Where’s Christmas?

This post was written years ago when we lived up north. Sadly, it seems to be as much or even more appropriate today.

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The beginning of December, I set out to find a small manger for a Christmas craft project. It could have been anything, on an ornament, a Christmas card, or even a figurine.

First, I went to the Dollar Store. I found nothing Christian but countless sets of Christmas cards with Santa and reindeer on them. Next, I went to Walmart (good luck there.) Nada. Then I walked through Home Depot – absolutely nothing Christian at all, but I could have purchased a red and green six-foot dragon . . . what that has to do with Christmas I’ve yet to figure out.

A few days later, still searching, I traveled to two shopping centers in another town. I checked out Michael’s craft store. The sweet girl acknowledged they used to carry them . . . but searching together, neither of us could find them anywhere. Neither did World Bazaar, J.C. Penny, or T.J. Maxx.

I thought Christian-run Hobby Lobby would undoubtedly carry a small manger scene, even if it was on a postcard! Yet once again, found nothing. I’m praying they were only sold out.

Finally, I found a Lifeway Christian bookstore. Aha! I thought, of course, I’ll find a manger scene here! And yes, I did! It was on a box of spiced apple cider. Desperate to find anything that might work, I purchased the over-priced drink mix, cut out the cardboard manger scene on the front, and pasted it on my craft project. (At least we’ll enjoy the beverage sometime during these cold winter months.)

Halfway through this hectic quest I felt like Charlie Brown, frustratingly asking where was Christmas??? I could find a plethora of Santa’s, sleighs, reindeer antlers, elf hats, chipmunks, cute bears and Grinch’s, but no Christ in Christmas!

Then I thought, at least I can find Christmas at church.  Absolutely! I’ll find Peace on Earth here during this Joyous Season. Instead, I found a church member fussing in public, running around fuming, complaining, blaming others because they felt overworked and unappreciated in their position. (Hey, if your position is primarily to please people and not our Lord, get your priorities straight!)

Then yesterday, as my husband and I were finalizing the Christmas gifts and food for four community families in need; getting ready to drop off our congregation’s many generous donations, I found it. Eureka!

THIS IS WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT:  Christmas is about the Joy of Christ – blessing others, not ourselves. Bringing smiles and true Joy freely to others! A Free Gift.

As Jesus left his heavenly home to be born in Bethlehem, living as a man among us, he understood that completely. He beheld some petty frustrations of his friends and the slings and arrows of the Pharisees. He experienced the same feelings, joys, frustrations, challenges, and laughter that we do.  He gave of himself, unselfishly. He sacrificed EVERYTHING, his very life for our pettiness, grumpiness, busyness, and selfish human behavior. All we must do is accept it. That was the best GIFT he could ever give.

Parents -do your children know what is the real reason for Christmas?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”   (John 3:16)

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Building Mental Muscle for Successful Weight Loss

Thanksgiving is coming. How can you remain healthier with all those food choices facing you in the world?

Losing weight isn’t meant to be easy. But that’s what makes it great when you do. No one else lives inside your body, so no one else can do it for you. Mentally, when it comes to a healthier lifestyle, you alone are in charge of your decisions.

But you’re not actually alone. One person does not constitute a team. Great Quarterbacks can’t win alone. They are surrounded by a good team.

Are your best friends, coworkers, children and spouse assisting you as cheerleaders? Real friends will support you because they want you to be healthy. Satan doesn’t and will throw everything in your path to trip you up. God never tempts – Satan always does.

Surround yourself with those who have your best interests at heart. Who would that be? “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

To resist temptation, clear your mind and listen to your LORD. Temptation begins in the mind. “As a man thinks, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)  Trust that you can overcome temptation because you are strong and courageous thru Christ.

Have the mindset that you and Jesus are a team and he wants you to be triumphant. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5)

Who is your culinary Lord? Has a potato chip, chocolate, bratwurst, or Cheese Whiz begun ruling your life? I doubt very much if it’s broccoli or Gee, I can’t get enough spinach!

No, it’s always something tempting or decadent. Satan knows this and will throw favorites in your face when you’re most vulnerable. Therefore, consume nutritious snacks throughout the day to stabilize your blood sugar and temptations at bay. (Bananas, yogurt, grapes, dark chocolate, peanut butter on whole grain crackers, etc.)

To combat temptation, memorize scripture. Write these Bible verses down and place them on your fridge, bathroom, and bedroom mirror, or in your change purse to inspire you. It will reinforce your determination to not be taken down by something as frivolous as the second piece of pumpkin pie.

What has He written down in His Word?

Self-Control: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Tell yourself that you can do this! Resist temptation. (James 4:7) Turn away – get your mind on something other than food. Resist that second helping on Thanksgiving dinners at grandma’s house. Get outside and walk, play cards, and start washing dishes. If you’re home: read a book, turn on music, and paint your nails. You can’t get into a bag of chips with painted nails!

Gluttony: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:19)

God gave us a bounty of goodies to eat, so that’s not the problem. The challenge is to love the Lord more than that choice. Please remember that Christ died for ALL sins, and gluttony is a sin.

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

Have a joyful Thanksgiving. Remember it’s about the company and fellowship more than food. Slow down and savor not only the food but time with loved ones.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

How Do You Value Your Worth?

“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness, I have drawn you” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Hurricane Ian blew through our town in Florida. We already knew the destruction hurricanes can cause. This time we left our home a day before and escaped to a safer area in SE Florida, understanding we might lose everything.

When people go through trials such as this, they tend to question what is important if all was lost.

When faced with challenges, it’s normal to analyze how we’d react. Do we fret about the unknown? What if we lost those precious photos of our children? To me, memory is the most important commodity in my life. That’s what I’d regret.

Would we agonize over the cost to rebuild?  Perhaps. Our lovely church on the Peace River was flooded and gutted, but still stood strong. Friends banded together and donations came in from all over the country. And from disaster, God created Good.

I’m not talking about monetary worth, however – although that is what the world focuses on today. I know where my future lies and it’s not here. But have you ever wondered how much you are worth in another’s eyes?

How does someone create worth? With your employer: Do you demonstrate as much integrity as the hardworking cleaning lady who scrubs the commodes in your building? With your community: Would you serve food to the homeless or would that be too humbling for your Executive position? Money means nothing in God’s Eyes. Million-dollar mansions and mobile homes were undistinguishable in the rubble.

What about family? Many had no clue where their family was during the carnage or what trials they endured following the storm because cell service was nonexistent. How much would a kind word or a phone call afterward be worth? Priceless.

As a counselor, I know patients sometimes numb themselves against heartache by imbibing in harmful chemicals. Yes, drugs and alcohol contain chemicals but you’ll also find feel-good chemicals in foods.

It’s normal to feel sad and lethargic after a shock. Sugar instantly increases energy levels. Sugar is an instant natural mood booster. It sends a signal to the brain to release dopamine, one of the feel-good neurotransmitters.

Chocolate releases endorphins and serotonin, another feel-good chemical. (So does spinach, but get real – which would you reach for?)

The daylight is growing shorter. Do you find yourself rummaging around in the pantry lately, searching for something to make you feel better? How much is that worth? Is it any wonder that we crave something sweet to ease depression and subconsciously, crunchy foods relieve stress?

Is your self-worth tied to your lifestyle? I’m not talking about popularity, even though celebrities get most of the attention and real heroes from Monday are forgotten by the weekend. Our Sports celebrities get recognized while EMTs heroes get relegated to the back of the pack.

Who values your worth? Someday, ask a friend how they’d describe you. What would they say? Are you outgoing? Quiet? Happy-go-lucky? Studious? Aggressive? Kind? Giving? Thrifty? Do you consider these descriptions your true worth?

No, these actions aren’t your real value! Only God sees your true value. He loves and chose you before the beginning of the world.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love” (Ephesians 1:4)

What someone cherishes, they take care of. Are you, worth the cost? Do you cherish your life as much as Jesus cherished you? To Christ, you were worth dying for! You are priceless. Honor your true worth.

Temptation Season Begins

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “You are about to enter the Twilight Zone?” Well, hold on to your hats, for we are about to enter the “Temptation Zone.” It lasts four months, at which time, you’ll wonder mysteriously why your clothes shrunk.  

It begins on Halloween – my least favorite holiday, coming up soon. Candy, costumes, and witchcraft. Then comes Thanksgiving, a holiday totally dedicated to family tradition and food.

During December, we have Christmas parties, (both office and personal.) Then Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner. Within another week, we celebrate New Year’s Eve with more parties. The following day, we attend a New Year’s dinner.

January begins with football playoffs every weekend until the Superbowl with an abundance of drinks and appetizers.  A week later, Temptation Season finally ends with a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

It’s a long season in which we hibernate from the cold, dreary days of winter. Who wants to walk in the cold, snowy weather? Okay, walk around the mall, or take Zumba classes. Play with your kids, build snow forts, and snow angels, or learn to cross-country ski. No excuses.

Have you ever noticed that no one is tempted by something they didn’t like? No one is tempted to go to the dentist, right? If we served liver instead of turkey at Thanksgiving, I doubt if the holiday would have ever taken off. But no, that day, all our favorite foods are laid out on the table family style. We are encouraged to dig in and even take seconds. Who could resist?

Those who are easily tempted need a plan this season. Recognize there will be speed bumps and roadblocks coming over the next months. There’s always something that might trip you up. Have a plan.

For example, let’s take Trick or Treating. You enjoy seeing those sweet children strolling around in their costumes. So, you bought some candy you enjoy, knowing it wouldn’t all be given away, right? Oh my, what can I do with the rest??? If you bought Candy Corn, no temptation there. But I bought Snickers!!! I can’t throw those away, can I? That would be a travesty. It’s amazing how easily those little bars of chocolate got wrapped around our waistlines, isn’t it?

What could we have done? First purchase candy that we don’t particularly enjoy but children do. Give away the rest or freeze, “outta sight, outta mind.” Get rid of the temptation. Why be tempted by seeing it on the counter?

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.”  (James 1:13-16)

It’s important to realize that God states anything is fine in moderation. (1 Corinthians 10:23) The problem is creating an idol and loving it more than God. It is also important to recognize that God provides a way out of temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13) and third, we are to flee temptation. (James 4:7.)

This practice can be incorporated into any tempting situation. You know what to do – as Nike used to say, “just do it!” The longer one debates right or wrong, it tends to lower our resolve. Turn your back and don’t debate temptation.

You have willpower – tap into it now. I guarantee – it feels powerful to overcome!

Wanna Lose Weight Faster?

People ask me all the time, “How can I lose weight faster?”

“Besides hard work, determination, and remaining self-disciplined?” I ask. “Well, I can think of one way: consume fiber.”

Why do I believe that consuming fiber is one of the most important factors in losing weight? I’ll explain. The common denominator in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is FIBER. No matter how tough that steak was last night, there’s no fiber in protein or fat. (But I bet it slowed the “fork down, spoon down” process, right?)

Most nutrients are dispersed through the digestive tract. If you fail to dispatch the proper nutrients, let’s say magnesium, your hypothalamus (your brain’s metabolic traffic cop) will nag you until it directs you to that scrumptious-magnesium-containing-piece-of-chocolate! By absorbing proper nutrients, it won’t . . .  unless you’re eating due to emotional reasons.

When you slow down the chewing process, enzymes are broken down and nutrients are absorbed/dispersed mostly through your small intestine. Having a clean digestive system will jump-start your metabolism.

Consider this illustration; if you have a garbage disposal in your home and nonchalantly threw scraps of food particles into it but never turned it on, what would happen?  It would build up, attract bugs and start to smell, yuk!  And then when it was finally turned on, it would start grinding so slowly that it might even stop if it was too clogged.  Then you would have to snake the trapped particles or use something to unclog it.

This is a description of how our intestinal system works as well. When one consumes a diet of meat, fats, junk food, and low-fiber foods, the intestines get clogged.  It’s harder to move those foods through the colon because food just kinda sits there.

Since our bodies can’t absorb nutrients that are vital to life, no amount of “dieting” will produce health! Your hypothalamus nags us to eat more food in search of much-needed nutrients, thus you eat more calories but absorb fewer nutrients.

Strive to eat more fiber and keep your entire system working on less!  You’ll have more energy, clearer skin, and less disease.

So what’s fiber?

God told Adam in Genesis 1:29 “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.”     Wow! How smart is God?!!!

There are two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Sometimes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains include combinations of both.

Soluble fiber; think of it as Liquid Plumr. It turns into a gel that helps lower our treacherous LDL cholesterol.  Think apples,  oranges, pears, beans, and oats, which are excellent sources of soluble fiber.  Soluble fiber keeps our blood sugar levels steady so it’s easier to stand up to temptations.

Insoluble fiber stays intact, it doesn’t break up as it travels through your system.  Think corn which basically exits intact. Fruit skins are insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber draws water into the intestines, making stools bulkier and easier to pass. It’s like Roto-Rooter.

If you ever dropped pizza crust or a piece of whole grain bread into the sink and watched it swell as the water touched it, that’s what happens to fiber in your system. Fiber expands, creating a feeling of fullness.

There are seven forms of fiber: pectin, bran, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, guns, and mucilage. I won’t bore you with all the details. Rest assured though, if you eat 60% of your daily calorie intake containing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you’ll reduce your risk of colon cancer, heart disease, constipation, obesity, hemorrhoids, and many other diseases. Remember, a man reaps what he sows, so strive to eat healthier!

Caution:

  1. Increase fiber gradually.  Excessive fiber intake may decrease the absorption of zinc, iron, and calcium as well as promote more gas.
  2. Build up to 25-35 grams of fiber each day.  4 grams = 1 teaspoon.
  3. I highly recommend getting fiber from Mother Nature, not fiber laxatives due to possible electrolyte imbalance or laxative dependency.
  4. Take vitamin and mineral supplements separately from the fiber.

 

Building Character on a Biblical Foundation

I was privileged to accompany a friend on a house hunting trip once. It was like House Hunters, one of my favorite shows! As we viewed different houses, however, I saw a distinct correlation between homes and spirituality.

Several homes had absolutely wonderful curb appeal. However, the photos which looked gorgeous on the internet were nothing like the home we viewed!  It was obvious that there were many renovations to be done! 1960s carpets, old appliances, there would be walls to tear down or it smelled bad.

Mmmm, how typical to someone who looks so stunning on the outside but as soon as they open their mouth, unkind behavior or foul language comes spewing out. Just like that house, those people need a renovation! They need God’s Word which cleanses the soul and restructures lives into True Beauty.

One lovely home, which she thought via the internet, would be “the one,” had several massive cracks in the basement walls. Foundations are tricky things, it could be the prettiest home on the block, but if it falls apart, meh . . . not so great.

A Christian’s testimony is only as good as its foundation as well! Someone might look like ‘the one,’ but if she/he is not grounded in Scripture, massive cracks can appear in the lives of those Christians. It is never wise to build your marriage, personal friendship, or business relationship on a weak, crooked foundation. Rather stand solidly on the Word of God!

One home’s owner had just entered an assisted living facility. The house was on a quiet, secluded lot with lovely trees surrounding the property. Looked promising. But upon walking up the driveway, it was obvious that the home needed a new garage door and roof. It was even sadder on the inside.

The house hadn’t been updated since 1955, the year it was built.  Linoleum floors and an indoor shuffleboard court graced the premises.  An original pink built-in oven and other 1950 appliances covered the kitchen. (When I saw the horror on my friend’s face, I jokingly suggested that the stove could be sold on eBay, but . . . somehow that didn’t entice her.)

Some Christians are like that. They get stuck in the past and never grow in knowledge or grace. After the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the late 1940s, new translations validated and reflected the Word of God as accurately as possible. Searching and reading other translations is fine as long as they are grounded in Truth.

The last home boasted nothing special about the exterior. In fact, she had no interest in seeing it at first. I suggested some colorful foliage could do wonders.

Since the realtor had to leave a card, we shrugged and reluctantly went inside. Well built, this home was exactly what she had wanted from the start. In a lovely neighborhood, it sported updated features like plush carpet and renovated bathrooms. It turned out to be the perfect home after all!

Are we biased when we view others? Do we welcome only those who are attractive or wealthy? Or do we see each visitor as a potential brother and sister in Christ?

Once, when we were searching for a church, a passing drifter attended their Sunday School. I noticed some looking down on him in disdain. Not very Christian, I thought. This isn’t the church for us. What a surprise when they discovered that he knew more about the Bible than most of us! This certainly pleased God more than his appearance.

“However, God’s solid foundation still stands. It has this inscription on it: “The Lord knows those who belong to him,” and “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord must turn away from evil.” (2 Timothy 2:19)

Build your character on God’s Firm Foundation.

 

Get Off the Weight Loss Merry-Go-Round

No one will tell you that losing weight is easy.

In today’s world, everyone is searching for a quick fix: quick cash, comfort, fulfilled dreams . . . Well, very few people win the lottery, no one lives without stress, and even fewer find their dream job.

A healthier lifestyle isn’t easy either. However, many ride that elusive merry-go-round over and over again, attempting to grasp that golden ring of easy weight loss. This is the ultimate definition of insanity.

This mindset couldn’t be more evident than watching those riding the weight loss merry-go-round of Cabbage Soup, Cottage Cheese, fruit or Rice Diet, liquids, magic pills, Keto, Paleo, Atkins, Medifast, protein powder diets, the Cookie diet, the Grapefruit diet, Macrobiotics, Juices, Charcoal. Round and round they go with very few reaching that golden ring. The only good diet is a life-long one filled with nutrients!

Even stomach stapling requires discipline to maintain a new healthier lifestyle. One patient I counseled came in to see me after her procedure. She soon discovered she was only allowed to consume 2 ounces of food at a time. Imagine how she felt as she dined at a restaurant where her friends ate steaks, potatoes, and salads, but she couldn’t.

For someone who never realized her reason for gaining weight was due to worshipping food, she became an angry and frustrated woman.

Until she understood the root challenge to her weight gain, which was a mental, not physical reason, she’d remain unhappy with her decision. It’s a universal truth. One must realize the subconscious issues regarding why one eats to change fundamental habits.

There are many underlying reasons to why somone consumes too much food. Many eat due to stress or depression. The chemicals in food create serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Some are continuously curious, Oh, that looks so good – wonder what it tastes like? Some are physically exhausted. Nutrients create energy. Others are bored, lonely, or self-conscious eaters. Food’s something to do. These are but a few examples.

Understanding your personal decisions will be the start of a wonderful change in you that only God can fulfill.  He did not design you to fail! He originally created Adam and Eve to live forever. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life caused them to fail. If you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, you can resist being taken down by a potato chip.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”   (1 Corinthians 10:13)

God always provides a way. Find it. Whether it’s relying on a supportive partner, or a personal goal you desire more than food, God has a plan for your life – and it’s a healthy one! I doubt if it’s sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of chips.

Weight loss is never easy. But that’s what makes it great. No one else can lose weight for you. If you’ve begun eating well and exercising, that’s great! You’ve mastered a difficult task already. That should give you a sense of accomplishment and discipline. You’re beginning to feel vibrant and alive! Why go back to an unhealthy lifestyle? Why buy a ticket on that merry-go-round again?

“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Adding Joy in the Midst of Weight Loss

Tell me, when did life cease to become a game to you?  When was the last time you played simply for the pure joy in it?

Everyone became so serious! “Well, have you seen what’s going on in the world today? Financial ruin, natural disasters, tragedies everywhere . . .”   Sure, I have. I’ve also read the last page of the Bible and I understand that no matter what man does to me, I am under God’s Will and face eternity with Him. I anchor my life to Christ and it makes this Christian smile.

Philippians 4:11 professes, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

God will not withhold any good thing from us (Psalm 84:11) and absolutely desires that we lead a joyful life.

What does that have to do with weight loss???  Stress adds weight, so find a way to de-stress. Find JOY!  PLAY! SMILE!  LAUGH! Joy brings contentment in all situations.

When we were kids, we played for the sheer pleasure of it. We ran, climbed trees, rode bikes, played ball . . .  I worry about this generation who sit in front of computer screens playing games and aren’t outside. Fresh air releases endorphins that uplift the spirit. Also breathing through your nose produces a short-lived gas named nitric oxide which reduces stress, creates younger-looking skin, greater memory, and even better hair. Amazing, just by breathing deeply through your nose.

How does one take strides to find joy?  First thank God for your many blessings. There’s always something to praise Him for! Then find ways to play! Make life a game even in your weight loss endeavors.

  1. Remember when you were a kid and your parents placed your artwork on the refrigerator? It was your proudest accomplishment!  When did we stop rewarding ourselves for a job well done?  Get colorful stars and for every small victory, you overcome, (walking the golf course instead of riding) place a star on your graph. (College coaches place stars on their player’s helmets.)
  2. Speaking of graphs, create a weight loss one. Line off graph paper with weekly dates across the top and pounds lost down the side. For every five pounds lost, reward yourself with a non-food item. Color it in solid and you’ll observe your achievements as you see it filling in.
  3. Make exercise fun again. Dance, swim, play tennis, hike, or Zumba. Create active games with your children, like making snow forts and snowmen, piling leaves, and playing catch.
  4. Talk yourself into success by creating mind-games.  For example, I really wasn’t excited about exercising the other morning. Okay, I told myself, I’ll simply have a shorter exercise period this morning. I worked out for five minutes and thought, Okay, I can continue a few minutes longer – by the time we finished I had exercised through my normal routine. It felt so good to conquer my reluctance.
  5. Take a photo of yourself as you are right now, today. Put it aside and don’t look at it again until a month from now.  Chances are when you see it again, you’ll notice your face is thinner and you’re achieving a more defined waistline. Put it away for another month and reward yourself with a non-food item: DVD, nail polish, cologne, pocketbook . . . reward success!
  6. Find something tangible like a belt and mark off the inside as you see it decrease in size. You’ve won again – you get another non-food prize.

Life on earth is a series of actions/reactions until we reach our final destination. You only have one earthly life; is it your healhiest life? Make It Victorious!

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

Practical Tips for Healthier Living

God created our bodies as incredible machines. It’s absolutely amazing how intricate and energy efficient we could be if we only took care of ourselves and ate better. But do you run like a lawn mower, garbage disposal, or a sports car?

God has intricately designed our systems to protect us even when we do something crazy.

Case in point: when we attempt a starvation diet, pills, shots or liquid protein diet; our body will go into protection mode. Sure, any diet will allow us to lose weight . . .  initially, but starvation is not natural. Our  brain will discern that something is wrong, (perhaps we’re ill?) and will slow our metabolism to save energy.  Afterwards it takes longer to adjust our metabolism back to normal. We begin to store fat for later use. Because after all, “the crops might fail again” and we’ll need that stored energy to survive!!!

There is no miraculous way to instantly lose weight. It always goes back to God’s beautifully designed physiology: sensible nutritious eating, consuming water while exercising to burn calories and tone muscle which burns fat. Circular, boring and time-consuming. So to speed things up we’ll desperately try anything, gimmicks, caffeine, drugs . . . again gimmicks!

Always go back to basics: continually eat for nutrients, consume smaller portions, exercise, drink water, slow down and chew to release those vital enzymes.

Another suggestion is to make life’s challenges a game! To increase fluid  intake:

  1. Fill a water container with a various combinations of lemon, cucumber slices, watermelon, berries . . .  you get the idea.
  2. Create a chart and for every glass you drink, check off a block. Make it a game.
  3. Every box is worth a nickel, dime, whatever. Reward with non-food items.
  4. Display the jar and tangibly you’ll see accomplishments right in front of you.

These habits restore a feeling of self-discipline. Self esteem issues were probably one reason you gained in the first place, right? (Congratulations – you’re now a winner!) Use the reward money for a family fun night, DVD or shopping trip.

Exercise! When did exercise cease to be fun? When we were children we ran for the pure joy of it! Find a sport the family can perform together. Whether it’s throwing the Frisbee, biking, swimming, hiking; these can all be fun activities and bond the family together. As your health improves, so does your children’s.

Cooking. This can be a fun family achievement as well. Have each family member list their favorite dinners and place all in a hat, then plan your weekly menu.

Forget the sticks and twigs of diet plans. These are gimmicks. Feed your family nutrients! Even hamburgers, meatloaf and pizza can be created with less fat. Use 93% ground round or homemade pizza with less cheese and more veggies.

Grill chicken, sirloin kabobs or roasted pork loin with grilled potatoes, veggies and salad. These aren’t fattening. Use the leftover pork loin for BBQ sandwiches and extra chicken over garden salad. Search through cookbooks as a family to see what recipes to try. Did you know that 80% of the time, families consume the same 12 meals? Boring! Your body needs nutritional variety to work effectively.

Train your children well to create healthy habits. Strive for excellence as a family, instilling discipline and common sense. What values are you teaching your children? They watch and learn.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” (Ephesians 4:22)

The Benefits of a Biblical Diet

Would the God who loves us, do anything to harm us? Discipline yes, but He is a loving father who only wants what’s best for us. Therefore, when He tells us that any food is fine in moderation, (1 Corinthians 10:23) it basically means eat anything as long as we don’t idolize it. (Of course, one wouldn’t purposely consume poisonous mushrooms for example, so let’s not pose foolish observations.)

Naturally, in Biblical times the world didn’t have fast food and I avoid it as much as possible. We arrived home after six years in Europe in 1983. We were shocked by the overweight American population. Why? Fast food abundance! Sure, I’ll purchase fast-food once in a while. But mostly, I’ll follow the plan God set down from Genesis 1:29 & 9:3.

We can certainly learn a lot from the Bible about what is beneficial.

When we think of the biblical diet of Jesus, we think of loaves and fishes. The bread during biblical times contained healthy nutrients like barley, wheat, and flax. Today’s white bread makes a better eraser than food. (Hardly any fiber and useless carbs.) Fiber allows insulin to be released more slowly into our system, keeping our blood sugar stable.

A few decades ago, creating one’s own Ezekiel bread was the rage. Ezekiel bread contained all of the original bran, germ, and endosperm of the grain. Today it’s hard to find nutritious bread but wholesome fibrous bread with 3+ grams of fiber is acceptable. The fact is that 80%+ of everything we consume should be nutrient-dense. That keeps our bodily machine running efficiently.

In Daniel 1, Daniel followed a vegetarian diet and remained healthier than the others in Nebuchadnezzar’s court.

Most vegetables create an alkaline environment which prohibits cancer cells and other diseases from festering. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale all contain these powerful chemicals. Dark leafy vegetables contain chlorophyll which detoxifies and protects the body from aging.

With a vegetarian diet, few vegetables contain Vitamin B12, needed for brain function. Try mushrooms, potatoes, and butternut squash. Otherwise, take a vitamin or add eggs, fish, or cheeses to your diet.

Occasionally I hear, “I don’t eat any fat.” You should. One needs good fat to energize the fat vitamins, A, D, E, and K. In biblical times, people consumed primarily olive oil. It’s anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants. (Great for arthritic conditions, as well as the heart, bones, digestive system, and brain.

We also need omega-3s. Remember fish was touted as brain food. It improves short-term memory and staves off dementia! Any fish is great but especially eat salmon, shrimp, oysters, mussels, and tuna.

God also instructed Adam to consume nuts and seeds. Add milled flaxseed and walnuts to Greek or any other good-quality yogurt. (“But Ellie, nuts are fattening!!!”) Sure, too many might be, but remember everything’s fine in moderation.

All nuts contain good healthy fats and other nutrients that benefit the heart, eyes, brain, and skin, and prevent chronic disease. Nuts also contain protecting chemicals that prevent bad cholesterol from absorbing into the bloodstream.

I urge you to use lots of herbs and seasonings: garlic, turmeric, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, rosemary, lemon, and thyme, instead of salt. These are all beneficial. I use lots of cinnamon which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and antimicrobial properties as well. It’s great on cereals, and yogurt, and even makes coffee enriched.

Eat for enjoyment but always remember God’s encouragement: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)