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.

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".

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!

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.