Archive | October 2012

Do Old Memories Control Your Life?

We never outgrow our childhood . . . a fragrance, favorite recipe, a song immediately transports us back into that nostalgic memory.

TRUTH: We live as we believe. What we’ve been told by our family, teachers, classmates, good or bad,  sets the stage for what we believe about ourselves in later years.  It can’t be dismissed because it is who we are.  

Proverbs 23:7. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is“.  

Does a taunting memory; “you’re really stupid”, “you can’t sing”, “you’re fat!”, master us? Unfortunately it can overpower our lives. Is it something you can change? Then change it. Don’t let self-pity overtake you. If it’s not, don’t own it!  Don’t make it a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you can’t change it, (you’ll never be a singer) develop other talents. If it’s true, grieve over it if necessary, then take it to God.

Jeannie grew up in a tumultuous home – her parents were on the verge of divorcing. Chocolate, cookies and sweets calmed her inner spirit by releasing their stress-relieving endorphins. After the divorce, on her “daddy days”, her father took her to lunch, encouraging her to order whatever she wanted, assuaging his guilt over moving out. Milkshakes and desserts called her name. Her mother, now working, baked her favorite cookies on weekends, to make up for not being home after school. As long as Jeannie appeared happy, what harm could it do?  She’d lose the baby fat later. To Jeannie, it set up habits because sugar comforted “love hunger”.

As a 4-year-old, Lisa adored her father, a strict evangelical preacher.  One day she tried to climb up on his lap for a hug. He promptly sat her down, saying, “Young ladies don’t sit on men’s laps.” She never tried again.  Craving affection, she found the man of her dreams, an overly demonstrative, affectionate man. Unfortunately he was a sex addict who found love with other women. Now Lisa ate to cover her painful, lonely nights while her husband “worked.” late. Starved for love, food filled the void.

Susan was abused as a pre-teen by her uncle. She tried to tell her mother, who embarrassed, told Susan she was simply misinterpreting her uncle’s “affection” and not to criticize family. Being a “good” girl, she stuffed that secret deep inside and though it happened again, never spoke of it. She placed layer after layer of fat on her frame, thinking she had brought it upon herself. If she didn’t look attractive she concluded, it wouldn’t happen again. Food released chemicals to medicate and numb her pain.

Food addicts can’t stay away from food like alcoholics can avoid bars. It’s always in our home, on commercials, in malls, on our co-workers desks. Food addiction can only be recognized and controlled.  It’s not a matter of will power, it’s a matter of overcoming feel-good, chemical addiction. (“The devil I know is better than the devil I don’t” mentality.)

The initial step in recovery is awareness.  Although it wasn’t their fault, these women had an uphill battle to recognize truth.  Acknowledging truth allowed them to take steps in reclaiming their lives.  

Fundamental action, know yourself:

  • Get a piece of paper and write down all your POSITIVE ASPECTS in one column.
  • In the next column, write down all you DON’T LIKE about yourself.
  • In the third column, what you can’t change, pray to forgive and accept yourself, because God does.
  • And in the fourth, list all you can change
  • Begin planning positive strategies to reclaim your life and reward met goals with non-food items.

Victories are won in small steps. A marathon runner didn’t win on his first day of running. He prepared with smaller actions and simply pressed onward. Take one changeable action and begin . . . one step at a time. Remember, you’ve faced down your demons and you’re still standing!

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

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Power Through Potato Chips? (It Can Happen)

Stephanie was one of the most powerful project engineers in Montgomery County. She was responsible for a huge real estate venture being built. As she walked into my office she exuded a strong, controlling, even intimidating presence on her large frame. 

However as she sat down, her demeanor crumbled. To my surprise she teared up, “How can someone who is responsible for million dollar projects, feel so out of control?” She asked. “I can tell a hundred men what to do, but I can’t seem to tell myself to quit eating! How can a lowly chocolate chip cookie break my self-discipline?”  She confessed that sometimes an entire bag of cookies or potato chips became her dinner. My heart immediately went out to her. This gruff looking woman had a marshmellow center.

Until people understand why they eat, they only mask the problem. In Stephanie’s case, I knew it took a lot to ask for help. I assured her that she wasn’t crazy; there were good reasons why she felt as she did. 

1.  Sugar releases chemicals that act as a tranquilizer on the brain. It has a relaxing effect that comforts and calms the soul. Small amounts  soothe and stimulate the endorphins that react as pain killers. In a highly stressful job, where it constantly required instilling confidence through her abilities, she couldn’t risk showing weakness at work.  Therefore sugar became her drug of choice after work. She needed to break that chain of destruction. I urged her to try listening to invigorating or relaxing music on the way home and choose another outlet to reduce stress such as joining a fitness club.

2.  It’s not uncommon for someone in authority to feel that although they’ve moved heaven and earth to get where they’ve gotten; believe “stinkin’-thinkin”. “Gee, if they knew what I was really like, they’d know I wasn’t worthy of this position after-all.” (It’s not just women who feel this way.)  Crunchy foods allowed her to subconsciously “crunch” down on all that insecurity. We began to develop strategies to help cope with her feelings of insecurity. She chose to spend a half hour each evening de-stressing with a walk, aroma therapy or an inspirational book. 

3  In her fast paced environment, many times she worked through lunch to meet a deadline. She brought fattening granola bars with her and ate on the run. When she returned home, her body was starving for nutrients so her brain instinctively reached for the fastest energy available: sugar. I recommended better snacks like grapes, Triscuits with swiss cheese, apple slices or bring a thermos of homemade soup or a turkey sandwich to eat on the run.

4.  The last reason I knew would be harder for her to accept. Working in a world of men, her largeness gave her power. As a woman in a man’s field, she was determined not to be dominated and size allowed her to convey that. In her mind, daintiness didn’t transmit power.  It turns out, her father was a large man, a very authoritarian figure who demanded obedient, respectful children. Those unconscious feelings of “domination through size,” stayed with her. She continued to believe the lie that size meant strength, and sadly never found the inner resolve to release herself from it. 

Real power comes through God, not through men. Realize we have a Heavenly Father who wants only what’s best for us. He understands we can’t be perfect, so let’s strive for excellence in all we do. He knows however, if we continue to follow a path of self-destruction, it will have consequences. He also wants you to know that He doesn’t make junk and that you have value simply because He made you.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

“Train Up a Child . . .”

A Franciscan monk once professed, “Show me the boy at seven, and I’ll show you the man he will become.”

A child lives what he learns. We might not think our children are listening to us, (especially as teenagers), but they are certainly observing how we react and what we do. If you’re like me, sometimes that’s a scary thought! “Do as I say, not as I do” was one of my mother’s favorite expressions.

Are you satisfied with your body or do you complain about every little bump and curve? I was browsing through some old photographs this past week. There were times during my life when I thought I was really ugly, (those awkward teenage years!) too fat, now too wrinkly. Looking back, I wonder what was I so dissatisfied with?  My waist was tiny, my lips were plumper and my hips were non-existent, so why did I complain so much?  What a slap in the face of God to say how dissatisfied I was in the way I was made! 

And what type of motherly example had I given my daughter to follow? Children look at parents through different eyes.  Parents should represent security, be heroes to our children.  If they admire us and we aren’t happy with our appearance, what does that convey to them? It probably makes them feel inadequate, never good enough either, setting the stage for self-esteem issues early on.

Worth is not conducive to what size a person is! And thinness doesn’t mean health! I think of a beautiful ballerina I counseled, who at 109 lbs, was instructed by her ballet troupe director that she must lose 10 lbs or lose her position.  She was literally starving herself, endangering her health for man’s praise and I doubted if her tiny, delicate frame could endure the weight loss.

So how do you react around food? Is food more precious than feelings? Is dinner time a battlefield? If one doesn’t eat everything on his plate, is he “a bad child”?  Do you see yourself after work, as an out of control person, running to potato chips, ice cream or alcohol to quell frustration?  Do your children see someone who tries every diet fad because they want to look like the latest celebrity? If your child’s not thin like you, do they believe they don’t measure up?  Is looking good in today’s stylish fashion world, more important than health?

Children mimic what they see.  That’s a given. What role model examples, good or bad, are you exhibiting? Start allowing dinners to become a time of happy socializing without being judgmental about grades or laziness issues. Involve your child with planning and preparing dinner.  Let them see how food looks, smells and tastes raw or cooked. Who says Saturday pancakes need to be round? Maybe they can be designed with a muppet look, topped with bananas as eyes and raisins as hair. Create cranberry nut muffins, cucumber boats, colorful salads and teach children what constitutes a healthy choice.

Resist being parents who will reward their children with food if they are “good” and withhold snacks if they are “bad”. Years later, as an adult, they will still identify that same behavior with internal value. Food should be neither good or bad, it is simply nourishment and they need to be educated to make the correct choices.  At the supermarket, allow your children to select their own apples, popcorn or other healthy snacks from a list of choices.

Next week, I will address the myriad of reasons people eat – which runs the gamut of emotions; happy, depressed, rebellious, procrastinating, peer pressured, controlling, self-destructive, unconscious eating and others.

In the meantime, start now to give your child the gift of a lifetime; a sensible, loving, godly role model.  Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Splenda Isn’t So Splendid At All!

What’s up with Splenda?

During one of my “New You in the New Year” seminars years ago, I was asked a question regarding a new product that hit the shelves called Splenda. Not knowing enough about it, I told her I would address her question after I researched it further.  What I found was shocking.

The company takes a molecule of sugar and infuses it with 3 molecules of chlorine, yes that chlorine, the chlorine you find in swimming pools. Chlorine has been known to calcify the kidneys, cause liver damage and brain reactions.  It is a toxin. Any animal who routinely ingests chlorine is at a risk for cancers.

Our body is a bunch of chemicals and food is a bunch of chemicals. Have you ever seen a chemistry lab or a movie where students place different chemicals into a vial, then watch as it bubbles up and perhaps explodes? If we place too many chemicals in our bodies we have a tendency to explode too; mentally, emotionally or physically. Chemistry can change personalities. For example, if I could invent an “anti-vitamin” blocking Thiamine (B1- the feel good vitamin) from your system, you would actually go crazy. Maintaining chemical balance is that important!

Splenda’s jingly TV commercial touted the phrase, “Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar” and at the time, probably half-truthed many into  believing it was calorie free too. At a weekend corporate function, I picked up a packet of Splenda and read the label: “1/2 teaspoon serving = 10 calories”. Wait a second, that certainly isn’t calorie free?!  Sugar has only 16 calories per teaspoon so this  item had more calories per teaspoon than sugar!  So what’s the point? Why the misconception? Was this simply another example of the almighty dollar leading people astray like sheep?

I researched further: Before it was released to the public, only 2 studies on Splenda were completed. Of these, only 36 volunteers participated and of those, merely 23 were given sucralose (Splenda). The longest trial lasted 4 days and only looked at tooth decay not human tolerance. Amazing!

2 Timothy 4:3  “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions”

Splenda has been shown to produce migraine headaches, panic attacks, muscle aches (fibromyalgia, perhaps?), skin rashes, dizziness and stomach pain. It atrophies the lymph glands, decreases red blood cells and causes diarrhea, just to name a few more lovely side effects. There have been no studies on the long-term effects of sucralose. (It’s true that diabetics must cut down on sugar, however studies by the American Diabetes Association profess that fatty food is as detrimental as sugar to their recovery.)

Health is more important than weight loss and people literally are dying to be thin!!  Little by little, evidence is mounting regarding Splenda’s side effects.  It’s kind of like the frog in the frying pan who doesn’t know until it’s too late that he is cooked. And yet people swear by Splenda and won’t give it up! Artificial sugars can trigger something in the human brain. People can become addicted to artificially sugared drinks, just look at sugar-free colas, for example.

Even if a preacher declared something was Biblically true but it didn’t sound right, I would urge you to research on your own. Personally, I could only find three positive pamphlets or websites and those were ads.

Bottom line: we live under grace and can pretty much consume what we desire, so it is your choice. Sugar was made by God, Splenda by man. God doesn’t make mistakes, man does. Sugar floods us with pleasure by stimulating the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and other mood-elevating substances.  I urge you to use real sugar, just use less of it.

You Can’t Outsmart a Fat Cell and Ya Sure Can’t Starve It to Death!

“Jack” was a thorn in my side!  He was his own man and followed his own rules – at least the latest nutritional ones he discovered online or in some magazine.  That which he didn’t like he discounted as false and searched for something more intriguing. It reminded me of President Jefferson cutting out sections of Scripture he didn’t believe in to create his own Bible.  I believe Absolute Truth is Absolute Truth, and Physiology is Physiology.

1 Corinthians 2:14, ” The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

Well, one day Jack announced: “I’m gonna try a starvation diet to lose weight.” 

I’ve got news for him. He didn’t know jack, pun intended! No one can outsmart a fat cell, it’s smarter than we are!  Our bodies want to survive and will do everything in its power to do so. When it doesn’t receive enough calories to maintain its basic metabolic rate, it automatically slows down, going into its protection mode. In other words, it’s one step ahead of us!  The only true way to lose for a lifetime is to eat nutritious “mini-meals” throughout the day and understand what “nutritious” actually means.

Stay tuned

Stressed? Who’s STreSSSSeD? Just Give Me Chocolate!

“When I’m stressed out, I want to eat, why?”

Have you ever been innocently driving down the street when someone comes out of nowhere and almost blindsided you, or perhaps you were walking home at night and felt someone was following you?  What reactions occurred?  Probably your heart raced, you were shaken up and afterwards felt fatigued, right? And you most likely felt hungry.  Yeah, why was that?

It all has to do with how our bodies react to stress. We live with stress as an everyday occurrence, some good, some bad. After a particular pressure-filled workday, you come home agitated. Man, that co-worker really ticked you off! You might want to fix yourself a stiff drink or raid the pantry for some something sweet. Stop, don’t self-destruct!

Under stress, a proper diet is extremely important and here’s why:

  • When the body is stressed, insulin levels rise, waiting for that “flight or fight” syndrome. 
  • Digestion shuts down, your heart rate increases.
  • Blood is sent to the major organs. Fats and sugars are then released from stores in your body and your cholesterol and heart rate levels rise.
  • Harmful toxic chemicals are released throughout your body. Beware, stressed people are more cancer prone.  So exercise or at least take a bubble bath to compensate.
  • Also your thymus (the gland that regulates your immune system) shrinks under stress so watch out for colds and flu! Incorporate powerful nutrient dense foods like oranges, cantaloupe, greens, grapes, berries, garlic, onions, yogurt as defensive protection.

When the crisis passes, so does your insulin and with it a great deal of B vitamins and valuable nutrients. Your brain then tells you to eat something to retrieve your energy level. It’s physiology.

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, God states that when you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. Here’s how:

Want to react better after a hectic day? Enjoy high quality protein foods such as cottage cheese, peanut butter, yogurt, cheese.  These foods contain tyrosine, an amino acid (chemical building blocks in food that are used as a source of energy) that has been shown to improve performance in stressful situations. Researches believe that tyrosine raises brain concentrations of dopamine, a neurotransmitter (neuro= brain and transmitter = transfer) crucial to cognitive function and you’ll avoid that “brain fog” people feel after a crisis.

Feeling anxious? God said,“Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6.   Snack on selenium based foods, nuts, oats, wheat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans or rice. Have a nice egg frittata, tuna salad or chicken/bean burrito for dinner. Selenium is a fat based nutrient, so don’t overdo it on the Brazil nuts.

Stressed out as a student? The University of Virgina discovered that the act of learning deplete gray matter reserves of glucose. The brain feeds primarily on glucose, a sugar and its main source of food. When students were given a glucose boost from sugar sweetened lemonade, memory increased by 35%.  Foods that are high in zinc release dopamine and enhance mental clarity. High zinc food include crab, oysters, shrimp, turkey, peanut butter, wheat germ and dark chocolate. See, no wonder you’re craving chocolate when you’re stressed – your body is trying to tell you something! (And you thought it was only because you had no willpower!)

God created our defense mechanisms so intricately that I can’t believe that some believe this complicated body of ours just happened through mud clumps, crystals or other nonsense! Honestly, would a mud clump know how to create a bacterial flagellum?

Cabbage Soup and other Crazy Diet Plans

In the mid ’90s, Oprah Winfrey, as an experiment for her television show, set up a bogus diet center in a mall. The diet consisted of eating only hot dogs and ice cream. Anyone remember how many fell for it?  Over 45 signed up in 3 days!!

The question one has to ask is, why????? Surely they couldn’t believe that consuming sodium-filled, nitrate laden, saturated-fat, processed meat and dairy  (5-22 grams  of saturated fat per 1/2 cup in ice cream – and who only eats a 1/2 cup?) would produce the fit body of a healthy person? Isn’t health more important than weight loss?

Research states that the diet industry is a $40-60 billion dollar industry. Many are looking for a quick fix, even at the expense of their health, literally dying to be thin. Nutritional education, physiology, overcoming challenges, establishing lifelong strategies are more important than a quick fix.

Romans 5:3 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” 

Exposing false claims and gurus who profess that one can lose a “pound a day” by trying this or that fad is challenging. (See previous posts) Please don’t waste your time or money on any which might work for a short time, but is this how you really want to live?

The Cabbage Soup Diet   (It’s so complicated!)

Popular throughout the ’90s, it’s still used by many today as a magic pill.  “You can lose 10lbs in 10 days!!” it touts.  Wow, if it were simply that easy. This claim isn’t realistic. You might lose 10 lbs in 10 days but it wouldn’t be only fat you’d be losing.

Here’s why: (stay with me here)

  • 3,5000 calories equal one pound of fat.
  • A person would need to create a deficit of 500 calories per day to lose one pound of fat a week.
  • Let’s say you are 180 lbs. and moderately active. Your usual daily intake is 2,500 calories per day.
  • You reduce your diet to 1500 calories per day.  (Any more and you lose vital nutrients and your brain, thinking you are ill, will slow your metabolism down to a crawl, defeating the purpose.)
  • Losing 1,000 calories per day would only add up to 7,000 calories per week or 2 lbs.
  • Even if you cut out all food for ten days – starving yourself, 10 days x 2500 calories = 25,000 calories.  That only equals 7 lbs lost. It would also be muscle, brain and water.  In today’s world I don’t have brain cells to lose, do you?

10 Day Fruit Diet

10 days of eating nothing but fruit deprives the body of 50 essential nutrients needed to maintain a healthy body.

The body won’t be able to maintain this kind of diet because it becomes biologically frustrated and here’s the main reason why:

  • The hypothalamus, an almond sized master gland in your brain is responsible for certain metabolic functions. It acts like a garage mechanic, checking on all the working parts on your car, so to speak.
  • He checks the fluid levels, noting, “Okay, you’ve got enough potassium but whoops, you’re quart low on magnesium. You need more than that!”
  • The hypothalamus starts nagging the body to get more magnesium.  Well broccoli has magnesium, but so does chocolate. Which one do you think you’re going to give in to? Veggies or chocolate? Of course the chocolate!
  • Eventually you’ll break down and give in to temptation and probably feel like a failure which is not what God says you are. God doesn’t make junk!

I know I sound like a broken record but your body was meant to eat a variety of nutrients. If it doesn’t, you’ll gain weight and false diets become tempting.

Galatians 5:16  ‘”So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”