Note from Carolyn: The herbal detox drink that is so popular here at Meridian is on sale through January 8. Get 10% off all orders! CLICK HERE to learn more. It’s perfect for getting a fresh, healthy start on your health for 2014.
It’s the first Tuesday in January! Happy New Year! And how did you do on our Triple-Dog-Dare challenge to not gain or lose weight through the Holidays? Whether you did or not take the dare, the holidays are o-v-e-r and January is here. OK, on a scale of 1-10, are you ready to take on your health for 2014? If you’re at a ten, then yay for you. If not, and it all seems “Ho-hum here we go again …” you’re not alone.
Yes, the newsstands are full of amazing stories and pictures in January. And yes, some of us can even go back to our own healthier times and seasons for inspiration. These empowerments can last for a time, but soon enough, busy days and old habits usually take us down the path of least resistance and the first week (or month) of January becomes just that, and nothing more.
While both our own past successes and others before and after stories have great value, perhaps the most sustaining answer is completely outside those boxes. Perhaps it’s something bigger than numbers on scales, pant sizes, or photos. Perhaps the power and vision we need is as intangible, but real, as the vision of eternity we see in the reflecting mirrors in the temple sealing rooms. Could it be that what we need most is to gain a testimony that to embark and on and embrace a healthy lifestyle is not so much a personal matter but a priceless gift for our eternal families that adds value, protection and joy to the present and future?
Let me explain what I mean. Years ago, a friend was in the hospital for a short stay and shared a room with a woman that was battling lung cancer. She was an unwilling witness to a heart-wrenching conversation where the woman’s husband came, and in tears, reminded his wife of the many, many times he had begged her to quit smoking, and what losing her would mean for him and their family. “Could you not have done it before now for us?” he had asked her.
In another example, my Bishop during my high school years was a fit, dapper, successful businessman with a loving heart. In his later years, there were some health challenges that he addressed in the same way he approached Church and business matters: with common sense and action. His darling wife was a different story. She was the quintessential “Mrs. Santa Claus”, who paid no heed to the scales or the doctor’s counsel about her weight. A talented cook and baker, she generously shared and personally enjoyed her many pies and cookies. Her cheery line to one and all was, “When it’s time for the Lord to call me home, I’ll go, but in the meantime, let’s eat!” Sadly, she died early in life from a stroke that caused disabilities requiring a lengthy stay in a nursing home. It was not the easy passing that she had assumed the Lord would bless her with. Her husband was a widower for years, and her three daughters and their families missed her greatly.
Would it have been any different for either of these women had they addressed their health? It’s very true that perfectly healthy non-smokers get lung cancer, along with fit people who experience debilitating strokes and fatal heart attacks. Yet, there is a blessed peace in being able to say, “I did the best I could with what I knew I needed to do. My loved ones know that.”
While I’m the first to say that we cannot take on weight management to please someone else, we can take it on to brighten their days and to prepare for the future. For the present, the loss of even a few pounds puts us in a better mood and better frame of mind mentally and socially. The energy and stamina that come from exercise and weight loss are a great blessing to every family member. For the future, there is great comfort in embracing the knowledge that exercising now will provide the agility and strength to avoid a fall or advanced osteoporosis in years to come, and/or that losing the weight now may prevent heart disease and other weight-related illnesses that require time off, hospitalization, and all the distressing complications that those situations bring that our families must deal with at the time we become afflicted.
In addition to the physical aspects of how much easier life is when you are healthy, there are the emotional and spiritual considerations that are equally obvious: Illness, disability, hospitalization all mean that we cannot attend or be present for special events and daily joys that make memories worth remembering. Coupled with the sadness and distress that illness causes the entire family, preparing for health by taking action now becomes an easy priority for even the busiest and least motivated of us!
With that in mind, here are my 5 favorite weight management tools for this first Monday in January:
1. Make a list that says, “Why I Want To Be Healthy For My Loved Ones.” Number it from 1-10 (or even 1-25!) and list the ways that a healthier you will bless them. Include short range (i.e. that we are happier and better company with the endorphins from exercise) to the long range ones, i.e, you’re preventing future falls or illnesses that require time away from them and the inconveniences and problems that it all entails. You may want to add a picture of your family to the list, and put it someplace where it will remind you of what this very special time is all about.
2. www.SparkPeople.com. This free site is one-stop shopping for motivation, recipes, accountability, tracking tools, and more. You can document your goals, priorities, choose an eating plan, and more! it will create a personalized menu, shopping list, etc. I cannot say enough about what a blessing this freebie is. It’s easy enough to ignore the ads, and the social element if they seem distracting.
3. Let sugar go. The experience I had in October, with consciously addressing it as an addiction within the context of the LDS addiction recovery program was marvelous. By the end of the month, the cravings were gone. The inclination to eat sugar constantly had vanished. Though I didn’t lose more than a pound or two that month, by the middle of December, I’d lost 4-5 pounds, my jeans were fitting better than they had in forever, and most importantly, I felt FREE. Although I did have a taste of one or two of my favorite things over the holidays, it was NOT the sugar-fest that December usually is, and the scale is the same as it was three weeks ago. For extra help on this, please read my three- article series about sugar and the LDS Addiction Recovery Program (The Sweetest Thing Parts One, Two, and Three).
4. Start exercising. The weight loss/ toning benefits are almost secondary to how effective it is for managing emotions and stress. I’ve acquired a mini-trampoline that turns out to be an exceptional (and fun!) way to exercise. We all know that physical exercise is a required fundamental built into our missionary’s schedules and that President Monson has talked about exercising and swimming laps for his physical exercise. Why should we not consider it equally essential for ourselves? If he’s got time, the rest of us have no excuse.
In addition, I will never forget a conversation I had with two women at a church-related function. As we sat and chatted, the subject of exercise came up, and one of them with a large family and at least 30 pounds to lose declared emphatically, “Oh, I know I should.
But I simply don’t have time.” The woman sitting next to her, who had worked her way through several health challenges, quietly said, “I’ve learned that I DON’T have time to NOT exercise.”
5. Include the Lord. Let the Word of Wisdom be your guide for healthy living. The Savior followed a Mediterranean diet. The foods in His diet are exactly those listed in the Word of Wisdom. (And you can choose such a plan within www.SparkPeople.com ) Ask in prayer, and He will be there to help you in becoming more disciplined and more in tune with the laws of health for the body that He created for your mortal journey. He will be there all the more when He knows of your desire to improve your health in order to bless and strengthen your family, not just for now, but for the future and the eternity you are creating, one healthy day, one healthy choice at a time.
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Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success – One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available at her website.
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 eight. They live in the Washington D.C. area where they are delighted to serve each week as the nursery leaders, and also teach Missionary Preparation for the Annandale Stake Institute program. Learn more about them and the herbal detox product they share at Meridian CLICK HERE