Tag Archives: health

Confidence Unveiled: Physical Identity

WDYT or FOFO???

Let’s remove some veils before we smother.

We are living in a culture of extremes that glorifies the smallest to the biggest of sizes.

We are either obsessing with appearance (WDYT) or settling with health (FOFO). And, because we’re at one extreme or the other, we usually “weigh in” with either pride or despair….

Can anyone relate?

In the event you don’t think I’m reality based, here are recent facts to substantiate:

  1.  1 in 2 deaths in the U.S. is due to lifestyle choices.
  2.  Plastic surgery apps on your phone now make it possible to cut yourself to a smaller size before posting onto social media.

 

 

We listen to the voices of culture that begin to play inside our minds creating thick, internal veils….

“I’ll never measure up.”

“What good does it do to take care of myself? I’ll die of something…”

Culture sways…Satan speaks….We hit “Play” and our Identity is Taken Away!

Whenever you compare yourself to others, you’re actually lowering your standard because you’re one of a kind…the unique combination of your physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual components that make up YOU in totality.

Let’s offer some HOPE, shall we?

What would it be like to approach each new day with the following mindset….

“What can I do today to care for my body?”

“How can I eat properly so my body and mind are nurtured well?”

“How can I work my body to keep it strong and active?”

“How can I appreciate (and even like!) the one body God gave me?” (Psalm 139)

“How can I use this body to fulfill God’s earthly mission since it’s the vessel He has given me to accomplish my daily tasks?”

A healthy balance is to take pride in your appearance without being prideful.

A healthy balance is to be proactive with your health, especially if you know your medical history.

The question ISN”T “Why Do I?”…. The question IS “Why Wouldn’t I?”

Two points to offer hope:

  1. Selectively focus on the traits you DO you like when you gaze in the mirror!
  2. Focus on what you’ve got; stop trying to look like someone you’re not!

Remove those veils of obsessing and settling and UNVEIL some confidence today.

 

 

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Why Not Being Athletic Doesn’t Matter Anymore

The irony of it all.

PAST

My father went to college on a football scholarship.  He majored in P.E., took a leave during World War II, and then returned to complete his degree and become an Army officer for life.

He and mom adopted me as a baby so, unfortunately, I didn’t have his gene pool.  But he was determined to trade the gene pool for a swimming pool, and we spent endless summer days with him trying to teach me to swim and dive. My skills in both still leave a lot to be desired.

As the years of childhood progressed, I was usually the last to be picked for the kickball team in P.E. class, hated anything to do with physical activity, and used a supposed heart murmur to keep me from intentional exercise during high school and college. As a college senior, I was praying I wouldn’t fail the freshman P.E. class due to having to run a mile and a half in a certain amount of time.  My only goal was to keep up with my roommate who used to run in high school.  I’m thankful I didn’t literally pass out or worse… I had had NO physical activity throughout my life until that very day.

While my husband was in dental school, my mother bought me the Jane Fonda workout video.  That was my first attempt at any cardio.

PRESENT

Today, I’ve progressed from Jane’s workout to cardio, strength, and other forms of physical activity.

Since I’m adopted and I have no medical history, I have made a decision to control all the variables that I CAN without knowing my genetic pool.  Of course, this includes diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices.  Don’t think for a minute that your lifestyle choices – day in and day out – don’t have a cumulative effect on your overall health.  If nothing has happened yet, let these statements resonate from Gary Thomas’ book Every Body Matters:

“Fitness isn’t about avoiding disease; it’s about avoiding frailty” (p. 114).

“About 66 percent of adults in the United States are either obese or overweight, with abut one-third being obese” (p.120).

“The reality is, however, that exercise usually adds to our lives.  A Harvard alumni study, which tracked deaths among 17,000 men for more than two decades, suggests that “overall, each hour spent exercising adds about two hours to a person’s life expectancy” (p.165).

FUTURE

Here’s the reality:  I have no idea how many days have been ordained for me (Psalm 139:16). But God has created you and me with a WILL to choose how we each will be a steward of the ONLY body He has given us.

In addition, He has a plan and purpose that only YOU can fulfill.  That only I can fulfill.

It’s your mission.  It’s my mission.

How can you NOT take care of yourself to complete the tasks He has for you?  How can I NOT take care of myself to complete the tasks He has for me?

I’m now in a class with likeminded students as we encourage each other to fitness. Forget the P.E. class of old.  It doesn’t matter anymore.

The irony of it all.

If I can change, so can you. Today.

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

 

 

 

Anxious Living: “E” and “N” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

IMG_0039These beautiful roses were given to me yesterday by a new friend who picked them from her garden.  The mere sight of them makes me smile!

The two concepts discussed today for stress management are EVALUATE and “NOTICE.”

EVALUATE

Evaluate what? Hydration.  When your body is under stress, you produce more cortisol, a “cousin” to adrenaline, that is in excess supply. Cortisol is good for you only to a point when you are stressed.  During times of normal stress, this hormone helps you feel more efficient and productive.  If you are overstressed, however, this hormone works against you when you’ve got too much on your proverbial plate.

Neuroscience now postulates that during water during times of stress is beneficial in lowering your cortisol levels.  Whether under excess stress or not, drink.  Constantly.  And how much?  Let’s just say…. until things are “cleared” up, if you catch my drift. Furthermore, staying properly hydrated prevents a whole host of other health concerns.  Another benefit of drinking water is to “DRINK THIS, NOT EAT THAT” when you think you’re hungry.  Chances are, your body is screaming for water, not food.

How can you begin the process of habitually drinking more water?

NOTICE

Are you too busy to stop and pay attention to what’s going on in the moment?  Does it pass you by? Or do you pass it by? This could be anything of valuable, intangible importance:  people, pets or animals, music, sunsets, birds chirping, the sound of ocean waves?

Be mindful of daily “miracles” – those things you take for granted that lighten your spirit. These things make your “Mind Full” and help you stay present focused rather than future focused.  Our American culture works against this.  Go to Europe or another country.  Observe how they do life.  Meals are long, and fellowship equally so.  The aroma, sights, and sounds are absorbed and assimilated into everyday living.  God gave us senses to enjoy all that He has placed around us every single day.

How can you begin the process of habitually noticing what’s going on in your moments during the day?

Fill up on water and daily “miracles.”  When you do so, your gratitude for everyday occurrences will start to bloom.

Meanwhile, I’m taking time to “smell the roses” from my new friend.

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

 

Anxious Living: “S” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

IMG_5842.JPGThere are two items in the “S” category of resiliency that you should be intentional about if you’re stressed:

Stop.

Have you stopped long enough in your daily routine or in that mental tape recorder that automatically rewinds and plays over and over again to actually identify what emotion you are feeling and write it down?

What’s the point, you ask?  There’s actually a psychological benefit that results when you stop long enough to pay attention to your specific emotion and then pen it.  Why?  Neurobiology – through brain imaging – has proven that this activity turns on the anterior cingulate in your brain.  The process of writing down your emotion(s) helps you psychologically identify and process the stress.  In addition, it helps makes your thoughts conscious.

Aren’t all thoughts conscious?  Actually, no.  For a number of reasons that I will not go in to for this blog, each person “does” life from a set of automatic, unquestioned beliefs.  These beliefs, assumptions, and perceptions are rarely questioned until your thought life begins to work against you instead of working for you.  In other words, they are so automatic, they are rarely brought to the conscious level until they are questioned. Writing down what is stressing you puts perspective on the mental stress you are feeling.

So…go ahead.  Write down what you’re feeling and thinking.  It’s therapeutic!  You may also be able to identify – by writing it down – that your stress and/or worry isn’t as big as you thought.  This point in no way minimizes your specific stressor, but merely proves that writing it down is psychologically beneficial.


 

Sun.

It’s my favorite time of the year.  The weather is warm, and the sun breathes new life into me.  If you’re stressed, a 20 minute time  of “sun block” is beneficial for a number of reasons.

  1. It relieves stress.
  2. It improves mood.
  3. It provides Vitamin D

 

Go ahead.  Carve out time to sit and reflect.  You can even combine the two activities into one!

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

Anxious Living: “E” in R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

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R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y. = “E”

Reality check:  As a kid growing up, I hated P.E. class as much as I did math class.  In college, I was praying to survive the basic mile and a half within the time allowed so as to “Pass” the class – a freshman course that I waited to take until my senior year – to meet graduation requirements.

Thankfully, being athletic and being fit are not synonymous.

My lifestyle change came while my husband was in graduate school.  I needed something to do while he studied, so I found time on my hands for Jane Fonda’s workout routine (Don’t do the math!).

Why is exercise so important?

Recent neurobiology has discovered that a 10-20 minute brisk walk reduces stress.  How is it possible to know this?  Measuring cortisol and performing brain scans.  What is cortisol?  It’s an essential hormone in our body, but when we are under stress, our bodies produce too much.

Exercise is a MUST if you are in a season of crisis (acute) or daily (chronic) stress (e.g. caregiving, etc.). Why? Because your body is a “trap” for the extra load you are carrying.

Don’t know how to start? Set a realistic goal for yourself.  Just start!  If you’re used to no exercise, just get active.  Go for a walk. Gradually increase your pace.  Just start where you are with what you CAN do, not what you can’t.  For instance, if you’re not used to any activity, set a goal to do something for 3 days in the first week.  At the end of the week, reward yourself (this positively reinforces a new habit which you are cultivating).  Don’t reward yourself with food, but something like purchasing a book, getting a manicure, time with friends, etc.

It takes a good solid 21 days or so to begin a new habit or lifestyle change.  So here are some pointers to get you started:

Use this formula to begin:  “BFF”

  • B = no more “buts” (“But I don’t have time….”).
  • F = enlist a friend.
  • F = do something fun as a reward.

When you think about it, exercise really is your Best. Friend. Forever.

You will be well on your way to incorporating activity into your life that will only benefit you physically and emotionally (exercise increases the production of serotonin which combats depression).

Just start.  Don’t wait for a better time.  Today is the BEST time.

This is Hope Unveiled!

 

Anxious Living: Cultivating Resiliency

 

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A new day is coming if you learn to cultivate resiliency. And that’s great news!  Therein lies HOPE.  You can learn new techniques for becoming more resilient in the midst of seasons of life when you are stressed.

This easy acrostic will assist in remembering these tools.  Today I will share the “R” for  R.E.S.I.L.I.E.N.C.Y.

  • RISE
    • Begin the morning with a prayer of gratitude.  Give the day to God.  How easy it is to take a new day for granted.  Remember, He goes before you in your day and the details that will be in it.  You are not alone!
  • RELEASE
    • Choose to release worry and regret (an earlier post gives practical tools for worry).
    • I’m not trying to be blunt or harsh, but if you walk through your day with worry and regret, how is it working for you? You do it, and I’ve done it.  The good news is that we each make the choice to stay chained or released.
  • ROUTINE
    • As simplistic as it sounds, developing daily and bedtime routines are crucial in combatting stress.
  • RECAPTURE
    • If you are going through a time of grief or loss, (e.g. divorce, relationship, etc.), recapture the positive memories and “delete” the negative ones.  This is intentional disengaging from the unpleasant memories that cloud thinking and keep you stuck in the past.

How you interpret, reflect, and evaluate what you’re going through is crucial to emotional well being (or not).  So make the choice to put yourself in a better place.  You’re worth it!

This is HOPE UNVEILED.

**The techniques listed above are from various sources for stress management, neurobiology, counseling, and coaching.

 

 

 

 

Anxious Living: Burdened by Worry

What’s the difference between young adults and their parents?  For the former, they carry backpacks half their body weight, while those carried by the latter are invisible. Regardless of age, every person can carry too much.

Let’s make some distinctions.

First, fear can be a positive thing.  It signals our sympathetic nervous system that something is wrong.  It can motivate us to get our of harm’s way.

Fear can become a problem when it leads to anxiety and you are afraid of things that aren’t real, or when the feeling of fear is out of proportion to the real danger present.

Anxiety is more akin to worry, and can be aroused by a number of factors: medical conditions (lack of sleep or a blood sugar imbalance); role modeling from parents; trauma; lifestyle.

Another distinction is that fear can be looked at as imminent, while anxiety can be completely anticipatory.

From neurobiological and faith stances, here are life coaching tools for dealing with anxious worry:

NEUROSCIENCE

What triggers your worry? Write it down! Notice the situation, the people, the feelings.  Discuss with a life coach or professional.

Worry Box: write down what you’re worried about on a small sheet of paper.  Worry worry worry for 15 minutes.  That’s right.  Then when 15 minutes is up, put the “worry sheet” in the box and be done with it.  Your brain will naturally drift to another topic.

Before going to sleep at night, journal your specific worries with a pen and paper.  Don’t use your laptop, as blue light from devices interferes with sleep quality (cease usage at least 1.5 hours before going to bed).

FAITH

“Cast your burden on the Lord….” (Psalm 55:22).

Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost devotion for today states that God doesn’t lift our worrisome burdens because He wants to see if we will give it back to Him.

Why? He desires that you live intentionally and take responsibility for your faith journey.  And how you manage worry is also an integral part of your spiritual life.

Here is a formula I’ve developed based on Chambers’ devotion:

  1. Release
  2. Roll back
  3. Relish

Release the worry through prayer.  This is what “casting your burden” looks like.  It requires action on your part.

Roll back and hand over the worry to Him.  This is the implication of this verse.  When you do this, it leads to item #3….

Relish His presence.  You have now invited Him into the everyday details that weigh you down, visible or invisible.

Hand over the backpack of worry.  You were never meant to carry it.

 

**This blog post is not a substitute for anxiety disorders or phobias.  Please seek professional counseling. You don’t have to keep living under the burden of anxiety. You have options.

This is HopeUnveiled.

 

ANXIOUS LIVING

Here are the top three death-bed regrets:

  1. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
  2. “I wish I had stayed more in touch with my friends.”
  3. “I wish I had lived a life truer to my dreams instead of what others expected of me.”

How do you feel when you read each of these statements?  Do any or all of them describe your current situation? On a Likert Scale of 1-5, how would you rate yourself for each sentence, with “1” being “Doesn’t describe me at all” to “5” being “Describes me accurately?”

Stress management addresses these issues and more.  Why?  Because all actions and behaviors are a result of unspoken beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, and automatic thoughts about how you believe life is to operate.  These beliefs are rarely questioned.  And when they are, it is because an event of some kind has caused you to stop and evaluate.

Unfortunately, American culture doesn’t work in your favor.  Take a trip to Europe and notice the cultural differences.  Dinners last at least a couple of hours.   Real dinners.  Real food.  Real friendships.  Real family time.  Real connections.  And yet you are surprised when these things you need and crave the most are within your control to change and yet you do nothing.

Take the first step.  Be honest about whether any of the above statements apply to you.  And be encouraged with this very important fact:  If you’re reading this post, you have time to make changes in your life.  Start today!

The next blog post will address how to start making changes that will change up how you’re “doing” life.

 

 

 

Why A “Walk in the Park” Doesn’t Cut It….

If you’re not used to any exercise, then please consult your physician to see what your health allows before beginning any program.  Small, doable steps are a necessity that realistically push you in the direction of change.

If, however, your exercise regimen is producing little to no results, you may want to consider the fact that you’re not exercising within your target heart rate zone.

Here’s a simple formula for figuring out how many beats per minute you need to reach for a minimum of 20 minutes:

Subtract your age from 220.  Multiply this number by:  .50 if you are a beginner; multiple by .60 or .70 if you are used to moderate exercise; multiply by .75 if you’re an athlete. The resulting number is the beats per minute your heart needs to reach a fat burning zone.

As always, if weight loss is your goal, please take a look at your food intake.  This is usually 80% of the issue!

HopeUnveiled!

 

How Do You Define #Health?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “health”? Most likely, you think of health in terms of your physical well-being. Specifically, what you’re eating or not eating (cauliflower v. confection) , and what you’re doing or not doing (exercise v. exhaustion).

No guilt here. I want you to think broadly about this term and what it really means on a figurative, not literal scale.

A current counseling paradigm offers the BIOPSYCHOSOCIOLSPIRITUAL Model for health and well-being. What exactly does this mean? Let’s look at this term and break it down into individual sections.

BIO:

Your body. How do you care for your physical body? You have only been given one body.

Although this is stating the obvious, the point is this: Only you can take care of you. A new habit can be formed today. Start the process now before age and lack of proactivity take a toll.

Do you get enough sleep? Enough cardio? Enough vegetables, lean protein, and fruit? If so, the weight and body image will fall into place.

Taking care of your body doesn’t happen by default.

PSYCHO:

Your mind. How do you care for your thought process? You have only been given one mind.

I used to think that thoughts were not within one’s control. Personal experience and a graduate degree later, this is not the case (exceptions are made for certain types of mental illness). How do you interpret your past experiences? Your present experiences? Does your way of thinking put you in a “good” place emotionally or a “not so good” place? You can learn to pay attention to your self talk and make sure you are believing truth instead of lies. Believing a lie of some sort almost always gets us into emotional upheaval.

Taking care of your mind doesn’t happen by default.

SOCIO:

Your support system. How do you care for your relationships? Your marriage? Your family? Your sphere of influence?

Are you taking ownership of your part of the relationship? No, not what the OTHER person does or doesn’t do, but only what is within your control? This is a sticky issue, particularly when conflict, crisis, confusion, and unhealthy communication are involved. If so, add a life coach, therapist, or pastor as part of your support network if needed.

If you need to walk through confession, do it.

If you need to offer forgiveness to let yourself off the hook, do it.

If you need to be a friend to someone in crisis, do it.

If you need to confront someone due to a difficult situation, do it. And do it in love.

If you need to learn skills for communicating and listening better to those in your close inner circle of life, do it.

Tell your spouse you love him or her.  Tell your children you love them.  And do it often.

Taking care of your relationships doesn’t happen by default.

SPIRITUAL:

Your soul. How do you care for your soul?

Even if you claim you are not a spiritual person, per se, then I ask this question: What do you worship? You will worship someone, something, or yourself. And, if it hasn’t happened yet, eventually your soul will be sold out to a cause that has no long term satisfaction or peace.

Also feed your soul with healthy, good hobbies, skills, and things that bring enjoyment. For example, my list includes reading, writing, studying, time with family, sunshine. Sunshine. Sunshine. Sunshine…..Food for my soul that hasn’t arrived yet.

Take care of the totality of YOU. You are one of a kind (Psalm 139).  You are a work in progress (2 Corinthians 3:18).

You are writing the pages of your life story with each day that passes. And the decisions you make today will not only benefit you, but those around you as well.

Taking care of yourself doesn’t happen by default. Start today.  There’s strength for the journey.  Take heart.  Take hope.