The Most Maddening Time of the Year

SO I have a story to tell you.  It is a drama, a comedy, a tragedy, and a love story all rolled into one.  It is about the human race.  The setting is Thanksgiving week anyplace in America.  Millions of people will gather with their loved ones and celebrate every blessing God has bestowed upon us all year-long and they will have food and fun and fellowship and many will be seeing each other for the first and maybe only time this year because of jobs and distance and expense for travel etc.  I adore Thanksgiving.  For me it can be really easy to take for granted the things I need to be thankful for and sometimes I tend to focus on what ELSE I want or think I need.  Sometimes I need a good reminder that my God is a God of divine provision and always provides exactly what I need each day.  I am breathing and that is a blessing.  I have a warm sweater on today on this chilly fall morning and that for sure is a blessing.  My family all came over for Thanksgiving and I got to see my sweet grand-babies and that too is a huge gift.  Is my life perfect?  Of course not.  We worry about finances and our kids and the same things as everyone else.  But I am beyond thankful.  My cup truly runneth over.  And the fact that God decided five days was long enough for me to have the flu and I woke up today feeling like a new woman is something else I am SUPER DUPER thankful for along with the creator of Tamiflu.  Yep I am very thankful for them!

I love Christmas also.  Most importantly because Christmas celebrates the birth of my Savior Jesus Christ. It truly is my very favorite holiday and time of year.  I usually have my tree up by Thanksgiving weekend and have Christmas music on my XM radio by Nov 5.  I LOVE Christmas.  And having grandkids makes Christmas so much fun.  I love watching Ansley and Laila open their gifts and look so excited and now we have sweet little Maddox and his first Christmas this year.  Nothing makes me happier than a house full of smiling faces.  So yep, I am a little Christmas crazy for sure.

However, In my profession, as a nutritionist and holistic health coach, this time of year completely saddens me.  So we start Thanksgiving Day and gorge ourselves (because that truly is how we show thanks in America????) and then we start the gorging season, I mean Christmas season and we eat our way to December 31 and then that night we eat and drink some more just one last hoorah and then we wake up January 1 feeling tired and bloated and our pants are too tight and we make these insane resolutions and purchase an annual membership to a gym (which they love because you don’t use it after March and they make a killing) and buy the latest diet fad that promises you to lose 10 pounds in 10 days and we start this mode of deprivation. We put our bodies into a serious turmoil and this cycle of gorging and dieting and bingeing and starving does terrible things to our metabolism and gut health that most people just do not understand.  Why do we do this?

How did we evolve into a nation that has this feast or famine mentality?  We are always either gorging or dieting and it is a vicious endless cycle. Our gut microbiome is a delicate precious thing that God created with the exact balance of good and bad bacteria.  The day we are born and we start introducing baby formula, processed baby food, sugar laden juices and then as we get older more processed foods and chemicals and medicines the gut balance deteriorates and this causes a host of issues.

We have literally been spending the last 50 years as part of a human experiment gone terribly wrong.  But the story of the covered up science about sugar and the original food pyramid and the Ancel Keys story is another blog for another day.  Just understand that when the food industry, as powerful as it is, manipulated the science and your government, the old grain heavy fat is bad food pyramid came to be and thankfully science is now disregarding and tweaking that daily.  By 2020 hopefully sugar and grains will be the smallest portion of the new “Choose My Plate” guidelines.  However not to digress.

We have set a very dangerous socialization standard for ourselves that says treating our bodies as the temples God intended means deprivation and putting trash into our bodies is a treat or reward?  Backwards much? Oh I am sure the devil loves this trait in us for sure.  See the weaker the body the weaker the mind and the weaker the mind the easier for the devil to get inside.  God doesn’t instruct us to be healthy and treat our bodies as temples just because he cares about nutrition, God knows that the stronger our bodies are the stronger our minds will be and the better we will be able to obey what God is calling on us to do. Think about it for just a minute.

1Corinthians 6:19 tells us “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  The verse is extremely clear and yet we seem to ignore this one as a society.  We eat an average of 150-170 pounds of sugar per person per year in America.  However during the 1800’s this number was closer to 4-6lbs per year.  We eat more processed fake lab created edible food-like substances than we do real food made by God.  When I speak to local high schools and challenge the kids to go 14 days with no fast food they literally look at me as if I had six heads.  The idea of giving up fake food is so totally foreign to them.  Often I will look at a food log of a teenager and not see one home cooked meal for a week.  This just boggles my mind.  Our taste buds are so jacked up from the chemicals and fake food we eat, (oh and for the record- anything from a box or a package or a fast food joint is fake food.  Anything that doesn’t come from nature and cannot be killed caught or grown is fake food) that we do not even truly know what we like anymore when it comes to food.  It will shock you how differently things taste when you detox off the fake food and fill your body with good real food.

On top of our obsession with food- usually fake food- we have this really unhealthy relationship with our bodies.  The media dictates what beauty is and gives young women and men these insane ideals that they then begin to strive for that are often extremely unhealthy.  Kids are born loving and accepting their bodies and all of those around them.  Once again socialization takes over around middle school and all of a sudden if you do not dress and look and act a certain way kids tend to be cruel and mean and this begins some very unhealthy patterns that can have lasting effects on our lives and our ideas of self-love and acceptance.  Sometimes the pressure of trying to hold up to society’s standards can lead to some very unhealthy relationships with food and with our bodies.

I know because I was there.  See, long before I went back to school to study food and nutrition, I was a 350lb food addict.  I have been in recovery for almost 10 years.  I used to think if I were just skinnier, or just a little bit prettier, or just a few pounds smaller I would be just right.  It took me a long time to realize that I am just right as I am.  Of course I am a work in progress with a long way to go and I spend each day working to treat my body as the temple God created and to refine that temple to the best of my abilities.  Some days I do great and some are total fails, but it was a huge lesson to realize that the shape and size of my body did not define me.  I am six feet tall and will never ever be a tiny petite woman.  But I can be healthy.  I can refine my temple to being the best version of Erin that honors God that I can be!

The diet industry makes me cringe.  Trust me I have tried every single one out there and the honest truth is there is NO DIET that works long-term.  If one did the rest would go out of business.  There are styles of eating that are good in theory.  Staying on a style of eating that is plant heavy, low in carbs and sugar, and low in processed fake food is a winning plan! Imagine if  we all STOPPED THE DIETING MADNESS and focused on getting our guts as healthy and balanced as possible and treating our bodies as the temples they were intended, eating real food and stay off the sugar and fake stuff.  If we truly accomplished this task, as God has commanded us in the bible, we would all be happier and healthier.

Have you ever really thought and prayed about these two verses?

1 Corinthians 6:19 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?”

1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Most People take better care of their cars and pets than they do their bodies. To be truly healthy and in a right place with God, we have got to get to the place where we take better care of our bodies and put our health as a top priority.  I think it goes without saying that if we were acting promiscuous or using illicit drugs or overindulging daily in alcohol, we would feel convicted.  But why then do we not feel that same conviction for being sedentary and for putting fake chemical laden food into our bodies day after day?

Let’s keep it real for just a minute.  What I am about to tell you may not be popular but it is the truth.  We all know someone who has struggled with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, or some other addiction and let’s face it we all judge.  But then we think nothing of gorging on sweets and processed fast food and junk and how dare anyone judge us for that???  Treating the body like a temple does not just apply to abstaining from the usual suspects.  It means eat real food.  God gave us all we need to nourish these temples in nature.  Animals and plants.  We certainly do not eat enough plants in this country and if we did we would be a lot healthier.  Each plant color has a specific nutrient and purpose.  And no don’t tell me you eat or drink some superfood powder that gives you your veggies, or drink some artificial ketone drink, or the latest greens drink .  Hogwash.  That is all gimmick after gimmick.  EAT REAL FOOD. Get your gut healthy.  We don’t do this enough which is why every human on the planet needs a great multivitamin, probiotic, and magnesium supplement.  And no for those rolling their eyes at me, this is not a plug for you to use the supplements I use, (which are the best out there) it is a plug to eat real food and treat your body like a temple.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying we will never again have a slice of grandma’s apple pie or ever have a treat on vacation, but what we  are doing on a daily basis is making us sick.  Most people don’t even realize the 95% of chronic disease is preventable based on what we eat and drink.  THAT SHOULD SCARE YOU TO DEATH!  What I am saying is that we need to do a better job of every day asking ourselves if everything we eat or drink or do is truly to the glory of God?  Yes this means what we eat but it also means the thoughts we allow to creep into our heads.  It means comparing ourselves to others.  We don’t need to be like someone else to be good enough.  We are enough and God only calls us to be the best version of ourselves.  The best version or Erin will always be a six foot tall woman and never a petite tiny super model.  But guess what?  That is AOK!  God didn’t call me to be a size six.  God called me to be the best version of Erin.

I say we start a movement.  A real movement of people who say NO MORE to falling for the latest diet trap.  A movement that understands that eating crap daily is just as much a sin as smoking and doing drugs and being promiscuous and drinking to excess.  THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE.  A movement that loves these temples God gave us and that understands we are all beautiful broken works in progress.  A movement that shows ourselves and others grace when we stumble and falter and have a bad day, not one that says “oh well, I ate a cookie so I blew it and may as well eat the whole bag.”  A movement that knows we were made to move and does its’ best to move our bodies daily.  A movement that knows self-care is a critical part of the picture and that means saying no to overextending ourselves and yes to some ME time.  A movement that knows that one bad day of eating doesnt mean we are doomed to be unhealthy forever.  A movement that does our best to refine and tweak these temples.  A movement that wants to be the best versions of ourselves and that truly loves ourselves and understands without a shadow of a doubt that we are beautiful and blessed creations of God. A movement of #templetweakers

No diets, no resolutions, no negative self-talk.  Just real broken flawed people making a commitment to do our best to follow what God commands and to treat our bodies as temples every single day as best we can.  Each meal is a chance to honor God.  Each time we fill our cups is a chance to honor God.  Each time we move our bodies and choose the home cooked meal over the fast food burger is a chance to honor God.  Each time we help and support another is a chance to honor God.  Will you join with me and commit to refining your temple?  Will you be a #templetweaker with me?

We have a public group on Facebook called #TempleTweakers. Feel free to join and have support as you work to refine and tweak your temple.  We want to hear your daily victories and support you when you are feeling low.  Let’s band together and create a movement of positive, loving, grace-giving people working to be the best versions of themselves.

XOXO

In Health!

Erin

 

 

The Elephant in the Sanctuary

Those who know me know that I am passionate about a few things. First off is that I am passionate about God and my faith. I am passionate about my family. Those come first. After God and family, there is my passion for health and wellness and for fighting the disease of obesity that likely would have killed me had I not made a decision to take control of my health back in the fall of 2008. Trust me I was the poster child of unhealthy living. I was always consuming fast food, huge portions, processed boxed meals, and pretty much everything I did not need to be eating.  The change was not overnight and not easy.  It is still a daily struggle for me, but my health is my priority and more important than the momentary pleasure offered by the taste of an Oreo or Dorito.

I have been thinking a lot over the past year about my faith and about strengthening my relationship with God. In March and April of 2016, I had two surgeries which resulted in me picking up an infection in the operating room called pseudomanas and being treated with Levaquin, which we now know is one of the most dangerous antibiotics out there.  Levaquin and Cipro have left me with lupus, a destroyed rotator cuff, lupus, and right achilles issues.  I had my share of a pity party and then realized I actually have a lot to be thankful for and am a lot healthier than most who suffer with these issues thanks to my strong immune system boosted by Plexus supplements.  I am also staying faithful to a healthy eating plan that is low in sugar and carbs and high in plants and lean proteins.  I am a work in progress for sure and definitely not perfect in my food choices!  But I am trying always to do my best.

The elephant in the sanctuary- especially in the south, is obesity.  The larger elephant is the metabolic syndrome caused by obesity.

Let me be the first to say that obesity has so many different causes.  There are factors that range from genetics to environment to lifestyle choices. While we cannot control our genetics and sometimes cannot control out environment, we can control our personal choices.  There are also a host of medical conditions that are made worse or caused by obesity.  Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and many joint issues, back pain, and so much more are all directly related to obesity and obesity can make all of these things worse in patients who are suffering.

Knowing all of this, I made a conscious choice to truly treat my body as a temple.  A ew years ago my martini bar became a coffee bar. Oh, and before anyone tries to lecture me about caffeine and coffee consumption, let me just say that for every study you can show my that says coffee is bad I can show you two more that show the health benefits, so let us put that aside.  I love coffee.  It has almost no calories and the antioxidant properties and studies showing its role in preventing dementia are amazing.  Most people have no idea the calories they are drinking in some form.  Sodas, lattes, and sweet tea- a staple here in the south- are the biggest culprits. Many of those drinks people like to buy at Starbucks are both over-priced and loaded with sugar and calories.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us:

“do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body[a] and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

We often hear this verse when the preacher is speaking about drinking or drug use or sexual immorality but how often do we hear them speak of the sin of gluttony?

Proverbs 23:21

For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.

It sounds to me like God is telling us there is no difference in being drunk with alcohol and drunk with food.  I am a recovering food addict.  I know this and only by the grace of God and daily work do I  overcome this addiction.  For many food is their drug of choice when they are sad, lonely, or feel alone.  This is no different than the user of other “drugs” like alcohol, pills, sex, pornography, or gambling, to name a few.

We have become such a sedentary society.  God designed our bodies in such a way as to be made to MOVE.  Our ancestors did a lot of manual labor and worked hard and burned off what they ate and often did not have enough to keep full.  Now we have become a society of more is better and quantity over quality and faster faster.  Most families rarely even sit down to a meal together during the week because of our busy lives.  I hear people say they have no time to cook, but in all truth you can throw together a healthy meal just as fast as you can drive to a fast food joint and get dinner.  And if you have time for TV and Facebook, you have time to cook a healthy meal for your family.  Is it easy?  No, of course not, but it has to be a priority.  We have to decide that the health of our family is just as important as catching the next episode of whatever TV show you like to watch.

Unhealthy food is cheaper yes.  And yes we can buy more empty processed junk for $25 than we can healthy food.  However we CAN buy a good healthy meal that is enough to feed our family on a budget.  This is part of what Ben and I show people how to do every day in our programs.

The problem also lies in the food industry.  Processed food and fast food are literally made to cause us to become addicted.  This book by Michael Moss explains a LOT.  It is a great read.  Salt, Sugar, Fat  is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

So why do we avoid the topic of obesity in church?  Now I happen to attend a church where my pastor runs marathons and we have a running club for kids and tons of sports and physical activities we can participate in if we so choose.  We have an amazing gym and fitness center that if free to use.  This is a good and proactive thing.  This is not the case in many churches though for various reasons and also how many people actually use these facilities in churches that DO have them?

We owe it to God to treat our body as a temple and not a garbage dump.  There is no difference in putting unhealthy, empty carbs and food with no real nutritional value in or bodies on a regular basis than there is filling our bodies with drugs.  Both have very damaging long term effects.  The problem seems to be more prevalent here in the south where we center all gatherings around FOOD.  When we are happy we celebrate with food.  When we mourn or are sick, FOOD- how many times have you been asked to bring a dish to someone’s house after a loved one passed away?

So much of our social life surrounds food.  Now I love parties and potlucks and gathering with friends over a good meal.  This is a wonderful tradition.  We southerners especially have a sense of hospitality and togetherness and that is something to be proud of for sure.  But it is time to start looking at what we are eating and how what we eat plays into our health. Almost all of the top 20 states with the highest obesity rates are here in the south.  Our culture plays into this in a big way.  Okay maybe I am biased but come on now, where is the BEST food in America found?  IN THE SOUTH!!  (I grew up in New Orleans- I know good food). People come from all over the country to try the delicacies and wonderful traditional foods of the south.  WE ARE FAMOUS FOR SWEET TEA??  This is about as unhealthy as you can get as far as a drink goes.  A 24oz glass of Red Diamond  Sweet tea is 210 calories, 51 grams of sugar. Pretty crazy.  And we all know we use way more sugar when we make it at home right?

It is time to start a wave of change in our community of believers.

I would love to see a potluck or gathering where everyone brings their favorite healthy dish.  We do this at our home when we have a Plexus meeting and I can assure you nobody leaves hungry or feeling like the food was not good.  It is possible to eat well and still enjoy food.

Ben and I love showing groups and families and churches how to change their habits and improve their health.  It can actually be fun to do as a family or group of friends.  We would love to see this topic be discussed in church just as much as financial fitness, and over indulgence in other things that are not so good for us.  I challenge any pastor or church goer who reads this to start looking at being a whole balanced person for God as a balance between not just emotional and spiritual, but also physical health. And what we eat is a very large part of physical health.

Understand this does not mean everyone in your church needs to run marathons and wear a size 8.  This is about healthy and active, not skinny. All it takes to start is 15 minutes 3 times a week of some type of physical activity to get your heart rate up.  We need to create a movement of healthy living among our church peers.  IT can be done and it can grow and spread and we can make a difference one person and one meal and one good choice at a time.

We owe it to God, our children and grandchildren and friends and family who want us healthy and able to live life to the fullest and serve God with the body He gave us.  If you need help getting started, email me- sugarfreehealthylife@gmail.com  and I am HAPPY to help.  Ben and I are happy to come to ANY church in America that wants to learn how to live a balanced healthy life and show you how to get started.  When you start living healthy and changing habits one at a time it becomes a lifestyle.  No matter your age, it is never too early or late to start living a healthy life!

XOXO

Erin