Fear the Hole, Not the Future

parable-talentsIn Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells a parable about three servants whose master entrusts them with a sum of money before going on a trip. When the master returns, one servant has invested the money and made a large profit, one has invested the money and made a small profit, and one servant has buried the money in a field and made no profit. The third servant claims he buried the money out of fear; he knows his master can be harsh, so he takes no chances. Investment, after all, is a risky business. What if he lost the money? What if he tried his best and his best wasn’t good enough?

Believe it or not, this passage reminds me of weight loss and improving our health. No, this passage is NOT, theologically speaking, about taking care of our bodies; it’s about the Kingdom of God. I’m borrowing the idea to make a point of my own. I repeat: this is not a theologically sound argument here; I’m plagiarizing my Savior to encourage you—and me—to get healthy.

There are different ways to go about getting healthy. Some ways promise big rewards and require big investments of time, money, or self control.  Some ways offer moderate return on a moderate investment. The last way is like a savings account in the bank; the profits aren’t dramatic, but when time has passed, you have something to show for your half hearted efforts. The worst thing we can do is be like the third servant: bury ourselves in fear and do nothing.

What if I try and it doesn’t work? What if I can’t do it? What if I never reach my goal? I’m afraid I’m a failure; what if I’m right?

not-excited-exerciseI can answer that for you. If you try and you never reach your goal, you’re still getting interest on your investment and you’re better off than being buried in a hole. The truth is that if you don’t try, if you don’t aim for a goal, if you don’t make an effort, you know exactly where you’ll be one, five, ten, or fifty years from now: in that hole. You won’t be thinner than you are now, and you won’t be healthier.

Every little change you turn into a healthy habit makes a HUGE impact on your health long term. It’s like putting $1,000 in the bank at 5% interest. Doesn’t sound like much, but after ten years you’ll have $1,600 and after fifty years you’ll have $11,000. All because you invested your money and didn’t hide it in a hole. Every glass of water you drink, every full night of sleep you sleep, every minute of exercise you do, and every vegetable you eat is you investing in your future: your future health, your future life, your future you. You can invest big, invest the minimum, or somewhere in the middle, but please, don’t stay buried in a hole.

holeDANGER! DANGER!! This metaphor will only take us so far, so please, please, PLEASE don’t read too much into this and think that God is a harsh master who will put you in jail (or even simply not like you) if you don’t make a “profit” of weight lost or health gained. Romans 5:8 says that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” and “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Add them together and you get the truth that Christ loved us BEFORE he died for us, when we had nothing to offer him, not even obedience or faith, and certainly not healthy habits. All I’m saying is don’t let fear hold you back from changing your life. Only good can come of taking care of your body. Climb out of the hole and invest in yourself.

 

 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25:23 (NIV)

 

 

Images courtesy of: http://www.pinterest.com (man digging), http://www.sharemyworldshow.com (not excited), http://www.haroldsplanet.com (hole)

Count, Count, Count Your Calories (Song)

Count, Count, Count Your Calories

(To the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat)

 

singing-womanCalories to count

Every day, each meal.

Calories, calories, calories, calories,

Day one I count with zeal!

 

Seven, eight days go by

Counting every food.

Calories, calories, calories, calories,

No longer in the mood.

 

Some foods’ counts are high.

Noodles, muffins too.

Hoagies and ice cream and peanuts, tortillas.

I didn’t have a clue.

 

Calories to burn

As I exercise.

Calories, calories, calories, calories,

Watch the number rise!

 

If I walk a mile,

Quickly as I please,

Calories, calories, calories, calories,

Burns an ounce of cheese.

 

row-row-row-your-boatCount, count, count your calories

If only for a week.

Teaches you, teaches you, teaches you, teaches you

Weight loss that you seek.

 

Sure have learned a lot

Counting calories.

Let me eat, let me eat, let me eat, let me eat,

Wisely choosing, please.

 

 

Images courtesy of Clipart Kid (woman singing), abcnotation.com (music notes)

Move it or Lose it Brain Cells

brain33My brain works out several times a week. It seems to enjoy it—especially the surge of endorphins—and man, when it feels stressed, it can’t wait to get moving. I wish I’d taken a before and after picture so you could see how much my brain has bulked up since it started working out.

How does my brain work out? Easy. It tells my limbs to move: my legs walk or dance, my arms lift weights or push me up, and sometimes it gets all four limbs flailing in unison in the pool. The limbs get my heart pumping and the extra blood feeds and cleans my brain. My brain is getting more fit every day.

“(The brain) is an adaptable organ that can be molded by input in much the same way as a muscle can be sculpted by lifting barbells. The more you use it, the stronger and more flexible it becomes” (Spark). We usually think about exercise’s benefits to our muscles and lungs, but studies are proving over and over again that our brains benefit greatly from exercise as well.

move-it-or-lose-itLet’s take learning, for example. A few schools in Texas increased recess for their kindergarten and first grade students. With an hour of recess per day, those students’ grades and behavior improved. When Naperville Central High School near Chicago beefed up their physical education classes, their students not only became physically fit, but they finished first in the world on an international science exam.

How does this brain-exercise connection happen? Dr. Ratey explains it well and thoroughly in his book Spark, but I’m going to sum it up in three words: exercise births neurons. Your brain makes new neurons all the time, but when you exercise, your brain puts the neuron factory in overdrive. Your brain is then swimming in neurons looking to make a connection and you are primed to learn, process, and remember. Add to that the extra blood flow bringing more oxygen and nutrients to the brain and what you get is a cocktail of neurological growth serum.

Learning is not limited to school scenarios: exercise helps the brain battle depression and addiction because the brain is primed to learn a new reaction to old situations. Exercise also boosts the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, three neurotransmitters that help regulate thoughts and emotions and keeps us flying level. Studies have shown exercise to be as effective as medication in treating depression and that exercise reduces the risk of depression. I’m not saying “cure” and I’m not telling you to dump your pills if you take them. I’m saying give your brain a workout because your brain is capable of amazing things and regular exercise is proven to help.

sparkWhen my brain works out, it’s even protecting itself against the natural effects of aging. As your brain ages, the production of new neurons slows down and the cells it has die more easily than when you’re young. The brain can actually shrivel and shrink over time. Exercise is one of the few ways to combat this trend because it boosts neuron production and makes your cells harder to kill. It’s like car maintenance: if you drive your car all the time, you’re going to maintain it. The older the car gets, the more prone it is to breaking down, but if you keep it well maintained, the car will last a long time. Exercise equals driving the car: the body is forced to maintain the cells because you’re using them. If you stop using your cells, they rust away and die. “If your brain isn’t actively growing, then it’s dying” (Spark).

Working out makes my brain work better, feel better, learn better and react better. We are ‘use it or lose it’ creatures, so get your body moving so you don’t lose your mind!

 

 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)

 

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061219122200.htm Exercise Appears To Improve Brain Function Among Younger People

 http://www.today.com/parents/want-kids-listen-more-fidget-less-try-more-recess-school-t65536 Want Kids to Listen More and Fidget Less?

Spark, John J. Ratey, MD and Eric Hagerman. Little, Brown and Company, New York 2008

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1aNERoMndU Kim Bevill TED talk

Images courtesy of Dr. Odd (Brain), 

Clean Out the Fridge Soup

 

Clean Out the Fridge Soup is one of my favorites.  You cook it -from scratch- using whatever leftovers and neglected produce are in your fridge. The resulting soup is different every time and your Tupperware is set free and reunited in the cabinet.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Pull out all of your dilapidated vegetables and abandoned meat, especially the ones that are hiding in dark corners.  Be brave, but not stupid.  Give the meat a sniff, and inspect the plants. Wilted does not mean inedible; plants don’t need to be pretty to be soup.

4Step 2: Put the soup pot on the stove and turn the burner on to medium or medium high.

Step 3: Chop up a medium onion and mince 2-3 cloves of garlic.  If you’re adding celery, mushrooms, or raw meat, chop those too. When the pot is hot, add your choice of fat: oil, butter, bacon, etc. Olive oil is the healthiest, but butter and bacon add flavor. When the fat is hot, sauté the onion and garlic (and celery and mushrooms and meat) until tender or, in the case of meat, browned.

The vegetables in soup are like a contemporary music band; the right combination creates beautiful harmonies.  Onion and garlic are your lead vocals and your keyboard or guitar, water and salt/seasoning are the sound wave vibrations that your ears translate into music.  Without these, it’s just not a band. (If you’re not a fan of onion and/or garlic, you need remedial eating classes.)

Leftover cooked meat can be added later since it only needs to be heated, not cooked. Remember that you can mix your meats…one serving of meatloaf, a chicken leg, half a pork chop, etc.

Step 4: Add water.  I add about 6 cups of water.  If that feels like too much for your family, start with less.  If your soup gets crowded, you can always add more water later.

5Step 5: Choose and chop up your veggies; smaller is generally better, but go with whatever you prefer.  If you use a food processor, your kids won’t be able to pick out the tiny bits in the broth.

Celery, carrots, zucchini, spinach, broccoli, kale, etc are your drums.  You can make a band without them, but why bother?  If the point of soup is to give your body nutrients, don’t leave out the colored plants.

Corn, meat, okra, turnips, squash, sweet potato, etc are the violins and harmonicas.  If you like them, they add a special flare to the band.  If you don’t like them, don’t add them; no harm done.

Beets are divas with control over the volume of their own microphones.  I like beets, but I don’t add them to soup unless I want beet soup.  You will only taste the diva.

Boil your soup just as long as you need to in order for everything to be tender.  If you chop your ingredients small, they cook in 10 minutes or less.

Step 6: Add cooked leftovers. Now that your veggies are tender, add cooked meat, cooked rice, lentils, cheese, etc. Lower the heat and simmer the soup for five minutes to heat up the additions.

Step 7: Add seasoning. The easiest way to add seasoning is to add bullion paste, cubes, or packets.  Bullion gives you seasoning and salt all in one easy step.  Add a little, taste, add more if needed, taste. This is also when you can add herbs, pepper, or spices.  When in doubt, let Simon and Garfunkel guide you: add “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”.

3Step 8: Add the secret ingredient: salt.  I used to have trouble making soup.  At first I would throw a lot of things into a pot and serve it.  My husband got a few nasty surprises since he was generally the first one to taste it, so I started sampling dinner before dishing it.  If a soup didn’t taste right, I’d add a little of this or that or those and finally my husband would ask “did you add salt?”  It only took me five years to start listening to him.  Before you despair, add a little salt and taste. Add a little more and taste.  It’s very hard to take extra salt back out. If you over salt, try adding potato.

When it tastes good, soup’s done.

I know it can be nerve wracking to cook without a recipe. Some of you are panicking right now!  NO recipe?  That’s ludicrous!  Anarchy won’t help me, Katie!  Calm down and start by clicking here.  It will lead you to a page with multiple soup recipes.  Experiment when you feel comfortable.  Anarchy comes with practice!

“So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments.” Mark 8:8

Help, They’re Taking my Excuses

The BBC is out to get me. Out to get me healthy, that is. They keep publishing news about studies that show there is no wrong way to exercise. First researchers set the exercise bar at 150 minutes per week. That’s two and a half hours, which sounds like a lot, but if you break it up into 30 minutes a day, five days a week, it becomes very doable.

Unless…

bbc-vacuumExcuse #1: I can’t make it to the gym five days a week this week because my kid is sick, my other kid has a dentist appointment, it’s snowing, my car’s in the shop, there’s a Downton Abbey marathon on TV, my sneakers don’t match my only clean t-shirt, and no one wants to sweat on a Friday. May as well give up.

BBC: Your exercise doesn’t have to be done in a gym and doesn’t have to be 30 minutes in a row. Every little bit of exercise adds up, so five minutes of walking because you parked at the back of the parking lot, or ten minutes vacuuming the house, or 7 minutes pulling weeds in the garden, or 20 minutes shoveling snow all add up. No excuses.

Unless…

bbc-bikeExcuse #2: I have a sedentary job and a busy schedule driving here and there and the only time I can do any real exercising is on the weekends. But going for a hike or playing tennis or taking a long bike ride doesn’t count, right? I mean, if most of my exercise is all in one day, it doesn’t do any good, does it?

BBC: Actually, it does; it does a lot of good. It does almost as much good as spreading the exercise out over five days. Again, moving your body for 150 minutes per week is what’s important, not how those minutes are grouped together.

So…

There’s no wrong way to exercise? Every little bit counts and every a lot bit counts and all of it adds up to reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and type two diabetes, not to mention looking and feeling fantastic?

BBC: Yes.

Then I’d better get moving. No excuses. BBC, can you please publish an article on how eating chocolate burns fat?

BBC: When a scientific study proves it, sure.

Sticking with the non-fiction, then, are you? Fair enough.

 

“For in him we live and move and have our being.”  Acts 17:28a

 

Weekend exercise alone ‘has significant health benefits’ http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38560616

Could Vacuuming Save the Nation? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/3670523.stm

Merry Christmas! Give me a gift, please

img_4134Merry Christmas!

I am grateful for every one of you who reads this blog and I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

 

Will you consider giving me a gift? If you’ve read my book, will you leave a review for it on Amazon or Goodreads? If you already have, THANK YOU. I’ve been tickled and blessed by the reviews I’ve received so far. Reviews are how strangers decide whether or not a book is worth reading. If you liked my book, please tell the world!