Vaping: The Health Crisis Affecting Our Teens

Our teens are in crisis. Over the last several weeks the number of teens reporting respiratory illnesses related to a new craze called “vaping” has sky-rocketed. In fact, as of last night, “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other clinical and public health partners are investigating the multistate outbreak of lung disease associated with e-cigarette products.” This is because there are over 380 reported cases of e-cigarette related lung illnesses across 36 states, along with the sixth confirmed death. While the most recent death was of a fifty year old woman, the first cases of illness and death were in Illinois effecting youth and young adults between the ages of 17-38.

When the fifth person died in California, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health issued a press release cautioning residents to the dangers of e-cigarettes. Dr. Steven Dubinett, Associate Vice Chancellor of UCLA and Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, counseled in the press release that, “The increasing cases of severe pulmonary illnesses associated with vaping both nationwide and locally in Los Angeles County are alarming and underscores how much we still don’t know about the extent of harm that vaping can cause. We join Public Health, the medical community, and other health professionals in warning residents about the use of these devices and the need for a concerted effort to address this outbreak.”

A Potential Ban on E-Cigarettes

This epidemic has spread so quickly and affected so many that the CDC explicitly recommends that “youth and young adults should not use e-cigarettes.” The threat is of great concern even to President Trump whose youngest son Barron is only 13. Wanting to shield him from vaping and its dangerous health effects, President Trump met with the government’s top health officials on Wednesday, September 11. According to The New York Times “The White House and the F.D.A have faced mounting pressure from lawmakers, public health officials, parents and educators, who have grown alarmed by the popularity of vaping among teenagers but have felt powerless to keep e-cigarettes away from students and out of schools.”

Such has caused many leaders to begin considering a total ban on the product. A total ban of e-cigarettes has already taken place at the state level with Michigan being the first to ban the product last week causing other states like New York, Massachusetts, and California to seriously consider following suit.

What is Vaping?

According to Dr. Linda Richter, “vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.” An aerosol is comprised of particles that are released into the air as a fine spray made up of both liquid and gas. Vaping is addictive because it deposits nicotine into the body. But negative effects of vaping are not restricted to the lungs. Nicotine also has the ability to chemically alter the development of the brain.

Herbert Gilbert created the e-cigarette in 1963 as a solution to tobacco. In fact, a recent study published by The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that while e-cigarettes have been marketed as a means to help ween individuals off of traditional smoking, “the evidence regarding its effectiveness is limited.” In other words, although e-cigarettes may be slightly healthier than regular cigarettes they bring with them their own set of new problems for users.

The Teen Craze

What makes vaping and the sale of e-cigarettes problematic for many is that it appears as though they are being marketed specifically to teens and young adults “with flavor options such as cotton candy, cupcake, and tutti-frutti.” In fact, Dr. Robert H. Schmerling, faculty editor for Harvard Health Publishing a journal published by the Harvard Medical School, cites that “one survey found that about 80% of middle school students had seen ads for e-cigarettes.” Furthermore, a survey taken in 2018 by the CDC shows that more than 60% of students will try vaping by the time they reach the 12th grade with 35% of 12th graders having already tried vaping.

Side Effects

While Nicotine is a known ingredient that most are worried about. There are other more dangerous ingredients to e-cigarettes that most do not know about. According to Barbara Calkins in her article “Teen Vaping: An Epidemic with Unknown Consequences,” “the flavoring chemical found in many e-liquids has been linked to lung disease and damage, with the aerosols entering the user’s lungs and leaving chemical residue behind.” She continues to explain that, “Lungs are only equipped to receive oxygen so anything other than oxygen is a detriment to them.”

Such elements within e-cigarettes has caused teens like Maddie Nelson to develop what doctors are calling “acute eosinophilic pneumonia.” According to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center “Idiopathic acute eosinophilic pneumonia (IAEP) is characterized by the rapid accumulation of eosinophils in the lungs.” This kind of pneumonia, directly linked to vaping, took a relatively healthy teen like Maddie from a serious condition to near fatal in a matter of minutes. In fact, they had to place her in a coma in order to save her life. All due to vaping everyday for three years.

Talk to Your Teens and Young Adults

With this craze taking so many out so quickly, the best way you can save your child’s life is by talking to them. Don’t try to pretend like they have never heard of vaping, or have never been presented with the opportunity. Research is showing that kids in middle school are being introduced to it so that by the time they’re in high school they’re already using. Take the time to sit with your kids and talk about this vaping epidemic. Share with them the ways it’s negatively effecting the lives of young people across the country. Because there are no real federal restrictions or bans on e-cigarettes you can’t completely shield them from vaping. But it’s better they learn about it from you accompanied by an explanation of the side effects, than to hear about it from a peer accompanied by an explanation of the cool colors and flavors.




Coping With Dysfunctional Families

In the 5th grade I won the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) essay contest. I don’t remember what my paper was about or what made it compelling enough to receive an award. But I do remember the award ceremony. What I remember most is seeing my family in the audience, sitting together cheering me on. I also remember the subsequent family pizza night. All of us sitting together laughing and enjoying each others company over extra cheese pizza with my favorite accessory, Doritos tortilla chips. That moment is one that will forever be etched into my memory.

Shortly after, I graduated 5th grade and we had another family pizza party. It became a family tradition I looked forward to with every academic milestone. In fact, these dinners fueled every single academic accomplishment I’ve achieved even into adulthood. At some point, I learned that I could keep my family unified and “happy” with my academic success. And so, I tried with every fiber of my being to accomplish every possible academic award that was available to me. So I graduated with honors, academic achievement awards, perfect attendance awards, honor society awards, and more.

It’s My Fault: A Child’s Perception of Familial Dysfunction

Fast forward 19 years later after moving away. After earning my master’s degree I decided to take a break from school. One year later, my parents separated and I watched the family that I worked so hard to keep together begin to crumble. I was convinced that this was all happening because of my decision to take a break from the one thing that was keeping my family together, my ongoing academic success.

If you’re thinking, “that’s insane!” You are absolutely right. That’s the issue with family dysfunction, it creates an unbalanced dynamic that results in a confusion of roles, and boundaries. It produces a toxicity that undermines our capacity to individuate. Once this dynamic is established, it takes intentionality to see and understand things differently. Many of us are aware of the dysfunction that exists in our families and are looking for ways to cope. And although we can’t change our families, we do have a responsibility to work on ourselves. The following suggestions have been personally helpful and can hopefully be just as helpful for you.

Deal With Your Own Dysfunction

The first step to effectively coping with the dysfunction in your family is to deal with it. It is impossible to walk away from family dysfunction unaffected.

We are connected to people in our family history whose unresolved traumas have become our legacy. When the connection remains unconscious, we can live imprisoned in feelings and sensations that belong to the past.”

Mark Wolynn, Founder of the Family Constellation Institute.

Our ability to individuate and raise our level of consciousness is largely dependent upon our ability to makes sense of the dysfunction. While some choose to avoid and disassociate from their family unit entirely, this is not a solution. This will only temporarily table an underlying issue that will inevitably resurface (as triggers always do). Having some level of awareness of the dysfunction does not make us immune to its influence.

You Are Your Responsibility

Although we are not responsible for the dysfunction that we inherit, we are responsible for how we deal with it. Making sense of the dysfunction begins with self-exploration. And by practicing and developing new patterns of behavior we can change the negative thoughts and behaviors from our past. This is not something that we should expect to do by ourselves. The dysfunction created was a collective effort. And so your healing process should be just as collaborative. The good news is mental health professionals are passionate about and enjoy helping people like you and me process their past.

An additional underutilized resource is group therapy, also known as a support group. Group therapy provides a space for you to connect with other individuals facing similar issues. Inevitably, you begin to connect with group members (consciously and unconsciously) as if they were members of your original family unit. This creates opportunity to correctly relive familial conflicts. This is important because re-exposure to familial issues has the potential to repair existing wounds.

Forgive Your Parents

But the reality is that often, much of our familial dysfunction is attached to our parents. This is because the parental relationship is the most influential relationship we will ever have. It determines how we see ourselves and how we interact with others. And how we deal with the dysfunction in this relationship determines how we engage with society. In other words, coping with familial dysfunction oftentimes means forgiving our parents, especially when they don’t ask for forgiveness.

According to Oprah Winfrey’s article “Forgiving your parents,” unresolved issues with our parents impedes our ability to form healthy relationships with others. The anger and resentment that we hold onto is infectious and spreads into the new relationships that we form. But the truth is:

“Our parents cannot be expunged or ejected from us. They are in us and we are part of them-even if we never met them. Rejecting them only distances us further from ourselves and creates more suffering.”

Mark Wolynn,  It Didn’t Start With You

Effectively coping with the dysfunction in our families begins with healing from those childhood wounds through the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness begins with self-understanding which also involves understanding the family history underlying the dysfunction. It is through this process of understanding that forgiveness can occur. Forgiveness heals the wounds created by the dysfunction and allows us to objectively analyze the cause of our familial hurt. Once we identify and acknowledge our familial hurt we can make the changes necessary to keep it from happening again.

Protect Your Emotional Health

Ultimately, when coping with family dysfunction protecting your emotional health is crucial. This requires two things: practicing self-awareness and creating boundaries. Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine writes in his book The Body Keeps Score:

“We don’t truly know ourselves unless we feel and interpret our physical sensations; we need to register and act on these sensations to navigate safely through life.”

The key to understanding how to protect your emotional well being resides in your ability to be present. Taking a moment to check in with yourself (particularly when interacting with family) is an appropriate practice of self-awareness. Developing self awareness gives us the information that we need to create healthy boundaries.

On Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Sunday Brené Brown, PhD, explains that “there is no trust without boundaries.” This is because it is with appropriate boundaries that we can begin to trust ourselves and become brave enough to build relationships trusting that others will engage with us with our boundaries in mind. Family members will continue to engage in dysfunctional behaviors. The onus is on you to protect yourself by staying true to the limits and boundaries you’ve set.

Facing the Facts

Facing the realities of the dysfunction that existed in my family was the most difficult thing that I’ve ever had to do. I still have to remind myself to be present. Even so, I wouldn’t change any of it. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. The “A” student, the overachiever, these experiences taught me how to leverage the dysfunction of past and turn it into the success of my future. I encourage everyone to learn this same lesson because how we deal with our dysfunction determines how we heal. And the fact of the matter is, how we heal influences the next generation’s ability to do the same. Choose wisely.




The Debate That’s Beyond Impossible

Before Popeye’s and Chik Fil-A, Message food editor Donna Green-Goodman’s parent’s made the best vegan “sammich” in town. Donna dishes on what it means to eat a healthy, plant-based diet.

 

Message Editor Carmela Monk Crawford and I are following the buzz surrounding all the “new” vegan meat alternatives hitting the market. While relative newcomers to the plant-based, burger-making industry, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat—now found in restaurants, grocery stores and fast food chains nationwide–are taking a bite out of crime, the meat industry is biting back! The Washington Post reported this week that officials in 30 states have moved or are moving to protect the interests of America’s 800,000 cattle ranchers by going to court to enjoin the use of the words “meat”, “hot dogs”, “sausage” and “burger” as they apply to plant-based products.

Donna Green Goodman and Carmela Monk Crawford sampling plant-based foods at brunch. Dupont Park SDA Church, Washington, D.C.

Having grown up on “veggiemeat” we’ve got a unique perspective on it. Carmela and I are Adventists. We have lived around people from around the world who chose at some level to omit meat/animal products from their diets. Both of us are practicing vegans now and graduated from the only historically black college/university (HBCU) in the country that is a vegetarian campus and offers vegan choices, Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama.

We know this space. There is absolutely nothing like the food our mommas and aunties and church mothers used to make from scratch. That’s right, homemade gluten (also known as seitan), pecan patties, Special K Loaf, veggie burgers, and “meat loaves” from beans, filled our tables at church and family gatherings.

And, until recently as we have seen the genetic modification of many food ingredients, we didn’t experience health problems with these foods. After all, they were merely seasoned fruit, nuts, grains and vegetables. The Adventist Health Study bears that out. And, if you’ve seen or read about Blue Zone Living, you already know.

Forty years later, I still run into people who want a sandwich like my parents sold at their restaurant when I was in college. And, I’m telling you, my momma Shirley Green, and Aunties Bertha Major, Savanah Robinson and Lois McGruder would have you slapping somebody with the plant food dishes they made. Oh. My. Goodness!

The Rub (not that you need a rub for your veggie-burgers)

The rub, in all this fuss is, whether we are eating healthier. Do veggie “meats” qualify as “real” food? Are they more or less healthy than flesh/animal products? Whole Foods CEO Jack Mackie said he would not endorse the plant-based burgers, because he believes they are not healthy. Is the motive for making and marketing them really about health or is it for financial gain? Why would people even want to eat them if they’ve stopped eating flesh foods? And, if veggie meats have soy or wheat gluten in them, should they even be consumed?

Eden was vegan, according to scripture. The original diet was based upon the abundant fruit of the garden.

Way before all the fuss started and you were identified as a health vegan, or an ethical vegan, or plant-based or whole foods plant-based (sigh), Seventh-day Adventists (SDA’s or Adventists) understood that their bodies were the temple of God. Because of that they wanted to fill it with the best fuel for long life and health and to honor the Creator. Animals benefit from this choice too. Based on scripture, Eden was vegan, or mostly so (true vegans believe one shouldn’t consume honey, but I digress).

The Genesis story is clear on humanity consuming fruits, nuts and grains initially and then vegetables, without restriction (that means soy). And, up until the flood, those folk lived for close to 1,000 years. If you didn’t eat meat and their by-products you were simply a vegetarian. Ultimately, eating with God in heaven eternally is the goal, where there will be a tree that yields seven manner of fruit and the animals won’t have the fear of dying.

Visions And Vegetables

Ellen G. White at the Loma Linda Sanitarium dedication Loma Linda, California, April 15, 1906, courtesy Ellen G. White estate.

According to soyinfocenter.com no other organization or group of people has played a more important role than Adventists in introducing soy-foods, vegetarianism, meat alternatives, wheat gluten, dietary fiber or peanut butter to the Western world. As early as the 1840’s, Ellen White, one of the founders of the church, received divine inspiration about how to eat better and live better for better health. In the 1860’s her counsel to the Adventist church covered a plethora of topics about good diet and good health. And, we like to say, the rest is history.

Cereal Magnate John Harvey Kellogg

Whether it was a Kellogg family member intentionally crafting delicious foods from plant sources for patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium; medical missionaries extracting milk from beans; experts creating “meat analogs” from gluten, nuts, soybeans and other grains at Loma Linda or Worthington factories the United States, or in Australia (Sanitarium Foods), or at the first soy foods company in Uganda started by D. W. Harrison, M.D. a Black Adventist medical missionary, Adventists have gifted this to the world. Now we are seriously wondering what’s all the fuss?

Here’s what I know:

  • A whole food diet of plant foods, prepared simply and seasoned well is the most health-promoting diet available to humankind.

Dietitians and physicians interested in the relationship between diet and disease are confirming that. The American College of Lifestyle Medicine, started by some Loma Linda University alum is training a cadre of medical professionals in lifestyle medicine.  Kaiser Cardiologist Columbus Batiste, MD and British Physician Chidi Ngwaba, MD are two black physicians who are Lifestyle Medicine Practitioners. The Adventist Health Study explores the link between lifestyle and diet and disease among a cohort of their members.  As a Public Health Educator and graduate of Loma Linda University School of Public Health, my job and joy is to introduce people to choices and support them in those choices on their Journey to Better Health. Recognizing that everyone is at their own place on the journey.

  • You never need to eat meat or meat products to have a healthy life. Never.

  • When creating what people call “fake meats” or meat analogs, clearly the best ingredients to use are organic, non-GMO sources that are processed as little as possible and resemble the whole foods they were made from.

  • Anytime you create these meat analogs for mass distribution or sale, you will probably have to add some more ingredients for product consistency and appearance and shelf stability.

That’s one of the costs of mass production. A lot of these newer foods look or taste nothing like the foods SDA’s made. I can still taste those yummy FrySticks and Choplets and gravy. (My friend Don Otis at Heritage Health Foods is doing his best to restore that). And, yes the more of those things that are added, especially the sodium, the less healthy they can become. But, none of them have blood or animal fat or hormones or risk of disease associated with consumption of animals and their products such as allergies, heart disease, diabetes, etc.

  • Eating these foods as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes other whole foods, plenty of water, exercise, the outdoors and sunshine, stress management, rest and worship can only improve one’s health.

On the other hand, it’s when we take the current standard American diet, one in which meat is the center and replace it with “veggiemeat” as the center of our diets, that we can definitely have some problems. It should not form the center of your diet. We’re about improving diets, not just replacing meat.

  • By the same token, we’ve seen “dietary standards” forced on people who are obviously allergic/sensitive to animal/animal product consumption. That is also wrong. Most people of color struggle with consuming animal products, especially milk and dairy products.

Milton Mills, MD of the documentary “What the Health?” has some interesting perspectives on diet and racism.  And, when I worked in the Office of Nutrition for the state of Georgia, and oversaw the WIC Program, I struggled with “requiring” mothers and children to eat foods that were allergens or against their beliefs. I was happy to finally see our dietitians integrating some of these alternatives for our allergy, vegetarian and Muslim patients. So, for some people, these animal product alternatives are clearly better than the foods to which they are allergic.

  • I don’t frequent the fast food places that are taking the veggie meat products to a new level, but Carmela and I are both concerned about folk who live in food deserts and carry a disparate burden of disease and do frequent these places.

Former Philadelphia “Health Czar” and Message Food Editor, Gwendolyn Foster.

I actually used a plant diet to recover from breast cancer after seeing the benefit of phytochemicals on health in a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Study by Herb Pierson. If the owners of these places can add these veggie meats to the menu, certainly they can partner with organizations to bring more whole food choices to those food deserts.Makes complete sense to me. That’s another reason that SDA’s created the products they did. They formed a part of what they shared with communities who were learning about how to make their lives better. They were alternatives as folk made healthier food choices. Gwen Foster, MPH , former Health Czar for the city of Philadelphia, (and Message health and food editor) spent her career doing just that! But, that can only work if the motivation is really about health over profit.

  • For those who are allergic to nuts, wheat, gluten, some of the newer products on the market are made with coconut or peas as a base, so you have options.

And, when making them yourself, you can always use other foods like beans and rice and other veggies. Just make sure you add some seasonings! Please!

So, do your research. Make the best choice for you. And keep making them. Every round goes higher and higher on your journey to better health.

If you’re looking for some plant-based options you can make yourself, be sure to subscribe to Message.  And, visit me at lifestyletherapeutix.com to order my books or watch my Cookin’ Up Good Health Cooking Show.

I’m ’bout to head in this kitchen and create another vegan-wholefood-plantbased dish for those I love!

#plantpowered #dietandracism #veganmeats #impossibleburger #cookinupgoodhealth #messagemagazine

 




A Lesson on Exercise From an 88-Year Old Champion

For several years I worked in a nursing home. Daily there were six or seven elderly residents lining the halls in wheelchairs. They were either sleeping, staring into space, or speaking incoherently to themselves. The odor in the hallway smelled of stale carpet and fake sweetener.  The mood felt like sadness and desolation. Day after day it was the same scene and the more I worked there, the more I was determined that I would never grow old.

The Glory Days

One day I noticed an elderly man siting in a wheelchair in the Physical Therapy gym, struggling with his exercises. He was given the task of lifting a pair of tiny pink 4-pound dumbbells 10 times over his head.  It was visibly hard work for him. As he rested between sets, he pulled out a picture from his back pocket. It was old, frayed and discolored. In the picture was a young man holding an impressively massive barbell loaded with weights over his head. Across the top of the picture was the word “Champion” in big bold letters.

With pride he passed the picture around to the other residents and explained that he was the young man in the picture. He spent the next several minutes describing his glory days. He told us of his many accomplishments as a competitive weight lifter, the number of years he competed and the glorious feeling of wearing the champion medal year after year. Those around him were drawn in by his stories and listened in amazement.  When he no longer had stories to tell, his therapist indicated that his PT session was over and that it was time for him to return to his room for his medication.  I watched as his feeble body was wheeled away with his oxygen tank in tow.

When Youth Meets Old Age

Later that day I went to the local CrossFit gym and stood in a room with young men and women, all working hard to beat the odds. Picking up weights and throwing them down, running laps, climbing ropes, swinging kettle bells, wiping sweat, pushing hard, and digging deep. They talked about their meal preps, how much they missed bread, the last dessert they enjoyed, and the latest vegan recipe. Everyone had the same objective. Get stronger. Get healthier. Stay young, defy gravity and stop aging!

Then my mind’s eye pictured that elderly man in the nursing home earlier that day. He once found himself in a gym just like this one, with people just like us, and with objectives just like ours.  And yet none of that prevented his gradual decline to frailty and weakness. His once strong body was still forced to succumb to the wheelchair. No matter how much work he put in, he still had to trade in his strong legs for atrophied pegs; his chiseled physique for a frail frame.

Aging is Inevitable! Why bother?

The obvious questions overwhelmed my thoughts: Why bother? Why bother with any of this, if even the strongest of us are forced to submit to degeneration and atrophy? Why am I waking up at 4 am to get to the gym? Why am I depriving myself of the foods I love? Why am I punishing my body with strenuous workouts if none of this will keep time from ravishing all my hard work?

The next day in the gym I lacked passion and purpose. Suddenly, like the thoughts of Solomon, everything seemed vain and pointless. “Nothing I do in this gym will change the inevitable,” I thought. Physical aging and death comes for all of us. The strongest, the fittest, the fastest…we all end feeble and weak.

At the nursing home the next day I asked that 88 year old gentleman to tell me another story of his physical feats. His eyes lit up and he boasted and beamed about the first time he held a champions trophy in his hands. He ended the story by saying, “Not anymore, I can’t do those things anymore. I was prepared though. I knew this day would come.”

A Lesson in Exercise From an 88-Year Old Champion

I asked him, if he ever felt like the years he spent working towards physical strength were a waste. With a smile of conviction and glassy eyes he said, “Not one bit! Growing old is a privilege that some never get to experience. I knew that one day my body would not be able to lift those weights.  But I eventually learned that the real reward was not the change in my body, but the change in my Spirit.” He saw the confused look on my face and precede to explain.

“Achieving goals I never thought possible taught me JOY.

Avoiding foods that cause me harm taught me SELF CONTROL.

Showing up to the gym day in and day out whether I felt like it or not taught me FAITHFULNESS.

Waiting for the slowest person on my team taught me GOODNESS.

Putting to rest the negative voices in my head taught me PEACE.

Encouraging a friend to never give up taught me KINDNESS.

Enduring the pain of depression taught me LONG-SUFFERING and GENTLENESS.

Treating my body like a treasure taught me how to LOVE.

Understanding that nothing changes overnight, taught me PATIENCE.”

“God brought the fruit of the spirit to life through the process of building my body, His temple. And because our bodies are in fact the temple of God, health and fitness is an act of worship!”

“If you are not actively improving your physical body, you may be neglecting your spiritual health.”

The next morning I woke up with more vigor than I had all week. I was filled with a sober conviction that taking care of my body was of Kingdom importance. Knowing that one day my body would return to dust ignited a fire within me to build My Body; His Temple. I now have this burning desire to worship Him through exercise. Will you join me?




CrossFit and the Process of Progress

I am obsessed with working out. More specifically, I am obsessed with CrossFit!

A global exercise phenomenon, CrossFit began in the small garage of a man in Santa Cruz, California named Greg Glassman around 2001. According to Glassman, “CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in…Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.” In their online CrossFit Journal, Glassman shares that he developed CrossFit to “enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks.”

And as many CrossFitters proclaim, this high intensity workout has changed my life!

Now don’t worry, this is not an appeal or an attempt to convince you to become a CrossFitter. Instead, I’d like the talk about the overall progress and the spiritual lessons that we can gain when we commit ourselves to consistent high intensity exercise.

The Process of Progress

I began CrossFit in January of 2018 after meeting Coach Rachel Keele. Rachel has not only coached me in fitness, she has also given me tools that coach me through life. When I first began training with Rachel, I would show her pictures of people I hoped to look like as I sought to achieve my fitness goals. She kindly reminded me one day that my best, my bodies best, should be my goal. Me working hard and doing my best should be my goal; my personal progress should be my goal.

This idea revolutionized how I see the process of progress. Many workouts leave me on the floor. But I am coming to a place where I anticipate being on the floor. I look forward to feeling wrecked and coming back the next day to do it all again.

The process towards progress in any area of our life requires that we commit to consistently giving everything we have to the point of pure exhaustion. It’s only after you’ve given it all you have that you rest so you can do it all again.

CrossFit has me truly sold-out to the journey. And I’ve learned to value the pain that comes with the process of progress. Hitting the floor keeps me humble. Each rep keeps me honest. And there is no better feeling than knowing you gave your all to something that left you sore but strong.

The Process of Christ for the Progress of the Church

This principle of the process to progress is not original to CrossFit. In fact, when I look at the early church in Acts chapter one, I see a group of saints sold out to the process of progress. Christ, anticipating this reality, says in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”  See Christ’s example of radical love, transformational grace, and mind blowing restoration threatened the religious and political climate of its day.

Many of His disciples and followers all watched him die for these acts. And in this verse Christ is letting the disciples know that being His witnesses in the Earth, joining Him in the process of progressing religious and non-religious people into a new spiritual understanding is going to be hard work. It’s going to be work that’s going to require not just a commitment, but a power outside of yourself that is far greater than yourself.

The process of progressing religious and non-religious people into a new spiritual understanding requires the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

The disciples knew that following Jesus’ example, shaking up the spiritual and political climate of a religious institution, wouldn’t be popular or even widely accepted. These early apostles anticipated a difficult road requiring consistent prayer, vulnerability, and authentic fellowship with one another in order to make it. Expecting the discomfort and the soreness, they knew this gospel would cost them their lives. Yet, they still sold themselves out to the process of Christ for the progress of the Church. And like a strenuous work-out, the pain and soreness of the process served as a signal to them of their growing strength and faith.

The Commission to the Process of Progress

2,000 years later, the bold courage of the disciples ignites within me a desire to be a part of a church that is progressing. I too sold out to the process of Christ and the progress of His church. Wanting to be apart of a counter-cultural church, I desire to fully embrace the struggle such a worthwhile cause requires. Like the first followers of the early Church, the Spirit of the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and liberty for those who are oppressed.

The process of Christian discipleship calls us to be a revolutionary presence within our spheres of influence. The progress of the Church depends upon this level of unconventional, bold conviction.

The apostles show us what it looks like. So now, I am ready to join a collection of dedicated followers committed to doing the same.

Sore But Strong

CrossFit not only changed my body, it changed my perspective. One training session in particular is etched in my memory. One day, my coach designed quite the workout for me. Part of that workout consisted of doing thrusters with a barbell. The weight was really heavy and Rachel noted that I was struggling and taking long pauses. And as she saw me struggle she said something to me that I’ll never forget. She said,

“Tacy, it’s heavy so if you need to put it down that’s ok. But you can’t put it down for long. Count to ten and get back to work.”

We broke the reps into five lifts. I’d pause for ten seconds and then I’d continue. It took me longer, but I still completed my reps. In that moment I realized, sometimes life gets heavy. But progress comes when we choose not to stop, but instead to shift. So many things discourage us, but progress comes when we manage well what is before us.

I want to manage well what is before me. CrossFit has shown me that I can push myself. I’ve learned that your pain does produce results; that the pain of fitness does result in progress. There is no better feeling than knowing you gave your all to something that left you sore and strong. And it’s because of my consistent training with CrossFit that I am able to anticipate that this adventure called life is going to continue to build me up, one rep at a time.




How to Choose Foods on a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet

My husband took a small desk plant to work, and won the scrutiny of a clever co-worker who looked at the plant, and laughingly said: ”So you brought your lunch to work today?”

Umm…no!

But isn’t this a common misconception, that all you eat on a plant-based diet is grass? 

If not, then what?

A whole food plant-based diet is based on eating unprocessed or minimally processed plant foods. It’s centered on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, tubers, nuts, and seeds. It avoids animal products like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, and also excludes highly refined foods, including artificial foods with additives like excitotoxins, food dyes, trans fats, and sugars.

That may have been a lot to take in, but here’s what you should know: a whole food plant-based diet leads to a longer, healthier life. Numerous studies link this lifestyle to an abundance of health benefits, including lower cholesterol and lower blood sugar, while preventing and even reversing chronic diseases. 

And this diet is increasing in popularity. Forbes Magazine published an article declaring 2019 as the year more people “embrace a plant-based lifestyle”. In fact, according to The Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA),  plant-based food sales jumped 11% in the past year. Clearly, there’s an exponentially growing interest in foods that heal our bodies and enhance our lives.

But if you’re not careful, you could easily fall prey to the many “all-natural”, “vegan” and even “plant-based” food labels that aren’t truly whole-food, plant-based options at all. 

For example, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that those who ate high-quality plant-based foods, such as whole grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits were less likely to gain weight than those who ate less healthful plant-based foods, such as french fries, refined grains, and sugary items. 

So how do you choose wisely on this lifestyle and avoid pitfalls? Here are four fail-proof principles I use to guide my food selections that are sure to help you as well.

Principle #1: Stay as close to nature as possible

Stick with whole, unprocessed foods and ingredients. Processed foods generally refers to intentionally altered items. This includes physical changes, chemical additives, and artificial substances not originally present. Whole food, on the other hand, refers to unrefined or lightly processed foods. To gain the most nutritional benefit, the goal is to aim for food as close to its original form as possible.

For example, if you enjoy canned peaches in heavy syrup, eat the actual naturally juicy peach instead. 

Principle #2: Fresh is best 

The fresher the food, the more nutritious it is. Food picked straight from the farm or your garden gives you the highest amount of nutrients possible. Over time, however, freshly picked food produces enzymes that cause loss of nutrients, color, and flavor. So eat food closest to its harvest time to maximize nutrient benefits.

This may not always be possible, however, and that’s where fresh-frozen food is a win. It’s harvested and frozen when ripe, sealing in nutrients, color, and flavor. Nutrient-destroying enzymes that deplete your fresh food of vitamins and minerals are also deactivated when frozen. 

A good tip is to buy a mix of both quality fresh and fresh-frozen food for nutrient-dense options. And take advantage of the summer season to freeze fruit so you can have quality fruit all year-round!

Principle #3: If sourced from an animal, it’s not going in

Animal-sourced refers to meat, dairy (milk & cheese), eggs and other animal by-products. Note, some plant-based munchers occasionally eat honey sourced from bees. This may be the only exception–and a personal choice. 

Why avoid animal-sourced foods? While it’s true that meat and dairy consumption provide needed nutrients like protein and calcium, animal products also bring a litany of damaging health effects. Copious studies document links to cancer, heart disease, a shorter lifespan and more. Plant-based options are more than plentiful and still provide needed nutrients without negative side effects.  In fact, they increase your life-span and are better for the environment. 

Principle #4: If it contains added fats, sugars and ingredients that you can’t pronounce, stay away. 

Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health puts it best. “A plant-based diet could include consuming large amounts of sugar, refined starch, hydrogenated oils, and soda, which would be about the worst diet possible.”

Lengthy, hard-to-pronounce ingredients are often chemically derived. Chemical food additives carry consequences that include brain-exciting food addictions and carcinogen-induced diseases. So pay attention to food labels! 

A whole food plant-based diet is absolutely doable and enjoyable!  Follow these four easy principles to make selecting healthy food easier. Most importantly, let God guide you step-by-step towards becoming a healthier version of yourself. Each step is your declaration that says, I’m choosing my health!

Recipe: Ground Walnut Meat

This nutrient-rich recipe is so versatile!  You can use it in burritos, wraps, sandwiches, or on Taco Tuesdays, topped with a rainbow of crisp veggies, drenched in cashew sour cream. You can even enjoy it as a spread or savory crumbles added to your meal to give it extra pizazz. The options are endless.

RECIPE LINK & VIDEO: www.choosingmyhealth.com/groundwalnutmeat

Servings: 3 Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 0 min Total Time: 10 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups of raw walnuts
  • ¼ cup of soaked sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ a date (or whole date for a sweeter taste)
  • ½  Tbsp smoked paprika
  • ¾  Tbsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp of sea salt (or more to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp of water or sun-dried tomato water (recommended) or more as needed.

Instructions:

  1. Soak sun-dried tomatoes and date in warm water for 5 minutes. 
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until slightly chunky in texture.
  3. Taste and adjust as desired. Add cayenne for extra kick, water for a smoother texture, and salt to personal preference.

Get creative! Stretch the recipe by adding cooked lentils, quinoa, or cauliflower.




Ruby Red: The Power of Pomegranates

For centuries, people cherished pomegranates for their ruby red color, flavor, and healing properties.

They were symbols of prosperity and abundance in many civilizations. In fact, the Bible mentions the pomegranate as this plump fruit that appeared prominently in religious traditions and as a decoration. The red dye created from crushing the blossoms embellished the robes of Jewish priests (Exodus 28:33-34 NKJV). Bronze pomegranates are mentioned as decoration for King Solomon’s temple (Jeremiah 52:22-23 NKJV). The biblical people not only ate the fruit, they used it for medicinal purposes as the flowers were used to treat dysentery (Bible Gateway Encyclopedia 2019).

The Power of Pomegranates

Today, the consumption of pomegranates continues to increase as more research studies prove its powerful health benefits. Pomegranates exhibit potent antioxidative, antimicrobial, and anticarcinogenic properties. A recent study shows that pomegranates, a rich source of natural ingredients, have protective effects on the cardiovascular system. Substances derived from the fruit reduce oxidative stress and platelet aggregation, decrease lipids, and regulate blood pressure. Clinical studies demonstrated that daily intake of pomegranate juice lessens hypertension and reduces atherosclerosis (Wang, 2018).

Another research study indicates that pomegranates are really the superfood that will counteract aging. Scientists discovered a molecule that when transformed by microbes in the gut, enables musclecells to protect themselves against the major causes of aging (Dongryeol, 2016).

Further research shows that different foods play a role in arthritis inflammation. Foods that are rich in nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants may help neutralize Rheumatoid Arthritis inflammation and alleviate symptoms. Pomegranates are often recommended for symptom and inflammation reduction as the fruit is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and rich in nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. A study found that pomegranate juice is rich in polyphenolic compounds that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits which decreases inflammation and oxidative stress. Participants in the study experienced significantly less joint tenderness, swelling, and pain intensity (Ghavipour, 2017).

Arils: The Secret’s Inside

The thick skin of the pomegranate is inedible, but the hundreds of seeds called arils can be eaten raw or juiced. Pomegranate seeds burst with a delicious, tangy, slightly acidic flavor and emit a distinctly perfumed and invigorating aroma. Incorporating pomegranate arils into favorite recipes is easy. Sprinkle the arils on guacamole, green and fruit salads, and yogurt for an extra bite of flavor and crunch. The seeds make a delicious topping for oatmeal. Another option is drinking pomegranate juice as it contains high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals for a healthy body.

The pomegranate fruit season in the Northern Hemisphere is from September through February. When selecting fresh pomegranates, look for a ripe, intensely red colored fruit that feels heavy for its size.

From their distinctive crown to their ruby red arils that burst with sweet and tart flavors, pomegranates are considered royalty among fruit. Rich in vitamin C and potassium, an excellent source of fiber, and plenty of antioxidants make pomegranates a superfood. Enjoy the powerful pomegranate and reap its countless nutritional benefits.

3 Steps, No Mess Method for removing the arils (seeds) from Pomegranates

Cut off the crown and cut the pomegranate into sections. Place the sections in a bowl of water and then roll out the arils with your fingers. Discard everything but the seeds. Strain out the water. Then eat the remaining succulent arils whole.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette Recipe  

Ingredients

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 cup pomegranate juice

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 pinch of salt

1 pinch ground pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a container. Cover and shake.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

References

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/encyclopedia-of-the-bible/Pomegranate

Tabor, Aaron, MD. www.beliefnet.com/followingjesus/features/10-medicines-used-during-jesus-times.aspx?p=7

Wang, D., Özen, C., Abu-Reidah, I. M., Chigurupati, S., Patra, J. K., Horbanczuk, J.O. Atanasov, A. G. (2018). Vasculoprotective Effects of Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.). Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 544. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00544

Dongryeol Ryu, Laurent Mouchiroud, Pénélope A. Andreux, Elena Katsyuba, Norman Moullan, Amandine A Nicolet-dit-Félix, Evan G Williams, Pooja Jha, Giuseppe Lo Sasso, Damien Huzard, Patrick Aebischer, Carmen Sandi, Chris Rinsch & Johan Auwerx. Urolithin A induces mitophagy and prolongs lifespan in C. elegans and increases muscle function in rodents. Nature Medicine, July 2016 DOI: 10.1038/nm.4132

M Ghavipour, G Sotoudeh, E Tavakoli, K Mowla, J Hasanzadeh & Z Mazloom. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. volume 71, pages 92–96 (2017)




My Struggle With Mental Health

These Are My Confessions

I am a pastor, husband, father, and a writer. I love Jesus and I am excited about what He is doing through me and in me. Yet, there are two issues that I have dealt with my whole life: ADD and anxiety. I became aware of them pretty early on in life. The anxiety manifested itself in two ways, especially:
  1. Public speaking
  2. Dark, lonely places
I’ve always said God has a sense of humor because he called me to be a pastor: a job that requires a lot of public speaking and also a lot of traveling and staying in dark places alone. And truthfully I must confess, traveling was very difficult for me for the longest time. The anxiety got so bad that I couldn’t fall asleep. And I will never forget how my anxiety took over when I preached my first sermon. I was so overwhelmed that even though I had 10 pages of written material I only spoke for 5 minutes. My girlfriend at the time was so unimpressed with my sermon she broke up with me soon after.

You Are Not Alone

The reason I’m sharing my experience is because I find so many leaders and members alike struggle with mental health issues. And to make matters worse they’re getting terrible counsel. Unfortunately, many of us are dealing with everything from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) by ourselves. Anyone facing these issues alone knows that isolation only exasperates the problem.

Get Counseling

You know what helped me? Counseling helped. At some point we have to be honest and admit that sometimes you can’t just pray depression away, or anxiety, or _______________ (fill your mental health challenge here). “Pray harder” may not be the best solution.
In fact, when you pray and the problem continues it can create a false sense of guilt and shame. Many begin to believe that either God doesn’t want to heal them, or that they don’t deserve to be healed. And neither of these things are true. The fact of the matter is, mental health issues are not exclusively spiritual issues. They are illnesses that require medical attention in the same way a broken arm or a heart attack requires a physician. So if you’re struggling with mental health go see a counselor.

Prayer Really Works

But in addition to the counseling, prayer really did help a lot. There is a calming effect to prayer. This calming effect is really why I believe talking to God is such a blessing. I can truly say that through prayer i’ve experienced the promise of Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Work With the Weight

I also found that doing my job regardless of how I felt helped. In spite of the anxiety, I continue to speak and travel. I’ve taken God’s instruction to Joshua to “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). It’s verses like these that teach me to trust in God’s calling more than in my issues.

Talk Through It

And finally, I learned that talking to people also helped. Because there is a stigma attached to mental health issues it is oftentimes hard to open up. But when we share our stories with others it allows people to feel comfortable saying “that is my story too!” Vulnerability breeds community.
I want to invite you to seek help. The Father says, you are worthy. Jesus says, you are loved. And the Spirit say, you are special.

 




But, Unto You I have Given…

The Bible story of nutrition and diet

Dietitians and nutritionists, doctors and health educators, health coaches and even the self-made experts share a lot of information to help you decide what’s best to eat. So many opinions easily cause confusion, to say the least.

At Message, we believe in a Biblical worldview. Whether it’s about your faith, money, relationships, health, or diet, there is always an answer in the word of God. And, that’s how I sift through all of the “evolving information” that continues to come from the world of nutrition experts. My choices follow this analysis: how does what they are saying about what I eat compare to the Word of God?

In Genesis 1:29, the Creator explained to Adam and Eve what to eat. “And, God said, Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” That verse describes what we now know as fruits, nuts or seeds and grains.

Cranberry Bread

  • 3¼ cups unbleached flour or 2 cups unbleached flour and 1¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup soy margarine, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups natural cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons alcohol free vanilla flavoring
  • 1 8-ounce carton soy cream cheese
  • ¾ cup soy or nut milk
  • 1 16-ounce can whole cranberry sauce or 2 cups homemade cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Spray and flour bread baking pan—regular size or several small ones which are excellent for gift giving.

In a bowl combine flour, and baking powder. In another large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Mix in vanilla extract and cream cheese. Add milk, cranberry sauce and lemon juice. Beating on low speed of mixer, beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into pan(s). Bake at 350o for 45-50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool, cut, serve. b Yield: 1 large loaf or 3-4 small loaves.

Red Pepper Hummus

  • 2 cups cooked or canned garbanzos, with liquid
  • cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small red pepper (roast if desired)
  • ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic

McKay’s NO MSG Chicken Style Seasoning to taste, optional

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add the roasted red bell pepper by stirring in diced pieces or by blending in the whole red pepper. Delicious on pita bread with lettuce, tomato, bean sprouts. b Yield: 3 cups

After Adam and Eve sinned, the Creator revisited their diet saying in Genesis 3:17, 18 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and has eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.”

Barley Vegetable Soup

Olive Oil

  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small bell pepper
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced or diced
  • 2 cups fresh, coarsely chopped Roma tomatoes
  • 1  cup each – barley, corn, lima beans, green beans
  • Water
  • McKay’s Chicken Style Seasoning, Basil, Thyme, Parsley to taste
  • 1 Bay Leaf

Pour a small amount of oil into a large soup pot. Add onion, celery, garlic, bell pepper and carrots. Sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add other ingredients stirring well. Add 4 cups of water. Season to taste with Chicken style seasoning and herbs. Let simmer a few minutes. Add 2-4 cups more water, bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer about 30 minutes until ingredients are tender. Add more water if necessary. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve. b Yield: 6 servings


♥ Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon natural sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger, oregano, thyme, cinnamon or Jamaican allspice or coriander
  • Dash of salt

Place diced sweet potatoes into an oven proof dish. Mix seasonings into melted margarine or coconut oil. Stir into sweet potatoes, coating them well. Roast in 400o oven until desired tenderness. Serve. b Serves: 4-6

For 2000 years, humanity ate a plant-based, or “vegan” diet. And, scripture lists the longest person to live as 969 years. When God began to grieve that He had made man on the earth, He said He was going to destroy it through a flood and give all who wanted to live through it a chance to join Noah and his family on the ark. No one took his offer.

When the flood was over and all the vegetation was gone, God told Noah and his family, the only ones who went on the ark, that “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you, even as I have given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat” (Genesis 9:3,4).

It was then that dramatic loss in life span occurred. About 300 years were lost between Noah and his sons. And, today the average life span in America is close to 70 or 80 years.

Years later, as Abraham’s descendants, the Children of Israel exited Egypt (the Exodus), the Creator fed them daily with manna from heaven. The Bible says that the manna was like coriander/cilantro. He told them in Exodus 15:26 that if they did what He said, He wouldn’t put any of the disease on them that he put on the Egyptians. At their demand for “meat” He sent them quail—and, they ate it until it came out of their noses and many died.

God also repeated the details of His diet for them. In Leviticus 11, He clearly lists the animals that they could eat – the animals that were “clean” or vegetarian. He also clearly listed the animals they should not eat, animals that were “unclean” or the carnivorous scavengers. In addition, He states that “It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations through all your dwellings that ye eat neither fat nor blood” (Leviticus 3:18). That would include milk and cheese and dairy products, which in their unprocessed state are full of animal fat.

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Using a food processor or spice/coffee grinder, blend all ingredients together into a powder.

Store in the fridge for up to three weeks. Modified from karissasvegankitchen.com


♥ Almond Milk

  • 1 cup raw almonds, rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • Sweetener of choice – honey, agave, stevia
  • Salt, optional

Place almonds and one cup of water in blender and blend until smooth. Add remaining water and blend again until smooth. Add sweetener and optional salt to taste. Strain to remove any remaining nut solids. Serve as is. Serve with fruit or carob added. Use in any recipe that calls for milk. Variation: Use cashews in place of almonds. Make with flax seed using ½ cup flax seed and 4-6 cups water. b Yield: 1 quart

All through the Bible, God mentions honey. The Promised Land was flowing with it. And, in Proverbs (24, 25) He tells us to eat it, but not so much that it makes you vomit.

And, we see through the prophets Isaiah (11, 62, 65) and John the Revelator (22) that when He comes again to rescue us from this world of sin, the animals won’t die anymore to be served up on our plates. As a matter of fact, the lion and the lamb will play together. And, the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Avocado Salad Dressing

  • 1 medium, ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
  • Juice of one lemon and/or lime (depending on your preference, I use both)
  • ⅓ 1 cup water or more to desired consistency
  • Honey and salt to taste, optional

In a blender, place the peeled and sliced avocado. Add lemon and lime juices and water to make it thick but pourable. Add optional honey and salt to taste. Serve immediately. (Color darkens, longer it sits). b Yield: 16 servings.

Variation: Add ½ small cucumber, 1 handful fresh basil, 1 small container plain, non-dairy yogurt, 2-3 cloves garlic, water to desired consistency.

♥  Momma’s Rice

  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup your favorite veggie beef chunks, diced
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 2 cups Instant Brown Rice
  • 3¼ cups water
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • Garlic powder, Mckay’s Chicken Style Seasoning to taste

Pour a small amount of olive oil in a large pot. Saute’/stir fry veggie beef chunks and onion for about 3 minutes. Add carrots, peas and rice. Stir until mixed well. Add cilantro, some garlic powder and McKay’s Chicken Style Seasoning. Add water and bring to boil. Taste and add more seasonings if desired. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer until rice is done. Serve. b Yield: 6-8 servings

Echinacea/Golden Seal Tea

Often used in the winter months to fight colds/flu. Echinacea improves immune system, by increasing the white blood cell count. Golden seal helps upper respiratory tract infections, fights coughs and colds, and benefits stomach pain, ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, and intestinal gas. The powder can be made into a salve and used on rashes.

Boil 4 cups of water. Add 2 echinacea teabags and 2 goldenseal teabags. Remove from heat source and let steep for about 5 minutes. Add lemon and honey to taste. Enjoy!
b Yield: 4 cups.

I’m so happy that the Creator makes it so easy to figure out how to eat. He made us! He knows what’s best for us! He can give you power to overcome appetite

DONNA GREEN GOODMAN, M.P.H., writes from Huntsville, Alabama where she and her husband operate Lifestyle Therapeutix, A Lifestyle For Better Health Center.  www.lifestyletherapeutix.com She is a health educator who has been a college professor, National Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure “Circle of Promise” Campaign, and is  author of Somethin’ to Shout About!, (Orion Enterprises, 1999), Cookin’ Up Good Health, (Still Shoutin’, 2008) and executive producer of her own cooking show “Cookin’ Up Good Health!” which aired on HOPETV.  Tune in to Donna’s YouTube Cooking Channel and visit her  at www.stillshoutin.com




Walk, Don’t Run. An Hour A Day Can Turn Off Your Fat Genes

In November 2011 my daughter Kiana and I ran the Honolulu Hawaii Marathon. I searched  for a “Honolulu Hawaii Marathon”  closer to home, but could not find any.  Alas, we had to force ourselves and fly to Hawaii. There we ran 26.2 miles of beautiful Oahu, a full marathon.

We could only find the “Honolulu Marathon” in Honolulu. I use the term “running” very liberally.

Now I use the word ‘ran’ very liberally. I did a lot of walking. A lot. (The next time you see me, ask me how long I took to complete the marathon). The point is, we finished and have our medals and tee-shirts to prove it. We trained for eight months before the trip, running and sometimes walking up and down our street.

Positive Health Benefits

Recently I found out that walking as an exercise, as opposed to running, has positive health benefits. Let us review a few here.

According to a study of 334,000 people by researchers at the University of Cambridge, a regular brisk walk, just 20 minutes a day, cuts your risk of premature death by almost a third. Two other studies, presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago, suggest that walking can be a “potent weapon” in the battle against cancer.

The first study showed that over an eight-year period, women who were diagnosed with breast cancer and who walked for seven or more hours a week, were roughly half as likely to die from the disease than those who did not. The second study showed similar findings, this time for people who had intestinal cancers.

Walking Creates a Body Overhaul

Remember this is walking as an exercise not running.

  • A Harvard study showed that a brisk walk of about an hour a day counteracts by half the effects of “weight-promoting genes.”
  • Just 15 minutes of walking can curb the cravings for chocolate and a variety of sugary snacks.
  • Walking boosts the immune system and eases joint pain. Yes, several studies have found that walking protects the joints and reduces arthritis-related pain by lubricating the joints and strengthening the muscles that support them.
  • All the studies seem to confirm the fact that a regular walking schedule will reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular events including heart attack, high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.

Side Effects and Drug Interaction Risks Eliminated

One researcher stated in regards to the benefit of walking “it’s like a miracle drug.” Now to be very clear, any new activity you plan to engage in like this should have the blessing of your health care provider. It is important to realize that if the benefits of walking is to be maximized, the “brisk walk” should be fast and long enough to produce a slight sweat, at least.

In conclusion, the Greek physician and “Father of Medicine, ” Hippocrates of Kos (460 BC – 370 BC), once said “Walking is man’s best medicine.” The founder of preventive cardiology and physician to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dr. Paul D. White (of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome fame), confirms this when he wrote “a vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy, but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”

So why don’t you join me and get motivated? Begin to walk for your health. Begin today.