Archive | March 2013

God Is Not Lucy! (Relating that to health)

How do you view God when something bad happens in your life? Is God Lucy, who tormented Charlie Brown while trying to kick the football?  Does God say, “Come on, trust me . . .  I’ll let you be successful this time,” Wham! He pulls our dreams away and snickers, “Haha, gotcha again!”

God’s not like that!  Psalm 84:11, “For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

God wants only the best for us. So in gratitude, we should try to glorify our Lord. Sometimes God will allow us to burn our fingers on the “stove top of life” because it’s a learning experience.  It’s for our betterment so we won’t do it again. But some won’t see it like that. That’s when they’ll shake their fist, shouting, “Why did God allow this to happen to me?”

Why?  I’ll give you an example. My Lhasa Apso can be the most stubborn walker ever!!  As we’re strolling along, she’ll get it in her head that she wants to go in another direction. At that point I’ll have to drag her kicking and screaming down the pathway until she “walks nice” once again. She doesn’t realize that if she got her way, she’d be walking over briars.  God also, for our own good, must drag us kickin’ and screaming away from some disastrous path as well. We’re simply too stubborn to realize it.

How do you react when bad things happen?

  1. Do you remain rebellious?
  2. Do you recognize your faulty behavior but do nothing?
  3. Do you believe that God wants painful repentance, so suffering is mandatory?

Your personality is who you are. How you answer the above has a lot to do with how you view your personal health and bodily temple as well!

1.  If you continue to eat processed fast food 7 day a week, defiantly shouting, “I want it my way and I want it now,” then you might find yourself  suffering as a result of your action, not God’s. We live under grace, you can make that decision; but you own that consequence!

1 Corinthians 10:23, “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.

2.  If you recognize your behavior but don’t turn from it, “yeah I know I should, but . . . ” you  epitomize  James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.”  An example of head knowledge without heart knowledge. Even the demons know about Christ but don’t follow him. Knowledge without actions is dead! Realizing you should eat healthier but don’t, isn’t change. True desire isn’t there. Don’t believe the stinkin’-thinkin’ view that you aren’t worth it either! God doesn’t make junk and you are worth it! But change comes from within!

3.  If you truly want change but feel you must wear sackcloth and ashes until you’re good enough, you’re also off base. You’ll never be good enough!  Romans 3:10, ” As it is written , There is none righteous, no, not one.” The thief on the cross didn’t work for his salvation, he simply believed.

Suffering needlessly is what I call the “penance principle.”  “God won’t forgive me unless I give up chocolate, everything I love, starve and flagellate myself.”  Man is creating his own rules, stating, “Unless I eat only nasty tasting foods, I’m not good enough for God.” Who said?! Isn’t that making yourself a god? God originally made everything good. To say otherwise maintains God created bad things. He doesn’t.

Therefore eat sensibly and in moderation. Which means watch portion control!!! (which is a subject for another post.)

Think You Can Outsmart a Fat Cell? Think Again

Are you one who skips meals thinking they’ll lose faster?  Do you try the latest low-fat or non-fat diet? Have you ever thought you could simply starve yourself thin? Outsmarting a fat cell isn’t easy nor smart. 

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.”

Fat is a necessary component to metabolism!

Sorry, we can’t 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. While perceiving starvation as a threat, it’ll automatically slow down its metabolic rate, going into its self-protection mode. In other words, it’s one step ahead of us!  The only true way to lose for a lifetime is to consume nutrients while burning up more calories than we consume.

Make the Fat Cell Our Friend.

A fat cell’s purpose is to store and release energy depending on what our metabolic needs are at the time, filling and reducing depending on how much one eats. It’s God’s intricate design.

Psalm 139:14, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.”

A person is born with basically all the fat cells he’ll ever have.  It might surprise you to know that men and women are born with about the same number. Unfortunately for us women, men lose weight faster, due to muscle, enzymes and hormonal distribution. We women gracefully need to embrace our “softness” sometimes.

Starvation plans don’t work so stop the needless frustration:

  1. The First Law of Thermodynamics states: it takes energy to make energy. Therefore you’re not doing yourself any good by starving yourself.
  2. Starving will produce more muscle loss than fat, and when we eat again, we’ll gain fat back.
  3. Muscle is an efficient fat burner. Men have more muscle, eerrrgh.  So women; develop a fun way to exercise, to develop more muscle and increase heart-rate efficiency. Dance, play with the baby, water aerobics, walk the pup to develop muscle.
  4. Enzymes are like several assigned movers in one moving company, transporting your chewed food into the room it needs to go. Remember, chew food – it releases enzymes. (Women have more fat storing lipogenic enzymes, while men have more fat producing enzymes.)
  5. The hormone, estrogen, sends stored fat to hips, butts and thighs. Women were designed with a higher percentage of estrogen in order to bear healthy children. We need to accept that fact graciously.

Starving stresses the body, creating:

  • the release of stress hormones; producing toxins, an acidic environment, weakening the immune system, chancing illnesses, heart palpitations and possible cancers.
  • a loss in necessary vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytonutrients which regulate your heart and other bodily functions.
  • non-essential body parts such as hair and nails thin, become brittle and break.
  • a loss of brain, bone, muscle and healthy skin tone.
  • a loss protective brown fat which cushions and warms vital organs and once gone, it’s gone!
  • an excretion of water because you aren’t eating complex carbs which absorb water and assist with waste elimination.

Instead of suffering through a starvation diet, shake up your routine:

  • Increase water with lemon intake.
  • Eat smaller, water based, fruits and vegetable, fiber-filled meals.
  • Try juicing for several days. Juicing gives your body the nutrients it needs for daily functions.  My only problem with juicing is the loss of fiber from the fruits and vegetables, so try finding ways to use that fiber in other recipes.
  • Try hot, spicy foods to increase metabolism.

Eat smarter and lose weight!

Rid Yourself of Negative Influences – Strive For Positive Living

Have you ever thought, after accomplishing something extremely tough but satisfying,  Why did I grumble so much, thinking I couldn’t do it? Well, let me ask a question.”Who influences you?”

We all complain sometimes because we aren’t perfect and God doesn’t expect perfection. In our imperfections God allows us to grow, building confidence through a sense of accomplishment because no one did (whatever) but you (with God’s help I trust)! Feels good doesn’t it? So stop complaining!

Why didn’t I do this sooner?” is usually the next comment I hear. All that complaining and believing stinkin’-thinkin’ negativity is time wasted! Who said you couldn’t accomplish something?  Unfortunately, whether it’s a parent, employer, acquaintance or sibling, don’t hang around those who express negativity!  It only brings you down.

1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

How does this relate to weight loss?  Well, even though I assured patients they could indeed lose weight, (Philippians 4:13) some kept whining, “You don’t understand, it’s too hard.” Actually, the harder a challenge, the more satisfaction comes in conquering it!   I’ve worked with patients who had hundreds of pounds to lose. Talk about mountains to conquer . . . well even climbing a huge mountain begins with a single step. Start walking!

The Israelites complained almost every day after fleeing Egypt and meeting struggles along the  way.  “Oh to be back in the days of leeks, onions, cucumbers, meat and garlic.”  Complain, complain!  I miss a nice drink of water . . . complain! I wish I could take a hot shower . . . complain! Even Moses couldn’t stay positive as he led through challenging circumstances. Even he lost his  optimism around complainers. He then sought positive influences through quiet time and prayer with his Lord.

Quite frankly, I’m uncomfortable around critical people!!  Even being a highly positive individual, if I’m around complainers too much, I found myself being negative too. Didn’t like that “me”, so I decided to change my outlook! Now if I’m around a chronic complainer, I’ll  smile and say something my mother used to say, “Now say two good things.”

Don’t get me wrong, I understand legitimate gripes – that’s totally different. Everyone has to vent sometime. If one holds stress inside, it will come out in self-destructive ways. But either rectify the situation or let it go, before it destroys your godly character.

Proverbs 22:25  “or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”

Negative speech corrupts good thought patterns no matter how strong one is. Remember Job’s friends who simply sat with him at first as a supporter? Then they opened their mouths. As the saying goes, with friends like those, who needs enemies? Pray for spiritual friends who will build you up, not drag you down! Find happy, optimistic people to be around and it’ll change your outlook. Find someone who will rejoice in your weight loss accomplishments, not envious that you’re motivated and reaching goals.

So how does one develop positive influences?

  • What do you do well?  Don’t know? Ask a trusted friend. Remember you are unique. You don’t have to like everything about yourself but everyone has good points. Discover and embrace yours!
  • Do something nice for others. Remember life isn’t all about you. Sharing happiness while helping others is an uplifting feeling!
  • Find ways to learn different activities to attract upbeat friends into your life: photography, art, sports, theater, comedy or some other club.
  • Maybe you can join a Bible study, Toastmaster’s, Optimist Club, discovering new influences. Invite positive friends over for coffee or go shopping.
  • Read motivating biographies or self-help books, highlighting inspiring points.
  • Reward yourself with small non-food treats or chart accomplishments after reaching goals. It will build confidence and gratitude.

Happiness is a choice. Choose to glorify God and find the peaceful JOY He gives! Rid yourself of the negative influences, both spirituality and nutritionally. Memorize Philippians 4:13 and trust in God’s faithful direction.

Long Winter Getting You Down? Try Cinnamon!

Have you ever considered how aromatic the Garden of Eden must have been when God placed Adam and Eve in it? What a magnificent fragrance wafted through the air! Rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, cinnamon, cumin . . . Designed to live forever, God undoubtedly advised them to consume great amounts of different spices in the garden to “add life to their years.” Spices contain healing properties that improve our mood, heal our wounds and spirit. Consuming them can keep us fit and youthful.

cinnamonToday let’s discuss one of my favorite spices in the Bible: Cinnamon:

Proverbs 7:17, ” I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.”

What a wonder spice!  Originally, a native of Asia, it now is found in over a hundred countries worldwide. The Chinese considered it a warming drug and began using it as medicine. Today it can be found in diverse products from chewing gum to suntan lotions and perfumes.  Sometimes sold as cinnamon sticks, it’s more commonly used in ground form.

The health benefits of cinnamon are amazing!

  1. It’s wonderful for diabetics because it efficiently regulates glucose levels by allowing insulin to be released more slowly into the system.  
  2. Studies have shown that cinnamon is such a strong antioxidant that it can even stop certain cancer cells in its tracks!
  3. Antibacterial, it fights bacterial infections, even the deadly e coli bacteria. 
  4. It’s also antifungal and has been known to cure athletes foot and yeast infections.
  5. It helps to strengthen our immune system
  6. Anti-inflammatory, it’s a good tonic for arthritic conditions. 
  7. Cinnamon has anti-clotting properties.
  8. Reduces bad LDL cholesterol and raises good HDL cholesterol
  9. It’s an astringent.
  10. It stimulates circulation and regulates blood pressure.
  11. A blood purifier, it’s wonderful for the skin. Since honey has anti-bacterial properties as well, try mixing with cinnamon and apply as a facial.
  12. It’s been used as a stomach tonic for upset tummy, abdominal pains or bowel disturbances.
  13. It’s a great breath freshener, especially if you travel and can’t brush your teeth before meeting with someone.
  14. Rich in essential minerals, it contains manganese, iron and calcium. It’s also rich in fiber.
  15. It’s now considered to be an elevating brain enhancer. (Students should try adding cinnamon to their daily diet days before a test.) It’s currently being studied as a treatment in patients who exhibit dementia or Alzheimer like symptoms.
  16. It has been used a wonderful aroma therapy due to its calming elements.

It’s so easy to increase our cinnamon intake! 

  • It can be added to so many different recipes.  Remember how enticing the smell of a Cinnamon roll is as you enter the mall? Or cinnamon toast as you walk into your kitchen? Yes, cinnamon is both comforting and enticing!
  • What would pumpkin, apple pie or bread pudding be without cinnamon?
  • Sprinkle it on a baked apple, applesauce or other fruit with walnuts or pecans for Essential Fatty Acids, fiber and nutrients.
  • Add it to hot cocoa, coffee or tea.
  • Add it to your morning oatmeal, French toast or yogurt for a great start to your day!
  • Place cinnamon sticks in warm cider or brew a wonderful popular German spiced winter wine called glühwein.

Cautions:

  • As in life, if a little is good, more is not necessarily better. Do not imbibe in excess! (Humans have this belief that if it’s natural, I can use as much as I want, wrong!)
  • Since cinnamon thins the blood it shouldn’t be used for those who are taking blood thinning medications without talking to your doctor.
  • Cinnamon could stimulate other body functions, such as bowel movements.
  • If you are pregnant, please discuss cinnamon with your doctor before ingesting.

Whatever you do, remember to honor God by living an abundant life for Him, making Him the real spice in your life!  1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Are You the “Jonah” of the Family?

 

“What do you mean, am I the Jonah of the family?”

Well, how do you respond to God’s commands?  If God calls you to complete some specific godly task in life such as; witnessing to a neighbor who needs comfort, offering to clean the church, giving up fattening food because it’s a stumbling block to your children, do you comply or rebel?  Please remember if God asks us to do something and you rebel, you alone won’t be affected by the consequences.  Your friends, family, church members and perhaps others will be as well. Do you face or run away from your responsibilities?

Look at Jonah. When God asked him to go to Nineveh, he foolishly ran from God, trying to sail away from his obligations. But the Lord sent a storm which affected not only Jonah, but the entire crew of the ship.  That got his attention.

Now even though we might laugh at Jonah’s utter foolishness in thinking one can run away from God, (He’s everywhere) do we act any better at times? What Christ-like examples do we set?

God wants us to control ourselves to demonstrate a well-developed, disciplined life: 1 Peter 1:16,  because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”

When God asks us to exemplify higher standards to our families and yet we continue to consume an abundance of rich junk food, don’t you think God notices?  To correct our resistant, foolish direction, He might allow the consequences of that behavior to catch up with us. We might develop a simple belly ache or something worse like diabetes.  Well that certainly got our attention right?!   Part of correction is to teach us patience, humility and obedience.

Now the question is, since He has our attention, do we turn from our wicked ways and start living and eating right or do we shake our fist at God and defiantly demand, Why did you allow this to happen, growing even more defiant, running away from God?

As believers, we are jeopardizing our individual temple of the Holy Spirit. We wouldn’t even think of entering the Holy Temple of Jerusalem and throwing trash on the floor, but that’s what we’re doing when we consume trashy, chemically laden food.  We shouldn’t be so flippant about our bodily temple because that’s neither reverent nor respectful.  God will get our attention in any way He can because He loves us.  He does not ignore disobedience, as Jonah discovered, no matter how much we feel we “got away with it.”

Now how does that relate to health? Well, God’s culinary rules are not difficult to understand and we should never disregard the commands of God to be holy! Eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables, drink water and exercise. Listen to that still, small godly voice when you are faced with a challenge to do otherwise. God told us everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23) so enjoying a piece of chocolate isn’t bad.

The devil might be whispering “that food’s bad for you” but no food is good or bad, it’s simply nutrients, so choose the best. If you can control your emotional eating, it’s okay to indulge every once in a while. If not, resist temptation, go for a walk. Or eat and choose something lighter for dinner. But saying God’s creation of natural food is bad, is actually saying that God created something bad. What an arrogant slap in the face of God! Don’t do that. Honor the bodily temple God gave you!

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 ” Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Obedience: “Weigh” Yourself in the Balance!

Would God allow us to fail just for the sport of it?  For example, if we discovered we had a debilitating illness, would He pull the rug out from under us and provide no escape from it? Would He taunt, “Haha, gotcha! That’ll teach ya!”  I seriously doubt it. God desires only the best for us. Do we? Be honest, not always. Occasionally we self-destruct.  We give in to temptation and fail miserably.

We need balance in life. We are so intricately made that God wants to keep us balanced. We do that by obeying God’s Word and promises. God originally created JOY and didn’t want to take that away from us! Adam and Eve did that.  I don’t know many people who are joyful when living outside life’s rules, do you? Don’t become that spoiled child we see in a supermarket demanding treats!

A life of strict rules and regulations isn’t much fun. Neither is that chaotic life without boundaries. We wouldn’t reverently pray, “God protect me as I travel today,” and then drive recklessly, without a seatbelt, through stop signs, expecting God to honor us, would we?  As God’s children, He provides limits for a reason. If we stubbornly push beyond them, we risk danger due to our own choices. Even then, as we’re acting as spoiled children, God is faithful.

1 Corinthians 10:13, ” No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

Patients have sat in my office and blamed God for their troubles. “Why would God do this to me?” they cry.  In frustration I’m thinking, God did this to you? Well did He force you to smoke three packs of cigarettes a day? Did God force you to consume fast food at every lunch?  Think it through – make the right choices! It’s your decision.

As much as I want you to get healthy, you must want it more than I want it for you. Please don’t get me wrong, sometimes genetics has much to do with it and it’s our lot in life to inherit illnesses. I learned my father died of a heart attack at 65, and as well as I eat, I still inherited his familial cholesterol.  So my test of obedience is to now live as healthily as I can. It’s my choice. I pray I’ll pass that test.

I praise God that I don’t live in Old Testament times, I’m not sure I could pass the test with all its precise culinary rules, regulations and sacrifices. Today however we live in a world of grace. We aren’t puppets – we get to choose. I choose a vibrant life, will you?

Look at how the Jewish nation was instructed to eat.  Their culinary boundaries were the whole grains, fruits and vegetables mentioned in the Bible: Lamb, beef, fish, cucumbers, figs, raisins,  melons,  olives and olive oil, grapes, apples, wine, milk, honey, grains and Ezekiel bread.  This is realistic, delicious, wholesome food – not a chemically, preservative-based meal in the bunch!

Since today we live under grace, anything’s fine in moderation but choosing processed meals 5 nights a week, isn’t good for you or your family! Almost every illness can be traced back to what is consumed; diabetes, heart disease, liver, kidney damage, IBS, even cancer. Don’t do that to your spouse or  children! Please obey God’s boundaries of health so your family can learn from your example. Or someday, the old comparison of “This isn’t like Mom used to make” is going to be, “This isn’t like Mom used to defrost.”

In Regards to Health, Don’t Be a Sheep!

New Creations Ministries began years ago, when I noticed similarities between spirituality and health.  As I counseled a new patient of mine,  I began discussing the basics of weight loss. She dismissed me, exclaiming, “Oh Ellie, I know all that already.”

As I pondered this, James 2:19 popped into my mind, “You believe in God – good, even the demons believe that . . . and shudder.”  

People know what to do but don’t. Head knowledge without heart knowledge with positive action is dead! So similar to those who know they should eat well and exercise, but don’t. I wondered why, if so many know what they should do, disregard wise nutritional counseling?

Look at sheep. They robotically follow without thinking for themselves. They’ll even follow other sheep over a cliff to their death. Isaiah 53:6  “We all, like sheep, have gone astray . . .” Sadly some, who pursue foolish quick weight-loss quests follow blindly as well, occasionally plunging over a death cliff. Even though I dutifully research, evaluate and base my information on physiological truths, I don’t mind if you even question my counsel.

1 John 4:1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

One might know many of the basic truths of the Bible, but actions don’t show it! Most Christians understand that a daily 50% fried food diet isn’t honoring God, but still fail to eat properly.  More and more I see Christians following blindly down a treacherous path spoken of by some spiritual leader, health guru or politician without testing the spirits! My ‘radical’ approach endorses “eat less and exercise more.”

Politicians can spew forth beautiful rhetoric but their actions profess something entirely different! Some endorse sacrifice but have a ‘you go first’ mentality. Still people follow blindly. They believe a lie. Perhaps I’m simply skeptical since I worked in public relations in D.C. and saw the half-truths spewed forth by those in charge of our nation.  I saw how crowds enthusiastically clapped and “aaaw’d” without thinking ideas through. What I saw and heard was only what these people wanted to see and hear.  It turned me off from politics.

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,”

Truth: eat less, exercise more is simply too slow for some who are searching for that instant ‘magic’ pill. Test those propagating a health craze with the same scrutiny you would a spiritual advisor or politician! Before endorsing any program or person, you must ask yourself, “What’s in for them?”  Do they have my best interests at heart or only donated money and blind devotion?

Now ask other questions: “Will this improve my health? Is it glorifying my Lord and Savior? Will it benefit others, like my family? Could it  hurt my bodily temple with manipulating chemicals?”

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Physiologically there is no quick, safe way to consistently lose 5-10 pounds per week. But through the gradual process of tackling our own challenges, we’ll discover fortitude, patience, and physiological truths benefiting the entire family which honors God. In regards to nutrition, I caution you to not become a sheep, blindly following a false leader!