Why Does It Take So Long to Obey Our Master’s Voice?

I’ve written about our pup, affectionately called “Mr. No-No” a few times. In all honesty he’s the most affectionate little dog we’ve ever had – but he’s also the most mischievous.

Every morning before breakfast he begs for a toy or chewy bone which we give him because he’s such a (insert baby talk) “good little boy.” But sure enough, a little while after it’s been gifted, he runs over to the couch attempting to frantically bury it under a throw pillow or loose blanket.

Afraid he’s going to tear up our beautiful couch, I get up from the breakfast table, gently “urging” him to “StoP THat!!!” He immediately stares at me, jumps down and runs away.

Great. I go back to the table. Sure enough I suddenly hear him digging under a throw rug in my husband’s office, struggling to hide his treasure beneath it. Once again I warn him to stop, which being the good dog he is, does . . . at least for a few seconds.

Looking at his deceptively cute expression, I can see his brain calculating: mmmm, if she’s here, that means the COUCH is free! He runs over to the sofa once again and proceeds to dig a hole to China to bury that blasted toy. By now I’m regretting giving it to him at all.

“Okay Buster, you’re getting a time out right now! Get. Into. Your. Crate!” Dejectedly, he scurries into his personal condo and looks mournfully at me. (Oh seriously? Please don’t feel sorry for this little mutt – that’s where most of his toys are!)

Don’t worry, he gets paroled within a short time in dog years and currently he’s on top of that same couch, happily watching people and pups walking along the path outside. Occasionally he’ll glance over with sad black eyes, as if questioning why I’m not taking him for a walk too. Like I’d really reward bad behavior?

Aren’t we the same though?  Don’t we expect to get rewarded even if we fail to do the right thing?

God only desires our good. He laid out a healthy diet when He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden.  (Genesis 1:29 & Genesis 9:3) and yet He also urged us not make our stomach our god. (Philippians 3:19) Yet we continue to act irresponsible, lusting after excess (gluttony) and usually unhealthy food. Even knowing it will hurt our health eventually.

I know now how frustrated God gets with us! He doesn’t want to take away good pleasures anymore than I desire to take away Mr. No-No’s toys. But sometimes we also need a reprimand or “time-out” too when we stubbornly demand our own way. We pursue selfish gluttony rather than listen to God’s Voice of Reason and Moderation. (1 Corinthians 10:23) Our own actions are the cause our troubles; yet we tend to blame God for them.

I continue to encourage everyone I know: eat anything in moderation. Yet most believe they’ll be able to continue in rebellious behavior, consuming chemically-based, unhealthy foods and get away with it.  Not true! Actions have consequences.

I’ve counseled many who have suffered strokes, heart attacks, developed diabetes and other illnesses. I’ve encouraged (nagged?) them to consume less fatty foods and choose fibrous fruits, vegetables, lean protein, good fats and whole grains. Will they listen to my voice? Some do. Others seem to have an excuse for eating unhealthily. Well . . . until they receive a health “time-out” courtesy of County General Hospital.

Your body is your earthly temple, honor it for your sake and His Sacrifice.

“For you yourselves know how you must imitate us: We were not irresponsible among you;”



Why Do We Crave Certain Foods?

It’s a mystery isn’t it? Going from fridge to cabinet to pantry knowing you are hungry but not knowing what you’re hungry for?

Hunger is an umbrella whose spokes branch out in different directions. Sometimes it’s not a food you’re even seeking. Rather it could be comfort, security, to soothe loneliness or a need for increased mental focus.

Occasionally your body simply desires water which is found in all foods and it’s not hunger pangs at all. So drink a glass and see if that helps. If not, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or is it simply a feeling that needs addressing?”

By understanding the reason why behind the loss of control, you’ll recognize the urge when it occurs again.

Certain food cravings have hidden meanings. One should be aware of personal trigger mechanisms. Always ask yourself, what happened just before I craved this type of food and lost control?

Creamy foods like mac and cheese provide comfort. Are you sad, lonely or did you recently suffer a loss?

Hard, crunchy foods is usually an indication you are angry or stressed. Did your boss or mother-in-law tick you off today?  Stress affects the adrenal glands and releases toxins into your system which is dangerous.

Sometimes we simply love to eat! Therefore select wisely:

Craving sweets? Slice up a nutrient-dense apple or banana and dab a teaspoon of peanut butter on a few pieces. For a real treat, melt about 12 semi-sweet chocolate chips and dip some strawberries into the sauce. You’re getting magnesium, potassium, choline, copper, B vitamins, iron and many other essential nutrients. Not bad!

Craving specific nutrient-based foods is the way the brain’s hypothalamus tells someone they are low in a particular nutrient.

For example, low in energy? Lack of chromium or iron could be the cause of an insulin imbalance resulting in low blood sugar and energy. Instead of reaching for a piece of cake or a sixth cup of coffee, reach for raisins or a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses. For lunch create a spinach salad, roast beef sandwich or grill a 93% hamburger.

Another alternative would be to select foods high in Chromium.  This essential micronutrient acts like a doorknob, allowing insulin to be enter your body more slowly. You can find it in walnuts, sliced chicken, red grapes, corn, broccoli or mushrooms. Always try to balance your meals with a combination of lean protein, good omega 3 fatty acids and fibrous carbohydrates for longer lasting energy.

Finding yourself mentally fuzzy-brained and reaching for that energy drink to get you through the day? Rather than consuming that sugary donut or chemically-dangerous beverage, consume nutrients with a bit more beneficial power like green tea, avocado, banana or berries, especially blueberries. Spicy foods like salsa also rejuvenate!

It’s not unusual during the winter season to become depressed as sunshiny days are few and far between. Garlic is a great mood enhancer. Add it to pasta sauces, pork, beef, chicken recipes, grilled vegetables or as a dip with vegetables.

Anything’s fine in moderation!  Indulging in a piece of good quality dark chocolate is absolutely acceptable each day as long as it doesn’t challenge common sense. Make yourself a fruit smoothie or even a chocolate shake with 1% milk and ice. Yum! If chocolate becomes addictive with uncontrollable cravings, don’t bring it into your home.

As the Apostle Paul says: “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.  (1 Corinthians 9:27)

By taking control of your cravings you’ll feel as empowered every day!






Embracing Short Term Goals to Achieve Lasting Ones

You’re on a wonderful journey to become healthier. Recognize it will be a challenge. Don’t allow the thought however, to become overwhelming.

Suppose you were planning a cross-country road trip. The thought  of a 3,000 mile journey might seem overwhelming. Therefore revamp your thinking, Break the trip into smaller milestones. When I reach Memphis I’ll visit Graceland, When I get to Arizona, we’ll see the Grand Canyon – see all of a sudden you are looking forward to it because you’ve broken a burdensome task into short-term goals.

Apply this same strategy to your weight-loss ambition. Create smaller steps for attainable goals.

Remember you are creating life practices not simply losing weight. You want to feel this accomplished everyday! Each time you conquer “self” you reach new heights of disciple.

It is not selfish to desire to be healthy for God!  In fact He commands it.  1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us: “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 

Ask yourself: if you require your children to follow godly values which you don’t even follow, why would they? It’s the same with healthy values! Be a positive example.

By striving to become the healthiest individual you can, you demonstrate self-discipline; those inner strengths which makes you a strong, determined person for your children to emulate.

Demonstrate how it’s done by making it fun. Start by creating the common goals known as  “SMART” intentions:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Trackable:

  1. First measure your bone structure by wrapping your thumb and middle finger around your wrist. If your fingers overlap, you’re small boned. If they just touch, medium boned and if they can’t touch at all, you are large-boned. Be realistic about how much weight you can lose based on your body type.
  2. Set your goal at 1-2 lbs lost per week because you’ll keep it off for the long haul. If you want to lose more, you’ll have to exercise more in order to lose fat.
  3. Ask “What is my motivation?” If you set your goal for someone’s approval or a specific event, when that’s over, so is your motivation. It must be your goal because you’re the only one who lives in your body.
  4. Focus on “just for today” goals, like increasing fiber and water until it becomes second nature. Don’t allow too many goals to overwhelm you, just gradually incorporate them into your lifestyle like using smaller plates or “fork down, spoon down” each day.
  5. Don’t add undo pressure for perfection like “I’m going to exercise two hours each day!” If you’re an all or nothing personality, you’ll give up when something interferes. Start with 20-30 minutes when possible or 10 minutes when you’re busy – you’re still going forward.
  6. Being realistic is recognizing that you won’t be perfect. Identify your emotions. Forgive yourself and get back on track. If you were heading to a ski area and took a wrong turn you wouldn’t give up and turn around, you’d keep going forward.
  7. Make gradual changes so your mind can catch up.  It won’t be until weeks later that your brain realizes you’re thinner than you thought. So use something tangible like a belt notch to keep track.
  8. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Realize that if a celebrity lost 45 lbs she had a lot of help behind the scenes with personal trainers, private chefs, massage therapists . . .  Your goals are your own, focus on those.
  9. Educate yourself. Understanding why we do certain things physiologically, keeps us focused.
  10. Track your successes on a graph to establish a sense of accomplishment.

Embrace the fact that you’re becoming a New Creation!

Why Dark Chocolate is the Perfect Valentine Gift!

On a morning show recently, I heard this health professional snidely remark, “Well you wouldn’t eat dark chocolate every day would you???”

Oh my dear lady, Of course I would and usually DO!

Doesn’t she keep up on the latest info available? Oh wait, never mind. I derived mine from God’s instructions 6,000 years ago when God told Adam he could eat from any tree in the Garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Let me assure you: the cocoa bean comes from a tree which isn’t evil.

I know, I could have waited until next week but hopefully husbands are contemplating Valentine’s gifts this week. So I’m passing along this suggestion now.

Sometimes I overhear, “Oh, I was baaaad; I ate chocolate this week.” Giggle, giggle.

Why is chocolate so maligned? Chocolate, in moderation, is one of the finest, nutrient-dense  foods one can consume. The cocoa myth ranks up there with avoiding eggs and shrimp with good HDL cholesterol.

I follow a simple formula, if God says it, I believe it, that settles it. However in case you don’t, let me convince you of the benefits of dark chocolate.

Chocolate is a powerful anti-oxidant, ranking even higher than the acai, pomegranate and blueberry on the protection scale. What do antioxidants do? Let me count the ways:

  1. They act as a natural sunblock, protecting us against ultra violet rays and skin damage.
  2. It protects against ailments like heart disease, vision impairments, hypertension, diabetes and cancers.
  3. It assists in lowering blood pressure because chocolate contains natural nitric oxide which increases oxygen levels and relaxes blood vessels.

Chocolate boosts our mood due to its phenethylamine (PEA) content. This is a 50-cent word which stimulates the brain to produce the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. PEA acts as drug. It stimulates the nervous system and triggers feel good endorphins. (One reason chocolate’s addictive. It’s hard to stop something that makes you feel so emotionally good.)

But a normal serotonin level is important because it improves one’s mood, sleep patterns and increases libido. When one is low in serotonin, they’re usually cranky, impatient and could act erratically. Women who suffer from PMS often find themselves depressed, craving chocolate because serotonin levels are diminished.

Subconsciously you might find yourself searching for chocolate after you’ve had a bad day or are lonely. Remember it’s a treat not a crutch. Bring it into your home only if you can control your behavior around it.

Chocolate is an enigma. It contains theobromine and caffeine which are stimulants and yet  reduces the stress-hormone cortisol, once again increasing serotonin, the pleasure hormone.

The nutrients found in chocolate are incredible: Potassium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, great fatty acids, good saturated and monounsaturated fat. The cocoa bean also contains valuable flavonoids, polyphenols, fiber and cocoa butter, (a great moisturizer.)

Chocolate even contains powerful probiotics which improve digestion and good bacteria to fight infection. Need another reason to consume chocolate? Believe it or not the antibacterial compounds will fight plague and tooth decay!

One of the best ways to consume dark chocolate is to place 15 semi-sweet chocolate chips in a small container. Eat one at a time, savoring each one. Don’t place another in your mouth until you’re done with the first one.

Another way is to melt those chips and slice fresh berries, bananas or your favorite fruit and use chocolate as a dip.

These are just some of the many ways chocolate benefits the body. Just enjoy God’s bounty without making anything an idol.

“The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us.” (Psalm 67:6)


Breathe, Relax and De-Stress!

Is your life filled with stress?

Do you work under stressful conditions? Have a domineering boss? Do you experiences stress as a nurse, (my #1 patient) when you can’t do anything for that small child dying in the ICU? As an overworked teacher, when that popular teenager calls you a derogatory name behind your back and others laugh? Or a social worker, wishing you had funds to purchase food for every struggling family, but can only stand by and help in what little way you can?

You might even question God and wonder why He allows such things to happen?

Faith is trusting, even when we don’t understand why.

A stressful environment can result not only in irritability, fatigue, headaches, memory loss, high blood pressure, insomnia and other health issues, but it can also add additional weight to your frame.

American Neurobiologist, Dr. Sapolsky, studied a Kenyan baboon community for 30 years. Existing in a class system, the aggressive Alpha males terrorized the gentler males causing stress-related illnesses within the group; elevated blood pressure, heart problems and yes, even weight gain.

Since the Alpha males also dominated the food chain; they would eat first. However they once consumed a deadly substance which caused disease and killed them off. The kinder males took over the community which then thrived due to a stress-less environment. This produced peace . . . and weight loss.

Food can be many a person’s comfort drug when they are feeling stressed. Food’s as addictive as smoking, drugs or alcohol because it changes the body’s chemistry and the neurotransmitters in our brain.

If you’re tired or having a stressful morning, it’s easy to reach for the sugary donuts in the break room. Sugar increases energy and also releases feel-good serotonin to the brain. Angry? Those pretzels and peanuts are therapeutically crunchy, releasing pent up frustration!!! Lonely? Subconsciously you reach for that stress-reliever, comforting  chemical, phenylethylamine, found in chocolate.

We need to seek peace in other ways besides reaching for food.

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9: 9,10)

Although we can’t totally eradicate stress from our lives because there is good and bad stress everywhere, every day; we can take steps to control harmful stress.

Create a Strategy and Take Action!

  1. Exercise. Serotonin is also released through exercise too! Bike, walk, play tennis, swim, go to the gym but discipline yourself!
  2. Warm relaxing baths or massage therapy.  Have your spouse give you a foot or back rub.
  3. Take action to assist and be a blessing to others. Work at an employment agency, volunteer at a charity, cook a meal, read a story to that suffering child. Be pro-active and make a difference in someone’s life.
  4. Have a cup of tea, enjoy the sunset and relax with music.
  5. Meditate.  The closer you experience God, the more peace you’ll experience. Have Faith that His Way is Best.
  6. Laughter relieves stress. Laugh with your family, watch a comedy, play games, have a date night.
  7. Remember you can’t live in a vacuum. Find someone to talk to, whether it’s a spouse, friend or pastor, we all need a support system.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” (Psalm 143:10)

Success is within reach but you must want to take action to grasp it!

What “Doggie-Hell” Seems Like

Our Cavashon, affectionately called, “Mr. No-No,” enjoys coming into my office and laying at my feet while I write. He brings in countless bones, chewy’s, tuggie ropes. balls, Kongs and other toys until he is surrounded. I must step gingerly if I get up, so I don’t get hurt stepping on one.

While I was  in my office writing one morning, he once again at my feet, got up and moved away. I heard him sadly whimpering. I thought he simply wanted to get out to get a sip of water, but that wasn’t it. Looking up, I noticed he was staring at his toy box on the other side of the glass door, lusting after yet another slobbery toy.

“But I really want that one,” he seemed to incessantly whine at me. “If only I can have that one I won’t ask for another thing again. I promise!!!”

“Sorry buddy,” I said as I continued to write, “I’m not getting up just so you can get another icky toy. Lay down now.” (I talk to the little guy like he’s a regular person.) He kept whining but sometimes “one must be more stubborn than a Lhasa apso” (another dog blog post reference) and he eventually gave up and laid down, probably dreaming how I was the worst mom ever.

He had 52 other items he could play with and yet he believed something different and new would bring him ultimate happiness.

How like us too! Who is our God? We sometimes choose materialistic items, money, power or prestige over our Lord and family. What values does that teach our children?  God has blessed us so abundantly and yet we strive for things that will become dust, for emotional highs which fade away over time and items that have no lasting value.

“Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:19)

What about our food choices? God generously gave us an abundance of nutritious items that not only sustain us, but will produce a vibrant life.

Yet we choose nutrient-deprived pretzels, chips, bacon burgers, diet sodas and sugary candy over strawberries, dark chocolate, avocados and nuts because sugary idols will bring ultimate happiness, right?

Actually they do but that’s a half-truth – and who is the master of half-truths? Satan.  Sugary drinks, candy and junk food with its dyes, artificial colors, sugars and preservatives, will lift our spirits for awhile because of their addictive chemicals.

But then comes the blood sugar crash. When that happens, our blood sugar and pH becomes acidic, which makes us grumpy, jittery, weak and miserable to be around. Without nutrients we also have no way to convert carbohydrates, fats and protein into energy so we’re only consuming empty calories and gaining weight.

To our pup, doggie hell looks like deprivation. To him I’m the godly master who is mean- spirited, restricting all his fun.  He focuses on his presumed deprivation, just as we do sometimes. He conveniently forgets the abundant nutritious treats he gets when he behaves properly.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) 

The thief is Satan who wants nothing more than to destroy our earthly temple mentally, physically and spiritually.

But our Lord wants us to enjoy an abundant life! One way we can do so is live by His recommended nutritional guidelines found in Genesis 1:29 and Genesis 9:3.

Be Content, Count your Blessings, Honor God, Live Abundantly!



Striving Toward Victory in the Midst of Challenges

Mohamed Ali didn’t win every boxing match, Tom Brady doesn’t complete every pass attempt, Michael Jordan didn’t score every time he put up the shot. But they are each considered the best in their field. Why? The common denominator is that they never quit!

Don’t quit either!

Have you ever watched an athlete during practice? Each athlete strives for excellence and when they falter, they dig deep, determined to get their rhythm back once again.  I’m sure they never considered quitting because they would have retired defeated. In their eyes that would be a disgrace.

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3:13)

As you strive for a healthier lifestyle this year, I’m sure you’ve faltered a bit in the past three weeks, been sabotaged with tempting food, perhaps had exercise set-backs, maybe even gaining a pound or two. But I hope you haven’t quit!

That would be as heartbreakig as heading on a family ski vacation and if you took a wrong turn, throwing up your hands in defeat, announcing, “Sorry gang, I made a mistake, trip’s over – let’s go home.”

Can you imagine the disappointment on your children’s faces if you actually did that? I’m certain you would take out your map, figure out where you turned wrong. Then you’d get back on the right road and head for your destination once again.

Similarly, when striving for a healthier lifestyle, if you make a mistake, get out your directions again and analyze what you did wrong. Then head toward your destination once again: health!

Most of us will never become world-class athletes, but we can certainly aspire to excel. Often however, discouragement sets in because we expect instant gratification.

Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and Mohamed Ali didn’t become “The Greatest” in their field overnight. It was a struggle at times. To each however, the ultimate reward was worth the struggle.

Life itself is a balance of mountain tops  and struggles. It’s a typical daily diet of better choices. Humans need nutrients to have a successfully running metabolism!

We are not meant to consume only one food category. Balance your diet plan with many different types of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and herbs. Vary your protein intake with a variety of lean protein. Consume healthy fat. But if you consume a fattier meal one day, so what? Get right back on the ” better selection” routine and eat more disciplined the next day.

When discouraged, or if you reach a plateau in your weight quest and can’t seem to lose those last few pounds, always reconsider your original instructions:

  1. Are you eating nutrient-dense foods?
  2. Using smaller plates?
  3. Exercising?
  4. Drinking enough water?
  5. Is your routine becoming boring? Change it up. Consume different nutritious foods or create different ways to exercise.
  6. Perhaps you need a short attainable goal?
  7. Talk yourself into continuing to strive for excellence!

No matter what challenges you encounter, learn from them and keep going! I’m praying you wouldn’t think of turning your back on your Christian lifestyle simply because you made a mistake. So please don’t turn your back on a healthy lifestyle.

God, the Ultimate Coach, is forgiving and extremely patient with us. He is our Encourager, motivating us onward toward being our best self and yet gently reprimanding us if we tend to not listen to His counsel:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  (Colossians 3:23)