Making Health Happen

Health is something that’s so important and you definitely notice when it’s lacking. It’s hard to have health issues as a parent because not only do you feel bad, you’ve got kids to take care of in addition to trying to manage your health challenge. It’s also hard to watch your kids go through health issues, because you want to do something for them but there’s little you can do to help. As we head into back to school time and the season change, there’s opportunity for health challenges as well as getting healthier. Even if you can’t avoid health issues, you certainly can do some things to make it easier for you and your family.

Start by making it a practice to live a healthy lifestyle. This means getting out with your family to exercise. Exercise can include hiking, swimming, playing sports, and generally being physically active, encouraging that physical activity certainly in balance with relaxation and the technology that we all love.

It also means encouraging healthy eating practices. Introducing your kids to a wide variety of foods and balancing the sweet treats along with the healthy foods that help our bodies run well and keep us healthy is important but often challenging. There are lots of companies coming up with more appealing versions of healthy foods, but at home you can simply try a variety of recipes until you hit on something that makes a challenging food not only palatable but tasty. Cooking classes may even be something to look into that would be fun for everyone and help with encouraging healthy eating practices.

When the health issues do pop up, encourage rest, relaxation and doing what it takes to get well. It’s rare that any of us can truly stop our lives for long enough to get well, kids or adults, but we can do better about giving our bodies what they need to heal. As an adult if you truly can’t take days off, take half days off or work from home. Kids always get work sent home when they’re sick, so balancing time sleeping, resting, and watching TV and movies with doing homework, cards, puzzles and other thinking activities can help them get well and not be too bored or get too far behind.

As we move into the fall I encourage you to prioritize your health and that of your loved ones. Don’t let it fall by the wayside or wait for something to happen, actively choose to live healthy, mind, body and spirit.

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Rest And Rejuvenation

Lately it’s seemed like the older I get the smarter I have to be and more conscious of how I treat my body (or it lets me know what it thinks). Sometimes I forget that there are working, connected parts and they can be affected and respond in ways that I’ve never experienced. It’s a reminder that they are not stationary and neither should we be in our lives, and that we have to respect and care for them if we want them to last us for our whole lives and not break down more than any genetics or medical conditions (cancer etc.) may cause them to.

In this age of going (and how active and busy/committed both we and our kids can be) it can be hard to stop and rest, but rest is an important part of healing and being healthy, and not taking the time for rest means that we won’t heal as quickly, won’t feel as rejuvenated, and won’t be able to process all that goes on in our lives. Vacations are great for many reasons, but they can be very stressful. Making sure to have several buffer days on either side of the vacation can be helpful in not only preparing for the vacation and returning everything back to rights, but also in giving you the mental and physical time and space you need to rest and rejuvenate.

As we look at going back to school not only is it good to schedule in rest times to the fall schedule, but also to make sure you and the kids take a break before things get crazy again. Even if it’s been a pretty restful summer it’s good to have the time and space to mentally process the changes that are coming up in your life because with every new season there are changes that happen. So whether that’s making (more) time each day for something like meditation, taking longer walks, relaxing on the deck/beach/backyard, doing puzzles or coloring or some other mostly quiet activity, take time to physically rest as well as mentally process all of the things that have gone on in your life and the directions you’re going. How do you rest?

Knowing When to Quit

I saw in the news that the Emperor of Japan has decided to step down.  He’s 85 and has had some health issues in recent years, and has decided that it’s in the best interest of the country to pass on the leadership to his son.  Here in the US we elect someone new every 4-8 years typically so we don’t experience anything like this type of life-long leadership, but Great Britain does, at least as of now, and the Catholic Church has historically had life-long leadership but the current pope has indicated he doesn’t want to be pope for the rest of his days.  All of this has gotten me thinking about quitting.

The word ‘quit’ is an interesting one.  It can be defined as “stop, cease, discontinue, depart, leave, give up, or relinquish.”  I think these definitions are interesting because we always see quitting as a really bad thing.  But these words don’t necessarily indicate any type of failure, like we typically think of when we talk about quitting.  Sometimes quitting is the best decision you can make.

Quitting isn’t necessarily about accepting defeat or failing at something, although sometimes that is the case, other times it’s about getting out while the getting is good, or thinking about win-win-wins for everyone, or knowing that you’ve done the very best job that you could do and now you need to pass it of to someone else or do something different going forward.

Sometimes it’s easy to say that you quit, but often it does take courage and some serious consideration to make sure that you’re really making the best decision for yourself and those that matter most to you.  Those in positions of power have extra responsibility to make sure they’re doing what’s best for everyone, but the fact is we all do as well.  The way you live affects others in various ways from the very obvious and significant to the negligible, but the fact remains that we each do have responsibility for how we live, and therefore knowing when to quit.

Change isn’t the enemy, in fact more often than not it’s not changing that’s the enemy.  This week I encourage you to consider if it’s time for a change, time to quit something so you can move onto something bigger and better.

Taking Action for Earth Day

Today has been Earth Day.  It’s the day that people around the world take time to remember the planet that we all live on and share, and to do something to help make sure that planet is here for many years to come.  Given that our success, and our lives even, depend on the health and continued life of the earth I thought today we’d talk about some things we can do to help the Earth be around for many more years to come.

Today plenty of companies sent out emails and posted on social media asking for donations.  I saw many more emails today with double and triple matches (meaning a gift you give is doubled or tripled) than I did for Giving Tuesday back in November, so the simplest way you can give to the future of our world is to donate to companies who are going to plant trees, protect the (endangered) animals, and fight for the health of our planet.

Another way you can give back is to recycle and pick up, even if it’s not your garbage.  Sometimes the wind gets the best of the garbage/recycling days or the animals get into the cans and as a result trash and recyclables go everywhere. While it’s not something I recommend doing unless you’re able to glove up or protect yourself in some other way, taking action to pick up that stuff goes a long way to making sure that those things don’t end up in our waterways and stay away from animals who could be killed by them.

A third way to help the earth is eating less meat.  Protein is important to our diets, but meat is also one of the bigger contributors of what’s hurting our earth. That doesn’t mean we eliminate meat from our diets, but rather make smarter choices about how much we’re consuming.  Try to eat meat fewer days per week, substituting with other proteins like eggs, quinoa and almond/peanut butter whether at dinner or during other meals of the day.

Fourth, if you’re able to get out there and plant trees or other plants to help our animals and the bees who are crucial to the health of our food system, that’s a great way to give back to the earth.  I saw an article recently that suggested the way to fix climate change was to plant tons of trees.  With a little bit of effort and adjustment I think we can come to an agreement between us and mother nature and learn how to share the space we all live on together.

Finally, another very easy way to give back is signing petitions.  Many of the suggestions I’ve given are things that you can do all year long and not just on Earth Day, and this is no exception.  Every day I get at least a dozen emails about petitions I could sign on all kinds of topics, including those that have to do with animals and nature.  It’s a very small way to contribute, but seeing how many people have already signed the petitions goes to show that I may be just one person, but my individual voice along with the voices of thousands of others really ads up.

What will you do to care for the world you live on?

A Time of Reflection

I was reading yet another email after reading another blog post about someone hitting burnout the other day, and the news has shared that tragically several people connected to mass shootings have committed suicide in recent days. As equipped as I think we may be for all that life throws at us each day, the reality is we sometimes don’t realize how much we’re taking on, don’t ask for the help we need, don’t take time to deal with the overwhelm we’re feeling, and/or don’t realize how serious things have gotten. And then we hit that breaking point, unfortunately sometimes of no return.

Most people have developed coping mechanisms that help them deal with typical daily stresses (a fight with a friend or significant other, deadlines at work, children’s tantrums etc.), but as we know especially from the men and women who have been in the military, there’s no coping with some things, some things we’re just not equipped to deal with normally and that’s when we can get into trouble.

Part of the reason I think we struggle with coping and hit burnout is because instead of taking a step back we pile on the activities, work, people and things. Maybe we think we do it because it means we won’t be able to think about how we really feel or what’s really going on, and that may work for the short term, but it rarely does anything about the actual situation or how you feel.

You may not know it, but we’re in the middle of the spiritual season called Lent which leads to the celebration of Easter. Lent is a time of reflection, for people to get right with themselves and with God. Anytime is a great time to get right with God, but today I’d encourage you to spend some time on self reflection, really considering where your life is at and what you need most. Asking for help and knowing when you need to take a break (and taking one) actually show how strong you are, not how weak.  A little reflection and taking a time-out today can positively shape your future if you let it.  I’d encourage you to make it a regular practice as well since life shows no plans of slowing down or becoming a cake walk anytime soon.

In Sickness and In Health

For the past couple of days I’ve been dealing with a headache that just doesn’t seem to want to give up. Fortunately I’ve got things planned so that my partner always has food options for when I don’t have the ability to cook for us and I try to be on top of things around the house so that if I can’t for a day or two the world won’t end. What happens when you need some extra time or help, either you’re sick or someone in the family is? Today I’ve got a couple of suggestions for these occasional days or sets of days for making sure your kids are cared for when you can’t give them the full attention you usually do.

Let’s start with food. Most weeks I make a trip to 2-3 grocery stores, including a fresh food market, so there’s never a lack of fresh foods or healthy foods readily available, some that don’t require more of my attention than throwing them in the oven for an hour to bake or take a couple minutes to wash up. Have extras of the kids favorite snacks on hand, don’t make it a practice of running out, as well as key staples in the cereal and grain departments (keeping a loaf of bread in the freezer is a great idea). Finally, always have stored away a couple special treats, whether they’re frozen bars, special snacks or frozen dinners that the kids ask for but aren’t things you like to give them on a regular basis that you can treat them with during challenging days.

What about keeping them busy? As always it’s great if you’ve got another family close to yours that you can switch off kids if there’s a need in either of your homes, or if you can hire a sitter to come in for a few hours. But if your kids are old enough and responsible enough to be entertain themselves for a couple of hours while you’re sleeping or just resting, having a selection of movies and TV show DVDs or On Demand that they don’t watch frequently but enjoy on those occasions is a good option for these times. It’s also a good idea to have some new activity books/boxes, new toys, new coloring books and new books hidden away for these times too, it gives them something new and special to work on individually or together.

What are your tips for caring for kids when you’re not feeling 100%?

A Healthy Summer

One of the components of victories is health, so today I thought we’d talk about things you can do to have a healthy summer, a summer that you feel good about when it’s over, you accomplish at least some of the things on your to do list, and you have lots of fun too!

First let’s talk about sleep. I love sleep, whether it’s naps in the afternoon on the beach under an umbrella or when I call it a day and crawl into bed for several hours of sleep. Everyone is different on how much sleep they need to function, to function well, or to be healthy. Sometimes life will throw you some challenges and you’ll get less sleep, but take time this summer to catch up on some of those missed hours.

Second, let’s talk about food. I love food, I love cooking, preparing food and eating food! Sometimes food is all about function and just providing the necessary calories and nutrition, but even in that situation I always try to choose food that tastes good. It’s a lot easier to eat healthy if it tastes good too. And it’s not all about sugar and salt, there are lots of other great spices that you can add to your recipes and snacks that can turn something that would be bland into something tasty.

Third, let’s talk about being productive. Everyone has a to do list, and many of us have things on the list that we can only do in the summer, or we typically do in the summer because we’ve got time off or because of longer periods of better weather. Pick one smaller thing to complete each week and one big task to complete each month this summer. That will help you get stuff done but don’t feel like your whole summer was a project.

Finally, take time off and have fun. Fun is something that all of us need to incorporate into our lives, both fun by ourselves and fun with others. Whether you take a vacation with family and friends, go to the beach by yourself with a book, or take some creative classes, take time this summer to do different things by yourself and with others.

What are your plans to help make this one of the best summers yet?

Summer Victories

This week begins my favorite season: summer.  Summer is a great opportunity for making victories in our lives, especially those that have to do with health.  So today I thought we’d talk about 3 of those healthy victories we can work on this summer.

Summer with the warmer weather and longer days makes for a great opportunity for us to get together with friends and family, giving us the time to work on those very important relationships. There’s something about these days and nights that makes us want to gather with friends, have a BBQ or just hang out by a crackling fire and roast marshmallows. The memories made during these events may be some of the best of your life, I certainly have some good ones from these types of events, and they’re great for building friendships and relationships that last.

It’s also a great time to take advantage of the weather and do more outdoor exercising and playtime, whether that’s walking, swimming or playing Frisbee.  There are lots of opportunities and activities that can get you more physically involved in the summer, from the very casual to the very physical, whether you want to do it alone or with friends. Many bike groups and swim groups meet seasonally, so it’s another opportunity to get connected in your community while getting healthy, too.

My final favorite source of victories in the summer comes from all of the fresh local fruit and produce that’s available.  Yes, we can get fresh fruit and vegetables all year long, but in the summer it’s much easier and cheaper to get local produce, and support local farmers.  I have a market I love going to all year ’round because they’ve got fresh, healthy foods at great prices, but in the summer I make the extra effort to stop at the roadside stands or pick up the produce in the stores that are labeled as coming from my local area. It’s even a little more fun to cook and eat because I know it’s local!

So with summer officially a few days away, what are your plans for victories this summer?

Creative Earth Day Celebrations

Sunday is Earth Day, and while I’m not quite ready to get out there and enjoy spring, with today being an unseasonably cold 42 degree day, I’m still looking forward to doing some earth-friendly things this week and weekend. If you’re looking for some creative ways to honor the earth and still do things you enjoy, here are a few things to add to your list.

Garage sales and estate sales are a great way to buy new things that you want and need while still helping the earth. Many people sell gently used items or even brand new ones that they haven’t used or don’t want but are still in great condition. These types of sales are also a great place to find stuff that just isn’t made anymore, or isn’t made in the same way or with the same quality that it used to be made with.

Farmer’s markets and roadside stands are a great way to support the local farming community. Eating vegetables and fruits is a great way to care for our planet in the first place, making the extra effort to do it locally not only gives you the opportunity to support the local growers, but also to know exactly where your food came from. Also, you typically have the chance to talk with the people who grow the food, which means you can find out exactly how they were grown and what, if any, chemicals were used.

Giving the gift of a potted plant is another great way to think more about the earth while still giving flowers or a plant that will make someone smile. Even if the person you’re gifting to doesn’t have the greenest thumb, most people can still keep a potted plant alive for far longer than cut flowers, and the potted plant often can go outdoors and last for months or years depending on the type of plant. And if you’re gifting to someone who has a home, things they can plant outdoors are almost always a blessing, including small trees and shrubs.

What ways are you planning to celebrate Earth Day this weekend?

Time for Changes

In thinking about Daylight Savings Time that the US adjusted to this past weekend I thought we might talk about the idea of it being time to make changes. I never can quite remember which way the clocks are supposed to go when they switch, I’m very thankful for technology that does it by and large for us now. Sometimes change is like that: we just feel the need to make changes but we’re not really sure which changes to make. So today I thought we’d take a look at some changes you can make if you’re not sure what changes you’re in need of, and until you’re certain of what changes need to be made in your life.

Clean and organize: many of us are blessed to have lots of stuff and lead busy lives, but with lots of stuff and busy lives it doesn’t always leave a lot of time to clean and get organized. Many of us just do the minimal to get by each week and end up one day with a big pile of stuff that needs to be gone through and more dust bunnies than real ones hopping around. Cleaning and organizing is one way to clear out some of the old and make room for the new, a symbolic welcoming of whatever changes your life is bringing.

What you eat: there’s never a bad time to make a decision to eat healthier, and today is no exception. But you don’t just have to change to healthier food, you can choose to change and try new foods and recipes too. There’s nothing wrong with having some go-to foods that you love, but it’s often fun to try new foods and recipes and mix things up a bit. Maybe it will give you the chance to learn a new cooking technique or try an ingredient you’ve always wondered about but never really knew how to put it in a dish, and this would be the chance to do either or both.

Consideration for others: one of the biggest areas of our lives that could use some changes for most of us are the relationships we have and ways that we interact with others. Maybe you’ve gotten in the habit of being on your phone at the dinner table, you think or say really nasty things about the other drivers on the road, you talk with your mouth full, you don’t give your significant other much of your attention, you ignore employees under you or belittle them, or you haven’t made time for making new friends and relationships or learning about other cultures. It’s not about being best friends with everyone but about respect, learning to listen, being open to others being different than you, and doing better at sharing the space we all live in.

What changes are you feeling inspired to make in your life?