5 Ways to Turn Your Body into a Calorie Inferno

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the Cupboard, Founder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor, Personal Trainer & Boxing Coach.

Ever wonder how some people seem to hop in the gym today only to be ripped weeks later?  (okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration but let’s face it, it’s just ridiculous how quick some people shed pounds that some of us have to topple mountains to get rid of.)

If you’re thinking it’s all in their genes, stop.  While genetics can play a great role in tendencies to retain or shed excess weight, there are ways you can biohack your own system to get that metabolism revved and ready to blast those pesky pounds and inches.

Biohack your health and wellness efforts by applying a little S.P.E.E.D.

SLEEP

In a 2007 research review, Knutson et al. found that chronic partial sleep loss could increase the risk of obesity and diabetes via dysregulation of glucose metabolism (i.e., insulin resistance) and altered neuroendocrine control of appetite resulting in excessive food intake and decreased energy expenditure.

The average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of quality sleep each night. This can vary based on health status and additional needs for recovery, such as during periods of intense training or recovery from injuries.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESSstress-reduction-bang-head-here_u-L-F59O3O0

Stress adaptation requires a coordinated series of responses mediated through the hypothalamus-pituitary-axis (HPA) and sympathetic nervous system, which act to maintain homeostasis and protect against chronic diseases.

Chronic hyperactivation of the HPA axis (which can occur with things like low calorie dieting) has been linked to visceral fat deposition, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, altered lipid profiles, and coronary artery disease. Chronic stress can also lead to increased food intake, as well as relapses and overeating after weight loss has been achieved by dieting.

ENVIRONMENT

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FINALLY! A low maintenance home garden without the time or work of a garden!

There are hundreds of synthetic chemicals currently used for agricultural and industrial applications that are leading to widespread environmental contamination. These include antimicrobials, pesticides/herbicides, plasticizers and flame retardants. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can disrupt hormonal balance and result in developmental and reproductive abnormalities. In addition, some studies link EDC exposure to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.  The Environmental Working Group has a list of the “dirty dozen” endocrine disruptors and an app that identifies these toxic ingredients in cosmetics and other personal-care items.

Limit exposure to EDCs by avoiding chemical laden products and choosing organic when it comes to produce and hygiene products (if you shouldn’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin) which are highly sprayed and animals that are fed conventional feed.

EXERCISE

Take the path of most resistance to drive your metabolism through the roof!

Muscle burns a lot of energy.  The greater the muscle mass, the higher the caloric expenditure in every move you make.  Yes, EVERY move, from walking to the car, coming up the stairs, hitting the track or hitting your best friend – more muscle to move demands the body lend greater energy to produce the movement.

The most effective tool for increasing or maintaining lean body mass (LBM) is resistance training.  Maintaining or increasing LBM is essential for a healthy metabolism. It also reduces the tendency to regain weight and is important for maintaining adequate body function with aging.

Resistance exercise has the potential to improve metabolic disorders and reduce the need for medications associated with being overweight (e.g., diabetes and hypertension). It can also reduce abdominal adiposity and biomarkers for cardiovascular disease.

DIET

There are a number of ways to biohack your diet to increase your metabolism. While there are a plethora of diets and trends out there, the best approach, as has remained true for THOUSANDS of years, is to enjoy a diet founded on whole food principles.  Many trend diets only continue to prove very harmful to the body, no matter how much better people feel at their onset.  You really don’t need any one of them.  Many experts would simplify it by saying “eat a little bit of everything but not too much of anything.”

Eating a diet comprised of whole foods, eliminating anything processed or refined, helps to restore the body’s natural mechanisms to regulate energy, appetite, weight, hormonal balance and so much more!  As you work to get back to a sound and simple foundation of high quality foods, you can work to fine-tune your diet based on what works best for you (i.e., maybe less dairy or more nuts/seeds…)

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Some added dietary biohack tips include:

Don’t cut too many calories

When you eat less than you need for basic biological functions (roughly 1,200 calories for the average adult), your body adjusts by slowing your metabolism down. In addition, it can elevate cortisol levels, which leads to the breakdown of lean body mass to meet energy needs, and cravings for fat and sugary foods. Low calorie diets also run the risk of micronutrient deficiencies over time.  Limit caloric deficits to no more than 500 cal/day shy of your baseline for sustainable weightloss.  Diets consisting of less than 1200 cal/day should only be implemented under the close supervision of your healthcare provider.

Consuming enough calories is critical in keeping your metabolism up and giving you the energy needed to press through those awesome workouts (which happen to rev your calorie burn all the more).

Don’t forget the fiber

Plant-based diets that are inherently high in fiber can increase fat burning. Colorful vegetables and fruits also have numerous phytonutrients, which can reduce inflammation, resulting in better health and the prevention of many diseases.  The CDC states that only about 1 in 10 Americans are getting enough fruits and vegetables.  They further state, “Seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are from chronic diseases. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.

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Think you have no time for nutrition?   Make your day Complete with grab’n’go goodness! Non-GMO – Vegan – Low Fat – No Cholesterol – No Artificial Flavoring – No Coloring – No preservatives – No Wheat, Dairy or Eggs – No Added Caffeine or Herb

Current recommendations say we should be eating 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (16-18 for athletic types).  In other words: EAT YOUR PLANTS!

Hydrate or Die

A German study found that drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The study concluded that drinking 2 liters of water per day would enhance energy expenditure and that the thermogenic effect of water should be considered in weight loss programs.  Adequate hydration is necessary for a number of functions, including supporting proper detoxification and elimination, and supporting higher energy levels.  You should be drinking AT LEAST half your body weight in ounces (ex: 150 lb person should drink a min. of 75 ounces).  Increase water intake with exertion, consumption of diuretics (coffee, tea, etc.), high sugar/carbohydrate/salty foods or prescription medications, all of which can dehydrate the body.

Eat more organic foods

Researchers report that dieters who consume foods with the most organochlorines (chemicals from pesticides which are stored in fat cells) experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. Other research hints that pesticides disrupts the gut biome and can trigger weight gain. Choose organic in place of highly sprayed foods whenever possible.

Don’t Skip the Fats

JP-Omega-Blend-Oil
Finally, a totally plant-based Omega Blend offering the perfect balance of omega 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids, containing DHA, EPA and ALA, derived from fruits, algae and seed oils.

Recommendations for “low-fat” are archaic at best.  Research has found that not only does a low-fat diet NOT result in weight loss or improved heart health, it runs the risk of doing far greater harm than good, including contributing to an increase in overall calorie consumption.

We need fat for hormone production, lubrication of the joints, neurological function, nutrient assimilation and more.  A healthy diet consists of 20-35% fats from quality sources.  Avoid margarine and other refined or hydrogenated oils, limit saturated fats (the long-chain fatty acids found in animal products NOT so much the medium-chain fatty acids as found in coconut).  Be sure to include foods such as flaxseeds, avocados, nuts and seeds which also come with fiber and protein, helping to increase satiety while supporting better overall health.

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Eat some bugs.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables helps to create a favorable gut biome which has been found to have a direct relation to weight and metabolic functions. Make sure to include prebiotics and probiotics into your daily diet. Supplementing with a probiotic is also a good strategy to support a healthy body.

Biohacking your metabolism isn’t rocket science, it just takes a little S P E E D.

How about you?  What are your favorite takeaways and where do you get your “competitive edge” over your health and fitness endeavors?

Healthfully Yours,

LaTriciaMorris

 

 

 


References

Center of Disease Control and Prevention, Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables, November 16, 2017

Borsheim, E., Barh, R. Effect of Exercise Intensity, Duration and Mode on Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. Sports Med 2003;33 (14): 1037-1060.

Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Hille U, Tank J, Adams F, Sharma AM, Klaus S, Luft FC, Jordan J. Water-induced thermogenesis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9.

Casals-Casas C, Desvergne B. Endocrine disruptors: from endocrine to metabolic disruption. Annu Rev Physiol. 2011;73:135-62.

Chen KY, Brychta RJ, Linderman JD, Smith S, Courville A, Dieckmann W, Herscovitch P, Millo CM, Remaley A, Lee P, Celi FS. Brown fat activation mediates cold-induced thermogenesis in adult humans in response to a mild decrease in ambient temperature. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul;98(7).

Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, Miller DS. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50.

Gupta, C., Prakash, D. Phytonutrients as therapeutic agents. Journal of Complementary & Integrative Medicine Sep 2014, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p151.

Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39.

Hursel, R.; Viechtbauer, W.; Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity. Sep2009, Vol. 33 Issue 9, p956-961.

Jabekk, P, Moe, I., Meen, H., Tomten, S., Hostmarl, A. Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat. Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:17.

Knutson, K., Spiegel, K, Penev, P., Van Cauter, E. The Metabolic Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. Sleep Med Rev. Jun 2007; 11(3): 163–178.

Paddon-Jones, E., Westman, E., Mattes, R., Wolfe, R., Astrup. A., Westerterp-Pantenga, M. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr May 2008 vol. 87 no. 5 1558S-1561S.

Redman LM, Heilbronn LK, Martin CK, de Jonge L, Williamson DA, Delany JP, Ravussin E; Pennington CALERIE Team. Metabolic and behavioral compensations in response to caloric restriction: implications for the maintenance of weight loss. PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4377.

Tomiyama AJ, Mann T, Vinas D, Hunger JM, Dejager J, Taylor SE. Low calorie dieting increases cortisol. Psychosom Med. 2010 May;72(4):357-64.

Vicennati V., Pasqui, F., Cavazza, C., Pagotto., U., Pasquali, R. Stress-Related Development of Obesity and Cortisol in Women. Obesity (Sept. 2009): Vol. 17, No. 9, pp. 1678–83.

Wein, Harrison, PhD. “Gut Bacteria May Influence Metabolic Syndrome – NIH Research Matters – National Institutes of Health (NIH).” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/march2010/03152010bacteria.htm&gt;.

Geoff Lecovin, How to Biohack Your Metabolism.  National Academy of Sports Medicine.  December 19, 2014

How Time-Strapped Goal-Diggers are Crushing Their Health & Fitness Goals

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the Cupboard, Founder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor and Personal Trainer. 


Overwhelmed?  Overloaded?  Running nothing but a gauntlet?

You’re not alone!

This seems to be the anthem of the average American adult.  Between work, family, volunteer work, and all the other tidbits that pile on our calendars, having a shower and a cup of coffee in the same morning can ring with great triumph.  With so many things demanding of our time, how on earth could we possibly add fitness and food prep on top of it all?

The reality is, with all that’s weighing on you, and for all those counting on you, you can’t afford to not make nutrition and fitness a greater priority in your life!

Deep down, I think you know that and I’m quite certain that’s why the header on this article peaked your interest – because you know it’s critical and you’re daring enough to believe it also possible.

So, how do other time-strapped goal-diggers pull it off?  Glad you asked…

  1. They value opportunities presented throughout the day.

Research supports our need to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.  However, that doesn’t have to be all at one time and you should not underestimate the value of added movement throughout the day.  Skipping the elevator to take the stairs, parking at the back of the lot, or keeping a set of weights in the garage to remind you to crank out a set getting into or out of your car are all ways you can stack fitness efforts throughout the day.

Time-Strapped

  1. They know when to double-time it.
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Any goal-crusher LOVES a good opportunity to crush two birds with one stone (metaphorically speaking, of course.  No bird-pelting going on here.  …sweet little birdies…).

Yes, I totally planked my way through my kitchen as I hand wiped my floors instead of mopping just hours ago.  Which brings me to this point:  in fitness, remember, you don’t have to gym up for every fitness activity.  Look for fun ways to incorporate added movement into even simple tasks.  Waiting for the coffee to brew?  Knock out a set of squats.  Got some reading to do?  Get to walking while you read.  (Environment permitting, of course.  Please, don’t let it be my fault you were walking and reading only to step on a lego or walk off a cliff.)  Speed walk your errands or hot step it up the stairs, ditch the shopping cart in favor of carrying the basket, or make cleaning your house fun and challenging by layering in fitness moves – lunges in reaches, squats when cleaning the low stuff, and plank holds when working floor level.  Get creative and have fun with it!

When it comes to food, thinking just a little bit ahead can make a HUGE difference in a week’s worth of eats.  Even if you don’t do a full afternoon of meal prep, look for ways to double time it in your kitchen.  Example:  When making slower-to-cook grains like brown rice, I like to make 2-3 times what I’ll need so I can stash the rest in the fridge or freezer for quick meals through the week, like a healthful veggie fried rice, beans’n’rice with sautéed onion, or a quick and easy mixed veggie pilaf.

Time-Strapped Copy (2) copy

  1. They know a worthy time-saver when they see one.

“Fast foods” are a no-go for this group but every once in a while, it’s worth it to have someone help with all that peeling and chopping.  With the rapidly growing demand for fresh foods in the marketplace, more businesses are looking for ways to help patrons bridge the gaps between time, money and a need for incredibly scrumptious (but healthier) foods.  Stores like Whole Foods stock plenty of fresh pressed, raw juices and pre-cut produce to allow you to shave that added time off your meal prep.  While I am ABSOLUTELY all for watching the budget and knowing that “freshest is bestest,” I also see the need to regularly make some real assessments when weighing value.  If it’s affordable to do so, and it enables you to make healthy eating a reality in your household, it’s certainly better money spent than an money saved on cheaper but less healthful defaults.

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FINALLY! A low maintenance home garden without the time or work of a garden!
  1. They get in and get it done.

We were all excited to find out that we could actually reap incredible benefits of exercise in just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of exercise.  We were even more stoked to learn that even in those crazy, totally time-crunched weeks, we could reap many of those fitness benefits by cranking up our efforts and going full throttle for 75 minutes per week (25 minute sessions, 3 days a week at high intensity).

Even when the to-do list seems to be getting out of hand, that quick break to get that heart rate up and get that body moving may give you just the boost you need to power through everything else on your list.

Schedule

  1. They don’t leave it to chance.

Health isn’t happenstance.  It’s not the sort of thing we just kindly “get around to” when everything else in our lives makes room for it.  Oh, if you could but get your hands on the calendar of a true goal-digger!  This crew doesn’t wait for it to become convenient.  Because they recognize the significance of it getting done, they plan to do it.  Schedule – Execute – Repeat.  Food and fitness efforts go on the calendar as non-negotiable as anything else.  This isn’t to add another rigid layer to life.  They recognize that having a dedicated time to focus on these areas frees them to be more productive in every other area as they can better focus  in the now and enjoy the time being invested today to make every day to follow incredibly better.livelife.jpg

Truth is, for the grand majority of Americans struggling in their health today, it’s simply a matter of priority (that goes for our time, finances and every other resource we have access to).  If we have time to regularly watch a TV show but “no time” to get in that half hour of exercise…  you fill in that gap.  Wishing and hoping don’t get results.  Successful goal-getters recognize the GREAT value in carving out time in their calendars to invest in health and wellness efforts, not because it’s convenient but because it’s important.

  1. They Close the Gap

As much as we all try so hard to get it right, the reality is, we just don’t nail it all the time.  There are days when they meant to have 13 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and instead, they had a 12 inch sub, a bag of chips and a cookie instead (not that you would fall for such things).  It’s helpful to know we have ways to bridge those nutritional gaps.  Look for ways to add in extra fruits and vegetables throughout the day!  Grab a green vegetable, stash a Complete shake to have on hand and look for ways to upgrade your plate.  In a “bigger is always better” culture, it’s refreshing to know that all those small daily investments stack up and payback in dividends over time.

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Don’t Leave Your Health to Chance. Bridge the Gap between the fruits and vegetables you should be getting and the ones you actually are. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

They see the line between an investment and an expense.

In line with points 3 & 6, people really on a mission in their health tend to be better with making strong distinctions between an expense and an investment.  Here’s the reality:  Fast food and processed foods are an expense that will keep costing you well beyond the meal.  Healthful foods and quality supplements that help to meet your family’s nutritional needs is an incredible investment that pays off for a lifetime.  The investments you make now in your family’s fitness and nutrition efforts will continue to pay back in spades in terms of finances (you may spend more now but you save so much on medical bills not accrued in the future) and quality of life.  Whether it’s buying more organic, taking the leap and getting JuicePlus+ for your family, or going for that gym membership, these are all very worthy investments you’ll never regret making!

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Finally, a totally plant-based Omega Blend offering the perfect balance of omega 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids, containing DHA, EPA and ALA, derived from fruits, algae and seed oils. 

In other words, investing more heavily into healthier foods and things that will support your efforts to eat better and move more ARE NOT A THREAT to your financial future, they are a fortress for it, protecting your finances in the future and your capacity to flourish in every other area of life.  Whether it’s buying more organic or going for that gym membership, these are all very worthy investments you’ll never regret making!

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So, what’s standing in your way?  The success of your health and wellness goals is in your hands.  All that’s left is to decide – to crush or not to crush?

Healthfully Yours,

LaTriciaMorris

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Post-Workout Recovery Fails and What to Do Instead

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the CupboardFounder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life MinistriesCertified Integrative Wellness Counselor and NASM Personal Trainer

Some of the things we put ourselves through on our journey to get fit can be downright borderline insanity but, as we see those results (not just in slimming down but in overall improvements), we’re reminded why it was all worth it.  Yet, how frustrating is it to put in all that work and it still seem like we’re spinning our tires?

While progress (especially the real and lasting kind) does take some time, there are some things we can and should be mindful of so as to not sabotage our own efforts.  In accomplishing any goal, it is key to see not only the steps we need to take to make our way toward the end goal but to also see things that may be working in opposition to our health and wellness goals.  Below are some I see all too often and what you can do to be sure these hurdles don’t hinder you.

Not Eating at AllAdobe Spark

Especially where weight loss is an aim, it can be tempting to just skip eating altogether right after a workout to ride out that post-workout burn.  While that can seem like a good plan, it could actually do more to hinder your goals in the long term.  When working out, your body relies heavily on the glycogen it has stored in the liver and muscles tissues to supply the energy it needs to complete what’s being asked of it.  The longer you workout, the more glycogen stores get depleted.  Now, as these reserves run out, the body can and will work to convert fat to usable energy.  However, because of the work it must do to convert that fat to usable energy, performance tends to be compromised, triggering a cycle that ultimately leads to exhaustion and failure.

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READY TO TAKE HEALTHY BACK?  CLICK HERE TO START LEARNING HOW.

 1.5 g carbohydrates/kg body weight within 30 minutes post-exercise is recommended for maximum glycogen replenishment(1).  Delaying carbohydrate intake by even 2 hours can decrease total muscle glycogen synthesis by 66% (2).  The post-workout environment may hasten glycogen repletion as a result of increased blood flow to the muscles and an increased sensitivity of the cells to the effects of insulin.(3)

Waiting to refuel until your starving is a good way to drive yourself to overeat (which we justify because, you know, we worked out).  Helping the body replenish its reserves immediately after exercise is a good way to avoid a ravenous binge, and prepare your body to bring it even better (burning even more calories and building even more muscle) the next time you step to the gym.

Craving carbohydrates post-workout is totally normal.  Having sensible amounts to meet these demands is a pro recovery move.

Reaching to “Reward” Rather Than to Restore

Adobe Spark

I can’t tell you how often I hear people at the gym, talking about how much they look forward to getting their hands in that cookie jar or having a face-full of cake straight after the gym as the “reward” for all their hard work.  My question is, why do that to yourself?

For starters, and studies back me up on this, we shouldn’t be looking to a “reward” system to keep us on track anyway.  Studies show that people are significantly less likely to engage in an activity for which they’d normally get a “reward” once the “reward” is taken away.  Example: children who were rewarded for art were significantly less likely do it simply for the sake of doing it whereas children who were offered no reward were more likely to continue to participate over the long haul, simply for the enjoyment of the activity.

img_0756
Think you have no time for nutrition?   Make your day Complete with grab’n’go goodness! Non-GMO – Vegan – Low Fat – No Cholesterol – No Artificial Flavoring – No Coloring – No preservatives – No Wheat, Dairy or Eggs – No Added Caffeine or Herb

The thought pattern that this caters too is “working out sucks and I should be rewarded for doing it at all.”  Your workout and that great post-workout feeling should be the reward in itself.  Even where it can be painful, even downright gruesome at times, count it all joy.  It is a GIFT to be able to be active, to participate in such challenging activities and to know you’re getting stronger, fitter, and faster by the day.  

Instead of spending your workout pondering how much you hate it and on what you’ll “get to” have on the other side of it, try redirecting your focus to thoughts of gratitude and even excitement at the progress you know you’re going to make as you bring your best effort every time.  Pick a key scripture or positive affirmation to focus in on and let that saturate your mind as you work to be the healthiest version of yourself possible.

Another problem with this habit really is that not only does reaching for the sweet-eats post-exercise reinforce the negative associations with exercise and the need to follow it up with something to “make it all better” but it also primes the body for defeat.  When you step to that plate, that class, those weights, that track… you are placing a lot of demands on the body.  You’re not just expending energy.  The bones, the muscles, the joints, the lungs, and the heart are all working very hard to produce the work being demanded.

Post-workout recovery is not just a time to restore glycogen levels (to get that blood sugar back up) but also a time to provide the body with the raw materials it needs to restore the body and help it to rebuild itself with greater strength.  You cannot expect the body to be of superior construction with sub-par materials.  Consuming sugary/processed foods and neglecting to restore nutrient levels is a quick way to run the body ragged, leading to burnout.  Be sure you look for top nutritional value in anything you’re looking to incorporate into your post-workout plan.

Neglecting to Prepare the Body Pre-Workout

Adobe Spark

By now, most people understand that the foods they eat after their workout and throughout the day factor into the speed and quality of their recovery. The foods you eat before a workout can also play an important role in preparing for the tissue-rebuilding process once the workout is over.

Digestion is a lengthy process; proteins, fats and carbohydrates that you ingest prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterward. For this reason, choose your foods wisely. Make sure you get high-quality, lean protein along with some complex carbohydrates, especially if you plan on an intense workout. Meals should be consumed two-four hours prior to your workout to avoid digestive issues or cramps, or that lag you feel trying to workout while your body is also working to break down the food you just ate.

If you must have something before your workout and don’t have this window to wait, keep it small and opt for things that break down more quickly like bananas or other fruits.  Even better – puree them into a quick smoothie or grab a raw juice.  This will allow for more rapid gastric emptying and make the energy and nutrients available to you sooner.

Protein OverdoseAdobe Spark

We have been fed so much junk over protein, it’s just mind-boggling.

Yes, your body needs proteins as part of its daily needs, especially with post-exercise recovery.

HOWEVER, your body can only do so much so fast.  Excessive amounts of proteins will not help it accomplish this any faster.  This is of special concern with products containing whey protein, and other animal products, as too many animal proteins place a heavy burden on the kidneys, in particular, and the body as a whole, generating much stress and inflammation.

Be real with yourself on what you’re doing and what you need.  20 minutes of yoga does not justify 40 extra grams of protein for the day.  I’ve seen people knock back protein shakes like the shake itself is going to build muscle.  It won’t.  Your body will only build muscle in accordance with the demands being placed on it along with the presence of adequate energy and nutrients.  Consuming more than it needs only prompts the body to use it as fuel or convert it to fat to be used for fuel later.

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

Bear in mind, we get amino acids (the building blocks of protein) from everything we eat (at least if you’re eating those nutritious whole foods).  MOST people already consume plenty more than enough to meet their daily needs, even with the added workout.  That’s not to say we don’t need any or that you shouldn’t protein shakes at all.  Just be mindful of the sources, quality and how much you’re consuming.

All that being said, HEALTHY shakes and smoothies can be GREAT post-workout recovery options, especially because being in a liquid form makes it easier for the body to assimilate.  Just make sure the focus in on maximal nutrition, looking at the body’s needs as a whole, beyond simple protein intake.

My favorite here (shameless plug, yes, because it tastes fantastic and has so much to offer and happens to be my personal favorite) are JuicePlus+’s Complete Shakes.juice-plus--complete-variety.img  They blend down smooth, even in a shaker (SO unlike so many other brands), they’re so delicious my kids request them for dessert though they’re not loaded with sugar, they’re plant-based and they incorporate all sorts of superfood extras to further help you in your efforts to become the healthiest version of yourself possible.

Getting Too “Radical” for Your Own Good

Your awesome.  I get it.  You get it.  Everybody gets it.  While I love that you have no qualms with being so totally radical, you might want to watch how much free-radical action you’re generating during those killer workouts.  (I know.  Totally cheesy but you’ll thank me for being so ridiculous when you ponder this later.)

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We absolutely love Eden’s Garden Essential Oils. What a joy to get quality oils from a company that sows back into the lives of others!

The body produces many free radicals daily but generates even more of them during intense exercise.  Free-radical damage is a well-known offender when it comes to generating a lot of inflammation in the body (and many health experts have a saying – “inflammation is the root of all disease”).  In order to combat free radicals, we need to make sure we are taking in plenty of antioxidants, which we get from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Making it a point to include some raw fruits in our post-recovery grabs is a great way to take in plenty of extra antioxidants packaged with enzymes and nutrient rich water to hydrate and nourish the cells throughout the body.  You certainly get extra credit here for reaching for the raw greens, whether in a juice, smoothie or straight off the fork as they are chock full of phytonutrients to support restoration and vitality to every cell and tissue throughout the body.

 

 

Resources:

(1) Ivy JL, Lee MC, Broznick JT Jr, Reed MJ. Muscle glycogen stor- age a er di erent amounts of carbohydrate ingestion. J Appl Physiol. 1988;65(5):2018-2023.

(2) Liljeberg HG, Akergerg AK, Björck IM. E ect of the glycemic index and content of indigestible carbohydrates of cereal-based breakfast meals on glucose tolerance at lunch in healthy sub- jects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(4):647-655.

(3) Berning JR, Steen SN. Nutrition for Sport and Exercise. Gaithers- burg, MD: Aspen Publishers; 1998.

How to Stop The New Year’s Flop & Drop the Weight for Good

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the CupboardFounder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor and NASM Personal Trainer. 

It’s the New Year and the gyms are getting pretty crowded.  While some people roll their eyes at this wave of “resolutioners” that come pouring into the gym after the holidays, I found myself somewhat appreciative in a sense that, if nothing else, this time of year serves as a reminder to us all of the importance of giving better attention to our health.  In that, we have such a great opportunity to cheer others on toward success, to help them enjoy being there and to be a part of this year being different for them.  What a gift, right?

{I admittedly found myself quite reluctant at first to even touch on this topic as I hate the mindset and self-hatred it tends to cater too but then, I suppose this is all the more reason I just had to chime in on this discussion as my heart is for you to break free from all the garbage and the defeat, and truly walk in triumph FOR GOOD this time!}

No doubt about it, establishing new goals, new schedules and new plans is hard enough and the commitment it takes to see it through to being a true transformation comes in no small package.  It’s no surprise we see so many struggle to maintain those new commitments once the luster wears off and life lays into us once again.

Still, by being mindful and intentional, it is absolutely possible to not only achieve great and lasting success but to actually REALLY learn to enjoy it too.  Not that I could possibly cover it all here but below are some things I’ve learned along my journey and know will be of great value to you too.

Prep Your Body

Clean Over Lean

Running on all we heard growing up, we often think the first place to start is by trimming the fat.  While scaling things back and being mindful of intake may very well be in order, it is better to start by focusing on whole foods, eating as clean as possible.  This means ditching processed and refined foods, buying organic where we can and eating plenty of fresh, local, seasonal produce.   (This is especially important as many processed foods tend to disrupt the endocrine system and interfere with the body’s natural hunger/satiety mechanisms and how it handles food, stored fats and more.)

In order to prepare the body for weight-loss, it is especially important to support the health and function of the detoxing organs, namely, the colon, kidneys, and liver but let’s not underestimate the importance of the body’s detoxing system as a whole.

Adipose tissue (fat cells) doesn’t just store fat, but is also used by the body to “stash” toxins in the system that it’s otherwise unable to eliminate and which could be very damaging to the organs if not dealt with somehow.1  

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Eat Clean:

Fiber Up

Fiber works to stave off hunger, scrub the walls of the digestive tract and to absorb toxins in the system for elimination from the body.  (Be mindful to gradually increase so as not to overly stimulate the colon.)

Drink More Water

The body uses water for many things, including the removal of toxins and all sorts of waste from the body.  Staying adequately hydrate will help the body as it flushes things out of the system via the colon and kidneys.  This, of course, is in addition to it helping to reduce hunger (remember, hunger is another sign of dehydration as the body seeks to get the water it needs wherever it can, in food or liquid form).

Eat More Raw

Raw foods contain fiber, water, enzymes, and a wealth of phytonutrients to support all of the body’s processes.  Because they’re so water-rich, they help to hydrate the body and better help with satiety while consuming less calories.  The enzymes in the food aid digestion and free the body’s own enzymes to do more clean up work, helping to restore optimal function throughout the system.

Nutritional-Density over Caloric-Density

In our culture, we give very strong consideration to how much food we’re going to get (and not in a good way).  We get obsessed with big portions and often give little thought to the nutritional value being provided in what we’re eating.  What we have to understand too is that, as we have cravings, the body is not always just looking for calories but can also be looking to meet it’s other nutritional needs (such as for iron, calcium, manganese or magnesium).  In aiming to meet the body’s nutritional needs, we typically also well meet our caloric needs and the system finds its way to homeostasis.

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Helping the body to eliminate excess waste will prepare it to better work to eliminate toxins and to re-establish balance throughout the system.  Even where we may need to watch intake, it should be much easier to scale it back without the crazy voracious appetite turning you all hangry and driving you to ditch your efforts.  As the body’s natural mechanisms are restored and nutritional needs are met, hunger should start to scale back and be more self-regulating, helping us to overcome compulsions to overeat, and helping the body to naturally work its way back to a healthy weight.

 

Make Sure You’re Eating Enough

This may seem counter-intuitive because we well understand that, in order to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we expend.  However, a common error in weight loss is to come in way under the caloric budget which ultimately slows the body’s metabolism and primes us for an eventual binge.  What’s worse is that once normal food intake resumes, the slower metabolism makes it all the easier for the body to accumulate those extra pounds all over again.

I try to especially emphasize fueling appropriately for the work demands I’m placing on my body.  I try not to show up to the gym under-fueled as I find this self-defeating.  Instead, I strive to take in plenty enough calories to power through an intense workout and let that post-workout metabolism roar.

While it may not promise to get you there quite as fast, maintaining only a slight caloric deficit of 200-300 calories, but no more than a 500-calorie deficit, per day will lead to sustainable weight loss and set you well on a path to long-term success.

 

Make a Move

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

While it may be tempting to go all “couch-to-5k” over the next month, it’s incredibly important to be mindful of where we’re at, what we’re capable of (mentally and physically) and to never underestimate the cumulative effects and possibilities in making even small but intentional efforts toward our health and wellness goals.

One tip that stuck with me years ago was to “Commit to 10.”  In other words, even when you don’t feel like doing it or even when you feel like you really don’t have the time, commit to doing at least 10 minutes of intentional movement to exercise the body.  Most of the time, by this point, you’ll be revved and ready to power through the rest of the workout.  Even if you don’t, you will still know you have done something for the day and reinforce your intentions to be more active.  This is a great way to avoid missing three days in a row and calling the whole week a bust or feeling like you’ve already gotten off track.

Get up and go for a walk down the hall.  Park at the back of the lot.  Make the extra trip up the stairs and back.  It doesn’t have to be a half day at the gym.  While you DO want to keep that train going and build up to a strong exercise regimen, don’t underestimate the power of making those small, intentional moves toward those goals.

Prep Your Brain

Stop Giving Yourself a Way Out

So many resolutions start with “I’m going to try” or “I hope to…”  While trying is a good thing, it’s not as powerful a declaration over your intentions as determining now that you will, in fact, do just what you said.  Learn to catch your own excuses as you make them and reset your thoughts, words and actions toward the victory you aim to take hold of on the other side of your efforts.

Get Real & Get S.M.A.R.T.

Too many people flop on their New Year’s Resolutions because they set goals that set them up for failure.  This may seem like an obvious statement but too many people still miss it.  In order for you to be successful, the goal should be realistic.

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 S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable (being challenging but not too extreme)

Realistic (yes, something humanly possible) and

Timely

Set goals out by establishing the ultimate long-term goal then decide what milestones you’d like to reach each quarter or month, then decide what steps you’re going to take this week to move you toward that goal.

Count Your Victories and Just Focus on Taking the NEXT Step

When you find yourself getting overwhelmed about the distance yet to be traveled, turn your attentions instead to the victories you’ve already achieved (even if it was just that you made it all the way through yesterday or the past week) and determine now to take the next step toward your goal.   That may mean just making it through lunch, staying on plan, or making it a point to do at least 10-15 minutes of intentional exercise in sticking with your commitment to move more this year.  As you do this, you will help to reinforce the truth that you can do this and you will.

Respect the Process

It’s easy to get incredibly frustrated with the time it takes to achieve our health and wellness goals, especially when we want that weight gone like yester-month.  I know, for me, God has shown me so much through the process and done some pretty incredible things along the journey.  There is much greater reward to be had than finally reaching that goal.  While I have been glad to get closer to where I’d like to be physically, I cannot begin to articulate the treasure God has given me in all I’ve learned through the process – great things that spill over to the benefit of so many other areas of my life.

Remember, your body isn’t just looking to get rid of extra fat.  As you embark on a journey to reduce weight, get back in shape and work toward being the best/healthiest version of yourself possible, your body is busy doing much work to cleanse, heal, rebuild and restore.  It is an incredible gift and we should be grateful God made our bodies capable of performing such tasks.  Stop hating your body and start appreciating it.  Respect all that it’s working to accomplish and make sure you’re providing it with all it needs to do so.

Show Some Love

Even if you’re the “newbie,” you can still play a key role in making someone else’s gym time a joy and in turn, you’ll find you enjoy that time more.  I find it incredibly helpful in my effort to stay on point and maintain that commitment, that I truly look forward to seeing the people I work out with week after week.  I love having the chance to cheer them on and their push pushes me to bring my best with each class.  It really gives me a great reason to not want to miss out on those classes.

Make it a point to establish a strong network of support and, where possible, lock arms with others on their journey to health freedom too.

Wherever you’re at today, know that you absolutely can achieve lifelong success.  Whether you’re looking to lose weight, get shredded, overcome a health malady or just to be intentional about walking in vibrant health, I wish you all the best in your efforts and cheer you on with great anticipation, looking forward to hearing all about your successes!

 

Be sure to follow this blog and give the Eden Life Ministries page a like so we can stay connected and you can be among the first to know when fresh content comes your way!

 

Resources:

Toxicological Function of Adipose Tissue: Focus on Persistent Organic Pollutants,
Michele La Merrill, et al., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3569688/

How to Be a Winter Wellness Warrior

It’s really quite tragic that so many simply accept and expect that they’re going to spend much of the winter miserable, depressed and hopped up on NyQuil/DayQuil as they await the return of warmer, sunnier days.  While there are a number of factors that contribute to the winter slump so many of us go through, there are a great many things we can do to make it through the winter in great wellness.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense.

Let’s face it.  Its well enough seen and understood that late fall-winter is that time of year where people really struggle in their eating.  It’s natural but the choices we’re making are far from what should be “normal.”  As the weather gets cooler, the body, in the beauty of how God made it, looks to put on that extra winter layer to promote better thermogenics throughout the cold season (especially when those warming dishes are infused with spices).  The body is trying to stay warm and the best resource it has for insulation is fat, and not just as insulation but “some fat cells directly sense dropping temperatures and release their energy as heat.”(1)  For this, and because of the face-rockin’ pleasure of eating them, our bodies crave rich, hearty foods to chase away the cold.  While I would never suggest avoiding a good hearty meal, we should be mindful of what we reach for when these cravings hit.

I simply cannot underscore enough the importance of being mindful of our internal terrain, nurturing health and wellness by implementing wisdom in what we put into (and onto) our bodies, as well as how we use them.  An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!

Avoid Processed and Refined “Foods.”

Processed foods are terrible for the endocrine system (responsible for regulating glucose; maintaining hormonal, thermal, and energy balance)(3), as well as being very hard on the digestive tract, and virtually every other organ and tissue in the body in some form or fashion.  If you can’t reasonably reproduce it in your own kitchen in the way you are buying and eating it, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients or have no clue as to what they are, if you couldn’t for the life of you reasonably guess where it came from… YOU SHOULDN’T BE EATING IT!

Make no mistake about it.  Our bodies are wonderfully and masterfully made.  Even when we can’t tell by any other means, they are capable of discerning between the foods God made for us to eat and adulterated counterfeits we get when man deconstructs, reconstructs or flat attempts to create his own “food-like” substance.  The counterfeit will ALWAYS come with a consequence.  The question is only of speed and degree.

Eat WHOLE Foods.

We seriously have a terrible habit of WAY OVER-COMPLICATING it!  When we eat the foods God created, the way God intended, we stand the best possible chance of living at our best.  I know that seems a little cut and dry for some and I get that there are other dietary variables that come into play.  Nonetheless, when we get back to this solid, dietary foundation, we have a great place to build from as we get to learn what does and doesn’t work for our bodies.  You will have plenty of opportunity to fine tune as you go.  Don’t stress or freak out about that.

There is no “perfect” diet.  The “perfect” diet for you is the one that most aligns with your health and wellness goals, producing the best possible outcomes considering your bio-individuality.  You can’t get that from a textbook.  But, I know in my heart of hearts, and from experience, that as you team up with God, going to your maker to lead you in caring for what He has made, and as you are diligent in bringing your best efforts, you will get there.

I know in the transition away from typical American foods, we’re left kindly scratching our heads as to where to even begin here but it really doesn’t have to be that difficult.  Try keeping things simple and focusing on perfecting your skill at, say, just one new go-to recipe at a time.  Look for things that are easy to prepare and be sure to keep some healthful options on hand that you can make in a pinch.

In the winter, I love to keep things like root crop vegetables (onions, carrots, rutabagas, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, etc.), garlic, brown rice, quinoa, millet, organic prepared beans and frozen mixed vegetables on hand.  I love popping that oven up to 425 degrees and tossing in whatever root crop combo I have, roasting for 25-35 minutes (depending on food and size of the cuts) as an easy, go-to when I want something warm and hearty.  The beans and mixed vegetables have me ready to go with a hot and hearty soup at any time.  The grains are good to prepare in large batches that can be divided and used in a variety of dishes throughout the week.

The key is finding what (whole and healthy) foods hit the spot for your family and always looking for the upgrade with any dish you prepare.

Avoid/Minimize (Conventional) Desserts.

In such times, desserts are plenty in abundance. They’re loaded with sugar which (temporarily and deceivingly) lifts the mood, and their loaded with fat and carbohydrates. The research now makes very clear the connections between sugar (not from fruit but that refined sugars/carbohydrates) and depression, anxiety, addiction and other psychological woes.(2) These sweets perpetuate the winter blues as they lead to mood crashes on the other side of their highs. They also generate a lot of inflammation in the body, shorten the dendrites to the neurons, compromise the immune system (priming people for the colds and bugs they so easily attribute to the cold season in general), prime the body for disease and make it ever so easy to pack on those winter pounds.

Many people, knowing all of this, still struggle to break away from the sweets. Don’t start with the habit. Start with your thoughts toward the sweets. As your brain veers toward associating these sweets with pleasure, be intentional about reminding yourself of what it really costs and that there is much pleasure to be had in other foods that will love you back.

Enjoy Healthful Sweets.

When you’re really craving something rich and sweet, look to fruits. If you really just want something denser and richer, opt for dates or dried fruits, like organic figs, that have not been treated with sulfites or other preservatives. One of my favorite combos to satisfy cravings for dessert is that of Medjool dates, pitted and stuffed with nut butters (almond butter is my “yummmm”), or chunks of raw nuts like pecans, walnuts or Brazils. Another dessert that’s long been a favorite is my Raw Decadent Chocolate Pudding with Strawberries. It is very rich and a little bit definitely goes a long way.

GET MOVING!

Physical activity is not only a great way to maintain a healthy weight throughout the season but also does wonders for boosting the mood and the immune system.  While I personally love getting into a REALLY intense workout, it doesn’t have to break you to be effective.  Look for activities that make fitness fun.  This is a great time to hit an indoor track with a friend or break free from all the noise and jam out to your favorite playlist while sweating out the tension and stress that also runs thick at this time of year.  Whichever type of fitness be your cup of tea, making intentional movement a priority can work wonders for moving you closer to peak health and wellness.

Maintain Your Arsenal.

Any true and seasoned “winter wellness warrior” could tell you there’s much to be said for being prepared.  Whether it be the possibility of snow or other lack of accessibility, we don’t want to be caught stuck at the house or running late for work, feeling a cold coming on with no defense on hand.

While we can’t always be prepared for every eventuality, there are some things we strive to keep on hand.  These may include:

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is often used for its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties for a variety of issues relating to wound care/skin health, pink eye, ear infections, sinus infections/sinusitis, colds and flu.  (4)

Essential Oils

Many essential oils are chock full of medicinal properties.  A personal favorite of mine to keep on hand is oregano oil which is incredible for dealing with all sorts of infections.  (Will give warning there.  Be sure to be mindful of proper dilutions as this oil can get HOT).  Others we love this time of year include:

Peppermint– Beyond the beautiful smell, it is good for the digestive system;

Frankincense– used for respiratory benefits;

Hyssop– also used for respiratory infections;

Clove– antibacterial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory; and

Lavender– antibacterial, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory effects.

…just to name a few.

Elderberry

The classic form for elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a tasty syrup: European studies have shown it to be helpful for seasonal flus (talk to your doctor before using it for H1N1, or swine flu).

Echinacea

A go-to herb for colds, this plant (Echinacea purpurea and E. angustifolia) may help support your immune system to fight viruses. The root, leaves, and flowers are all medicinal.

Goldenseal

For short-term use only, goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) can help to clear up bacterial infections and restore the respiratory system lining after a bad cold.

Ginger

A cup of tea made with ginger (Zingiber officinale) can help ease congestion and warm the body, which helps your system fight infection. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a good sore-throat remedy, too.

Slippery Elm

A sore-throat soother extraordinaire, slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) products are high in “mucilage,” a substance that coats the throat and helps relieve coughs.

Holy Basil

Believed to boost overall health, tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) — also known as holy basil — contains antiviral and antibacterial compounds. It may help prevent illness when used over time.

Thyme

Loaded with antibacterial compounds, fresh or dried thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a cold-season powerhouse.

Eucalyptus

With antibacterial and expectorant properties, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) can loosen congestion and help you breathe easier.

Licorice

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has immune-boosting and throat-soothing properties that make it an excellent addition to cough and cold formulas.  Licorice root is also known to be wonderful for aiding with heartburn and acid reflux, leaky gut, muscle cramping, and for feeding the adrenals (which tend to really take a beating as cold weather and fatigue make coffee all the more enjoyable).  It is not recommended that Licorice be used for longer than 4 week periods and may not be suitable for people who struggle with high blood pressure.  (5)

Mullein

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) has expectorant and soothing properties that make it a cough treatment supreme.

Sage

Common culinary sage (Salvia officinalis) can help to ease sore throats and dry up sinuses.  Not recommended for nursing mothers.

Source Naturals Wellness Formula

This blend is one of my favorites for giving the immune system a great boost when I can feel the funk coming on.  When taken at the first sign of systems, I bounce right back, ready to take on the rest of the day.

(6)

Kick the Winter Blues.

In addition to coming from a nutritional perspective, getting the best quality foods possible, avoiding/minimizing processed foods and sweets, there are a number of things you can do to support a brighter mood during what tends to be the most sullen months of the year.  You don’t have to emerge from the season as a “survivor.”  Learn to implement plans that help to keep you stirred and engaged with those around you.  This will do wonders for helping you to be ready to take on the day with a smile and solid footing.

Read the Word & Enjoy Some Worship.

Creating an atmosphere of praise is a quick way to change the tone of any room/household.  Shut it all down and check out in a peaceful, quiet time of bible study or break out the Bose and rock out to some praise and worship right there in your kitchen.  “Ain’t no party like a Holy Ghost party…Heeeyyyy!!!”  Seriously though, its really hard to stay in the slumps when we can take our focus off ourselves and focus on God and His goodness.  Keep a journal of thanks and praise reports.  Ask God to meet you where you’re at.

Enjoy time with friends.

This one should go without saying.  If you’re down in the dumps, you don’t need more facebook or social media (I get wanting to just check out sometimes but the nature of the stimuli can really just make it all worse).  Give a friend a call and head out for tea or coffee.  Make it your aim to see how they’re doing and maybe be just what they need in this season too.  If you don’t really have any friends or they’re all tied up, don’t be afraid to bust out your calendar and schedule some time with people you’d like to get to know a little more.  You never know where a simple conversation may lead.

Serve.

A common remedy for self-loathing and misery is to get eyes and thoughts off of self by looking to how we can meet the needs of others.  There are PLENTY of them around so you should have no trouble finding a place to be active.  Whether its serving in a soup kitchen, driving around town giving gloves and socks to the homeless or helping an elderly neighbor with some chores around their home, there is always something we can do to bring value to the lives of others around us.  Look to who you may need, want or feel led to bring some joy too and take action!

Get Some Sun.

I know the cold winter wind is enough to prompt most people to seal the house off and not come out until spring flowers and birds beckon them to do so.  Still, humans need exposure to sunlight; not a lamp or fluorescent fixture; real sunlight.  While we may not be able to throw on that tankini and hit the poolside, we can get next to a bright window or go for a sunny drive.  If you live in an area where good sun exposure is hard to come by, you may check your local health food store for a high quality Vitamin D supplement.

Regardless of your region or season, there is always much to be grateful and much wellness to be enjoyed.  Winter can be a challenging season for some but I have really come to appreciate it as a great season of restoration as my body cycles through, getting itself ready for the hustle’n’bustle to come in Spring.

How about you?  What are your favorite winter wellness tips?  What wisdom could you pass on to those looking to make the most and be their mightiest this winter season?

 


References

(1) http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/07/fat-cells-feel-cold-burn-calories-heat

(2) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health

(3) https://draxe.com/endocrine-disruptors-how-to-avoid-excess-estrogen/

(4) https://draxe.com/colloidal-silver-benefits/

(5) https://draxe.com/licorice-root/

(6) http://www.wholeliving.com/136113/15-natural-remedies-winter-season#27568

The information in our articles are NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and are not intended as medical advice.  The information provided herein is for educational purposes only.  
Note, this article does contain affiliate links to products for which I receive a small commission for purchases at no added cost to you.  The links to products featured are not just for profit – these are products I personally use and absolutely love!

A Dozen Gift Ideas for the Health Nuts in Your Life

While we may seem to be a little on the picky side, we health-minded (obsessed) folk really aren’t that hard to shop for.  Here is a quick list of ideas to get those gears turning as you look to gift those you love, not just with more stuff, but with the kind of gifts that show love, thoughtfulness and support.

1. The Big Grab Baskets

What health enthusiast wouldn’t love a basket full of goodies? Of course, we’re not talking about cookies and brownies in a jar, or those mega baskets of cheeses and smoked meats. We’re talking about a bounty of life dropped right in their laps. Here are some things we would LOVE to see in some gift baskets:

The Edible Basket:

  • Goji Berries
  • Dried Blueberries or Dried Fruits without sweeteners or preservatives
  • Medjool Dates
  • Date Rolls
  • Raw Cacao for Smoothies or Shakes
  • Probiotic Dark Chocolate
  • Nut Butters
  • Kale Chips
  • Flax Crackers
  • Organic Popcorn + Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Trail Mix (real deal, no added sugars, sulfites, hydrogenated oils or canola, or candies)
  • Salad Jar filled with portioned crunchy/mixed toppings (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or chopped walnuts with raisins or chopped dried figs)

A recipe book or two would make a great addition to this basket to really round it off.

The Superfood Basket:

  • Acai
  • Goji Berries
  • Dried Blueberries
  • Raw Cacao (Nibs or Powder)
  • Hemp Hearts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Almonds
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds

The Blender-full Basket:

  • Mini-blender
  • Long, narrow silicone spatula so we can get every last drop of that smoothie out of the container
  • Acai
  • Raw Cacao (Powder)
  • Hemp Hearts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Bee Pollen (unless they’re vegan)
  • Spirulina, Moringa or other Greens Powders
  • Liquid Stevia
  • Fresh fruit (if you’re packing it up soon before gifting it off)

The “Ready to Go Remedies” Basket

The “Hot Cup of Joe (or Tea)” Basket

  • A pair of nice mugs
  • Organic Coffee
  • Organic and Specialty Teas (Green, Ginger, Oolong, Jasmine, Chamomile… there are really so many to choose from)
  • Stevia or Xylitol
  • A gift card to their favorite bookstore to nab a new title

The Home & Self-Care Basket

  • Essential Oil Hydrosols (especially great for those who have little ones in the home)
  • Natural, Toxin-Free Soaps, Lotions and Lip Balms
  • Soy Candles made with Essential Oils and Natural Fragrances (don’t you dare drop Febreeze in that basket!)
  • Natural Room Fresheners (They won’t likely be so glad to get the Glade)
  • Essential oil diffuser

2.  Complete Shakes with a Mini-Blender or Cool Shaker Bottle

Juice-plus-complete1-copy

Health & Fitness Freaks have the hardest time finding shakes that taste great, have a great texture and come without all the junkity-junk found in so many products these days.  JuicePlus+’s Complete Shakes are crazy delicious (French Vanilla and Dutch Chocolate with variety packs also available), super smooth (yes, even when just mixed in the shaker bottle) and are chock full of all sorts of nutritional goodness.  I really love that they can be bought in a large bag or single-serve packets that make them uber convenient too.  Did I mention that there also vegan-friendly?  Seriously, I don’t care how much I have stock piled, I would totally squeal at getting these as a gift!

3.  Essential Oils & Diffusers

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Company’s like Eden’s Garden offer spectacular gift sets of all shapes and sizes, making it easy to grab a box set that’s sure to put a smile on most any natural wellness gal’s (or guy’s) face.  Our favorite are the Biblical Set, the Be Blessed Set, the Everyday Essential Oil Set, and their Synergy Blend Set.  Of course, their “Create-Your-Own” Sets are a great way to save money nabbing a collection of your favorite 2, 6, 12, or 32 oils.

The Simple Start Set also makes a great gift as it comes with extra basic bottles, roller bottles, personal diffusers,  and coconut carrier oil in addition to 6 incredible essentials.

If you REALLY want to knock the socks off your essential oil enthusiast, you can go Uber big with the Supreme Set that gives them 10 ml each of 64 different oils or you can go UBER UBER big with their Complete Set which has them set with 128 essential oils.

Their “Ok for Kids” collection makes a great gift for the kiddos too with blends that smell so good that mother dearest just may nab them too.



4. Eco-Friendly Travel Mugs, Water Bottles & Travel Containers

Glass bottles with the beautiful silicone grips, eco-friendly mugs to sip some hot green tea out of and some travel containers for all our healthful nibbles’n’bits always come in handy and are always super appreciated!

5. A Super Schnazzy Fitness Tracker

There are so many great fitness trackers on the market today, from MyZone (which I love because it has a band to wrap around the torso, keeping it out of the way and from getting smacked around during intense training) to FitBit, Garmin and Apple’s iWatch.

woman-girl-technology-music.jpg6.  The Gift of Music

This one is really for the one that loves to just pop their earbuds in and jam out like an all-star in the gym.  Gift cards for downloads or a subscription to apps like Spotify can be a great gift or stocking-stuffer.

7. The Gift of Killer Fitness Wear

Any gym-junkie would love getting some super stylish fitness wear, especially if that gym-junkie happens to be a female of most any age.  If you don’t know sizes, opt for a gift card that gives them permission to pick their faves.

I personally love all the great fitness wear that keeps coming out with powerful scriptures and declarations on them like:

  • “They shall soar on wings like eagles.  They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.”
  • “She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come without fear of the future.” and
  • “I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me.”

Of course, there are many other really cute ones out there bring faith and fitness together in some really awesome fitness wear.  Some inspiration with their perspiration, you know what I’m sayin’?

8. Kitchen Equipment

Whether your health nut likes to cook or not, there are a ton of gadgets, gizmos and appliances out there that can make quick work of healthy, homemade meals.  These are just a few things we would love to have land in our laps.fresh-healthy-kitchen-2994-830x550

  • Smoothie jars with special smoothie lids
  • Salad jars with those cute little containers for our favorite sauces
  • Meal prep bowls
  • Food processor
  • Blender (personal or larger countertop models)
  • Juicer
  • Vegetable spiralizer
  • Choppers & cutting boards
  • Good knives
  • Ulu with a gorgeous salad serving set
  • Nice eco-friendly cookware (without the toxic coatings, please!)
  • Bamboo or other wooden serving sets

9.  1-Month to their Favorite Gym or Group Fitness Class

I know this one may seem to cross a line or break some cardinal rule.  Be sure you know how the person you’re buying it for and that he/she understands the heart in which it is being given.  This would be great accompanied with a new journal and a note of encouragement in how proud you are of this special loved one for being such an inspiration to you and others in how they bring such effort to really stepping it up in their health.  Let this be a tool to cheer them on and show them your support.

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10.  Fitness Gear

Whether we’re hitting the gym or working out at home, there’s most always something we could really use or would love to introduce.  These things can be small like resistance bands or toe-sox or bigger like a heavy bag, inexpensive as a new mat or a killer investment like that TRX band set we’ve been eyeballing for months.  Do a little digging to find out what kind of fitness activities their into and nab a piece of gear that really resonates with that inner warrior of theirs.

11.  A Tower Garden

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I guarantee you – this will be the one they talk about for YEARS to come!

I realize this one may be a big buy but it is sure to be the gift of the year for anyone passionate about healthy foods. A tower garden will give them year round abundance of fresh, vibrant foods with very little cost to maintain. It’s even loved and well-enjoyed by people who otherwise struggle with getting anything to grow. Kids LOVE them and they make it too ridiculously easy to have healthy, homegrown foods indoors and out, year-round. If you’re looking to give the gift that totally beats out all others for the year, GO FOR THE GARDEN!

12.  Gift cards to their favorite Health & Wellness Store

We love when someone gives a free pass to hit the Health Food Store and just shop for whatever wellness goodies we can get our hands on!

Whatever you end up going with, we thank you for your thoughtfulness and for using this as a time to show your support!  The gift of wellness is truly a gift that keeps on giving.  

Praying you and your family a Very Merry Christmas, filled with more joy and blessings than you can count or contain!

Your turn.  What are your favorite health & wellness gifts to give or receive?



*Note, this article does contain affiliate links to products for which I receive a small commission for purchases at no added cost to you.  The links to products featured are not just for profit – these are products I personally use and absolutely love!

Dramatically Improve Your Life Today with This ONE Tip

I know.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  If you’re like a great many of us, you’re surely thinking there are a great many things that need to change for life to get better, none of which are going to pull that off overnight, rather much TODAY.  Not entirely true.

While you know I’d most always tell you eat your veggies, hit the track or take some time-out to distress, this one actually takes far less effort yet still pays back in spades.  Would you believe it actually doesn’t cost a thing and actually takes only seconds?

I know.  Now I really sound full of it, huh?  I’m actually not.  I’ve been doing this for years and it just keeps getting better as I strive to be more intentional about doing it more often.  People have seen the huge differences in my life and I get so excited to see how it makes such a difference in theirs too.

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READY TO TAKE HEALTHY BACK?  CLICK HERE TO START LEARNING HOW.

Just promise you won’t go giving my secret away.  (Okay, so maybe I’ll overlook it if you share this with everybody on your social feed.  You know, ’cause I’m nice like that.)

You ready for it?

You sure?

Now, you just have to implement this one immediately.  Capeesh?

Alright, here’s what I want you to do…

Get out and encourage somebody!

Wait.  That’s it?  Yep.

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I know this may seem like a small thing but the aftermath is huge.  If you’re one who has more of a tendency to speak negatively, talk bad about people or just find it so hard to not share bad news with people, let me tell you with the utmost love – you are sucking the life out of all in earshot.  I know that may seem harsh but I assure you it is so very true.  Negativity is toxic.  In fact, science is finding that a negative disposition actually makes one more prone to disease and compromises the immune system while a positive, joyful disposition helps to make us all the more resilient.  

So tearing others down literally tears us down.  It does nothing to your benefit or any one else’s.  Zilch.  Nada.

Ask yourself – When was the last time you walked away from a monologue of complaining or from hearing all about how Shanequa should not have worn that dress with those shoes and actually felt refreshed, like you just got a fresh breath or a burst of joy in your day?

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

Dulling someone else’s shine does not make you shine any brighter.

I firmly believe that it’s in lifting others up, encouraging them and striving to bring the best out of those around us, we bring the best out of ourselves.

I know you don’t want to be the kind of person that makes life really stink for others.  Some people may have those inclinations but NOT YOU!

You never know where others are at or what they’re going through. You could have no clue that the person you’re talking to may be at the end of their rope and then you give them a smile and a compliment and all of a sudden, the lonely and the hurting don’t feel so lonely after all.

It takes no one special to tear others down but one who builds others up is a gem indeed.

So, there you have it.  Make it a point to speak a word of life to somebody – ANYBODY – today, and watch how quickly your days get brighter too.

Ditching This Mindset Will Work Wonders on Your Eating

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and the Founder of Eden Life Ministries and See Kids Thrive

Over the years, I’ve watched women wrestle with their eating in a number of ways.  The struggle happens on so many different levels and can stem from so many different roots.

As complex as it all is, I can’t tackle the whole of it here but I did want to touch on one common hurdle I see mark the end of the race for so many health efforts – that’s coming from a place of deprivation.

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READY TO TAKE HEALTHY BACK?  CLICK HERE TO START LEARNING HOW.

In a way, it is very natural to us.  When we dive into a cleanse or a fast, or are just getting into a new plan to improve our eating, we tend to find ourselves mulling over the whole list of what we “cannot” have.  This is especially so where we get hungry and start thinking of all the things we’d normally eat to satisfy our cravings.  We start thinking “ooooh, I’d like this – oh wait, I can’t have that either!

Much of this is because the neural pathways in our brains that process food options and choices have been developed around those foods and have been reinforced for years, if not decades.  Those thoughts and attitudes toward different foods have literally, albeit  ever unintentionally, been hard-wired into our brains.

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Eden’s Garden Essential Oils

However, thanks to neuroplasticity (the ability of our brains to restructure based on new information, perceptions and learned thought processes) we have the ability to retrain and reroute those neural pathways toward better food choices and a healthier attitude about it all.  BUT, we have to respect that the process takes time.

There are no short-cuts for this.  This is not 21 days like many have taught for years.  The process of taking a new way of thinking or behaving and making it a habit takes about 63 days.  That may seem daunting but bear in mind that the brain is doing an incredible work in that time that will absolutely alter the rest of your life, if you but let it.

Healthful eating is not something some people were made to do and others weren’t.  It’s a trained skill and you’re more than capable of learning it.

Many people wonder how I’m not even tempted to put stuff in my mouth that others seriously wrestle to walk away from.  I am able to do it easily because God has walked me through the process that has helped me to address the root issues that were spurring the MANY eating issues I had and to rewire the thoughts and perceptions I have toward foods, leaving no desire or even cravings to eat Modern American foods.

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

I once was so not into Chard.  Now, I love it.  For many years, I felt almost powerless to my food choices but I now know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ve come to understand that my health efforts have nothing to do with “depriving” myself but nurturing and taking care of myself.  The Health Freedom God has given us is not about being free to eat whatever we want exempt from the consequences that come from those choices.  Food and health freedom is about being released to enjoy the foods that love us back – the foods God gave us to bring healing to our bodies, to build us up and equip us to live our lives optimally, in full spectrum.

It’s a sad fact that most people have no clue how good their bodies were designed to feel.  Too many people count their bodies among life’s burdens rather than God’s blessings.  Not eating sugar-laden, counterfeit foods of this world is not a form of deprivation.  Pairing back down to the basics and enjoying a diet rich in fresh, organically grown produce is a gift and a privilege too many in the world would be abundantly grateful to have.

I love how Lisa Terkhuerst puts it in her book “Made to Crave,” where she says (and I’m paraphrasing) “I have these boundaries to define the parameters of my freedom.”  She talks here about how God has given us boundaries in life which apply to foods as well.  Those boundaries do not deny us freedom but rather define the space in which we are free to eat and live in security, without fear of what may be lurking around.  It’s not punishment.  It’s not denial of some “finer things in life.”

God’s provision is good, exquisite, plentiful and life-giving.

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What we have to understand is that when we come from a place of deprivation (thinking in terms of what we can’t or don’t get to have) we don’t come from a victor’s mindset but one that pushes us closer to a survival mindset.  Here, we think along the lines of “look at all I can’t have… I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”  Any time a human being finds themselves submersed in discontentment and a place of perceived scarcity, they will desperately seek a way out.  I’ll quote my husband here, as he spoke in terms of our take on marriage “those who go in looking for a backdoor will find one.”  Same goes with food.  When we come in with a negative, defeated mindset, we’ll come up with any number of excuses to ditch it and move on.  This usually ends in extreme eating and binging when we finally “release ourselves” back to our old ways of eating.

This sort of deprivation (survival-based) mindset primes us to think even more about the food and prompts us to eat more, only making the cycle and struggle worse.

It’s not that it all has to be so hard but we have a way of making the struggle way more than it ever should be.  This is just not sustainable.

So, how do we break these patterns?  While it may take some time and effort, it can be done.  You can retrain your brain to LOVE eating healthfully and to have zero desire to eat the foods you once struggled to avoid.

Here are some of my keys to doing just that:

1.  Catch & Replace

The Word tells us that we are to take our thoughts captive.  You’ve got to be on guard to catch the thoughts that are keeping you trapped and to intentionally replace them with thoughts that align with your goals and what you know to be true.

If you’re thinking:  “I just don’t have the willpower.”

Try thinking:  “I’m not letting that food have mastery over me.

If you’re thinking:  “I’ve tried a thousand times and just about everything.  I always fail.

Try thinking:  “My victory here is secure.  I am NOT about to just hand it over this time.  This time I WIN.

If you’re thinking:  “I’m just going to be so hungry all day

Try thinking:  “This is more than plenty and if I really need more, I’m free to/will be able to get it later.

If you’re thinking:  “It won’t taste good.  It just won’t have the flavor this will.

Try thinking:  “These foods are amazing!  I can’t believe I never realized how many options there are or how good it could be!” (yes, even when you’re not feeling it, you can at least remind yourself of all the good it’s doing for your body.)

If you’re thinking:  “I just don’t like healthy foods/_____________(parsnips, kale, fill in your own blank)”

Try thinking:  “I’m just trying to find the way I like it prepared best.  That may not have been exactly what I’m looking for but I’ll just go with a different recipe/prep it different next time.

If you’re thinking: “But a life without cake…that’s TERRIBLE!

Try thinking:  “You know, I could eat that and I’m sure it would taste good but it really doesn’t resonate with my current health and wellness goals or what I want for my future.

It’s not that you can’t have cake ever again but realize there are PLENTY of other options out there that are better suited to your health and wellness goals.

2.  Bring Success into Your Present Tense

Looking positively toward the future and planning for success is highly beneficial, even critical in your overall success.  Still, don’t underestimate the value of declaring those realities into your now moments.  Don’t just tell yourself you’re “going to eat better” as though it is still something lingering on your to-do list.  Instead, speak from a place of “I don’t eat that way anymore…  I am so glad that I’ve finally really committed to do this for myself.  No more putting it off – now is absolutely my time!”

While we’re at it, why don’t we bring up past successes too?  Don’t tell me how many times you felt you failed over all.  Look at all those meals and all those days you disproved the notion that you can’t do it.  You made it through July 21st of last year, you can make it through today and you’ll do it again and again with even more finesse.  Count your victories and watch how quickly they’ll keep piling up!

3.  Dig with Your Eyes Before You Dig with Your Fork

Instead of sitting around thinking of all the things you “can’t have,” be intentional about thinking of all you can do with the things you can have.  Don’t veg out with your phone, scouring pictures of cupcakes and wonder why a salad now doesn’t sound so appealing – you’re not prepping your brain or stomach to eat it.

We eat with our eyes (and noses) first.  Pick up a good, healthy recipe book with LOTS of pictures.  (I often tell people to nab a healthy vegan cookbook.  Even those not looking to go vegan can find incredible benefit from a recipe dedicated to making the most flavorful dishes with fruits and vegetables taking center-stage.)

Start locking in on the abundance that could be yours and all the things you really can do with fresh, whole food ingredients.  Seriously, you’re hard-pressed to ever really run out of options or get bored.  You may find a handful of go-to’s but the recipes out there could go on for eons.

4.  Declare the Victory That’s Already

Christ has already done a COMPLETE work for you.  You lack NOTHING you need to be successful.  He didn’t die on that cross or let sinful man cast such abuses on Him so you could live in and from a place of defeat and deprivation.  He came that you would have live and have it MORE ABUNDANTLY!  It’s a gift freely and already given.

We’re not meant to live in captivity and lack but in freedom and abundance.  It’s up to us to renew and reshape our thoughts around that truth as we retrain our thoughts toward life, our food choices, and ourselves. Recognize and appreciate the abundance within your reach and the rich future it primes you to walk out.

From Past to Precious Stones

There are many times I wonder what it would be like to come from a place of growing up in relationship with Christ.  I see some who fell in love with Jesus at an early age and have never really fallen out.  Not to say they’ve been perfect, as none of us are, but I think there is much to be admired in those who’ve remained faithful against all odds.  How often I wish I didn’t have the regrets of the life I once lived and the attitudes/inclinations I still sometimes fall into.  How much I wish certain spans of my life just didn’t happen, yet they did.  Things were done, words were said, things that should have never been were built up in my life.  Oh, to have a past that would be a joy to retell.  

How many times I’ve recounted and repented for so much of my past and marvel at the mercies extended to me in the present.  I didn’t deserve the life I now live yet He’s freely given it and every day, despite the challenges and even wrestling with self I still have to do, He makes it all the better.  An incredible family, a home in the promised land, promises of God ever being fulfilled before my very eyes and its marvelous beyond words.  Even aside from the numerous tangible gifts, He pours out a comfort and the assurance of always having Him to look forward to, lean on and trust with everything in my life.  

Is it not incredible to you that Jesus actually secured a way that would strip off every hindrance, tear down every barrier and abolish every excuse we could ever have for not living an incredible, rich and abundant life in His presence?  It’s just dumbfounding that I could look with horror on decades of my life as he gently presses my chin, turning my head and resetting my gaze onto a future for me that He looks at with joy.

It’s easy to wonder “how could God want me?” Yet, every word, every action, every promise makes the truth of His desire to have us all to His own, undeniable.  …and not only to have us but to build in us something great.

“I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.”  (Isaiah 54:12)

Before Christ, we worked and strived to build our own lives in a way that seems pleasing to us.  At times, we erect strong timbers and hand pick the finest woods to piece together the vision of the life we want to live.  At others, we find ourselves grasping at straws, patching holes in what we’ve built with scraps and cardboard, trying to keep the rain out.

Having been built on the wrong foundation to begin with, it can never truly be trusted, so God, in His goodness and grace, often has to take us through seasons where we feel like the walls are being torn down and crumbling around us.  In these times, we can feel as though we are being punished for the lives we’ve lived, as though God has set Himself against us.  We struggle to see His mercy at work when it all comes down, when, really, He would be justified in leaving us to what our own hands have built.  Yet, He doesn’t.

He doesn’t leave us.  He doesn’t watch and laugh as we struggle and fail a thousand times over.  No.  He comes to our aid and sets out to build something of real, true value in our lives – something beautiful and lasting.  To mount those rubies on walls of wood, it would all come down.  What our hands have built could never support the weight of what God is building in our lives.  But, there has to be a removal of the old to provide a clearing for what’s to come.

Our God is all-in for those who are in it for Him.  He has always been all-in for us.  Not a single action of God contradicts that.  Every move and work of God only underscores that truth.  He has withheld no good thing from us but has given everything that we would get to know Him.

So, when the things of this world are fading away in our lives and the pain and discomfort of saying “goodbye” to things and places that, at one point were all we had known, seems nigh unbearable, we can muster up within us joy and hope.  Yes, joy and hope.  It is not in God’s nature to leave the ground barren and unfruitful or to leave a life in rubble.   No.  God builds.  God restores.  God heals.  God makes whole.  What an incredible gift it is that because of Jesus, those but willing to submit to His work in their lives will not enter heaven as one barely escaping the flames, seeing the sum of everything else in their lives come to nothing, but that we would come into His presence with a life lived as a gift to Him.  (1 Corinthians 3:10-14)

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to live the kind of life God would have to choose to forget in granting me passage into His kingdom.  I want my life to be a joy for Him to recount – my “THANK YOU!” for all He is and all He’s done for me.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  (‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:1‬a )

Why Christians SHOULD Be the Fittest People on the Planet Yet So Many of Them Aren’t

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and the Founder of Eden Life Ministries and See Kids Thrive

I know the title here may sound a bit like a bold statement but the reality is, those who’ve been redeemed by Christ and received the full measure of what He’s done for us should be the healthiest, most vibrant people you’ve ever seen.  I think one of the great testimonies to our faith is how God has given us the ability to live an abundant life, walking in wellness and joy.  Yet, too often, even when we’re willing to believe that’s His desire for others, we struggle to believe it’s His desire for us.

Is that you?

Maybe it’s just me but I get incredibly upset seeing Christians – young Christians with decades of powerful living ahead of them – miss it because they’ve settled for less than Christ’s vision for them, especially where they’ve fallen prey to modern/worldly living that’s slowly killing them.

The Word says that we’ve been given the choice – life or death, blessings or curses (Deut. 30).  God says “choose life that you and your children may live.”  We have been granted freedom but too often we use that freedom as a cover up for a lack of personal responsibility and discipline.  

Yes, we are totally free to gorge ourselves full of BonBons and Bacon Cheeseburgers but as we understand that our bodies were not created for our own indulgence and we start to process the reality of what those foods do to us, do we honestly believe that way of living resonates at all with the plans and the call God has on our lives?  I’d argue a VERY LOUD “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

While there are many things that have held us captive in our health (and believe me, I have every intention of tackling them in the time ahead), there are several acts we need to catch ourselves in so we can turn the tables on our health and consequently become more powerful and effective in every other area of our lives.  That’s not to say we have to be perfect but we should be doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.

I typically try to keep my writing a little more upbeat and really hope you guys don’t think I’m out to give anyone a word-lashing, but I really feel like these are some key points we, as the Church, need to rethink and I don’t really know how else to approach it but head-on.  Sugar-coating it, playing victim and patting ourselves on the back about it isn’t helping!

I look forward to every opportunity to encourage and uplift here but we have got to be willing to catch ourselves in these traps so we can learn to avoid them in the future, freeing us to embrace an incredible life.

Dr. Caroline Leaf consistently reiterates the importance of being “transformed by the renewing of the mind.”  We have to change our mind before we change our behavior and today we’re doing just that.

1. We abuse the privileges granted in Scripture.

Got a Christian that doesn’t want to exercise?  You just might hear:  “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  (1 Timothy 4:8)  

Note, this passage doesn’t say physical training is of no value.  It merely reminds us of the priorities we ought to have – godliness is of more value than speed or brute strength.  Physical training is good for this lifetime but spiritual training is good for eternity.

Maybe you have somebody who wants to eat whatever they want to eat and they don’t want to hear a thing about it…  They might say, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”  (Colossians 2:16)

 

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READY TO TAKE HEALTHY BACK?  CLICK HERE TO START LEARNING HOW.

And I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked about passages in which God declared “all foods clean.”  {Yes, He declared them “clean” in that what we eat has no bearings on our spiritual status.  A rack of ribs will not disqualify from entering His presence but that doesn’t change the scavenger nature of the animal it came from. }

The thing is, the issue here is not about holiness and sanctification to which these passages are referring – the issue hereis stewardship.  God set the record straight with Peter because the food laws of the Jewish people were serving as a barrier keeping people from hearing the Gospel.  It was creating division amongst a people God intended to be united.  However, this was not to say that all foods are equal in terms of our health. 

While we are free from sin and the bondage that comes with rigid legalism, we are not exempt from biological cause and effect.

We can totally acknowledge the importance of demonstrating good stewardship over our finances and even in not being wasteful with things like food.  We understand that as good stewards, we should care for our environments, taking good care of the gifts God has granted and striving to be wise with the resources He’s given us, using what He’s provided to advance His kingdom and live a life that brings Him praise.  

Now, maybe my view is a little less conventional here but hear me out.  

We only get ONE body and that ONE body is our “earth suit” in which we walk out the entirety of our lifetime.  That ONE body, can be a great gift to you OR it can be the source of some of your greatest burdens.  By and large, that choice is up to you.  While I don’t claim to know the answer as to why some people never see the fullness of healing here on earth or why some people are born with disabilities we do not yet have an answer to, the evidence is increasingly clear that MOST people could be living an incredibly vibrant life ifthey were but willing to seek God’s wisdom, pray it through, and align their lives with that desire.   

Yes, you have every right to eat processed foods that destroy your body and eventually lead to disease.  But, as Paul says “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’-but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12)   

At some point, we have to realize that our determination to eat the foods that result in death and disease is not a measure of freedom but rather a form of bondage.  If you do something you know you ought not (especially where you know you really don’t want the results inherent to it), you are not walking in freedom but enslavement to something the enemy will, if given the opportunity, use to destroy you.

Pray God would help you see His plan for you in this area and that He would give you the scriptures and support to help you realize it.  

2. We take the gift for granted.

I know it may not seem overly profound to put it this way but in a great way, I think we should walk in the gifts we have with gratitude, rather than tossing them aside as we take them for granted, knowing there are so many that wish they could have such gifts and don’t.  

In terms of food, we live in a time and country where most of us have access to incredible, life-giving foods in abundance yet we choose, (for whatever reason we offer) to let them rot on the shelves.  People around the globe wish they could eat so well while we stock our pantries with non-foods and complain about why we don’t really like all that healthy stuff.  So many call it “rabbit food” and turn their noses up to it.  Excuse me but, no, that’s human food and is an incredible gift to have.

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Here’s where some may not like me but I shall toss it out there any way.  It’s not theory.  It’s fact.  Acknowledging it could save your life.  Ignoring it could cost you dearly, even your own life.

God made us.  God made the food that would feed us – food that would give us energy and help our bodies ward of all manner of disease.  The food God provided is God’s provision (“pro”+”vision” = for the vision He has for our lives).  He made it to nourish and satisfy, prevent cancer, rid our bodies of all manner of toxins, abolish inflammation, repair tissues and more.  Yet, we say “God, I don’t like that.  I’d rather eat what this company/restaurant/fast food joint made…”  (As though Nabisco is somehow better at making food than God. ? )

Now, when that all backfires, because we have chosen man-made counterfeits to God’s provision, whose fault is that?   I’m not trying to throw guilt but I am trying to challenge our perspectives.  

We should be eating and living for purpose over pleasure.  Any time pleasure takes the helm in our decision-making process, destruction is not far behind.  It catches up with us all eventually.  Yet, when we determine to eat and live for purpose rather than for pleasure, we end up finding great pleasure in the things that fuel the purpose.

How do we justify eating ourselves into diabetes and heart disease then act like God put that on us as our cross to bear?  If this is where you’re at, I hate to have to tell you but no doctor or medication will/can bring about the fullness of life that only God and His provision can give.  Too many Christians make it too easy on the enemy when it comes to taking us out.  We’re killing ourselves with a fork and still giving him the credit.

With fitness too, we need to stop complaining because those first few minutes hurt or because its work.  We should be incredibly grateful to be able.  Even if we’re so far from “fit,” we can’t fathom stepping onto a track, we can still take those first few steps then ask God’s help to take a few more. 

I recently walked with a very determined young man as he left his wheelchair to make his way up two sets of stairs to walk with our group.  He was on his knees because he couldn’t walk but, holding onto the rail with one hand, and my hand under his other arm, he made it to the top.  You could see his pain and struggle but he made it.  In my heart of hearts I know that if he had but the chance, he’d run – he’d run with all he’s got.

Stop complaining that you “have to walk” here or there or the length of a few extra parking spaces at the grocery store and be grateful you can.  

I dare you to step to health and fitness in gratitude – even and especially when it gets hard.  Instead of telling yourself how bad you hate it, tell your God how grateful you are that He has made you able and that He is making you stronger with every step you take with Him toward the amazing life He’s envisioned for you.

Do you realize what Christ has given that you could live well?

He bore the stripes upon His back that we would be healed (1 Pet. 2:24), he came to set the captives free (Isa. 61:1) and came that you would have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).  

I cannot tell you with what depth of sincerity I pray that we as Christians would come to understand and appreciate what we’ve been given and that we would walk in the incredible gifts He has so freely granted us all.

3. We forget who we’re living for.

We as Christians understand that we have been bought with a price.  Our lives are not our own.  In that, I come from a perspective that while my body is a gift given me by God for my use in the time that I am here, it is not to be used just for my own ends or pleasure.  

This body is one of the greatest assets I have as I work to reach people with the Gospel and for meeting the needs of those around me.  With these arms, I get to bring comfort and carry my little ones.  With these feet I get to go wherever God sends me or travel whatever distance I must to walk alongside others, using the voice I’ve been given to uplift and speak life over all I can.  

My body is a gift to me but it is not exclusively for me.  I was created by God with works prepared in advance for me to do and it is much harder to do those things if I abuse the body he’s given me to do them with.  

Again, we’re talking about stewardship.  My aim is not to make it all about me but to protect my capacity to serve God and others.  

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

I don’t know about you but I’m not up for spending the last 3-5 DECADES of my life deteriorating, winding down into the grave.  I want to make the most out of this ONE LIFE I’ve been given, to be as powerful and effective as I can in my ONE SHOT to do so.  

Once the curtain drops on your life, that’s it.  Won’t you be so glad to say you didn’t live it just to indulge and die but that you lived it with purpose on purpose.  Safeguarding your health plays a critical part in that!

4. We fail to see what it means to everyone else.

Last but not least, we often let ourselves get away with not walking in wellness because we limit our view on who it affects to ourselves.  The truth is, you cannot even begin to calculate the lives that are impacted whether you are walking in sickness or in health.  

Growing up with a mom who was always sick, I believe this especially applies to our spouses and children.  

Consider the gifts you give to them when you take care of yourself and consider what you’re ultimately asking of them when you don’t.

Even beyond our immediate family, there are countless people in the world desperately in need of the gifts God has placed within you to give to them.  Too many Christians flick through the channels and scroll through the stories with an “awe, that’s so sad, I’ll have to pray for that…” when they find themselves too weak/tired/sick/distracted to respond any other way.  Yes, pray.  Pray continuously.  But remember what James said loud and clear – faith without works is dead.  We pray but we’ve also been called to take action and to make a difference in this world.

Too many Christians are so tied up in doctor’s offices and waiting chairs that they feel powerless to affect the many things unfolding around us.  Yet, meanwhile, people are dying because they lack basic resources.  Widows and the elderly are slowly losing themselves in loneliness and a life they can no longer keep up with.  Precious, amazing children, who but wish they had someone to wrap a pair of loving arms around them are being cast aside or trafficked for use by wicked men.  

I know this view may seem harsh – maybe even extreme – but it’s still not as extreme as Christians willingly/carelessly settling for a life that’s far less than what we’ve been called to and actually believing we’re powerless against the world as it devolves around us.  Are cookies, cakes, pies and fries really worth it?  Are we really willing to trade off a life of power for a life of indulgence?  That’s not how the children of God should be living!  

 

It’s long past time we as Christians accepted that there’s much more to our lives than ourselves and that there are others out there waiting and counting on us to be who God Himself has made us to be.  We should strive to be the healthiest, fittest people on the planet because we’re determined to live ready to be used, ready to help, ready to be a light in this dark world.

We don’t have time for self-indulgence and lackluster living.

We must rise up and walk in the victory God has granted us in every area of our lives.

God has placed within you a gift to help bring the change that the world so desperately needs.  I dare you to live in such a spiritual, mental and physical preparedness that as God says “GO!,” you’re hopping saying “God, I’m ready!”

I am so grateful that as you determine to shine for Him, He is going to shine through you – accomplishing great and mighty things beyond your wildest imagination!

 

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made, Fiercely & Wondrously Loved

By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Integrative Wellness Counselor and the Founder of Eden Life Ministries and See Kids Thrive

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.  You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you.”

-Psalm 139:1-18

One of the things that has intrigued, even perplexed, me over the years, is just how many women struggle to grasp how God would care about something like our eating and our health.  At best, many of us hope He’ll care when it all comes apart.  My question is “why would He not care now?”

Why would God NOT be concerned with your well-being?

The truth is, if we believe what the Word of God says to be true – we serve a God who is deeply, intimately concerned with EVERY detail and every facet of our lives.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. – 1 Peter 5:7

We often wrestle to understand how God would care about our physical wellness because, too often, we come from a place of worldliness rather than godliness in our ambitions.  We get caught up in wanting to look the way the the world says we ought more than we desire to run our race with the unhindered power and pointedness intended for the Daughters of God.

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When we talk about health, I’d beg you – stop letting the focus of this world throw you under its oppression.  Consider the implications in how we approach every other area of our lives – our families, our marriages, our relationships, our jobs and our ministries – as we step to them in full force.  And, as you ponder the ways each of those areas would be affected by your health – be it good or bad – ask yourself “Why would God not care about that?”

I truly believe that God has incredible plans for you and that far too many of us settle for a life that is dramatically less than what God Himself has envisioned for us.  

You are not some thing that has crawled out of this hole, who God is just putting up with until He gets to draw the curtain on this life.  You are deeply loved by the God who gave you breath.  Every word, every action, every movement of God underscores His affections for you!

How I pray you’d see it – right now, in this moment – and to believe Him when He says He has called you and equipped you to walk in victory in every area of your life.  He didn’t leave anything to chance.  He has already provided all that you would need to walk in freedom and triumph.

He secured your victory once and for all and bore on His back the very stripes that would pay for the FULLNESS of healing for His people.  

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Start taking healthy back with one simple change.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”  –Isaiah 53:5

How can we look at what He’s done for us and question His affection or concern?

I don’t know where you’re at right now but I know and believe in my heart of hearts that God is ready to walk you through an incredible journey and that regardless of how dire you may feel the circumstances or how long a road you feel you have ahead of you, God is able and WILL complete the work He has started in you.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”   – Philippians 1:4-6

For today, I beg you to believe:  

You are fearfully and wonderfully made; fiercely and wondrously loved.

 

 

Finding Your Push

Don’t you hate when you find yourself daydreaming about enjoying a face full of fresh foods or getting a good sweat in at the gym only to jar yourself back to a frustrating reality knowing you’d surely enjoy all of that if you could just convince yourself to actually get up and do it?

Been there.  Totally been there.

We all need a good swift kick in the pants from time to time; maybe even a good friend willing to give us that straight talk to get our head back in the game.  You’re not alone and having to wrestle through that DOES NOT mean you’re weak or any less capable of walking in victory than the most bull-doggish people you know.  Maybe you just have to find your way and here are a few points that can help you do just that.

Keep It Simple but Intentional

While some people have no problem whatsoever grabbing that big ole bull by the horns, others find a rapid shift to be totally unsustainable.  This is typically where we see the average American mom stuck in her health – she gets frustrated with where she’s at and puts her foot down, determined to do something about it.

Like a mad-woman, she dashes through the house with a massive black bag, pitching everything and anything to get temptation out of the house.  By 10:00a, she’s at the grocery store, re-stocking the pantry.  By noon, the her pics of the nose dive she did into the salad bar at Whole Foods are up on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  3pm – she’s a Sweaty Betty’s, leaving the gym.  4:30 pm – “I’m so crazy hungry!”  (House full of new foods)  “What on earth am I going to make?”  {“Healthier veggie chips” devoured}  Day 2 – repeat steps 3 and up.  Day 3 – She’s getting bored with it and that cheeseburger smells SO GOOD.  Day 4 – Still going strong but thinking about getting that head checked.  Day 5 – She says “forget it, I can’t take this anymore” {“healthy” Oreos devoured while taking a nice warm bath in nacho cheese sauce.}

Okay, so maybe that’s not your story but most of us can relate to the feeling of cycling through the excitement, frustration, elation and disappointment as we cycle through all the latest diet trends, hoping that this one will finally be the one.

I know the ads can be super-convincing but you don’t have to drop 8 pounds in 8 days, or 50 in 10 weeks, to be a real success story.  You just have to make it a point to take even simple but intentional steps toward your health and wellness goals.  Even on days you feel like you’re barely inching toward it, you’ll soon enough look at the huge divide between where are were and where you are with intense joy.

You cannot measure your successes and failures on the successes and failures of others and you have to learn to run at your own pace.  When you do, you’re going to quickly surpass your wildest expectations and walk in true triumph as you start to see all the progress you’ve made with no temptation to go back to the way things were.

Get a Solid Motivator

A major hurdle many women face in mustering up that moxie to get up and get moving is that they have their sights set on very faulty motivators.

While we may want to lose that weight once and for all, or find ourselves determined to get back in those old jeans, we really need something more substantial to give us the drive we need to be successful over the long haul.  Even those who can hold themselves to it until they hit that goal often find that maintaining the ground they’ve lost can be very difficult over the months and years to follow.

If we want to get healthy and stay healthy, it has to be about something more – something that really means something to us and those we hold so dear.

Weight and waistlines can be VERY poor measures of progress when it comes to your health.  You can drop 10 pounds in 10 days and maybe even feel better for the time while doing a lot of damage to the body.  On the flipside, you might feel like you’ve gained a few pounds over the last couple weeks since you started eating better (I know – total head-scratcher) but have no idea as to how much your body has done in that time to cleanse and heal the organs, or reverse chronic or underlying conditions.

I know it’s exciting to “see the results” but to get a better picture of your progress, you’ll have to look further than skin-deep – not only in measuring progress but also for the strength and motivation to keep going when the going gets crazy tough.

Look to the Hills

If you ever catch me in a workout and I’ve got that stern, gritting my teeth look on my face, with my eyes closed or staring intently up and forward, chances are, in my head, I’m repeating Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Now, some of you may find that silly but it’s a verse that helps me keep going when I’d otherwise be tempted to give up.  Adding empowering, encouraging personal, positive declarations can not only increase your enjoyment of the activity/effort in the moment, but can also be a great help as you seek to establish new, lifelong lifestyle habits.

Rather than looking to the pain or even to the clock, choose to look to “whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is noble…” Instead of complaining (even to yourself) about how much it aches, how about giving thanks to your God that you are able?  He has made your body capable of doing incredible things and will help you get there but you’ve got to press in and press forward.

Stop telling yourself about all the reasons you can’t do it and start speaking words of victory over yourself and your efforts (and more over those around you while you’re at it).

Whether you’re feeling weak, tired, or just straight not in the mood, look to God, look to His Word, think life, speak life and find your push to keep pressing forward.

 

Cleansing for Wellness

Article courtesy of Dr. Claire Morris, ND.  Visit her at ClaireMorrisND.com.

The fastest way to transform your health is to do a cleanse.

There are many types of cleanses available…some formatted to cleanse the colon, kidneys, lungs and blood either separately or collectively.  There are also cleanses that call for fasting, juicing or eating raw.  Maybe all that sounds too complicated or too much like work.  Wait, before you decide to quit before even starting, here are a few things to ponder.

We are in contact with toxins every day. Poor quality water, chemicals in personal care products, medications, food additives and preservatives along with environmental pollutants are a few of the toxins our bodies are exposed to regularly.  Toxins in our systems can cause chronic health conditions, fatigue and even obesity.  With constant exposure stressing the immune system, the body’s defenses break down.  It has been known that cleansing helps with the removal of toxic build-up.  

A good cleanse will not only remove the disease causing toxins but increase energy, improve regularity and immunity, aid in stress management and promote weight loss.  The amount of toxic overload is proportional to exposure and age.  That means the more toxic you are, the longer and possibly more difficult the cleansing process.

Internal cleansing works by using the body’s own systems and a proper diet (possibly herbs or minerals) to pull those toxins from different areas of the body then flush them out using the systems of elimination.  

There are also many herbs and supplements created to support cleansing and detoxification of the body.  Milk thistle is good to cleanse and regenerate the liver.  Dandelion is great for the kidneys.  Zinc chelates out nickel (which has an affinity for the prostate).  Doctors have used chelation (pronounced- key lay shun) for the removal of heavy metals.  If you feel you are extremely toxic, it may be best to cleanse one system at a time.

Diet is important during and after cleansing.  You should consume raw, unprocessed foods – mostly organic fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Actually, we should eat that way all the time.  Internal cleansing is important for good health, but educate yourself, and it is a good idea to consult with your doctor or a healthcare practitioner before starting.

Wouldn’t you like to experience better health and attain a new level of wellness?  There’s no better time and you can be part of the Transformation of a Nation.

 

 

 

Originally published 6/20/12

Lighten Up

In life we have a tendency to take on far more than God intended for us to carry. So many of these things we take on are things we feel entitled to or things we feel should be even our moral obligation to carry.

We pick up many bags in life, as we go along, often to the point of feeling like we’re on overload but don’t even know which bags to put down or how to pull one strap off our shoulders without running the risk of dropping it all in our attempt to simply lighten the load.

The bags we grab are not of leather but of burdens. We lug around a suitcase of guilt, a sack of discomfort and a sachet of shame. We shoulder a bag of weariness and a bag of grief and fill our pockets to overflowing with all the little extras we think we’ve got room for. We pull behind us trunks full of fear, angst, and doubt.

No wonder we’re tired, run-down and overwhelmed. We lack vigor and joy and often fail to see that so many of those things we continue to carry are sucking the life out of us.

Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

I look at the lives we so often live today and catch myself pondering just how far we’ve moved away from the Garden. We get so busy with so many things. Our fast-paced, high-output culture pulls and tugs at our time until it feels like we’ve nothing left to give. In all honesty, it’s not just the world that has a way of pulling us into this vortex of appointments and tasks. Really, I’d say it can be every bit the obstacle in the church too. Not that I would ever deter any one from working in the church. I’m just stating what many well-seasoned Christians can also attest to. Our desire to pour out, when not tempered with the wisdom to get away with God and get pointed on what we should be doing, is a quick recipe for burnout.

How easy it is as Christians to feel like it is our duty to take on the world and to bring about the fulfillment of God’s plan. Yet, there’s such a relief in realizing that the results, ultimately, are not our responsibility.

Yes, we ought to give it our best. Yes, we have to bring the effort. But we work ourselves to the bone for very little fruit when we operate in ourselves rather than simply pressing forward, trusting that whatever the results, God will have His way.

We have got to get away from this mindset that God is somehow measuring us based on the things we can accomplish for Him. That line of thinking is circumstantial yet we serve a God who is eternally the same and doesn’t look to the same things man does.

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭31:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God is not looking to what we can do for Him but rather what we’ll but let Him do through us. He’s the One with the Big Picture and the Big Plan. We can’t bring about all that He has in mind. It’s too complicated. But, we can be a part of it and that in itself is such an incredible gift.

So many burdens we carry and so heavy they become yet Christ says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We’ve placed such great expectations on ourselves yet I believe the Lord would have us learn to lighten up a bit. We get too tense. I GET WAY TOO TENSE! It’s not good for us and it tends to detract from that peace and joy we should be bearing as fruit of His Spirit working within us.

What’s more is that as we take on more than we were meant to carry, we tend to start looking to others – our partners, family and friends – with the expectation that they help shoulder the burdens they really weren’t meant to carry either but that we should instead be leaving at the feet of Christ.

There are a great many burdens we bear that we need to quit carrying to walk in the freedom that we’ve been so graciously gifted with and called to.

While there are many that we could look at and discuss in great depth, I want to touch on just a few of these here.

The Burden of Want

We all know Psalm 23:1, where it says “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

Yet, how many of us can honestly look at our lives and say that we don’t want? We know that David is spot on – we have God, what else could we possibly need or desire? Yet, something in us stirs, turns and ponders the things of this world and what it would be like if we could just take hold of them.

I am guilty here. I would be one big, fat liar if there ever was one if I said that I didn’t.

It’s part of our nature as humans to want something better – to pursue greater things, to improve upon our lives, our futures, and the future we’ll leave to our children. However, it becomes a great burden when our definition of “better” becomes more worldly than Wordly.

The thing is, we often don’t see it for what it is. It can seem that it would be so obvious when our hearts long deeply for a big house or a Benz, great wealth or fame, clout or “Big Time” connections but it can slip right under our radar when we find ourselves entangled in want of things we see as things we should have.

That’s where it gets hard to catch ourselves getting caught up in it.

Just one new house, just one new car, just one new spouse, new job… we don’t want much – just this one more thing and we swear we’ll be satisfied.

Ecclesiastes 5:15 – “Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.”

Do we calculate that into the value of the things we long for and what we’re actually giving in exchange for those things?

When the measure of our lives or what we think of them is defined by what we acquire, attain or climb to, we find that we take on a great burden that acts like an anchor, keeping us from moving forward in the fullness of all that God has for us as we’re tied down to our efforts and pursuits of what we seek to attain for ourselves.

The weight of want gets heavier over time. We carry the weight of wanting something until we get it or get over it. Once we’ve enjoyed the pleasure of taking hold of things long longed for, we set our sights on bigger and better things. One more promotion…one nicer car…

The more we get, the more we want and the more we think we’re capable of carrying that longing-for-more yet the longing is never fully satisfied.

What really gets us is where we exhaust so much of our time and energy pursuing the things and life we think we should have. When it gets to be too much, we start praying for the supernatural strength to endure, to rise to the occasion but what would our response be to God if we listened earnestly and honestly and instead of Him giving us what we were asking for, He simply told us just to put it down and walk away?

Yowch.

I don’t always like the sound of that.

See, the Burden of Want also comes with the Burden of Discontentment. It’s easy to look at what everybody else has and seem to so easily take hold of, and wonder “why not me? Why shouldn’t I have those things?”

We start struggling with seeing the value in what we already have and become burdened under the weight of that discontentment.

James 4:1-3 – “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

The Burden of Discontentment is very hard to bear. It tempts us to take drastic measures and think very little about enslaving ourselves to creditors and mounds of debt just to end the aching of that longing to simply take hold of those things we just want so badly. How often we fail to calculate the true costs of desperation and discontentment.

Want is a very heavy burden to bear, even when we think we want so little. Yet, The Word says Godliness with contentment is great gain. It’s hard to do at times and it takes an intentional move on our part, but when we purposely look at those things we’ve long wanted and choose to want God more, we find relief, joy and peace – the lifting of a great weight from our shoulders.

The Burden of Worry

Matthew 6:27 – “You cannot add a day to your life by worrying.”

We all know what it’s like to worry. I think most parents would more so wonder what it’s like not to worry. It’s been so long since they’ve not, they can hardly remember what it’s like to live without the weight of worry pressing down firmly from atop their poor, achy shoulders.

Anxiety, fear, doubt, insecurity… all these things are tag-alongs to worry. But, there is so much freedom in coming to the realization that when God says “you don’t have to worry, I’ve got you covered…” You really don’t have to worry. How cool is that?

That’s not to say that challenges won’t arise, that tragedies don’t happen or that things won’t seem to take a turn for the worst on occasion; but the reality is, worrying doesn’t prevent the hardships of life and, the grand majority of the time, we see that worry does nothing but rob us of the joy in the time that we have now.

The Burdens of Guilt & Shame

Guilt is something we often have a hard time putting down because it’s something we feel we should carry. We have such a hard time letting it go, feeling like it’s not something we have a right to be free of but the Gospel tells a very different story.

1 Peter 3:18 – “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”

Do you really grasp what He’s done for you? The guilt and the shame are no longer yours!

Repentance reveals a heart that is sensitive toward God but we’re not to walk under the oppressive cloud of guilt and shame.

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Guilt and shame make you hide from God but God lifts that from us that we can walk freely and uprightly (not proudly but in confidence in what Jesus has done for us) before Him.

The Burden of Self-Reliance

Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We have a terrible tendency to want to do things our own way.

What’s more, in self-reliance, we look too much to our own qualifications to determine whether or not we’re up for the task to which God has called us. That is absolutely unbiblical.

We see this play out in both directions.

On the one side, we can bring the wrong attitude in with our efforts as we walk in a sense of pride when in all reality, the only thing in us worth bragging about is Him.

On the other side, we let our sense of inadequacy hold us back and deter us from even thinking that those God-sized dreams are possible. Self-reliance tells us to quit before we even start. Yet, Paul says “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)

With God, the question is not “Are you capable?” – It’s “are you available?”

Psalm 32:8 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Are we starting to see a trend here?

If there’s one thing I believe God has been working on with me quite a bit it’s this – trusting in Him working through me.

While God may give us particular callings, like pastoring or administration, we can’t even begin to calculate the value of how God will use us even in what seems to be our simple day-to-day lives, where He’ll drop things and people in our paths and in our thoughts. We may think those things so small yet we can’t even begin to calculate the true significance – where He would use even a simple phone call as a way of showing our brothers and sisters that He truly is so mindful of us and ever-present in our lives.

We bear fruit not by just working for Him but becoming One with Him.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” -‭‭John‬ ‭15:4-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The Burden of Perfectionism

How easy it can be to come under the burden of perfectionism when our heart’s desire is to give our best. There is something to be said about striving for a higher standard but here’s what needs to be understood – while I believe the Lord is pleased with our deep desire to give Him our all, we have to know that He is not at all disappointed by our shortcomings.

I think all too often, we get this picture in our minds as to what things should look like and how they should play out and when any part of that picture falls short of what we’d envisioned, we take on guilt, shame, and a deep wound of failure that leaves us pulling away from God, yet thinking He’s pushing us away for our inadequacy.

We somehow get the impression that because of our failures, God doesn’t like us so much or that He’s just kindly putting up with us until the time comes for us to go home but I don’t think that could be further from the truth. Out of all of scripture, there was ONLY ONE that could claim perfection. Other than Jesus, there was not one of the great apostles, prophets, servants or children of God that got it all right.

Could you imagine if Peter quit and just walked away from it all after he’d denied Christ 3 times over? Isaiah himself said he was a man of unclean lips. What if he’d followed that with “…so let me live out the rest of my days in silence for fear of saying the wrong thing or even the right thing the wrong way.”

We all have our faults. We’re all in progress. God saw everyone of them before He ever determined His plans for us, in all His omnipotence, wisdom and sovereignty, yet still spoke His word and calling over our lives. He a every failure, every weakness, every error, mistake, lapse in judgment and flat stupid decision we’d ever make and every dumb moment we would ever have and determined that He could and would still work in, through, and around everyone of them.

I think I’ve heard a few too many times about how God had called people to one thing but they messed things up and went the wrong way and now they’re no good for that task. Yes, we can walk away from what we know God is calling us to but I look at that parable of the prodigal son and how God was saying, if you would just come back and let me put that ring right back on your finger, I will restore you to the position originally intended for you.

In reality, we serve a God who lets none of it go to waste, not even our worst screw-ups. We serve a God that sculpts our calling around those times in our lives when we were even at our worst, and says “I only let you get away with it because I knew I could use it to pull them over there out of it too… I knew that once you’d gone through all of that mess and seen what I could still do through you, you’d never be the same again and you’d have such a heart for my people!”

Yes, there’s something to be said for striving for holiness. We all should strive to bring Him our best but remember, it’s not about you being perfect. There’s something incredibly liberating about being able to accept that and lay it bare before the Lord. He knows where you need help. Sometimes we just have to be willing to confess our own needs with our own mouths and watch the work of the Lord that follows.

God is not looking for men or women who can be perfect in themselves. He’s looking for those who want to be made perfect through Him – who recognize that He alone is our righteousness and perfection.

So, what do you say?  Are you ready to lighten up a bit?

Whatever the reasons we may have for walking around with these boulders on our backs, we have got to realize that this is not the kind of life that God has called us to and that it is holding us down from being able to walk freely with Him.

The tension that results from carrying such burdens has a tendency to become a great hindrance in our readiness to freely, simply walk in fellowship with our Creator. Stop worrying so much and start taking more delight in the walk you get to have with Christ. Take delight in the fact that He’s not counting on you to make His plans happen but that He’s called you to be a part of this grand and gorgeous story that He’s orchestrated across the ages.

Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

What are some ways God is prompting you to lighten up and enjoy the gift of life you’ve been so freely given?

 

Originally presented at Gospel Lighthouse Church, April 13th, 2016

4 Ways Women are Losing the War on Health & How We Can Rise to Conquer


Seriously.  Could we be any more engulfed in drug ads and companies aching to scratch that itch to look and feel better?!  It’s insane to ponder all the companies, products, programs, books and plans out there, all claiming to be THE answer you’ve been looking for to get your health and your life back on track.  Even though, much of it comes down to the ever-so-simple yet ever-so-overlooked areas of diet and lifestyle.

Whole food nutrition and movement – two simple things that can impact your health in such a huge and awesome way yet we struggle to believe it could really be that simple.  

Yes.  It is. 

I think we’re getting this.  I think we’re inching our ways over toward understanding yet why do we struggle so profusely with simply implementing what we know?  We want to live well but there always seems to be that one thing standing in the way.  (Okay, maybe 23 things for some of us.  Whatever.  Today’s discussion still applies.)

We all have our obstacles; some of us more so than others.  But, what we have to realize is that regardless of the obstacles that lie before us, we can walk in victory in our health.  The road may not be easy but it’s certainly not a dead end.  In fact, it just might be the start of an adventure of a lifetime.  It surely has been for me.

Far too many of us have been losing the war on health and it is costing us, and our families, dearly.  The phenomenal news is that IT’S NOT TOO LATE!  You can totally hit the reset button in each of these areas and watch incredible things unfold in immediate and long-term results.

1.  We Call Self-Neglect Self-Sacrifice

Being a wife and mother of two, I understand that these are jobs of many sacrifices.  From that “I do” and from the moments of conception and birth, many things must be set aside or adjusted to make room for a wife and mommy to meet all of her household’s needs.  

It’s what we do. We take care of our homes.  It’s Biblical, right?

It seems that mode of adjusting never really stops as our lives ever fluctuate and fill in the cracks with each time and season our family is in.  

Amongst all the chaos and the crazy, we have a tendency to put certain things on the back burner while we tend to everything else.  Unfortunately, for countless women, health seems to be one of first things set aside and overlooked; at least until it starts to fail us.

The problem with this is that the longer we put it off, the greater the risk we run of exhausting our capacity to be of any help to those we love and seek so much to serve.  Not only does our ability to help them steadily diminish but also our capacity to even help ourselves.  NOT where you want to be.

While I totally get and appreciate the sacrificial heart of a loving wife and mother, I hope you are not blurring the lines between self-sacrifice and self-neglect.  Don’t view your efforts to take care of yourself as time or energy you’re taking from them.  Rather, view them as another way you give to them – a means of protecting (and increasing) your ability to keep pouring into your family.


Start taking healthy back with one simple change.

2. We Claim We’re Keeping the Peace

I can’t tell you how many women regularly buckle under the pressure to eat and feed their families junk they know they should not be eating in some sort of effort to “keep the peace” in the home.  While I believe in promoting an environment of joy and peace, especially at the kitchen table, this IS NOT an area to fold up under.  

If this is you, know that even as you “keep the peace,” you may be “winning a battle” while you very well may be losing the war.  We all have to learn to “pick our battles.”  True.  But, we also need to recognize the time to take a stand with all we’ve got, determined to take hold of the prize that awaits our families on the other side of our efforts.

I know it isn’t always easy getting everyone else on board.  To ease tensions, I HIGHLY encourage you to make sure your lines of communication are strong.  Help them understand what you’re looking to accomplish and why.  

Also, never underestimate the power of education.  The kitchen is a great place to teach our families and equip them to live long, vibrant lives.  You don’t have to shove sprouts and apples down there throats daily to help them live healthfully.  

Rather than trying to force them to adopt your take on it, try educating them so they can draw their own conclusions.  Though some still hold their ground on the not-so-good food choices, many, as they come to understand what certain foods do to the body, will determine on their own that they don’t want to put those things into their bodies.  It’s here you get to go from an adversarial position into a more supportive role in which you get to be there to learn together and help them reach their own health and wellness goals.

Even in households where the struggle gets a little more “real,” you can totally get to a place where it’s not even an issue any more as everyone comes to appreciate what does and doesn’t count as food. THEY WILL become more cooperative and will gain a greater capacity to really win in every other area of their lives.  They just need you to hold steady – Consistent and Persistent!

Misguided Perceptions

In talking to as many people as I do, you hear a lot things that people think when they weigh in on healthful eating that, often times, simply aren’t true.  Here are a few examples and the responses I would give to each.

  • “It’s too expensive.” – While organic and whole foods can get more costly on the front end they are still far less costly than eating out or overeating on processed foods as our bodies crave more in volume in an attempt to fill the nutritional void.  Eating healthfully is certainly less costly than getting sick.   Did you know the average American will carry 3 times as much in medical debt as they will bank or credit card debt?  Yes, eating healthy cost more than eating processed/refined foods.  You wouldn’t expect to drive a Cadillac on a Pinto budget.  Still, you can save money and boost your health by spending less money on sweets and meats and more on things like bulk buys of beans, lentils, grains and cereals.
  • “It takes too much time.” – Many incredible, life-giving foods can be prepared in the same or less time than going through a drive through or prepping those meals-in-a-bag.  It’s often more a matter of  perception of the simplicity.  We have a tendency to view the time spent on the same-ole-same-ole as being less than that spent on creating something new because of the thought and engagement involved.  On one, our brains just kindly slip into neutral.  On the other, we’re pacing out each step.  As you learn to embrace new habits in the kitchen, you’ll soon have no trouble popping off into the kitchen and whipping up something healthy.
  • “I won’t like it.” – Palates are trained.  Just like yours have become trained to like what you now eat, it can be trained to truly love a grander array of bright and flavorful foods.  Stop deciding in advance that you won’t like it and start determining that you will.  You may be on your quest to find the ways you best like them prepared but YOU WILL find them.  Just keep at it.

Here’s the thing, if you truly want to win the war on health for you and your family, you’ve got to get your head in the game!  Any part of your thinking that doesn’t resonate with the vibrant life you’re out to live has got to go!

Think you have no time for nutrition?  

Make your day Complete with grab’n’go goodness.

Non-GMO – Vegan – Low Fat – No Cholesterol – No Artificial Flavoring – No Coloring – No preservatives – No Wheat, Dairy or Eggs – No Added Caffeine or Herbs



  1. Misaligned Priorities

I once saw a video of a guy who had no cable, no big screen tv’s…  his family didn’t go for all the thrills, bells and whistles in life BUT they enjoyed an abundance of fresh, organic produce every day.  Seeing this, challenged my thinking in a great way.  

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve come across sporting iPhones, iWatches, nice cars, and straight bedazzled to the nines on a Ramen Noodle diet.  Because, clearly the items we may use on a daily basis for a number of months/years rank well higher than the bodies we live in constantly from cradle to grave.

I really don’t mean to be offensive but I do want us to see the distortion in our thinking and how our priorities sometimes get a little out of whack.

Most people could make HUGE differences in the health within their households if they so much as took the money being applied to, say, the cable bill or some other extra and put it on the grocery bill.  I know, some months can run tight and in many areas, the bills just have to be paid.  Still, I cannot beg you enough – if the strain with healthy eating is financial, please don’t let the grocery budget be at the top of the list for places to look to crop expenses!  

When it comes to food and your health – we tend to get what we pay for.  

The question is (whether we’re talking the rewards of eating healthfully or the consequences of eating poorly) are you really willing to pay what it will cost you?

The health of your family is hands-down, one of the wisest investments you can make.  Little by little, it all adds up and totally pays back in spades.

Time & Energy

In terms of time and energy, the same questions apply – where are your priorities?   

After a long day at work, yes, I can be flat exhausted.  Sometimes the stanky stuff hits the fan and we just have to roll with what we can.  Still I ask, are you dedicating the time and energy needed in the kitchen to carefully craft the kind of health and future you want for you and your family?

On days when you’re bogged down with the “I-don’t-feel-like-it’s” or any number of excuses, just think of what you’re really after here and why, and I’m confident you’ll totally muster up the moxie to step it back up.
And, we’re out.

I know, that was a total eye-full but know this – you can win this!  Not a single word here is meant to tear you down – only to be used as tools to tear down the obstacles in your health – real and potential.

You can so win this in a huge way for you, your children, your grandchildren…  You’ve all been created to be and do “incredible” beyond anything you could possibly presently imagine.  That’s why I’m so excited to see you, sword (or chef knife) in hand, ready to take back what’s rightfully yours – health, wellness and amazingly scrumptious eats.

No Time for Purpose

If you’re anything like me, you can oft catch yourself racking your brain, pouring over the last couple weeks or even the last couple months wondering “what on earth have I really accomplished?”  We know we have days where we’re on a constant stream of overdrive but, in terms of eternity, in terms of the things that truly matter the most to us, what have we truly accomplished.  

As a working mother of two, I can totally relate.  After being at work all day, it’s dinner and a list of to-do’s.  There’s time taken to enjoy some time with the most fabulous children a mother could ask for.  There’s a growing business demanding the work and attention needed to make it grow and the ministry that burns from within the bones.  And, as I find myself tight walking the fine line that rest between the hustle and the burnout, I can only wonder how long I can keep it up.

Some days,  I feel like I’m making waves.  Others, I feel like I’ve sprinted a lept through a day full of hoops with no finish line or any other indicator that I’ve accomplished anything.  Does this not so much sum up much of the problem with the present American culture – feeling the intense demand to bear so much burden with so little fruit.

As I catch myself caught up in such a cycle, I have to step back and wonder, am I giving priority to the things that matter most in my life?  Do I look at the people God has placed around me and the ministry He’s so heavily laid on my heart and determine to make time for it or do I simply resolve to get around to it when I find the time?

Conviction.

Boom.

It hits.

If there’s one thing I’m reminded of repeatedly in the process, it’s of my own limitations and the fact that I CANNOT do this on my own.  I try.  Some days, believe me, I try.  It’s funny and sad how we sometimes we so easily get so caught up in all the urgent that we lose sight of the important.  The time, once lost, is lost.  What do we have to show for it?

I get that we all have a time and a season.  We all have a time to work and a time to rest.  The question I have to ask myself (knowing my own nature and all) is, am I adjusting my schedule to the season God has me in, or am I crowding out the purpose in giving priority to the things that matter most to me in the moment?  

I find one thing I have really struggled with in pressing forward over the years is my tendency toward having so many reasons to plan to act later, rather than doing what I can now.  (Again, we all have our seasons.)  

I find myself thinking “when I can just get better positioned financially…” or “as soon as things settle down over here, I can give this more of my attention…” or, how about “once I get x, y, and z in position, then I’ll be ready to really make waves over here.  Yet, what happens day to day?  What, if even small, differences can I make that carry me closer to the vision?  

Too often we underestimate the value of the little steps taken today as we’re distracted by the big steps we hope to take tomorrow.  My friend, he who proves faithful with little will be entrusted with much.

We keep thinking we need more time, more money and for all these things to line out for us to step into the things God Himself created us to do. We don’t need more of anything but God.

There’s a time and a season. We need to be sensitive to God’s timing. Sometimes we’re anxious to step out into things long on our hearts when God says we’re not ready. Still, I believe when we keep Jesus front and center, we’re going to see the door when it opens.

I don’t really know what season you’re in.  I know, for myself, I am in a very busy, full season where I feel like I haven’t the stomach for half of what I have on my plate.  I desperately want to cultivate the growth of my businesses while I also want to reach those my heart so longs to help.  I can’t do it all.  On the one hand, I want to reach out.  On the other hand, I want to see the kind of business growth that should allow me to shift into a position of being more available to meet those needs.  

Lord, help me, so many days I stand there staring down a hazy path while looking at this tiny piece of a map I get to hold in my hand.  Thank God that, at least I know He has the rest of it, even as the piece I hold is just enough to move me one, maybe two steps forward at a time.  How I pray He’d be my eyes when I can’t see.

I feel the pull (even the need) in some areas to just set things down, if only for a time.  That’s all good and swell; sometimes even absolutely necessary.

What I have to ask myself is, what things am I giving priority to?  

How about you?  What things are you giving priority to?  Do you feel like those things are moving (even if just inching) you closer to God’s plan and purpose for your life or pulling you further from them?  

What can you do today to make time for purpose in your life and the things that truly matter most?

 

Sick of being sick? I was too. Here’s what I did about it.

Sick of being stuck in a rut of crap eating and poor health?  I was too.  For too long, I’d believed the lie that sickness, disease, depression, obesity and lackluster living were all just part of the life I’d grow to live.  I thought it was just in our family’s DNA.  What a crock!

Something had to change.  I had to change.

Wielding little more than a sharp knife, a couple of delicious-looking recipes and a handful of scriptures, I dove into my first 11-week intensive health initiative.  Yes, I probably should have had my head examined.  Yes, I prayed my way through those last few 10 weeks and 5 days, wondering if I’d ever make it.  No, I’ve never been the same.  

While I could write a list probably a good 39.25 miles long on all the things I’ve learned on this journey, I shall refrain and simply offer these 5 key concepts that have helped to radically change my health and that can radically improve yours too.

1. Realized it wasn’t my doctor’s job

I know this is where I tend to step on a lot of toes.  (Before it has some of you coming after me, I am not telling you not to see your doctor.  It is your right and responsibility to seek out competent healthcare and team up with well educated health professionals to accomplish your health and wellness goals.)

What I am saying is that anybody who assumes that it’s their doctor’s job to fix them (not taking the initiative to invest in their own health), is going to have a very hard time ever achieving true wellness.

It’s in taking a proactive approach that you’re going to find yourself more empowered and better equipped to live your life to its fullest.  

That’s not someone else’s job.  That’s your job.

As well educated as any physician may be, if you refuse to do what you know you should be doing, i.e., eating right, exercising, and adopting healthy lifestyle choices, there really isn’t much of anything anybody can do for you.

When we take our health as our own, personal responsibility, we are better able to team up with the right health professionals in our effort to achieve real health and wellness without the use of (or with at least minimal use of) any sort of met medication/remedies whatsoever.

2. Changed my mind a time or ten.

I believe there is a GREAT deal to be said for reassessing old ways of thinking and, where needed, giving ourselves a mental overhaul.  When we really think about it, are we willing to pay the price of poor eating?  I think not.

I used to think like a lot of people.  I thought of certain foods as “treats” until I realized that a food that would do my body as much harm as conventional eats do, isn’t really “treating” myself anyway I want to be “treated.”  

Now, I enjoy taking great delight in foods that love me back while tasting absolutely scrumptious.

I could really go on here but you can fill in your own blank.  What are some things you’ve caught yourself thinking and/or saying that you know really doesn’t align with your current health goals or line up with the kind of life you want to live?

3. I got more of the good stuff.  

Like most people, when I decided to step it up in my health, I thought I had myself covered with a simple multivitamin but soon enough learned, they ARE NOT all created equal.

I started flooding my body with the highest quality nutrition I could, emphasizing prevention over medicine.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!

While I’m ever working to maximize my plate, I know that having something to help my family bridge the gap between the fruits and vegetables we should be eating and the ones we actually are is really helpful (let’s face it – 7-13 servings a day can sometimes get past the best of us).  

For a long time, I invested in high quality supplements boasting a broad range of vitamins and minerals.  As great as these were, I jumped off this wagon and got our family hooked up with JuicePlus+ to give my family an excellent added source of whole food nutrition.  (Mega awesome that we get it for our kids totally free.  Even more awesome that you could be getting it free for your kids too.)

In addition to JuicePlus+, we are ever working to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to every meal.  Organic isn’t always accessible or affordable but we do strive to buy organic and eat as clean as possible.

If in doubt, check the label.  Even better – focus on foods that don’t need a label.

4. Stop taking shortcuts

When was the last time you caught yourself racing to beat that other car to the spot closest to the door?

Come on… we’ve all done it.  Now, knock it off!  

Some days we’re in a REALLY big hurry and some days we’re in no hurry to get moving.  Wherever you’re at, I hope you’ll start making it a point to stop taking the easy route and look for opportunities to add movement into your day.

Yes, scheduling time to workout is great and something we should all be doing.

Still, whether you’re at the gym at 6am or not, you can and should be looking for every opportunity to challenge your body and get that blood flowing.  Don’t underestimate the benefits of taking a few extra stairs or walking a little further.

5. Made it my job to help others do the same.

You may think this one is not for you.  Maybe, maybe not.  But, don’t think that you have to start a blog or jump in to health coaching to be able to help others in achieving their health and wellness goals.  Teaming up with others is a great way to keep ourselves on point.  

You may think you’re in no shape to be helping someone else get healthy.  

I STRONGLY disagree.  

You may not be where you’d like to be but the life you live can be a great testimony to others, inspiring them to eat better and live better.   

Whether you’re just getting started or feel like you’ve been at it for eons, you really can make a huge difference in your own health and in the lives of those around you as you realize you totally can take the steps to a healthier more vibrant you!  

What steps are you taking today toward the you you want to be tomorrow?

 

Forget “Willpower.” Here’s What You Really Need.

The day was shear madness!  I had finally had enough. Stress levels were through the roof and I felt like was on the brink of flipping my e v e r – l o v i n g – l i d. Then came the overwhelm. I just couldn’t take it anymore.   

At the time I was a good way through a big health initiative but in that moment, I could care less. My hand was on the fridge as I was ready to pitch it all by the wayside to cushion the borage of emotional blows with one massive bowl of pasta that’d been stashed, unintentionally, for just such a moment.  Because, you know…nothing really chases away the worries of a stressful day quite like a face full of carbs, right?

Almost. I almost went for it but then I didn’t. I didn’t because it was in that moment, just as that lovely refrigerator light started to break free from the door, I reminded myself that the food didn’t cause the problem and it wasn’t going to fix the problem. In fact, it was only going to make me feel worse when it was all said and done. The day had been bad enough. The last thing I needed was to end it in more defeat.

How many times I’ve heard women tell me they want to eat better and live more healthfully but they just don’t have the “willpower.”  If this is you, hear me loud and clear here – IT’S NOT ABOUT WILLPOWER.  Or, as I remember hearing some time back ago – “It’s about the food but it’s not about the food.

While there a number of factors that can come into play and things that can make some food cravings more intense than others, I think one of the biggest things we’re lacking isn’t willpower, it’s perspective.

When I hear the term “willpower” the image of arm wrestling comes to mind. Are we going to sit, pushing and pulling back and forth with it or do we gather enough sense to just walk away from the table?

Have you ever wondered why some people let themselves slip into alcoholism or drug addiction?   We rack our brains, perplexed at how anyone would consume or use something they know is going to destroy their bodies and wreak havoc in their families. Come on. I mean, we know that when someone starts using that stuff it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” it’s going to come back to bite them in the rear. The chances are VERY good that it will result in sickness and/or death.

Yet many do it every day with the food and beverages we bring into our homes and think so little of it. We’re killing ourselves slowly with a fork and calling it a delight. 

You may be thinking “whoa…that’s a bit harsh…” When you think about it, is it really?  Many physicians now agree that anywhere from 70-90% of all disease could be prevented or cured through proper diet and lifestyle choices. We know, for a fact, that processed, refined, and chemically treated foods damage the gut, harm the brain, raise blood pressure, and promote diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Yet, we look away thinkin we don’t have time to be bothered with it or we don’t think that we are capable of implementing a better plan because we think it would take too much of that “willpower” stuff we’re sure we don’t have enough of.

The problem has never been the willpower.  What we’ve really needed is some better perspective, better understanding and some personal responsibility in hopping to the helm and turning that ship around.

The most pivotal moments in my health have come on the other side of me changing my mind about the food I was eating and the way I was living. I’m still ever growing here as I learn new things. {I think we should ever strive to learn and grow!} 

I think a big one here, as we gain perspective, is redefining what we call food. 

You and your family are incredible and incredibly important. Your bodies have certain needs that should and must be met through the foods you eat.  

When someone says “I just don’t have enough willpower,” what they’re really getting at is that they’ve either not fully understood the implications of how their food choices impact their lives OR that they’re still not ready to commit to eating for purpose over pleasure.

When I say you should learn to eat for purpose over pleasure, understand that that doesn’t mean you have to relegate yourself to a lifetime of eating foods you hate.  As you place the purpose (you and your family living healthful, vibrant lives) at the forefront of your decision-making process, you’re going to see a lot of changes in how you want to eat. Your body will soon love being nurtured by all the healthful foods you’re eating and your palate will change.

When you learn to eat for purpose over pleasure, you will soon enough find great pleasure in the things that feed the purpose.

In no area of our lives are we called to place pleasure at the forefront of our decisions. That is not to say we should avoid anything we enjoy. That’s just to say that it shouldn’t be the leading factor. Think about it. When pleasure (especially immediate satisfaction) is priority number one, we can make some really dumb decisions that, quite often, we only regret later. Whether we spend too much on that stupid thingy-ma-bob that just looked so cool in the store or binge on cheesecake (or pasta), we have to recognize that placing pleasure front and center in our thinking and behavior is not freedom, its recklessness.

I think this is one area where some may take me as harsh or where I’m not always fully understood in how I think or how I pray for people. It truly breaks my heart to see people, especially Jesus-loving believers, run down with sickness and disease. It hurts to see them wrestle to understand why God would want them to be sick and carry these diseases when I don’t believe that’s the issue at all. For that, I can’t pray the same way I hear so many others pray. I would never seek to diminish or question the heartfelt prayers of my brothers and sisters. As we’re talking about here, I’m merely talking about a matter of perspective.

We have a measure of responsibility in our living. It may seem fanciful to pray “God, take away my cravings for bad foods.” But we have to be willing to step to the plate (or back from it) in an effort to live the ways we know we should.  There are many factors that can come into play; many variables that can add great weight to the struggle.  We absolutely need God’s help to navigate these waters as we set out on such a quest.  I truly believe that where it’s our hearts desire to live healthfully and to live a life that brings Him glory, He is absolutely 100% there to help. Still, we have our choices to make.

Are the choices you’re making today lining up with the things you’ve been seeking God for, or the things your heart has most deeply longed for, or are they working in opposition to them?

Perspective.

Open eyes.

Understanding.

How I pray God gives us them all.

I truly believe that incredible things are before you, but, I also believe that before many of us can take hold of those things, we have to be willing to take a step back and honestly evaluate how we’re living and what/Who we’re living for. 

Make up your mind and move forward.

Don’t ponder. Don’t pace. Can the “What if’s,” the “maybe’s,” and the notion that you somehow have to muster up the power to “wrestle down” those cravings/inclinations. Yes, there may be a struggle for a time but once your mind is made up, it’s just up to you to walk it out. Soon enough, it won’t even be an issue any more and you’ll be right back on track to changing the world.

So, how about it?  What are some things that have come into light lately for you and how are those things helping you to realign your life with how you’d really love to live?

The Rocky Road into the Promised Land

I don’t know about you but I can easily pull from a pool of memories – times when two words were enough to send my heart into a flutter and a flurry. For years, I had scriptures posted to our refrigerator as a way of helping my heart hold fast to the promises of God as I waited, and waited, and waited…

Seems hard to believe today marks a month since we locked the door on our previous home for the very last time. A thousand miles later and we find ourselves still making our way into our promise land. What can I say? I would love to say the road has been a stream of posies popping up everywhere our feet have landed. I would love to tell you that after years of waiting for that moment that we’d be released to embark on this journey, everything just came together and has fallen into our laps like a feather dropping from heaven. I wish. Do I ever wish.=

Don’t get me wrong – this transition has been blessed in many ways. We have watched God bring things together and work in situations like only He can. We’re seeing provisions made manifest. We’re getting glimpses into blessings being conferred. Yet, mixed with these things, have been challenges and tragedies alike – things that can’t be undone and things, admittedly, my heart hasn’t fully learned how to carry or let go of just yet (though I know I WILL get there). It’s incredible how much life can change in a day, isn’t it? Seeing firsthand how much it can change in a month is exhilarating and frightening all at the same time.

So, here I sit in my journey into our Promised Land – eager, anxious, grateful and exhausted, desperately praying “God, just get me to the other side! Please, let the months and hurdles ahead fly by that I can find myself curled up with my family in our new home in the land You have for us!”

Ever been there?

One Book I spent much time in in the years prior to our relocation was the Book of Joshua (big surprise considering our topic of discussion, right?). So, wasting no time whatsoever, the Book of Joshua jumps right into the task at hand – getting God’s children into the promise land. Now, at some point you would think my mind would have wrapped around the fact that God was calling for two key measures of preparations as the moved ahead – Consecration and a readying of their “fighting men.” 

I suppose I was hopeful that the journey would be a waltz to some degree – that the doors would just start flying open and we would step in from great to grand as we finally would come to see the fulfillment of such long awaited promises and prayers.  

In all honesty, God, in His grace has granted me a measure of that in some areas though, in others, I’ve seen it get downright brutal. Why? Because it is a battle. Our family has been challenged physically, mentally, spiritually, financially… yet, in all things we are more than conquerors.   

See, I still believe in trusting God for big things – now as much, if not more so, than ever. I also know that the big things of God don’t always come easy. They’re the kind of things that determined hands take hold of. (Not that its a matter of our strength or power but more so that its a matter of us holding on against all odds with that bulldog tenacity that says “No! God says its mine!” Am I wrong in that? Is that not the essences of holding fast to the things of God?

I believe we each face circumstances, obstacles, challenges and situations where we are standing at the edge of the promise. We can see it. We can smell it. We can reach our quaking fingers out and just about touch it but then the battle starts raging around us and, for a moment, our hearts grow faint as we start to think “God, did you really promise? Did I really hear you right? Was this just something I made up as I went along and just put your name on it?”

If you’re there right now, can I just beg you to hold on a little longer? I know you maybe think you can’t right now. I know you’re questioning how much more you could possibly take but, I’m praying that now, in this moment, a spirit of fiery faith would well up within you and that God would stir you again to press into His promises.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬
I believe one of the greatest obstacles we all have to overcome in realizing our God-sized dreams is in actually allowing ourselves to believe that they’re ours to be had. As I write this, my mind goes back to a quote out of a daily devotional I used to have on my desk. One day in particular, before we’d even moved from our old home, we were really feeling the crunch of everything that was happening. We were getting things in order for the move and were just on overload. How I cherished those words as I read something to the effect of “God is leading you into the Promised Land. He knows the way and is even more committed to getting you there than you are.”

As hard as that can be for me to believe in my heart amidst the strain and the struggle, something within me just knows that there’s a sobering amount of truth to that.

It’s not about bragging rights. It’s not about God bending and flexing the world around our desires. It’s about God just being God in our lives. I hardly have the words to explain it and I don’t have to. I don’t have to know the why’s or the how’s. I simply have to muster up the resolve to just trust. 

I choose to trust and press forward knowing that even when the war wages, God can and will bring to pass EVERY WORD He’s spoken over our lives.

What “promise land” has God spoken into your life? Are you daring today to trust Him for it?

How to Eat Healthier without Really Trying

Some of us have no trouble taking hold of healthy living with the embrace of a child around a life-sized stuffed unicorn.  Some others, not so much.

Let’s face it.  Some of you are still in a place where you think health foods suck and whole foods just bite the big one.

NEWSFLASH!  You’re palate can totally be retrained to love health food.  It just takes a little bit of time and intentional effort.  However, the intentional effort doesn’t have to be so painful as some of you may be thinking.

Today’s discussion – a few little tricks you can stash up your sleeve to have you eating healthier without giving it much thought.

Mash’n’Spread

So maybe you don’t like the textures of things like avocados, beans or sweet potatoes.  These are some of my favorites but, if they’re not yours, that’s cool.  You can still reap the benefits and learn to love them.

Cook them down until soft, puree them in a mini-chopper or food processor or just mash them with a fork.  Use in place of mayonnaise or other sandwich spreads in wraps and sandwiches or serve as a dip on the side.

Chop ‘Em into Tiny Bits

Just because you don’t link massive chunks of celery and onions or whatever else, doesn’t mean you’d mind them if they’re chopped smaller.  Foods like squash, zucchini, broccoli, onions, celery, carrots and, well, a whole lot of other stuff, can easily be added to soups, stews and sauces with little detection or objection.

Making a wrap, sandwich or tacos?  Just sprinkled those teeny veggies right on top and nosh away, my friend.

Pulse It Out

Beans + Peas + Lentils = Pulses

Pulse it out!  Keep prepared beans, lentils and peas on hand to easily add to salads or whatever else you have on your plate.  The lighter flavor makes them an easy addition to most any addition.

These babies can also be dressed up with your favorite herbs, spices or sauces to play the lead role for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Okay, maybe not so much on breakfast, unless you’re just into that sort of thing but they can steal the show for lunch, dinner and snacks.  {Crunchy Chickpeas?  Yes, please!!!}

Keep Healthy On-Hand

Some of us have some serious snacking tendencies.  If you stay busy like I stay busy, you’re probably not even really present when you’re doing it.  You just gnaw on those nibbles’n’bits while your brain continues to process billions of calculations.

Or, maybe you’re just lazy.  Not judging.  Just saying, this works for you too and maybe even more so.

Just quit bringing the junk in or, at the very least, stash it in hard to reach places.  Keep fresh fruits and vegetables prepped and placed for easy grab’n’go snacks.

Just Add ‘Kraut

Okay, so maybe you’re not much of a sauerkraut fan (but then, maybe you are).  Point is, I’m willing to bet you have at least one totally healthy dip or topping that just rocks you’re ever-loving world.

Run with it!  Really…just schmear it on everything!

Guacamole, Sauerkraut, Avocado-based Green Goddess Dressings, Kimchi, Salsa, Pico, whatever rocks your boat – try it paired with other health foods you may have previously not been quite so crazy about.

Get a little saucy and sassy with it.

So, there you have it – a handful of tips on how you can eat a little better each day without making it overly complicated.

Now it’s your turn – what are some of your favorites ways to make healthier eating a little easier?  How do you sneak those scrumptious, healthy eats under your own radar?