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Although many people think of the Christmas holidays as the most difficult time of year for healthy eating choices, my years as a Weight Watchers Leader and my own health journey tell me that Charles Dickens has it right: Making health a priority in the summer is “the best of times and it is the worst of times.”

It’s the best because excellent health choices abound with loads of
1) fresh vegetables, fruits and light salads,
2) more time to exercise with longer days and less structured schedules, and
3) better weather to get outside and have fun being active with friends and family.

More than one summer has been my return to health. I treasure those summers and how great I looked and felt when the end of August rolled around.

On the other hand, without a good mindset, summer is “the worst of times.” I’ve been there too! The ease is not in living healthfully, but in denying reality:

1) Loose, baggy summer clothing helps us hide and ignore weight gain.
2) A “summertime, and the livin’ is easy” mentality seems to justify and excuse poor eating choices.
3) Vacations, disrupted schedules and guests often mean eating out, cooking out and lots of snacks.

Without some careful thought, sugary ice cream goodies, picnic/poolside chips and crackers, barbeques centered around meat, and the ever-present summertime pasta and potato salads that are loaded with fat and calories can have us in their tight-fisted grasp throughout July and August.

Want some new ways to feel your best by the end of the summer? Even though it’s vacation-time, here’s an interesting scholarly math lesson for an excellent weight management strategy!

In the number three we have the first geometric figure, since one or two lines cannot enclose any space or form a planar figure. Three lines are necessary to form the figure and enclose the space, then three dimensions are required to form a solid. A triangle is the simplest planar figure and a cube is the simplest three-dimensional solid.

Three therefore symbolically and literally represents that which is solid, real, substantial, complete and entire.

Think about it! All things that are especially complete and entire are stamped with the number three. I believe this is one of the basic reasons to why there are three members in the Godhead, and three members in all Church presidencies and Church auxiliaries.

Three succinctly sums up many things:

Three divisions of time: past, present and future
Three stages of the Plan of Salvation: Pre-Existence, Earth Life, and the Return to Our Heavenly Father
Three is the sum of human ability: thought, word and deed
The three kingdoms of matter: animal, vegetable or mineral
Three phases of mortality: birth, life, death
Three natures of the earth, heaven, earth and waters
Three components of human individuals, physical body, soul and spirit
Three legs to a stool …. And the list goes on!

Even common idioms highlight the hidden power of this number. For example, “things happen in threes”, Aladdin’s “three wishes from the genie,” the mystical “knock three times”, etc.

There is great religious symbolism in the number three that is used repeatedly as it represents the three members of Godhead and the number three is present even in decorative elements to our temples that symbolize things of the celestial realm.

The roots for the word stem from the meaning of multiplicity: Creative power and growth. Three is defined as a moving forward of energy, overcoming duality (the number two), expression, manifestation and synthesis. Three is the first number to which the meaning “all” was given. It is The Triad, being the number of the whole as it contains the beginning, a middle and an end.

Years ago, I read a story I’ve never forgotten about a woman who was an example to many for great peace and serenity. Though her life had been filled with sorrow and calamity, she emanated a sense of calm in all she said and did. When asked why and how, it was once again, the number three in a mantra of three words “Wait three days.” This was her life’s philosophy for managing stress and turmoil: She shared her personal conviction that the greatest events and miracles of mankind had happened in three days: namely the Savior’s last three days (as Christ was crucified, died and arose) . She said, “In three days you know about a situation. If it’s not a problem – the matter will go away or resolve easily within that time, if it is a problem, three days are long enough to start acquiring the resources and emotional strength to deal with it.”

Rather than get upset or turn to food or other false sources of comfort, just wait three days! Brilliant!

A review from III Nephi (isn’t that interesting? THIRD Nephi!) reveals two more three-doms: The terrible storm that seemed to last indefinitely was only for three hours (III Nephi 8:19). Those who survived had no choice but to wait for three days as the darkness and endless woe surrounded them. (III Nephi 8:23)

During those three days, however, they heard the voice of the Savior! Later, they personally experienced his presence, saw the nail prints, heard his prayers and received his supplications as he advocated for them to his Father.  Though this experience may not be duplicated for us, we can still call upon him, and know that his loving care and concern for us is no different.

So!  Even as poor health choices surround us, even as the days grow longer, here’s a quick way to choose His way, the higher road to health, peace and self-mastery. You can actually do this when alone, or mentally picture yourself doing it when you’re with others. Think of it as a quiet prayer of gratitude for your body, and gratitude for the ability to make choices.

1) Raise three fingers one by one, (like a cute three year old holding up birthday fingers), and say outloud “I can do this – easy as one-two-three.”

2) Touch your heart and say a powerful three word phrase: “I choose health!”
then

3) Touch your closed lips with those three fingers and say three more words: “I choose life!” or even “No thank you!”

Then do one more thing that is a three-word action that nips extra calories in the bud and leaves them in the dust: JUST WALK AWAY. That’s all! 1) Just, 2) Walk, 3) Away !

Often we give food far more power than it really holds simply by being too close to it. Go find something else to do, or someone to talk to.

Oh, there are blessings in store, even countless multiples of the number three, as we call upon our Heavenly Father and ask him to help us 1) choose health, 2) choose life, and 3) choose self-mastery.

Just for fun, here are three easy summer recipes that are sure to please with just three steps to follow. I’ve chosen these from the kid and family friendly website
www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org that have loads of excellent recipes and information for 1) cooking, 2) shopping, and 3) making the most of these great gifts from our Heavenly Father for our health and bodies.

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini
(Serves 4)

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow bell pepper
2 tsp. fresh rosemary
2 cups zucchini, chopped
1-3 tsp. lemon juice, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a medium non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add yellow pepper and rosemary. Sauté 2 minutes
2. Add zucchini, salt and pepper. Continue to sauté for another 4-5 minutes, or until zucchini is just tender.
3. Remove from hear, stir in lemon juice. Serve.

Purple Party Parfait
Serves 6

1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
¾ to 1 cup almond milk
1 ½ cups green grapes
1 Kiwi for Garnish

1. Place blueberries, strawberries and almond milk in a blender and blend until smooth. (Start with ¾ cup of milk and add more if necessary for blender to process frozen fruit).
2. Place the grapes in a cup or bowl and spoon the blended mixture over the grapes.
3. Garnish with kiwi.

Vegetable Rainbow Wrap
Serves 4

4 large tortillas
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 carrots, shredded
½ cup corn kernel, (thawed if using frozen)
8 radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup avocado, thinly sliced
½ cup hummus

1. Spread 2 Tablespoons of hummus onto each tortilla.
2. Arrange veggies on top of the tortilla.
3. Fold in the ends and roll as tightly as possible. Then slice into pinwheels, 6 per tortilla, and eat!

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. CLICK HERE