I’m Burning More Calories This Week

I just raised the number of calories I plan to actively burn each day this week.

Let me explain … I have an Apple Watch which I use to track my fitness regime. I’ve blogged about this here.

One of the categories I track is how many calories I burn in a day. I’m talking about active calories, not the calories we burn just breathing, eating, sitting and walking.

Active calories are the ones I burn by exercising and being active, by raising my heart rate above a certain level.

Today I realized when setting my goal for the week that I’m now planning on burning 520 calories per day this week.

That might not seem like a lot to you and, to be honest, I smash that goal most days. But what struck me was that, at this time last year, my goal was only 320 calories per day and I wasn’t hitting it every day.

In fact, back then I couldn’t see how I could consistently burn that many calories every day of the week. Some days, sure, but what about those days when I sat at my desk most of the day and didn’t have much time to exercise or do any activity?

You see, the goal isn’t a big deal for one particular day; the goal becomes a bigger deal when you consider you have to do it seven days in a row and not have a bad day where you miss exercising or miss just getting up and moving around a little bit.

A year ago I didn’t have a plan to ensure I could meet a goal like this.

But as I sought to up my calorie-burning goal, I developed a plan that would help me consistently reach that goal each day.

The plan took a while to come together, but by February of this year I had my plan and pattern set. Since that time, I’ve only missed my calorie goal once … and I missed it by 25 measly calories!

It was a mistake; I didn’t pay attention and I blew it. By the way, that was after 231 days in a row of making that goal. You can read about that here.

I realized this morning that I have grown my weekly goal from 320 to 520 in the last year by small increments.

Many weeks I didn’t increase my goal and sometimes I lowered it, but I kept going. Even through injury and sickness, I kept going.

Today I am much farther ahead than I ever imagined. And I did it just a little bit at a time.

It seemed like such a small thing but it has grown into something much bigger.

Here’s the thing: Do you have a spiritual goal, or aspirations for your relationship with God? Have you ever dreamed of what your relationship with God could be like? Well, don’t try to set some lofty goal or make a promise that is too large to keep. Do it in increments – little ones. If your goal is to establish a consistent quiet time, start with 5 minutes a day. If it’s to journal, begin by writing a quarter of a page a day. But just don’t settle there. Continue by increments when you feel you can take a little risk. Don’t try to be a spiritual giant in a day. You will surprise yourself by how far you’ll go if you just keep adding small increments.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What goal do you need to set or increase for this coming year? Leave your comments below.

I Need An Alternate Routine

My routine has been working for me for a few months now, but all that is about to change.

Back in December I developed a new plan for eating (read here) and exercise (read here). It’s been working for me and I feel great. I have more energy, and physically I’m able to play my sports at an increased level.

I’ve really enjoyed this run; I don’t want to see it come to an end. But I need to make some changes and I have a week to figure it out.

I took a week of vacation and we opened up our cottage for the year. But in doing that, it took me away from some of the routines that I have made over the last few months – mainly my exercise routine.

I’ve been trying (successfully, I might add) to do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. I’ve been playing hockey two, sometimes three times a week and then on the days I don’t play hockey, I work out at home.

There I have a treadmill, a bike on a trainer, and a rowing machine.

On my week away, however, I’m not playing hockey and I don’t have access to equipment other than my bike.

For the summer I can ride my bike, but there will be some rainy days. Because I ride dirt trails, if the trails are too wet from the day before, biking is then also out of the question.

So what am I going to do at the cottage to keep up my exercise?

I can walk, which would make Lily happy because she would love to go on more (or some) walks with me. But for that to be exercise I will have to walk at a fast pace, certainly not the way I walk around a mall.

Some people run, but I have bad knees so that’s not an option for me. I’m at a bit of a loss.

I feel like I need to be a MacGyver in this situation. You remember the TV show, don’t you? He could make things happen even when he didn’t have the proper materials or equipment. MacGyver would rig something up to get the job done.

I need to figure out something I can rig up for those rainy days, and as an alternative to biking every day of my time away.

There is one other thing I need to consider. When Lily and I went shopping to get groceries for the week, I had my eye on the candy aisle the whole time.

For me, vacations or being away is synonymous with snacking. It’s what I do!

I had a very difficult time not throwing a few chocolate bars and bags of candy in the grocery cart.

I can see that the only way forward, the only way that I will succeed, is to have a plan before I go and then to stick to it.

Here’s the thing: Planning is important for accomplishing your goals, but you also need a plan for when your plan doesn’t work. That is exactly the same when it comes to temptation. You need a plan to live right, but you need an alternative plan in place for when temptation comes. Make a plan today.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What alternative plan do you have for temptation? Leave your comments below.

A Plan That’s Coming Together

My wife’s plan is slowly coming together, and so far it hasn’t cost me any blood, sweat or tears.

For the last couple of years Lily has wanted to redo our kitchen. All our appliances are over 20 years old and the counter top has a few nicks in it.

Those nicks, by the way, are all from Lily’s hand … although she only claims one of them to be hers for sure.

So the counter top seems to be the main item in this refurb, but along with it are some pretty expensive items that may be added a little later than sooner.

There was one item that she slipped in early and that was a new range. She said it made sense to have it in place when they came to measure for the new counter.

Now when I hear “range” I think of a farm, and cattle and grass and stubble. The range Lily had in mind was an induction top convection oven. I’m not sure what all that means other than you have to have the right kind of pots for the elements to work, and you can cook more than one sheet of cookies at the same time … which I’m all in favour of.

This reno may not have cost me blood, sweat and tears, but it is costing a few dollars.

I guess it’s time. This project has been on her list for ages and it seems that more than once we put it on hold because something else needed our attention and money.

At this point we are committed. A down payment has been made on the counter and they are coming to measure in a week or so. According to Lily they will install the counter about two weeks after that.

In the mean time, Lily has already painted the kitchen ceiling, and the range is in place. She still has to paint the walls, and arrange to have some tiling done above the counter.

But there is one other thing that needs to happen and it’s something I’m not too sure about … nor is Lily for that matter.

Rather than breaking the bank on new cupboards, Lily is going to paint our cupboards with some special cupboard paint.

That’s right, she found a paint that is specially designed for painting kitchen cabinets.

Personally, I’m afraid I will have to put on white gloves before I open any cupboard for fear of scratching the paint.

I can just see me putting on those white gloves just like the guy who carries the Stanley Cup.

We’ll probably have a little basket of them as you enter the kitchen. That way no one will be able to gouge Lily’s paint job.

It’s possible that this will work. My only fear is that in a year’s time, we will be looking to purchase new kitchen cabinetry … Cha Ching $$!

Here’s the thing: It’s easy to get in a rut, living with the same things, never changing or upgrading them. We can also live with things in our life, never dealing with or addressing them. We can do that for years, becoming very accustomed to those things – things that need to be replaced, things that need to go. There is no guarantee that making the changes will work out in the end, but give it a try. As uncomfortable as it might be, as inconvenient as it might seem while you are going through the change, in the end you will like the results.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you need to change in your life? Leave your comments below.

From Bad News To Work Out Room

I wrote earlier this fall about some bad news I got from my doctor. I had had a blood test, waited about three weeks, and thought I was in the clear, only to have my doctor pull me aside one day and tell me my cholesterol was high.

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I cringed, of course, but I kind of knew it – I had been pretty liberal with my snacking in the last while.

Since then I started to change my eating patterns. I wrote about this in a September blog called, “Difficult Choice” (your can read it here).

In that time, I’ve lost about 10 or so pounds. I say “or so” because on a given day I can go up or down as much as three and a half pounds.

It’s kind of crazy – I’m not sure if it’s my scale that’s lying to me or whether the pizza I had the other night really did put 3 pounds on me!

The thing is, I’ve been doing this for about three months and I think I’ve kind of hit a wall. I don’t seem to be able to get past the 10 or so pounds and go lower to reach my goal.

It’s time to start phase two of my plan. However, phase two requires Lily’s help.

No, I’m not asking her to make certain foods for me, or spot me when I lift weights, I need her to agree to let me purchase a rowing machine. I’ve wanted one for two years now since I took a  cardiac rehab course.

At the clinic they had a rowing machine and I really got hooked on that piece of equipment.  However, they are not cheap. I’ve wanted one but no one has sprung the cash to get me one for my birthday or anything.

Well that is until now. Somehow, without any real arm-twisting on my part, Lil thought we could make it a Christmas present to each other.

It’s really going to cut down on gift wrap this year, and Christmas morning we’re not going to have much to open because we ordered it and it’s already arrived!

My son had been telling people for ages that he no longer had a bedroom at our house, that we had turned it into a workout room. But all I had previously done was stick a weightlifting bench in the middle of all his stuff.

Now Mike has a real case for telling people he has no bedroom at home. I’ve taken his old room, cleared out most of the debris, set up my mountain bike on a trainer, put a weight bench in the room … and now have a brand new rowing machine as well!

My new gym room is nicer than many hotel workout rooms. And I’m counting on it to help me get past the 10 pound barrier and on to my goal.

Here’s the thing: To ensure I stay physically healthy, I’ve had to take some significant measures. What I was doing wasn’t getting me to where I needed to be. Your spiritual life is the same. You can’t just keep the same devotional time with God that you began with. To get where God wants you to be, you need to take measures to make your time with God more impacting on your life. You have to up your commitment level to spiritual growth.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you started that you realize you need to up your commitment level to? Leave your comment below.

You Need Purpose On Your Day Off

Have you ever worked hard for a week or more, and been in desperate need of a day off?

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When you finally get that well-deserved day off, there is a tendency to want to do nothing, to not plan, not initiate, not schedule.

And that’s probably the worst thing you can do.

We all need rest from our work. We need time to recharge our batteries, to get ourselves ready to face work again. But so many times we approach a day off with the wrong kind of thinking.

We want to distance ourselves from anything that reminds us of work, like making a to-do list, or completing a to-do list, or even putting things down on a schedule for the day.

We want to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, and just float through the day being pushed by the wind.

… It sounds nice in theory, but it’s the worst thing you could do on your day off – your precious day off.

You see, if you do that, by the end of the day you’ll feel frustrated that you wasted your day.

The next morning you’ll be wishing you had another day off because you won’t be ready to go back to work. You’ll feel like you didn’t accomplish anything on your day off …  which is precisely what you set out to do!

The problem is that we are not mindless and ambition-less. We were made to do things, and built to have purpose – even if it is purpose for a day off.

God has created us with a purpose. Purpose is in our DNA.

We can fight having a purpose – and many people do on their day off – but you’ll have a subconscious frustration that forms a pattern you can’t seem to break out of. It becomes habit-forming.

I remember when I was in high school I would sleep in on Saturdays. I thought I liked sleeping in like that. But at one point I realized that I would wake up a little frustrated, slightly cranky, when I would get up at around 12:30 or 1 pm.

It dawned on me that deep down I felt like I was wasting a good portion of the day.

That’s when I made a big change. … But getting up early was not the only thing I needed.

I also needed a plan of what to do, or else I would still diddle my day away.

When I’ve planned my day off and executed it, I feel better, and the next day I’m rejuvenated. All I need is a little purpose in my day off.

That means coming up with a plan, a schedule and action. The difference between that and work is that you do what you are interested in, what will bring some joy, fulfillment, and a sense of accomplishment.

That’s why this morning, on my day off, I’m making a plan of how my day will be filled with purpose.

Here’s the thing: If you are going to keep growing in your relationship with God, then you are going to have to be purposeful in that as well. Take some time to plan and schedule when you will meet with Him. Don’t let days, weeks or months go by in subconscious frustration knowing you should meet with God. Make a plan, put it in your schedule and implement it.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What makes planning on your day off difficult for you? Leave your comment below.

Evaluate and Make A Plan

Recently, I made a plan to exercise more regularly. I looked back over the past spring and summer and noticed that I have biked only half as much as I did the previous year.

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I’m not sure whether it was because of the weather or me just being a slug. Whatever the reason, I turned into a slug regardless.

Now I’m trying to work my way back to a regular exercise routine, so I’m looking for a little cooperation from several sources: weather, schedule, and equipment.

I’ve taken a little time to evaluate and research the top contributing obstacles to my regular exercise.

Weather is a big one for me, especially in the spring, summer and early fall, because all my exercise is geared for outdoor activity. I mountain bike and play golf, and though golf is not a high level of exercise, it does keep my step count up.

And I depend on consecutive days of dry weather, because the day after a rain the trails are sloppy, slippery and generally a mess. This year it seemed like we couldn’t get more than a couple of days in a row of good weather, which leads me to my next obstacle.

My schedule this year didn’t provide me with the freedom I needed to get out there and make a difference with my health.

I regularly bike on Mondays, Wednesday evenings and Saturdays and it seemed this year that there was a meeting or I was out of town or some other responsibility kept me from hitting the trails.

Other times that I found myself free to go, I ran into the weather problem – it was raining or it had rained hard the day before.

What I really need is an option that gives me freedom to exercise regardless of the weather and my schedule – something I can do indoors and can fit between finishing at the office and an evening meeting.

And that is where my third obstacle comes into play: equipment. I don’t have the equipment I need at home to make that work. Getting a gym membership doesn’t work for when I don’t have much time.

I need equipment at home ready to go. Something like a rowing machine.

When I did rehab after my heart attack, they had me use a rowing machine as part of my exercise routine. I really enjoyed that piece of equipment.

They had me on other equipment too, but it was the rowing that I enjoyed the most. The treadmill was boring and the elliptical, well I had to be careful not to get out of rhythm with it and fall off the thing.

I really didn’t like the movement, maybe because I can’t dance.

No. A rowing machine is what I need. I’ve done the research. Of course, they’re expensive, but I have narrowed it down to one or two possible makes.

Now all I have to do is convince my wife. How’d I do, Lil?

Here’s the thing: After making a decision to do something, evaluation and planning are what come next. And it is true with your relationship with God as well. If you feel convinced that God is asking something of you, or you feel convicted to do something for God, evaluate your life, determine the obstacles and plan a method of overcoming them. Then follow through.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What obstacles are in your way of following what God is asking you to do?  Leave your comment below.

Difficult Choice

It’s alway more difficult to make the hard choice over the easy one.

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Not long ago I did a blood test for my doctor. I say it’s for him because he’s the one that asked for it. Personally, I had no desire to have a blood test.

It was not anything special, just a routine test I should probably have every year … but I’ve extended it a little – like about 2 1/2 years!

Since the test, I’ve been holding my breath hoping that my blood was red or the right colour of red, or whatever they were looking for in my blood. One week went by and I thought, “That’s a good sign. I haven’t heard anything, so maybe everything’s good.”

But I wasn’t convinced, so I thought I’d hold my breath for another week, just to make sure. The week went by; still nothing from my doctor and I was starting to think about breathing again.  That’s when my doctor informed me that my cholesterol was high.

My first thought was, “What’s wrong with my cholesterol pills? Are they not working? Did they give me a placebo? Are they past their expiry date?” Then I realized, no, I just thought I was immune to bad cholesterol while being on them.

I’d been living large, thinking I could eat anything because my cholesterol pills would eradicate any of the bad stuff out of my system.

My doctor and I had a brief chat about my recourse: Option 1 was to double my cholesterol pills.  If I did that maybe I could go on eating as I pleased. But I wanted a different option. Option 2 was lose weight.

I’ve done that before. I lost 28 pounds in six months once. I lost 10 pounds when I had my heart attack. There were a couple of times I lost 5 pounds just by getting the flu.

But this is a little different. I have to have a plan for eating, and I know that’s not going to be easy.

When I lost that 28 pounds, I only ate things that were low on the glycemic index. That got rather boring after a while and difficult to manage. So this time my strategy is a little different. I’m only eating at meal times. I’m not restricting my diet, just not eating outside breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I started five days ago and it’s been doable. There have been a couple of times I’ve wanted to search out a little snack in the evening, but I’ve resisted heading for the panty where I’ve got a stash of liquorice.

I don’t like not being able to snack, but the crazy thing is I’m feeling better. I’ve also lost 4 pounds (by the way, I’m whispering so my wife doesn’t hear me write this – it bugs her that I can lose weight so easily).

Losing weight has not been a problem for me when I really work at it. Like most people, my problem is in keeping it off! My desire for a good burger and fries, wings, Dr. Pepper, chocolate, liquorice – well you get the idea – is strong!

Right now I’m motivated for the challenge … we’ll see where this takes me.

Here’s the thing: I’ve chosen the hard option – to reduce my cholesterol – but many are inclined to take the easy way. The life of a Christian is not taking the easy way. It is taking the hard option of being obedient to God and His will over living to one’s own impulses and desires. It will always be a challenge and the easy way will always be a temptation.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: When have you had to choose between the hard and easy options? Leave your comment below.

Get Your Email Inbox To Zero, Part 2

This is part two of a blog I posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014. So if you are reading this and haven’t read the first part, check out “How To Get Your Email Inbox To Zero”.

For me the biggest concern I have with bulging email inboxes is the feeling of not being caught up, and that I may have missed something. And believe me, there have been times emails have got buried and I didn’t do what I was supposed to do.

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In my last post, I said I needed help. So I went looking for some help to get control of this “rascally little rabbit” email inbox.

I combed through the google suggestions based on searches like “overflowing email inbox” or “help I’m buried underneath a thousand emails” … you know, usual search line phrases.

And to boil down all the information, I decided on three components to zeroing out my email inbox. The first is a decision process which is called D.D.F.D. that stands for “Do it, Defer it, File it, Delete it”.

I start by applying this process to each email. If I can address the email in 2 minutes or less, I do it; if I can’t, I defer it to a later time. If I might need to reference it later, I file it. If I don’t need to respond to it, I delete it.

It sounds like a simple process, but I have found myself staring at emails, contemplating which action I should take. Sometimes I need to do it AND file it, and then I always need to delete it from my inbox (I think I’ve been hypnotized).

Anyway, the process is vitally important but I needed some apps to help me make it all happen.

I use an app called “Evernote” to file emails in that I may need to reference later. Basically, I email the email to my Evernote account and it is then stored in the cloud, off my computer and especially out of my inbox.

The app I use to defer things to is called “Nozbe”. This app turns emails into tasks, and I basically email the email to my Nozbe account, also stored in the cloud.

That’s the basics – ask me if you want to know more. The bottom line is I’ve zeroed out my inbox for the last 5 days now. And there’s no looking back!

You wouldn’t believe how good this feels. I feel in control, and on top of things. When I look at that inbox and see nothing in it, I get this big ol’ smile on my face.  … Well I would get that big ol’ smile on my face if I was a 250 pound state trouper from Georgia.

I still have to delete my trash and my sent folders, but my finger is hovering over the erase button . . . . and  . . . oh, there. Gone! I did it.

Here’s the thing: In my last blog, I said dealing with an over-full inbox is like sin. The first step is to admit you have a problem. Identify the sin you have difficulty with and seek God’s help. The great thing is that God will forgive you.

Then take steps to distance yourself from that sin. Like zeroing out my inbox, it takes some planning, commitment to that plan and discipline. There may be times when my inbox starts to build up, but I can get right back at implementing my methods. And the same is true when you sin again: seek God in repentance and get back to your plan.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question:  What steps do you take to keep sin out of your life?

I’d really love to hear from you; leave your comment below.

How a Plan Would Have Improved My Day

Maybe it was the weather that made me lazy, but I sure needed a plan last Saturday. I felt like I accomplished nothing, like I wasted my precious day off, like I frittered away the day.

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That doesn’t happen every day to me because most days of the week I make a plan. I have things that I want or need to get done and so I put them on my reminder list or right into my calendar.

Some people can keep it all organized in their heads, but I need to write it down. I like to see it and check it off.

Saturday was different for me; I wasn’t motivated to do anything. Well, I was … I wanted to go for a bike ride but the rain put an end to that dream, and with it any motivation to do anything else.

It was like I was thinking, “If the weather’s not going to let me go biking, I’ll show it. I’ll do nothing instead.” I didn’t actually think that, but in hindsight that was what I was doing.

I spent my day getting lost in the new iOS for my phone and iPad. I’d look at the time every once in a while and shake my head, but then go back to the nothing I was doing.

There were a couple of things I did during the day but they weren’t things I scheduled. They were things that others scheduled for me, and they didn’t give me a sense of accomplishment.

All I really needed to do was to spend about ten minutes writing a few things down and that would have changed the pattern of my whole day. I would have gone from floating through the day to having some kind of purpose.

Having a simple list of things I wanted to work on or complete would have also changed how I felt about my day. I would have progressed through it instead of being annoyed at how the time was advancing.

I can’t figure out why I would keep doing something – in this case nothing – that I didn’t like doing and not do something about it. (I hope I didn’t hypnotize you with that sentence!)

But that’s what lack of planning does – it keeps one stuck in the past/present while time is still moving. It’s like for me, time was standing still, but in reality time was passing me by.

I could say that I was tired and I needed a day of nothing, but why, at the end of the day, didn’t I feel good about the nothing I did? No, even planning one or two things would have brought me fulfillment.

Here’s the thing: If you’re not planning God into your day, either connecting, growing or serving Him, you will float along in your relationship, stuck in the past/present with Him. Time will keep moving while your relationship will be standing still. Simply thinking of how to include Him in your day is all you need to improve your day.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How has planning made a difference in your life? Leave your comment below.