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NOTE FROM CAROLYN: One of the easiest ways to detox and get a jump on healthy living after the holidays and for winter is a detox! Our herbal detox drink, popular at Meridian since 2008, is now on sale! Get 10% off all orders and a coupon for discounts on all 2017 orders. CLICK HERE.

It’s the Monday after New Year’s, a full week past the last real holiday. Any real reason for tempting holiday foods and eating is officially gone, along with the lights and the decorations. The magical surge of inspiration and motivation to eat better, exercise and live healthfully may – or more likely may NOT –have appeared. Maybe that surge has even already come and gone with the arrival of snow days and indoor weather. Are you on target for a healthy 2017 with the holiday goodies out of the house? Or are you, like me, kicking and screaming your way to the reality that the party is over?

A good friend of mine, who shares the reluctance to let Christmas go (for her it’s the decorations, and for me it’s the food) suggested that we institute a “Christmas Anonymous” meeting to help us over the hump. Joking aside, I’m pretty much sugar free throughout the year, looking forward to special occasions, including Christmas, to indulge. Each year I promise myself that Christmas Day only will be it, but that has not been the case yet. The days before Christmas were great. The days after? Not so much. This year it’s been harder than ever to stop.

Experience, habit and logic tell me where I’m happiest and healthiest: Without sugar, exercising and with meals centered around whole food plant based eating. Emotionally, however, it is far easier said than done to get launched in January after the holidays. What will it take to get my New Year going? A polar bear plunge?!? Realistically, what can I effectively use for my motivation? What will you use for yours? I’ve spent some time pondering, praying and reading. Perhaps my decisions and plan for this glorious New Year will be helpful for you as we launch 2017.

Emotionally
When I’m eating right I’m happier. Period. Paragraph.

I want to be happy. My Father in Heaven and family want me to be happy. Sugar and overly rich and refined foods color my moods, cause sleepiness during the day and lack of sleep at night, affects my energy level, sense of humor and emotional responses. My life is better and the lives of those who count on me are better and happier in every way when I am personally happy and not answering to the wild and incessant call of sugar and carbs. It is not selfish to want that happiness. Sugar may affect each of us differently, but that’s my personal truth. It’s not about clothes fitting, the scale, or attractiveness. It’s about being HAPPY and in control.

Does it get easier than that to get motivated? Do I NOT want to be in a good mood and managing my emotions, rather than at the mercy of the fluctuations of sugar spikes and drops?

In truth, the pull for sweets and treats recedes quickly – within hours and days – only when our bodies are provided with nutritious foods that provide authentic fuel for optimal functioning of body, mind and spirit. How marvelous it is that our bodies can be so forgiving, so ready to renew itself! It is akin to the love and forgiveness our Father in Heaven has for us and our mortal foibles!

Financially
I’m not talking about how you save money at the grocery store, although whole food plant based eating is without a doubt the most economical way to shop and eat. There are surprising and immediate savings from not purchasing meat, cheese, dairy, refined snack foods, etc. These savings will far outweigh additional expenses for more fruit, veggies and whole grain products.

I’m talking about the long-term financial expense of actual health care based on the current state of affairs within Obamacare and the Affordable (???) Care Act. I’m talking about actual, literal dollars and cents that I personally pay, both immediately and in the future, based on how I take care of my precious mortal body.

As small business owners, my husband and I provide for our own health insurance. Bob turned 65 last year and now qualifies for Medicare. Our grown children have health insurance through spouses or employment. So as of 2017, it’s down to me. I am 62, and exceptionally healthy with no chronic illnesses, medication needs or other health care. The years of healthy eating, weight management and exercise are paying off well in every way – and they need to! It’s VERY expensive to be ill!

A recent trip to briefly consult with my primary care doctor was not covered. I had thought it was within my free annual “preventative care.” However It was billed as an “office visit.” We chatted for less than 10 minutes. He ordered a couple of routine lab tests and provided a referral.

My out of pocket cost was $117!!!! This is the tip of the iceberg. You probably know similar atrocities.

Here are the health insurance facts for me personally, with no other family members needing to be covered: The ONLY policies available to me where we live in Tennessee come through Blue Cross Blue Shield. All the other insurers have bowed out of the mess. There is no HMO here. There is no competition from which to shop, compare or choose.

With the updates for 2017, I had three Blue Cross Blue Shield choices: Bronze (at $1024 per month and a $5200 annual deductible); Silver (at $1229 with a $2,00 deductible); Silver Plus (at $1458 per month and a $0 deductible); and Gold (at $2200 per month and a $1500 deductible.)

Yes. You read it right. The lowest monthly premium for one healthy person is over $1,000 per MONTH! These monthly premiums are more in line with monthly housing expenses. (And some pretty nice housing, depending on where you live!)

It gets worse. There is minimal prescription coverage, and after deductibles are met, there is STILL a 50% copay required. The preventative care within these policies is absolutely minimal, requiring out of pocket payments for things that, at least to me, should be routinely covered. Like the annual dermatology screening for skin cancer for people over 60. After all, the skin is the body’s largest organ, but this is not covered, AT ALL.

If this is affordable and acceptable, I wonder what lala land the designers of these plans are living in?
Affordable to WHOM?

It is hard not to become very distressed over the financial fees I do and will incur with any need for a doctor visit. It is also difficult and an exercise in Christian forgiveness to not resent not only the short-sighted politicians, but the citizens in our country whose subsidized medical services I am personally paying for. That’s what it boils down to.

Because the health services for those in our country who cannot afford insurance and who do NOT take care of their health, weight and the obvious, doable things that create physical health is literally my personal expense. That subsidy is coming out of my astronomical premium of approximately $1,000 per month.

Fact: I contribute to their subsidized health plan with my own provident living.

Fact: It’s an “Aha!” experience to understand how slavery feels on an ongoing basis.

Fact: My husband and I joke and shrug our shoulders with the only thing that makes sense: “The only answer is to NOT get sick!”

Fact: Even if I’m NOT motivated to eat right and exercise, financially speaking it is very unwise for me to add to our already high-priced monthly medical insurance by NOT taking care of myself as a matter of a routine of healthy living daily habits.

Fact: GOOD HEALTH IS MONEY IN THE BANK. I am facing the truth that health insurance is primarily for catastrophic care (after deductibles are met.) It’s a wake-up call that getting healthy and staying healthy is, I repeat, an excellent financial priority and MONEY IN THE BANK. And will remain so for the rest of my life.

I encourage every person reading this article to read or re-read Jane Birch’s excellent Meridian article from last week on the preventative and restorative benefits of whole food plant based eating, or something similar within the Word of Wisdom.

I do stress with common sense that not all health situations are within our personal control. Accidents and aging are part of our mortal journey.   However, much can be done to actively prevent illness and promote daily health and wellness, and thus protect our finances.

Spiritually
A fascinating article at LDS Living has opened my mind to the fact that not only do I want to be like the Savior, I want to be like Adam and Eve! This Article: “Adam and Eve: the World’s First Hunters and Gatherers” by Dr. Steve DeVore is another brilliant and sparkling window into what our bodies and our spirits need to be healthy and happy! ( I have provided the link at the bottom of the article.)

It starts:

When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden they became the world’s first hunters and gatherers. In order to survive, our early hunter and gatherer ancestors had to work or “exercise” to get their food. They had to walk and reach and bend and push and pull and lift to obtain the food nature provided them. 

The food they ate was food of the earth, filled with life-enriching vitamins, minerals, amino and essential fatty acids — grains, vegetables, fruit, honey and lean meats from fowl, fish and other foraging animals.

When food was scarce, their brain helped protect them against starvation. When calories fell below 1,500 units a day their brain went into starvation mode. It signaled their bodies to become tired in order to conserve stored fat and their appetite for quick energy food increased in order to provide the brain with life-sustaining glucose. Our ancestors were more starvation-resistant—the best storers and retainers of fat— and survived and passed their genetic code on to us. We’ve inherited the metabolism of our early hunter and gatherer ancestors and that’s why over 60% of us are overweight—chronically obese. 

Today, we no longer have to hunt and gather for our food. It’s prepared for us, so our natural motivation to exercise no longer exists. The majority of the food we eat is white food—refined flour and table sugar in the form of pastries, cake, pie, soft drinks, etc.—and meats overly high in saturated fat.

This white food diet results in insulin resistance. Insulin is needed to convert fat into energy in our cells. The “white” diet produces an excess of insulin. So much so that our cells are overwhelmed and begin to block insulin from entering. When this happens more fat is stored in the body than burned—stored especially around the waist and buttocks.

This well-written, informative article outlines not only WHY our bodies respond so well to a plant based diet, but why we do NOT respond (i.e., weight gain and chronic health disorders) to the typical diet of our modern world. The fascinating studies and tests with overweight people (actually starting with a test group through BYU). They were taught how to EAT and not DIET . The entire article is fascinating, but it was the conclusion that impressed me the most:

The master key to this new life is to feed your body, mind, and spirit with plenteous and bounteous amounts of healthy food—to live in harmony with your genetically (hunter and gatherer) inherited metabolism and to focus your new found confidence and energy on fulfilling your life’s mission and destiny—whatever it is—instead of focusing on your primitive, fat-storing survival needs.

This is a proven way to lose excess body fat and to recreate a body that is lean and healthy and energetic – a life that is emotion and relationship rich and joyous.

I believe that the healthy living lifestyle in this article was not just for Adam and Eve, but for the Savior. And I want that! In every way both immediately and for the many years of my own mortality that lie ahead.

Visual Inspiration
A picture is always worth a thousand words. I’m going back to one of my old favorites, “Body For Life: Twelve Weeks to Physical and Emotional Strength” by Bill Phillips. While his eating plan is not whole food plant based, his foundation for exercise and strength training with weights has changed my life, along with what the scale says and how my clothes fit. I know it’s benefited my bone strength as well. The before and after pictures of people who have followed his program, both in the book and at the website, are truly inspiring!

The other source of continual inspiration for me is Jane Birch’s website:
www.discoveringthewordofwisdom.com She continues to actively collect an amazing array of powerful LDS stories and testimonials where individuals share about health situations remedied by whole food plant based eating. In reading there, it is virtually impossible for me NOT to be motivated! I always feel our Heavenly Father’s presence in how the Word of Wisdom becomes a literal manifestation of and wellness in human bodies.

Come let us anew indeed! It’s time to turn the page! Welcome 2017! It is all the more welcome with the promise of the fun and joys that living healthfully in a strong, active body bring!

LINKS:
Herbal Detox Jumpstart for 2017!

Adam and Eve: The World’s First Hunter and Gatherers

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of eleven. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis,where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. Carolyn serves in the Primary Presidency.