Category Archives: Weight Loss Journey

Rise Up, My Love (284): “Beautiful in His Eyes”

Song of Solomon 8:10 “. . .then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.” Well, so much for personal struggles (as a prototypical female). What’s the bottom line on this verse? Was Solomon’s bride being realistic? Did she have a pride problem? Or, was the bride simply expressing how beautiful her husband made her feel? I’d like to believe the last option, although for those of us mortals who live in this physical, fallen world, I suspect the Shulamite was truly a stunningly beautiful woman, Solomon had been attracted to her for that reason, and she knew it.

This is the most reasonable, literal interpretation of the verse, and the fact that Solomon gathered a harem of 700 wives and 300 concubines who became idols in his life and led him astray from God strongly supports this view. (1 Kings 11:3: “And he [Solomon] had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.”) This is one place in the book where—on the physical level—Solomon departs from our precious Savior, who looks on the heart, not on the outward appearance. “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7. Thank you, Jesus!).We’ll discuss spiritual beauty next, but on the physical level, what lessons can we learn today? First, a word to all of us, but especially guys (who are often extremely visual in their orientation). Of course you’re attracted to a woman’s beauty, so be sure you marry someone who is physically appealing to you. Never try to be “super spiritual” and refuse to acknowledge your basic feelings about how physically attractive a potential girlfriend seems. However, your physical attraction should only be the first step in identifying the right girl.

If you want to be content in this life…if you want a happy marriage…then learn to be like Christ. Look for an attractive mate who is intently developing spiritual beauty…and make sure you’re intently developing godly character yourself! It is our flesh that draws us to physical beauty, and if we don’t train our hearts to focus on and love that which is spiritual, we will forever suffer lustful attractions to members of the opposite sex based strictly on physical appearance. Why do you think the draw to pornography is so incredibly powerful? Modern men may not have Solomon’s wealth and power to acquire a physical harem, but for the price of his soul a man can develop a Satanic harem through visual images that will lead to his destruction just as surely as Solomon’s lust turned him away from his God.

The Proverbs remind us: “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:31). If you want to be still singing your spouse’s praises when you’re seventy, look for someone who loves the Lord with all her heart, mind, soul, and strength. The spirits of such people grow more attractive year by year.Second, another word to all of us, but especially to us as women (who due to child birth and hormone shifts have an extremely difficult time retaining our youthful figures). Let’s try to be as beautiful as possible for our spouses! A fact of human nature that we would be wise to understand and accommodate is that human beings are attracted to physical beauty. (No offense on the lizard; I was thinking of myself!)

Let’s assess ourselves realistically. Are we firm and straight like a wall, or are we sagging and bulging under the weight of indulgence? Are we being self- disciplined enough to eat and exercise properly? Do we have good posture? Standing up straight will go a long way toward looking as attractive as possible. Our breasts may not exactly seem like “towers” to us, but if we’re not overweight, we’re standing up straight, and we’re wearing undergarments that are appropriately supportive, most women will have a pleasant frame that can be totally satisfying to her husband. (If he keeps his eyes off strange women; a man with wandering eyes will never be satisfied, no matter how beautiful his wife is.)Believe it or not, being as shapely as possible is something that God desires for us as part of living “heartily, as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). It is part of good stewardship. He gave us our body as a gift to maintain, and he wants us to be beautiful for him. We are his abiding place, and just as he is preparing a place for us, so we can express love to him by keeping our earthly tabernacle as beautiful as possible for him. Although our motive in everything should be first and foremost God’s pleasure, a beautiful body will also be a pleasure and attraction to our husbands.

We probably do not think we could compete in a Miss Universe contest, but let’s work on being able to go at least this far towards feeling like the bride. Let’s work on being able to say: “God gave me just the body he wanted me to have, and I am beautiful to Him. I want to be a good steward of the body that God has given me, and my husband appreciates me for that.”(Hopefully!! 🙂  )

Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work (2 Timothy 2:19-21).

Even If You Can’t Dance, You Can Zumba!

By the time I was five, I was trying to imitate my swingin’ teenaged brothers as they danced to hot new songs like “The Terror of Highway 101.” By six, I was learning to “Rock Around the Clock,” and by seven, I was practicing Elvis the Pelvis’s swinging hips from songs like “I ain’t nothing but a hound dog.” By twelve, I was practicing the Peppermint Twist with my girlfriends at slumber parties. And then, I surrendered my life to Jesus, and the dancing stopped. It wasn’t just that I started attending a very conservative church where they considered dancing the “vertical expression of horizontal thoughts,” I was beginning to think there might be something even more exciting in the world of guys than being nicknamed “Buckwheat” and allowed to play first base on their ball team!

Long story short, I decided that dancing was way too provocative and romantic to be a part of my life if I wanted to make it to adulthood keeping my name in tact. (Kathryn means “pure.”) Marriage didn’t exactly stop all attractions to the opposite sex either, and so it seemed wise to continue a hands-off, no-dance policy indefinitely.  However, 45 years into marriage and finding myself pretty stable emotionally, Alan and I both noticed that we were becoming the least bit unstable physically. One bit of advice we’ve heard repeatedly about aging well is to participate in new physical activities that stress grace and balance, such as dancing. So, we decided that it’s time to start dancing again…together…in our basement…with our video Zumba instructor, Beto Perez, the Colombian dancer and choreographer who developed a fitness program called Zumba in the 1990’s. Zumba combines dance steps with various martial arts moves and is the perfect combination of fun and aerobic exercise. It really took off in 2006, and today there are more than 14 million people who participate in some 160,000 classes in 185 countries…and counting! At 14, Beto was working 3 jobs to support his single mother and their family in Columbia. Today?! Talk about the American Dream come true!! The wife of one of our psychiatrists sponsors a Zumba class on Tuesday afternoons where Alan works, but we are a little too old (or self-conscious) to join that group. However, for $7.99 we got Zumba 101: Can’t Dance? from Amazon, and we’ve been working out ever since! At first, we could hardly make it through the first two songs without needing a rest, but now we can dance through the entire hour session and are ready for something more. The funny thing is, it’s just as appealing to our grandchildren, and when they come to visit, the kids beg to work out with us! It’s just SO. MUCH. FUN!

So, if you’re looking for a way of exercising that doesn’t bore you to tears and makes you feel happy, consider giving Zumba a try…maybe even in the privacy of your own basement! Alan is still struggling to swing his hips, but…I’m back to my roots! 🙂

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die. . .a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4; this is our time to dance~).

Are You Optimizing Your Brain Fitness?

A week ago, I wrote about Alan’s attending the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatrists’ annual meeting and the tidal wave of Baby Boomers hitting retirement age, and I suggested that we start learning to surf so we don’t get crushed. This week, I want to offer a few ideas from what I’ve been learning in my own quest for health.

Are you familiar with The Great Courses? I am a fan. Through audio or video, this organization can bring a world of research and learning via professors from some of America’s best universities right into your car or home. I can drive and learn, sit quietly on a couch with notebook in hand, or work out on my elliptical while absorbing information.

Granted, these college-level courses won’t keep you awake like Hollywood’s glitzy entertainment, but they are excellent resources for brightening your brain! I ordered a couple of series last fall and have been completely satisfied with the quality of their programs and what I’ve been learning. My personal favorite way to optimize both brain and body fitness is to work out while keeping a notebook right beside me for scribbling down ideas. Stopping to write notes does effect my workout stats, but I figure the mental stimulation is worth the hit to any personal pride that may be lurking behind my attempts at physical conditioning.

Simple tips from the series on Optimizing Brain Fitness that impressed me:

*In an experiment with rats, those who were fed 35% less food lived 35% longer!
*Best diet tip? Stop eating deep-fried foods.
*Walking 1 mile daily decreases your chance of developing Alzheimer’s by 50%.
*Get enough sleep. The current generation is getting 45 minutes less sleep per day than the older generation, but it’s had a negative effect on learning.
*Power naps are good; they reset your energy and help process learning.
*Most important aspect of memory is learning to focus and pay attention!
*”If you can see, look. If you can look, observe…attend…study!”
*Your brain needs exercise, so take up some new hobby.
*Scientists have discerned that you improve long term retention more by repeated testing than by more study.

This last bit of research made me understand why we have tests in school and in life! The Lord is training us to learn and grow, not just have brains full of data that doesn’t stick!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Just in case you’re interested in more information about The Great Courses, I’ll include their contact information: https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses. 1-800-832-2412. For classes on Christianity, though, I’d rather refer you my son Jonathan’s Aqueduct Project [https://aqueductproject.org/ ], or the new Center for Global Theological Education, which he’s developing at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

Corned Beef Hash: Breakfast of Champions (At Least My Champion)

Do you have an all-time favorite breakfast? If you’re married, do you know what your spouse’s favorite breakfast is? Your kids’? My husband goes out once a month with two of his closest friends, and he always orders the same thing: Corned beef hash with eggs and toast.  I always thought his favorite breakfast was eggs and bacon with hash browns, and that may be true, but now I’m not so sure! Maybe that’s just his favorite breakfast that I make! It struck me that I should learn how to make corned beef hash and add it to our menu. It’s so simple, I don’t know why I never thought of it before!

Corned Beef Hash for Champions
(per serving)

Fry together:
1 tablespoon butter
1 potato sliced and chopped into bit-sized pieces
2 tablespoons finely diced onion
Dash of garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

After the potato and onions are tender add:
2 oz. chopped corned beef (which you can buy from almost any deli). Mix and fry until heated through and starting to brown.  Corned Beef Hash and Eggs Serve immediately, offering ketchup, salsa, and hot sauce as condiments. (Got to keep up with the restaurant Jones, right?!)

PS—Do you have any favorite recipes for breakfast that you especially love or are family favorites at your house? I’d love for you to share them!

And there went out a champion out of the camp…” (1 Samuel 17:4). I wonder if Goliath had forgotten to eat his Wheaties for breakfast before challenging the Israelites?! “They” say breakfast is our most important meal of the day, so I hope you’re eating a breakfast for champions before taking off to conquer the challenges in your life each morning!

 

Simple but Savory Zucchini Pizza Sticks

Now is the time that American gardens overflow with zucchinis and everybody is pulling out their favorite recipes for zucchini bread.  Always on the lookout for an idea that cuts starches, I tried making pizzas out of zucchini. First I  tried cutting them into rounds, but slicing them sideways works better and saves time. Next time you’re looking for a quick, healthy way to incorporate some zucchini into your menu plans, try this one:

Savory Zucchini Pizza Sticks
(makes enough for 2-4 for lunch, depending on how hungry your hippos are
and what else you’re serving)Wash, cut off the ends, and slice 4 young zucchinis lengthwise.  Place them skin-side down in a frying pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter.
Add salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste.
Fry for two minutes on medium heat. Flip over and fry for two minutes more minutes, skin-side up.Flip again. They should be getting tender and starting to brown a little. Drizzle each stick with some of your favorite pizza (or spaghetti) sauce. Cover with slices of pepperoni
and top each with half a mozzarella cheese stick.Cover the pan and cook for 1-2 more minutes, until the cheese starts to melt.

Serve them immediately. They can also be cut into three chunks each and served as hors d’oeuvres, but if that’s what you want, then I think you’re better off to start with just one or two larger zucchinis and slice them into individual rounds, bake them on a buttered cookie sheet at 350°F. for about 6 minutes (with spices on top), and then add the sauce, pepperoni, and thin cut slices of mozzarella, baking them another 2-3 minutes. I tried this method first, but they end up drier and not as tender. I also found that it’s hard to keep the cheese from melting too much before the pepperoni is heated through.

And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them,
and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house
” (Acts 16:32).

 

Salmon with Spinach and Artichokes

Last Saturday I mentioned Chuck’s trick of combining favorites from your fridge for a new twist, and here’s what happened when I followed my own advice! If you love grilled salmon and guacamole as much as I do, try this sometime:

  1. Prepare some wonderful, homemade guacamole. (If you don’t have a a recipe, you can try mine, found here: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/an-avocado-boat-of-ideas-especially-fantastic-guacamole-with-an-orange-twist/
  2. Grill your salmon (about 4-8 oz per serving, grilled 2-3 minutes per side) with your favorite spices. (I like fresh-squeezed lemon juice, Italian dressing, sea salt, Lawry’s seasoning salt, and lots of pepper, but that’s just me.)
  3. Prepare your veggies while the fish is grilling. (You’ll probably need to assemble all the items so the cooking time is just 5-6 minutes.) This includes:
    1. 1 chopped onion (this recipe will serve 4-6) sauteed in 2 tablespoons of butter until nicely browned. Add
    2. 6 oz fried, chopped bacon (optional but good if you eat pork; you can also fry this with the onion and cut the bacon in pieces after it’s crisp, but that takes an additional 5+ minutes, so cook it before you start the fish)
    3. 1 can quartered artichoke hearts (drained)
    4. 8 oz. cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
    5. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh, pressed garlic, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil, 1 teaspoon dried (or fresh) oregano
    6. 1 large bag (about 16 oz) spinach, added last and cooked just until tender and starting to deepen in color
    7. Add salt and pepper to taste (and do taste it to make sure it has enough sparkle!)
  4. Arrange the veggies evenly on the plates, add the salmon, and crown with a scoop of guacamole. Serve immediately. It’s especially good with fresh fruit and rolls, although I didn’t remember to take a photo of the entire ensemble. Pretty much guaranteed to please anyone who likes the individual ingredients.  🙂

But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat? With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding. (Job 12:6-13)

Anybody for a Watermelon Cake? How About a Wedge Salad?

My grandson Reid asked his mother for a watermelon cake for his birthday. Apparently they’d seen a picture on Pinterest. Carlie says it tastes like a cold wedge of fruit salad, and everybody who tried it liked it, although there was some dissension over whether or not it really qualified as a “cake.” So, I think this might make the perfect “wedge salad” to serve for the Fourth of July. If you bill it that way, don’t you think the kids will love it? Think how (relatively) healthy it is as a dessert, too…just watermelon frosted with sweetened whipped cream. I’m definitely going to try it on my grand kids. If you try it, let me know what you think, and I’ll  do the same!BTW, here’s an earlier fruit extravaganza that Carlie made some years ago to help feed our youth group! Talk about talent and good taste!  🙂  Thanks for being such a stellar daughter-in-law, Carlie! You’re a doll. (Actually, I have to say, I’ve got five of the best son and daughter-in-laws in the world!!! No prejudice!!!)