March Ab-ness Starts Today

March Ab-ness begins TODAY! Why today? Because I couldn’t think of a reason to wait (other than laziness). Two years ago I was doing TRX once a week and when I finished March Ab-ness I felt like I had a belt of muscle around my waist. It was wonderful. I miss that.

coreI haven’t totally stopped working my core—I work it in fits and spurts—but for months I’ve been wanting to get back to consistent mostly-daily core workouts. I’ve proved to myself in Marches past that 3 minutes a day for 30 days takes an inch off my waist. So why haven’t I stuck with it? Ha! You know why. Go ahead, think of a reason. Think of four reasons. My responses are: yes, probably, definitely, and “well, I never!”

The point is not why I let it fizzle, but what I’m going to do about it. Why not start today? I’ve “started today” a few times over months past and fizzled again. So what’s going to be different about today? I’m going to bribe myself.

I work best with goals and rewards, much like a poodle, so I’m going to set a goal and reward myself when I reach it. For example, I like books. I buy most of my books at second hand stores and library book sales and then they sit in my To Read cabinet for months until I get to them. But sometimes, dag-gone-it, I see a book I want to read and it’s new and costs more than a dollar and I look at that cabinet of books I already have and how much milk that new book money could buy and I sigh and set it back on the shelf.

However…

9df88ffd9eff46661653075fe526e848I’ve made myself a chart and decided to pay myself 10 cents for every 1 minute of ab exercises I do. At the end of the month I’m going to tally those minutes into dollars and go buy books. Three minutes a day for 30 days gives me $9 NEW book money.

Books motivate me. They may not motivate you. What does? What special something would you like to do/buy/see/hear/say at the end of the month when you reach your goal? When I first started losing weight, my first goal was a digital scale. Our old scale had a big dial that would change your weight if you leaned forward or backward as you stood on it. I’d hop on and look down and guesstimate my weight from the worn wobbly black lines and if I didn’t like it I’d lean back a bit. The digital scale let me see my progress more accurately. And I covered it with sparkly butterfly stickers so it was pretty.

Figure out what reward motivates you and what goal you’d like to achieve. Start today. Why not?

Feel free to share your own goal and/or reward in the comments. We can learn from one another’s good ideas.

 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:12

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Eating Colorfully in the New Year

20180106_152344This New Year my desire to set lofty goals didn’t last past January 2nd. “Meh,” I shrugged, “I don’t feel like it.” Then I noticed what was bringing me joy in the kitchen and I came up with a resolution I can get excited about: I resolve to eat colorfully this winter. (Yes, I said winter, not year. Realism is key when setting goals, right? One season at a time.)

When outside it’s white as snow or dull brown dreary, it cheers me up to cook and eat colorful things. I first noticed it when I came across cold-pressed organic canola oil. I wasn’t so excited about the organic part as I was about the color: bright yellow, just like the rapeseed flowers it’s made from. Every time I pull it out of the cabinet, it makes me smile. It’s beautiful. It’s that same feeling that made me want to eat Playdoh as a kid.

20180106_122613I got excited the first time my Mom showed me purple cauliflower (she was excited too). When I found purple and pink potatoes, it made chopping feel more fun.  Orange or yellow tomatoes make a salad seem exotic. The list goes on! There are more colorful foods to discover, so it’s a good thing I eat every day.

Studies show that colorful foods have important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in them. It’s good for me and it makes me happy? Now that’s a resolution I can keep.

 

We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1:4

 

I WILL Act Like a Child (A Holiday Manifesto)

img_4132This holiday season, I vow to act like a child.

I will not sit still. I will get up or get out and move every day. I will skip to the mailbox, I will dance in the kitchen, I will walk around the block, I will jump up and down in anticipation. I will do it because it makes me feel good, not because I have to.

I will be a picky eater. If I don’t love it, I won’t finish it. I will not waste stomach capacity on mediocre food. The only exception is if the cook is watching me. If the cook is watching, I will make an interesting comment to draw attention to my eating their dish—“Mmm, is that nutmeg in these mashed potatoes?”—and then push the remaining food to the edges of my plate and cover it with a napkin. If I love a food I will savor it, licking my fingers (discreetly) and ignoring the world around me until it’s gone.

I will ask “why?” I will listen to the Christmas story at church and to carols on the radio and I will ask “Why? Why? Why?” until the only answers left are “Because God loves us so much, he came down and saved us himself” and “I don’t know, He just does.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Take Heart: Stress and Heart Health

“Limit stress” is probably the most difficult heart healthy habit to adopt because stressful situations are often out of our control. Many times you know exactly what is causing your stress but there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes there are things you can do: change to a less stressful job, de-clutter your living spaces, send the children to Grandma’s for a month, break a big problem down into small actionable steps, etc., but sometimes all you can do is exercise and pray.

Why pray? It’s out of your control, but nothing is out of God’s control.

heart stressWhy exercise? Ongoing stress isn’t good for your heart because it raises your blood pressure. Exercise lowers your blood pressure therefore helping to “destress” your body. Stress saps your energy, exercise increases it. Stress robs you of sleep, exercise improves sleep. Stress produces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, exercise reduces those and produces endorphins which are to the brain what chocolate is to womankind.

Sometimes looking at heart health can stress you out too. All of the do’s and don’ts can be overwhelming, especially if you have a long way to go to make your cardiologist proud. You don’t have to change everything all at once; you’ll drive yourself crazy and give up. The goal is a heart healthy lifestyle, so adding one healthy habit at a time and building on your progress is a good way to go. (NOTE: if you have had a heart attack or stroke, ignore me and do what your doctor tells you! If s/he says you should change many habits at once, do it! Those of us who haven’t almost died sometimes need a gradual approach because we’re lazy or stubborn or don’t think it’ll happen to us. Silly us.)

heart stress 2Here’s the list of recommendations to keep your heart healthy:

  1. Sleep 7-8 hours each night.
  2. Eat plants: Roughly half of what you eat should be plants: fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains (as in “not processed and looks like a grain”: rice, oatmeal, lentils, quinoa, etc., not bread or pasta even if they’re labeled “whole grain”.)
  3. Exercise 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week.
  4. Don’t smoke.
  5. Limit stress.

Put a check next to the ones you already do. Great job! Now look at the ones you didn’t check. Which one is the most important for you to focus on first? If you’re pre-diabetic, start with exercise. If you’re trying to lose weight, replace half of what’s on your plate with plants. If you’re too tired to change your life, start with sleep. What measurable goals can you set to get that habit rolling? What specifically can you do today?

The holidays can be a stressful time. Make time to move your body and give yourself the gift of a stress free heart.

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (said Jesus) John 14:1

 

References:

Anxiety and Depression Association of America https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax

 

Images courtesy of: Amazon.com (stress balls), health.harvard.edu (stethoscope)

Salmon Burgers

In our heart health series, salmon keeps popping up as an important source of Omega-3s, magnesium, blah blah blah, it’s delicious and good for us, but can also be expensive. Today’s recipe uses canned salmon which is fairly cheap and already cooked which makes it quick and easy. Everything in the can is edible, including the bones and skin, but if consuming a creature’s backbone weirds you out, just drain, dump on a plate, and fish out the bits you don’t want. The little bones are a pain in the rib to remove plus they’re edible (think celery texture) and full of calcium , so go ahead and leave them in there.  You’re not being lazy, you’re being healthy.20171119_115210_HDR

Ingredients:

1 can salmon

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup bread crumbs

2 eggs

¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 Tb lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 Tb oil

 

Directions:

Drain salmon. (Optional: remove backbone and skin.) Mix all ingredients except oil. Form 5-6 patties ½ inch thick.

Heat pan on medium heat and add oil. Fry salmon burgers 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Thankfully Funny

skinny turkeyI’m thankful for the variety of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables available to me from around the world. I’m thankful for easy access to clean drinking water.

Sister: Mom wants your to help us fix Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Brother: Why? Is it broken?

I’m thankful for grandparents who ate vegetables and took daily walks. I can see the results of their healthy living as they enter their 90’s and I tell you, it’s worth it.

Pedro: I was going to serve sweet potatoes with Thanksgiving dinner, but I sat on them.
Westy: What are you serving now?
Pedro: Squash.

I’m thankful that my body adapts to my habits whether good or bad. Every day is new and gives me a chance to start fresh.

Q: What sound does a turkey’s phone make?
A: Wing, Wing! Wing, Wing!

I’m thankful for you, my readers. Happy Thanksgiving!

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28

 

Jokes courtesy of:

35 Funny Thanksgiving Day Jokes and Comics

https://www.rd.com/jokes/thankgiving-jokes/

With All my Heart: Hypertension and Heart Health (Part 2)

Last week we talked about global body shipping and how high blood pressure (also called hypertension) can damage our body. This week we’ll look at the leading causes of hypertension and what we can do about them.

Atherosclerosis – This is a big word that I like to call Gather-old-Playdoh-sis. You know how new Playdoh is soft and pliable and so pretty you just want to eat it? That’s how blood vessels are supposed to be. Over time Playdoh hardens and shrinks as it dries out and that’s what happens in your blood vessels. Blood vessel linings gets pot holes, cholesterol fills in the pot holes and hardens there like Playdoh, and then your blood vessel can’t expand and contract easily like it used to.

Atherosclerosis can be prevented or slowed by exercising and eating a diet high in plant parts. Diet and exercise prevent pot holes from forming and reduce the amount of fat Playdoh in the blood looking for a pot hole. Science isn’t sure if hypertension increases atherosclerosis or if atherosclerosis increases hypertension. They do know that exercise and eating greens helps decrease both. It’s kind of like the “What came first: the chicken or the egg?” debate. Answer? Doesn’t matter; they’re both delicious. Eat your greens and move your body and don’t worry about it.

Sleep Apnea – More than half of people with hypertension also have sleep apnea, so scientists are pretty sure there’s a connection. (Let’s face it: when we talk about the human body, there is always a connection.) High blood pressure can trigger sleep apnea which causes poor sleep or a lack of sleep which raises your blood pressure which can trigger sleep apnea. A doctor can direct you to a helpful mask to improve your sleep. You can also lose weight and exercise.

Smoking and Drinking – Stop smoking and don’t drink more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day. Yes, I am a party pooper.

Too much salt – Remember how your blood vessel walls are made of smooth muscle? Blood pressure is all about those wall muscles being able to relax to let blood flow. For the walls to relax and contract regularly, they need regulators: namely the Three Musketeers (or the Three MagCalPots): magnesium, calcium, and potassium. There is a connection between hypertension and insufficient magnesium, calcium, and potassium and it may have something to do with salt.

You see, Salt is supposed to be the fourth musketeer, but he went off and recruited so many many many of his friends that they turned evil and wrought havoc. The Three Musketeers must be present to balance out Salt and his friends; if there aren’t enough of the Three MagCalPots, then Salt wins and blood pressure goes up. You can help the Musketeers by putting less salt and more magnesium, calcium, and potassium in your mouth.

By the way, it’s recommended that you eat no more than 1 teaspoon (2300 mg) of sodium (salt) each day. The ideal goal is 1500 mg, but Americans eat so much sodium that even cutting down to 2300 is a plus. Be aware that 75% of the sodium most of us eat is in processed, pre-packaged, and restaurant foods, not the salt shaker.

Genetics and Family History – hypertension runs in the family. If hypertension runs in your family, it’s even more important that you exercise and eat well. Sorry. Maybe you also inherited a sharp wit or great hair.

 

Note: I should to point out that the medical community isn’t 100% sure what causes hypertension. They observe connections between hypertension and heart attacks, atherosclerosis, sleep apnea, etc., and make highly educated guesses. They also observe the connections between healthy habits and improved hypertension and make highly educated recommendations. What is 100% certain? We can take hypertension as the warning sign it is and make healthy changes.

 

We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  2 Corinthians 1:8b, 9b

 

References:

Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20045868

Web MD https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/blood-pressure-causes#1

Calcium and hypertension https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2448982

Calcium and hypertension https://www.livestrong.com/article/149390-calcium-and-hypertension/

Potassium and Calcium https://www.everydayhealth.com/hypertension/get-your-minerals.aspx

Calcium https://www.healthcentral.com/article/lower-high-blood-pressure-with-calcium

Sodium https://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/how_much_sodium_should_i_eat