Be Totally Fit for Life!

 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

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The posts on this website are for informational purposes only. Please, check with your health care provider before trying any new exercise or weight loss program. You will find articles about health, nutrition, exercise, relationships, Christian wellness, self-image, the Bible, and hazards of the New Age movement prevalent in the general health, fitness, and wellness communities. My hope is to encourage you on your journey to total health as you live out your Christian faith.

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Set the Tone for a Totally Healthy School Year

Posted on August 15, 2019 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)


Photo from Vistaprint Free Stock.


I've heard parents and teachers exclaim, "School starts next week. Can you believe it?" Frantically they shop for kids' clothes and school supplies. All those forms will come home to be filled out and returned to teachers. Football practice and cheerleading tryouts place many parents' backsides in the seats of bleachers waiting… waiting… waiting for kids to finish. In all of the madness, when will you get to take care of you so you can take care of them more manageable? How can you set the tone for a totally healthy school year for everyone in your family? Even soccer moms and dads need to continue or begin living healthy while progressing toward weight loss goals. You influence your kids' health practices by your own example by maintaining consistency across the board. Here are a few tips and helps to get started:


1. Pray with your kids before they go to school in the morning. Read the Bible passage for the day from your Bible app. Send everyone off with God's Word in their hearts while giving Him charge of everyone's day. Do your devotions at lunchtime or while they are at their after school events.


2. When they practice  for their after school activities, you walk. Take a walk around the track or do some laps through the school building. If there is a more private space available, try doing bodyweight exercises.


3. Take your walk to the stairs or bleachers. It's an excellent way to increase your cardio without running. If the coach isn't using the track for team practice, find out if you can walk or jog the track.


4. Break your workout up throughout your day. One of the ways I do this is to do one set of bodyweight exercises three times interspersed in my day. I take a walk or bike in the evening.


5. Pack healthy snacks for on the way home for after-school activities or on the way home from school, that is, if you pick your kids up from school. Avoid the fast-food drive-through to save calories and money while protecting everyone's health.


6. Avoid buying the pre-packaged lunch items for yours and your kids' lunches. We use snack-size zipper bags for small items like nuts and sandwich size bags for sandwiches, cut veggies, and fruit. The only pre-packaged food I buy is applesauce cups. Set up an assembly line the night before and enlist helpers. Remember to put a frozen ice pack in lunches that contain foods like meats.


7. Prep healthy meals ahead of time and freeze. You can easily cook or re-heat them for dinner. Involve family in the prep time to teach them good healthy habits. You can spend more time at dinner discussing everyone's day.


8.  After your kids go back to school, take some time to refresh your wardrobe, too. I used to pick out one or two new outfits in the fall then donate what either didn't fit me or weren't wanted anymore. Also, everyone in our house got new underwear and socks because they were on sale at great prices. Just by anticipating new clothes, you will probably become more conscious of what you eat and getting your exercise.


9. When everyone gets home from school, use some of the time to get your kids moving before they sit down for homework. Play, rake leaves,whatever gets them physically moving. Otherwise, take a walk or bike ride together after dinner.Burning off extra energy will help them concentrate on their homework. It also set the tone for regular physical activity. 


10. Keep regular bedtimes for everyone in your house so they have the opportunity for no less than 6 hours, preferably 8 hours. Find a good app for tracking sleep that synchs with your activity tracker. Restful sleep improves mood, brain function, protects your heart, and healthy weight management.


11. Find ways to track healthy habits and Bible reading. Give praise or some positive recognition. Use a daily or weekly challenge to keep everyone motivated to succeed. Help those who don't achieve their goals figure out a strategy to improve.


When you integrate these practices from the first day of school on, you set a totally healthy tone for the entire school year.

 

Please, share some great tips you have in the comments below. May God bless you and your family this school year!


Living Free: How to Change the Way We Think About Health and Fitness

Posted on August 9, 2019 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (0)


Image from Vistaprint free stock.


It’s been interesting since I came back from the Christian writers conference and retreat now that I am trying to get caught up. Nothing came to mind for my blog post this week. Ugh! How can I have something for you if my mind goes blank? So, I decided to take a break this morning to do my PraiseMoves workout and devotions together. Luke 4:16-19 stood out to me while I was doing the Scroll posture. During each segment dedicated to the Lord, my blog post became clearer to me. Isn’t it great how God speaks to us when we worship and honor Him with all of our being.


We are conditioned to want to look a certain way, to be thin, to be attractive, to be muscular. People often turn to gyms and diets to improve their appearance. It is hard to maintain a gym body. I know because I’ve been there. Keeping yourself strong, fit, and attractive like that takes dedication, usually five to six days a week for two to three hours a day of doing intense workouts in the gym. Honestly, most people don’t have that kind of time and energy. Not only that but for Christians, this self-focus pushes God out of the center of their lives. Appearance is crazy slave-driver. On the other hand, some Christians are hypercritical of those who take care of themselves and even those who don't. Being healthy and active is attractive, but it doesn’t always take center stage. Those who are hypercritical use the Bible verse that exercise only profits a little while exercise in godliness is more important (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+4%3A8&version=NIV" target="_blank">1 Timothy 4:8 ). Learning to be a good steward of your health brings a healthy balance of our physical and spiritual health. It brings freedom.

 

Read: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+4%3A16-21&version=NIV" target="_blank">Luke 4:16-21 (cf. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+25%3A39-43&version=NIV" target="_blank">Leviticus 25:39-43)

 

 

Focus Verse: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NIV

 


Background


Jesus finished dealing with the temptations in the wilderness earlier in the chapter, then He traveled back to His hometown. On the Sabbath of Jesus’ return home, He went to the Synagogue, a Jewish custom He regularly observed. Evidently, Jesus had already attained Teacher or Rabbi notoriety. He received the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah to read out loud. Everyone present expected Him to explain its meaning for the assembly.


He began reading Isaiah 61:1-2 (ref. Isaiah 58:6). He read it well, then sat down stating this prophecy was fulfilled in their hearing. In other words, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah foretold by the Prophets. The concept of the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25:39-41 is implied in this passage. In the Jewish law given to Moses, the Jews were told to cancel debts and free slaves in the seventh year, the Year of Jubilee. At first, the people were impressed with how gracious, simply stated, His message was. A few of the people in the Synagogue realized what He said. His statement about being the Messiah was considered blasphemy, which was worthy of death according to Jewish law. They tried to throw him over a cliff, but He walked through the crowd to leave on his own. The people of his hometown rejected Him and His message of freedom.


In Galatians 3, Paul wrote to the Galatian church, a group of Gentiles who were told they had to follow Jewish Law to the letter. Paul’s message was a letter of correction in the statement, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+3%3A1&version=NIV" target="_blank">Galatians 3:1). The yoke of slavery refers to bondage to ritual and following the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law. Peter addressed this same issue in https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+15%3A10&version=NIV" target="_blank">Acts 15:10 by answering the Pharisees that the Gentiles were also brought to Jesus by faith. They should not be required to wear the yoke of bondage their Jewish ancestors weren’t able to bear. God gave them the Holy Spirit who cleansed their hearts and they are saved, just like the Jewish Christians. All who come to Jesus by faith are free from slavery to unbearable rules and rituals.


Bring It Home


We all have a background as sinners saved by God's grace. None of us is perfect. Sometimes we steal a look in the mirror to admire our fitness achievement or weight loss efforts. It’s pretty normal. When we live as free believers, though, we don’t become obsessed with how we look. We can handle working out and eating healthy without feeling horrible because we missed one workout or had a small treat. Freedom brings the ability to let go of addictions and the world’s standards of perfection in order to be the person God has created and redeemed through Jesus Christ. We are also free from casting judgment on ourselves and others for shortcomings. We don’t have to fix someone else but can step back to allow the Holy Spirit to convict those who are indulgent with unhealthy foods or avoid exercise. We can pray for them instead. In our freedom, because of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, we are free to have a healthy respect for ourselves and love others as they are. Live as if you are in the Year of Jubilee!


Question for discussion: What difficulties do you face with your appearance, fitness level, or your own shortcomings? Do you find yourself critical of others who either take care of themselves or overindulge? How can your freedom in Christ free you from slavery to these issues?


May God bless you!

 

Finding Peace When Peace Seems Absent

Posted on July 31, 2019 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (2)


Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash


Thank you for your patience while I was away. Although I wanted to write a blog post for you last week, it was as if God wanted me to bask in Him and His goodness at the Christian writer’s retreat. So, I left it alone. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in a routine and implied promises and lose focus. God never disappoints when we rest in Him. Enjoy today’s devotion.


It was all I could do to walk into the church sanctuary on Sunday mornings anymore. Troublemaking, self-seeking church leaders spread some sort of rumor that I didn’t know the particular topic, but I certainly felt its effects ripple through the church. As duty called, I walked in stiffly toward my seat, responding kindly to those who greeted me. The haughty glances and firey darts flew my way from the powers-that-be. As I sat down in the pew in my usual place, I prayed for God to take hold of the entire service and bring peace to our small-town congregation. The organ began the call to worship music as I prayed for my husband’s sermon to be Holy Spirit led. God only knows that if it isn’t, we might find ourselves tarred and feathers and rode out on a proverbial rail. I worried about how this stress would affect my husband, the pastor, who was in late-stage cancer. During the entire service, with all of the invisible spiritual warfare that ensued around me, I could feel God’s peace rest in my soul. He met me there in that church pew every Sunday morning.


Later, my husband’s cancer-riddled body went home to be with God in eternity. Never again would he be troubled by uncaring, mean-spirited people who claimed to belong to Jesus. Yet I was left on my own to figure out how to be me, single again after 30 years. My husband had been a steadfast rock for me, and I could feel his absence when difficult situations came. I had an animated screensaver on my phone with a couple of fall leaves gently floating along on peaceful water. It was a reminder that peace can be in the midst of life’s storms. One day, though, I had lighting strikes in a dark background! It was so unsettling. Then I realized that my screensaver changed with the weather forecast! Peace was not found in an image or a scene, but in the peace that only God can bring. I could reflect back on God’s amazing love through various stages in my life, knowing He was in control. I could trust Him to take care of whatever came my way.



Read: John 16:16-33


Focus Verse: The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;

the LORD is enthroned as King forever.

The LORD gives strength to his people;

the LORD blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:10-11 NIV


Background


Jesus knew His time to die was soon, so He chose to prepare His disciples for this impending event. They didn’t understand what He meant at first, even though He was straightforward with them. Jesus followed the vine and branches analogy from John 15 by telling them that some of them would die at the hand of those who believed they were doing service to God when they really did not know Him. Can you imagine standing in their midst listening to the King of Kings, Lord of Lords telling you that not only was He going to die and leave, but many of them would die for His sake at the very hands of those who called themselves God’s chosen? I can see in my imagination these men shaking their heads in disbelief of what they just heard out of Jesus’ mouth.

After a while, some of them finally got it. They were still dealing with faith issues, but when He spoke plainly to them, their faith, that He came from God, was strengthened.  They could accept what Jesus told them that day.


Jesus gave them encouragement that although they will grieve while the world rejoices, they would indeed find joy again. He will come back. He came from God, the Father, and is going back to God, the Father. God loves them because they loved Jesus. He tells them that they were told these things to come so they would have peace because He has overcome the world.



Thoughts


Allow me take you back to the scene earlier of troubled church life from the pastor’s family’s view. We lived in the parsonage and could hear and see things the power brokers didn’t know we observed. As we lost my husband’s job with its pay, housing, his retirement account, which had been shorted on several occasions, and our church family, God was already working ahead of us. He provided a home, the money we needed, and a church family who loved us as regular attenders through my husband’s final days. He worked ahead shutting the mouths of lions—that is, the troublemakers—before me at my husband’s memorial service. He worked ahead taking care of me as I navigated single life again. He worked before me by bringing me a wonderful Christian man, my Boaz, at the right time. I found peace in His presence, His Word, and setting an environment of peace in my home. We can trust God and find peace, even when we can’t see what He is doing in the background. He loves us with a perfect love because we love Jesus.


 

Take It Home

Do you love Jesus? Then you can have this peace, too. If you don't know Jesus, the first step to true peace is by accepting Jesus as your Savior and Lord. We often forget to look to Him when we are overwhelmed with problems. Simply stop and pray for Him to reveal what He wants you to know in your situation. He will give you glimpses of His work along the way. We can have peace because He is King over all, giving us strength and the blessings of peace.


Questions for discussion: What are you going through today that threatens your peace? How are you hanging on to Jesus' promise to give you peace?


May God bless you!

 

Kick Up the Flavor in Healthy Meals

Posted on July 18, 2019 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (1)

 

 Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash


The grandkids wrinkled up their noses while they picked at their food on one of their visits a couple of years ago. “Grandma, I don’t like this. Can we have mac and cheese?” What they meant to say was they didn’t like the healthy meal I cooked because they were used to hyper-flavored boxed fare. It is tough to compete with all of the pros who purposely make foods that are pre-prepared taste mouthwateringly good. There wasn’t anything wrong with turkey burgers, boiled potatoes, and fresh green beans from the garden. They just weren’t used to it.


One woman in a class I taught wasn’t that impressed with making sorbet or banana-based ice cream. “It’s kind of bland,” she stated with a disappointed look on her face. It’s these kinds of responses that have challenged me to seek out ways to make healthy foods more flavorful.


I cooked chicken, black rice, and fresh green beans today. Oh, ocean whiting fish for my hubby, but chicken for me. Minutes before I started making dinner, I harvested some great herbs from my garden: fresh rosemary, chives, green onion tops, basil, mint, and Greek oregano. The fragrant aromas wafted through my kitchen, making the air smell delicious! I made this mundane meal into a superb creation:


 

  • My mouth watered as I began to boil the rice. I placed the chicken breast in one pan and a fish filet in another pan with a spritz of grapeseed oil from my Misto spritzer. I shook a tiny dash of sea salt on each piece of meat. When I turned them over, I placed cut chives and a sprig of rosemary on each one. Yes, even on the fish.
  • After I simmered the rice to perfection, I drained and rinsed it. I put the chicken on a plate in the microwave to stay warm while I dumped the rice into the pan with the chicken juices, spritzed a bit of oil on it, and turned the heat to medium. Carefully, I stirred the rice as I added bits of chives and rosemary plucked from the stalk. I didn’t have to add salt because of the juice from the chicken.
  • The fish was done, so I removed from the heat to keep it moist and hot.
  • I steamed the beans in a microwave steamer earlier. I sprinkled a bit of garlic on them, tossed them in the container with the lid on.

 


When I served it, my hubby thought the herbs were there for looks. Ha! He bit into the fish, then a look of delight came upon his face! He thought dinner was fantastic.


*Special note: Always check for food allergies and intolerances before trying out any of the ideas below. Some herbs and seasonings may affect health conditions or medications. Check with your doctor or pharmacist for any interactions you could encounter.


Here is my point, something as simple as chicken, rice, and green beans can become spectacular and healthy. There are several ways you can make healthy foods taste great. Here are some of my ideas:


1. Use bone broth instead of pre-packaged rice mixes. Add seasonings or fresh herbs.


2. Use healthy oils to enhance flavor and nutrition like olive, grapeseed, or safflower. Spritz it with a Misto spritzer instead of pouring or brushing it on. Oils enhance flavor and increase satiety.


3. Add chopped fruit to almond butter and fruit spread sandwich on whole-grain bread. Blend fruit and coordinating veggies like beets with berries in your smoothies.


4. Make spaghetti sauce with diced tomatoes, fresh oregano and basil, a touch of olive oil, garlic, lean ground turkey (browned), fresh spinach, onion, and chopped broccoli. Add a bit of either whole grain cooked spaghetti, spiralized zucchini, or spaghetti squash.


5. When making banana ice cream with other fruit, some fruits are blander than others. Add a bit of frozen apple juice concentrate or honey to sweeten and enhance flavor. If you are using peaches, add a little bit of mango. If you want a creamier kind, add a cup of greek yogurt that goes well with what you are making, like strawberry.


6. Use real cheese (low fat, skim) instead of cheese powder with macaroni, rice, cauliflower, or broccoli.


7. Seasonings can help you reduce the amount of salt you use to keep food flavorful.


8. Add mashed avocado with garlic or onion to potatoes for potato salad or use it instead of mayonnaise for a sandwich or wrap.


9. Add zip with fresh jalapenos and fresh cilantro for Tex-Mex dishes. Turn up the flavor and nutrition by adding onions, Portabello mushrooms, spinach or kale to chicken sausage, chicken or Italian dishes. Give some zing to fruit or healthy dessert by adding fresh mint, a touch of citrus juice, or a drizzle of honey. Experiment with edible flowers.


10. Jazz up drinks like water, iced tea, and fruit juice with citrus and mint, fresh or frozen fruit chunks, or sparkling water. Turn up the pizzazz for coffee by making it a little bit stronger, add some dark chocolate pieces, vanilla bean, or cinnamon (I avoid alcohol always!).


I would love to hear about your experiments that wow your family and friends. Feel free to share in the comments below or email me at [email protected].


“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6 NIV


May God bless you!

From the Desk of Charlaine July 2019

Posted on July 6, 2019 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)


Image source from free stock.


You are right. There was no blog post this week. I've been on edge waiting for word that my daughter-in-law's condition was under control. It's been a worrisome week. Most of you know she went into the emergency room in serious condition with pneumonia. Until July 4th, she was sedated on a ventilator unable to respond to people talking to her or touching her. My son works full-time and they have three young children. He has done an amazing job working, taking care of kids while trying to keep some sense of normalcy for them, and spending time with his wife in the hospital. It has been grueling for him watching the love of his life struggle like this. Praise God she woke up on the morning of Independence Day!


All of the travel and stress took it's toll on me. As the rain storms rolled in off the Great Lakes, a normal downer for fibro and autoimmune disease, I found myself in bed a lot this week. Yesterday was especially bad. I could barely think clearly, so I didn't Ieven get memes posted. Notta. Sorry, guys. This is how life is with these conditions. Yes, I eat anti-inflammatory foods and exercise. I am minimally medicated to avoid the terrible side effects of stronger meds. All in all, as my Boaz tells me, I function very well in the normal day-to-day. Life has not been normal around here. Not at all.


As the mom of an adult "child", I want to make everything better, but I can't. All I can do is be there for him and his family and pray. The most important thing we can do is pray because our Heavenly Father listens and understands. He knows our needs before we ever think them. He designed our bodies with amazing abilities to heal in ways that we don't fully understand. He intervenes on behalf of those of us who fervently prayed for this dear child of God. We rejoice at His healing hand in her life! The 4th of July was a double celebration for us.


My Boaz and I were talking about this whole ordeal while we power-walked the outdoor walking track at the high school the other day. We recounted the faithfulness of God during this time. I shared with him how I am proud of my son doing so well taking care of his kids who miss their mom. He has really demonstrated tremendous strength and generous love. I could see glimpses of his dad in him. My Boaz encouraged me with his own observations and reflections on the past two weeks. Together we lift each other up.


Our faith has been strengthened through this ordeal as I pondered the number of times I was the one in the hospital room hovering over my first husband after several surgeries to remove cancerous tumors. The worst one being a liver resection that removed 60% of his liver because cancer was spread throughout. I almost lost him then. This scene played in my mind during this time. God's faithful answer to prayers from all over the world were answered then. And they were this week for my daughter-in-law. "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16 NIV. It is all because of our gracious loving God who answers our prayers that we can come through these harrowing situations with our sanity and faith intact.


You may be thinking, "Char, what if He didn't heal her? What if she died? Does that mean God isn't loving or gracious?" Not at all. One of the problems with that kind of thinking is God must be mean by taking a loved one away from us. My daughter-in-law, like my first husband, was His before she was ever my son's wife. She knows Jesus. She would receive her reward early-- life with Jesus for eternity (John 14:1-4)! Although her family would certainly miss her terribly, God would provide for them. He has pulled together childcare and resources for them during her illness. He would certainly do so if she went Home. He comforts us, protects us and provides for us in our need at all times. We can trust Him with our loved ones-- even to the point of death.


Thank you for your gracious understanding and prayers. May your Independence Day celebration include your freedom in Jesus Christ.


May God bless you!




How to Use Activity Trackers, Health Apps and Online Incentives to Improve Your Health

Posted on June 27, 2019 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash


Since I came home from vacation, I’ve dealt with a very long flare-up that knocked me down bad. I felt terrible about spending more time in bed than getting healthy activity, that is until Achievement contacted me about my above average physical activity for having chronic pain and fatigue issues. Whoa! Me? Ms. Sleep-Until-Ridiculously-Late? Yes. I checked my daily achievement in the evening, but it hadn't crossed my mind that my activity level was that spectacular, probably because I felt crummy.


The researchers at Achievement asked me some questions about my pain and fatigue levels, along with what kept me moving so much. You see, our house has a spiral staircase up the center of a loft-style home. I have to take three flights of steps to leave the kitchen to get the laundry out of the dryer and take them up to our bedroom.  Daily activities demanded between 14-27 flights of steps a day! My legs burned terribly on the way up, I felt dizzy, and my blood pressure "took the elevator to the basement" kind of low, if you get what I mean. I had to nap in the middle of the day, but somehow due to necessity, I still took over 6,000 steps a day, comfortably walked 3-5 miles, with my current resting energy around 1,300+ calories (not including physically active calories), which is up from 1,150 before our move. By the way, I also track my sleep with my watch and another app for the amount of time and quality of sleep. Doing so makes a big difference in my health, too. Sitting there dumbfounded about how much I really moved while I was sick, I had to say there were tasks totally dependent on me that had to be done, requiring that much activity. But I also said that I know my health, pain, and fatigue are better overall because of that level of movement. It seriously helps me manage my health condition, especially when coupled with healthy eating. Daily monitoring of these apps has helped me manage my health to stay more active.


Each Person's Needs Indicate Which Devices and Apps to Use


My hubby uses his watch differently because he doesn't have chronic pain and fatigue. Instead, he does need to pay attention to his heart health. He manages his genetic heart condition by watching his step count, heart rate, and using the ECG on his Apple 4 watch. He knows his sit-down work is hazardous to his health so this app reminds him of his goals, lets him know when he is short of his goals, monitors his heart rate and rhythm, while he uses another app to pay attention to his food intake. But my daughter uses her apps a bit differently. She has a continuous blood glucose monitor to manage type1 diabetes (aka. Juvenile diabetes) so she can set her insulin pump pod to inject the correct amount of insulin. She uses her Apple watch to record her activity level in her day. She also has a sit-down job, so she works out with her hubby at the local gym where they both track their calorie burn and activity levels. Her hubby doesn't have diabetes, so he doesn't need the apps she uses. Each person has different goals based on personal needs that are easily tracked on these nifty tech devices and apps.


Putting Your Devices and Apps to Valuable Use


Incentives and activity apps help tremendously when you set goals, look over your past accomplishments, and consider how this information can propel you forward towawrd your health goals. We all use the Apple watch, but there are oodles of different tracking devices, each with its own set of features and budget ranges. When you consider what tracker you need, note the different areas you would like to track like activity, calories burned, food intake, step count, heart rate, sleep, heart rhythm, apps for your own health conditions if you have them, and types of activities. For instance, swimming needs a particular feature, plus the device needs to be able to handle the water which the Apple watch is designed as waterproof. Some other devices may also be worn during water activities, so look for that feature if you swim. Does that device synch with apps other than the one that is a part of the device package? For example, mine synchs with a separate sleep app, MapMyRun, a blood pressure app, heart app, My Fitness Pal, and more. I have a Lupus app to record my MCTD symptoms and medications that doesn't sync with my watch. Since the Breathe app on my iPhone is contradictory to Christian faith, I disabled it and use a Bible app with a reading reminder instead. Some people have prayer journals on their smartphones as well. Maybe you want something that only tracks your activity, so you might wish to have separate apps that you can manually record information. Consider what you want and need, then check out the devices and how much you are willing to pay for it. You can check out reviews for trackers in 2019 here.


As for separate apps, list out what your device doesn’t track, but you want to follow anyway. Shop your smartphone app store or look online for websites that have trackers. Check the ratings and prices. I have a couple of apps I pay for like Is That Gluten-Free? For grocery shopping and AllergyEats! To find restaurants that are safe for me when I am on the road. Otherwise, there is a boatload of free apps out there to do what you need to do.


Next, make sure you have your health goals written out where you check them frequently to stay on track. I will cover goal setting and tracking this Fall to help you restart if you got carried away with summer fun and festivities. You can usually input your goals on your activity tracker app and some of your smartphone apps. Check your progress daily to increase your success. Some trackers, like FitBit, allow users to connect with friends using the same tracker. Working as a group helps you not feel alone on your health goals.


Check It Out


I mentioned Achievement before. This app is a product of Evidation Health to encourage participants to improve their health through physical activity and education. You rack up points for your activity, participating in surveys, and reading health information. When you rack up 10,000 points, you earn $10. They are the ones who were researching activity and chronic pain conditions in which I participated. This app dangles the proverbial carrot in front of you to help motivate you forward toward your health goals. You won't get rich anytime soon. I've earned my $10 once a year, but if I were still working in a gym, my $10 reward would come a lot sooner. However, it is worthwhile to try. I would love to have you join me! Click on http://tinyurl.com/yasdzru9 to join. When you join, we both get 100 points just for your joining Achievement! There is nothing to lose and only good results to gain by trying it out.


Bible Verse: Proverbs 3:7-8 NIV

"Do not be wise in your own eyes;

fear the Lord and shun evil.

This will bring health to your body

and nourishment to your bones."


Questions for discussion: What trackers and apps do you use? What have you tried that didn’t work well for you? How are you doing using them to meet your goals? Feel free to comment below.


May God bless you!


 

The Secret to Finishing Well

Posted on June 21, 2019 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Image by PICNIC_Fotografie on Pixabay.


I’ve had the great opportunity to spend time in conversation with some senior saints about living a long life and what it is like as they come closer to the end of life before going home with the Lord. Our home is still under construction, finalizing g all the details for our final inspection. One of the people helping us finish the details of our home is an elderly man who is 82. Yes, I said 82 years old! He installed our kitchen and bathroom cabinets, solid wood doors and trim, and recently built our front porch with treated lumber—by himself. His health is good at his age, and he doesn’t seem to be ready to retire anytime soon. One disturbing notion is that he will die someday. He knows Jesus as his Savior, a comforting fact. One of the times he was working at our house, he noticed a couple of large field rocks in a rubbish pile outdoors. He checked them out. Seeing one large solid black stone, he asked if he could have both of them. I let him know I wanted one of them for landscaping, but he could have the one of his choice. He chose the black one for his headstone, the one that caught his eye. So, now he has his headstone and his casket he already made ahead of time. He knows he will die someday, but he is ready without dread.


Another conversation I had with him recently while he worked on our porch was about a neighbor lady who is 96. She recently fell and broke her hip, but she has been very physically active doing her own yard work and driving wherever she wants. As she was rehabbing her hip, she was frustrated with a clump of tall weeds outside. Finally, this lady went outdoors and hacked them down. Oh, to be that active at her age!


My mother turns 89 next month. Mom has always been physically active all her life until she cracked a couple of vertebrae in her back, probably when coughing uncontrollably during a bout with bronchitis. Her wings have been permanently clipped as a result. She does eat healthier now than she ever did, and her mind is sharp. I took her to her doctor’s appointments this week. On our drive, she talked about her funeral plans. She feels better talking about it, but it disturbs her more now since she realizes that her life is nearing the end. She isn’t afraid of eternity with God, but the process of getting there. I told her to pray that she dies in her sleep. After all, isn’t that the way we all would prefer to go?


These discussions spurred on some thoughts about staying active and independent toward the end. Maybe I will have that privilege, and perhaps I won’t. What about those of us who have done everything right yet face the health issues of those who treat their bodies like, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we will die” (Isaiah 22:13). My hubby and I are active people who eat clean, yet face health issues in spite of doing everything right. We both redeemed our health after eating horribly because we just didn’t know. I’ve had a heart attack, have arthritis, and a complicated autoimmune mess at mid-life. My Boaz, a former runner, and my cycling buddy, recently discovered he needs to change his already healthy diet and keep track of some health numbers. This newer issue baffled him until he read the side effects of a medication he has to take. That was the issue! This medication for a hereditary condition that helps him live is causing him to approach another health issue! We have no guarantees about our health, even when we do everything right.


What's the Secret to Finishing Well?

The notion of age isn’t always about being old, but our attitudes about age, faith, and living healthy. Those senior saints I mentioned earlier have learned that their quality of life depends upon being as active as possible, eating reasonably, and remaining well-grounded in their faith. You can redeem your health this way. It also helps to have a positive outlook on life as described in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” They also look forward to spending eternity with God, where Jesus has prepared a place for them (John 14:1-4). Regardless of the mansion or room debate from translations, they know where they will be in eternity.

As my hubby and I realize that doing everything right may not mean long life, it does mean living a quality life for those conditions that may be thorns in our sides. We know that we are broken vessels which God has chosen to use in this life to share Christ with people here.


The secrets of living long and well, barring unforeseen instances, regardless of your current health status are:

1. Stay as physically active as long as possible.

2. Eat healthy, nutrient dense foods that are less processed and balanced.

3. Keep a positive outlook on life as stated in Philippians 4:8.

4. Look forward to the place Jesus has prepared for you (John 14:1-4).


How do you view living well into the later years of life? How are you taking care of your body, mind, and soul to help build the kingdom of God, serving Him and others in your station of life? Feel free to share in the comments below.


May God bless you!

 

Celebrate! Happy, Healthy Summer Cookouts

Posted on June 12, 2019 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Photo by Hari Nandakumar on Unsplash


I have a grill that needs cleaned up for the season sitting in our garage. Thoughts of grilled chicken brats, grilled corn on the cob, salad, and grilled peaches stuffed with seasonal berries have my mouth watering. Our grill is gas, so cooking is cleaner than with charcoal. Some considerations must be observed for safe grilling like not burning your food because the black charred spots on it are a carcinogen. Also, grilling away from the garage, house or shed so you don’t catch anything on fire. Never walk away from the grill while cooking in case the dog or kids get too rambunctious around it. You know all those. Right?


How about the healthy, nutritious part? Do grilling and healthy go together? Absolutely! With all of the fresh produce out now and great grilling options, there is a wonderful array of healthy, delicious summer dishes you can cook up. Here are some great ideas to get your summer grill sizzling… MMMMM! Yum!


Turkey and chicken sausage is lower in fat and calories, but turkey has about the same amount of cholesterol as pork sausage (Food Network). Look for extra lean. Several varieties are available like Butterball, Al Fresco, Aidells, Applegate, and Gilberts which are gluten-free and safer for people with a variety of sensitivities. Others like Jennie-O, Johnsonville, and Hillshire Farms may have more preservatives like sodium nitrite could cause some people with food sensitivities problems. If you have celiac or gluten-sensitivity, check the labels before you buy so you know if it is safe for you to eat. One way I like to grill these is on a metal skewer to cook the inside well about the same time as the outside. Never eat raw or pink meat! I also like to cut chunks to put on the skewers with onion, green or red pepper pieces, and mushroom tops. You will need to watch the veggies to avoid scorching them. You should pre-cook sausage that is raw before putting on the skewer, too. No need to add seasoning. Enjoy it after it has cooled down for safe eating.


Grilling corn on the cob is easy. There are two ways I’ve tried it: wrapped in foil and unwrapped. Either way, be careful about its placement with the flames so you don’t scorch it. First, unwrapped, I start it on the upper rack to get it heated well while meat was cooking, then I toss it onto the flames for just a bit to get that grill-kissed taste. If you put it in foil, spritz it with just a bit of olive oil. An option, too, is sprinkle with just a touch of sea salt. You still get great taste without the fat.


Grilled peaches are on my radar this year. Here is my plan: wash and cut in half removing the pit. Start with the peach slices on the top rack to heat up then put down on the lower grate to get that flame-kissed look and taste. Remove from grill to cool. Mix your favorite berries with either your favorite yogurt or sugar-free fruit spread. Fill the pit-space with berry mixture. Tasty!


All of these ideas are low in calories, sodium, fat, cholesterol, sugar and more. It is big in flavor, nutrition, and health benefits. Everyone will be begging for seconds. Happy grilling!


For discussion: What is your favorite family grace? Who leads grace at your cookouts?


May God bless you!

Resource:

Chicken and Turkey Sausage - A Healthy Choice? by Food Network. www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2012/03/chicken-and-turkey-sausage-a-healthy-choice

When It Rains on Your Life, Grab Your Umbrella and Cling to Your Faith

Posted on June 6, 2019 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)


Photo by David Marcu from Unsplash.


Coming home from our trip to London was rougher than I thought. The first couple of days I chalked up my fatigue and pain to jet lag. However, jet lag only lasts two or three days. Today I am in bed writing this blog post. The weather patterns at home are horrible! Today it is pouring down rain. I’ve been pushing myself along to get caught up on yard work, clean up and plant my garden, on top of unpacking, laundry, and general house work. Today was a crash day. I bemoaned my lack of enthusiasm from the pain and fatigue that clouded my thoughts. How can I possibly get my writing done, Lord? This thought came to mind: Do it a little at a time and work from this very topic. There are plenty of people out there reading your blog who feel like you. So, I write this for both of us. As discouraging as it is, I have to remind myself that I’ve enjoyed remission for quite a while. Flare-ups with my health will come and go. When it rains on my life, I need to grab my umbrella and cling to my faith in Jesus Christ.




Focus Verse: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV


When it rained, it poured for Paul and his companions. Paul had been shipwrecked, bitten by poisonous snakes, stoned, beaten, and whipped. These incidents always left their permanent marks on this traveling evangelist-tent maker. He possibly had vision problems. In one of his letters, he says, "Look what large letters I write with my own hands!" (Galatians 6:11). He usually had someone else write what he told them to write. His faith in Christ drove him to continue preaching and teaching even to the point of death (Acts 24:5, 2 Timothy 4:6-7, 16). Paul knew he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. It was certainly pouring for him in his prison cell awaiting death, but he had his umbrella of a kingdom outlook and clung to his faith in Jesus Christ whom he faithfully served.


Our bodies are certainly fragile. No doubt about it. Even if you are healthy, free of any disease or disorder, you can get sick or injured. We haven't had the downpour Paul experienced, but we can certainly feel overwhelmed by our circumstances. For those of us with chronic illness, we are constantly aware of how fragile we are. One day, we can do anything like anyone else, but bad days can land us in bed unable to do simple daily activities. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. God, why am I down in bed today? The answer might be to allow Him to show His strength through our weakness. We can always pray. We can often talk. We can write intermittently. We can encourage, share God’s Word, and of course, share Jesus and how He has changed our lives. It may be difficult, but we can trust Him to carry us through because people need to see Him through us. We can because He can. On a rainy day in life, grab your umbrella and cling to your faith in Christ.


Resources:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Insights for Living by Charles Swindoll. Article Library, "Historical Background of Paul's Final Imprisonment. August 14, 2017. 

Become Active on Purpose: The Benefits of Active Transportation

Posted on May 30, 2019 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Photo by Charlaine Martin. All rights reserved.


Last week, I shared briefly about active transportation and how it helps people stay more physically fit. This week, I would like to dig deeper into this topic and help you find ways to put some of these principles into practice.


My hubby used to run regularly, including running 5ks. He also loves riding 20-25 miles with me on the bike trails. I enjoy fitness walking, swimming, yard and garden work, and regular workouts in general. He hasn't been as active since he hurt his back and knees although he began regularly using his elliptical. Our trip, using active transportation, challenged us differently.


Our Discoveries with Active Transportation


First, I bought a great pair of Asics at a store going out of business for a phenomenal price, so I took them with me. Those shoes proved to be my go-to shoes! Walking on concrete and pavement changed the shock absorption of the foot strike phase of walking, and once, running. Without the shock absorption of the walking surface, it wears out the muscles in your lower body quickly. It will also cause considerable wear and tear on your joints, so proper footwear that absorbs shock is vital. I'm used to our floors having either hardwood or ceramic tile on wood with grout that has some flexibility to it. Exercise equipment is designed to reduce the shock on your lower body. The force makes the exertion in the push off phase higher. To sum it up, we felt our day-long workouts, and our Apple watches told us how much energy we exerted each day.


Second, we covered more mileage than just purposely exercising. We rode the Tube (subway), so we had to walk a few blocks to the station, go down several steps, walk through the station, then wait for the train. When we got off, we followed the Map app on our smartphones to get to our destination, which meant we walked several blocks. In some cases, a destination was as much as 1.5 miles away from our station. We discovered we could be more effective at using the transportation system by finding stations closer to the attractions we wanted to visit. Any time we needed to take different rail lines, it means more stairs and quite a bit of walking. On our most active day, I covered 10.7 miles, recorded 22,370 steps, "exercised" 38 minutes (cardio exercise), and climbed 13 floors on steps.


Compare the Stats


I burned a total of 2,045 calories without intentionally doing exercise! Comparing the stats against that active day, I used to do that much working in gyms with my personal workout added to it. I looked at a random active day before vacation without purposeful exercise. On that day, I covered 5.3 miles, recorded 13,329 steps, "exercised" 22 minutes, and climbed 27 floors on steps in our house. I also burned a total of 1,880 calories. One interesting difference to note between the two: I had 3 hours and 19 minutes deep sleep during active transportation on vacation compared to almost no deep sleep during an average active day before vacation! People with fibro don’t get much deep sleep, so you can see how more effective activity can help a fibro warrior get that valuable phase of sleep. The difference in calorie burn was 165 calories in favor of active transportation! I also doubled my mileage. Active transportation is incredibly valuable to increase health benefits and fitness levels.


Stay Hydrated

Active transportation increases your awareness of food and fluid intake. On the negative side, we found ourselves slightly dehydrated. We needed to purposely take a bottle of water with us, but restrooms are not readily available in large metroplexes like London. We found this out when we visited Washington, D.C. a couple of years ago. We learned where clean restrooms were located so we could adjust our fluid intake. Riding the subway also is not an appropriate place to eat, honestly. It is better to eat before or after boarding especially if you have to stand (sometimes seats aren't always available). I noticed most of the regular Tube riders weren’t overweight in general. Now, keep in mind that buses drop people off closer to their destinations, which means they don't walk quite as much, but definitely more than if you commute by car.


Unexpected Benefits

Riding the Tube while standing causes your body to build and strengthen stabilizing muscles from the core down. The trains twist turn, bump, and tilt. Your back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet benefit greatly from it. The concern about standing on the Tube was hanging onto handholds above the head for long periods of time reduces blood flow to the arm and hand while stressing the shoulder joint. Someone with fibro shouldn't do it unless absolutely necessary. Also, holding onto a bar can stress the joints in your hands. People living with arthritis in the hands might want to change hands from stop to stop to reduce the wear on their hands.


Other Observations

Another perspective on Active Transporation is that of riding bikes or using scooters (stand and push with one foot-type). There were protected bike lanes everywhere. We also noted rental bikes everywhere. The cyclists ranged from business people in suits to hardcore riders in riding gear. These people exercised more and gained better cardiorespiratory endurance. Their weight was reasonable for their genders, ages, and heights. I didn't see an overtly overweight person riding a bicycle. Besides, you can't eat while you ride! The downside is traffic can be hazardous. Vehicles can turn in front of a cyclist. A pedestrian can step in front of a cyclist causing an accident. It is the most cost-effective transportation hands-down.

 

General Health Concerns about Active Transportation

 

According to City Lab, the air quality s in the London Underground is worse than in traffic. The rails have been electrified, but people are in a closed space with recirculated air. The braking of the trains puts particulates into the air. Brake wear, whether on the streets, subway, or rail systems, causes upwards of 55% of the emissions in the air with electrified vehicles. There is also dirt and debris that swirls around in people's faces when the train breezes by the platform. We often had dirt particles get into our eyes. The debris can be hard on people's lungs, and I would guess, troublesome for people with asthma. We noticed scratchiness in our throats and stuffiness in our noses by the end of our vacation. The cyclists with face masks were wise. Maybe Tubers should do the same thing.


How Can You Benefit from Active Transportation When You Don’t Live in a MetroPlex?


You can create your own active transportation health effects without the hazards. We do love our independence with our cars, but our health takes a hit at the same time. You can create your own benefits of active transportation wherever you live. Here are some general tips to remember when doing this. If you cycle, always take a good bike lock system to park your bike. Know the hazards along the routes you plan to take. Carry pepper spray for safety against thieves, harmful people, and aggressive animals. Keep your smartphone handy to call for help, navigate, and track your activity. Safety is a top priority.

Here are some ways you can build in your own active transportation:

1. Walk, cycle, or rollerblade on the hike and bike trails from place to place. Bike and hike trails link cities and towns. You can find where these trailheads are and where they go by checking www.traillink.com. Use a backpack or bike carrier to carry what you need to take or buy. If you have young children, get a jogging stroller or child bike trailer to take them along.

2. If you live in town, leave your car parked at home and walk to the store, doctor's office, etc. The emissions levels are much lower in smaller cities, villages, and rural areas. Use a wheeled carrier to put groceries in to take home. Use a backpack to carry anything you need to take along.

3. Use park and ride to go to work. You can drive to a location where you can park your car and take public transportation.

4. If you live in rural areas, you need to consider the safety of the main thoroughfares. Learn the lesser traveled roads and their particular hazards. Take pepper spray for dogs who like to chase bikes or may come after you when you walk. Again, use a backpack to carry your necessary items. Have a bike carrier to carry groceries with you.

5. Take the stairs instead of the elevators. To learn more about the health benefits, check out Very Well Health.

6. Park at the furthest points of parking lots to walk to your destination.

7. Use MapMyRun to keep track of your activity and the pathway you used. You can also use Life360 to let others know where you are when you travel by active transportation or set up your own. If there is a problem, they will be able to see where you’ve been and where you should be. You can turn the location tracker off whenever you want, but be sure to turn it on before you go.

Make your day work for your health as much as you can. The benefits are enormous!


Feel free to share ways you build activity into your days in the comments or on Facebook. May God bless you!

 


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