Everyday like Your Last or Everyday to the Fullest??

Which is it for you? For me, it’s neither. I want to just live each day, without wasting time on insignificant or futile distractions.

If I live each day like it is my last, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy life’s precious moments. I would always be trying to tackle the “big” things, missing out on the inconspicuous or innocent beautifully intimate “small” experiences. I would miss the hummingbirds flying around my flowerbeds. I would miss out on the latte from the local coffee shoppe while reading a bicycle magazine. I would miss out on the morning “peck” kiss as I left for my bike ride, jog, or swim. I would miss out on the impromptu lunch with my granddaughter. I would miss out on the quiet time in the afternoon on my back porch while drinking coffee. I would miss out on the TV time with my wife, laughing at the shows we were watching.

If I live everyday to the fullest, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the lesser experiences of a local restaurant with a friend, a visit to the local bike or outdoor shop, a walk on the river, a trip to the grocery store for sorbet for my grandson, or a quick trip to my son’s & daughter’s-in-law house for a xmas program or a short walk with my wife.

If I just live each day without wasting time on insignificant distractions, I will take that

Time Flies…54 Years Ago
walk with my wife, have lunch with my granddaughter, see my grandchildren’s Christmas program, sit on my back porch watching hummingbirds drinking coffee, go to the grocery store for sorbet, get that “peck” from my wife on the way out to ride, jog or swim. I will not get bogged down in “world” news, caustic relationships, destructive behaviors, dysfunctional pursuits or be consumed with those things I am not able to change, but would eat away at my precious time.

Live life. We do not have time to waste. Time flies by, and you turn around and it’s gone. So…Enjoy all the moments. Take time to breath in the beauty and the serenity of your surroundings. Enjoy healthy pursuits. Most of all, cherish those loving, caring and intimate relationships!!!

Everyday Person’s “Diet” and “Exercise Plan.”

We know we must have a healthy diet and exercise to stay healthy, but, how many diet and exercise plans are out there??? Too many to count. A quick Google search for “How to Lose Weight,” reveals 484,000,000 pages associated with that phrase. There are 914,000,000 hits when searching, “Exercise Plan.” The ones that rise to the top are mostly associated with extreme methods or pills for a diet plan. Most of them tout losing weight rapidly, 10 Days, 7 Days, Fast. If any of you have used these methods or pills, you probably experienced what others have, rapid loss and rapid gain. Or you might have discovered, this is too difficult for any extended time period. And then there is exercise…diet alone doesn’t work, so what exercise will I be able to continue?

Reasons why I have had difficulty staying with any scheme or extreme plan, they are not healthy, natural or sustainable. I have a schedule that keeps me from strictly and faithfully following most of the plans. I once went to a nutritionist/Lipidologist. Following the personalized plan she devised for me was unsustainable with my schedule, lifestyle or budget. Clean eating, Mediterranean. Adkins, MediFast, NutriSystem, Dash, and others usually have you eliminate certain groups of food, restrict eating out, cut calorie intake to a “always-hungry” level or make unrealistic claims that become disheartening when you aren’t able to meet them.

Through trial and error as well as hit and miss, here is what works for me. NO SINGLE-FOCUSED DIET PROGRAM. NO UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS OR RESTRICTIONS. NO EXERCISE PLAN THAT IS UNSUSTAINABLE. Below are a few suggestions that come from my experiences of losing weight, maintaining my weight loss and improving my health…better BP, Resting HR, energy level, and appearance. I feel better and enjoy life, including meals. Currently, I have lost 37 lbs over a 1 year and 6 month period. My resting heart rate is 59. My blood pressure is 130/82. My cholesterol is still a little high, but only borderline now. My level was over 300.

This is for the long-haul, not 6 days, 30 days, or even 1 year. This is a life-long lifestyle, so I have to enjoy it and like it.

1. Determine a realistic weight goal. I weighed 135 when I graduated from High School and had a 27 inch waist. So of course, that is what I had in my mind as my desired goal. Or my goal was the picture of that muscular, handsome model. That is totally unreasonable and unhealthy for me now. I weighed 198 when I was convicted that I needed to do something to be healthy. (I’m a small framed, 5’7″ male, so I was heavy). I researched and found that at my age and height the recommended weight was around 145. I believe that is unrealistic for me, plus, when I lost to 145 before, I looked like a skeleton. I do know, that when I was 155, I felt great. So, my goal is 155. You need to determine a weight where you felt great, your health indicators were good, but not unrealistic for you. You also need to forget a time-period goal for achieving your weight goal. Just lose weight. Then maintain your goal.

2. Determine health areas where you need improvement. I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I also gain weight around my belly area, which I’m told, is the worst type concerning health. So, I needed to determine my diet and exercise plan accordingly. I cut back on salt, sugars, certain carbs, certain fats, and caffeine. All these cuts came from my personal research as to what affects my health issues the most.
I also need an exercise plan that will have an affect on these health issues, which turns out to be, cardio exercises.

3. Build a balanced realistic diet plan that works for you. I tried the Mediterranean diet, cleaning eating diet, low carb diet, 6 day eating 1 day fasting diet, crash diets…I could lose weight, sometimes extremely fast, but I could not sustain the plan and ended up gaining more than I lost. Usually from sugar binges or starch attacks.
For me, I found a good balanced diet that included carbs, fats, protein and certain sugars was satisfying and sustainable. I have been at it for over 1 1/2 years now, which is a record for me. I have only been using MFP for over 145 days. This has greatly helped me stay on point.
I use the paid subscription of the app, MyFitnessPal. The MFP uses your personal information, the goals you set, and devises a balanced plan that includes proteins, carbs, fats, and sugar. MFP determines your daily caloric limit based off your personal goals and stats. MFP provides diagrams, a community of encouragement, good information and a place to log daily.
Logging daily is not an option, in order to achieve your goals and maintain them, you must develop the habit of daily logging. And you must be honest with your logging, even if you went over your limits. If you find that you continually go over your limits, you might consider lowering your lbs/month weight loss goal. Better to lose more slowly than discouraging yourself.

4. Do a little research to find the best types of foods in each group. Not all fats are equal. Not all carbs are the same. Not all proteins are beneficial. Not all sugars burn the same. Complex, simple, saturated, non-saturated, poly, red, white, cold water, lean, there are differences and you need to know them.

5. Avoid processed foods, read the label. For me, it is impossible to eliminate, completely, processed foods. However, when shopping, I look for products without preservatives, sugar or fillers added. I avoid products that are processed such as deli meat, white bread, etc. I avoid canned foods, opting for frozen when available. I eat fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, multi-grain, etc. You will have to start LOOKING AT THE LABLES. The fewer the ingredients, the better. The ability to read and know what the ingredients are is a must.
When eating out, which I do regularly, eat at restaurants that have their nutritional values listed. With the internet, this has become easier and easier. Determine what you will eat before going and stick to it. I pay close attention to calories and salt content, because of my personal issues. Calories is vital. You will be surprised what you are able to eat. When eating out, I don’t worry too much about what is processed and what isn’t.

6. Find an exercise that you like and are able to do consistently. I ride a rode bicycle. I am motivated to ride on multiple levels. I love it!! I am competitive and enter events throughout the year that I have to be in shape to participate in. I joined a bicycle riding club. I schedule riding 3 times per week. I have developed a riding plan. Did I say, I love it.
This came through trial, error and elimination. I started by working out in a gym. That did not last for me. I didn’t like it and it was difficult to schedule consistently. I tried swimming. I tried running. I entered running events. I joined a running club. I tried triathlons. I joined a triathlon club. Swimming is boring to me, plus I have to drive to a pool. I kept injuring myself running. It takes too much time to train in swimming, running and riding, for me to do triathlons. Plus, I could never get over the anxiety at the start of the swim. However, I never gave up on doing something, until I totally figured out, cycling is my thing!!
Musts for me concerning my exercise, Liking it, having multiple motivations and being accessible. I love riding, I am competitive, so I compete. I want to be healthy, and cycling is cardio, burning the type of fat I struggle with, belly fat. I ride out of my garage leaving and finish riding into my garage. I have a bike rack that is easily loaded and locations close by for different terrain. This took me several years to figure this out, so do not give up, do something, consistently until you find that “something” you like, are motivated to do, and is accessible.

7. Find a community or club that will be your encouragers. As I said, MFP, has a built in community, you just have to “friend,” people to have it. Join a club and participate in the extra events the club sponsors.

8. Keep this in mind…ONE DAY OR ONE WEEK OF MISSING YOUR GOAL, DOES NOT A LIFE MAKE. You will miss your caloric goal one day, one week or even one month. Hopefully not one month. You will miss exercising…because life happens. Do not stop or give up, just because you missed. Get back on as soon as possible. This is a life long journey…which is the main reason for finding a diet and exercise plan that is reasonable, that you like and that is accessible. You want it to last a lifetime, to have a lifetime of healthier living.

Cruises, Hard on the Diet!!

Here is what not to do…go on 3 cruises in 1 year. We found ourselves locked in to 3 cruises before we knew it, my wife and I. Cruises are great. I wrote about them last blog. However, if you are tying to lose to or maintain a healthy weight, 3 cruises per year will wreak havoc on your efforts.

I only gained 10 lbs over the 1st two cruises and was able to lose those fairly quickly. But it took a lot of effort. This cruise, I determined not to gain more than 5 pounds. I ran every other day and rode a stationary bike every other day while on the cruise. I ran for 1 1/2 hours each day and rode for 2 hours each day (only 1 hour the last day). I didn’t realize until later that my appetite increased disproportionately to the calories I burned. Too much food and drink available an in your face while floating around on the Caribbean Sea. I gained 9 pounds on the 7 day cruise. YIKES!!

I have already lost 2 of the pounds gained in 2 days back. I did learn something about myself and vacations on this trip, 10 uncompromising principles.

1. Find a way to continue your food & activity diary while on vacation. I did not keep my daily diary up. I believe if I would have made entries when I ate, I would have seen the calories building up each day and curtailed some of the extra eating and drinking.
2. Exercise, but normally. Do not increase the amount you exercise, keep to your normal routine or you will be tempted to eat to satisfy the increased calorie burn.
3. Don’t eat for entertainment. I found myself eating just because I was bored or had nothing else to do. Yes, you are able to become bored on a cruise ship. Find activities to do and do them. There are all kinds of games, activities, shows and events to go to and participate in that will keep you from the ice cream machine, pizza place, dessert bar, etc.
4. Don’t drink for entertainment. Same principle as above, but concerning sodas and alcoholic drinks. Too easy to drink “way” more than you do and skip the water.
5. Carry a bottled water with you at all times. This will keep down the number of snacks and drinks you get, if you are constantly drinking a bottled water.
6. Walk everywhere you go. This will help give you more calorie burn, which you will need.
7. Order 1 dessert at dinner. I at 2 at each sitting. Don’t know why, but I did.
8. Go on excursions. The only thing to do on the boat at port is eat or drink if you are not on an excursion.
9. Say no to the waiters and waitresses are constantly asking if you need something.
10. Make a plan before you go on a cruise…don’t be so strict on yourself that you miss out on some great food and drinks, but have a plan, make entries in your diary at the time you eat or drink, do your routine exercise plan, stay busy and enjoy your cruise.

Carnival Cruise, Most Active, Royal Caribbean, Best Food, sort of

I took two cruises recently. Both were out of Galveston, Royal Caribbean, 4-day Vision of the Seas and Carnival 5-day Valor. Both were very enjoyable and both were needed breaks from the routine and the stress of day to day work. We had very different experiences on both and hopefully our experiences will enhance or help you decide on your next cruise or 1st cruise.

Royal Caribbean had the best boarding process and “drink” package. We received our Sea Card as at checkin. Go to the dock when your scheduled time is, we did and walked right up to the counter, checked in and when we finished checkin, they called our boarding group to board. We weren’t in the terminal for more than 5 minutes. Since we had our Sea Card our “drink” package began immediately. We used a parking service that carries you in a van, right up to the terminal.

Carnival’s boarding process was even faster, but they did not take our pictures and did not give us our Sea Card. We boarded with our boarding passes and had to pay for every drink we ordered, even though we had purchased a drink package. We used a parking service for this cruise as well, which also took us right up to the terminal.

Royal Caribbean had high quality food in the dining room and average food at their other locations. They charged for room service, which is the only source of 24 hour food. They also had tremendous service, never letting you sit long before some asked you if you needed anything. Our rooms were kept clean with fresh towels daily. The entertainment was OK. The outdoor movies were dated and not appealing. The main show was great, one out of 4 times. The comedian was terrible. The music around the ship was average. The activities stopped around 10:30 or 11:00 and the ship closed up, nothing opened. For many that is great, for me, I am a nite owl and love late night snacks…Pizza, Sandwiches, Ice Cream, but they were not available 24 hours on Royal. There were not a lot of activities either, that were free and alluring. My wife loved the cruise, I thought it was boring.

Carnival had average food in the dining room. Great hamburgers at Guy’s Hamburgers. Fresh sandwiches at the deli. An assortment of great food filled the buffet and good stir fry was available at the Mongolian Grill. Great street tacos and burritos were put together as ordered daily. They were good too. Carnival also had BBQ at another location, which I did not get around to. Pizza, Ice Cream and cookies are available 24 hours. The deli is open late as well. The food was better than average at all the locations, the dining room was the only average food. I didn’t use room service, but it looked like it was free and 24 hours.

Carnival’s activities continued past midnight and were fun and entertaining. The main shows were average, except the last one, it was great. The music around the ship was exceptional. The whole atmosphere was much more upbeat. Of course there are louder cruisers on Carnival and some that were a little over “baring” and they didn’t enforce the dress code in the dining room. The outdoor movies were good. All in all the entertainment was much better on Carnival, for me anyway. And since they went into the night, I was not bored. And fun activities on Carnival were free.

When we got home at departed the ship, Royal Caribbean was much faster and organized than Carnival. But we got off both ships fairly quickly and with no problems at all.

You will enjoy both Royal Caribbean and Carnival. If you are looking for a peaceful retreat with less activity, Royal might be your best choice. If you are looking for entertainment, excitement and fun while getting away, then Carnival might be your best choice.

We have one more this year. I’ll let you know about it when we take it.

How to Clean Internal Locking Trekking Poles!!

I was surfing the web this morning, looking at Backpacking items, blogs and articles. I ran across this and said, WOW! I needed this video. I use internal locking trekking poles and have been worried that when they stop working, what will I do. I much prefer internal locking poles, but so many of my friends say that once they start slipping, there is nothing you can do, but purchase new poles. Wrong, I now know how to fix and maintain them if they start to slip. I have years of backpacking on my REI poles and look forward to more.

Youtube video on maintaining or cleaning internal lock trekking poles.

Pay Attention to Pain!!

I’m back running…

Pay attention to pain. I was doing very well running, increasing distance, bettering my pace, lowering my heart rate and pressure…preparing for 3 different 1/2 marathon events. But, because I didn’t pay attention to pain, I was out for 3 weeks of recovery.

My injury started with helping some people move their household goods to a different home. I didn’t notice it at the time, but through the lifting and twisting and turning, I threw my hip out of alignment.

About 4 days after the move, I noticed a pulling sensation in my right leg when I was running. After about 2 miles, the sensation eased, and I was able to continue running. I noticed this sensation each time I ran, but like any runner, I ran through it. I noticed pain in my abductor muscle, my right quadricep, and tendons or muscles attached to my right knee. I kept running until the pain no longer subsided. The pain increased as I ran and stayed around after I finished. I iced, but that didn’t take the pain away. I had also noticed a pain at the point of my hip. This was actually the first pain I had felt running, but before that I had experienced a familiar lower back pain, that should have caused me to pay attention and do something about the pain.

Finally, I went to the chiropractor for my lower back pain. My hip was out of alignment which caused the pulling of the tendons and muscles over my hip and caused my gate to be different. The chiropractor made several adjustments over the next week. WOW, instant relief. I ran to see how I felt. The pulling that started from my hip was gone, but too late, I had injured my quadricep and abductor beyond strains, I had pulled them.

I iced daily, twice per day, 15 minutes at each injured location. I used a Soft Comfort CorPack made by Core Product. It is frost-free, stays cold or hot, and does not get wet. Great product for icing.

I rested and didn’t lift any thing heavy. I walked, but slowly. I did this for 3 weeks. I also bought new shoes, mine were close to maximum mileage. Same shoes, Altra Torin 3.0

I’m back. I ran this morning, 2.5 miles, a long way from the distance I normally run, but I ran. I ran a slower pace and iced immediately following my run. 15 minutes on each area of concern. I felt some low-level pain, so I will be careful and only run short distances every other day until I fully recover.

Pay attention to pain!! I probably would not have had to rest or ice for nearly as long, had I taken care of my hip alignment and pain immediately. If you experience pain when exercising, running, biking, hiking, etc., take care of it immediately. You may have to stay out for a short period of time, but it will keep you from being sidelined for an extended period of time.

Next post, I will share my recovery smoothie, that I drink daily.

Committing to Clean Eating, Sort of…

I have been reading a lot of articles and blogs on Clean Eating. Some of what I read makes sense, but some seems impractical and almost impossible to practice. I like the approach, but 6 meals per day each being 3 hours apart, for most of us is at the very least impractical. So, I am going to adapt the principles so I am able to apply them in a practical way in my life.
I found two great sources, Tosca Reno and The Gracious Pantry. Tosca advocates eating 6 meals per day. Both have great information on Clean Eating food and principles. Plus, I’m not sure how healthy it really is to eat 6 meals per day 2-3 hours apart. Some say, including The Gracious Pantry, eating small meals more often increases your chance of diabetes, since your insulin stays spiked all day.

Anyway, here is what I am going to do. I will eat 3 meals per day, with snacks throughout, to keep me from getting “famished.” I will shop for and seek to eat only “clean” foods. I will stay with MFP, MyFitness Pal, recommended calorie intake for my goals. I will continue my physical activities and exercising. So, I am going to Sort-of take the Clean Eating approach, adapting to my situation and life.

Here are the basic principles of Clean Eating that I will implement:
1. Eat Lean Protein, Complex Carbs and Healthy Fat at Each Meal.
2. Never Skip a Meal. Make sure you eat breakfast daily!!
3. Read Labels. No more than 5 ingredients for the item. No “chemical” wording accepted. No preservatives. No processed ingredients. No added salt/sodium. No added sugar of any type. If you don’t understand or know what the ingredient is, don’t use it. (Organic is best)
4. No Refined Ingredients or Foods. (No sugar, refined grains, refined fats). Ezekiel Bread is a great bread source, it is in the freezer section due to no preservatives.
5. Eat Fresh Vegitables, Fruits, and Nuts. Stay away from juices.
6. Eat Lean Protein. Cold water fish is best. Skinless chicken breast. Skinless turkey breast. Grass fed beef. Venison. Pork tenderloin. (No ham, no processed meats, no deli meat).
7. Drink 8 Cups of Water, Daily.
8. Portion Size and Calorie Intake Suitable for Your Physical Type and Goal.
9. Plan. If you do not plan your meals, even going out, you will not be successful. If you do not plan your grocery store trips, you will not purchase what you will need or eat.
10. Freeze Food. Learn how to freeze fresh vegetables, fruits and meat. Most people give up, because it is expensive when fresh food ruins in the refrigerator.

There are plenty of resources to find lists of healthy fats, complex carbs and proteins. However, I provide a short list of nuts (some of the healthy fats), complex carbs and fish protein below.

Notice the Raw Nut list shows number of nuts and calories in 1 ounce.
Type of Nut # of Nuts in 1-ounce Calories
*Almonds 22 170
*Brazil nuts 6 to 8 185
*Cashews 18 160
*Hazelnuts 20 175
*Macadamias 10 to 12 200
*Peanuts 18 165
*Pecan halves 20 200
*Pistachios (shelled) 47 160
*Walnut halves 14 185

High Water Content Complex Carbs
*Beet Greens
*Brussel Sprouts
*Turnip Greens

Complex Carbs
*Citrus Fruit

Best Fish
*Mahi Mahi

Introspection of My New Year’s Eve with Friends

When I was sitting in a stool at our kitchen island, about 11:00 p.m. New Years Eve, I contemplated how we spent that evening. We had just finished an evening that included playing a game of “Hand and Foot” and eating homemade chili, tortillas and quesadillas with two friends, a couple we have grown to know well.

We had a wonderful evening. We quit early, before midnight, because my wife was ill. She would not have been able to last till midnight. Our friends noticed, so they left in order to allow her to get her needed rest. They noticed this, because they are friends, not acquaintances, not companions, not peers or just fun people. They are authentic friends.

We said our goodbyes and our friends drove home.

Whole living includes friends with whom you are able to enjoy a meal, talk about dreams, share relaxing entertainment and laugh at each other (with each other). Then, even after spending so much time together, you still look forward to the time you are able to do it again.

Friends are unique treasures, not often found. There are plenty of acquaintances, companions, peers and fun people, but not many genuine friends. Friends are dependable, empathetic, and encouraging. They are able to challenge you and be truthful (even when being truthful is remedial). Because, friends truly want what is best for you, always.

Friends develop strong bonds with you. Friends are there for you, without an agenda or desire for reward. Friends find joy in your joy, and pain in your pain. Friends however, don’t let their friends campout in their pain or joy for too long. Friends help you move forward in healthy ways, not let us hang on to the past.

We have some friends, not many, because being a true friend cost…cost time, heart ache, resources and openness and transparency. Friendship exposes one’s heart, leaving it vulnerable. Yet, friendship has the greatest benefits and advantages for one’s total well-being. We are made for relationships, and the best relationships (outside of marital) are real friends.

Spending time with acquaintances, companions, peers or just fun people is enjoyable. But, spending time with real friends is soulful, empowering and life-giving.

Don’t be too quick to make “friends,” but make sure you find those treasures who are real friends. Life is far less than full without them.

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
—Proverbs 18:24

Sometimes, Time Alone and Away is Needed

I went to Lake Brownwood State Park for 4 days. I rented one of their rustic cabins. I stayed there spending time alone with God, nature and “myself.” I needed the break, the withdrawal, the rest. However, I didn’t just need a “retreat,” but a retreat with a purpose. A retreat without a purpose is just that, a retreat with no intentional desired result, just a rest. With a purpose, one is able to reorient, reprioritize, and renew. A purposeful retreat helps move forward with a new vigor, a new drive, a new energy for life. Without a purpose, nothing is gained, not even real rest. My method, retreat with a Bible, 2 books focused on my present challenges, plenty of water, a secluded site and no food. Yes I fasted for 4 days. I’ll explain fasting fuller in a future blog, but suffice it to say, fasting intensifies one’s experience.

After my purposeful retreat, I came back with clarity–having recommitted to my spiritual, emotional and physical priorities,goals and needs. My goal was to clearly understand the direction my ministry needed to go, how to improve my relationships, and how to be healthy in every aspect as I live day-to-day.

I went to Lake Brownwood State Park, because during mid-December, mid-week, no one is at the park. The cabins are empty, the park is empty and the campgrounds are empty. I am able to spend 4-days walking all over the park, by the lake, through the walking trails and down the roads, without coming in contact with anyone, but an occasional Park Ranger driving by.

Everyone needs some time alone and away from his or her normal environment. But it is only a “rest,” without having a specific purpose and desired result. General purposes are clarity, new energy, and reorientation. My purpose this time had to do with my stage in life and the new launch of a ministry I am involved in, Heart to Heart Christian Fellowship. I needed clarity as to what kind of church God wants Heart to Heart to be, on upcoming decisions concerning Heart to Heart and to let go of feelings and emotions that are hindering my progress in life. All this happened!!

Here are some pointers on taking a “retreat” with a purpose:

1. Find a place you are able to go where you will be away from people and your normal environment. Plan to be gone 4 full days, so make all the arrangements before hand letting people know you will not be using your phone or answering any communication for 4 days. Turn off your phone!! I call my wife each evening, but leave it off before and turn it off after the call.
2. Begin your fast the day you leave by eating a large healthy breakfast. I fast completely except I drink water and coffee. If you are not use to fasting, prepare yourself in advance by fasting 24 hours to 48 hours several times before your fasting retreat.
3. Take plenty of bottled water, because you do not know how the water will be wherever you go. I took a case so I could drink at least 8 cups per day. Do not take food! You will be tempted to cheat. Plan where you will eat breakfast when you are finished.
4. Answer, why do you need a retreat and what area of life do you want to improve. Answer what major decisions, challenges and changes you have ahead. Decide what focus you want to make, before you leave.
5. Take reading material based on the focus you want to have. Example: I wanted to focus on the upcoming ministry decisions, my relationships, and letting go of hindering feelings. I took my Bible (I always take my Bible). I took two books recommended to me, Circle Maker, and Beginners Guide to the Gift of Prophecy. I took another but didn’t read it, feeling I had come to clarity and needed to read the last book at a later date. I also took a blank spiral notebook for note taking and several writing instruments, pens and pencils.
6. Spend each day praying, reading, note-taking, walking, contemplating and meditating on what you have read. I do not follow any “daily” plan. I read as I want to, pray at the beginning of the day and through the day as well as take notes about my thoughts, dreams, visions and my readings. I do not start planning or writing down my strategy for the future until I have had time for reflecting. I usually start writing down my future plans, strategies and actions on my 3rd day.
7. Turn off your phone! I did already say this, but it needed to be said again.
8. Talk out loud to yourself, you are not crazy, that helps work things out.
9. Be open.
10. I usually leave on Sunday afternoon (having eaten a large breakfast that morning). I head back on Thursday morning, finding a great restaurant to eat breakfast on the way home.

I am going to do this 2 times per year. I use to do it 1 time per year, but this purposeful retreat is so beneficial, I am increasing it for 2018. I’ll go in June or July then again in December. I will look for a different place for my summer retreat.

Running for My Life

I am running for my life…seeking to keep physically fit, mentally astute, and spiritually attune. I am one of those that has to have something other than keeping fit to motivate me, so I run in events. My two favorite are Miracle Match in Waco and Cowtown in Fort Worth. I have run in the past without training, and that was brutal. I train now, which makes me feel better on a daily basis and helps me in my effort to lose weight (maintain once I make my goal of 165 lbs).

I have found that many over train (or incorrectly train), use the wrong shoe, and don’t take time to find the best sock. I was one of those. Each one of these can contribute or even cause injuries. I went through 4 different types of shoes as well as one foot injury, knee issues and ankle issues. I ended up with blisters and sore bottoms of my feet, thinking that socks were just socks. I couldn’t increase my pace nor lower my heart rate average. I now run without injuries, am increasing my pace and lowering my average heart rate.

I found my running shoe, the Altra Torin 2.5 (I think they now have a 3.0). I found my sock, the Balega Second Skin Fit Ultralight. I also follow expertly planned training schedules. The Cowtown provided one designed to prepare for the Cowtown 1/2 marathon. I am following it now.

I have problems with Metatarsalgia on my right foot. I tried Saucony, Newton and Hoka One One shoes, each aggravated my problem. My local running store owner directed me to the Altra Torin 2.5 shoes for an ample toe box and cushioning for longer runs. I am sold!!! I have run over 200 miles in them and 2 Half Marathons. I am able to run long distances now without the pain I experienced before. Take time to find your shoe!! Go to a local store with a real running expert who takes his or her time with you. DON’T BUY ONLINE!!

My socks came from talking with the same running store expert. After I explained my issues, he recommended Balega socks. After trying 3 different thicknesses, I now run solely in Second Skin Fit Ultralights. No blisters and no more sore bottoms of my feet.

I have read enough recently to know that over training is a problem with many older runners. We think that we have to catch on all that lost time, when we didn’t run. I recently read an article that pointed out, runners and cyclist who improve, do not run everyday and follow a training schedule that includes different distances, intervals and types. I now follow a schedule prepared by a professional where I run 4 times a week (M,T,T,S). Each run is a different distance and a different type of run (flat, easy, fast, climbs, etc.) Before I run, I stretch and briefly do aerobic exercises to get my heart rate up. When I get my heart rate up to 130+, I stop the exercising to stretch while my heart rate goes back down. When my heart rate goes back down, I start running. All this has improved my pace, average heart rate, recovery and how I feel. I have also come to enjoy running much more than I did. I use to see running as a necessary evil, but now I look forward to each run, actually notice my surroundings while I run, and have great conversations with God and myself in stride. I do not listen to music while I run, I want to be able to think and hear traffic.

Run for your life, but do it with the right equipment and best training schedule.