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Taking Baby Steps Toward Success

When we are born, we don’t learn to walk overnight do we? As we grew, first we learned how to sit up, crawl, stand, then take baby steps. We fell a lot too. But one thing I do know, we never gave up. But does a baby whine, ‘Well for heaven’s sakes, I failed again; so I’m gonna sit around on my butt forever!”

Of course not. As Thomas Edison said so eloquently, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”As we’ve seen, babies pick themselves up time after time, eventually running around with boundless energy.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that much energy again? So why do we sit around believing we’re a failure? Because we’re human!Keep striving for success anyway.

As Christians, we don’t become our best self overnight either. Life experiences teach us what works and what behaviors don’t. As children, through life’s experiences, we learn not to touch hot stoves or disturb a dog while he’s eating. By trial and error we grow, recognizing good from bad.

Instilling a positive attitude becomes second nature, building confidence.

As a counselor, amazingly I noticed some patients preferred living with self-pity. It brought attention but it was so wasteful. Some dieters gripe, make excuses and settle for second best when God wants them to enjoy an abundant life!  But then again, many times after a patient finally reached their health goal, I heard the phrase, “Why didn’t I do this sooner? Why did I settle for mediocrity when I could have felt like this?”  It feels wonderful to conquer challenges so strive to become your best self starting today!

“Well that sounds Hunkie-dory Ellie, but how am I supposed to do that?”

With a different mind-set.

  1. Create a chart and reward yourself for each 5 pounds lost with something you want more than food: moisturizers, DVD’s, music, manicures, books, cologne . . . you’ll continually feel successful!
  2. Post a photo on the fridge to motivate you. Keep your goal visual.
  3. Remember you are worth everything in God’s Eyes. He doesn’t create junk!
  4. Give yourself the “pep-talk” and strategize action plans for future situations.
  5. Whatever  actions you do, own them. It’s your body, your decision.
  6. Accept that it’s not easy – you’ll crawl before you walk – but conquering habits feels victorious!

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. “(1 Corinthians 10:13)

Eat well! God didn’t tell you to eat sticks and twigs either. Man created that foolish rule which tells us we’ll have to suffer, eating “sticks and twigs” for losing control. What a fallacy! God provided an abundance of colorful, flavorful food for our pleasure and greater health. The nutrients in those foods will energize our human machine as beautifully as a Maserati. Man-made chemicals will wear us out, making us hack and sputter like an old clunker.

As we strive to become healthier we might find ourselves giving in to cravings, overindulging or feeling lethargic about exercise. We might hit a weight plateau and get so discouraged we’ll feel like giving up. Be kind, forgive yourself. Don’t expect instant gratification, healthy driven people don’t! But don’t sit there on your butt, having a pity-party, whining either. Conquer that inner voice which tells you, I knew you couldn’t do it, you always been a quitter so why stop now? Continue striving for excellence.

The toughest struggle we fight is in our own mind. We’re not a failure, we have worth – God thinks so, why don’t we? Become a Strong New Creation by continuing to grow smartly!

Looking for Magical Weight Loss?

Do you remember when Michael Corleone in The Godfather 3 declared,”Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” He had tried to become a legitimate business man but had been pulled back into the “family” business of deceit, death and destruction.

Don’t we feel the same sometimes while attempting to lose weight? Every time I’m following a healthier diet, I get sucked back into eating junk  food again! We try with all our might to resist the pull of those seductive, sugary, simple carbohydrates by consuming whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean protein. For a few weeks we’ll stand fast, smugly thinking, I’ve got this! But then an invitation to a special event arrives and find ourselves munching on dark chocolate cupcakes.

Why did we self-destruct when our determination seemed so strong?

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) ESV

Sometimes it’s our old nature which seduces us with the thought, oh well, just this once, what could it hurt? Then afterwards we think regretfully, now I’ve blown it so I’ll just start again Monday. But Monday never comes and slowly the weight lost seems trivial and desserts and pleasure take priority. Stand strong, forgive yourself and get back on track immediately.

As a nutritional counselor, some of my patients have weighed well over 500 pounds. But even they were only five pounds overweight once. What went wrong? Had they made food their god? How could anyone be happy living in an unhealthy environment? Now they lived with joint problems, diabetes and other diseases of their own making.

What causes us to self-destruct? It’s important to know why.

Do we not think we aren’t worth the effort? Are we basically lazy or bored eating the same foods over and over again? Why, when there are so many different international recipes using chicken, fish, lean pork and beef. Please don’t suffer with rice cakes and celery which contain little nutritional value. If we eat for nutrients, our metabolism will nationally work efficiency.

Some find comfort in certain foods. However a cookie isn’t always a “cookie.” Sometimes a cookie represents security, comfort or memories of a close relationship with our family. We must ask, why am I eating this? Am I really hungry or simply provoked by a feeling? If it’s the latter, find something else to do which would create positive feelings: exercise, reading, walking,  . . .

Are we searching for the easiest way to health? Packaged foods, liquid diet drinks, pills – none of these will work long term. The only good diet plan is one which teaches us to eat sensibly through a variety of nutrient-dense choices for a lifetime.

At a Home and Garden Show last weekend one lady at a booth was pushing a “miracle” diet product which I found baffling. “Look at my old photo.” She said. “I was 25 pounds heavier a month ago. Now I’m on this special diet. It’s easy!!! For two days I eat all this junk food.” She showed off a display tray featuring  chocolate cake, donuts, cookies, candy, pie, but nothing of nutritional value. She proudly stated, “Then for two days I simply take three pills daily and the fat magically dissolves away!”

Her thirteen year old daughter who tagged along, was also on this plan. Realize that the only good diet is one we’ll stay on for a lifetime. She was setting herself and her daughter up for a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.

Research physiological truth, understand and responsibly dedicate your actions to God’s Health Plan. It works.

Godly Lessons Learned From a Pup!

cj-with-chewy-bone-from-dave“Mr. No-No” turned one year old Friday. He is the cutest, fluffiest and most loving dog we have ever had. A new breed, Cavashon is a cross between a King Charles Spaniel and a Bischon. They shed little, are very affectionate and gentle. I can remove a toy from his mouth without getting my hand bitten off. Quite a change from our Lhasa or even our sweet Cocker who sadly we lost last year.

It takes a lot of energy to keep puppies occupied.  I take ours for long walks rain or shine, but since we have no sidewalks, when it’s icy or snowy as it was yesterday, walking is too dangerous. I kept him entertained at home.

I’ve learned many lessons from him and the first was that puppies are meant for younger people.

The second: self-discipline.

Puppies are similar to toddlers. Our floor looks like a bone yard: bones, chewy toys, Kongs are currently strewn all over the living room. No matter how many times I put toys away, he seems to prefer his life disorganized. Sometimes he looks like Yoda rifling through Luke’s pack, throwing items to and fro from his toy box, butt in the air.

As we mature, we should prefer order not disorder in our lives. Order keeps us disciplined and God is a God of Order. A disciplined life evokes what is right even though we don’t feel like it. Yes there are days when it is raining, snowing or 27 degrees when I don’t feel like walking. But if your child is crying and really needs you, you can’t ignore that. Our pup is counting on me too. After I have overcome “self” I feel I’ve conquered negativity while disciplining myself.

Second lesson: Realize what’s truly important. 

Observing all those toys flung over the floor, I wonder if he has a clue how fortunate he is?! “There are thousands of dogs starving in China who would appreciate all he has!”  (Sorry, flashback to being six years old and refusing to eat peas.) The point is, to our dog, those toys are primarily a means to an end. He brings me the toys so I’ll have time with him. It’s the process of playing together with the tuggie or bouncy toy that means the most to him.

Do we understand how blessed we are with the many “toys” God gives us? Or do we long for even more, never satisfied. What’s truly important in life? How much is enough? It’s all just stuff. It won’t last but next year’s new toy is calling your name; “work harder and you’ll be able to purchase it!” If you ask your child what he’d prefer, a new television or hanging out with you at the park, would he answer “I’d rather be with you?” Or have you taught him that the one with the most stuff wins?

Thirdly: Be content with what you have.

I observed Mr. No No lying on the floor watching his sister happily chomping away at a small bone. There was another larger bone and several toys right beside him but he wanted what he couldn’t have.

How like us! God created us uniquely with various body shapes and personalities. Does that make us happy? No. We want to look like Beyonce, Angelina, Brad or Clooney. Appreciate what you have. Strive to be your best for God. You’ll be much happier and content.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Lastly God’s Love is unconditional and so is our dog’s. Oh, they grow up so quickly! Love unconditionally too.

Maintain Victory Over Holiday Food Temptations

Caution . . . culinary temptations attack the senses from everywhere this time of year. holiday-partyYou might be wondering, “Why bother? I’ll have fun and simply begin again in January.” But why go backwards? You’re already healthier, so don’t give in to stinkin’ thinkin’! Your goal during this time of celebration is to at least maintain . . . not gain!

Hebrews 10:35 – 36 says, “So do not lose the courage you had in the past, which has great reward. You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what He has promised.”

Remember these basic truths when tempted at holiday parties:

1.  Health is more important than weight loss. A 180 lb person could be perfectly healthy while someone 110 lbs. might not.  Simply because someone is thin doesn’t make them healthy. Consuming nutrients do. However, this truth shouldn’t give you license to trash God’s Temple.

Whatever you consume, it’s your choice.  I don’t care if your mother-in-law would be offended if you don’t eat her fruit cake. It’s your choice whether you do or not!  There are ways to maintain weight control without hurting someone’s feelings. Kindly announce, “You know Mom, I’ve been so proud of myself for getting healthier. With your encouragement, I’ll reach my goal. Will you be my support partner with this?” Make sure you stress ‘health’, not weight, or she’ll certainly come back with, “Honey, you’re fine the way you are!” or something similar.

2. Any food is fine in moderation. There is no such thing as a good or bad food, it is simply food, which means energy for the body. Select the best choices among those available. That way you control your circumstances, not the other way around.

3. Move to burn calories!  Develop a variety of enjoyable exercises this month. Dance at home, ask a partner to jazzercise, racquetball, walk, jump rope or use a Wii program. Develop new muscle to burn those extra calories.

4. Identify your “why” before you give in to that tempting morsel. Most of the time people eat for reasons other than hunger. Are you really hungry or just tempted by your eyes?  Are you provoked by a feeling, just need something to do with your hands? Are you self-conscious, eating so you won’t have to speak? Recognize and strategize a way out, like go to another room or turn your back to the food table.

5. Identify your “trigger” foods and don’t bring those into the house. If you were a recovering alcoholic you wouldn’t socialize at a bar right? So avoid the pastry aisles at the supermarket and don’t buy that Bailey’s just in case your “friends” pop over for a drink.

6.Understand how thoughts patterns affect eating habits. It’s not an “all or nothing” proposition. You’re not a failure if you over-indulge, but you won’t feel great about yourself either. Visualize how victorious you’ll feel the next day if you avoid pigging out at that party or family function.

7. Create a Victory Jar.  Set up a calendar, documenting each accomplishment. Reward yourself each week with a nonfood reward for reaching goals. Write down rewards on a piece of paper or place a dollar bill into a clear jar. Every time you view those successes, buy something you want more than food.

Satan wants us to self-destruct and feel like a failure. But don’t give him a foothold! You’re Victorious when you allow God to control your actions. Shouldn’t you love the LORD more than food?

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”  (Romans 8:37)

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms . . .

“Mary,” a patient of mine, came to me simply to lose weight. Although she found herself craving food, the answer didn’t lie within a new menu. Mary’s cravings lay with family issues. motherdaughter-hands

Her daughter had divorced multiple times and was now in another troubling relationship. She only seemed to call her mother when she needed money to run from another messy situation. Mary always felt pressured and manipulated into sending funds to rescue her.

Manipulation caused stress and when stressed, Mary ate. Of course as soon as the daughter was free, her daughter dismissed her as easily as she left her ex’s. Feeling used and rejected, Mary would find herself turning to food once again.

I understood. Rejection and loneliness hurts, being used hurts. Mary looked for ways to mask that pain and  certain foods sedated those hurtful feelings.

Parents want to do all they can for their children. A mother’s instincts to protect her child are innate. But by feeling rejected, Mary considered herself her daughter’s personal vending machine.

Wow, does God ever feel that way with us? We ignore Him until we want something. Then we pray fervently. When God gives us the desires of our heart, we tend to forget Him until next time. How that must hurt the very Heart of God also.

Do we only go to God when we want Him to intervene? “God, act fast and get me out of this situation I created?” Then we forget about Him until the next time.

I asked Mary why she allowed herself to open her heart time after time to rejection and she replied, “The guilt feelings I’d have experienced if something had happened would have haunted me forever.”

So instead Mary turned to food, primarily sweets to numb her pain. Self-destructing, she’d rather hurt than hurt someone else. Self-medicating with food is common but never the answer any more than turning to drugs, alcohol, gambling or any other addiction would be.

Realize that change comes from within. We can’t control someone’s life. Mary had to recognize that after a certain age, one’s decisions are their own. Continually bailing out destructive behaviors isn’t helpful. It only cripples the one who needs to take control of his/her actions.

As hard as it was, Mary needed to stand firm and lean on God’s Word. No more enabling. Her daughter had to understand why she was so uncommitted to her relationships. She needed a pastor or Christian counselor to talk to. Hard facts: Mary was actually a roadblock to her discovering that reason due to her enabling.

Pray for wisdom. Prayer does change our outlook on life! The LORD is the only one who can change a Spirit. God understands more than anyone. Jesus was rejected and abandoned. He knows what you are going through. But before the creation of mankind, God had a plan to redeem us from sin.

“Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

supportive-momSin is bondage. Have you ever met someone who has conquered addictions? Have you noticed their countenance?  They are Glorious, Victorious, Courageous and Confident!

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

It’s our choice. We can live with the miseries of despair or take control. God didn’t create robots. What’s your choice? We stand alone before our Lord to answer for the life we lived on Earth. Stand Victorious!

So Many Diet Plans! Which to Choose?

The 2016 US News and World Report list of “Best Diet Plans” was recently balanced dietpublished. The top five diet plans didn’t change much since last year and it’s always gratifying to view those I highly recommend among the top 5.  Of course  all my diet plans are endorsed by the True Creator of all Good and Practical Diets. One’s which God knew, as our Designer, a person could remain on for life!

So the newest list is:

  • The Dash Diet
  • The Mind Diet (a combo of the DASH and Mediterranean diets, targeting mental function)
  • Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TCL)
  • Fertility Diet
  • Mayo Clinic Diet

All of these individual plans are variations on a theme. Each is based on a diversity of fibrous whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, lean meats and good fats. Oh my! . . .  I was so surprised . . . NOT! No matter how many times, diet gurus try to rearrange God’s message on dietary recommendations (Genesis 1:29, Genesis 9:3, Acts 10: 10-14, 1 Corinthians 10:23)  it all comes back to one basic truth: physiology.

Why do people get snared by false, fiber-less and sometimes dangerous programs? Well, desperation and hope can drive some to do crazy things. When someone diets and then gains weight back, panic ensues. I understand. No one wants to be embarrassed or perceived as a failure. People become desperate!

Case in point: In the ’90s, Oprah Winfrey set up a false diet center in a mall. The diet was based on eating only hot dogs and ice cream all day. Now, you’re probably thinking, that’s crazy, who would ever sign up for such an obviously fake diet plan? Well, I believe 41 people signed up in two days.  Did they actually believe that eating chemically-laden, nitrate-based, fatty meat and creamed, sugared saturated fat would lead to a healthier lifestyle? Probably not, but they were willing to try anything to lose weight.

If one understands physiology, he’ll know a diet restricting certain food categories will  lead to stronger cravings because our hypothalamus, (that little “mom” in our brain) is nagging us to consume other essential nutrients which our body needs! For example, a diet consisting only of fruit (grapefruit diet anyone?) lacks over 50 essential nutrients for a healthy metabolism. Moderation of all food groups is the key to success.

So don’t diet at all! Live and eat sensibly. My instructor is my LORD. If God is your teacher, then you’ll base your lifestyle on what the Word says, not on some outlandish diet claim urging you to spend money on false advertising.

Materialism is today’s worldly god. Everyone’s out for the almighty dollar. There is very little money in following God’s Simple, Sensible Eating Plan. It’s free. Many of my patients over the years have urged me to write my own “diet” plan. Actually I don’t believe in diets, only healthier lifestyles.

It’s my prayer that my posts will inspire others to follow God’s Plan. For what one truly needs cannot be found at the bottom of a carton of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. People need God to fill their soul with purpose and meaning.

 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.” 1 Corinthians 6: 12-13 (NASB)

Is Instant Gratification Good or Bad For Us?

I believe in a Bible of Authority. God SPOKE and there was light. He SPOKE and the world came into existence. God SPOKE and the universe was created in an instant . . .

Have you ever noticed however, that God took time to create a man?  Why? That’s a curious action to meditate upon, isn’t it? Amazingly, He didn’t simply speak and automatically God forming manman existed. Rather He lovingly and thoughtfully formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed His own life’s breath into him.

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” Genesis 2: 7,8

It wasn’t long afterward however that man childishly demanded instant gratification. Paradise wasn’t enough, peacefully walking throughout Eden, communing with God wasn’t enough. Adam desired to be like God with the knowledge of good and evil. Well, we know how that turned out, don’t we? Satan rejoiced over man’s fall.

As Adam discovered, instant gratification can be a painful lesson over the long haul. And man hasn’t changed over 6,000 years!  As Ecclesiastes 1:9 declares, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”(ESV)

Look at young celebrities who sign million dollar contracts and immediately fall to drugs, alcohol. gambling or other lifestyle debauchery. It’s too much, too soon. The reward came before the discipline to maintain it. The same can be said regarding many lottery winners and sports stars. Instant gratification produced a downfall.

When one gets married nowadays, many instantly purchase the huge, immaculately furnished home with the beautifully manicured lawn and two car garage for their his and her brand new automobiles. The 60 inch HD screen lies impressively on the media room’s surround-sound wall, so playing the latest video game system is pure pleasure. Instant reward! Until the bills outweigh the income and the filing of bankruptcy begins.

So it is with losing weight too quickly on pie-in-the-sky fad diets as well! “Lose 10 lbs. in 7 days!” It bankrupts the spirit and doesn’t teach anything. Sadly after someone finishes a fad diet plan, the weight piles back on when the old eating habits return. This doesn’t teach the underlying reasons why we eat as we do. Even worse, the dieter will gain back fat to replace the muscle lost. This bankrupts the soul, making a Christian feel like a failure . . . and Satan rejoices.

Since God wants us to be the healthiest we can be, it was no secret how He wanted man to eat. God told us in Genesis 1:9 and Genesis 9:3.  We don’t need a PhD to understand, just a heart willing to work for it. When one knows physiology, he recognizes how complicated our bodily machinery is. I would hope you wouldn’t place sugar and Crisco in your gas tank so why would you place junk food in your body?

God knew it was good for man to work for what he receives.  When man builds his own house with his own hands, he’ll take pride in that accomplishment and will care about the upkeep. When someone loses weight using personal discipline and God’s sensible culinary plan, he’ll have a stake in keeping the weight off. What one treasures, one takes care of!