Monday, February 27, 2012

I can’t lift weights………I don’t want to get bulky.

The following guest post is from Kevin Brookshire, a Recreation Ministry Leader and Fitness Enthusiast.

One of the greatest misconceptions is that if you lift weights you will instantly get huge and look like a professional body builder - male or female.  The thing missed is that resistance training, lifting weights, is one of the greatest ways to slim down and burn fat.  And when you combine cardio and resistance training, it takes you to a whole new level of physical fitness. You see, it takes years….even decades to get to that size and muscle tone.   It takes working out twice a day for 7 days a week.  Eating 10,000 calories a day when bulking and cutting that down when you are getting ready to lean out for a competition.    It takes commitment to a lifestyle of getting that….bulky.  In every fitness lifestyle, you have to have a goal, a goal to work toward. It could be to just lose weight, to improve overall health, or to be a competition bodybuilder.  It’s actually no different in our lives as Christians.  God lays before us the plan, the training to become a totally devoted follower of Christ.  Do we strive each day to become closer to him, to know him more, and to be totally in his will?  Do we train daily by reading our Bible, being involved in Bible studies and praying more and more each day?  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Choose wisely

I often feel as though I am in the constant state of “dieting.”  With the scale staring at me every time I enter our bathroom, I’m daily reminded of the need to “take that run” or say “no” to that ice cream.  Summertime is especially the worst for me, as the hot air and full days keep me from any chance of a consistent exercise routine.

Several years ago, Steve and I were challenged to make some simple “swaps” when it came to our eating habits.  Without noticing a huge difference, and watching some “easy pounds” melt away, it became a lifestyle choice for us.   On rare occasion we will “splurge” and indulge in the “good stuff”, but for the most part, we adhere to these healthier options.  (Although I've never read them, I know there are several books that include great swap options.  They are "The Biggest Loser - Simple Swaps" and "Eat this, Not that!")  

Here are some of the easy swaps we made, and 8 options for you to adopt as well!  

1.     Turkey Meat – In our home, it will be a rare day for you to find anything other than turkey meat!  We’ve swapped out turkey bacon, turkey hot dogs, and even ground turkey for the “real thing” and hardly noticed a difference!  With nearly the same consistency and taste of beef, you’ll smile at the hundred of calories and high percentages of fat you’ll save by simply swapping out your meat!
2.     Cut off the fat! – Okay, this really isn’t a “swap” but it sure does save you calories!  Whenever we buy chicken (or steak) from the grocery, one of the first things we do, before putting on a marinade or letting it travel out to the grill is to cut off any excess skin or fat we see on the meat!  Once it cooks, it can be hard to see, and easy to eat, but if you cut it off, then you don’t have to worry about eating empty calories.
3.     Pudding – Here’s a swap that I challenge you to try!  Rather than sitting down on the coach to watch the biggest loser and indulging in your bowl of decadent ice cream, try eating pudding with a dollop of cool whip on the top instead!  Again, you’ll save yourself 100 calories (or more, depending upon how much ice cream you eat!), without even noticing!
4.     Coffee Creamer – Are you a devout coffee drinker?  We are!  Steve and I typically go through 1-2 FULL pots of coffee every day, and sometimes even more!  Without even realizing it we were “sipping down” hundreds of calories in creamers, and not feeling full in the least. That’s when we switched.  Instead of half-and-half I use skim milk instead, and save myself nearly 40 calories a cup.  Steve (not a huge milk fan!) has switched to sugar free creamer, which saves him 20 calories a cup – quite a difference if you drink several cups a day!
5.     Popcorn – Do you get that evening “munching” feeling?  We do!!  We usually wind down at the end of each day by watching something on our TV, and when we finally sit down and stop, it’s not unusual for one of us to ask the other “do you want a snack?”  Early on we would head to the pantry to find Oreo cookies, chips, or something even worse for us!  Now, we head to the pantry to pop a bag of 100-calorie popcorn!  With the delicious flavor of Kettle Corn, and only eating 50 calories each, we’re not left longing for a thing.
6.     Diet Soda – Okay, so the nutritionists in your life will probably not agree with us here, but one of the best switches we have made is to choose “diet” soda, rather than drinking down that 100+ calories per glass in the regular stuff!  Steve can’t quite stomach the truly diet options just yet, so he’s sticking to Coke Zero, etc., but I challenge you to give it a try!  The tastes may take a little getting used to, but the pounds you’ll save in the long run, are worth the change!
7.     Part-skim cheese – One of the easiest swaps you can make, without really even noticing, is purchasing part-skim, or low-fat cheese in the grocery.  I’m sure there is one, but we really can’t tell a difference!
8.     Fresh – Okay, so this one may seem obvious to everyone, but instead of buying processed snack food, dosed with sugars and who knows what else because we can’t understand the ingredient list, buy fresh fruits to snack on instead.  Apples and Peanut Butter (low-fat) are one of our most favorite snacks!  Strawberries are also a great choice, and even yummy watermelon can be a delicious treat.  Here’s the bottom line – if you don’t buy the other stuff, it’s not going to sit and tempt you at home.  Instead, your healthier options will entice you and your slimmer waistline will thank you!
What about you?  What simple swaps have you made to save yourself calories and pounds?  Let us know!  We’d love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Define the Win

 If you grew up playing sports, then you are familiar with the thrill of winning.  You were able to look up at the scoreboard at the end of the game and feel the satisfaction of seeing your team come out on top.  Your team scored more run, more touchdowns, more baskets, more goals and victory was defined by bright number proclaiming to the world who the better team was on that day.  As the lights go out on the field, graduation happens, and the real world comes in the form of a career defining the win can be less easy.

There are still just as many team dynamics in place as when you may have played on the field formally or informally as a kid, but victory tends to be unclear.  Ask yourself this question, “Does everyone on my team know what a win looks like for his or her position?” 

Your assistant needs to know what a win looks like.  It may be in terms of productivity or tasks, but your assistant needs to know.  Your direct reports need to know what a win looks like.  If they are not striving for something, they are liable to give themselves to lesser tasks that do not support the overall mission of your organization.  From the point leader of the organization to it’s part-time employees, everyone needs to know what a win looks like for their position.

As a leader, it is often your responsibility to define the win.  Here are some principles to keep in mind as you do.

1. Make it Measureable – There has to be a quantitative or qualitative measurement that can be applied to your team’s work.  It has to be something that they can track.  Like RBI’s in Baseball or Yardage in Football, your team has to measure how their work is going in order to understand how close they are to the win.

2. Find the Finish Line – Help your team understand where the finish line is for certain tasks or projects so that they know what they are working toward.  Help them understand how to know if they have “won” once they reach the finish line.  This will motivate them toward the win in a specific time frame.

3. Celebrate the Success – Celebration has to be the culture in order for the win to mean something for the people pursuing it.  This means pausing for recognition of key team members who fought hard to get to the win.  If there is a celebration of the win, your team is more likely to get back out there and compete again.

Don’t let your team become dispassionate in a winless culture.  Define the win and motivate your people toward it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Performance Review

A performance review has the potential to drive fear into the hearts of those being evaluated. When it is coming, you begin to wonder: Did I do enough?  Were the results good enough? What if I missed something? This kind of stress can be daunting, though it is a natural part of putting yourself under the microscope so your work and achievements can be assessed.  The goal o these kinds of reviews is to help the person being evaluated to see the potential they have in some areas and the liability they present in others.  While performance reviews are a common practice in workplaces in multiple fields, it should also be a part of the way we live our personal lives as well.

If you have never stepped back and asked yourself what the good, bad, and ugly of your personal life is then you are neglecting your own potential opportunities and looming failures.  So what would a personal performance review look like?  It begins with a series of questions… Some examples might include:

What are the results of my behaviors in my relationships?

What are the opportunities I have that I am not taking full advantage of?

What are the issues that are constantly causing problems in my life?  How do I solve them?

Where do I hope to be at this time next year and what is keeping me from getting there?

You could list a thousand more questions to honestly assess where you are.  The point is to get a clear picture of the person you are and what it will take to get you where you want to be.  Because it can be difficult to see some of these things in ourselves, it would probably be a good idea to invite some others to help you in the process.  It could be a spouse or a close friend.  Find someone who loves you enough to be honest with you. 

Finally, make sure that you invite God into the process of self-evaluation as well.  One of the greatest kings in the pages of the Bible was King David. He wrote the following in Psalm 139,

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"

God knows you better than you know yourself.  He can help you in your personal life Performance Review.  Knowing yourself is one of the best characteristics a person can have.  Start with an honest assessment of where you are.  You will be glad you did.

Monday, January 23, 2012

“I am doing something…..that counts, right??”

The following guest post is from Kevin Brookshire, a Recreation Ministry Leader and Fitness Enthusiast.
There is a big misconception that just being active is enough to become physically fit, that taking a walk around the block a time or two a week is good enough.  Some believe being healthy is eating a salad a couple times a week, or going to the gym and doing a little of this and a little of that is just fine for me.  Fact is…it’s not.  It should be considered only a start.  Being healthy is a way of life.  I hate to call it a routine, because it is more than that.  It’s a way of life in that you have to commit to getting better each time.  It’s about digging deeper and really finding out what you’re made of.  It’s starting out walking around the block or treadmill.  Then it becomes jogging, and then running.  You put yourself on a workout plan that suits your needs.  You start an eating program that fuels your body and makes it capable of functioning at peak performance throughout the day.  You eat 5-6 small meals a day to ensure that you are always running full bore.  And once you have everything in motion, you stop and think.  This is really not that much different than our walk with God.  He doesn’t want us to just go through the motions.  He doesn’t want us to just be active.  It’s not about just memorizing verses or showing up at a worship service.  He wants to be part of our life.  He wants to live life through us.  He wants us to be so focused on our relationship with Him that it becomes a way of life.  It’s not something that is just done or said… is lived!