Taking A Break

Hello, dear readers/followers,

I hope this finds you doing well, making good progress on your journey toward your health goals.  I wanted to let you know my reasons for being absent lately, and why you won’t be hearing from me nearly as often as you have been.

First and foremost, my spare time has been spent on other things.  Between doing our taxes (we itemized ALL our medical expenses), a sick neighbor needing some care, and making some decisions about the future, plus keeping up with a growing, active toddler, I have barely had time to do anything for myself.  And, quite honestly, the first spare moment I have is not devoted to this blog.  I would rather go read a book.  :)  A real one, not the “e” kind.  I like the feel of the pages.

Next has been the issue of my feeling haughty.  In Proverbs 6, Solomon says this –

16 There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

After reading Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live book, I sometimes feel superior in my knowledge of food, and sometimes I find myself judging other people for the things they eat.  I know both of these are sinful, so I have been working on eliminating those thoughts from my mind.  I just need to take a breather and get refocused on the purpose of this blog – to encourage and help anyone making progress toward a healthy goal.

Then there’s the issue of only one computer, which my husband takes to work with him daily, so that doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for me to get my thoughts down in “e” form.

Finally and most importantly, I am abandoning modern, electronic forms of communication for traditional forms, such as phone calls, face to face conversations, and personal visits.   I feel like I am feeding a fake relationship when I have an entire conversation via text message or facebook messenger.  I am tired of operating in the fake world and am searching out ways to be more genuine.

So what does that mean for you?

If I have something good to say, I’ll post it.  Otherwise, there is enough “noise” out there – you won’t notice one less voice shouting at you to do something good for yourself today (but really, do one good thing for your body today!).  Thanks for understanding.

-Jennifer

 

 

The #1 Way to Stay Mentally Healthy

I attend a ladies Bible study each week on Tuesday mornings.  It’s a good opportunity to get out of the house, to let my daughter interact with other children and other caretakers, and it’s a wonderful time of spiritual learning/growing for me.  Since I have experience in teaching music, I was asked to lead the singing for the group, and I was also asked to be a group leader at my table, where I lead the discussion based on the questions in the material.  I really enjoy the time away from my daughter, I love the ladies in my group, and I like absorbing other people’s experiences about the topics we are studying.

There was a time when I couldn’t say I was happy about going.

There were many weeks when I just didn’t want to go.  I’ll just be honest.  I didn’t have the time to plan out which songs we were going to sing, and I sure didn’t have time to sit down and read through the lesson well enough to lead others to critical thinking!  For two months, I quit going and abandoned my responsibilities to the group.  (There were some physical roadblocks that aided that, but I was relieved when I had a good excuse to quit going.)

After we got our car fixed and I could get out of the house at will again, I jumped at the chance to participate.  Now, several weeks later, because I know how much it encourages me, I look forward to going and actually plan time to review the lesson and the songs before Tuesday morning arrives.  Planning is half the battle, so when I am prepared, I feel relaxed and ready to lead, instead of feeling stressed and unwilling to use my talents.

I’m glad I’m not that person anymore.

In the first article since my overhaul, I laid out what my healthy goals were – staying physically active, eating healthy foods, and maintaining good mental health.  Today, 3 months after the new year began, I can say that in each area, I have succeeded sometimes and failed at other times.

Above is a prime example of my victory over poor mental health.  The times I was relieved when I didn’t have to participate in the Bible study were times when I felt drained, like I was just giving, giving, giving of myself and not getting much back in return.  It’s hard to keep others afloat when you are sinking.   Click here to tweet this

In looking back on that time, I also realize I was battling mild depression about a friendship that wasn’t meeting my expectations.  Again, it was a mental health issue but it affected my physical health in many ways.  I had a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings.  Any free time I had, I wanted to sleep.  I began eating more comfort food than normal – breads, etc. – which meant that I put on a few pounds.  Those extra pounds contributed to my low self-esteem, and on and on the cycle went.

I’m really glad I’m not that person any more.

In the Bible study lesson this week, we discussed how God commanded the Israelites to set up altars as memorials to remember the ways He moved in their lives.  What kinds of markers do we have in our own lives today?

Journaling is my marker.  It’s my way of looking back at a picture of myself.  It’s my way of remembering how God brought me through whatever trial I was facing.  It’s my way of remembering the lesson I learned from that trial.

Journaling is my way of staying mentally healthy.  The times I keep a journal are the times I feel the best.  I can write my thoughts down without showing them to anyone, and I can identify what is really bothering me.  I wrote a post about it a while back – you can find it here.

Next time you feel like something’s just not right, or when you fly off the handle at the littlest thing, try taking a few minutes to write in a journal of some sort.  It will help you sort out your feelings and discover the underlying cause (is it the wasted food you’re crying about, or is it the fact that you haven’t slept a full 8 hours for more than a week and you have a sinus headache?).  I used to use Penzu, a free online journaling website.  Now, I just create a new document on my computer.  I even keep a small notebook beside my bed so I can write down anything that is bothering me at bedtime.  I usually have weird dreams if something is on my mind at bedtime.

I hope this is helpful to you, reader.  I’m just a fellow traveler on this journey toward good mental health.

My Apologies to You, Dear Reader

Let’s begin with a story.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was the light of her mama’s heart.  She had a beautiful smile and always made her mama and dadda laugh.  IMG_5091

 One day, the little girl learned when she dropped her food in the floor, her mama gave her more food.  Also, when she threw her food on the dog, the dog jumped and ran away, so that made the little girl laugh. 

Then the little girl learned how to whine.  She got reallly good at whining, so much so that her mama would give her whatever she wanted just to make her quit whining.

Her mama was worn out.

When mealtime came, her mama took care of the little girl first, then was too tired to fix healthy foods for herself.  Her mama ate whatever quick, easy food she could find, even foods that made her sick, like wheat and dairy.  Mama was too low on energy and creativity to plan good, healthy meals, so macaroni and cheese became the go-to lunchtime food.

Sadly, I am the mama in that story.  As you may have noticed, I have become lazy in my blogging and have reposted several things in the last couple of weeks.  I simply don’t have the energy or creativity or desire to keep myself healthy, much less maintain a blog right now.

Until last night…

I don’t know if you were fortunate enough to take part, but Michael Hyatt did a fantastic webinar about reaching more people with your blog posts.  My husband is an avid blogger and Michael Hyatt follower (see hubby’s at www.stidhammusic.com and Michael Hyatt’s at www.michaelhyatt.com), so he knew about the webinar, planned on it, and invited me to watch it with him.  If all I had to do was sit and absorb, I’d be glad to participate, I told him.

I am so glad I did!  There were so many jewels of wisdom in his presentation.  You can find the printable version or the slide version of last night’s presentation on Michael Hyatt’s website.  The title was something about a recipe.  It shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Anyway, after watching his presentation, I realize that I need to apologize to you, the reader/follower of Making Progress.  I have given you only half of my heart, my time, and my energy the last couple of weeks.  I’m sorry for short-changing you and for possibly even wasting your time.

I’m going to start being more “real.”  I am motivated to plan the time to write new, authentic blog posts.   Although I still feel low on energy, I have a hunch that being more real with one or two posts is better than slapping a half-hearted effort down just to meet my weekly posting goals.

I won’t waste your time any more.  I won’t give you undercooked ideas or advice.  I’m just going to share with you where I am on my journey toward health.  I’m going to show you how I’m making progress toward my healthy goals.  Real-ly.

 

 

My Favorite Way to Eat Berries

After my walking workouts, I am always starving!  About 11:00 in the morning, baby girl is either still asleep or just waking up from her morning nap, so she usually needs a snack at that time.  It’s too early for lunch, but I need some protein and some hearty food to fill my tummy and refuel my body.  My solution:

OATMEAL!

I already mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I switched out my “usual” oatmeal fixings of butter and brown sugar in favor of pure maple syrup and nuts.  Now, however, I find that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE FRESH BERRIES in my oatmeal.

ALDI has a great mix of frozen blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries, and I usually buy a bag of frozen blueberries while I’m at it.  I don’t even take the time to thaw them since I throw them in the microwave during the last 20-30 seconds of cooking time on my oatmeal.  No sugar needed – the berries are sweet enough themselves.  If you like, put some pecans or almonds or walnuts and some wheat germ and/or seeds of your choice in with them, and you are on your way to making Dr. Fuhrman proud!  Check out his book, Eat to Live, to see what I mean.

Couple it with a good cup of coffee and you are GOOD TO GO!  Try it next time you think you’re hungry but it’s not “mealtime” yet.  Good luck to you as you make progress toward your healthy goals!

A No-Fail Way to Win with Your Diet

Want to know my secret to snacking on fruits and vegetables instead of chips and cookies?  It’s pretty simple:

Out of sight, out of mind.

When I was cleaning out the basket of plastic wrap, paper lunch bags, and other sundry kitchen items I keep on top of the fridge, I discovered a half-empty bag of tortilla chips and another half-empty bag of vegetable chips.  No telling how long they had been there!  I had completely forgotten about them because they weren’t in my line of sight.

Same thing with the Girl Scout cookies I broke down and bought (I’m a sucker for Thin Mints!):  I keep them in the freezer so I forget they are there.  Even if I wanted to sneak one before dinner, they are frozen so I have to wait for them to thaw out, so I might as well just grab a piece of fruit.

The key is to put things out of sight and out of range so you can’t grab them quickly.  Our society is fueled by the mindset of, “I want this now!”  That mindset affects our food choices in a big way – fast food restaurants (I don’t have time to stop and eat right), appetizers (because you can’t wait just 5 more minutes for your entree?), and frozen dinners (because you couldn’t bring leftovers from last night??) are all examples of this “give it to me now” way of thinking.

If you have trigger foods in your house, eliminate them.  Throw them out, give them away, or put them out of sight until you can plan a time to indulge in a small amount.  (I believe it is important to eat what you want from time to time!)

This is just one of the things I’m learning on my journey toward a healthier body and healthier mind.  Hope this helps you along your journey toward your healthy goals.

Stuck in the Vicious Cycle…Again

Recently, I dealt with some emotional distress and I found myself stuck in a vicious cycle.  You know the one – where you find yourself

Dealing with an emotional/physical problem

Eating comfort food

Sleeping more than normal

Not exercising

Gaining weight

Reinforced laziness

After a week of this, you find yourself 5-7 or maybe even 10 pounds heavier than normal!  Am I right?

I wrote about this vicious cycle in a previous post, but I want to remind you (and myself) of how important it is to GET OUT OF THAT CYCLE AS SOON AS YOU CAN.

One of the biggest reasons we need to exercise is to take away stress and anxiety.  Most of the time, I don’t even realize I am stressed or anxious until I start exercising and feel how tight my muscles are, especially around my jaw and face (where I have been clenching my teeth).  Clenching and grinding are signs of inner turmoil, like anxiety – see this article.  Once your emotional stress has been knocked out with exercise, your physical cravings for sleep and comfort food will diminish, and you will be able to return to your normal diet and sleep schedule.  Your emotional issue may not be completely gone, but at least you will have the mental strength to deal with it in a positive way.

Another sure way of knowing that exercise is just what we needed is the natural high we experience post-workout.  Personally, I am happy and optimistic, I feel emotionally stable again, and I feel like I can handle whatever today throws at me!

As far as dealing with emotional eating, I can only refer you to this article by WebMD and tell you that I was on #4 for the past week.  I was (at one point) 10 pounds over my goal weight this past week.  Once again, my scale was a useful tool in helping me gauge my progress on this journey.  I realized I was WAY off course and needed to get back to what works for me: walking 3 miles 3 times a week, eating a plant-based diet, and getting off the couch!

We are all affected by an emotional or physical issue that hinders us from gaining forward motion in pursuit of our healthy goals.  It’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN.  It is my sincere hope that when you are faced with an emotional or physical issue, you will remember some of these words of encouragement.  We’ve all been there.  But the sooner you get off the couch and back to your routine, the sooner you will blast out of that vicious cycle that keeps you down and out.

Best wishes to you as you make progress on your mental/physical/health journey.

Help! I’m a Vegan at a Backyard Cookout. What Can I Eat?

I live in Texas, where the weather changes every few days.  Today, for instance, it was in the 80’s; tomorrow, the high is only supposed to be in the low 50’s.  We flip flop from freezing to beautiful and back in a whip-lash fashion.

During one of these roller coaster weather patterns, when it was in the 80’s, my family went to the lake with some friends from our church.  It actually got so warm that day that our friends turned on their A/C in the camper after we all began sweating!

As per any camping trip, a cook-out ensued.  *cue dramatic music*

I actually knew what the group was doing for dinner (hamburgers and hotdogs), and I came prepared.  But I realized that a backyard cookout/camping trip chuckwagon/barbecue was never going to be easy as long as I am eating a plant-based diet, since nearly every outdoor eating experience seems to revolve around meat.

As I said, I came prepared; armed with Cowboy Caviar (a bean/raw vegetable salad marinated in Italian dressing) and homemade fresh salsa with tortilla chips, my family and I had the opportunity to share a meal AND eat well.  I’m not going to lie – I was a little grossed out when a plate went by with not one but TWO bacon cheeseburgers and homemade potato chips (deep fried in oil and doused with seasoned salt).  Not grossed out because it came from animals, but because of how I would feel if I ate that.  I would feel bloated, gassy, and a little bit nauseated from all the oil (I have found when I eat fried foods, or even popcorn cooked in oil, I get that same nauseous feeling).

But I was happy when I saw others putting salsa and the fresh guacamole someone brought onto their burgers.  At least that’s SOME improvement, right?!🙂  And of course I beamed when someone asked who brought the delicious bean salad and who made the yummy salsa?  Score two points for Team Vegan!

As the days get longer and summer months draw near (hooray for DST, right?), our friends and families will want to eat al fresco.  So what’s a vegan going to do?

1.) Be prepared – bring your own protein.  Know in advance what’s on the menu.  If that’s not possible, ASSUME IT’S GOING TO BE HAMBURGERS AND HOTDOGS.  Bring your favorite broccoli recipe (broccoli has more protein in 100 calories than a steak), or black/pinto/kidney/soy bean recipe.  The Cowboy Caviar is awesome because it’s got 3 different kinds of beans and a myriad of vegetables, plus it’s light and refreshing in contrast to the barbecued, cooked, and otherwise charred-with-carcinogens food.  Just look up a recipe on your favorite browser.  You can put what you want in it – mine had black-eyed peas, black beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, corn, green, yellow, orange, and red pepper, red onion, cilantro, avocado, and a package of Good Seasons Italian seasoning made with white vinegar and EVOO.  SO ADDICTIVE!

2.) Don’t make a big deal out of it.  If you are new to eating a plant-based diet, you may want to shout it from the rooftops so everyone knows…however, that may alienate people or otherwise make them feel inferior.  You may get this reaction – “Oh, well SHE is too GOOD for OUR kind of food…” or something to that effect.  Just set your stuff out with the other food, fill your plate when it’s your turn, and be sure to thank the host/hostess for a generous spread.

3.) Accept offers with a thanks.  Remember that eating a meal together is more important than the food itself.  I admit, I ate a couple handfuls of those homemade potato chips that were deep-fried and covered in salt.  You know why?  Not because they would fuel my body in a positive way, but because it built the relationship with the person who made them.  It would have been rude to refuse them.  One piece of meat won’t wreck your diet.  It may not feel great on your system, but all things will pass.  :)  So whenever possible, as long as it doesn’t violate your own conscience, eat what is set before you with thanks.  (I feel like we all need to go read 1 Corinthians 8 – the chapter about food sacrificed to idols!)

4.) Go for more of the same.  If the only option is lettuce, tomato, and onion as toppings for a hamburger, load up!  Make a salad out of it and keep eating vegetables until you feel full.

5.) Help your host/hostess think outside of the “hamburger and hotdog” box.  What about black bean burgers?  Tofu burgers?  Vegetable skewers?  A southwest style baked potato with black beans, salsa, and avocado is a viable option.

Knowing is half the battle.  If you have other tips for vegan eating as the temperatures and the barbecue grills start warming up, please share!  Let’s help each other make progress toward our good health goals.

The Sunshine Award

wpid-11-cosmos-under-blue-sky-cosmos-flower-under-sunshine_1440x900_69080 I’m happy to accept the Sunshine Blogger Award from Lyndsay at Officially Gluten Free. Check out her blog for great-looking photos of her yummy GF creations and also her positive encouragement and testimony about her own GF journey. Thank you so much, Lyndsay!

Awarding and receiving these awards help in connecting the blogging community, help in encouraging one another, and help in promoting honor, respect, and recognition.

THE RULES

1. Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post and/or on your blog

2. Link to the blogger who nominated you

3. Answer 10 questions about yourself

4. Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award

5. Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them

6. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer

Here are my 10 questions to answer:

1. Do you live in the same town/city or country that you lived in when you were a child? No, I don’t.  I grew up in the suburbs of Tulsa, OK, then moved to the country in southwest Missouri for my junior and senior year of high school.  I met my husband in college and we moved to his hometown in the country for his job after we got married. 1523275_10100176078534711_1485414793_o 2. If could only spend $10 for the rest of the week what would you spend it on?

McAlister’s Deli sweet tea.  Photo by www.mcalistersdeli.com

3. What is your favorite dessert? Brownies instantly come to mind, no wait, cheesecake…although my grandmother’s coconut cream pie is high up on the priority list.  I could go on and on.  Desserts are my kryptonite!

4. What is the most played song on your Ipod/MP3 Player/Phone? My daughter’s Jim Brickman CD of lullabies.

5. When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing anything close to what you wanted to do then? When I was 10, I wanted to be older.  I wanted to go to college and get married.  I wanted to make a difference in the world.  Now 20 years later, I have been through college, am most happily married, have begun our beautiful family, and made a difference by teaching high school kids music for 6 years.

225087_655361813221_3604407_n  75_512093748571_1322_n 374470_10151123051857091_105681875_n  426827_764044118011_779911983_n

6. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

My mom’s lasagna.  Photo by espressoandcream.com

7. City or Country? Why? Since I have lived in both, I prefer the conveniences of the city: friends and church family nearby, grocery stores, doctors, gas stations all within 5 minutes or so, parks within walking distance. 7779_10100182490659761_1240996697_n 8. Name one thing that you’re grateful for? Grace – receiving a gift I am unworthy of.  I love it so much so that it’s my daughter’s middle name.

9. What/Who inspired you to start a Blog? My husband, Matt Stidham – find his blog at www.stidhammusic.com.  He values and respects my opinions, talents, and optimism, and he encouraged me to begin a blog to share those things with others. 256668_666082923031_793032_o 10. If you won a free vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go? The beach – a beautiful beach.  Maybe Destin, Florida.  It was the last place we went on vacation before Baby Girl arrived. (Photo by Taylor Howard Photography.)252772_823746099761_874280090_n

And the Sunshine Award nominations go to…

All of these bloggers have shared their hearts, their lives, their passions, their mistakes, their failures, and their triumphs.  Each of these blogs has encouraged me in some way, nudging me further down the path to health and wellness.

Hero Health Room

A Hundred Affections

Gluten Free Goddess

GF and Me

The Humbled Homemaker

Redemptive Homemaking

Rookie Moms

Fat2Plant

Stephanie Eusebi

The Beautiful Balance

Should you choose to accept this award, please answer the following questions:

1.)  What passion inspired you to start writing your blog?

2.)  Name the things that impede your progress in writing your blog posts.

3.)  Who is your favorite historical character (secular or sacred)?

4.)  What three things would you change immediately if you were made president?

5.)  If you won a free shopping trip to the store of your choice, where would you go and what’s the first thing you would buy?

6.)  Who is one Hollywood actor you would like to have lunch with (someone who is still living)?

7.)  Name one skill you have that you really love.

8.)  What moment in your life are you most proud of?

9.)  What new food(s) have you tried recently?  Did you like it or not?

10.)  Describe your progress on your own journey toward health and wellness.

5 Reasons I LOVE Eating Plants!

I used to think vegans were weirdos.  Now that I am one, I can verify that, yes, we are weirdos!

salad3

It’s weird to not eat like everyone else in the restaurant.  It’s strange to eat salad every day.  It’s not normal to have a digestive system that functions freely.

There are so many reasons to eat a plant-based diet, but if you don’t think about lowering your blood pressure, eliminating cancer risks, improving your heart health, and other science-based reasons, consider the following 5 reasons to join the “weird” side and go vegan:

1.)  You’ll have no digestive issues.  Seriously.  No constipation from too much cheese.  No bloating from white bread products.  No odors after eating meat.  In fact, you’ll kind of forget about your system because it will finally function so freely and easily that you won’t even think about it!

2.) It’s fun to eat what looks good!  Not what SOUNDS good, but what LOOKS good.  God gave us two eyes with which to see a rainbow of colors, and that includes when looking for nutrition.  It never fails – when I am at a restaurant with my family and my nice, big, beautiful salad is delivered next to their (brown) fried shrimp, (brown) french fries, and mashed potatoes smothered in (brown) gravy, everyone else marvels at how good it looks.  I daresay they wish they’d ordered something as colorful as my salad!

3.) You don’t have to count calories.  Once you get the correct replacements for animal products figured out – plant-based protein is the most difficult piece to the vegan puzzle – you will be eating a TON of food (Dr. Fuhrman recommends a pound of cooked vegetables and a pound of raw vegetables PER DAY), but you will be losing weight without points and portion sizes and food scales.  AND you can eat until you feel full!

4.) There are no temperature sensitivities to fret about.  When you are traveling, like we do frequently, you don’t have to pack a cooler anymore since only animal products are temperature-sensitive!  You don’t have to worry about how long this food sat out or if this dish was cooked to the “right” temperature.

5.) You may discover a new favorite food!  I didn’t know what a parsnip was before I started eating vegetables every day.  When I asked a lady in the produce section what it was, she directed me to PARSLEY…apparently she didn’t know what it was, either!  But I used it in a medley of roasted root vegetables and discovered its buttery, carrot-but-not-really flavor and loved it!  I quickly added it to my list of favorite vegetables.  My husband recently discovered he likes the taste of artichokes and green olives, and told me I could make a pasta salad using those two things any time I wanted to.  Around our house, that’s as good as the Good Housekeeping seal of approval!

So be weird for a few days and see if you like the vegan diet.  You don’t have to tell people what you’re doing – they may judge just because of the name.  Just tell them you’re trying to eat healthier and you’re adding more vegetables to your diet.  At least, they’ll applaud you; at most, they may even be encouraged to do the same.

Best wishes to you as you make progress toward your healthy goals today!

5 Easy Ways to Lose Weight

If someone told me losing weight was as easy as eating plants, I would have started a lot sooner than I did.

If someone told me I would feel better if I cut out bread, meats, and dairy from my diet, I would have done so a lot sooner than I did.

If someone had told me I would CONTINUE to lose weight, even when I ate foods that weren’t good for me, just because my diet was plant-based, I would have done so a lot sooner than I did.

Photo by webmd.com

Photo by webmd.com

These five easy steps are what I wish I had known 30 lbs ago:

1.) CUT IT OUT.  Eliminate red meats, sausages, pork, poultry, then chicken, tuna, and seafood.  Go one at a time.  Then cut out white breads/pastas of all kinds, especially the ones with sugar and preservatives.  Then get rid of dairy products, which are full of fat and hard on the digestive system.  Immediately stop consuming foods with artificial flavors or colors (like sodas), anything processed or fried, anything full of fat (I had to stop making pies because my pie crust recipe used Crisco), and anything with unpronounceable ingredients.  If you can’t find it in nature, don’t eat it. Click here to tweet this

2.) ADD PLANTS TO YOUR DIET.  Any kind of plant – green leafies, cooked carrots, beans of all kinds, fresh or frozen berries, nuts, seeds, and LOTS of fruit.   These are your cancer-fighters, your blood pressure lowering soldiers, your blood sugar stabilizers…you get the idea.  Your body will function so much better once you get on a plant-based diet.

3.) Exercise when you can, but aim for 3 times per week.  I was able to walk 3 miles 3 times a week and saw tremendous changes in my muscles and body shape.  Besides just feeling good, you will LOOK good, too!

4.) Don’t count calories.  Forget about how many points something gets or is this on so-and-so plan.  Just eat plants and get rid of all the other junk in our American diet.

5.) Don’t obsess.  This is a journey, not a destination, so there is no race to the finish.  Food is made to serve you, not the other way around.  It’s designed to make our bodies function so we can live LIFE.  You won’t be perfect every day, so accept that.  Give yourself some grace.  Stick to the 80/20 rule if you are going to splurge – 80% of what you should eat (plants) and 20% of what you WANT to eat.  Losing weight and eating whole foods can become a “god;” an idol; an obsession that your life revolves around and distances you from  your loved ones.  God never intended food to be divisive – see THIS ARTICLE from someone who shared her own journey from food idolatry (shared with permission from the author).  There are more important things in life than food.

If someone had told me losing weight was easy, I would have started on this journey a whole lot sooner. Click here to tweet this I hope this has helped you make progress toward your healthy goals.  If you know someone who has struggled with their weight and wants to learn more, please pass this on!  Let’s all help each other make progress toward our health goals.