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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!

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Caterpillar or Butterfly?

Does a butterfly look back on its life and wish it had remained a caterpillar? (I do wonder about strange things, don’t I?)

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder but most of us, if given a choice, would choose to be a butterfly I believe, rather than a caterpillar.

When it’s a caterpillar it’s pretty adorable; all soft and fluffy. And we usually “ooo” and “aah” over a butterfly and only “aahh, so cute!” over a caterpillar. Most of us just  aren’t content to be cute – we’d rather be beautiful, it’s human nature.

The caterpillar had the DNA inside him to change his nature, so do we? Some are naturally meant to be thinner than others; but we should ALL  desire to be our healthiest self. The butterfly eventually changed into the best of himself, so can you! Don’t be content to settle for a second best you.

Do you think the caterpillar knew its destiny or was it content to crawl around the leaves and up stems of flowers and never soar? Was it aware that it would eventually transform into a beautiful creature? I would think it was probably content in its ignorance. Just like discouraged dieters who sigh, “Well, I guess this is how I was made, so I’ll just accept it.”

In God’s timing, the caterpillar metamorphosed into a butterfly; and with its beautifully extended wings alighted on a flower for the first time. What a glorious accomplishment! Do you think it then grieved for its past life or rather rejoiced in its new abilities to fly? Did it ever wonder, “Why didn’t I do this sooner!”

So many of us are content in bodies that crawl or even stumble exhausted through life without any desire to reach greater heights! Strive for something better than mediocrity, you deserve it!

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

As a nutritionist, I usually heard a patient, after they met their goal, exclaim, “I feel wonderful! Why didn’t I do this sooner?!!!” In God’s timing He won’t force us to becomes healthier. It’s our decision. Only when we are ready to make him LORD over our choices will we be ready to become a new creation.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Don’t be content to drag yourself through your day with extra pounds and potential health issues. Are you tired of taking countless pills for blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or a heart condition? Instead allow yourself to become a New Creation.

I very much enjoy watching the television show, Aerial America? Isn’t it amazing how soaring over this country can change our perspective on how we view objects we’ve seen countless times?! Isn’t it about time you saw life from a different perspective? Choose a healthier lifestyle and take control of your life.

Don’t crawl through life, SOAR with wings like the butterfly.

 

Braving Our Personal Storms in Life

As we sit here, enjoying a beautiful sunset over western Florida, escaping the wrath of Hurricane Dorian, I can’t help but wonder how many have cried out, “Why, God?” when destruction hits.

Why does God allow storms to enter our lives? How are we to deal with them?

Reflecting, I saw a comparison of personal godly storms and how we can get through them by trusting God.

God is Loving in spite of our rebellion

Twice in our married life we have turned from God, who brought us back through loving discipline. True, we suffered and are still reaping consequences but never have we complained it’s God’s Fault!!! In fact God graciously forgave our immaturity and we’ve learned from that experience. It’s helped us to counsel others because we’ve “been there.” We accepted the fact that we were far away from God’s Will and absolutely recognized we deserved more punishment than our loving LORD dished out.

Have you ever strayed from healthier eating? Of course, everyone has. When you did, what were the consequences? Stomach ache? Fatigue? Diabetes? Something worse? Well, did God force you to eat those double cheeseburgers – make you ill? No, we did it to ourselves and must accept the consequences. God however, graciously prepared a way of escape with wisdom, medications, exercise, healthier foods . . . and you know what? I bet you like yourself better when you eat better!

“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) LSV

As a father lovingly disciplines a child, God warns us, might even punish us for what we have done. Just look at King David and what resulted after his sin with Bathsheba. God doesn’t play favorites.

God sometimes creates storms to navigate us to safer ports.

Last year we were working in a toxic environment but prayed we could still make a difference. God loved us enough to prod us out of that unhealthy environment and to move us into a blessed Christian opportunity and lifestyle experience.

Sometimes we remain in an environment we shouldn’t. We settle for mediocrity. Nutritionally, have you ever thought, “Okay, one piece won’t harm me.” However one leads to another and suddenly it’s ten extra pounds gained. Don’t settle in a bad habit! God desires so much more for you.

Knowing God’s Word Prevent Storms

False prophets twist and turn God’s Word around making it sound better to anyone wanting to believe it. I saw this with politicians while working in public relations. They proclaimed promises the crowd wanted to hear. People who fall for these haven’t researched what Truth is! There’s little distinction between false prophets or false diet gurus. Know what you should believe and why. Do. Your. Research. Understanding physiology is important!

God is Good. He instilled in us common sense. Provided great nutritious foods to enjoy. Therefore eat what you desire in moderation. Avoid man-made, chemically-based foods most of the time, consume good fats and colorful food. If you crave a particular food, ask why. Are you physically hungry, sad, bored, lonely, stressed? Decide for yourself whether you are really hungry or simply emotional. Know yourself.

It’s not easy traveling a Christian path. Nor is it easy reaching a healthier goal. In nutrition no one wants to suffer, yet everyone wants a quick fix. There is no need to continuously sacrifice. Enjoy His Bounty and Stay Healthy in Body and Spirit.

The Uniqueness of You

When I asked my mother what she wanted for her birthday, she would always smile and answer softly, “Oh, peace and contentment.” Isn’t that what we all should strive for?

Becoming a New Creation means embracing the true you, even imperfections. How many are content and at peace with who they truly are? Those I counseled usually wanted to look like someone else, a celebrity or a prettier version of themselves. Few told me they wanted to be a healthier version of themselves.

I would patiently customize a sensible meal plan that would fit with a patient’s tastes, budget and particular lifestyle. Stressing, Eat for nutrients; eat anything in moderation . . .

Week after week, some would lose weight while others presented excuses; (unexpected company, special events, holidays, etc.) to justify their lousy week. I had provided practical applications to avoid those temptations, yet they failed to comply. I’ve heard every excuse. They weren’t fooling me; they were fooling themselves.

For if one has the will, they’ll find the way – if it’s something they truly want.

Even if I had a magic wand and could instantly turn them into a size two, I know they wouldn’t remain a size two for long, because there was something masking the true reason they weren’t getting healthy.

If this is you, figure out why you’ve self-destructed:

1. Whether it is one’s upbringing, “You better eat everything on your plate or NO DESERT for you!” – insecurity, shame, illness, circumstances – many eat for “masked” reasons. It might not even be a seemingly bad reason – some are simply happy or curious eaters and lose control. Someone, perhaps being poor growing up, subconsciously fears food won’t be there tomorrow.

2.  Occasionally it’s a medical reason. Illnesses and medications can slow metabolism, influence electrolyte and water balances. It’s extremely tough, but have patience. Consuming healthier foods; all while learning new habits is what I’d recommend until off medication and weight loss can begin.

3. Perhaps it’s psychosomatic; stress, emotional issues or perceived guilt denies success, especially when the mind believes it must protect itself. Reading positive books, exercising, fresh air, meditating, listening to soothing (or even rock) music can calm or invigorate.

4. Sometimes it’s physical challenges. If someone is big-boned, they’ll never become a comfortable size two, no matter how much they desire to. “To accept the things we cannot change,” is part of the serenity prayer. We are all unique and becoming the best creation you can be should be the goal, not lusting after a celebrity’s body shape or lifestyle. Focusing on unrealistic possibilities makes us miss out on so much in life!

I especially enjoy counseling when that aha moment appears. When a patient finally recognize why they act as they do. I know then, they’ll truly begin taking control of their health. Find yours!

Bottom line? Since we’re all unique there’s no “one-size-fits-all” reason for success or failure. We are all individuals with different needs and desires. Know yourself as God knows you. For Psalm 139: 13-16 professes:

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.  (ESV)

God knows you are unique and loved. He created you. Love back – honor your earthly temple.

Personal River of Change

Thank you to all of my followers who didn’t quit on me during my long sabbatical. It’s hard to return after being away from blogging. One reason is because it’s difficult to come up with a first post! It’s not as easy as: “Hi, I’m Back!!! Gotta love me!”

Recently I saw a poster entitled “Life is like a River.” How often have you heard that saying? Poems are written about it, Facebook posts share it and Garth Brooks beautifully sang about it. Wouldn’t a river analogy be the perfect segue after a life-changing sabbatical?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” (Isaiah 43:2)

 

Rivers are molded by their environment.

Rivers are amazing and beautiful. They can gently bring life back to a community or can flood it with a vengeance, if influenced by outside sources. Rivers can gently round off rocks, creating their beautiful smoothness or mold them into craggy, sharp, dangerous edges.

During my teenage years, our farm bordered part of the Susquehanna River. Since we weren’t far from its source in Cooperstown, NY, it wasn’t very wide. A stone could have easily been thrown across it. That is until the rains came and the river overflowed onto our fields. This could have been a good or bad event. It could destroy crops or enrich the soil.

Events happen in our lives that we have no control over. When downpours come into our lives, do we rant and rave? Sure, but even if justified, do we allow it to destroy our happiness? Do we accept life’s challenges, make the best of it and move on or have a pity party, mope and complain? How we react to a crisis is a personal choice. Choose Joy!

River intensity changes frequently

Our personal “life river” became a white water rafting trip last year when we traveled over some rocky shoals of life. Sadly, we were betrayed by beloved trusted friends, accosted and blindsided by an angry mob of “Pharisees.” Other innocent friends were hurt simply for being our acquaintances. Yet still their and our Faith never wavered.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Yes, God is Faithful. He almost miraculously moved us out of a toxic environment and provided a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Over the past five months, life has become incredibly rewarding and joyful once again, living in paradise. We are coasting on smooth waters and our faith not only endured but flourished.

Rivers are always moving forward, therefore no two days are ever the same: 

Several years ago, after my husband accepted his previous position, he was asked to join the staff of a wonderful Christian college. Having integrity, he declined, faithfully serving his congregation. It was evident that God’s River moves at its own pace, patiently instilling life experience. God eventually provided abundant blessings; moving us to that new teaching position and true Christian friendships.

Rivers are so diverse, no two are alike. Just like people 

I’m here to implore you to not focus on fragile, fallible Christians. God alone is perfect. Our past is a training field, learn from it. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them. If you trust in God, rely on His Will, He will never forsake you!

It’s good to be back, my friends.

 

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)

“What About Boxed Diet Programs?”

Please tell me what’s wrong with this statement?

“I know certain diets don’t work because I’ve tried them all. But this (boxed) program? I know that works, because it worked for me SEVERAL TIMES!!!”

That was the response I received as I counseled a new patient whose goal was to lose 150 pounds. Poor sweet lady, she just didn’t get it; she was only stressing her heart as she searched for an easy fix, believing a convenient “buy a box” program would work again.

First, the only real diet is one that will work for an lifetime. Of course one could get lucky and lose a few pounds on a gimmicky diet plan but for how long? Sure it worked for celebrities but will it fit into your lifestyle? For example, if you entertain clients at restaurants, host office dinners for your husband, teach 32 children in your classroom or show homes as a realtor, it’s nearly impossible to follow a boxed diet program successfully.

And keep in mind that the celebrity spokesperson, ecstatic over her current boxed food plan, has a lucrative contract, personal shopper, chef, publicist, housekeeper, private gym with trainer, stylist, masseuse and an incentive to look good in front of the television cameras!  You’ve got a mirror and box of cheese doodles in your cabinet. And I can buy my family an entire day’s worth of food for one individual’s cost of a boxed program at $9-11 per day, not counting the extras that go with it like dairy, vegetables and fruit.

Secondly, unless one knows how to maintain a balanced, HEALTHY diet, purchasers usually gain it all back and then some! Look at Oprah. Currently there are no one-on-one meetings with counselors to answer personal challenges on topics relevant to your individuality.

A nutritional counselor will discover the root cause of your self-destruction. Check a company out thoroughly and ensure the diet company has counselors who will keep you educated on physiology so you can maintain the weight loss under real life circumstances.. (Think Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.)

We are each uniquely designed by God. We also have different DNA’s, lifestyles and challenges we face daily. A stay-at-home mom faces different stressors than a lawyer who’s single. That mom needs to know how to overcome the cupboard temptations calling her name while the lawyer needs to alleviate mental stress by hitting the gym after work.

Pre-planning and controlling our own destiny instills personal confidence that we can overcome anything. No one else can get healthy for us. We might think that someone else preparing our meals so we can simply pop them in the microwave is convenient but what have we learned about meal preparation, grocery shopping for healthier choices, portion sizes and cooking for a family of five? That’s right, nothing! We might get a few brochures and pamphlets but can we decipher it? (Or as I usually ask, “Do you know what it means to you in dog years?”)

Selecting the right foods isn’t that hard. It’s common sense. Choose as many whole foods, lean meats, good quality yogurt and healthy fats (olive oil, coconut, milled flaxseed or avocados, etc.)

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.”   (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Very few remain healthy and slim on a prepackaged meal plan. Please don’t believe everything your itchy ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4: 3-4)