Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Health Factor

Today I feel like talking about health. Not spiritual or emotional health, but physical well-being.

How "well" do you feel? On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being feeling completely horrible and having no energy, and 10 being feeling incredible)...where do you fall? If you're being honest, are you in the top 50% or the bottom?

I'll be honest. The more weight I lose, the better I feel...and the more I realize just how "un-well" I felt before. It got me to thinking: how many people are out there saying "I feel fine" when in actuality they have NO idea how good they COULD feel?! Maybe they feel as well as they know how to feel...but on the scale of 1-10 it's really only a 5 or 6.

This is a topic that I'm very passionate about. I hate seeing people settling for less when it comes to their health (or the health of their children). My heart breaks when I see people stuck in an unhealthy cycle...particularly when they don't even know they're there. What do I mean by that? I think so many people think that regular doctor's visits for sickness is normal. They think that prescription medication is normal. They think that allergies or runny noses or headaches are normal. It reminds me of this Dave Ramsey bumper sticker we used to have on our car: "Debt is Normal. Be Weird." When it comes to health & wellness, I guess my mantra should be: "Sickness is Normal. Be Weird."

Here's my biggest wish for others in this area: that we will each become experts on our own bodies. Read that again. Become an expert on your own body.

Why should you do that? Well, for one thing, no one else can understand your body and how you feel the way that you can. No one else lives in your skin 24/7, right? So let's stop leaving the primary health decisions of our own bodies up to someone who doesn't live in it. Educate yourself. Do the research. (Just make sure your resources are accurate...a thought for another day.) Never blindly assume that everything your doctor tells you is safe or the best answer. Ask questions. Look for answers. Please, please, please.

Why else should you be en expert on your own body? Because every drug has a side effect. (And, for the sake of this discussion, most supplements on the market are NOT whole-food and 100% natural, which means they can have side effects as well). I've been talking about drugs having side effects for years, but it's really only been since watching my parents walk through a few things last year that I REALLY knew how DANGEROUS some of those side effects can be. Some of the drugs my Dad was prescribed after his heart surgery last year were causing side effects that would have killed him if he hadn't been keeping close tabs on his body. Praise the Lord my parents have become experts on their own bodies and learned some very safe & effective ways to build health. If left to just the world of prescription drugs, I really don't think my Dad would be alive today.

Another reason to become an expert on your own body is so that you can fine-tune the research that you do into what your body needs. Now why in the world would we need to do our own research into health & wellness? Because the medical community is NOT educated on disease prevention. They're trained on disease treatment. If you want to gain maximum health for your body so that you stay well and have a strong immune system, the medical community is just not the best place to look. You need to look into things like: nutrition, exercise, chiropractic, etc. And even then, you need to be careful that the information you're getting is based on scientific accuracy. I get so frustrated with the things being thrown around as fact, that are just not true. I've been around enough to know that you can pretty much find something out there to confirm anything you want. The key is to find the facts. Are the facts based on science & research? Or just personal testimony & advertising? Know your source.

Before I get off my soap box, I want to challenge you to look into a few things. Things that maybe you use regularly and think nothing of their health ramifications. I'm not going to go into any details on them today, I'm just going to get you thinking about them. I will just tell you this: none of these things are healthy (even though many of them are found in things marketed as "health foods" or "safe products"). Here's the list for you to ponder & check for on the labels of your favorite products:
  • Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, and many new ones...anything with that artificial sweetener after-taste)
  • Margarine
  • MSG (normally listed on labels as: natural flavors, hydrolyzed soy protein, processed free glutamic acid, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, autolyzed yeast, maltodextrin, etc.)
  • Formaldehyde (listed under MANY names, but here are a few: Quaternium 15, 2-bromo-2nitropropane-1,3-dio, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin)
  • Fluoride
If anything I said makes you curious or challenges what you believe...let me know. I have resources I can direct you towards to help all of what I said make more sense. Oh, and if you find these ingredients on things you were suprised to find them on...feel free to post those products below. I'd love to know what's out there!

Today, I just wanted to get you thinking. Just how healthy ARE you? Hmmm....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wanting to Shout it From the Rooftops!

Have you ever watched the show "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition"? It's very similar to "The Biggest Loser" except that you see one person's full year journey in each episode. Last night's episode really struck a chord with me.

It was a young father/husband (in his late twenties) who weighed 490 pounds. He struggled with extreme food addiction. And he was NOT a success story. Rather than finishing the hour seeing this amazing transformation...we finished the hour seeing him (still weighing over 400 pounds) checking himself into rehab.

My heart broke for him. I felt his shame. I felt his condemnation. I felt his fear.

No, I have never weighed over 400 pounds (nor anywhere close to that, praise the Lord). But I have struggled with food addiction. I have struggled with self-hatred and shame. I have struggled with the fear that I would forever be stuck inside a fat exterior.

But then: God introduced me to Lysa TerKeurst and brought me smack dab into the middle of her study "Made to Crave." Oh praise the Lord that He did!

You see, when I watched that show last night and saw that man's failed attempt at weight loss success...I was thrown right back to all my past failed attempts. All that emotional baggage that kept weighing me down farther than any physical weight could push me. The host of the show last night even said it. When we look at overweight people, we see the physical weight that is bogging them down. What we don't see is the emotional baggage that is weighing them down even worse.

I know that is true. And my heart breaks for every person out there struggling with this issue.

Eleven months after I heard the "Made to Crave" information, I am here to tell everyone struggling in this area that freedom IS possible. Oh how my heart rejoices when I think about the chains God has broken in my life.

Part of why my heart was so troubled watching that show last night was that I wanted that man to know what I know. There is something out there that will help him in a way no therapist or physical trainer ever can. He needs to know that in order to break through the chains of food addiction and emotional baggage...he needs God. He needs to know that we ARE made to crave: God, and not food.

Oh how I wanted to share this good news with him! There IS freedom!

I am so thankful for this journey and all that God has taught me. I know that somehow, somewhere He will allow me to use what I've learned to help someone else. Oh, and I'm not done yet by any means. I'm about halfway done on the weight loss journey...but I'm SO much farther along in the journey to freedom. I honestly can't tell you how good it feels to be free. Satan does NOT have a hold on me in this area any longer. God has opened my eyes and I pray they will never be blinded again by the schemes of the enemy. At least not where it comes to food & cravings.

Oh, and one more thing: on Lysa TerKeurst's blog today (see my link to the right) she is talking about how to know when you're traveling down the slippery slope of addiction. The first way to know is that you're doing things in secret. So true, isn't it? If we're trying to hide something, we know that's our conscience trying to clue us into the "naughtiness" of it all. Let me encourage you today: if you're doing anything in secret...share it with a friend. Get it out in the open. Give it over to God. Don't let the enemy sucker you into falling for his schemes. He's nothing but a liar. I pray we all recognize him for what he is and stop allowing ourselves to be duped.

Thanks for stopping by and hearing what's on my heart. Until next time...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Standing Firm & Reaching Out!

Apparently, I'm still a little girl inside. Sometimes things happen in life that make the internal struggles of growing up feel like they just happened yesterday. Didn't we all have those struggles? Wanting to fit in. Wondering who liked you and who didn't. Wanting to be accepted and loved by our peers.

Yep. I'm sure we all had those feelings growing up. And we probably all still have them now.

What I'm kind of surprised at is how easily I can still get my feelings hurt.

I've only worked two shifts at my new part-time job at the mall. (Just saying that makes me sound like I'm back in high school, doesn't it?) Well, I don't know whether it was how tired I got hustling around the store for four hours, or the fact that I was a bit under the weather, or if I really did just have the whole "I want my new co-workers to like me but I don't think they do" scenario running through my head...but I was kind of an emotional mess when I got home last night!

What shocked me about it is that I really thought I had grown out of this issue. I mean, yes, I've been a bit shy my whole life and I still tend to be on the reserved end of things (unless I really feel comfortable around you, and then I wouldn't say I'm shy or reserved at all). But I really thought I had this issue beat. In several areas of life I've chosen the road less traveled...which means I don't expect to "fit in."

For instance: we're homeschoolers. That in and of itself means I have to firmly stand on my convictions in this area and be ready when those naysayers come along. Another area we take the road less traveled is our way of nurturing health & wellness in our family. We have chosen to build health through natural supplements and regular chiropractic adjustments (and eating right, exercising, etc.). Many of those we meet are regularly running to the doctor for this sickness or that drug and relying on pharmaceuticals to keep their family healthy. We don't do that. I've learned lots of great health & wellness principles over the last 20 years that we turn to instead of drugs. Most people think that's strange. So again - I stand firm.

And what about the fact that we're Christians? I think that's the most untraveled road around lately! Even many I know who call themselves Christians seem to not be walking the straight and narrow that I believe we are called to walk. The path the Bible has clearly laid out for us. So we not only have to stand firm against the world. Sometimes, we have to stand firm in the midst of other "believers."

Whew! That's a lot of standing firm! You'd think I'd be a pro at this by now! But I guess standing firm gets a little draining. Sometimes...I'd still like to just fit in. Oh, but that would mean compromising on my convictions, and that - that just isn't going to happen.

Want to know what I think God wants me to do? I should make every effort on a daily basis to show love to everyone I meet. Why? Because that's the heart of the issue. That's what made me feel like I did yesterday. I wasn't feeling accepted. I wasn't feeling appreciated. I wasn't feeling loved. Are we called to show love to people we don't even know but just come into contact with in our daily lives? You bet! The Bible obviously tells us to love our neighbors as ourself. Well, I don't know about you and your neighbors...but there are many people I'd consider my neighbors who are still strangers to me. You too? Well, there you go.

God made it clear that He wanted me to stop worrying about myself. So what if I didn't get lots of warm fuzzies yesterday. That's not what my daily life should be about. I'm supposed to focus on bringing glory to Him through my interactions with others. Every. Single. Day.

And you know what else? If the people from yesterday weren't believers...then my focus really ought to be on how I can reach out to them (not how they should be reaching out to me). Every morning when my feet hit the ground, my goal should be to spread the light of Jesus to everyone I have the privilege of interacting with. God is bringing people into my life for a reason. And it's not...about...me.  

Maybe it means I have to show love to the unlovely (I believe God calls that loving your enemies). Maybe it means I have to get over my own insecurities to possibly be the one person showing kindness and love to that other person today. And who cares if it means I have to be brave and stand firm on my convictions. I ought to be getting used to that by now anyway!