping people see the balance in their lives – and she helps me immensely every day, whether she knows it or not.
  4. My challengers. Every time I work with a group of people to increase their fitness levels, I am humbled and inspired. This group right now is no exception. They’re working with all kinds of obstacles, from time constraints to money constraints to physical constraints, yet every day they are going after their health doggedly. They’re sharing what’s working and what’s not, and they are lifting each other (and themselves) up in the process.
  5. Walker Thornton. Walker is a sex blogger who’s also in a writing group with me. Her posts make me think, challenge my expectations, and ultimately have opened my eyes to an aspect of my health that I wasn’t exactly comfortable being aware of.

There may be more that I’m leaving off the list, but for now, these women are my inspiration. Who is on YOUR list?


  • Shaun T inspires me to dig deeper, to count to ten on a leg lift instead of giving up at 5.
  • My children inspire me, sometimes to fits of absolute incredulity and more often to experience moments of clarity and joy.
  • A certain ingredient will inspire a recipe, or send me scurrying to a cookbook to find the best option for dinner that night.
  • A friend’s email or phone call or picture posted on social media can inspire laughter, or tears.
  • A rude driver can inspire me to sink to his/her level, fuming mad and shaking sometimes.


There’s an image floating around Facebook of a woman surrounded by her three kids. All are wearing Superman colors. She is clad in workout clothes (and full makeup), showing off her washboard abs; the kids are cute and smiling and wearing clean clothes (all are under the age of 4. If you have kids, you understand my point.) The caption is “WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE?”

Her point, if you read the explanation behind it (she’s had such a vitriolic response, plus all the “Go get ‘em” comments, that she had to write an explanation), is that she manages to stay healthy and fit even with three kids – and that having kids is not an excuse to stop taking care of yourself.

Two people have sent this to me outside of Facebook, and countless others have sent me the link within Facebook. I’ve gotten into at least three different discussions about it, although you’d think I’d have learned to leave well enough alone.

I applaud her work. I think it’s great that she’s figured out how to have a body strong enough to parent well AND work out, that she’s managed to organize her time and her priorities to fit it all in. Heck, I know people with no kids who can’t do that.

I do not, however, find this inspiring.

What would be inspiring? What would motivate me to seek her out to ask her advice or want to work out or realize that my reaction to my life is well within my control?

Different words. Some kind of positive statement. Something more along the lines of “You can too!” or “Love them enough to love yourself” or something. “30 minutes a day.” Something other than a guilt trip.

Words and images can be very inspiring. This one makes me think long and hard about the combination of the two.