Fit for the Kingdom – Creating Community

This is an article I wrote for the summer 2016 newsletter.

The theme of this issue is “Equipping Others.” In terms of fitness, we can equip and help others in their fitness journey. This can be done through creating opportunities for fitness when spending time with our family and friends.

Change how you socialize

As I started my fitness journey, I became more aware of my food choices. This led me to want to eat out less, especially as I browsed nutrition menus and saw the amount of calories and sodium in restaurant food. I quickly realized that when I met friends and family to hang out and catch up, it often was around food. One quick fix was to change where and how we met. Now when I meet them to catch up, instead of meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop, we meet at a park and go for a walk and are able to talk without the distractions and interruptions surrounding restaurant dining. Plus being outdoors is great for our health.

Speaking of being outdoors, why not plan a day hike with friends and family. There are many trails at different endurance levels that are very close to where we live.

Share your fitness journey
Another way we can create community in the area of fitness is to share our stories. I recently posted an article on my blog sharing results from my fitness journey. The  largest result? I was able to stop taking blood pressure medication. The story led people to ask me more questions about my journey and path.

Add in some competition
There are tools like Fitbits that can be used to engage in some friendly competition with your community. It can be the extra motivation you need to get those extra steps in. I hear of people adding 15 minutes of walking just to finish number one in their community group.

Engage your family and friends
There are many fun things that also include physical fitness. This is true especially during the warm, summer months. You and your family and friends can go on nice walks in the evenings or go on bike rides on the weekends on one of the many bike trails in our area.

Here are some things you can do with family and friends.

Go for a walk
Walking for wellness is free, low impact, and something you can do on your own schedule. Remember, it does not have to be all at once. If you find 10 minutes three times a day, that is 30 minutes. Walk to wellness!

Just dance
Whether you are alone or with family and friends, just turn on the music and dance. The thing about exercise is that it is just about moving your body. It doesn’t have to involve classes or gyms.

Do housework
Whether with your family or roommate, doing household chores is a form of exercise.

Add in stairs
Encourage your friends and family to take the stairs with you.

Walk your dog
If you have a dog, walk your dog as a family.

Do a marathon, 5K, or other race/activity
Do you plan on walking or running in a race? Why not ask your family and/or friends to join you?

Gardening
Enlist your family and friends to help you in the garden. Gardening is great exercise but be careful with all of the bending.

Have a weekly sport/game night
Why not play basketball with your friends and family? It is something you can do indoors and outdoors so weather is not an issue. You could also play video games that require dance and movement. You could also go bowling or ice-skating.

At the end of the day, it’s just about getting your body moving. Exercise is good for the body and the soul, and engaging your community is good for your motivation as well the health of your community.

FIt for the Kingdom – Your Body as a Temple

The Fit for the Kingdom section  from Volume XV Issue II of the PCC Scroll. The issue continued with the calendar year’s overarching theme of “Walking Out Your Purpose” with a theme of “Being a Good Steward.”

I have spent the last two years focused on getting and staying healthy and taking care of my body. The results have been amazing. I have lost weight, sleep better, and I have gotten off of the blood pressure medication I had been taking.

While I think most of us want good physical health, I think time sometimes just gets away from us. Our days are packed with so much, and by the time we get home, we are too tired to do anything but vegetate. Then in the morning, when the alarms goes off for us to get up to exercise, we are too tired and opt for that extra sleep.

However, taking care of our bodies and physical health is so important. Our bodies are temples of God after all. So what are some simple ways to take care of your body?

Drink plenty of water
While I prefer a tall glass of cold ice water, it is recommended that water be warm or at room temperature. With cold water, your body uses energy to warm it up, which delays the water actually hydrating. I hear a lot of people say that water is boring. Try adding in strawberries, mint, cucumber, or lemon.

Meditate
We have so many voices and thoughts racing around in our heads, and we have so many distractions. We are, unfortunately, very connected to the Matrix. It would be helpful to find 15 minutes each day to just focus on breathing, clearing the mind, and relaxing. Meditation gives us time to slow down. If we are constantly on the go, we are never quite in the present.

Sleep
Not getting enough sleep is dangerous. It is recommended that you get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. While you are sleeping, your body is repairing and taking care of itself. Be sure to give your body time to do what it’s supposed to do, especially during those times your body is fighting sickness.

Eat right
Make most of what you eat count. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, and choose healthy snacks like almonds and cashews. Avoid processed foods, which are high in salt, sugar, and fat. In my mind, the longer the shelf life, the scarier the product. Seriously, I don’t want anything in my body that will still be “fresh” long after I am gone. Obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes are the result of poor diets, which correlates with high weight.

Eat slowly and enjoy your meal. Give your body time to know that you are eating. They say it takes time for your brain to register that you are eating. If you are done too quickly, your brain has not gotten the message. I know I am guilty of speeding tickets while eating. Here’s to slowing down!

Exercise
Exercise not only helps you lose weight, it also helps relieve stress. 20 minutes of walking each day could do wonders. And remember, it doesn’t have to all be at once. Walking 10 minutes during a morning break and 10 minutes during an afternoon break would do the trick. Each time you take the stairs or park far from the entrance, you are adding in a little bit of exercise, and every little bit counts!

Listen to your body
The bottom line is to listen to your body. If you are tired, sleep. If you are hungry, eat (good food). If you are sick, rest. If you feel pain, address it. The body is connected. Pain in one location could be the result of a problem somewhere else.

Please join me in a journey to better health. We not only want long life, we want a healthy life with good quality. Remember your body is a temple to be treated with care, respect, and love.

Volume XV Issue I – Your Money Matters

This is the article I wrote for the “Your Money Matters” section of the Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scroll.

While I was growing up, the aunt that raised me and my sisters was consistently a giver. It is something that I marvel at now that I am an adult. We were poor, but she was always sharing with others in some way. This became most evident and clear during the major holidays (like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter). She would make turkey, dressing, yams etc. and make pie after pie. Then she would send plates and (whole) pies to people she knew who were shut-in or alone (who didn’t want to come out). I don’t think she was ever in a place to loan money, but she helped in the way that she could.

This is the great thing about giving. It is something we can all do regardless of how little or much we make financially. There are plenty of ways to give and plenty of people in need in our community. We can be creative in how we give to the causes or needs we feel the most passionate about.

For example, if you feel a calling to help the homeless in our community, there are numerous ways you could help. The help could be done by providing packed breakfasts or lunches once a month in a park. The help could be done by making hygiene kits to give out. The help could also be done by volunteering in a soup kitchen once a week or month. The help could be done by purchasing scarf, glove, and hat sets and taking them to a shelter. Bigger items like sleeping bags, coats, and blankets are also needed during the cold months. You could assist a shelter in doing a drive for these much needed items.

Another way to give to those in need is to give to food banks or bring food to PCC for our ongoing food drive. We joke about “government” cheese, peanut butter, beans, etc., but I can remember eating those things growing up, and they came from a food bank model. I can remember my aunt making macaroni and cheese with government cheese and Top Ramen (I am smiling at this memory). Giving to food banks could be as simple as deciding you are going to spend $5 every week or month to buy canned food, beans, rice, or baby food to help those in need. Individually, it might not seem like a lot, but collectively that is a lot of food! Food banks are especially in need during the summer months and school breaks when children are at home and not getting the free or reduced breakfast and/or lunch they would have normally gotten at school.

Maybe you have a passion for children. You could volunteer your time to read to kids in the hospital. If time is an issue, you can buy books for kids who are in the hospital. You could also donate supplies or books to a school or volunteer your time there in some capacity. If you have children, perhaps you could donate clothes, toys, and books your kids have outgrown to a program that serves children in need.

And remember you can also donate your services. If you are a lawyer, doctor, accountant, or life coach, those specialties can be donated to help people who are in need who can’t afford the service. You could also look into donating your talents to nonprofit groups who may not have the staff to do presentations, graphics, etc.

It could also be as simple as cleaning out your closet. Perhaps you have clothes that can be donated to Dress for Success.

We have just experienced the frenzied time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which feels like the time of the year that people tend to give the most. Of course, there is need throughout the year. We may not be millionaires, but I think we all have a lot to give. I would encourage you to make 2016 a year about using your gifts, talents, and resources to serve and give to those in need.

Volume XV Issue I: Fit for the Kingdom

This is the article I wrote for the “Fit for the Kingdom” section of the Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scroll.

Working out does not have to be expensive or time consuming. To save monetarily, it is just a matter of looking around you and using what is easily, freely, or cheaply accessible. To save time, it’s a matter of adding in a bunch of little things that count over the course of the day.

Working out outdoors has benefits. Studies have shown that being in nature reduces stress and depression, leads to faster healing time and less need for medication, and helps you sleep better. Walking and jogging are both something we can do free and outdoors. Of course living in the PNW, sometimes rain may prevent our being motivated to doing outdoor activity. In that case, walking around the mall or your job could also do the trick. Whether inside or outside, you could also tackle a bunch of stairs. One of my coworkers quit her gym and spends 30 minutes walking up and down the stairs in her apartment building. She is able to fit her workout in when it’s most convenient to her schedule, and it is free.

When it comes to weight training, you don’t have to join a gym or buy a bunch of equipment that ends up sitting in the corner after a few months. We can use our bodies as weight to do things like planks, push-ups, and sit-ups. There are also tried and true exercises like squats, lunges, jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. A jump rope could also be a small but effective investment. Also, look around you for things you can use as weights such as cans of food at home or big rocks in nature. You could do shoulder raises, overhead presses, triceps kickbacks, and bicep curls with them. You could also use a sturdy chair for tap ups or to do sit down/jump up exercises. You could even do heel raises while brushing your teeth, rinsing dishes, or washing your hands.

There are also things that require some investment. There are outside activities like riding your bike or gardening. Both will help you get some much needed Vitamin N (Nature). Riding your bike can also be used as a time to get together with family or friends while exercising. In the same vein, we do a lot of socializing while eating. So instead of meeting your friends for lunch, why not meet them for a walk in the park? When gardening, be careful about how you are bending because you don’t want to injure yourself. Another small investment could be to invest in workout DVDs that you like. You may want to have a variety from Zumba to MixxedFit to Pilates to Yoga.

There are also tricks to sneaking in steps like parking far from the entrance when you go to various places and taking the stairs whenever possible. If you ride the bus, getting off a stop or two earlier could give you a few minutes of exercise that will significantly add up over the course of days and weeks.

Don’t forget that cleaning is also a low impact activity that expends energy. When cleaning, be careful about how you are bending because you don’t want to injure yourself.

And don’t forget dancing. Sometimes when I am at home, I will turn on music and just dance. It’s great exercise! Our very own Sister Deidre Daymon teaches MixxedFit on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:00 at the Rainier Community Center (off of Rainier and Alaska). See her for more information.

n outside, be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen. Also, remember to involve your friends and family. It’s a great time to interact and a great way to add some accountability into your routine.

Fit for the Kingdom

Fit for the Kingdom – Living Well to Serve Well

In order to fully serve others well, we must make sure we are taking care of ourselves in all of the areas of our lives, including our physical and mental health. We often overlook how these two areas are intertwined, but they are connected. Poor physical health can be draining mentally. And poor mental health can cause us to neglect our physical health. Poor physical or mental health will impact our ability to serve in a negative manner.

Our physical health means having good body health. This is done simply by regular exercise, eating right, and getting enough sleep.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity. Sound like a lot? It’s not really. It’s the amount of time you could spend watching a TV show or movie. If you walk briskly for 22 minutes a day, you can reach the recommended 150 minutes a week. 22 minutes is shorter than watching a nightly sitcom. It could be done by using your breaks at work to go for short walks outside or inside your workplace.

Food is energy. You have heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” Eat fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Push away the donut except on special occasions. Drink plenty of water. Limit processed foods, and eat as much fresh foods as you can! Instead of snacking on potato chips, snack on almonds or cashews. Make what you eat count! It’s all about balance. I’m a firm believer in moderation. You can enjoy that cake and ice cream, but not every day.

Many of us are sleep depraved. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep is huge. Adults who get less than seven hours of sleep have difficulty concentrating and suffer from more mood problems. Lack of sleep can cause us to make mistakes or to react badly to little things. Lack of sleep can also lead to chronic health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Of course, these are all interrelated. I can tell you my sleep pattern changed drastically for the positive when I increased my physical activity. I found that I had the time to work out, I just had to prioritize it in my schedule. Investing in your health is one of the best investments you can make.

Mental health means having good emotional health. Good mental health helps us enjoy life, bounce back from adversity, achieve balance, be flexible and adapt, feel safe and secure, and helps us make the best out of our circumstances.

We live in a society that is constantly in flux. Changes happen so rapidly, and it can be overwhelming to our emotions, especially since it seems like it is never ending. Our mental stress can lead to physical stress.

The choices we make today will have long-term impacts on our health. For example, skipping important routine exams in the here and now, can lead to consequences later. So be sure to schedule your appointments. Listen to your body when it talks. If you feel tired, rest. If you feel overstimulated mentally, go for a walk to clear your mind.

Take care of your health – physically and mentally. If you are at your optimal, it will help you serve at 100%. And remember to take the time to rest from activity. There is nothing wrong with taking an evening to enjoy a good book. You work hard, and you need to take the time to re-energize to serve well.

Fit for the Kingdom: PCC Scroll Volume XIV Issue III

I wrote a fitness success story for the latest issue of the Scroll.

In this issue, we wanted to highlight a success story in the “Fit for the Kingdom” section.

I wanted to share a success story about crossing an item off of my bucket list. For many years, I have kept a list. The list consists of places I want to visit and life experiences I would like to do. The life experiences section includes items like going on a helicopter ride and going on a hot-air balloon ride. One thing that had been on my list was walking a half marathon. I have always loved walking. I find it relaxing and enjoyable. It’s also low impact, free, and being in the outdoors is good for me (all of that fresh air).

I can happily say that in the last seven months, I have walked two half marathons. So I was able to cross it off my list. It started in November, when I walked the Seattle Half Marathon. The marathon occurred the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The timing was great because I was able to enjoy all of the rich foods and desserts that are associated with Thanksgiving with absolutely no guilt. The goal finish time of my friends and I was four hours. We came in around four hours and five minutes, but that included stopping for potty breaks and stopping to take pictures.

Crossing the finish line was such a rush. I discovered I could do it. I can’t even describe the amount of pride I felt. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we began, but it was actually quite enjoyable. It was a cold, fall day but absolutely beautiful.

In mid-June, I walked the Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon. The goal for that race was four hours as well. We finished in three hours and 43 minutes, which was below target! We didn’t really stop for pictures, and if people needed to go to the potty, the rest of us kept going and they caught up.

The Rock and Roll has full and half marathon races all over the U.S. and in other countries like Spain, Portugal, and Ireland. Two other bucket list items could be walking a half marathon in another state and one in another country.

One of my former coworkers has a goal to do a marathon in all 50 states. I believe she has 14 states under her belt. I have a current coworker who wants to walk a full marathon (26.2 miles). I haven’t quite grasped that one yet, but who knows what the future holds. I do know that there are tons of 5Ks, 10Ks, and so on out there. If walking or running a marathon is on your goal list, you can do it! There are websites that have recommended training schedules to help you prepare.

I am on the hunt for other walks I can do. If you are interested in joining me, please let me know! Let’s walk to wellness together.

Seattle Marathon Finishers

Seattle Marathon Finishers

Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon Finishers

Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon Finishers

PCC Scroll Volume XIV Issue II Fit for the Kingdom

Hopefully, over the course of the last newsletters, you have done several things. One, you have assessed where you are health wise. Two, you have made health-related goals to get to where you want to be. The next step is creating a health plan to get there.

Before creating your health plan, I can’t stress how important it is to be realistic with your health goals enough. Your goals should be changes that can be sustained and maintained over time. Losing 20 pounds in one month is problematic, especially if you gain 25 pounds back when you resume your normal habits.

So please be realistic. This is true whether your goal is to lose weight, to drink more water, to sleep more, to exercise more, or to eat more fruits and vegetables. Doing a complete overhaul all at once is overwhelming. Perhaps start with one or two areas and add from there.

When dealing with health goals, keeping a record of activity could be very helpful. It does not have to be complicated or fancy. It could simply be a journal where you record aspects of your health from what you ate to how long you slept to how many glasses of water you drank.

For my job, I had to make health goals and record my progress. I created a very simple Excel spreadsheet that I printed, and I now manually track my progress. My goals are to drink eight glasses of water a day and to sleep eight hours each night. We have to do the goal at least three days a week for eight weeks straight with the hope that the changes become habits.

Step one is figuring out where you are going.

The aim should be overall health. For example, let’s say your goals are to exercise more and to eat more fruits and vegetables. You could figure out a workout routine that works with your lifestyle and schedule. In your planning, determine what will work best for you. For example, if you have children who play sports, you could decide to plan your workout during a time when they will be at practice. Or perhaps it is most convenient to use half of your lunch hour for exercising.

On the nutritional end, you could plan to include fruits and vegetables during each meal. For breakfast, you could have a vegetable omelet with fruit. For lunch, you could have a salad filled with fruits and vegetables. For dinner, you could have a salad with your meal and fruit for dessert, perhaps in yogurt.

Step two is building milestones.

These milestones represent small wins in your journey. For example, let’s say you drink two cups of coffee each day, and you want to wean yourself down to one cup three days a week. You could slowly wean yourself down and reach a milestone of one cup of coffee a day. If you want to lose weight, an important milestone could be when you reach half of your intended weight-loss goal.

Step three is setting goals toward your plan.

Let’s use weight loss for this example. If your goal is to lose 24 pounds in six months, have a monthly weight-loss goal of four pounds a month. Or if your goal is exercise more, you could make a weekly goal to exercise three days a week for 30 minutes.

Once your plan is in action, it is important to return to it from time to time. You should modify goals that have proven to be unrealistic. So perhaps walking 60 minutes five days a week could be revised to walking 30 minutes three days a week.

As your goals become habits, it would be good to add new goals. The important thing is finding what is right for you. It may take a few times before you find a plan that is right, but keep going. You will feel and look healthier as you continue on the journey.