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My December Challenge-the Big E

December 2, 2012

After some time for reflection during the Thanksgiving Holidays, I had a sudden inspiration that I want to share with you. I’ve read so much and even blogged about the importance of regular exercise, and in fact, have maintained a fairly regular program the past 2-3 years. Yet, recently as I was considering the sometimes difficult task of reaching and maintaining an ideal weight, I read that actually 60 minutes most days is more effective if you are still trying to lose weight, and indeed makes it easier to keep a more consistent register on the scales if more time is spent moving.

With those thoughts in mind, I have begun to actually log another 15-20 minutes of aerobic activity on the days I do exercise, and I do like the results. Yet, I also wonder- how many miles have I cycled and walked this past year- or past few years? I have not kept track! When the Treadmill mechanic gave our machine a check-up about 1.5 years ago, he said we had put 700 miles on the machine. I thought that was pretty good, for 2 family members that were pretty regularly using it for it’s intended purposes. Still, even then I wondered how many were mine?

My December Challenge Log

My December Challenge Log

Hence- this challenge. I spent 15-30 minutes earlier today putting together a spreadsheet (I used Excel). I will keep the printed version in our “Exercise Room” and make a point to log what I do each day. I am trying to keep it simple and focused on what I want to know- How many miles cycled, and how many walked. Also, I try to do push-ups some days, as a way to make sure I am ready for the water ski season. I know that sit-ups are great for a core workout and keeping the abs in better shape, though I tend to be lest consistent doing both of those. Maybe weekly I will enter the stats in the computer and let it crunch my totals.

My December Challenge? Actually logging my mileage. I want to know my average output this month. Then, come January first, I will have a baseline in 2 regards- 1) Was I able to actually faithfully record the workouts? 2) So that was what I am doing now- how much I logged in a month- how will that compare to each month next year. You likely see where I am going with this- If I can do this for a month- can I keep it up next year?

My "Gym"

My “Gym”

Recently I read an article that suggested choosing a destination to “travel” to as a family as a way to get the family moving and make engaging in physical activity more appealing. Maybe I will turn this around and see how far I traveled, then surprise myself and see where I ended up? Think I will get lost that way?

While I am at it, I thought I would throw this idea out to you, to see if you would choose to be challenged also. I like photography, and have often considered trying to do the 30 day photography challenge that has been posted on Facebook. Not ready to commit to that- but am ready to take on this 31-day challenge. I don’t have to be creative, I just need to keep putting on the workout clothes and hitting my “gym”.

Things to note- I do believe it is important to cross train and give muscles a 24 hour rest, which is why I will alternate emphasis on different machines and also not do push-ups every day. Also, I honor the Biblical Seventh-day Sabbath, and so refrain from my usual activities every Saturday. Thus, I have left off Saturday on my log. If I do get together with family and take a hike or leisurely stroll, that will just be bonus.

By the way, there are a number of websites and apps that can assist with inspiring and recording activities, such as In Step for Life. Feel free to use whatever support you can garner, because despite how easily it is to get into bad habits, making daily physical activity a habit doesn’t usually come quite as easy.

What do you think? Expect an update in 30 days . . .


Something Yellow- Something New

November 18, 2012

Have you ever felt like you were missing out on something– or that there is something  more you should be doing in life? Have you broken your own action barrier and attempted something new? How about your taste buds? Tried anything different recently? (And I am not talking about just trying a new restaurant, which can have its merits also).


Something New

For several seasons past, in our Live Fit Family Challenge program we have offered up a menu item that has never been served in my home, until the other week. We like to offer this food item on the week that we have our children attendees cook. We found out that the kids really enjoy preparing the food, and in reality, our attendees like the meal! What could be better than taking a whole food, as grown, baking it, fussing with it, adding a dressing to it, and serving it up as the next best menu item, sure to give your taste buds renewed zest for this journey toward healthier eating?

So, finally, after a couple years of this, I broke down and bought one. Yep, right out of the local corner grocery store. It was basically round, and somewhat oblong, and a pretty yellow color. Following the provided recipe directions carefully, I turned on my oven, located a shallow baking dish, cut the lovely vegetable in half, cleaned out the seeds, turned both cut sides down in the dish and ran some water in it, to about a 1/2″ depth. Then it baked in my oven for 30 minutes, after which I pulled out the squash and let it cool.


Kids can try this!

What happened next was enlightening. No wonder the kids had so much fun! It is actually quite amazing. I took a fork and started raking through the pulp, which produced strings of squash, not unlike the results of the spaghetti noodle maker that I have used previously. With the addition of my favorite spaghetti sauce, we now had an attractive and tasty meal. Even better, after sitting for a couple days in the fridge, I still had great leftovers for my lunch, since the squash “noodles” were quite hardy, though definitely tender, and held together well.


Try it- You Just Might Like It!

I have since purchased for the second time in my life, another spaghetti squash, and can’t wait to repeat the same process, and see if anyone else in the family is happy about round 2.

So take the leap. Try something new. Fix something new. Confuse your taste buds by trying something you never have before, or have always figured just wasn’t the taste for you! Eat to your health– you’ll likely learn to enjoy it, and your overall wellness will improve!

Acts of Kindness

November 4, 2012

November tends to be the month we spend more time talking about thankfulness and gratitude. As I recently attended a retreat with a theme of Acts of Kindness- I have considered the topic further. Not too long ago I was gifted with the book by John Kralik-A Simple Act of Gratitude– How learning to say Thank You Changed My Life. I enjoyed reading about his journey toward learning to appreciate others, telling them so, and the positive effect it had on his life. This has caused me to ponder and highlight a few events of a similar nature in my life.Image

What could be better than your college age son showing up unexpectedly at the airport, when your next anticipated visit was to be at least a month in the future? Well, it wasn’t totally unexpected. He knew he was coming home for a long weekend while he had an extra day off school. His dad knew he was coming- how else would he get home from the airport without an unwanted expense? It was just that they decided to supply mom with a fun and unanticipated surprise. After all, it was necessary to go pick up the guest speaker for the weekend, at that specific time, that Thursday night. While I was busy trying to see if I really did remember what the speaker looked like, my husband’s grin just got bigger and bigger as he was soon to announce- “He’s” here! Oh- that looks an awful like – my son, as a matter of fact. What a heart warming surprise and act of kindness that was. Yes, no problem with gratitude for that moment of the day.

Flashback 16 years to a busy day of packing and getting ready to move, with a little one to care for and be concerned about, regarding our move of 2000+ miles, to begin the next day. While many showed up in support and offered to haul boxes out to the moving van, a dear friend showed up on my doorstep, cleaning bucket in vinyl glove-clad hands, ready to tackle the nearest bathroom. Of all the things that people did for me that day, her simple act of willingness to tackle a dirty, unwelcome job meant the most to me. I will be forever grateful to her, for stepping in to fill a need I didn’t even realize I had.

It likely is challenging enough at times, to express appreciation for what people have done in your life, through a verbal and email acknowledgement, let alone actually getting out paper and pen, doing some desk-top publishing, or purchasing a card to sign, address, stamp, and place in the mail to someone who has graced you with their version of kindness for the day. Yet I want to challenge you to push the envelope a little further.

What act can you do to lighten someone’s load, and maybe even surprise them with your own version of be nice to your “neighbor” moment? As I have spent the last few blogs talking about all-around health and touching on Spiritual and Mental Health, as part of our overall wellness, this approach to life can do wonders for our own mental and social health! When we choose to take the focus off of ourselves, and spend energy on someone else’s behalf, something changes in the way we view things, that positively adjusts our approach to life. As we move into the Thanksgiving season, take the opportunity to find time to remember those who have done you a favor, and pass it on to someone(s) who can benefit from your favor. Anytime throughout the year is a good time to remember those around you and seek to lighten their load.

Need some starter ideas? Share a basket of muffins and cup of tea with a neighbor. Write that note of encouragement to a friend or acquaintance. Locate that soup kitchen that needs extra hands on deck for all the meals they do on behalf of your community. Look around, and likely it won’t take you too long to settle on something that needs your expertise and attention. Prove true the Biblical injunction found in Isaiah 58- that when you reach out and help someone- your own healing will in fact follow. Now that is a kind of wellness I can live with. Others have gone before in this arena of appreciating others and being thankful for life in general. Look to their wisdom, or that of the Bible if you need some inspiration!Image


Click here for more on John Kralik’s book

On Balance

October 9, 2012

In August, I started a conversation that included life questions to consider. More recently, I followed that up with some insights that I gained while on a hike up a mountain.  With fond memories, I recall my summer experiences on a lake not too far from our home, which we like to frequent. We have spent many a relaxing sunny day and quiet evening, camping and boating. One of my favorite past times includes water skiing, and more specifically slalom, or single skiing. It has been fun over the years to develop my “expertise”, which simply means that I can get up, have fun, and enjoy challenging myself, without major injury.

Catching a wave- In Balance

My family blessed me with a real slalom ski for my Birthday this year, instead of just one of a pair of basic double skiis that I had been using. Now there was a challenge, that I couldn’t quite overcome- that is- getting up on the ski! When we figured out the problem, we fixed it, by moving the boot. Then I could actually get up, and boy, did that ski grip the water better. Ohh, now if we just flattened the wake from the boat, I might actually be able to fly across the “wake” like a pro. Well, not likely, but it still is fun. Which brings me to my point- Single skiing takes a certain amount of balance. If you have it, or have figured out the nack for being able to get up on the ski (I do deep-water starts), and you can maintain the balance crossing wakes, life is fun. Too me, there is nothing more exhilarating that flying across smooth water just before sunset . . .

But if you don’t have balance– well it is not quite so much fun. This past summer, I decided my hands needed a break and I would check out my son’s wake board. I’d been up on it before, but the last couple years had failed. Then I figured out I had to turn almost immediately and pull out of the water, and voila! I was up. But now what? When I felt ready, I positioned myself per the usual with a single ski, and prepared to cross the wake, and fell flat on my face. Ouch! Yes, I do

Out of Balance are You?

believe I felt the beginnings of a headache. My son assured me that I should try again, but use my hips, not my arms to take up the slack and maintain my balance. Oh.  After additional attempts, and by the end of our boating season, I discovered how to stay up and balanced on the wider wake board and began to enjoy it- sort of.

I believe life is like that, in  both the mental and physical, and likely even social and spiritual realms.  Some people seem to have it figured out. They carry on through life like it is no big deal. They work, commune with their family, stay healthy, and maybe even pursue additional degrees and other mentally challenging pursuits. Life seems to be in balance, enjoyable, and keeps a smile on their face and illness is not a contending factor. For others, everything takes more energy than they have. Maybe they spend an inordinate amount of time at their paying job. I’ve seen some young people lost in the books they are reading, only to come away long enough to partake of a little so-called nourishment. Others find solace in food, and more of it than they would care to admit, or their body can assimilate and burn off.

I believe if asked, most people could recite things they could do to be healthy and stay in balance so-to-speak. They could also likely iterate things they are doing that keep them out-of-balance and struggling to keep their nose above water. But if they really thought of it like the beginner skier or any skier, learning to slalom, would they spend more time trying to figure it out? What is it that is throwing them off their game?  I had to smile at my teenage son a year ago. He figured he could single ski like mom, and so set about double skiing, with intent to drop a ski and end up on one ski. Well, not so fast. There’s a trick to maintaining your balance while you kick the extra ski and settle your foot back on the single ski. It is do-able . . . but not so for him last year. This past summer was a different story- he figured it out, and had fun!

Are you out of balance in any area of life? We are physical, social, mental, and spiritual beings. It takes a little of everything to make life worth the living, and enjoyable in the long run. Things like a basic 8-hour night’s sleep, 2-3 nutritious meals a day, a healthy social and spiritual life, all go towards improving the attitude and keeping mind and body in shape. I would even go so far as to say that one does not have to sort out the “balance point” on one’s own.  I love what the Psalmist says about God : “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go” counseling and watching over you . Ask Him to guide you to prioritize  your daily schedule and adjust the quantity of inputs and outputs- how much work, how much computer time, how much food, physical activity, devotional time and the rest of the things that seek a portion or portions, of your days and weeks.  Like I alluded to earlier, out-of-balance on a narrow board, at varying speeds on the water can mean splash down time. But in-balance, on a lovely afternoon, whether the water is smooth, or not so smooth, is much more fun, exhilarating, and satisfying. I don’t know about you, but there’s enough sickness and sadness about, such that I want whatever fulfillment I can get out of life, that is not at the expense of other’s. To me it’s worth the effort to seek and attain balance.

Fulfilled and Relaxed.

It’s All in the Conversation

September 30, 2012

Making Progress!

Just weeks ago we made what has now become an annual trek for us- walking/hiking 8 miles and climbing about 3000 vertical feet, in the space of 4-5 hours, with a small group of would-be supporters. Supporting what? Well 3 years ago, a friend made the same hike on her 70th birthday. But the following year, she had been struck with cancer, and as yet has not been able to make the climb. So we made the climb in her honor. This time, there were 7 of us, most of which had done this the previous year.

The La Luz trail, which takes its travelers to the Sandia Crest in New Mexico is famous for its rock slide. I understand it is 19 switchbacks from the lower portion to the last one, which puts one on a saddle, very close to optimum elevation, and the trail levels out from there, leaving one with a mostly level path on a steep hillside, ending at the tram- a welcome transport device that would return us to our vehicles, at the “bottom” and the end of our journey.

This time, as I was climbing, I  decided to see if I could count all the switchbacks.  I was doing fairly well until about the 7th one. Then, as three of us were now grouped together and trudging up the hill, I lost track. Always curious, I had some questions for the new friend that joined my husband and I. While I was learning new things, like the habits of bees and bee hives and aspirations of trips and work in other states,  I was still putting one foot in front of the other, and making upward progress. My point? Before I realized it, I was at the saddle and most of the climb was over, I had lost track of counting, and the journey was rather pleasant-except for the sore spots on my heels.

Much More to Climb!

Later I got to thinking about this trek and our journey through life. Being a Believer, I have been working on my relationship with Jesus. It came to me, that, if I keep my focus on Him, and keep up a daily conversation, maybe my trek through this world will not seem so long or difficult. Sometimes I don’t know what He has in mind, and sometimes life can be discouraging, but sometimes- there are surprises and season’s of joy.

After we had refreshed ourselves with snacks,and the others caught up, we continued on. Shortly we were surprised by the object of our hike- my friend had actually ridden up on the tram (previously a very scary thing for her to do) and then started walking to meet us, from the top. We celebrated her ability to join us and accomplish as much as she did. We chatted and enjoyed some group company, as much as the narrow trail, at high elevation and steep surroundings would allow, while also taking in the beautiful sites of the changing fall colors.

The View From Above

What a satisfying day! Life is not always a bed of roses. It can be difficult. But we don’t have to travel the way by ourselves. Along with friends, family, and other supporters- best of all, we have God. He wants to walk with us, get to know us, and be involved in a very active, dynamic relationship. Often that relationship can even take on tangible attributes that leave us smiling, satisfied, and rejuvenated for the journey ahead! I would wish that for you!

Chip Suspended Near Nightlight- How Did They Do That?

August 21, 2012

I knew I should have taken a picture when I first saw it.Then I would have the digital proof that I wasn’t imagining things. A couple of months ago when I decided to instigate domestic measures on my home (again, though somewhat belatedly). In the process of vacuuming and cleaning up extra cobwebs and dust, I noticed something incredible. There, wrapped in a web on the hall nightlight, was a stray carob chip- the miniature kind. I can only conjecture that one fell from a hand when raiding the freezer one day, and ended up on the floor. Now the freezer is about 6-8 feet from the wall containing the night light and who knows where it finally fell. All I know, is that is was now suspended in cobwebs, by the spider that considered the nightlight his home- which is approximately 14 inches off the floor and above a standard floorboard register.

Need a little light on the subject?

Just recently we drove the miles and set up our son at a private university. As part of the transition into college life, a special dedication service was held. The President, Dr. Anderson, had three questions for the incoming freshman and soon to exit parents-

1) How did they do that? As in the musical selection professionally presented by three accomplished musicians (faculty members) from the Music Department (done just minutes earlier). How did they get to be able to play so well, to hold their current Faculty positions?

2) Where are you going? As in, you are the graduating class of 2016. Do you plan to graduate, do you plan to put in the work that is required to accomplish that lofty and somewhat long range goal (most likely four years hence).

3) What will you do when you get there? Have you planned this out well? What do you hope to accomplish, or be doing in the end? For whom do you work toward that goal? Has there been spiritual guidance and forethought to your plans? What have you been called to do?

I believe those thoughts are relevant to the journey each of us is on currently. Apply those questions to your whole life- Spiritually, Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally.

If we could have read the mind of the spider- what were the thoughts behind the struggle to achieve its feat of hefting a small tasty morsel up to its lair? What did it take on the part of the spider to accomplish that? How long did it take?

Some people asking us, and present information on MINDFUL activities- encouraging us to live and act- after thinking about what we are doing and what we want to accomplish. Today I encourage us to consider our ways and the questions asked above- as it relates to all aspects of our lives. Maybe we can discuss each category in more detail, in the near future. For now, hopefully you have a little food for thought, until next time.

Red, White, and Blew with some TLC

June 26, 2012

He talked about it just recently. Hand held up, shaking something that supposedly rattled, although those behind and further away could not tell. But the children could. As Abel shared his children’s story, before a small group of children, he talked of something he had never seen, would only see once, and then never see again. Something having to do with faith- that notion that sometimes we have to act on faith- operating off of an intangible knowledge, believing that what we have heard or read is really true. He had me baffled. If it rattled and he eventually would see it, it certainly wasn’t air he held in his hands. What was it?

Celebrating Red, White, and Blue

You know, our Creator formed our bodies, among a zillion things our body’s can do, he gave us White blood cells to be our warriors against infection and other invaders. He gave us Red blood cells to carry oxygen and other nutrients to the many various kinds of cells in our body. Each has its job and usually very efficient about the work, with little complaining. Then He gave us examples and instructions of how to care for that body. The Israelites of old walked in the desert sun, breathed fresh air, drank in the water given them, and partook of the diet provided for them- without disease among them for a period of time. Following God’s commands, life held it’s demands, but they functioned without sickness as a problem to compound the cares of the day, and in faith- they carried on- until the pressures of the day weighed too heavy and they caved to the momentary pleasures that certain choices brought them.

Just recently I was given a choice. Would I forsake all wisdom and opt for sheer fun and enjoyment for the moment, or would I wise up and realize that my immediate choice would have long-term, even tangible ramifications, that I just might not appreciate at sometime in the near future? But the pressure of the moment was just too great. I had to do it one more time- just one more. So despite the blowing wind on the water- it really was calmer over there where I was headed- wasn’t it? It would surely be okay. I had been doing my exercises all year . . . So my husband dutifully complied and I jumped back in the water- it was getting to be such a nice temperature, and the sun was shining, and there is just almost nothing more fun than gliding across the water on a couple of boards.. The going was great-at first. Then the wind blew harder, and the waves were a little worse. And then I didn’t want to stop in the middle of it, because it would be hard to stay with- and get back in- the boat. But as my legs strained harder to keep my feet on top of the skiis and the skiis on top of the waves, and the arms got tired of hanging on- I finally conceded that this had obviously not been a good choice at this juncture of the day. So I gave the signal and eventually threw the rope, and got back in the boat. Relief!! But that was relatively short lived as the day wore on and the next morning I woke up to most muscles in my body suggesting that I had made a bad choice and over-exerted. Will I ever learn? Momentary pleasures are not always the wisest choice in the heat of a moment, or even the heat of a day on the lake.

Listening to the radio the other day, a health talk host was asked if, according to the preceding question, it meant that someone who was suffering the ill effects of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Lung problems or otherwise should just give up and not worry about doing those things which are recommended to maintain good health. The quick response was that – Oh no- your body wants to be healthy and will start responding immediately to positive choices that allow it to function more effectively and efficiently. No matter where you are on the continuum of sickness or wellness, one may begin to choose healthy foods and activities and benefit from such.

One editor of a professional journal was asked about TLC– Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes, and what that aspect of modern medicine had to do with his practice these days. Essentially he responded that while many care providers start with medicines, he prefers to ask his patients what they are willing to do, and how soon they plan to commit to the necessary changes- that will help lower their blood pressure, reduce their blood sugars, thereby delaying, or even avoiding the untoward effects those diseases have on the body. Even small changes in diet and 5%-10% weight loss can improve blood sugar and blood pressure- just to mention two of the many things that get better with care.

My question today– will you consider the Red, White and Blew of today’s story, and fight for your freedom, as the red, white and blue that flies on flag poles around our country, symbolizing the freedoms that were fought so hard to obtain for us by our forefathers? Can we take it on faith that it was worth the struggle? Can you learn from your past mistakes, and my poor choice- that immediate gratification is not always sound advice? Take little steps today toward freedom from that ills that grip you.

What might you do?  Here are a few quick tips to get you started.

  • Drink 8- 8oz glasses of water (or more if indicated)
  • Fill half your plate with veggies (and some fruit), leaving 25% for a protein portion (plant-based is better than animal-based) and 25% for a whole grain type of portion- brown rice, wheat pasta . . .
  • Find at least 30 minutes daily to be active- even up to 60 minutes.
  • Find time to celebrate and worship your Creator God- developing a trust relationship.

Oh- and the object that Abel referred to?  It was a . . . . peanut. Hid in it’s shell, it had never been seen before, was seen when he cracked the shell, never to be seen again as he swallowed that bit of protein right down, right in front of us and all the children. Now that took faith to believe what he said initially was true- but in the end, it was impossible to argue with. Besides, peanuts were shared all around in the end. Now take advantage of wellness activities today, and the wealth of it, will be shared for a lifetime. 

Get the Sparks Flying in your life.

S. Urquhart (2012). Clinician Reviews. Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes

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