A Healthy Resolve: Part Three

We’ve previously discussed how to sparingly use a scale, proper dieting, and eating sweets sensibly.  For the third and final part of this mini series, read on.

haf1As winter melts into spring, there are many different ways to change up your exercise routine. After months of keeping fit indoors, why not head outside and enjoy the beauty of spring? Spring is a time of renewal, rebirth, and rejuvenation. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NKJV). Take this time to add new things to your current exercise routine. If you have been putting off your New Year’s resolution to begin exercising, allow the freshness of spring and the beauty of God’s creation to motivate you (after speaking with your doctor, of course).

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of exercise per day to reduce the risk of chronic disease, maintain a healthy weight, and to decrease the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Before exercising, talk to your doctor; during exercise, always make sure to listen to your body. Start off with just 10 minutes if that is all you can do. Gradually work your way up by increasing the length of time and intensity of your workout. Keep in mind that the faster we move, the more calories we burn. Increased effort means increased calorie usage. A heavier person will burn more calories because it takes more effort to move more weight.

Outdoor workouts

Your body needs a variety of exercise to get the most benefits. For example, after lifting 3-pound weights for six weeks, 3 pounds may not feel heavy anymore and your body is generally not as challenged. You may need to move on to 5-pound weights if you want to build muscle and continue to burn calories. Consider doing some of your weight routine outdoors. Getting outside gives your body many different opportunities for a change. Just the change in scenery can help your mind and lift your spirits. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1 NKJV). Take your exercise mat outside under that big oak tree or walk the distance of the shopping plaza to the next store instead of driving down. If you are a beginner and have no idea what moves to do, visit your local library or search on Amazon for an instructional video or an illustrated movement book to take with you wherever you go.

haf2Runners, and walkers, instead of using a treadmill, go outside and run or walk around your neighborhood. Running 5 mph (a 12-minute mile) burns around 472 calories per hour, while walking at a moderate pace (3 mph) will burn 207 calories per hour. If you do not live in a neighborhood with sidewalks, try mapping out a few paths through town. You can take many routes to keep the scenery different. There are also nature trails and city and national parks. You know your area; just do a little research to pick out the best and safest spot for you. Make sure someone knows your route, do not go into bad areas, stay alert, keep your cell phone with you, and stay in areas that have plenty of other people nearby. Being outside can offer your body something different. Hills add an element of difficulty if you are used to running or walking on a flat surface. As your endurance improves, pick routes with more hills and increase the length of time or distance that you go.

If you are not much of a running/walking sort of person, there are many other things to do outside that can offer adequate exercise. Most city parks have one or more of the following: basketball courts (472 calories burned), tennis courts (413), volleyball courts, and softball/baseball fields (295). A non-competitive volleyball game with 6–9 members burns 177 calories per hour, while a competitive game in a gymnasium burns 236 calories per hour. Take your game to a beach court, and burn 472 calories per hour. Swimming laps with light-to-moderate effort will burn around 472 calories, while swimming those laps fast and vigorously will burn 590.] Grab a few friends and head on down to the nearest court or field for a few hours of fun that will hardly seem like the same old workout. Some places even have leagues in the spring and summer months that you could join. Many national parks have hiking trails, canoeing (177-413), bike trails(472 for 12-14 mph), and rock climbing(649 to ascend and 472 rappelling) to give your body a different challenge. Make sure to pick up a map, follow the designated trails and take all safety precautions. (For more information about calorie burning activities, visit Nutrition Strategy.)

As you consider the endless possibilities of renewing your exercise routine, allow springtime to revive your relationship with God. Keep your exercise routines in the proper perspective, and do not allow yourself to neglect your responsibility for your spiritual growth. “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8 NKJV). Include time with God as you are enjoying His wonderful gift of spring.
*All calories references in parentheses are calories burned per hour of activity for a 130-pound person. Calories burned will be higher for a heavier person and lower for a lighter person.

Food of the Month: Apples

haf3Apples taste great, are easily portable, and are ready to eat. They also have many health benefits. Apples are an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber, which can improve bowel health, lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, strokes, and diabetes.

Apples come in numerous varieties, such as Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, Royal Gala, Braeburn, Jonathan, McIntosh, Cripps Pink, and many more. Check with suppliers in your local area to find out which varieties are locally popular. Each variety of apple has its own taste. They Red Delicious, Fuji, and Royal Gala taste sweet; Golden Delicious and Granny Smith are tangy; and Braeburn and Cripps Pink have a tart taste. Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith apples are good for cooking or baking. All varieties are good for eating out of hand or in salads.

Choose apples that are firm and smooth with no bruises. Always store apples in a plastic bag in a crisper or refrigerator drawer away from vegetables. (Apples can alter the taste of some vegetables if stored too closely.) Wash apples thoroughly before cutting or eating. One apple, with the skin, depending on the variety and size, can range from around 55 calories for a small (3.7oz) to 110 calories for a very large (7.5 oz.) Check nutrition information on the specific varieties available in your area. (For more information about apples, visit Dole’s website.) As you head outside to renew your workout, grab an apple and enjoy the delicious benefits.

By Sherri Houmard

A Healthy Resolve: Part Two-B

haf2Yesterday, we introduced idea of not dieting, and eating healthy amounts. Today we’re going to discuss how.

The non-diet

Be careful not to buy into the diet scheme (remember, people who create diet plans make a ton of money off the people who use their plans). Diets are generally meant to be short term in order to help a person reach their “magic” number, but once a person stops dieting, they will usually gain most, if not all, of their weight back. In order for weight loss to be permanent, a healthy lifestyle—and diet—must be maintained. Yes, weight loss is generally slower without a specific diet plan, but it is also healthier, and much more long term.

I have found that the easiest way to eat healthy is to simply get rid of junk food. Talk to your parents if you’re still living at home, and ask them to help you throw out the junk, or to at least stop buying it once it’s gone. If they’re unwilling to do this, talk to them about your favorite junk foods, and ask them to support your desire to be healthier by no longer buying your favorite treats. (If they really want to treat you to something, they can buy you nail polish or bubble bath!)

Your family could keep items such as brownie or cake mix (or make-from-scratch ingredients) in the cupboard, so you can bake if you really have a craving for something sweet. You’ll find that you’re probably much less likely to go to the work of baking something, than you would be to run to the cupboard and grab a pre-packaged cupcake or two. The extra work will make you really consider if it’s worth it, and you’ll soon find that it usually isn’t. Plus, homemade goodies give you another option – sharing! If you bake brownies, you can save a few for your family, then make a couple of plates to take to various neighbors. The same works for cookies or cakes too. You can bake a cake in two small pans instead of one large pan, and take the other pan to a working mom at your church who may not have time to make homemade treats for her family very often.

haf1If you have a craving for ice-cream, go out for a cone, or purchase a pint of ice cream instead of a half- gallon. The same goes for a candy bar – instead of buying a whole package, purchase one of the smaller bars at the checkout counter.

We tend to think about and want the things we are depriving ourselves of, so allow yourself an occasional sweet treat to curb the craving. When the urge hits to enjoy sweets, think creatively about how to enjoy them without being tempted by the extra calories for several days afterward.

If you must

If you are very overweight, and constantly struggling with your eating habits, you may need to go on a healthy diet for awhile that will help you learn how to be aware of your food. Diets such as Weight Watchers may be a good option, since they don’t cut out any of the food groups, and they teach dieters how to become conscious of their eating habits, plus the optional weekly meetings and weigh-ins help to keep each person accountable to themselves. Before beginning any diet program, however, talk to your doctor and make sure the diet plan you’re thinking of is safe for you. Remember that the main goal in dieting is not just to lose weight, but to learn to make lifestyle changes, which will help you stay healthy in the long run.

Food of the month: Roast beef

Low in carbs, and high in potassium and protein, roast beef is a great food on those cold winter nights (or any other time of year!). An entire meal centered around roast beef only takes minutes to create, and makes the house smell wonderful for hours.

To cook this meal, melt 1 tablespoon of Crisco Shortening in a pan, then brown both sides of the meat on medium.  After roast is browned, carefully pour a cup or two of cold water into the pan (meat will steam), then add peeled carrots and potatoes around and on top of the roast. Throw a sliced onion over that, add salt and pepper, then pour more water in the pan until it’s about halfway up the roast. Place in a 325 degree oven for three to four hours. The roast is done when the internal temperature is 160 degrees, or when the center is tender and no longer pink.

haf3Serve with dinner rolls and milk, and have canned peaches or fresh fruit with low-fat frozen yogurt for dessert. For the entire meal, allow 30 minutes prep time, plus four hours cooking time.

Bonus: You can turn this meal into vegetable soup! After dinner, while the food is still warm, cut up the meat, carrots, and potatoes before placing them in the fridge, along with a container of the broth (if you used the broth for gravy, you could use beef bullion cubes for the soup instead). The next evening, put the broth, meat, and any canned vegetables you want into the mix (my family likes peas and corn). Then add your favorite spices and let the soup simmer for at about 30 minutes on the stove, or as long as you’d like in a crock-pot. Serve with your favorite bread, milk, and some thawed frozen berries on the side. Allow fifteen minutes prep time for this meal, plus 30 minutes cooking time.

Coming up…

Next month, we’ll talk about healthy ways to exercise, but for now, if you’ve resolved to lose a certain amount of weight, or to diet, reconsider your resolution. Think about throwing out your scale (or at least asking your mom to hide it from you), and eating healthier foods without dieting. There are many ways to change bad habits into healthy habits without dieting or feeling deprived, so think creatively, get your family (or roommates) involved if possible, and strive to make this year a year full of healthful choices. Remember that weight should not be the goal – being healthy should be our goal. Forget about your “magic” number, because when we’re eating properly and working to be healthy, a better number on the (occasional) scale will naturally follow.

By Davonne Parks

A Healthy Resolve: Part Two-A

haf1In our quest to become healthier this year, and to encourage readers to do the same, we’re publishing a three-part series about different aspects of sensible health. Last month we discussed the un-magic numbers on the bathroom scale. This month we will talk about diets, or simply “diet.”

Before we begin, let’s take a moment to direct our focus. Jesus doesn’t condemn us by the foods we eat (Matthew 15:11), so we need to be careful not to condemn ourselves, either. Let’s remember that Christ loves us no matter what size jeans we wear! We should, however, want to take care of our bodies, because as we’re told in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we need to make sure to take care of that temple.

Just say no to diets

Now that you know that I’m against scales, you probably won’t be surprised to find that I’m also against dieting. This can also be a huge discouragement, as well as potentially very unhealthy. Many diets cut out certain food groups, which isn’t good for anyone, but especially not for young women whose bodies are still developing. In addition to the physical health risks, there are also emotional set-backs. Think about it. We start a diet, are excited for the first three days, then we see dessert. And we want it. So badly, in fact, that we eat not one, but three, slices of cake. Then what happens? We go weigh ourselves on the scale we should have thrown away, are depressed by the awful number, and go eat more cake! Then we spend the next four days gorging on junk food, just so we can start the vicious cycle over again on Monday (the “magic” diet-starting day). This is not healthy! Please keep in mind that if you do eat three slices of cake, you don’t have to gorge for the next several days (or weeks). Just recognize that you need to work on it, throw out the rest of the food to save yourself the temptation, and get back on track right away – don’t even wait until tomorrow!

Keep in mind that the first few weeks will be the most difficult when it comes to changing eating habits, so stick with it, and give your body time to adjust to healthier eating.

Too much, too little

haf2I have an idea that can be followed by anyone, no matter what your weight. Eat healthy and in moderation. Eat only when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied. Many people will eat for comfort, because they want to procrastinate on something they need to do, or because they want to keep their hands busy while watching TV. To help with self-awareness, try keeping a food journal to assist you in consciously recognizing your motives and food triggers; then learn to do something else instead of eating, such as scrap-booking or jewelry making.

On the flip side, make sure to eat enough. In a desperate attempt to reach the un-magic number on the scale, some people will stop eating enough food. They will limit the amount of food they eat each day, and learn to ignore their growling stomachs. This is also very unhealthy! A person who takes this route will lose weight to begin with, but if this regiment is continued long term, it will land him or her in the hospital or other treatment facility. Someone who starves themselves to a smaller weight will eventually have to begin eating normally again, or they will literally starve to death. When this person does begin to eat normal amounts of food, she will start gaining weight again, depressing her even more. The outcome of under-eating is never good!

To be continued

I think I’ve given you enough to think about for today, so we’ll pause here. Stay tuned, though, because tomorrow, we’ll discuss just how to be healthy without dieting!

By Davonne Parks

A Healthy Resolve: Part One

haf3Many of us may have made the resolution to be healthier this year. Several of us might have even decided on a certain number of pounds we want to lose. We may have decided to never eat desserts again, or to only eat one sweet per week (or month). Others of us may have promised ourselves that we’ll exercise for 45 minutes every single day. If those are your resolutions, I suggest changing them!

We’re told in 1 Samuel 16:7 that “…God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” While it’s important to stay healthy in order to avoid health issues, we do need to make sure to put our physical health in proper perspective. We need to make sure that we’re not focusing so much on our outward appearance that we neglect our spiritual selves.

In this three part series, we’ll discuss weighing ourselves (or not!), eating right without dieting, and the healthy way to exercise. This month, the topic of choice is the bathroom scale. While reading this article, keep in mind that since God’s not looking at our outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7), then I’m certain that he doesn’t care about a number on the bathroom scale, so we shouldn’t obsess about it either.

Scaling back

If we want to lose ten pounds in January, we have made an unhealthy and unrealistic resolution (averaging one pound per week is generally healthy and more easily maintained), and we will only feel discouraged if we don’t meet that extremely difficult goal. Some may disagree with me, but I really feel that a number on a scale should never be our goal! In fact, I often encourage people to throw their scale away. I gained 63 pounds when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I lost 72 pounds within ten months of her birth (post-pregnancy is about the only time rapid weight loss can be healthy).  I got down to nine pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. I did all of this without a magic number in my head, and without a scale on my bathroom floor, or anywhere else in my home.

haf1Scales do work for some, but a scale can often be our worst enemy when trying to become healthier, mainly because it can discourage us. If we exercise every day for a week, don’t eat any junk food or red meat, and snack only on carrot sticks without dip, we’d all expect the scale to say we weigh less, right? But if the number on the scale is the same, or (gasp!) more than it was at our last weigh-in, what happens most of the time? We become discouraged, and often comfort ourselves with sweets! This, of course, makes us gain weight, often causing us to eat more sweets to try to comfort ourselves even more.

The problem with our logic of eating less, exercising, and the scale numbers always going down is that weight fluctuates. If I weigh myself five times in a weekend, I’ll have a slightly different number on the scale each time. This is perfectly normal, but if I were on a diet and counting every ounce, I could easily become discouraged. The other flaw in this logic is that muscle weighs more than fat. In one month, you might lose two pounds of fat and gain three pounds of muscle, so even though you are healthier, look better, and feel better, the scale will tell you you’ve gained a pound!

When to weigh in

As much as I am against owning a scale, and using it often, I am, however, all for the occasional weigh-in. I get weighed at the doctor’s office, and I will also weigh myself when I’m visiting my mom (who does have a scale). These occasional weigh-ins keep me on track, and were a wonderful encouragement when I was losing my baby weight. I’d weigh myself, on average, about every six weeks, so I had no idea if I gained two pounds one week; but I did know that, overall, I was losing weight. The day-to-day weight fluctuations didn’t discourage me, because I was blissfully oblivious to them! This also works well in keeping us on track – if we weigh ourselves once every month or two, and we’ve gained five pounds, that’s a clue we need to watch our eating and exercise habits more closely until our next weigh-in.

Food of the month: Tilapia

haf2Tilapia is a mild white fish that’s native to Israel, but also raised in the United States. Low in mercury, fat, and sodium, and high in protein, tilapia is safe for pregnant women and young children, making it a healthy alternative to red meat at any family meal. This fish can be purchased fresh or frozen at most grocery stores. If you don’t usually enjoy seafood, I suggest giving this fish a try—it has only a very mild fish flavor, which can also be lessened by seasoning.

For a complete, well-balanced meal, try adding a little lemon pepper and seasoning salt to each side of the cleaned fish, and grill according to the instructions on the package (on those colder nights, try using the George Foreman, or baking the fish). The tilapia is ready once you insert a fork into the center, and the meat easily flakes off.

Once the fish is on the grill, boil some water on the stove, throw in broccoli, salt, pepper, and a small amount of butter. Boil for three to five minutes, then drain the water (you can pour the water on most plants to give them added nutrients), and place the cooked broccoli in a pretty serving dish. Add a few cheese slices on top of the broccoli, and cover to allow the cheese to melt.

Serve with whole grain rolls, a small fruit salad or whole fruit (pears are in season this month!), and a tall glass of milk, and you have a delicious, well balanced meal in minutes!

Coming up

Next month, we’ll discuss the non-diet, and healthy ways to lose weight. For now, try to forget about your magic number, consider throwing out (or at least having your mom hide) your scale, and practice gaging your health by healthy eating habits and exercise, because when we’re truly living a healthy lifestyle, a good number on the (occasional) scale will naturally follow.

By Davonne Parks

Chocolate Fitness Project

The theme for this month is “pierce my heart to give.” And I really had to ask myself what health and fitness had to do with giving. But I finally came up with an answer: time. All of you have heard of projects such as Habitat for Humanity and Big Brother/Big Sister, or their equivalents.

Spiritual Benefits

Being a Christian is more that going to church every week; it’s about living in a world of darkness but standing against it. I am not sure whether you have heard of this saying or not: we are to live in the world but not be part of it. It is a saying that I hear very often. Here is a verse that states this principle:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16).

Both the projects that I have mentioned above are ways of letting your light shine. You show your compassion and love for the world to the world. By doing something like this, you are letting your light shine, and sometimes that is enough to make someone curious. This is also an opportunity to lead someone to Christ.

Physical Benefits

Let’s move on to the physical part: EXERCISE. By participating in projects such as Habitat for Humanity, you are not only interacting with people, you are working––and while it may be fun, guess what it still is–– EXERCISE! And you thought that you were getting away without doing any. Have fun (with exercise) and show your light to the world at the same time. It also doesn’t have to be a big project like Habitat for Humanity––it could be as simple as helping clean the house or doing dishes for Mom or Dad (or someone else). I think this song by William M. Golden shows how we are to live:

1. Each day I’ll do a golden deed
By helping those who are in need;
My life on earth is but a span,
And so I’ll do the best I can.

Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done,
Where there will be no setting sun.

2. To be a child of God each day,
My light must shine along the way;
I’ll sing His praise while ages roll
And strive to help some troubled soul.


3. The only life that will endure,
Is one that’s kind and good and pure;
And so for God I’ll take my stand,
Each day I’ll lend a helping hand.


4. I’ll help someone in time of need,
And journey on with rapid speed;
I’ll help the sick and poor and weak,
And words of kindness to them speak.


5. While going down life’s weary road
I’ll try to lift some trav’ler’s load;
I’ll try to turn the night to day,
Make flowers bloom along the way.


Food of the Month: Chocolate (who knew?)

Chocolate is one of those things we don’t think of as having health benefits––I’m here to show you differently. Chocolate has many of the same benefits as dark vegetables (remember those?). DARK chocolate has been shown to have two heart-health benefits: it lowers blood pressure and it lowers cholesterol. Also:

It tastes good
It stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure
It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant
It contains theobromine, or caffeine (mmmm, being in college, caffeine is what I practically live off of) and other substances which are stimulants

Here are some chocolate tips provided courtesy of About.com Nutrition

Chocolate Tip 1 – Balance the Calories. Chocolate is high calorie! So cut some other sweets out of your diet to balance the calories, and remember you only need ~3.5 grams to get the benefits!

Chocolate Tip 2 – Taste the Chocolate. Take your time––enjoy it and let it melt in your mouth. It’s much more satisfying than eating it in two bites.

Chocolate Tip 3 – Go for Dark Chocolate. Dark chocolate has far more antioxidants than milk chocolate or white chocolate. These other two chocolates cannot make any health claims. Dark chocolate has 65 percent or higher cocoa content.

Chocolate Tip 4 – Skip the Nougat. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat (think Snickers), or other fillings. These fillings are just adding sugar and fat, which erase many of the benefits you get from eating the chocolate.

Chocolate Tip 5 – Avoid Milk. It may taste good but some research shows that washing your chocolate down with a glass of milk could prevent the antioxidants from being absorbed or used by your body.

By Megan Skinner

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How many of you have a doctor who has suggested taking a multivitamin? I do. Do you know what these vitamins and minerals do for you? Have you ever taken the time to ask yourself why they’re so special that they’re in every pharmacy? Many of these vitamins and minerals are needed by the body in trace amounts for general good health. Vitamin B6, for example, works with the proteins in your body, helps make hemoglobin, and is needed for the immune system to function properly.

Another question: How many of you are taking a multivitamin? While many of these vitamins and minerals can be found in different foods, especially fruits and vegetables (broccoli, carrots, apples, grapes, etc.), do you really know that you’re getting enough? The daily recommended values are actually the minimum needed to prevent a deficiency, so, as long as you just take what the bottle recommends, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Most, if not all, of us have access to these vitamins and minerals. We should be thankful that God has provided, in excess, for us to live comfortable and healthy lives. To find out more about multivitamins, visit the Office of Dietary Supplements.

Remember, it is up to you to take advantage of the bountiful material possessions that God has provided for us. And make sure that you never forget Who gave them to you.

Pantothenic Acid Stress, Mood
Vitamin A Immune health, skin health, Eye health
Vitamin B6 Healthy homocysteine levels, menstruation/menstrual cycles

Above are some vitamins and minerals that I thought might interest some of you. Pantothenic acid can help with stress (Who doesn’t need help with stress?), vitamin A helps with skin health (acne!), and vitamin B6 can help with your menstrual cycle (cramps, bloating, etc.). Try looking up some others to see what they can do for your health. REMEMBER: talk to your doctor first before taking anything, and don’t go overboard. While rare, overdoses can happen.

Colossians 3:16-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Food of the Month: Squash

While this food may not be the most exciting food in the world, it is very healthy for you to eat. Zucchini is part of the squash family.  Zucchini squashes are very low in calories. There are only 13 calories in a half-cup of raw zucchini. Nutritionally, zucchinis are rich in valuable antioxidants. They also contain beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium. Zucchini squash is also a good source of fiber (4 grams per cup). An adult should get about 30 grams of fiber per day in their diet. Also, one cup of zucchini has nearly as much potassium as a banana (remember them from September?). Plus it contains the valuable mineral nutrient phosphorus.  Other types of squash include Acorn Squash, Ambercup Squash, Australian Blue Squash or Queensland Blue Winter Squash, Kabocha Squash, Lumina, Orange Hokkaido Squash, and Orangetti Squash or Vegetable Spaghetti. I like the Orangetti Squash. You poke holes in it and set it in the microwave for about five minutes, then cut it open. Place it in for five more minutes and you have your spaghetti noodles. Just use a fork or knife and scrape the squash out. As you can see, there is a lot of variety, so pick one up and see if you like it. You never know until you try.

By Megan Skinner

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The following passage is from the book of Proverbs. It is about being a virtuous woman. I want you to notice that she is always busy, always doing something with her time. She’s helping others who are in need. She is healthy and confident, joyful and wise.

The Virtuous Woman

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:10-31

What’s stopping you?

Although this type of woman is one that we should all strive to be, many times we have a hard time being virtuous and joyful and productive. For many women, depression can interfere with their ability to become a Proverbs 31 woman.

According to depression.com, women are almost twice as likely to become depressed as men. The higher risk may be due partly to hormonal changes brought on by puberty, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy. It is normal to feel “depressed” occasionally; however, depression is a much more serious problem. Review the following list and consider how often you experience any or all of these thoughts or feelings.

Depression symptoms:

  • constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
  • decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies
  • loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity
  • a change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
  • a change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • restlessness or feeling slowed down
  • decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
  • feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
  • thoughts of suicide or death

Although we all tend to experience some of these feelings from time to time, for many people, these feelings and thoughts are constant and debilitating. If you think that you suffer from depression, seek help from a doctor or a therapist. Talk to a parent, friend, or school guidance counselor about it first, if that helps.

Food of the Month: Pumpkin

Pumpkins have a lot of beta-carotene, which is a form of vitamin A. According to Pumpkins and More, “current research indicates that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer and offers protection against heart disease. Beta-carotene offers protection against other diseases, as well as some degenerative aspects of aging.” So, help yourself to another slice of that pumpkin pie!

To find out more, visit Color Me Pumpkin or Pumpkins and More.

By Megan Skinner

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Fitness Study

I know many have already returned to school. If there is one thing that I remember it’s all of the homework and study assignments the teachers assigned. The harder we work, the better our grades will be.

Sports are another thing that we have to work at to be good at. We have to listen to what our coach is telling us and practice the movements correctly in order to improve. Becoming good at a sport takes a lot of perseverance.

Living a healthy life also takes time and dedication. As you get older become more independent, you will have to make the decisions about how you are going to live. You’ll have to decide what you’re going to eat, what you’re going to get at the grocery store, and how often you’ll exercise. When you leave home, how you live is going to be in your hands––will you be prepared or not?

Can you think of another thing that takes time and dedication? I can––being a Christian. There are 24 hours a day and seven days a week (168 hours in a week). How much of that do you spend studying or even reading your Bible? Ten or fifteen minutes a day (one hour and ten minutes to one hour and 45 minutes a week)? And how much of the rest of the day is spent doing homework, practicing for sports, at a job, sleeping, shopping, watching TV, eating, or exercising? How important is God to you? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16-17). When God is the most important part of our lives, the amount of time we spend in study and worship will reflect that.

While reading isn’t the same thing as studying, it is a good place to start. There are several things that you can do. Read or listen to the Bible while you exercise. Most treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical machines have a place for you to set a book while you exercise–– take your Bible. Or take your CD player outside with you and listen to the Bible on CD. I often listen to it while driving. You can also bring a Bible with you wherever you go, in your purse or backpack, to read when you are waiting for an appointment or for a friend to meet you.

You can also start a memorization program during breakfast––memorize a few verses every day. Or, if you have a question about something, write it down and later see if you can find an answer for it.  Strategies for success offers some good tips for memorization, such as these:

  • rewrite and organize notes
    • include any questions you have about a verse
  • create index cards on key terms or definitions. Example:
    • LOVE has many different meanings in Greek, and are separated into different words, unlike the one word that we use (Vine’s dictionary)
      • Agape – expresses the deep and constant “love”
      • Phileo – “tender affection”
      • Philanthropia – “love for man” “kindness”
      • Philarguria, “love of money”
      • review and recite notes frequently

      Developing these habits for Bible study may also help us when it’s time to study for school.


    • Study habits matter
    • What you practice matters
    • If you want to be a genuine Christian in God’s eyes you need to know what’s in the Bible so you can put it into practice!

Time for Breakfast

I suggest breakfast as a good time to sit down and work on memorizing verses or passages in the Bible because breakfast is an important meal and this will encourage you to sit down and eat it. Research has shown that people who eat breakfast, on average, weigh less than those who don’t. By skipping breakfast, your metabolic rate slows down and your blood sugar drops. As a result, you become hungry and have less energy. This sets you up to impulsively snack in the morning––often on high-fat sweets––or to eat extra servings or bigger portions at lunch or dinner.

Eating breakfast is important, but it’s equally important that it’s a healthy breakfast. Breakfast choices are endless, but whole-grain cereals top the list as the best choice for weight control and improving health. A Harvard study found that participants who ate whole-grain cereal every day were 17 percent less likely to die over the next several years from any cause, and 20 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, than those who “rarely or never” ate whole-grain cereals. Look for cereals that list whole grain or bran as their first ingredient and contain at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Bran cereal and oatmeal contain at least 7 grams per serving, or about 25 percent of the recommended daily intake. (I like the bran cereal mixed with nonfat yogurt!) To learn more, visit Meals Matter or Mayo Clinic.

Food of the Month: Bananas

Bananas are rich in vitamin B6 and are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium. Lack of B6 in a diet can cause weakness, irritability, and insomnia. The potassium found in bananas helps to regulate blood pressure and may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Potassium is also essential for helping muscles to contract properly during exercise and reduces cramping. A medium-sized banana provides 400 mg of potassium––11 percent of the daily value––and contains 110 calories and 4 grams of fiber.

By Megan Skinner

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Cafeteria Food: Friend of Foe?

While schools are supposed to provide well-balanced meals, the question is whether or not they are actually healthy. I remember having fries with my pizza or burgers, while the soda machines were calling my name. Salads were also provided, but they were usually pitifully small side salads. I remember Ranch, French, and Italian dressings, and I remember dumping a lot on my salad. In today’s schools, you don’t have to do much to stand out at lunchtime—all you have to do is eat a healthy lunch.

Even though avoiding the greasy food is a good start, it isn’t enough to assume that just because a food sounds healthy, it is. What really gets me today is that many people seem to think a salad is healthy, but they may be fooling themselves. Lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli are all healthy choices on your salad. But when you add bacon, croutons, and salad dressing, everything changes. A normal serving of dressing is usually 2 TBSP, but most of us end up putting two or three times that on our salads. Take, for example, Hidden Valley Ranch – the original, light, and fat-free versions. Just by looking at the nutrition facts, you can see the difference. If you’re adding more than 2 TBSP to your salad, the calories can really add up. It’s not just what you eat that you have to watch, it’s also how much you eat. If you’re not sure how much 2 TBSP is, measure it out.

Based on the above chart, if you were to eat a salad with the usual amount of dressing (which is typically 2 or 3 times the serving size), you would be consuming up to 420 calories—just from the dressing on your “healthy” salad!

By simply switching to the light or fat-free versions of salad dressings, you can save yourself a lot of calories. But if you don’t like these versions, there is something else you can do. Have your salad dressing on the side and dip the salad into it; you’ll use a lot less that way. You could also try out much healthier dressings like vinaigrette’s or olive oils. If you have any questions about the nutrition facts of something, you can look it up.

Another major calorie trap is the soda and snack machines placed throughout the building. Schools have these machines for one reason– they make money. The net gross profit of a soda machine is $4,082, and $3,276 for a snack machine.

These machines don’t usually provide healthy choices because the companies wouldn’t make as much money but there is a big difference between the sugar and calories in a regular soda and a diet soda. This chart compares a regular Sprite and a low-cal Sprite Zero:

The easiest way to compare two food choices is too look at the nutrition facts. Manufacturers are required to have a nutrition label on their food products.

Your best bet is to ignore the percent daily values – they provide an idea about how much you eat of a particular nutrient, but unless you are eating ~2000 calories a day, your percent daily values will be slightly different. What you really need to pay attention to is the serving size. The serving size refers to how big the portion is that the manufacturer is providing the nutrition facts for. Often there is also a “servings” category that tells you how many of the serving-size portion there is in the package or container.

For every unhealthy food that you eat, there are likely to be other equally nutritious foods that will satisfy your hunger, and craving, with fewer calories. A good goal is to gradually change your diet to include more nutritious and filling foods and less unhealthy and unsatisfying foods. Make a statement at your school by teaching your friends about taking care of your body, the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19).

By Megan Skinner

Healthy Habits

Getting Started

Your physical health is important, just as your spiritual health is important. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (III John 2).

Losing weight can be a long and laborious process. Losing one to two pounds a week is a healthy way to lose weight. There are several things that you can do for yourself to help this process along. One of the best ways to keep yourself from cheating is to keep a food and exercise log. Write down everything that you eat, and the exercise you do. This can be time consuming, but there is no better way to realize that in the boredom of the day, you ate a third of a pack of Oreos.

For the first week that you keep your log, I want you to do something else as well. I want you to write down why you ate what you did. Were you bored, stressed, depressed, hungry, not yet full, watching TV, or is it just habit? Understanding why you eat is part of the key to losing weight. For example, I eat when I manage to convince myself that there’s absolutely nothing to do, even when I have homework from every class and just don’t want to do it. I have to watch when that happens, or I end up eating half a bag of pretzel sticks.

Another thing you can do is increase your physical activity level. When I first started to lose weight, all I did was increase my activity – I didn’t change what I ate, when I ate, or how much I ate, and I still lost weight. One of the main reasons I kept that up was the compliments – people around campus began noticing that I had lost weight and were complimenting me! Forming a support group is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Having someone there helping you when you don’t want to get up and exercise, encouraging you, and helping you through the setbacks can mean the difference between sticking with your plan and not. Tip: If you’re one of those people who likes to walk, jog, run, ride a bike, etc. outside, be careful. Don’t take the same route everyday at the same time – it creates a pattern that predators could take advantage of. Exercise with a friend or two, or exercise where there are always people around.

Another way to lose weight is to watch your portion size. Almost all restaurants provide larger portions than the recommended size. Most of the time I end taking part of my meal home to have as another meal. Tip: It takes about 20 minutes to fill up, regardless of how much you eat in that time. Eat slowly and drink water – you’ll fill up just as fast and on fewer calories!

Snacks are where I tend to struggle the most. I have to watch carefully, because if I don’t, I end up eating too much. I also tend to overeat when watching movies – buttery popcorn and soft drinks! But there are several things you can do to curb overeating urges and channel them into something else.

  • Change your surroundings – get out of the kitchen and away from the refrigerator and pantry. This can change your mood and keep you away from temptation.

  • Take five minutes – doing something—walking, skating, breathing exercise, playing an instrument, etc.—that isn’t related to what you were doing can have a positive effect.

  • Fake out your mouth – try eating something healthy that is opposite of what you are craving – if you want something sweet, have something that isn’t (ex. pickle or pepper instead of a cookie) – and see what happens.

  • Reward yourself – treat yourself to a relaxing activity you normally wouldn’t do: a warm bath, a movie marathon, or uninterrupted reading of Christian magazines.

  • Get physical – exercise!!! The endorphins released can offset your cravings (they make you feel happy!).

  • Sit with your feelings – rather than stuffing negative or uncomfortable emotions like fear and anger by stuffing your mouth, try “being” with those feelings for five to ten minutes – write it down and try to sort it out. If you can understand what kind of moods make you crave snacks, you can learn to recognize them and take control of your cravings.

The interesting thing about these exercises is that most overeating triggers only last 15 minutes – if you can outwait them, or outwit them, you can beat them. You’ll be amazed (and happily surprised) at how different you’ll feel later. You can find all of this and more on the AOL Health. Each of us has the freedom to stand out and make a difference. Remember that applies to every area of our lives – including our health!!

Look at these two pictures and decide which one is a better example for you to follow. I can give you some tools to help you along the way, but you must decide how you are going to live your life.

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).

Food of the Month: Corn

Corn is a good source of vitamin B, which supports heart health. It’s also rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, which can reduce your risk of getting lung cancer by as much as 27 percent. (Other sources of beta-cryptoxanthin include pumpkin, papaya, red bell peppers, tangerines, oranges, and peaches.) Thiamin supports memory – it can reduce your risk of age-related impairment in mental function (senility) and Alzheimer’s disease. The fiber has been shown to reduce your risk of colon cancer.

If you’re watching your weight or your blood sugar levels, choose blue corn chips and tortillas. Corn comes in a rainbow of colors, including violet, blue, and black. Darker varieties contain greater quantities of antioxidant pigments called anthocyanins. Blue corn tortillas contain about 20 percent more protein and 8 percent less starch, giving them a lower glycemic index than the more common version made with white corn. Plus, blue corn tortillas have a softer texture and sweeter flavor than those made with white corn. To find out more about corn and other healthy foods, visit WHFoods.

By Megan Skinner

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