Heart Choices: 2008-09-28 -->

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Enjoying Exercise

Enjoy exercise...can that really happen? Or is it going to continue to be that thing you know you need to do? Can you really find things that you enjoy and they're actually good for you?

I was thinking about a friend of mine from high school as I was sorting through my pictures. I wanted to find interesting photos that might show that you can actually enjoy exercise.

JoAnn and I reconnected after many years. She was living in Florida and I was in Arizona. She exercises regularly like me but her sport is biking. I love to hike and walk.

We decided to spend some time at our cabin in Flagstaff. It was much cooler there at the higher altitude than it was in Phoenix. And we wanted to spend time outdoors.

When I pulled out Greg and my electric bikes, JoAnn laughed. We had regular bikes but there are times when I was tired of being left in the dust so...once in a while I used the motor. Here's JoAnn pumping up those tires. I'm no dummy...compete with a world class biker? No way!

However, we did get to go hiking too. And I'm much more comfortable with that. We even went to the awesome Grand Canyon and hiked halfway down. The views are so spectacular. It's something everyone must experience for themselves.

There's something so cool about reconnecting with an old friend who knows exactly where you've come from. We both shared our childhood years growing up in Lindenhurst, NY (Long Island). And at the same time, we were able to get exercise and feel good about the huge meal we'd be eating that evening. Maybe?

Here are a few of our pictures:

This one was overlooking Oak Creek Canyon just north of Sedona.

Now tell me that this view of the Grand Canyon isn't spectacular?

What are some fun activities that you enjoy doing with friends and at the same time give you exercise?


Is It Really A Thankful Thursday?

Can you really be thankful when the circumstances in your life are less than perfect? As I turn on the TV and watch the news, so much is happening in our world...

  • Financial crisis
  • Depressed home values
  • Uncertain retirement savings
  • Presidential election
  • Wall Street "rescue"
  • Accidents
  • Breast cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Child abuse
  • Collapse of the family
These are very real issues and I'm not suggesting we live with our heads in the sand and have a Pollyanna attitude. But if we choose to focus only on the uncertainty and seeming impossibilities, we often miss out on the lessons we may need to learn. We can become depressed and miss out on the opportunities we are given each day to grow.

I think of my mom, who died a little over three years ago. She suffered with Addison's disease and had a pain pump implanted in her spine for severe ongoing back pain. And yet, she always managed to tell a joke as she loved to laugh and hated to focus so much on her pain and suffering.

Here is my mom on a visit to Norway goofing off with her cousins. She suffered much with pain but almost never complained and was determined to live her life, despite the challenges.

As I was deciding what to write about on this Thankful Thursday, I clicked on one of the participating blogs Iris (organizer of Thankful Thursday) listed who were participating this week. I just "happened" to choose one called Lori- The Simple Life at Home. Well, little did I know that she lives in Qatar and is dealing with issues like getting stuck in sand dunes, a home that is less than ideal, loneliness, and lack of home school support. And yet...she writes that she's thankful that through it all she's learning contentment and to trust and rely on God.

Wow; so I guess I answered my own question?

Can you be thankful when the circumstances in your life are less than perfect?

YES YOU CAN...if you choose to look for the blessings only God can give and how He often uses people
  • to offer words of encouragement
  • a needed hug
  • a beautiful sunset
  • a rainbow in the sky

I want to make the choice to look for the blessings and also to learn the lessons through the challenges in my life... and to choose to be thankful not only on Thurday, but everyday.

How about you?


How To Stay Motivated

Sticking to your exercise plan can be challenging, especially if this is something new for you. But I just want to say that if you followed through and went for your walk this morning - congratulations!!!

You took the first step...remember those baby steps!

Did you set your clothes out the night before? Were your sneakers accessible so you could slip right into them? I can't tell you how much that helps me to be consistent. The less you have to think about first thing in the morning the better, and the more likely you'll be to just do it.

On a previous post, I wrote about developing the habit of exercise so that it simply becomes a part of your daily routine...sort of like brushing your teeth. Try to be consistent but if you miss a day, don't beat yourself up about it. Just get back on schedule the next day. It takes 21 days to form a habit and 100 days for it to become automatic. So, make a commitment to continue at least three weeks and... you may find yourself looking forward to those morning walks.

I've found that music is a great way to keep me motivated during exercise. Having a quick tempo keeps your body moving quickly. It's also a great distraction if you're finding it difficult to keep going. Think of the theme song to the Rocky movies.

Keep your eyes on your goal. Are you trying to lose weight? Or are just trying to stay healthy or have more energy?

I have two pictures I keep posted in my office of how I want my stomach to look; you know those six pack abs! It helps me to keep one of my goals in mind.

You might consider taking a picture of yourself now and then another in six weeks. If you're trying to improve your blood pressure or cholesterol readings, it's great to chart your progress with new readings. Improved results will help to keep you motivated and on track.

If you started walking yesterday, I hope you'll post a comment and let me know so I can encourage you.

Taking The First Step

You've been told you need to start exercising. You even went to the doctor to get checked out because you always seem to be so tired. But you got a clean bill of health and were told to start exercising. But how can you start exercising when you're too tired to get started?

I'll start next week, you say to yourself. But then you remember, that's what you said last week.

Maybe another cup of coffee or that caffeinated beverage will help give you the pick me up you think you need. So, you feel a little more energized but then... you look at the pile of laundry that needs to get done and the flowers that need to be planted.

You think about taking a short nap.

Before you know it, it's time to pick up your child from school and of course, then... there's no time to exercise. After all, you have to stop at the grocery store to get the ingredients you need for dinner. And then... it's not good to exercise after eating and you don't want to exercise too close to bedtime or you'll never get to sleep. And then... it will be so hard to get up early and exercise.

So, what are you going to do?

  • Start with baby steps: Make the choice to walk around the block this morning; nothing more, nothing less. Just choose to do this one thing today! This is so important when you're just beginning so you don't get discouraged.

  • Organize your clothes the night before: You've made the decision to go for a walk in the morning. Have everything ready the night before so you have no excuses when you wake up. Sunglasses cover your no makeup look. A ball cap covers your messy hair. Sweats, sneakers, socks...what else do you need?

  • Music or not: If you enjoy music, get your headset ready the night before. Maybe you like quiet. Or maybe this is an opportunity to think good thoughts or to pray for your neighbors as you pass their home.

  • Consider recruiting a walking partner: If you've had a hard time sticking with your exercise, it may help to have another person depending on you. That's accountability. You may be less inclined to skip this time if your friend is waiting for you.

There's no time like today to get started. Remember...one step at a time and before you know it, you may find yourself looking forward to your morning walks.


World Heart Day 2008

Today is World Heart Day. It's a day to raise awareness about risk factors for heart disease and hypertension (high blood pressure). Both of these chronic conditions are largely preventable. The World Heart Federation has a mission to help "people achieve a longer and better life through prevention and control of heart disease and stroke, with a focus on low and middle income countries". I am a member of Iowa Avenue, a social network that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

As a healthy lifestyle blogger, this is a day to address heart health. The heart is the wellspring of life. Without our heart, there is no life. This amazing organ pumps blood and oxygen throughout our bodies where it is needed. If we take proper care of our bodies, it should last a long time.

I promote a lifestyle of proper exercise and healthy eating, but I believe there's even more to heart health. You can be disciplined on the outside and look great but inside harbor anger, bitterness and resentment. And over time, that can impact your heart health. If you have a hard time receiving love, you'll have a hard time loving others.

I believe heart health involves a proper balance of body, soul and spirit.
  • Body: We need to be stewards of how we care for our bodies. Proper nutrition and adequate exercise are necessary to promote good heart health.

  • Soul: This involves your mind, will and emotions. What you choose to focus on and fill your mind with impacts how you live out your life.

  • Spirit: This involves our relationship to God. We were each born with a moral compass or conscience but we choose whether we listen or not.

Would you take a moment to consider where you stand? Are you neglecting one of these areas? What are you doing to take care of your heart health?

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