Friday, December 21, 2012

‘Tis the Season to be Covered in Flour

When baking my Christmas goodies, sometimes I find myself in a pickle.  Either I ran out of some ingredient or I don’t have the right tools.  But I never go down without a fight.  I hunt for a substitute and make do with what I have.  Sometimes, to my surprise, it works out okay.  And, sometimes, well, I call it the “error” of the “trial and error”.  I then make note in my lovely recipe journal that the experiment did NOT work, and do NOT do that again!

I really do love baking because it is an artistic outlet for me.  Baking or cooking is an art form if you let it.  I can be creative and unique once I get the basics down.  In some cases, my result would qualify for an “ain’t nobody got time for that” meme.
No, I didn't make mini donuts...yet.

Believe it or not, cookies are a very delicate treat.  I had no background whatsoever in the baked good department because my mother, bless her heart, did not love to bake.  I remember the first time I discovered the glory of the oven timer.  What a useful invention!

I usually have no problem keeping flour, sugar, eggs, baking soda, and salt in the house.  However, I really believe tiny elves sneak into our fridge at night and eat all our butter or take it to the Kleebler factory.  I don’t know how many times I’ve mixed cookie batter and then realized there was no butter anywhere in our solar system.  Since I am too shy to knock on a neighbor’s door, I rummage through the cupboards until I find an acceptable alternative.

Obviously, using different substances will render different outcomes.  I don’t know if it is legit or not, but I general follow this made-up rule of thumb.  How the ingredient holds up at room temperature will give me a clue to how my cookies will turn out.

In a butter crisis, I am faced with using a few of the following options instead: Vegetable oil spread, margarine, shortening, olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, coconut oil…hmmm…that’s all I can think of for now.

Let me give you an example.  So at room temperature, vegetable oil is liquid-y.  If I would use vegetable oil instead of butter, my cookies would be too runny when I baked them and would just flatten out on the cookie sheet.

Option B, at room temperature, margarine is still pretty soft and melt-y as well so I probably wouldn’t use that either.  According to my made-up rule, my next best option for cookie baking is shortening.  It holds up well at room temperature and in the oven.  I have never tried making cookies with coconut oil.  But maybe that is because I’ve never bought it.  And I won’t use canola oil either.  Everybody knows that, if you use canola oil, you will make a cannoli.

Sometimes, you can relate your life to making cookies.  What is that definition of insanity?  I believe Albert Einstein said it.  “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I can’t expect to just “keep practicing” the same way over and over again and then I would become the next America’s Got Iron Chef or whatever.  I have to experiment using different ingredients and different methods.  And.......not be afraid to fail.  The “error” in the “trial and error” doesn’t always turn out that bad, just ask my husband.

If something in my life just isn’t working out, maybe it is time to take a step back and look at the ingredients.  What is it that I am doing to get this outcome?  Is there something different that I could try?  Do I need to get advice from a master?  What can I learn not to do next time?

Good luck with your Christmas baking and cooking!  I hope you are lucky enough to get to try one of my creations.  Or is that, lucky enough to NOT have to try it?  Don’t answer that question.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Survival Kit

{Photo courtesy of here}
On Christmas morning, it is nice to have batteries and a screw driver handy.  My dad has learned that “some assembly required” is always a severe understatement.  There is a hilarious scene in a really hilarious movie, “Yours, Mine, and Ours”, when the father of the family stays up all night on Christmas Eve trying to assemble a child’s bike.  Of course, the situation is exaggerated, but most people can relate and you still get the point.  My favorite part in that movie is when the one kid wakes up on Christmas morning and screams through the house, “Santa Claus has been here! Santa Claus has been here!”  I love it!  Maybe I love it because it reminds me of my own family's stampede to the Christmas tree.  Anyway, I digress…

There is a tool box in the garage to help me fix things that break.  There is a kit in our car with jumper cables and tools to help fix a flat tire.  We have a few basic medical supplies in our bathroom cupboard like band aids, peroxide, and antibiotic ointment to soothe minor injuries.

Well…in keeping with the consistency, I also have a tool box for my life.  Even though they can't be seen, some area of my life also require maintenance to keep me working in tip top shape.  The major repairs, obviously, need to be taken care of by a professional.  However, there is a lot that I can do to help myself have a nourishing life where I am right now.
The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for me and for other people who are struggling with depression and/or eating disorders.  It is good to be aware of how you can help yourself and what you can do to get additional support during this festive time.
My tools are not completely tangible in and of themselves.  I keep reminder items with me to help me remember what my tools are.  I keep these items in my purse or pocket.  When my anxiety level is high, reading things off of a list doesn’t always help.  Sometimes, I just can’t seem to register what it is that I am reading.  Instead of words on a piece of paper, I use visual aids to help me return to a state of peace and calm.

My Holiday Survival Kit:
Gum – Recent studies have shown that chewing gum has been proven to help reduce your cortisol levels (your fight or flight hormone).  Gum gives me something to do when I am nervous and it also reminds me to try and let go of the stress.  See here for the stats on the report.
Soft piece of fabric – (felt, cotton, silk, or whatever) It’s a reminder to be gentle and kind to myself and it is also soothing to my sense of touch (I don't have a lucky furry rabbits foot, because I think that is creepy and would give me nightmares. But if it works for you, hey, why not?)
Hot Chocolate Packet – (or Tea, or Coffee, or whatever hot soothing beverage you prefer) I actually use this one in order to warm up after being out in the cold and to take some time to sit and adjust to my surroundings (especially if I am having a difficult time transitioning to a different environment)
Breathe right strip – to remind myself to BREATHE!
Eraser – It is OKAY to make mistakes.
Watch – Most of the time I don't wear it, but when I see it in my purse it is a good reminder to take time for myself, to slow down, and also to help me determine when it’s time to go.

Other tips to use to help in difficult situations:
Plan – Before you go somewhere, create a plan, an eating plan, an escape plan, and a decision plan.  If you know what you are getting into before you go, it will be easier cope.
Wingman – Talk to a trusted friend and make sure they know what is going on with you before hand.  That way, they can help you if need be.  You can also make up signals for each other to use so you can communicate without having to let everyone else know what's going on.
Be Comfortable – Place yourself next to people who make you comfortable, sit in comfy spots, dress in comfortable clothes.  You would be amazed at how much anxiety you can alleviate by taking off your heals, sitting on a couch, and taking a deep breath.

If you want some more great advice see the following post:
If you need some extra support during the holidays, especially if you struggle with disordered eating in any way, shape, or form, read the following articles:

Take Care!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fake it ‘till You Make it

{Photo courtesy of here}
I wish I had a fix for every broken heart.  I wish I had a solution for every problem.  I wish I had an answer for every question.  But I don’t.

Sometimes, life is downright dreadful.

But there is always hope, hope for others and hope for yourself.  There is always forgiveness, for others and yourself.

One thing I have learned is that each moment (not just once each day) I am faced with a choice.  I have to choose to eat like a normal person.  I have to choose to be thankful for what I am given.  I have to choose to take care of myself.  I have to choose to tell myself that I am beautiful and worthy when I look in the mirror.

I have to choose to do what I believe is right even if it doesn’t “feel” good.  Most of the time, I feel like a lazy, fat failure who can’t do anything right.  But just because I “feel” that way doesn’t mean that those thoughts should dictate my actions.  Eventually, I hope my choices will come from my heart and it will become more second nature.

But, until then, I live by a phrase you’ve probably heard before, “Fake it ‘till you make it”.

If you are sitting here right now and you don’t feel like smiling, just fake a smile and keep it there until it becomes real...keep trying...don't stop smiling...think of a joke, funny story, something!  How about "knock, knock" who's there? Me!  Okay...that wasn't funny.  How about this...
Nine times out of ten it will work.

However, it doesn’t always work.  And, well, sometimes you don’t have to change how you feel.  If I had tried this practice last Friday, it wouldn’t have worked.  I didn’t want to try to change my sadness, though.  I wanted to mourn the loss of the innocent lives.  It is the same when I think about all the aborted babies and poor mothers who have had abortions.  I let myself feel sad for these reasons because it inspires me to pray and to do whatever I can to help.

My amazing husband has a very good analogy for coping with life during difficult times.  Have you ever put together a 1000 piece puzzle of a landscape?  If you have, then you know the sky can be very frustrating to figure out.  All the pieces look the same and you can’t tell where they go just by looking at them.  Often times, the sky pieces don’t make sense until the end.  And when the whole puzzle is completely finished, then the whole picture becomes clear.  Just so, sometimes things happen in our lives that look an awful lot like a sky puzzle piece.  We can’t tell what it is or what purpose it has.  We cannot understand it by itself.  And we probably won’t be able to make sense of it until much much later.  It is hard to remember that it will be a beautiful picture in the end, more beautiful than we can even imagine.

Take care.

Friday, December 14, 2012

#371 Seeing Your Grandparents Hold Hands

{Photo courtesy of}
I visited my grandparent’s the other day.  It is always a treat when the conversation goes beyond the superficial to deeper and more personal subjects.  I love hearing my grandpa talk about the old days.  Both of them have lived through, possibly, the most changes the world has ever seen within one single century.  They were watching when the first man stepped on the moon.  They heard Martin Luther King give his speech.  They read about the birth of the first test tube baby.  They lived with the effects of the Great Depression and suffered through hardships I can’t even imagine.  Where were they when Pearl Harbor was attacked?  What were they doing when the U.S. dropped the bomb? When did they find out about the Holocaust?  They saw the world shrink with the explosion of the mass media, information technology, and communication devises.  Transportation, television, medicine, frozen foods…the list of inventions goes on and on.  It is incredible to hear how all those changes affected their lives in a personal way.  I could spend hours listening to their stories.

My grandma and grandpa are going to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this spring.  (This will be their 60th Christmas spent together!)  I think they are an amazing example to all their children and grandchildren.  I was telling my grandpa that we should celebrate their great accomplishment.
“That is so great that you have been together for these 60 years.” I said, “Wow, 60 years…”
My grandpa humbly replied, “Well, we’re still working at it.”

Caught speechless again…

I know why they are still together.  They never stopped working at it.  Even after 60 years, they are still choosing to love each other every day.  There is no such thing as cruise control in marriage.

What a great lesson.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cosmopolitan Comparing of Cosmic Proportions

{Photo courtesy of here}

I am extremely guilty of comparing myself to other people, especially when it comes to looks.  I think that most women look at all sorts of physical traits in other women and try to compare themselves on a level playing field.  Appearance isn’t the only thing that we compare.  We also can compare our achievements, houses, cars, possessions, jobs, lifestyles, family, etc. 

I know when I am unjustly comparing myself to someone else because my reaction fits into one of the following three categories.  I call them the three D’s: Defensive, Depressed, or Determined.

Comparing is okay when it inspires and encourages us to do something good, like volunteering at the soup kitchen or something.

Comparing is NOT okay when it discourages us and debilitates us from doing anything productive at all.

The difference is in what we believe about ourselves.  Comparing is dangerous when we believe that we are not good enough the way we are.

Women’s magazines are a perfect example of unjust comparing.  First of all, just looking at the pictures in those things will cause you to pull out your yard stick.  Second, the articles in those magazines are only about how to better oneself.  They operate under the pretense that women are hopelessly flawed and need to spend hours of time and energy making themselves worthy.  Just about every single article in women’s magazines (like Cosmo, Glamour, Marie Claire, Vogue, or Self) tell you how to live.  They want us to think that we need to read their magazines.  It is not for our entertainment or enjoyment.  These magazines are offering must read secrets that you can’t live without.

My favorite body image blogger, Margarita from Weightless, recently interviewed Jennifer Nelson, the author of AirbrushedNation: The Lure and Loathing of Women’s Magazines.

I found this piece extremely enlightening.  Jennifer used to write for women’s magazines for many years.  She has seen the other side and wants to get the word out about how dangerous these magazines really are.  She writes:

“I’d have to say what was most surprising was how I hadn’t really noticed that every topic was approached from this ‘women aren’t good enough as is’ mantra. From relationship pieces to sex tips to dieting, beauty, aging, even health stories—their premise across the board is that women need to fix something about themselves, hell everything about themselves. The women’s magazines call this “service” or advice. But the truth is that men’s magazines don’t take this approach with article content. There, men are treated as though they are already perfect as they are and they’re offered content to inspire, humor, inform or entertain them, rather than improve every aspect of their lives.”

Jennifer, I could not agree more.  When I used to take a flight somewhere, I would get a magazine because I thought it would be relaxing, low-key, and easy to read on the plane.  However, by the time I got to the baggage claim, I was aware of my poor style, awkward make-up, masculine gait, extra pounds, flabby arms, and oh yeah, un-matching luggage too.  Why did I keep reading those stupid magazines?  I HIGHLY recommend you to read the rest of Margarita and Jennifer’s interview.  You can find it here.  Jennifer also has a blog called Airbrushed Nation and it is also packed with awesome information.

Here’s a dramatic example of how my life is negatively affected by our culture’s perception of beauty.  When I see a really thin woman, like a runway model, or just someone really thin, I automatically start comparing and contrasting myself to her.  I have been brainwashed by society via magazines and other media outlets that this look is the most attractive of all.  If someone else comments on this same person’s looks, then the effect on me is even worse because it affirms my suspicions.

One time, my husband made a comment about a lady in a movie.  He said, at least two or three times, that she had an incredibly tiny waist.  What I hear is, “Wow, that woman is so attractive because she is so thin.  I wish you looked like that!”  I know this is absurd.  And my husband would agree with me that this is not what he meant when he made the comment.  I recognize that my reaction is a result of the years of brainwashing I’ve endured.

Remember those three D’s?  This guideline is how I can tell I am being ridiculous and need to get real.

First, I could become Defensive.  I defend how I look or I defend what I am doing, whatever it is that I am comparing.  Sometimes, I do this by using humor.  But most of the time, I will say something negative about the other person, like, “well, she has a weird nose”…I don’t know…something to take the attention off of what I am coveting.

Second, I could become Depressed.  I could internalize the comment and sulk about how I don’t look.  I would be sad that I can’t look like that person.

Third, I might become Determined.  I might set my mind to the goal of becoming like that person.  I react stubbornly and try to stick to an exercise routine and restrictive eating plan so that I can become as thin as the women in question.

All three of these reactions are D-U-M-B, dumb. But recognizing that I am reacting to something even more dumb helps me stay grounded.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Recognize what makes you feel inferior.  Recognize what you are consenting to and find out where it came from.  This experience will be truly enlightening for you, I promise!

Challenge of the Day: Stay away from Women’s Magazines!

Good Luck and until next time, Take care, YOU!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Appearance Smearance

Christmas is the time of year when we like to be with the ones we love.  If you ever spent a Christmas away from home, then you know it can be very sad and lonely.  I hope everyone who reads this will be able to be with, at least, one person whom they love and cherish.

My immediate family makes it a point to get together on Christmas day.  We all live relatively close by and we are all still young and able.  I am sure I will be seeing extended family, friends, and in-laws sometime around that day as well.

When my family gets together, 9 times out of 10, the first thing we talk about is appearance.  “You look great!”  Or, “I love your shirt!”  And, “You hair looks so pretty!”

Well, to break it down, appearance is what we see first.  So, it is natural that we notice.  However, it doesn’t have to be the first thing we talk about.

When I am getting ready for a party, I have found that I no longer dress myself.  I wear what I think other people will compliment.  I do not wear what I like or what is comfortable for me.  I feel pressured to put on clothes that will get attention.  Not in a bad or immodest way, but a fashionable way, I guess.  Since appearance is what we traditionally talk about, I want to be a part of the conversation.  I want to be accepted.  I want to feel like I belong.

The truth is, I don’t like clothes.  I would wear a sweatshirt and jeans every day of my life.  I have nothing against fashion, it’s just not me.  I recognize that it is not my personality to be a fashionista.

So, when it comes to getting ready for an event, I am trying to be someone I am not.

I am pretty sure my family would still love me even if I dressed like a bum.

What I am not sure of is whether or not my family is falling victim to the brainwashing of society; the focusing too much on appearance.
I don’t need to change the way I dress to please other people.  Just as true, you don't need to change ANYTHING about yourself to be lifestyle, your job, your weight, your hobbies, your beliefs.  You are beautiful.  You are strong.  You are deserving.  You are good enough the way you are.
And I am good enough the way I am.

Just because it might be the first thing people talk about, appearance is not the first thing on the priority list.

If you want some insight on this subject, just look at little kids.  Kids already understand that adults are a little too obsessed with looks.  Kids don’t like to be around those relatives that pinch their checks and talk about how big they are getting.  They understand they are more than what they look like.  And they are easily annoyed by people who talk to them about it.  All they want to do is just go down stairs and play with playmobile or constructs...

I’ve found that I haven’t grown up too much.  I still get nervous and annoyed around people who are constantly talking about appearance.  I still feel more comfortable playing "mother may I?" with the kiddos.
I know I’ve said this before, but, before the holiday parties this year, I am going to think of some other topics to talk about.

Some of my ideas are:
The weather (an oldie by a goodie)
Or the state of the roads (bahhahahaha)
The marathon I ran in October
Pope Benedict’s most recent encyclical Charity in Truth
Basketball (Love you, HusbandJ)
Questions about school, life, work, etc.

Do you have any ideas?
Instead of commenting on each other's outward appearance first, let's talk about more important things.  If we practice doing this, I believe we will all begin to feel more loved.  We will be able to lift each other up.  And we will be able to look in our own hearts and minds and find beauty that is deeper than what is seen on the outside.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Three Out of Four

{Photo courtesy of here}
Let’s face it.  We have a lot in common.
The more I talk, write, and research about women and their relationship with food, the more I discover that many other people struggle just like me.  For years and years, I thought I was alone in my problems.

Oh, how wrong I was!

According to recent studies, three out of four American women have disordered eating behavior, and 10% of all American women have a diagnosable eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder.  (Information provided by Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D.,in the UNC School of Medicine’s department of psychiatry and director of theUNC Eating Disorders Program via Psych Central by Rick Nauert, Ph. D.)

There is a lot of helpful information out there.  Many people have struggled with disordered eating and many people have written about how they deal with it.  You can read about those who have recovered and those who are still on the path to recovery.

We have a lot to share with each other and a lot to learn from each other.

It is time we started talking about this issue.

Even if you have a healthy relationship with food, odds are someone you know is struggling.  I think it is important to, at least, inform yourself about the issue.

We need to become aware of society’s obsession with weight.  Becoming aware is the first step in change the culture of self-hate.  Our society is breeding generations of girls who are growing up and learning to hate their own bodies.

One thing we can do right now: We can learn how to love our own bodies and be an example to those around us, especially the young people.  We owe it to ourselves, our friends, our families, and our children.

It makes me so sad to see how mixed up our culture is about weight and weight loss.  Today on Good Morning America, a nine year old girl and her parents were interviewed.  The girl had lost 66 pounds in a year.  She was being praised and encouraged by her parents and the interviewer for achieving this goal.  The headline read, “Fifth grader’s stunning weight loss: Drops 66 pounds the natural way.”  I cannot even begin to count how many ways this is so wrong.

For starters, the girl, Breanna, was praised and complimented for how she looks now.  They “oooo’d and ahhhh’d” over her transformation.  She was obviously receiving more positive attention since she lost weight.  To a nine year old girl who is just beginning to find her place in the world, more attention equals self-affirmation.  There was no mention of how she was still beautiful before she lost the weight.  There was no mention of how looks are not the most important thing.  There was no mention that she doesn’t need to change the way she looks to deserve respect.
I am afraid for Breanna and for her body image she will have for the rest of her life.  She has lived on this earth for a short nine years and in those few years she has learned one thing: if I am thin, than I will be happy.  She will, most likely, tie her self-worth to how she looks for the rest of her life.

Another thing that struck me was that her parents were concerned about her weight gain as a baby!  A baby!  Quote from Yahoo News, “Breanna's weight gain began when she was a baby”.  Duh!  All babies are supposed to gain weight.  And all children are different and have different needs.  Her parents were concerned from the get-go.  I can’t help but wonder if there were issues with food in the family before the poor girl was even born.

I also had a problem with her parents encouraging her to exercise everyday. This is a direct quote from her mom in talking about exercise: “There was nothing that stopped us,” she said.  “We went at night, in the rain, in the hail, in the fog, nothing. We had a zero-tolerance policy. We're doing the walk, no matter what.”  This exercise philosophy is flat-out terrible and even quite dangerous.  If you are not working with the weather, then are you even working with your own body?  So, what we need to teach our children is that exercise is the single most important thing.  More important than health, happiness, love, life, faith, family, etc.  You don’t even go to school come hell or high water.  So exercise is more important than school?

Her parents are also teaching her to monitor her fat gram intake and to limit it to a small amount a day.  First, of all, children need different nutrients than adults.  Second, the vigilant fat counting can be detrimental to the psyche and may result in an obsession.  Third, we get our energy source from healthy fats and need fat in order for our brain to function properly.  Our society just hates the word, "fat".  Recent studies show:

“The link between saturated fat and heart disease doesn't exist; people who go on diets high in saturated fat lose weight; and humans and our ancestors have been eating animal fat for millions of years. Our bodies have no problem utilizing fat for energy, and even prefer it as an energy source." (Read full articles here and here.)

We are not done learning about the complexity of the human body.  What dieticians have label true 20 years ago are not true today and may still be different in the next 20 years.
The main thing I have a problem with is that there is no mention of moderation.
Annnnnnnd....There is no mention unconditional love.

There is nothing “natural” about this weight loss program.

I understand that this girl was in danger of health risks.  And I understand that we don’t get the whole story from a brief morning show episode.  And to clarify, I do not think that losing weight in and of itself is bad.  However, this highlight was an example of the media distortions.  This presentation reflects what our society believes as a whole.  This story is an example of how messed up our culture is when it comes to body image.  It is just another example of the existence of the culture of self-hate.  Unfortunately, this girl, Breanna, is still at risk for health problems even now, and she is even more at risk for developing an eating disorder and negative body image.

Breanna’s mom commented during the interview that, “She is an inspiration to the world and all children who are having weight issues across America, that you can do it with a pair of tennis shoes and motivation.”  Weight issues.  This statement is so false because not everyone can or should lose weight.  Weight is NOT an issue!  Negative body image is an issue.  Low self-esteem is an issue.  Bullying is an issue.  Disordered eating is an issue.  T.V. is an issue.  The media is an issue.  Weight is NOT an issue.

It just really boils my blood.

If you want to read the full Yahoo article, you can find it here.
You may want to argue with me on these points.  I would love to hear what you think.  The topics I write about are always open for discussion.  Please feel free to comment or message me!
Until next time, take care, YOU!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fear of the Feast

{Photo courtesy of}
I used to dread the holidays because of all the food I would have to face.  I feared the feast.  I feared the abundance of food, the awkward dinner conversations, the comments from family and friends, and what I would say in return.

I used to love to sit at the kids table.  They didn’t like their food touching either, they didn’t have to finish the food on their plate, and no one ever talked about “this being so high in calories” or “that is not going to help me lose weight”.

At some point, unfortunately, all kids will graduate to the adult table.  And at some point, unfortunately, they will begin to be exposed to the crazy ways of the adult world.

We would be less crazy if we changed just one thing…if we got rid of the “diet”.

After I graduated from the kids table, I started to have an unhealthy relationship with food.  I believed that food was the enemy.  I believed that food was evil.  I believed, if I ate “bad” food, I had weak willpower and was, therefore, a failure at life.  I believed that I had to “diet”.

The holidays are a particularly difficult when you think this way because, generally, the gatherings are centered around food.

For days, or even weeks, in advance I would diet and restrict my eating because I knew I would have to eat “bad” food.  Each year, it got more and more difficult to hide my food insecurities.  And each year, my anxiety grew stronger and I began to feel debilitated.  After the holidays, it was even worse.  I would act like a crazy person to make up for all my eating sins.  It would be weeks, or months, until I felt a little better about myself.

Sometimes, if I knew I had to face a feast, I would make excuses to skip it.  Even if I already felt fat because of the way I was eating, I would skip out on parties and such.  What I ate and how I felt about my appearance ruled where and when I could have fun and be social.  Food could make or break my day…week…life…

This is what happens when dieting is a priority.  Can you relate, even a little?

I hate to break it to you, but, guess what?  Dieting IS disordered eating.

You might still think that it is okay for you to diet.  You might still think that it is okay for you to try to lose weight.

Here’s the deal.  We need to eat EVERY DAY to nourish our body, mind, and soul.  EVERY DAY.  Actually, THREE times a day or more.  Three. Times. Every. Day.

So, three times a day we are faced with the decision to choose to diet or not.  In reality, we are choosing between either (1) loving and respecting our bodies, or (2) hating and trying to change our bodies.  If you choose to diet, then you are saying that you hate yourself for the way you are right now.  If you choose to diet then three times, or more, every day you remind yourself that you hate the way you look and you want to change.  Imagine if a bully came up to your daughter three times a day and called her fat, lazy, stupid, weak, and ugly?  Oh Holy Cow, would you not flip out!?!?  Then why is it okay to do that to yourself?

An amazing, life-changing, revelation – You can have a nourishing, healthy life WITHOUT EVER being on a diet.

Believe it.  It is totally possible to love yourself, take care of yourself, and nourish yourself without conforming to society’s diet standards.

There are several things you can do to help you remember this truth during the holidays.  Below are a few bits of information you can use to help.  I found these ideas from an awesome writer and nutritionist, Michelle.  You can read her full blog post here.

Tinsel Tips:
You are allowed to eat.  Give yourself permission to eat.  You do not have to earn the right to eat food.

It is your job to love and respect your body.  No one else can make this decision for you.

Eat foods that are enjoyable, but that also make you feel good.  Don't eat dairy if you are lactose intolerant!

Set boundaries.  Stick up for yourself.  And remember you don't have to prove anything to anybody.

Don’t eat stuff you don’t like.  If you don't like the taste of broccoli or carrots, don't eat them just because you think they are healthy and will help you lose weight.  Find fruits and veggies that you like.  Figure out what your favorite foods are.

Don’t participate in fat talk.  Change the subject.  Explain why fat talk is dangerous.  Or just walk away.

Ignore the food police.  And try not to wear the badge yourself.

If all else fails, go sit at the kids table! 

This Christmas, what will you do to nourish yourself?

Until then, take care, YOU!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Let the Little Children Come to Me

You can learn a lot by teaching young children.  First, you have to know the teaching material well enough to present it and explain it in a comprehendible manner.  Second, children have innocence and insight that adults have long forgotten.

In the Gospel of Matthew we read that Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt 19:14)

In my sixth grade religion class the other day, the lesson was on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  Tough subject, I know.  But I am a Theology major so I thought, “No prob.  I got this.  I’ve read, studied, written papers, and listened to countless lectures on this topic.  I will have an answer for every question.”

We begun to read from the textbook and I offered supplementary examples and analogies.  I asked the kids to think about how they participate in the mass during the consecration.  Often times, kids get bored with the lengthy prayers and tired of kneeling.  Even as adults it is hard to keep from being too distracted.  We know that it’s Jesus; we’ve heard it a million times.  But we also have so much to do when we get home.

The kids, however, listened respectfully as I spoke of Jesus being really and truly up there on the altar.

“He is just as real as the priest, just as real as me, just as real as you.  We can’t see him with our eyes but He is there.  Just because we can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”  I asked them if they believed that there was a million dollars in the world.  Then, I asked them if they had ever seen a million dollars with their own eyes.  No one had seen that much money in one place, yet they still believed it existed.

Their head nods made me think they got the point.  So, I asked them another question, “a real zinger”, I thought, “this will make their brains explode”.

I asked them to think about how they would react if they could really see the bread turn into Jesus during the consecration with their own eyes.

One boy’s eyes bugged out of his head and he exclaimed, “I would run up there and give Him a hug!”

My breath caught in my throat.  I was speechless.

Kids know what it’s all about. They get it. It’s as simple as that.
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3)

Let us not only be dependent on God, like kids are dependent on their parents.  But let us also be like the children who want so badly to be closer to Jesus that they run right out of their seat and throw themselves into His arms.

During this advent season, let us pray that we may become like little children again.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Encouraging Thought for the Day

{Photo courtesy of}
When I am getting worried or anxious about unimportant things, first, I chew a piece of gum.  If that doesn't work, I do this…

Close your eyes and think of a place with beautiful music, glorious sounds of choirs and instruments.  Imagine music so beautiful that when it reaches our ears you cry tears of joy.

Think of a grand feast.  You are invited to sit at a banquet and dine with everyone you love.

Imagine the most comfortable place ever.  Think of the most comfortable bed with fluffiest pillows and smoothest textures.

Picture the most beautiful sight you have ever seen.  Think about a sunset over the most amazing mountain range where the fog is intermingling with the trees.  Think of a gorgeous ocean view that has no end.  Think of a night sky filled with unimaginable solar systems and colors not yet known to man.

Inhale a deep breath through your nose and smell the most glorious smell.  Whatever is pleasing to your senses like roses or another flower, exotic spices, fresh herbs, baking bread, cookies straight from the oven, incense at church, candles in a store, and any other smell you enjoy.

Imagine you have pure enlightenment of the mind.  Imagine you finally have complete understanding and wisdom about everything there ever was and is to know.  You will have no more questions, no more confusion, and just clear, simple truth.

Look into your heart and realize that you have complete peace.  You have a peace that surpasses all understanding.  There are no more deadlines, no more proving yourself, no more expectations, no time, no space, no restrictions, no fear.

Your emotions are calm.  Your love is pure and true.  And your spirit is filled with joy.

Where is this place?

It’s Heaven.

We profess in the Apostle’s Creed belief in “the resurrection of the body”.

Will we not keep our senses as they are a part of our body?

Now, if that isn’t enough motivation to try to get to Heaven, then I don’t know what is!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day Thir-whatever-teen – I’m going to stop counting now

{Photo courtesy of}
I count just about everything.  I consciously and subconsciously keep track of how many steps I take, how many calories I eat, how many times I stir my pancake batter, how many seconds it takes to fill up my cup of water, and basically everything else.

For years and years, I allowed numbers to rule my life.  I constantly tried to be more efficient in everything I did.  I tried to eat fewer calories than the day before, walk to a destination in fewer steps, do things in the least amount of time possible, and so on.  I had to keep doing better and better otherwise I was pretty much a lazy failure.

This practice was/is ridiculous.  First of all, it is exhausting to keep tabs on everything every second.  In addition, I was focusing all my effort on numbers I could control rather than focusing on life itself.

The simple issue was that I was trying to be smaller, or less visible, hence the want of smaller numbers.  I thought that I was taking up too much space.  However, the great paradox, I thought that I was too much because I thought that I was not enough at the same time.  I was “too much” because I thought I was taking more than my share.  And I was “not enough” to deserve good things.  I thought controlling the numbers would help me feel good enough.

Control is a dangerous temptation. A popular example is trying to control your health.  People everywhere are concerned about healthy foods, foods that help you live longer, vitamins that ward off diseases, and so on.  Trying to control your health can be a distraction from your real mission in life.  Sometimes it is easier to use our energy to control our health then use our energy to live out our vocation.  Jesus pretty much flat out tells us this in the Bible:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matt 6:25-30)

It is scary to give up control.  You think things are just going to fall apart.  But God is in control.  He is the creator.  He allows us to keep breathing, walking, talking, and living.  I cannot will myself to have life.  But if God stop thinking about me for an instant, I would cease to exist!

Yes, I would agree that, sometimes, trying to be efficient is a good practice.  But you have to know when to shut it off.  Until, you belief that you are good enough the way you are NOW, you will never be good enough, no matter how much you change.  And until you give up the control to God NOW, you will never be free from worry, no matter how much you try.

Challenge of the Day:  Stop counting, stop controlling.  And throw away your bathroom scale.  Don’t even donate it.  Just throw it in the trash.  You are so much more than that number.  If you are unhappy about the way you look and you think that you will be happy if you lose weight or try to control your health, you won’t be happy.  I promise.  If you think that lowering the number on the scale will make you happy, you will actually be quite miserable.  Do you want to spend your life worrying about numbers and health?  It is a dead-end road that will only lead you astray.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Day Twelve – Rhyme and Reflection

My family said Germans can’t write poems.

“We’re too practical and efficient.” They said.

For years, I believed this ridiculousness.

But then I said, “Ha!” and wrote one anyway.

The follow is a rebellion against those who deem the arts as useless.


But For the Grace of God
By Mary Borchers

The one you see in the check-out line
The one you see at the stop sign
The one you see out of the corner of your eye
The one you see who’s living the lie

I am the person crying alone
I am the spirit that hasn’t been shown
I am the careless one you’ve thought
I am the poor no longer sought

Each one of us would be that soul
The one you see who’s taken toll
But for the grace of God we’d be
Oh, glory, laud, and honor Thee

If nothing else be there to do
Pray for those beat and for you too
Not one of us can take the credit
For the blessings we inherit

If strikes your heart to give a gift
To bridge the gap of the great rift
Do not delay your thoughts desire
Tomorrow will there be no fire

If we ignore for far too long
No more we sing our Maker’s song
But for the grace of God we’d be
Without victory or eternity