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Healthy Encouragement to Succeed!

One of the best selling writers, Jerry Jenkins, expressed it very well: “I’ve made it my life’s work to coach writers because I’d love to see you enjoy the benefits I’ve enjoyed.” Well said, Mr. Jenkins.

I’m an author of several books, as well as a nutritional counselor. Like Mr. Jenkins, I urge and coach others to strive for healthier living because I want to see everyone enjoy the benefits I’ve enjoyed. By eating sensibly, you’ll obtain increased energy, more muscle (which burns fat), improved moods and a fit physique. I want you to feel JOY!  

I have no ulterior motive. Sure, I’d love to sell many more books, what author wouldn’t? And I enjoy hearing how I’ve  helped others. But have you noticed what’s happened to our culture over the past fifty years? With an abundance of fast-food locations, conveniently-packaged, chemically-based food choices, we’ve created an environment plagued by obesity.

One nurse I worked with years ago, playfully teased me at lunch in front of a group while eating a spoonful of icing. “Watch out, we’re being baaad and here comes the Food Police!” As she withdrew another huge spoonful from the container, she taunted, “Look Ellie, I never knew Crisco and powered sugar could taste so good! Mmmm.”

Okay, funny but some don’t get it! The icing isn’t bad. Losing control while not understanding why or not caring is!!! In fact, I’ll eat icing sometimes; but not much because although there’s pleasure in sugar, there are few nutrients. Sugar releases valuable serotonin but too much sugar creates moodiness, the “jitters” and ages us. Want that?

Even sadder is the fact that many do nothing to educate themselves regarding why and how to control their impulses. I have no willpower, they believe. Hardly. That same willpower which prevents us from telling off our mother-in-law is the same willpower we tap into when we need resistance. We have willpower, it simply needs to be prioritized.

There are other reasons why people overindulge besides lack of willpower – occasionally it’s emotional while other times it’s physical: medication, insulin production, inherited DNA among several.

A few suggestions to resist and overcome:

  1. Recognize why you crave this particular food. Let’s use icing as an example. We never truly outgrow our childhood. Perhaps you’re experiencing a horrific day and all you want to do now is feel the same secure warm-blanket-closeness you felt when your mom let you lick the spoon. Understand your feelings might not be about true hunger but what’s eating at you.
  2. A little icing is fine but if you can’t control your temptations, for heaven-sakes, don’t bring it into the house. Use sliced fruit or a drizzle of melted chocolate as a topping instead.
  3. Understand this: God wants you happy and healthy. If you can’t resist – get out of the house and go walking, biking, gardening or some other fresh air activity for at least twenty minutes. (If it’s in your house, it’s in your mouth!) You can also read, write, watch a movie or something which will get your mind off eating.
  4. Personal favorite:  paint your nails!  (Okay, men, grease an axel.) We can’t get into a bag of chips if our nails are gooey. If that doesn’t work, take a bubble bath, wash your hair or call a supportive friend.

I wish people realized when a loved one suffers, everyone who cares about them does as well, especially God!

 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)

Live Vibrantly Healthy!

Excuse Me This, Excuse Me That . . .

Some visualize Jesus as a robotic personality who never showed much emotion. But while on earth, our Lord experienced friendships, joy, pain, loss, exhaustion. In other words, he recognizes and feels the challenges of everyday life. But did he offer excuses??? No.

He also got righteously angry upon seeing his Holy Temple in Jerusalem misused. So how do you think Jesus feels when he sees us destroying our bodily temple of the Holy Spirit? Probably the same.

As a counselor I get frustrated with excuses too. Here’s a sample of what I’ve listened to over the years and what I’d offer as an alternative, practical solution to overcome them:

“If I don’t eat right, I can simply take a vitamin pill” Our bodies work within a fascinating team environment. Vitamins and minerals need food in conjunction with each other to produce optimal efficiency. For example; iron should be consumed with vitamin C for maximum absorption, (try tomato sauces with meat). Calcium, Magnesium and potassium work together for electrolyte balance . . . and so on. Without food, vitamins aren’t effective, so eating junk and then popping a vitamin won’t succeed and you’ll be wasting your money.

But without fat, food doesn’t have flavor” Oh, really? Well then, open a Crisco can and dig in. It’s herbs and seasonings that give flavor to food. Avoid heavier fat items such as ice cream or whole milk for a while and you’ll taste the difference when you resume. (Fat coats the tongue, thus no flavor after awhile.)

Garlic, onions, mustard, curry, oregano, sage, thyme, cumin, lemon, even wine and vinegar enhance food flavor. Try adding vinegars, especially balsamic vinegar, to pasta sauces. Sure, use real butter, but use less of it.

“I have no time to eat right” By the time you get to the fast food joint, get out of your car, get in line, order, wait around, pay for your order, get back into your car, drive home, change into something comfortable, get your place settings out, get drinks and sit down, you could have pounded a chicken schnitzel, popped a few baked potatoes in the microwave, created a salad and have relaxed with a glass of wine! So don’t give me that excuse!!

“It’s too expensive to eat right” See above. For the amount you paid for that bucket of chicken, you could have purchased spinach, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, radishes, any meat on sale, potatoes and a loaf of French bread and had leftovers! Search store circulars and choose sale items from that week. As my mother said, “You can have anything you want . . . and this is what you want.”

“I have no time to exercise!” Listen, I know you’re tired after a tough day at work. Exercise revives you! Do you watch TV at night? During the commercials use stretchy bands or lift small hand weights. One of my patients peddled her stationary bike while watching Jeopardy each evening. Have children? On weekends, get them involved! Dance with them, rake and jump in leaves, play Simon Says, walk the dog, go to the park, throw the ball around. Your children will forever cherish those memories with you.

 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus didn’t offer excuses. Are your excuses more important than HIS were? He went to the cross because he thought you and I were worth it. Respect Christ’s choice and let’s choose to honor God with our bodies.

“for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Deciphering the “Why” Behind Your Motive for Eating

This is probably the 3rd day of your “diet.”  How’s it going? Is it one you want to continue forever? It should be; for those are the only ones that truly work! So start noticing and caring about what you eat and what prompted you to eat it.

Care about yourself as much as God cares about you. What we care about, we take care of.

If your Mom gave you her beautiful wedding dress, your Dad’s watch or an autographed picture of Babe Ruth, you wouldn’t toss it on the floor, in a junk drawer or use it to squash a bug off a window would you?  No of course not, you would care for it, cherishing it as the heirloom it is.

If you care less about your health than an heirloom, ask yourself why that is? What’s preventing you from becoming healthier?

Dale Carnegie once stated that no one does anything they don’t want to do. This is true.  Even if someone holds a gun to your head and demands money, you give it to him because you don’t want to die. We might not like it but we do it because there is a pay-off. A pay-off is receiving something of value for our actions, whether it’s attention, sympathy, liberation or revenge.

Start being honest with yourself because it is the first step in mental, physical and spiritually growth. Here are a few of the questions to consider regarding why you eat as you do.

1. Is it selfishness?  “I want that pudding and I want it now!”  Was that how you responded as a child or is it how you act now simply because you’re a grown-up and you can do anything you want? (nanananana!)

Our childhood influences how we react today because our parents first influenced us through their habits. Was your dinner table a time of great festivity or one of controlling issues? As you eat today, are you searching for independence or to regain warm family memories?

2. Is it laziness? “I’d have to discipline myself and it’s too haaaaard (whine) to eat right. I’ll just try again tomorrow.”

Today is the only day you have and tomorrow never comes. Either beat your body into submission and say no, or choose to walk an extra mile to burn off that chocolate  donut you ate.  I Corinthians 9:27, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

3. Do you feel you deserve it? Were you good all day and didn’t tell your boss off when he drove you crazy? As your reward you’ll delve into a dish of ice cream this afternoon. After all “I was so good.”

Come on . . . go for a walk or find a punching bag and hit it to let off steam.  Why should you self-destruct just because someone else is an idiot? (Said with all Christian love of course)

4. Or are you a member of the “stinkin’-thinkin'” club? “I’m a loser, I can never succeed at anything and I’ll just fail at this too, so why bother?” Well God doesn’t make junk and you are a child of the King! Behave like one! Start with small goals to build confidence.

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

It takes strength of character to overcome a habit. Create small goals and as you do so you’ll become more disciplined along the way. It’s a wonderful feeling to overcome “self.” But first understand the “why.” Then you can begin to overcome an unhealthy eating habit.

 

Lingering Choices of a Hippie Generation

In 1967, the popular rock band, The Grassroots, released a song entitled “Let’s Live for Today.” It epitomized the growing culture of the ’60s hippie generation. Since I look at health through a Biblical lens, I see a correlation here between virtuous and destructive living. Please indulge me.

hippie generationThe ’60s Hippie Generation enjoyed a “free love philosophy,” never worrying about tomorrow, grabbing hedonistic pleasure while they could. Looking back, what seemed like a good idea at the time turned out to be nothing but waking up the next morning with regrets, guilt or a splitting headache, bowing before a porcelain god.

Choose wisely.There is no free love – no free food. There’s a price to pay for good health. Have you also, when presented with a buffet, ever thought “free food!!!” Eat as much as we can today because it won’t be there tomorrow! Then, we’d wake up the next morning with a food hangover, our digestion system rebelling! Ugh.

Excess food creates acidity which generates various illnesses. Thankfully, God gave humans some common sense. When we know better, we make wiser choices. Enjoying nutritious flavorful food, with a disciplined attitude is actually beneficial. Eating cleanly is much more advantageous, so why go backwards? Consuming junk food shouldn’t seduce us. In Genesis 3:6 Eve saw that food was pleasing to the eye,  and we have been seduced by food ever since!  God is pleased when we conquer worldly pleasures and honor Him!

This ’60s philosophy of allowing others to live the way they want without boundaries became harmful. It morphed into an “I’m okay, you’re okay” attitude. You don’t trespass on my property and I won’t criticize yours.  This produced apathy. Where then, do we draw the line when someone cries out for help? “Sorry, too busy.” “You reaped what you sowed?” Apathy is the opposite of love. I make no apologies for caring and proclaiming 1 Corinthians 10:23 moderate food boundaries.  By Free Will you either accept or reject God’s dietary boundaries. Your choice, but there are no victimless crimes. Everyone you love suffers.

With the emergence of mid-century fast-food establishments, came an attitude of why cook when one  can simply make a quick stop and bring home dinner?  So what if it’s made from chemicals, preservatives and other items we can’t pronounce?  Kids will eat it when they won’t touch carrots! “Live and let live!” Busy parents justified: at least we’ll eat together. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease and childhood obesity increased accordingly as additional boxed foods adorned the shelves of many supermarkets.

We morphed into a “do our own thing” society. So few attend church nowadays so many have no clear direction ethically.  Parents have become friends not disciplinarians, allowing their children to live as they chose. Religion? Whatever you embrace darling, as long as it fulfills a need. The result? Children are floundering, snared by false doctrines and cultish beliefs. Crime soars.  If our young aren’t taught basic Biblical Truths and behaviors, we indeed reap what we sow. Their Spirit dies.

Well there definitely IS an eternal tomorrow. It’s called either Heaven or Hell and we can accept or reject that fact. I choose Heaven. To God, All Lives Matter!  Choose Life!

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”  (2 Timothy 4:3)

 

The Ever Decreasing Dinner Table

Let’s face it, fewer families are eating dinner together. Why?  Sadly, the chase for the almighty dollar, after school activities and “keeping up with the Kardashians” takes thVKX6S4H5precedent. I found several different surveys that stated only 40-60% (a diverse margin) consume dinner together. Does Junior really need more “things” rather than your time?

Of course your child needs to find his/her own identity but are you doing so only to fulfill your ego (look what my kid is doing!) Think of the pressure you place on your son or daughter to be perfect, or fulfill your lost dreams!

Sitting around the dinner table used to be the best time to bond with your child and discuss their day. Now, the parent is so busy working and then picking children up after school and driving them to their next sports activity or violin lesson, that it’s easier to pick up a bucket of chicken then it is to prepare a wholesome meal. Families need to get back to basics or risk the loss of true values!

I realize that real life gets in the way, and who actually prepares a four course meal nowadays? Our culture has changed and convenience is the name of the game, but that shouldn’t give one license to eat unhealthily.

Is it actually difficult for a parent to fix dinner? NO! By the time one drives the car to the fast food destination, stands in line, pays, gets back in the car, drives home, prepares the table, changes clothes and finally eats, one could have prepared chicken cutlets, green beans, salad and baked potato and the family could help.

Another possibility is to use your slow cooker to create pasta sauces or chili so it’s ready by the time you get home. Or prepare a large salad on Monday, place in an air-tight container and it could be used for two days alongside sliced chicken or shrimp. You could also create a large pot of homemade soup on the weekend and have it ready for the work days.

Are you surprised that chili is on the list? Don’t be. Chili can be prepared with fewer calories by frying the hamburger, then placing it in a colander and sprinkling hot water over it to reduce fat and returning  it to the cooker. It’ll be more flavorful because the fat won’t coat your tongue. Kidney, black, pinto and chili beans are loaded with fiber and iron. There’s no fat in green peppers, onions or tomatoes, so why is it vilified? The same can be done with a huge pot of pasta sauce and used for future recipes. It’s a heck of a lot less expensive and healthier than fast food!

To save time you could bake a chicken, turkey or roast beef for Sunday dinner with plans to  create additional meals with the planned-overs. Then depending on time, you can prepare whole grain sandwiches, wraps, salads, burritos, tacos or soups when in a hurry.

It’s even okay to grill up a steak or pork chops. Simply select anything “loin” because it contains less fat than dark meat chicken. Grill kabobs with healthy vegetables while the quinoa is cooking, and you have one healthy meal.

Don’t give in to society’s peer pressure. Train your children well.  You’re the parent, declare that the family eats together, instilling family values that will last a lifetime.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Weight Loss From Pills, Pills, Magical Pills . . . ?

th9B39TVQKThere are so many “magical pills” available!! In the past, Redux, phen-phen, ephedra, Meridia and equivalents were offered and then taken off the shelves due to health concerns. What started out as a quick fix, quickly became a horror story of medical complications and even death. Many contain huge amounts of caffeine or artificial stimulants which revs up the metabolism artificially. When the body adjusts, the patient needs more medication for the drug to work effectively.

In some cases the pill produced heart palpitations, shakes and other symptoms simply because the patient was taking a form of Speed. Is this how God wants us to live? I don’t think so!   See Genesis 1:29.

Artificial stimulants cause very rapid weight loss, which forces the body to do something it perceives as abnormal. When one loses too quickly, the brain believes it is being threatened by illness and begins to protect itself. Oh sure, they’ll lose weight rapidly over the first 6 months . . . then their body will adjust accordingly. They’ll need stronger and stronger drugs to compete with their body’s protective instincts. In other words the body is being tricked into submission. Think about that . . .  the temple of the Holy Spirit is being tricked into submission. Who else wants to trick us into submission? That’s right, Satan.

“Be self-controlled and alert,  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  (1 Peter 5:8)

Satan would like nothing better than to have you addicted to drugs which could destroy God’s temple.  Stand strong!  I don’t believe a Christian has any business being around drugs that act like Speed and creates side effects such:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • An increase of toxins in the body
  • Sweats
  • Insomnia
  • A feeling of being out of control
  • Increased headaches

Some patients have complained, “But it’s too expensive to eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”  Not as expensive as having a stroke, heart attack or being on daily medication. Diet pills can cost $200 or more per month!

Pills also can produce embarrassing side affects such as loose and uncontrolled bowel movements. Now that’s being the life of the party, isn’t it?!

Most importantly, have they learned anything by taking medication? Have they practiced self-discipline, discovered sensible applicable nutritional information or strategies to live better?  How are they going to eat after they’ve reached their goal if they don’t understand portion control and what nutrients do for them? When they go back to eating regular meals, their body will cling to every calorie because it might be “attacked” again.

Carbohydrates absorb water, so by consuming carbohydrates again, (especially starchy carbs like fibrous whole grain bread, needed for digestive health)  they’ll increase water weight. Then they will mistakenly believe that carbs are making them “fat.”  They will start gaining and attempt another quick fix. That’s the beginning of yo-yo dieting. Each time one gains, it’s harder to lose.

I urge you to avoid any false diet ideas and honor God with your body!

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body”  (1 Corinthians 6:19 – 20)

Kindness

I pray I’m basically a kind person, but sometimes, I believe that Christians need a “Reality Kick” in the pants! Let me be clear – I dislike excuses! I don’t like when my kids, patients or our politicians do it! Recognize that we’re not perfect creatures or ever will be, so let’s  accept responsibility and find sensible solutions to change behaviors!excuses

Get Rid of Your Asherah Poles!

As I was reading a devotional last evening, I came across an interesting passage from 2 Chronicles 24 which I thought was relatable to society’s unhealthy environment today.

“After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them.  They abandoned the temple of the Asherah polesLord, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.” 2 Chronicles 24: 17-19

Judah’s king Joash was only seven years old when he took over the throne of Judah. He was counseled wisely by a priest named Jehoiada for as long as that priest lived. Unfortunately after he died, other statesmen of Judah came to see Joash and persuaded him not only to abandon the building of the temple, but to worship the Asherah poles meant to glorify the idol goddess, Asherah.

God however, did not immediately abandon Judah because of this idol worship. He sent holy priests to warn and persuade them to turn from their wickedness and once again worship the true LORD. Not only would the people not listen, but they stoned the faithful priest Zechariah to death, when he proclaimed that God had finally abandoned them due of their unfaithful behavior. Not one person listening to Zechariah stood up for Truth.

Now what in the world, you might be thinking, do these verses have to do with society’s health? Well, I can show you several which correspond to our culture today.

Up until the 1940s, people were not obsessed with thinness and beauty as we are today. Nowadays we worship beauty! Sometime during the ’50s, outer attraction became the main focus and inner beauty took a back seat. It got worse. What once was a desire to look like Marilyn Monroe or James Dean has slowly melded into Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. Do you find them attractive? I don’t. One shouldn’t look on any earthly person as a role model or strive to mimic them as our young people do today. Encourage children to look toward our Lord for our character aspirations, not celebrities. Celebrities should not be Asherah poles.

Another consideration is one my nutritional and fitness friends can relate to. As a health practitioner, do you sometimes feel that you are a lonely voice promoting truth within a world of weight loss fallacies? When you see a patient or client disregarding your sound advice, doesn’t your heart grieve? Failing to recognize physiological truth, they worship culinary Asherah poles. Today everyone declares what is right in their own eyes and that includes consuming unhealthy foods. Since each is accountable for our own actions, one can choose to eat healthily or pig out on Big Mac’s daily. One reaps what he sows. Is that God honoring or another Asherah pole?

My last thought is that it didn’t take Joash long to be influenced by ungodly people despite all the Godly Truth he received at the feet of Jehoiada. Are we so easily persuaded by others when we know what we should do? Do mind-influencing magazines, celebrity spokespersons or television advertisements influence you? Does the melody, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” or any other outside persuasion make us run to our own Asherah pole?

As parents we are required to train and guide our children in the way they should go. (Proverbs 22:6) Direct them to Christ – not worship an ungodly Asherah pole.

Finally, A Sensible Answer to Food Addiction

In a world that seems to be obsessed with weight loss and dietary plans, self-help and personal assistance books are in great supply. Food Triggers adds to the mix. But, at the same time, Food Triggers, * End Your Cravings* Eat Well and Live Better, is a breath of fresh air. It provides both knowledge and inspiration in the “dietary wars.” Therefore, I am honored  to write a review for Worthy Press who recently published Rhona Epstein’s answer to one the toughest challenges over-eaters face. 

bookLG-food-triggersWhat is especially inspirational about Food Triggers is that it has integrity. Author Rhona Epstein, Psy.D, is an extremely accomplished woman. She is a licensed psychologist, certified addictions counselor and marriage and family therapist with a doctorate in clinical psychology. Yet, despite the impressive credentials, she still faced a private demon. Her extremely open and realistic perspective in confronting and conquering an eating addiction, is all part of the credibility of her book. In Food Triggers, she lays out practical pathways in well-thought-out form, to overcome them.

Interspersed with Christian values and Biblical verses, it is sensibly written using intelligent applications to which anyone can adhere. For example, using case composites of her many patients, we learn that it is not simply a matter of willpower as many believe. Additional emotional and physiological challenges factor into the equation. She lays out how the mind-body connection affects our actions.

“Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” Titus 2:12 (ESV)

Dr. Epstein addresses how one’s relationships, internal beliefs, lack of pre-planning and brain chemistry among others, affects food triggers and how one re-trains beliefs in order to take care of our bodily temple.

Food Triggers touches on what addicts relate to most and is a must for anyone who struggles with food addiction. It’s a refreshing perspective on instituting self-controlled eating habits into one’s life.

“But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”  Galatians 5: 16-17

 

Proclaiming Nutritional Truth to an Apathetic World!