Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Sunday Morning Inspiration

A good friend and co-worker of many years recently lost her brother.  This blog is an excerpt from a letter she wrote about Jim.  I was so moved that I asked her permission to share it.  Jim didn’t get the recognition he deserved in life but his story is his legacy. Please take a moment to read and contemplate the life of this “simple man.”

I debated for some time now on the best way to thank each and every one of you for your support dealing with my brother’s death. I started hand writing cards several time now and can’t ever seem to get it done. I know email is sometimes impersonal but that is not my intention. I finally decided that this was the best way to  get the message out there that ALL of you are appreciated for whatever roll you took to help comfort me directly or indirectly.

I thought I’d share with you a bit of my brother Jim’s story.

My brother was the second child in the family of nine. He was the first boy between the two oldest girls (3 kids in 3 years) He had a hard life from the day he was born he was weak and sickly, nearly died several times and did not rank high on any intelligence tests, he struggled to get through 8th grade and dropped out of school. He could barely read and write. He was on his own at that point doing farm work to support himself; as soon as he was able he joined the Army where he served 4 years. He married the woman he loved to the day he died and had 2 children with her. His heart was broken when she left him, but he never stopped loving her in all the years they were divorced. He worked a Packerland Packing doing back breaking work for little pay 42 years until his retirement. Packerland normally does not hold “official retirements” but when they checked his service record and found that he had never been late or missed a day of work in 42 years they decided to throw a party which meant a lot to him. Shortly after his retirement he had multiple health problems.

This past Mother’s Day I talked to him and he said he thought he had the flu- wasn’t feeling well, when I expressed my concern he said “I still have got a couple years left in me!”  The following Wednesday, 2 of my sisters tried to get him to go to the doctor with no luck. Wednesday evening I stopped by to check on him and my dog’s barking outside his home brought him to, he had been passed out on the kitchen floor for 3-4 hours before this but still would not go to the doctor because he had a regular checkup scheduled for Thursday and there was, in his words, “no point to pay for 2 doctor visits in 1 week”.  Thursday my sister took him for his appointment; from there he was sent to the specialist and Friday afternoon the verdict was he only had 6 months to live. The prognosis of the 6 months was a shock to everyone, but at least we had 6 months.  I went to his house after work and brought him Friday night fish fry, we had dinner together and I brought my dog. He even got down on the floor to rub the dogs belly and play with her against my advice. He was very weak and tired but other than that seemed fine, no pain or anything. They had given him 3 units of blood at the hospital on Friday. When he got a nose bleed at the hospital, he jokingly told the nurse” I think you gave me too much it’s coming out my nose!” The doctors said after the transfusion it would take 2 weeks for his energy to come back up. I left Friday night to go home. Saturday morning my sister called and said he was in a lot of pain and she had called the doctor to get him some pain medication. Saturday afternoon I went over there to stay with him and was told he took his pain pill, was sleeping, and that his son was going to stay with him. He passed away in bed later that night.

As his obituary stated he was a simple man, some would call him dumb. He lived in a house that was falling down around him. He put on his coat and hat to go to bed at night to save on heat, and had no material wealth at all. Many took advantage of his simple and giving nature, but he never gave up on the people he loved. He would rather go without something he needed to buy you something you wanted.  He was a shining example of how to treat people and will forever be missed! I was truly blessed to have been part of his life.

Rest in Peace, Jim

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Are You Insane?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

                                                                             -attributed to Albert Einstein

This post is not about clinical insanity , it’s aobut the day to day things we do that are insane.

Some background:

I use my ipod every single day.  Every single day I wind the earbud wires the same way and put it in the holder.  Everytime I go to use the earbuds, the wires have somehow gotten all twisted and knotted so I waste time and get frustrated while I untangle.  This happens every day…day in and day out.  Guess what?  That’s insane!  For some reason I never thought to wind them in a different manner, I favored fussing about the untangling process each day.  I saw someone at the gym using a different technique and the light bulb went on!  I changed my ways  and am now saving myself time, and more importantly, frustration.  Maybe my headsets will last longer as well!

Do you have something that is bugging you?  A garbage bag that won’t stay in place?  A squeaky door?  Searching for keys?  A pet dish that is always in the way?

All of these are pretty simple to solve but we tend to prefer being annoyed than making a change.  I search through my purse for my office keys every day while juggling my coffee cup, lunchbag and laptop bag.   Well…how about keeping those keys in a side pocket for easy access?  Duh. Now I just need to remember to put them there, and even more challenging, remembering where I put them before I tear my purse apart!

What about the number on the scale or your clothing size? It’s stuck?  Or worse- going up?

Are you still eating the same number of calories?  Have you added any exercise to your routine?  Do you wonder why nothing changes?

It’s time to stop the insanity!

Is this you?

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Happy Birthday, Dad

This is what being a teacher for 30 years will do to a person!

Today would have been my dad’s 82nd  Birthday.  He died 3 years ago from complications of Parkinson’s, a disease that he struggled with for 20 years.  Watching him go from being a smart, compassionate, very funny vibrant man to a person who couldn’t walk, talk, or take care of himself was devastating and was a big part of my interest in doing what I can to be healthy until my last day on this earth.  As you can see from the pictures, he had a great love of life and was always making us laugh.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of some funny thing he said or did. I sure wish we could have one last conversation.

Your mission for today: If you had 5 minutes left in your life and could talk to just one person…who would it be, what would you say, and why are you waiting?  

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Even big kids love Happy Joe's

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Sunday Morning Inspiration

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Sunday Morning Inspiration

Why are you waiting?

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Sunday Morning Inspiration

When you think your limitations are too much to handle, remember this boy and the obstacles he has overcome.  The look on his face is priceless.  If he can do it, so can you.

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Sunday Morning Inspiration

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Let’s Get S.M.A.R.T.


Jan 2- the gym is busy!


I have taught classes at the YMCA for several years and every year it’s the same.  On Jan. 2 the place is packed.  Treadmills are full, classes are waitlisted, and I have to wait to use the weight machines.  Wow- this is exciting!  Look at all these people who want to look and feel better.

Jan 25, a few people went back to the couch

Fast forward to Jan. 25.  The Y is still fairly busy, but not like it was 3 weeks ago.  I know in another month there will be even fewer people, by spring we will have lost at least half of those who joined with all sorts of great intentions.  So..what happened?  And why does it happen year after year?  Here area a few of my observations.

>Many people have never set foot in a gym and have no clue what to do.  I recommend booking a few sessions with a personal trainer.  It is well worth the extra charge. I am also a big fan of joining classes.    Trust me, no one is watching you, they are worried about what they are doing, not what you are doing.

>They work out like crazy for the first week and then feel like crap and can’t get motivated to do it again.

>They didn’t lose 10 lbs. in the first week so they give up.

>It is much easier to fall back on old habits than start a new one.  Yes, laying on the couch is easy.  But working out is more fun, you just need to make it a habit.

Let’s make a SMART action plan to help you make and KEEP those fitness goals.

Specific.  Don’t just say “I’ll eat healthier”  Say “I’ll eat 3 pieces of fruit on most days” and stick to it.  I also like S for Small. Stop using your big dinner plates. Use your salad plate instead, it really helps keep portion sizes under control

Measureable. Use numbers to quantify frequencies and amounts. Instead of saying, “I will drink more milk,” say, “I will drink 3 glasses of fat-free milk per day.”

Achievable – Can you actually meet the goals that you are setting for yourself? If you haven’t been off the couch for years, don’t suddenly start working out for 90 minutes every day.  Set an achievable goal like “I will walk 15 minutes 3 days per week” and stick to it, increasing the time as you build stamina.  Walking 15 minutes everyday for a year is better than being an exercise nut for 3 weeks and then quitting.

Even if you need to lose 50 lbs, don’t say “I will lose 50 lbs.”  Say, “I will lose 2 lbs. this week.” After you lose those 2 lbs, say ” Now I will lose 2 more lbs.”  and so on.

Realistic – Saying that you will never eat dessert again is not realistic for someone who really enjoys those foods. Start out by having that piece of chocolate cake, but take half a piece or share it with a friend.  The next time cut back to just a few bites.  I’m told some people give up sweets completely but I’m not there yet!

Time Sensitive – Specify a timeframe for your goal. Instead of saying “more often” to decide how often you will eat fruit, say “twice a day, 4 days this week.” or “I will work out 3 times this week.”  Schedule your workout time and put it in your calendar.  Treat it like you would any other appointment that can’t be cancelled.

Be sure to write down your SMART goals and review them every day.  Post them on the frig, on your workspace, in your car; anywhere that you keep them top of mind.

Being healthy is vital to life. Just as you spend many hours committed to your job, so shouldn’t you spend the time that it takes to be committed to a healthy lifestyle? This can only enhance your quality of life. So, there is no time like the present to invest in your well-being. If not today, when? Be S.M.A.R.T. Get started today!



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Sunday Morning Thoughts

A couple of things happened this week that, while not related, made me think. 

 1- Part of my job duties include answering e-mails for the supermarket chain where I work.  While most are pretty ordinary- looking for an item, compliment, question, etc., there are others that just set me off.  We have raised the bar very high in terms of customer service so I understand why our shoppers expect more but sometimes a particular letter just gets my goat.  We received one this week from a lady who was very upset with our deli.  Why?  When we slice her cheese it doesn’t fall into a neat stack, sometimes a few are turned and then there is potential for the corners to break and heaven forbid we would have to eat a slice of cheese with a broken corner.  She went on and on with a laundry list of complaints.  Luckily, I did not have to answer this one as I might have had to rewrite a few times! 

2- We have a home in Manzanillo, Mexico where we spend some time in the winter.  Manzanillo was hit by Hurricane Jova this week and while we didn’t have any damage, thousands of people lost all their belongings and their homes were destroyed or damaged.  The pictures and video of the are heart-wrenching.  Many of the people there don’t have much to begin with and now they have nothing.  Homes are filled with mud, streets and bridges are damaged.  Emergency shelters are set up but it will take a long time for the rural areas to recover from this. 


Damage from Hurricane Jova




Muddy water flooded villages.

 The cheese complaint and the hurricane, while two totally different occurrences, reminded me of this quote. 


If you have:

Food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep..
-You are richer than 75% of the world.
If you have:
Money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change..
-You are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthiest.
If you are:
Attending college, or planning on attending college..
-You are among the top 1% educated globally.
If you woke up this morning,
with more health than illness.
-You are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced:
the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation.
-You are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering.
If you are reading this message:
you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
We all take these things for granted, and most of us who apply to everything on this can still find things to complain about. We’re so lucky but we don’t realize it. so just think about how fortunate you are, be thankful for the loved ones in your life, and smile.




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Sunday Self Assessment


A co-worker stopped by my office and shared a great story.  He has started wearing a pedometer and yesterday during his 8 hour shift he took 18, 553 steps which is equal to 8.123 miles.  He also burned about 552 calories.  (I don’t trust calorie counters so don’t take them too literally, most are off by as much as 1/3 in overestimating how much you have burned)   In addition,  he and  his wife walk 1-1.5 miles every day at a brisk pace just for fun.  He had never enjoyed walking and was always a driver, but now he finds himself walking as much as possible and he enjoys it!  I love this story, my co-worker didn’t need to buy a gym membership or spend money on fancy equipment, he just decided to do something that was good for his health and he did it.  Way to go!

So- why haven’t you made any changes?  It is time to hold yourself accountable!  Stand in front of a full length mirror wearing just your underwear and make an honest assessment.   (underwear seems more unforgiving than naked!)  If you are satisfied with what you see,  have healthy cholesterol and blood work (blood test results from your annual physical)  and you can walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, maybe you don’t need to change.  But, if not, why are you waiting?    Trust me,  as you age the margin of error narrows drastically. Your body doesn’t have the resources it did when you were younger and it will turn on you. You need to pay attention to what you are eating and doing some exercises or you are in for some very unpleasant surprises before very long.  Sunday is a great day to start fresh.  Is today the day you start taking care of yourself? 


I couldn't find an appropriate underwear picture but jeans can also be quite honest!

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