Run Your Own Race

In the mid ’90s, two of my patients, a husband and wife, attempted to lose weight and get healthier together.thG890X9EB

Happily they both succeeded but not without frustrations. I knew the wife would have a harder time than her husband. I never said anything however. Although that sounds mean, my purpose was to keep “Jim” in the game.  He was attempting to get healthier only to appease his wife. “Three weeks, then I’m gone!” I needed to make weight loss fun as well as nutritious for him to stay. First I assured Jim there’s no magic formula, one needs to eat real food, not sticks and twigs.

I knew “Mary” was extremely competitive and would try even harder to beat Jim at his own game.  They ate a normal sensible diet, drank lots of water and exercised faithfully. Boy did they exercise!  They took brisk walks, swam and skied  together. On her day off, Mary found time to play tennis and lift small weights. She figured with all that extra activity she would surely win their agreed upon prize.

Not so. Each week at their weigh-in, Jim consistently lost more; usually a half pound more.  After nearly three months she was exasperated. “Okay, Ellie, what’s going on? You know how hard I’ve been working at this, so why am I not losing as much as my hubby?”

So I explained. “Muscle,” I informed her. “Men are more muscular and fat is burned up in muscle tissue. Women have softer edges and therefore more fat tissue for child bearing. But let’s do this,” I suggested, “I’ll take another picture and show that to you.”  (This was in the dark ages of the Polaroid camera.)

She looked over the developed photo and noticed a distinct difference in her size and facial features compared to the first. She nodded appreciatively.

“Now let’s measure you and I believe you’ll be impressed to see how your hard work has paid off.”  As the tape measure wrapped around her waist she gasped. She had lost four inches in a almost twelve weeks.

So the moral of this story is: Don’t compare yourself to anyone else! You are unique, a wonderful creation which God designed. Did Mary really want to look like her husband? No. We sometimes get caught up in competition. We all seem to want to look like Christie Brinkley, Cindy Crawford or Jennifer Lopez. I’m sure each of them is lovely but God doesn’t look at our outer appearance, He looks at our heart. How much does your grateful heart weigh? Are you blessed?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1) 

Run your own race! Embrace your uniqueness. We all have different body shapes. No matter who we are, there will always be others who have less or more: looks, money, luxurious homes . . .  you name it. Please don’t covet. Those items don’t necessarily make one happy. Joy comes from within. Be your best.

The question is: are you doing all you can to enrich your life and be the New Creation God desires for you? We each must stand before our Creator separately and give account for the life we lived within our body. Are you keeping yourself healthy or indulging in a food idol? Don’t worship food or allow it to control you. I promise if you continue to eat healthily, you’ll prefer fruit over donuts and vegetables over potato chips.

“Why Do I Crave Cokes?”

Although we live under Grace in this age and can pretty much do as we please with our physical bodies, we would do well to note that bodies are NOT our own. We were bought at a price.

Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own for you have been bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthian 6:19,20)

Christians prefer not to be a slave to any idol, even food. So why do some crave colas and other sugary drinks while others won’t touch the stuff?

thAN5J2C0SIt is a scientific fact that God designed each of us with a slightly different chemical make-up. It’s called DNA. Due to the fact that were are all chemically unique, our brains crave different nutrients. That’s why some crave saltier items like pretzels or potato chips while others crave chocolate and sweets.

Physically speaking, some crave food for needed energy. If you’ve been overworked or overstressed, your body wants instant energy and the sugar and caffeine would restore that energy level quickly. Sugars are released in your body in about 15 minutes. (Green tea would be a good energy substitute.)

Caffeine is also a drug and although okay in moderation, is addictive and washes away valuable B vitamins and other valuable nutrients. Lacking nutrients, you are hungry again. it’s a vicious cycle.

If you consume a nutritionally balanced diet, you’re naturally more energetic and derive your chemical energy from whole foods. Therefore craving junk food isn’t a desirable practice.

But why do some become addicted to Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) and Sucralose (Splenda) drinks?

These products change body chemistry, raising blood sugar levels and producing miserable side effects. Personally, having experienced adverse reactions, I totally avoid them. And I’m not alone as many of my patients have complained of shakiness, heart palpitations, skin rashes, stomach and kidney pains after consuming any product containing these artificial sugars.

Artificial drinks also tend to make one hungrier. There seems to be a connection between the ghrelin – leptin hormonal metabolic insulin response. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you you’re hungry while Leptin shuts off the “I’m hungry” response. Recent scientific studies have shown that  these chemicals can interfere with the leptin cut off lever, leaving a person desiring more food. artificial sugars

So if artificial sugars defeat the purpose of losing weight, then why risk additional health concerns by using these chemically produced items you can’t pronounce? The body doesn’t recognize these chemicals as food, therefore it cannot detoxify them so they remain in your liver forever.

Still crave cokes? It could be a comfort response too. We all eat for emotional reasons as well as physical. That’s why certain foods such as chocolate, ice cream and mac and cheese are called “comfort” foods. If you shared sodas with friends when younger, you might miss those friendships. Drinking a coke brings back a great memory! Or it simply makes you feel happy – and who wants to give up THAT feeling? By the way, I create my own sodas with carbonated flavored water (without artificial sweeteners) with a good quality fruit juice. Refreshing and it contains a few nutrients.

Bottom line: I urge you not to believe false advertising which only benefits the manufacturers of these products. These people don’t care about your body as God does. Aspartame and Splenda were created by chemists. My food was created by God. Before you purchase, research the ingredients.  If you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it!

 

 

 

Lingering Choices of a Hippie Generation

In 1967, the popular rock band, The Grassroots, released a song entitled “Let’s Live for Today.” It epitomized the growing culture of the ’60s hippie generation. Since I look at health through a Biblical lens, I see a correlation here between virtuous and destructive living. Please indulge me.

hippie generationThe ’60s Hippie Generation enjoyed a “free love philosophy,” never worrying about tomorrow, grabbing hedonistic pleasure while they could. Looking back, what seemed like a good idea at the time turned out to be nothing but waking up the next morning with regrets, guilt or a splitting headache, bowing before a porcelain god.

Choose wisely.There is no free love – no free food. There’s a price to pay for good health. Have you also, when presented with a buffet, ever thought “free food!!!” Eat as much as we can today because it won’t be there tomorrow! Then, we’d wake up the next morning with a food hangover, our digestion system rebelling! Ugh.

Excess food creates acidity which generates various illnesses. Thankfully, God gave humans some common sense. When we know better, we make wiser choices. Enjoying nutritious flavorful food, with a disciplined attitude is actually beneficial. Eating cleanly is much more advantageous, so why go backwards? Consuming junk food shouldn’t seduce us. In Genesis 3:6 Eve saw that food was pleasing to the eye,  and we have been seduced by food ever since!  God is pleased when we conquer worldly pleasures and honor Him!

This ’60s philosophy of allowing others to live the way they want without boundaries became harmful. It morphed into an “I’m okay, you’re okay” attitude. You don’t trespass on my property and I won’t criticize yours.  This produced apathy. Where then, do we draw the line when someone cries out for help? “Sorry, too busy.” “You reaped what you sowed?” Apathy is the opposite of love. I make no apologies for caring and proclaiming 1 Corinthians 10:23 moderate food boundaries.  By Free Will you either accept or reject God’s dietary boundaries. Your choice, but there are no victimless crimes. Everyone you love suffers.

With the emergence of mid-century fast-food establishments, came an attitude of why cook when one  can simply make a quick stop and bring home dinner?  So what if it’s made from chemicals, preservatives and other items we can’t pronounce?  Kids will eat it when they won’t touch carrots! “Live and let live!” Busy parents justified: at least we’ll eat together. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease and childhood obesity increased accordingly as additional boxed foods adorned the shelves of many supermarkets.

We morphed into a “do our own thing” society. So few attend church nowadays so many have no clear direction ethically.  Parents have become friends not disciplinarians, allowing their children to live as they chose. Religion? Whatever you embrace darling, as long as it fulfills a need. The result? Children are floundering, snared by false doctrines and cultish beliefs. Crime soars.  If our young aren’t taught basic Biblical Truths and behaviors, we indeed reap what we sow. Their Spirit dies.

Well there definitely IS an eternal tomorrow. It’s called either Heaven or Hell and we can accept or reject that fact. I choose Heaven. To God, All Lives Matter!  Choose Life!

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”  (2 Timothy 4:3)

 

Food for the Mind, Body and Spirit!

When I became a Christian, I attended a very strict rules and regulations church.  There were so many do’s and don’ts that I didn’t understand the Joy of the Lord until years later. Isn’t that what we do with food sometimes also? When some go on a diet, they so strictly adhere to all the rules and regulations required that they forget to find the joyful benefits from the food they consume! When we eat well, we feel great, act accordingly and that pleases our Lord.

God wants us to become healthy for a reason. Every food has a nutritional purpose and that purpose spans the entire realm of mind, body and spirit. He wants us to find JOY in the bounty He provided.th[7]

Here are my suggestions to obtain a healthier mind, body and soul:

Heart:  Have you noticed that those who distain God are overall grumpier individuals? But those who love the Lord exhibit a happier and peaceful countenance. Healthy individuals haven’t made food an idol. Their heart is at peace because they recognize that God is Sovereign and therefore their mind and spirit can overcome obstacles, even when challenges arise like heart disease and other illnesses.

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:13)

The heart benefits from each of these:  L-carnitine which burns fat inside the mitochondria cells. Beef, fish, alfalfa, chicken and wheat contain L-carnitine. A diet rich in vitamin C, (citrus, red peppers, strawberries) B-6 (cabbage, milk, cantaloupe) and niacin (eggs, cereals, fish, chicken.) Additional foods that benefit the heart are garlic, onions and salmon.

Brain: Ditch the refined sugars! Sugar ages but a little sweetness satisfies the soul.  Consuming fruits such as strawberries and blueberries and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage maintain a strong memory.  Wheat germ, walnuts, green tea with powerful antioxidants boost memory. Consume foods rich in choline and lecithin for memory power (soy beans, egg yolks and liver.) These also restore telomeres, the end part of cells that retains youth.

“to be made new in the attitude of your minds;” (Ephesians 4:23)

Muscles:  Magnesium, calcium and potassium work in conjunction to maintain great muscle health. These can be found in bananas, wheat bran, beans, apricots, leafy greens, cocoa, sweet potato, orange juice and low fat yogurt.

By lifting weights you’ll create more muscle and therefore effectively burn fat throughout your body.

Bones: The expression “Use it or Lose it!” pertains here! Exercising our bones is an essential habit for long term health. Exercise improves mood as well as bones! If you can’t walk outside: climb stairs, lift weights or head to the gym! Increase your intake of  calcium,(salmon, yogurt, blackstrap molasses)  boron (apples, dried apricots, legumes, prunes, pears, leafy vegetables)  and manganese (whole wheat, pineapple, coconut, ginger, almonds, yams.)

“This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:8)

Digestion: If one’s body is toxic, he’ll not be a happy camper. Detoxify by consuming approximately 8 glasses of water daily along with a water-based diet (soups, salads, vegetables and fruits)  Add probiotic foods that will destroy your unhealthy bacteria (good quality yogurt, kefir or sauerkraut while  producing good bacteria and  cranberry, onion or garlic which kill bad bacteria as well. Include both soluble (oatmeal, apples, pears, veggies) and insoluble fiber (bran, corn, produce skin) to you daily routine to escort toxins out of your system.

And of course food for the soul . . . ?  Dark Chocolate!  Filled with antioxidants, flavonoids and macronutrients – what could be better to satisfy us while we are reading our daily devotional?

Live Life Well! Become a New Creation!

“Do As He Tells You . . . “

Most people are familiar with the miracle of Jesus changing the water into wine. What I’d like to focus on is how the servants reacted.  Mary had just told her Son that the host had run out of wine for the marriage celebration. Out of respect for his mother, Jesus had asked what he could do for her? These were her next words to the servants:

 “Do whatever he tells you.”  (John 2:5)

Notice that the servants immediately obeyed our Lord’s command.th9274KWM0

What they didn’t do was:

1.  Complain. Jesus isn’t boss over me! Who does he think he is?  No, they did as He told them . . . without hesitation.  So should we. God is Sovereign and should be our Master over all things. He commands us to keep our earthly temple Holy. Do as He tells us:

“For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) 

Yet we fill our temples with artificial chemicals and junk food which ultimately destroy. That doesn’t honor our Lord’s Sacrifice.

2.  Argue that he asked the impossible. (It’s only water! How can I offer this to my master!) No, they did so without debate for they believed Jesus would do something miraculous.

Do we believe or do we argue? It’s impossible for me to stay on a diet, I’ve failed so many times! Is this really important? Nothing is impossible with God if we focus on His Will for us.  Some patients have lost over a hundred pounds which they once thought was an impossible quest too. Train your mind to obey and conquer doubt with successful, focused goals.

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

3. Find an excuse. They didn’t question if it would be too strenuous. (Gee we’ve got to carry these heavy jars where??? But I’m not strong enough.)  No, they found a way to complete their task.

Okay, be honest how would we react? For crying out loud, I exercised yesterday – and you think I should exercise again today? or I didn’t eat junk food yesterday so I can have junk food today. Discipline yourself.  Stop trying to justify your behavior. Just do it!

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13)

Controlling our body isn’t easy even when we desire to. After we’ve decided to change, expect roadblocks and challenges soon afterwards.  You see, the devil knows our weaknesses and will throw temptations in front of us.

Expect:

Peer Pressure: But I made this just for you! Oh surely a little won’t hurt? Flee temptations.

Temptation:  Our favorite food will suddenly appear when we are the most vulnerable. Like chocolate, chips or donuts. Remember anything is fine in moderation but if it is a trigger food and we aren’t disciplined enough to control it, turn from it!!!  It’s a test and how do we feel when we fail at tests? Lousy. Never give in to the devil’s sneaky temptations. Remember Adam and Eve gave in and where are we now?

Mental trials: If our brain is tired, it will go searching for energy. Food is simply energy. Cut temptation off before it starts by consuming something nutritious every few hours.

Emotional Issues: Sometimes a cookie isn’t just a cookie. Sometimes a cookie represents comforting childhood memories of home and security.  Think before acting impulsively. Do it immediately without debate. Do as He tells you . . .

“Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:5)

The Power of Little Leucine in Weight Control

Remember this scene in the movie Seabiscuit? Toby McQuire proudly proclaims to the sportswriters surrounding him, “Though he be but little, he is fierce.”  That’s what I think of the little-known amino acid, leucine. It’s a little known amino acid with powerful abilities!thI1XNYUFU

A mighty warrior in the battle of weight loss, leucine heroically fights the weight loss battle for you by faithfully regulating blood sugar, maintaining muscle and stimulating cardiovascular health. Leucine is found in good quality protein like yogurt, cottage cheese, whey, brown rice, nuts, egg whites, fish, meat and poultry.

How does leucine work?  Well, God created this incredible earthly body which silently communicates functions within a network of corridors and components throughout the body.  For example; the hypothalamus summons nutrients as needed, the bloodstream directs nutrient direction, the liver is the chemical manufacturing plant and kidneys escort toxins the door. My, my . . . and some people believe all this intricacy happened by chance. God knew what He was doing all the time:

“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;…”   (Psalm 139: 13-15)

But how does this little known amino acid assist in weight loss?  A 2008 article published in the Journal of Physiology discovered that a diet containing leucine prevented muscle loss and as you most likely know, muscle burns fat.  The more muscle one has, the more fat is efficiently burned in daily metabolism. Weight loss and exercise go hand in hand.

Leucine is not a complete protein however, which means it needs other amino acids (valine, isoleucine among others) to work properly. So it acts as a team player with other amino acids in this soccer game of metabolism.

Whey protein on the other hand, assists your body in making one of its most important antioxidant and immune supporter elements, glutathione.  According to renown author Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., founder and medical director of the UltraWellness Center, glutathione is the most important molecule necessary to maintain proper health. It slows aging and resists illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.  (No wonder the Mediterranean people look so vibrant and alive! Yogurt is a staple in their daily lives!)

Whey protein, the liquid by-product of milk contains lactose (milk sugar) water and other nutrients. It is a complete protein. Caution: whey can cause dietary discomfort if one is lactose intolerant. In fact, amino acids and hormones are nothing to experiment with because it could upset body chemistry. (I’d rather not play Russian roulette with my physiology, would you? Please don’t purchase individual supplements thinking you are getting a quick fix!)

Leucine and whey together produce higher metabolic exercise sessions. Whey is the thin, watery substance found in low-fat yogurts. Thick Greek yogurt has little whey protein(it’s strained out) and thus doesn’t produce the weight loss results many crave. Millions have jumped on this Greek yogurt fad. As for me and my house, I’d rather bring home low-fat, 1% Mountain High yogurt any day, which contain active pre and probiotic cultures with no added fillers or junk and skip the expensive Greek yogurt.

Hope this and the previous little post helped clarify one of the mysteries of why protein is essential in weight loss and vibrant health.