Fitness

Daily Walks Are Healthier Than You Think

The COVID-19 pandemic has people walking more than ever. Are you among those who can’t wait to get out for a walk in the neighborhood for some fresh air? Maybe the “shelter in place” order we’ve endured in recent months has you going stir crazy, so a walk is your way to just get out of the house. Well, guess what? You are doing more good for yourself than meets the eye. Read on to learn about some surprising benefits to your daily walk and let them inspire you to keep up the good work after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

1. MOOD BOOSTER

Sometimes all you need is a little fresh air to change your attitude. We don’t need science to tell us that taking a daily walk can lift your mood even when we are feeling down. Just being outside has some magical mood improving powers. I can testify that being out for a walk helps decrease depression and can put emotions in an overall happier place.

2. GOOD BONES

As you age, bone density can decrease and make an injury from a fall much more severe. Believe it or not, walking can improve bone density and stop the loss of bone mass that is often associated with osteoporosis. Walking for up to 40 minutes a day may also help to reduce hip fractures and other injuries related to falls. This is common sense, really. The science of, “if you don’t use it, you lose it” applies here. We must keep moving as we age to stay strong and limber. Walking is an excellent low impact way to do that.

3. HEART HEALTH

Whether it’s hypertension or cardiovascular health, walking has been shown to have positive effects on the overall health of your heart. A consistent walking routine can help lower your blood pressure and prevent heart disease – two very common ailments for the 40 somethings on up. And while you’ll still want to consult a doctor before beginning an exercise routine, for anyone with existing heart conditions, walking can be a safer alternative to more vigorous forms of exercise.

4. BURN FAT

Losing weight and keeping it off is a little more complex than simply burning calories. In addition to healthy eating, finding ways to boost your metabolism can help reduce body fat. Walking has been shown to keep your internal furnace running hot so you can burn more calories during the day when you’re not exercising. The key is upping the pace. Try including 1–2 minutes of power walking every five minutes during your daily walk to get started, or walk on hilly or uneven terrain.

5. BABY STEPS

Since walking is considered safe on the joints and a low-impact activity, beginning a walking program before you start running or other forms of high-intensity exercise can help. After you become more comfortable with a fitness walking routine, try a walk-run program to ease yourself into running for longer distances.

6. RECOVERY AID

Even if you are accustomed to higher intensity workouts and are relatively fit, your body still needs time to rest and recover between workouts. Because walking is a low-to-moderate intensity exercise that gets the blood flowing and raises the heart rate, it can be an ideal recovery activity in between harder workouts. It can also help ease any joint, back and muscular pain associated with more extreme forms of exercise.

7. MENTAL HEALTH

Many of us have experienced new anxieties and stresses during this crazy time of COVID-19. Getting outside and exercising is an excellent way to clear your mind. Whether you take a short walk around the neighborhood or head to a park or forest, try to be more aware of your body, your surroundings and all that you have to be grateful for. Walking with a loved one helps us feel connected as you talk together, and talking things out loud is a great way to manage stress, discuss new ideas, make plans, etc. Walking alone offers opportunity to refocus your mind, pray, even vent. OK, maybe that’s just me. Anyway, taking this focused time alone or with a loved one while walking can have other positive effects on your health and well-being that go far beyond letting go of the worries of the day.

faith, Family, Fortitude

The 5 Voices All Men Hear | Letters To My Son

The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on the one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other

Douglas MacArthur

The Secret to Listening to the Right Voice

Son, I think being a man requires tremendous strength and courage. Even more, it requires a keen awareness of where to focus that strength and courage. Understanding this is crucial to your growth and development as a man, leader, and one day, husband and father. In fact, the advice I am about to give you could be some of the most important that I ever give. It took me years to understand what I’m about to tell you, but if you hold on to this lesson, it will aid you all your life.

Five voices are incessantly screaming at men. These five voices, as I call them, are heard several times during a given day. Given the circumstances of that day, certain voices will be louder than others. But these voices have incredible power over men. They have the ability to direct our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. This means they have the potential to lead you toward life and godliness or loss and destruction. If you can grow in awareness when you hear them, identify them, and redirect them, then you will experience great success in this life.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Jesus in John 10:27

Voice #1 — The Man That I Think I Am

And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

Mark 10:37

Every man wants to be legendary. We want to hold a trophy, stand on the platform, and be praised by fans on the world’s stage. And some days, you’re going to think you’re a legend but only in your own mind. This insidious thought is a dangerous voice for men to follow. It’s evidence of our deepest arrogance, and it must be addressed before our imminent fall. Pride comes in many forms, but it ultimately plants a thought in our mind, which impacts our beliefs, attitudes, and actions. The result of this is rather ugly and makes us look stupid. I wonder if James and John felt this way when they made the statement above. The only trophy they held on this day was the award for being the “Most Stupid.”

I’m sure you have bumped into a few arrogant guys in life. Men who are masters at their skill, talent, or gift have allowed their mastery to master them. These men are destined for a great fall, so don’t be this man. Avoid the fall by being cautious of the sex appeal of this voice.

Voice #2 — The Man Others Think We Are

And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:2

Yes, it’s true: others have a wonderful plan for our lives. If you haven’t discovered this yet, you soon will. Bosses, coaches, teachers, and friends project a manner of thinking and acting to us or about us. I promise that they will reinforce their voices with Tweets, Snaps, and posts. With or without malicious intent, their propaganda doesn’t always correctly reflect who we are; it’s their perspective. Their view is right to them, whether we like it or not. Yet, we have the choice to listen to this or not.

The truth is, these sound bites from others are often compelling voices that affect men. In the moments when we are emotionally vulnerable, they can be persuasive and leading, but you need to remember that you are not the sum of what others think about you. In fact, their voices may be genuine, but genuinely wrong, and lead you down a path of destruction.

As your identity is forming, the voice of influential friends, coaches, and teachers will be loud to you. You might end up believing that what they say about you is true. Take caution, because this leads to you living up only to what others expect of you—which could be off-course. Many men have chased after this voice, and then run from one voice to the next, and ended up confused and exhausted. Even Jesus ignored these voices when they led down ungodly paths; note the soundbite above from the religious leaders. Don’t follow these ungodly voices or believe what they say about you.

Voice #3 — The Man We Think Others Think We Are

We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.

Numbers 13:33

This voice may appear a little confusing when you first hear it, but stay with me for a minute or two. This voice is the one we hear when we lie down at night, staring at the ceiling. It speaks to us as we reflect on the happenings of the day, considering that occasional failure— it’s the voice of our mind talking to our soul about what others think about us. Unfortunately, this voice has incredible power because it develops thoughts about ourselves in our minds that, combined with emotions, construct systems of belief about who we are.

The voice of “what we think others think” is a deceptive voice because it is both powerful and private. I cannot tell you how many times in my younger years, I lied awake in bed at night with thoughts about myself and what others think about me. These voices disturbed me for years. In bed, many men hear the voice of an unloving father, an unappreciative wife, an unsatisfied boss, an unsupportive coach, and an unreliable friend—and believe that they, the man, are responsible for the voice. Men replay the sounds of these tapes, privately shaming themselves, ruminating only on failure and allowing these voices to control their lives.

Voice #4 — The Man We Actually Are

For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

Romans 7:18

At some point, you are going to come face-to-face with the most challenging voice any man hears: the voice of your sin. Yes, we men inflict harm intentionally or unintentionally, which results in suffering for others. You are already aware of this. But occasionally, you will hear the weightier voice of sin. You will feel sin’s full weight, which is more than just making a mistake or hurting someone else; it’s an offense against God. Some days this voice will be so weighty it will feel overwhelming. It will bring you to your knees so much so that you will see no way out. When this happens, I want you to remember you are not the first to feel this way. Even the apostle Paul felt this way, and he let us know this in the sentence above. While I want to say ignore this voice, this voice is true. Son, we all sin. We screw things up. We make mistakes. We have, indeed, offended God. But it’s not the end of the story. This voice teaches us and motivates us to look for a solution and a better voice, which brings us to the last voice—the one you need to hear.

Voice #5 — The Man God Says We Are

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 3:17 – God speaking to Jesus

In the end, there is only one voice that you should hear. One voice to heed. One voice that is true. It’s the voice of God. What God says and says about you is the only truth you should believe. The other sounds we hear are gibberish soundbites in a world that is lost and confused. God’s voice is the only true one. God’s is the only one that matters. It’s God’s voice that spoke you into existence. It’s God’s voice that echoes across time. It’s God’s voice that extends grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness to you when you hear voices that say you don’t deserve it. It’s your Father’s voice that utters the most beautiful sentence you will ever hear, “This is my son [insert your name], with whom I am well pleased.”

Son, I can barely hold back tears in writing this letter to you. It’s God’s voice all men long to hear. Stop chasing the other voices. Shun them. Turn a deaf ear to them. Listen to only one from the God and Father who created you. It’s he you follow, listen only to him. His voice is trustworthy, confident, and dependable.

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.

Matthew 17:5

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 16 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God’s Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men’s Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org

faith, Family

The Men We Are

It’s no secret this world is filled with negativity and negative messages about men. We must continually renew our mind (Romans 12: 1-2) and remember who we are despite the messages we hear – or tell ourselves. Let this list from God’s word encourage you as it does me. Thanks to Vince Miller https://beresolute.org/ for compiling this list. Listen to what God wants us to believe about ourselves in contrast to the world. Read them all and memorize the one you need to focus on today. Maybe even share it with a friend.

I AM A CHILD OF GOD. “But to all who have received him, those who believe in his name, he has given the right to become God’s children.” (John 1:12)

I AM CONDUIT OF LIFE. “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me–and I in him–bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.” (John 15:1, 5)

I AM A FRIEND OF CHRIST. “I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.” (John 15:15)

I AM JUSTIFIED. “But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)

I AM NOT ENSLAVED TO SIN. “We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6)

I AM NOT CONDEMNED. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

I AM FREE FROM THE LAW. “For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)

I AM A HEIR. “And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:17)

I AM ACCEPTED. “Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.” (Romans 15:7)

I AM A SAINT. “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

I AM REDEEMED. “He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

I AM A TEMPLE OF THE SPIRIT. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I AM A NEW CREATION. “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away–look, what is new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I AM RIGHTEOUS. “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

DO THIS: Memorize the verse you need to remember.

PRAYER: God, remind me that I am not the sum total of what I think or others think about me—but only what you say I am.

faith, Family, Personal Development

The Pride Problem | Letters To My Son

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

Pride is more than the first of the seven deadly sins; it is itself the essence of all sin.

— John StotT

He must increase, but I must decrease. — John the Baptizer, in John 3:30

Your Pride is Always Going to Be a Problem

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. — Proverbs 16:18

Pride is one of man’s most notable challenges. As men, we are always flirting with either excessive self-esteem or unnecessary self-condemnation. Pride, called by a variety of words—avarice, arrogance, vanity, conceit, self-love, and hubris—is as insidious as everyone its names suggests. It has both internal and external manifestations. Internal manifestations range from self-condemnation, self-pity, to self-degradation. External forms range from self-exalting, self-promoting, and self-justification, and we as men need a keen awareness of the forms these take in our lives. While I would tell you there is nothing wrong with appropriate levels of self-satisfaction or self-disappointment, extremes of either of these can be destructive, as the proverbial writer notes above. Most often, this happens when we allow our successes or failures to define and shape us as men.

So, here are a few pointers to keep pride at arm’s length in your life.

Watch the Indicators of Pride

In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride.—Benjamin Franklin

Because pride is so insidious, it attacks in a variety of ways, but there are indicators we can keep our eyes on before pride becomes fully mature in our lives. Here are a few things over which I would keep watch.

Protective Postures

Sometimes, we need to protect ourselves. But protecting ourselves from being vulnerable, transparent, and authentic with trusted people results in projecting a false sense of self. When you encounter insecurity—or a lack of confidence in something—be aware of how you protect yourself. A protective posture might look like embellishing a story, taking a shortcut, or inflating your skills. I have found that each of these has the potential to mature into pride.

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.—Proverbs 26:12

Fixation on Self

There will be times you will need to give self some attention, but this can turn into you fixating on yourself. When this happens, some of your perception of self will be accurate, and some will be inaccurate. Try to remember that an unhealthy fixation on self is not good. It results in us fixing our eyes on the self rather than Christ, which will result in prideful actions.

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.—Hebrews 12:2

Need For Attention

There are times you are going to feel “unsuccessful.” In these moments, you may find you want and even need affirmation from others. Public attention does assist in validating our sense of self-worth. This is especially true when we’re building new relationships or engaging in new experiences. We all have a desire to be liked, but we shouldn’t allow this desire to give way to pride. For when our need for attention is met, and then becomes a validation of self-worth, the coupling of this feeling of reward is so powerful it will keep us coming back for more, and then pride takes hold.

Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.—Romans 12:16

Finding Fault in Others

There are times that the personality of a friend or a friend’s success is going to irritate you. Because of this, a prideful spirit is liable to swell up within you, which may exhibit itself through fault-finding. You may find yourself deliberately identifying, verbalizing, and pointing out their mistakes. Be cautious, because while someone might agree with your assessment, this is usually an attempt to make you feel better. It’s an attempt to degrade or to elevate self.

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy.—Psalm 101:5

Disregard Of Others

Finally, and perhaps the most challenging, disregarding those who are not like you. I cannot tell you how many times my pride has exhibited itself from a place of disregard. Each time I pass the homeless, I fail to take time to listen to my wife, shirk from extending generosity to those in need, and not inviting a friend for the sake of my comfort. We often dismiss this as an infringement of time, but it’s not. It’s the preservation of self, through the inner voice of disregard, and just another indicator of pride.

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.’—Luke 18:11

Additionally, Inadequacy Can Be Pride

“Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.—1 Samuel 15:17

We usually don’t think of inadequacy as pride. But if we take time to think about how insidious pride is, we’ll discover that we all have played this mind game. Just as overinflating our image is pride, so is underinflating our image. It’s where we attempt to make little of ourselves to feel better. This will work for a moment but not for long. It can escalate into secret shaming rants that are an attempt to punish the self. Most of the time, others are unaware that these critical tapes are playing in our minds, and they can diminish the good work God wants to do through you. Remember when the Lord anoints, he intends for his man to live this out.

How to Battle Pride

So daily, we must go to war with pride. It is a war that wages within each man, and each man must fight a little differently given his design and temptations. Regardless there is a way to battle that will diminish the power our tendencies give to pride.

Check Your Motives

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.—Proverbs 21:2

Our motive is the reason why we do what we do, and God cares far more about our motive than behavior alone. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about our practices, but that he knows our motivation drives behavior from pure or impure motives. So, as you do something, consider the reason why you are doing what you are about to do. Check your motivation; if it is done to draw attention to yourself, find a more honest course of action.

Accept Your Identity in Christ

In love, He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. — Ephesians 1:5-6

You need to see yourself the way God sees you. “In love, He predestined you for adoption to Himself as a son.” This is not the power of positive thinking; it’s living in your spiritual reality. It’s becoming the man you already are in God’s eyes. Do this, and there is no need to prove your identity through your power or rely upon any power other than the Holy Spirit for strength. With God, there is no need for pride since your identity is found in Him and nothing else.

Give God Credit

As it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 1:31

There is nothing more helpful for our everyday walk than deflecting glory to God. It may sound cliche, but when we give God glory, we gently remind ourselves that we don’t need it. Now, some will say that a football player pointing up to heaven in an end zone is trivial, but I do not believe this is true. It’s frequently an effort to deflect glory because we as men love to steal God’s glory. We do it more often than we realize, and this bad behavior is an influential teacher when coupled with a triumph for which we take full credit. Keep pointing up and deflect to God as much as possible. Remember, every good gift is from God. He is the only one we praise. He is worthy of praise.

Trust God’s Providence

Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.—James 4:15–16

It often fairs me well to remember that when things are or are not going my way, that they might be going the way God wants them. Trusting in God’s providence means I need to believe him each step of the way, and less in myself. Providence attacks pride at its core. It steals power from personal pride in that it reminds me that God is controlling things, and I am not. When you are frustrated, angry, and pride seeps in, remember God is ultimately in control, and you are not.

Pride is going to be a lifelong battle. Wage war daily for the battle is hard-fought—daily.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.—Ephesians 6:12

I love you son, Dad.

After serving in notable ministry organizations for over 25 years (including Young Life, InterVarsity, TCU Football, and Eagle Brook Church), Vince founded Resolute, a non-profit organization focused on providing men with tools for discipleship and mentorship. He’s written 13 books and handbooks, along with small group videos that are resources for mentorship. He also produces THE MEN’S DAILY DEVO and the MAN TALK PODCAST. His latest book is a devotional and mentoring guide for men called THIRTY VIRTUES THAT BUILD A MAN.

Fitness, Fortitude, Nutrition

7 Tips to Keep Your Healthy Living Journey From Falling Off the Rails

Many people have fallen off the train to physical fitness. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’ve been on the train (all aboard in January, right?) and fallen off multiple times. You are frustrated. It wasn’t your body that gave out on you though. Oh sure, you might have told yourself that your knee or back derailed your ride to fitness, but you know the truth: You chose to jump off the train. Maybe your results weren’t coming fast enough, maybe it was too hard, you were doing the wrong exercises, or other activities got in the way. There are a million excuses and yours is not new.


News Flash: Getting fit is hard. So is paying for medications, feeling stiff, weak, tired, and not being able to do the things you once did (or have always wanted to do). You choose. #toughlove

Getting fit (and staying fit) is a mental game more than a physical one. Most people approach fitness the wrong way, and it leads to failure. A mindset shift about fitness is required. Fitness isn’t a project with a defined start and end date. There is no “arrival.” There’s no retirement. Fitness is a process – a healthy living journey that never ends. Wrap your mind around the reality that you need to pursue a lifestyle of healthy habits and read on for more helpful tips to master the mental side of getting fit.

Set mindful goals

Set small reasonable goals and remember to focus on the process. Expect more internal negative feedback at the start than positive. You will be sore, and maybe hungry. You might get grumpy and want to quit. Health benefits are delayed for a while – longer than the instant gratification we all expect. Recognize that everyone struggles with new routine. Get used to being uncomfortable and know that it will be worth it if you don’t give up.

Don’t exercise – train

Exercising for the sake of exercising is terrible. We’re like a hamster on his wheel, mindlessly moving and loathing every minute of it. Kinda like how I feel about treadmills. Exercise on purpose. Train for something. Follow a plan or program. Sign up for a race or fitness event. When you finish, sign up for another one. Remember your driving force behind your fitness journey. Why are you really trying to get fit? How will you feel? What will you be able to do?

Be Social

Find other people to motivate you. Join a club or challenge group. Find a workout partner. Coach others. I have found the mutual accountability in helping others to be an awesome way to keep momentum in my healthy living journey. There is great power in being part of a group.

Change your Habits

Have you heard of Habit Stacking? It’s where you stack your new healthy habit on top of something you already do every day to help ensure you get it done. Plan ahead. Remove as much friction between you and the workout as possible. Set aside time in your calendar like any other meeting or appointment. Set your gear out the night before. Following a plan ensures you don’t show up to the gym with no idea how to maximize your results. We love working out at home because it eliminates so many of the common obstacles.

Define yourself

You are what you eat, you are what you do – not what you say you do. Talk to yourself and about yourself in a positive voice. “I am strong. I am healthy. I’m taking this time for me so I can be my best for everyone else.” You are a responsible person so you go to work every day. You don’t just skip work cuz you don’t feel like it. Same with your healthy habits. You are an active person, you are on a mission to be the best version of yourself, so you don’t ditch your program/ workout commitments.

Rest

Once you get on track, you love how you feel, you’re making progress, etc. you won’t want to stop. You still must listen to your body and rest. Give your body a chance to recover. But don’t use rest as an excuse to jump off the train. You can still eat right and do lower impact activity.

Change your routine as you age

Fitness isn’t a goal, it’s a lifelong process. It will change as you age. Adapt. Mix up your program. Avoid comparison with your younger self. Never quit. Find the activities that suit you. You may lose some speed and strength over time, but far slower than you would if you sat idle telling yourself you are too old or fat to do anything. Get moving. Conquer your mind. Do your thing. Press on!