Laudable Linkage


I’ve come across a lot of good reading already in 2018! Here is some that stood out to me in various ways:

How an Old Man Helped Save My Faith, HT to Challies.

I Couldn’t Call God “Father,” HT to Challies. A sweet testimony of an Iranian woman’s journey to Christian faith.

Show Me Your Endurance. “While church leaders dismissed my friend as unpolished and uneducated, I realized her experience was a part of my discipleship journey in ways that information acquisition and discipleship habits alone were not. I saw in her life what my own could look like as I trusted God to be there for my child and for me.”

These Hibernation Days, HT to True Woman. “Winter is a fallen seed, before it has sprouted again. It is God’s gift to us, to teach us of the value of rest, quiet, hiddenness, and death.”

Harsh Light, HT to Story Warren.

A few with the new year in mind:

Bible Reading Schedules. A couple of these I have seen before, a couple were new to me.

Preventing Spiritual Scurvy this Year: The Micronutrient Bible Reading Plan, HT to Challies.

Beginning of the Year Check-in Questions for Christians, HT to Challies. “Don’t leave your spiritual growth up to spontaneity. Make a plan. Now that we’re in 2018, here are some questions to ask as you formulate ways to grow.”

A Launch-Yourself-Forward Worksheet. If your resolutions or “one word” choices fizzle out sooner rather than later, this worksheet might help you implement those changes.

How (Not) to Read Next Year, HT to Bobbi.

They are our children, after all. When everything does not turn out all right in our children’s lives.

Clearing to Neutral: The One Habit That Stops You From Procrastinating, HT to Lisa.

What Sugar Does to Your Brain, HT to Challies. Not good news after the excess sweets throughout December.

And finally, many of us are in a very cold weather system right now. We haven’t had snow here except for about an hour one day. I hope those of you “snowed in” get some sunshine and warmer temperatures soon. Meanwhile…

Happy Saturday!

First steps to fitness

Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of

I’ve known that I needed to and should lose weight for ages. I’ve made various fits and starts but haven’t stayed with a plan for more than a few months at a time. I keep thinking I’ll get to it – and before I know it another whole year has gone by, and my doctor gives me the same warnings he did last year.

Developing atrial fibrillation, though, and learning that diabetes is one of the risk factors for making it more of a problem, and being told once again that I am headed for diabetes if I don’t so something, has provided even more impetus than having watched my mom deal with the effects of Type II Diabetes.

So today (Tuesday) I started tracking what I eat with the MyFitnessPal app. It doesn’t “seem” like I eat that much – but obviously the evidence is to the contrary, and this will hep me pinpoint problem areas. I always find this part really tedious, which is probably one reason I don’t usually keep up with it very long. But it is eye-opening. (That has how many calories? A serving is only 1/2 cup?) I haven’t measured out those cups and tablespoons in the past, preferring to eyeball it, but I started doing so today, because approximating can be misleading. I imagine that after measuring servings for a while, one does get a better idea of what 1/2 cup of something looks like and won’t need to measure every time. One thing I really like about the app is that it has a scanner so you can use your iphone to scan the bar code of a food, and it puts all the nutritional information in there. Then when you use that food again, you can just click on it from your previous scans. Recipes will be a little harder to deal with, but, again, once they are entered, they are there to refer to again in the future, so hopefully the major part of the tedium will be just at the beginning.

I figured that was the best way to start, to target what I need to work on. My sweet tooth is one of my biggest problems, but I also tend toward comfort foods with sauces and cream-of-whatever soup, so I’ll be looking for ways to cut down on those kinds of things.

I did discover that the turkey sausage and hash brown breakfast I regularly have was not too bad calorie-wise if I kept the portion size down. With a tendency to low blood sugar, especially in the mornings, sometimes I feel like I need to eat a protein-based breakfast (which does hep) but also a really big breakfast. But the lower portions were satisfying without making me feel stuffed. I did have a sweet snack in the afternoon, but a smaller portion, and I had an apple for a later snack, something I haven’t done in ages. I was feeling pretty good about having 500+ calories left for dinner until I realized that, in listing the components of the leftover Labor Day burger I had for lunch, I had forgotten to include the burger itself. Duh.

Otherwise, the first day went well. Of course, the first day almost always goes well. 🙂 It’s staying with it after the first flush of motivation passes and I want the old habits back again that’s hard. And even though I know and to a certain extent am motivated by all the reasons I want to lose weight and get fit, I keep fooling myself by thinking, “Yes, well, this one snack or this one healthy meal or this one day (or several days) without exercise aren’t going to matter in the grand scheme of things.” But all together they do. A walk in any direction is made of of steps, and the more steps in the wrong direction, the farther from were we originally tended to be. So I am going to review my reasons to lose weight and use the I Deserve a Donut app (which helps you pinpoint why you think so and why you don’t need it) for help in keeping my motivation on track, as well as, first and foremost, prayer and trying to keep a Scriptural focus about it all.

I chafe at the time involved in driving to a gym, having to change into and out of special exercise clothes, exercising with other people, etc., so exercising from home works best for me now. I have several exercise DVDs, some from Leslie Sansone and some from the Biggest Loser, as well as a couple of exercise video games that I can cycle through so no one routine gets boring. Or more boring than it has to be. 🙂 I am familiar enough with most of them that I can turn off the sound and listen to an audiobook, but even with that I pretty much grit my teeth through exercising. I do feel better and have more energy when I exercise, but that’s not motivation enough to set aside things I enjoy doing more in order to exercise. But, I have heard other people say that they don’t really enjoy exercise, but they just make up their minds to do it. So I will do that knowing it is benefiting me no matter how I feel about it.

I had started a weight loss blog some years ago, and I don’t know that I will post regular updates here or there. But one reason I wanted to mention this is that I know some of you are on the same journey, some to lose weight or get fit in general, some specifically  to deal with diabetes. I’d love to hear any tips you have to share!

Book Review: Overcoming Overeating

Overcoming OvereatingThe subtitle to Overcoming Overeating by Lisa Morrone is It’s Not What You Eat, It’s What’s Eating You!, and therefore the thrust of the book is dealing with the underlying emotional reasons for overeating. I got the book either free or at a low cost as a Kindle deal, and I must have overlooked the subtitle at first: it actually made me angry, not that the book addressed emotional issues but that it seemed to deemphasize other related issues. In fact, several times she seems to ridicule or at least disbelieve people’s protestations that they overeat because they like food. But to just dismiss this with an “I know what your problem really is” attitude is to do people a disservice. When I am about to have my 6th cookie of the day or a third helping of lasagna, I am not thinking about any underlying emotions: I am thinking “This tastes good and therefore I want more!” I have never read a weight-loss book that adequately addressed that part of the problem, and that’s the problem that derails all the good intentions, all the knowledge about what is good and bad and best for you, etc.

But I gave the book another run-through after my first reading, and I did glean more helpful tips than I did the first time.

I don’t deny that people overeat for emotional reasons: even healthy people at a normal weight have their comfort foods. Lisa acknowledges that “everyone eats for emotional reasons at one time or another,” but for some – about 75%, by one statistic – “emotional eating has become chronic.” Chemicals like cannabinoids (same family as marijuana) and serotonin are produced by the digestion of some common “comfort foods” (potato chips, french fries, chocolate, cheeseburgers, to name a few), making the feel-good indulgence of those foods not just emotional but physical and chemical. She does do a great job addressing how to deal with those underlying emotional issues. She describes an emotional cycle leading to overeating and a couple of places from which to step off the cycle.

I especially appreciated her distinction between different kinds of guilt: there is a good, God-given guilt designed to lead one to repentance, and there is a destructive guilt that just furthers the emotional tailspin into more over-eating.

I really liked her treatment of controlling our thoughts and distinguishing what is true between the good and bad ones. A negative thought isn’t necessarily a bad one. For instance, “I shouldn’t have yelled at my son” is negative, but it is true, and therefore we can confess it, apologize, seek forgiveness and seek for better ways to respond. But “I’m so stupid, I never do anything right” is negative and destructive and needs to be corrected. Similarly, a positive, pleasing thought can be deceptive or it can be inspirational.

She also does address that there are other “triggers” to overeating: certain foods that are especially tempting or hard for us to control, family gatherings, social situations, convenience. etc. And she does address other practical tips: reading labels, wise shopping, getting used to adequate portions, etc. She addresses the problem that we seem to celebrate everything with food, and suggests other ways to celebrate: she also cautions against ever eating to feel better when down or disappointed, frustrated, angry, etc., because that is just setting one up for food addiction and hurts rather than helps whatever the underlying problem is.

In-between the chapters are testimonies from different individuals who have lost weight, and it was in one of those that I found a helpful response for the problem I mentioned at first, that of wanting to eat more just because it tastes so good: one woman mentioned that God gave her “a new understanding that living for the satisfaction of only one part of my body (my mouth) was unholy,” and when faced with temptations for unhealthy foods or amounts, she seemed to “sense Him saying to [her], ‘I will still love you if you choose that, but will it get you what you want?'”Something that Morrone said helps here, too: “Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.” In another testimonial, a woman said, “God loves me so much He does not want me to damage the body He has given to me. He showed me that food was just a fleeting enjoyment, but a healthy body was so much more.”

Morrone concedes that food is intended for pleasure – otherwise God would not have given us many taste buds designed to gain the maximum enjoyment from what we eat – but she advises to think that food=fuel, and there are different “grades” of food just as there are different grades of gasoline. “Most everything ‘quick and easy’ you bring home is filled with nutritional shortcuts. Be good to yourself and your family: eat quality fuel.” The goal is “to become a truly well-balanced person, one who can enjoy food without guilt and who has so many interests and goals that food only holds its rightful place in the day – that of nourishment and pleasure, not a tranquilizer, Band-aid, or time-filler” (emphasis mine).  She compares a healthy relationship with food to a healthy friendship: if one member harmed the other, it would not be a healthy relationship. We need to find foods that promote health rather than jeopardizing it.

I really liked the section dealing with inevitable setbacks as well. “Each year the winning team of the Super Bowl loses some ground (yardage) throughout the game. Yet they always keep their minds fixed on the goal, push through the opposition, and, as a result, advance to victory in the end.” She gives a variety of tips for dealing with setbacks and getting back on track.

Though I am usually wary of books and weight loss programs that promote self-love, Morrone has, I believe, the best definition of it: “We can humbly appreciate who we are and who we’ve been created to be, and honor ourselves (and our Creator) by being devoted to the care and well-being of our physical bodies.”

I’m glad I gave this book another chance. I benefited from it. Some of what Lisa says about emotional overeating has been distilled into this document on her web site, but of course it is expanded on and fleshed out in the book. If you’ve not yet guessed, the book is written from a Christian vantage point and discusses the Biblical foundation and many Biblical principles of good health, but she also addresses the non-believer with principles he could relate to while encouraging him to look at the Bible’s point of view as well.

(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)

A public service announcement concerning walkers

No, not the walkers babies use, but the ones the elderly or disabled use.

1. Do not pull or jerk on the walker, even if trying to help the person over a bump. There are several reasons for this:

  • It throws them off balance.
  • The walker is an extension of themselves and it is an invasion of their personal space as much as if you pulled on their arm.
  • It can make them feel helpless and embarrassed.

Sometimes, however, the person may appreciate a little assistance if they are having trouble maneuvering. If you see someone trying to get their walker up a step or over a hump, be patient and observe for a moment and see if they are doing all right or seem frustrated. If you think they might like help, offer first. “Mrs. Jones, can I help you get your walker over this step here?” Don’t just jump in and jerk it. Gently lift it, especially being careful if they are leaning on it for balance: you may need to let them take your arm as well, depending on whether they can balance on their own for a moment or need help with a step.

2. The person with a walker usually understands that he or she is a little slow and you may want to get around them, and that’s fine, but please don’t cut in too closely — the sudden movement and closeness can also cause balance to waver.

3. Some people can’t stand long even with a walker. They would love to talk with you, but may need to sit down first.

4. If you see someone coming with a walker, please move out of their way. Often they feel conspicuous and cumbersome and are embarrassed to ask. Some are not, though, and will just call out a cheery, “Beep, beep!” or something similar — please don’t be offended.

5. Similarly, please don’t be offended if they accidentally bump into you. Sometimes, especially with older people, their depth perception is affected as well. Some might not even be aware that they bumped you, but most would be horrified.

I am writing both from the perspective of having used a walker for several months after TM, but also from my elderly mother-in-law’s perspective now. I think most people mean well, but have just never thought about or experienced some of these things from the point of view of one using a walker. A little patience and thoughtfulness are much appreciated.

Please feel free to share anything I may have forgotten or not thought about, but please keep it positive. I don’t want people to think we’re ranting or griping at them, but rather just informing and educating.