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Change Your Mind Before You Change Your Body

Six years ago I took the “KLOVE Challenge.” It urged us, as Christians, to listen to only KLOVE radio for thirty days and see how it would change our life for the better. Now up until then I had listened mostly to Country, Oldies and Soft Rock stations.  However at the end of the thirty day challenge, I realized I not only thought differently, but seemed happier and more content. So I continued until it seemed I was only listening to good quality music with an uplifting message. It began to change my life for the better.

As time went along, I found myself editing what television programs I watched and what books I read too. It’s amazing how much smutty TV our children are subjected to! Then it becomes influential. So is it any wonder why our youth today have potty mouths, no boundaries and show disrespect for authority? What’s the children’s Christian song which begins, “O, Be careful little eyes what you see . . .”

The same can be said about everything in our lives which becomes habitual. Therefore strive for a healthier mindset.

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”   (Colossians 3:17)

A positive mindset even changes our nutritional habits!

When I worked in the corporate world, I considered myself “too important” to stop for lunch. If I did eat lunch, it was a fast food burger with fries and a shake. I woofed that down in ten minutes and rushed back to work.

Since I wasn’t consuming anything of quality, I was stressed out and sick quite a lot. It wasn’t until I left the fast-paced world of public relations and pursued a counseling degree that I began to slow down and consume more nutritious food. As time went on, I realized how invigorated and healthier I felt. Eureka! I thought, I’ve found the answer!!! Why doesn’t everyone know this?

As a curious person, I began to pursue more classes on psychology, physiology, biology, anatomy, a Biblical worldview . . . and I was hooked into Christian nutritional counseling. Science was proving how wonderfully designed by God we are! My greatest goal became encouraging others to change their diet and lifestyle sensibly, so they could see how much more energetic and vibrant they could feel also.

As time went on, the similarity between Christianity and nutritional applications became clear. And  like Salvation, I couldn’t make a difference until someone desired and recognized how and what needed changing. More times than not someone had to reach bottom before that determination kicked in. Usually a serious health issue or doctor’s warning did it.

Leaving old lifestyle habits behind and becoming a new creation is necessary! However, a pastor can preach Biblical Truth until he’s blue in the face, but until someone accepts that personally, there is no noticeable difference in a life.

Regarding nutrition, no suffering necessary! God gave us a bounty of wonderful choices to select from. He doesn’t expect us to eat unappetizing, tasteless food any more than He expects us to read only the Bible or watch only religious stations.  I had a friend who only read the Bible. No other books. I guess that’s commendable but there’s a world of Christian authors to pursue as well as great reads like To Kill a Mockingbird. So nutritionally speaking, having an occasional fried food isn’t terrible, but every day???  Use discretion and common sense. We should strive to honor Him in all we do, watch and say.

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Are You Goal-Minded or Wandering Aimlessly?

My husband and I have crossed this country twelve times, as well as lived and traveled extensively in Europe. During my husband’s military career, when it was necessary to transfer to a new duty station, I would always be curious about our next home. I’d research as much as I could about the area, contacting the Chamber of Commerce for information, search for a realtor and so on.

As we traveled, we always had a map and a daily mileage goal. Without an intentionally defined goal we would have wandered aimlessly. We probably wouldn’t have reached our destination without a lot of frustration.

Doesn’t that also sound like many without a clear health goal?

The same principle applies. Before a smart person can accomplish an objective, they lay out a strategy of how to get there. As much as we’d like a “beam me up Scottie” instantaneous weight loss result, it’s not going to happen this side of Heaven. Besides that, the journey is as important as the destination. If we could have instantly arrived in Monterey, California from Washington DC, we would have missed the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Graceland and so much more! What a loss.

With health goals, you’d also be missing out too. Since 0nly you physically live inside your body, only you can develop strategies, overcome challenges, gain confidence and become victorious.

Don’t make goals complicated. Start with only one and build upon it.

Write out realistic goals and track progress.

In spite of advertising claims proclaiming, “you can lose 10 pounds in a week!” it ain’t gonna happen healthily! It takes 3,500 calories less each day to lose one pound of fat. Do you even consume that many daily calories daily? (Probably the only time I did was on a cruise and I was miserable!)

A slow, steady weight loss of 2, maybe even 3 pounds per week will allow your body to adjust and keep the weight off. If you lose too quickly your metabolism slows; believing you are ill, it attempts to hoard calories as protection.

Remember anyone can lose weight on fad diets but as a nutritional counselor for over twenty years, I haven’t met ONE person who kept it off on a crazy diet. Why?

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire”  (James 1:14)

Analyze why you eat as you do, (another blog.)

Eat for nutrients!

If you consume good quality nutrients, your body receives all you need for healthy living, creating an active metabolism. Then you’ll overcome cravings when, for example, your brain’s hypothalamus nags you for magnesium. Of course broccoli contains magnesium, so does chocolate – which one do you think you’ll choose?

Create small, reachable goals and make them fun!

Create a weekly spread-sheet chart. For each pound lost, fill in a block. For every five pounds you lose, reward yourself with a non-food reward. The more lost, the larger the reward: bath salts, body lotion, nail polish, new scarf, a book (maybe mine?) a CD, DVD . . . then a BRAND NEW CAR . . . sorry just kidding.

One important factor in weight loss: the only good diet is one you’ll be able to live on forever. God doesn’t expect you to suffer through rice cakes, sticks and twigs. He provided a bounty of natural, fantastic foods to enjoy. The more your body consumes nutritious choices, the more junk food cravings will disappear. Trust me, it happened to me.

Lastly, establish a close support group of positive, encouraging friends!

“Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance.” (Proverbs 11:14)

 

Controlling Blood Sugar Produces Greater Weight Loss

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

In order to derive the most benefit from nutrients, food must be broken down by enzymes. Specific ones are absorbed through the small intestine. A clean intestinal system will absorb nutrients quickly to jump-start your metabolism. Thus physiologically we lose weight faster.

But how do we do that? By first consuming fiber!

Fiber is essential in fostering good health and here’s why:

Suppose you had 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 smell horrible!  And then when you finally did flip the switch, it would start grinding so slowly it might even stop if it’s too clogged.  Then you would have to snake out trapped particles or use something chemically to unclog it.

When one consumes mainly meat, fats, processed and low fiber foods, the intestines get clogged.  It’s harder therefore to move those through the colon. Since your body won’t absorb nutrients which are vital to life, your brain’s hypothalamus nags you to eat more food in search of necessary energy, thus you eat more calories but absorb fewer nutrients.

(Our digestive system is extremely complex so this is a simplified explanation.)

Strive to eat more fiber and keep your entire system working on less! Normally we need 25-35 grams of various fibers daily (approximately 4 grams equal one teaspoon.)

God advised Adam in Genesis 1:29 to consume whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and herbs . . .  all fiber producing elements.  That’s why He placed Adam in a Garden – all our life-sustaining nutrients are available!

There is no fiber in protein or fat. Sorry, no matter how tough that meat was, there’s no fiber in its content.

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

Soluble fiber turns into a gel and helps lower one’s cholesterol.  Think apples, oranges, pears, beans and oats – all excellent sources of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber keeps our blood sugar levels steady so it’s easier to stand up to temptations. It also reduces the treacherous LDL cholesterol! Think of it as Liquid Plumr.

Insoluble fiber stays intact, it doesn’t break up as it travels through our system.  Think corn which basically exits intact. Whole grains such as potatoes, legumes, apple peels, beans and bran cereals are other excellent sources. Insoluble fiber  draws water into the intestines, making stools bulkier and easier to pass. It’s like Roto-Rooter.

Increase daily water content. If you ever dropped a piece of bread into the sink and watched it swell as water touched it, that’s what happens to fiber in your system. Fiber expands, creating a feeling of fullness. Fiber allows insulin to be released more slowly into your system, discouraging uncontrolled cravings.

If you consume a piece of fruit, add a bit of protein along with it such as a touch of peanut butter or piece of cheese. When choosing bread, remember the heavier the bread, the more fiber it contains.

If 60% of your daily calorie intake contains 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 to increase energy and lose weight.

Warning:  Increase fiber gradually. Excessive fiber intake may decrease the absorption of zinc, iron and calcium as well as promoting more gas. Take vitamin and mineral supplements separately from fiber.

Caffeine and the Coffee Balancing Act

Becoming healthy a personal choice. I’ve often stated that I can’t make anyone healthy. Someone must want a healthy lifestyle more than I want it for them. I attempt to encourage, lead in the right direction, explain physiology, warn against nutritional fallacies and set a good example but ultimately it’s a personal decision as to what one’s diet consists of.

It seems something “new” comes out weekly. A recent study stated that coffee was now the panacea to good health. It’s actually good for us! scientists declared.

Well of course it is good for us – it was already in the Garden of Eden when God told Adam:   “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.”  (Genesis 1:29)  The coffee bean comes from a seed-bearing plant, (which depending on the type, grows anywhere from 5-18 feet tall.)

Be careful however. Human nature, being what it is, perceives if something’s good, more has to be even better.This pertains to that “new” eye-opening scientific report on coffee too.

What we choose is not always beneficial to or health. He encouraged us to eat in moderation for He would never encourage us to consume something that would harm us. That’s our Choice!

One of my patients drank 30 cups of coffee per day. That’s certainly not “moderation.” To her it became a very unproductive choice. By consuming that much caffeine it depleted her B vitamins. So what you ask? Well the most important function of B vitamins is to convert fats, proteins and carbohydrates into energy.

Therefore, no B vitamins, no metabolic function. Caffeine is a natural diuretic and her B vitamins were lost through urination.  She was spinning her wheels, going nowhere and didn’t realize why.

When metabolic nutrients are lost, the body hungers for extra food to regulate and energize its system. Everything she consumed went directly to caloric intake without outgo; therefore she was gaining weight. No diet plan would help until she got her coffee addiction under control.

A quick withdrawal from coffee addiction wasn’t an option.  Caffeine is a drug and with any drug there are side effects. A cold-turkey approach would leave her shaking, jittery, cranky and downright unpleasant to be around. A gradual reduction was the only alternative. It took months to re-establish her metabolic functions to normal; then she could begin to lose weight.

Imbibing caffeine above normal consumption depletes calcium from bones. I happen to be small boned and am very susceptible to osteoporosis. Therefore, based on my size and weight, I usually limit my coffee intake to 2 cups per day.

Then why do experts say it’s good for us? Because it is in moderation.

Coffee contains many beneficial nutrients including some 50 cent words such as tocopherols, (antioxidants which protect against cell damage) chlorogenic acid (which protects against tumor growth.)

Coffee contains two chemicals, kahweol and cafestrol, which seems to provide some cancer protection as well as anti-inflammatory properties.

Anything extracted from the soil contain valuable nutrients. Coffee beans contain magnesium,  calcium, phosphorus and antioxidants.

Coffee invigorates your brain’s cognitive function which is why we prefer this drink as our morning wake-up call.

It’s a safe stimulant for the bowels and assists the digestive system. It’s a natural diuretic removing excess toxins from the kidneys and liver.

But jumping on the bandwagon thinking, “Great, coffee’s good for me so now I can drink all the coffee I want” is ludicrous.

There must be balance!

 

 

 

 

A Godly List of Brain Foods!

“Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?”  (Job 38: 3)

I love lists and to this day create lists as I head out to the grocery or department store.  Internet lists are also enticing to me. I especially get hooked by those intriguing articles that bait: “The Best Cities for Dog Lovers,” “100 Best Movies in History!” or some such title.

th[7]Anyway, if you enjoy fun facts as much as I do, here is my personal list on “Food Facts to Keep Brain Cells.”

Did you know . . . ?

Prunes, raisins, garlic, blueberries and blackberries contain so far, the highest rated ORAC’s (oxygen radical absorbency capacity) which determine the strongest antioxidant values of any fruit and vegetable tested.

Commercial grape juice and tomato juice surprising contain more antioxidants than the same fresh produce in the produce aisle?

Spinach, blueberries and strawberries improve short term memory! Any antioxidant will protect brain cells but these three actually restore brain receptors.  Strawberries with walnuts on a spinach salad with a little olive oil is really brain food!

Blueberries will help restore balance and coordination. (Which is important since we tend to lose those as we age.)

Green tea versus black tea: Green is higher in one antioxidant (50 cent word alert: epigallocatechin gallate)  but black tea is higher in all-around antioxidant potency. Those pre-packaged mixes contain little if any antioxidants, so brew your own.

Pregnant mothers especially, should be consuming eggs for the brain health of their babies. (As we all should.)  Eggs are one of the few foods that contain the amino acid, choline. And many dieters stay away from eggs mistakenly believing they are fattening.

The brain feeds primarily on glucose derived from complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. Fruits contain more ORAC’s overall than vegetables, although kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts rank very high. Although you will derive quick energy from a Snickers bar, you are consuming empty calories! Not recommended.

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, milled flaxseed and fish oils keeps your brain cells flexible and fluid.

Eat Fish! Fish oil is amazing! It restores concentration through the brain/blood barrier, speeds up brain waves, calms mental stress and relieves depression. So eat fish, especially the fatty fishth[5] like salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel.  Brain cells are lined with Omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation. Therefore these good fats keep cells fluid, elastic  and fights inflammation. If you absolutely hate fish, then at least take a fish oil supplement such as cod liver oil.

Dark Chocolate boosts antioxidant protective polyphenols properties higher than red wine.

Now Change These Habits:

Quit Smoking! Smoking constricts major blood pathways to the brain which eventually decreases memory and mental capacity. Quit this filthy habit which has no redeeming value and hurts all around you, either through the air they breathe or the pain they’ll suffer when you become incapacitated!

Cut down on sugar! Did you know that high blood sugar stimulates a thickening of the blood vessel walls? No pun intended but think about that! How long do you want to retain your brain cells . . . perhaps just a little longer?

Try reducing colas and caffeinated products which can cause an imbalance in our bodily functions; increasing anxiety, sleep disruptions, higher blood pressure and ages cells. (caffeine in moderation: 2 cups of coffee or tea is fine.)

God gave us a brain for a purpose and we should always aspire to honor God in the way it is used! Honor Him.

 “So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things . . .” (Ecclesiastes 7:25) 

Resolve to Become Stronger in Your Health Goals

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

Well not necessarily  – especially when it comes to what you eat. We have a choice and I trust you’ll choose life-giving nutrients.

Have you ever heard someone say that they’re “dying” for a piece of pie, fried chicken, bacon, mac and cheese or a hot fudge sundae? Yes those are delicious and I doubt if consuming a bit of anything will kill them if they are healthy to begin with and eating in moderation. However, if one suffers from diabetes or a heart condition, eventually wrong culinary choices could.

Anything is fine in moderation and there is no formula or one size-fits-all-diet-plan because each person is created chemically unique. With the billions on Earth who have lived, there has never been anyone exactly like you. Amazing isn’t it? (And “diet” is a generic term, meaning only what we consume each day. Therefore everyone’s on some kind of diet daily.)

Whoops wait, regarding that anything in moderation remark! (Written tongue-in-cheek.) I seemingly must add a caveat for those who will write to me and state if one is allergic to it or if it’s a poisonous berry DON’T consume it, so actually everything isn’t fine in moderation . . . sigh. My mother used to say, “Don’t put beans in your ears,” too, referring to whatever is basically common sense and should be easy to figure out as well.

So that being said, have you decided how important is it to YOU to consume healthier food? Do you love food more than playing with your children, hiking in the Alps, dancing at your daughter’s wedding or being  able to sit in an amusement park seat? Sadly, these are true incidents of patients of mine who loved food more than the joys of life itself.

Abundant health isn’t something you can obtain by sending in a form and receiving a certificate in return. Nor is it something you can purchase for any amount of money. Health can only be acquired through individual desire, a denial of self and a disciplined nature. Ask yourself how much do you want to be healthy? Or have you truly made food an idol which you’d rather not give up?

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” (Psalm 28:7)

Why do so many think of God as Lucy to our Charlie Brown? Remember how Lucy used to snatch away poor Charlie’s football when he was hopeful she’d finally hold it for him? God only wants to provide GOOD for us! He gave us all these fabulous choices for us to eat, why don’t we choose those? It wasn’t God who messed up our environment – we did just fine by ourselves by greedily plundering the soil of nutrients.

There’s always a trade-off to health.  As mentioned, there’s discipline involved. I’ve seen what wrong choices do, not only to one’s waistline, but to one’s mental capacity as well. We ARE what we eat and I’d prefer to maintain adequate energy and mental function as long as possible. I enjoy being flexible enough to touch my toes as I approach age 70. Please choose health, you won’t be sorry!

This is a time of the harvest when Farmer’s Markets have an abundance of fabulous fruits, vegetables, cheeses and herbs for purchase. Fresh herbs and spices add flavor to foods so much more than plain salt. Experiment with different selections. Praise God for a truly abundant life!

 

Make Your Weight Loss Goals Foundationally Sound

It’s the middle of summer and once-determined dieters are falling by the wayside every day. Why? Because they’ve had their cruise, wedding, vacation, class/family reunion or other event and their goal for losing weight has ended. Now they are creeping back toward their unhealthy habits and wondering what went wrong. It’s a common occurrence.

foundation built on sand (2)

It’s important to unmask the primary emotional and psychological reasons why one eats uncontrollably or the underlying challenge returns. Until someone asks, “Why am I doing this?” they fail to recognize the true problem. It’s like slathering paint over moldy dry wall hoping for new results.

The “why” of your goal is the foundational question. One needs a personally capable, strong foundation and an honest evaluation to complete any weight loss program successfully. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have a goal and many want to lose for a special event. Keep in mind , those are temporary, however. When the event is over, so is the motivation. Real change is a forever desire. Don’t you always want to feel vibrant and healthy?

Many build their diet on false physiological concepts. The diet plan sounds good but are only half-truths with no strong scientific and metabolic truth. These diet programs are the equivalent of  sandy foundations.

Those who seek them are the ones who follow the latest fad because they’ve already tried everything else: the Cabbage Soup, Atkins, Cottage Cheese, fruit or Rice Diet, liquids, magic pills, even in my opinion, the Paleo Diet. These come and go, popular one day, out-of-fashion the next. No one can remain on them forever because they aren’t foundationally sound. The body rebels due to an unbalanced chemical need. These diets wash away with the sands of time as quickly as they come, until the next sand castle concept.

Why are they false? Because these diet plans do not hold to absolute physiological Truth. What if I told someone he could jump off a 50 story building and he’d fly simply by flapping his arms? It ain’t gonna happen! But false diet gurus are professing exactly that crazy mentality and people buy into it. “Lose ten pounds of fat in ten days!” Sorry, physiologically not true!

A firm foundation will stand the test of time: the Mediterranean, DASH and Volumetrics. All of these are built solidly on the rock of physiological truth and nutritional balance so it doesn’t topple your metabolic dwelling.foundation castle

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  (Matthew 7: 24-27)

The bottom line however is that many factors contribute to success or failure. Apathy, discouragement, boredom, peer pressure, family distractions . . . all influence decisions. Know what triggers yours. Continue to strive for health because God desires excellence from us . . . in all we do, especially our dietary habits. We control what goes into our bodies, so if we choose to self-destruct, that’s a psychological issue. Figure out why.

Become your best self for Him for he sacrificed all for us.