Tag Archives: healthy lifestyle

Another Favorite Day

Dear Diane just reminded me today is another of my favorite days of the year.

February 15: Valentine chocolates go on sale!

I’m kidding. Sort of. I began an intense diet the first week of December 2018. I’m not impressed with the weight loss so far, but I feel remarkably better (despite life’s bumps and bruises). So, it’s not another epic fail.

I get lots of practice failing. Okay, maybe not exactly failing, but I’m well experienced in unexpected outcomes. Too bad that doesn’t sound as impressive on a resume.

Today let’s stick with diet and exercise. I’ve tried lots of ways to lose excess weight – not all were healthy and some made me feel awful. But with help from good friends like David at Chape Fitness I’ve condensed them all to a simple plan.

Ready?

Here goes:

Burn what you eat.

Okay, we can’t blame that on David (mea culpa, Bro). My weight has raised and lowered my whole life, so empirically, it’s not quite that simple. Last year I again found more extra pounds than I want to admit. Despite running myself ragged all summer and feasting mostly upon the super-sized vegetable garden, as the holidays approached I hadn’t shed the smallest fraction.

I had however, let slip the practice of doing nothing else but eat during meals. I’d also stopped paying attention to the combinations of what I ate as well as the times I ate. What’s more, I lost sight of why my diet is important to me – loving myself slid way down the priority ladder as well. These small details, left unchecked can combine to become a big problem.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I can fumble likewise in my relationship with God. I’ll put off my devotion time for any number of logical reasons, like:

  • to take advantage of the sunlight hours,
  • to get a head start on tasks, or
  • do my shopping while sane people sleep in,

Seems smart. Right? Yeah, but before I know it, days passed and my soul and spirit were dry. I never got around to what’s actually most important. The evidence was unmistakable. Instead of contentment I soon found myself:

  • Jumping to conclusions,
  • Flying off the handle, and
  • Definitely pushing my luck.

These are far from the best workouts. Fortunately my brakes still work well.

I’m still learning to simply slow down a bit, strategize my meals and activities, pray more and stress less.  As I do I not only feel better, but once I shed this extra weight I’ll be able to enjoy some of the little things in life more without blowing up my long-term goals.

Chocolate freezes. Right?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”

Romans 12:1 (NLT)

 

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Supplements

I take nutrition seriously. In grade school I noticed the whole world ran better and life made more sense when I ate breakfast.  Now that my body has experienced the force of gravity for longer than I want to admit, nutrition is even more important to me.

Being “smarter than the average bear,” you’d think I would have had nutrition down by my mid-thirties. Instead, prolonged periods without sufficient rest, too little quiet time and an inadequate diet led me to heart failure. I’d been boosting my performance with hours of overtime, rigorous strength training, and substances  additional supplements, but my soul was starving. I thank God daily for giving me the chances to change and for leading me in the right directions.

Three decades later, with a declining metabolism and well-abused joints, finding the right balance between fuel and burning calories remain a top priority. To ensure I’m running at peak performance – okay – and to avoid ever experiencing a black-out again I’m careful to 1) hydrate 2) eat 3) exercise daily and 4) take supplements.

Even with careful attention to my diet, I discovered that my thyroid still functions quite well, but a vitamin D deficiency left me sluggish and tired. A supplement righted that within days. It seems odd that with all our scientific advancements our food alone doesn’t always provide us all our necessary nutrients, so I appreciate medicine that quickly identifies most deficiencies.

The same principle applies in our spiritual lives. As a dear friend recently told me, “All the notes I take while studying and all I hear in church don’t amount to much until I put it all into practice.”

Determination, the strictest routine, worship services, motivational speakers and affirming audios help us achieve overall good health, but they simply aren’t enough. We all need exercise and a good diet (that includes attention to what to avoid).  Supplementing our natural bodies by caring for others and maintaining a strong spiritual connection with our maker is also important.

I usually provide a good example of what not to do. Doing as I do will mostly get you into trouble. God’s grace is seriously my only hope. This world is so full of shiny and sparkly stuff, I often forget He is always with me. But almost as often I quickly remember He is always near – usually soon enough to avoid hurt or harm.

 

The best supplement ever, a relationship with the Holy Spirit, being besties with God is essential to a peaceful, satisfying and harmonious life.

“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ 2 pet 1:5-9 NLT

 

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Now

bathroomWhile the sickness healed in my throat… What? Okay, now that the pressure’s mostly in my inner ears, I’ve had more time to reflect on life.

I recently recalled the time a beautiful, water resistant shower curtain and rugs display grabbed my attention and held it, I liked them so much. They were pricey for my budget. Still, they inspired a need for change in my house. Usually a spend-thrift, knock offs would not do that time. I cut corners and saved for months until I had enough to buy them.

Lending the illusion of a life I once dreamed of, the bath/spa room is important to me. Having purchased my curtain and rugs I could hardly wait to get home to stage the new look I’d imagined for months. While saving I’d run through every detail in my head and my vision was clear.

old bottlesWhile buying my treasures I remembered I was nearly out of supplies. I have always been careful about cleaning products, but without a spare dollar for the rest of the month, I took a bottom-shelf product and hurried home.

My usual routine was to start with a clean slate, but I’d scoured the entire house the day before. I pressed and then hung the curtain. Taking in the finished scene, I noticed a fresh smear on the wall next to the new curtain. Glad I got the spray cleaner, I pulled the curtain back just a bit, aimed, sprayed and then wiped away the offending smudge. I was delighted with my new decor and how well it blended with my towels and wall color the way I’d imagined. I took a photo to send to friends and flex my bragging rights.

After pasting the photo into the email I couldn’t believe my eyes. There on my new curtain was unmistakable bleaching in the beautiful color! I dashed to the bathroom hoping my eyes deceived me. But no… My wailing brought neighbors running.

In my hurry to make my vision reality and then get back to work, I’d inadvertently grabbed a bottle containing mostly bleach that had been misplaced in the non-bleach section. I’d been so preoccupied with my happy thoughts I didn’t notice the caustic smell. Arrrrgh!cleaner

I wasn’t quick enough to arrest the damage. After sulking a while and, of course bemoaning the unfairness of it all, I began brainstorming ideas to recover some of the original beauty of the curtain. Eventually my imagination kicked in.

What my situation meant for defeat, God used for good. I creatively sprayed more of the the cleaner all over the curtain and then some Ritz dye remnants consistent with my color palette. Eventually I created a poor-man’s Monet, very slightly reminiscent of his Rose Walk.

Even after several washings, the curtain performed it’s primary purpose very well. With every wash the pattern took on new characteristics. Now it’s more like a Wildflower Walk. Yeah, Ritz still bleeds and fades.

I do not recommend intentionally ruining a lovely curtain or settling for less than what we can achieve either. But I can share the worthwhile lesson from that whole process:

Life takes us through lots of twists and turns and we adjust our original plans. In high school I imagined my life in showcase homes. Over the years, with each relocation I told myself, “this will do for now.” I usually settled on the best location, the nicest home with the most space I could afford. While I’m thankful for a great imagination, I graduated magna cum laude from the school of hard knocks, but I’m not the most creative person around. Fortunately, home and garden magazines are always freely available and I regularly thank God for HGTV and DIY network. With that I got by – for now.

Now that I’m used to a healthy over-all lifestyle on a tight budget, it’s all I can do to stay focused on my set priorities. I’ve minimized dramatically while still hoping to become a piano virtuoso. Hey, I can play either one or the other part of Heart and Soul. While I admire friends’ beautiful homes and still aspire to own something similar someday, for now I’m content with a roof that doesn’t leak, food, electricity, and especially good company. Is it just me or is that actually funny now?

Compared to my dramatic, dynamic early years I’ve developed a very ordinary life from extreme conditions. While my long Bucket List continually grows, I have what I need and I’m confident I am exactly who and what God created me to be now.

I believe all the tragedies, hardships, the bad times of my life worked together to bring me right where I am now – I’m good. When we question why God allows so much trouble, sadness and evil in the world, we can too easily lose sight of the joy in life.

victorian house

I won’t lose sight of my ideal house, complete with writing room, and neither will Voithos. Today I’m glad for a modest, comfortable home. While modest, it has been my status quo for more years than I want to admit, with a good, old friend it’s quite good enough for me now. While I keep my focus upon God’s will, He always takes care of the details. I have experienced time and again how He guides me through the necessary clutter with more colorful variations I could never have imagined.

Like the rest of my life, that’s my story – and I’m sticking to it.

 

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

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Flexible But Grounded

hopi 02aug2009

Hopi is our dog. As I understand she came from Champion Golden Retriever and Grand Champion Australian Shepherd breeding lines. Regardless of her lineage, with her natural instincts, devotion to the pack and sweet disposition she is the best herd dog I’ve ever known. The offspring of two work breeds, to say she naturally has high energy levels is an understatement. To keep her calm, happy and fit she needs lots of exercise daily.

After we moved from our rural home to a suburban condo, many of our habits changed; for one, from a third floor apartment Hopi became a house dog. In inclement weather we could no longer simply open a door and turn Hopi loose outside. So, more than ever before, daily walks became as important to me as to Hopi.

The harsher Midwest winter weather interrupting our daily routines brought even more change. After couple of weeks of ice storms and weeks of deep snow we discovered a change in Hopi. Instead of getting right down to business outdoors, she would sniff the snow and get so obsessed doing that, she began ignoring my commands. One evening instead of walking at my side as usual, Hopi bolted out the door ahead of me to meet another smaller dog, frightening the dog’s walker. This was radically different from her usual behavior which all the new neighbors had initially enjoyed.

For the first time in years I had to harness and leash Hopi to protect her and other tenants, reinforce her training, and keep her attention on me, which had previously been her second nature. We became more careful to exercise Hopi as much as possible and continually work her through her paces regardless of the weather. Now we enjoy happy adventures most every day again and during inclement weather we explore the indoor hallways and stairs, visiting with the neighbors on the way.

There’s a noteworthy parallel between Hopi’s first winter in the suburbs and the Christian walk. When circumstances cause us to change our routines it is very easy to become distracted to a degree that is not always best for us. An exciting television series can lead to the set being on habitually and valuable attention to other tasks can gradually be lost. Skipping an exercise routine to have coffee with friends can become the rule rather than the exception, or enjoying one extra snack after doing some extra running one day and then another the next day too, and before we realize it we’ve put on a couple of pounds.

Regardless of one’s faith base, daily meditation, devotional time, prayer, reading Scriptures or attending worship services can slip away into oblivion after rearranging schedules to include other tasks too. Whenever I did any of that, I soon noticed I was not as patient or content with my life as I typically am. Even after identifying what changed, it took strict personal discipline and help from God just to get back in the habit of putting everything aside for foundational enrichment.

Like Hopi, we all need exercise and socializing as well as discipline and spiritual nourishment to be well balanced individuals. Variety is good – provided it doesn’t undermine the groundwork of our purpose in life. With so many choices and distractions in our world pulling us in many different directions, routine discipline can be a mainstay to keeping that balance. Without it we could all be chasing rabbits and scaring the neighbors!

“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)

 

Preceding is a slightly edited repost of an original Roo’s Ruse Blogspot post from 2009. Much has changed in my world since I wrote the article; Hopi and the rest of the fur kids have gone on to await us at the Rainbow Bridge and I now live with Roan and Opal in North Texas. However, like The Scriptures the message still rings true.

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Humpty Dumpty Tuesday

calendar coffee-pen-3888x2592_20495

Initially I felt alarmed by the sudden, harsh reality that today is Wednesday, Hump Day – and not Tuesday. Since my brand new Fitbit Dashboard recorded elevated levels attesting that’s actually understated, I admit I freaked out the first half-hour of my day. However, I must quickly add, I only wasted the second fifteen minutes like that – the first were actually lovely.

The recap: halfway into my organic, non-GMO, unsweetened soy, Italian roast, honey-amaretto latte and a first bottle of water, I noticed the satellite clock read Wednesday. Wednesday, not Tuesday. That the…

Instinctively, my heart rate rocketed, I sprang  walked circumspectly up the stairs, to my laptop to find the draft I intended to post early Tuesday morning (rather than late-morning) remains a draft. Confused and slightly shaken, I thought through the events of the past 24 hours or so:

  • Opal was home most of the day after taking a weekend off. I usually have the house to myself most days – this is not typical.
  • I must think and remember it’s winter. While everyone north of us endures lower temps, snow and ice, we’ve enjoyed sunny afternoons in the high 60’s – mid 70’s
  • Roan (who works in Retail) arrived home yesterday morning at the regular time – for the eighth consecutive day; also not typical.
  • I had invested unscheduled time, actually far more time than I anticipated, downloading and starting up my Fitbit account, charging and recharging my worn cell and tablet batteries and, hoping to raise the Fitbit bar, I invested extra time in fitness workouts for my initial Fitbit entry.
  • Opal and I had purged the refrigerator, freezer and pantry (and then, of course I washed the refrigerator) – not typical for a mid-month weekday.
  • I rotated my mattress – also not typical for a mid-month weekday. Least to mention the chore took me three times longer than usual as I performed it unassisted (those who camouflage storage boxes beneath the box springs with a bed skirt understand).
  • This just in: according to Fitbit I slept for 6 hr 26 mins, 3 x awake, 6 x restless.

With so many variables, I accept it is inarguably Wednesday, not Tuesday.

More notable still, I’m actually celebrating the fact that I’m still walking (1,688 steps so far), breathing and the world continued to turn without my Tuesday post. Not that long ago I would be going through some epic mental penance and flagellation exercises for not fulfilling my entire previous day’s agenda, trying to justify my existence in the universe. Though I feel slightly sheepish and will most likely experience some degree of disappointment as today progresses and reveals more unmet expectations, Fitbit confirms I’m in good shape with only 4.8 pounds to go to my target weight. I can live with that.

Especially in America too many grand parents, moreover great-grand parents are in far worse shape. On the average our dimensions change dramatically and we gain weight as we age, without regard to our resources, education, experience and genetic backgrounds. I am indeed blessed. While I suffer occasional aches and pains, and I don’t run more than a few yards at a time (literally) or skip as I like to anymore, time has not ravaged my body nearly as harshly as many of my peers. As compared to once or twice a year, I misconstrue the actual day and date more frequently occasionally. However, I know many millennials that do likewise also.

golden-Jesus -moon-2432x4320_77278love all the timeThe difference in me today is all about perspective and grace. While I continue the practice of loving myself the way God loves me, I learn more about life and relationships than ever before – including my relationship with myself. While I’m still climbing uphill, I do so because I took on another peak, not because I arrived at the pinnacle and set up camp.

Okay. So, I momentarily “lost” a day this week. So what? Time didn’t stop for anyone I know of. I’m not shattered. So, I’ll just roll with it, and hope I somehow bless someone else that might feel like they’re losing it. What’s more, I’ll likely enjoy Friday even more for posting what I’d intended for yesterday!

 

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

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This Autumn’s Observance

As the day began I felt somehow comforted that John Lennon would have been 75 today. That lifted me to consider how to take on the day.

While the seemingly endless weeks of Texas summer weather refuse to pass, I looked forward to enjoying yard work when autumn finally falls. That’s when the fruit of my labors remain evident far longer than in spring or summer. What’s more, now that all my siblings are beyond life’s halfway mark, comparing this season of our generation to autumn seems almost right. Almost, but its still unsettling.

Though simple yard maintenance tasks took longer to accomplish today, I enjoyed myself so much that I nearly forgot an appointment this morning.

In all fairness, back up a bit: The whole story; unable to take my usual walk first thing today – again, I’d reached my threshold for drama in our home early on and sought refuge outdoors. Once immersed in work and praying for the loved ones at the top of my concerns list, I slipped into pleasant oblivion long enough to need to brush all vanity aside and rush – your essential down-shift.

And even further back: As the first female I’m the trailblazer of the human aging process for this generation of our family. Our previous generations suddenly slipped away from us before we had the foresight to note statistics we’d all disregarded. Genetically speaking, aging is clearly challenging enough, but more so without a road map. This month the baby of our family got slammed with lumbar problems at about the same age I was when an injury also pointed out that time was marching across my back.

Three weeks into her treatment phase, I heard more often than I want (for now), “I don’t know how you lived through this for so long. Why don’t you just have the surgery?” She forgets how we already concluded (repeatedly), that “every body is different.” Excuse the pause – rolling my eyes makes me dizzy these days.

Several times over the past weeks I’ve heroically resisted the impulse to fire off expletives that would shock those outside our family circle – solely to jerk her attention from her genuine pain long enough to realize, 1. she’s not alone; and that matters, and 2. I’m close enough to catch her if she falls. Not that she may (or if she did, after recovery we’d humorously embellish the story for years), but because experientially I know enough about her specifically, her condition AND the medications her doctor prescribed. Therefore, I pay close attention to Ms. Feistily Independent while she’s up and moving about. I also try to imagine her away at work while she’s settled safely in her bed with her laptop. Until this morning.

My most profound observations today: When we were quite young, my siblings and I all grew up taking some beatings, mentally, emotionally and physically. We all learned early on to regard degrees of pain as momentary nuisances to consider later, the severity, source and time being subjective.

But as we age, and we all indeed have, we’re wiser to that “press through the pain,” philosophy our late brother Seagh impressed upon us while we were young survivors and somewhat reckless. It isn’t always a great practice, and as we ‘progress’ the pain gets stronger remarkably faster. Yeah, this is more about missing Brother’s unique input, a “what would Seagh do” moment.

Though we once considered extreme degrees of discomfort a challenge, we all learned that ignoring relentless, elevated pain will most likely cause more severe hurting and possibly other complications. Seagh’s short lifespan is now a good example. While we remember him fondly and longingly with each new pang, Roan is now coming to terms with the reality life forced upon me over a decade ago, though it served us well long ago, ignoring pain isn’t necessarily wise throughout our lives.

As we continue to pursue new levels of debase mockery over our deteriorating bodies (our preferred method of coping), I prefer to practice a new phrase Seagh never had time to consider; I now “brace for the next blow.”

We’re still listening. We miss ya, Bro.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.” 1 Peter 1:6 (NLT)

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Wonderful Legumes – Lentil, Kale and Sausage Stew

LENTIL, SAUSAGE AND KALE STEW

Food is not my first passion. That would be relationships. I spent many of the happiest hours of my lifespan in kitchens, around campfires, grocery stores and farmer’s markets, mostly exploring great new foods. All typicaly within a very restrictive budget.

Recently a friend from Chicago-land shared a recipe from Eating Well *1 for a Lentil, Sausage and Kale Stew.

She had me at Lentils. Dietary restrictions during the course of overcoming diverticulitis (without medication), sent my cholesterol counts crazy. After recovery, still unwilling to pollute my body with cholesterol medication, I researched and targeted my diet and exercise habits toward changing those numbers – and that right soon. #

Legumes, especially lentils, and oats are nature’s blood scrubbers, so every day I eat at least one portion of one, the other or both and power walk (breathing too hard to sing) for a minimum half hour to an hour every day, rain or shine. Also, since I also recetly discovered I was not lactose intollerant, a portion of yogurt and cheese also became a mainstay to keeping diverticulosis under control.

This wasn’t easy at first. My body and subconscious screamed in rebellion while I refused to return to my nice, comfy bed and pull the covers over my head. But within 2 weeks the routine became second nature.

I search constantly for variety, keeping a portion of oats or legumes part of my daily diet. Within four months both cholesterol counts returned to very healthy, normal levels. Two years later, keeping this as a base line, I can also eat pretty much whatever else I want in moderation without pain or upset.

Photo courtesy Eating Well.com

Photo courtesy Eating Well.com

Lentil, Sausage and Kale Stew – my variation, of course, of the Eating Well Recipe *1

Ingredients:

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
At least a pound of chicken or turkey sausage, casings pierced several times with a toothpick (the more the better when official taste samplers lurk nearby)
1 large onion, thickly sliced
2 Tablespoons minced garlic (or more per your taste)
pinch of crushed red pepper, (or more to taste) *
2 ½ cups water (have more on hand in case needed)
1 ½ cups red wine (or 1/2 cup wine and 1 cup chicken or turkey stock. have extra on hand in case needed)
1 cup green lentils, washed
8 cups finely chopped kale leaves, tough stems removed **
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Prepare by thoroughly washing kale, cutting away tough stems, and chopping (set aside separately), onion, mince garlic, and sage (also keep sage separate). Wash lentils. Measure wine (and broth if desired) & water.

1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and cook until browned on all sides. Remove, set aside.

2. Add the remaining oil and onion to the pan and cook until clear, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper *and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute.

3. Add water and wine, bring to a boil, stirring constantly with wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits from the sides and bottom of skillet. Add lentils, stir in and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for approximately 60 minutes until lentils are cooked through (some altitudes may require more time). Check occasionally for sufficient liquid for stew to be saturated, but not covered over. Add more warm wine, water, broth as needed.

4. Add kale, sage and salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and kale are tender, about 20 minutes more.

5. Cut the cooked sausage into 1/2 inch slices and stir into the pan along with ground pepper. Cover and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Spoon into bowls or crocks, serve topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and crusty, toasted slices of sourdough bread.

Also delightful with your favorite salsa (I especially like salsa verde), pico de gallo or pesto and sprinkles of fresh herbs (like cilantro). Be creative!

NUTRITION FACTS
Provided by: Eating Well
Per Single Serving / Serves 4 Total
Calories 500 17%
Calories from fat 99 20%
Total Fat 11gm 28%
Sodium 665mg 64%
Cholesterol 60mg 19%

Total Carbohydrates 58gm
Fiber 16gm
Protein 32gm
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

# This may not be sufficient for some with different, more severe cholesterol counts, or other health complications. Consult with your experienced primary care physician and a licensed professional dietitian.

* Our family likes a hot/piquant palette, so I add a jalapeno and a Serrano peppers with the crushed, red pepper flakes.

** Though popular, some tastes (like my sister, Roan’s) don’t take to kale, even when well cooked. Substituting 10 cups chopped spinach provides additional folic acid with a milder flavor.

*1 http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/kale_sausage_lentil_skillet_supper.html

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2015-10-02 · 11:21