12 Days of WholyFit

Some of you who saw my recent fitness photos on Facebook have been asking what they were all about. WholyFit is a Christian alternative to yoga that offers fitness workouts for body, soul and spirit. Sessions are taught by well trained fitness professionals using exercise techniques that meet industry standards. Carrie is one such instructor. I’ve known her since she was a child and I took a series of classes from her a couple of years ago. When she introduced a 12 day fitness challenge on her Facebook page earlier this month, I decided to give it a try.

I know that there are some Christians who believe that we should never bend our body into yoga-like poses because in doing so we are bowing to false gods. What absolute poppycock! In very simple terms, yoga is a spiritual and ascetic discipline which includes breath control, meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily positions that are designed to be relaxing and to increase physical strength and stamina. While yoga has its roots in ancient eastern religious thought, it is not a religion and it definitely doesn’t own the poses!

As with anything else, it’s a matter of intentionality. The Bible tells us, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). As long as we don’t become obsessed with our own physique, when we take care of our bodies, we honour and glorify the God who made them and we equip ourselves to be better able to do the work He gives us to do. If we contemplate or meditate on His Word or His works while we stretch and pose, so much the better!

On December 5, Carrie posted the first challenge. Each day participants were to practice the pose at home, snap a selfie, and post it on their Facebook page. The idea was to try to hold each pose for 5 to 10 breath cycles (inhale and exhale). In some cases, I was able to do that quite easily. In others, not so much! The entire exercise took two weeks to complete because, in accordance with scripture, Sundays were a day of rest. For those of you who haven’t already seen my photos, I’m including all of them in this post. Since Richard is already well practiced at taking photos for the blog and it isn’t easy to take selfies while holding the poses, he acted as my willing photographer.

Day 1  –  Cross Balance

This pose was very similar to one that I’d been working on in a Balance and Mobility program that was recently offered by Alberta Health Services. Though I can hold it significantly longer than I could at first, I’d eventually like to be able to lift my back leg higher and keep it straighter.

Day 1 copy

Day 2  –  Side Shield

I honestly wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this pose and was delighted to find that I could!

Day 2 copy

Day 3  –  Bell

This one looked easier, but it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be.

Day 3 copy

Day 4  –  Overcomer Side

I discovered after the fact that the palms of my hands should have been upward instead of down on this one which would have engaged different muscles. Oops!

Day 4 copy

Day 5  –  Candlestick

As opposed to being a static pose, this one involves slowing lowering yourself into this position and then reversing back up to a standing position keeping the heels lifted throughout.

IMG_6664 copy

Day 6  –  Sword

Carrie gave us two versions of this one and I opted for the simpler one. She advised that we not try the more advanced version unless we had first practiced this one sufficiently as it requires greater shoulder strength. Though lifting weights and paddling the kayak have given me fairly strong shoulders, I knew that I’d best leave the advanced version for the younger set and not take a chance on injuring myself. As on Day 1, I was surprised at how difficult it was to fully straighten my extended leg.

IMG_6668 copy

Day 7

Carrie designated Day 7 Blooper Wednesday. Her instructions were: Post your best blooper picture (if you’ve got one). Spend some time practicing 1 or 2 postures that you’ve worked on so far. Reflect on all the ways God is making you NEW and thank him for it 💕Since I’ve been weeding out photos and getting rid of ones I don’t want to keep, I didn’t have a blooper photo to post, but the latter part of her message resonated with me. Have you ever stopped to ponder how truly amazing our bodies are? Though my body is riddled with cancer and there are various parts that don’t work as well as they once did, I can walk, dance, kayak, hike, ride a bike, hug a loved one, lift weights, and bend into and balance in all sorts of poses! I can hear, see, taste, talk, think, and reason. I have so much to be thankful for! 

Day 8  –  Breastplate

Again, Carrie gave us two versions and this time I was able to do the more advanced one!

IMG_6679 copy

Day 9  –  Forward Dove

This one definitely needs work. Again, it was a challenge to get the extended leg as straight as it ought to be and I kept threatening to tip over before Richard could get a picture!

Day 9 copy

Day 10

By Day 10, the poses were getting more difficult and I wondered if I’d be able to do the final two! Carrie’s instructions for this one were to drop one hand or two to the heels. One hand I could do, but two was an impossibility! I simply can’t arch my back that much.

Day 10 copy

Day 11  –  Shield of Faith and Fire Extinguisher

Carrie gave us two poses to try on Day 11. The idea was to hold the first pose, Shield of Faith, and then drop one hip to the floor and move into the second pose, Fire Extinguisher. That one just felt like I was relaxing on the floor!

Day 11a copy

Day 11b copy

Day 12

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about back on Day 10! The final two days weren’t too difficult after all. Overall, I’m pretty proud of what this 66 year old body was able to do.

Day 12 copy

If exercise, getting in shape, particularly increasing balance and flexibility, are on your list of New Year’s resolutions, I’d definitely suggest giving WholyFit a try. It’s more than just an exercise program as it offers faith centred health and wellness ministering to spirit and soul as well as body. If there isn’t a trained instructor in your area or you prefer to exercise at home rather than attending a group session, DVDs and video downloads are available on the website.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

Advertisements

Alterations and adaptive clothing

LogoDo you ever buy something that doesn’t fit exactly the way you like and then take it to a tailor for alterations? Sometimes a simple nip or tuck can make a big difference. I’m thankful for the sewing skills my mother taught me that enable me to do that kind of thing for myself.

Here’s a video that puts simple alterations like shortening a pair of pants into perspective. Josh Sundquist is an American paralympic ski racer, a bestselling author and motivational speaker, and a childhood cancer survivor. He also has a wonderful sense of humour. Regardless of what you think of the Tommy Hilfiger brand, Josh has some very important things to say. Please take a few minutes to watch and then let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

 

High heels? Yes or no?

LogoThere are very few topics that could be tagged Fashion, Health, and Politics, but today’s post will focus on one of them. I have very few positive things to say about our provincial government, but I do commend them for one recent decision. On January 1, 2019, changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Code will take effect banning mandatory footwear rules that pose health and safety risks to Alberta workers, particularly those in the hospitality industry.

“Mandatory high heel policies that can put workers at risks for slips, trips and falls and can become a workplace hazard are no longer acceptable,” Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray announced recently. “We’re doing this after hearing from so many Albertans and workers who have had detrimental effects to having to work an eight-hour shift in high heels.” The new ruling isn’t about banning high heels; it’s about giving women the choice of whether to wear them or not.

Since I’m significantly taller than my husband and I’ve always put comfort ahead of appearance, I seldom wear anything higher than a kitten heel. After reading about the toll that wearing high heels regularly can have on the spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet, I’m glad that I never got into the habit. Take a look at this graphic from the Florida Hospital Medical Group Spine Health Institute to see what I’m referring to.

Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 9.15.41 PMLooking at the two profiles, it’s easy to see why men in particular tend to favour women in high heels, but is the increase in sex appeal worth the damage that they cause?

Studies have shown that by limiting the natural motion of the foot during walking, high heels can cause increased stress on the knees and may even contribute to osteoarthritis later in life. Similarly, if high heels are worn constantly, the spine’s ability to absorb shock can result in continued back pain. The vertebrae of the lower back may be compressed and back muscles over stressed. Wearing high heels too frequently can also cause the calf muscle to stiffen and the Achilles tendon to shorten which can actually make wearing flatter shoes uncomfortable. By putting a great deal of pressure on the ball of the foot and forcing the toes into a small toe box, high heels can cause or worsen many foot problems including corns, hammertoe, bunions, Morton’s neuroma and plantar fasciitis.

Does all this mean that women should never wear high heels? Not at all. Worn in moderation, for special occasions as opposed to every day, they are unlikely to cause any long-term physical health problems. So wear them to your upcoming Christmas parties if you like, just don’t wear them to work every day. On the other hand, there are so many cute flats available these days that you might not want to wear them at all!

corporate-heels-or-flats-for-womens

 

Clothing ourselves for Christmas and always

LogoFor me, fashion is a hobby, not a passion. I definitely want to look my best and I have fun putting together the outfits I wear, but I’m more concerned with who I am as a person than what I look like. The Bible speaks of this in Colossians 3:12 where it says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Verse 14 of the same chapter says “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

These thoughts seem particularly appropriate as we approach the busy Christmas season. There are lots of ways to show compassion and kindness at this time of year, whether it be making a donation to your local food bank or filling a shoebox for an underprivileged child, but what about patience? That can be a tough one, especially when you’re trying to navigate a busy shopping mall or you find yourself caught in the slowest line at Walmart while the harried cashier waits on a price check.

One of the ways that I try to deal with the busyness of the Christmas season without losing patience is to plan ahead. I’m almost completely finished my Christmas shopping and while I’m stuck at home over the next few days, I plan to decorate and do some Christmas baking. I’ve also made a list of the various Christmas events that we’ll be taking part in during December and I’ll be shopping my closet to put together outfits and accessories for each one. That way, when it comes time to dress for each event, I won’t have the stress of trying to figure out what to wear. Instead, I’ll be in the right frame of mind to put on the qualities of He whose birth we celebrate at Christmas!

Colossians 3;12-14

 

Radioactive again

10991307_10153055708750915_6654881605691342497_nI had my 11th PRRT treatment on Monday and once again I’m too radioactive to be in close contact with other people. For a week following each treatment I spend most of my time at home. I sleep in the guest room, have my own bathroom, and stay at least a few feet away from Richard at all times.

There’s nothing funny about cancer and high doses of radiation, but sometimes you just have to laugh. I pose a particularly high risk to pregnant women and children, but since there’s no chance of running into any of them at our weekly senior’s bowling league, I played yesterday but sat apart from the rest of the bowlers. There were some who knew exactly why, but others who were curious. One jovial fellow, noticing that I was sitting alone, commented, “I see you’re sitting back there with all your friends!” I hope he didn’t feel bad when he found out why I was keeping my distance. I thought his comment was funny! Then there are invariably questions about whether or not I glow in the dark! (I don’t) One friend laughed and said I must be a night light! I told him that that must be the reason that I’m not allowed to sleep with Richard! The glow would keep him awake.

In all seriousness though, I have scans the morning after each treatment to determine whether or not there has been any change to my tumours. In the past, I’ve been able to sit down with a doctor immediately afterward to discuss the results, but this time was different. Dr Sandy McEwan, head of the clinical trial that I’ve been part of since 2014 and the driving force behind bringing state of the art NET cancer treatment to Edmonton, has left the program. While I’m sad for myself and the rest of his patients, I’m happy for him that he has been able to relocate to Toronto where he will be closer to family. I knew a couple of years ago when he proudly told me that he’d become a grandpa that that day might come! His departure means that there isn’t time for the remaining doctor to meet with every patient both before their treatment and after their scans. That meant that this time I came home not knowing what they showed. While I was still able to laugh yesterday, the question was there in the back of my mind. Was this the time that the news would be bad?

Thankfully, I wasn’t kept wondering very long. I chatted with one of the program nurses this morning and once again I heard that word that I’ve come to love; stable! There has been no change! Praise the Lord!

Can I wear it 3 ways?

LogoI frequently drop into our local thrift stores in search of used books, but invariably the clothing beckons and I have to take a look! I’ve been more disciplined in recent months, buying less and not filling my closet with impulse buys simply because the prices are irresistible. I’ve accomplished that by asking myself one simple question: Can I wear this at least 3 different ways with items that I already have in my closet? If so, it will probably be a good purchase. This doesn’t work for something like a special occasion dress, but it’s a good rule of thumb for most other wardrobe purchases, new or used.

On my most recent foray into a second hand store, this blouse caught my eye.

IMG_6600

Could I style it 3 ways? Easily! It’s light and airy, so I could immediately visualize myself wearing it with capris next summer or perhaps sooner if we take a winter holiday to somewhere warm. It’s also long enough to wear over leggings or skinny jeans with some of my winter sweaters including the Prep Pullover that I showed you a couple of weeks ago. I decided to try it on.

On the way to the fitting room, I spotted this.

IMG_6599

A plain white cotton t-shirt dress. Could I style it 3 ways? I wasn’t sure, but I thought it would be a great layering piece and that it might actually look good under the black and white blouse.

What do you think?

IMG_6604

Even though I might have broken my 3 ways rule with the white top, both pieces came home with me and here I am wearing them with my light grey High Skinny jeans from cabi and a pair of black booties that were also purchased second hand.

Show yourself a little love

LogoI’m easily frustrated by the messages that advertising and social media give women about their bodies. Perhaps that’s why I was so moved by a poem that I ran across this week. Written by Hollie Holden, it first appeared on her Notes on Living & Loving Facebook page in June 2016.

Today I asked my body what she needed, 
Which is a big deal 
Considering my journey of 
Not Really Asking That Much.

I thought she might need more water. 
Or protein. 
Or greens. 
Or yoga. 
Or supplements. 
Or movement.

But as I stood in the shower
Reflecting on her stretch marks, 
Her roundness where I would like flatness, 
Her softness where I would like firmness,
All those conditioned wishes 
That form a bundle of 
Never-Quite-Right-Ness, 
She whispered very gently:

Could you just love me like this?

Do you stand in front of the mirror and find fault with what you see? If so, I would urge you to stop being so hard on yourself. Take a few minutes and think about all the amazing things that your imperfect body can do! Think of it as a tool that can help you live life to your full potential. Listen to it, honour what it needs, treat yourself to a healthy lifestyle, but don’t beat yourself up over minor imperfections or natural signs of aging. Life is hard enough, without being at war with your own body!

Advertising seldom presents natural healthy bodies. It sets us up for disappointment, so it’s up to us to ignore the nonsense and aim for something more realistic. Doing anything less convinces us that we’re not good enough, that we’re not what we ought to be, and disrespects the amazing bodies that we’ve been gifted with.

We can have a closet full of beautiful clothes but if we don’t love the body that we’re putting them on, we’ll never be truly happy with how we look. Don’t let unrealistic expectations rob you of joy! Show yourself a little love today!

heart-shape-design_z1vBABd__SB_PM