I find myself musing as my mind wanders with the holidays upcoming and time with family just around the corner.
As things slow down for the holidays, it's time to begin gearing up for the New Year.
• Registration forms are available for adult men's basketball and adult women's winter volleyball leagues. The deadline is 8 p.m. Dec. 30.
• Bitty basketball kicks off Jan. 4. We almost doubled the number of participants from last year. I'm sure this is a direct result of the awesome program coach Derek Zeck, his Leavenworth girls basketball staff, and their female athletes conducted in January 2013. I'm excited Coach Zeck, his staff, and his female athletes will be back for another go-round this coming year.
• Our youth basketball teams have been practicing this month around school dances, Christmas shows, etc. They are revved up to get started with their games beginning Jan. 11.
• We will be getting ready for the Indoor Ironman, scheduled for February 1 through 28. This is an individually-paced activity to help people begin to round into shape for the upcoming events in coming months.
• The Havens Wooded 5K Trail Run will be March 1. This will kick-off the new Leavenworth Race Series, which features six locally sponsored events during the 2014 calendar year.
I am also excited to announce a new partnership with the Gardner and Johnson County parks and recreation departments to form the new Kansas Duathlon Series featuring the three duathlons sponsored by the individual organizations.
This will be a great relationship for all three of our organizations and it will provide an exciting new challenge for the duathletes competing in the three events.
In the weeks ahead, I will be providing additional information regarding the series and individual events.
The Johnson County Duathlon is in May, the Gardner Duathlon is in July, and our Dog Daze Duathlon will be Aug. 10.
We will be open the next two Mondays for open volleyball from 6-8 p.m. both nights.
Health tip of the week, brought to you by St. Luke’s Cushing Hospital. This is part four of a four-part health series. but let's first review our first three doses of healthy suggestions:
• Toss out the junk food.
• Find some healthy recipes and buy the ingredients.
• Cook in bulk.
• Stock up on healthy snacks.
• Socialize in healthier ways.
• Find a workout partner.
• Use social media for motivation.
• Play outside.
• Find healthy options for eating out.
• Make water and tea your default drink.
• Schedule active breaks.
• Get your spouse on board.
• Start small — don’t overdo it.
• Have fun exercising.
• Drink red wine.
 Our final suggestions as we head toward those unhealthy holiday meals:
• Explore berries, kale, raw almonds and walnuts, avocado, flaxseeds, quinoa, tofu, and tempah. These are foods that many people don’t eat on a regular basis, and some people have never tried some of these. One by one, explore these foods, as they have been found to be very healthy. Some of them take time to acquire the taste, and others (like tofu and tempah) just need the right seasonings – they don’t have to be bland.
• Add healthy ingredients to your meal. If you don’t want to change your entire diet, start adding some healthy stuff to your usual meals.  For example, if you normally eat spaghetti, try ground turkey or meatless grounds instead of beef. Add some finely-diced kale and carrots, and some flaxseed. You can do this to many recipes.
• Try new ethnic foods. Don’t look at changing your diet as a sacrifice. Think of it as a joyous adventure. Want to try going meatless a few days a week? Try some healthy dishes from India, Japan, Thailand, or the Mediterranean. It can be a lot of fun, even for the whole family.
• Stop smoking. OK, this isn’t the easiest strategy, but it is the most important. It takes a great deal of focused willpower to achieve this goal.
• Diet before exercise. One of the easiest ways to start getting healthier is to start improving your diet — it is fairly easy to add some fruits and veggies, for example, and maybe cut back on some of the sweets. Starting exercise takes a bit more focus, and doesn’t always get results as quickly. On the flip side, if you start exercising, don’t let that be an excuse to eat whatever you want — it’s easy to negate the benefits of your morning run with a donut and sugary and fatty coffee drink.
There you are, 20 various strategies to get healthy. Aren’t you glad I got this started in time for the holidays?
Beginning with the New Year, St. Luke’s Cushing Hospital System will have physicians providing our health tips.
Our first guest will be Richard Whitlow, M.D., an internal medicine physician with Saint Luke’s Medical Group in Lansing. He will speak on “the fuss about Vitamin D.”
There will be no Week No. 80 or No. 81 “Musings” the next two weeks, therefore, have a great holiday season, be safe and think healthy.
My darling wife will be so disappointed.
She always tells me this is how she finds out what I am doing for the next week.
I want to thank all of my co-workers, volunteers, and participants for a fabulous 2013, and I'm musing about an even better 2014.
Until 2014, remember: The success of a program and/or an organization is measured by the level of integrity of that program and/or organization.
And, the goal for all of our programs is that the program policies are fair for the masses, fun for all, and safe for everyone.