Simple Tips for Becoming a Stronger You

Spring is here and pool season is right around the corner. I know I can’t wait. It’s been a long winter, hasn’t it? Have you been exercising this winter? What about weight training? When we make the time to strengthen and develop our physical muscles, they have more tone, definition and strength. Our body is then equipped to do all the things we want and need it to do throughout our lifetime.

This week’s post is about exercise and no, it is not a dirty word, so let’s do away with any negative thinking or excuses right now, ok? Exercise is not a chore we have to endure. There’s a woman at the gym who is wheelchair-bound and I have been watching and encouraging her as she makes the effort to move her body. She is making slow but steady progress. The other day I saw her climb onto the stationary bike. Imagine what it would be like to be in a wheelchair.

Exercise is a blessing and also a lifestyle. Exercise is a part of my life and has been for many years. There have been seasons when I have been injured and out of commission, so I know what it feels like to be immobile. It’s not fun. Fun is being able to move, dance, and regular, consistent exercise helps us do just that. It helps us feel more alive.

It is important to make regular exercise a priority. I know you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating, especially with the rate of obesity and cardiovascular disease on the rise all over the world. Did you know Mexico has surpassed the United States in terms of numbers of obese people – 32.8%. The United States now ranks #2 and that is not something to be proud of.

There are many ways to strengthen our muscles and get our bodies moving. Now that the weather is warming up, I love to get outdoors as much as I can. My grown sons still love to play soccer and basketball. I taught them to play tennis and took them to soccer and baseball practice. They saw me exercising in the basement to my videos. When I was raising my kids, I used to get up at 5:30 am and go for a run around the nearby college campus before the sun came up. Running is a great way to get a quick cardio workout in and all you really need is a good pair of running shoes. I’d sign up for 5 and 10k races and collect donations for charities. Then there is biking, working out at a gym, taking a fun group exercise class like Zumba, playing several sets of tennis, swimming, the list goes on and on. Let’s not forget yoga and pilates – two great ways to tone, stretch, and strengthen our core and connect with our bodies. Two fantastic low impact weight-bearing exercises that can really train the heart muscle as well as strengthen the bones are fitness walking and hiking. Both are easy and free.

While I’m on the subject of strengthening our muscles, let’s not forget our spiritual muscle. Did you know you have a spiritual muscle? Yes, indeed, and it’s called faith. Think about this. We all have faith in something to some degree. We have faith that the sun will rise every morning even if we don’t see it. We have faith that the chair we’re sitting in will hold us. We use faith every day but there are times when we need it in extra doses. In the same way we lift more weight at the gym, or run longer distances, there are circumstances in our lives that put more demands on our spiritual muscle. If we haven’t made the effort to develop our faith, we won’t be able to endure the inevitable trials that are destined to come our way.

So how do we develop our faith muscle? By exercising it, of course! Faith needs to be used in order to grow stronger. Every trial we go through is an opportunity to develop and strengthen our faith. Just as we strengthen different muscle groups with different types of exercise, different situations in life cause us to develop our faith in different areas.

Here is a short video I put together about this entitled “How to Transform Your Life”. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What do you think of the idea of having a spiritual muscle? Does yours need to be exercised more? What concrete things can you do to strengthen it? If you’re not sure, stay tuned and I’ll be sharing simple yet concrete and practical steps you can use to develop your faith. If you want to be stronger and stay calmer through the ups and downs of life, now is the time to start strengthening your faith.

Love to hear from you. Until the next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Ariel

Spring, Exercise, and Muscles

Spring is here and pool season is right around the corner. I know I can’t wait. Have you been exercising this winter? What about weight training? When we develop our muscles, they have more tone, definition and strength. The body is equipped to do all the things we want and need it to do. I know I’m not getting any younger, but I plan to stay fit and active for as long as I possibly can.

So this week’s post is about exercise and no, it is not a dirty word, so let’s do away with any negative thinking or excuses right now, ok? Being able to exercise is not a chore. It’s a blessing and a lifestyle. Exercise is a part of my life and has been for many years. Having been out of commission several times, I know what it feels like to be immobile. It’s not fun. Fun is being able to move and regular, consistent exercise helps us do just that.

Exercise is important. I know you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating, especially with the rate of obesity on the rise all over the world. There are many ways to strengthen our muscles and get our bodies moving. Now that the weather is warming up, I love to get outdoors as much as I can. My sons love to play soccer. When I was raising my kids, I used to get up in the mornings at 5:30 am and go for a run. It is a great way to get a quick cardio workout in and all you really need is a good pair of shoes. I’d sign up for 5 and 10k races and collect donations for charities. Then there is biking, working out at a gym, taking a fun group exercise class like Zumba, playing several sets of tennis, swimming, the list goes on and on. Let’s not forget yoga and pilates – two great ways to tone and strengthen our core. Two fantastic low impact weight-bearing exercises that can really train the heart muscle as well as strengthen the bones are fitness walking and hiking. Both are easy and free.

While I’m on the subject of strengthening our muscles, let’s not forget our spiritual muscle. It, too, needs to be strengthened. Did you know you have a spiritual muscle? Yes, indeed, and it’s called faith. We all have faith to some degree and it needs to be strengthened and developed just like our physical muscles. Think about it. We have faith in ourselves, in others, and many of us have faith in God.

How do we develop our faith muscle? Glad you asked. By exercising it, of course! Faith needs to be used in order to grow stronger. You know those trials I’ve been sharing with you recently? Well, every trial we go through is an opportunity to develop and strengthen our faith.

Check out this month’s video

and send me your thoughts. What do you think of the idea of having a spiritual muscle? Does yours need to be exercised more? What concrete things can you do to strengthen it?

Love to hear from you. Until the next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Goal Setting 101

Have you set some goals for the New Year yet? If so, are they SMART? Today I would like to share three tips on setting goals to ensure they are achievable and worthwhile. SMART goals, as they say in the business world, have the following characteristics.

1) S- stands for specific, not vague.
2) M – stands for measureable, quantifiable. How will it be measured?
3) A – achievable, action-oriented not ridiculous.
4) R – realistic – do I really want to achieve this goal? Why?
5) T – time bound. A determined timeframe is established when the goal will be finished.

Let’s take the example of exercise. A smart goal would be “I will exercise at my target heart rate for 30 minutes 3 – 4 times a week to improve my cardiovascular health & reduce my blood pressure.” This means 1) I will find out what my target heart rate actually should be so that I am working out hard enough to make a difference and 2) I have connected my goal to my long range purpose for my life i.e living a long and healthy life.

The second point I want to make is that in order to make a significant change in our behavior, we must first take on a new perspective on how we perceive the issue. For example, if you have always said “I hate to exercise”, then my suggestion is to reframe that perception to something positive such as “Exercise is good for my health and is enjoyable when I find the right activity to pursue.” In other words, we must change the way we think about things in order for our behaviors to follow suit.

And last, but certainly not least, have faith that you can achieve your goals. Have a vision of yourself in that size 6 little black dress or riding that motorcycle, climbing that mountain, or writing that book. Faith is the belief in things not yet seen which means we need to see them happening and pull them into our present by our thoughts and prayers.

Setting the right kind of goals can motivate us to succeed. They challenge us in our lives. Reaching a goal gives us courage to climb a bigger mountain next time. I know. I’ve climbed lots of them, all by the grace of God.

I hope this post has encouraged you to make some changes in your life. If you are new to goal-setting, start small. You will be amazed at the renewed zest for life you will feel when you begin making positive changes.

Until next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

What’s Holding You Back?

What is it in life that you would like to accomplish? Is there someplace you’ve dreamed of visiting for years but haven’t? Perhaps it’s a personal goal like losing 10 pounds or learning to be more assertive or creative.

I am a firm believer in goals. I have a list of things I want to do, places I want to go, changes I want to work on in the various areas of my life. There is always some area in which to grow, that’s for sure.

But sometimes, something holds us back from accomplishing the desires of our heart. It’s called fear: fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of the outcome. It is natural to fear doing something different. As children of God, however, we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.

We must change the way we perceive things in life. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects try focusing on the positive ones. For example, if I want to lose weight, I can say “I’ll feel better about myself” instead of “I don’t have any will power”. Instead of “I don’t like to cook” I can say “I will enjoy learning how to eat healthy”. If I want to get in shape, I need to look at exercise as pleasurable rather than a chore. Instead of “I don’t have time to exercise” try “I’ll have more energy to accomplish what I need to do.”

What about visiting that spot you’ve dreamed of? Instead of saying “I don’t like to fly” how about “Imagine the new sights and places I will experience when I get there”. Changing the way we look at things motivates and energizes us to go for our dreams.

Friend, don’t let the nasty demon of fear hold you back any longer from living the abundant life. Life is wonderful, rich, and fulfulling if we choose to embrace it and go forward in faith, rather than fear. Remember, we will get what we expect, right?

Love to hear what new thing you are going to step out in faith for in your life. Write and let me know. Until next time, keep looking up!

Lessons from Biking – # 2

After a very busy week at work, I decided to take another ride on the trail this morning. It’s a good way to destress and clear the mind while getting exercise and enjoying the outdoors all at the same time.

Unlike last week, the trail was practically empty. The quiet of the morning allowed me to hear the birds chirping and the gentle sounds of the river as it kissed the rocks along the way.

The greenery of the trees and brush were speckled with bright spots of yellow and purple wildflowers. It was truly a lovely morning to ride. Since there weren’t many others on the trail, I decided it was time to kick the pace up a notch from my normal speed. Now, keep in mind, I am not a speed demon by any stretch, so going faster takes a bit of courage for me.

When I stopped for a break, I noticed a group of bikers chatting. One woman wore a biking jersey with these words on the back:
“All those who wander are not lost”. I chuckled to myself and thought about it for a few minutes. Is that really true?

Looks like I’m not the only person who waxes philosophical on the trail. So here are a few more analogies to life that occured to me today that I thought I’d share. Hope they speak to you the way they spoke to me.

– When you get accustomed to the pace of life and there are no distractions, it’s time to step it up a bit.

– Stepping up the pace takes courage.

– When the road gets rocky, slow it down so you don’t fall over.

– Following the pack can slow you down.

– Clearing the mind is good for the spirit.

– Enjoy the sights and sounds of life while on the journey.

– Some people are oblivious to where they are going.

And last but not least, when the road is long, take time to rest.

It is so true that sports can teach us a lot about life. What lessons have you learned from your favorite sport? Drop me a note and share.

Until next time, keep looking up and enjoy the weekend!