Strength in Numbers

By Don Otis –

The Santa Rosa Plateau is a beautiful oak and Manzanita-strewn area hugging Riverside and San Diego Counties. The countless trails wind up and down canyons and provide views of 11,000’ peaks and Mt. Palomar Observatory to the south.

For the last three winters, I have made my way from Colorado to that beautiful spot. Two years ago I bumped into Rob, a chiropractor who happens to be a Christ-follower and avid mountain biker. While each of us ride alone most of the time, when we have company, we enjoy the experience even more.

Any time you start a new workout routine, having companionship can be the difference between success and falling back into old patterns of inactivity. The struggle for most of us is to find someone whose schedule meshes with our own. If this is the case for you, focus on the weekend where the time pressure is not a factor. For most of us, joining a gym may not be enough. Many gym memberships remain dormant shortly after a person signs up. Still, most gyms have programs or group activities–aerobics, spinning classes, or Silver Sneakers. If the energy from joining other “partners in pain” is helpful to you, then plan out your week or month to include some of the classes they offer.

There are some activities where partnership is important–not just for the motivational benefits, but also for safety. In North Idaho where I lived for fifteen years, my hikes in the Selkirk Mountains often included trailhead signs which read, “Beware! You are entering Grizzly habitat.” Since I often hike or climb alone, those signs caused me to think about what I was doing.

If you enjoy the outdoors, awareness of your surroundings is essential. Turn off the ear buds and focus on your environment. This applies equally for running, walking or biking in urban environments as well.

Team sports are another place to find camaraderie. You can participate in league sports though a gym or YMCA. Most areas also offer adult sports through Parks & Recreation. By joining others to work out, you gain not just a partner who keeps you accountable; you also push one another to improve.

In his book You Can Get There from Here, author Bob Knowling says, “People who don’t know what sports can do think of it as an endless collection of games with scores and stars and failures and winners and losers. For me, it was learning of lessons, hour by hour, that carried straight off the playing field and into my life.” i

Just as Bob Knowling discovered, we learn from sports, from teamwork, from being in the presence of others who share a common experience. I learned, as countless others have, that sports don’t have to stop in high school. Nor does one automatically have to get fat or out of shape at a certain age or stage of life. We have bought these lies that childbirth, turning 40, getting older, or becoming injured means we are washed up. This is simply untrue. We have also bought the lie that just because we were never an athlete in the past, we won’t be one in the future.

I want to encourage you this month to put aside the old stereotypes. Put aside the notion that you are “washed up” and can’t possibly get back to where you once were. I want to encourage you to find a workout partner or join a group activity that will keep you motivated even when you don’t feel like doing anything.

Comment below and let me know how it goes!

i Penguin, 2011, p. 38

Time-Saving Fitness Tips

June 23, 2020 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.

Live Long & Prosper: 10 Habits that can Add Years to Your Life

June 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Don Otis –

By the year 2050, the U.S. will have more than 600,000 people over the age of 100. This is more than ten times the number in 2010 (i). Moses lived to be 120, climbed to the top of a mountain (Mt. Nebo in present day Jordan) and died. Deuteronomy 34:7 (NIV) says, “His eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” I like that bit of detail because it tells us that Moses remained vibrant right up to the end.

While living to 100 may not be your greatest aspiration, the bigger question is “What factors determine how long you will live?” Perhaps the biggest factor is your family history or genetic makeup. Routine checkups and preemptive lifestyle choices can quash what might have been an early death sentence just a few decades ago. But here are ten other factors that lead to longevity.

A whopping 37 percent of men are sedentary (ii). Exercise is at the top of the list for those who live longer and healthier lives. The key is aerobic fitness which simply means getting your heart and lungs working through running, cycling, swimming, or hiking. One out of every two men will develop heart disease at some point in his life (slightly less for women). Aerobic exercise helps offset heart disease by increasing the flow of blood throughout the body.

A second and often neglected element of healthy living is how you deal with anger. Are you quick to hold grudges, scream at someone who cuts you off, or react to unpleasant or frustrating circumstances with a rush of anger-inducted adrenalin? Anger raises our blood pressure and places us at greater risk of having a stroke or incurring heart disease.

A third ingredient to longevity is maintaining good relationships. A healthy marriage and the love that goes with it is a major indicator of lasting health. This includes our relationships with children, grandchildren, co-workers and friends. A toxic relationship, especially a marriage, can create stress. This weakens our immune system, which makes us vulnerable to disease.

A forth factor that can shorten your life is stress. Perhaps you have heard the comment, “Stress kills.” The way we learn to deal with the difficulties of life can either add to or detract from our life expectancy. The greatest stressors are often those we have no control over (a prodigal child, the choices of our mate, etc). Learn to control the things you can in life and let God take care of the rest.

Fifth, be born female. Women live longer.

Sixth, have wealth. The more money you have, the better health care you can afford.

Seventh, pray. Prayer is a natural way to relieve stress.

Eighth, maintain a healthy weight. Too much weight, either due to lack or exercise or overeating, is lethal. Obesity will rob 13 years from your life.

Ninth, maintain healthy skin by protecting it from ultraviolet rays. When you are in the sun for extended periods of time, use an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.

Finally, eat in a healthy way. This means limiting overall consumption and adding fruits, grains, and vegetables. Likewise, this also means limiting excessive alcohol intake.

Our bodies are marvelously designed. They are incredibly resilient machines but like all machines, they won’t last forever. Learn to be a good steward of the equipment God has given you. Treat it with respect and you will live longer and find more joy in living.

(i) “This Baby May Well Live to 100”, National Geographic, November 2011
(ii) Laura Roberson, “Your Healthiest Year Ever,” Men’s Health, January/February 2011

Beat the Bah-Humbugs!

By Julie Morris –

Do you have the Bah-Humbugs? Do you even know what it is? “Bah” is an old fashioned word that means that you dislike something, and “Humbug” means that you think that something is a fake.

Do you have a “Bah-Humbug” attitude when people talk about peace and joy at Christmas? Or, do you have the Bah-Humbugs all of the time, not just at Christmas? Do you say things like, “Everyone has it better than me,” “I give up. There’s no hope that things will change”?

If you have the Bah-Hubugs, you’re not alone. Do you know the first guy who had the Bah-Humbugs? It was stingy old Ebenezer Scrooge—the meanest man in London. Charles Dickens wrote the book A Christmas Carol in 1843, and Ebenezer is the main character. You may have read it or seen it on TV.

Ebenezer is a businessman who thinks only of making money. For him Christmas is, humbug—a fake. On Christmas Eve he has a dream about three ghosts. Let’s look at some of the things Ebenezer Scrooge learns from the three ghosts in his nightmare on Christmas Eve.

The Ghost of Christmas Past.

When the Ghost of Christmas Past makes Scrooge look back at his childhood, he sees how much he had been hurt, and he gets angry all over again. It’s true, though, that hurting people hurt people, and that’s what Scrooge had done. Instead of dealing with his hurts, he had carried them with him his whole life. We can learn from Ebenezer and deal with our hurts—forgive those who hurt us–so we don’t have to continue to live in the Bah-Humbugs.

The Ghost of Christmas Present.

When the Ghost of Christmas Present makes Ebenezer look at how others are enjoying their lives even though some of them have many overwhelming problems, Ebenezer is jealous and he wants what they have.

Many of us can understand because we have felt the same way—stuck in the Bah Humbugs because others have it better than we do. But there is something we can do to get rid of those negative thoughts. Replace them with positive ones so can get free of the Bah Humbugs.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

After the Ghost of Christmas Present finishes with him, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come makes him look ahead—at his funeral! It is then that Scrooge realizes how empty and meaningless his life has been and he feels tremendous regret.

Like Scrooge, do you feel regret when you examine your life? If you do, discover the life-changing message that Scrooge learns: joy doesn’t come from having what you want when you want it; it comes from loving and sharing and being thankful. And it comes from overcoming problems with God’s help and then helping others to be overcomers too.

Do you remember how Scrooge feels when he wakes up from his nightmare? He is overcome with relief because he still has time to change! He still has time to have the joyful life he has always wanted—and he beats the Bah-humbugs. Will you?


You Can Stay Fit During Christmas!

By Laurette Willis –

“I am the bread of life” (John 6:48 NIV).

Those words really put holiday overindulgence into perspective don’t they? Perhaps the overindulgence we could enter into this Christmas is filling up on the “bread of life” instead of the bread of this world—after all, Jesus was placed in a manger (a feeding trough!) as a baby.

When we think of the bread of this world, we think of physical bread, but it can also be “soul junk food.” I’m referring to the PG-13, R-rated (and worse) so-called “entertainment” of this world.

Okay, now I’m meddling, right? It’s just that I’ve found that if I’m filling up on the world’s junk food through my eyes and ears, I also seem to want to satisfy my mouth with the world’s processed junk foods for my body. Could they be connected?

When I’m taking in less life through the Word into my spirit, my discernment and choices in other areas of my life aren’t as clear or focused.

Pick a “Scripture Snack” Each Day.

Fill up on real soul food! Pick one “Scripture snack” to chew on each day. Today my “snack” from the Word was the verse at the beginning of this article where Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”

Throughout the day I went back to that Word and asked the Lord to give me new revelation on it. I noticed my mental focus became clearer, I made better choices in a number of areas and I felt satisfied on the inside (not “stuffed” and numb from overindulging my flesh as I had so many times before).

More Practical Tips:

In addition to ensuring your heart and mind are full of the Word, here are 5 tips to help you spearhead the movement in your family to a healthier Christmas and 2012:

Make a difference in someone’s life.

Focus on one or two people you are going to get to know better over the holiday. This can be a member of your own family, a friend, a neighbor, perhaps even someone at church who needs to be with a family at Christmas (why not yours?).

Exercise.

If you don’t move, you lose. Much of the weight gain during the holidays is due to a lack of physical exercise. Decide to get some exercise in early in the day before the hubbub of activity starts.

Make it a family affair. After the big meal, be the instigator behind a “Let’s all go outside and walk off some of that delicious dinner before dessert!” I think you’d be surprised how many will thank you for it later!

Don’t skip meals.

Even if you think you may be eating more over the holidays, don’t make the mistake of skipping meals so you can stock up later.

Drink plenty of water.

Stay well-hydrated. This will also ensure that you eat less. We often reach for a high-calorie snack when our body is really crying out for water.

Above all, stay focused on making sure your spirit is well-fed. You will sail through the holidays and into 2012 with your heart full, your mind clear and your body full of energy as a fit witness for Christ. He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV).

Let’s believe Him for itand share our victory with others this holiday season!


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