Spiritual Living

bulbrd-rnbw-spiritual-livingIn the U. S., about 8 in 10 people identify with a religion and/or believe in a higher power or universal spirit. Some people considers themselves “spiritual” but not “religious”, while there are some who claim to be religious but are lacking in spiritual qualities. Some believe  there is no difference between the two, and many wonder what the difference is, if there is one. If you look at the dictionary definitions, they do appear to be much the same:

Religion:

  1. The belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers, regarded as creating and governing the universe: respect for religion.
  2. A particular variety of such belief, especially when organized into a system of doctrine and practice: the world’s many religions.
  3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.

Spiritual:

  1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not material; supernatural: spiritual power.
  2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul: spiritual guidance; spiritual growth.
  3. Not concerned with material or worldly things: lead a spiritual life.
  4. Of or belonging to a religion; sacred: spiritual practices; spiritual music.

(Dictionary.com)

The subtle difference between the two lies in definition #3 under Religion: A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader. People can be spiritual without subscribing to a specific religion. It’s a little harder to have religion without spirituality but not impossible. We can see this in those mega-bucks church organizations who profit from the showmanship of “religion” as a front for fund-raising to the tune of several million.

In these Journal pages, the term spirituality may be used interchangeably with spiritual rather than by its dictionary meaning, which defines spirituality as being related to clergy or the holdings of a church.

Spiritual Living begins with your connection to your “inner being” or  “higher self”–the spirit within that guides your principles and values. It’s about becoming or being attuned to a higher power or presence, an energy source of love and peace, as represented by a spiritual entity, leader, or guide of your understanding. Spiritual Living also embraces your connections to a spouse or life partner, children, grandchildren, parents, family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, organizations, and communities.

Our focus is in this section will be on Spirituality rather than Religion. Religion has become a very sensitive topic on social media these days so our goal here is to create a place of inclusiveness for people of all backgrounds and beliefs, and to avoid judgment, criticism, and “I’m right, you’re wrong” arguments.  (Refer to the Policies page for further guidance on behavior in discussions.)

“Finding Meaning” is one of the twelve dimensions of wellness as defined by the Wellness Inventory and in my opinion is among the most important to Spiritual Living. Finding meaning applies to everything from discovering your life’s purpose to exploring why we become attracted to certain ideas, things, or people. This dimension is one that is very important to behavior and wellness, and one that we’ll talk about in-depth.

So, now we’d like to ask: What does “spiritual living” mean to you?  Leave your reply in the ‘envelope’ below.

Junk Food and Healthy Nutrition

Junk food has its place in diet and nutrition.

OK–stop cheering–I’m not finished.

HNjunkfoodjunkie-female

Junk food has its place because it motivates discussion of healthy nutrition as a hot topic these days.

Some of us haven’t talked about nutrition since grade school health lessons. How many of us today really remember why our bodies need magnesium? I know I didn’t until I ventured into diet and nutrition studies.

I’ve since learned that magnesium is a really, really important mineral for a lot of reasons. But this article is about junk food, not magnesium. We will talk more about magnesium in future articles though.

However, because I don’t want to leave you sitting here now wondering about magnesium, I’ll give you this link to my favorite go-to site for health information: WebMD explains the need for magnesium much better than I can.


There are a few reasons why I chose to open this discussion of Healthy Nutrition with “Junk Food”:

  1. It is a major culprit in chronic pain and fatigue syndromes as well as problems like cardiovascular disease (heart and circulatory dysfunction), diabetes (blood sugar imbalance), and gastrointestinal distress (upset tummy, acid reflux, ulcers, and other nasty stomach problems).
  2. Believe it or not, changing your diet from junk food to whole food is easier than you think.
  3. Learning about the junk food industry is a huge motivator toward making healthy diet changes

These were the first three things I learned in my quest f or a healthier lifestyle so that’s why Lesson 1 is about Junk Food.


DIY Nutrition Project 1: Learn about the junk food industry

Watch How to Get Fat Without Really Trying, an ABC News documentary with the late Peter Jennings.

This is the video that really got me thinking about what I was mindlessly buying and eating. It got me so riled up that the first thing I did was stop eating boxed macaroni and cheese (which I loved!). It started as my own personal boycott in protest against the food industry and turned into a victory for me when I began feeling better within a couple of months. This one small action–giving up mac n’ cheese–was the start of my movement toward real food.

That’s all it takes: one small action. Giving up just one thing that’s not good for you.

Watch the video in the Healthy Nutrition video library at YouTube. You can choose between watching:

A condensed 10 minute version by Nutrition Mom

This video is a shorter version hitting upon some of the highlights from the full documentary.

The complete 5-part documentary by FoodMattersMovie.com

This is the in-depth version that covers all the tactics and trickery the food industry uses to get us hooked on junk food

Note the happy faces of the corporate food manufacturers and government officials as they talk about ways they get us addicted to processed foods while they become billionaires doing it. And then tell us that our addictions are entirely OUR fault because we’ve demanded junk food all on our own, with no help at all from advertising.

If no part of this video makes you feel disgusted, then you just might be a hopeless junk food junkie.

After you watch it, scroll down to ‘leave a reply’ to share your comments. And share this post with friends, too.

Let’s all work together to let them know we’re not going to take this anymore! 

Simple Fitness & Wellness Practices

fw-80x800meme-kungfu-energyflow-canoe-river

We’re going to start the Fitness & Wellness section by posting a nice visual for you to meditate on. The quote is from one of my ‘gurus’, K’ung Fu, or Confucius as he was called by the Romans, once they had discovered his teachings.  My friends in the Northern U. S. near the Canadian border will especially appreciate this image and may want to take a little virtual canoe-trip right now.

Think of a river you’ve visited or would like to. Picture yourself in the canoe, working your upper body muscles as you dip your paddle to give movement to your craft.

This is the flow of movement; the movement of your arms, guiding the paddle to move the canoe with the flow of the river. If the body does not move, energy does not flow. And neither does your canoe. However, the river never stops–it continues to flow endlessly on to the lake or sea.

Are you the river or are you the stagnated body, the beached canoe?

The Chinese were very, very well versed in anatomy and physiology. They knew how the heart worked, how blood circulated and the importance of the lungs and liver in keeping the system cleansed and balanced. They were the inventors of the motion exercises known as Tai Chi (tie-chee) and Qi Gong (chee-kung), and from these arose the many styles of martial arts such as karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, and tai kwon do, just to name a few.

Now, don’t laugh, but my life-long interest in the study of Asian philosophical and medical traditions began when I discovered the Kung Fu TV series starring the late David Carradine. I was in my teens and beginning to get interested in world cultures and traditions.  They just don’t make shows like this anymore, which is sad when you think of how positively they can work to teach kids about different cultures. But that’s a topic for another post.

bullbrdrainbowfitnesswellnessSo–our studies of Fitness & Wellness will include ventures into not only Asian but the traditions of many world cultures, covering physical fitness, body care, and natural health remedies and treatments.

Popular trends in Fitness over the past few years also include dance forms from around the world–salsa, belly-dancing, ballet, country line dancing, swing dancing, ballroom dancing, flash dancing, hip-hop, sweatin’ to the oldies–there’s a style out there for pretty much everyone.

Dancing is one of my personal favorite forms of exercise and one thing I would like to do more of is check out the many different ‘dancercise’ programs available.

My personal program consists of just putting on my favorite oldies and cleaning the house. Pick up the rag, step, step, reach-up-and-wipe, boogie down to the dryer, put the laundry in the basket and step, step, turn-and-bend-and-lift-and-carry. Place the basket on the floor in the bedroom and bend-and-lift-the shirt-turn-and-step-step-and-hang then turn-and-bend-and-lift-again. Keep a steady rhythm with your chosen music. You get the picture. But when you go to do the floors, its best to dance with the broom and not the mop–mops drip on your toes. Why not start your own ‘housekeeping aerobics’ program this weekend?

The second part of our topic–Wellness–covers some of the things that come after the Fitness regimen, like massage, water therapies, herbalism and aromatherapy. There are also earth- and plant-based therapies like mud packs or leaf wraps, which are treatments used in many parts of the world. I have soaked in mud pits dug near lakes and rivers in my hometown area and I have to say it is very relaxing and therapeutic. You would not believe how soft and refreshed your skin feels after a soak in the mud and a splash in slightly cool, clear water. I really recommend trying this. Maybe when you take that canoe trip we talked about earlier, you could pull up on a nice sandy shoreline and make yourself a soaking pit.

Water Therapy or Hydrotherapy (hi-dro-THAIR-a-pee) plays a big part in the DIY Healthy Lifestyles Wellness Plan. This includes things like hot tub soaking, saunas, heat/ice packs, mud packs, and another big word, thalassotherapy (thaw-LASSO-thair-a-pee) or bath soaks using therapeutic salts. I like to use essential oils with the salts also, which does amazing things for sore muscles, stiff joints, and general body achiness. It can also clear up stuffy sinuses and help fight colds.

Herbalism and aromatherapy are two other therapies that we’ll be exploring. Aromatherapy is the study of how scent affects physical and mental wellbeing. Aromatherapy has become big business for the makers of home cleaning products, most of which use synthesized, chemical-based scents that can irritate the respiratory system.

The aromatherapy we’ll be studying is based on naturally growing herbs, florals, spices, and other sources. Essential oils come from the extraction of saps, resins, or ‘juices’ from the stems, petals, flowers, or roots of plants. Inhaling the scent is the best known way of using aromatherapy. Essential oils can also be applied topically (on the skin) by themselves or in a lotion and can be absorbed through the skin in bath oils or salts. Some can be used in food and drinks, like spices, flavoring oils, or teas. You really would be amazed at the many ways you can use essentials oils and aromatherapy to support your health and wellness.

So, this has been an overview of some of things we’ll be doing in the Fitness & Wellness centers and I hope you have found something of interest. Post your comment below to let me know what it was, or if there are other topics in Fitness & Wellness you’d like to learn more about.

If you haven’t already, sign up to become a DIY Healthy Lifestyles member here. It’s FREE!

 

What is Health Behavior?

bulbrd-rnbw-behavior-mgmtWhat is Health Behavior? Can it be changed?

Yes, it can.

According to Mosby’s Medical Dictionary,  Health Behavior is “an action taken by a person to maintain, attain, or regain good health and to prevent illness. Health behavior reflects a person’s health beliefs. Some common health behaviors are exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and obtaining necessary inoculations”

(Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.)

As in any type of behavior, there is good and bad. Good health behavior is action we take to keep ourselves healthy, like choosing healthy nutrition over junk food. Bad, or maybe a nicer way to say it–poor–health behavior can be action we don’t take that can lead to illness, like not exercising or having a yearly physical exam. Poor health behavior can also be negative actions we take that are not good for our health, like smoking or living on fast food and soda . The majority of us operate in between because it’s not always easy to maintain good behavior.

Our health behavior is formed by our beliefs, values, motives, personality traits, and habits, from the time we are children. Most of us grew up hearing that fruit and vegetables are good for us and that sweets are bad for us. Naturally, as children, we believed just the opposite so we developed the idea that vegetables were ‘yukky’. The idea was further built up by parents who “forced us” to eat our vegetables, giving the impression that it was something we wouldn’t like.

Of course, blaming your health behavior on your parents is just an example–it’s not all their fault. In the mid-1940’s to early 1950’s, parents were influenced by two modern inventions: processed food and television. Healthy nutrition soon became less important than convenience. Television became the big promoter of convenience for the overworked housewives and businessmen of that era. Packaged and canned foods were the answer to the busy Mom’s dilemma of making a ‘balanced meal’ in a matter of minutes. Food production and promotion became focused on convenience over nutrition.

So, our eating behaviors first arose from our early beliefs that vegetables were bad and that sweets were a vital food group. The parental notion that good nutrition had to be forced upon us further impressed the idea that vegetables were something we weren’t supposed to like . Then, advertising stepped in to reinforce the idea that convenience is more important than nutrition. All of those ideas are why we now have troubles today with overweight, fatigue, diabetes, heart disease, and other ailments.

The good news is that health behavior change isn’t as much about changing your diet as it is about changing the way you think about what you eat or how often you exercise.

Behavior Management is about creating a new mindset that helps us believe that the bowl of fruit look much better than the chocolate donuts. It takes a little time and effort but it’s not impossible to change the way we think about food.

The Behavior Management series will guide you through understanding behavior change and how to begin making healthier choices in eating and in other areas of your life.