“I’ll Be in the Garden”

So nice to be able to say “I’ll be in the garden.”  The irises have bloomed and faded, and it’s time to do some deadheading and cutting back. I take out a bag and a pair of pruning shears, and step onto our patio and yard.




The Idaho sunshine is more direct now, and it isn’t long before some beads of sweat appear on my forehead. I can’t believe I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of something to do outdoors, to break out of the exercise doldrums. I’m so used to living in an apartment on a major highway, I have forgotten how much I love a back yard.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.”

Psalm 1: 2-3

I see many things I would have overlooked on any other day. As I clip back spent stems, I have a closer look at the ground covers that wind their way through the flower beds.



I look up and see the plums on our tree, and the blossoms on the Japanese honeysuckle planted by the previous owner.




I fill the bag with plant debris and head back to the patio, where a new bunch of daisies are blooming.

“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them;

and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”

Isaiah 35:1


I shrug and wipe the sweat from my forehead with my arm, and gather some of the roses to take indoors.





“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Isaiah 55:12

If it’s a Saturday afternoon, I’ll be in the garden!



Multitude Monday: 141-147


Been blessed in so many ways this week. Hope you’ll join us with  your gratitude list at A Holy Experience!

141. Working on a new blog with my husband John. I love the fact that we enjoy working on creative endeavors together!

142. Connecting with my Flagstaff, AZ friends. Looking forward to visiting soon, we hope!

143. Recognizing new ways to serve and encourage, ways to reach out with my faith.

144. John’s recovery from surgery…he felt well enough to do some cooking this morning!

145. Getting back to my fitness routine after about a month off. Ouch!

146. Unexpectedly ran across Beethoven’s 9th on the radio. That was a pleasant surprise…love Beethoven!

147. Chai latte…I especially love the flavors of cloves and cinnamon. Enjoying a cup as I write!

Fuel: What to Eat After a Workout

You’ve eaten your pre-workout snack and replenished fluids and carbs during your workout. It’s time for a quality snack or meal and more fluids to help your body recover after you exercise. There are some general guidelines for post-exercise foods, but check with your doctor if you have diabetes or other medical condition.

Remember the high-carbohydrate food you ate before your workout? You feel tired after you exercise because your body has used some of the stored carbohydrates and energy from that food. You will feel better and your muscles will recover faster if you eat a combination of carbohydrates and protein within two hours after your workout, recommends the Mayo Clinic. Replenishing carbohydrates and protein is especially important if you exercise intensely more than once a day or are training for a marathon or triathlon, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

After a 30- to 40-minute cardio workout, a light snack within 30 minutes works best for me. Good post-workout snacks with a balance of carbohydrates and protein include Greek yogurt and fruit, toast and peanut butter, or cheese and crackers. Sometimes I have half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread.

You may want to schedule your workout before a meal. Opt for protein, fresh vegetables and carbohydrates. Protein could be meat, tofu, or beans, and good carbohydrate choices include brown rice or sweet potatoes. Low-fat foods may be easier for you to digest after exercise.

Remember to drink water or a sports drink after you exercise. If you weigh yourself before and after your workout, you’ll know the amount of fluids you need to replenish. Drink 2 or 3 cups of water for every pound you lose during your workout. A sports drink is especially helpful if you do not feel like eating as you’re cooling off and resting.

Have a great week, and let me know how you’re doing!

Fuel: What to Eat During a Workout

My last post outlined what to eat before a workout, and explained the body’s need for carbohydrates for fuel. You won’t always have to eat during a workout. During a typical 30- to 60-minute exercise session, you generally only need to worry about fluids and staying hydrated.

But if you plan to exercise for 90 minutes or more, you will need additional fuel during your workout. During prolonged exercise, your body will run out of energy from the carbohydrates you ate 30 minutes before your workout.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 30 to 60 carbohydrate grams every hour during a two- to three-hour workout. During a hike or other all-day exercise, aim for 60 to 90 carbohydrate grams per hour.

Granola Bars
Try granola or fruit for a snack before or during exercise. (Photo by jenn.b)

When you choose foods for a mid-workout snack, look for easily digested, high-carbohydrate foods. Digestion is especially an issue during prolonged high-impact exercise, such as running. You don’t want an upset stomach during your workout! In fact, a sports drink may be a better carbohydrate source than solid food during a prolonged run.

If your workout involves cycling or other low-impact exercise, try a granola bar, raisins, crackers or other light carbohydrate snack. You will still need to replenish fluids, so remember to drink water with your food. Drink 3 to 6 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes, rather than gulping large quantities all at once. If you cannot tolerate solid food during a workout, you can have a sports drink instead.

Through trial and error, you will discover the best carbohydrate fuel for your workouts. If you have diabetes or other medical condition, ask your doctor about snacks and exercising.

Next, we’ll look at fuel for recovery after exercise.

Fuel: What to Eat Before a Workout

The type of food you eat before you exercise can determine the success of your workout. Eating the wrong food at the wrong time can lead to low energy, lightheadedness and stomach upset, and can even undermine your fitness program. If you know a few basic rules, you can find pre-exercise snacks and meals that work best for you.

Caution: these are general guidelines. Ask your doctor about the best pre-workout foods for you, especially if you have diabetes or other chronic condition.

1.  Exercise 2 to 3 hours after you eat a meal. The food that you eat hours before you exercise provides the fuel for your workout. Your body needs this time after the meal to digest carbohydrates and fats before you exercise. Larger meals and meals that have high protein or fat content will take the longest time to digest.

To keep steady blood sugar and energy levels during workouts, your meals should contain 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates. Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice and whole grain pastas are good carbohydrate sources. Include a little protein, such as an egg, nuts or sliced turkey. Your muscles will use the protein during recovery after your workout. Watch for an upcoming post about protein and post-workout food.

2. Eat a snack 30 minutes to 1 hour before you work out. A light, high-carbohydrate snack, such as a banana, crackers or a granola bar will give you energy if you eat it 30 to 60 minutes before your workout. Eating a snack immediately before you hit the treadmill may not do any harm, but your body will not have time to break down the food for energy.

My favorite pre-workout snack is whole grain toast with natural peanut butter. It’s easy to digest, and the carbohydrate-protein combination keeps my energy levels steady.

3. Hydrate! Getting enough fluids is just as important as eating the right foods when you’re going to exercise. Drink 2 cups of water 4 hours before you work out, and 1 to 1 1/2 cup of fluids 15 minutes before you exercise, recommends the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).  If your workouts last an hour or longer, drink a sports drink instead of water to help keep your electrolyte and energy levels steady.

It’s important to stay hydrated during your workout, too. If you exercise for less than an hour, ACSM recommends drinking 3 to 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. For workouts longer than an hour, drink 3 to 8 ounces of sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Find what works for you. Certain pre-workout foods will work better for you than other foods. If you give your body time to metabolize nutritious foods rich in complex carbohydrates, you will stay energized throughout your workout.

Stay tuned for posts about eating during and after your workout. Let me know how you’re doing with your fitness goals!

Every Step Makes a Difference!

“I could never do that.”
“I don’t have time.”
“I keep skipping workouts, so I might as well quit.”

Before I started exercising regularly, I said all of these things and repeatedly talked myself out of taking those first steps. I felt overwhelmed when my doctor told me I needed to lower my blood pressure, lower my “bad” cholesterol, and increase my “good” cholesterol. I already knew I needed to lose weight. And I knew — in spite of myself — that diet and exercise are important factors in all of these health concerns.

Small Victories

What I did not know at that time was the positive effect of small victories. It is important to set long-term weight-loss and exercise goals, but your health can improve even before you reach those goals. For example, a long-term weight loss goal may be 50 or more pounds. But did you know that losing just 5 to 10 pounds or adding 30 minutes of exercise three times a week can make a positive difference? These changes can help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol, raise HDL or “good” cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Do What You Can — It Still Counts!

It’s easy to feel discouraged when a goal is still a long way off. But I know that even the worthiest goals can make me want to give up before I start. When I started exercising, I could only manage five minutes on the elliptical machine. But those beginning five minutes led to 30-minute workouts.

Ask your doctor about the right exercise program for you. Start where you are, and know that those first steps are already making a difference!

One Lousy Push-Up

Since my last post, I’ve been busy patting myself on the back for joining a gym and working out at home, too. Last night, in my continuing quest for fitness, I worked at home with free weights and added a set to my core exercises: abdominal crunches and the dreaded “plank”. I realized after reading an article about core strengthening that I had forgotten all about the queen of core exercises — push-ups.

“Well, why not add push-ups to my routine?” I thought. I like to research the latest findings on health and wellness, and I regularly use the elliptical machine and other equipment — but I haven’t managed to do one lousy push-up?

Well, that’s exactly what I did last night: one push-up that was lousy.

You see, even a simple exercise that we did as kids won’t work without the right form. Strength training in particular must be done correctly to prevent injury to muscles, joints and nerves. After my unsuccessful attempt at push-ups, I will start with “incline (standing) push-ups” against the kitchen counter, making sure that my hands are a bit farther apart than my shoulders and that my body stays in a straight line.

Home Weight Training for Women has some helpful videos and tips on push-ups.

And while we’re talking at it, don’t forget the benefits of rest. We are careful to breathe correctly during resistance training, but relaxation breaths are the equally important flip side of the coin. If you need a reason for getting out into the fresh air, relax and check out this article on breathing at Creation Health.

Before we know it, it’ll be time to move on to proper push-ups!