Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Strong Hand to Hold

A message from my daily devotional I wanted to share with you all....

With life comes change.
With change comes fear, insecurity, sorrow, stress. So what do you do? Hibernate? Take no risk for fear of failing? Give no love for fearing of losing? Some opt to. They hold back.

A better idea is to look up. Set your bearings on the and only North Star in the universe - God. For though life changes, he never does. Scripture makes pupil-popping claims about his permanence. 

Consider his strength. Unending. According to Paul, God's power lasts forever (Romans 1:20). His strength never diminishes. Yours and mine will and has. Our energy ebbs and flows more than the Thames River. You aren't as alert in the evening as in the morning. You can't run as fast when you are eighty as when you are twenty. You are strong now, but you won't be strong forever. God will.

The words "I'm feeling strong today" he has NEVER said. He feels equally strong EVERY DAY. Daniel calls him "the living God, enduring forever" (Daniel 6:26 ESV) The psalmist tells him, "I will sing of your strength....for you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love" (Psalm 59:16-17 ESV)

Think about it. God never pauses to eat or asks the angels to cover him while he naps. He never signals a time-out or puts the prayer requests from Russia on hold while he handles South Africa. He "never slumbers or never sleeps" (Psalm 121:4 NLT). 

Need a strong hand to hold? You'll always find one in his. His strength never changes.

- Max Lucado

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Turmeric - A Super Herb

Ever since I can remember, I have always been interested in learning about food, talking about it, preparing it, or eating it. Since becoming a personal trainer, I have now even taken an interest in the effects food can have on our bodies - both healing and detrimental. Turmeric, a herbaceous plant from the ginger family that is recognized as a super healing herb, is one of the many things I have incorporated into my diet lately because of its known health benefits. Some of those benefits include:

1. Prevents Cancer

Turmeric can help prevent prostate cancer, stop the growth of existing prostate cancer and even destroy cancer cells. Multiple researchers have found that the active components in turmeric make it one of the best protectors against radiation-induced tumors. It also has a preventive effect against tumor cells such as T-cell leukemia, colon carcinomas and breast carcinomas.

2. Anti-Inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric are great for treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, turmeric’s antioxidant property destroys free radicals in the body that damage body cells. 

3. Liver Detoxifier

Turmeric is a natural liver detoxifier. The liver detoxifies the blood through the production of enzymes and turmeric increases production of these vital enzymes. These vital enzymes break down and reduce toxins in the body. Turmeric also is believed to invigorate and improve blood circulation. All of these factors support good liver health.

4. Controls Diabetes

Turmeric can be used in the treatment of diabetes by helping to moderate insulin levels. It also improves glucose control and increases the effect of medications used to treat diabetes. Another significant benefit is turmeric’s effectiveness in helping reduce insulin resistance, which may prevent the onset of Type-2 diabetes. However, when combined with strong medications, turmeric can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It is best to consult a healthcare professional before taking turmeric capsules.

5. Reduces Cholesterol Level

Research has proven that simply using turmeric as a food seasoning can reduce serum cholesterol levels. It is a known fact that high cholesterol can lead to other serious health problems. Maintaining a proper cholesterol level can prevent many cardiovascular diseases.

6. Immune Booster

Turmeric contains a substance known as lipopolysaccharide, which helps stimulate the body’s immune system. Its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents also help strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system lessens the chance of suffering from colds, flu and coughs.

7. Heals Wound

Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used as an effective disinfectant. If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process. Turmeric also helps repair damaged skin and may be used to treat psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.

8. Weight Management

Turmeric powder can be very helpful in maintaining an ideal body weight. A component present in turmeric helps increase the flow of bile, an important component in the breakdown of dietary fat.

9. Brain Health

Brain inflammation is suspected to be one of the leading causes of cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric supports overall brain health by aiding in the removal of plaque build-up in the brain and improving the flow of oxygen. This can also prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

10. Improves Digestion

Many key components in turmeric stimulate the gallbladder to produce bile, which then improves digestion and reduces symptoms of bloating and gas.Turmeric is also helpful in treating most forms of inflammatory bowel disease including ulcerative colitis. 


Note: This post and related nutritional post provided within this blog are intended for informational and educational purposes only, and is not to be taken as medical advice. I am not nor do I claim to be a medical doctor or registered dietician. Please see the advice of your physician or health care practitioner on any matters regarding your health.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Traveling Abroad and Tips from the Jaunt

1. Pack Light
When roaming the world for six months, you can look cute or you can pack smart, but you can’t do both. Compression is the key. Like most things in life, clothes are mostly air. Place garments in a special plastic bag and vacuum the air out. After you have done this, your wardrobe is reduced to a manageable wad that looks like shrink-wrapped food. Easily packable!

2. Guard Valuables like the Hope Diamond
Locks – you can’t have too many. Secure your luggage on racks while riding a train, fasten zippers on your backpacks or purse, and lock your things up at hotels and hostels. Following our incident in Rome (camera stolen on train to Pisa), we learned to guard everything we had like the Hope Diamond.

3. Meet People
Over the last months, we’ve toured countless castles, cathedrals, temples and ruins. Yet our memories of these historic landmarks and edifices have faded quickly. Instead, we are filled the vivid memories of the people we encountered along the way. From Jordan to Poland, Mexico and India, it is the faces of these newfound friends that linger in our minds, not the buildings or statues.  When traveling, do yourself a favor and meet people wherever you go. Broaden your horizons and open yourself up to the possibility of meeting lifelong friends.

4. Challenge Yourself
Throughout our travels on the weekends, most of our days revolved around coffee and food (the good, bad, and unrecognizable), interspersed with periods of strolling, sightseeing, sunbathing and reading. But mostly… food As finding something edible several times a day is a key part of world travel, Juston and I were motivated to learn a bit of German, among other languages. While there was a brief period of adaptation and frustration, we are happy to have given each language attempt an ample shot – awkward Texan pronunciation and all.  We now realize that learning a new language means experiencing a world of epic failures and it’ll-be-funny-later humiliations. But overall, it’s totally worth it to enhance your cultural experience!

Whether it’s trying a unique cuisine or learning to speak a foreign language, challenge yourself to try something new DAILY.  American food will always be there when you get back, and I promise you will not forget English if you attempt to learn other languages.  There is no growth if there is no change, and who doesn’t want to experience personal growth? (“ME “- Said no one ever)

5.  Stray into Hostel Territory (perhaps a pun here)
Each weekend as we would seek out places to rest our heads, we were always pushing for the economy option, preferring to rough it a bit if it meant we could save some money to spend elsewhere. So, we bedded down each weekend in a series of crowded, his-and-hers stacked bunk beds. Although to be fair, not all of the hostel rooms we stayed in resembled a jail cell, illuminated by only a hanging bare bulb. In fact, some were quite nice. And every experience added to the adventure we were on.

Let’s be truthful here. If you were traveling abroad to exotic places, I would hope that you would only want to spend your time in a hotel room to sleep - if you even make time for that. Therefore, why spend oodles of money on something you only plan on using for a few hours? Exactly. It’s pointless. Skip the Hilton Hotel and attempt to “rough” it a bit. (But stay safe, duh!) You will be returning to your comfortable beds soon enough. Use that extra money for admission into an awesome-sauce museum or a nice dinner in the Italian countryside. Priorities, people!

6.  Don’t Hate, Appreciate
Travel has challenged our assumptions. Besides revealing the fundamental similarities of people around the world, travel has also exposed us to our fascinating differences. Whether or not we realize it, Americans, even in the poorest among us, are born with advantages most others will never know. Now, more than ever, we take NOTHING for granted. No matter how small it is – our own room, our own cars, a hot shower, plenty to eat, and loving family and friends.

Appreciate where you come from and the conveniences you are blessed to have, but respect the lives other people and their cultures even though they may live in a way that differs from your beliefs.

7.  Use Free Transportation
When Juston and I set out around the globe, we knew we’d spend a lot of time getting from point A to point B, and beyond. What we didn’t foresee was the myriad modes of transportation we would use. Transportation included, but was not limited to: cars, trains, planes, buses, metros, ski lifts, skis, boats, ferries, and our good old-fashion two feet.

Again, save your money and just WALK! You will not only get to see parts of the country you probably would have never been able to see sitting on a bus, you get a burn a few extra calories before downing a German beer or an entire bowl of Italian pasta. Once more – priorities, people! (Read: Food)

8.  Be Aware of Peddlers/Gypsies
Sadly, whether warranted or unwarranted, suspicion had become second nature on our trip after the Rome incident. If someone on the street was trying to sell us something, saying “no” was merely a starting point for negotiation.  In Rome, the only way to end the exasperating entanglement was to ignore the man in your face, or shout at him. Not much choice in the matter. They treat sales as a blood sport. Politeness is a sign of weakness. It’s not that we were cruel and unsupportive of peddlers on the street trying to sell trinkets to support their families, it’s just that neither Juston nor I had been in the market to really shop, especially since we were acutely aware that anything we purchased would then have to be carried on our backs for the rest of the trip. Keep this in mind and don’t fall for crafty ploys.

9.  Jot it Down
Start a blog to keep everyone back home apprised of your travels and your “I Continue To Be Alive” progress

10. Have a Good Travel Partner
Lastly, and most importantly, have a good travel partner!
Traveling with Juston was like being alone, in the sense that we could happily sit next to one another for hours on end, reading, thinking, or writing, and saying no more than the odd, “Isn’t this view just amazing?” We could spend (almost) every minute of every day together and not feel even the faintest whiff of annoyance. (Ok, perhaps a mild exaggeration, but we were a good travel duo throughout our jaunt)

Our Final Count and Parting Advice

By our count, we traveled to 13 different countries, twenty-two different cities, attempted to speak four languages, took ten modes of transportation, and exchanged the American dollar for six different currencies. 

Countries Visited:
  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • France
  • Holland (Netherlands)
  • England
  • Ireland
  • Austria
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic

We have concluded that our Eurotrip was nothing short of a pilgrimage, a spiritual journey and period of our lives where we felt intensely attuned and engaged in the world around us.

For six months, we greeted the uncertainty of each new day with the sole mission of getting dressed and trotting the globe in order to experience moments of wonder, adventure and awe. It was an exhilarating and life-enhancing time, that decades from now, we will flash back on profound and poignant moments from our trip we have yet to realize.  It will take awhile to grasp the all the lessons we’ve learned, and although we may not know the meaning of it all just yet, we can look back on the opportunity we had and know that it will be something we cherish forever. So, as our parting advice to you, we urge you to take that trip you’ve always wanted to go on. Sure, postcards are nice, but there truly is no substitute for laying eyes on God’s wonders in person. We honestly had no idea parts of the world are so staggeringly beautiful. If you don’t believe us, we hope you go find out for yourself! Stop saying “one day” and pack your bags, book that ticket, and take that trip! And remember to bring our tips along!