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.
|Posted on November 28, 2019 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
Main Passage: Colossians 3:15-17
Key Verse: Isaiah 51:3 “The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
When my children were young, they had a hard time not taking a nibble while everyone else had their eyes closed to thank God for our meal. Sometimes one child would poke the other with their fork, and the victim would yell, “Hey!” We would all look up, the "forker" would be corrected for inappropriate behavior, then we would continue to thank God. Their little squirmy bodies struggled to sit still, so my husband and I decided to give each one a song to lead as our grace for the meal. From that time forward, each child was eager for their turn to sing grace. “God is great and God is good. Let us thank Him for our food, Amen!” we sang in unison. It was a small sacrifice for them to take a short moment to thank God for His abundant provision for us.
This practice helped later when my husband became a pastor. We had many struggles financially and with difficult people in the church. Sometimes we didn’t know where our next meal would come from. We talked about what we noticed God doing in our situation like the clothing we needed came folded neatly in a garbage bag at the right time in the correct sizes, food left in our car or on our doorstep, a check in the mail at just the right time from someone who didn’t know our situation. Singing thanksgiving can make us grateful even when things don’t look so great because we know Who cares for us and provides our needs.
In Colossians 3, Paul addresses the church in Colosse about the clash of Jewish believers and those confused by the heresy of Gnosticism that snuck into the church. He encourages them to forgive each other, allowing peace to rule in their hearts because of Jesus Christ. Singing hymns, psalms, and thanksgiving would bring gratitude into their hearts.
In Isaiah 51:3, Isaiah prophetically addresses the exile of the Jews to Babylon 150 years before King Cyrus takes the throne of Babylon. Israel would lose their homeland, loved ones, and many possessions in their future. Their children would be taken into service by a foreign nation. What a grievous event for Israel in the future! In fact, if you go to Israel today, they are adamant about never being taken into exile ever again. They will fight to the very death to preserve their nation (Friends of Zion).
Whether living through tough times or plenty, by singing thanksgiving to God for all that He has done for you and your family will open your eyes to see the incredible goodness of our great God. He cares very much for you and your situation. Go on a God-watch during our holiday season. Find the various ways God has taken care of you, diverted bad situations from happening, preserved your life, and how He has provided for your needs. Share them at the dinner table to encourage each other strengthening each other’s faith. Sing thanks to Him over and over again.
May God bless you!
New International Version (NIV), Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Notes for Colossians 3, NIV Study Bible Notes. NIV Study Bible, Copyright © 1985, 1995, 2002, 2008, 2011 by Zondervan.
Notes for Isaiah 40:1-55:13, NKJV Study Bible.Copyright ©1997, 2007 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
|Posted on November 21, 2019 at 6:35 AM||comments (0)|
Photo by ŞULE MAKAROĞLU on Unsplash
I got quite a workout the other day, considering that my last good formal workout was at an Air Force base gym. Indeed, I've gotten exercise lifting, carrying, going up and down steps, etc., which I could tell because it felt more comfortable than expected. I used my Apple Watch to track the workout, which links to an app where I earn points with Achievement and get paid when I reach 10,000 points. Well, I decided to do two 10-minute cardio bouts on the elliptical with my strength sandwiched in between. My numbers looked great from my first cardio segment. When I did my strength training, more functional training with the cable machine, I thought I recorded it. Wrong! I really wanted it recorded, so I did the same exercises again with the activity tracker doing its job. I felt a serious burn the very next day. Wow! Usually, that would be good, but for me, it was a bit too much yet. One major take away for you is how to kick up the calorie burn to burn fat without burning muscle. And be careful about overdoing your exercise!
Surely, you want to burn calories, help your heart health, or improve other health markers, so exercise is essential. The workout I did is a good one for many people since it is functional, whole-body work that you can do slow and easy, two to three times with more time, speed, and intensity. You can also time your reps on the strength by lowering your weight/resistance and go by 30-60 seconds, causing you to toggle between aerobic and anaerobic phases. Either way you choose, you can increase your base metabolic rate to burn fat without burning muscle.
*****Special Caution: Please, check with your medical provider before trying a new exercise program. Some of these exercises may be contraindicated for specific back issues, and this training method may be contraindicated for some heart issues.****
Here is the my workout:
Warm-up and Cardio—5-10 minutes
Treadmill, elliptical, or bike—pick a reasonable pace you can keep for the length of time you plan to work. Use your heart rate range to keep yourself in cardio or fat burn, which is 50-80% of your maximum heart rate.
Strength Training- 1 set of 10-12 reps (or for higher intensity and burn, time each exercise by 30-60 seconds)
Negative squats with the straight bar at cable machine (You can substitute with goblet squats if no cable machine is available)
Bent cable row with single-handle grip (sub: bent kettlebell row), 1 set each side
Underhand cable grip reverse lunges with the straight bar, 1 set each side (sub: bell pass lunges)
Hay balers up with handle grip 1 set, Woodchoppers down with handle grip 1 set (sub: same exercise using bands anchored)
Hay Baler www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/97/half-kneeling-hay-baler (except standing integrating full-body work Check my Happy Friday video for the alternative method I use).
Rotary torso twist with handle grip in wide squat position (sub: same exercise with an anchored band) www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/102/standing-trunk-rotation
Bicep curls with straight bar www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/standing-biceps-cable-curl
Tricep extensions with straight bar www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/tricep-extension.html
If only doing one set because it is new to you or you aren’t ready for more, finish cardio 5-10 minutes.
Cool down by walking at a comfortable pace for 2 minutes.
Stretch all major muscle groups.
BUT, if you feel like you can do more, repeat 1-2 more times. Keep a moderate to brisk pace with all exercises. Always cool-down and stretch major muscle groups when finished. You will discover, like I did, if you did too much for you. Use this feedback to adjust your next workout.
This workout is excellent for your core. If you notice, there are no distinct ab exercises like crunches or curls. The reason is we have worked our core over and over merely by holding the abs firmly (core engagement) during the entire workout. The negative squats and lunges are great for somewhat achy knees because it reduces stress on your joints, but not for bone-on-bone arthritis.
The intensity, speed, and number of sets you do will kick up a great burn—both calories and fat burn. As it is, one set as laid out burned 266 calories for me, except add one more strength training segment at 52 calories for a total of 318 calories! All muscle groups were worked in common movement patterns for activities of daily living. Each person’s calorie burn will differ based on weight, age, gender, and base metabolic rate. You want to increase your base metabolic rate for a continued fat burn between exercise sessions.
If you consider the work you do at home, work, church, and other ministries, this workout strengthens you to do more for a longer time. You can rake leaves, mow the lawn, shovel snow, load groceries, and more with ease. What better way to take care of yourself while you take care of others!
I will post my Happy Friday video with a demonstration of the strength exercises with my home equipment. I don't have a cable machine, but I can demonstrate how to safely perform each exercise. The links are great helps, but I couldn't find some of them online.
By the way, here are two links that you will find valuable:
Achievement—a medical study group that gathers data basically pays you to exercise. You can earn points for reading articles and answering surveys. If you join by clicking this link tinyurl.com/yasdzru9, we both get 250 points! When you earn your $10, you will feel like you accomplished something. This offer by Achievement is good until November 26, 2019.
https://caloriecontrol.org/healthy-weight-tool-kit/get-moving-calculator/" target="_blank">Calorie Control Council—this link has calorie calculators. The one I linked is for calories burned during exercise forms and physical activities. There are more calculators available on this website. No, I don’t get anything for sharing this link. https://caloriecontrol.org/healthy-weight-tool-kit/get-moving-calculator/" target="_blank">caloriecontrol.org/healthy-weight-tool-kit/get-moving-calculator/.
Enjoy creating a burn in your workouts. May God bless your week!
|Posted on November 14, 2019 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
November is National Diabetes Month, which lines up very well with a season in which sweets and carbs are highly prized as part of holidays from Halloween through Valentine's Day. I would like to share a bit about my Boaz's encounter with pre-diabetes, but also the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Also, ways you can help people with pre-diabetes, types 1 and 2 diabetes have a safe and enjoyable Christmas holiday season.
Pre-diabetes Hits Home
My hubby noticed puffiness in his feet and ankles one day. "I need to get back to running regularly," he stated. But exercise was only a temporary fix for this swelling. He began complaining of not feeling well, too. One day, he asked me if there was an odd bump in what was actually a straight line where he was looking. I checked the line out and said, "No, Hon. There is only a straight line." So he went to his eye doctor to ask about it. He was given a grid chart to check his vision daily. Still, we had no idea his blood sugar was higher than usual. That is until he went for an annual check-up, and the blood work showed slightly elevated blood sugar, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic. Keep in mind that I cook very healthy meals at home. However, his metabolism is sluggish, even when exercising. Type 2 diabetes runs in his family, but he attributed it to his family's traditional Southern cooking. It is quite possible a hereditary disposition exists alongside Southern cooking kicks family members into type 2 diabetes. When we discovered what was going on, I started making super low-carb meals for him. He only eats food on the low category of the glycemic index. He has lost some weight, the puffiness in his ankles is gone, the bump in his vision is gone, his blood sugar is in the normal range, and he feels so much better. Catching pre-diabetes early and correct it rather than to allow it to transition into type 2 diabetes is essential.
***** Special Note: This article is not to be construed as medical advice. Please, consult your medical provider.
Types of Diabetes and Differences
There are distinct differences in the types of diabetes, even though someone may be insulin-dependent it doesn't mean they have type 2 diabetes. First, let's look at pre-diabetes before transitioning into type 2 diabetes, with blood glucose levels higher than usual, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic (Mayo Clinic).
Pre-diabetes, or fasting blood glucose levels of 100-125mg/dL, according to the American Diabetic Association, often has no symptoms. It is usually discovered in routine blood work done at an annual medical exam (Mayo Clinic). Those who do have symptoms may have the same symptoms as someone with type 2 diabetes (Diabetes.org).
The treatment for pre-diabetes is lowering carbohydrate consumption while increasing fiber content and balancing with low-fat proteins. Also, pre-diabetics benefit significantly by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables from the low glycemic index (GI Index), reducing or eliminating pre-prepared meals, avoiding added sugar, while adding aerobic and strength exercises three to five days a week for at least 30 minutes per day. Of course, you will also lose weight as a great side benefit of a healthy lifestyle change (UPMC). The doctor will periodically check blood sugar levels to help the patient make positive progress and review medications and supplements to see if they are causing some of the problem, like corticosteriods, glucosamine chondriotin, and some heart medications. He or she may have the individual use a home glucose monitor. Prevention is key to avoiding type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is a tremendous concern for several reasons: vision loss, neuropathy of feet, damage to vital organs, stroke, high blood pressure, and the potential for amputation of toes or feet due to gangrene-- a serious infection-- in poorly managed cases (Diabetes.org). This type of diabetes is significantly common here in the U.S. due to our highly processed foods, frequency of consuming fast foods, and high consumption of snack foods.
The pancreas slowly decreases insulin production, making it difficult for the pancreas to handle the amount of glucose coming into the bloodstream. Fasting blood glucose levels for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is 126 mg/dL or higher. The doctor may do an oral glucose test. If blood sugar levels are between 140-199 two hours after drinking a sugary liquid for this test, the person would be considered pre-diabetic. 200 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes. Diabetic coma usually happens when the person's blood glucose level is 600 mg/dL or higher. Another measure is the A1C, which gives a better overall view over three months of how well blood glucose is being managed. An ideal A1C is between 4% and 5.6%. Understanding your numbers with type 2 diabetes is critical (WebMD).
This type often occurs in adults, not children. Some pregnant women may have gestational diabetes, putting both the mother and baby at risk. It usually resolves after the baby is born, but must be managed well during pregnancy. Symptoms include: extremely thirsty, urinate frequently, unusual hunger, fatigue, dry mouth, itchy skin, blurry vision (WebMD). Some people say that someone with undiagnosed diabetes has a fruity smell to their breath. People who have had high blood sugar for a long time frequently get yeast infections, have sores that don't heal well, and pain or numbness in feet or legs due to damaged nerves (Diabetes.org).
People with type 2 often start with an oral medication to control their blood sugar along with dietary changes and exercise. As a diabetic gets older, or with poor management, they may need to inject insulin.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is diagnosed most commonly in children and young adults. It has nothing to do with their eating patterns. The immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas causing it to stop producing insulin. Symptoms show up with a matter of days or weeks (CDC).
Along with the symptoms described in type 2, affected children, teens, or young adults may begin vomiting due to ketones that build up in the system, threatening possible kidney damage. They also lose weight quickly. This is a life-threatening disease that must be well-monitored and controlled with insulin for the rest of their lives. Many type 1 diabetics have insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors attached to their bodies to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Avoid blood sugar crashes by taking special precautions balancing insulin and food intake. Hypoglycemia, blood glucose 70 mg/dL or lower, occurs when there is more insulin than blood sugar. It causes blood sugar to rapidly drop to scary low levels. It is imperative to carry glucose tablets or candy as an emergency sugar supply in case of hypoglycemia (Diabetes.org).
Considerations for Holiday Gatherings
Family and other holiday gatherings are like navigating a minefield for all types of diabetes. Because most foods are high in processed carbohydrates, sugars, and fats, but low in healthy low-carb options, diabetics either don't eat or they eat foods that significantly elevate their blood sugar. It is better to steer clear of alcoholic beverages for a few reasons. Still, it does spike blood glucose for pre-diabetes and types 1 and 2. Type 1 will consider carb count for intake versus insulin they need to inject, so save the packaging so they can do their calculations. Diabetics who are not insulin-dependent will need to choose their treats carefully. Even though diabetics may balance their carbs to insulin ratio, it is inconsiderate to not have sweeteners like Stevia or Equal for coffee and tea. Also, serve unadulterated fruit and vegetable options. Consider spiralized zucchini in place of pasta, riced cauliflower instead of rice, low-fat cheese cubes with whole-grain crackers. For more ideas, visit Healthline.com and Diabetes.org. Ask your guest for suggestions, as well. Your diabetic guest may also need a quiet, out-of-the-way place to check blood sugar levels. Let them know ahead of time where they can go for privacy for their blood sugar checks. The bathroom is usually busy with lots of guest, so a bedroom or an office makes a great private space.
If you feel put out accommodating a guest with food concerns, consider this passage, "To love him [God] with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." Mark 12:33 NIV. If you were the person who had pre-diabetes or diabetes, how would you want others to treat you? Many options are easy to have available. Let your guest(s) with pre-diabetes or diabetes know what your menu, ask for suggestions, and ask them to fill in any gaps. Kindly keep packages available in the kitchen for them to look over. You would be surprised how many sugar-free options have a lot of carbs in them. Your guests will greatly appreciate your willingness to care for them. Consider it a gift you give them.
Refrain from parenting your guest, even though you mean well. Let them make their own food choices since they are already monitoring their blood glucose. If this person looks glassy-eyed, is unusally fatigued, and shaky, they may be suffering from hypoglycemia. If so, they need to consume sugar right away. Offer candy or honey to them and help them put it in their mouth. If they pass out, call an ambulance. Do NOT try to give them anything by mouth if unconscious as it can cause choking (WebMD).Stay with them monitoring their pulse and breathing. Keep other guests out of the way and have someone watch for the ambulance and bring paramedics to the place where the diabetic is waiting.
Pre-diabetes is a precursor for type 2 diabetes and can be turned around to avoid becoming diabetic. Type 2 diabetes differs from type 1 in that type 2 is a combination of hereditary factors combined with overconsumption of carbohydrates and sugars. These cause the pancreas to reduce insulin production. Whereas, type 1 is an autoimmune disease that develops in children, adolescents, and young adults, regardless of their food choices. Pre-diabetes and type 2 can be improved or eliminated by regular exercise and dietary changes. Type 1 will never be cured. Still, a healthy diet and exercise can help this person live a quality life in spite of the necessity of lifetime insulin dependence and stringent glucose monitoring.
Simple options exist to accommodate diabetic guests. Allowing them to celebrate the Christmas season with you joyfully is a great gift you can give them. Both of you will be greatly blessed!
New International Version (NIV), Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
|Posted on October 30, 2019 at 6:55 PM||comments (0)|
Free image from Vistaprint
I am currently in the Phoenix area, visiting family. We went exploring the White Tank Mountain Park and worked out at the Air Force base fitness center this week, thanks to a pass from my step-son. While here in Arizona, it occurred to me this topic might be of interest to you. So, on the plane and during grandbaby naps, I’ve pulled these tips and resources together to help you be totally fit for your life without breaking the bank. Good stewardship is always a good thing!
I believe I’ve covered this several times in multiple ways but will tackle this in a basic summary and give you additional links to help.
1. Leave pre-prepped meals at the store and cook your own. Some stores you can order your groceries and pick them up on the way home. A host of meal prep kits might be helpful, but the ones at the supermarket are more cost-effective.
2. Shop more of the perimeter of the store and buy bulk food items. Only buy what you will use in volume and can freeze for later.
3. Make more than enough for your meal. Eat appropriate serving sizes, then freeze the rest for another day.
4. Shop ads, download digital coupons and use loyalty programs to your advantage. For some weird reason, some of you may not do this, but it is well worth the effort.
5. Meal plan. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Request my meal planning sheets to help.
6. Avoid health food store fare. Only purchase what you absolutely must from stores like this.
7. Cut down on special drinks. Use filtered water from your faucet or fridge. Add slices of fruit to a pitcher of water for a bit of flavor.
Links for more ideas and resources:
Exercise is challenging for many people with families, but it isn't impossible to do without spending a bunch of money.
1. Is working out at home is stressful? Shop gym options carefully. Will it meet your current and future needs? Which would be the best deal among pay as you go, monthly vs. annual memberships?
2. Can you use the gym at work? Either pack your gym bag and put in your car or keep them in the locker to avoid forgetting them.
3. Can you work out at off-peak times to get a better rate? Would a 24/7 gym fit your needs?
4. Do you need childcare? Find one with free childcare during your classes or work out time.
5. How about a home gym? Skip pricey home gym sets. Put together your own: decent cardio machine from the local sporting good store, bands, hand weights, stability ball, suspension straps, mat.
6. Do you like classes, but can’t afford the gym? Try Exercise on Demand, Youtube, and videos. Borrow videos from your local library. Only do Youtube workouts with reputable instructors/groups. Not all teach well, teach for your specific needs, or carry liability insurance in the event you become injured due to their neglect or poor instruction.
7. Are you 50+? Look for Silver Sneakers or other programs sponsored by your insurance at your gym. You can save a ton of money this way, but your options will be limited. Make sure it meets your needs.
8. Does your church have exercise classes? Do be cautious of mind-body exercise classes, though, because they may be New Age with a Christian name. I always recommend PraiseMoves classes, which include PraiseMoves (alternative to Yoga), Mira! (alternative to Zumba), PraiseWaves (water), PraiseKicks (martial arts exercise), and Bold and Beautiful (just unveiled, so I’m not sure). Look for a class near you.
Links for more resources:
Spiritual Support for Christian Wellness
Christian wellness comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ. That being the case, the best way to be well is to put that faith into practice. This means finding ways to gain insight from the Bible, commune with God through contemplative prayer, being part of a healthy church family, and going on “God Watches”, that is, seeing God’s work in your life and around you. It can always be budget-friendly, but we should always give to help the church we attend to do ministry and help missions and ministries through above-and-beyond giving. After all, what we have comes from Him first.
Tips and Resources for Christian Wellness:
1. Free Bible apps for your smartphone or electronic device. You can read passages in your quiet time, listen to the audio Bible on your commute, and subscribed to Bible studies and devotionals. Of course, if you use it, please support it. Here are a few:
a. YouVersion Bible—Quite popular with several reading plans.
b. Biblegateway—I use this one the most and subscribe for a small monthly fee to use an incredible library of Bible study tools.
c. Biblestudytools.com—has several free study tools and a topical index of Bible verses.
d. Blue Letter Bible—has serious Bible study tools, including Greek and Hebrew word study tools.
e. Olive Tree Bible—the app is free with several translations. Some versions and tools may have a nominal fee to use.
2. Prayer time is always free. You can track your prayer requests and praises in a notes app on your smartphone. There are several apps you can use as your prayer journal, and some are free while others are not. Do discern carefully, though. Some may integrate New Age practices.
3. Relieve stress through Lectio Divina, prayerful Bible contemplation. All you need is your favorite translation of the Bible, a notebook, and a pen. I recommend NOT using your smart device due to the distractions of notifications.
4. Note the times you notice God-moments. Write down when you see an answer to prayer, a God-incidence, or hear someone say something to you that meets a need you have (that they don’t know). The reassurance of God's interaction with you and that He cares about what troubles you will bring tremendous peace.
5. A couple of book recommendations:
I plan to give a book review on this book sometime in November.
I use this often in some of my groups.
Marriage and Family
Christian marriage is the hub of the family, not the children. Everyone in the family feels secure with your marriage is healthy. The best ways to keep your marriage healthy are:
1. Spend quality time together. Such things like dreaming, discussing important topics, and making decisions together strengthen marriage relationships, and intimate time.
2. Argue for a solution instead of fighting to win. Conflict should help you grow not to tear you apart.
3. Appreciate your differences as strengths. God brought two different people together for a reason.
4. Tell each other you love each other every day. Let it be the first thing you tell each other.
5. Pray and read devotions together. Allow Jesus to be the center of your relationship.
6. Never argue in bed. Table it until an agreeable time.
7. Build each other up with honest praise.
The best resources for help with relationships are through Christian ministries and the church:
1. iBelieve has a list of 25 best marriage resources here
2. Celebrate Marriage with Jay and Laura Laffoon. Blog/vlog, conferences, and more. Ask family members for a Date Night for a Christmas or anniversary present. jayandlaura.com/
3. Focus on the Family resources—Thriving Family magazine and online articles. They have counseling, as well. www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/
4. Your pastor or a local Christian counselor are great places to start if you have issues you can’t solve on your own. Some insurances will pay for some marriage counseling sessions with a licensed clinical counselor, so check your policy.
Parenting certainly has its challenges, but Christian parents need Christians resources to help, guide, and direct for peace to reign at home. These are some tips I learned to use with my kids:
1. Encourage your child to do his or her best, rather than scold them for something they failed doing. Correction may be best phrasedm "Good work thinking this through. It might work better if you did this ___________ instead."
2. Balance praise with correction, which may be difficult with some children.
3. Let them know there is safety in your leadership at home by maintaining healthy parent/child boundaries.
4. Find ways to reward your child that aren’t food-based, unless it is a special outing.
5. Encourage physical play indoors and outdoors. Some children will need more than others.
6. Appreciate each children for his or unique qualities.
Don't beat yourself up for making mistakes, though. Keep trying to make healthy changes to build a better parent-child relationship.Great parenting resources that are free or low cost:
1. Focus on the Family—podcasts, blogs, books, and more. www.focusonthefamily.com/
2. Crosswalk.com—several articles and tips for parenting children of all ages. www.crosswalk.com/family/parenting/
3. National Center for Biblical Parenting—a conservative Christian ministry with many resources, classes, and more to help you raise your children from a Christ-centered approach. Some resources have fees, so read carefully. www.biblicalparenting.org/default.asp
This blog post might seem like a laundry list. If you consider being totally fit for life physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually, then putting some of these ideas and resources to use from each area will help reduce stress, live healthier, and find purpose and meaning in your life.
What are some of your favorite ways to be totally fit for life?
May God bless you!
|Posted on October 24, 2019 at 10:10 AM||comments (0)|
(And for Those Who Support Them)
As most of you know, I don’t sport pink ribbons or pink anything for breast cancer. Why? Because I support survivors and their families regardless of the type of cancer. My family has been affected deeply by several family members and friends: my first husband, colon cancer; two aunts, breast cancer; uncle, bone cancer; friends, melanoma; friend, breast cancer; neighbor, colorectal cancer; colleagues, multiple myeloma; classmate and relative, blood cancers. Now you understand why I don’t sport pink. But if you do, by all means, support your friend or loved one in this manner. Since it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I do want to help breast cancer warriors and those who support them in any way I can.
Victims-to-Victors of Breast Cancer
Cancer is a voracious beast! I became keenly aware of the awkwardness and struggles of women battling breast cancer and their families while working in health and fitness. SHLAP! SHLAP! went the rhythm of the swim coach’s angry arms as he struggled with breast cancer threatening his wife’s life. SPLASH, SHLAP!!! as he flip-turned, the swim fins spraying water onto the deck. It was as if he was slugging it out with cancer himself on his wife’s behalf. She survived breast cancer. A couple of years of treatment later, her doctors pronounced her cancer-free. Cancer is never a single person’s nemesis. It is a threat also to family, friends, churches, and communities.
Standing before me was a beautiful 40-ish lady who specifically asked for me to work with her as a Team Survivor member. She was anxious to get back what she lost to cancer with a scholarship from for six personal training sessions. She didn’t look like a cancer victim/survivor, but she was. Her short-term memory suffered from the treatments, so I had to repeat everything in each training session as if it were her first. She feared lymphodema, so we trained her arms conservatively to avoid causing lymphatic drainage into her arms. Her progress was fantastic, so she paid for six more sessions to learn how to best continue on her own. I wish more of these amazing women were as fortunate as her, but each one sought to regain their abilities to do what they wanted and needed to do, lose weight, and feel more energized. Exercise elevates their self-image.
Benefits and Tips for Exercise During and After Treatment for Breast Cancer
***This should not be construed as medical advice; instead, it is for informational purposes only. Please, check with your medical provider before trying any new exercise program.****
Exercise is helpful for breast cancer survivors to reduce the chances of recurrence. No one knows why, but studies show a safe exercise program designed for breast cancer warriors not only reduces it coming back, but it increases the quality of life, reduces depression, increases daily function, and aids restful sleep. (BreastCancer.org 1) It may play a role in regulating hormones and insulin that stimulate cancer growth (cancer.org ,3) One tip my husband's oncology surgeon at the James Cancer Center in Columbus, Ohio told us regarding his colon cancer is chemotherapy drugs are stored in fat cells. As you burn fat, it releases chemo drugs into your system slowly, which helps fight cancer cells. You need to know what your doctor’s recommendations are for your exercise with your particular treatment plan. Radiation treatment, surgery scars, and breast implants make a difference in what exercises you do and how you do them.
1. Always warm up before exercise and cool down afterward. Use some dynamic stretches as part of your warm-up to carefully increase your range of motion. Scar tissue and stiff muscles need particular attention.
2. Avoid repetitive arm movements, especially overhead. You want to prevent overstretching and possibly causing damage. Wear compression for lymphodema to avoid swelling.
3. Focus on form, rather than doing more time, reps, or weight. Proper form is helpful for daily tasks.
4. Do Activities of Daily Living type of functional training regularly. It will enable you to maintain doing those tasks you need and want to do.
5. Do light to moderate level cardio exercise as tolerated. If you are in treatment, only doing endurance exercise like walking or riding a stationary bike for a few minutes at a time is adequate to increase your stamina and help you sleep better.
6. Rest as needed. Chemotherapy and radiation damages cells, both cancerous and healthy. As your body builds back, it requires energy, making your need to rest greater than before cancer. You can do short bouts of activity scattered throughout your day if that works for you. Otherwise, rest on bad days.
7. Hire a specially trained personal trainer for your cancer recovery. This professional will help you design a safe, progressive exercise program you can use for a long time. They will also give you modifications you specifically need for your workouts and to use in classes. Personal training for half-hour sessions at the beginning is usually adequate. When you finish your treatments, you may need one-hour sessions to build back to your normal levels of activity. Let him or her know your budget so they can work with you. Let family and friends know personal training packages make great gifts. Check Team Survivor for a program near you.
8. If chemo fog affects your memory, ask your trainer to give you written descriptions based on the ques he or she uses (my suggestion from experience). Ask if there are any online videos or photos of exercises in your program so you can remind yourself on days you work out on your own. If you have to ask your trainer for reminders more than twice on days you work out solo, then set an appointment. Also avoid interrupting them during a training session with someone else. Your trainer has other clients to train as well. When they are not working with someone, they are usually plotting exercise programs for clients and making calls to meet their clients needs. You are one of those clients, so please be respectful of their time as you would want others to do.
9. Always cool down and stretch after your workout. It will help you avoid soreness and stiffness later. It also helps reduce stress. Stretch for 15-30 seconds each area of the body, but if it is too much to hold for 30 seconds, hold it as long as you are able exhaling as you move into your stretch. Continue breathing while you hold your stretch. It if hurts, stop.
10. Even after you finish treatment and feel you can do your regular activities, get a maintenance workout program you can do for the long haul. Continuing exercise will help you maintain your function, while working toward a healthy weight if you gained weight. Make exercise and healthy eating part of a healthy lifestyle for life.
I recommend checking with Team Survivor at teamsurvivornw.org/programs/ to find a chapter in your area. You can connect with personal trainers and coaches who work specifically with women who battle various forms of cancer. I worked with a branch in western Pennsylvania.
A Quick Note to Those Who Love Breast Cancer Warriors
Cancer is tough on the victim and loved ones. My husband faced colon cancer stage 4 for four years. Walking through his diagnosis and treatment was painful for both of us. Sometimes I had to dress him or help him with bathing or going to the bathroom. I had to learn about his type of cancer, surgeries, and treatments because he struggled with his options. Sometimes, I had to ask questions that didn't come to his mind. I also needed to know what I would face with his care at home. Although he communicated well, when he was quite ill, I created a communication system with home healthcare and friends who came to spend time with him while I worked. When our daughter got married a year before he passed away, I had to step in to get the clerk to wait on him as he struggled with fatigue and pain. She was intent on avoiding him altogether. Love making with your cancer warrior wife may have to wait or change. Your breast cancer warrior will need you in so many ways.
You can support your warrior by letting her know you are with her every step of the way. Love knows no bounds, including the physical changes that come with surgery and chemotherapy. Learn as much as you can about the type of cancer she faces and the treatment plans so you can cooperate with her doctors. Encourage her when she feels like giving up because the fight is fierce. Help her choose a wig or head covering, but honor her choice to bare her head if she chooses. Advocate for her when she struggles to make choices or faces the ignorance of the people she encounters. Respect her needs and wishes sexually.
Would you like to briefly share your cancer story or your caregiving story for your breast cancer warrior? Feel free to do so at [email protected] or in the comments below. Let us know how we can pray for you.
May God bless you!
1. “Exercise” by Miller, Roberge, and Bryan. June 22, 2019. BreastCancer.Org www.breastcancer.org/tips/exercise
2. “Exercise Safely”May 10, 2016. BreastCancer.org. www.breastcancer.org/tips/exercise/safe
3. "Moving to Help Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer" by the American Cancer Society. October 12, 2018. www.cancer.org/latest-news/get-moving-to-help-reduce-your-risk-of-breast-cancer.html
4. “Exercises After Breast Cancer Surgery" by the American Cancer Society. September 18, 2019. www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/surgery-for-breast-cancer/exercises-after-breast-cancer-surgery.html Note: This web article includes some great exercises and more tips than what I've included in my blog post.
|Posted on October 18, 2019 at 1:40 PM||comments (0)|
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Why God Takes Something Away from Us to Give Us Something Better
Read: Luke 17:20-37
Focus verse: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24 NIV
I was in the natural foods grocery store looking for gluten-free, allergy-friendly bread. As I neared the cooler case, a woman with her young son stood there while she read the nutrition label. With a disappointed twitch of the corner of her pursed lips, she put the package of muffins back in the case. The boy, obviously upset, grabbed her coat hem, crying, “No!” Tears welled up in his blue eyes. My heart broke for him.
As I approached them, I spoke soothingly to him, “I totally understand how upset you are about not being able to eat what you want. I have that same problem, too.” He and his mother didn’t seem encouraged at the moment, but my prayer is they will both recognize that I wanted to convey support by letting him know someone understood his plight. It’s painful when we sustain a loss, any form of loss.
Whenever we sustain a loss such as an ability to do something physically or our health, putting such pain in perspective can help us let go of what was and reach out for something good God has for us. Just as that little boy mourned the loss of eating whatever treat he wanted, I grieve another lifestyle change due to health. God took me from struggling with fibromyalgia to being able to do much of what people with the same condition would cringe at the thought. Now I face less exposure to the sunshine I enjoy when I garden, ride my bicycle and walk on the track at our local high school. Will I be able to enjoy remission with this disease? It is too early to tell, but I do ask God if He is taking something away from me to write more for Him. What good thing might He have in store for me?
I’ve witnessed many other Christians who had to give up something to follow God’s call, something better. A fantastic trumpet player hoping to go pro suddenly is hit with Belle’s palsy that diminishes his quality of sound due to a deformed mouth. A young man is hit with a devastating illness that takes away his ability to do what he and his father have enjoyed together since he was a toddler. What call does God have for him? A shining star on the rise in figure skating has a tragic accident that eliminates him from pro performance but is called to plant churches instead. If you asked him how he feels about it, he would tell you that his ego was way too big in skating. Instead, he is doing the better thing by serving God in ministry. It’s all about Him, not us.
As tough as it may be to swallow, it is all about God and not us. In Luke, Jesus shares wisdom with His disciples after the Pharisees tried to trick Him with a question, “Where is the Kingdom of God?” He speaks of a time when He will come in End Times. He tells of how no one should go get their worldly treasures because it won’t be good. The rapture will take one person and leave another behind. He infers that those who go back for their possessions will die, and the vultures will gather at the bodies of the dead. His primary focus is this: “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33 NIV) This statement also appears in Luke 9:23-27 but in a different context. Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
"Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Jesus knew what we could happen if we clutch the wrong thing to our hearts rather than Him.
Whatever it is we hang onto so tightly that pulls us the wrong direction, we must be willing to give up that we might follow Him daily. Are you clutching something to your heart that will take your life away from the life He has for you? I face that very same type of loss, as many other Christians have faced. Sure, whatever He takes away, I will miss, but I prayerfully ask Him to show me what He has ahead. He has something for us to do to build the Kingdom of God. Jesus gave up His earthly life that we might live. The least we can do is give up our lives and take up our crosses daily to serve Him. The rapture is coming. Let us give up what keeps us from living the life of service God has for us to draw others into the Kingdom. May you look forward to something better.
May God bless you!
|Posted on October 11, 2019 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash
Hi, Everyone. You may be wondering what happened this week. I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth nor have I decided to play hookey from blog posts. Instead, I’ve had to slow down to get well. For the past two months, the weather and seasonal changes made my fibro and MCVD worse. I’ve been very tired more often. On my trip to Colorado a month ago, I had a strange discomfort in my chest that knocked the wind out of me and I’ve not picked back up since. This week, I spent the major portion of a day in the emergency room from an intense coronary artery spasm that wouldn’t go away. Thankfully, there was no damage left behind. Most friends and family know I hate going to the emergency room for anything.
I am telling you this because 1) it affects my ministry to you, unfortunately, and 2) to help you see that I really do practice what I preach and teach, even though it may not be pretty. The Happy Friday videos, which seem to be valuable to some of you have stopped for right now. They were never promised as a regular thing anyway. The blog posts and Healthy Lifestyles groups are at a standstill this week. This week’s blog post is almost done, but trying to write much beyond this type of post isn’t working. I’ve also canceled Healthy Lifestyles Groups for now. Any fees paid will be either refunded or credited to the January groups. The fatigue and brain fog have stopped me in my tracks right now.
I have to take care of me right now in order to serve God and you more effectively. My calendar is full of follow-up doctor appointments. My exercise is simply doing what I can like walk or ride my bike on it’s trainer at a LOW TO MODERATE pace. All of my work, that is writing, housework, etc. is in work-rest intervals. We-- the doctors and I-- are trying out a new treatment plan to see what works best. I wish I could have chosen great genes, but as it is, I have my genes to thank for this. UGH! So it is.
In the meantime, I do ask God, “Why?” Job did. King David did. So many of God’s people in the Bible have asked similar questions of their own circumstances. As long as I remain reverent of the Holiness of God and His Sovereignty, I am okay to ask Him such questions. I may have plans, but God can certainly interrupt or divert them, even halt them if He so chooses (Proverbs 19:21).
I will post what I can as best as I can right now. Memes are easy to do. It is the blog posts that require a lot more effort.I will work with the people who are currently doing personal Healthy Lifestyles. No exercise classes right now, either. Watch for updates over the next few weeks.
What I ask of you is to simply pray. My doctors are great about looking at alternative health practices proven to work alongside traditional medicine, so I would ask you to respect me by not pointing me to special diets or natural therapies as a cure. I have heard this quote often regarding the autoimmune disease that plagues me, “By His stripes we are healed!” These well-intentioned people mean well, but it is not helpful since it is unknowingly taken out of context. Nice sentiment. I appreciate your willingness to encourage me. I know God certainly does have the power to physically heal me, but He will only do so if it is His plan. Your prayers and encouragement are always welcome.
Feel free to contact me through your social media venue where you find Be Totally Fit for Life or use the comment section below.
May God bless you!
|Posted on October 4, 2019 at 11:25 AM||comments (0)|
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Recently, I felt pummeled by troubles ranging from a damaged computer to pressures of trying to finish our house and move while trying to start groups and classes, to one huge flare-up that landed me in bed for a few days. You likely noticed my posts were sporadic at the end of my visit with my daughter in Colorado until recently. It seemed like I was spiritually slammed down to the proverbial mat. Often, I find myself up in the middle of the night since fibro and pain wake me up. This morning was one of those mornings.
It seemed the Lord was showing me several things. One is the level of selfish ambition in our world that appears to be at an all-time high, "Do it for yourself," they say. The second is that I fight an invisible battle of balancing my needs with the needs of others. This is a common problem for those in ministry and for Christians in general. The onslaught I've dealt with over the past few weeks now makes sense as I've pondered these points.
Caring is Exhausting, So Retreat When Needed
I think being a parent or caregiver brings a better perspective on the fact that life is about more than just us. This is my third round of caregiving. I am also a parent of three adult children and a grandma of 10 grandchildren (combined between my Boaz' and my families). There have been a few times the importance of taking care of myself really stood out to me recently. The first is when my daughter-in-law went into the hospital in critical condition with pneumonia. I spent quite a bit of time with my son at the hospital supporting him. The reality that he could lose his wife was so weighty, I labored in prayer for all of them. I helped watch my grandkids for some of that time. Every ounce of energy drained from my body. As soon as I came back, several people called within a few days who sought my attention. My mom needed my help. I looked at my husband and said, "I desperately need to get away. Just the two of us, please." We hopped in our plane to visit a couple of beaches at the tip of the Thumb of Michigan. It was so refreshing! I gave out so much of myself that renewal time was like inhaling after having exhaled every bit of air I held in my lungs. Renewal time is vital to be available again later.
Take Care of Yourself to Take Care of Others
The other moment was this week when my mom needed me to take her to the doctor. I also set an appointment for myself since we would already be there. Interestingly, going to a D.O. family doctor can seem a lot like a Family Circus! Mom fell last week, so she needed to be checked to see if there was any damage. She also required prescriptions renewed. Then it was my turn. Typically, I go on my own, but an incident in Colorado concerned me, so it needed checked out. I wondered if it could have triggered such a nasty flare. Believe me, you haven't lived until your elderly parent interjects her own issues in the middle of your exam! Oh, my! X-rays, blood work, and scripts in hand, we were finally out the door two hours later. At any rate, getting her wheelchair in and out of my car several times plus holding the door with one foot while stretching to pull her through the doorway over and over made realize how weak and tired I felt. She needs me to stay healthy and strong. Not only does she need me, but my hubby and the rest of my family need me. God has ministry work for me to continue. Therefore, I must exercise, eat healthily, get rest, worship God, read my Bible, and go to the doctor when needed for more than just me. Sure I do it for me, but I also do this for them-- and for you.
What if I decided to only focus on getting my gym body back, pretending my health conditions didn't exist? What if I decided to "do something for myself"instead of taking care of my mom's need to go to the doctor or family members who needed to talk out issues with me? Pretty vain, huh? It certainly would be. God created us to be and do so much more than just our little world of Me, Myself, and I. He created us for community-- to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A39&version=NIV" target="_blank">), and look to others interests and Christ's as well as our own (Philippians 2:4, 21). Our personal needs must be balanced (physical, mental/emotional, relational, and spiritual) with the needs of others in light of Jesus' commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visiting those in prison (dare I say, hospitals and nursing homes, too?) and helping the widow and fatherless (Matthew 25:41-45, James 1:27). There is only one me and so many of them and you. I need to recharge and renew for others by spending time with the Lord and taking care of my own basic needs. It becomes a life rhythm.
Consequently, it's also easy to do too much for others without taking care of our own needs. You know those who give crazy guilt trips if you don't load up every waking moment with missions and ministry. There is no time to do anything for your own needs. The great Christian lie, "Do everything for others to the neglect of yourself," causes burnout and resentment. I've seen more pastors and their families fall prey to this lie from the pits of hell. These are the loving saints who came to the gym because their blood pressure was off the charts while the scale groaned beneath their tremendous weight. It was then they realized their great mistake in believing their needs should go without attention. Many have left the pulpit to seek less stressful work elsewhere, thereby neglecting the call God placed on their lives. What a shame, too. Christian wellness is based on personal stewardship of one's self to serve God and others more effectively. Taking care of our own needs is imperative. We can't give out if there is nothing left to give. This becomes a never-ending balancing act every day.
Balancing Me with We and Us
We aren't on our own individual islands. God created us to be in a community with others. We rely on each other and communicate with each other. We need each other. Learning how to balance our own needs with the needs of others is vital to overall health. These tips are some of my own discoveries through the years that might help you balancing your caring needs:
1.Take time with God every day in prayer and reading your Bible. Listen for His voice and cues throughout your day.
2. Take care of basic hygiene and sleep, or you will eventually get sick.
3. Get your exercise on a regular schedule.
4. Be careful to not be everything to everyone, instead invite others in to assist by offering a support network to those whose needs are too much for you.
5. Always point others to Jesus.
6. Keep appointments with your doctors, dentist, and other health professionals as a priority.
7. Never neglect your family's needs to meet the needs of others; otherwise, it will cause resentment and hurt the relationships you hold dear.
8. Invite family to pray and help with ministry to others, as appropriate for the ages of children and your station in life. God will tug on your heartstrings as a family for the ministry in which your family should take part.
9. Protect your home space for the safety and security of your family, even when hosting guests by offering your house rules to them. Be kind yet firm.
10. Never go on a rescue mission alone because these needs are weighty, and the person being rescued needs strong community support.
Once you get your rhythm of caring set, you will begin to thrive. How can we pray for you as you work to balance self-care and caring for others? Many blessings to you!
|Posted on September 27, 2019 at 1:35 PM||comments (0)|
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I've been sick all week after returning from visiting my daughter and her family in Colorado. The altitude difference, 432 feet above sea level in Michigan to over 4,000 feet above sea level in Northern Colorado, got me. It made me feel like I was doing mild endurance exercise while I was there. This issue wasn't new. I've been there on several other occasions. Just before the return home, I noticed the difference in the Denver airport, a bit over 5,000 feet. I will say that my joints felt better in the dryer climate, but when I returned home to low-pressure cells and high humidity, ouch! My hands and feet throbbed. Not only that, I found myself ridiculously fatigued all week. I couldn't concentrate yesterday to finish the original blog post, so I had to claim a Sick Day. If you've missed some of the posts this week, that's what happened. It's been a sick week.
I want to conclude National Chronic Pain Month with a focus on the fatigue factor of pain. It can be very debilitating at times, causing the pain sufferer difficulty with day-to-day activities. Pain requires concentrated effort to keep going even when you hurt. The "alarm bell" of pain rings loudly, often. If you've ever been around when a loud alarm sounds for a long time, all you want is for it to STOP! That fight-or-flight response literally exhausts your body. Not only that, pain causes your body to self-protect. Working against self-protection requires more energy than usual. If the sufferer has an autoimmune disease or fibromyalgia, the pain isn't limited to joints. It affects muscles, fascia, and tendons. The disease process causes an overly active immune system response zapping your body of a lot of energy in a short amount of time. Think of it like when you've had the flu. All you want to do is sleep. It may cause muscle stiffness or cramping, which requires a lot of effort to get your body to cooperate! Lost sleep, or unrestful sleep, robs us of what we need to function the next day. Brain fog rolls in creating confusion during pain and fatigue.
So when considering chronic pain, it's nasty sister, chronic fatigue, tags along. You can manage your fatigue to be more productive than giving in to it. But you want to increase your quality of life, too. Here are a few of my personal helps:
1. Use work-rest intervals to accomplish necessary tasks. Some chores may need to be delegated while others may have to wait another day. My hubby took the laundry down to the basement from our bedroom upstairs. Now if only he remembered the dead mouse in the mousetrap!!!
2. Simplify your life by avoiding a heavy calendar full of appointments. I rarely set more than two significant dates in my schedule, like a doctor's visit or taking my mom out for shopping. I need the rest of my time to get my own tasks done and to rest.
3. Let friends, family, and coworkers know when you require help or rest. Of course, at work, you may have to disclose your illness. I revealed fibro early in the work relationship because I didn't need to be pushed beyond function. Some people save disclosure until absolutely necessary. If you can give them the "Heads Up" on your painful fatigue days, they can give you space to adjust your workload to balance with your health status for the day.
4. Use helpful devices to reduce pain and fatigue. I use a rolling computer bag because a heavy computer case on my shoulder presses on painful pressure points that cause me to feel worn down and dizzy. The roller bag also reduces stress on the joints of my hands so I can travel with ease. Some people need special grips to keep their hands from severe pain. I use full-finger weight gloves for weight training, so my hands don't fatigue out before the rest of me.
5. Get moderate exercise on good days, rest on the terrible ones. Last week I got in three great days of water exercise in the hotel pool and lots of walking. This week I could only do some basic tasks, so my Apple Watch isn't happy with my progress. So what? I needed to back off, so I don't end up worse.
6. If you can't function at all, declare a sick day. If you try to push through, you will only prolong and aggravate your health condition. Fibro sufferers can increase their pain by pushing though bad fatigue. I had to do that yesterday. Sorry, Everyone! Days like that are best-to-rest days.
7. Never make big decisions early into your bad fatigue days. Either you will overestimate or underestimate what you can handle. I always give myself the “Two Cups of Coffee and a Shower” rule. Then I can think more clearly even if I feel like crawling back in bed.
Yes, it would be easier to pull the covers over your head and say, "Forget it!!!" But healthy living starts with changing our attitude to an, "I can"attitude trusting God to carry you when you are too tired to carry yourself. Pain and fatigue can be managed to improve health and quality of life.
If you have some helpful tips for dealing with fatigue and pain, feel free to share in the comments below. May God bless you!
Follow these links for additional resources:
|Posted on September 19, 2019 at 3:40 PM||comments (0)|
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Sitting hunched over a computer is the norm nowadays. Leaning toward a coworker over the table in a meeting to hear him while showing interest is also common. Pastors, teachers, and childcare workers are reaping the negative results of working in a leaning forward position day in and day out. The results of work-related and care-giving positions take its toll on people's spinal health, overall health, balance, and how people perceive us. With assistance and proper posture correction, these issues can be alleviated to bring relief and improvement in total health.
I worked with a piano teacher who suffered from neck and back pain. The doctor found nothing medically wrong, so she thought maybe there might be some exercises to help reduce her misery. After I gave her my disclaimer that I am not a medical pro, but a fitness pro, she agreed to allow me to show her some simple stretches and exercises she could do three to five days a week. After six personal training sessions, she began to see improvement. After three months of work, she stood taller, felt less pain, and found people treated her with greater respect. She also discovered she felt less likely to fall on uneven terrain, which was a problem she hadn’t revealed to me at the beginning. After she finished three months, I noticed that she often waved at me with a smile as she walked by me on the track. Her transformation with simple stretches and exercises was astounding.
*Note: This should not be construed as medical advice, but is for informational purposes only.
The problem that results from leaning or working forward is called kyphosis. You can tell when you see noticeable curvature of the upper back, accompanied by the hips tilting forward to compensate. Arms naturally rotate inward causing the palms to face toward the back. Not only does it cause compression of the discs in the neck because the head juts forward, but creates tension in the muscles of the neck. The chest muscles (pectorals) are quite tight. The lower back is painful because it no longer has it's normal curvature compressing discs in the lower lumbar region above the sacral section of the spine. This bent forward position makes balance more difficult forward and back. As a person ages, forward falls become common, especially descending stairs. Proper alignment of the spine relieves tension and pain while creating better ability to right one's self in a potential fall.
As a martial arts instructor, I discovered that this posture also caused people to think someone with kyphosis lacked self-confidence. Interestingly, as I worked with students with self-defense, they gained greater respect immediately as they carried themselves by standing taller. How you carry yourself changes people’s perception of you.
Fundamental postural changes are essential for overall spinal, physical, and emotional health. Here are a few ways you can help improve your posture:
1.Use the ergonomic seat of your vehicle to help you work on better spinal alignment. You probably feel "normal" with kyphosis until you consciously line up your body with the seat. The most challenging part of changing the alignment will be with your neck. Some seats may keep your head further forward than is reasonable due to the demands placed on vehicle manufacturers. Keep your head level, but press the back of your head gently into the headrest. I used this method to correct my posture initially.
2.Using a full-length mirror, turn sideways to view posture. Work to line up your ears over the shoulders, shoulders over the hips, and hips over the ankles. Use your cellphone to snap photos of yourself before and after. It would be better if you have someone to take pictures for you.
3.Doorway Chest Stretch. Place your hands fingertips up, elbows at shoulder height on the doorway of a standard width with the door open. Step through with one foot to gain a gentle stretch across your chest. Breathing, hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds, doing them three to five times each day.
4.Do bridges on the floor. Facing up, bend the knees and place feet flat on the floor, arms lined along with your side palms down. Peel your spine up from the mat, starting with the hips and ending just before the shoulders. Check to see if your body looks like a ramp. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then slowly lower the body back to the floor one vertebrae at a time and rest. Repeat for ten reps.
5.Supine Palm Claps/Shoulder Press Down. While lying on the floor, Take your arms straight in front of you with your hands palms together. Make sure your hands are over your chest, not your face. Press your shoulders down into your mat with your hands together. Then lower the arms straight out to the side palms up. Rest in that position for about 30 seconds. Repeat about ten times.
6. Lat flyes. Using light hand weights, Lean your body parallel to the floor with one foot in front of the other. Raise weights out to the side until they become even with your shoulders, then slowly relax the arms back down in front of you.
7. Lower back exercise. Lying face down on the floor, hands underneath your shoulders, slowly rise up using the back muscles. Only use the hands and arms to help you keep a steady movement. Hold for five to ten seconds, then slowly return your body down to the mat. Do five to ten times. Stretch the other direction by pressing up on your hands and knees, then rock back toward your heels, then relax face down in this position.
8. External weight rotations. Lying on one side with knees bent while holding a very light weight, bend the arm at the elbow and maintain this position. Rotate the weight from the belly outward until it is perpendicular to the ceiling, then release back toward the stomach. Do ten times.
9. Neck stretches. Slide your chin back while looking straight ahead into the neutral position and hold. Breathing, tilt your ear toward your shoulder and hold for ten seconds. Return to center, then repeat on the other side. Do five times. You may want to add this: with chin retracted, look down. Hold for five seconds, then raise head back to looking forward. Do five times.
10.Quad/hip flexor stretches. While standing or lying prone on the floor, grasp ankle with your foot behind you. Keep the knee pointing down/away from you. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Do three to five times each side.
11.Squats. Standing with feet hip-width apart, slowly lower body to a sitting position, then slowly stand back up. Be careful to keep your knees behind your toes when you sit back.
12.Ab/core exercises. There are several, so I will send you here to the https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/body-part/abs/view-all" target="_blank">ACE Exercise Library. You will also find the exercises I mentioned previously.
Once you feel relief, you will notice that you stand taller, feel better, your belly is flatter, and people take notice. Your digestion should improve, joint pain diminish, and your breath capacity increase.
I want to offer an insight from the Bible about how we should posture yourselves in your relationship with Christ that you may stand confidently firm.
Philippians 1:27-29. Stand firm, not frightened.
With this passage and considering posture with balance and confidence, we may stand firm (confident) without fear in the face of opposition. Not only do you face opposition, but so do many other believers, both in the past and now.
Other great reads about posture and it’s effect on health and balance:
"Surprising Risks of Poor Posture" Havard Health
"10 Ways Poor Posture Can Harm Your Health" U.S. News
"Effects of Forward Head Posture on Balance" National Institute of Health