16 Pounds and What Do You Get?

Tennessee Ernie Ford

How Tennessee Ernie Ford helped me celebrate weight loss.

I’ve been weighing myself almost every morning since I began my healthy eating plan in June and somehow I got stuck on 12 pounds.  The scales just wouldn’t budge.  Over the past two weeks, however, I began losing again…14, 15 pounds.   Then two days ago I stepped on the scales and I was 16 pounds lighter!!  I was so excited that for some reason I began singing that old Tennessee Ernie Ford song Sixteen Tons.  The words to the chorus are “Sixteen tons and what do you get – another day older and deeper in debt – Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go – I owe my soul to the company store.”

This particular day, my version of the song was “16 POUNDS and what do you get” – I just couldn’t think of anything to rhyme with “get” that would celebrate my weight loss, so I just sang the regular words.  I even did Tennessee Ernie’s signature finger snaps as I sang – I was happy about my sixteen pounds!

Then I began thinking, “what do you get when you lose 16 pounds?” so I did a little research and found an article called :  Lose Weight, Gain TONS of Benefits. Tons – it had to be a sign, so I read it.  Let me preface any further comments by saying that I’ve lost almost 10% of my body weight.  Guess what the subtitle of the article was?  “Taking off just 10% of your body weight can have a big impact on your health.”  Another sign. I was hooked.

What you get by losing 10% of your body weight

Several studies indicate that losing just a little weight can kick start you on your way to good health.  Some of the benefits of losing just 5-10% of your body weight include lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure levels, decreased risk for some life-threatening diseases and improvement in sleep.

”Lifestyle changes that include healthier diets, regular physical activity, and weight loss of 7%-10% have shown phenomenal health benefits that can be more effective than medications,” says Katz, author of the best-selling book What to EatSeveral physicians reported taking their patients off of certain medications after losing just a small amount of weight.

Weight loss can be especially beneficial for people who are apple-shaped – those who store fat in their bellies. Even though ‘apples’ are at higher risk for heart disease the fat stored around the middle can be easier to lose.

Imagine walking around all day carrying three 5-pound bags of sugar and a pound of butter. That’s what it feels like carrying 16 extra pounds. Puts it in perspective, doesn’t it? No wonder I feel better!

How to lose 10%

Experts agree that the best way to lose weight is to make small changes that you can live with.  Try switching your sugary drinks to water – that’s a small change that really adds up (or subtracts – how ever you look at it). A 20 ounce soda has around 16 teaspoons of sugar and 240 calories! Replace that with zero sugar, zero calories water and you do the math. Plus the health benefits of drinking water have been touted by experts all over the world.

Another small change is to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and lower your intake of meat.  Fruits and veggies are nutrient-dense and lower in calories as opposed to less nutritious, calorie-dense meat.

Lose white in your diet – white sugar, white flour, white rice.  Replace with naturally sweet fruits, whole grains and nuts.

Increase your exercise. Any exercise is good for you. Need I say more.

You can do it

Small changes, baby steps – you can do it! Before you know it you’ll be down by 10%.  If you need to lose more, keep at it.  The point is just a little weight loss brings TONS of benefits.

Thanks, Tennessee Ernie!

Have you had success with weight loss?  Please share in the comments.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

Food Cravings Be Gone!

Get thee behind me!

You know that feeling.  It’s 9 o’clock at night and the chocolate cake in the fridge is calling your name.  You try not to listen to it, but there it is – “come on, eat me, eat me” – and before you know it you’ve devoured a huge piece and washed it down with a glass of cold milk.  Or it’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon and the stress of your project deadline causes you to crave that candy bar you saw in the vending machine earlier.  You give in, grab your quarters, run to the machine and before you get back to your seat you’ve eaten the entire candy bar and are licking the chocolate off of your fingers.  If it sounds like I’m speaking from experience…I am.

I think most of us can identify with food cravings.  They seem to come out of nowhere and, if you’re like me, you rarely crave something that’s healthy.  While food cravings are pretty much universal, women tend to have them more than men.  One study reported that 100 percent of women experienced them as compared to 70 percent of men.  (Ladies, I think the men are lying…I’m just saying.)  Men tend to crave foods that are savory and women those that are sweet.  However, my husband invariably asks me after dinner, “Have you got anything sweet?” Hmmm.

The Anatomy of Food Cravings

It’s important to understand that food cravings and hunger are different.  Hunger is simply your body’s signal that you need to eat, and it begins with a hormone called ghrelin.  It signals the brain when our blood sugar and insulin levels have dropped and triggers the release of a chemical which stimulates our appetite.  We’re hungry.  We need food.  After we’ve eaten, another chemical is released that tells our brains that we are full.  Unfortunately this doesn’t happen immediately and the results can be an over-stuffed feeling after a big meal. That is stomach hunger in very simple terms.

Food cravings, on the other hand, involve an entirely different part of the body:  our minds.  I often crave something sweet after I’ve just finished a big meal.  Perhaps you do as well.  Food cravings have little to do with hunger and aren’t necessary for our survival.

Fatty, high calorie foods top the list of food cravings with chocolate being number one.  The reason is that these types of foods release a chemical called opioids (think opium) into our bloodstream.  Opioids then bind to receptors in the brain and the results is a feeling of pleasure and sometimes even euphoria (remember the chocolate cake?).  Simply put, these types of foods affect the same part of the brain as highly addictive drugs.  We become addicted to the foods that give us pleasure.  In the article Mind Hunger and Food Cravings, Cristen Conger says, “This type of dopamine stimulation and chemical reward that we obtain from fulfilling food cravings has been compared to drug addiction because both behaviors follow similar neural pathways.  The pleasure and reward that we derive are simply milder versions of those that drug addicts experience when they get high.”

How I Overcame My Food Cravings

It can be extremely difficult to overcome food cravings since they are so much like addictions. I am a self-confessed sugar addict. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved sweets, especially chocolate.  I used to say “if my arm was chocolate I would eat it” and I meant it!  At church pot-luck dinners I would go through the line and get a plate full of savory food, but the whole time I was eyeballing the dessert table making sure they didn’t run out before I got there. Sometimes if I saw a dessert that looked especially decadent I would grab it first!  More true confessions.

Since I began my “I Want to Be Healthy” journey in June, I’ve noticed something about my food cravings. For the most part they are gone.  In fact, after the first few days of eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods they virtually vanished.  Apparently when we fill our bodies with the foods we need we don’t crave junk.  I realize I’m being over simplistic, but this worked for me.   I made a decision to eat healthy.  It was hard to stick to it at first, but I’ve persevered.  Once you’ve made the decision, I highly recommend praying.  The Lord will help you defeat your cravings.

Practical tips:

  • Don’t allow junk food in your house.  If it’s there you will be tempted to eat it.
  • Make sure everyone in your house knows you’ve made a decision to eat healthy.
  • Partner with a friend or relative.  My daughter and I are doing this together.
  • Start a blog to chronicle your journey.  That’s what I did and it has really helped me stay on track.  If you put it out there for the world to see you’re more likely to stay with it.  It will also be an encouragement to others.

The place to overcome your food cravings is in your mind, the same place they began.  You must make a conscious choice to change. Think of the word repentance.  Repentance is simply a change of heart (mind) that results in a change in your actions.  We tend to think of repentance in a negative way, but one person put it this way – repentance is trading trash for treasure.  You’re trading the trash of unhealthy food for the treasure of food that is good for you.

You’ve heard the old adage practice makes perfect, but I once heard a teacher say that practice makes permanent – I like that.  Practice healthy eating and it will become a permanent part of your life.

Have you overcome food cravings or addictions?  I’d love to hear your story.  Please feel free to comment.

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Tips:

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”Benjamin Franklin, from the 1735 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack

Healthy Tip (for your body):  In one of my earlier posts I shared about how magnesium helped with me foot and leg cramps.  It turns out that magnesium helps with cravings by regulating insulin and blood sugar.  It also helps with stress and insomnia which can trigger food cravings. Visit this link for other supplements that help with food cravings:  Supplements.   As always, check with your health care provider before taking any supplements.

Wealthy Tip (for your soul): “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers.”  3 John 1:2 (Amplified)

Wise Tip (for your brain):  According to experts  if you’re going to take one supplement for your brain it should be DHA.  Smaller brain sizes are associated with lower DHA levels.  Natural DHA is found in cold-water seafood so it’s important to supplement if you don’t eat much seafood.  DHA reduces inflammation and increases blood flow to the brain.  Check with your doctor before taking DHA or any supplements.

Bonus Tip (for your outer beauty):  I hope you’ve tried my beauty regimen of baking soda, honey and olive oil (see blog “A Clarification of Sorts”).  My daughter-in-law uses coconut oil on her face and swears by it.  I think I’m going to try it in place of olive oil and see if I like it. If you try it or have tried it on your face let me know if it has worked for you.

Beauty, Hummingbirds and the Back Porch

A Love Affair That’s Killing Us

It’s a love affair that’s killing us.  America’s love affair with convenience and fast food, that is. Our society has forsaken the ways of our forefathers who ate what they hunted or raised, for the modern convenience of fast, easy, highly refined, processed, fat-laden foods.  Even though the cost of these foods is relatively inexpensive, they come with a hidden but much higher price tag: our health.

Americans are more obese, more disease-ridden, take more medicine and are less active than ever before.  Our elderly population is suffering at an alarming rate from diseases that most of us consider to be just a part of the ‘natural aging process.’  Wouldn’t it be great to know that we don’t have to end like that – that we can enjoy life and live it to the fullest until we die at a ripe old age of natural causes?  The obvious answer is yes!

I’ve been reading the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and he provides some staggering statistics about the American diet:  “Americans currently consume about forty-two percent of their calories from fiberless animal foods and another fifty-one percent from highly processed refined carbohydrates and extracted oils.  Almost half of all vegetables consumed are potatoes and half of the potatoes consumed are in the form of fries or chips.”  Eat to Die would be a great title for a book about the typical American diet.

People groups who consume most of their calories from unrefined plant foods have low death rates from major diseases and are rarely obese.  Americans, on the other hand, consume only about ten percent of their calories from plant-based foods and have around an eighty percent death rate from killer diseases!  Yes, our love affair is killing us.

I love the term ‘nutrient dense’ foods, and I really wasn’t familiar with it until I read Dr. Fuhrman’s book.  After reading a few chapters, the light bulb came on for me.  I realized I was eating nutrient deficient foods and was “digging my grave with a fork and knife” to quote one of his chapter titles.

Dr. Fuhrman suggests that we eat ninety percent of our diet in nutrient dense food (see his website or book) and ten percent of everything else.  The Standard American Diet (SAD – yes, it is sad) recommends eating 8-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta and a mere five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, a real recipe for disaster.

I decided to give Dr. Fuhrman’s way of eating (I won’t call it a diet) a try.  I worried about my low blood sugar, food cravings, heartburn that I get from certain vegetables and fruits, my sweet tooth and a host of other issues.  I am happy to report that after the first week my food cravings disappeared, I never once had an issue with low blood sugar, my heartburn disappeared and I am not missing sweets!  I’ve also lost 11 pounds in the month and a half that I’ve been eating nutrient dense foods and have much more energy.  Have I gone off any?  Yes, a couple of times when we were having family get-togethers.  I hated the way I felt afterwards and so it was easy to get right back on.  I’m looking forward to more weight loss and feeling even better.

Look up the phrase ‘you are what you eat’ and you will find different answers as to its origin.  However, most agree that it simply means eat good food and you will be healthy – eat bad food and you won’t.  To that I add a hearty amen!

Now, if I would just start exercising…but that’s another blog for another day.

Have you had good success with healthy eating?  Please share in the comments.

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Tips:

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”Benjamin Franklin, from the 1735 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack

Healthy tip for today (for your body): Make sure that you get your nutrients from whole foods in their natural state and don’t depend on supplements to make you healthy.  They are called supplements for a reason – they are supposed to be a supplement to a healthy diet. Also, when eating fruit make sure you eat the whole fruit as opposed to just the fruit juice.  You need the fiber and other benefits from the whole fruit that you won’t get in juice only.

Wealthy tip for today (enrichment for your soul): “Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”  Psalm 118:29  A heart of gratitude is essential to a healthy lifestyle.  According to a 2007 study done by researchers at the University of California – Davis, feeling grateful can positively influence your well-being and quality of life.  Make a list of all the things you are thankful for.  Your spirits will be lifted in no time!

Wise tip for today (for the brain):  Not only do walnuts kind of look like the brain, they are good for the brain – just as our Creator intended.  Walnuts contain many of the nutrients, especially omega-3s, that our brains need for proper functioning and improving memory.  Be sure to eat the brown skin on the shelled walnuts even though it may taste a little bitter.  This flaky outer layer also contains many vital nutrients.  In addition, walnuts seem to increase your levels of melatonin, a hormone which regulates sleep.  Try a snack of walnuts before bedtime and your brain will thank you for the good night’s rest. I like to eat walnuts as a snack, but they are also great in salads, oatmeal and many other recipes.

Walnuts – food for the brain.

It’s All About Relationships

Detouring a bit from my ‘I Want to Be Healthy’ blog – well, not really.  Having loving relationships is a huge part of your health and well-being.

July 16 would have been my mom’s 94th birthday and her 75th wedding anniversary.  She married my father on her 19th birthday.  Mom was a tried and true Proverbs 31 woman.  She went to heaven went she was 83 years old and one of my nieces read Proverbs 31 at her funeral.  When it came to the verse that says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed,” all of my brothers and sisters and I stood up without prompting and remained standing during the rest of the reading. She was a blessed woman and it was our way of paying a final tribute to our mother.

These beautiful words that Solomon penned thousands of years ago truly describe my mom:  ‘Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her;  so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.  She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household…Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.  She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.’  from Proverbs 31

The words ‘She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household’ have special meaning to me.   When I was growing up I don’t ever remember a morning that I didn’t wake up to the smell of coffee brewing, bacon sizzling and biscuits baking!  Although I couldn’t smell them, there was always a platter of freshly scrambled or fried eggs on the table and sometimes a bowl of gravy and sliced tomatoes.  I don’t know how early mom had to get up to prepare those delightfully delicious breakfasts for us but it was well before daylight.  I never once heard her complain.   After breakfast, no one got up from the table because we knew it was time for our daily devotions.  She read from a book called Our Daily Bread and then the suggested daily Bible reading.  Mom always finished by praying for all us and the pressing needs of the day.  I will always cherish those memories.

One such morning in 1968, mom was praying for our brother, Mike, who had been wounded in Vietnam.  We knew he was back in the states but we just weren’t sure when we would hear from him.  Just as mom finished praying, the phone rang and she said (before she answered the phone), “It’s Mike!”  She picked up the phone and sure enough it was!  We were all jumping up and down and yelling, so much so that Mom had to tell us to be quiet.   I’m sure I didn’t think about it at the time, but looking back I am in awe of the answers that came as a result of my mom’s prayers.

‘Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.’

It really is all about relationships!  Love you, Mom!

My mom and dad in the 1940’s.

A Clarification of Sorts

First of all, I want to clarify something I put in my very first blog.  I mentioned that if I ate healthy that I would be healthy, or at least be healthier.  And I believe that.  But I also know that what I wrote is an oversimplification of the health epidemic we face.  We live in a fallen world and disease happens.  It can strike suddenly or take many years in its process.  I have family and friends who’ve had cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, diabetes, arthritis, brain tumors, mental illness, depression, dementia – well, you get the picture.  I did not want to imply that by simply eating healthy we won’t get sick.  However (don’t you love the possibilities in that word), eating the natural foods that God created and intended for us to eat will certainly give us a fighting chance to live healthy lives.  I’ve seen several photos on Facebook whose captions read, “If it comes from a plant eat it; if it’s made in a plant don’t.”  Or I like this one, “If God made it eat it; if man made it don’t.”  While these make us smile, they are very good rules.

Another clarification:  I never want to give anyone the impression that I am better than they are because I have chosen to eat healthy.  I know people who do that, and it’s not pleasant.  I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but what I do know is that all good health, regardless of how we attain it, is from God.  James said in the New Testament:  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”  Health is certainly a good gift.  We should accept it as such and never take it for granted!

Now that I’ve cleared that up, my next blog will be entitled “The Love Affair That’s Killing Us”.   Stay tuned…

Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Tips:

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”Benjamin Franklin, from the 1735 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack

Healthy tip for today (for your body) Health experts agree we need omega-3 fatty acids.  The body doesn’t make them so we have to get them from foods.  Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of many killer diseases such as heart disease, arthritis and cancer.  They also appear to be essential in brain function, memory and performance.  Foods high in omega-3’s are fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, and can also be found in algae, krill, some plants and nut oils.  Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.  The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least 2 times per week.  Most people don’t get enough omega-3’s so it’s important to check with your healthcare provider about a proper supplement.  I take Barlean’s Fresh Catch Fish Oil and I get it at Earth Fare. It is orange-flavored and doesn’t leave that fishy aftertaste.  Again, check with your healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

Wealthy tip for today (enrichment for your soul):  “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  Mark 8:36-37.  The most important things in life are not things at all.  They are people and relationships.

Wise tip for today (for the brain):  More about brain exercises.  Last time we talked about toweling off in a different way after your bath or shower.   Try these simple tasks to exercise your brain:  Next time you are driving to a familiar place take a different route.  Also, try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand.  Or memorize one phone number in your cell phone.  These simple challenges help build new associations in the brain.  The old saying “use it or lose it” certainly applies to our brains!

Facial regimen straight from the kitchen!

Bonus Tip (for your outer beauty):  In my last blog I mentioned that I would share what I put on my face after cleansing with baking soda.  Well here it is right from the kitchen –   after rinsing the baking soda off, I slather my face with honey!  It’s so yummy and I always lick my lips!  Seriously!  (I have a friend who always says things are ‘delicious’ – well this is delicious!)  Leave it on for 5 minutes then rinse off with lukewarm water. The natural antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of the honey are great for your face.  After drying, I use my next kitchen ingredient – olive oil!  I put just a little in the palm of my hands and gently rub all over my face.  My skin always feels silky, soft and smooth after my baking soda/honey/olive oil treatment!  Try it, you’ll love it!

I Want to Be Healthy

My grandchildren

My grandchildren

My Grandchildren

Esther In Grace

Living In Grace One Day At A Time

SA1969 Blog

Rescue, restore and protect architectural elements of historical significance.

Can't Stay Out Of The Kitchen

Teresa's adventures sharing our family's favorite recipes and trying new recipes

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

The Local Traveler NS

Two travelers' tales and reviews from around Nova Scotia

Melissa Titus

Rebelling against the status quo for His cause

celtic straits

bradstrait.com -- real life stories from a christian mystic

Cheap Love

pursuing an adventure-filled marriage

Whiter Than Snow

"though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Isaiah 1:18

Holland Scoop!

"Raising dynamic churches to reach this and future generations of Europeans."

Fully Mothering

Gracefully. Joyfully. Hopefully.

Certainly Resurgam

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." - 2 Corinthians 4:16

Southern Girl

Blogging my life. My Work. My Passions. ME.

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences