Archive | October 2012

One in Three MI Adults are Obese

This statement hit me hard and I could not get it out of my mind. I really do not think that people realize the seriousness of being overweight. Kim Kozlowski in the Detroit News stated, “The one in three obesity rate is an increase of almost 50% since 1995. If the trend continues, almost 60% of Michigan’s people will be obese by the year 2030. Michigan is at the forefront of a national public health crisis with the fifth-highest obesity rate.”  In 2009, Michigan was 9th place. In just three years, Michigan went from 9th place to 5th place. At the rate we are going, soon we will take 1st place. I don’t know about you, but being in 1st place for obesity is not what I want to be first in. I want to see that rate lowered. I want to encourage people to lose weight. To start, I’m going to cover the seriousness of being overweight and obese and the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight.

Obesity is having an excessive amount of body fat in relation to lean tissue (all body weight that is not from body fat). When your BMI (body mass index) is 30 or higher, you are considered obese. When many people think of people who are obese, they think of people who weigh over 300lbs. That is not always the case. At one time I was obese. I am 4’ll” and when I weighed 155, I was obese. My ideal weight is between 110-120lbs. Anything over 120lbs. is considered overweight and anything over 150lbs. is considered obese. Our bodies are designed to carry a certain weight and anything over that weight, puts a strain on our bodies. Here is a website that can calculate your BMI:

Being overweight and obese affects people in many areas, not just physically.  Below are just some of the ways obesity affects people:

  • Physically: They have a much greater chance of having type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, arthritis, certain cancers, and more. Eighty-five percent of the time, type 2 diabetes could have been prevented if the people would have maintained a healthy weight. Watching people in my family suffer from type 2 diabetes has been one of my biggest motivators to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Emotionally: People suffer from low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and embarrassment. Many times it is a vicious cycle. Someone is depressed, has low self-esteem so they eat for comfort and end up gaining more weight causing them to be more depressed. That was me. I ate out of boredom and depression, gained weight, then felt more anxiety and depression. On and on it went.
  • Socially: People become an outcast, their weight or illness stops them from doing things and going places with friends and family.

Not only the people who are overweight are affected, being overweight affects many people. Family and friends are affected when a person cannot do something because of an illness or their size stops them. Co-workers have to take up the slack when people are unable to do their jobs or they have to miss work. If the obesity rate would go down just 5%, it would save the taxpayers billions of dollars.

Wow! That all sounds depressing. Believe me, I know. When I look at the factors of my chances of being obese, I feel doomed. I’m 4’11” so my body burns less calories than someone who is 5’2”. I am a woman; women tend to gain weight easier than men. I’m 53; every decade after 30, I burn 5% less calories than the decade before. I’m an author; authors sit for hours at a computer writing. I was a preschool teacher for 15 years. I gained 5 lbs as soon as I resigned to write my book and start Building Strong Families. Many people in my family are overweight which raises your chances of being obese. Plus, there is more to come. When you are postmenopausal it is easier to gain weight and I’m not even there yet. At the rate I’m going, by the time I reach 70 years old, I’ll only be able to drink water. What is a person to do to lose weight? There is hope!! I’m a living example of hope.

It’s all about CHOICES…CHOICES…CHOICES! Everyone knows that their bodies need energy (calories) to function. Where do we get those calories? FOOD! The problem is that when people take in more than they burn, they gain weight. If you want to lose weight, the goal is to take in less calories than you burn. You can wish and pray all you want to lose weight, but if you do not make some LIFE-changes and adjustments, you will NEVER lose weight.

I was once considered obese. When I was at my highest weight, I became depressed. I prayed and begged God to please help me lose weight. I heard His still, small voice say, “Quit eating sweets!” I said, “I said I wanted to lose weight, not give up sweets.” I cut back on sweets, but did not quit all together. I just could not lose the weight. I prayed again and I heard the same words, “Quit eating sweets!” Finally, it dawned on me that if I REALLY wanted to lose weight, I had to give up sweets, totally. The day I made the decision to quit eating sweets was the day my weight started to come off. After I lost weight, I thought. “I can eat a little sweets again.” Sure enough, the weight started to come back. I remembered the decision I made to quit eating sweets and knew that I had to do it for life. The weight came off. With every decade or lifestyle change, I have to make adjustments or the weight starts coming back. When I quit the preschool, I had to start eating less because I was not moving around like I once was. It is all about choices.

The first question you must ask yourself is, “Do I want to lose weight bad enough to make a LIFE-style change?” If the answer is yes, then you have to change something. Many people say it is impossible for them to lose weight, yet they eat sweets, fried food, and large helpings. Unless you NEVER eat sweets, fried food, or large helpings, and you exercise every day, you CAN lose some weight.

First, you need to care enough about your health that you are willing to make whatever changes are necessary. Losing weight is not just about making you look better (that is one huge advantage); losing weight is about your health. I had family members who suffered illnesses, people I know died of heart attacks, and had very low self-esteem, all due to being overweight. It is serious! Those people chose to continue to eat sweets, fried foods, and larger portions. They chose not to exercise; instead, they sat for hours watching TV. Those people are not here today because of their choices. You owe it to yourself, your friends, and your family.

I know that I am being a little rough here, but this is serious. I know it is hard to lose weight; I have struggled with my weight since I was a little girl. It is very hard to watch people eat sweets, fried foods, and large portions knowing I can never eat those things if I want to maintain a healthy weight. I choose my health over food. What do you choose today, food or healthy life-style changes? Will you choose an hour of exercise over an hour of TV ? Will you replace chips and doughnuts for something healthy? Do not go on a diet because you will go off of a diet. Instead, make one life-change and stick to it. If you want to continue to lose weight, make another change. You CAN do it! You owe it to yourself, your family, and your friends.

Love ya, Linda 🙂


Fear ~ Emotions Part IV

Fear is a basic survival mechanism to inform us of possible danger. A healthy fear cautions a person to be safe around something that could be dangerous. Fright is an instant reaction to a current event that is startling or unexpected. Fear can be good and healthy. It becomes unhealthy or “bad” when it causes more caution than necessary. Fear can become so great that it immobilizes you and stops you from doing things that can benefit you and others. Personally, I think I was born having fears and insecurities. I have allowed them to stop me on a number of occasions! They continue to TRY to stop me.

  • I grew up in a dysfunctional home where my mother suffered from mental illness and my dad had alcohol issues. As a result, we never did much and I was rarely exposed to new people or situations. When I did see a new person, I would hide behind my mother. I remember starting kindergarten and being so terrified that I was hysterical. They would have to go get my sister out of class to calm me down.
  • All through school I was scared to try new things. I loved to play the flute in middle school. I heard the high school band teacher was very hard, so I dropped out because I was afraid I would not be good enough and fail out. I would not play any team sports because I was too fearful that I would make a mistake and our team would lose because of it.
  • I was scared that no one would want to marry me, so I went with the first man that gave me attention. He had sexual addictions and treated me badly. I was too afraid to leave. I did not think I could make it on my own and I was afraid that other people would think that I failed.
  • I was an AWANA (an amazing Christian children’s club to help children hide God’s word in their hearts) leader. I was asked to read a story to the three-year-olds. I was so frightened that I had to give the book to someone else. I could not finish.
  • I was afraid to go anywhere by myself or try new things.

Then, the Lord started to work in my life. When I moved back to Michigan, I looked for a church that had an AWANA program. After attending for awhile, I was asked to be the director of Sparks. I told the Lord, “I could not even read a story to three-year-olds, how can I be a director who has to do the lesson every week?” The Lord gave me the verse, Ephesians 5:18 Be not drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. He said to me, “Do you remember how you were when you allowed alcohol to control you?” (I had very little fear when I was drinking and was very social) “If you allow My Spirit to control you, I will do the rest.” Wow, was God asking a lot or what! I said OK. I was scared out of my mind, but I did it anyway. I am so glad I did. It was amazing how the Lord used me and how much I learned.

Fear has attacked me many times since, but I quote the verse, Psalm 56:3 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. I would not be where I am today if I had continued to allow fear to control me. Instead, I chose to put fear aside and allow the Spirit to control and lead me. He takes me further and further out of my comfort zone and gives me “tests” all the time. When I allow the Spirit to control me instead of fear, I am blessed over and over. Here are some of the times I allowed the Spirit to rule instead of fear and the blessings that have followed.

  • Trusted God to leave my abusive situation. I left home not knowing where I was going in a borrowed car. I had no money and only the clothes on my back. Wow, has God over blessed me. I can write a book about how God provided all my needs since that day.
  • Trusted God to read to children. I designed the program for Noah’s Ark Christian Preschool and was a lead teacher for 15 years. I left to write my book and start Building Strong Families. I still have a wonderful relationship with many of the families today.
  • Trusted God to teach teens and women. I was able to “move on up” and start teaching teens and women in my church.
  • Trusted God to teach families. I know it is by God’s leading and the people He has provided that makes Building Strong Families, Inc. what it is today. I have met some amazing people. I look forward to many more opportunities.
  • Trusted God to write a book to help families pass God’s legacy to their children. One of the first Christian people who asked why I quit Noah’s Ark and I told them it was to write a book, said, “What credentials do you have?” Normally, I would have allowed people’s words to stop me. The words that came out of my mouth were, “God asked me to write a book and even if no one reads it, I have obeyed God.” It will be in print next month and I am so excited to see how God is going to use it.
  • Trusting God this weekend to speak in front of 180 people at a TOPS convention. Another test! I am going to go and let God take over.

I am now looking forward to what God has for my life as I allow the Spirit and NOT fear and insecurity to control me. Two things that keep me going when I am afraid are:

1)    I will quote Psalm 56:3, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Notice the verse says whenever, not if. Fear no longer controls me; it helps me be prepared and to trust God and not myself when He calls me to meet new people and do new things.

2)    I remember what a young man said on the radio, “The cause is great than my fear.” When I am afraid, I remember the reason behind why I am writing or speaking and do it afraid.

Are you allowing fear to stop you from doing what God is calling you to do? If so, remember to trust Him and do it afraid. The blessings that God gives for obedience are amazing. Use fear as a caution, but do not let it stop you from what you know God is calling you to do. Tell God today, “OK God, I will do what you are asking me to do, even if I must do it afraid.”

Grief and Trauma ~ Emotions Part III

Grief has to be the hardest emotion anyone has to face. Grief is a natural and necessary process one has to go through due to a significant loss. There are many different losses that people grieve. Some losses may include: people, relationships, jobs, material possessions, pets, health, status, etc.  Anything or anyone that is a part of your life holds a special place in your heart. When you lose someone/something, you must grieve. Do not let people tell you how to grieve.

Note: If there is extreme depression, then it is important to seek professional help so someone experienced can help you through your grief process.

Grief is unique for everyone. The intensity and length is never the same for anyone; therefore, you should never compare your grief with another and you should never minimize someone else’s grief. Many factors go into how hard someone is hit by their loss. Some factors are: intimacy of relationship (losing a child would be more intense than losing an aunt); length of time (losing a friend that you did everything with for years would be harder than losing a friend you met a month ago); onset of loss (a loss is harder if it is unexpected and sudden); guilt factors (the loss occurred as a result of something you did or did not do); the amount of stress in your life at the time of loss (if your coping capabilities are already maxed out, another loss can send you over the edge).

People will react differently when faced with a loss or trauma. Grief affects your whole body and self. The follow are just some reactions:

  • Physical: nausea, high blood pressure*, fainting, twitches, vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing*, chest pains*, shock symptom*. (*Indicates need for medical attention)
  • Cognitive: confusion, nightmares, uncertainly, intrusive thoughts and images, blaming others, poor concentration/memory, distortion of time, place, or person.
  • Emotional: fear, guilt, grief, panic, denial, anxiety, agitation, irritability, depression, intense anger, emotional shock or outbursts, loss of emotional control.
  • Behavioral: cry uncontrollably, withdrawal, anti-social acts, inability to rest, erratic movements, change in social activity, loss of or increased appetite, increased alcohol or drug use.
  • Spiritual: anger with God, familiar faith now feels empty, anger at clergy, belief that God does not care, belief that you failed or are being punished.

(The symptoms were taken from a handout provided by American Association of Christian Counselors)

EVERY ONE of these reactions is NORMAL. The more sudden and traumatic, the more symptoms you will have, the more intense they will be, and the longer they will last. You may feel like you are going crazy, but you are not. You are reacting to the loss. Remember the more someone or something was a part of your life the harder it will be. This is natural and normal.

There are some actions that you can take to help yourself through the grief process.

  • Know at times there will be extreme emotional pain. That is normal. Do not run from it, but continue to work through your grief and the pain will subside.
  • Journal ~ Journaling is a wonderful way to help the grieving process. There are a number of ways that you can journal. Label the page, “Feelings.” Start thinking of all the feelings you had with the person and what caused the feelings (you felt loved when you would find a note in your lunch). You could list the feelings that you’ve been having since the loss (anger; guilt; sadness, numbness) and what was reason for those feelings (guilt ~ “If only I….., she would still be alive.”) On the next page, label, “Memories.” List both happy & sad (the happy memories were….; the sad memories were…..) Label the top of one page, “Holidays.” List all the memories you had with that person on each different holiday. Label a page, “Secondary Losses.” Secondary losses are losses that occur as a result of losing that person (friends, income, activities, transportation).
  • Exercise! Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that help your mental state. Plus, exercise benefits the rest of your body, as well.
  • Connect with others (friends, support groups, counselor, family).
  • Talk!! Talking about the person and their death helps the grieving process. As long as you keep your thoughts and feelings bottled up, they will stay inside. The more you let out your feelings, the sooner you can heal.
  • Look for what good can come from the loss. Hard words, but God tells us in Romans 8:28 that ALL things work together for our good. Yes, even pain can work together for our good. Jesus’ death brought eternal life for those who believe on His name. Joseph lost everything, but God used it to save his family. Cindy Lightner lost her daughter to a drunk driver. Through her daughter’s death, many laws have been put in place and many lives have been saved. I started a class to understand emotions because my heart broke for the family of a young lady who committed suicide. In memory of my miscarried grandchild, I am taking a stronger, more vocal stand for adoption and against abortion. I always believed a baby was a baby in the womb, but my daughter’s miscarriage embedded that fact into my heart. Many times God has birthed good from “bad.”
  • Look at your loss as an opportunity to praise God. Ask God to show you how he can get the glory through your loss. Joni-Erickson-Tada became a quadriplegic due to a diving accident. She grieved even to the point of death, but then got up and gave her disability to the Lord and started the ministry, Joni and Friends. She has touched millions of people and steered them to the Lord.
  • Thank God for the time you had with the person and how the person touched your life. As you live out how they influenced your life, you are honoring that person’s life and legacy.
  • Allow yourself to grieve. Grieve all losses, even secondary losses.
  • Take some time to look up the following verses and ask God how they personally apply to your loss: Psalm 34:18; Proverbs 3:5; Romans 8:28; John 16:33; Revelation 21:4-5; II Corinthians 12:9. Maybe there are verses that helped you get through a loss. Please feel free to share them under comments. Maybe they will help others in their process of grief.
  • If you are struggling with the grieving process, do not hesitate to go to a grief counselor who is trained in trauma and grief. They will be able to help you walk through the process. You will be glad you did. Going to counseling does not mean you are crazy; it means that someone is there to help you go through the process of grief.

We must remember that as long as we are on this earth, we will have pain, death, and sorrow, but God has overcome the world. One day Christians will live in Heaven where there is no more pain, death, or sorrow. Until then, know that God is with you and every loss is an opportunity to bring glory to His name.

Love, Linda Svacha