A Fit Writer in 2020: Eat, Live, Thrive Healthy Lifestyle

By Jennifer Hallmark

I stared down at the scale in disgust. Once again, I’d slowly edged up in my weight until I’d almost reached that number. In my mind, a certain number was more than I could allow myself to weigh. This was the second time in ten years that I’d almost reached it. Something had to change.

Diet short term. Exercise off and on again. I’ve studied diet and exercise. I’ve struggled to do both at the same time because, well, it was too hard to be disciplined in both areas. I did pretty well when I went to Curves, an exercise place that provided a specific way to eat healthier. But then our local Curves closed and once again, I wasn’t sure what to do.

I’d always been active when the children were younger and we had a farm working with cattle and chickens. But I’d semi-retired in 2011 and become a full-time writer. My brain and fingers were the only part of me that seemed to be healthy. At 56 years old, I was dealing with asthma, digestive issues, back pain, fatigue, and low energy. A part could be blamed on menopause but I knew my poor exercise and diet were also to blame.

One day, I heard about the Eat, Live, Thrive diet for women, a lifestyle plan to rev up your midlife metabolism. That struck a chord in me. Finally, a plan formulated for where I was, that understood the hot flashes, mood swings, and weight gain.

Here’s the blurb:  Eat, Live, Thrive Diet shows women how they can not only lose excess body fat permanently but also improve their overall health in critical areas such as brain function, resistance to disease, slowing down external aging, and increasing energy. This highly effective eating plan is presented in a compassionate voice by two experienced health coaches who share personal experiences of battling weight and emotional eating issues.

Whereas most diets are short-lived or require substantial upkeep to maintain, Eat, Live, Thrive Diet is a viable eating plan that women can adhere to indefinitely. In addition to minimizing sugar intake, the plan emphasizes the importance of short-term intermittent fasting–a simple lifestyle change that makes it easier and more effective for many mature women to reach their health and weight loss goals. The book also highlights the health risks and drawbacks of many popular fad diets that can be harmful on a long-term basis.

Click to tweet: “I couldn’t just diet. I needed a total change in the way I ate and exercised. But how?” Eat Live Thrive Healthy Lifestyle Diet #HealthyEating #EatClean

I ordered the book and prayed. Could I finally get serious? I’d reached a point where I couldn’t just diet. I needed a total change in the way I ate and thought about food, one I could stay on until I died. 😊 I also joined a gym and saved money to hire a personal trainer for a short time to set me up a cardio and weight-training plan I can stick to.

On September 23rd, I started the first phase, which is food testing, to see how my body reacted to different foods. One note: I also ordered the healthy self-talk download and listened to it. A lot. I knew my mind needed to be retrained with positive talk that agreed with the Word of God and this was really helpful.

I went by the book as much as possible (it encourages you not to be obsessive) and finished that phase. One important part of the plan is short-term intermittent fasting. I would eat during a 12-hour period, then fast for 12-hours. I occasionally fasted longer. Next, I formulated how I would eat according to my body and started the lifestyle phase. By Thanksgiving, I’d lost 15 pounds.

Woo hoo! I’d like to say I lost more after Thanksgiving, but the temptation was strong throughout the holiday season. I had good days and bad ones, eating wise. But on January 1st, I weighed and I’d only gained back 2 lbs. So, I felt pretty good about it.

I start my new gym plan today and am back on the lifestyle phase with the fasting. And I’d like to lose 15 more pounds.

Positive results? I weigh less. I’ve lost a little over one clothing size. Food tastes so much better, mainly because I avoid processed food and sugar. I’m more mentally alert. My asthma has bothered me less than it ever has.

Not-so-positive results? Especially at the beginning, I was hungry. A lot. And I wanted to turn to sweets and carbs for comfort when I was having a tough day. It was hard not to do so. I had to really shop to find what I needed and plan meals instead of just throwing something together at the last minute.

I blew it some days. But one part of the healthy self-talk audio says. “But when I mess up, I get over it and get back on my plan quickly without frustration or guilt.” And “I desire so much more than just good taste. My body deserves the best fuel I can give it.” I remind myself that I want to be healthy, as much as I can.

I’ve found enjoyment in taking care of myself because that truly is the bottom line. Am I worth taking care of? If I don’t do it, no one will do it for me. Only I determine how much I move each day and what I choose to eat.

Writing for years to come is my goal. If I’m going to be able to do that, my lifestyle had to change. For now, it’s working for me. Will it work for you? It might. Make up your mind that writing is important and to do your best work, you need to be healthy.

Start today. You’ll be glad you did. Share something you plan to do this year for your health in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!

Goodbye Comfort Food

IMG_1177What if you have to give up your favorite comfort food?

When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teen, he said good-bye to his favorite comfort food and all-time staple – Pizza. It was a tough summer for him since pizza was also the food of choice at parties and outings. Maintaining sugar levels and managing this auto-immune disease while working to secure a starting spot on the varsity football team was a huge challenge for Jake, but he did great.

He managed exceptionally well — I’m such a proud mom — and eventually went on to play professional football in the NFL. Harvest House Publishers just released his first book, an awesome, inspiring devotional: First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up.  UnknownEventually, Jake brought pizza back into his diet and used insulin to correct sugar levels, but he still maintains a very healthy diet. So, in honor of Jake, I’m sharing a diabetes-friendly pizza recipe from Nikki Sheriff @  Diabetesconnect.com

320x260Chicken Pesto Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust By Nikki Sheriff
Crust:

1 small head of cauliflower

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1 egg

Pesto: (1 cup bottled pesto may be substituted)

1 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

pinch sea salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

Toppings:

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

6 thin slices of a Roma tomato

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: To make the crust, trim and wash cauliflower florets (not including the stems). Pulse in a food processor until fine.Pour into a microwave safe bowl and microwave covered for 5 minutes. Lay out a clean kitchen towel and lay a paper towel over it. Pour the steamed cauliflower onto the towels and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, wrap up the steamed cauliflower and wring out as much liquid from the cauliflower as possible.Pour into a bowl and mix with cheeses and seasonings listed above under “crust”. Add the egg and mix with your hands and shape into a ball. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, placing a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.Lay out a piece of parchment paper and press and shape the cauliflower mixture into the shape of a pizza, about 1/4 inch thick. Once the oven is preheated, carefully lay the parchment paper with crust onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.While the crust is baking, make the pesto if using fresh pesto (or you could use bottled pesto).For the pesto, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese in a food processor until well mixed.Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Let it puree until well incorporated. Mix half of the pesto with the shredded chicken and set aside.When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and spread the other half of the pesto onto the crust, like pizza sauce. Top with the chicken mixed with pesto, the tomato slices, and both

Pour into a bowl and mix with cheeses and seasonings listed above under “crust”. Add the egg and mix with your hands and shape into a ball. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, placing a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.Lay out a piece of parchment paper and press and shape the cauliflower mixture into the shape of a pizza, about 1/4 inch thick. Once the oven is preheated, carefully lay the parchment paper with crust onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.While the crust is baking, make the pesto if using fresh pesto (or you could use bottled pesto).For the pesto, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese in a food processor until well mixed.Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Let it puree until well incorporated. Mix half of the pesto with the shredded chicken and set aside.When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and spread the other half of the pesto onto the crust, like pizza sauce. Top with the chicken mixed with pesto, the tomato slices, and both

While the crust is baking, make the pesto if using fresh pesto (or you could use bottled pesto).For the pesto, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese in a food processor until well mixed. Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Let it puree until well incorporated. Mix half of the pesto with the shredded chicken and set aside.When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and spread the other half of the pesto onto the crust, like pizza sauce. Top with the chicken mixed with pesto, the tomato slices, and both cheese’s.Bake 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melted. Slice into 8 slices and serve.

Looks and sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

***

Holly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children; daughter Betsy and football-playing sons—Jake (NFL) and Nick (University of Louisiana-Lafayette). Kansas City, Missouri is home and she blogs at www.writingstraight.com

Contact her at www.HollyMichael.com or on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/AuthorHollyMichael or Twitter: @HollyMichael

First and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Life can be pre-ordered at Amazon now by clicking this link, but will soon be available in most book-seller markets.

Thanks for stopping by. We are happy you joined us at Writing Prompts in June for our “Comfort Food Month.” Be sure to stop over in July. You will enjoy “Greatest Movie Ever Month.”

And now for the writing prompt…

The doctor lowered his eyes and studied the file. He raised his head and peered over his glasses. “You’re going to have to make drastic changes in your life.”

And go! Respond below in the comments section.

A Healthy New Year – It has NOTHING to do with the scale…

by Cari Schaeffer20140428_144615

I find the cliché of New Years resolutions to ring hollow for most. They are made with the best of intentions and typically focus solely on weight loss as The Path to define oneself as “healthy”. Well, let me tweak your perspective just a little.

What is health? It is defined as “soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment.” Hmmmm…is that the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word health? Or is your focus narrow and solely limited to one’s pant size? To be healthy should mean that our life is balanced in every aspect. Whether it’s financial, spiritual, physical, mental, social, or relational – strive for balance which will lead to health.

I can assure you – there are plenty of skinny people who are not healthy. The scale does not measure one’s health, only one’s weight. Rather than allow the scale to dictate my self-image, I base that on how I feel in my own skin and how my clothes fit my body. I choose not to obsess over the scale, so I only weigh myself maybe twice a year. Yes, you read that right. I am an American woman and I don’t weigh myself every day. I DO exist and I walk among you…bathroom scales

When determining your level of Whole Health, start with your finances. Debt equals slavery. Don’t fall into the trap. Being financially healthy is very simple – spend less than you make and save some of what you earn for unforeseen emergencies because they WILL happen. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll be fine. How much do you have saved for an emergency? How well do you stick to a budget? If you don’t have a budget, now is the time to make one. There are numerous resources for that – one that I highly recommend is http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/ . There are a lot of free resources that are exceptionally user-friendly on her site. Her tools will help you get on the right path to living a financially healthy lifestyle.

How spiritually healthy are you? How often do you spend time in prayer, in God’s Word, or in God’s house? This is an area none of us will ever be perfect in, but striving for excellence is certainly attainable. Determine to go to church each week, have a conversation with God every day, read at least a chapter in the Bible every day and then…do it.

Physical health starts with physical activity. You don’t have to train for a marathon or do intense cardio for an hour six days a week in order to attain health. How about starting with parking as far out as you can rather than waiting for the nearest spot to open up the next time you shop? Even at the gym, have you ever noticed all of the closest parking spots are taken? Personally, it makes me snicker – that is a true contradiction. Besides, parking farther out will lessen the chance of getting dents in your car doors. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, drink two more glasses of water today than you did yesterday, and say no to soda. They’re small steps, but steps in the right direction. It’s something to build on.

Mental, social, and relational health are intertwined, in my opinion. If you are healthy mentally, you are more likely to be healthy socially and have healthy relationships with those around you. I am sure you have an idea of what it means to be healthy mentally. You know when a friendship is not working or a habit/pattern you follow is unhealthy. I find, for women, at least – it’s difficult to say one little word to others, but not to ourselves. That word is “no”. It is all right to say no, even if what you say no to is a GOOD thing. Not every good thing is YOUR good thing. Remember, balance is the key.

Keep your priorities straight and in the proper order. Free time is a GOOD thing. Your schedule does not need to be packed in order to be fruitful. Jesus Himself said no and also took time out to re-charge. Shouldn’t we follow His example? The answer to that question is YES! There are actually squares on my calendar that are blank…and they’ll stay that way.

I sincerely hope that all of you have a Happy New Year filled with health and balance!

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing prompt: Write a paragraph about this photo.summer

A Healthy Month of January-Revisited

By Jennifer Hallmark.

It’s been almost abathroom scales month since I posted about my effort to experience better health in 2015. I’d decided to take a month at a time and make adjustments and see what worked and what didn’t. I looked at each area of health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It’s been an interesting time and now for the results…

Physical

Exercise I decided to try working out five days a week, 3 days of low-impact aerobics and two days of riding the exercise bike.

Positive-I stuck to the plan and feel better physically.

Negative-The bike riding bothered my back a little. I’m going to try one more month to see if it continues.

Diet I decided to cut back on sugar and follow a plan of eating healthy.

Positive-I’ve traded sweet tea for hot tea with honey.

Negative-I thought I knew enough about healthy food to just try to eat healthy. I drew up no written plan. The month was extremely stressful and I tend to eat when stressed. So predictably, I failed to eat healthy and lost no weight.

Mental

I would try a four-day work week and take more time to rest.

Positive-I made more time for myself and stuck somewhat to a four-day work week. I feel more rested.

Negative-I still have trouble unwinding at times and use work as a stress relief, which leads to me being tired.

puzzleEmotional

I would try four things for emotional health: Read a feel-good book or watch an inspirational movie; work a jigsaw puzzle; be accountable to a friend; and get out of the house more.

Positive-I’ve read a good bit and watched a couple of movies. I set up my jigsaw puzzle. I talked a couple of times to a friend about a couple of stressful situations I’m dealing with.

Negative-It’s cold and I haven’t gotten out of the house more. I need to relax when I am out and enjoy myself.

Spiritual

I would continue my daily devotion time, listen to music and journal, fellowship with other Christians, be a blessing, and enjoy nature.

Postive-I love my devotion time. Music and journaling are good for me. I’ve tried to be a blessing to family and friends.

Negative-I could still use more fellowship with Christians. It’s cold and I haven’t been out much.

question mark

So how does this all add up? How will I approach February?

(1) I’m going to follow a written plan for healthy eating.

(2) I need to turn to God in my stress and fellowship more with my family and friends.

(3) I need to realize it’s going to be cold in winter and just make myself get out more anyway. 🙂

How about you? Do you have any suggestions to help me out as I approach February?

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt: I couldn’t believe my eyes. The scales screamed the same number as when I’d started a month ago. How could it? My clothes fit better. I picked up the scale and…

 

 

 

Begin the New Year with a Daniel Fast

 By Karen Jurgens

Girl Cleaning Chalkboard

First things first. Especially for a new 2015.

Isn’t it wonderful to begin all over again with a clean slate? Most of us join in the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions of some form or fashion. Whether it’s exercising, eating a healthier diet, or focusing better on the important things, we can all identify. It’s like cleaning out that cluttered closet and organizing those messy drawers. Lots of work, but boy, so worth the effort.

Anything we change will produce a new and different result. And isn’t that what we’re all really after–a better body inside and out and a better life in general?

But wait…how about our spirits? Don’t they need cleansing and renewing too? Let’s consider getting off to a fresh start with a Daniel Fast.

newlifenny-Header-Forward

The first time I heard a minister invite the congregation to participate in a church-wide fast, I thrilled to the idea, only I had no idea how to do it. I had only heard of water and juice fasts where you drink but eat no food for a certain number of days. So how did this one work?

The Bible gives some guidelines in Daniel.

“In those days, I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks. I did not eat any tasty food, nor did meat or wine enter my mouth…” (10:2-3a, NAS).

No meat, no tasty food—which I interpret as any type of sugary concoctions like desserts—and no wine. Since I don’t imbibe alcohol, this personally means for me no meats and no sweets. Easy to remember.

And the spiritual cleansing? That comes through prayer and humbling yourself before God. The denial of pleasant foods reminds us that we are petitioning God during these days, as well as expecting answers from Him. This is a precious time, set aside to worship our God and seek His face.

What will be your result? Unlike Daniel, you may not have a personal visitation from Gabriel, but your spirit will be in tune with God. He will certainly answer your prayers and supplications that you lay at His feet. God has given me dreams, opened doors that were shut, healed my body, blessed my family, and so much more. Like Daniel, we can expect to receive great things from God.

Interested in finding out more about the do’s and don’ts? Here’s the list (courtesy of fastdown1.wordpress.com).

fasting

Foods to include in your diet during the Daniel Fast:                   

All fruits

All vegetables

All whole grains

All nuts and seeds

All legumes

All quality oils

Beverages limited to water

Foods to Avoid:

All meat and animal products

All dairy products

All sweeteners.

All leavened bread

All refined and processed foods products

All deep fried foods

All solid fats

(Want more information? Visit HERE  for the specific details.)

Are you ready? I wish you a healthy 2015, full of God’s grace and answered prayers.

prayer4“Be anxious for nothing, but in all things, through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, that passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NAS).

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt:

The ladies at the Bible study chatted as they arranged their books and papers in preparation for their new semester.

Chloe, a young mother of newborn twins, opened her Bible to the book of Daniel. “I hear that our leader has a surprise this month.”

Sherry, a mom to teenagers, passed a bag of pretzels across the table, munching on a handful. “Really? I hope it involves something yummy.”

The ladies giggled, sipping their coffee.

Just then their leader, Margaret, entered the room. “Welcome to 2015, ladies. How would you all like to be part of a Daniel Fast for the New Year?

The women looked at one another, eyes questioning, silent. Margaret recognized their hesitancy before she continued. “Has anyone ever fasted before? Could you tell us a little about your experience? “

You raise your hand and respond…

photos courtesy of Corbisimages and Newlifenny