7 Tips for Good Health

With my wife, Luana, in her final year’s certification toward graduating as a Holistic Nutritionist at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, I can also say I have learned a few things along the way.

Many of these tips I have discovered on my own. I knew they were good for me, so I did them. I found them during a period of trial-and-error. But what she taught me was why they were good for me—the effects on the body, the longevity gained, and the big rewards earned, in terms of positive mindset.

I can sit here all day giving her credit for many other things, but then where will that leave me? I will have not made any headway toward what I wanted to talk about today. And that would be a bad thing.

So, here we go. These are my tips for enjoying a life brimful and running over with good health.

1. Sleep as Much as You Can

I have written about this so many times that I think some of you may actually find it boring. That may prove beneficial, because then it would mean you would be ready to apply this energy-boosting tip.

Sleep as much as you can. There is no short-changing sleep.

For me, sleep boosts my energy levels, enhances my focus, and increases my creativity.

7 Tips for Good HealthI know that if I cheat on my sleep, my body will wreak havoc on my mind. My lack of sleep causes me to be forgetful, induces irritation, and swells my likelihood for bemoaning my life.

Nobody likes me when I complain.

Therefore, I sleep as much as I can. I make it a routine, and I am better for it.

2. Drink Loads of Water

What can be more important than to stay hydrated? I drink half my weight in ounces every day. My skin thanks me for it, my digestive system celebrates, and everything in my body works as it should. I do not think I need to be specific with that last point.

Drinking the wet stuff is a great choice for watering the tubes, but remember that fruits and vegetables are high in water content, too. Fresh cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries and celery make for great choices when you are in the mood for something else to quench your thirst.

The other big benefit to keeping hydrated is it may help prevent long-term muscle and joint damage. Add to that list dry skin, headaches, constipation, minimal urination, sunken eyes, and muscle cramps.

In other words, drink loads of water throughout the day, and stay healthy.

3. Eat Good Foods

Good food starts with a deep fryer, thick sauces, and sugars. Wait a minute, that is not right.

Let me try this again.

Good food starts with fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and fish. If you are familiar with the Mediterranean diet, then you will know olive oil is your friend. Foods rich in good fat may aid in maintaining cholesterol levels to where they should be.

7 Tips for Good HealthI noticed that when I eat a meal heavy on the carbs and low on the veggies, I feel bloated, not able to move, and extremely tired. But when I eat a meal made up of whole grain rice, salmon and steamed broccoli, I feel great.

It may have to do with the enzymes secreted in the gut. I have only so much processing power before my stomach says, “Hold on a second, you want me to work twice as hard to get you on your feet? Well, that is not happening, buddy.”

Lesson learned.

What my family and I also try doing is to always shop local. All our fruits and vegetables are from nearby farms, organic, and ready to serve. Then again, we live in farm country, so it is easier for us to buy quality produce than for those living in the big city.

Nonetheless, the point being, a vibrant life is a life given to food filled with ample vitamins and nutrients.

4. Get That Heart Pumping

I walk everywhere I go. I do take the car, yet it is not my main method of transportation. My feet keep me strong. I have had people comment that my calves are Olympic standard, whatever that means. I suppose the muscles I have there bulge a bit.

Every day I try to do something different to boost my heart rate. And really, it can be anything from walking to running on a treadmill. I even have a heart rate measuring app on my phone that shows me how I am doing in comparison to folks living in the mountains in Italy where my parents were born.

When I am fit, I can accomplish anything. Work is easier, talking with people is not a weight, and completing daily chores is manageable.

And let me not forget about the regular trips to the dentist. Keeping your teeth in tip-top shape is good for your heart and your health. Having no cavities means eating well without the burden of worrying about infections that may spread throughout the body affecting other organs. You do not want to have your heart failing because you did not take care of your teeth. That is a big no-no.

Do you want to live a life bursting with health? Begin a program that will exercise that beating organ in the center of your being. Your body will thank you for it.

5. Practice Proper Hygiene

I cannot tell you how it feels to meet someone decked out in formal attire only to sense a brutal odor contaminating my immediate vicinity. Now, I understand skipping a shower or two, but to look good and smell bad is another story.

We live in an age that no one dressed in a tux should stink. I am being truthful when I say this.

Garlic and onions is good. A toothbrush and mouthwash is better.

7 Tips for Good HealthI am paranoid with my hygiene. I wash and shave every single morning. I may miss a shower on the weekend, but when I am with family, it is not a big deal. A bar of soap should be everyone’s friend for life.

Not only that, but a shower is an amazing thing. I can be so tired, yet, once I take a shower, I am ready to conquer anything that comes my way.

Besides, looking after yourself prompts others to look after themselves.

It is a rule. I made it up just now. It works.

In all seriousness, when you feel good about yourself, you tend to feel good about life.

6. Take a Vacation

Every year, Luana and I sit down to decide where we would like to go for our annual family vacation. Sometimes, our vacation consists of a road trip with the kids, and other times we choose to spend several weekends away from it all.

A vacation is a great way to reset. It allows for whatever problems that exist to take a backseat in order for us to reconnect with our lives.

One of my favorite vacations is when I float in a pool and watch the clouds overhead form shapes of animals. I will drift back and forth from one end to the other, day dreaming those animals to life.

A change of scenery also provides for wonderful experiences that under normal circumstances I would have otherwise missed.

But taking a vacation does not have to be an annual event. Every week I take a day to step away from the regular chores of life to read God’s word and relax with the family. It is on this day that I can certainly say that my appreciation for music far exceeds that of all other days during the week.

A happy mind is a healthy body.

7. Meditate on Life’s Journey

Thinking deeply about something requires practice. What better way to practice than to apply this technique as part of a daily routine.

Meditation, when done correctly, will help maintain a positive frame of mind.

It does take a bit of effort, though. You will need a quiet time so that you can think without distractions.

How it applies to me is I take a moment to think about my life from all angles. If I find something in particular I need to resolve, I will sit in a comfortable chair and think through the situation to see if I can come up with an answer.

Another use of meditation for me is to ponder on life’s little mysteries. I like thinking about God and about how I can apply his perspective in my life.

For some, it may not be that easy to find a place where there are no interruptions.

In that case, take a walk.

A simple brisk lap around the block clears the mind of the clutter that has accumulated throughout the day, leaving you refreshed and invigorated to meditate on the important issues in your life.

With these thoughts in mind, use meditation as a key weapon in your arsenal toward better health.

This article is for information purposes only and not for medical advice.  Please see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

5 Ways to Live a Fulfilling Life

There is no trick to being happy.

Well, there is, but it has more to do with attitude. One can be a millionaire and be miserable. Money has nothing to do with it. Although, having money sure makes things easier. Still, as the old cliché goes, money does not buy happiness.

What about having the power to do just about anything? Will that bring happiness? Will that make for a fulfilling life—telling people what to do? I always thought those with the greatest power were those who served every day, unappreciated, ready and willing to surrender their lives for the downtrodden in society. At least, that is what I always thought.

I suppose there is more to leading a fulfilling life than having money and power.

There is, and it is much easier than you think.

Below is what has brought me to lead a fulfilling life filled with hope, joy and happiness. This five-point roadmap is not hard to apply on a daily basis, and its rewards are immeasurable.

1. Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle

I get seven hours of sleep every night. I am talking about seven full hours of solid sleep without waking up. I never used to be that way. There was a time I only slept two hours a night. It was awful. Every morning I felt as if someone had run over me with a dump truck.

Paranoia also has a nice effect on someone who is an avid insomniac. I looked like a character out of a Tim Burton movie. Spiked hair, shadows under the eyes and pale skin that would make a corpse look good.

5 Ways to Live a Fulfilling LifeAfter several attempts at self-medication—not really—I took to changing my diet.

I went on a regiment of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of fish, nuts, whole grains, and vitamin supplements. Slowly, the hours to my sleep pattern crept up to three, four and five hours nightly. I could not go beyond five hours until I introduced wine to my evening meals. Suddenly, I broke the five-hour barrier and blew past six to arrive at seven hours sleep per night.

With the added sleep, I found I could focus more, reason better, and do all the things I could not do, like, carry on an adult conversation; something my wife, Luana, now appreciates.

Oh, and before I forget, I drink lots of water every day—half my weight in ounces. Nothing oils the joints better than the wet stuff.

Once I stabilized my health, good things followed. The days were brighter and my attitude was warmer. I said goodbye to zombies and said hello to superheroes.

2. Do What You Like to Do Best

What other activity could bring fulfillment than to enjoy doing what you like doing best? Everyone is good at something.

It can be walking, running, crafting needlepoint art, singing, fishing, playing guitar, playing video games, watching the stars, listening to music, painting, playing soccer, or football for that matter, building things, traveling, relaxing on a beach; it could be anything.

For some, their job is what brings fulfillment. That is quite all right. Imagine having a job as a skydiving instructor. Would that not be the best job ever? I could never do it, but there are those who made their hobby a job.

If you could make your hobby your job, how cool would that be?

The point is, find what you like to do and do it. The joy of doing it is the reward.

3. Spend Time with Others

One of the biggest pleasures I have in life is to sit down with someone to share a meal.

The conversation can go back and forth between past and present, on common activities, or simply on family. The exchange of ideas is a thrilling thing to experience. A good conversation can bond people, create future dates for more conversations, and provide an opportunity to discover something new.

Sometimes, the biggest surprise comes when it seems you have exhausted all dialog.

In those quiet moments together is when you realize what the relationship really means to you.

5 Ways to Live a Fulfilling LifeThe simple act of playing ball with them, or singing, or doing something crazy, like, setting up soda bottles in the backyard with baking soda at the ready to produce the most awesome rocket ship ever, can make it one of your happiest memories yet.

Besides, embarrassing moments are best shared among friends.

Then, should a lull hit your life, you will have those memories to draw on, to carry you forward, and lift you to your feet.

A happy and fulfilling life is more than the dinner entrée we serve our guests.

It includes our guests.

4. Do Good

Has anyone ever held the door for you? Do you remember how it felt?

Has anyone ever given up a parking space at the mall for you, just because?

How about at the grocery store checkout, has anyone ever beaten you to the front of the line but let you go first?

Imagine doing little things like that for others all the time. What would your life be like?

The old widow across the street would have someone to mow her lawn in the summer and shovel her driveway in the winter. Your neighbor could borrow your hedge trimmer without thinking that he owed you something in return. One of your friends could ask you for a ride to the airport without worrying about imposing on you.

Communities would flourish. Cities would not need the vast policing that it does now. And everyone would be nice to one another because it would be the right thing to do.

Of course, a change like that would be unheard of, unless…

…well, unless it began with ordinary people wanting to make a difference.

Part of that willingness to make a difference can involve volunteer work. Many organizations out there need help with initiatives tailored for the community, such as spending time reading to the elderly, feeding the homeless, or planting a tree for the future. Getting involved can be as easy as making a phone call or dropping an email.

Whatever you choose to participate in, recognize that your involvement will not only benefit those in need, but also provide you with the satisfaction of knowing you have done good.

5. Believe in Something Greater Than Yourself

A life with a purpose is a powerful thing.

People who do not believe in something will fall for anything.

I think that is a quote from somewhere.

Many of the greatest heroes of our time were the ones who believed in a cause. They saw something was missing and went ahead and filled the void. Sometimes, as is the case with Leonardo Da Vinci, who conceptualized flying machines, or Isaac Newton, who formulated the Laws of Motion, they end up changing the world.

That single belief in something greater than oneself made these people rich in knowledge and productive in life.

For some, it is the belief in a higher power.

What keeps me balanced is my belief in God and in his son, Jesus, who came to take away the sin of the world.

For others, it may be the belief in making this world a better place.

Having an anchor will keep you stable from the blowing wind that may want to take you away. That very same anchor may act as the cornerstone that will keep you grounded to your goal of pursuing your life’s calling.

Again, a life filled with purpose is a life fulfilled.

Believing in something greater than yourself will keep you fulfilled and grounded in a life bursting with purpose.

Motivation

What motivates you? Do you wake up, hop out of bed, breathe deeply and say to yourself, “Today’s going to be the best day of my life.” Do you? I do. Every morning I say that, even when sleeping an inordinate amount of hours on the weekend. And why not? Today ought to be the best day of our life because today is the only day that matters. That’s why for Freedom Friday I thought I’d show you what I’ve learned in the past couple of years in hopes it may move you to freedom—freedom to accomplish your dreams and freedom to become who you are meant to be.

Motivation
Motivation

I started watching motivational videos in the winter of 2012 after a long, dark period in my life. I had lost something incredibly important to me that year and it hurt bad. Those who know me know this dark season had lasted for months. Behind the smiles, the laughter and the song stood a man on the threshold of perpetual sadness.

Then, one morning I woke up thinking I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I changed, just like that. I realized everything I thought could happen, never did. The still small voice in my head returned and I knew my life was about to get a whole lot better.

This blog began on the day I regained my life back. I knew exactly what I needed to do next.

I’ve had people ask me, “What motivates you? How do you keep the creativity going?” I simply answer, “I have a lot of catching up to do.”

When you wasted half of your life in fear of failure, there really isn’t much else to say. It’s all a matter of getting it done.

In the throes of this newfound energy propelling me forward, I dusted off an old manuscript I had written some time ago about a killer who hates zombies and would do anything to put them out of their misery. That killer’s name was Ranger Martin, and he called my name to finish his story.

Fear
Fear

If you learn anything from this post, take away this: Fear does not exist.

I’ll say it one more time: Fear does not exist.

We build this image of the future of what we’d like to become, where we’d like to see ourselves and within seconds of those thoughts, we kill the dream.

“I’m not good enough. I don’t think I can do it. I’ll fail. It’s too difficult. It’s too much work. I can’t. I’m afraid. People will laugh at me. People won’t take me seriously.”

Let me tell you, just because you hear someone say those things don’t mean you have to believe them. The only defeat we’ll feel is from ourselves. We are our own worst enemy. Once we understand that, once we see that, everything else will fall into place. I’m of the belief everyone, no matter how small or how weak, is capable of great things—incredible things that will astound those around them making others take note and say, “I want to be like that guy. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what he’s got, but I want to be like that guy.”

I challenge my readership today to take that one step that will make the difference. Take that shot to a life filled with challenges, opportunity and hope. Tear apart the bondage that renders you desperate. Throw away the shackles that bind you. Nothing in this world can say you can’t. You can say you can’t. Don’t. I know what it feels like to hear the words “I’m a failure.” I know what it feels like to think I’m no good. I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.

But I say, picture your dream and go after it. If someone tells you you can’t. Tell them, watch me. If you hear that voice in the back of your head telling you you can’t. Tell it, watch me. Then, do it. Every minute lost on a worry is a minute given to failure. You don’t want to fail, do you?

Now go out there and win. Always believe, “Today’s going to be the best day of my life.”

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What motivates you?

Claire Colburn

“There’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is merely the absence of success. Any fool can achieve failure. But a fiasco. A fiasco is a disaster of epic proportions. A fiasco is a folk tale told to others to make other people feel more alive because it didn’t happen to them.”

Kirsten Dunst is Claire Colburn
Kirsten Dunst is Claire Colburn

I wish I could take credit for that quote for Women Who Wow Wednesday, but it belongs to the main protagonist in the movie Elizabethtown, Drew Baylor played by Orlando Bloom, who recently bungled a design for a major shoe manufacturer. His fiasco obliterated the corporation’s bottom line to the tune of $970 Million. We might as well round it up to $1 Billion. Them there’s a lot of shoes. Even the company’s CEO couldn’t keep a straight face when he uttered the $1 Billion figure.

We next find Drew in his apartment on a stabbing contraption he built out of a stationary bicycle and a knife. Just as he was about to press the button to end his miserable life, the duct tape holding the weapon loses its stick. Drew is a failure even attempting to kill himself. That’s when his sister calls. His father died. He’s needed home in Kentucky.

On the plane, he meets flight attendant, the ever-serendipitous Claire Colburn played by Kirsten Dunst. Whatever depression Drew may have felt prior to meeting Claire disappears. Well, not so much because of her infectious positive outlook. On the contrary, his dark mood fades only replaced by his annoyance at her cheery disposition. Not one to fuss, she learns of Drew’s father’s name, “Ah, so you’re a son of a Mitch. Never met a Mitch I didn’t like. Fun, full of life. Like, everyone wants to be a part of Mitch’s club.”

After they leave the plane, she reminds Drew not to miss the 60B turnoff. Of course, he misses it. But once in Kentucky, he settles into his new digs at a hotel featuring a wedding party for the weekend. Alone in his room, he calls his sister and a handful of other people, including Claire. No one returns his calls. His anxiety returns, and some time later his cell phone rings. It’s Claire.

Kirsten Dunst as Claire Colburn
Kirsten Dunst as Claire Colburn

They make small talk for a while. As night approaches, Drew realizes there’s more to Claire than what he had first thought of her on the plane. Seems she says all the things he’s had on his mind his entire life. Their cell phone chat continues throughout the night into the next morning when they meet by the side of the road. She immediately has an idea, and leads him to sit on a stone wall overlooking a beautiful countryside to watch the sunrise.

What is it about Claire that Drew sees? Huh, it’s not that hard to figure out. Claire doesn’t allow life to beat her. Hope is in her soul and in her mind. A joy surrounds her few people possess. Whatever life throws her way, she keeps moving forward. This is what she says to Drew when he lingers on thoughts of his failure:

“So you failed. All right, you really failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You think I care about that? I do understand. You wanna be really great? Then have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.

Her brand of optimism spills into every fiber of her being.

This is what she says about problems:

“I’ve spent so much time thinking about all the answers to the problem that I forget what the problem actually was.”

This is her take on sadness:

“Sadness is easier because it’s surrender. I say make time to dance alone with one hand waving free.”

Finally, about her mindset:

“And so we all became helpers, which I so can’t help. I can’t help helping.”

Beautiful Claire. Pure of heart. Filled with life. She doesn’t sport a gun. She doesn’t kill zombies. But who wouldn’t want a friend like Claire? Always anticipating. Always wishing. Her heart’s in the right place, and that’s all that matters.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen Elizabethtown? What did you think of Claire?

Zombie Apocalypse: Failure?

Do you know what I realized the other day? Whenever I talk about the zombie apocalypse with my friends, I’m always assuming it is possible. I never think for a moment that something so absurd would be impossible. Then again, I do write about zombies, so how weird is that?

Military
Military

Back in May, I wrote a Monday Mayhem post called Zombie Apocalypse: Causes. In the post, I detail reasons why I think a Zombie Apocalypse could happen.

But, what if? What if zombies suddenly rise from their graves because of some freak event and we’re right there in the middle of the mess? Do you honestly believe these walking disasters have a chance of carrying out their diabolical plan to rip our cerebral cortexes from our skulls, all the while their moaning and grunting betray their physical locations?

Before y’all jump me at once let’s say this together. Raise your right hand: I know a zombie apocalypse is possible but I won’t beat Jack senseless for thinking otherwise.

Once you’ve said that three times, you can go on ahead and read why I’m entertaining thoughts contrary to an undead global meltdown.

Tornado
Tornado

Elements of Nature—How long do you think zombies would survive in the middle of our Canadian Winter? One day? Two days? On February 18, our weather here in Ontario dropped from 0°C/32°F to -16°C/3.2°F. That’s a sixteen-degree differential in the span of one day. In December 2012, we had a full week of sustained temperatures below freezing. I hope zombies dress warm if they ever decide to invade in the middle of winter. In June, floodwaters ravaged townships in Alberta leaving them desolate and empty. In Calgary, the city came to a standstill as chest-deep waters flooded the downtown core. Do zombies know how to swim? The list goes on, with a myriad of other natural disasters that have occurred this year ranging from tornadoes all the way to heat waves. If a zombie apocalypse has to take hold, it had better time it right. Mother Nature would have first dibs at the bodies rising, that’s for sure.

Animals Are the Zombies Second Worst Nightmare—I’d like to see a few of those belly suckers attempt to cross a cornfield in the middle of the day. First of all, they’d never survive a head on onslaught of crows nosediving from twenty feet in the air to peck out their eyes. Buzzards or turkey vultures are worse. Their six-foot wingspan allows them to travel 30-50 miles in search for food, and they can smell death a mile away. Their bills have a design to plunge deep within a carcass to retrieve its meal. Let’s not even talk about wolves. These pack hunting canine wonders of nature can eat 15-19% of their body weight in one sitting. If zombies should happen to make contact with any of these animals, it’s lights out.

We Are the Zombies Worst Nightmare—Let’s imagine for a few moments a world on the cusp of filling with a legion of zombies out to harvest our innards. Forget about World War Z’s fast zombies. As cool as they are, let’s think old school. You know, the roaming kind, lurching forward, arms drawn outward, smelling for frontal lobe delicacies. What are the chances they’d survive with us as their enemies? I’d say we’d have a pretty good shot at putting down the infestation right out of the gate. Think about it. We’ve got guns, knives, bullets, bombs, missiles, rockets, cannons, flamethrowers, heavy artillery, assault vehicles, battle fatigues and some of us even have martial arts training. What do the zombies have? Nothing. A couple of loose teeth, a few broken nails, and maybe those golden three hours after death between Primary Flaccidity and Rigor Mortis where they could do the most damage. Beyond that, we win.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Just for fun, can you think of other reasons why a zombie apocalypse wouldn’t work?