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Pulling Those Pesky Weeds

I grew up on a farm which is the best place in the world to learn self-discipline. But I hated pulling weeds in our garden. Now it’s gardening season again and I find the best flowers I grow are pretty flowering weeds.

How easily sin can spread like flowering weeds throughout our lives. Pretty to look at but deadly to Spiritual growth. We’re aware that sin is destructive and shouldn’t flower in a Christ-filled life.

But how do we rid ourselves of them?

We must recognize that sin’s unhealthy habits drag us down, destroying our Christian testimony. I’m ashamed to say that when I went to college, someone asked me once, “If you’re a Christian why do you do such bad things?”  I had no answer except a flippant, “Well Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” I don’t know why God is so patient with me but I’m grateful!

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”  (1 Corinthians 13:11)  NLT

When it comes to sin we can’t be flippant by allowing a small amount to grow in our Spiritual garden. Avoid toxic people for “Bad company corrupts good character.”  (1 Corinthians 15:33) Yes it’s true that sometimes we can win others to the Lord by displaying good Christian character amidst challenging social situations. But more times then not, the character of “weedy friends” overpower us and we fall into sin, allowing our character to become compromised. Scripture urges us to flee youthful lusts, (2 Timothy 2:22) not dabble in it.

It’s similar to obtaining a healthier lifestyle. Every sin has consequences. If you always consume fattening, chemically laden foods you’ll risk diabetes, strokes, heart disease and cancers. Risk? Do you feel “lucky?” I’d prefer not playing Russian Roulette with my life but rather trust God to keep me healthy because I want to honor that vibrant life gift He has given me.

Until one gets strong enough to withstand the temptation of donuts and sugary carbs, we shouldn’t go into a donut shop! Or attend a Buffet if you’re a curious person and consume a little of everything the tables offer. Nine times out of ten we will fall to the “Feast of The Eyes!”

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:16) NLT

What about toxic relationships? Following a raucous, sinful crowd is being like a sheep who plunges to his death because he followed the leader over a cliff. Sheep are dumb animals! You shouldn’t be! As painful as it is to say goodbye to a close but unrepentant friend, if they are dragging you into a pit, for your own safety, let go and fervently pray for them.

And the best advice: don’t allow temptation to grow in the first place! If you prevent pesky weeds from growing, you won’t have to pull them later. Use the best Spiritual Weed Killer there is: Scripture! Cultivate appropriate Bible verses deep inside your mind and soul and it will absolutely act as weed preventer!

Everyone Needs a Goal!

So are you still as determined to become weight-loss successful? I hope so!  However, you might be slightly discouraged, wondering if getting healthy is worth the sacrifice now, right? Dig deep and talk yourself into success!!  Getting healthy must come from your own inner desire to please God and in doing so, becoming a New Creation.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Becoming healthier is an independent journey. Your counselor can educate and encourage  but she can’t lose the weight for you. But don’t fret.That’s actually wonderful and encouraging because when you succeed, you’ll realize that you CAN keep it off for a lifetime due to educational processes and challenges you’ve overcome.

To become successful, it’s best to establish goals.

Recognize that accomplishments don’t happen overnight. If you were taking a 3,000 mile cross-country trip, the thought of it might seem overwhelming when you take out a map and stare at all the states in-between Virginia and California. “3,000 plus miles of interstate traffic, oh my!”

So revamp your thinking. Breaking up your travels into smaller, reachable day trips is a lot less intimidating. Say to yourself, “When I reach Ashville, NC, we’ll visit The Biltmore Estate. When I get to Memphis I’ll tour Graceland.  When I get to Arizona, we’ll see the Grand Canyon”  – all of a sudden you are looking forward to it because you’ve divided a burdensome task into smaller, accessible goals. Apply this same strategy to your weight-loss endeavors. Create smaller steps for exciting, reachable goals.

Don’t feel guilty about doing something for yourself if it’s God-honoring. It is not selfish to desire to be healthy for God!  In fact He commands it.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22)

God says in 1 Peter 1:16 commands, “for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” A Christian should always strive to be holy in all they do, That means not making idols out of food.

Everyone knows how to lose weight: eat smaller portions, exercise, slow down, drink water . . . so why don’t they? Don’t know? That’s where a counselor comes in. Ask yourself: what is more important than health in your life?

Every one has a different reason:

Sometimes a heavy girth is very forceful and intimidating. It creates a powerful tool they want to keep. I’ve also had patients who have been sexually attacked and feel it was their fault for having a seductive figure, so they put on poundage to avoid being a victim. (News flash: you’ll be looked at no matter what size you are.) Others have been beaten down in life when told consistently, “you’ll never amount to anything. I told you you’d fail!” So why should you attempt something that 80% of dieters fail at time and time again?

Some simply love food! “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:19) The Word tells us not to make idols out of food. We should eat for nutrients! By striving to become the healthiest individual you can be, you demonstrate inner strengths to your children and your spouse that God creates determined, strong quality material! You!

Remember you are setting disciplined life-goals, not weight-loss goals. Don’t you want to feel this great for a lifetime, not just for an event like a class reunion or wedding?! Why go back to your old, unhealthy self after one goal is reached? That was your old, unhealthy, undisciplined self!

Everyone needs a goal. What’s yours?

“But I Haven’t Lost Weight!!!”

Could your mind be manipulating you into a false picture of truth?

One of my patients, after losing 65 pounds, turned to me and sighed, “But when I look in a mirror Ellie, I still see a huge woman and feel I haven’t accomplish anything!”

Unfortunately, that’s a common misperception. Our mind doesn’t always recognize our successes. “You haven’t changed, you are still fat and the same failure you always have been, so just give up!” is what Satan is whispering in our ear.

Don’t believe it! That’s stinkin’- thinkin’!

It takes several weeks for your mind to catch up with your body image. Allow yourself some patience. Positive thinking is a habit after all and changes take time before we are comfortable with them.

It’s important to create tangible evidence of your accomplishments. Sometimes like Doubting Thomas, we need to see progress with our very own eyes before we believe it.

Here’s a few helpful tips:

  1. Create a personal weekly weight loss graph to recognize how much weight you actually lose.
  2. Find an old belt to see how much smaller it closes around your waist.
  3. Try on a piece of old clothing and see how loose it is.
  4. Find an old picture from a year or two ago and compare it to a new photo. See the difference?

By comparing her old self to her new self she recognized how far she had come. She wasn’t trapped at all! She had broken through the mental, spiritual and physical bonds that had previously ensnared her. Her mental image simply had to catch up.

As much as I want to get healthy for you, you must want it more than I want it for you. It is an individual decision to put discipline and training into action to be successful. You alone become a new creation, inside and out. No longer should your mind be trapped into thinking you failed.

It doesn’t please the Lord when you degrade yourself. Just as we accept salvation individually, through a growing faith, we must put positive decisions into real life practice in order to produce the fruit of the Spirit.  We don’t always see that fruit of the Spirit immediately. Sometimes it is a “two steps forward and one step back” process, but you are still going forward!

Have you ever had a day when you’ve said: “I want to be joyful but, man . . . I woke up in such a lousy mood . . . and that boss of mine is such a  . . . and the dishwasher’s broken again and the bills are due . . . ” Sometimes we just do not feel joyful, patient, kind or self-controlled. Everyone has “one of those days.” Forgive yourself; realize you are human, not perfect.

“to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Physiologically there is no quick, safe way to consistently lose 5-10 pounds per week! It is deceitful and dangerous for diet companies to imply one can safely do so. We would be losing water weight, muscle, brain and bone as well as a little fat.

Quit searching for quick fixes and instant gratification! Start educating yourself. By making small gradual changes, you’ll discover fortitude, patience and physiological truths long-term, which honors God.

 God made you special. You were meant for a purpose and you aren’t disposable because God doesn’t make junk!

10 Sensible Habits for Abundant Health!

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

We are commanded to honor God with our bodies and let’s face it, no one desires to fail on another “diet.” But every time we get exasperated, wanting to quit, the devil taunts: I said you couldn’t do it! You’ll never be successful.

Don’t believe it! The Lord knows you are more powerful than Satan so tap into God’s power! (1 John 4:4)

To ensure weight loss success, establish your defenses against the devil’s lies. Conquer that mountain top of discouragement! Here’s how:

1. Winners know who they are.  Accept your need for self acceptance. You are unique, revel in that. Build your worth around your love for God, others, your family and personality. Real beauty comes from within. (1 Samuel 16:7) Either rid your life of toxic relationships or be an encourager.

2. Become conscious of how you react to food. Are you really hungry or just provoked by a feeling? Do you eat healthy foods or do you bring tempting junk into your home? Do you eat quickly or dine leisurely with friends and family?  It takes 20 minutes for your brain to know your tummy is full, so relax and enjoy your food.

3.  Build a support system for accountability/encouragement. God declared, “It’s not good for man to be alone.”  Your friends and family care if you’re unhealthy. Don’t allow them to be enablers.

4. Successful people are committed to reaching goals. They don’t allow set-backs to deter them. Sometimes you’ll be ten steps forward and then four steps back, but remember, you’re still going forward! As a Christian, is there anything that would entice you to return to a decadent lifestyle? Hope not! Realize that God doesn’t expect perfection from you, only obedience –  so don’t expect it from yourself.

5Successful people develop strategies. They have created strategies to overcome temptations before they arise. Outside influences shouldn’t control them. They know honoring God is more important than  establishing a fattening, unhealthy food as their idol.

6. They find pleasure in other actions besides eating! Develop a hobby, write, paint, exercise, read a favorite novel, garden, learn a new skill. It’s not selfish to find satisfaction in a well-rounded lifestyle! Food then won’t be the highlight of your life.

7.  Motivated people use visualization skills.  Try visualizing yourself covered in lard or yellow fat. Visualize eating raw chicken skin, mmm . . . or bacon grease coursing throughout your veins.  Not very attractive. Think of your heart as a separate entity, faithfully working day and night to keep you alive. Your heart deserves better!

8Winners are confident people! Aren’t you drawn to confident leaders? Just think how mentally strong you become, because no one else can lose your weight but you!! If you can lose weight you can do anything, so walk like a winner!

9. Winners become educated. They understand why they eat and know where temptations are. They control their daily fat intake and rarely eat junk food – which like sugar, greatly ages the body. They exercise because it’s beneficial and FUN. They’ve learned physiology and what an intricate machine God created!

10. Feeling great is their everyday routine. Healthy people smile more, enjoying life! Being healthy improves one’s looks, energy level, longevity, self-esteem and is a testimony to how God gloriously rules in our lives.

Walk with God’s Strength, it’s something winners strive for.

 “For it is written, You must be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

How Does Food Control Us?

Do you wonder also why you suddenly crave something salty, crunchy or a piece of chocolate? As a nutritional counselor, studying the mind and body is a fascinating profession. Many false beliefs will challenge my patients. Some believe eating right is simply a matter of willpower, but it’s not.

Here are several reasons why we eat:   

Reason #1:

The answer literally starts in the mind with the hypothalamus. Our bodies need nutritional balance, which we often don’t select. The hypothalamus acts like a little drill instructor indicating what nutrients you require and what food supplies it.

For example, if you haven’t consumed enough copper, the hypothalamus will torment you until you reach for a food containing it. Kale contains copper – so does chocolate.  Which would you reach for? (Yeah, sure you’d choose the Kale chips.)  Therefore it is important to  eat a well-balanced diet from the beginning or it’ll take enormous effort to overcome unhealthy cravings. You’ll become frustrated and quit, believing it’s your lack of willpower. It isn’t, it’s about physiology.

Reason #2:

Emotions and memory can be your best friend or worst enemy. One example: your childhood affects your eating habits today.

If you were poor or had to compete with eight siblings, you might be a fast eater. You might believe that it’s not going to be there tomorrow, so I better eat as much as I can now! Therefore, you’ll consume food without chewing enough to release enzymes or place more on your plate than you can eat.  Did your mother ever profess, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!”

As you age, hopefully you understand that you are neither poor nor have to fight off others for that last cupcake or slice of pizza. But now you can have as much as you want, whenever you want, creating gluttony or closet eating.

Talk yourself into success, recognizing that you are an adult and only answer to God for your eating behaviors. Do you believe God would allow you to starve?  On the contrary, He only wants what is best for His children as He cared for the Israelites when they wandered in the desert:

“At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”  (Exodus 16:12)

God however, provided enough meat and manna only for one day. God never stuffed His children with more food than they required for energy. Still the Israelites complained, didn’t they? Human nature never changes! “I don’t want salad! I want a big juicy hamburger with greasy French fries and a frosted malt and I want it NOW!”

Reason #3:

Insulin. Have you ever had a hazardous encounter? Driven on ice or thought someone was following you? Under stress your heart raced and your body instinctively went into a “flight or fight” mode. That drew blood away from vital organs into your outer extremities, ready for action. What happened next? When the threat was over, you probably reached for comfort food. Why?

When the body is under stress, it readily prepares for the next crisis. Routine blood insulin is lost quickly.  Therefore, under constant daily stress (work, children, finances) you are always hungry, seemingly “for no reason whatsoever” in your mind. I just need more willpower, you tell yourself. Not true. What you need, is find a way to relax . . . a walk, bubble bath, Bible meditation, soft music or other activity to conquer your stressful life.

Health begins in the mind. Recognize the many reasons your body protects you physiologically and strive to honor it for doing so!

“you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Become an Efficient Bodily Machine

God created our bodies as incredible machines. It’s absolutely amazing how intricate and energy efficient we could be if we only took care of ourselves and ate better. But do you run like a lawn mower, a garbage disposal or a sports car?

God has intricately designed our systems to protect us even when we do something crazy.

Case in point: when we attempt a starvation diet, pills, shots or liquid protein diet; our body will go into protection mode. Sure, any diet will allow us to lose weight . . .  initially, but starvation is not natural . Our  brain will discern that something is wrong, (perhaps we’re ill?) and will slow our metabolism to save energy.  Afterwards it takes longer to adjust our metabolism back to normal. We begin to store fat for later use. Because after all, “the crops might fail again” and we’ll need that stored energy to survive!!!

There is no miraculous way to instantly lose weight. It always goes back to God’s beautifully designed physiology: sensible nutritious eating, consuming water while exercising to burn calories and tone muscle which burns fat. Circular, boring and time-consuming. So to speed things up we’ll desperately try anything, gimmicks, caffeine, drugs . . . again gimmicks!

Always go back to basics: continually eat for nutrients, consume smaller portions, exercise, drink water, slow down and chew to release those vital enzymes.

Another suggestion is to make life’s challenges a game! To increase fluid  intake:

  1. Fill a water container with a various combinations of lemon, cucumber slices, watermelon, berries . . .  you get the idea.
  2. Create a chart and for every glass you drink, check off a block. Make it a game.
  3. Every box is worth a nickel, dime, whatever. Reward with non-food items.
  4. Display the jar and tangibly you’ll see accomplishments right in front of you.

These habits restore a feeling of self-discipline. Self esteem issues were probably one reason you gained in the first place, right? (Congratulations – you’re now a winner!) Use the reward money for a family fun night, DVD or shopping trip.

Exercise! When did exercise cease to be fun? When we were children we ran for the pure joy of it! Find a sport the family can perform together. Whether it’s throwing the Frisbee, biking, swimming, hiking; these can all be fun activities and bond the family together. As your health improves, so does your children’s.

Cooking. This can be a fun family achievement as well. Have each family member list their favorite dinners and place all in a hat, then plan your weekly menu.

Forget the sticks and twigs of diet plans. These are gimmicks. Feed your family nutrients! Even hamburgers, meatloaf and pizza can be created with less fat. Use 93% ground round or homemade pizza with less cheese and more veggies.

Grill chicken, sirloin kabobs or roasted pork loin with grilled potatoes, veggies and salad. These aren’t fattening. Use the leftover pork loin for BBQ sandwiches and extra chicken over garden salad. Search through cookbooks as a family to see what recipes to try. Did you know that 80% of the time, families consume the same 12 meals? Boring! Your body needs nutritional variety to work effectively.

Train your children well to create healthy habits. Strive for excellence as a family, instilling discipline and common sense. What values are you teaching your children? They watch and learn.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” (Ephesians 4:22)