Saved by the Dill!

I’ve lived in North Texas all of my life but I still don’t like the heat. Today is May 26th and at 5:03 p.m. it is 96 degrees outside. Weathermen are predicting that we will hit triple digits by Thursday. That is way too hot, way too early in the year!

Even for us Texans who are used to that kind of heat in the summer, it takes our bodies time to adjust. When competing in sporting competitions, experts suggest letting your body get acclimated to hot or cold conditions over a period of 7 to 14 days.

Our school had Field Day on Thursday. We all had a great time, but the last hour was tough. It was an ozone alert day. Though the temperature was only around 88 degrees, the condition of the atmosphere made it seem much hotter. Around 2:00 I began to really feel the effects of the heat. My head began to hurt and I felt my body temperature rising. At one point I stood up from picking up a softball and felt light-headed. Another teacher noticed me sitting in my lawn chair and asked if I was okay. Even though I did a pretty good job of hydrating, I knew I needed to replace the electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium) in my body and I needed to cool off.

pickle-pickles-27629021-1500-1340The teacher called the office. A parent brought me some juice from the nurse. I made my way into the building. While I sat in the nurse’s office, another one of my colleagues brought me a pickle they had left over from the concession stand. I’ve never known pickles to taste so good.

Sitting there I remembered a football game played at the old Texas Stadium when the pickle-juice-drinking Eagles pounced the Cowboys 41-14. It was later dubbed the “Pickle Bowl.”

You can read about the science behind the “Pickle Bowl” here.

I’ve had experiences with getting overheated that did not go as well as Thursday. I often just push through even though I don’t feel well. As a result, I’ve gotten horrible headaches from near heat exhaustion that have taken me out for at least 24 hours. But this time I recognized what was happening, stopped and I got what I needed before it got worse.

I don’t eat or drink anything with food coloring, so the sports drinks are out for me. But I will always make sure I have pickles in my refrigerator on days when the temperatures rise.

 

Breathe

As a singer, I’ve known the importance of proper breathing ever since I began voice lessons in college. Every note I sing rides on the air I push out. Longevity as a singer depends on good breathing technique. Many professionals have gone through vocal problems, even surgery, as a direct result of years of bad technique.

The breath is also an important aspect of effective technique in cardio and strength training. Inhalation and exhalation at the right time promotes proper form and prevents injury. And anyone who has ever taken a yoga class has experienced the connection with breathing, mindfulness and movement.

When I stop and pay attention to my breath, I am more aware of my body and my thoughts. Deep breathing helps me focus on the present and release tension. Proper “belly breathing” wakes up my core muscles and gives me physical stability and can improve my posture.

There are many benefits to studying the breath. Below is one article that I found valuable as I began to run after years of injury. It is targeted at runners and the specifics on breathing technique may not interest everyone. But the explanation on the difference between belly breathing and chest breathing has value for all of us.

Coach Bud Coates on Rhythmic Breathing

Does God Care if I’m Skinny?

“…train yourself in godliness, for the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way.”    1 Timothy 4:7-8

I used to think of this verse when I didn’t stick to my workout routine. “God doesn’t really care if I’m skinny,” I told myself. “That’s just me being vain. The world’s view is ruling my mind.”

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Then about six years ago God called me to get a personal trainer. I was going through a 12-Step program and I felt very strongly that God was saying to me, “I’ve started you on this path toward spiritual and emotional health. Now it’s time to get physically healthy.” As I began to work out and learn how to eat better, I saw parallels between my physical workouts and my spiritual journey. Each training session required me to do things I didn’t think I could do. I had to push myself. I had to deny myself. I had to strengthen more than just my body. I had to stop doubting myself and believe I could. I had to strengthen my mind.

Does God care if I’m a size 6? Probably not. But He does care about my habits and what kind of life I lead as a result of them. I want to serve Him to the best of my ability. For me, that means I need to be physically able to go where He calls me to go. I need to have the mental clarity to make good decisions. I need to have the energy to leave work on a week day and go to a place I can serve in the evenings. All of those things depend on my physical health and that depends on how well I take care of my body.

Training of the body does matter. But it does not matter in isolation. I matters in the context of growing and serving others the best way we can.

Run Fast. Eat Slow.

IMG_2149I bought myself a copy of Run Fast. Eat Slow. for Christmas. I was really motivated to get it when I saw Olympic Marathoner Shalane Flanagan interviewed locally during the Dallas Marathon. She said she knew a lot of people have an unhealthy relationship with food and she hoped she could help remedy that. Shalane and nutritionist Elyse Kopecky created this cookbook with whole-food ingredients for athletes. Of course the recipes are great for anyone, but they target active people and often specify times when some of the recipes would be most beneficial, like post-workout or during certain seasons of the year.

Now, I should probably say here that I am not a great cook. I’m okay. I’ve learned a lot over the years and I’ve grown in confidence that I can make certain things. I like making things from scratch but don’t always have the time. So quick prep time is ideal for me. I’ve also gotten pretty good at weekly food prep. I cook mostly on the weekends and just heat up my left-overs the rest of the week. (I’ll talk more in detail about that in another post.)

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I’ve made a few of the recipes so far from Run Fast. Eat Slow. and I am really looking forward to trying more. The Flourless Almond Torte is really good. I made it for a party, then made it again the next week to take to my co-workers. YUM! The Superhero Muffins are good too. Being gluten-sensitive, I’m always looking for good gluten-free breads and desserts.The third dish I’ve made from the book is the Recovery Quinoa Salad. I liked it and it is pretty filling.

I’m looking forward to trying more from this cookbook. Thanks Shalane and Elyse for putting this together.

 

The Beginning of Wisdom

fearofMy pastor is doing a summer teaching series on wisdom. His teachings are based on the book of Proverbs from the Bible. We had an assignment last week. We were to identify an area in our lives where we currently need wisdom. Then, during the week we were to search Proverbs and find a verse that referred to our issue.

This was kind of a tough assignment for me. I feel like my issue is too specific to be covered in the scriptures. I want wisdom in how to handle my students.

Is there a proverb that tells me how to handle a disrespectful student? Did Solomon, the author of Proverbs, write about motivating the unmotivated? How do I deal with children who, despite my best efforts to influence them to take the right path, consistently and willfully take the wrong path?

I think that there is a vast array of good counsel written in the Proverbs. But, I think the verse that simply says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” (Prov. 9:10) is the one that speaks to me most significantly. It has become my go-to when I don’t know where to go.

Fearing the Lord means acknowledging His power. It is not a scary kind of fear. It is a recognition that He has all wisdom and I need Him to guide me through my circumstances. Even when I can’t find a verse that tells me what to say in a specific situation, I can rely on God to supply me with wisdom in the moment. Because His Holy Spirit lives in me, I have 24/7 access to His wisdom. He can bring to mind the right things to say. He can keep me calm in tense moments when I am tempted to say something that will only escalate the problem.

Practicing how to live in the flow of the Spirit is my key to dealing with the hard things in my life.

The New Normal

rainbow.jpg2015 is almost done. As we draw this year to a close, we naturally want to reflect on the events that we experienced, people we spent time with and goals we had for this year.

So how was it for you? Hopefully it was a mix of good and bad. We all want to look back on good times, but there are always going to be struggles, too. And those are the things we would rather not remember. But hard times can be good times too.

The times in my life when I have gotten the strongest, grown the most, learned the most valuable lessons, are the times when I fought a battle. My heart was broken. Big plans fell through. I lost someone. I had to grieve, fall apart and learn to find my way back. Each time I did, I found a new normal. Life was no longer the same, but it could be good and I was better for the fight.

So I hope that as you reflect on 2015, you are thankful for the struggles you went through, the lessons you learned and the person you have become.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.    ~James 1:2-4