What’s Your Sleep Cycle?

November 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Charles W. Page, MD –

The 24-hour circadian rhythm of homo sapiens has baffled biologists for years. Sleep is one of those pieces of human behavior that doesn’t seem to fit their evolutionary puzzle. Human beings tend to display monophasic patterns of rest—sleeping for one large continuous time period. This seems to contradict most modern theories of evolution.

When followed to its logical conclusion, evolution appears to suggest that sleep is a bad idea. According to the principles of natural selection, “those that snooze—lose!” If animals are not constantly aware of the potential threats around them, their survival is threatened. And those that do not survive fail to transmit their genes to the next generation.

Several creative theories have been promoted to help explain away this basic dilemma of sleep cycles in “evolved” humans. One maintains that humankind has only been conditioned to rest for a continuous period of the circadian cycle. It contends that man is still intrinsically geared to sleep like their more primordial ancestors and can still be reconditioned back into taking multiple small “cat naps” through the circadian cycle.

One of the champions of the polyphasic theory, Dr. Claudio Stampi, recommends taking multiple intermittent naps during the day instead of sleeping continuously for eight hours at night. His theory claims this pattern allows individuals to maximize their productivity and potential during a 24-hour period. In other words—sleep less and do more. Polyphasic sleeping is an alternative sleep pattern being researched as an option for those who need to function amidst sleep deprivation (i.e., NASA astronauts, long distance sailboat racers and soldiers).

For those of you whose eyelids are still open after absorbing these superfluous and slumberous ideas, let me suggest to you a simpler approach to rest. (One way or another—I did promise to help you sleep!) Instead becoming a polyphasic sleeper to maximize your productivity, why not surrender control to the One who created you? Sleep was God’s idea. God created you to release control of your frustrations, worries, fears and schedules and to fall asleep in His arms. Someone once said that “sleep is God’s contrivance to give to man what he cannot do for himself while he is awake.” By faith, learn to put your trust in a God who protects and provides for you as you rest.

God could have fashioned your circadian rhythms similar to other animals on this planet. For example, God did not create you with the sleeping habits of giraffes or elephants, which slumber for less than four hours per day. You were not created to always be on the alert for potential threats to your security. On the other hand, God did not create you like a bear that hibernates for several months out of the year. Your sleep cycles could have been shaped similar to a dolphin. Dolphins sleep with one-half of their brain “on” and the other side turned “off.” Unlike dolphins, your brain was not created to multitask while you rest.

God uniquely made you to “turn off” when you turn in. God wonderfully made you to surrender your life into His hands. Trust Him. He’s got your back!

Cues

November 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

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!

How Do You Respond to Criticism?

October 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Julie Morris –

There are three ways to respond to criticism—but only one leads to healthy living. We can respond as…

1. Victims—When Victims are criticized they say things like, “Poor me!” “I can’t help it!” and “I’m worthless!”
2. Vindictive—Vindictive people say, “It’s his fault!” “She’s a jerk!” and “I’ll get even!”
3. Victors—Victors say, “Is there truth to this criticism?” “I’ll learn from my mistakes!” and “I refuse to criticize them for criticizing me!”

Victims often hide from challenges; Vindictive people bully their way through them and Victors grow from them.

Victims are complainers (“Why me?”). Vindictive people are competitors (“I’m better than you!”) and Victors are cooperative (“What can I learn?”)

Victims are often passive or passive aggressive when challenged. (They either don’t respond or respond by gossiping.) Vindictive people are often aggressive when challenged. (They attack, insult or take revenge.) Victors are usually assertive. (They tell the truth in love and don’t respond to criticism out of fear. They have the courage to confront and the wisdom to do it diplomatically.)

In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV), Paul lets us in on how we, as Christians, can be Victors, no matter how hurtful people are to us.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;” We must remember that we  won’t be crushed by criticism if we look to the Lord for our identity.
“perplexed, but not in despair;” We may be perplexed and confused, but we don’t have to be in despair because we know that God loves us and will help us to learn from our mistakes.
“persecuted, but not abandoned;” We may be persecuted unfairly, but we can forgive our enemies, no matter what they have done because God tells us to—and He never tells us to do something that He doesn’t empower us to do.
“struck down, but not destroyed.” We may be temporarily struck down, but no matter how hurt we feel, we can get back up and try again because God is always there to help us.

In which of these three ways do you usually respond to criticism? Take this little test to see. Place a check next to each way you respond to criticism. Then look below to see which type has the most answers—Victim, Vindictive or Victor.

When criticized, I…

1. Tell the person off.
2. Complain about the person to someone else.
3. Tell his boss, spouse or friends about his bad qualities.
4. Feel ashamed.
5. Get mad, but don’t tell anyone.
6. Ask the person to discuss their complaints with me.
7. Deny any wrongdoing.
8. Blame someone else.
9. Try to ignore what the person said.
10. Apologize even if it’s not my fault.

Answers:

1. Vindictive
2. Victim
3. Vindictive or Victim
4. Victim
5. Victim
6. Victor
7. Victim or Vindictive
8. Vindictive
9. Victim
10. Victim

Let’s learn how to respond to criticism as Victors in Christ—learning from our mistakes, forgiving those who criticize us, rejoicing that the Lord loves us just the way we are and will help us to become the people we want to be.

Present Your Body

October 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

Laurette Willis –

“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1 NKJV).

While exercise was not a priority in Biblical times, Paul instructs us to “present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Each of us is advised to take care of our body since it is the “temple of the Holy Spirit.”

Here’s a sobering question: do you think we’ll be required to give an accounting to the Lord for the stewardship of our bodies and how well we’ve taken care of them?

That’s a frightening thought for most of us! “You are not your own,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19. “For you were bought at a price” (the shed blood of Jesus Christ).

Could that mean your body is not yours, but the Lord’s? How well are we, as stewards, caring for the Lord’s property?

The good news is that since your body belongs to the Lord, He has a vested interest in helping you care for it. Your body is not only the temple of His Holy Spirit, it’s what you need to be able to walk around on this earth and spread the good news that Jesus is Lord!

The more fit and healthy you are, the greater the probability is that you will be around longer to carry out His will for your life.

The enemy wants you to fail at your task, to fail horribly and go to heaven before your time. He doesn’t really care that you’re going to heaven–he just doesn’t want you to take anyone else with you!

If your body is out-of-shape and lacking energy, it’s difficult to do all the Lord is calling you to do. But you and the Lord working together can change that!

“What?!” you ask. “The Lord needs my help? But He’s omnipotent, all-powerful and in control!” Well, yes–and no. He is all-powerful, but He will not wrestle the cake fork out of your hand or pick up the strings like a grand marionette master and animate your body to take a brisk walk. We are the ones who have to exercise our will to exercise our body and “choose life.”

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV).

Everyday choices are set before us that add to our lives or take from them. Select just one thing you can do today that you know would be life-engendering to your body (drink more water, eat a cup of raw vegetables in a salad, exercise your God-given body for 20-30 minutes, bless your life and loved ones by speaking God’s promises over yourself and your family—out loud!).

Present your body to God today (including what you do, hear, see and say) as an act of worship. Since you cannot “out-give” God, you will discover He will bless, beautify and strengthen everything you present to Him.

Waiting for the Spring Runoff

September 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Don Otis –

He was born in China the son of missionaries. In 1924, he competed in the Olympics, a Scottish runner who famously said, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Eric Liddell’s inspirational story was told in the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire.

The truth is that we aren’t all fast like Liddell was. Some of us are slow. We struggle and suffer through workouts and would rather do almost anything but run. There are, however, others who persevere through workouts in the winter and by spring start thinking about entering local races. It is a good way to remain motivated and do something with your hard work on the treadmill.

If you have never entered a race, there are many distances–5K (3.1 miles), 10K (6.2), Half Marathon (13.1 miles), and Marathon are the most popular. There are trail runs, hill climbs, charity events, and everything in between. In my home town in Colorado we have a Blossom Festival 5K and 5 mile run on trails along the Arkansas River.

I want to encourage you to set some goals for this spring and enter a local race. There are many good reasons: having something to focus your efforts toward, the encouragement that comes from joining other people in a healthy activity, or discovering how you measure up to others in your age category. These are just a few benefits beside the obvious health payback. So, how do you get started? Here are a few tips.

1. Check with your local Parks & Recreation Department to find out if they sponsor any events in your community. Then, get registered. This is the first step–commitment.
2. Depending on the length of event you select (don’t sign up for a marathon if you’ve never done a race before) prepare yourself accordingly. If you want to run a 10K, be prepared to do slow training runs of between 6-8 miles.
3. Weekly runs should include one longer run, one tempo run (shorter distance at the pace you want to run on race day), some limited speed work (shorter intervals).
4. Cross train on off days or rest. Plan on running 4-5 days a week. You should do your long run and tempo run after a light day. You can swim or cycle on off days but don’t overdo these days. You want to feel fresh on days when your workouts are toughest.
5. On race day, go out slow and finish strong. The best runners understand that going out too fast will cost them dearly at the end of the race. We call these negative splits where the first half of a race is slightly slower than the second half. This requires enormous discipline on race day because you are rested and ready to go.
6. A few weeks before you race, go easy on weight-training. Rest more in the last week or two. Good runners know that going into a race fresh is part of the balance between a good time and a frustrating experience.
7. Don’t over-train. This means that you bump up your mileage or speed slowly. Your body must adapt to any new workload. If you want to avoid injury, don’t suddenly go from running 15 miles a week to trying 25 or 30.

In more than thirty years I have done more than 100 races of all kinds. I remember when my boys were small, they’d ask, “Dad, why do you go to these races because you never win!” It was one of those teachable moments. I told them, “I run to do the best I can.”

Comment below and let me know how your journey goes!

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