The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


June 10, 2010

I can do this


Last week I represented The Lutheran at the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod assembly held in Rosemont, IL. One of my tasks was to speak at the plenary on behalf of the magazine. Since public speaking isn't one of my strong skills, I was pretty nervous about addressing about 600 people.

In the days prior to the assembly, I rehearsed in an empty room to get my timing right and be able to speak to folks rather than just read to them. Even with this effort, I needed some courage to do it.

On the day I was to speak at the assembly, I drew on my yoga practice for help. One of the things I learned in yoga class when learning a new pose is that if you say "I can't do this" you probably will not be able to. If you tell yourself you can you may surprise yourself and succeed.

As I sat in one of the speakers' seats next to the stage a few minutes before I was to address the assembly, I  kept telling myself "I can do this." I also practiced the deep breathing I learned in yoga right before I was called to the podium.

When I addressed the assembly, the phrase "I can do this" kept running through my head. I was able to stay focused and kept going without stumbling until I was finally done and heard applause. Thanks to yoga, I found courage and showed myself "I can do this."

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May 14, 2010

My exercise burnout


Like many people, one of the problems I've had with exercising regularly is boredom with the same routine week after week. It often led to burnout and I would eventually stop exercising for months at a time.

Last year I began to experience this again. I had been going to a local women's health club for several years. The routine was very set and programmed and while I enjoyed the convenience and camaraderie, I knew I had to move on and diversify my routine.

I began going to a larger health club where there are many more activities. I alternated between a cardio workout certain days and weight machines on others. Occasionally I do both. There are also group classes available if I wish to attend. Alternating days and activities has been working well.

In February, Mary Frances, a colleague at the ELCA who is also a yoga instructor, started lunchtime classes twice a week and brought yoga into my life. I've gone to every class including a special two-hour workshop and have enjoyed learning something new and different. Several of my colleagues at The Lutheran and I had never practiced yoga before and now we really look forward to it. It also gives us the chance to build community with colleagues from other floors in the building.

When spring finally arrived this year, I got a passion to go bike riding down the paths in the forest preserve across the street from where I live. A month ago I bought a bicycle, my first in many years, and will try to ride as often as the weather permits.

Now between varied activities at the gym, yoga class at work, walking and bicycling I am exercising almost every day, am never bored and am enjoying it.

Oh — and did I mention that in June I will begin going to Zumba classes on Saturday mornings? I can hardly wait!

Let's hear your ideas about ways to avoid exercise burnout.

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March 26, 2010

Children and snacking


I grew up in a household where there were plenty of salty snacks and homemade baked goods. After school and before bed snacking was an everyday habit. By the time I was 13, my habits showed up around my waist, stomach and hips. After wearing a size 16 dress for elementary school graduation, I began learning about healthier eating alternatives that summer.

Today children consume more unhealthy snacks than ever before. Snacking now accounts for more than 27 percent of their daily calorie intake, according to a recent study. The study, conducted at the University of North Carolina, surveyed more than 30,000 children and found that on average they snacked at least three times a day on candy, salty chips and other junk food. Unhealthy snacking added almost 600 calories a day to children's diets — up by 168 calories from 1977 to 2006. For some, those extra 1,176 calories a week could amount to as much as 13 1/2 pounds of body fat a year. The largest increase in caloric intake from snacks was found in children ages 2 to 6.

Researchers offered the following advice to parents:

• Don't let your children snack out of habit. Make sure they are actually hungry.

• Set a good example by snacking on healthy foods yourself.

• Stock the kitchen with healthier snacks that taste good such as yogurt versus chocolate pudding or apples versus cookies.

• Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks can give your child energy with some staying power.

• Restrict snacking to the kitchen. If your child needs to snack on the go, offer string cheese, yogurt sticks or fruit.

Source:  ABC News Good Morning America, March 12, 2010

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April 20, 2009

Gifts of nature

Several weeks ago, a sudden change in the weather produced an early spring snowfall in Chicago during the night into Sunday morning. As my husband and I drove down the street behind our house, we encountered a flock of robins in the street and along the curbs. That's right, an entire flock. Did you ever see a flock of robins? Neither had we until that morning.

There were about thirty or forty red-breasted robins milling in the street, mostly near the curbs, looking bewildered. It was always common to see an occasional robin on a lawn or pulling up worms from the ground but with the layer of snow, there were no worms to be had this day. A damp chill in the air must have added to their misery.

When we returned about an hour later, the robins were still there, looking as befuddled as before. They avoided the middle of the street, huddling along the curbs and under parked cars where it was dry. It occurred to us that they must have been en route somewhere and were possibly in trouble. They were now joined by a solitary goose, walking forlornly around the parking lot.

We went into the house and returned with a loaf of bread and broke it into small pieces and began scattering it around. Unlike the goose, the robins were careful to not let us get too close. But after we spread some bits of bread and started walking away, we noticed them start eating the bread. We spread the last of it and went back inside.

A half hour later, my husband passed down the street again to check on our adopted flock. They were gone. So was the bread - not a crumb in sight. He saw only the goose, who was still there the next morning. The flock of robins had continued on their journey to wherever they were headed.

Although it has been several weeks since we experienced this wondrous gift of nature, we often ask the same questions. What was their story? Where did they come from? Where were they headed? Why did they land here on such a snowy Chicago morning? Did we help them by providing food?

We are not bird watchers but do know that we'll probably never be surrounded by a flock of robins again on a snowy morning. We hope that by feeding them we had made their day special - just as they had made ours.

Have you ever seen an extraordinary gift of nature?

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