Excited about Health

What does it take to get kids excited about being healthy? As we enter the last month of summer and head towards school, I think it’s an important conversation to have, especially with the state of the world and the great potential that many schools will again be remote this year and not in person as they traditionally are. To be clear health is a multi-layered thing, consisting of relationships, nutrition, exercise, activities, sleep, cleaning, the mind, spirituality and more.

Of course one of the most important keys that can clue them in to not only how important health is but also help create excitement around it, are the adults in their lives. If they’re around adults who demonstrate a curiosity for the world, take pride in having a clean house, make an effort to eat well, spend time with people who are important to them, and have other health practices that they participate in, it’s the first step. These adults should also not complain about or experience a lot of dread and resistance around being healthy, it should be a normal and welcome part of their lives.

It’s also important to find a happy medium between what kids think are fun and healthy and what adults think are fun and healthy, which in and of itself is another great lesson to be teaching them. The world has come a long way in the past decades to where there are lots of creative ways to have fun and be healthy at the same time, which does make it a lot easier. And the lesson of balance between the healthy and the special treats is an important one to apply here because even the most disciplined adults who are well known for their healthy living practices still have fun and do some of the stuff that’s not so healthy.

What about getting kids excited? It’s hard to get them excited about stuff often because you’re not seeing things from their perspective, or not explaining your perspective in a way they can understand, or not leaning in when they do show interest in something healthy. In part this can be addressed by spending time together trying different things or just noticing what they’re sharing about and who they’re admiring. But winning the battle can be more valuable than winning the war, so if you’ve got a kid who’s passionate about nutrition and relationships but doesn’t really like really active physical activity (i.e. prefers walking and light swimming), work with them on it to get them doing the activities they do enjoy more consistently.

Ultimately it comes down to encouraging the fire and passion they have and not trying to put it out because it’s not in line with yours or you don’t understand it. Health is a life long journey with many parts, and each day we can learn something new or do a little better if we choose.

Life Reflections and Evaluations

If anyone would have asked me in the beginning of this year what it would take to get everyone to really take a good look at themselves and their lives, first I would have laughed at you because it sounds so preposterous that something could make that happen. I don’t know if I could have come up with any (good) ideas as far as what might help encourage people to stop and think, I certainly would not have thought of this virus that we’ve found our world upended by. Yet here we are and it’s not funny, nor is it an hour-long or day-long break that would have been a more appropriate length of time for anyone to evaluate their life, we’re facing several months of evaluations, setbacks, issues and challenges, plus the loss of many lives in the US and around the world.

I do believe it’s important from time to time to evaluate our lives, decisions and actions. Sometimes we need to evaluate and check in more often than other times, but generally we can do brief reviews on a weekly basis and more in depth ones monthly or yearly depending on our lives and what’s going on in them. Can you remember the last time you stopped to consider what’s going on in your life and if you’re living the life that’s best for you and one that you contribute positively to the world? This forced time off/change of life has pushed many of us to take a good look at our lives and our to do lists and consider what’s really important.

Life evaluation is about considering how we live our lives, but it’s also about checking on our mental health and mental health practices and the impact our mind has on our success and our choices. Mental health is an aspect of our lives that we don’t always take into account at least not until we’re struggling or faced with a crisis. Many of us have been challenged mentally and emotionally by this virus, which is to be expected. But the change in our usual activities has also been revealing that we don’t always give ourselves the mental support or patience that we need or could benefit from.

What have you learned while life has changed? Have you enjoyed the different pace of life? Have you made changes that you want to keep in your life even after we return to a version of normal? Have you rediscovered parts of yourself that were lost or hidden away and are excited to be exploring again? Are you feeling excited about how on top of everything you are, at least about everything you can control right now? Are you investing more time in your mental well being? Are you finally getting back in touch with people that you’ve missed or not made time for due to one reason or another? What has this change of life taught you?

Cancelling Criticism

The world is going through an unprecedented time of confusion, challenge and change. We have yet to see how our lives change after the dust settles, and if I’m honest, I don’t want it to go 100% back to the way it was, because that means that we didn’t learn anything from all the people whose lives were lost as a result of this virus. My hope is that we’ll all get out of this situation wiser and better prepared for whatever the future holds for us, hopefully wise enough not to see a repeat of things as they’ve gone or worse.

We’re facing a lot of challenges on many levels right now, and along with challenges is the need to find the reason for the challenge or figure out what got us to this point. I think it’s important, not so that we can point blame, but so that we can do our best to avoid creating a similar situation in the future. Of course the likelihood is that there isn’t just one reason we’re in the situation we’re in, but several factors and things that have lead to this point on the health level. But beyond the health crisis, is the question of the response of people and businesses in a situation like this in the future and learning to work together better, both protecting each other and protecting all our finances, jobs and futures.

There has been a lot of reaction to this virus, instead of being able to respond with a pre-considered plan and immediate action to best support each other and the businesses in our areas and keep life as normal and productive as possible. That means all businesses and non-profits need an online presence and plan that could be put into immediate action should something like this present again to continue supporting both customers and employees in smart and safe manners as fully as possible. It means individuals and families need to do the best they can to get ahead, not on top of, their bills and finances. And it means each and every one of us needs to be on top of our health and wellness and taking necessary steps more consistently and proactively to protect ourselves and the rest of the people we share this world with.

I encourage you to shut off the criticism and instead start working on supporting and making proactive decisions to make our world better and stronger.

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.

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?