Besides a wife, mom, and author, I also am a fitness instructor and am passionate about good health. I’ve been encouraging the participants in my classes to make healthy lifestyle changes that will have results, and wanted to encourage you as well.
Please join me next week for our regularly-scheduled program. Until then, come join me for Penny’s Healthy Living Challenge!
Before I give details, I do need to reiterate two things. First, I’m not a medical professional and cannot give medical advice. Second, please check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise/supplement/eating regime to be sure it is safe for you.
Third, there may be some things on the list you can do and others that, due to limitations, whether time, health, pain, or otherwise, that you are unable to do. No worries! Do what you can and don’t worry about the rest.
A few notes…
Does not have to be consecutive days.
Each item done each day earns one point for that item per day.
One point for each item for each day accomplished so there is potential for 80 points per week based on a five-day plan. Challenge yourself to see how many points you can get in a week!
Penny’s Healthy Living Challenge:
Do at least 30 minutes of cardio
Do at least 30 minutes of weightbearing/weightlifting exercises
Do 25 jumps (i.e., jumping jacks, trampoline, or jumprope)
Do at least 20 situps/curls/or plank
Do 20 pushups
Spend time in God’s Word
No extra sugar in your diet
Do something nice for someone
Get 15 minutes of fresh air
Spend time in prayer
Get some Vitamin D (sunshine or synthetic)
Eat at least three vegetables
Eat at least three fruits
Get at least seven hours of sleep
Keep stress to a minimum
Drink 64 ounces of water
Have at least one belly laugh
Get 10,000 or more steps
Get a hug, give a hug (pets count!)
God gave us amazing bodies. Eyes that can see the beauty of Creation, from a tiny baby to the mountains in the distance. Arms that are capable of giving the best hugs. Legs that carry us daily to where we need to go. We need to take care of what God has blessed us with, and what better time to begin than now?
How are you doing with the challenge? I would love to hear about your progress, so feel free to leave me a comment!
It doesn’t seem possible that we’re already ushering in the New Year. Most of us can agree that 2021 flew by faster than ever. May, June, July…they all seem like distant memories.
Each year, New Year’s resolutions are made, and each year, New Year’s resolutions are broken, some within a month or two of making them. Below are some suggestions for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions.
Resolution: Exercise more.
How to fail: “I’m going to exercise every day for two hours without fail.” or “I’m going to run twenty miles a day.”
Tips to succeed: Beginning an exercise program doesn’t have to be daunting. Make it a goal to join one class at the gym and stick to it. Choose a class that is not too intense and is within your abilities. You can always move on to the next level at a later time. If you aren’t a gym member, plan to start a workout program (check with your doctor first) tailored to something you enjoy for up to 30 minutes, a couple of times a week to start. Some suggestions include a workout video (either the old-fashioned DVD way or through streaming); jumproping to several of your favorite songs; going for a walk each day through the neighborhood or in a nearby park; investing in a mini-trampoline; taking a swim at a nearby indoor pool; turning on the tunes and dancing; or purchasing some inexpensive dumbbells (or water bottles) and do a weight training routine. Whichever exercise you choose, be sure to warm-up first and start slow. It’s far easier to start slow and work your way up than to start with zest and burn out.
Resolution: Eat healthier.
How to fail: “I’m going to only eat healthy foods without fail.”
Tips to succeed: Start small. Choose one unhealthy food to eliminate from your diet or decide to add one healthy food to add to your diet. This past month, I added pumpkin to my list of healthy foods to eat on a regular basis. A few months ago, I added a “green drink” that consists of kale, spinach, and broccoli. Plan to give up an unhealthy food choice each month until it becomes a habit. If you “accidentally” consume the unhealthy food, no worries. Try again the following week. No pressure.
Resolution: Get organized/declutter
How to fail: “I will organize and declutter my house all in one day and will never, ever again succumb to the temptation of purchasing useless items again.”
Tips to succeed: Begin with manageable portions of organization. Tackle one room or space at a time. To do otherwise will be overwhelming. My plan for getting organized and decluttered consists of starting in my home office (where I spend a lot of time) beginning with my bookshelves, then my desk, then my exercise equipment. After my home office is completed (and giving myself ample time to finish it), I will move on to the kitchen, starting with countertops, then cupboards, and so on.
Resolution: Making your relationship with God a priority.
How to fail: “I will read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation fourteen times in two months”.
Tips to succeed: Make growing your relationship with the Lord less a list of “to-do’s” and more of a sincere time to grow closer to Jesus. Spend time with Him first thing in the morning in prayer and in His Word. Pray throughout the day and without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and keep a prayer journal. Choose a book of the Bible to read and study each month and read a chapter each day for a month. I read a chapter each day, and when I run out of chapters, I start over again in the same book until the next month. For instance, in December, my book of choice is Romans. It has 16 chapters, so I will read each chapter almost twice in one month. My goal? To become a more knowledgeable student of His Word by really allowing the chapters to “sink in”, which will take me more than just one time reading them. I am working my way through the entire Bible this way, slowly and at a manageable pace, not because I have to, but because I want to know the Lord more fully.
Resolution: Save money/spend less/get out of debt.
How to fail: “I will never, ever buy anything, except the absolute necessaries and, if I do buy something extra, I’ll return it right away.”
Tips to succeed: For saving money, skim an amount off the top of your paycheck each month (or start with most months and work your way up). This can be a manageable amount to be increased in reasonable increments. To spend less, make a handwritten budget (handwritten is more intentional), make a grocery list with most important and necessary items at the top and lesser important (but not frivolous) items at the bottom for if your budget allows. To get out of debt, add an additional amount to pay on a debt each month. For example, pay extra toward your credit card, medical debt, or mortgage each month. Even if the additional amount seems minute, it adds up fast.
Resolution: Spend less time on social media/the computer/my phone or device (for things other than actual work projects).
How to fail: “I will give up all social media and only use my phone to call people”.
Tips to succeed: The all-or-nothing approach sets us up for failure. Instead, choose one or two social media platforms to spend your time on and step away from the rest. You can change those one or two at any time. Set the timer and allow yourself that amount of time to catch up on posts, “likes”, “retweets”, etc. Do the same for returning emails.
Setting unmanageable goals for ourselves is never the key to success. Rather, set an attainable goal and allow yourself grace if you fail. You can always start again.
All of the craziness of 2020, including the pandemic and social unrest, certainly plays into the fact that it’s always wise to have some extra food/supplies on hand. I’m not talking about being a hoarder, stockpiling, or going into panic mode. Far from it. Rather, I’m talking about being prepared in case there are a few months in which you are unable to get to the store or the store shelves are bare. Or there are more forced lockdowns and quarantines and travel to the store isn’t an option.
Most of us remember not too long ago when we experienced the bitter taste of socialism as we visited our local grocery store only to discover certain items being rationed, or that some items were indefinitely out of stock. I remember that first time my heart lurched as I gazed at shelf after shelf at our largest grocery store, only to find a few stray dried pinto beans, rice kernels, a few miscellaneous dented cans, and nothing more in several of the aisles.
Of course we will always remember the craziness of the toilet paper caper (and truly, some of that panic was ridiculous) and the fact that cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer were obsolete. But in my neck of the woods, other things were difficult to find as well. Milk and butter were rationed and tortillas and any type of Mexican food (salsa, hot sauce, etc.) had disappeared. Cheese (admittedly one of my favorite foods) couldn’t be found. I honestly thought the cows had gone on strike. Potatoes were a luxury item.
My mom told me just the other day that toilet paper in her town (20 miles from a major metro area) had again been rationed to one pack per person. Hopefully, we aren’t going to go down this route again.
The Lord tells us in His Word not to worry about what we will eat. He reminds us that the birds of the air don’t worry about what they will eat or drink and we are worth much more to Him that the sparrows. (Matthew 6:25-34).
However, I believe God desires us to use the common sense that He gave us. We should have food in the refrigerator and pantry for times when it might not be readily available to us. Or times when we might need to help someone less fortunate. And emergency preparedness is always a good idea.
One of my favorite things to do is to purchase extra when one of our smaller local grocery stores has their “case lot sale”. These extras can be used for food drives, which are especially prevalent around Christmas. These extras can also be donated to friends or family who may have fallen on hard times and need extra food to carry them to the next paycheck.
According to some experts, it’s always a wise idea to have at least a month’s worth of items in your pantry. Here are some suggestions:
Thank you for joining me for part two of my experience with shingles. To read Part One, please go here.
Today is Day 20. My rash is nearly gone in some places and scabbing over and fading in others. The shingles journey is definitely not for an impatient person (the average length is 3-5 weeks). Every day, I rush to the mirror to see the progress God is making in healing my body. He has brought me so far. Just a quick glance at the pictures from those first days is evidence.
I still have intermittent pain and now my scabbed-over rash has started to itch. But I am doing so, so much better.
There are several things I’ve learned about this illness. Again, I am not a medical professional, so please be sure to check with your doctor before trying any of the listed items.
Use a cold compress. Placing a cool (not frozen) compress on the rash several times a day has worked well for me for pain management, especially in most recent days.
Wear loose and comfortable clothing. After this journey is over, I will definitely never again take for granted being able to wear whatever I want.
Make an appearance. Since shingles can make you feel so lousy, an important thing I have found to do is to be sure to get dressed, fix my hair, and put on some makeup each morning. This can do wonders for your esteem when you already feel crummy.
Do things to take your mind off the pain. As a writer, more than anything, I have been yearning to work on my current novel. Unfortunately, due to the location of my polka-dots (as I call my shingles) it’s difficult (but getting easier!) to sit in one position for long. However, writing takes my mind off the shingles, as does reading, watching a movie with my family, listening to my favorite Christian music playlist, and spending time sitting outside in the fresh air, surrounded by my flower pots (added bonus).
Continue to gradually build up to where you were before that fateful day. In my first post, I mentioned that I was walking each day and doing minimal stretches. I have worked my way up to walking further and to twice a day with plenty of rest in between.
Today, for the first time in three weeks, I actually took this one step further. As a group fitness instructor, I was on the schedule to teach my cycling class today. With my doctor’s permission, I taught class – low impact for me and the usual high impact for my class. For the rest of the week, I will take it easy and continue with my walking. Next Monday and Wednesday, I again teach. I am hoping by gently easing into teaching again, I will be able to progress and not regress.
Keep clinging to God. The odd thing that I have discovered about shingles is that you can feel better for a portion of the day and then zing! The pain reminds you it’s not yet gone for good. My pain has definitely been alleviating and I find myself taking less Tylenol than when I first started, but at times (especially at night) it rears its ugly head again. It’s a good reminder to me to continue to cling to God for comfort and strength as He continues to heal me. And just to humbly add – I have had a few tearful moments through all this, so if you’ve had some of those moments too, you’re not alone.
Be careful about what you allow into your mind. Trust me on this one, as I’m also talking to myself when I say this. There are some nasty things that can happen with shingles. Don’t be an internet warrior and go looking for them. Instead, at your doctor’s visit (or subsequent phone call with a nurse or other medical professional), ask what things would necessitate an emergency or, at the very least, a return visit to their office. They will temper their response so its helpful, but not scary. By Googling things on our own, sometimes we can find the worst of the worst. This doesn’t help. It only causes anxiety and fear, something we need to avoid, especially since stress makes shingles worse. Curious about something? Have a trusted family member look it up for you and see if it even applies to your situation.
Continue to get lots of rest. Oh, but there are so many things I need to be doing right now! Yes, I’m definitely behind on many things, but my family graciously reminds me that I’m not going to get better if I don’t rest (very hard for this active girl!). Even if we’re feeling better, we need to continue to take it easy. Our bodies will thank us for it.
Have a good support system. I am so grateful to have a family who cares about and for me. Not only do I have an amazing immediate family, but my extended family reaches out to me daily to check on and encourage me. They all, in addition to my church family, have been praying for me. We can never collect too many prayers.
So what do you do if you live alone? I would encourage you to connect with family members, friends, and/or your church. No one should have to go through shingles alone.
Pray fervently. I have prayed for four things consistently during my shingles journey. They are that no one else in my family would get this (especially my parents and other older relatives), that I would heal completely and not have the permanent pain that can affect some shingles sufferers, that God would change me through this for the better so that I may be used mightily for His Kingdom, and that He would be glorified through this (sometimes) frightening trial. Prayer is effective and it works.
Shingles are just bizarre. The burning, tingling, zapping, throbbing, intense pain is like nothing else. Big thanks (not!) to the reactivation of the varicella-voster virus, the one that gave us chickenpox when we were kids. It makes the top 10 lists of the most painful conditions, gives us several weeks of grief, and then, in some cases, can re-emerge (ummm, no thanks!).
So as I conclude the almost three-week mark, thank you again for joining me. Continue to hang in there. We will get through this!
Get a healthy dose of exercise. Walk. Scooter. If the weather is nice, head outdoors with the family and enjoy some fresh air. Bring out the strollers and push little ones for a win/win situation.
Play a game of tag.
Put together a puzzle.
Join with your kids in serving others, beginning in your own neighborhood. Do elderly neighbors need grocery pickup or delivery? Could you rake leaves, mow the lawn, shovel snow, or till a garden? Walk their dog?
Set some decluttering goals. What a perfect time to organize! Join with the kids in setting a goal to organize their toys, a closet, or the living room. Play some music, then celebrate with a fun treat afterwards.
Connect through a Bible study. Take turns reading, then discussing the chapter.
Partake in a Bible challenge. When my girls were younger, they loved it when I hosted Bible challenges and asked them questions. They would “ring in” when they knew the answer. Not only was it fun, but it also helped us learn God’s Word.The questions can be as simple as the following:Who created the earth?Who were the first two people God created?
Who is God’s Son?
To harder questions:
Name eight of the 12 disciples.
Name the nine attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit?
Name the books of the New Testament in order.
Plan meals together and make them. One good thing to come out of our recent Covid-19 isolation is that we, as families, are eating out less and making more meals together. Put kids in charge of planning meals and making (or assisting in the making of) the meals. I recommend Quick and Easy Crock-Pot Chili (gluten free).
Make funny videos. Using your phone or other device, have your kids record funny commercials selling something they own or making a silly news program. When I was a kid, my sister and I filmed (with a gigantic video camera!) used car commercials, a news series on happenings, and music videos where we danced to our favorite songs.
Play mimic mirror. With two players (two kids or a kid and a parent) have one person make certain faces and the other person mimic those expressions.
Have a blinking contest. First person to blink loses!
Make it a spa day. Have daughters? Create a spa day complete with manicures, pedicures, and new hairdos.
Have a hot chocolate day. Who doesn’t love a huge cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows?
Host a tea party.
Snuggle before getting out of bed in the morning. One of my favorite memories is snuggling with my daughters when they were little and reading them stories before we started on our day.
Decorate boxes. Have some boxes from recent online deliveries? Be sure to let them sit for at least 24 hours (to be sure there is no germ spread from Covid-19), then bring out the crayons and markers and decorate the boxes.
Enlist your teens to make up exercise routines they host for the entire family.
Do a science experiment. This website offers some innovative ideas.
Play hide and seek. This is one of our family’s favorite past times. Years ago, we couldn’t find my husband during one particular game. It’s still a mystery how he perched himself way above the water heater in the water closet, reminiscent of Spiderman.
Have a treasure/scavenger hunt. Provide clues and a surprise at the end.
Write a book together. One person starts the “book” and passes it around with everyone handwriting a paragraph or several. Littles can draw pictures to illustrate.
Have a blind taste testing competition. Secretly collect different items and place a bit of each one in separate containers. Guests of the competition will be blindfolded and try to guess what they are tasting.
Build a fort. Kitchen chairs and blankets, anyone?
Listen to audiobooks. Adventures in Odyssey has some wonderful timeless stories.
Host the Olympic games in your living room or your backyard. Everything from skipping races to the three-legged race, to crab walking can bring a gold medal.
Design a fitness center with different stations. Jump roping, hula-hooping, hopping on one foot, somersaults, situps, and pushups. Set the timer for each station.
Create Playdough or homemade clay. The iheart naptime blog has a great recipe for your homemade playdough endeavors.
Create and color for family members. Grandmas love to hang those on their refrigerators!
Create and color pictures/write encouraging notes for those in nursing homes and VA hospitals. Call ahead of time to see if they are accepting artwork for their residents.
Make a craft. Make Cheerio necklaces or another fun craft, such as egg carton caterpillars, pasta pictures, and homemade frames. Check out this idea for mini-lid banjos from the Craft Train blog.
Host a touch testers competition. Put several items in a box and each competitor must guess what the item is. Keep track to see who wins!
Create and act out a play.
Play dress up with mom’s and dad’s clothes.
Play balloon volleyball. (Do not use balloons around small children, as they are a choking hazard).
Read the same book as your tweens and teens, then have a book discussion, complete with treats.
Have a picnic in your yard, on your deck, or in the living room.
Go on a photography hunt. Using your camera, snap interesting photos of the world around you.
Shoot baskets. This works at the outside basketball hoop, or a makeshift “hoop” designed from a trash can and using a soft ball.
Create a “grocery store” with empty boxes and plastic containers of items. Children can “shop” for items and pay with coins or homemade coins/dollar bills made from cardboard.
Make sock puppets. Using old socks, markers, and buttons, create sock puppets, then have them star in their own sock puppet show.
Play a game. Uno, Tenzi, Checkers, Old Maid, Yahtzee, Apples to Apples Big Picture, Monopoly, Clue, Canine Capers, and Pictionary are some fun options.
Be a gameshow host. The options are endless for this suggestion. When my girls were younger, we played a game called “Gameshow Contestant.” I would call out a letter and they would run to retrieve the letter magnet from the front of the refrigerator. I would excitedly call out, “can she do it in less than 10 seconds? Stick around, folks, let’s see!” At the end of the game, the girls would win fabulous “new cars” aka, Matchbox cars. J Other suggestions are to find items around the house and place them on the table in record time.
Encourage creative play. Our children need time to be creative with no structure. This is so important to proper development and fostering an active imagination.
What a blessing to be able to spend time with our children and teens! Let’s use this opportunity to grow closer.
How do you keep your children busy during this time of social isolation?
Thanks so much for taking the time to share this post. I appreciate you!
We live in a challenging world. Bad things happening all around us – kidnappings, shootings, assaults, Christian persecution, severe weather, car accidents…and the list goes on. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to not get discouraged by the negativity that can be found at the touch of our fingertips via social media, news outlets, or on TV.
So how can we push past the dangers lurking behind every corner, the fears that overwhelm us, and the toxicity of our fallen world?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.”
The website further states, that Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, is”The leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.3…MDD affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7%of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.”
Aside from the usual therapy options, including medication (because I am a firm believer that God allowed medicine to be created for those who truly need it), what can we do to take our focus off of the world around us and be happier? To find joy in the midst of all that is going on around us?
Here are five suggestions:
1. Spend more time with the Lord. Keep our eyes on Him. Rely on Him. Seek Him. Rejoice in Him. I can tell you from experience that the moment I take my eyes off Jesus, things take a turn. Set aside time, preferably each morning before you start the day, to dive into His Word, pray, and seek His guidance. The morning is the best time, as with all the busyness in daily life, this important action can quickly take a backseat to all of the other demands on our day.
Two of my biggest prayer requests during my morning quiet time with the Lord are that I would walk in a manner worthy of the calling He has placed on my life (Ephesians 4:1), and that I would be a blessing to my family first and foremost – and not only to them, but also to others I encounter throughout my day.
For those of us who have made Jesus our Lord and Savior, this is not our home. Not our permanent home, anyway. Remembering that can put our circumstances and the bad things that happen around us in a different perspective.
2. Spend more time with our family and our close friends. Sometimes in the midst of employment, soccer practices, cell phones, and extracurricular activities, family time can be all but forgotten. Seek to spend more time with your family: your spouse and your children, and your close friends. Doing so makes for a much happier life. This can be as simple as going on walks, playing games, or just sitting down to talk. Whatever the method, your relationships will be strengthened, and you will find yourself with a lighter heart.
3. Spend more time putting others first. We are definitely happier when we put ourselves aside and seek to serve others. Doing nice things for someone, volunteering, and showing random acts of kindness can all add joy to our lives. According the HelpGuide website, “Volunteering is good for your mind and body”, and “Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life”, among many other benefits.
And you don’t have to commit to a huge volunteering project to reap the benefits of happiness, but rather pray that God would show you who you can assist each day, whether in big ways or small ways.
4. Spend more time in nature. Studies have shown that nature is important to our well-being. Who can stay crabby after being outside with the chirping birds, gentle breeze of the trees, and the warm sunshine? And summer isn’t the only time nature can make us happier. Just being outside in all seasons can improve our outlook on life. When we are out in God’s creation, our thoughts will center more on Him.
5. Spend more time exercising. Regular exercise can make us happier. According to an article on Livestrong, besides the usual health benefits, exercise “can also improve your mood, lift your spirits and make you feel better about yourself. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals that boost your sense of well-being and suppresses hormones that cause stress and anxiety.”
There are many more ways of gaining happiness. Rather than focusing on the world and it’s negativity, focus on God, family, and others.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share this post. I appreciate you!
As I was running on the treadmill today, I realized how much I love working out to music. Apparently, running/biking/power walking/playing sports to my favorite tunes is not only enjoyable, but it’s beneficial.
According to Dr. Ahmed, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, “Music also changes your perception of how hard you’re working. With your favorite songs playing, you feel like you’ve exerted yourself less and can tolerate more physical activity.” He also goes on to indicate the other benefits of exercising with music including improved mental well-being and the interesting fact that listening to tunes while you are taking a treadmill stress test can improve your time.
It’s that time again! Time for New Year’s Resolutions, one of which is to get healthier. To do so, many people head to the gym.
Here are seven rules for gym etiquette. Follow these and your fellow exercise enthusiasts will thank you!
Clean your machine after you are finished. You’d be surprised how many people fail to do this. With flu season currently here and the risk of other illnesses, including MRSA, always high where people (and germs!) congregate, it only makes sense to wipe down your machine, whether it be the treadmill, elliptical, or that weight bench.
Stay home if you are sick. This goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many folks show up at the gym hacking up a lung (and oftentimes not covering their mouths).
Take cell phone conversations out of the workout area. Important calls do inevitably happen at the worst moments. When they do, be courteous.
Don’t wear strong perfume. Many people have asthma and allergies. Resist the urge to shower yourself in perfume and cologne before heading to the gym. However, please do wear deodorant!
Use modesty when workout choosing clothes. Make sure that you do the “bend, move, and twist” test at home. If things are hanging out, you’re wearing the wrong clothes. Make sure your outfit is not too tight, too low, or too see-through.
Don’t be a fan stealer. In my experience as both a frequent gym user and a group fitness instructor at a couple of different gyms over the years, I have discovered that “fan” people fall into two groups. They are the pro-fanners or the anti-fanners. The pro-fanners are working out hard and need the fans on and circulating air, especially since cardio rooms tend to be stuffy and humid. The anti-fanners strongly dislike fans and don’t want them on. In my personal opinion, we need fans and they need to be on at all times. We are coming to the gym to sweat, after all. A great compromise if you are an anti-fanner, turn the fan away from you so that it’s still circulating air, but not causing you distress. And a note to pro-fanners: if someone has the fan blowing on them, don’t steal it and point it on yourself.
Watch your language. The best rule of thumb: keep it PG-rated, especially when it’s a gym that’s shared by families and children are present.
The best rule of all? Treat others the way you’d like to be treated – including at the gym.
What are some of the pet peeves you’ve noticed while at the gym?
Thanks so much for taking the time to share this post. I appreciate you!