Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a healthy New Year to everyone near and far!
We are living in strange and challenging times. Our normal routine has been disrupted by a little known virus, and it’s keeping most of the population isolated. The gym may be closed, fitness classes may be cancelled, but this is no reason to stop exercising. There is one simple exercise that requires no special equipment or training. In fact, it’s free and you’ve been doing it most of your life!
Walking is the most basic of exercises and is beneficial in so many ways:
— Walking helps to lower stress and blood pressure. The heart is the most important muscle in your body and it must be exercised to stay strong and healthy. You are in charge. You can walk at your own pace and gradually work up to longer walks at a faster pace as your endurance increases.
— Walking helps to strengthen lower body muscles and improve balance and coordination. This is a big concern as people get older and falling risk increases.
— Walking improves bone density (walking is considered a weight-bearing exercise because you are carrying your own body weight). One study of post menopausal women found that walking 30 minutes per day reduced their risk of hip fracture by 40%!
— Walking burns calories, helps lower BMI, and as a result helps manage type 2 diabetes.
— Walking helps you to manage joint pain and stiffness. If you have arthritis, avoiding physical activity is not the way to improve your pain. Walking pumps fluid into and out of the joints and cartilage, washing them with nutrients and slowing degradation there. For more information: http://www.creakyjoints.com
— Walking improves mental well-being and will help you sleep better at night. Walking releases endorphins similar to a runner’s high. You will rest soundly with a feeling of satisfaction after a brisk walk.
–– Walking slows mental decline. It has been shown that senior men who walk more than a quarter mile each day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than non-walkers.
Even if you are told to self-isolate because of the corona virus, you can still walk for exercise. If possible, walk in the woods or a park and enjoy the beauty of nature. Isn’t exercising in the fresh air more appealing than working out in a stuffy gym? Allow the sun to shine on your face and arms for additional Vitamin D absorption. Listen to the music of birds singing, leaves rustling in the breeze, water rippling in a stream. Use this time to enjoy the simple pleasures of nature, to pray or meditate. Walking can be a satisfying solitary activity, good for the body, mind and spirit. Or, take your dog along, and make time for a game of fetch or frisbee, and you’ll both return feeling refreshed.
If you follow the news, then you hear hourly updates on the coronavirus as reporters spread doom, gloom and fear about worldwide sickness and even death from the coronavirus. You may be asking: When will it strike here? What should I do if I get sick? Am I safe? How can I protect my children from something I can’t see? Obsessing on this one topic is creating panic when commonsense wisdom would be more helpful.
Please, keep in mind that fewer people have died from the coronavirus this year than from the flu last year, and those who have died had compromised immune systems before they contracted the virus. It is believed that thousands of people have recovered from the coronavirus thinking it was just the common cold, because their symptoms were so mild. So it seems obvious that the way to deal with this new health threat is to strengthen your immune system and use the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick in the first place. Here are some reminders:
— Wash your hands often, at least 20 seconds each time with soap and running water.
— Use antibacterial wipes at the grocery store (many stores provide them at the entrance) to wipe down shopping cart handles before use.
— Carry antibacterial wipes with you, and remember to use them.
— Sneeze and cough into the crook of your arm instead of your hands.
— Keep your hands away from your face.
— Carry your own supply of tissues with you. Communal tissue boxes are loaded with germs.
— Think of others. If you feel sick, STAY HOME. No matter how badly you “need to be there,” no one there wants to catch what you have.
— At home, sanitize often: door knobs, light switches, buttons on the microwave, toaster, stove, coffeepot, tea kettle, toilet seat/handles, faucets, etc.. Bleach infused wipes or even a paper towel saturated with rubbing alcohol will do the job quickly and easily.
— Avoid sugar. Sugar depresses your immune system for the next four hours after consuming it.
— Eat plenty of whole foods: vegetables, fruit, and minimally processed grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
— Stay hydrated and make pure water your beverage of choice. Nix the sugary drinks.
— Increase your intake of Vitamin C and Zinc. Taken together these help to lessen the severity of a cold, but you can also take them before any symptoms arise as a preventive measure.
— Elderberry syrup taken daily is a great immune booster (also comes in lozenges in case you’re traveling).
— If you live in the northern hemisphere and don’t get much sun for part of the year, you may need to increase your vitamin D intake. Vitamin D3+K2 is most easily absorbed. Ask your doctor to monitor your blood levels to get the correct dosage.
— Finally, reduce the stress in your life. Prayer and meditation, daily exercise, even a walk are all great stress relievers. Read a good book. Enjoy a hobby you’ve neglected for a long time, or try something new. Spend time with your pet. Turn off the news and just relax.
— Refuse to worry. Worry leads to anxiety, which stops you from living your best life. As long as you use wisdom, you have nothing to fear.
God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Total health starts with your spiritual life. Prayer, reading the Bible and meditating on God’s word will reduce stress and give you answers to life’s questions. If you want to be healthy body, mind and spirit, then start here.
Jesus never refuses an invitation to be with you. He’s never too busy. He never has something more important to do. You are the most important thing to Jesus, and he loves spending time with you, It’s never too late. He’s just waiting to be asked.
Luke 24: 28-29 — As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When grocery shopping please keep in mind that healthy, helpful foods don’t have labels saying they are healthy and helpful, but there is one easy way to tell:
Healthy food doesn’t come in a box or a bag with a label.
Isn’t that easy?
Remember that children’s song, “Oh be careful little mouth what you say?” Maybe we need to learn a new verse — “Oh, be careful little mouth what you eat!”
Proverbs 21:23- He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
If you are eager to improve your health, then God may be speaking to you about the food you eat. Sometimes saying yes to God means saying no to yourself. The Holy Spirit will begin to change your appetite if you don’t ignore his voice. If you are asking God to help you lose weight, the answer to your prayers may be on your plate.
I Corinthians 10:13 — No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
The menu looks disappointing. I probably shouldn’t have come with my friends. What can I eat in this restaurant? Maybe I’ll just give in and order a burger. This is too hard!
We all face this dilemma at some point after deciding to eat a plant-based diet, but here are a few tricks (ways out of temptation) to help you maintain a healthy diet even if there isn’t a single vegetarian entrée on the menu:
— First of all, look at the soup, salad and appetizer sections of the menu. It is quite possible that you will find something suitable there. Many times appetizers that are meant for sharing are huge and can easily be your whole dinner. One of our favorite restaurants has a delicious Hummus Platter Appetizer (a platter of fresh romaine lettuce topped with homemade roasted red pepper hummus, and garnished with sliced tomatoes and warm toasted pita bread) that I adore. It is meant for four people to share, but I always order it as my entrée when we go there, and it is more than enough.
— Look at the side dishes. You can certainly put together a satisfying meal of three or four vegetable sides (not french fries, macaroni, and onion rings!) and a salad. Cracker Barrel calls this a Vegetable Platter, and it’s becoming popular in other restaurants, too. Keep it simple and be creative.
— Sometimes you can find a great vegetarian pasta dish already on the menu, but if you can’t then look at the options that are available, and don’t be afraid to ask if a dish you like could be prepared minus the meat and/or cheese. Most restaurants are happy to comply. I usually request mushrooms instead of the meat. My husband will request nuts be substituted for the meat in his pasta dish.
— If one entrée comes with broccoli and another comes with mushrooms and peas, then ask your server if you could please have the pasta (baked potato or brown rice) minus the meat, but topped with broccoli, mushrooms and peas (because you know they already have those ingredients in house) instead. Restaurants teach their staff that a satisfied customer will be a returning customer and will tell their friends, so they are more than willing to make you a satisfied customer.
— Even fast food restaurants are becoming veg-friendly. Burger King has a veggie burger. It’s not on the menu, but ask for it. Subway and Moe’s (you probably know of others) both have several vegetarian options that you can put together however you like, and they are very inexpensive. Ethnic restaurants offer many unique plant-based dishes that are sure to please, so be courageous and try something different. You might be surprised to find a new favorite food!
— Finally, if all else fails just ask the chef if he can prepare a special meal that meets your dietary requirements. Some of the most delicious restaurant meals we’ve enjoyed were the result of simply making that request when the menu looked hopeless. Many chefs welcome the challenge. You won’t know if you don’t ask. The better restaurants always try to accommodate.
So please, don’t be intimidated by menus or refuse to go out to eat because you’re afraid you won’t be able to stick to your new healthy lifestyle if you do. Meet your friends for dinner! Enjoy their company, and don’t stress out about what to eat. In the whole scheme of life it is, after all, just one meal. You don’t have to live like a hermit to eat healthy. Just be creative and enjoy the journey … To life!
The start of a new year is a funny time. People ponder the state of the goals they set during the previous year and resolve to do better this time around. Lose weight, finally read that book, get your finances in order, clean out the hall closet — every missed opportunity and put-off chore is on the list of things we resolve to make happen this year. Because it’s a New Year, a fresh start — anything is possible!
One thing I have been thinking about for a while is this blog. I’ve noticed that there are many blogs out there based on diet and food. Recipes abound for any diet you wish to follow. But, for some people, like me, you need more than a recipe to entice you to alter your diet even if it will improve your health. As a believer, I had to be convinced that following any specific diet was God’s will, so I researched with an open mind, read and prayed a lot. After two years I was convinced that a vegetarian (mostly vegan) diet was the correct diet for humans. Fad diets come and go, but this one has stood the test of time for promoting optimal health and longevity. This isn’t the answer I was hoping for (believe me, if there were a hot fudge sundae diet that worked, I would tell you!), but I am convinced this is the truth.
So this year, I resolve to share more about what God’s word has to say about the food we should eat. There will still be recipes, but more about what the Bible says that convinced me to permanently change my diet 18 years ago. It wasn’t because I loved vegetables (or even animals). My lifestyle change was an act of obedience to what I knew God was telling me. And, I believe that when you ask God a question, and He answers, then you’d better do what He says. I hope that throughout this new year you, too, will understand the wisdom of God’s original diet (Genesis 1:29 – Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”)
I confess, I love tea. I love the flavor, the aroma, and the total experience of brewing and drinking tea. This probably started when I was the very active little girl of a late-in-life mother, whose mission it was to turn her youngest daughter into a “proper young lady.” As a special treat she would prepare a tea party for just the two of us and whatever dolls and stuffed animals cared to join in. I specifically remember her explaining the attributes of the fine china teacups, which I was only permitted to use on these supervised occasions. She would hold the delicate teacup up to the light so I could see the faint shadow of her fingers through the china, and then explain how “a lady” would hold the cup, take a sip, use her napkin, etc. This must be how my love for tea began.
Now, I appreciate tea for all its health benefits as well. There is something very civilizing about brewing and indulging in a cup of tea. Over tea confidences are shared, problems are solved, friendships are solidified, and nerves are calmed. All of these side effects of tea may help to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol has been known to increase appetite and lead to fat storage. Elevated cortisol levels have been linked to many diseases, so controlling stress by stopping to enjoy a cup of tea during your busy day may benefit your health by reducing both appetite and tension.
Drinking tea (green tea, black tea, and oolong tea) has been shown to increase the fat burning process up to 17% and caloric expenditure by 4%. Studies in animals and humans have even shown that drinking tea may reduce the risk of accumulating belly fat. That’s one great reason to choose tea over other beverages!
In contrast, alcohol is loaded with 7 liquid calories/gram. Beer contains a similar number of calories as sugary soft drinks. Red wine contains twice that amount! If you want to reduce your midsection, then reduce or skip the alcoholic beverages.
Unsweetened tea, hot or iced, is a healthier thirst quencher than carbonated soft drinks. It’s easy to drink a large amount of empty liquid calories without even realizing it when you consume soda, and diet sodas are no better for you. These chemical cocktails are hard on your stomach lining, tooth enamel and bones, and have even been shown to CAUSE weight gain. The bubbles in soda also release gas in your stomach leading to embarrassing GI noises when you least expect them.
Fruit juices and energy drinks may seem like healthy alternatives, but these are loaded with concentrated sugar making it easy to drink excess calories on top of everything else you consume. Eating whole fruit is a much better choice than drinking fruit juice. Whole fruit contains the fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals your body needs without the caloric overload leading to weight gain. Try sipping fruit infused tea instead — it’s and excellent way to enjoy the flavor of fruit without all those unnecessary calories.
If you are caffeine sensitive, then opt for teas with low or no caffeine. Flavored herbal teas contain little or no caffeine, and are a relaxing evening beverage. Chamomile tea is one herbal tea well-known for its calming effect on the mind and body. Always try to find an organic tea. If you garden, you can make tea from your own organic herbs. I have made excellent peppermint, spearmint, and lavender teas from my own backyard plants. Tea made from herbs picked right from your garden tastes so fresh, and it’s free!
So, the next time you’re looking for a little something to drink, keep calm and drink tea. It’s an ancient beverage with modern health benefits.
This is probably the most important post I’ve ever written, but as we start the New Year with the current level of civil unrest in the United States I feel that it’s important to address those who are still upset about the November election results. On the news and social media vicious, hateful diatribes are fueling angry protests along with fear and anxiety in those who were disappointed. Others, who were pleased by the election results, are alarmed and embarrassed that the rest of the world is judging us for the division in our country, worried that terrorists may decide this is the perfect time to strike our fractured nation. All of us are nervous about what we can say, even to family members, because some peoples’ feelings are still so raw.
Maybe you don’t realize it, but many diseases have emotional roots. Anger, hatred, bitterness, and worry all build up within your mind and body, creating the perfect environment for disease to flourish. You’ve felt the physical effects of those toxic emotions: the tightening of your chest, rise in blood pressure, elevated temperature, loss of appetite, inability to sleep or concentrate on anything but how much you hate another person. Those emotions are not healthy! Heart disease, arthritis, IBS and other GI problems all have emotional components which block physical healing. I’ve even heard one doctor say that he could predict which cancer patients would survive their illness simply by observing that person’s attitude about life in general. If you want to stay healthy start with your mind. If you are fighting any illness right now, this is imperative.
What emotions are ruling your days and nights? What thoughts are fueling your deepest emotions and reactions to today’s news? Worry is just wasted energy. If you say hatred or revenge, then please ask yourself why you would ever give someone else that much power over your own physical health. Divisive comments, snide remarks, and a critical attitude fuel “dis-ease” within your own body.
No matter who is in office we must remember that we are all on the same team, citizens of the same country, the United States of America. A leader has been chosen, and everyone on the team wants peace and prosperity in our nation. Creating discord within the team will not give us success. We may not like everyone on the team, but we do want our team to win, right? If the captain of our team fails, we all fail together, and nobody wants that. At the very least we can pray for our leaders. They need all the help they can get!
If you really want to be healthy, then start this New Year in a new positive frame of mind. You can reject negativity and feel the weight of the world lift from your shoulders. You don’t need to carry that heaviness! When critical thoughts begin to surface think of how you can encourage. If you disagree, how can you help? A wise man once penned these words about what should fill our minds during turbulent times:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
Truer words were never spoken. If you want physical health, then take control of your emotions, starting with your thoughts.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!