Gotta Love Grandma

grandmaGot a letter from Grandma the other day…

Dear Bobby,

The other day I went up to a local Christian bookstore and saw a “honk if you love Jesus” bumper sticker.  I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting, so I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.  Boy, I’m glad I did!  What an uplifting experience that followed!

I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good He is…and I didn’t notice that the light had changed.  It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn’t honked, I’d never have noticed!

I found that LOTS of people love Jesus!  Why, while I was sitting there the guy behind started honking like crazy, and then leaned out of his window and screamed “For the love of GOD! GO! GO! Jesus Christ, GO!”  What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus!  Everyone started honking! I just leaned out of my window and started waving and smiling at all these loving people.  I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love!  There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a “sunny beach”… I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air.  Then I asked my teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant, he said that it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something.  Well, I never met anyone from Hawaii, so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign back.  My grandson burst out laughing…why he was enjoying this religious experience too!

A couple of people were so caught up in joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me.  I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed.  So, I waved to all my sisters and brothers grinning, and drove on through the intersection before the light changed again and I felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared, so I slowed the car down, leaned out of the window and gave them the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away.

Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!

Love,

Grandma

Boost Your Workout Results

fat man working out It’s always been interesting to me to see people at the gym who are obviously putting a lot of effort into their workouts, but there doesn’t seem to be any corresponding change in their physical appearance.   My conclusion has typically been to just imagine how many calories they must be consuming outside the gym to counteract all that work.    Then I ran a cross an article by Liz Miersch of Q, By Equinox, that suggests over-working could play a role in not realizing the results you hope to gain in the gym.  She makes the point that “Sustaining high-intensity workouts most days can keep you from your ideal physique.”   She explains that, “After an intense weights session, for example, muscles need about two days to regenerate and repair.  Work them again too soon and, rather than rebuilding stronger and denser muscles, they stay the same or even decrease in strength.”  Interestingly, she goes on to say, “A similar phenomenon can happen with fat-burning cardio.   When the body reaches a new, high level of intensity, new capillaries form to deliver more blood to working muscles.  Similarly, the nervous system recruits more muscle fibers, eventually making us more balanced, fluid, and powerful.  However, on a fatigued or unprepared body, these improvements are less likely to occur.”

fat people working out“In the 24 to 48 hours immediately following a moderate to intense exercise session, the body is busy removing metabolic wastes, replenishing energy stores, building muscle proteins, and repairing tissue damage through a physiological process known as adaptation,” says Geralyn Coopersmith, an exercise physiologist and head of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute.  “Back-to-back, high-intensity workouts don’t give the body sufficient time to complete these processes and can reduce performance, cause sidelining injuries and prevent you from getting results.”

Coopersmith’s top 6 ways to pump up your progress:

1. Do Less.  Don’t work out hard every day.  Studies show that two high-intensity sessions per week are enough to achieve most fitness goals.

2. Keep Moving.  Although the phrase “active rest” may sound like an oxymoron, researchers have found that doing a light workout the day after a challenging one can actually help speed the recovery process.  Gentle activities such as Hatha yoga, walking, or an easy swim can help bring blood to tissues and remove waste products, speeding the regeneration.

3. Take a Shower.  During your post-workout scrubdown, use hot water for two minutes, warm water for one minute, and ice-cold water for 30 seconds.  Repeat the cycle three to four times.  This process, know as Contrast Water Therapy, dilates and constricts blood vessels, which may help remove metabolic waste products and speed recovery.

4. Get Hands On.  If you’re exercising on a regular basis, massage isn’t a luxury—it’s essential. Massage can improve the circulation of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, help remove waste, and reduce pain. It can also break up excessively tight areas in muscle tissue, known as “trigger points,” caused by muscle tension and scar tissue.

5. Hit the Sack.  Sleep is the ultimate regeneration tool; unfortunately, most of us aren’t getting enough.  Experts believe we need at least eight hours of sleep, and the average American is getting only six-and-a-half to seven hours of shut-eye.  Try to be mindful of how much sleep you’re getting, and set a regular sleep schedule.

6. Drink Up.  Dehydration impairs metabolism and prevents adequate nutrient transfer, which is the process of bringing food and oxygen into the cells and removing waste products.  Replenish the fluids lost during exercise immediately afterward.  Weigh yourself right before and right after a workout.  Any weight lost during the session is water weight (not fat) that needs to be replaced.  Down a few glasses until you’re back to your pre-workout weight.

Hopefully, these tips will accelerate your results and have you enjoying your new physique.

God Bless

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Loneliness: Extreme Health Hazard

LonelinessThe mind-body connection is well established and, although I have suspected this to be the case, I had never been faced with the hard evidence that loneliness can have such a direct and disastrous affect on physical health.  Loneliness has such an overwhelming impact that it can cause an immediate need to do anything to make oneself feel better, regardless of how potentially destructive it is, even if that behavior is likely to exacerbate the situation.  One of the most obvious examples of this phenomenon is remaining in an unhealthy, destructive or abusive relationship out of a fear of otherwise being alone.  I have listened to countless relationship sob stories with tearful pledges to “get out”, only to find that shortly thereafter, things are back on and knowing that the cycle is about to start all over again.  From the detached perspective of a reasonable observer, the decision to remain in these relationships is unimaginable, but it underscores the powerful impact loneliness can have.  As human beings, we are social animals with an innate need for meaningful emotional connections with other people and quantity is not a driver of effectiveness, rather quality.

Another obvious source of immediate gratification for people who suffer from loneliness is food, and typically not the healthy kind.  John T. Cacioppo, in his book “Loneliness” makes the point that loneliness destroys a person’s ability to self-regulate.  People who score high on the UCLA Loneliness Scale tend to:

  • Overeat
  • Eat more fatty foods
  • Drink too much
  • Smoke
  • Speed
  • Engage in indiscriminate sex

LonelinessHe goes on to point out that his review of the relevant research found that “social isolation is on a par with high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise or smoking as a risk factor for illness and early death.”  Other credible studies have shown lonely people were more likely to develop difficulties performing activities of daily living like bathing and dressing, using their arms and shoulders, climbing stairs and walking.  In addition, a Dutch study of people who considered themselves lonely demonstrated a higher incidence of dementia.

The solution to breaking a destructive cycle driven by loneliness or the fear of loneliness is getting outside of yourself.  Cacioppo puts it this way, “What’s required is to step outside the pain of our own situation long enough to ‘feed’ others. Real change begins with doing.”  “Doing” in this case means being proactive and reaching out to others.  You stand no chance of developing these emotional connections if you don’t try.  A place to start is volunteering.  Find a way to “feed” others that have a need more compelling than your own and it will likely lead to the resolution of your own debilitating loneliness.

God bless

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Looking For A Transformation?

Forks Over KnivesAs most of you know, I am a big fan of the movie “Forks Over Knives“.  It had a dramatic impact on my eating habits and resulting energy levels, athletic performance and overall health.  From time to time, I like to share personal success stories from their website that underscore the concept of proper nutrition striking at the core of diseases and eliminating the need for prescription medications with nasty side-effects to just address symptoms.  The following is one of those compelling stories and I encourage you to share it with anyone who may have lost sight of the preventative and curative powers of proper nutrition and is stuck in a world of prescription medication.

How a Plant-Based Lifestyle Helped Me Regain My Health and Youthfulness

Victoria 570x299 How a Plant Based Lifestyle Helped Me Regain My Health and YouthfulnessFor most of my adult life, I battled health and weight issues. Since about 18 years old, I fluctuated in weight and clothing sizes, and it was ever so frustrating. I tried so many things, like long workouts in the gym, weight-loss pills, restricting carbs, and so on. I was doing anything possible to get those fifty pounds off, but the results were always unsatisfying. Each time I lost weight, I ended up gaining back more than I originally lost. I eventually cancelled my useless gym membership and settled for occasional evening strolls.

In suffering from various health maladies, there was always a pill or substance to take. For frequent colds and flus, for example, there was Nyquil. For fatigue, there was coffee. For yeast and urinary tract infections, there was Monistat and antibiotics. PMS horror? No problem, there was Motrin. However, these “solutions” dealt with symptoms and made me feel medicated instead of healthy. I thought the cycle of illness and pills was normal and a part of life – even though I was in my twenties!

One day, I found myself having a deep conversation with a new vegetarian friend. I asked him why he stopped eating meat. He explained in fine detail that he did so for health, environment, and ethical reasons. The lack of compassion toward animals slaughtered for food hit a sore spot for me, especially since I was an animal lover. I also had an epiphany that consuming animal products could be contributing to my years of struggling health.

It was a no brainer: I adopted a vegetarian diet. I started feeling better within a few weeks. The pounds started coming off without much effort. I started hiking, and my energy levels soared. I began experimenting with new ingredients in the kitchen and discovered a wide range of delicious foods! I realized how limiting a meat-centered diet had been for me—basically meal after meal of meat in the middle of my plate, surrounded by a side dish or two.

One day, my long-time boyfriend Jc and I watched the movie Earthlings, which is about the human exploitation of animals. The film inspired us to exclude all animal products from our diets. We focused on wholesome foods like beans, whole grains, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Soon all the ailments and excess weight started to disappear! My longstanding acne went away within a few months of dropping dairy. In the three years since I made the change, I haven’t experienced one yeast or urinary tract infection, nor felt bloated or even caught the flu.

My improved energy levels led me, again, to increase my fitness routine. I’ve added calisthenics to my workouts, while my running ability and strength have improved greatly. I’ve noticed how muscle recovery occurs more rapidly and fitness has become fun. I finally have my health and youth back!

Every single human being should know how it feels to be healthy, confident, and full of energy. I believe the key for making this change is simple: knowledge. Once you have the knowledge, you are empowered to live the life you deserve!

God bless

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Embrace The Sun

sunbathingAs the days continue to get longer and more time is spent outdoors, I want to reemphasize the benefits of reasonable exposure to sunshine.  I ran across an article written by Jaipi Sixbear that did a good job of pointing to the collection of positive benefits that, in my opinion, far outweigh the remote chances of dying from skin cancer.  Certainly be smart about exposure time, but don’t hide from the sun.

  • Vitamin D is vital to good health and sunshine is the best source.  The human body produces Vitamin D naturally when exposed to the sun.  Vitamin D from sunshine is superior because the body will only use what it needs.  Vitamin D benefits health by slowing bone density loss and is preventative of osteoporosis and other bone health issues.  It has also been shown to be lacking in many cancer patients.  Vitamin D benefits calcium absorption and without the presence of Vitamin D, calcium cannot do it’s job.
  • Sunshine reduces the symptoms of depression by activating endorphins, the body’s natural anti-depressants.  Sunshine cures seasonal depression disorder through endorphin production.  Seratonin is the endorphin most associated with the health benefits of sunshine.
  • Sunshine benefits health by increasing circulation.  It dilates blood vessels in the skin through the production of nitrous oxide.  This brings more nutrients and oxygen to cells when capillaries are open.  Dilated capillaries are also more efficient waste removers.  Better circulation means better healing of skin diseases and conditions.
  • Sunshine also brings health benefits by increasing production of both red and white blood cells, which provides a stronger immune system.  Blood pressure is decreased by sunshine and cardiac output is increased, allowing blood to do it’s work.
  • Cholesterol stored under the skin is converted to Vitamin D by sun exposure.  This lowers cholesterol levels drastically.  Sunshine also benefits health by increasing metabolism and maintaining blood sugar levels which, in turn, helps with weight loss.
  • Sunshine also kills harmful viruses, bacteria and disease microbes on the skin.  It is actually a natural antibiotic.
  • Sunshine leads to increased liver function.  The liver is responsible for filtering and removing wastes from the body, including toxins absorbed from exposure to chemicals and environmental pollution.  When sunlight is allowed to do it’s job by keeping the liver healthy, it benefits all the other body systems by keeping them clear of these toxins.

sunbathingEven putting all the above benefits aside, Dr.  Richard Weller, who studied just the effect sunshine has on our production of nitrous oxide and the resulting decrease in heart disease (see Sun & Vegetables: Prescription For Health), makes the salient point “there are currently 100 times more deaths from cardiovascular disease than skin cancer”.  The resounding message here is don’t be overly alarmed by the marketing hype and scare tactics used to sell sunscreens.  As Sixbear puts it, granny was right, she may not have known why, but  “she knew her family was healthier after spending time in the sun.”

God bless

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