A Healthier Life Using a Balance Beam Approach

Have you ever watched a gymnast practice on a balance beam?  You’ll notice how they gently waver back and forth when attempting to maintain their equilibrium. If they falter they quickly find their counterbalance and eventually complete their program. They have a goal and they are determined to reach it!th0NJDI0Q1

Each gymnast strives for excellence. They realize that mistakes, falls and set-backs are inevitable, but also a part of growth.  When they stumble, they dig deep, determined to get back on that beam and continue onward toward their personal ambitions. Their coach is always nearby to train and exhort them onward. They never quit simply because they made a mistake.

It’s not an instant reward but a long steady journey. Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller and Gabby Douglas didn’t win Olympic medals overnight. It took time and a lot of practice to become proficient in their discipline.

Similarly, in our Christian life, we wouldn’t think of turning our back on our Christian lifestyle simply because we made a mistake. Rather we should  “press on toward the mark . . . ” (Phil. 3:14)  God, the Ultimate Lifestyle Coach, is forgiving and extremely patient with us. He is our Encourager, motivating us  onward toward our best, and yet gently reprimanding us if we tend to not listen to His counsel.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  (Colossians 3:23) 

In a similar respect, when striving for a healthier lifestyle, our goal should always be to become our best self whatever that happens to be. Our goals are not anyone else’s goals. Ask yourself; Am I my best self?

Most will never become a world-class Olympian but we can certainly aspire to excel. And if we “fall off the beam,” we don’t quit but learn from our errors and trudge on. However, how often when discouragement sets in or if accomplishing a healthier lifestyle is a struggle, do we give up and decide to quit?  Too many times!

Life itself is a balance beam of good days and . . .  not so much. So is a typical daily diet. Humans were not meant to consume only certain types of whole foods. Balance your diet plan with many different types of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and herbs. Vary your protein intake with a variety of lean meats. But if you consume a fattier meal one day, so what? Get right back on the ” better selections balance beam” and continue to eat more disciplined the next day.

When discouraged, or if you reach a plateau in your weight quest, and can’t seem to lose those last few pounds, always consider your basics: are you eating the right amount of healthy foods, are you using smaller plates,  exercising, drinking enough water?  Is your routine becoming boring? Perhaps you need more stimulation. Change it up. Consume different foods or create a variety of ways to exercise. Life shouldn’t be boring. Continue to strive for excellence!

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3:13)

Giving God Our Best

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  (Proverbs 22:6)

thK7LS2F56The other day I overheard a friend mention that it is so much easier to simply pick something up at a drive thru or supermarket, than to prepare an entire meal from scratch. How true. Although I preach that anything is fine in moderation, (1 Corinthians 10:23) consuming primarily convenience food will ultimately result in an inconvenient, unhealthy lifestyle.

At one time, in a previous church, our assignment was to read through the Bible in a year. Being competitive by nature, I zipped through it (just like a drive-thru) within 9 months. I hardly digested a thing. During the past several months however, during our Wednesday night Bible Study, we have traversed through the smaller books of the Word; Philemon and Jude, verse by verse. Those books finally came alive to me! I savored them!

Savoring our food, similar to enjoying the Bible . . .  restores our heart! Who doesn’t remember the comfort of kitchen memories as our Mom prepared dinner each evening? I realize in this day and age, everyone’s extremely busy. Who has time to cook from scratch anymore?  For the sake of our families however, we must overcome the convenience of picking something up as we race home from work!

Choosing convenience food provides far less healthy nutrients for your family.  Fast food is loaded with fat and fillers and grocery store packaged meals are abundant in chemicals, dyes and preservatives. Nor does it exhibit any discipline either. And temptations abound in the grocery store! It’s so easy to purchase additional items as we select an entrée on our way home from work. “Oh look, apple pies are on sale too!” Bad choices are made when we’re tempted.

Grabbing something from the store demonstrates an apathetic attitude for our children to emulate as they grow. It also instills a reliance on others, which unfortunately demonstrates laziness as well. If our children fail to learn how to cook, they will eventually initiate the same habits we’ve taught them: Why cook when we have drive-thru’s?

If you absolutely hate to cook, start out by instilling the same habits you do to reach any goal: visualize, strategize and ultimately initiate a goal plan.

Begin with small goals: teach your children how to create a nutritious salad, scramble some eggs, bake a sweet potato, pound a chicken into schnitzels or make a healthy pizza. Give them a sense of  pride in what they create.

Some dieters even incorporate convenience foods into a dieting strategy. They rely on a packaged food program to lose weight, that’s all well and good until they reach their goal and go off the diet. Then what have they learned and what do they do? We certainly wouldn’t want to consume only those selected meals for a lifetime, would we? The only good thing about a packaged meal plan is that we learn to visualize portion control. But we certainly don’t learn how to cook healthy meals.  Even prepackaged meals in the grocery store include an enormous amount of sodium and preservatives for shelf life and eating the same meals over and over again makes us stale. That’s not enjoyable.

How similar to savoring and enjoying the Word of God. The Bible is the Sustenance we build on for an Abundant Life. If we only read the same passages over and over again, we’d grow stale and stagnant. By breaking the Word down into smaller chunks we savor it. Savor both your Bible and your life.

A Diabetes Diagnosis Isn’t a Death Sentence

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Michelle sat across from my desk, her eyes brimming with tears.  This new patient had just come from her father’s hospital bedside. She told me his last limb had been amputated due to diabetes.  Can you imagine the pain as Michelle observed her father’s self-destruction?

Apparently she had argued with him for years to take better care of himself, but to no avail. He refused to recognize that his unhealthy lifestyle was destroying his body. He continued to eat unhealthy, chemically-processed, fattening foods, too many sugary items and he failed to exercise.  Now she had received the same diagnosis; diabetes, and she was scared.

What makes someone fight for health while others apathetically accept their fate? Many bloggers who post about their weight loss challenges fight like warriors, battling with self-confidence and discipline, while others give up easily. Health is worth fighting for!  Treasure what God has given you. Diabetes needn’t be a death sentence if you are willing to change.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, take control. Never act like a victim!  I’ve had patients who actually stated that diabetes was the best thing that had ever  happened to them because it was a wake-up call! Not only did my Type 2 Diabetics control their disease with diet, but even one Type 1 patient conquered a 40 year, 4 times daily insulin shot dependency (which is extremely rare!)

Changing habits is the first challenge:thHVVHTT7D

Increase fiber to 25-35 grams daily (4-9 tsps.) Fiber allows insulin to enter more slowly into the bloodstream. There are two types of fiber and we need both. Soluble fiber becomes a gel in our system, moving dangerous LDL cholesterol out while lowering blood sugar. It’s like Liquid Plummer. Insoluble fiber is like Rotor Rooter, remaining intact. It clears our intestines so valuable nutrients can be absorbed through the digestive tract.

Choose a variety of fibers including whole grains, (oats, quinoa, long grain rice) fruits, (apples, pears, prunes) and vegetables, (peas, legumes, beans, corn, sweet potatoes.)

Get into a Routine. Ensure that you eat and exercise at regular intervals. This keeps your blood sugar levels steady and reduces stress on your vital organs.

Create a pathway to destress. When our bodies are stressed, it not only raises our insulin levels but also creates a hazardous acidic pH level, making us hungrier and more prone to illness. Create a strategy: take daily walks, listen to music, take soothing baths or simply sit and read on your back patio.

Exercise! Diabetics run the risk of circulatory problems and nerve damage. Walt, my Type 1 patient, whose goal at first was simply to reduce his high insulin intake, ate well and faithfully rode his exercise bike every day. He lost 75 pounds and got himself off insulin entirely, a rare feat indeed! But don’t overdo exercise. This adds stress! Find an exercise routine you enjoy and keep doing it!

Greatly reduce or eliminate artificial sweeteners. (I know this is controversial!)  These chemicals never leave your liver. These increase insulin levels because your th0FKZNKN5body is expecting more food! Stevia has an alkaline pH and is a good substitute. My patients consumed small  amounts of regular sugar while giving up the simple carbohydrates in donuts, cakes, pies and candy.  Better yet, drink water!

Yes, diabetes is a tough disease to manage, but remember you have Strength you might not recognize yet. Our Lord Sustains!



How Could Our Lord Willingly Go to the Cross?

During this week of reflection, with so many documentaries about Christ on television, has anyone discussed what unimaginable fortitude it took for Jesus to voluntarily go to the cross? How did He do it? Perhaps he focused on something even more important than pain.

In 1970,a made-for-TV movie entitled Tribes aired. The film centers around a new military recruit Adrian,(Jan-Michael Vincent) drafted out of his carefree hippie lifestyle, and Tribesthe drill instructor whose job it was to make him into a fine soldier who obeys orders. Although I don’t remember much, I do remember a remarkable scene in which Gunnery Sergeant Drake, played by Darrin McGavin, forces Adrian to hold two full buckets of water on each side, shoulder-high, as punishment.

Now there were several possible outcomes here:

  1. 1. The Gunnery Sergeant will totally break the recruit’s spirit. Adrian will eventually discover what psychologist Abraham Maslow called, “learned helplessness.” That’s a belief that there is no way out of a predicament as one gradually accepts his fate.
  2. Adrian will rebel, experiencing increasing anger regarding his circumstances. Becoming bitter, he’ll lash out at life’s unfairness  toward him.
  3. Or he’ll use his inner resolve to overcome and conquer this challenge.

This third option, in fact, is what Adrian did.  He focused all his attention and mental powers on a special afternoon spent in the company of  lovely young woman. In this state he was able to maintain holding the buckets aloft indefinitely, much to the consternation of Gunnery Sergeant Drake.

Each scenario represents how we make personal decisions as we approach life’s trials. In the face of adversity what do we do?  How does our personality change? Do trials strengthen us or do we become embittered? Do we hunker down or throw in the towel and ask, “Why bother?”

Have you ever wondered what went through Christ’s mind as He was scourged and beaten beyond recognition as a scapegoat for our sin?  Did the Lord question why He was doing this?  Wonder why He was sacrificing His life for someone who tortured and murdered innocent children? The one who stole funds from that charity for personal use?  Or that serial rapist the judge let go, only to do it again? Yes, Christ died for all sinners, even those who simply lied, stole pencils from the office or gave in to gluttony. Every one of us is guilty of sin before the Lord.

Aren’t you grateful that Christ didn’t give in to the discouragement He must have felt because billions reject Him? Or became angry and bitter due to our apathy toward sin? Or disobeyed God’s Will in Gethsemane to avoid unfathomable pain?

I believe He focused on the countless faces who He became an offering for. He focused all his attention and mental powers on that future victorious day when Ellie, Sandy, Bill or whomever accepted Him as their personal Savior. He remained focused, knowing it was worth the sacrifice. Praise God for that!

Now the question is, are we living up to His incredible sacrifice? Are we focused on becoming a New Creation for Christ or are we idolizing food as our god?

When life becomes hard, we face our own challenges, whether it’s health concerns, addiction or financial problems. Do we remain focused on what’s really important in life: Eternity?  By praying for the power to remain strong against trials and temptations, His strength will always assist you! HE IS RISEN!

“who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”  (Titus 2:14)


Outsmarting an Advertiser’s Half-Truths

Have you ever been in a grocery store aisle and asked yourself, “How in the world do I know which product is healthy?” You do your research, that’s how: study the label, serving size, ingredients and so on.  Similarly, when someone expresses Biblical Truth, how do you know if it’s actually Truth or a half-truth? You study your Bible, that’s how!

“Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty or riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me.” (Proverbs 30:8)

Therefore, as in your Christian walk, I don’t want you to be fooled by misinformation either:

“Is 2% milk really 98% fat-free?” th2KMDLVOH

If asked, how many would say, “yes”?  Probably many. Truth be told, it’s not and here’s why:

2% milk is actually 40% saturated fat.  “How’d they get away with that????” you indignantly ask. Unfortunately people believe what they are told  People are very trusting while advertisers pursue their almighty dollar.

That 2% statistic is based on volume not calories. For example, if I have a gallon of lemon juice and drop two tablespoons of olive oil into that container, only 2% of the total volume is now fat.  However, now it represents almost all of the calories contained within it: 98% fat calories.

  • To break yourself from 2% milk, use visualization skills. Every time your family sits down to a glass of 2% milk, visualize 40% as pure butter. Whole milk is worse at 50% fat, 1% is approximately 20% and skim milk, although it carries trace amounts of fat, can be classified as fat-free due to regulatory cut-off levels. Nowadays, skim tastes extremely similar to 1% so give it a try.  Do you know that skim milk actually contains more nutrients and protein than regular milk?  Sure does!

 “Are enriched  foods better for us?”

When you think of the word, enriched, you’d think it means “better than” right?  Actually it simply means “up to”.  To keep wheat products fresher longer, (the oils in wheat germ spoil faster) they take the rich, nutrient-dense wheat germ out of the flour, breads, pastas and cereals to lengthen shelf life. Then they infuse the resulting, processed product with a few vitamins and minerals to make up for it.

  • Choose whole grains as much as possible.  Whole grain is classified as the entire seed or plant: oatmeal, corn, brown rice, potatoes, whole wheat bread and pastas. Not only do you benefit from nutrients, you also consume valuable fiber for colon health!

“Are salads a healthier alternative?”

th9MNFWJ0NNot if you pour high fat cheese, egg, bacon bits, croutons and high fat salad dressing over it! Neither are taco salads, coleslaw, potato, tuna and macaroni salad smothered in mayonnaise a great choice either.

  • Consume dark greens with garden vegetables, then add chicken, Canadian bacon or white meat turkey.
  • Salad dressing is the #1 fat item people consume daily. Create your own vinaigrettes using herbs, spices, vinegar and infused oils.

“Are fresh fruits and vegetables more nutritious than frozen or canned?”

Growing up on a New Jersey farm, there was nothing better than a tomato right out of the garden!  Unfortunately, how many have a garden?  Usually one gets to the store where the produce sat, you buy it, take it home, it sits around losing nutrients, then you finally eat it days later.

  • Fresh is absolutely best if consumed quickly but days of waiting allow produce to lose valuable nutrients. Frozen is picked and flash-frozen immediately so frozen’s another good choice. Canned foods contain sodium and usually preservatives. Drink lots of water afterwards to wash excess sodium away.

Don’t believe everything you read, eat wisely and remember anything is fine in moderation!

Dining “Through the Numbers” Without a Clue!

So here we go again. I caught this article in our local newspaper this morning under the headline, “Health by the Numbers.”  As I’m shaking my head in bewilderment, I discover yet another doctor with all the degrees I’d ever hope to achieve, who can’t convey physiological sense to the average health conscious dieter.

How easily could you decipher what she wrote below?

“1 or .5  This is the amount of protein you need daily. To maintain your muscle mass you need protein. About .5 grams per pound of body weight will do it. So a 200 pound man needs 100 grams of protein per day to protect his muscle. If you want to build muscle, shoot for 1 gram per pound of body weight. Every pound of muscle you have burns 50-70 calories per day.thT71TRN7Y

Got that?  My first question is, do you have any idea how much a gram is? What does this article mean to you in dog years? Don’t worry, most people haven’t a clue. Therefore, how could you figure out how much 100 grams would be in the first place? As far as I know, no container of meat is packaged in grams, only pounds and ounces.

Can you imagine trying to enjoy a meal at a restaurant and keeping track of your protein intake? What kind of a look would your server give you if you innocently asked how many grams of protein are in that sirloin steak or potato?  Yeah, I thought so too.

And most people believe protein is only found in meat but protein also resides in fruits and vegetables too. So according to the above article, that would need to be factored into the equation as well. How complicated do you want your daily diet plan to be?

Here are some of the top vegetable protein contenders (in grams per cup)

  1. Soybeans = 29
  2. Lentils = 18
  3. Beans and spinach = 13
  4. Peas, sun dried tomatoes = 9
  5. Potatoes = 5

Then there is the avocado which is technically a fruit, although most classify it as a vegetable. It contains approximately 8 grams of protein per cup . . . aaahhh, I see avocado in of my salad and I don’t know how much was placed in it!!!

So let me give you the answer to the question before you tune out on me. First, approximately 4 grams equal one teaspoon. (Everyone knows what size a teaspoon is.)

  • Divide 100 grams by 4 which is the average grams in a teaspoon.
  • This equals 25 teaspoons which should then be divided by 3 (the number of teaspoons in a tablespoon)
  • This equals 8 tablespoons which amounts to 1/2 cup.
  • 1/2 cup equals 4 ounces or about the size of the palm of a women’s hand

Would you rather carry a calculator around with you or eat as normal people do? How about simply using common sense? Have a garden salad for lunch with 2 ounces of grilled chicken, tuna or salmon and for dinner have a lean pork chop, teriyaki style with oriental vegetables?  Bring half home for tomorrow.

A human only needs about 6 oz. of meat per day. Even less complicated is to do as I recommend: consume 5x’s more fruits and vegetables than meat on your plate, Consume a Mediterranean type diet. (DASH, Volumetrics)  Use less sugar and less salad dressing than required. Life shouldn’t be this difficult!

“And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)



Aging Gracefully Through Food Choices

 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

woman in clay jarNutrition plays a huge role in creating a younger you. But daily free radicals and sunshine steal oxygen from the skin.  Choosing colorful, nutrient-dense foods as much as possible will ward off that damage.

Studies show that those who consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil and nuts look younger. Did you know that residents of Greece, Australia and Sweden have fewer wrinkles due to their diet? We could also, but we eat too much acidic meat, dairy, fat and sugar and fill our godly temple with processed junk!

Unfortunately our skin gets thinner as we age, making it difficult to retain moisture. Therefore, try to limit sugar-rich foods, because through the metabolic process of glycation, this allows sugar to attach to molecules in our bloodstream, forming harmful new molecules and dehydrating skin. These ironically are called: (AGEs)  “advanced glycation end products.” Our skin also then loses valuable collagen and elastin which keeps our skin firm and elastic.  The more processed sugar we eat, the faster we’ll age. Is that daily donut worth it to you?

Want a tip that restores youth back into your step?  Eat for nutrients!!!

  1. Half a cup of blueberries or other dark berries help restore healthy circulation and fights inflammation. Eggplant prevents wrinkles with its inflammation fighting properties! Mousaka, anyone?
  2. Watermelon, lettuce, cucumbers, raw spinach, celery and fruits are great detoxifying, water-based nutrients.
  3. Calcium and Vitamin C bind collagen together, making low-fat yogurt with strawberries sound delightfully delicious. One fruit with enormous Vitamin C properties is Kiwi.
  4. The mineral Silica, found in alfalfa, brown rice, soybeans and green leafy vegetables, also assists with collagen formation.
  5. Aloe has 75 nutritional components and digestive enzymes which remove toxins, plump up the skin, prevents sun damage among other attributes.
  6. Beta Carotene enriched spinach, broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, oranges and other greens protects against sun damage. Anti-oxidant Vitamin E foods; sunflower seeds, milled flax-seed, olive oil, avocado, Vitamin C found in red peppers and selenium found in Brazil nuts fight free radicals which break down and age our skin. Don’t overdo Brazil nuts however; they can be toxic. Two are sufficient.
  7. Red wine and red grape juice are good deterrents with an anti-aging nutrient, resveratrol. Wine also kills e coli and lowers cholesterol.
  8. Malic acid and alpha hydroxy found in apricots, sloughs off dry sun-damaged skin.
  9. Foods like tomatoes, garlic, bell peppers and blueberries strengthen our skin, avoiding sagging.

Ever have dark circles under your eyes? Try these tips:

  1. Walnuts. They are high in the amino acid arginine which relaxes constricted blood vessels and improves blood from pooling under the eye area.
  2. Vitamin K foods; broccoli, spinach, liver, alfalfa, help erase dark circles as well.
  3. Salmon with its Omega 3 fatty acids calms the inflammatory agents that cause puffiness.
  4. Detoxify the liver by consuming more carrot juice, lemon, cucumbers and water.

Truth be told, we temporarily inhabit jars of clay. Beauty is fleeting and will not last, but the JOY of the Lord lasts forever! We are commanded to be Holy! Eat well to show others that Christians are disciplined, vibrant and positive representatives of Christ. Never for vain or selfish reasons. I remind you that God sees our heart and that’s the only beauty He truly cares about!

  ” . . . For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)