Strengthening the Body

Male Swimmer
Several years ago, I had another physical flashpoint, one that has brought me considerable enjoyment. Now that I was ‘thin within,’ I decided to work on my fitness as well. The daily walk I had incorporated into my lifestyle almost thirty years before became a jog, then a run. As I pushed myself, my endurance increased to the point where I could successfully complete the Big Sur Marathon. Running in that marathon was a great thrill, and training for it with friends was even better. However when I arrived back home I realized that all my running had done little to strengthen my overall body.

So I began to lift weights occasionally. In 1999, I made it a habit of  visiting  the gym three days a week, whenever possible. The results of my weight-lifting program have been phenomenal. You’d never mistake me for Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the few pounds of muscle I added made a major difference in my metabolism. I noticed that I could eat more and maintain my weight or eat the same amount as before and lose weight. Obviously, I was burning more calories throughout the day. Not only did my body look better than it ever had before, but today I feel better than at any other time in my life. Most people who meet me today would not believe that I had ever struggled with a weight problem. But I did, and that’s why I know that you, too, can be successful at bringing your weight under control. I want to encourage you to broaden your vision of who you can be and what you can do. Your physical flashpoint might come as the result of a quick glance in the mirror, the completion of an entire bag of cookies, or having to use a seatbelt extension on an airplane.

If you are like me, when your flashpoint comes, you will be just as motivated to improve as you were to eat. Your passion will shift from consumption to conversion. Before long you will have gained control of what you eat, why you eat, and how you treat your physical body.

Do you  need help with losing weight or maitaining a health lifestyle?  We have several books that might be helpful to you, for more information, click here.


Twinkies -The Perfect Antidote for Pain?

Twinkies on a plate
As a seven year old, with brown wavy hair and blue eyes, I remember the day that I stumbled upon my drug of choice. The folks were fighting again. My brother had fled the scene; I was left to comfort my little sister. The soft, yellow, spongy confection with the creamy white filling soothed every emotion and lulled me into a state of tranquility. Gone the anxiety and fear about how their fight would end up this time. Gone the sadness of the little girl unprotected. The burden of responsibility to care for my two-year-old sister vanished.

I had discovered the answer for my pain, for any emotion that I could not handle. I could obliterate it through ingesting high sugar/ fat foods. Like a drug, its chemicals would travel directly to the ‘feel good’ centers of my brain, and voila! I was happy and content. My ‘perfect’ solution betrayed me, however, when the pounds started to pile on. Being made fun of, chosen last of the kickball team, buying clothes in the ‘chubby’ shop, and looking horrible in a swimsuit next to my bikini-clad friends created pain that outweighed the ORIGINAL pain.

As Scott Peck describes in “The Road Less Traveled”, the behaviors that I had adopted to avoid pain, created more pain than the original pain that it was intended to avoid! He defines the beginning of mental illness as the avoidance of pain! As the years went by, I was unknowingly layering pain upon pain, becoming fatter, more depressed, isolated, hopeless, and despairing. I, then had TWO problems; the original childhood trauma of growing up in my particular family, and the pain from the consequences of my food addiction.

The food addiction cycle must be broken between the PAIN and THE FIX (drugging ourselves with food). The first step is to make the commitment to not medicate the pain of your life. Someone once said, ‘You can’t heal what you can’t feel and you can’t feel what you medicate’. You must understand that God does not promise you a pain-free existence; rather that He will walk through your pain with you, comfort you, and redeem your sufferings. Begin by reflecting on the first time that you can remember anaesthetizing yourself with food. Journal about that. Discuss it with a Christian counselor or trusted friend. Reach back in time and make a commitment to that younger person inside that you will discover how to walk through pain, receive nurture for him/her, and become free from the devastating effects of food addiction. (John 8:32)

Do you  need help addressing the heart issues related to your weight? Join us at our next  Weekend Workshop.


Love + Respect + Good Boundaries = Significant Relationships

Adults who are in significant relationships are meant to be equals and share the reality of who they are in a spirit of mutuality. Some people, however, do not want to be equals. They prefer being ‘one-up’ on the other person. They want to be in more of a parent-child type of connection where they are in charge. They have expectations for the other to be in subjection to them in some way, and are dominating in their style.

This type of “I know better” stance blocks love in a horrible way. There are a lot of “you shoulds,” that dominate the person’s thinking. They freely tell the other person how to think, live, be and what to do. The person who is “under” feels belittled, controlled, dominated and disrespected. Eventually this type of connection produces problems because the ‘one-down’ person resents the dominating one and seeks independence. Jesus said, we are to all be equals putting no one on a parental pedestal. “Don’t ever let anyone call you ‘Rabbi’, for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father.” (Matthew 23:8,9)

Boundary problems are usually seen in someone’s inability to either say “no,” or hear “no” from others. When we have these kinds of disturbances, we either allow people to walk all over us in a way that damages respect, or we walk all over them and “trespass” against them. In the process, love is destroyed. True love respects each other’s boundaries, saying “no” when we need to, and accepting ‘no’ when we hear it.

Another aspect of boundaries has to do with requiring responsible behavior from each other in a relationship and taking a stand against evil when it occurs. True love cannot grow when evil is allowed to triumph. When we have the boundaries to “abhor what is evil,” and take a stand against it, we preserve the good in a relationship and help it to grow by solving problems.

Are you in a difficult relationship? For help with boundaries and other relational issues we encourage you to attend our Weekend Workshops. You’ll laugh, learn, and by God’s grace, be transformed.

Love Takes Initiative and Risk

Togetherness involves a great deal of activity. It means taking the effort to seek out God and others, rather than waiting for others to take the first step. It means going to the trouble of not wasting time in our relationships, as the  days are evil and there’s only so much time to grow.

Therefore, we make the first move in deepening the content of what we are saying, moving from the events and circumstances of the day to the more vulnerable issues of need, hurt, badness and confession. People who take initiative bring their feelings to the safe individuals in their lives, not being content to wait for permission to get close. Taking initiative also may mean taking the step of confronting a wrongdoing, or problem in the relationship. Jesus taught us that no matter if it is our fault or another, we are to stop what we’re doing and go try to work things out (Matt. 5:23, 24; 18:15).

Many people are afraid to be close because of past hurts and transgressions. Sometimes they will wait for a perfectly safe environment and relationship to emerge before they attempt to love again. Sometimes they will judge others as not deserving of love. While it is a sad reality that our ability to trust can be deeply wounded, and that we all need repair in this area, the fact is that there isn’t a totally safe place around, as all have sinned. But there are good enough places and people. Love without risk is immature love. Growing love stretches itself and sometimes gets bruised in the process.We need to get out of our comfort zone, take a risk, and either grow from it or learn to pick better people the next time around.

Do you want to be in a loving relationship but fear getting hurt? We’d love to help. Please join us at one of our weekend workshops.

Finding Your Optimum Weight

Part of managing our health is maintaining a healthy weight. If you walk into any bookstore, you’ll find shelves and shelves of diet books, but you might as well save your money. The secret of weight loss is no secret at all: Burn more calories than you take in. In other words, eat less, move more. Very simple.

A recent study concluded that ‘popular diets work ‘ at least in the short term ‘ not because they have any special secrets, but because they force us to eat fewer calories.’

“The main thing in weight loss is calories in versus calories out,” says Judith Stern, professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California, Davis, who reviewed the report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ‘People go on fad diets and think, ‘This one will be different,’ but it never is and their weight rebounds and they move on to the next fad diet.’

If weight loss is one of your goals, resolve to lose the weight slowly. After all, it took time to put those extra pounds on, so allow time to take them off. Set modest, achievable goals with short time frames so you can track your progress. Try not to tie your weight to a specific event like a class reunion or a wedding. If you do, you’ll either give up when time runs short, or you’ll put the weight back on as soon as the event has passed.

Please understand this ‘ I am not advocating that you diet down to an unhealthy weight just so you can look like a supermodel. I’m not saying you have to be thin to be acceptable, attractive, or admirable. I only want you to be healthy.

So what is the optimum weight? Many doctors and dietitians recommend using the Body Mass Index, or BMI, to determine your optimum weight. To calculate your BMI, weigh yourself on an accurate scale, then apply the following formula:

Your weight in pounds X 703
Divided by your height in inches
Divided by your height in inches again
Equals your BMI

So, for example, if you are five feet five inches tall (65 inches) and weight 145 pounds, your BMI would be 24.12, which is in the ‘optimal’ range.

Do you  need help addressing the heart issues related to your weight?  We have several books that might be helpful to you, for more information, click here.


A Flashpoint Moment That Changed Everything

I come from a family of fairly large people. When I was growing up, Thanksgiving dinner with my uncles looked like a room full of major appliances gathered around a turkey! Almost everyone present was overweight, and everything on our table seemed to be either fried or served with gravy. I ate what was on my plate and never thought much about it, but looking back I can see that food, love, and relationships were definitely intertwined in my development. The result was that by the time I was twenty-two, I’d managed to pack 210 pounds onto my five-foot-ten-inch frame.

I was ashamed of my body, and it hurt to know that others were laughing at me. I felt I was destined to be heavy all my life, because, after all, I came from a heavy family.

But the summer before my senior year in college, when I had my picture taken for the yearbook, I experienced a flashpoint that changed everything. When I received the proof, I was stunned to see the overweight, acne-pocked, oily-haired creature in the photograph. I was so ashamed of what I had become, until I realized I didn’t have to stay that way. In that flashpoint moment, I recognized that I was responsible for how I looked, and I could make myself look different. I had heard all the stories about people who lost weight only to regain it later. I was determined not to repeat that pattern because I knew that most people ended up heavier than they were when they started! Instead, I made gradual changes that caused me to see myself in a different light.

I began to walk every day. I changed my eating patterns. The flashpoint was instantaneous, but the resulting action took some time. With persistence, slowly but surely, the weight began to drop off, my waist narrowed, and the mirror stopped being my enemy.

First, I went down to 190 pounds and lived there for a while. A few years later I slimmed down to 175 and stayed at that weight for a few months. In my last stage of weight loss, I moved down to 160, the weight I maintain today.

Permanent weight loss occurs when you change your heart and mind before you attempt to change your body. The secret to weight loss, you see, isn’t following rules or a plan, any of those will work temporarily. Permanent weight loss occurs when you change your heart and mind before you attempt to change your body.

Thinking that others might benefit from what I had learned, I wrote a weight-loss book called Lose it for Life. Click here to view materials on weightloss.