Category Archives: Health & Lifestyle

It’s a Great Time to Start Changing Your Eating Habits

Are you thinking about the holidays already?  Does that thinking also include how you’re going to avoid putting on the 5-10 pounds that sneaks up on you each year during this season?  If so, now might be the best possible time to start a new eating plan.

When I lost my weight two years ago, we started the first of November.  By Thanksgiving our results had already been so excellent and we were feeling so much better than we had before starting our eating program, that we sailed through the holidays without even a temptation to eat the goodies and candies that came our way.  We just regifted them and passed them along.  If you’re even thinking about it, let me encourage you to make the step and go forward.  Before the holidays is the perfect time to get started.

Some pointers I’ve learned along the way to losing weight permanently:

  1. Don’t do the latest fad diet.  They don’t really work and even if you do lose the weight you haven’t changed anything about your eating patterns and it will come right back and usually with a few more pounds to boot.
  2. The people that lose weight the best and keep it off the longest attend a meeting of some sort.  We all need encouragement, accountability and support.  There are many groups such as Weight Watchers, Prism Weight Loss, and others that can help you go through the process.  It’s always easier to do something with others than all alone.  There are many good weight loss programs, but the successful ones use this principle in their plan.
  3. The weight loss programs that work the best and help you keep the weight off the longest will all require the same thing… that you measure your portions, keep track of what you are eating, excercise and change the types of food that you put in your body.  Sorry to have to be the one to break it to you 🙂 but there’s no magic pill.  Once you get over the fact that you need to do this, it really is very easy.  The benefit of having to weigh, measure and plan is that it becomes a part of your routine.  Americans especially have absolulely no idea what a proper serving of food is — it’s definitely NOT what the restaurant serves you!
  4. Simply changing the quality of the food that you are eating, such as changing out brown rice for white, 100% whole wheat for white bread, eating more fruits and vegetables and eliminating sugars can actually make it easy to take your weight off and keep it off permanently.  Good food satisfies your cravings, bad food kicks them into high gear.
  5. (UPDATE: I thought to add this one later)  Find someone who has succeeded and kept their weight off and ask them how they did it.  When I wasn’t serious yet about losing weight I formulated a lot of spontaneous plans on how I was going to lose weight — the problem was that none of them were based on any knowledge that had led to success.  I was guessing at things rather than finding out what worked and what didn’t work and why.  I was following pop culture, rumor and the latest easy fix program.  The problem with easy fixes are that they are neither easy or fix anything!

If you’re like me, the first brownie leads to the tenth.  The first cookie or piece of pie never satisfies it just makes me crave more and more and more.  If that’s the case for you too, it’s so much easier to avoid the first bite than to resist the second, third, fourth… well, you get the picture.

I lost 63 pounds in less than a year participating in the Prism Weight Loss Program.  Their web address is www.pwlp.com if your’e interested.  Miss Stacey, in response to her health crisis earlier this year has also worked through the same program and has lost to date over 50 pounds!!!  Way to go Stacey!!!!!!  But what I love feeling the most isn’t "skinny" it’s ‘healthy."  No more yucky, I ate too much and am miserable feelings.  No more guilt for being out of control.  No more having my mind consumed with thoughts of food all day long.  If I can do it, you can too!  Happy Holidays.

THE PROVERB OF THE DAY: Prov 4:10-12 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.  I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. NIV

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With Effort and Practice, You Can Turn Your Blues into Blue Skies

I did a little research this morning on overcoming depression and found a wonderful web site that has some great resource information.  It's www.healthyplace.com and is specifically a community for the depressed and those that love them.  I read through an article on overcoming depression by Chuck T. Falcon, a counseling psychologist and author that was rich in wise counsel.  The article can be found at http://www.healthyplace.com/communities/depression/treatment/therapy/article_overcoming_depression.asp

If you battle with heavy depression, please, please, please seek medical counsel.  Often times it is just too heavy a load for you to try to lift on your own.  Your vision is darkened so much, that even if there were a clear path in front of you, you wouldn't see it.  Remember, I am not a professional in this area, just a concerned friend who wants to see you whole and happy!

What I do want to share in the next few days are some tips on living a happier and emotionally healthier life.  Thank goodness, that not many of us will suffer with deep bouts of depression in our lives, but ALL of us battle the blues from time to time.  There are ways to help limit how "blue" we get and how long we stay there.  Bad physical and/or mental habits can make it much easier for us to become susceptible to those down times.  Healthy habits can help to build our emotional "immune system" so that we can more easily fight off the "bugs" that are going around!

The first key is physical exercise is a fabulous tool for warding off depression.  There is a direct correlation between depression and physical lethargy.  As little as 15-20 minutes a day of walking or light exercise including physical yard work can prevent many people from ever slipping into a depression.  The problem is that once you are depressed, you don't want to move… but you must force yourself.  When you want to do nothing but sleep, give yourself permission to take a nap after you've walked half a mile.  Chances are once you have, you won't want to sleep anymore! Though you won't feel better in a single day, it is amazing how quickly that exercise will begin to restore your natural balance and begin to help you feel better about the world and your life. 

Exercise actually changes the chemistry of the brain.  Perhaps one reason that today's children suffer greater depression than ever before is that they are leading sedentary lives in front of the television set, video games or the internet rather than climbing trees, skating and riding bicycles like earlier generations did.  We no longer lead as physically demanding lives as our grandparents did, and perhaps we suffer more emotionally because of it.

When you walk, if you can, walk with a friend.  You'll more than double the impact of your exercise.  Most depressed people also have the habit of isolating themselves and turning inward.  When you involve yourself in the lives of others, your life has a more balanced perspective.  When you share your problems with a friend, she often can see simple answers, simple ways out of your difficulties that you've been blind to!

If you must walk alone … pray!  You'll turn your thoughts outward and you'll be walking with a friend who will never leave you and loves you more than you can know.  You'll get a double dose of emotional health boosters!  If you walk with God in prayer, talk about your needs, the needs of your family, and about others with needs greater than yourself.  Prayer is simply talking to God like you would an intimate friend.  And, like your girlfriend, God often has simple answers to our difficulties if we will only take the time to ask and listen for His answers! 

I've noticed a pattern in my blues… the more consumed I am with my own troubles, the more likely I am to be consumed by them.  When I focus on actively loving and making a difference in the lives of those around me, the less intense my own internal struggle becomes.    Sometimes when I get down I tend to focus too heavily on everything that's "wrong" with my world.  The more I think on my problems the larger they seem to get.  When I get into that place, I've found it helpful to pray a prayer similar to this one:

"Lord, you are well aware of this crisis that I am facing.  You know my need and I know that you care deeply about where I am and what needs to happen in my life.  But if I keep focusing on myself, I begin to slip down into feeling overcome by the stress and the dark emotions.  So I'm going to leave my cares in your hands and as an act of trust and faith in you, I'm going to pray for others' needs instead of my own."  (Followed by praying for the needs I am aware of that surround me)

A healthy balance isn't too much in either direction, it's neither turned too inward, nor too other's focused (so that I try to escape by meeting other's needs).  If you struggle with your emotions, the book of Psalms in the old testament is a great place to read.  King David wrote many of them and he suffered huge bouts of the blues.  He was amazingly honest with his feelings as he shared them with the Lord, but he always finished with his focus not on himself but on how awesome GOD was and how capable GOD was to change things.  In the words of the child's song Jesus loves Me, "I am weak, but He is strong!"

Tomorrow I'm going to share on taking charge of your thoughts and a wonderful method of changing your thought pattern I've dubbed, "The Red Door Principle."

May God bless you and give you a great day!

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

 

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Feeling Blue? Please Talk to a Friend, a Trusted Counselor or See a Doctor

A dear friend wrote me this morning about coming to realize that she may be dealing with depression in her life.  She cycles between great spurts of super-achievement and then spurts of missing her deadlines and being unable to function.  She specifically asked me to write about her struggles that others might be helped.  Boy can I identify a little with her patternBlush

I shared with her a story from my own life that I'm going to share with you.  When I was pregnant with Jacqui 21 years ago, I experienced a chemical depression that was triggered by a hormonal imbalance.  For the last four months of my pregnancy I felt as though I lived in a deep mountain valley surrounded by high mountain peaks that blocked the sun for most of the day.  I felt like I was living in a shadow when the rest of the world was living in beautiful sunshine.  I was thrilled to be pregnant, all was well in my life and yet I was depressed.  It made no sense to me at all.

No amount of "straightening out my thinking" would work.  No amount of praying seemed to lift it.  I tried everything that I could think of or knew to be helpful, all to no avail.  The Lord did send a dear friend who was a Pastor to pray for me who didn't know what I was experiencing.  Without my telling him what was wrong, he spoke a word of comfort that let me know that God knew my need.  But still the darkness didn't lift.  I resigned myself to living in the shadow and when I gave birth to Jacqui, within three days it was over.  I felt like a new person.  It was as though a gentle breeze blew the clouds away and the sun began to shine again.  In retrospect I should have told my doctor about what I was experiencing rather than just "tough it out."  It's possible that they could have done something to ease my suffering.

What I learned in that episode is that depression is real.  When it is due to a chemical imbalance it is overpowering and colors all of your perceptions of life.  I want to encourage any of you that are experiencing a depression so deep or so regular that you feel powerless to overcome it to seek medical help.  There is no shame in the diabetic taking insulin to avoid going into a coma.  There's no shame in the heart patient taking nitroglycerin to prevent a heart attack and there should be no shame in the individual that needs help to restore a chemical balance that affects their mind and mood to seek help either.

Being depressed when you lose a parent, a job or life drastically changes is understandable.  We all face great periods of emotional trauma in life and depression often accompanies those losses.  But f your depression isn't tied to circumstances, and especially if there's nothing in your life that should warrant your being depressed, that is a very important clue that you may need medical help to overcome it.  Please understand that I am not an expert on this subject, and I can only share what I've learned though my own life experience, but I hope it will be helpful to you.

For the rest of us that struggle with occasional bouts of the blues, I want to share a few things that I've learned to apply over the years.  For the most part I am a very even-keeled emotional being.  I don't even get PMS very often.  But when I overwork (and those of you who know me know how prone to that I am) I can easily get "blue."  I tend to be a momentum creator.  I get on a roll.  I can turn out incredible volumes of work in short periods of time… but I've also learned that that kind of productivity comes at a great price.  The day I hear myself say "This is so much fun I could work like this forever!" is the day before the inevitable crash!!!!  Once I connected the dots of this behavior and told my family about it so that they could help me to recognize the warning signs, I've begun to experience it less often. 

Rest… relaxation… restoration… these are important to our body, soul and spirit.  When we overwork any of these parts of ourselves, we're more susceptible to episodes of emotional weariness. 

In the bible, there's a story that depicts this very clearly.  It's found in 1 Kings 18:16 through chapter 19.  Elijah was threatened by a very evil queen, Jezebel and stood up to her and her 400 prophets.  He saw God do mighty miracles , he defeated these prophets, brought rain after a severe drought and should have been riding a high, but instead he sank into fear, despondency and depression.  He ran away out into the desert, sat under a broom tree and said "I have had enough, Lord, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."  Another modern translation of this might read "Lord, I want to die, kill me.  Life has lost its meaning, I'm useless, I'm the only one that's still serving you and I'm just plain tired of living." Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. 

The wonderful part of this story is that God didn't lecture him, He didn't punish him, He didn't even tell him how disappointed he was in him.  Instead he sent an angel to feed him heavenly food and he let him sleep.  Twice, the angel gave him food and had him rest.  Once his body was restored, then the Lord set about to restore his spirit by revealing himself to Elijah.

God created us and He understands our human frame better than we do!  Depression can be triggered by anxiety, stress, and worry.  It can be triggered by poor eating, sleeping and physical care of ourselves.  Depression can be triggered by isolating and not sharing our burdens with friends or family.  All of these areas are things that the Lord instructs us on how to avoid in scripture.  He teaches us to cast all our burdens on Him because He cares for us.  He instructs us to care for our bodies because they are His temple.  He teaches us to gather together with other people to share our burdens and our joys by laughing with one another and crying with one another.  He also instructs us to confess our sins one to another that we might be healed.  It should come as no surprise to us that when we follow the "manufacturer's" advice on how to maintain optimum performance we function better!

Tomorrow I'll share some more life skills that can help us to live a richer, more joy-filled and less depressed life.  For those of you that are a little "blue" I'm praying for you and sending a hug your way.

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

 

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Oh My! What am I Going to Wear This Summer?!

… is almost every woman's dilemma going into the summertime.  You may wonder why I'm thinking about this when we had 4-6" of snow yesterday, but I bought a new magazine "Quilter's Home" over the weekend and there was the funniest little poll in it.  Their "Posse Poll" page asked the question, "What are you wearing this summer?"

2% answered a bikini (yeah right!) 7% said a two piece, 60% said a one piece and 31% said a BURKA!  I couldn't help laughing!  Hmmmm…. maybe if we created a cute enough fabric it might work?!

Basically most of us women aren't happy with our bodies for one reason or another.  Over the winter our "burka" is our sweats, but they have to come off sometime and when they do we often discover there's a few more pounds hiding there to deal with.

All kidding aside, it feels really yucky when our weight and/or eating is out of control and we just can't seem to turn things around.  We know that another crash diet isn't going to work — every time we do it we throw our bodies a little more out of whack and end up putting on more weight rather than keeping it off.  So what can we do differently THIS YEAR than any other year that we've tried?

I have a couple of suggestions from things I've learned on my 60 lb. weight loss journey over the past 18 months.  The good news is you CAN gain control over this area of your life.  One day at a time, one meal at a time, one choice at a time…

  1. Those cravings you wrestle with are often your body telling you that you aren't feeding it good, whole, nutritious foods.  Even if you never count calories, but substitute whole foods for everything that you are eating, your body will become more nourished and quit screaming at you "Feed me!!!"  If you eat rice, make it brown rice.  If you have bread, make sure it is 100% whole wheat, if you want something sweet, have a piece of fruit rather than a candy bar.  Whole foods fill you up more, for less calories and they don't send your blood sugar skyrocketing then plunging causing you to crave.  Whole foods trigger your body's satisfaction mechanism rather than craving and keep you satisfied for a longer time.
  2. NEVER, EVER, EVER DROP BELOW 1,000 CALORIES A DAY!  If you do, you will work against yourself as your body will go into "starvation protection" mode.  Your metabolism will slow down and your body will eat its own muscle rather than the fat you're trying to get rid of.  1200-1500 calories a day over time will do more to drop your weight off and keep it off.
  3. Drink more water, clear soups or herbal tea.  Believe it or not, drinking 8 glasses a day will go a long way to filling you up, especially warm clear soups or flavored herbal teas.  The water also helps your body metabolize the fat and get rid of it more easily.
  4. Add a little bit of exercise to your day.  Don't try some great big binge of working out, just add 15-20 minutes walking or working out in your garden but do it consistently.  It will produce more results than a couple of intense sessions that end with Bengay and enough pain to keep you from going back!
  5. Read the calorie/nutrition menus at fast food places before you order.  You won't believe the calories and bad fats that are in almost anything you usually eat there.  Make wise choices when you eat out, especially if you eat on the run alot.  You can drop a lot of weight effortlessly if you change this one area of your life!
  6. Sugars are in everything we eat.  Read the labels of your canned or packaged foods you'll be amazed (and probably disgusted too).  Sugar is a huge culprit in your uncontrollable urges to eat.  It raises your blood sugar level, then causes it to plummet which makes you feel shakey and crave another sugary snack that repeats and intensifies the process.  Replace white refined sugars with whole food sweetners like honey, molasses, and maple syrup and you won't have the same reaction.  These are real foods that nourish your body, while refined sugar is an anti-food that steals vitamins and minerals from you body in order to process it.
  7. Make changes gradually BUT FOREVER.  Diets don't work.  Even if you lose the weight on a diet, you won't keep it off if you don't change the behaviors that got you there in the first place.  Change your life a little at a time, but again, CHANGE IT FOREVER and you'll feel so much better for doing it.  (Information learned through The Prism Weight Loss Program www.pwlp.com )

Summer's coming!  And this year I'm going swimming… in public… and I'm not going to wear my burka!

Audrey Jeanne Roberts 

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There’s a Little Less of Me…

Than there was a year ago.  Over the past year I've lost 60 lbs. and have kept it off even when not dieting (Thank you, I heard the whoo hoo!)  I needed to lose weight because of a family history of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  I love my husband too much to leave him early or make him have to take care of an invalid wife.  It was a long journey, but one which wasn't at all hard, much to my surprise!  

I'm going to be contributing to a weight-loss journal that Sandy Osborne is writing and I promised her I would write my thoughts down for her to incorporate, so it's easier to write to you guys than to a blank piece of paper.

Here's the principles I learned in my weight loss journey:

  1. There are a lot of good weight loss programs out there, and they all share at their core these basic principles: eat healthy, measured portions, exercise and take the time to figure out why you're eating too much, then change the patterns. 
  2. There is no magic pill, food or diet that will make weight loss require no effort.  You have to change your existing habits.  I ate too much of the wrong foods and didn't exercise… there really wasn't a mystery even though I would have preferred that there were!
  3. The things I didn't want to do were the very things that set me free from the chains of overeating.  I had to keep a food journal, which meant measuring and writing down every piece of food that entered my mouth.  I had to read up on the calorie counts of every food.  Yes, it was hard at the beginning, but within a week I knew that 1/2 cup of brown rice was 108 calories and my usual portion before had been 432 calories.  I learned a small slice of cheesecake might be 450 calories and a large bowl of melons 100 calories.  Now, even if I can't write things down I always know where I am in my daily intake almost without having to think about it.
  4. I discovered that wonderful tasting food didn't mean high calories.  Most spices are 0 calories!  Also, whole foods mean huge portions for small calories so I never felt denied.  Whole grains don't make your insulin levels spike, they take a long time to digest and keep you at an even keel (for normal, non-diabetics I don't know how it affects diabetes). 
  5. I discovered whole foods satisfy my hunger and stop the cravings.  100% whole wheat, brown rice, 7 grain Kashi Pilaf, fresh fruits and vegetables give my body real body-building, energy-producing calories and when my body gets real food it quits screaming "feed me."  The cravings stopped within 3 days of cutting out white flours and refined sugars.  The very cravings that I had been powerless to overcome disappeared totally.
  6. I discovered that eating even a little bit of white sugar, white flour and other refined foods set me up to fail.  It initiated cravings in my body that made my "dieting" very hard and uncomfortable.  When I avoided them, I literally had a hard time eating all of my 1200 calories per day allotment.
  7. I had to face the ways I used food to meet my emotional needs and realize that it never actually did.  Food wasn't my friend, my comforter, or my way to beat boredom. 
  8. I learned that it was detrimental to my body to ever drop below 1,000 calories a day.  My body would start to eat it's own muscle rather than the fat I wanted to get rid of.
  9. I learned to love the way I eat so much I don't want the foods I used to think I couldn't live without.  Best of all, if I love what I'm eating it's easy to eat that way for the rest of my life.

There's more in the program I was on, which is the Prism Weight Loss Program, www.pwlp.com.  It is a Christianity based, common sense, weight loss and support program but you don't have to be a Christian to benefit from it.  Every person inmy life that has worked the program for 6 weeks or has found incredible success at losing weight and keeping it off. 

A daughter is doing Jenny Craig's program and doing wonderfully.  A friend is doing Weight Watcher's and has lost 50 pounds.  The secret is start a program, go to the meetings and do the work and it will work for you too.

Audrey Jeanne Roberts

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