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Vinegar: It’s Not Just for Salads

The Power of an Encouraging Word

In 1872 Dr. Brewster Higley wrote a poem entitled The Western Home, and the following year it was set to music to become the famous American folksong Home on the Range. It was written about his beloved state of Kansas. Most of you have probably heard the words to the chorus: “Home, home on the range where the deer and the antelope play.  Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

Sounds like a pretty awesome place to live, doesn’t it?

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Of course, a place like this doesn’t exist – at least not in this world. Discouraging words come to us at any given time from our family and friends, from students and teachers, from the news media and social media, from our bosses and our co-workers, even strangers.  You might say we live in a place ‘where seldom is heard an encouraging word and the skies are just cloudy all day.’

Today I learned the power of an encouraging word, and it was through an unlikely source – a 16 year old boy.

I work in school administration and my office is just next door to the guidance counselor.  She was out this afternoon and a young man walked in with a piece of paper in his hand. He headed towards the counselor’s door, noticed she wasn’t in and stuck his head in my office. I was just about to cut off his comments with “the counselor isn’t in” when he waved his piece of paper in front of me and said rather excitedly, “Take a look at this!” It was an Algebra II test with a grade of 103 marked in red at the top of the page – a perfect 100 with 3 bonus points. That’s when I realized this young man was looking for someone to share his good news with –  he was hoping for an encouraging word.  I called him by name and told him how wonderful his score was.  He gave me a big grin and said, “Yeah, this is going on the refrigerator!” I grinned back and said, ‘Yes, that’s exactly where it belongs.”  I told him how proud I was of him and to keep up the good work. As he walked out, his step seemed lighter and he said, “Yes, ma’am!” – kind of like someone in the military would say it. I imagine that he whistled as he floated down the hall.

Yes, I had encouraged this young man with my remarks, but I wasn’t prepared for how I felt.  I was exhilarated. My step was lighter and I was happy the rest of the day. I experienced a Home on the Range moment and I liked it!

After this encounter I realized something about myself:  I don’t give encouraging words nearly enough. Most of the time, I’m scolding kids in the hallway or lecturing a student who didn’t turn in something on time.  With my family, I am quick to be negative, slow to be positive. Today I made a silent determination in my heart to be more encouraging, to speak words that are uplifting instead of discouraging.

You may wonder what encouraging words have to do with being healthy. It has everything to do with it. Everyone needs encouragement. It’s in our DNA. Recently people have noticed that I’ve lost weight (19 pounds to be exact) and their encouraging words of “I can tell you’ve lost weight” or “you’re looking good” have really made my day.  It motivates me to stay on course with my I want to be healthy lifestyle.  There’s probably research on it somewhere, but I believe that positive, encouraging words must have a profound physiological affect on our brains.  I know they do on our emotional well-being. Words have the power to hurt or heal. I want my words to heal.

We all want encouraging words spoken to us. Let’s do the same to others.

Have you experienced the power of an encouraging word? I’d love for you to comment.

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today. Hebrews 3:13a

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): Do you feel tired, sluggish, experience brain fog or have frequent headaches? If so, you probably aren’t drinking enough water.  Since your body is about 60% water it is important to stay properly hydrated. Make sure to drink at least 8 – 10, 8 oz glasses of water a day.  Once I started properly hydrating, my headaches disappeared and my energy increased.

Wealthy tip for today (enrichment for your soul): Speak a word of encouragement to someone today. It will benefit you and them. “Paul called the disciples together and encouraged them to keep up the good work in Ephesus. Then, saying his good-byes, he left for Macedonia. Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.” Acts 20:1-2

Wise tip for today (for the brain):  Give your brain a boost with blueberries (don’t you love the alliterative sound of that). According to the article Your Brain on Blueberries by Mary Franz, “Emerging research suggests that compounds in blueberries known as flavonoids may improve memory, learning and general cognitive function, including reasoning skills, decision making, verbal comprehension and numerical ability. In addition, studies comparing dietary habits with cognitive function in adults hint that consuming flavonoids may help slow the decline in mental facility that is often seen with aging and might even provide protection against disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.” Try a handful as a snack or add some to your oatmeal, cereal or salads.  Your brain will thank you!

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

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

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