Three time a day we put a foreign substance inside of our bodies that is supposed to energize us, and provide the nutrients to renew our bodies and minds to continue to function. But obviously if we ate dirt, or coal, and drank gasoline we wouldn’t do well, those substances would be basically poison to our bodies and kill us. Our daughter Sherri had lots of foods that she was allergic to and several times she almost died in the hospital because of the food that we gave her as a baby. January 1st 2019 I decided to quit eating all refined sugar and wheat products. My reason was to help in my goal to lose weight. After only 2 weeks my Parkinson’s had improved incredibly, to the point that I cut my medication in half. That was a very nice surprise and made my life so much easier. I have not eaten any of either for almost a year and a half with a couple of binges which the result of those couple pieces of cherry pie convinced me further that I was so much healthier without them. So now I jokingly say to people that I have cut out the 4 white poison powders, heroin, cocaine, sugar, and flour. I have often thought about what else I may be eating that is causing problems in my body and mind. One of my new goals that I have been reading about is intermittent fasting. I am going to experiment with various lengths of fasting, also with the frequency of the fasts, and with partial fasts where I eat only a few simple foods. There is a lot of quackery in this area so I will research thoroughly and experiment and keep good records of the results. It takes a great amount of self-control to exercise an hour every day, and it took a lot more to cut out sugar and wheat products, but this intermittent fasting thing I am anticipating that it will come close to maxing out my self-control level. Hopefully all of this will work on my character and build my self-control level to super human levels.
Of all the things that will keep us from feeling or thinking our age exercise is the most recognized as true. Because of my Parkinson’s I have done a ton of reading and research on the benefits of exercise and it is clear that those who exercise will feel better, have more energy, think clearer and have much fewer health issues. It takes a lot of self-control to exercise as much as is needed so very few do. The health benefits are so obvious to me that I have had no problem staying faithful to my routines. I have discovered some key principles over the last 8 years to exercising diligently.
1. The best exercise for me is riding a stationary bike with enough speed and resistance to get my heart rate to 120 beats per minute and to keep it there for one hour. Anything helps, but I don’t notice much difference in how I feel until I hit the one hour mark consistently. An hour is magic, the difference between 45 minutes and 60 minutes is huge. The cool thing about a recumbent stationary bike is that I can read while I ride, or listen to sermons or watch a basketball game on my IPad, and the time goes by very fast. You can buy a stationary recumbent bike on line for under $200 if you get one without all the bells and whistles. My bike also has elliptical arms on it so I work on my arms for 15 minutes as well in preparation for rowing my rubber raft down the Colorado River this summer. I have zero joint issues with riding my bike, my knees, hips, or feet never bother me from riding.
2. Only one rest day a week works best for me. As long as I ride at least an hour 6 days a week I never get sore muscles, but if I miss more than one day I get sore the first day after missing the second day, and sore muscles is an added discouragement from faithful exercising. Also if I ride 6 days a week I develop the habit of riding and once a habit is formed it is so much easier to be faithful to this difficult discipline.
3. Very few people have developed a routine of exercising that truly is strenuous enough that it will do a lot of good physically and mentally. It takes a great deal of self-control to keep this working in our life and most start losing self-control as they get older. The key to overcoming our loss in this area is to recruit people who will hold us accountable ruthlessly. It usually takes a number of people to help get us into an established routine. It is great if those who are nagging us are dedicated exercisers themselves.
4. I go on a long bicycle trip each summer to keep my motivation up for the long winter months of riding indoors. The trips are usually at least 30 days in length and several thousand miles long. There isn’t anything that I do that comes close to making me feel as young and energetic as this annual event does. Riding outside, seeing the scenery, carrying everything on the bike, camping each night, planning the trip is all so much fun and invigorates me in amazing ways. I usually lose 3 or 4 pounds of weight each week while on the trip even though I eat a lot. Also my blood pressure drops significantly, my pulse goes down, and a number of other health issues improve noticeably. You are welcome to go with me this summer if you want. We are going down the coast just north of San Francisco, then we are heading north east to Idaho and then back to Jefferson. We are leaving May 27th and will be back on July 7th, and will travel about 2000 miles.
Like a car our body starts wearing out as the miles start piling up to the point that we eventually die. There are some things that we can do to slow down the process and increase the total miles that we can operate. My Dad used to say that if I would change the oil every 3,000 miles in my car, and tune up the engine every 6 months that the total miles would be much more than if haphazard maintenance was practiced.
We wear out both mentally and physically, and the last years of our life are often very unproductive, which is sad because we have years of experience and wisdom, and we have the potential to be a powerful and positive influence on others. The things that will make a huge difference in prolonging our life and the vitality of our life are the very things that most of us older people naturally avoid, accelerating the aging process. The first principle that I wrote about yesterday is continually doing new things, learning new skills, and learning new information.
The second principle is actually the most powerful of the 6 I learned about according to the studies and research of the fellow I listened to on a podcast yesterday in the airport while waiting for my flight to Boise, Idaho. The second principle or practice is to spend a lot of time with people socially, talking and interacting with them. It isn’t just normal chit chat, but working hard and thinking how to be gracious in our speech in order to maintain unity and peace with those we are spending time with. The most powerful part of our conversation with others that stimulates both our mind and our body to renew itself is when we consider and think all of the time we are listening and talking on how to bless and enhance the lives of those we are with. All of the time that we are with people we are self-coaching ourselves on how to become more persuasive graciously, how to be more influential in our behavior and speech, in order to be a reason that those we are with grow and improve their lives. The natural thing that many older people do is to isolate themselves more and more because social interactions with people wears them out and tends to irritate them. God created us for community and isolation greatly accelerates the aging process. Another tendency of older people is to become more opinionated in their views and beliefs and less concerned about offending others with the way they express those opinions and views, and the resulting conflicts and tension stimulates the inclination to withdraw and spend less and less time in social interaction with others.
As I was listening and then writing about this principle I was reminded of a basic principle in the Bible, “If we give to others, God will give to us, what we give to others God will give to us, and how much we give to others determines how much God will give to us”.
I was listening to a lecture online by a guy who was talking about how to get old on the calendar but not mentally or physically. It was very enlightening and fascinating as he related the results of studies and experiments with old codgers. There were half a dozen key principles. The first one was to regularly do new things, try new things, learn new things, go different places, and have new experiences. It helps if the new experiences have a risk factor to them that makes the adrenaline pump for awhile, like sky diving. It also helps if the new experience requires learning new skills and requires a lot of mental preparation and learning. Old people naturally tend towards the opposite which accelerates the aging process physically and mentally.
I have gone on a few white water rafting trips on the Deschutes over the years with groups from our church. I have always been a passenger on the raft, but this year I am going to run the oars on a trip down the Rogue River in May and the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in August, and this last week I bought my own 15 foot rubber raft, complete with a frame, oars, dry boxes, and a yeti cooler. Now I am a bonafide rafter 😀. With purple tubes and a red frame it is going to be prettiest raft on the river, and I was thinking of painting hearts all around it on the tubes just to attract a little more attention.
It is interesting how growth as a person is all interrelated. We can grow in our character, in our spiritual life, in our mental capacity, in our physical abilities, and in our relational intelligence and skill, and when we grow in one area all the other areas are influenced upward as well.
In yesterdays blog I mentioned 3 keys to being re-energized when you get tired. 1. Be careful with your self-talk. Don’t tell yourself how tired you are or you will only get more tired, instead rejoice that you have lots to do that matters. 2. Discipline yourself to exercise faithfully, daily is best, and variety. 3. Faithfully spend time with God reading the Bible and praying. God loves to give His strength to those who give Him their time.
So here is another couple of keys to refilling your gas tanks so weariness is temporary.
1. Examine your life and confess all known sin to God everyday.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Psalms 32:3-5 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.
2. Forgive others. Forgive anybody of anything, no matter how bad it is, no matter how many times they have done it to you, and forgive them quickly.
Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Both of these are super important. If you do not forgive others God will not forgive you and then “your vitality will be drained away”, and no amount of rest, exercise or good diet will make any difference. You can’t afford to hold grudges not even for a little bit, especially not into the next day.
Being tired is a universal human experience, everybody gets tired. The best remedy for tiredness is usually sleep. Sometime tiredness is because of something wrong with our physical body as simple as a cold or the flu, and sometimes the cause is more complicated or serious. Sometimes tiredness is more mental and emotional than physical because of anxiety or because of the high amount of emotional energy used in an event. The kind of tiredness and the cause of our tiredness is interesting, but the most important thing is how we react to our tiredness, how we think about it, the self-talk that goes on in our head, and what we proactively do to reenergize ourselves. Tiredness is universal and normal, but many people stay tired much longer than others because of their post tiredness rituals or habits, and because they have small energy gas tanks because of their present, daily habits of physical and emotional self-care. Some key principles of personal energy renewal;
1. Our self-talk needs to be positive concerning our weariness. “I am so tired from skiing yesterday. Oh thank You Lord for the great experience of going down hill skiing. It was such a beautiful day and I had so much fun”. Don’t end the thought with “I am so tired”, but go on and add the reason in a positive way.
2. Those who have a disciplined and strenuous exercise program and routine will be less tired and will recover faster than those who don’t. The older we are the more important exercise is. Exercise is a discipline because generally our flesh hates it so it will usually require some accountability in our lives to keep us faithful to it.
3. Isaiah 40:30-31 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
God gives strength to us when we need it, but if we are in the habit of giving Him left over time, occasional time, convenient time, only when we need Him time, we won’t receive much strength from Him when we really need it. Those who read their Bibles everyday, spend time in prayer, conversation with Him daily, those who gather together with other Christ-Followers often and regularly, who worship and praise Him corporately and privately, and daily examine their own life and confess all known sin to God will have His strength to live life well and to accomplish a lot with their life that really matters.
More on this tomorrow
I went skiing today with a friend at Mt Bachelor. I have not been skiing for almost 40 years so I was very apprehensive about the outcome. I did pretty good, only falling down twice, though the first time I went up the chair lift I fell getting off the chair, how embarrassing 😡. I got to turning and swishing pretty good though I stayed on the “bunny hill” with the little kids and old people😀. I couldn’t believe how tired my legs got, they felt like jello at the bottom of every run I made. I thought, man, I have been riding my stationary bike an hour every night and I still feel like a wimp! So I determined that I would pick it up a bit to 80 minutes every night as well as weight lifting every night. I am not sure I will ever go skiing again, I checked it off of my goals for the year and think I will focus on bicycle riding and fishing. Today was a good experience of trying something new, challenging, and something that I was fearful of doing. The nervousness came from the fear of not being able to get back on my feet after falling. One of my biggest challenges with my Parkinson’s is getting stood up while sitting, and if I get down on the floor for any reason, getting back to my feet is a huge challenge so I was thinking that if I fell down on the ski slope I would just have to stay there forever. But I actually got up without to much trouble. Most of us avoid doing anything that we would possibly fail at or embarrass ourselves at, but it is good for our character growth to move out of the safe and secure areas of our life and take a risk.