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.

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The Need of the Moment

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” ~Ephesians 4:29 (NASB).

I am very, very tired today. I stayed up until the wee hours last night, talking with a far-away friend. I am embarrassed to say that I called this friend to discuss a petty problem of mine, but as we worked through that problem, she began to open up and fill me in on some pretty significant things happening in her life.

A few times, throughout the course of the conversation, we each tried to ring off, but felt that there were too many things left unsaid, so we just kept talking. 3 and a half hours later, my body was finally shutting down all function and I couldn’t keep my eyes open, so we said good-bye and said we’d keep in touch. This friend is a fellow Harding alumna, so we tend to pick up right where we left off, as anyone with that “Harding connection” knows happens all the time!

I cannot tell you how blessed I was by that conversation, and I know that my friend was blessed by our conversation, as well. I may be a zombie today, but my friend needed me in that moment, so I chose to stay on the line.

Do you ever need to catch someone right after church service, but they seem to run out the back door? Have you ever felt the meal was rushed and everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get up and get on their way? These are moments; there is a need in these kinds of moments. The need to listen, the need to speak, the need to hug, the need to pray, the need to weep, the need to give a word of encouragement. Sometimes you need to receive these gestures; other times, you need to give these gestures. In fact, the verse I began with INSTRUCTS us to build each other up with our words, according to the need of the moment.

I encourage you to look for these “moments.” We’re all busy people, but are we really so busy that we can’t obey God’s instruction to us? Are we actually so busy that we can’t take a moment to speak with a lonely widower? Are we really so busy that we ignore the hurt and suffering someone is going through?  Are we so incredibly busy that we can’t take a moment to congratulate someone on their new job/achievement?

Take a moment. Be present in the moment. Give a kind word in that moment. Build someone up in that moment. You will bring grace to them and blessings upon your own head.

May God give you exceedingly abundant blessings today. ~Eph. 3:20-21

REPOST: You Deserve More Than Sundays

I want to share with you this blog post.  It’s so accurate…I wish I had written it myself!  It was originally posted here: http://jlgerhardt.tumblr.com/post/49353769068/you-deserve-more-than-sundays.

I’m a preacher’s wife, and to be honest, I don’t always love Sundays.

For one, I have to get the kids bathed and dressed and fed without help from Daddy who woke up before the sun. I get them dressed and braid their hair and haul them to the building thirty minutes before Bible class to make copies or talk to a deacon about something.

I walk the girls to their classes and teach my Bible class, which I love but which usually exhausts me. I meet up with Justin in a hall somewhere between class and worship and we smile at one another, and then we’re apart again until he slips into our pew halfway through the first song.

During worship I make “You’d better straighten up” faces at my daughters as I twist their arms until they “try” to sing. Sometimes this goes well, sometimes poorly. Sometimes it results in London singing very loudly when everyone else has stopped. Sometimes, like last week, I drag my youngest out of church during announcements as she screams “Don’t spank me!”

After church Justin talks to forty-two people and I find our kids and try to keep them from knocking over old people or screaming or otherwise terrorizing innocent church-goers. I talk to visitors, too: “It’s so nice to have you—LONDON, IF YOU DON”T KNOCK IT OFF I”M GOING TO TAKE YOU OUTSIDE AND—we really hope you’ll come back again soon.”

Usually Justin and I collapse on the couch around 2 pm. At that point, he’s been working for eight hours straight. Then, at 2:30, I head to a baby shower… 

Sundays are hard, and while I wish they weren’t, I’ve learned to find God in the difficulty—in the chaos and in snatches of stillness. I see God in the laughing faces as I drag Eve kicking up the aisle. I see God in my third-graders telling me kindness is “love in action” before I’ve even taught the lesson. I see Him in beautiful sermons and in the words of scripture on the screen and in the sometimes squawking voice of my daughter singing, “Holy, holy, holy…”

But if I only saw God on Sundays, on those long, hard days, I would not see enough. 

Praise God for Mondays. And Tuesdays…

Growing up I’d always been taught that Sundays were for “re-charging batteries,” for “re-connecting with the body,” for being “filled up” with Spirit and Word, a pep-talk to help us “make it through the week.” 

I saw us church attenders like cars at the gas station or like plugs in one giant power strip, guzzling energy in excess for the blackout days ahead. 

I came to church on Sunday mornings to get what I needed for the week, like a child on allowance day, pockets empty after six days of spending.

Sometimes I left the building feeling full, like I’d been really and truly fed. Most of the time I didn’t. Full or not, I almost always ran out of gas half way through the week. 

Looking back, I can see the problem: Sunday wasn’t enough. 

I look through the New Testament, through Acts and the epistles, and I don’t see a body of people lining up with cupped hands on Sunday mornings. Instead, I see people studying and seeking instruction every day of the week, people meeting to eat in one another’s houses every day, people who show up on Sunday not with an emptiness to be filled but with an overflow to be shared. 

In I Corinthians 14:26, Paul tries to help the church at Corinth figure out an orderly way to worship. He says, ”When you come together, each of you has a hymn,or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.” He doesn’t say “Each of you should have a hymn, or a word of instruction…” He says they do. Full of the Spirit of God, these people came to “church” to share. 

That’s not always what we do. Too often we starve ourselves during the week, drag ourselves to church on Sunday morning, and, in our ravenous hunger, heap our expectations on teachers, elders, ministers, and friends. 

We complain when the preacher doesn’t provide a “well-rounded diet” or enough “meat.” He’s not “deep.”

We complain when people don’t stick around to talk to us after church. They’re not friendly.

We complain when we don’t see the elders on stage enough. They’re not “truly leading.”

We complain because Sunday is the be-all and end-all, and if it doesn’t happen on Sunday it’s probably not going to happen. 

Eesh. 

Sundays are beautiful days, and Sunday worship is a powerful thing, but let’s remember, it’s an hour-long thing, a tiny fraction of a single day, of which you will likely have tens of thousands. Sundays simply cannot bear the work of building a lasting and mature relationship with Christ and His people.

Your preacher cannot feed you into spiritual maturity.

Your worship leader cannot sing you into joy.

Your Bible class teacher cannot instruct you into righteousness. 

Your friends cannot cram the encouragement you need into a fifteen minute hello, goodbye.

Spiritual maturity happens…

When God’s people live together and learn together and laugh together—spending their days together.

When God’s children read their Bibles and talk to God directly, looking for Him and listening to Him on Mondays and Wednesdays and Saturday nights.

When we realize that being a Christian is about being with God. Every. Single. Moment.

If Sundays were all we had, I suppose we could make due. But we have so much more than Sunday.

Last week I held a friend’s newborn at her house while my husband cooked us dinner and her older kids played with mine in the next room. The next night I met with my small group and we talked for two hours until it was too late and all the bedtimes were shot and we didn’t care because the night had been so good. A day later, after I’d spent the morning reading about David and Joab and the redeeming love of God, Justin and I counseled a couple about to get married and celebrated with them the victory of purity. That night we met new church members and bonded over bourbon bread pudding with butterscotch. On Saturday we played soccer in the sun with missionaries from Australia while our daughters made pen pal plans despite not yet having learned to write.

And when Sunday came around, I appreciated it—even the dragging Eve down the aisle part. I learned and I worshipped and I encouraged and received encouragement. And all of it was a luxurious gift as I was already so, so full.