Start The Year Out Right

By Tammy Trail

January is the month of new beginnings. We celebrate a new year and make resolutions that most of us will follow for a few weeks, and then our resolve disappears like melting snow. For some of us, those promises made to ourselves don’t come with consequences. But for others who need to make major health choices, the consequences may be detrimental.

About four years ago I found out that I am a diabetic. At first, this didn’t mean much to me because I had no symptoms. My overall health was not affected. There were no outward appearances that made a person think, “Hey there goes that diabetic.”

I didn’t fully understand diabetes until I took a class a few months ago. This class taught me the causes of diabetes and why my lifestyle choices can make my diabetes manageable or suffer some pretty awful health issues if I don’t pay attention and make good choices.

I have Type 2 diabetes. That means my pancreas produces too much insulin and dumps it into my bloodstream. When I have too much insulin (sugar) in my system my body can’t use it all for energy. I need to help my body out by not eating foods that cause even MORE insulin because my pancreas is working too hard. That insulin will be delivered to other organs that can’t use it and may cause damage.  Your nervous system, kidneys, eyes, and eventually your heart can be damaged from not managing your diabetes correctly.

I’m not up for more doctor visits, medication, or medical tests because I can’t control what I’m putting in my mouth. Now for some folks, no matter what they do, diabetes controls them instead of the other way around. It’s hard. But I’m willing to try and make a difference for myself.

Another fact that this class taught me is the kinds of foods I can eat, and the ones to stay away from. That is so hard.  Who doesn’t like mashed potatoes and gravy, or bread? Those are two of my favorite carbs. But carbohydrates are just as bad as sugar for a diabetic. There are carbs and sugar in almost everything we eat. The trick is to find foods that are very low in sugar and carbs.

What I am trying to do is to stay away from processed foods. Eat more vegetables that are lower in carbohydrates, like cauliflower, squash, broccoli and green beans. More lean meats, like turkey, chicken, and fish. I do eat brown rice, and sprouted grain bread, but I try and eat those only occasionally. I cut soda pop from an everyday beverage to once in a great while, maybe twice a month.

It’s hard to say no. But I keep telling myself that one day I may be able to stop taking my diabetic medicine altogether if I work hard. And if I don’t stay the course? Well, I don’t like to think of the consequences. I would like to be around to see my grandsons graduate from school and have families of their own someday. I won’t be able to do that if I don’t take care of myself.

So, I’m here to encourage you too.  If you have health issues, stop and think about the consequences. We have more power over our health than we may think.  It’s all in how we look at it.

Better health this year #2020 @trail_j https://ctt.ac/MehL0

Writing the Healthy Way

Let’s face it. Sometimes, it takes a wake-up call to help us see what’s right in front of our faces. And for “why” people (waving hand), it takes understanding why something is necessary.

itsawriterthing.tumbler

My wake-up call came in 2010 when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, Sicca, also known as Sjogren syndrome, arthritis, and bi-lateral frozen shoulders. For one who didn’t like taking breaks, drinking water, or eating balanced meals, my life was about to change.

Although the diagnoses explained all my symptoms, it didn’t give me the answers on how to change my lifestyle. The whys came by years of research. Hello, Google.

Relaxation

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that messes with your cognitive abilities, among other things. If I get overly tired, I struggle to make decisions and suffer memory lapses. On those occasions, I take time away from everything, returning when I’ve rested.

Unfortunately, I can’t always control my schedule. Life has a way of interrupting our normal. What I can control is my nutritional intake. I do this by feeding my brain the necessary nutrients.

Nutrition

The way we eat affects our brains and our moods. Too much sugar weakens brain function and may worsen mood. Foods to avoid are refined carbohydrates, food high in trans-fat, highly processed foods, Aspartame, alcohol, and high mercury fish.

You may be asking, well, Gail, what do you eat?!

The omega 3 in fish is great for the noggin! Dark green vegetables improve memory too, along with berries and walnuts. By eating more vegetables and fruits, I have energy without the pain, and I think clearer.

 

Hydration

A good word for Sjogren is dry. You can’t swallow food or breathe when your nasal passages and throat feel like a desert, so I’ve learned to drink the required amount of water each day (that reminds me, I’ll be right back).

Hydration has become a way of life. A water bottle is always with me. Coffee is limited to one cup. Sweet tea with lemon and Dr. Pepper are treats for rare occasion. Hey, I get tired of water, but it’s a necessary element for good health. 😊

Want to think clearer? Drink water. Your brain is made up of 73% water. How about breathing better? Your lungs are 83% water. Want supple skin. Your skin is 64% water. Lastly, your bones are 31% water. (I’ll wait while you get that water bottle.)

Action

As writers, it’s necessary to sit and type for hours. But this disease has made it necessary for me to move. Experts advise moving every hour to counteract the dangers of sitting. Some suggest every thirty minutes.

I often do household chores or fold clothes while writing, carrying paper and pen with me. I exercise by walking outside, on a treadmill, or riding a stationary bike. The idea is to get my heart rate up and keep it up for 30 minutes to build stamina, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lubricate joints. My favorite thing is cleaning yards, especially raking and hauling leaves to the burn pile. Pulling a tarp or pushing a wheelbarrow always does the trick. 😉

Do I ever fall off the wagon? Honey, I’ve jumped and rolled down the incline. However, I’m learning everything that tastes good, is not good for me. If I want a body that will take care of me, then I must feed it the right nutrients, get the needed rest, drink plenty of water, keep moving, and write the healthy way!

 

Learn More:
The 7 Worst Foods for Your Brain
How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need?
4 Types of Food to Help Boost Your Memory
Your Brain On Food
2 Minute Walk Every Hour May Help Offset Effects of Sitting

Click to Tweet: “Do I ever fall off the wagon? Honey, I’ve jumped and rolled down the incline. However, I’m learning everything that tastes good, is not good for you.” ~ @GailJohnson87 via  @Inspired Prompt  #writing #health

Writing Prompt

Ding. 
Jane’s hands paused over the keyboard. She couldn’t stop, now! She glared at the kitchen timer.
To lower your blood pressure and reduce stress, you must start moving, Miss Reynolds.
In the scene, tell if Jane obeys or ignores her doctor’s instructions, giving reasons for her decision.

Dumbbells and Smart Belles

by Peggy Cunningham

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me (Acts 20:24 NIV).

I’m not an exercise guru. Not even close. But I strive to keep going physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yes, there are days I want to give it all up––the writing, the classes, even the ministry. Did I just admit that?

Honestly, haven’t you been there a time or two? I’m guessing yes. When it happens, what can we do?

Admitting it is the first step. It makes us face the reality that things change, and sometimes God does want to move us into a new task. Or maybe He wants to renew us for the task at hand. Perhaps, we are burned out or just weary. Either way, He doesn’t want us to give up, but to move forward.

You don’t have to be in your senior years to feel like putting yourself on the beach. Some seasons in our lives can be discouraging and make us lose our drive, sense of purpose, and our way. We are tempted to give up on our dreams and our divine tasks.

I think it is because we have lost sight of why we are in the race. The finish line vanishes from our view.

When I reach that point, I frankly ask myself: is it time to give up, or do I want to do more? It’s a reality check that shakes my soul and causes me to evaluate my emotions. No, of course, I don’t want to give up. I want to finish the race well––on the path I walk or another path waiting for me.

In my book, Shape Your Soul, I write about resistance training.  Resistance training increases stamina. As you grow stronger, you don’t tire as quickly. Likewise, the more we resist the devil, the more our faith muscles strengthen and our faith increases. Each victory over sin builds our faith. We resist the temptation to give up, and we don’t give in to his schemes. “Therefore, submit to God. But, resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 HCSB).

Physically, I push myself. I love to scrub floors (go figure). I look for ways to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. I put things away where I’ll have to bend—yup, bending exercises. I keep moving, physically, mentally, and spiritually. If not, the body withers, the mind gets lazy, and the soul dies. Equally, I push myself spiritually—studying my Bible, reading daily devotions, and applying what I learn. Soon the hardest part of pushing ceases and strength is gained.

A few years ago, I developed carpal tunnel because of excess computer work. Then last year, my right arm developed golf elbow and tennis elbow from completing five book contracts. Both times, I had physical therapy for many months. The therapist advised dumbbell lifting to straighten my wrists and arm. Grueling can’t adequately describe the pain of the therapy. But, without pushing myself, my shoulder risked being frozen, I faced possible surgery for my wrists, and my dream (writing more) would come to an end.

In order to persevere, I continually envisioned the result of all the therapy––and worked toward the healing of my injured tendons without hesitation. I set my sights on the final therapy session and the possibility of enjoying my work again. Using dumbbells meant being a smart belle who understood that without finishing the therapy, her dreams would fade away.

Striving for the finish line and our accomplishments in what God has called us to do along the way keeps us going. The daily working out our faith strengthens our soul. There may be setbacks and rest periods along the journey, but if we don’t give up, we’ll finish well.

Click-to-Tweet: Dumbells and Smart Belles – insight on shaping your soul and body #FollowGod #FinishTheRace #Faith

Writing Prompt:  If we believe God wants us to write, we should never give up but trust Him for wisdom, direction, and His words for His glory.

In this new year, let’s be smart belles using our proverbial dumbbells to strengthen our souls. Never give up.


Peggy Cunningham and her husband, Chuck have been missionaries in Bolivia since 1981. In 1999, they founded Rumi Rancho Ministries. Rumi Rancho is their ministry base and home, located outside the city of Cochabamba. There they work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also a published author of children’s books and women’s devotionals.

Shape Your Soul is Peggy’s latest devotional book for women. Enter God’s Gym and exercise your body and soul, so you can seize difficult life-mountains, and in God’s strength, move them! Available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2lbfHJm

Connect with Peggy at www.PeggyCunningham.com.

Miles Away

I sat at the kitchen table and laid both my palms flat on its surface. Fear pierced my heart.

What in the world was happening to me?

Everything tilted, though I hadn’t moved. Familiar sounds came at me as if through a long, steel tunnel. A dense fog invaded my mind. I couldn’t make sense of words or actions. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move.

Even worse, I was completely alone with our two-year-old strapped in her high chair. It would be hours before the older kids came home from school. And the dogs had no idea how to dial 9-1-1.

After several long moments, the episode passed. I was perfectly back to my kind of normal for a few days. The next episode hit on a Saturday with everyone in the house.

When I could speak again, I burst into tears. Within the hour, the emergency room doc had my head in a whirring, clicking machine, drew half my weight in blood, and connected me to so many wires and tubes I could have passed as steampunk.

While we waited for results, the doc grilled me on every aspect of my life.  I thought I had everything under control, but my body told a different story.

The results dripped in. Thyroid – normal. CT – normal. Blood sugar – normal. Vitamins and minerals and various counts – normal.

The doc sat and tapped her pen against her lips.

“I think you need to run,” she said.

Running shoe pic Inspired Prompt jan 2020

As I recall, I laughed so hard I snorted.

“I don’t have time to run!”

Hadn’t she heard a word I said about all the stuff on each of my To-Do lists?

“You don’t have time to NOT run,” she countered.

All the way home, I made my list of reasons why running was out. Too old. Too busy. Too slow. Too lazy. Too hot. Too cold. Too crowded at the Y.

No matter how much I tried to justify my Reasons Not to Run list, the three words on my Reason to Run list outweighed them all: Too Much Cortisol.

Cortisol, apparently, is a stress hormone. It’s normally released in our bodies to aid in those fight or flight situations we sometimes get ourselves into.

For me, though, I had made each day into a fight or flight situation. My stress levels were through the roof. While I hadn’t had a stroke as I had first supposed, the invisible beating my body was taking would eventually take its toll on my heart.

Running track pic Inspired Prompt Jan 2020

Way back in high school and college, I ran competitively. That was four children and almost as many decades ago. So this time, I started slowly. V-E-R-Y slowly. Eventually, I got faster. Each time I passed a milestone (get it? A MILEstone), I allowed myself a little treat.

When I could run a mile without stopping, I invested in an Iron Man watch to count the laps at the YMCA. Eighteen laps equals one mile at my YMCA track. That’s a lot of numbers for a writer to keep in her head, you know.

When I could run two miles without stopping, I invested in those fancy socks that I had my eye on. Fashionable and supportive.

When I could run three miles without stopping, I registered for a 5k run and paid the extra fee for a t-shirt to prove I had run.

It wasn’t easy, and it STILL isn’t easy, but it can be done. Here are some tips I used to help me stay on track and out of the hospital!

  • Find what works to get you moving and start. For me, I used the FREE part of the app C25K (Couch to 5K). For you, it might be weights, cycling, swimming, walking.
  • Find your first micro goal. Even marathoners have to run one step at a time. Set small goals and work toward them. Reward yourself when you get there.
  • Find the right, healthy priorities off the track. Pare down that schedule. Not everything is urgent.
  • Find something to listen to. When I first started working out, I had a tendency to listen to the liar inside my head telling me it was no use. Then, I wrote down scripture on 3×5 index cards and memorized them while I ran. Good, until my hands got so sweaty I could no longer read the words. Then, I discovered PODCASTS for WRITERS. Bingo!

Click-to-Tweet: Remember that we are all miles away from something. If we never start, we will never get any closer. #runners #workout

WRITING PROMPT: Jillian Willows woke up in a sweat. She’d had the same nightmare for the fourth night in a row. Not exactly what she needs the day she is scheduled to run in the biggest race of her life. Write a short scene of dialogue between Jillian and an undercover angel who is sent to encourage her to run the race with endurance.

Walking Into 2020

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photo by Alexas Fotos on Pixabay

This year, 2020, I am challenging myself to walk for at least 20 minutes five times a week.

I came across this idea through a podcast I listen to called Happier with Gretchen Rubin. This podcast contains life hacks, practical ways to manage time, and ideas for living a happier life.

Now, I am not new to walking. In fact, years ago, too many to claim, my doctor told me that I had high cholesterol and I needed to start exercising. He suggested walking. At the time, I had small children, so taking the kids for a walk a few times a week was easy to add to my routine, and they loved the adventure.

Then while the kids were growing up and going through those wild but wonderful teenage years, my reasons for walking changed. My motto became “not for vanity, but for sanity.” My few minutes walking through the neighborhood or meeting up with a friend at the walking track gave me perspective and made me recognize that my need for exercise went beyond the physical to the mental.

Now as a writer, my need to move has increased tenfold. My sedentary job pushes me to keep up my walking in order to maintain good health, but I have also discovered when I exercise my creative juices flow more readily, giving me inspiration and new ideas. Once again, my reasons have gone beyond that of the physical and mental to include the creative.

So, when I heard this podcast, I decided to pick up the gauntlet and accept the Walk 20 in 2020 challenge. I would increase the number of days I walk from three to five and see how the Lord uses this investment of time in my life.

If you have been feeling the nudge to get more active, I would challenge you to join me in my quest for twenty minutes of walking five days a week, and to entice you, I want to leave you with five great reasons to be a walker:

  1. Walking clears your mind and ups your creativity by 60 percent according to a Stanford University study.
  2. It gives you time to pray and think.
  3. It reduces your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke.
  4. It strengthens your bones and muscles.
  5. It improves your mood and leaves you feeling happier.

With all these benefits, you might want to give walking a try and walk into the New Year knowing you’re doing something worthwhile for your mind, body, and spirit.

“But they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (ASV).

Prompt: The bells chimed midnight. Carol couldn’t wait to begin her new project. She loved the clean slate of a whole new year in front of her.

Click-to-Tweet: Five great reasons to be a walker – Bonita McCoy in Walking into 2020 via @InspiredPrompt