Archive for life balance – Page 2

Eating right and eating less improves health

The first place a lot of people look for help when trying to change seems to center around weight and fitness. In the last post, I talked about fitness, “You don’t have to be a jock to be healthy!” All we really need to do to stay fit is move every joint every day and walk a lot more than we do.

We have grown around not up since the 1950’s

Before I talk about our eating habits, I have to tell you about some classic radio programs I’ve listened to on satellite radio lately. One series titled “The Fat Man,” follows the investigations of a private detective known by the moniker of the series title. The interesting thing about this 1950’s radio program, the six-foot fat man tips the scale at a “rotund” 220 pounds! Fat? Not in today’s society. He’d be considered normal on the streets of any of our cities.

Few adult men in the fifties weighed 200 pounds. Now half the adult men push the scales past the 200 mark. What’s happened?

The issue is quantity (calories) as much as quality (junk food)

The issue usually isn’t the quality of food as much as the quantity of food, although both play a huge part in the overall demise of our nation’s health. Everywhere you go to eat in both fast food and sit down restaurants, proprietors want to make sure you get a bargain and come back. Consequently, super-sized orders are the norm rather than the exception.

Many of the meals we eat out in restaurants have more calories in a single meal than we should consume in a day, yet we eat three or four of those every day. It’s no wonder we keep growing around instead of up. We consume more sugar in the United States than the rest of the world combined. Maybe that means we’re affluent, but it also means we’re killing ourselves through a multitude of long-term debilitating diseases.

So how do we fix it? First, quantity IS important. Calories count! If you think about the body as a machine, it needs fuel to operate, but if it doesn’t burn all the fuel (calories) you put into it every day, it stores it as fat. Some of you might think exercise will burn off whatever you eat. Think again. Exercise does change your metabolism a little, but only a little. That Oreo you eat after you walk a brisk mile will talk you another four or five miles to walk off. So what you just gained by walking, you destroyed with the Oreo.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Oreo’s, but their calories must go into the calorie count. From a simple math perspective, just sitting around doing whatever you do to live and breathe takes about 1200 – 1500 calories a day. Anything you eat more than that, you got to burn off through increased exercise (which doesn’t count for much when you look at the tables).

So the only effective way to lose weight is to learn to do push ups well – that is, push up from the table after eating just enough to satisfy your caloric requirements and no more.

What you eat gives you more or less energy, keeps the body tuned up, increases or decreases immediate availability of glucose in the bloodstream, keeps arteries from getting clogged, and all sorts of other things. Eating right puts the right nutrients and minerals in your system so you stay as healthy as you can.

Diets don’t work long term

nutrition, food, diets, So what does a good diet look like? Not like Atkins, or the Beach, LA Diet, or Mary Jane’s chocolate syrup diet, or anything else that deprives you of a balanced meal. The place to go for guidance is the food pyramid provided by the USDA at Other good sources can be found at the American Diabetes Association at or the American Heart Association at Anyone would do well to use those two nutrition plans, particularly if a family history of diabetes or cardiac conditions exist.

Good nutrition isn’t hard, just something to pay attention to every day. Especially when it comes to eating more than we should. Start thinking about those second helpings as second hurtings! Count those calories and burn more than you eat if you really want to drop pounds. It really is the only way to lose weight. There’s just no fad diet or secret pill or even any amount of exercise that will make you lose without dropping calories at the same time.

So that’s the end of lesson number two on staying healthy. Two simple things so far. Move – not necessarily fast, but move every joint every day and walk whenever it’s practical instead of riding. Second, eat right and eat less than the normal American.

Simple stuff, we just need to discipline ourselves to do it. No one can make us. We have to find the intestinal fortitude to do it for ourselves.

You don’t have to be a jock to be healthy

Keeping healthy is up to us

One of the important principles in keeping a balanced life is maintaining a healthy life. Some things we can’t help when it comes to health. We sometimes get illnesses or injuries that we just can’t avoid. But there are things we can do to help us maintain a state of health that keeps us better than the average American if we will just do it.

I’m not talking about going to the gym five days a week or running a hundred miles a week. I’m not sure that’s even healthy for us. If you think about your grandparents, they could probably work you under the table any day of the week. I know mine could. They never went to the gym, because they didn’t exist in the form they do now. Gyms at the turn of the last century were places for boxers to train, not places for spinner or yoga classes.

My grandparents didn’t run or lift weights. They didn’t exercise everyday or consciously think about staying in shape. They didn’t attend yoga groups or swimming schools or any of the things that capture the attention of the younger generation today. Yet they could work all day every day and get up the next morning ready to do the same thing again.

Is the sedentary life style to blame?

healthy, fitness

coach potatoes

I know, you’ll tell me much of their fitness was due to the fact they didn’t live a sedentary lifestyle, and that’s exactly the point. Today we circle the parking lot looking for the space closest to the mall entrance so we don’t have to walk the extra fifty feet before we walk through the entire mall three times looking for just the right dress for the prom! Pretty dumb thinking! We get gadgets to help us not expend energy, like all the remote controls on our entertainment systems. In fact, I don’t even know where the on/off button is on my television or if it has one.

So how do we get out of this dilemma we put ourselves into that drains our physical fitness? What can we do to get back into the physical shape we desire without spending hours in the gym or running miles on the roads?

Mimic your kids

Watch a documentary about come newly discovered tribe in some jungle or desert or wilderness somewhere. Watch how they move. They don’t have gyms or weight lifting regimens. No one teaches them about fitness, but watch the grace of their movements. Now watch little kids move and mimic them. You’ll be amazed how flexible they are and how inflexible you’ve become. Their joints are not significantly different from yours except theirs are new and yours are underused.

The fitness industry might hate me for this, but I think the real secret to fitness lies in looking back at what our grandparents and their parents did. WALK! If you can get to wherever you want to go by walking in fifteen minutes or less, walk. Park in the back of the parking lot instead of at the front. Take a stroll around your neighborhood after dinner instead of watching that mindless television show. Make it a family affair. Start a new trend in the neighborhood.

The second thing you should do is move every joint every day. Because of our sedentary lifestyles, we allow ourselves to get stuck in the same position for hours at a time. Be conscious that the joints in your body are there for a purpose. They were intended to move. When they don’t things don’t work as well as they should. If you don’t move them often, like everything, they get stiff and stuck and painful. So just move everything several times a day. Get up and walk around and move around.

Just walk and move

That’s it for better fitness. Just those two things. The problem most of us have with fitness is we think we need to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in gyms lifting weights and doing what fitness trainers tell us to do. We strain muscles, pull tendons, injury joints, and do untold damage to our bodies physically and psychologically doing things our bodies were never built to do. All we really need to do is move every day and often.

You don’t need to be a jock to be fit. A bunch of them are always on the injury list! You only need to move constantly and consistently. Move enough and you’ll be able to move like those tribal men and women on the documentaries. Move enough and you’ll bend like a five-year old. Just move.

If you agree, share this with someone who needs to hear it. If not, send me your comments.

Reduce your stress with good hobbies

What are your hobbies?

We can’t do much about some of the stresses in our life. We may not have the ability to change jobs at the moment or change our boss, but we can do things that reduce the effect of the stresses. One such action is the adoption of healthy hobbies hobbiesthat you enjoy.

Hobbies can take on any shape and size as long as they remain fun, challenging, and remove you from the thoughts of everyday stress. A laundry list of possible hobbies is impossible, but some common ones include reading, sewing, running, flying model planes, other model building, bird watching, … The list is endless and what may be a job for someone else, may be a hobby for you. The key is in the attitude and mindset you have toward the activities.

Hobbies take your mind off of the unpleasant stresses in life and give you a short reprieve while engaged in them. They let you reset your attitude and relax with something you enjoy. Hobbies change the course of the day and let you release the toxic emotions that build in stressful situations. Use them to do just that.

One important caution with hobbies. Don’t let them become income generators or income drains. Hobbies, too, must be kept in balance or they can begin to add to your stress. Inexpensive hobbies about, take advantage of those. If you do have a hobby that is expensive, set aside a given amount of money you will devote to it and stop at that point. Don’t let finances become another point of stress because of your hobbies.

The second point, don’t let them become income generators means don’t let your hobby become your primary source of income. It’s okay to make a few dollars here and there from your hobby, but when it becomes your primary income, it is no longer a hobby, it is a job. When that happens, the thing you used to release the stress in your life, suddenly becomes another source of stress because now you HAVE to get things done to make an income. Keep your hobby as a hobby unless you can replace it with something just as enjoyable.

You’ll never stop the stress in your life, but you can change your attitude and responses toward it. Pick up a hobby and enjoy a few minutes a day to just relax in what you like to do best.


Tree of Life Provides Life Balance

I’ve been looking for the right way to visually display my thoughts about life balance and how what I’ve called five dimensions of life play such an important role in helping us keep that balance right. Over the last few weeks, I’ve coached a few folks with this approach and confirmed its value. The central thought came from some study I was doing on the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. As I put the my thoughts together about the Tree of Life and the five dimensions of life seen elsewhere in this site, it was easy to build the model below with the five dimensions represented by the five roots of the tree. Each of the roots has a corresponding branch that creates a well balance, enriching, fulfilled life as long as each of the five roots are nourished and nurtured properly.

tree of life

Tree of Life

Like a tree, branches sometimes need pruning to create the best fruit. Change in some areas of life may take some painful work to transform some old, bad habits and bring about the best you for the future you desire. Each branch has tips, techniques, and tools available to help with areas of life in which many others found the need to exercise constraint or focus for improvement. You’ll probably find nothing new or exciting in these areas, but often a coach can point out things in us we do not see in ourselves, or hold us accountable when we find it hard to hold ourselves accountable in some of our weakest moments.

In the next few weeks, you will see some changes on my home page as I change the approach from dimensions to roots and use this model to better explain how these five roots or pillars collectively determine who we are every day.

Write back and let me know what you think of it.

The Importance of Relationships

planeLosing a friend this week reminded me again of the importance of relationships and nurturing the roots of our life. My friend, August was 84 and died of cancer he didn’t know he had. His suffering at the end was quick, going into the hospital on Tuesday, losing consciousness on Wednesday, and passing into eternity on Saturday morning. I knew he and his wife for fourteen years. They were married ten years ago, she lost her first husband in 1988 and he lost his wife not many years after that.

August was a sailor, a Navy Warrant Officer, proud of the uniform, proud of his country, proud to have served his nation. We shared war stories often. He honored those in uniform whenever given the chance. Every Memorial Day, every Flag Day, every 4th of July, every Veterans’ Day, whenever an opportunity came for special recognition of veterans in church or public events, he humbly stood with the crowd of veterans, but looked around and applauded the young men and women who stood with him, the volunteers who are protecting our nation today.

August was a father. He made mistakes along the way as we all do. In getting to know August over the last few years, especially as his prayer partner the last three years, he reflected on “redo” he’d like to have with his children. But growing up in an abusive home, never seeing how love and discipline should be expressed, he did what he thought was right, even knowing there was a gnawing feeling that it wasn’t. Regrets and long past memories are difficult to overcome without nurturing the spiritual root. Over the last three years in focused discipling, August did that. He found peace with himself, his God, and longed to share the same peace and joy with his children.

August was a husband. He loved his wife. At our weekly breakfasts together he spoke most often about her. He shared about their trips together and the joy they found in those. He share about her painting and the drive she has. He share about her faith and the way she manages to weather every storm that come into life. He shared so many stories and events that showed how much he cared for her. Sometimes he talked about the work he did for her in the flower beds, in the house, in the art gallery, in other places. He found it hard to keep up with her sometimes, but he worked hard to do it because he wanted to be where she was and aid her in whatever way he could.

August was a friend. He took time for people. He didn’t get in a hurry. He talked to anyone who wanted to talk. He would share time with the waitresses at the restaurant where we ate each Wednesday. He stopped to talk at the register. He talked in the grocery store or in the lobby at the church. Wherever he went, he was ready to spend time with people. He understood that people need relationships and was just ready to be there to lend whatever hand he could, even at 84.

We will miss August, but because he nurture the five roots of his life – physical, family, spiritual, emotional, social – in the end, I think he felt fulfilled. I think his last years were filled with joy and a peace that comes from knowing who you are and living life to the best you can each and every day. He did that. He couldn’t do much about the past except ask forgiveness and forgive himself. He had taken those steps and found peace. Now, in his faith belief and mine, he is at rest with his Lord.

Enjoy your celebration, my friend!

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