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Eating healthy is a goal for many people these days. If you want to live a more abundant life, it’s critical. The problem is, though healthy eating is simple, it’s not always easy.

Why? Several reasons. First, the major food manufacturers markets their unhealthy products as though they are healthy (when I was a kid, the Snickers candy bar was advertised as being “nourishing”).

Second, these processed foods are everywhere.

Third, it’s easier to “just add water” or pop a box into the microwave and have a complete meal under fifteen minutes than it is to prepare homemade food from scratch.

Fourth, you’re used to eating them, and you like them, so you don’t want to give them up.

Fifth, you’re used to eating them, and you like them, so you don’t want to give them up. (Yes, the repetition was intentional.)

Finally, conclusions of nutritional studies constantly contradict each other, causing confusion as to which foods and which diets are truly healthy.

I’m not going to get into that debate in this post. Instead, I want to provide some suggestions that will make healthy eating an easier goal for you to achieve.

#1: Create a three-week plan to transition into the whole-foods way of eating.

The first week, eat a whole-foods breakfast every day. (HINT: dried cereal is never whole-foods, not even if it’s labeled as “natural” or “organic”, or contains whole grain flour, or contains bits of twigs and dried fruit. Real European-style muesli is the only exception.)

The second week, continue eating whole-foods breakfasts (we like smoothies at our house), and add whole-foods lunches every day that week.

The third week, all three of your main meals should consist of whole foods. No frozen meals, limited (to no) flour-based products, no boxed meals, and no processed snack foods or desserts (including things like cookies, soda, candy, and potato chips).

#2: Plan whole-food meals and snacks in advance.

And write out a grocery list for only the ingredients you need.

#3: Don’t grocery-shop when you’re hungry.

You’ve heard that one a hundred times before, so I won’t bother explaining it.

#4: Every couple of days, add an extra fruit or vegetable serving to your daily fare.

Do this until you’re consuming at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. (One banana or one medium apple, two cups raw lettuce, a half cup cooked carrots or asparagus are examples of serving sizes.)

#5: Make animal products condiments, not main attractions.

Despite the protests of Paleo diet and Weston A. Price bloggers, more and more nutritional studies are providing heavier and heavier evidence that the more plant-based your diet is, the healthier you will be in the long run.

Therefore, if you choose to consume dairy, eggs, and meat (this includes fish), the serving size of any of them should be no larger than the palm of your hand at any meal.

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I hope this tips will make healthy eating a no-brainer for you. If you’d like an even more detailed resource, check out my book Simple Diet, Beautiful You. It includes a section which teaches you how to eat three homemade meals per day in under thirty minutes of work!

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The Misery Of People-Pleasing

There are numerous challenges that can – and do – hinder people from living an abundant life. One that is often ignored, because it looks good on the outside, is people-pleasing.

I’m not talking about having a servant’s heart, and sacrificing your time, talent and treasure in order to help other people. A people-pleaser is someone who feels guilty unless they are doing what other people expect of them.

Even if the expected behavior goes against their own values, beliefs, or temperament.

The truth is, people-pleasers are living in fear. They fear being judged and criticized by the people in their life if they don’t live up to those people’s expectations.

Here are some examples:

  • John is an introvert with a family. The last thing he wants to do is attend the lunch following the funeral service he attends out of state. He will be miserable among all the other guests, most of whom he will not know. And he knows his wife doesn’t like being left alone with their three children for long. But he attends the lunch anyway, because if he doesn’t he know his sister-in-law will chew him out for it later.
  • Mary believes that the use of animals by humans for any purpose is wrong. But she continues to eat meat whenever her boyfriend takes her out for dinner, because she has heard him make fun of vegans.
  • Letitia is a senior in high school with an entrepreneurial spirit whose dream is to build her own business around her talent for arts and crafts. She knows by participating in online forums and groups that she doesn’t need to go to college to become successful with this. However, she’s going to set that dream aside and go to college to get a degree in teaching, because her mother insists that she will have a more secure future with that career.
  • Ed is the manager of a large supermarket. He knows he needs a day off once in a while, but he is often short-staffed because his employees call in sick a lot. So, many days he does double-duty as a manager and whatever the absent employee’s job is. He knows he should fire some of these employees and hire more responsible ones, but many of them are relatives or friends of friends and he doesn’t want to cause conflict within the extended family or circle of friends by letting them go.

People-pleasers aren’t true to themselves

The phrase “Be true to yourself” can be construed as selfish. However, the actual meaning is that each of us is to live according to how God has wired us, and according to the desires He’s placed inside each of us.

Most people, even those who aren’t people-pleasers, don’t live authentic lives. They don’t live true to themselves. Instead, they follow societal conventions and values, because that’s the path of least resistance.

Allow me to digress for a moment: My friend, if that’s the path you’re on, you cannot live an abundant life.

Back to people-pleasers. People-pleasers live by fear, not by faith. Their decisions and choices are made based on the values and desires of other people, rather than on their own values and desires.

Any kind of fear is a hindrance toward living an abundant life. The fear of man is one of the biggest, because it’s so hard to overcome. Especially for people-pleasers who have bypassed the age of thirty. By then, the fear is so ingrained that it becomes as difficult to root out as a large, old tree.

Difficult, but not impossible.

How to stop being a people-pleaser

Learning how to stop pleasing people is a two-step process.

Step #1: Develop more faith.

Faith comes by connecting with your Creator and learning to hear His voice. This comes in part by prayer, in part by reading the Bible – especially stories where God helped regular people overcome seemingly impossible circumstances – and in part by reading and listening to people who are strong in their faith.

Step #2. Establish personal boundaries.

If you never have, read the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud. If you have read it and you are still a people-pleaser, you need to read it again. And again. And again until you are actually establishing the healthy boundaries you need in order to live an authentic life.

“I tried that once, but it was scary.”

Of course it was. Everything new you try is scary. I taught elementary school for thirteen years, and for the first eight or nine, every single year, I was terrified on the first day of school. The proverbial bundle of nerves.

How do you make new things less scary? Keep working at them until they’re no longer new. When you first tell someone “no” who is used to you saying “yes” to them all the time, it will make you want to throw up. Do it anyway.

Then, as soon as you can, seek another opportunity to establish a boundary. Why as soon as you can? Because if you wait for too long, the next opportunity will feel like it’s the first one all over again, and you won’t make any progress.

However, if you don’t wait too long, you may still feel like throwing up when you endeavor to establish a boundary. Or maybe you’ll just get some butterflies in your stomach and experience sweaty armpits. But it will probably be a little easier than the first boundary-establishment.

Repeat until you are no longer people-pleasing, until whenever you decide to do a certain thing it is for only one of three reasons:

  1. God is speaking to you to do it.
  2. You want to do it out of a servant’s heart.
  3. You are doing it because it reflects your true self. 

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If you are a people-pleaser, your life is much more stressful than it’s supposed to be. A stressful life is not an abundant life. The choice is before you today: to continue on in misery, or to work on eliminating your fear of man.

My free book, Take Back Your Life!, can help you with many fear-based issues and motivate you to get your life on the right track. Click here to download it.

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Many people are missing a MASSIVE key when it comes to truly living an abundant life. A few months ago, I discovered the “Confronting Normal” podcast. If you’re a person of faith and you’re hungry for some challenge along your faith walk as well as to hear unique perspectives on various issues facing the world, you might want to check it out.

The episode I listened to the other day pointed out a glaring hole in a previous post, where I talk about what an abundant life looks like. I missed a major piece. Here it is:

If you’re serious about living an abundant life, you must look outside yourself.

In other words, you can’t be self-centered and be living in abundance.

Sure, you might be financially independent and experiencing great health and doing fulfilling work every day. You may feel happy most of the time.

Notice the focus there. You, you, you.

But we’re not here just to love ourselves. Jesus told us, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Who is your neighbor? The person in need who is within your reach to help.

Real love reaches out. Real love sacrifices. And a wise person realizes that those sacrifices ultimately become a gift to oneself. Because in giving of oneself, one grows spiritually richer. And like the Grinch, the heart expands and can love even more.

If you live only for yourself, you live a lonely life. If you refuse to see the need around you, your heart stays small.

And no matter how good your life looks on the outside, you will be cheating yourself out of a truly abundant life. Because a major part of abundance is your internal condition, and it will stay shriveled up and cold as long as you isolate yourself from the people who need your time, talents, and treasure.

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like I’m living an abundant life when I’m physically unwell. Whether it’s fatigue, a headache, clogged sinuses, or a strained muscle, I have a harder time being optimistic, productive, and encouraging when something in my body is out of balance.

While nobody has perfect health, experts in the field now believe that the state of one’s health largely depends on one’s choices, as opposed to one’s genetics. This includes everything from cancer and heart disease, to most autoimmune diseases, to frequent viral infections.

In other words, for the most part, you control how well you feel. When it comes down to it, living an abundant life is all about having the right mindset and making the right choices.

Many changes you could make regarding care for your body require some time before they bear fruit in your life. For example, if you’re overweight and haven’t been exercising, if you start exercising today you won’t lose a significant amount of weight for at least a couple of weeks.

However, there are other changes that could help you have more energy and feel better within mere minutes to a few hours. I’d like to offer five actions you could take in order to start feeling, today, that you’re living a more abundant life in the physical realm.

Action number one: Lie down for fifteen minutes and rest your eyes.

It can be on your bed or your couch. You can take a nap, or you can listen to music or catch up with your favorite podcast. Most people these days number one, don’t get enough sleep; and number two, spend hours a day staring at a computer screen, or reading documents or books, or both. When you do “close” work like this for hours on end, your eyes experience some level of strain, even if you don’t notice it. This strain creates a low level of stress both physiologically and emotionally. And stress is one of the biggest factors leading to illness and disease.

So today, preferably mid-afternoon, lie down for fifteen minutes and rest your eyes. When you get up, you will feel at least a little more energetic, a little less stressed, and a little more capable of facing the rest of the day. At least. You may even feel happier, which will do wonders in help you to feel you’re living a more abundant life.

Action number two: Smile at least three times when you don’t feel like it.

I don’t mean that you should smile at inappropriate times, like when someone’s just told you that a loved one died. I mean, smile at your children and say a cheery, “Good morning,” even if one of them kept you up last night. When you go into work, smile at your co-workers when you greet them, even if you all are sharing dread at the upcoming meeting this morning.

Even a forced smile improves your mood. My challenge is three smiles, but you don’t have to limit yourself to that! However, even a mere three smiles that you wouldn’t otherwise have pushed onto your face will make you feel better, at least emotionally, perhaps even physically.

Action number three: Cut out either starches or meat from one of your main meals.

Most people eat at least one main meal a day consisting of meat and a starch, whether it be bread, rice, or potatoes. Health experts aren’t sure why, but for many people this combination causes some level of digestive distress. For some people, like me, it causes a high level of digestive distress, leading to a lot of abdominal discomfort, bloating, and gas leaving out both ends.

So today, for at least one meal, cut out either the meat or the starch when you were planning on eating both. See how you feel afterward. There’s a good chance you’ll have more energy and no indigestion. If you have suffered from chronic indigestion and gas after meals, you will definitely feel like you jumped up several levels in achieving a more abundant life!

Action number four: Take a magnesium supplement right before bed.

Magnesium is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions at the cellular level, and most Westerners are deficient in the mineral at some level. Such a deficiency causes everything from restless legs and sleep difficulties, to severe depression and panic attacks. Click here for a more comprehensive list of magnesium deficiency symptoms.

I recommend two types of magnesium, because other types can cause either a laxative effect or constipation, especially at therapeutic doses. The following two types don’t. The first is easily available at any health food store, at online stores, and even at high-end supermarkets: chelated (KEE-lated) magnesium. It’s a powder that comes in capsules.

The second is angstrom magnesium, which is a liquid form. I’ve only been able to find this type online (I purchase the Mother Earth brand from Amazon).

Take either two capsules of the chelated, or one-half teaspoon of the angstrom, within an hour of going to bed. If you normally have trouble sleeping, you should sleep better tonight. If you normally have restless legs after lying down, the sensation will either decrease or disappear altogether (it may take several days of taking the supplement for that to happen if your restless legs are severe).

You will feel better in the morning, and that will make you happier.

Check out my free e-book, The Cure For Mental Illness? for a thorough treatise on how to naturally alleviate the symptoms of mental illness, including P.M.S. It contains a more comprehensive discussion on why and how to use magnesium.

Action number five: Make safety your number one goal.

So many of our bodily aches and pains come from ignoring common sense safety rules. Even a paper cut on a finger can cause enough distress for a long enough time to make you feel like life isn’t any fun.

Therefore, today, be fully alert when you drive, and don’t make any moves even close to reckless. If you’re not sure you can lift a heavy object by yourself, ask for help before even trying. Handle glass with care. Don’t rant and rave while waving a pencil or fork around in front of your face.

The list could go on for miles, but you get my drift. Following basic safety rules makes you healthier. And good health is a major part of an abundant life.

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In my book, Simple Diet, Beautiful You, I focus on one of the biggest lifestyle factors that affect your health: diet and nutrition. If you know you’re not eating as healthy as you should, and you want to get better in that area, my book will definitely help you. Apply the five ideas above, as well as the principles in the book (click here to check it out), and you will feel like you’re living the abundant life!

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