Friday, September 18, 2015

Modeling a Quiet Time and My Favorite Devo by Carole Lewis

Last night I modeled a quiet time for our Thursday night class and said that my favorite devotional book of all time is My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  This morning when I was reading my devotional for today, it was talking about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, the subject of day 3 in week 5 of the new FP4H Bible study, Healthy Boundaries. I have copied below so you can see why I love this devotional book more than any other and have been using it since 1984.  It is always fresh and new because it has been a year since I read it last. Because it is deep spiritual truth, it takes years to fully understand the content.  Also, it is deep enough that it wakes me up as I read it while drinking my morning coffee.
There is a free app or you can go to to read the devotional each day for free.
The reason I love the physical book is that I write significant life events that happen on that day and put the year beside it.  I have been using the same book since 1990 and would be distressed if something happened to it because my life is literally in it.
Praying you all have a blessed weekend full of healthy food; physical, mental, emotional & spiritual.
Carole Lewis 
From My Utmost For His Highest...
His Temptation and Ours
We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. — Hebrews 4:15
Until we are born again, the only kind of temptation we understand is the kind mentioned in James 1:14, “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” But through regeneration we are lifted into another realm where there are other temptations to face, namely, the kind of temptations our Lord faced. The temptations of Jesus had no appeal to us as unbelievers because they were not at home in our human nature. Our Lord’s temptations and ours are in different realms until we are born again and become His brothers. The temptations of Jesus are not those of a mere man, but the temptations of God as Man. Through regeneration, the Son of God is formed in us (see Galatians 4:19), and in our physical life He has the same setting that He had on earth. Satan does not tempt us just to make us do wrong things— he tempts us to make us lose what God has put into us through regeneration, namely, the possibility of being of value to God. He does not come to us on the premise of tempting us to sin, but on the premise of shifting our point of view, and only the Spirit of God can detect this as a temptation of the devil.
Temptation means a test of the possessions held within the inner, spiritual part of our being by a power outside us and foreign to us. This makes the temptation of our Lord explainable. After Jesus’ baptism, having accepted His mission of being the One “who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) He “was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matthew 4:1) and into the testing devices of the devil. Yet He did not become weary or exhausted. He went through the temptation “without sin,” and He retained all the possessions of His spiritual nature completely intact.
Wisdom From Oswald Chambers

Crises reveal character. When we are put to the test the hidden resources of our character are revealed exactly.  Disciples Indeed, 393 R

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Best Way to Get Something Done is to Begin

Summer presents many opportunities for family fun, but summer can also be a fertile breeding ground for a common affliction known as “procrastination” – putting off until tomorrow what you know you should do today.   Some of us are afflicted worse than others.

Have you been “putting off” getting back to those physical disciplines you know to be important? Things like getting back to your exercise routine? Watching those desserts and servings of sweet tea?  Most of us can identify with the Apostle Paul where he says in Romans 7:15 “…For what I want to do I do not do…” Some of that warfare takes the form of procrastination – putting off doing what is needful for a variety of reasons.  Here are a few I’ve heard: Summer excuses:

  • You can’t expect me to just eat 1600 calories while I am on vacation.
  • You can’t expect me to exercise when it’s so hot outside!
  • You can’t expect me to have my quiet time with guests in the house!
  • You can’t expect me to pass up home cookin’ on the 4th of July!
And so on and so on. I do not think we are expected to be perfect in all things, but I do think we must stay focused with whole-hearted sincerity on those disciplines we have committed ourselves to as leaders of First Place 4 Health.  I do expect you to get back on track.  My last excuse just went back to school!

Becky Turner shares in her seminar “Freedom from Frenzy” that there are basically two reasons we procrastinate:

  • The task is unpleasant – we keep pushing it off and then it controls us!  Exercising and eating well are not unpleasant tasks – just the contrary. They bring life and energy to our bodies.   
  • The task is overwhelming – we can start with just one small but significant step, but we must start.     An ancient proverb says “The best way to get something done is to begin.” 
The time to do the next right thing is right now.  Today we have the opportunity to make our next choice a good one, a productive one.

Summer has been a blast but I’m falling forward.

Vicki Heath

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why I Post

I hope that all my friends know that I don't post my walks to Facebook for attention or approval. I only want to encourage all of you to put on those shoes and walk. Walking has so many health benefits and we've all been doing it since we were about one year old. I love my FitBit, which records my steps every day. I aim for 10,000 steps a day and have gotten that most days since Johnny left me for heaven. It is great for my mental, spiritual and emotional health as well as my physical health. When I walk early, I listen to my FP4H Scripture memory CD and pray. When I walk later, I talk on my cell phone to make the time go faster. For two years, I have sent my daily stats from my Fitbit to my trainer, Donna. It's the last thing before I go to bed. The other night, I got a phone call after I had sent my stats. Now my cell doesn't work inside half the time, so when I go outside to walk and talk. I talked for 30 minutes that night and had another 3,000 steps, so I sent another e-mail to Donna adding to my total steps for the day.  I asked her, "Do you think I might have FitBit OCD?" : )  Donna thinks I could have other obsessions a lot worse than counting steps, so I'll just keep counting. Won't you join me? If it's too hot, go to a mall or fitness center. Start slow if you can barely walk and add 10% a week to your time. You can do this and I love company!

Post your comment below and let me know you are joining me in my walk.

Carole Lewis
FP4H National Director Emeritus

Monday, June 29, 2015

For His Glory

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.  Colossians 3:23

All of us have things to do that we don’t want to do. When my husband, Bob, was younger, his job every night after dinner was to wash the dishes. He is very quick to admit that he didn’t like doing dishes. In fact, he hated washing the dishes. When we were first married, he told me he would help me do anything in the house except wash dishes. I soon learned that he wasn’t kidding.

One Wednesday evening after fellowship dinner at church, I was talking with some friends when someone came over to me and said, “Bob is having too much fun in the kitchen; I didn’t know you could laugh that much washing dishes.” This I had to see for myself. I stood in the doorway in utter amazement. There was Bob in a plastic apron, scouring a giant cooking pot and laughing. He lovingly looked at me and said, “I’m doing this for the Lord and for His glory,” and then he squirted someone with the sprayer as he walked by. Bob continued to wash dishes for the Lord every other Wednesday for two years.

At home, Bob’s formal dishware of preference remains styrofoam or plastic. But I can’t deny that he had an amazing attitude when He was working for the Lord. I can only imagine how much fun we could have if we did everything for the Lord and His glory instead of complaining about the task at hand.


Father God, I know there are tasks ahead of me today that I am reluctant to do. But if my performance is pleasing and acceptable to You, nothing else really matters.

Journal: What have you been putting off doing? Do one task today that you have dreaded, and do it for the Lord and His glory.

—Betty Lacy

This devotional taken from Living Well devotional, available in the FP4H online store here just $5 through June 30th.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Only You

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7 

Galatians 5:7 is one of my favorite verses. I guess the reason is because I have lived it so many times. I can easily run a good race for a couple of weeks, but the daily routine of running finally gets to me, and I stop running. The truth is that I am basically undisciplined. I like the idea of living a disciplined life; I just don’t like the hard work it takes to achieve it.

 I love a clean closet, but that means I must pick up my clothes and shoes every single day. I love a clean desk, but that means I must handle paper only once, which is extremely hard for me to do. I love a clean car, but that means I must dispose of the trash I seem to collect. I love to see that I’ve lost weight when I get on the scale, but that means I must watch what I eat and write it down every day.

Well, you get the picture. I’m the only one who can run my race, and you are the only one who can run your race. Who keeps cutting in to keep us from obeying the truth? I suspect the answer is a simple one—me and you!

PRAYER:  Dear Lord, I want to run a good race to the finish line. Help me to keep from cutting in on myself today.

Journal: In what way are you your own worst enemy? Pray about a race that you need to re‐enter.

—Carole Lewis

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Check out the great seminars offered at Summit 2015 this year!

BE FREE ~ Gari Meacham
Culturally we’re bullied and hijacked into thinking dieting is the answer to our struggles with food.  More control—more discipline—more white-knuckled resolve to reach a goal.  The problem is dieting is a carnal way of handling a spiritual problem.  The real question isn’t “How can we lose weight?” but rather, “How can we be free?” We don’t connect Jesus’ promise of freedom to the struggles we experience with food.  Be Free explains that freedom is not a lie or a tease from a Savior that felt like boasting, but rather—an invitation to something great.  

Don’t quit Get Fit ~ Vicki Heath
Every day, people give up trying to get in shape because they buy into the lie that being healthy is as simple as eating less and exercising more.  But healthy living for a lifetime doesn’t begin with a change in what we do.  Everyone who wants to defeat the “4 Fitness Killers” – no time, no motivation, no results, no stamina ~ has to start with a change of mind.  Vicki helps you identify a Get Fit Plan for your life. 

EASY Secrets to Healthy Cooking ~ Lisa Lewis
Healthy cooking doesn't mean that you have to become a gourmet chef or invest in expensive cookware.  Join Lisa as she shares secrets to cutting fat, sugar, and calories out of your favorite recipes using healthier ingredient substitutions—without slashing any flavor.  Bonus Q&A answering your questions about cooking or using the Live It Tracker. 

Getting Free from Stinkin' Thinkin' ~  Carole Lewis
How we think can make us or break us.  This seminar is for you if you or someone you love ever have thoughts such as:
·       It’s no use, I’m a failure 
·       Others can do it, I can’t
·       Why should I keep trying? 
 Learn the transforming steps to walk in God’s freedom.

Getting Started with FP4H ~ Helen Baratta
Although weight management is often our motivation for joining a First Place 4 Health group, the focus is not just on the body or on the number on the scale.  By applying biblical disciplines that affect the whole person – the body, the mind, the heart and spirit – you will experience total health – health for life!   We will share the history, mission and approach to FP4H so you too can start a FP4H ministry resulting in a closer walk with the Lord. 

Maximize Your Potential ~ Rob and Linda Seagears
During our time together, we'll explore and discuss six critical questions to maximizing our potential.  First, we will identify what God wants us to do and continue with some practical steps toward moving in His direction.  Join us for personal application, fun stories and shared experiences. 

Nutrition:  Peak Brain Power ~ Charlotte Davis
God has given us amazing brains to help us learn His Word and other information to assist us in completing our RACE here on the earth.  Come to this seminar and discover the “brain foods” that can help boost your memory, keep your mind sharper, and lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease! 

Discover and practice new ways to encourage others.  One of the most challenging things in our life is the nurturing and in some cases maintaining relationships with family, friends, group members and even frenemies.  Treasured Relationships explores the biblical ways to encourage others. 

You + Me = We ~  Megan Keefe

Doing life alone is NOT how God created us to live.  Getting your friends, small group, accountability partner, spouse and especially your family to get on the healthy train can be tough.  We all like or dislike different forms of exercise.  Finding something to do together is encouraging. Join me for strategies and ideas for Actively Doing Life Together.

Go here for more info:  Summit 2015

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Holiday Tips for Fitting in Exercise

♥   Plan holiday activities around things other than food.
♥   Go on an ice-skating party followed by hot spiced apple cider.
♥   Bundle up and go on a walking sightseeing trip to view the colorful decorations and lights in your
neighborhood. Go on a walking window-shopping expedition at your favorite mall.
♥   Take a trip to the woods to chop down your own tree.
♥   Have a tree-trimming party where everyone brings their favorite healthy treat.
♥   Have a caroling party and go from house to house (or floor to floor) and sing.

How do you fit in exercise during the holidays?  Comment below.

Giving Matters

What a difference a dollar makes!

Every dollar you choose to donate to FP4H this year will make a difference. Your giving will:

·       Help provide scholarships to First Place 4 Health events.
·       Help develop our website to host online groups
·       Help launch new groups all over the country.

There is hope for those who suffer from obesity and other health-related issues.  We have the answer found in the power of the resurrected Christ. We know that First Place 4 Health changes lives. We cannot do this by ourselves. Prayerfully consider partnering financially with us – changing lives one pound at a time.

Click here to donate:  


Vicki Heath

Monday, October 6, 2014

Get Off The Roller Coaster

I think you would agree that emotional eating is one roller coaster ride in life none of us truly enjoy.  The thrills are short-lived, quickly followed by disappointment, and seeing how we have a hard time getting off, it’s a rather nauseating ride.  Despite what we may think about our relationship with food, many of us boarded this ride a long time ago and have yet to completely exit the platform.  When you really think about it, statistics convey this quite clearly.  Consider this; an estimated 65% of US adults are currently either overweight or obese.  However, the knowledge base about weight management continues to expand.

So what is precluding our successful passage from knowledge to behavior?  There are many theories, including the roles our genetics and environment play, but I strongly believe it’s the combination of our unhealthy emotions and sabotaging thoughts that can be most destructive.  Under-eating or over-eating have long been recognized as coping mechanisms for alleviating and dealing with stress and emotions.  In fact, most nutrition professionals believe 75% of overeating is secondary to emotions.  So it begs the question, “Why do we as Americans not spend more time investigating our relationship with food, and solutions for bringing it into better balance?”  At First Place 4 Health, we do give attention to this prevalent disconnect that so often thwarts our plan for eating healthy and losing weight.  You can see this aspect of a balanced life in more detail in the First Place 4 Health Member's Guide.

 I had the pleasure of attending a professional conference led by Judith S. Beck, author of The Beck Diet Solution.  If you’re looking for some summer reading, I highly recommend it.  From the conference I learned of three validated solutions for getting off the emotional eating roller coaster.  I pray that the validated solutions below speak encouragement into your day and hope to overcome this boulder of a barrier keeping you from reaching your goals.

Retraining Your Brain
Cognitive restructuring is defined as “the process of learning to refute cognitive distortions, or fundamental faulty thinking with the goal of replacing one’s irrational, counter-factual beliefs with more accurate and beneficial ones.”  To assist us in this process, Dr. Beck suggests reading response cards that state rational, factual, and beneficial thoughts whenever we feel tempted to step foot on the ride, even just for one go ’round.  Here are some examples of cue cards you could make and use at home:

On your fridge:  “It’s not in here.”
By your alarm clock:  “You’ll thank yourself later for getting up and exercising.”
On your dashboard:  “Keep driving – the drive-through isn’t worth it.”
Anywhere:  “You can eat whatever you want or be thin, but you can’t have it both ways.”

These statements immediately bring reality to your mind and serve as a rudder for guiding your thought processes along a more constructive course.  The classes I spoke to particularly enjoyed this concept and came up with many personalized cue cards.  What ideas can you come up with?

Remembering What It Is You Really Want
Another exercise Dr. Beck has her clients do is create an “advantages list” – a list of all the reasons it is advantageous for them to lose weight and get fit.  Dr. Beck encourages her clients to read aloud their advantages multiple times a day to combat the subtle but ever-present temptation to fall off course.  Like Paul says in Romans 7:15, We do not understand what we do for what we want to do we do not do, but what we hate we do.  The theory is that when we remind ourselves of what we truly want, we are motivated to stay on track.  Some examples of advantages from classes I visited were:

   1. peace with my body
   2. so I can play longer with my kids
   3. so I can model healthy self-esteem to my daughter
   4. spiritual maturity
   5. self-respect
   6. so I can enjoy clothes shopping
   7. to finally move on with my life

I strongly urge you to make a list of your own.  Laminate it.  Carry it with you.  Make multiple copies and put them where you’ll read them.  Let your advantages list keep you in constant remembrance of why you’re in First Place 4 Health, what your goals are, and why they are important to you.

Keeping Yourself in Check
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – keeping a food record is one of the best favors you can do for yourself.  They are a very strong predictor of weight loss – stronger than your baseline body mass index, age, or exercise!  Even if you don’t fill it out perfectly, studies continue to show that they make a big difference.  When you are honest with yourself and monitor your progress, you do a lot of good for your thinking and your perceptions.  I won’t lie and say it isn’t painful sometimes to open ourselves up and assess how we’re really doing, but trust me when I tell you it’s fruitful – abundantly so.  This month try adding the element of your emotions to your Tracker.  Check the box for happy or sad and even write in the margin or wherever you can fit what you were feeling when you ate.  It’s just one more step towards awareness and we know ignorance is not bliss!

To good health,
Erin Dubroc, MPH, RD, LD

There are lots of great magnets in the First Place 4 Health online store including the "It's not in here." magnet shown above.  Visit to see more.

This article taken from the First Place 4 Health knowledge base.  You can find more on nutrition and other topics under the Resources tab at

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don't Tempt Me

The Bible study my class is using this session, Seek God First, has been so perfect for all we go through on a daily basis.  I am always amazed at how God meets us where we are.  We are doing week six, "Don’t Tempt Me."  My favorite devotional book is My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers.  Three days this week, September 17, 18 & 19,  have been devoted to the subject of temptation.  If you have this book, I encourage you to read these three days.

I have used this same devotional book since 1984 and I have recorded significant events in my life on the specific day with the year beside it.  Today’s devotional, September 19th, was the day that our family went back to the bay after Hurricane Ike destroyed our home on Galveston Bay, September 13, 2008.  Look what I read that day, 

“You are those who have stood by me in my trials.” Luke 22:28  Here is a portion from September 19th - “Watch when God shifts your circumstances, and see whether you are going with Jesus or siding with the world, the flesh and the devil? We wear His badge but are we going with Him? We have this idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings round us. Never!  God engineers circumstances and whatever they may be like, we have to see that we face them while continually abiding with Him in His temptations.  They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us”. 
Do you see how perfect this devotion was for me that day?  

Are you facing temptations to the life of the Son of God in you this week?  Our group has endeavored to not eat sugar for the entire seven days this week.  Whether we have done it thus far and are looking forward to continuing strong over the weekend or have already eaten sugar and need to get back on the horse, our God is the God of beginning again and He wants to help us to a life of victory in Him.

Share your thoughts below.  Let's keep the conversation going.

Carole Lewis
Director Emeritus, First Place 4 Health

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Word to the Wise

Our world is filled with talking. Seldom is there a room where words are not being conveyed: radio, telephones, computers and even live chatter. But many words are not the same as communication. It is amazing how much information and misinformation is thrown at us and how much of it actually registers. Isn’t it interesting that in the Gospel of John, Jesus is called the Word. And when we talk about the Bible, we often use the title of “the Word of God.” Words are important and carry a great deal of weight, but their value is based on the authority of the one who speaks them.

I have heard it said that here in America everyone is entitled to an opinion. And most people would agree, but not all opinions have the same value. For example, if I were to tell you what was wrong with your car, you may want to get another opinion from someone who actually works on cars. If I tell you what is causing your stomach pains, you may want to actually talk to a doctor who has a medical practice, but what about the meaning of life and the life to come? All people have a right to an opinion, but are all opinions of equal value?

II Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

TEACHING – need the basics of life? Read the Word of God. It is not a book just for information, but transformation.
Question: What lesson does God want to show me about how to do life?

REBUKING – need to correct some life habits? Read the Word of God. It will challenge sick thinking.
Question – What does God want me to do differently today?

CORRECTING – need to adjust a life course? Read the Word of God. It will be a light to your path.
Question – What adjustment to my daily schedule will get me closer to God’s goals for my life?

TRAINING – need discipline for a strong inner life? Read the Word of God. Where we are weak the Word of God will make us strong.
Question – What is keeping me from doing what I know I need to do?

I recently completed a Bible study course. At the end of the study one of the women relayed the following story:

She was getting her hair styled at the salon that she always uses. She was behind on her Bible reading for the course and had her materials with her – Bible, pens and workbook. However, on this appointment everything went wrong that could go wrong. She became increasingly irritated and her impatience was about to overflow! Then she looked in her lap. She was reminded that her attitude would reflect on the book she was studying and was reminded that if she was going to carry it in public she better demonstrate what it teaches as well.

That is what the Word does. It works from the inside out.

The daily discipline of Bible study in First Place does not burn calories or build bodily muscle – but it will help create the balanced life that a simple diet will never do.

Remember: God’s Word is Wisdom for those Wise enough to read it.

Dr. Bill Heston

Bill Heston works on the staff of First Presbyterian Church of Houston.  You can find more articles by Dr. Heston at under Resources in the Live It articles on emotions.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wise Up On Planning Meals and Shopping

It’s a common misconception that cutting back on food expenses means sacrificing good nutrition. However, you can be healthier and wealthier by getting wiser about planning meals and shopping. Here are some guidelines that can help.

Choose Your Plate.
Many people plan their meals around meat, and leave grains, vegetables, and fruit for side dishes. However, according to the USDA, the bulk of your diet should be made up of grains (bread, pasta, and rice) and fruits and vegetables. Meats and dairy foods make up a smaller section, and should be treated as side dishes and eaten less frequently. This is not only more economical but more healthful.

For fruits and vegetables, you can choose fresh, frozen, or canned. Frozen or canned fruits and veggies are a great choice, because you don’t have to eat them all at one time. Just make sure you choose low-sodium canned veggies, and fruits canned in their own juice, not syrup.

Here are a few examples of meals made mostly with foods from vegetables and grains:
  • Chili: beans, vegetables, meat, served over rice with corn muffins or bread 
  • Stir-fry: vegetables with a small amount of meat served over rice or pasta 
  • Stew or soup: beans, vegetables, pasta, rice, meat or chicken, served with bread or rolls 
  • Taco: beans or meat with lettuce, tomato, onions, and a corn tortilla 
Make it from scratch.
Many of the prepackaged, boxed, canned, and frozen foods you buy from the store are high in fat, calories, sodium, sugar, and cost, compared to foods prepared at home. They may also be comparatively lower in vitamins and minerals. You pay for the fancy packaging and convenience of these items, but you get much less for your money. For example, you can make many more bags of popcorn from a bag of unpopped corn compared to buying a bag of already-popped popcorn. The pre-made popcorn is much more expensive and has more fat and sodium than what you can make at home. Of course, making food from scratch may take a little more time, but it can be well worth it in terms of cost and nutrition.

Have a game plan for shopping.
Your game plan should include what you're going to buy and where you're going to buy it. Here are some tips on developing a shopping plan:
  • Plan meals and snacks several days in advance. Then write out a shopping list and stick to it. 
  • Compare prices among grocery stores. Shop at national chains and discount food outlets. Don't shop at convenience stores. 
  • Go to stores that sell generic foods, store brand foods, and foods in bulk. 
  • Use coupons with caution. They are often for foods that are more expensive. Don't buy junk food, or something you normally wouldn't buy, just because you have a coupon. 
  • Never shop on an empty stomach. 
  • Look for sales on items that are on your list. 
  • Make sure the food you buy is fresh. Food on sale is sometimes starting to get old. Always check the dates on perishable food such as milk and meat, because you want it to be safe. 
Check the unit prices of items.
The unit price calculates the cost of a product per unit. For example, a unit could be by the ounce, pound, or number of items in a package. Unit prices are usually marked on the shelf below the product. For example: Let's say you're looking for canned green beans and there are three different brands to choose from. If you look at the unit price below each one, you can find the brand that is cheapest, especially if you buy the largest can. However, it only makes sense to buy the largest can if you're sure you'll use it all.

Generic brands can provide a great savings when shopping and are often labeled as the store’s brands. Often, the taste of the food is the same – it just costs less!

Be prepared.
If you're going to be out running errands or shopping with your family, bring some healthy snacks and drinks with you. That way, if hunger hits, you won't be tempted to stop at a fast food restaurant or buy snacks from a vending machine — something that can hurt your wallet and your waistline. Whether you make snacks at home or buy them from the grocery store, it's less expensive than buying them in the mall.

Buy less junk food and soda.
Soft drinks, chips, baked goods, and other high-calorie items tend to be higher in price. You can really cut your grocery bill when you cut out these items.

Read food labels.
It's easier to make the most nutritious choice when you know how to read the nutrition facts label. These labels contain the nutritional information and are found on most packaged foods. Use the nutrition facts label to focus on the facts that are most important to you such as the fat, sugar, or sodium content. Nutritional labels make it easier for you to compare similar products. Look at page 149 in your Member's Guide for more information about understanding the nutritional facts panel.

Eat at home.
Eating out can be expensive and the food is often high in fat, salt, and sugar. A spaghetti dinner at a restaurant could cost $10 or more but only a few dollars if you prepared it at home. At a restaurant, your extra costs go toward profits and tips. Consider having a potluck. When you entertain guests at home, ask them to bring a dish.

Take, for example, a fast food chicken burrito. The cost is about $3.00 per serving. Besides the cost to your pocketbook, you'll also pay a nutritional price. That one small burrito has more than 400 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat, and 1,270 milligrams of sodium (and we didn't even count the beverage or the sides). On the other hand, if you cook up the recipe in this issue of the newsletter for Confetti Chicken Wraps (made with chicken, bell peppers, frozen corn, reduced-fat cheese and salsa), the cost is just $1.30 per serving. As for the nutrition, our recipe has 330 calories, 1.5 grams saturated fat, and just 500 milligrams of sodium. This recipe would be perfect with a small side salad topped with sliced, sweet, grape tomatoes!

To good health,

Erin Dubroc, MPH, RD, LD

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Healthy Nutrition Training

Hebrews 12:11 says, No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

I don’t know if you've ever felt this way with regards to your eating habits, but I think we can all identify with how training our minds and bodies to be stronger (literally and figuratively) can be tedious, in the least! However, God works everything for His children’s good and has a perfect plan to prosper us and not harm us (Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11, respectively). Notice the benefits of training listed in Hebrews 12:11 – righteousness and peace. How many of us are searching for just a little peace with regards to our eating habits? Wouldn't we all love to finally see righteousness flow out from this area of our lives? Becoming more like Christ in everything requires consistent effort – training – on our part. He will meet us wherever we are, but we have to show up ready to labor if we want to see fruit produced in us.

When it comes to training yourself in the area of eating and nutrition, I think there are a few questions you should answer first. By taking an inventory of where you are, so to speak, you can better plan for where you want to go. This month, work on training yourself in the areas of food selection, food preparation, and mindful eating.

What is in Your Kitchen?
Start by taking an honest look at your pantry and refrigerator. What’s in there? How would you rate it on a nutrition quality scale? If you don’t make healthy foods readily available to you, chances are you won’t be eating them very often! Your goal is moderation not perfection, but do yourself a favor and make whole grains, yummy fruits, crisp vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats, legumes, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils within your reach at home. Here are some tips:

  • Replace white flour with whole wheat flour – it works just fine!
  • Make fruit more accessible by cutting up a bowl-full on Sunday and snacking on it throughout the beginning of the week.
  • Keep fresh veggies on the main shelves of your fridge if you find yourself forgetting them in the drawers and noticing them only once they've wilted or gone soggy.
  • If you would rather drink dishwater than skim milk, switch to 1% for now. Your taste buds will adjust eventually, and 1% milk is a much better choice over 2% or whole milk. You’ll save at least 6 pounds a year and that’s if you’re only drinking 2 cups a day!
  • As cold weather nears, try a vegetarian chili instead of one with animal protein. You’ll get more fiber, less fat, and finally use those cans of beans collecting dust on your pantry shelves!

Who is Preparing Your Food and How are They Preparing It?
Most Americans spend half of their food budget outside the home – we really love to eat out! Eating out is definitely one of my favorite pastimes as I love ethnic cuisine and gathering around a table with friends without having to worry about something burning in the oven! However, I know full well that when I eat out, I am putting some of my nutrition decisions in someone else’s hands. Even if I choose a seemingly healthy entree, I don’t know everything happening to my food behind the scenes during preparation in the restaurant’s kitchen. In order to better guarantee that what I’m ordering is truly what I want, I've trained myself to ask questions and make requests if necessary. I always ask for salad dressing on the side – that’ s easy enough! I also try to answer questions for myself by looking up a restaurant’s nutrition facts online or asking for a copy at the restaurant. A colleague recently told me about how a popular Italian chain’s lunch portion of spaghetti and meatballs with tomato sauce (for one) provides a whopping 1080 calories and 63 grams fat (34 grams of which are saturated)! Who would have thought one lunch entree would provide around 65 percent of most people’s calorie needs for the entire day! It pays to ask questions and do your homework. You can still eat out and you can still enjoy the spaghetti and meatballs, but you can enjoy them better when you plan ahead and bring a few friends to share them!

On the way to our national conference in New York last week, I picked up the latest copy of Cooking Light in the airport. I love this magazine. It provides delicious and healthy recipes for every culinary aptitude. I am always inspired to go wild in my kitchen after thumbing through the vivid pictures and mouth-watering descriptions. is another one of my favorites. Whenever I have a bunch of something left over (squash, ground turkey, sweet potatoes, etc.), I can always find a new recipe that takes care of it without any getting thrown away a week later. Train yourself to try new recipes and get a little adventurous in the kitchen. That way you have control of what’s going into your food, and chances are you’ll save a bunch of money (and produce), too!

When are You Eating and Why?
Eating throughout the day really helps to curb your appetite and cravings. I suggest you ea breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a midafternoon snack, and dinner. Simply, spread your calories around. I am, without a doubt, a breakfast-eater. If I skip breakfast, I spend most of the morning staring blankly at my computer screen and in a bad mood. I might not eat right after I get going in the morning, but I usually always have a balanced meal of around 300 calories by 9:00 a.m. – and I am much better for it! For those breakfast-skippers out there, please consider giving your metabolism a long overdue gift of at least a piece of whole grain toast, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, and an 8 ounce glass of skim or 1% milk. Not only will your metabolism thank you by burning 6-8 percent more calories, your brain will appreciate the fuel (in the form of carbohydrate) to get going a little earlier! When it comes to snacks, I am a big supporter of them! They don’ t have to be large – maybe just 100-200 calories (a glass of milk and/or an apple with string cheese). This will help you from eating the entire lunch portion of spaghetti and meatballs I mentioned above. Also, remember to consider why you are eating. Are you truly hungry or are you frustrated? Are you stressed or nervous? I know by now that when I’m stressed, I should go on a walk before I attack the bag of chocolate chips in my pantry – there is no peace and righteousness in doing that! Usually, after the walk I may still have some chocolate (10-15 chips), but not half the bag! Train yourself to sense when you’re truly hungry and when you’re just bored, and practice doing things that prevent you from eating mindlessly (going on a walk, etc.)

After you know the answers to what, who, how, when and why, you will have an idea of which areas you need to spend some time in training. Reality checks rarely are pleasant, but working through them and training yourself to dodge the common nutritional bullets mentioned above really will bring you peace in this area of your journey and spill over as an example of righteousness to others!

To good health,

Erin Dubroc, MPH, RD, LD

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Body Facts

Have you ever thought about how incredible the human body is? We are fearfully and wonderfully made by God and He has given us the responsibility of taking care of the gift of our own bodies. Here are some amazing “body facts.”

ª In a 24-hour period the blood of the body travels a total of 12,000 miles, that’s 4x the width of North America.

ª People are the only living creatures in the world who cry tears.

ª Our eyes never grow; our nose and ears never stop growing!

ª The human hand contains 3 main nerves, 2 major arteries, and 27 different bones – more of the body is devoted to controlling the hands than any other part of the body.

ª When we go to sleep and enter REM (rapid eye movement), our bodies become completely paralyzed as areas of the brain that control movement are de-activated. It is this that keeps us from falling out of bed.

ª Our eyes can distinguish up to one million color surfaces and take in more information than the largest telescope known to man.

ª We are about 70% water.

ª Every month you grow a brand new outer layer of skin.

ª The surface area of a human lung is equal to that of a tennis court.

ª Bones are 4x stronger than concrete!

The next time you are tempted to skip exercising or eat the wrong thing, stop and think—I need to take care of this amazing body that God has given me! Consider the facts above and grow in respect for your physical body and especially for your Maker who created it. Call on Him in prayer and ask for the discipline to do what you know you should do to take care of your body. As you take a step each day to be a good steward of your body, you will be encouraged that your spiritual life will grow, too.

Jeannie Blocher
President, Body & Soul Fitness

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Free To Travel

Galations 5:1: "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."

What a great privilege we have as citizens of the United States. We have so many freedoms to go, say, be and become! In all of this freedom comes the challenge of choice and the responsibility for those choices. How much greater the freedom for believers and the responsibility for our choices especially as they impact our relationship to God, influence those around us and impact who we become.

Many of us see great potential for new adventures in faith, relationships and personal improvement. Christ's call is for us to join him on a great journey. It is important for us to pack correctly if we are to make the most of the trip!

We have been set free not just from something but to something. It is important that we are freed from all that keeps us from being able to join Christ in his adventure of faith. When we put off the loads that hold us back, baggage that is negative and not needed, then we can move forward with grace, power and purpose.

  • Check Your Bags
    What are your familiar failures? Is it an undercurrent of sadness, anger, or criticism? Is it compulsive behavior of abusive eating? Do you sabotage good progress, jobs or friendships by making erratic and destructive decisions? Acknowledge the pattern and name it. Be prepared for it and don't let it sneak up on you.
  • Pack Light
    There may be many things that are carried in your personal baggage that no longer serve a purpose. Listening to old critical messages [from others or yourself] and letting them have destructive influence give the "power of darkness" [accusation] a larger place than the "power of light" [encouragement].Christ gives freedom from the accuser. Seek positive insightful people who want you to succeed for counsel, friendship and spiritual support.
  • Travel With a Friend
    We were made for relationship. Evaluate where you spend your time. Are you becoming more affirming or more critical, more accepting or more judgmental, more hopeful or more discouraged, more of a giver or more of a taker? The more time you spend with people who demonstrate the character of Christ, the more you have insured you will get to your destination in good fashion.
  • Follow the Map
    Make sure that where you are headed will get you where you want to go. The character of Christ as revealed in the Scripture shows us what the destination looks like. We can test our character to see if we are following the correct path. How do we treat our families, people who serve us in public places and co-workers? Is how I spend my time and how I care for my body, mind and soul the path I want my children to follow? The way I am living my life now - is it how I want to be remembered? If not make a course correction. Join a personal improvement class, a support group, a prayer ministry, volunteer at a food bank, begin an exercise program, enroll in a Bible Study! If the answer is "yes, I am on the right course now" then hold the course and keep doing what is getting you moving ahead. Plan for bumps in the road like family dinner on the grounds and map your course early—like eat lightly before you go, take dishes that are on your program and plan to exercise.
By faith we are free to move—but why not move ahead?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

God Delights in Those Who Delight In Him

One of the easiest ways to foster an attitude of thankfulness is to create a thankfulness journal: a separate place to record the simple everyday things for which you are grateful. Even though you already make daily entries in a prayer journal or spiritual diary, keeping a thankfulness journal is an essential exercise to develop a heart that gives thanks in all circumstances. Unlike other forms of journal writing, a thankfulness journal is for the specific purpose of recording the things for which you are thankful. It serves as both an acknowledgment of what God has done for you and as a daily challenge to look for things to be thankful for, even on bad days. Perhaps keeping a written list of “What I am thankful for today” seems too simplistic to be effective, yet studies have proven the positive impact of maintaining a thankfulness journal. Researchers have discovered that those who keep thankfulness journals on a daily basis exercise more regularly, have fewer health problems, make greater progress toward important personal goals, experience less depression, handle stress more effectively and have more energy and vitality. They even sleep better at night!  Here are some basic steps to help you get started.

Start It Now.  Any kind of notebook will do for a thankfulness journal. The important thing is that your gratitude pages are bound together and kept in a safe place rather than randomly scribbled on loose pieces of paper scattered here and there. Some folks like to decorate the cover of their thankfulness journal; others like to draw pictures that describe the things and events for which they are thankful. A stationery store, an arts and crafts retailer or scrapbook supply store will have ideas for customizing your journal. The more unique and personal the pages, the more likely you are to visit the journal consistently. Most people find that they want enough space in their journal to record two to three month’s worth of gratitude affirmations.

Keep It Simple. Unlike other spiritual journals, a thankfulness journal is not a place to process your feelings, cry out in lament or pour out your heart to God. The whole purpose of a thankfulness journal is to thank God for blessing you in ways too numerous to adequately recount. The pages will consist largely of one or two sentence statements beginning with “I am thankful for . . .” You can add drawings, mementos or small photographs to enrich your simple words. Try using colored pencils to add color and texture, or experiment with stickers or glitter. Your creativity is a precious gift from God that you are called to use in expressing your thankfulness to Him. Place a Scripture heading at the top of each day’s page to remind you exactly Who you are thanking. Searching the Scriptures for thankfulness verses each day and committing some of those verses to memory will play a key role in developing a lifestyle of thankfulness.

Keep It Private. This is your journal, with your personal thoughts recorded for your benefit and God’s glory. If you write thinking that others might read your words, you will tend to write what you want them to hear! You can share your thoughts with trusted others, but the pages of this sacred journal are intended for your eyes only. God, who sees what you write on these private pages, will reward you (see Matthew 6:6).

Keep It Honest. Only you and God are going to see what is written on these pages, so there is absolutely no reason to exaggerate, minimize or force your feelings. List only those things for which you are genuinely grateful. God knows your thoughts before you even write them on the page (see Psalm 139:4). This is not a place for pious platitudes or lofty idealism. Heart-felt gratitude is always about the truth as it applies to your life in the present moment.

Keep It Personal. Comparisons and judgments have no place in your thankfulness journal. This journal is about you and your relationship with God, not about your neighbors. Remember, the Pharisee whom Jesus criticized prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like all other men” (Luke 18:11). We never need to fill our cup of thankfulness by devaluing another human being or feeding our ego at another’s expense. Gratitude is about giving thanks to God for the wonderful things He has done for us, not telling Him what wonderful things we have done for Him.

Keep It Specific. Rather than writing generalized statements such as, “I am thankful that God is faithful,” write about a specific instance that reminded you of God’s faithfulness. Perhaps you saw or heard something today that brought God’s loving-kindness to memory. For example, rather than being thankful for the sun, write about how the sun touched your skin and brought warmth to your soul.

Keep It God-Affirming. We should only be grateful for sources of health and healing, never for anything that erodes our relationship with God, damages His creation or harms our neighbor. Likewise, we can never be truly thankful for anything that offends God’s Holy Spirit who resides in our heart, or that destroys our body, His earthly temple (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). With this in mind, you can use your thankfulness journal as a type of accountability partner. Ask yourself, “Is this something I can write about in my thankfulness journal?” If the answer is no, then it is not a beneficial endeavor.

Keep It Consistent. Make adding entries to your thankfulness journal a daily habit. Begin by writing down five simple pleasures for which you are thankful each morning when you first wake up. Before you go to bed that night, record another five things for which you are thankful. Five each morning, five each evening—seven days a week. Perhaps you are thinking, I couldn't possibly find 70 things to be thankful for each week! Remember, we are training our minds to develop a lifestyle of thankfulness. We must fight the scarcity mentality that makes us fear that we will not have enough thankfulness to write 70 “I am thankful” sentences each week. Just write down five in the morning and five in the evening today and trust that there will be five in the morning and five in the evening tomorrow.

Review It Often. Reread your thankfulness entries often, especially on days when you need to be reminded of God’s faithful love. Once a month, carve out time to read all 280-plus entries that you made during the month and bask in the warmth of God’s love and care. As you notice a gradual shift in your outlook and attitude, be sure to thank God for that too. Each time you thank God, He will give you even more reasons to thank Him! You will be amazed at how God will bring health and healing as you faithfully practice giving Him thanks in all circumstances. God delights in those who delight in Him, and He showers them with His abundant blessings.

“You are my God, and I will give you thanks.”  PSALM 118:28

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer! ~ Vicki Heath

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer! Lead your family on a family summer vacation filled with healthy fresh ideas for food, fun and fellowship with this SUMMER acrostic:

S – Sleep:
Sleep allows our bodies to repair and recover from the wear and tear of everyday living. There are two age groups that need an abundance of sleep – newborns and teenagers! Yes, there is a reason your teen wants to sleep until noon; he really needs the sleep to release the growth hormone. Last summer my 14 year old grew before my eyes! When you sleep, your body recharges. Research has shown that a lack of sleep contributes to weight gain. One study indicated that people consume 10 to 15 percent more calories when they are tired. Other consequences to sleep loss are a higher accident rate on the job and more auto accidents. In addition, "I'm too tired" is often the excuse for avoiding intimacy with our husbands and spending time with our children. In Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus said, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. God knows the value of rest. He even made it a commandment!

U – Umbrella:
I know it’ s not a verb, but I’ ll make it work. Protecting our families from the dangers of the sun is a top priority this summer. Use a full spectrum sunscreen and reapply often. Protecting our families, especially our children, from too much TV and video games is also a priority. The television and video games is a tempting babysitter—use parental discretion, set time limits (one hour of TV for one hour of outside activity) and check on them often.

M – Make plans to do nothing:
One thing I especially like about summer is the flexible schedule we have at the Heath house. Some mornings, Rob (my husband and super dad) will ask: “What are you going to do today” and we love to answer, “Whatever we want!” Spend some days this summer without an agenda. Busyness and over commitment are taking a toll on the American family. When we overcommit our lives, we leave no space for joy in our lives. Be still and know that I am God… (Ps. 46:10) might be a good family memory verse for this summer.

M – Make a memory and make it now:
Don’ t wait another year to take the wonderful long awaited family vacation. Sue Shellenbarger, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal says we are people who live in the "tomorrow trap"–people who essentially are so overcommitted that they take refuge in visions of a relaxed life somewhere down the road. Many of us say that our God and our families are important to us, but we don't live as though they are. Be intentional with your time this summer and choose to do at least one thing that will involve all the members of your family. I know this is almost an impossible task in light of the busyness of life, but it will be well worth the effort.

E – Eat well:
Summer seasonal foods are bountiful, especially wonderful fresh fruits and veggies. Blueberries are one of the best brain foods in the world and at this time of year are relatively inexpensive. Caring for our bodies is an act of stewardship and worship that glorifies God. In Romans 12:1 Paul asked believers to present their bodies to God as " living sacrifices” every day. A healthy body demonstrates gratitude for what God has done for us and that we are available for service to him.

R – Renew:
All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name. (Psalm 66:4 ESV) Enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty of our world. Take advantage of the opportunities to renew your mind with study and contemplation on the Word of God. Renew and refresh your relationship with the Lord and others. Experience meeting God in different ways this summer. He is everywhere, just around the bend in the road and right in the middle of the sunset.

Spend your vacation and spend it well – ENJOY!

Vicki Heath

Thursday, June 19, 2014

We Do Not Entertain a "Give Up" Attitude

I heard a children’s sermon recently that taught great truths. The speaker held up a packet with a picture of a watermelon. He asked them if he planted these seeds, would he get corn. The children looked at him like he was really goofy and said, “Of course not!” “You will get corn.”

1. Corn seeds will grow a corn plant.

Next, he asked that if he planted the seeds right now, could he have corn to eat for lunch today. And again they wondered what was wrong with their teacher. They replied, “Of course not!” “He would have to wait for it to grow.”

2. They take time and the right conditions to grow.

…and then he made his point:
  • If we plant a seed from a weed, we will not get a vegetable, and if we treat other people in a mean way, they probably will treat us in a not-so-nice way.
  • Sometimes it takes awhile for us treating someone nice before they will act nice themselves.
  • But don’t give up – what is planted will be what we reap!
Galatians is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the churches in Galatia. There were problems. Various ideas were being added to the basic teaching of Grace and Paul was addressing those attacks. It was getting easier for the church that was so new and so isolated from others to compromise and just give up. They were getting worn out by the struggle.

So let’s not allow ourselves to be fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” Galatians 6:9 (The Message Bible)

There are two key words in this verse:
  • Fatigued – exhaust, collapse, weaken
  • Give up/Quit – lose courage
Two enemies of experiencing wholeness and healing are:
  • Not taking care of ourselves in meaningful ways in all aspects of our being – mind, body, emotions and spirit.
  • Getting discouraged and not having the confidence we need to stand for those things that are important.
When we get weary and worn out, it is easy to give up even on the things that are very important to us.
  • A marriage gets difficult – it is easy to get give up.
  • A friendship gets complicated – it is easy to give up.
  • Finances can get so desperate – it is easy to give up.
  • Grief can be so heavy – it is easy to give up.
  • Resentment can be so hurtful – it is easy to give up.
  • Temptation can be so crippling – it is easy to give up.
  • Past hurts can be so shame producing – it is easy to give up.
  • Failure of keeping commitments can be so discouraging – it is easy to give up.
My wife Angie and I attended a Star of Hope Ministry to the Homeless dinner. It was a grand evening featuring the co-authors of Same Kind of Different as Me, but the testimonials by three of the adults who were helped by the Star of Hope were worth the night out.

“Have you ever felt so hopeless that you couldn’t find a reason for living…”
Michele came to the podium dressed in a bright yellow tailored suit. Her speech was quiet, but confident. She began her delivery with: “Have you ever felt so hopeless that you couldn’t find a reason for living, so you lie on the floor in a tight fetal position, waiting for death to swallow you? I have.” The room of over 1,000 people sat in total silence. Michele paused. Many of us had a hard time reconciling what we heard her say with the image of the lady standing in front of us.

Michele was one of God’s children lost to drugs. Her life was crippled and she lost everything special to her, the support of her family, her faith, and the joy of her only child. She was homeless and had no hope. “But God was not through with me. He saw the terrible condition I was in and had compassion for me.” She was alone and feeling very sorry for herself, but with no way out. Then God sent an Angel – her daughter – the last person she wanted to see her like this. “What do you want to do?” All she could say was, “I need help.”

Through the Star of Hope she found tools for recovery from addiction, restoration of her dignity, reunited with her family, new job skills and most of all she renewed her relationship with Jesus Christ. Today Michele has a good job in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. She has a three bedroom home – maybe not impressive to some, that is - if you don’t know that her previous address was downtown under a highway overpass.

But everyone who moves beyond their painful past experiences has to hit a bottom.
One woman, who threw everything away, who was sought by God, when others would not give up, her life was changed for good. Perhaps not everyone will hit the low that Michele hit. But everyone who moves beyond their painful past experiences has to hit a bottom.
  • A place where they recognize that what they are doing is not working.
  • A place so desperate they are willing to be helped
  • A place where total abandonment to the will of God takes on transforming implications.

Most who come to First Place 4 Health do not come because they want another group to join. They come for help. But only those with teachable spirits will find the full scope of help – to mind, body, emotion and spirit. The full range of healing elements are available in First Place 4 Health for those desiring to move beyond the belief that “key blessings” were missed from their past. The full healing may take other resources as well. But our role is to find the courage to do what brings healing to our lives and to be an encourager to others so they will not give up.

We are a community of spiritual encouragers – we do not entertain “give up” attitudes.

Dr. Bill Heston

Dr Bill Heston is Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Houston and is Licensed in Marriage and Family Therapy.