Fat Free Turkey Gravy Recipe

by John Barnhart November 2012

I just made some awesome turkey gravy. Yes, it's a day late, but part of the key was refrigerating the leftover turkey drippings. There were two reasons for this. One was so that the fat was easily removed. The other was so that the flour would mix in well with the broth.

Traditional pan dripping gravy involves making a roux from equal amounts of flour and turkey fat. This is used to thicken the broth. Since I am losing weight, I wanted to make a fat free gravy. In the past I have simply thickened the turkey broth with potato starch. It works, but it doesn't look as homemade. It has a glossy, translucent appearance, not the creamy look of gravy made with roux. This year, I did a little experiment which turned out wonderful.

Ingredients

3 Cups turkey broth from the roast turkey, refrigerated
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Egg Beaters (or equivalent)
season salt and/or pepper to taste

Warm up the turkey broth in a sauce pan just enough to liquify it from its gelatinous state. Whisk in the flour until smooth. If the broth gets too hot, the flour will cook into little balls instead of mixing in. Bring this mixture to a slow boil, and continue to boil it for 2 minutes. Put the egg beaters in a separate bowl. Pour about 1 cup of the hot broth into the egg beaters and whisk until smooth. Add that mixture back into the sauce pan. Heat again until it just starts to boil, then remove from heat. Season it to your liking.

I got the idea from making pudding. This recipe is basically the same as my vanilla pudding, without the sugar, vanilla, or butter, and using broth instead of milk. It's very creamy in appearance, but not as rich as traditional gravy. And it is fat free!

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Food

Choices

by John Barnhart September 2012

Sometime today, the New York Board of Health will vote on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on the sale of sugary beverages greater than 16 ounces. It is expected to be approved. Weight Watchers' CEO David Kirchhoff is supporting this ban. I am a little disappointed.

One thing we talk about at Weight Watchers meetings is choices. Weight Watchers isn't a "diet", and my leader doesn't like calling it a "livestyle change", because that sounds so dramatic. It's about choices. What choices we make will determine our successful weight loss. Let me say that again. It's about the choices WE MAKE!

I'm sorry David and Michael. Your intentions are exemplary. You see that Americans are obese, and you want to do something about it. But David, you already are doing something about it. You have a system that works for people. I've lost 64.2 pounds so far. One of the reasons it works is that there is some freedom in it.

If I am losing weight at a reasonable rate, and I decide that I want to buy a 20 ounce non-diet soda when I go out to a movie as a treat, that should be my decision. I didn't have a doughnut this morning, which is 8 points plus, so I can have a soda tonight, which is 6 points plus. Whatever happened to "It's my body. It's my choice"? I guess that doesn't apply to my diet.

That being said, I tend to agree with Sun Dee Larson, a spokesperson for AMC Theaters. She said that an average New Yorker only goes to the movies 4 times a year, and only buys concessions twice. "We firmly believe the choices made during the other 363 days have a much greater impact on public health."

I won't be able to go to the movies and buy a 20 ounce beverage which contains 240 calories, but I can buy a box of Good & Plenty with 377 calories, or Lemonheads at 400? You've seen the movie size candy boxes. They're 4 ounces. A serving is 1/2 ounce. I won't compare it to popcorn, because that has at least SOME nutritive value, mostly fiber.

Luckily you Starbucks patrons won't be hit too bad with this ban. You can still get your Grande (16 ounce) Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha, for a whopping 520 calories! A cup of skim milk has better nutrition, for only 87 calories.

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Fasting

by John Barnhart July 2012

You are a soul, composed of three parts: body, mind, and spirit. You are so much more than your body, and there are certain aspects of your body that you need to be the master of, not the other way around. Hunger is one aspect of your body that you need to master. Don't try to control your appetite, but don't let your appetite control you. Fasting is one way to master it.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline, not a health related activity. I do not suggest that you go on a fast to lose weight. That is counter productive. Fasting causes your body to shut down or slow down certain systems, since it has no idea when the next meal is coming.

Take the time you would spend eating and use it for a spiritual activity. Obviously, I would suggest bible reading and prayer, but you may be into meditation or yoga or whatever, and I understand that. The point is that fasting isn't just about not eating.

Benefits

On a spiritual level, fasting is an offensive maneuver. There are defensive spiritual disciplines, but when you want to attack a problem, fast. In Matthew 17:21, Jesus teaches that a particular type of demon can only be cast out by fasting and prayer. Other types, it appears, can be cast out with a command. Fasting is helpful in overcoming addictions, such as to nicotine and other drugs. This is because addiction is a spiritual problem as well as a physical one.

On a mental level, it teaches you to deal with your hunger. Have you ever been driving home and been so hungry that you decide to hit the drive through first? Don't you have (healthier) food at home? If you have ever fasted, you realize you can make it home, and don't "need" to eat right now. It teaches you what hunger really is. So you are more apt to realize that you might not be hungry, but actually bored or depressed or thirsty. It also teaches you coping mechanisms to deal with actual hunger. What else could you do instead of eat when your a little hungry right before bed? It will also give you an appreciation of how food tastes. You take some things for granted. If you don't eat them for an extended time, you appreciate them much more. I broke a fast at Shabbat dinner, so the first thing I ate was grape juice and challah. I had no idea just how sweet challah was. Sure, grape juice is sweet. But challah is, too.

There may be health benefits to occasional fasting, like detoxification, reducing chronic inflammation, quieting allergic reactions, etc. But that's secondary, in my opinion.

Intensity

Fasting has various intensity levels. One day a year, on Yom Kippur, observant Jews abstain from EVERYTHING. No food, no water, no brushing teeth even. You can do anything for 24 hours. It isn't easy, especially going without water. But you are more than your body, remember. You'll live through it. And it's only sundown to sundown, so as soon as it is over, we have a meal and drink a good bit of water.

Another level of fasting is just abstaining from food, while still drinking juice. This is sometimes called a "juice fast". I have friends that do this occasionally.

Another level is called a "Daniel" fast. In the Book of Daniel, the Prophet ate only vegetables and fruit, and drank only water for 10 days. Later, he went on a second, 3-week fast. To quote the Bible, Daniel "ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine."

For Roman Catholics, there is a form of fasting that limits food intake to two small meals a day, both of which don't add up to one regular meal. During the Lenten season, denying your self one pleasurable food is a form of fasting.

Duration

If you have never fasted before, you may have to work up to this. I know people who have a hard time just skipping lunch. The longest I have fasted is a week. I have a friend that was having a major problem in his work environment. He decided to fast by skipping lunch, and praying during that time, until the problem was resolved. He had no idea how long it would take. It really depends on your spiritual situation.

Moses went without food or water for 40 days, but he was in the presence of the Lord. Jesus fasted for 40 days, but he WAS the Lord. In the book of Esther, she entreats the entire Jewish population to not eat or drink for three days. But then, they were about to be annihilated as a people. I wouldn't suggest going on a long fast unless there was a major spiritual reason to do so. Moses was receiving the Torah from the Lord. Jesus was preparing for his earthly ministry. You are probably not at the spiritual level of either of them. If your entire family is under threat of being annihilated by an evil provincial governor, then you may want to fast for a long time.

Frequency

If you are a religious person, I would suggest that you follow your faith's existing fast protocols, if any. For Judaism, this starts with Yom Kippur, but also includes these minor fasts. In Islam, fasting is one of the five pillars, and one should fast during the daylight hours of the entire month of Ramadan. I am not familiar with Islam enough after that. In Christianity, there are varying "fast days" depending on the denomination. The Roman Catholic Church does have specific fast days and regulations. The Reformation movement rejected the canon law of the Catholic Church. Protestants and Evangelicals are encouraged to fast, but with no dogmatic rules on how and when.

If you are not a religious person, start occasionally skipping a meal. Then try going an entire day without food, but with water. Don't try to fast without drinking water for more than one day.

I have another friend who fasts almost every other day. I do not recommend this, but he has A.D.D. and knows he has a problem controlling how much he eats. To counter act his over eating, he just doesn't eat for a time.

Caveats

Fasting for an extended time can give you really bad breath. Eating parsley, while countering the idea of fasting, can help alleviate the problem.

In Judaism, the very young, the very old, and the infirmed are all exempt from fasting.

There are medical conditions that are contraindicative to fasting, so check with your doctor first. Diabetes comes to mind as an obvious one.

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Technical Pajamas

by John Barnhart July 2012

I haven't run since the Firecracker 5K on July 4. There are various reasons (read excuses) for this. It was my vacation week. It was my son's birthday. I did a lot of yard work. I didn't get enough sleep. I needed to motivate myself, so I tried something new.

I slept in my running outfit. You could call it "technical pajamas". My daughter looked at me like I had two heads, thinking I was going to go on a run right before bed! As pajamas, technical clothing is actually fairly comfortable. And, it really did remove one "barrier" to a morning run. I was already dressed for it. Maybe I could enter the PJ5K in November?

I also set up a scenario to force myself to go for a run. I had to take our 15 passenger van (we have 8 children. GASP!) in to the shop to get the air conditioning working. We have a trip to Ohio at the end of the month. We did that trip once without a/c. Never again. It turns out that my mechanic's shop is exactly 5K from my house. Well, from the bottom of the hill that I live on. There's no way I'm running up that hill anyway.

So, I got up, had a cup of coffee and some water, drove the van down to the shop, and ran back home. Well, it's been a week without running, so I didn't run all the way back, but I did run most of it. I did 5K in about 37 minutes. My last race time was 30:49.3.

I am much more motivated today, as a result.

Have you ever slept in your running clothes? Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @my5Kchallenge.

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When Chuck Norris Tells You to Do Something....

by John Barnhart July 2012

Way back in January of this year, I read this Chuck Norris article about the health risks associated with sitting for long periods of time. I am a computer geek by trade. I was the systems administrator, a job that involves getting up and moving around a lot. Now, I am a software developer, and I am at my desk almost all day. I started this job before I lost so much weight, and I have to tell you that Chuck is right. (What am I thinking? Chuck Norris is never wrong. Ever.) Sitting all day was starting to get to me. My left leg would hurt and my knee would stiffen up so that it would take me a while to straighten up. One thing Chuck suggested was to swap out the traditional desk for a standing one.

Well, when Chuck Norris tells you to do something...

I've actually been using a standing desk now for almost a year now. It was a previous article by Mr. Norris that got me looking into it. I started off like most people trying out a standing desk, by hacking something together. I just haven't changed it. The construction consists of a regular desk, four large ring binders, and two bookcase shelves. I set the ring binders up on end and placed the shelves on top of them. Underneath the shelves, on the desktop, is my laptop. I have an external monitor, keyboard, and trackball connected to the laptop that sit on the shelves. I purchased an aftermarket stand for the monitor to raise it up a little bit. I also have a floor mat on which I stand.

I would make something more permanent, but I'm not sure if I have the height perfect. If I type for an extended period of time without moving, my back will sometimes feel it. It may be like 1" too tall. Maybe I could put a 1" slab under my floor mat to raise me up 1"?

When I first set it up, I was the only person in my office. Now, there are four of us. The novelty of it has worn off and people are used to it. They do comment about not being able to sit when they meet with me. But then "standing meetings" have become common here at work. Standing meetings are much shorter than meeting around a conference room table. People get comfy around the table, and don't want to get up. It's also difficult to have a cup of coffee and some doughnuts at a standing meeting.

Benefits

Sitting all day has enormous health hazards associated with it, even for people who are physically fit with balanced diets. Not even vigorous exercise counteracts the hazards. Standing burns an additional 60 calories per hour than sitting. That's 480 calories in an eight hour period! Standing all day makes lunch time more relaxing, as I sit down at a table for lunch.

You can't fall asleep at your desk. It's easy to get sleepy at a regular desk if you are a little bored. That doesn't happen at the standing desk. If I need to perk up, I take a walk.

Problems

Every once in a while, you just want to SIT! Some standing desks are convertible, meaning that you can lower them to sit and raise them to stand. My desk is a hack job, so I purchased a tall chair. It allows me to sit and still work at the same height  of my desk. It was marketed as a dentist chair, but it was one of the few (inexpensive) chairs that would raise to the correct height. I does have one major problem. It started to "sink" while I was sitting on it. Other people who bought the chair complained of the same problem. The fix I found was to put a hose clamp around the shaft to lock it in place. Now the chair isn't adjustable, but I didn't need it to be anyway.

You can't fall asleep at your desk. Have you ever taken a nap at your desk? I mean during lunch, of course! Well, you can't do that now.

If you have a standing desk, let me know about it. You can tweet me @my5kchallenge. You can also post it to the 5K Challenge Facebook page.

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It's Berry Pickin' Time!

by John Barnhart July 2012

My father was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There is a standard question when you meet someone from the Land of Enchantment: "Red or Green?" Meaning, do they prefer red or green chili? For me it's green, but red is good, too.

Out here in New York, I have my own question; "Red or Black?" I'm referring to that most wonderful fruit, raspberries! Just about this time, at the early end of summer, wild raspberries are ripening all over the Hudson Valley. Oh, and for me it's black. Definitely black. But red is good, too.

Raspberries are wonderfully beneficial to your diet. They are very high in fiber, in relation to their caloric density, and high in antioxidants. An entire cup of raspberries only has 64 calories, but 8 grams of fiber! But they are rather expensive to purchase. A pint of raspberries at the local grocery store costs $6.00! Why pay that sort of price when they are available free for the picking!

My family has picked wild raspberries for as long as I can remember. I remember on house we lived in had a very small black raspberry vine along the fence. My mother would go out twice a day to pick whatever came ripe. Twice a day was important, or else the birds would make off with them! At the end of the summer she would have saved quite a bit in the freezer. Often she would leave them there until the middle of the winter, and then bake a pie. So, a pie isn't that healthy of an option, but if you are going to treat yourself, this is definitely worth it.

This year they are a little early, as we had a mild winter. After my morning runs, I have been picking black raspberries from a little patch near my house. I get a little under a cup a day from it, but I haven't been picking every day. The red ones are just starting to ripen.

Black?

Black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis) are also called "blackcaps", although I never heard the term before I moved to NY. You can identify the plant before they bear fruit by the color of the cane. It is what I would call a "milky green", whitish green, or minty green color. Their canes have thorns. The fruit of black raspberries starts from a little white flower which produces a very small green hard berry that then turns red, and then dark purple. It is ripe enough when you can pick it with a gentle tug. The darker ones will be sweeter, the redder ones more tart, but I tend to pick any that will let go of the cane. A good mix of ripeness will give you a good flavor.

Black raspberries love the edge of the forest, probably because this gives them partial shade during the day. Full sun just dries out the berries. They are native to the eastern US, but are cultivated in other parts of the world, like Korea. They aren't as prolific in this area as reds, so you may have to wade through some briars to pick them all.

Or Red?

I never picked wild red raspberries (Rubus phoenicolasius) until I moved to NY. The are also known as Japanese Wineberries, and are an invading species not indigenous to the US. They are called wineberries, not because of their use in making wine, but because of their deep red wine color when ripe. They grow throughout the US, but I had never seen any when I lived in Ohio. They are substantially different from black raspberries. Their canes are a red and fuzzy. Their fruits do not start from a traditional flower that turns into a small fruit. Their flowers resemble a fuzzy reddish closed lilly. They break open to reveal an immature fruit.

The first time I saw them it took me a week to realize what they were. Then we picked about two gallons of them that first year. I had never seen so prolific a wild berry in my life. Many New Yorkers where I lived at the time didn't even know you could eat them. They are so prolific that I see no need to kill myself wading through the briars to pick them. I can just walk down the road and find plenty more. Red raspberries also like the edge of the road, but they don't seem to have as much of a problem with full sun.

But the red ones are not good for pies at all. They are much juicer than their black cousins, and the pie falls apart. However, they are very suitable for jams and jellies. They are full of pectin. Even picking them will make your hands a little sticky. Of course, they are wonderful to eat just by themselves, or in yogurt, or on ice cream!

Being that I am on Weight Watchers now, I think I will forgo the pie altogether. We will probably make jam with the red raspberries, but I want to make a "desert" with the black ones. This crêpes recipe sounds like it ought to do the trick:

Egg Beater Crêpes

1/4 cup egg beaters
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 tbsp canola oil
4 tsp sugar

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for 2 minutes. Heat an electric griddle or skillet with nonstick cooking spray and pour batter onto heated surface. Cook for 30 seconds to one minute on each side or until light brown marks appear. Top with fresh fruit and fat free whipped topping.

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Yogurt Dip

by John Barnhart June 2012

I really like greek yogurt. Especially Dannon or Stonyfield Oikos. One of my favorite breakfast items is a sliced banana with plain greek yogurt on it. One day I was eating this an thinking about how similar it is to a traditional "jewish" dish of bananas and sour cream. "This stuff really does taste like sour cream", I thought. Well, maybe it does and maybe it doesn't. I haven't had full fat sour cream in a while, but Oikos tastes a lot more like sour cream than the fat free or low fat sour creams do, in my opinion.

Then I though, "what would this taste like as a chip dip?" I was in heaven. That's right, I died from a heart attack right then and there from eating potato chips. Seriously, it was phenomenal.

"Potato Chips!?" I hear you scream? Well, part of a successful weight loss program is indulging yourself on occasion. Nothing will drive you to the donut shop faster than the thought that you will never be able to eat another donut again as long as you live.

I want to indulge myself, but not kill myself. Baked potato chips just aren't an indulgence for me. Real fat fried chips are, and they just have to have dip. I haven't done that in a long time, because the dip is so high in calories. Five ounces of sour cream has 290 calories! Five ounces of greek yogurt, however, only has 80! And it has 14 grams of protein! That's a savings of 210 calories! Switching from regular to baked chips only saves you 20 calories per ounce. Have all the dip you want on those, because it's just greek yogurt. It's good for you, even!

Yogurt based dip is nothing new. I used to make it in college. But that was before greek yogurt became popular. Regular plain yogurt can make a good dip, but that's for veggies, in my opinion. And the brand of greek yogurt matters intensely. Oikos tastes creamy, not tangy. I tried the local grocery store brand greek yogurt. It was thick, but too tangy.

Recipe: none. Just do whatever you used to do with sour cream. We use onion soup mix. My mom used dehydrated onions, paprika, garlic, etc. (homemade onion soup mix?).

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Portion Control Mythbusting!

by John Barnhart June 2012

One common problem that many people have when trying to lose weight is portion control. This is especially true when dining out. If the restaurant can't (or doesn't) tell you exactly how much food you are eating how do you account for it? In Weight Watchers, we track everything via a points system, but you could be counting calories, or just servings. It is difficult to just look at a meal and know how much food is there.

One very common tool that people use in estimating portion is the "hand method". This idea uses parts of your hand to gauge the serving size of foods. The measurements are usually as follows:

  • a cup represents the size of your fist
  • a half of a cup represents your cupped hand
  • 3 ounces represents your palm in both thickness and size
  • a tablespoon represents your thumb in size
  • half of a tablespoon represents just the tip of your thumb

This would be a great method to use, IF IT WERE ACTUALLY TRUE! I have come to the conclusion that the person who developed this method was a 5' 2" tall woman that weighed 110 pounds.

I was thinking about this method one day, and looked at my own hand. Then I thought of a patty of ground beef the size of my palm and realized "that's way more than 3 ounces!". Since we were grilling hamburgers and such on Father's Day, I decided to test my theory.

I took some ground beef and made a patty that was the size of my palm.

It was a decent thickness for a hamburger, but it wasn't even as thick as my palm.

The weight? A WHOPPING 6.7 OZ! That's more than twice as much as the hand method suggests.

I tested this also with my daughter. She is 5' 2", but she has been losing weight as well.
Let's just say that she doesn't weigh 110 pounds. She has a smaller hand than mine, though.

We molded a patty to be her hand size as well. Still, not as thick as her hand, even.

The weight came in at 4.5 oz!

My conclusion is that if you are 5' 2", and weigh 110 pounds, then the palm of your hand probably does represent 3 oz. But then, you don't need to lose weight, and so why are you worried about portion control? Well, you may be trying to keep it off, which is good. However, if you are obese, or even just an in shape man, this method is not accurate.

The most accurate portion control method out there is a scale, but you can't take that everywhere. The hand method is a great idea, but in order to use it accurately, I suggest that you "calibrate" your hand using the method above. Then you will have a much better indication of portion control based on your unique hand.

 

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Food

Mayor Bloomberg: Size Doesn't Matter!

by John Barnhart June 2012

New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently proposed a restaurant ban for sugary drinks over 16 oz. The hope is that this will help fight the rising obesity problem of New Yorkers.

This ban would cause McDonald's to only sell "small" sodas, at 16 oz. (Currently, their "medium" soda is 21 oz.) According to McDonald's nutrition information, a small Coca-Cola® Classic drink has 150 calories, all coming from the 40 grams of carbs.

There are multiple problems with this, like people will just eat other junk food, or will just buy 2 drinks if they want it, etc. My biggest concern is that it isn't about the size of the beverage, it's the calories. According to The Atlantic, "Soft drinks are bought by one-third of the poorest 2 million New Yorkers, but only one-sixth of the richest 1 million -- those who prefer to sip their fruit smoothies and lattes without regard for the burden on the less affluent soda drinkers". 

How would those richest people enjoy a ban on Starbucks? At Starbucks, almost 90% of its "Grande" (16 oz) beverages have way more calories than a soda. Even their "skinny" offerings are 180 calories. The worst case scenario for a Starbucks Grande is the Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream: 520 calories. That's equivalent to a 40 oz Coke. If Mayor Bloomberg imposed a ban on beverages based on calorie count, then Starbucks wouldn't even be able to offer that beverage anymore. The "Short" (8 oz) size with nonfat milk and no whipped cream still comes in at 200 calories. There is no nutrition information for the beverage without milk, but 8 oz of nonfat milk is only 91 calories.

If Mayor Bloomberg and his wealthy supporters were suddenly denied anything over a "short" latte, how long would this ban last?

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Food

You Are More Than Your Body

by John Barnhart June 2012

I have been reading many weight loss articles and blog posts on line. One theme that is striking me right now is this idea of "loving your body". For example, a recent post on Yahoo Health, has "love your body" as one of their 7 Secrets to Long-Term Weight Loss. By "love your body", they mean being accepting of what you see in the mirror.

Perhaps I am way off base here, or perhaps it is because I am a man, but I do not agree with that concept. There are many aspects to this that I will discuss below, but one of them has to do with the concept of "love". What I am hearing in these articles about "loving your body" is that they mean the warm fuzzy feeling emotion that we call "love". I think that they are off base.

It's OK to not "love" your body.

When I started down this weight loss and exercise journey, I certainly didn't "love" my body. It hurt. I could not sit or stand for very long with out my knee stiffening. Then I would have to work out the stiffness. The last time we took a long road trip on vacation, it took me a full 10 minutes to get out of the car and straighten up. I had a touch of what may have been sciatica, so that when I did sit, it wouldn't be long before my left leg would start to hurt. Here I am driving the car while leaning to the right! My body couldn't run a mile. It couldn't dance without sweating profusely, having it's pants fall down, or for more than 4 minutes. I had to hold my breath in order to be "intimate", because my stomach stuck out farther than anything else on my body.

If I looked in the mirror and was pleased, or accepting, of what I saw there. Why would I even start to lose weight? There are many people touting the "big is beautiful" mantra. So be it. I am not worrying about how other people feel about themselves, I am speaking of self image. If you want to lose weight, there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you are actually overweight to begin with. There may be some gray area there, but at 260 pounds, I definitely need to lose weight.

You are More than your Body

I do think, however, that it is important to "love" yourself. You are NOT your body. You are a SOUL, which is comprised of three parts: Mind, Spirit, and Body. These are coequal parts. Why would you go back to school to get your masters degree? Don't you love your mind the way it is? Wanting to improve your mind is good, so why is wanting to improve your body a bad thing? Some aspects of you are "immutable", which is just a fancy word for "can't be changed", at least within reason. Your skin color, your bone structure, the fact that you are balding, your ancestry, etc. The things you've done in the past are also immutable. You can't go back and change the past. Don't worry about the things that you can't change.

You were created in the image and likeness of God. (Sorry, atheists, but Truth is Truth, even if you don't believe it. If there is no God, then you are just a body. I guess then you just have to love it, because it is what it is.)  God loves you very much, but he doesn't love everything that you DO. You know those things we call "sin".

YOU are a really cool, unique individual. YOU are beautiful, even if you want to lose weight. Think about your good qualities. I am a musician, even though I don't play much right now. I can read music, which is way cool. I love math, and enjoy figuring out new things. I like working with wood, even if I'm not a carpenter. I built my kids a tree house. How cool is that? I am a father I have six wonderful children, and the other two. (Just Kidding! all eight of them are wonderful.) I have a spiritual gift of wisdom, and enjoy discerning matters of scripture, faith, and metaphysics.

YOU are also fallible and there are things that you could change. I need to handle the finances better. I was doing a really good job of it, but have slacked. I could be a better husband, but my wife would never tell you that. I really have to work at doing the birthday, mother's day, anniversary, thing well. I have had some issues in my past that I would rather not delve into. Things that needed to change, and I changed them. I repented of that. I was at least 80 pounds overweight. I do not accept those things. I do not "love" those things.

Love is an action verb

Changing those things that you do not like in your life is actually part of loving yourself. "Love" isn't the warm fuzzy emotion you feel that causes your hear to race and your palms to sweat. I do not "have warm fuzzy feelings about they way I look naked in a mirror". Love is an action verb. If you love your spouse, you should do loving things to and for them. Remember the song "More Than Words"?

How easy it would be to show me how you feel
More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me
'Cause I'd already know

That's "love". In this case, I totally agree with the idea of "loving your body". You need to act in loving ways to your body, and you don't have to accept what you see in the mirror. You are more than that.

Loving others

Let me get one thing straight. I am NOT in this post talking about how we react to other people. Other people's bodies are NOT under our control. We are called upon by God to love others as they are. There is too much "sizeism" in the world. All people are beautiful, because each and every one of them was created in the image and likeness of God, and they are much more than their bodies. We can be an encouragement to them, even an inspiration, as we lose weight and get in shape.

Ways to Love your Body

Some of these are in agreement with the "love your body" crowd, but others aren't

  1. Wear clothing that fits you and that you think is attractive. So many people have told me that I don't look that fat, and that I don't need to lose any more weigh. That is probably because I wear clothing that fits me. Even when I was 260 pounds, I wore clothes that fit. I had a size 48" waist, and an 18 1/2" neck. Don't lie to yourself and wear a 36" waist, with your belly hanging over the belt. That's not your waist. Seek out stores/catalogs that carry your size. There is more to life than sweats and muumuus.
  2. Feed your body in a healthy manner. Don't over feed it. That's not healthy. Don't over indulge it. A treat now and then is fine, but don't spoil your body. You tell your children not to spoil their dinner. Don't spoil your own.
  3. Take your body out for some exercise. Something that you enjoy, or something that you may not enjoy at first, but want to be able to do. Strengthen it, make it faster, if that is something you want.
  4. Fix it if it's broken. Get good medical care, including fluid levels, like cholesterol, sugar, etc.
  5. Keep it clean. You're already fat. Don't be a fat, smelly, person on top of it.
  6. Keep it disciplined. You have to discipline your mind and your spirit, so why not your body? Discipline isn't punishment, but training it in the way it should go.

Love yourself enough to change.

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About the author

John Barnhart is a software developer for the iOS and Mac OS platforms. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife and eight (yes, eight) children. Over the past year, he has lost 65 pounds with Weight Watchers. He completed his first 5K on May 20, 2012.

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