Snoring and Restless Legs Syndrome

You might not think it to look at me, but I can snore the paint right off a wall. My wife sometimes asks me if I had been dreaming I was Harley Davidson because that’s exactly what I sounded like. I called her on it, but she recorded me with her phone. She was absolutely right. If I had been with Joshua when he fought the battle of Jericho, my snoring would have made the walls come-a-tumbling down. Fortunately, I’ve been able to battle my snoring with weight loss, side sleeping, and chronic insomnia. 

Restless legs syndrome, sometimes called the jimmy legs, is another story. RLS, as it is known by enthusiasts, is a nervous system disorder that causes an overpowering urge to move your legs. I must have a rare case because I don’t just have the urge to move my legs, my legs kick and move all by themselves. It’s totally involuntary. Some nights, it’s been so bad that I’ve stayed awake for hours on the sofa so I wouldn’t wake my wife with my incessant kicking and jerking. 

I do periodically take prescription medication for my restless legs syndrome. Stretching and warm baths before bed seem to help as well. As home remedies, a few friends have suggested I drink tonic water and apple cider vinegar, rub coconut oil on my feet and legs, fill the air with muscle relaxant lavender oil, and squirt mustard on my toes. One person even suggested I cut out caffeine and screen time before bed. How ridiculous.  

I have to admit, my wife and I do sleep better when I’m off of caffeine and when my stress level is lower. Since that is often not an option, I’m thinking of buying a bed, a really wide one where I can kick all night and my wife will never feel it (as long as I’m not kicking her). I think I’ll do that. I’m really tired of cleaning mustard off the sheets every morning.

*Image courtesy of Arzu Cengiz and Unsplash

Sleep Disorders

I’ve recently heard that sleep is more important for health than diet and exercise. If that’s true, then I’m in trouble. I’ve had sleep issues since I was a child.

Once, when I was eight years old, I woke up outside sitting in a lawn chair. The lights were out, the door was locked and my family was asleep. 

That’s pretty scary for a kid, not to mention incredibly embarrassing to be locked outside in race car pajamas. Fortunately, everyone else in the community, state, and nation, was fast asleep, indoors, in bed, where I wanted to be. 

I must have circled our house a dozen times trying to figure out what to do. At first I thought, maybe I’ll just wait outside until morning. But then I started picturing Mr. Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street rounding the corner of the house. Needless to say, I finally mustered the courage to knock on my parent’s window. 

The next day, my dad installed a special lock on the top of the door. It kept me from going outside at night, but I continued to walk and talk in my sleep until I went to college. I was pretty sure I was over it, but my college roommates were quick to inform me of how wrong I was. One roommate said that while I was asleep, I used to call out the last names of girls I had dated. That was embarrassing, mostly because he and I were interested in some of the same girls. I had dated one or two of them without his knowledge. You can imagine how strange it was for him in the middle of the night when I cried out their last names, waking him up and breaking his heart at the same time while I continued to sleep.

Another roommate was forced to yell at me one night until I woke up. He had good reason because, in my sleep, I had started disassembling our bunk beds. I was standing at the foot of the bed, pushing up on one end of the top bunk. I had already removed one of the slats and was working on the other when I woke up. This would usually not be a problem, but my roommate was still in the top bunk. When I came to consciousness and acknowledged his cries, I shook my head, reassembled the bed frame, crawled back into my bottom bunk, and covered my head with the blanket.

After a few minutes of loud silence, my roommate, who I’m sure was contemplating my mental stability, finally asked, “What the heck were you doing?” 

Embarrassed, I rolled over and mumbled, “There’s very little point in me trying to explain.” 

It should come as no surprise, he left college after that semester. I thought I was finally finished freaking people out with my sleep disorders. 

But then I got married. 

One night, after three weeks of wedded bliss, I sat up straight in bed and screamed, “We’ve got to support the missionaries!” before collapsing back to my pillow. My poor wife managed to squeak out, “Ok.” Only I didn’t hear her because I was sound asleep. She, however, spent the rest of the night fully awake, wondering if she married a psycho.

Now, after almost three decades of wedded bliss, I’m proud to say I finally stopped walking and talking in my sleep (at least to my knowledge). I’ve traded them both for two other disorders, snoring and restless legs syndrome.

*Image courtesy of Bekah Russom and Unsplash

Healthy Eating’s Evil Cousin

I’ve been writing about healthy eating recently. So much so that I feel I’ve neglected it’s evil cousin….

Exercise.

Before I delve into my real feelings about this plague on the soul of humanity, let’s have a little background. Exercise was invented by Cain, one of the sons of Adam and Eve, who murdered his brother then ran, or jogged, away from the crime scene. I realize that statement is not in the Bible, but people have been running, or “jogging,” ever since.

Exercise, better known as self-inflicted torture, has been prescribed to me time and again by health care professionals, personal trainers, and other bullies. It’s supposed to help reduce my stress, raise my metabolism, and steal my joy.

So, I’ve started exercising again, sort of. I went to the gym until it closed because of Covid-19, but I’ve been walking almost everyday since, unless it rains, is too hot, or I don’t want to. My gym has since opened back up but I’m being cautious about returning because of the virus. Yeah, that’s it. That’s why I haven’t returned. 

One of my “gym friends” keeps telling me I’m “weak and lazy.” He yells at people and wears really tight t-shirts for a living. He calls himself a personal trainer and wants me to hire him to make me miserable. I told him exercise alone does a pretty good job without his help. Then he usually says, “You know, If you start exercising with me, you’re going to get addicted.”

Yeah, I don’t see that happening. 

If exercising is so addictive, then why is it so easy to quit? 

Besides, whenever you hear about someone being addicted to something, they’re usually describing something that’s bad for you like alcoholic beverages, non-prescription drugs, jogging, and weight lifting.

Exercising is not really fun, but I guess it is good for me. I do want to be healthier, I just wish I didn’t have to move so much to make it happen. I guess for now I’ll keep walking. It’s better than jogging. In the words of David Lee Roth, “I used to jog, but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.”

P.S. I apologize if I’ve offended any personal trainers. This is all for fun and my apology has nothing to do with the fact that most of you could easily beat me to a pulp.

*Photo courtesy of Lucas Favre and Unsplash

How My Latest Fitness Journey Started

Last October, I had gout.

Translation: October was the end of me enjoying food.

Gout, pronounced “gOWWWWWWWWWWWt!!!,” is caused by high uric acid levels which are elevated by the consumption of rich foods, being overweight, and happiness.

I discovered this when I tried to stand and almost fell over. I had to bum a ride home because I couldn’t drive. Before the night was over, it hurt to place my foot on a pillow.

I went to the podiatrist the next morning.

She examined my foot and said, “I think you have gout.”

“Gout?” I asked. “Isn’t that just for old guys in New York who eat a lot of pastrami?”

“No,” she replied, somewhat annoyed. “Do you drink a lot of beer?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t drink alcohol.”

She raised one eyebrow in unbelief after glancing at my belly.

“It’s true,” I said.

“Ok, do you eat a lot of red meat?”

My wife then inserted herself into the conversation.

“He eats way too much beef and pork.”

“That’s probably it then. Does he exercise much?”

You’ll notice by this point in the consultation, I’ve been reduced to a four year old who is not even addressed by the doctor.

“He has in the past but he basically lives a sedentary lifestyle.”

The doctor tightened her lips with extreme disappointment and shook her head at me for a long period of time. I felt like a dog at the vet, guilty of chewing up shoes and furniture.

“Don’t worry,” said my wife. “He will never be happy again.”

At least that’s what I heard her say. She later told me she actually said, “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure he eats right and exercises daily.”

I raised my hand and asked, “Can I still eat bacon?”

“Yes,” said the doctor, once again acknowledging my presence. “You can in moderation.”

“No,” said my wife, as she morphed into the alien from the movie Alien. “Red meat is no longer a part of your life, so forget about it.”

I took a deep breath and thought about putting my foot down, you know, as the man of the house, and overruling her last statement, but then I remembered my foot hurt when it touched the floor and she was my ride home. So I decided to go with her plan.

I started feeling better later that day and haven’t had gout pain since. I’ve also had to find things besides food to bring me stress relief, escape, and flavor. In the words of U2, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.*

*This song brought to you by the 1980’s, the best decade ever.

**Image courtesy of Unsplash

The Return of Kale

So, after reading my gripe about kale a couple of days ago, my wife made a kale salad for us for dinner. Maybe I’ve been too hard on kale. I did learn from a friend that if you pour just a little bit of olive oil into a skillet filled with kale, then heat it on low for five minutes, it makes it easier to scrape the kale into the trash.

And yet, I didn’t dare do that with my wife’s kale salad. She set it before me and I cried just a little. Somewhere in my head I heard Prince singing, “This is what it sounds like when doves cry…” However, I must admit, it wasn’t that bad. I especially enjoyed the pieces of grilled chicken that had nothing to do with the salad. 

So why do people make such a big deal about kale? I did some research and learned that it contains fiber, antioxidants, vitamins C and K, bitterness, animosity, and wrath. The antioxidants help the body remove unwanted toxins that result from natural processes and environmental pressures (like eating kale in the first place).

I enjoyed the kale so much that two hours later, I drove my wife and I to McDonald’s for a hot fudge sundae. But, as usual, they were out of ice cream, as was the second and third McDonald’s we visited. 

It was then that my wife suggested we just go home. But I’m not a quitter, especially when it comes to ice cream. So, I drove us to Wendy’s for a Frosty. Would you believe they were out of ice cream as well. I did get the hook up at the second Wendy’s. I was halfway through it when I realized I had spent the last hour driving to five different fast food restaurants looking for a small cup of frozen refreshment.

I have so very far to go (and I can’t afford the gas).

By the way, thanks for the advice and the encouragement. Keep it coming.

*image courtesy of Laura Johnston and Unsplash

Have You Fallen Recently?

The older I get, the more medical professionals ask me if I’ve had any recent falls.

Recent.

It’s like they’re thinking, “This guy is so out of shape that he’s bound to have fallen in the past few days. He couldn’t possibly balance all of that bulge.” 

I understand it’s all routine procedure and they aren’t personally attacking me (maybe) but the whole experience does show me that I need to be more serious about my own health and fitness. 

I’m thrilled about this and I plan to have a good attitude about it…

Yeah, right, that’s it.

Fact is, I don’t like watching my weight, I’m not a fan of exercise, I despise consistent healthy eating practices. And might I just add that kale is a tool of Satan used to destroy the happiness of men (and reasonable women) everywhere. 

What do I like to eat? I’m glad you asked. I like eating unhealthy foods, better known as “anything that tastes good.” I especially like carbonated, caffeinated, sugary drinks. I’m a big fan of red meat and I’m a consistent consumer of trans fat. I’m voting for gluten in the next presidential election.*

Well, you get the picture. I need help. I need accountability.

A lot of men my age do. 

Now, I have lost about 20 lbs since the beginning of the year. I’ll tell you the secret. If you want to lose weight, live with my wife during a world wide pandemic where she sees everything you eat for months… and walk a lot.

Seriously, now that things are opening back up, I don’t want to find all the weight that I’ve lost. So I’m starting on a new journey to be healthy. A few years ago, I posted a daily blog where I listed out everything I ate for the whole world to see. As time went by, I also listed my water consumption and exercise log. The accountability was amazing and the feedback was helpful. I lost 48 lbs during the process.

I’m not planning on doing that again, but I am interested in writing about my fitness journey. It seems to keep me committed. 

So I welcome your suggestions, especially if you’re starting to receive AARP applications in the mail or if you grew up listening to 80’s music on cassettes. Post your comments below, message me privately, text or email me. Let me know what helps you stay healthy. Thanks in advance.

P.S. I’m not really voting for Gluten. It’s not even registered as a candidate.

*Photo courtesy of Online Marketing and Unsplash

What If This Is It?

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Everywhere you look, people are searching for what’s next.

What’s the next career for them where people will pay and respect them like they deserve? Where’s the next place for them to live that will suit them perfectly? Who might they meet next who will become their perfect mate for life? What next step might they take personally that will equal God’s will for them in the future?  What person, place, or career might be next for them and be the ultimate thing that will finally give them the fulfillment they are looking for?

People everywhere want to know what’s next. But what if it doesn’t work that way.

What if what’s next is right in front of you? What if the next step for you is not found in searching the world to see what it might hold for you? What if the secret for your success and contentment is found in what you can bring to the world right where you are?

What if this is it?

What if the perfect job for you right now is the one you currently have? What if the home you’re living in is the one that can be perfect for you? What if you’re already serving the organization that will propel you to greater heights of success? What if you’re currently married to the person who is right for you now and will still be right for you in 50 years? What if God’s will for you is to be right where you are?

Think about it. If you knew for sure that where you are right now is exactly where you should be and is the catalyst that will launch you to greater things in your relationships, career, happiness, satisfaction, heck, your whole life… If you knew this for sure, what would you do differently? How would you treat people? How would you invest in yourself and others around you? How would your habits and attitudes change?

What if this it – your shot, your chance, your destiny, your opportunity to do and be something in this world? Whether you believe it or not, acting as if this IS it will move you forward in all of these areas because it will change your actions, your behaviors, and your results.

It’s your move. It’s your turn. You’re up to bat. It’s your big break.

What are you going to do about it?

*photo courtesy of Eric Parks and Unsplash

Dream

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We’ve all lost during this time.

We’ve lost finances, 

We’ve lost positions,

We’ve lost experiences, 

We’ve lost time,

And we’ve lost people… 

So many people.

But God is not finished with you or me.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

In all of the weirdness that is this time, 

Don’t give up.

Keep moving forward.

Take the next step.

Trust in God.

He is faithful.

Allow yourself to dream once again

And trust Him to complete His will in and through and for you.

 

*Photo courtesy of Johannes Plenio and Unsplash.

Feel Like Giving Up?

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Do you ever feel like giving up?

If so, I have three messages for you.

First, you’re not alone.

People all over the world are working their way through this crisis. They play different roles and perform different services. Nevertheless, they are still a part of this battle, just like you.

Second, you can’t quit.

Things are strange right now, it’s true. But you must keep going. We need you. We need your strength. We need the difference you make. If you can’t keep going for you, do it for us.

Third, ask the Lord for help.

It may have been years since you prayed. That doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that He is right there, waiting for you to initiate the conversation. He’s a great listener. Why not give it a try?

God bless you.

 

*photo courtesy of Steve Johnson and Unsplash

 

It Happened On A Friday

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It started late on Thursday night.

BETRAYED – Jesus anguished through His prayer, knowing what was about to happen. He was betrayed with a kiss by one of His disciples, a friend, or at least a pretend friend named Judas Iscariot. Judas had spent three years with Jesus. Three years. Jesus had commissioned him, fed him, loved him, taught him, cared for him, and invested in him, but Judas betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver. 

It sounds like a lot of money but it was only enough to buy a small field.  

DENIED – Jesus was arrested and taken away. Peter followed, at a distance, to the home of the high priest, but had to stay outside the gate until a woman opened it for him. As he entered, the woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”

“No,” he said, “I am not.” 

Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards made a fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself. Once again, someone asked Peter, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”

He denied it once again, saying, “No, I am not.”

Soon after, one of the slaves of the high priest, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?” And for the third time, Peter denied it.    

And the rooster crowed.

CONDEMNED – Jesus was taken to Pilate, the Roman governor, who asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent, much to the governor’s surprise.

It was Pilate’s custom each year during Passover to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted.  This year there was a notorious prisoner named Barabbas.  

As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas or Jesus?” 

Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death.  

So Pilate asked the crowd, “Then what should I do with Jesus?”

“Crucify Him!” they shouted.

“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What has He done?”

But they shouted all the louder.

Then Pilate sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.”

So Pilate released Barabbas to the people. He ordered Jesus to be scourged, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

SCOURGED –  Then the Bible says, “They took Him and had Him scourged.” Now, scourging was such that it often killed the victim. But Jesus was a young and strong man in his early thirties. He was in good physical condition. That could be why He didn’t die from the scourging.  They stripped Jesus nearly naked, and shackled His hands over His head. Then soldiers stood on either side of Him and whipped Him brutally with what’s called a flagrum or a cat o’ nine tails. It was a wooden handle that had long straps of leather protruding from it. At the end of each strap was a ball of either metal or stone, and that would tenderize the human flesh. Sometimes there were hooks at the end, usually made of metal.  

The soldiers took turns doing their job, inflicting as much pain as possible on Jesus.  

At this point, for Jesus, the process of death has begun.

CRUCIFIED – Jesus was forced to carry His cross to the place of death. The cross was an enormous wooden beam that you would use to secure a roof in an ancient home. This was recycled timber. Other men had carried it to their own crucifixion. It was covered with their tears and their blood, and their sweat.

On the way, Jesus was so exhausted that He collapsed under the weight of the cross. Simon of Cyrene, a bystander, was commanded to help Him carry the cross to the place of crucifixion.  And then, this Carpenter who Himself had driven many nails, had the equivalent of railroad spikes driven through His hands and feet.  

Jesus’ cross was then lifted up and dropped into the ground, shaking His body violently.

From the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  

In that moment, something legal, something spiritual, something eternal happened. Jesus traded places with us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Adam and Eve, in the Garden, substituted themselves for God and introduced sin to mankind. But here, in this place God substituted Himself for us, defeating the power of sin. 

Then Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” and then He died. 

His last words might have been hard to understand, but they were triumphant just the same.  Salvation through Him was available. It was finished. 

Jesus died on that Friday, paying the price for our sin. 

His mother cried. His disciples scattered. His enemies laughed. His followers mourned.

It happened on a Friday. Christ was killed on a Friday. God displayed His love on a Friday.

And the world was forever changed.

 

*Photo courtesy of Dylan McLeod of Unsplash