FREEDOM WITHIN

Freedom within ourselves, freedom of mind and body, spiritual freedom is the highest freedom we experience. Frankin D. Roosevelt stated," Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own mind." Mind you this came from a man in a wheelchair (but that is not what we remember about him.)

Taking a moment of silence to reflect how you are holding yourself hostage can become one of the most liberating experiences you have. Perhaps you don't feel good enough, adequate enough, strong or capable enough. I often imprison myself with thoughts of dismissal:

  • I cannot find the right people to help me...
  • I don't have the resources...
  • I don't have the time...

 "For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters"--Galatians 5:13.

"For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law (or keeping up with self made or religious rules), you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace."--Galatians 5:4. 

America, a place many of us call home, is built on the principle of freedom. Political freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of assembly are but some of the freedoms we enjoy. Take a moment this holiday to consider your most important freedom: Spiritual Freedom, your freedom within*. Replace your imprisoning thoughts with thoughts and affirmations of freedom:

  • God has given me the right people
  • God has given me the resources
  • God has given me the time

Stop being a prisoner within yourself and live by the power of God's Spirit within!

*Read through Galatians 5, and ask God for this freedom within you!

 

FREEDOM WITHIN

Freedom within ourselves, freedom of mind and body, spiritual freedom is the highest freedom we experience. Frankin D. Roosevelt stated," Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own mind." Mind you this came from a man in a wheelchair (but that is not what we remember about him.)

Taking a moment of silence to reflect how you are holding yourself hostage can become one of the most liberating experiences you have. Perhaps you don't feel good enough, adequate enough, strong or capable enough. I often imprison myself with thoughts of dismissal:

  • I cannot find the right people to help me...
  • I don't have the resources...
  • I don't have the time...

 "For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters"--Galatians 5:13.

"For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law (or keeping up with self made or religious rules), you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace."--Galatians 5:4. 

America, a place many of us call home, is built on the principle of freedom. Political freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of assembly are but some of the freedoms we enjoy. Take a moment this holiday to consider your most important freedom: Spiritual Freedom, your freedom within*. Replace your imprisoning thoughts with thoughts and affirmations of freedom:

  • God has given me the right people
  • God has given me the resources
  • God has given me the time

Stop being a prisoner within yourself and live by the power of God's Spirit within!

*Read through Galatians 5, and ask God for this freedom within you!

 

12 DAYS OF YOGATHEA®

Life is crazy at Christmas time...just crazy. So you need a little something more to do. We'll start today and go for 12 days, 12 DAYS OF YOGATHEA®. 

Join us on Facebook and Breathe the Peace to Namaste your way through the Season. If you are new or feeling a little hesitant, not to worry! Nobody can see you at home from the Facebook posts so if you fall over or fart it's no big deal. Also, I am recovering from an ACL Reconstruction and wearing a HUMONGOUS knee brace which gives me a better chance of falling over. If I happen to fart, loudly anyway, I will simply refilm.

I'm looking forward to sharing the 12 DAYS OF YOGATHEA® with you and hope it will make your days be Merrier and Brighter. See you (or not really see you) soon!

As "The Most Wonderful Place On Earth" spawned a Measles outbreak the mommy wars have been re-fueled. Is vaccinating responsible or playing Russian roulette? In the 1990s I served as a medical missionary at the Sihanouk Hospital, Cambodia where polio and other preventable diseases were rampant. Children and adults with polio wear flip flops on their hands to walk quadruped because they cannot stand. Measles and mumps are prevalent and fierce, causing much pain and deformity. The Cambodian people would come hundreds of miles on foot, moto or wagon and wait for days desperate to receive treatment.

Our scientists have literally eradicated these diseases in the United States and a few generations later an anti-vaccine movement has grown. Why? From most of what I can tell from talking with the anti-vaccination supporters, in and out of the clinic, on social media, and at the gym, there seem to be several misunderstandings that I will briefly address


1. Education--Most anti-vaccination supporters do not understand how to critically analyze scientific research and rely on internet "journal" articles using their Google Ph.D. I suppose this is a step up from taking medical advise from Parenting Magazine. Many parents of special needs children are dealing with the guilt and shame of their child's condition and don't understand that autism, seizures and developmental disorders are genetic in nature. Some are concerned about the preservatives in the vaccines and don't realize that the Coke they gave their child is more toxic.


2. Desire To Assert Freedom--Fortunately because the majority of people who have been compliant with vaccinations, we have a healthy society in which people have the freedom to choose whether or not to vaccinate. There seems to be resentment towards the government "force" in this issue. The diseases the CDC is requiring vaccination for admittance to public schools and international travel are NOT the cold or flu...and this brings us back to a lack of proper education on the issue.

As a mom of a child who needed a delayed vaccination schedule because he was not healthy enough to receive a vaccine, I too have weighted out the vaccination issue. My son has spent too many nights in the hospital and has more doctors than he has had birthdays, he will be 7 next week. My son was very ill early in his life but he did not contract the measles or mumps or scarlet fever or polio or chicken pox, all of which could have been fatal to him. With his pulmonary challenges, I'm certain he would not have survived whooping cough. He did not contract these diseases because most people chose to keep him healthy by vaccinating their child. Vaccines are not 100% but they do save lives, period. I am grateful for all of the people who did choose to vaccine.

Jesus taught us to "Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves" Mathew 22:39. It's not feasible for me go around and thank every single person in my community who has loved my son as a neighbor and vaccinated their child. When my immune compromised son was healthy enough to be vaccinated, I got in line and took the "risk", knowing that this small thing is a doing my part to keep our country healthy, but also to love my neighbor and community as myself...or as my son.

Coffee has become the universal peacemaker for American evangelical circles. Millennial church culture is characterized by church grounds brewing coffee grounds.

 While roasting java with fellowship is a great recipe, it does have some dangerous side effects. In 2011 there were 20,000 reported caffeine related emergency room visits in the United States which was a 36% increase from 2010. Is the rise in caffeine consumption killing us? Not necessarily, though our espresso buzz does come with consequences so here are 5 ground rules for healthy coffee sipping:

 

1. Daily Limit--Caffeine in coffee is generally a safe stimulant. The Food Drug Administration (FDA) stated that 100mg-200mg of caffeine per day is a safe. Depending on your choice of brew, a 6 oz cup of coffee can range from 65mg-180mg. Reading your labels and doing the math, this roughly boils own to 1-3 cups a day.

 

2. Guard Your Heart Rate--A side effect of caffeine consumption is increased heart rate. A healthy resting heart rate (RHR) can range from 40-100 beats per minute. Typically, the lower your RHR is in the range, the healthier you are. Regularly or excessively stimulating your body with caffeine alters the RHR which can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and higher blood pressure.

 

3. Adults Only Please--Children, especially young children are highly sensitive to caffeine. The FDA recommends a maximum of 45mg of caffeine per day in children...that is a maximum, not an allowance. The physiological response and sensitivity to caffeine in children is much more intense than adults. Not only will caffeine stimulate hyperactivity in children, it will also heighten nervous and anxiety disorders not to mention they will have a difficult time getting to bed. Resist the temptation to serve that sweet frappucinno to kids.

 

4. Set a Curfew--Metabolizing caffeine takes anywhere from 4-6 hours. This means the coffee is stimulating your system well after consumption. Set a caffeine curfew 6 hours before you hit the sack. If you have an automatic brew timer on your coffee machine, the hot fresh java will be waiting for you in the morning!

 

5. Brush Your Teeth--Coffee stains teeth and seems to linger on breath. Brushing your teeth after coffee consumption is an easy way to keep the pearly whites white while keeping your breath fresh for fellowship.

 

An old Lutheran joke claims coffee to be the "third sacrament" after baptism and communion. At minimum, coffee is deeply grounded in Christian communities. For years I have brought a carafe of home brewed coffee for my Saturday Morning YOGATHEA® Christian Yoga + Meditation Class. Hopefully your church cafe serves tasty brew and you can keep these ground rules for healthy sipping.

Hoeger, W.W.K., & Hoeger, S.A., (2013) Lifetime Physical Fitness & Wellness. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

This past weekend my family and I winterized, moving lawn chairs to the shed, hanging bikes and more. Preparing for the needs of tomorrow is responsible, mature and important. Despite knowing proper diet and exercise is needed for vitality, especially later in life, many do not prepare for tomorrow finding themselves unhappy and dependent. I'm supposing financial advisers see "Grasshopper and Ant" lessons all of the time.

In America we take care of our grasshoppers. This little ant appears tired to me and why isn't that grasshopper working? With busy lives and growing responsibilities, it's easy to neglect mindfulness of tomorrow so here's 3 tips to help you.

 

1. Envision Yourself in 20 Years--As a final project for my Intro to Health and Fitness P120 class, I asked the college freshman to write a paper describing their current health and fitness habits and then to project their health and bodies at age 40. Most of them looked at me with horror because I suggested that they will be 40. This is typical with us all as it is scary to think about being 40 or 60 or 80... Fortunately there is no such thing as a bad heart in your 90s, just saying. 

 

2. Create a New Vision--Now that you're over the horror of fast forwarding a couple of decades, create a new vision. Twenty years is enough time to build a business, raise a family, travel the globe and accomplish your life goals. Use your imagination to picture a new vision of your life and dream big!

 

3. Go For It!-- One of my favorite quotes is, "If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done." Creating your life for a better tomorrow requires a plan, diligence, and consistency. Remember those ant worked through the summer and rested though the winter. Rest does come if you have planned and saved. If you're feeling weak to make changes, remember what Proverbs 30:25 says: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer. I've never seen an ant carry more than a large crumb. They just carry a new crumb on each trip to the anthill. 

 

As you prepare for tomorrow, I hope you are able to avoid a pesky grasshopper leaning on you and you carry your crumbs!

Accepting help can be difficult. For those of us over-achievers it can perceptively threaten our competence. Can I say let's eat some humble pie? Recently at the gym I helped a chick push in her 100+ pound prowler on her last lap of our group training. To push a prowler for any length of time or distance requires strength, endurance and lots of sheer wit. In my experience, the prowler will condition and fatigue it's driver.

Knowing this woman was at her limits, I thought I was being helpful and encouraging to assist. Knowing my limit is a 65 pound prowler for the required laps, I had completed the set and was already recovering. Gathering some extra energy I helped push her in for approximately 20 yards. She was offended. Shortly after the training session was finished I saw her completing her prowler set alone. I suppose this is a testament to integrity though not sure what this actually gained her? She seemed to be throwing a major pouting fit as she pushed alone. I left her alone this time as did everyone else.

Despite the vulnerability involved, Accepting Help Helps You and here's 3 reasons why:


1. Life Is More Fun Together:  Accepting help on the last lap does not mean you're incompetent, it means you didn't finish alone. Life is more fun together and what's the point of crossing the finish line if nobody s there to celebrate with us?

 

2. Understanding Limits: Too often we take on more than we can handle. This becomes obvious when an area of life starts falling apart: our house becomes a mess, we gain a few pounds, the bills start piling up. Pushing ourselves to the place of needing help, helps us understand where our limits are and how they are growing and changing.

 

3. Gratitude: Saying thank you is so much more delightful than having a silent (or not so silent) pouting fit. Only our insecurities challenge us to believe we have something to prove. Accepting help develops gratitude within us which brings us joy.

Somewhat recently I accepted dinner for my family when I was starting my new job. Nobody died, I didn't have a baby or was in hospital, my friend just saw my limits were exceeded and stepped in to help. I'm glad she did. My family appreciated her chicken tenders more so than any Hodge-Podge dinner I would have thrown together.  My heart changed from worry about "getting everything done" to gratitude and what a great transition that is!

Maya Angelou once said, "Most people don't grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children and call that maturity." They also are easily offended, somewhat chaotic and unnecessarily helpless might I add.

We've all had our office politics situations, been chronically late for engagements, left the kitchen a mess, neglected our health (yes, the fitness instructor notices you are not in class and neglects her health too!) and more. Despite our best efforts, how we respond in these situations reveals who we are (see my post 3 Mindful Tips:     http://spiritofheavenyoga.blogspot.com/2014/09/3-mindful-tips-on-dealing-with-conflict.html ). What we ask ourselves from these situations determines how we grow. So here are 3 Mindful Question to Grow (and Grow Up!) 

1. What is good about this? Aristotle said, "It is in our darkest moments, we must focus on the light". Some situations seem too ugly so we shut our eyes which makes us unable to focus on the light. If your finding yourself offended by a situation, it's more than likely your prejudices reacting. Instead of being offended, try taking responsibility.

2. Am I taking responsibility for my part? The world is full of injustices, they are inescapable. Taking responsibility isn't just for the guilty party but for all of us. Putting your mind and energy towards a workable solution will leave you less time to be offended and will likely bring meaning and purpose to your life. I know many social workers, doctors, teachers and police who refrain from shutting their eyes to child abuse, and diligently work to serve abused children.This is "true religion" as the Bible calls it (James 1:27). If you don't work in public service, consider donating your time and money. As my mom use to tell me, "If you don't like something, go do something about it; otherwise, quit complaining."

3. What boundaries do I need to draw? Taking responsibility for a problem can drown us, especially if we weren't the perpetrators (it's usually easier to clean up our own mess than the world's mess). Setting appropriate boundaries in our service will create the environment to give our best in service. An appropriate boundary will allow us to open our eyes while not becoming paralyzed by what we see and are doing. Even Jesus needed time away to refresh.

We are incapable of saving the world, only Jesus can do that, however, we can grow in maturity to make a positive difference in our corner of the world. Anne Frank was correct and learned at an early age, "The final forming of our character is in our own hands".

Adrian Peterson's indictment for "disciplining his son with a switch" has surfaced the multitude of deep convictions on how to raise children. Often these practices are cultural. Adrian's method of correction is widely practiced in the south. Most southern parents don't have NFL sized arms though. Churches have their own child discipline cultural as well. I was once advised by a church leader, when dealing with my defiant toddler, to spank the child until the child was submissive. This advice sounded more Stalinistic than Christian to me.

Mary, mother of Jesus, was warned in Luke 2:35 that this child would pierce her soul. I think all kids do this to their parents, especially if the parents are trying to be parents and care about the actions of their children. In short, Simeon was letting Mary know that she can't control her son. Despite being a child of questionable origins and uprooted to a pagan culture as a child, Jesus became a model Jew working his way to the top of the educational system and becoming a Rabbi. That's when his defiant side became apparent, breaking the rules by appointing a rag-tag group of disciples. Jesus began making seemingly erroneous claims about himself (we've never heard such things from our children!). When Jesus was an adult, his family was concerned he had lost his mind and Jesus just blew them off (Mark 3). Jesus didn't directly serve a synagogue or community either..what in God's name was he thinking? The defiant adventures of Jesus didn't last long. As many young male adventurers do, he got himself killed. The fate a mother fears most and the very reason we teach our children to follow the rules. Unfortunately the death of Jesus carried the shame of a political and religious rebel. That would pierce my soul too.

Perhaps Mary should have "disciplined her child with a switch" or spanked him into submission? If Jesus had "proper respect" for his family and mother he would have certainly responded to their request to see him, right? Perhaps if she had more control as a parent...but what would the world be like today without the defiant spirit of Jesus?

Child discipline and boundaries are obviously necessary and important for our communities and lives. I still haven't discovered the benefit of bullying a child or inappropriately assaulting them into submission--abuse kills our spirit. Our defiant spirit, when allowed to move within the proper boundaries is the same spirit that delivers new inventions, businesses, and ideas to the world. Again, what would the world be like today without the defiant spirit of Jesus? If you're finding yourself with the intrinsic desire to control and dominate your children, perhaps consider setting boundaries for them instead. Come take a yoga class and see if you need so much control afterward? Letting our children be like Jesus, especially the defiant Jesus, is allowing God to pierce your soul. Mary's soul was forever pierced but the defiant spirit of Jesus did save the world!

Obesity rates are rising. In 1985, the highest obesity rate in any given state was <14%, according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1). These days there isn't a State in the Union with less than 20% obesity; and throughout the southern "stroke belt", obesity rates are an upward of 30%. The trend isn't much different with our children.

Some hospitals and pediatric clinics are reporting 30% obesity rates with children. Type II Diabetes in children is a recent and "normal" 21st century phenomenon. Deplorable. This all comes down to regulating blood sugar levels, which is preferably done through diet and exercise, not medication.

Is Childhood Obesity Child Abuse?

When a child doesn't receive proper nutrition, our American society gets involved. The nurse will notify a social worker who will follow up with the family and so on. If proper nutrition is not achieved, it is considered neglect and the child will be removed from the home in order to receive proper care. The damage occurs more slowly with obesity and diabetes, however the results are analogous. Diabetes is a slow killer. 

In teaching my Health Professions Intro to Health and Fitness course to college freshman, I have observed these young adults are coming from various backgrounds. As they are learning health and fitness basics, I can tell a few of them are experiencing that awful feeling that the carpet is being pulled out from under them: They are 18 years old and obese and they are mad at their parents for leading them to that state. I hope they choose to take personal responsibility and change instead of staying mad.

Our Christian communities aren't much better and have yet to develop the maturity of accepting that maintaining health and weight comes through proper diet and exercise, not yo-yo dieting and pills with a token walk around the block for exercise every now and then. We have Christian brothers and sisters who are feeding themselves and their children to death. Sad. 

Diabetes and obesity will change the course of one's life forever, if not treated or managed. Treatment alone can be expensive and a multitude of other health problems can also arise, not to speak of the social insecurities associated with being overweight that affect relationships and career. During the slow kill, the quality of life decreases. Realizing the harm that obesity causes children should create a righteous indignation..it needs to be seen as child abuse.

(1) Obesity Trends Among U.S. Adults Between 1985 and 2011. Atlanta: Center for disease Control and Prevention 2013).

The most frequent question I am asked as a fitness instructor is, "How do I get rid of this?" (envision woman grabbing abdominal fat).

Okay, so you don't have to envision. Having strong abdominals after spending 3.5 years of my life pregnant and birthing 4 children (yes I'm boasting), here is my skinny on belly fat:

1. Burn It Off

The best and only way to reduce abdominal fat, or any other fat tissue for that matter, is burning it off. I'm talking about burning calories here, you know, cardiovascular exercise? Say hello to your friend the elliptical or treadmill because to burn off the belly, you will be spending lots of time on these machines.

2. Why Type of Fat?

There are 2 kinds of abdominal fat:

Subcutaneous Fat--This is the fat just beneath the skin, burying your six-pack abs. When you bend over, it bunches into rolls or you can purse the excess into various shapes as demonstrated in the picture, 

Visceral Fat--This is the fat that is underneath your abdominal muscles and lives among your internal organs, weighing them down and increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.  

3. Keep Your Waist Circumference to Less Than Half Your Height

This simple advice can save your life because ABDOMINAL FAT IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH. Yes, I'm yelling at you. Of 30,000 adults of various ethnic groups, waist circumference in relation to height had reliable and greater discriminatory power in predicting cardiac and metabolic complications (1). The larger your waist, the more at risk you are for heart disease, stroke, hypertension diabetes and cancer.

4. Core Strength

Your abs are only as strong as your core. The core is a complex, biomechanic mechanism that is still being debated by kinesiologists. Keeping your hips flexible is necessary to maintain spinal alignment and back strength. If you achieve spinal alignment than you can activate your pelvic floor muscles (yes, those are fine motor muscles down there!). Finally, your diaphragm can only be toned through resistive breathing exercises. I will see you in yoga soon!

5. Diet

My experience is that carbohydrates and sugars will inflame the body, collecting in the abdominal area. Keeping carbohydrates around 40-50% of your diet will help reduce the belly. Also, many people unknowingly struggle with food allergies which are inflaming the abdominal area and enlarging the waist area.

Why Jesus Didn't Have Fat Abs-- I'm certain Jesus didn't have fat abs for a few reasons:

1. Jesus was literally on the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet is a clean and healthy diet without refined sugar and trans fat. Food was scarce back then, I doubt he overate.

2. Jesus walked...EVERYWHERE!

Covering notable territory throughout his ministry,Jesus was a Rabbi and therefore made regular annual trips to Jerusalem to attend festivals and holy days. These trips aren't recorded in the Bible but can be assumed through his duties and Jesus was serious about these events because He went despite knowing people were out to kill him! Jesus got plenty of cardiovascular exercise

3. Visceral fat is a first-world problem, not an ancient-world problem.

In conclusion and once again, ABDOMINAL FAT IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH!!! If you struggle with oversized abdominals, my first suggestion is to hit the gym and burn that belly off. You will of course have to monitor and clean your diet, seeing if you have irritants to specific food groups. Remember, ultimately it is the ratio of calories in versus calories burned that maintain your weight. Adding in your core strengthening will also help reduce your waist size. Talk with your doctor about a lipid profile as well. Getting into those skinny jeans just might save your life!

(1) M. Ashwell, P. Gunn, and S. Gibson, "Waist-to-Height ratio is a Better Screening Tool than Waist Circumference and BMI for Adult Cardometabolic Risk Factors: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis," Obesity Review 13 (2012): 275-286.

Young Millennials have earned themselves the "selfie generation" label with their nose and smiles to their phones. These young people keep residence with their parents well into their twenties and postpone the settling down thing in order to establish their career and travel.

Grandma and Grandpa watch in dismay concerned that "Tweet" may mean something naughty and defending their contributions!

This week I asked my college Intro to Health and Fitness students to submit a paper to me answering the question: Why is your life worth the deliberate and consistent effort to stay healthy? Upon reading the varied responses, it became quite clear to me that this Millennial Generation values health quite differently than their predecessors.

Boomer Selfishness: My gross judgement of the Baby Boomer generation is that they have neglected their health, are massively overweight, and are expecting the Millennials (or any other younger generation) to be financially responsible and inconvenienced for this. This criticism comes from my decades of experience as an Occupational Therapist. Most if not all of the Boomer patients seem entitled to their Medicare coverage paying for the medical intervention given to treat their preventable illnesses and diseases or "Lifestyle Diseases". Yes they paid in, yes they could have taken care of themselves and avoided Lifestyle Diseases. The stats from the Heart and Stroke Foundation seem to back my opinion:

This sort of health behavior causes heart attacks, strokes, orthopedic issues and more. The Boomers obviously haven't listened to Michelle Obama's lessons and feel entitled to burden the Millennials with their unnecessary health issues. Besides, they raised the Millennials, right?

Abating Millennial Selfies: Millennials have earned the reputation of the "Selfie Generation" (take away final e and add sh). Seems valid. When reading the papers I assigned, I learned that the Millennials have closely observed the health habits of the Boomers and value their own personal health. They still eat unbalanced diets with pizza, ice cream and a lot of PBJs. They also choose to ride their bikes instead of drive. My favorite quote from the stack was, ""I couldn't think of anything more selfish than to put my loved ones through trouble and misery just because I failed to take care of myself." Our health is a moral and ethical dellima that can rob people of their time, energy and joy; not to speak of breaking the 7th Commandment, "Thou Shall Not Kill". The Boomers selfishness in their health issues has and will defiantly rob the Millenials of financial capitol and other resources. However, I believe Boomer Selfishness will ultimately bring authentic social capitol to the Millenials through a situation that will require empathy, patience, and reason to get their nose out of their phone. Boomer Selfishness will Abate Millennial Selfies.

There are 83M Millenials and 74M Boomers which means there will be plenty of help to take care of the debilitating Boomers. Obese patients do require 2 people to safely transfer in and out of a wheelchair or bed. I suppose if the Millenials are still living at home by then, it would be more convenient to take care of mom and dad. It takes a lot of humility to admit that the greatest lesson you gave your youth was through your faults or mistakes. I don't know that the Boomers will embrace this realization. If you are a truely a healthy Boomer (not a part of the 80% disillusioned ones who think they are healthy), my apologies for harping on your generation and I ask you to share this with your Boomer peers. These Millennial values might virtually be healthy for them!

For the record, Tara is a GenXer!

 

I meet a lot of Christians who are more concerned with their religion and afterlife than living a fulfilled life here and now. Dallas Willard says "it's like buying the car insurance without driving a car"--I agree.  I often wonder if these Christians are simply avoiding their personal inner experience. Their logic may go like this: If I can live by a fixed set of narrow rules with the hope of something greater after I die, then I don't have to work change my perspective or actions to change my life now (or current situation). Or another mindset might be: God is responsible for my fulfillment, not me. Either way, the result is the same: an unfulfilled Christian. This sign hangs in my kitchen to remind myself and my kids that our perspective is often skewed.

Fulfillment is not the lack or absence of problems, or having the perfect set of circumstances. God has already granted us all we need to be fulfilled and is not directly responsible for our present level of fulfillment. How we respond to our circumstances, good or bad, is what brings us fulfillment. God has given us the choice to be fulfilled or not to be fulfilled. The cross of Jesus is the ultimate example of this, why should we be so joyous over a murder?

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.--Genesis 1:29-30

It is my belief that God has set everything in place for us to be fulfilled. It is my observation that people become fulfilled through using their God given talent and calling. Divine talent and calling are always aligned and used for the benefit of others. We are called to serve. Unfortunately, at some point, as we move through life, we most certainly will find ourselves unfulfilled. Often this is because we are working towards another person's dream, and not our own. In this scenario we rarely are using our own talents. This brings us back to the unfulfilled religious Christian who needs to repent of "unfulfilledness". Typically this person is serving another's calling--a boss, spouse, parent, child, church or employer--and has not realized her own personal calling God has given. If you see yourself in this dilemma, I encourage you to take the initiative to change and quit waiting to die in hopes of experiencing a better afterlife in heaven. To find your personal calling, you must figure out what has been put in your heart to serve God and likely others. You have also been given some talent in this area as well! Going through life trying not to break those fixed set of rules will help keep you safe but will never guide you to grow. God is not responsible for your fulfillment however, God will help you make the necessary changes in your perspective and actions to become fulfilled...it's up to you to choose to pursue your call!

People have a lot of feelings about their age. These poignancies can range from proud and excited (6 year old boy) to disgusted and discouraged (discontent woman who won't reveal age). With my upcoming 39th birthday this Saturday (obviously not ashamed to reveal age) I decided to calculate my Health & Fitness Age and Predicted Lifespan.

 Now mind you, this Health and Fitness Age, sometimes referred to as Physiological Age, can be very different than chronological or calendar age. Health and Fitness Age predicts your Lifespan by taking into account genetic factors, specific health risks related to gender and racial demographics, diet, exercise, body composition, driving habits and more. Health and Fitness Age is considered valid and reliable by the the Academy of Science and Sport Medicine (ACSM), the recognized authority in exercise, as well as the medical community at large.

After measuring my waist hip ratio (a medium risk thanks to my inherited apple shape), and being honest about my driving habits and diet (which is actually pretty healthy these days), I discovered my Predicted Lifespan to be 108! By estimate of current health data, the average predicted age for women my age in the US is 79.9. Now data is just that, data and there is often a bias in how data is found i.e. region of county, people who are going to the doctor, college students etc. I'm not sure where this predicted average comes from however the ACSM is endorsing it so I have to believe it is fairly unbiased.  This 79.9 age prediction tells me that women AREN'T taking care of themselves.  This biggest culprit of this...lack of exercise and obesity (1).

I've often heard moral judgments on how people spend their time, in church, not in church, volunteering, neglecting kids, giving back, being selfish. This is an interesting and touchy topic and I encourage you to read the article, The Stewardship of Time by J. Hampton Keathly III, Th,M.(2). We are certainly effected when those we care about do or don't spend time with us, are hurting, and of course cease linear time with us when they die. Knowing our physical activity is directly related to our lifespan and death is a result of sin (Romans 6:23) shouldn't we create the time to be active in order to live longer?

If you're interested in calculating your Health and Fitness Age, and Lifespan, you can do so on the ACSM Heatlh Age Calculator (3) . If you just want a glimpse, I took a picture of this chart from Lifetime Physical Fitness & Wellness by Werner and Sharon Hoeger (4) (reproduced without permission and not cited in APA--if the image is removed, you know why though they downloaded it last year from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) where it is no longer available so I'm sure they'll be gracious and leave it up).

I'm very excited to live until 2083 and as you can see from the chart, increasing your physical activity in mid life does extend your lifespan. I hope you choose to live!

 (1) http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/newsfromnci/2012/PhysicalActivityLifeExpectancy (downloaded)

(2.) https://bible.org/seriespage/stewardship-time

(3) http://www.exrx.net/Calculators/HealthAge.html

(4) Lifetime Physical Fitness & Wellness 13th Edition by Werner and Sharon Hoeger 

After picking on President Obama in my recent post Why This Hobby Lobbies Religious Freedom, I want to express my intrigue and gratitude for the Michelle Obama effort to make our country healthier.  We need it.  Just look around, or look down, or perhaps you should keep your eyes on the blog.  What the Obamas are trying to accomplish is good and smart and nearly impossible.  Just look at our leaders in Congress.  Many of these leaders are fat and spending tax dollars that ebb years off of your lifespan.  Some are evidently blind too.   This congressman (R-WI) was overheard telling a woman at Washington's Reagan National Airport that First Lady Michelle Obama, "lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself."

Okay dude, for one, that posterior is called a booty and Michelle has an awesome one!  Just look, George W. and Obama even agree about THAT!

Michelle is also a pear shape which has many added health benefits and longevity.  Enough on that.  The Obamas understand the need and value of being healthy.  American health care cosst have skyrocketed to 3 trillion dollars anually with 97% of that money being spent on 50% of the people. Health care reform is a must and requires us all to take responsibility in making healthy choices.  So why are your tax dollars killing you?

 

1.  Community Design

Most American communities are designed around the automobile.  Sidewalk and bike trails are too sparse, motivating people to drive their car versus ride their bike or walk to work. Moreover, traffic engineers base a street's "level of service" on motor vehicle facilitation, not pedestrian or biker facilitation.  According to these guidelines, pedestrians are "obstructions", slowing traffic.  Independent of our excessive body weight or physical activity, our daily amount of time sitting in a car, office, school etc is directly linked to  cardiovascular disease mortality. For more information and research on this, see my blog post:  The Deadly First World Disease You Likely Have.

 

2.  Healthcare Regulations

Of our 3 trillion annual healthcare dollars, 95% of it is spent on state-of-the-art-cures, or saving people (Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness, 13th edition, Hoeger).  During these life and death health situations, such as cancer, people are not concerned about cost or wasteful and inefficient spending.  Congress doesn't want to touch the idea of regulating these decisions because it would require putting a monetary value on people.  Instead, the country prefers to have a reactive approach to health spending -- 1.5 Trillion annually on obesity and smoking related diseases.  I think our R-WI congressman above fits in this category...

 

As a person of faith, I believe we have a moral obligation to take care of ourselves and our communities.

Our light shines healthier, longer and brighter when we take care of our bodies.  Out of your love for Christ and his sacrifice, I hope you will choose to take responsibility for youself because of your value, rather than waiting for Michelle Obama to come to your school and teach you about being healthy!

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.--Matthew 5:16

For years I have harped on my yoga classes about the harmful effects of sitting and the importance of hip flexibility observing that most people in my American Midwest classes become contracted and slightly deformed with a pelvic tilt by the time they are in their twenties.  The contraction becomes stronger resulting in mild back pain and significant inflexibility while in their thirties and if they are not properly moving, people experience significant health and well-being issues in their 40's and beyond.  Can I say back pain?  While prepping to teach my freshman learning course at Indiana University Kokomo, I learned this issue has been officially coined by the scientific community as "Sitting Disease"(1).

The research of Sitting Disease indicates that sitting more than 3 hours a days cuts off two years of life.  Women who sit more that 6 hours a day have a 100% greater chance of dying a decade earlier than women who sit less than 3 hours a day.  Men who sit more that 6 hours a day have a 50% greater chance of dying a decade earlier than men who sit less than 3 hours a day (2).   My suspicion of the significant risk percentage between women and men is that women have wider hips and experience more contraction in the pelvis though pregnancies, therefore the intensity of Sitting Disease is more profound.  

According to research most Americans spend at least 8 hours sitting and sitting is unnatural for the body...God did not invent chairs, people did.  Sitting in chairs for such prolonged periods of time IS hazardous to one's health.  Sitting Disease is a first world problem.  Those who are unable to afford the luxury of a chair squat.

Some cultures can afford chairs though have not integrated them into mainstream.

Think about what your next business meeting would look like if everyone squatted.  Perhaps this is a new opportunity to streamline meetings with less disagreement and more getting to the action items (the dude here doesn't look like he can talk much anyway!)  I personally wouldn't wear a short dress or skirt in this sort of meeting.

While sitting to write this blog post, I decided that despite my career in yoga, I too should combat Sitting Disease in my life.  

 I could tolerate the squatting blogging position at my kids table for approximately 20 minutes to which I then moved to a kneeling position.  

Fortunately Sitting Disease can be reversed through a quality fitness program and well, less sitting.  If you suspect you have this deadly first world disease (which if you are American and can't do the splits, you likely do), starting moving!  Incorporating a regular yoga routine to help improve your hip flexibility will make a difference.  Stand or squat to do your work and if you must sit in an office chair, get up to move and stretch at least once an hour.  Sitting in a half or full lotus while sitting in a chair will help as well.  Walking instead of riding in a car, walking after meals, squatting while watching television...the functional solutions are endless to decrease your daily sitting time.  I hope you will make the change to fight Sitting Disease in your life...your life literally depends on it!

Resources:

(1)  M.R. Bracko, "Can We Prevent Back Injuries?"  ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal 8, no.  4 (2004) 5-11.

(2)  Hoeger, W.W.K., & Hoeger, S.A.  Lifetime Physical Fitness & Wellness:  A Personal Program.  (2013) pp. 21.  

Running a business for the past couple of years has given me new respect for entrepreneurs.  It takes a lot of time and persistence to develop a business idea into a viable product.  Once the product is ready to formally present, it's not a guarantee the world will embrace it.  Rejection bites.  I feel vulnerable.

It's been two years since I released my first Christian Yoga DVD "Perfect Peace".  It seems like a lifetime ago.  I am still selling DVDs one at a time out of my trunk and gym bag, at craft shows and through the internet.  Knowing many successful startups started peddling their products out of their trunk as well, I sell whenever, wherever and however. Quite frankly I don't have a lot of time to invest in my business as I stay busy with my four young children whose ages range from 4-10.  Nevertheless, God provides opportunities and my network of Yogacaans (Christian Yoga Instructors).  This helps me rememberI have been called to this work.

"Faith" is often thrown around as some feel-good virtue, or at least I threw it around as one.  Faith is also misconceived as sticking it out through misery.  I've learned during my short-time in business that faith is truly believing.  Yes, I know the Bible says this in Hebrews 11, though it certainly hits home when your family assets and career are on the line.  Faith takes risks that look ridiculous from the outside, nevertheless, the call is strong so you joyfully continue in the work knowing it will flourish in it's own time.  My business in faith is to joyfully continue with the work and blessings I have been given.  So what's your business in faith?

Accepting death is a key principle with any spiritual practice.  Jesus did this in such a humanistic and vulnerable way, asking God to take away the imminent if possible, "Father if you are willing, take this cup from me: yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42).  Jesus, obviously submitted to the will of God here, did get an angel out of the situation but did not receive the answered prayer he was hoping for.

Grasping our situation in God's world is a tricky one, most people I know, including myself, don't have an updated will and their affairs are not in order for death.  Ironically, death is one of the certainties in life.  Jesus arranged his entire work in preparation for his death.  The death, and more importantly the resurrection of Jesus means a lot of things and is still being discussed 2,000+ years later...we have all the various denominations and their members representing the infinite revelations on the matter.  We've all had visions or supernatural experiences that give us a glimpse of the unknown Jesus represents--I'm anxious to see the movie, "Heaven is For Real", which tells the story of a child's experience while clinically dead.  I love the promise of Jesus to the man he died with, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43). 

It's pretty impossible to objectively say what one might experience after death, even though is it related to what we do on earth, at least that's what the Bible indicates.  It is within our power to "Live Like We're Dying" as Kris Allen sings.  It is possible to see God today as Jesus claims, "God is not the God of the dead but of the living."  (Luke 20:38).  Jesus didn't take the safe road in life and it did get him killed.  Jesus didn't get his prayer answered to keep living, God allowed death to prevail.  Jesus lived, and died.  Jesus lives!  Carelessness about death was not evident in the life of Jesus, though his disciples disagreed with this statement at the time, urging him to stay away from Jerusalem.  Jesus has the greatest legacy of all history.

As I leave you this week with your mantra manna, I encourage you to live.  Live today.  Don't be deceived that somehow your resurrection as a Christian excuses you from living today--this apathy toward life is carelessness about death. 

 

 

Breathing is an essential aspect of yoga and meditation, I often tell my classes it's their favorite thing to do.   How we breathe in a pose determines how deep we go, what energies are activated and well, it just feels wonderful to move and breathe.  It feels wonderful to breathe!  Whether sustaining ourselves as a living being, or having a hot mess to deal with, there are a multitude of reasons to "Just Breathe".   Breathing clears our minds, and opens our heart; breathing makes space within us helping reveal our best ideas, beliefs and deepest fears.  Listening to the subtleties of a breath tells a story of our life, a story we are often unable to put into words.  Breathing is primitive and profound altogether.  Breathing is spiritual. 

Used 350 times in the New Testament, "pneu'ma" (pnyoo'-mah), an old Greek word for breath literally refers our breath being the very Spirit of God.  Losing its combination of physical and divine nature as the Bible was translated from Greek, this word became "spirit".  Through Christ our breath becomes coeternal with God, as the Holy Spirit overtakes us.  Life giving pneu'ma gives us the power of God manifest through our breath.  Did I mention breathing is powerful?

If you're not motivated to "Just Breathe" yet, here are a few more practical reasons.

1.  Breathing oxygenates the blood and body bringing nourishment and sustaining life. 

2.  A person skilled in breathing techniques can actually passively activate every muscle tissue in the body through breath. 

2.  Breathing helps the body develop muscle tissue, making us stronger. 

3.  Breathing enhances metabolism and fuels digestion making us leaner and optimizing the nutrition in our food. 

4.  Breathing stabilizes the nervous system which makes us more calm, attentive and alert, reducing anxiety and helping the body systems communicate better (the nervous system is the link connecting body systems).

5.  Breathing releases toxins, yes, 70% of the toxins and waste in our bodies are released in the form of carbon dioxide.  Releasing toxins help reduce risks of cancer and prevents wrinkles.  Take an exhale now. 

6.  Studies have shown breathing to reduce pain.  Lamaze worked for me in the delivery room and has for millions of other women too. 

7.  Breathing improves posture and better posture produces better breathing. 

8.  Breathing strengthens the lungs which helps the body fight off respiratory issues.  Asthma has been a significant issue with my kids, it's scary to have difficulty breathing.

9.  Breathing boosts energy levels...try taking a deep breath and see if you feel more energetic.

10.  Breathing helps ease the weight of emotional issues, and if you don't believe this, make a note yourself to set aside time each day to "Just Breathe" and see how you feel...

On the journey of helping others transform their bodies, I have found that the transformation isn't just physical.  I've yet to meet somebody fully satisfied with the physique and functionality of one's body.  Whether it be losing weight, gaining strength, running faster, experiencing less pain, having tighter abs, moving more freely, improving posture, standing with better balance, building endurance or...well you get the point, there is ALWAYS a desire to transform the body.   So why is it that some people meet their health and fitness goals, look awesome all of the time and enjoy working out while others spend a lifetime yo-yoing with their 20-60 extra pounds? 

With over 20 years of fitness experience, I attest this statement to be entirely true. 

 What exactly is the mind supposed to believe then for the body to achieve?  Believing one can lose those 40 extra pounds, bench press 300 pounds, run a marathon, hold the hand stand or complete their 10 pull ups is only part of belief it takes to make permanent transformation in the body.  We all know that proper diet and exercise will achieve results though the restaurant parking lots are still more crowded than the gym and wellness center ones. 

I've heard EVERY excuse: Time, money, illness, kids, transportation...  When my husband was struggling with his weight I finally asked him how he felt about me spending our 401K savings with another man?  It took him a moment, however he did come to realize that he is valuable enough to take care of himself and that taking care of himself is also a fundamental way of taking care of our family.  Since this time his motivation to eat healthy and exercise has been consistent because he believes his life to be worth the commitment.  And there you have it:  The type of belief that will truly transform the body is the belief you are valuable enough and worth the effort to commit.  Anything less results in relapse and temporary change. 

You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.--I Corinthians 6:20

The price Christ paid for you is non refundable.  I am still mesmerized that my life was worth the life of Christ and believing this to be true requires me to take care of my body as valuable.  I honor God with my body by keeping it healthy and strong.  Sometimes the hardest part of any journey is the first step, but remember that first step is one more than you did lounging on the couch.  I hope you will join me in gratitude for the sacrifice of Christ and believe you are valuable enough to commit to your health and fitness.  You're worth the effort and you'll be glad you decided to believe as your body transforms!