Four Simple Stress-Busting Strategies

How do you handle a stressful job, demanding school work, family life, parenthood or the challenges of life in general? There is no one-size-fits-all solution but there are some strategies that can help us cope with the day-to-day demands we face. Based on my personal experiences, I have found that there are 4 things that consistently give me energy, stamina, improve my mood and attitude:

  1. Regular exercise: It can be tough to find time to exercise 3 or more times per week. There are so many other things that need to get done! But, physical activity is as beneficial to our bodies as healthy food is. In fact, when it comes to cardiovascular health, physical activity is just as important as healthy food. It can take some time to find a regimen that works for you but setting realistic goals and easing into it could help set the tone for a more consistent exercise routine. Why not start with just 10 minutes every other day? Establishing the habit is the hardest part but you can do it!
  2. A good night’s sleep: This means different things to different people. Some can get by on 5 hours while others (like me) need at least 8 hours a night to feel fully rested. I have personally found that my mood, attention span, ability to learn and handle stress are much better when I have been sleeping well. If you are feeling stressed, consider whether the amount of sleep you are getting is sufficient for your daily needs.
  3. Social ties: Sharing our struggles with those we trust can take some of the burden off our own shoulders and help us cope. There is no shame in feeling overwhelmed or tired. Reach out to someone if you can!
  4. Reflection: Taking time for reflection, prayer or meditation is a fantastic way to make sense of your thoughts and slow down the rhythm of our fast-paced lives. It can also help us bring to the forefront unresolved feelings, hurts or other difficult emotions. Why not set aside 10 to 15 minutes a day for this personal reflection time?

Whatever stresses you may be going through, consider the above basic strategies to help you cope. Simple but effective!

My recommended workout of the week. This is a great 30-minute cardio workout with light weights (5 to 10 pounds) that also targets chest, abs, glutes, obliques, shoulders and legs. For those with problematic knees (like me!), there is a modified version of the exercise displayed. In general, aim for exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once to get more bang for your buck!

Photo credit: highway2fitness.com

 

Updates on the Second Semester of Medical School

The second semester of medical school is well on its way and it’s been fun, challenging and amazing! From our anatomy labs, I continue to be awed by the beauty and intricacy of the human body. Seeing for oneself how arteries, veins and nerves weave in and out of various organs while trying to piece together the physiological mechanisms that keep us breathing and alive is nothing short of miraculous and fascinating!

We have completed our blocks in Public Health, Respiration, Circulation, Renal and are half-way through Digestion and Metabolism. I am continuing to enjoy my exposure to family medicine which I get to do about 2 to 3 times a month. My favorite aspects of it are the variety of cases you get to see right from children to the elderly. I have enjoyed following up on return patients and getting to practice doing various procedures.

One of my goals in medical school was to ensure I carve out quality time for God, family and hobbies. This has generally been going well! My biggest struggle however has been keeping up with consisent exercise. To help me improve on this, I have downloaded a “30 Day Fitness Challenge” app on my phone which will keep track of my progress.

The kids are doing great! My 5 year old son started taking karate classes (perfect for his high energy personality!) and recently went skating for the first time. His reaction to skating… “Mummy, why do I keep falling?” He also wanted  know if he could bring his snowman inside from the front yard and put it in the freezer to keep it from melting!

My 3 year old daughter is full of funny remarks too. She recently informed us, “Med school is where mummies go and when I become a mummy…..I’m going to med school!”

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My little girl checking on me!

birthday

Birthday surprise from hubby and the kids!

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Celebrating mummy’s birthday with a family movie night. We watched “The Good Dinosaur”. Loved it!

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Nerdy birthday gift from hubby!

 

Five Tips for Living a Healthier Lifestyle

When deciding to live a healthier lifestyle, it can be difficult to know what changes to make and how. When I look back at my attempts to live more healthily, the approach that worked best for me was tackling my goals in small increments and doing the things that I truly enjoyed.

So whether your goal is to eat more healthy food, exercise more, reduce stress levels or simply have more fun, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Start small: our bodies and minds have learning curves and need time to adjust to new changes. It will be easier to sustain a healthier lifestyle by starting with a small goal and increasing our threshold over time. For example, if you have done no exercise lately and want to start exercising, you could begin with just a 10 minute walk 3 times a week and build up from there. You’ll be amazed how your body becomes stronger with time and soon 10 minutes will become easier and you will be able to go for longer. Although the general guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week, this can be daunting for some people. It is certainly a worthy goal to eventually get to but it can help to just start small until you build up the habit.
  2. Do something you enjoy: There are many shapes and forms of exercise and it’s important to find one that you truly enjoy otherwise it can be difficult to keep up the stamina and motivation. Some people find it hard to exercise alone and need the company of others. Challenge your friends to join you for some weekly exercise! Some people have sensitive knees (like me) and cannot accommodate high impact exercise. This does not mean that there is no hope of getting fit! Even with physical limitations, there are ways to strengthen our bodies through yoga, swimming, weight training, walking, and more.
  3. Rest and refill regularly: It can be difficult to sustain a healthy lifestyle if we are running on empty. It’s important to find ways to filter out the stress of daily life and to do activities that fill up our souls. This could be through our hobbies, exercise, spending time with family or friends, a change of scenery, and through getting enough sleep to rejuvenate our minds and bodies.
  4. Get creative: When it comes to eating, it can be easy to find ourselves in a rut eating the same foods over and over (this happens to me sometimes!). You don’t have to have perfect cooking skills to come up with some delicious, healthy meals. I personally had no idea how to cook until I was in my twenties and it took some experimentation and some generous ‘guinea pigs’ willing to try my food to give me some experience with cooking. My goal is to try at least one new recipe each week. Yummly, my favorite site for finding new recipes is user-friendly and recommends recipes based on your tastes, preferences and diet type. It will even populate a shopping list of ingredients based on the recipe you choose.
  5. Find a balance: Living a healthy lifestyle does not mean we have to always be on the go or never eat certain foods. It’s about finding the right balance (easier said than done sometimes!) that accommodates nutritious foods, our own tastes and that gets us active while allowing time to rest and de-stress. Every individual is different and it takes time to achieve a balance and determine what works for you.

Living a healthy lifestyle does not happen overnight. It has its challenges and victories like anything else in life. It doesn’t matter if you have fallen by the wayside on your journey to becoming more healthy. There is always a new day, a fresh start, another opportunity to try again. Your body and mind will thank you!

Image courtesy of samsung.com

Image courtesy of samsung.com

Abs-Core, Dance Workout and Meditations on the Book of Psalms

As some of you may remember from the 30-day fitness challenge, one of my goals with exercise was to maintain variety in my choice of exercises to avoid getting into a rut and becoming unmotivated. The same exercises over and over again can become boring and eventually your body is not as challenged as it was before.

This week I have focused on fun dance workout videos which are great for cardio and also a good way to work on your coordination. The brain craves new challenges and it has been shown that trying something new is good for the brain! I also came across this challenging Abs-Core workout. What I liked about it is that you are not spending your whole time just doing crunches. There is a combination of lunges, planks and other exercises that strengthen and tone obliques, glutes, shoulders and arms. If you are looking for a new exercise to do and are looking for more of a challenge, I think you will enjoy this video.

During my devotional times, I have been enjoying reading the book of Psalms. David has such a vivid way of describing his life and circumstances that you almost imagine you are right there with him experiencing what he is going through! One theme that continually pops up as I delve into Psalms is ‘God as a refuge’.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a refuge as ‘shelter or protection from danger or distress‘ and ‘something to which one has recourse in difficulty‘. In my mind, this really encapsulates what God means to me as a refuge. He protects us, he shelters us, he encompasses us like a mother hen protecting her chicks. Even though struggles may come our way, we can run to God during those times of difficulty for comfort and healing. Have a blessed day!

Psalm 7:1 “O Lord my God, I take refuge in you!”

Psalm 9:9 “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Image courtesy of photobucket.com

Image courtesy of photobucket.com

The 30-Day Challenge is Done! Congratulations!

Congratulations! We are finally at the end of the 30-day challenge towards wholesome living physically, emotionally and spiritually. Thank you to all those who joined me for the challenge and for your support and motivation. Having others to hold you accountable and give you encouragement makes all the difference in being successful in a venture like this!

Here’s a recap of the last week:

  • Fitness: My fitness goal over the last 30 days has been to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, particularly cardiovascular exercise that would get me to break a sweat. Overall, my goal has been met with the exception of a few days break here and there due to recurring knee soreness. I had to find a balance between giving my knee adequate rest and not breaking up the momentum I had built in keeping to frequent exercise. I knew that if I stopped doing exercise for more than a few days, it would be harder to resume. This week my exercise consisted of an intermediate total body workout, yoga, upper body strength training and brisk walks outside in the beautiful sunshine with the kids. I feel myself getting stronger and fitter. It’s nice to see hard work pay off! If you don’t have time to do any formal exercise on a particular day, try to do something small for your body like going for a quick walk on lunch-break or using stairs instead of the elevator. Every little bit helps!
  • Nutrition: My nutrition goals were to eat healthily, have more variety in my diet and to make sure I was eating enough calories (~2800) to maintain my weight. I was concerned that with daily exercise (particularly cardio) that I would lose weight which I did not want to do. Fortunately, with making sure I ate enough healthy calories, I maintained my weight! I did indulge in BBQ flavored chips and cheese-cake a few times, but for the most part, I met my nutrition goals. My desire to have more variety in my diet resulted in our family eating more fruits and vegetables than we normally do which is great. This week, I made delicious spinach ‘chips’ which were a big hit with our son. All you have to do is drizzle baby spinach leaves with 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and a pinch of salt then spread out flat on a baking tray and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes or until crunchy (see pictures below). This will be a big hit with kids who may not normally like vegetables. The sesame oil-garlic powder combo also works well as a dressing if you prefer to eat the baby spinach raw. This recipe also works well with kale leaves.
Baby spinach drizzled with sesame oil, garlic powder and a pinch of salt

Baby spinach drizzled with sesame oil, garlic powder and a pinch of salt

Baby spinach laid out on baking tray.  I have no

Baby spinach laid out on a baking tray. It’s important to have only one layer to avoid sogginess.  I have no “after” pictures to show you as the spinach chips were instantly devoured by my family!

  • Spirituality: This was my favorite part of the challenge as I really felt the difference in my frame of mind and outlook in life by spending time with God daily in prayer, reading the Bible and just reflecting on the blessings in my life. This week I read some excerpts from “Our Daily Bread” and I liked the quote by Winston Churchill “Failure is not fatal”  in other words, our failures do not define us. We may fall short in many ways but God will always restore us. He is our hope and our anchor. I also enjoyed reading about the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33). It reminded me that even those goals, dreams, or difficult situations that seem insurmountable can be accomplished or overcome if we just believe it’s possible. I really feel transformed by these 30 days because I feel that I have forged a stronger identity in Christ. I am constantly blown away by the fact that God loves me unconditionally, no matter what! This gives me such a reassurance, a true hope, and a fiery excitement to see what the future holds!

Congratulations once again for making it to the end of this 30-day challenge. I hope you have benefited from it as much as I have. Keep going with the good habits you have developed and continue to look for new ways to challenge your body and mind to greater heights!

Image courtesy of ponsuwan at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of ponsuwan at freedigitalphotos.net

Week 3 of the 30-Day Challenge is Done! We are almost there….

Welcome back to the 30-Day Challenge! This has been a fantastic past few weeks of focusing on consistent exercise, healthy eating and daily devotional time. If you are only just joining the challenge, it’s not too late to get on board and improve the quality of your health and mind!

Here’s a recap of the past week:

  • Fitness: Although exercise has often been something I deemed important, I have not always been consistent with it in the past, and therefore this 30-day challenge has been a great way to keep me motivated towards building good habits. So far, I have managed to exercise 30 minutes a day every day for the first 2 weeks of the challenge. My sensitive right knee then started acting up and I felt under the weather so I made the difficult decision to rest from any exercise for 3 days until I felt better. I also made sure to focus on upper body exercises and moderate paced walks outside for the rest of the week to put less strain on my knee. Injuries, sickness or pain can be frustrating when you are trying to keep to a consistent exercise regimen but it’s best to give your body rest to avoid aggravating the situation. Once you are feeling better, get right back on the saddle! Keeping things fresh is important in keeping you motivated so if you are looking for some new workouts to do, here are my favorite 3 workouts from the past 3 weeks: high intensity interval training cardio-abs workout, yoga workout, and T-25 workouts which give you an invigorating cardio workout in just 25 minutes (available through Amazon).
  • Nutrition: Eating healthily has been going well. Two of my main goals are to stick with enough healthy calories to maintain my current weight and to add more variety to my diet. Since the weeks are busy, I am picking Saturday night as the meal to try a new recipe for every week. That way, when my pre-schooler asks me “what are we eating tonight mummy?”, I can actually have something to say other than “chicken, peas and potatoes”. It’s also a good opportunity to offer something new and tantalizing to guests we have over for supper.  Another added benefit is that our brains like new challenges so even trying a new recipe is good for your brain! This weekend’s new recipe was home-made pizza. (See pictures below). The sky is the limit with this because you get to be creative with the toppings: peppers, pineapple, tuna, olives, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes…whatever takes your fancy!
  • Spiritual: My time in prayer, singing and devotional reading time has been great for clearing my mind of clutter, focusing on the blessings in my life and reminding myself of God’s grace towards me. There were a few anxious moments this week about the future but I’m just reminding myself to trust in God and not worry about things. I have been enjoying digging deep into the Bible and spending more time and thought on what I am reading. I am finding such a richness of information, guidance, comfort and inspiration. One particular verse that captured me this week was the call set forth in I Peter to use our gifts and talents: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others”. I Peter 4:10. In a world that is getting increasingly competitive, we may sometimes wonder what we have to offer. But it’s important to remember (and I’m reminding myself of this too) that it’s not the scale of what we do but the heart behind it. Are we doing everything we can with what we’ve got? And are we sharing that gift with someone else in some way, shape or form?

We are now on to the last week of the 30-day challenge. Even though the goal was to be consistent for 30 days, I am looking forward to keeping up the healthy habits we have acquired well beyond the 30 days. Keep going! Allez-y!

Image courtesy of kromkathrog at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of kromkathrog at freedigitalphotos.net

My hubby kneading the home-made dough

My hubby kneading the home-made dough (adding some garlic paste to the dough will give the pizza base a delicious flavor)

Hubby spreading out the dough in the baking tray (you can use any shape of tray)

Hubby spreading out the dough in the baking tray (you can use any shape of tray). Push the dough against the edges of the tray to make the pizza base more aesthetically pleasing.

Base ready for toppings after par-broiling in the oven for ~10 minutes

Pizza base ready for toppings after par-baking in the oven at 425C for ~10 minutes (this step partially cooks the pizza base before adding the toppings so you end up with a nice crunchy base at the end.)

First layer of toppings (tomato paste or sauce, mozzarella cheese, black olive, pepperoni)

First layer of toppings (tomato paste or sauce, mozzarella cheese, black olive, pepperoni)

Second layer of toppings (green peppers, mushrooms, more mozzarella cheese)

Second layer of toppings (green peppers, mushrooms, more mozzarella cheese)

Finished product (Baked for ~15 minutes at 400C then broiled on low for a few minutes until lightly browned)

Finished product (Baked for ~15 minutes at 400C then broiled on low for a few minutes until lightly browned)

Delicious!

Delicious!

Week One is Done! The 30-Day Challenge Continues…

My son and I have a funny routine at bedtime where we have a “sword-fight” after his bath and we end up rolling around on the bed grunting and roaring. As I walked into the room yesterday ready to get into battle mode, I was surprised to instead find my son with a huge grin on his face and his arms open wide. He then enveloped me in a long, warm bear-hug. Needless to say, I melted into a puddle of goo on the floor. My son is affectionate by nature, but moments like this never cease to amaze me. It was a lovely way to wrap up the first week of the 30-Day Challenge, a journey into wholeness… physically, emotionally and spiritually!

Here’s an update for you from the weekend:

  • Fitness: My greatest challenge with exercise is getting it done on the weekend because often we have social activities and are extra busy with the kids so it’s difficult to get that physical exercise in. Thankfully, I knew that I would be reporting to you early this week so I forced myself to make that time one way or another! Friday consisted of a nice, brisk 45 minute walk around the neighborhood with my daughter. Our walk took us through some woods in which I was hoping to stop and do some stretches and squats, but the palpable mosquito presence in the woods forced us to make a quick exit!

    My daughter and I going walkabout in the woods (before the mosquitoes descended upon us!)

    My daughter and I going ‘walkabout’ in the woods (before the mosquitoes descended upon us!)

  • Fitness: Saturday was busy with us hosting a good friend’s baby shower and so there wasn’t much time to work-out. However I am consoled by the fact that I was on my feet most of the day decorating the house, prepping food and attending to guests. Sunday was also busy with church and although I was feeling really tired, I decided that a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood was better than doing no exercise at all. If you are feeling tired or unmotivated about doing exercise, take heart! You don’t have to do a killer workout everyday. Just get on your feet in some way, shape or form, even if it’s gardening, doing housework, dancing, walking or riding somewhere instead of driving. And if you miss a day, don’t feel bad, try again the next day. You can do it! Today’s fitness consisted of a light 10 minute warm-up on the elliptical followed by a similar upper body workout as last week, including some additional wrist strengthening exercises. In addition to physical exercise, I realized the importance of having good posture. This is crucial for keeping our spines properly aligned and preventing back problems. I am quite tall (5 feet 9 inches) and so I have a tendency to slouch (I was reminded of this recently when I saw some pictures of me that a friend took). We often don’t realize the way we sit or stand, and this can have an impact on our overall well-being. So I have been making an effort to monitor my posture, particularly while sitting or standing. Here’s an interesting link I found with tips on maintaining good posture.
  • Nutrition: Friday and Monday went well for my nutritional goals but Saturday and Sunday consisted of two BBQs so it was difficult to keep track of nutritional content and to stick to healthy foods. There’s nothing wrong with eating less healthy foods now and again (they can be so delicious!) but I’m trying to avoid it becoming a habit. My goal this week is to try and eat some different foods compared to last week to introduce some variety in my diet. Let’s shake things up!
  • Spiritual: I thoroughly enjoyed having my prayer time during my walks outside with my daughter. It allowed me to put God in the context of nature and just appreciate the beauty around me. I loved those moments with my daughter where her eyes would light up when she saw a bird or a horse. Kids have a way of keeping things so fresh! I have really been enjoying reading what I call “chunks” from the Bible. In the past, I  had a habit of reading a few verses here and there but I am really enjoying reading scriptures in the form of complete chapters where I can get the full context and even imagine myself being there in that time. Despite the busy weekend, I definitely saw the difference it made to have time with God daily. It brought me to a place of reflection and to a time when I could continually unload and tell God that He is in control and all I can do is my best. It’s so comforting to know that we are not “doing” life alone. We have a Heavenly Father who is working out all the details of our lives. We only need to walk in faith and trust. “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…” Phil 1:6.

Well done everyone for making it to the second week of the 30-Day Challenge. What exercise do you have planned for this week? Having an idea of what you will do each day will increase your chances of actually doing it. Formulate a plan for the week and try to stick to it as much as possible! You’ll hear from me again soon. Thank you for joining me on this challenge and keeping me motivated!!

Here comes Week 2 of the 30-Day Challenge…Keep going!!!

Courtesy of arztsamui @ freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of arztsamui @ freedigitalphotos.net

Day 4 of the 30-Day Challenge….. It’s a Wrap!

Welcome back everyone. Have you been sweating? What have you been eating? How’s that devotional time going? Hopefully you are already starting to see some benefits of consistent exercise, eating right and having some quiet moments with God daily. We are drawing close to the end of the first week of the 30-Day Challenge and it’s been great!

Here’s a quick update for you:

  • Fitness: Today I did a very invigorating ~30 minute workout, the T-25 that focuses on cardio and stretches (thank you subsaharangirl for the recommendation). I have to say that this was a lot of fun. It was reminiscent of doing a hip-hop dance routine with old-school moves from the 90’s, all while getting your heart-rate up. Loved it! I also appreciated that there was one person in the video who did a modified version of each exercise which is great for those who cannot handle the high-impact version of the exercise. I am starting to realize that my previous attempts to really be consistent with exercise were being impeded by doing the same exercise workouts over and over. I think I was just getting plain bored! But having done a different type of workout everyday this week has left me feeling full of energy and motivated to keep going! If you’re finding yourself losing steam, perhaps try a new type of exercise or change up the scenery. It’s all about keeping things fresh!
  • Nutrition: I am definitely seeing the difference in eating the right type of food and eating every few hours throughout the day. I have much more energy! All nutrition goals for the day…..met!
  • Spiritual: I was a little bit distracted during my quiet time today partly due to some things I read on the internet that frustrated me. But I decided to just pray about it and let God help me get my attitude under control. Interestingly, I found a verse towards the end of 1 Thessalonians that was very appropriate for the situation, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong but always try to be kind to each other, and to everyone else“. 1 Thess 5:15. I was also reminded about the importance of “putting on faith and love as a breastplate” 1 Thess 5:8. Breastplates were designed to protect the torso. In the same way, faith and love offer protection from the negativity that can fill our minds and hearts if we lose faith in people or have resentment. It’s not easy to forgive past hurts, but it surely liberates us when we do.

Day 4 of the 30-Day Challenge… It’s a Wrap! Well done everyone for getting this far! I plan to post my next update early next week so please stay tuned. In the mean time, keep going, keep exercising, keep eating right and keep feeding your spirit and soul! Onward…..

Courtesy of Vlado from freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of Vlado from freedigitalphotos.net

Day 3 of the 30-Day Challenge Finished!

Welcome to Day 3 of the 30-Day Challenge! It’s not too late to get on board for a journey into creating better habits for your mind and body. For those of you who are already on board, how is the challenge going? If you haven’t already done so, please pick a friend who can hold you accountable to the challenge. Challenges like these are always easier with a buddy to give you some support (thank you subsaharangirl for keeping me accountable)! Everyone, if you can just make it to the end of these 30 days, you are well on your way to forming great life-long habits!

Today’s update is short and simple:

  • Fitness: I made it to the pool after putting the kids to bed and swam 26 lengths in a 25 meter pool for about 30 minutes. I usually do breast-stroke but I’m hoping to branch out and do more freestyle (front-crawl) as this works different muscles and it gives me more of a cardio workout. Swimming is a great exercise that works many areas of your body and there’s just something uplifting and calming about gliding through the water. It is a great exercise for those of you who have sensitive knees that cannot handle high impact exercise. It is also relaxing if you are pregnant and don’t really want to be jumping up and down too much. If the pool area has an attached sauna, this could also be a good opportunity to get in some relaxing “you” time (not if you are pregnant though, the heat is not safe for that little bean). Swimming can also break the monotony of any other exercises you may have been doing during the course of the week. Shaking things up in the variety of exercises you do can help prevent boredom and burnout.
  • Nutrition: The past 2 days have allowed me to see what is working and what is not in MyFitnessPal and I think I have finally settled on the amount of calories I need to sustain my weight, workouts and breastfeeding. This comes to about 2800 calories daily. It seems like a lot but I do have to keep in mind that I have a fast metabolism and do not gain weight very easily. If you are using MyFitnessPal to keep track of your calorie intake, it may take a few days of tweaking the program to settle on what goals make sense for you. The calorie intake that the program initially suggests is just a ball park and you may have to adjust it depending on your circumstances (like I did). Based on my new settings in MyFitness Pal, all my nutrition goals were achieved for the day! My focus for next week will be to try some new foods as I tend to eat the same foods over and over.
  • Spiritual: During my devotional time, I decided to start reading the book of I Thessalonians since I tend to skip over it for some reason. The first two chapters were Paul talking very warmly and effusively about the church in Thessalonica and what struck me was how much camaraderie, self-sacrifice and support there was among them. Now of course most churches of that time (and today) had various issues simply because of being made up of people, but it reminded me that the concept of the ‘body of Christ’ is so important. We cannot ‘do’ our faith alone. Just as we need others to help us achieve our goals in life, we need others to help us in our faith, both when we are high on a mountain of blessings or deep in a valley of difficult circumstances.

Day 3 of the 30-Day challenge is finished! We are already half-way through the first week everyone. Great job! Keep going!

Courtesy of woravit.w at freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of woravit.w at freedigitalphotos.net

Day 2 of the 30-Day Challenge is Done!

Today was another good day for the 30-Day challenge geared towards physical and spiritual wholeness. For those of you who have joined the challenge, keep up the good work and keep at it! It will be so worth it for your overall physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state of being. Here’s how today went:

  • Fitness: Today I decided to focus on my upper body since I worked out my legs and abs yesterday and I have to admit that I am feeling quite sore today! This is often the moment when you feel you should take a break from exercise for the day but I find that one thing leads to another and before you know it, 2 or 3 days go by without any exercise being done.  In addition, I almost missed my window of opportunity to exercise today as I was studying for the MCAT and didn’t notice the time go by. I was tempted to say “well, it’s getting late now, how about we pick up on the exercise tomorrow”. But I decided that was not a good enough excuse. So I decided to stick with the challenge and do upper body strength training today. I warmed up on the elliptical machine in our basement for 10 minutes. The elliptical is a great exercise machine if you have sensitive knees like mine that can’t handle a treadmill. I do find it a bit monotonous though so I multi-tasked by studying some flashcards for the MCAT at the same time. I then did some arm stretches and did the following weight exercises using 8 to 10 pound weights for 3 sets of 10 repetitions each (which lasted about 25 minutes in total): bicep curls, overhead shoulder presses, and lateral shoulder raises. I also did tricep dips using a chair and modified push-ups (knees on floor). Today, I could only manage 2 sets of 8 reps for the push-ups. I’m sure this will get better with time and consistent workouts. In between sets, I walked briskly on the spot, did knee raises or multi-tasked and folded laundry for about 60 seconds. If you are thinking of starting weight training, it has significant benefits such as improved muscle strength and reducing the risks of osteoporosis later in life. All-in-all, a good day on the exercise front!
  • Nutrition: I decided to research the impact of natural sugars in the diet (from fruits, milk etc.) and it seems that these natural sugars are not much of an issue (within reason of course). The issue is “added sugars” like white sugar. I stopped adding sugar to my tea a few years ago and although it was difficult at first, I soon got used to it and hardly miss it now. I still like to eat chocolate and cheesecake now and again which is fine so long as it does not become a daily habit! In terms of my goals for today, I went over my calorie limit by a whopping 500 calories! I’m not sure how this happened but it could be that I am more hungry with the added exercise. So, I’m going to weigh myself at some point just to make sure I’m not gaining too much although gaining some weight would be great! Sugars were a little over the limit again because of fruits and milk but I’m not too worried about that since these contain natural sugars. So I’ve decided I need to increase my calorie goals in MyFitnessPal since I seem to be needing more calories than I thought.
  • Spiritual: Enjoyed my time with God this morning and I wanted to share a song I have come to really love singing and playing on the piano. It’s called “At the Cross” by Chris Tomlin and here are some of the words that really touch me every time I sing them: “There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies, There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide, where all the love I’ve ever found, Comes like a flood, comes flowing down. At the cross, at the cross, I surrender my life, I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You. Where your love ran red and my sin washed white, I owe all to you, I owe all to you….Jesus”. This song constantly reminds me of God’s unfailing grace towards me. There’s nothing I could ever do that would make God love me any less. That’s unconditional love right there. I came to understand this better once I had kids of my own. Even though parenting can be difficult at times, it also brings so much joy and although the kids may drive us nuts sometimes, we can’t help loving them. It’s an in-built, unquestionable, and unshakeable love. My devotional time concluded with finishing up the book of Philippians. I came across some verses that really encouraged me, particularly as I’m preparing to sit the MCAT and apply to medical school, and there are days when the whole process can feel overwhelming. “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7.

Day 2 of the 30-Day Challenge is done!…. I’m going to try make it to the pool tomorrow for Day 3 of the challenge! For those of you who are doing the challenge with me…..keep going! You can do it!

Courtesy of arztsamui at freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of arztsamui at freedigitalphotos.net