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.

A Fit Writer in 2020: Eat, Live, Thrive Healthy Lifestyle

By Jennifer Hallmark

I stared down at the scale in disgust. Once again, I’d slowly edged up in my weight until I’d almost reached that number. In my mind, a certain number was more than I could allow myself to weigh. This was the second time in ten years that I’d almost reached it. Something had to change.

Diet short term. Exercise off and on again. I’ve studied diet and exercise. I’ve struggled to do both at the same time because, well, it was too hard to be disciplined in both areas. I did pretty well when I went to Curves, an exercise place that provided a specific way to eat healthier. But then our local Curves closed and once again, I wasn’t sure what to do.

I’d always been active when the children were younger and we had a farm working with cattle and chickens. But I’d semi-retired in 2011 and become a full-time writer. My brain and fingers were the only part of me that seemed to be healthy. At 56 years old, I was dealing with asthma, digestive issues, back pain, fatigue, and low energy. A part could be blamed on menopause but I knew my poor exercise and diet were also to blame.

One day, I heard about the Eat, Live, Thrive diet for women, a lifestyle plan to rev up your midlife metabolism. That struck a chord in me. Finally, a plan formulated for where I was, that understood the hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain.

Here’s the blurb:  Eat, Live, Thrive Diet shows women how they can not only lose excess body fat permanently but also improve their overall health in critical areas such as brain function, resistance to disease, slowing down external aging, and increasing energy. This highly effective eating plan is presented in a compassionate voice by two experienced health coaches who share personal experiences of battling weight and emotional eating issues.

Whereas most diets are short-lived or require substantial upkeep to maintain, Eat, Live, Thrive Diet is a viable eating plan that women can adhere to indefinitely. In addition to minimizing sugar intake, the plan emphasizes the importance of short-term intermittent fasting–a simple lifestyle change that makes it easier and more effective for many mature women to reach their health and weight loss goals. The book also highlights the health risks and drawbacks of many popular fad diets that can be harmful on a long-term basis.

Click to tweet: “I couldn’t just diet. I needed a total change in the way I ate and exercised. But how?” Eat Live Thrive Healthy Lifestyle Diet #HealthyEating #EatClean

I ordered the book and prayed. Could I finally get serious? I’d reached a point where I couldn’t just diet. I needed a total change in the way I ate and thought about food, one I could stay on until I died. 😊 I also joined a gym and saved money to hire a personal trainer for a short time to set me up a cardio and weight-training plan I can stick to.

On September 23rd, I started the first phase, which is food testing, to see how my body reacted to different foods. One note: I also ordered the healthy self-talk download and listened to it. A lot. I knew my mind needed to be retrained with positive talk that agreed with the Word of God and this was really helpful.

I went by the book as much as possible (it encourages you not to be obsessive) and finished that phase. One important part of the plan is short-term intermittent fasting. I would eat during a 12-hour period, then fast for 12-hours. I occasionally fasted longer. Next, I formulated how I would eat according to my body and started the lifestyle phase. By Thanksgiving, I’d lost 15 pounds.

Woo hoo! I’d like to say I lost more after Thanksgiving, but the temptation was strong throughout the holiday season. I had good days and bad ones, eating wise. But on January 1st, I weighed and I’d only gained back 2 lbs. So, I felt pretty good about it.

I start my new gym plan today and am back on the lifestyle phase with the fasting. And I’d like to lose 15 more pounds.

Positive results? I weigh less. I’ve lost a little over one clothing size. Food tastes so much better, mainly because I avoid processed food and sugar. I’m more mentally alert. My asthma has bothered me less than it ever has.

Not-so-positive results? Especially at the beginning, I was hungry. A lot. And I wanted to turn to sweets and carbs for comfort when I was having a tough day. It was hard not to do so. I had to really shop to find what I needed and plan meals instead of just throwing something together at the last minute.

I blew it some days. But one part of the healthy self-talk audio says. “But when I mess up, I get over it and get back on my plan quickly without frustration or guilt.” And “I desire so much more than just good taste. My body deserves the best fuel I can give it.” I remind myself that I want to be healthy, as much as I can.

I’ve found enjoyment in taking care of myself because that truly is the bottom line. Am I worth taking care of? If I don’t do it, no one will do it for me. Only I determine how much I move each day and what I choose to eat.

Writing for years to come is my goal. If I’m going to be able to do that, my lifestyle had to change. For now, it’s working for me. Will it work for you? It might. Make up your mind that writing is important and to do your best work, you need to be healthy.

Start today. You’ll be glad you did. Share something you plan to do this year for your health in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!

Fit for the Long Run

I laugh as I consider me attempting a long run. I have a dear friend who runs marathons. I watch her in awe, knowing she has spent countless hours preparing for a race. And then, you know what? It doesn’t really matter if she doesn’t win. What matters is, she finishes.

I’ve always taken pretty good care of myself. I tried to eat right. I’d take long walks, followed by some strengthening exercises. But a few months back, I became distracted by life and too busy to take a few minutes out of my day to go for a long, leisurely walk. The few minutes it took to go through the exercise routine seemed too much for me. I was in a hurry. I had to finish the next thing on my list.

Kicked to the sidelines, exercise languished. I sat too long. I’m a bookkeeper, so my job is mostly sedentary. I write in my spare time. We all know what that means—more sitting. Right now, writing this, I’m sitting. But you know how it is—I must finish it before I get up. If I leave it, I may not get back to it!

Outside, the sun is shining. It beckons to me, “I’m shining for you! Take a few moments away. Come play in the sunshine!”

I’m ignoring it, pressing on. When I finish all my chores, I’ll head out there. Only thing is when I finish it’s nearly dark. The sun has gone on its way. I missed another opportunity to enjoy its warmth and the boost of vitamin D I so desperately need.

Result: After months of abusing myself in this way, I began to suffer odd pains in my body. I didn’t feel right. The pain increased so I went to the doctor. They ran all sorts of tests, only to find…nothing.

My chiropractor kept telling me, “Get up. Don’t spend such long hours sitting in front of a computer screen.” He suggested I try using a dictation program to write my stories or redesign my desk so I can sit or stand. “The stress is literally making you sick.” He was right.

For many, January presents a fresh start. A reset. Time to toss out the bad habits I’ve picked up over the last few stressful months of the former year. I’m planning some positive changes that will help me destress and find my way back to health.

When I feel better, I write better. Or at least, I can write more. So, I’m getting up right now and walking away from the computer desk for a few minutes. Across the room, I spend time working through a routine given to me by a friend who happens to be a personal trainer. They are simple exercises that take only a few minutes and can be done several times during the day. You can easily find a routine like it online, or try Pinterest!

I break my computer work into sections, using an alarm on my phone to remind me to get up and walk. Drink water. Eat a healthy snack. Do I really need to remind myself to drink water? Yes!!

These are small steps, but really, that’s all it takes. When I begin to feel better, I will have the energy to do more. Stay a little longer at the gym, park farther from the door at the shopping center. Stop at the park on the way home from work and make an extra lap around the walking loop or path. Take the dog out for a walk (if I had a dog).

“Exercise brightens your eyes,” one of my teachers used to tell his students. All I know is, my blood flows faster, producing more energy to accomplish daily tasks. My brain works better. Words come easier. During those short exercise routines, ideas pop into my mind. I take time to jot them down without interrupting the activity.

I may not win the race, but I intend to finish.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. – 1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV

Writing Prompt: Janet closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. Today was the day for new beginnings. All around her, well-trained athletes worked through their final routines, preparing their minds and bodies for the race. Was she really doing this?

Click-to-Tweet: Outside, the sun is shining. It beckons to me, “I’m shining for you! Take a few moments away. Come play in the sunshine!” – Fit for the Long Run via @InspiredPrompt and @batowens

A Healthy Month of January-Revisited

By Jennifer Hallmark.

It’s been almost abathroom scales month since I posted about my effort to experience better health in 2015. I’d decided to take a month at a time and make adjustments and see what worked and what didn’t. I looked at each area of health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It’s been an interesting time and now for the results…

Physical

Exercise I decided to try working out five days a week, 3 days of low-impact aerobics and two days of riding the exercise bike.

Positive-I stuck to the plan and feel better physically.

Negative-The bike riding bothered my back a little. I’m going to try one more month to see if it continues.

Diet I decided to cut back on sugar and follow a plan of eating healthy.

Positive-I’ve traded sweet tea for hot tea with honey.

Negative-I thought I knew enough about healthy food to just try to eat healthy. I drew up no written plan. The month was extremely stressful and I tend to eat when stressed. So predictably, I failed to eat healthy and lost no weight.

Mental

I would try a four-day work week and take more time to rest.

Positive-I made more time for myself and stuck somewhat to a four-day work week. I feel more rested.

Negative-I still have trouble unwinding at times and use work as a stress relief, which leads to me being tired.

puzzleEmotional

I would try four things for emotional health: Read a feel-good book or watch an inspirational movie; work a jigsaw puzzle; be accountable to a friend; and get out of the house more.

Positive-I’ve read a good bit and watched a couple of movies. I set up my jigsaw puzzle. I talked a couple of times to a friend about a couple of stressful situations I’m dealing with.

Negative-It’s cold and I haven’t gotten out of the house more. I need to relax when I am out and enjoy myself.

Spiritual

I would continue my daily devotion time, listen to music and journal, fellowship with other Christians, be a blessing, and enjoy nature.

Postive-I love my devotion time. Music and journaling are good for me. I’ve tried to be a blessing to family and friends.

Negative-I could still use more fellowship with Christians. It’s cold and I haven’t been out much.

question mark

So how does this all add up? How will I approach February?

(1) I’m going to follow a written plan for healthy eating.

(2) I need to turn to God in my stress and fellowship more with my family and friends.

(3) I need to realize it’s going to be cold in winter and just make myself get out more anyway. 🙂

How about you? Do you have any suggestions to help me out as I approach February?

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt: I couldn’t believe my eyes. The scales screamed the same number as when I’d started a month ago. How could it? My clothes fit better. I picked up the scale and…

 

 

 

A Healthy New Year

By Jennifer Hallmark

As we move forward into our third year as a blog, I’d like to introduce the Writing Prompts Crew. Click the link to go to each Crew members bio: Jennifer Hallmark, Betty Thomason OwensTammy Trail, Allie Owens Crockett, Betty Boyd, Anne Garboczi Evans, Holly Michael, and Cari Schaeffer. Enjoy the month of January as we discuss a healthy New Year and as always, happy writing!

new-years-resolutionHealthy in 2015.

An obtainable goal?

I hope so.

The past few years, my main health focus has been on getting asthma and digestive issues under control. Now that these problems are better, January will be the beginning of a “getting healthier all around” emphasis in my life. But I realize I’ve often made half-hearted resolutions only to fail.

Miserably.

So I’d like this year to be different. First, I will look at every aspect of my health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Second, my focus will be for one month at a time. At the end of January, I’ll look at what works and what doesn’t and make adjustments for February. Taking one month at a time, I won’t feel so overwhelmed and give up. Here are my thoughts on the different aspects of my health. Each person will need to adjust according to their specific needs.

Physical (Exercise and eating)

In the past, I’ve noticed if I don’t exercise early in the morning, I don’t exercise at all. I work at home, so this is doable. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’ll exercise to my low-impact aerobic DVD, a thirty minute workout. On Tuesday and Thursday, I’ll ride twenty minutes on my exercise bike. My weekends tend to be busy, so I’ll take that time off as my reward. 🙂

good food

As far as eating goes, I’ll cut back on sugar. This is always a weakness of mine, especially since I’ve developed a dairy allergy and can’t tolerate fried foods. Sugar is my comfort food. I’ll follow a basic healthy eating plan of healthy meats, fruits, and vegetables.

Mental

As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to be too driven and don’t give myself enough leeway. This leads to stress and hurts my mental health. If I don’t watch myself, I’ll work every moment I’m not doing something else. I’ve just completed a forty-day sabbatical from writing that was necessary for me to deal with health issues. I don’t want to overwork again, so I’m going to try and create a schedule for a four-day work week. I’ll design my plan, working around my husband’s schedule and the days I babysit the grandchildren.

Emotional

This is a tough one. Exercise and healthy eating are a must for good emotional health. So is a less stressful schedule. How else can I promote a more positive lifestyle?

(1) Read one “feel good” book or watch a movie of the same once a week.

(2) Set up the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle my brother gave me and work on it during stressful times.

(3) Find an accountability friend to talk to once a week and bring to light any emotional struggles.

(4) Get out of the house more. As a “homebody” I tend to stay at home. I need to get outside, even if it’s just for a short walk or drive to the local dollar store.

Spiritual

bibleThis area of my life must be maintained or the others won’t work. Here are a few things I can do to stay spiritually healthy.

(1) Daily devotional time in the morning, right before exercises.

(2) Listen to music and reflect. Journal any thoughts and feelings while listening for that still, small voice.

(3) Fellowship with other Christians, online and in person. 🙂

(4) Be a blessing to others.

(5) Enjoy nature.

This is my plan for the month of January. After writing it down, it seems like a lot. We will see. At the end of the month, I’ll be back with a special post to let you know what I’ve learned, what worked, and what didn’t.

See you then!

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments”

Writing Prompt: Maggie pushed open the door of the fitness center and stepped inside. Gee, it was an awful heavy door. Such a long walk from the parking lot also. She stared around the room at the…