Living in our own reality in how we FEEL

It’s that time of the year again, the holidays, where many of us find ourselves overbooked and under-trained.  As a result, our clothes may start to fit different even though the scale hasn’t really changed much, if at all.  For me, I know this is the case.  The scale says I gained 2 pounds (1.7 lbs to be exact), yet I FEEL like a beached whale, even though I know I don’t look like one, it’s how we feel that is important.  Sure, I could put on stretch pants and never FEEL out of shape, but that wouldn’t be living my own reality and what good would that be?  We all need to live in our own reality so we can properly assess our own health and move forward appropriately from there.  The reason I FEEL like a beached whale is because my clothes are no longer fitting as well as they used to, because I have lost some fitness.  It is good to live a little and enjoy both food treats and extra time with friends and family, away from some training.  Of course, the best plan is if you can do it all and keep up with all your training, and all the extras of the holidays, but sometimes you just cannot and something has to give.  But I have a different reason my clothes feel a bit snug, I have been very busy for the last couple of months caring for my elderly mother. I am very thankful I am able to have this time with her and take care of her.  It is what she wants and I am happy to give this to her.  But the 24/7 care she required left me exhausted and just going through the motions of life.  When people say 24/7 care a certain image usually comes to mind, but in my Mom’s case, 24/7 care came to eventually mean something so much more to me. It went beyond what most would think. It always turned into the “24/7 care, after the 24/7 care” over the years.  Most people don’t seem to realize that this is what  it takes for her to be in the relatively good health she has enjoyed most of the time.  When people see and spend time with my mother, they don’t see a woman who requires this kind of care, they just see someone who has been often healthy and able to do for herself, in some ways at least. She has also battled several different health issues that did require “traditional 24/7 care” over the years. When left to her own devices, without the “after 24/7 care”, my mother declines.  How do I know this?  It’s because it is what has happened every single time I stop spending as much “after 24/7 care” with her, although I have never stopped care completely, any reduction in time results in an eventual decline it seems.  In the past, when I thought she was able to care for herself in some ways, without me doing more than just the usual cooking, cleaning and all, she has always started to decline in her health and abilities because she needs me to be there making sure she exercises and everything else to encourage her and make her feel good and healthy.  It’s good if we can MAKE ourselves do what we should do, but I think sometimes part of the aging process makes us unable to muster up the ability o do this.  For many of us, at any age, it’s always about how we FEEL, although it shouldn’t be, it is reality.  We SHOULD do what we need to do, but most of us will do what we FEEL like doing.  It’s been my job to make sure my Mom FEELS like feeling good and healthy and doing things to make this actually transpire.  It takes work to feel good and healthy, if it was easy, everyone would do it.  Most people don’t know what it takes to care for someone in this way, they never really know the reality of the situation, even if they think they do.  Caring for an elderly parent is in many ways like caring for a young child, except my Mom, thank God, has her mind and makes all of her own decisions, but it is in the caring part of it that it reminds me very much of when I cared for my own 2 children when they were little in that I need to watch her to observe her and help her do things and even teach her new ways to do things that she can no longer do the way she has done all her life because as we grow older we must adjust in many ways.  It’s time consuming, and has been for all these years, yet I never complain and I also think this is a big reason why people just don;t know the details of 24/7 care.  I love having this opportunity to care for and spend this time with my mother, it is a gift from God many do not have or take action on.  I write about it here today so that I could explain, not complain, so that I may be able to help one person it would be worth it.  As I reflected back on the many years of caring for my mother, it made me realize that we ALL need 24/7 care and we NEED to make sure we give it to ourselves every day.  We need to make sure we take care of ourselves first, so that we can give our best to others.  I give my Mom 24/7 care to make her feel her best.  Even though she may not have needed traditional 24/7 care at every moment of the past several years, I still gave her what I consider 24/7 care so that she could continue to heal and grow and FEEL her best. Sometimes over the years, I have done everything for her in a traditional 24/7 care sense because she could not do it for herself.  But even when she does not need traditional 24/7 care, I am still with her, helping her, teaching her and encouraging her to do things by herself and for herself. Everyone needs to FEEL like they can take care of themselves. Everyone needs a purpose knowing they are of some help to others.  And last but not least, everyone needs peers they can connect with on a regular basis.  Connecting with peers at any age is very important but more so in the golden years when many have lost most of their friends and loved ones it becomes even more important.  The 24/7 care I have given my mother over the years,  requires being with her to watch her.  I guide her in being mindful of healthy eating and exercising. I am there if she needs more help than usual on a certain day, or hour,  because her needs are always changing, minute by minute, at 94 years young.  Our own personal 24/7, care that we all NEED to do, revolves around the idea that if we are not feeling our best, we cannot give our best to anything or anyone.  The Bible says this over and over again, that we must first care for ourselves, not in a selfish manner, but in taking care of ourselves and our health.  My belief is we all must have a 24/7 care for ourselves mentality so that it is ever present in our minds.  We must be mindful of always caring for ourselves every minute of every day.  This is easier said than done, but just like anything else, with practice, it can be done.  If we don’t care for ourselves and set limits and recognize our own needs, such as rest and exercise and eating healthy, even if pressed for time, then we suffer.  The people and things we care for will also suffer the consequences if we do not first care for ourselves.  When we live with a 24/7 mentality, we all benefit.

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86,400

86,400 seconds in a day. How you choose to use those seconds are critical to your health and happiness. As an athlete, I need to focus constantly on my body and how it feels and what it needs in terms of nutrition and fitness.  I try to listen to the very somtimes subtle clues my body gives me in what it needs each day.  It’s important to make sure we always listen to our bodies.  Learning to really listen to our bodies is easier said than done, but it is very doable with patience and time.  You need to listen to your heart and not your head for this one, although you do need to use your head in deciding what to do each day.  I like to make sure I work my body each day and eat nutritiously each day.  Even if these things vary in intensity or quality or quantity, it all adds up to the big equation and that is what’s important.  Always keep your eye on the prize and the prize is you feeling fit forever and being healthy.  We all have different needs and goals but the one thing we all have in common is the same amount of time each day.  We all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day and we all need to make hard choices in how to best utilize those precious seconds.  We need to make a strong effort each day to make the most of our time and make the best of each second we have every single day.  I wish you all peace and happiness and success in making the best of your 86,400

My thoughts on food and food preparation :

l love food and I like making it special.  It doesn’t have to take a lot of time.  In fact, I have become very good at making healthy meals in only minutes and love to keep trying to beat my time.  That is probably the athlete in me, wanting to always beat my time 🙂 A big part of my food needs, is that it needs to look good, with beautiful color and presentation. I love to see lots of gorgeous color on my plate. Texture is very important too, I love the layers of flavors and textures.  It all is such a great experience in eating that it is something to really look forward to and enjoy, instead of just being a way to get nutrition.  It becomes an enjoyable event that you can always learn more and try to improve upon. My food needs to be good for me in both nutrition and what my my body craves. I believe you need to feed the crave in the best way possible but not live such a rigid pure life of whole foods that you never feel indulgent. Although, the more I learn about all the many different foods and how to use them in many different ways, I find that whole foods are my indulgence now! But since we do all live in the real world, we are all up against indulgences that present themselves out of our homes such as eating out at restuarants, friends homes and at work.  These temptations will always be there, but they don’t always have to be as tempting as they are now because as time goes on you learn more about all the very decadent whole foods there are available to enjoy.  The time will come that the foods you once enjoyed will no longer appeal to you in the same way.  Life needs indulgence, but not every day, that would be called gluttony.  My food needs to smell wonderful and taste fabulous. All my requirements are totally doable for anyone, although it will take time and patience.  I was not always great in the kitchen, but now I am and I love to cook and bake. I do it most every day and you can too. I also love to cook and bake in advance and either refrigerate or freeze foods so they are easy to go to when I am pressed for time I will have no excuse but to eat healthy because it’s already made in advance.  Be well my friends and live each day as a celebration of life with love of all.  Love of the people in your life, love of your food and love of your body because these are all connected. 

Weight Loss: the How to’s, the how long till’s and finding peace in patience.

Weight loss is such a huge topic in today’s society.  I enjoy reading about this very diverse and controversial topic.  I have found the proven key to weight loss and success in keeping it off is smart, consistent awareness in every choice we make every day.  Everything we do or don’t do effects our desire to eat and what to eat.  Our sleep effects our desire to eat.  If I don’t get enough sleep, I know I will be much more hungry and want to eat lots more food that day.  Another pitfall of lack of sleep on a continued basis is craving the wrong foods.  Also, when I exercise more, I need more food than if I do not exercise as much or as vigorously.  Sometimes, I find that even the weather has an effect on how much and what types of food I want to eat.  In the summer, I love the thirst quenching, yet crunchiness of biting into a piece of watermelon.  But on a cold winters day, a nice, spicy bowl of hot chili feels so good.  Most people seeking to lose weight seem to focus on eating less, but its not as simple as that.  The very first thing to remember about losing weight is nutrition.  We must all make sure that we get the proper nutrition every day so that we can feel our best and perform our best.  Losing weight must take a “back seat” to nutrition in order to get the very best weight loss results and continued success to keep the weight off.  It is in the act of feeding your body whole foods and in the amounts, combinations and consistency that weight loss becomes a natural side effect.  It is very much like anything else in life, we must look at the whole picture and meet the “needs” before the “wants”.  We “need” to provide nutrition to our bodies every day even though we may “want” to lose weight.  We have to keep in mind that our bodies are not always on the same timeline as our thoughts and we must exercise great patience in weight loss.  We must have consistent daily thoughts and firmly believe that we are doing all we can to get the proper nutrition, sleep and exercise and know that in time our bodies will respond even though it may not be as quick as we would like.  After we meet our needs in life, our wants are many times a natural progression.  But even if weight loss does not come as a natural result of diligently following a  whole foods diet in the amounts needed for your body and exercise level, then it is always the first step before further evaluation of how to progress in your weight loss journey.  It always comes down to calories in and calories out no matter what weight loss plan you follow.  But it is in the how to do it that will guarantee your failure or success in the long run.

Be open to criticism as a source of knowledge and growth

Proverbs 12:1 says “Whoever loves discipline, loves knowledge.  But he who hates reproof is stupid.”   I always feel loved whenever someone takes the time to give me advice or critique me because if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t say anything.  I rather be aware of my faults so that I can try to be the best I can be.  It doesn’t always feel good, at first, because we all usually think we’re already doing whatever we need or should do, but we cant all be doing everything right all the time.  We need to keep the right perspective to be able to benefit from every possible source of knowledge and growth.  Perspective is everything.  If you don’t like something, change your perspective.  Be well my friends.  Be blessed and be a blessing every chance you get!