Bring on the Sunshine

By Cami Checketts –

Serving others brings sunshine into our very souls and health to our bodies. Jesus gave us the greatest example of serving our fellowmen. I suppose part of the joy that comes from serving is because we are acting as Jesus would.

I’m always searching for ways to teach my four sons to serve each other and serve others. They love to play outside and be active so we try to combine making opportunities to serve… and get some exercise. The following list includes a few of our favorite ways to do both:

1 – Going to the park. We love riding our bikes to the park and bringing our baseball mitts, lacrosse sticks, or a soccer ball. The little ones play on the play-set while the big guys work on improving their skills with their favorite sports, and we all enjoy some great family time. When we have the chance, we bring neighbor or family members’ children to give the parents a break and do a little service.

2 – Yard work. Sometimes it’s hard to convince the boys that this is fun, but we usually make it through once they get in the spirit of it. Gardening also burns almost three hundred calories per hour and if you plant vegetables you’ll be blessed with healthy and inexpensive food. It’s especially fun if we can help others with their yard work or share the produce from our garden. Last spring our nine-year-old came up with the idea to pick all the peas in the garden and take them to elderly people who couldn’t get out and grow their own vegetables. It was an unreal experience. The people were grateful for the peas, but even more grateful for a boy who took time to think of them.

3 – Going on visits. When it’s nice outside and we can ride bikes or scooters to visit the elderly or those who need a friend, it makes it much easier to get my boys excited about visiting.

4 – Nature walks. We love to walk around our area and appreciate the beauty the Lord has blessed us with: a newborn calf, wildflowers, frogs in the pond, sticks we can battle brothers with. Our world is so beautiful. And there are many opportunities to bond with family members when we get outside to enjoy them (except when the stick battle gets a little out of hand!).

5 – Hikes. We recently took our boys on a seven-mile hike through ankle-deep sand. It was miserable, but they were champions. They helped each other and they helped me have a good attitude. They talked about our ancestors who had to walk across the plains, and they reminded me that sometimes they were starving and dehydrated, but we had water and half a granola bar to share. It turned into a neat experience (that I don’t want to repeat soon!). We learned a valuable lesson: we need to be more prepared when we go on serious hikes (pack more than half a granola bar) and always keep a positive attitude.

These are just a few ideas that get our family outside, give us more opportunities to serve and bond together, and have fun. During this beautiful time of year, I pray we can all get out and enjoy the sunshine as well as share the sunshine with others.

What is your favorite outdoor activity? How can you incorporate service into these activities?


By Cami Checketts –

I use cues throughout my day. Sometimes these cues are helpful; sometimes not. For example, first thing in the morning I make my bed, and that is my cue to drop to my knees and say my morning prayers.

At ten-thirty a.m., my five-year old and I know it’s time to practice his words, read stories, and play sports. These two cues are a positive part of my day.

But sometimes I use cues as excuses. When my boys come home from school, we sit and chat about their day and eat a treat. The chat is wonderful; the treat could be eliminated.
Do you use cues to help you establish patterns? How can we implement the good cues and rule out those that aren’t improving our lives?

If we consistently make a poor choice at a certain time of day, whether it’s eating too much unhealthy food or missing opportunities to serve because we’re busy watching TV, we could evaluate what cues prompt us to start the activity that needs to be changed. As I already know that my boys coming home will make me want to pull out the tubs of ice cream, maybe I could be prepared with cut-up fruit or veggies or move the afternoon chat out to the basketball hoop and get some movement in while we talk.

It takes twenty-one days to establish a habit, good or bad. Twenty-one days isn’t very long. If we’re trying to establish the habit of reading our scriptures faithfully maybe we could start with a reminder on our phone that chimes at eight p.m. and reminds us that it’s scripture study time. If we want to start exercising, we could set all of our workout clothes in a pile that we are going to trip over as we get out of bed each morning.

Little cues can be the extra push we need to start developing habits, but we also need the motivation to keep making the choices that will enrich our lives. If you lack drive or motivation, there are a few things you can do:

1. Evaluate what you’re trying to accomplish. Is it really something you want? For example: you might want to run a marathon, but if you’ve tried running for months and are in misery the entire run, maybe running isn’t for you. Of course, you shouldn’t stop all exercise, but find an activity that you enjoy.

2. Have a good attitude. If the activity is something you absolutely need to accomplish (like studying the scriptures or providing for your family) you can’t get out of it so your attitude is the key. You can make any activity into a great experience or a miserable one, depending on your attitude. For example, I have no choice but to scrub the toilets so I try to do it with a smile (and force my boys to help whenever possible!).

3. Ask for help. It is also true that when something seems too hard or overwhelming, you should get help. First of all, you need to ask your Father in Heaven for help and then ask your family, friends or neighbors.

Once our motivation is in place, we can formulate cues to help us to keep accomplishing the things we want to do. Most worthwhile activities are hard work, but with the Lord on our side, if we are determined to succeed, we will make it!

Are You Content?

By Cami Checketts –

We recently returned from an amazing Caribbean vacation. I savored each moment with my husband. I loved the sun and the fun. When we were heading home, I was surprised at how many people said that they get “post-vacation blues.” I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t sad that the vacation was over, but I was so excited to be with my boys and other loved ones that I was happy to come back to my daily routine.

Is it possible to be happy in every circumstance? Paul gives us the answer: “For I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11 KJV).

Obviously, it’s challenging to be content no matter what’s happening, but we really do have a choice. We can give thanks in all things, as the Bible commands (1 Thessalonians 5:18) or we can choose to complain. If we complain, we “put out the Spirit’s fire” at work in our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Our negative attitudes become wet blankets on the Spirit in us and we squelch any spiritual fruit that might be trying to blossom in us. Love, joy, peace, patience and all the rest wither and we miss out on many of the blessings God has for us when we complain.

I truly believe that our Father in Heaven wants us to be happy. He cares for each one of us and wants us to be content as we learn to respond with love and thanksgiving, like the Savior would.

Being content can also relate to our exercise time. I know that we often can’t wait to finish a workout, but what if we focused on enjoying each exercise? It would be a lot more fun and would also be more effective.

I have to constantly remind myself throughout my day to have a good attitude and enjoy the circumstance I’m in—even if I’m just washing clothes or changing the baby’s diaper. I am teaching myself to have an attitude of gratitude by listing things I am thankful for instead of allowing complaints to swallow up my time.

Through lots of prayer and practice, the Lord is helping me to become more like Paul—and I’m learning to be content. Are you?

Knowing Where to Turn

February 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Cami Checketts

I love the show The Biggest Loser. We record it every Tuesday night and watch it as a family sometime during the weekend. With a new season underway, it is heartbreaking to see these people who are so obese that they can barely move. Many of the contestants say that they wouldn’t be able to lose the weight on their own so they had to come on the show or be forever miserable. I think this is so sad. Many of these people have tried to lose weight but have obviously failed and their only hope is to be picked for a reality TV show.

I know there are many people who struggle with weight issues, food addictions and body image. Actually, it’s probably rare not to struggle with one of these. But I truly believe there is help that is completely free, always there for us, and doesn’t require us to turn to things like reality TV. We can pray for help in every aspect of our lives. The Lord doesn’t care if it’s a little or a big problem. He wants to hear from us and He can and will help us.

We are told in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all of our care on the Lord because he cares for us. Whether we’re struggling to lose weight or trying not to allow our struggles with body image to rule our lives, the Lord can help us. I’ve found that it’s not enough to pray in the morning for help and then go on with my day. Maybe I’m just an extra hard case, but I need to turn to the Lord repeatedly throughout my day. Sometimes I pray for help that I won’t overeat. And sometimes I pray for help that I won’t compare myself to someone with skinny legs.

Whatever issues you face with living a healthy, productive, and faith-filled life, please turn to the One who loves you more than you can fathom. I testify that He loves you, will help you with every problem that you face and will carry you through all the trials of your life.

Time-Saving Fitness Tips

January 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Cami Checketts –

As a new year dawns, it’s important to make goals to fit in time for fitness, but with all we have on our to-do lists we don’t want to waste time. Following are a few fitness trends that are a waste of time. Below each you will discover effective things you can do instead:

1. Lifting too quickly or with weights that are too light.

You’re not doing anything to increase your muscle strength if the weights are so light you can cruise through more than twelve reps or if you’re bouncing through your reps. It’s better to do six to eight reps with good form–very slow and controlled–rather than do forty reps with two-pound dumbbells. Not only are you wasting your time but you could injure yourself.

Women will not bulk up from lifting heavier weights. In fact, it’s been proven that heavier weights (I recommend beginning with ten pound dumbbells and working up as your strength improves) will increase metabolism, burn more calories during and after the workout, and improve the density and tone of a muscle much quicker than light weights and high reps.

2. Ineffective cardio

Any kind of movement is going to burn calories and improve your health–helping to prevent a myriad of diseases and boost your mood and energy. There is a lot of proof that people who wear pedometers and move more than 10,000 steps a day improve their health without any formal exercise.

But if you are trying to lose weight, you have to challenge yourself with speed, duration, and intensity. You also need to vary your cardio. Your body adapts quickly to the demands placed upon it. Cross-training is key to combating that. If you normally run, try swimming. If you bike, go to a kickboxing class. If you climb on the Elliptical machine every day, rent a yoga video for a change.
Interval workouts are a brilliant way to challenge yourself. Basically you warm up, then alternate a high intensity for thirty to ninety seconds with a moderate intensity for two-three minutes. Repeat the cycle four to seven times before cooling down. Intervals have been proven to help people lose up to five times more weight.

3. Inner and outer thigh exercises

The TV commercials for those special machines that reduce your thighs make me want to scream! There is virtually no muscle on your inner or outer thighs. It is physiologically impossible to spot reduce (burn off fat by working a certain part of your body). Therefore inner and outer thigh exercises do nothing but make your legs burn. Just because something hurts or burns does not mean it’s effective. Doing fifty outer thigh lifts in aerobics class will build up lactic acid and hurt, but it won’t do anything to slim your thighs. Concentrate on lifting on the major muscle groups to improve strength and increase metabolism.

4. Abdominal Machines

The abdomen is a stabilizer muscle. You use your abs to hold your mid-section steady throughout your day. Because you use your abs so often it is hard to overload them and increase strength. Most of the ab machines you see on television are a waste of time and money.

The most effective ab workout is crunches on an exercise ball or the plank. As you work your abs, make sure they are tucked in flat. Never strain and push past your ability to hold the abdomen tight. When I go to Pilates, I quite often find myself letting my abs protrude because I’m trying to hold a certain pose. It’s not worth it! Promise me you won’t get prideful like me. Keep those abs in.
Another cheap, easy, and effective thing you can do for your abs is suck in and stand up straight and tall. Remind yourself throughout the day: tighten abdomen, tilt pelvis, and throw shoulders back. Your body will become accustomed to holding you that way and you will look ten pounds lighter.

Effective exercise will maximize the time you spend in the gym making you healthier and giving you more time and energy to focus on the most important things: serving and loving those around us.

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