Everywhere we look Americans are becoming alarmed about what some call “an epidemic of obesity.” Amid the research, stories, television shows and wide variety of preventive steps and treatments, there resides a growing understanding of how a person’s view of him or herself can lead toward or away from obesity.
My own online perusal of this topic led me to discover what’s really weighing on the obese? And I decided to focus on the “Let’s Move” campaign Michelle Obama has launched nationwide to raise awareness of the harmful sedentary tendencies children, adolescents and young adults have and the reality television show, The Biggest Loser. Obama targets the importance of eating healthy and getting exercise on a regular basis. Two years ago she invited the contestants from the reality television show to the White House to stress the importance of these activities for all Americans – young and old.
Biggest Loser, if you’ve never watched it, usually concentrates on obese adults, but in the 2012 season the show included 3 young people from middle school and high school. Their intent in incorporating teenagers has been to get families to learn together how to eat properly and to exercise. On the show adults are put through rigorous activities in the gym and around the Biggest Loser Campus and various locations around the world. The young people were shown proper eating habits and how exercise can be incorporated into their daily school and after school activities.
To me, the most important point made by the trainers was this: In order to maintain a body transformation, individuals must also transform their thought about themselves: How are you thinking about yourself? What happened that has led to thinking negatively about myself? What can I do to improve my seemingly already ingrained habits?
Some people struggling with obesity are simply mimicking their parents’ overeating habits. Some have been abused and made to feel worthless. Some have been injured and never recovered mentally. Some have had disappointing relationships. The list goes on and on.
One young woman on the show broke down in tears when she finally revealed she had been made to feel responsible for the drowning of her younger brother because she was the only one around at the time. Her father had even mentioned he wished it had been her instead of her brother. She felt she didn’t deserve to live, so she was filling the void of not feeling wanted or loved by eating. She was only 3 or 4 when the incident occurred. What a weight to carry around! This woman went on to discover she was an amazing athlete, and lost a lot of weight. She learned to let go of the guilt and find a path to healthier living and eating.
Contestants who had “aha” moments similar to hers have proven to be more successful at keeping and staying fit. Overeating, it seems, can be a symptom of a much deeper problem. In many cases, it is important to get to the root of the problem and heal the thought, then the symptom (overeating) disappears. “You’ve got to make a break. You’ve got to divorce yourself from the past and find a different way of living. And you can never go back.” Bob Harper, a trainer on The Biggest Loser, says.
At one time when I was suffering with self-esteem issues, and being overweight was one of them, I found a passage by Mary Baker Eddy, a spiritual revolutionary from the 19th century, especially helpful. She says: “The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation and a priceless sense of the dear Father’s loving-kindness.” I found the more I maintained a sense of peace, patience and kindness toward myself, my thought gradually changed and I felt I had all the nutriment I needed and the problems tied to my self-esteem dropped away – one-by-one.
On Biggest Loser, the trainers show a wonderful sense of meeting the heartfelt needs of the show’s participants and they find ways to feed them with patience and loving-kindness. This seems to be an effective way to get at the root cause of obesity and help people find a path to a new view of themselves.
Kate is interested in blogging about health, spirituality, Christian Science, science, the importance of prayer and religion. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.
Disney’s Frozen phenom: Letting it go! by Linda Ross
The Disney movie Frozen is popular with children and adults alike. The movie theme song “Let it go” is so popular it has been recorded and sung in many languages by men, women and children. Linda Ross, a colleague of mine, shares her spiritual insight on possible reasons for its enormous success. Here is Linda . . .
I may be the last to know, but I was puzzled during a recent visit with our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter by a new behavior – she repeatedly twirled around as she belted out enthusiastically, “Let it go, let it go, let it go!”. Her mom sighed, told us she was singing the theme song from the movie Frozen and said that it had become REALLY big. We then checked in with another daughter who quickly agreed and said our 5 year old grandson can suddenly, unbidden, break into the movie’s dialogue. Every boy she knows loves Frozen even though its heroines are female and its handsome prince is a jerk.
Turns out, Frozen is the highest grossing animated film of all time – with over 1 billion in box office receipts from around the world. This includes “Let it go” being recorded in over 40 languages. A Broadway musical is in development. Countless YouTube covers have spawned millions of views – my favorite being one of a group of Marines singing along with gusto while watching the film.
This post is copied here with permission from the author, Eric Nelson.
Harvesting the good that is all around us can be an interactive, high-tech exercise. An exercise that can inspire comprehension and appreciation of the good that exists right now. Eric Nelson, a spiritual thinker and colleague, shares his thoughts on this unique concept. Here is Eric . . .
For anyone who might have been listening, the exchange must have seemed pretty mundane.
A man who has just moved to a new town strikes up a conversation with his barber. They discover they both enjoy hiking and the barber begins to wax poetic about his favorite local jaunts. He finishes cutting the man’s hair and then scribbles a few suggestions on a piece of paper. The man smiles, thanks the barber and then heads back to work.
This is hardly headline news. And yet, it’s exchanges like this that have been laying the groundwork for a brighter outlook and better health for millennia. We may just not be noticing.
Fast forward a day or so later. This same man is having lunch with a researcher from a prestigious university who describes herself as a dyed-in-the-wool optimist, “obsessed with connection and kindness.” She also runs a think tank that comes up with technology that encourages social interaction in real life, “optimized for health and wellness and a good dose of delight,” as she describes it.
It’s during this conversation that the man begins to realize the significance of his earlier visit to the barbershop.
Enjoy this post by Debby Kowit
Today there is a new perspective on the treatment of cancer. Research has shown that personal support – via doctors, foundations or self-help groups-is a vital component to successful treatment. Debby Kowit, a colleague of mine, shares how she found support and healing from a different source. Here is Debby …
Are you a cancer survivor? I might be. Like many, I have been through the fear and angst of trying to decide what to do about a lump – which in my case never ended up being diagnosed.
Let me explain.
At the time I was not a stranger to cancer. My mother had passed on from it nearly two decades earlier and I had already spent many years working amidst the medical community. In fact, at the time of this occurrence, I was managing the business office of, believe it or not, a Medical Oncology practice.
Needless to say, the detection of a lump brought a surge of fear. Add the anxiety that our patients and their families brought daily to this Oncology office and I had a recipe for overwhelming stress.
Helping people deal with stress is a key element in treatment according to the website of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. Inquirers want to know, “How can I protect myself against the effects of stress?” The Foundation’s answer shares that, “People with better support tend to have better functioning immune systems.”
As a single mom with two elementary school age children, going through a divorce, no money, no job, no friends, having just moved to another state, I had many, many worries. Painful headaches accompanied the worries. Daily doses of aspirin accompanied the headaches. The aspirin relieved the pain but did not cure the headaches – they always returned day after day.
Everyone reading this post knows that being a worrier is not healthy. There have been many articles written and studies proving that “excessive worrying can cause you to be physically ill.” And, chronic migraines are one of the illnesses often associated with excessive worrying and stress.
If we have tried the conventional approaches – more rest, downscaling our lives, avoiding stressful relationships, etc. – and still not found relief, what can we do? How can we stop the worry and develop healthier habits.
One solution, recommended more and more by physicians and currently included on webmd.com is daily meditation where “you purposefully pay attention to what is happening at the present moment without thinking of the past or future” – what has or might happen or could happen. This is similar to what I did. Though, my approach included bringing God back into my life in a practical way. I began to pray regularly to see and better understand what God had in store for me and the children.
I also took up regularly reading and studying the Bible and a book that I had grown up with and forgotten about – Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. The first line in the Preface reads, “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”
“Really?” I thought. “Where are the blessings? If it is big with blessings, there must be more than one. This day must be packed full of blessings.” I decided to start thinking about blessings – even counting them. At first there were just a couple, but as the days went by, I began to see more, and I felt better and worried less. I also learned that being grateful is prayer.
The book described how much God – merciful and compassionate – loved me no matter what mistakes I had made and had not left me alone. And, anyone who has gone through a divorce or has witnessed a friend doing so, knows that one thing a woman or man, for that matter, needs is to feel they are loved and are not alone.
The more I trusted God to direct me and to take good care of us, the less stressed I felt. The headaches lessened until they totally disappeared. I no longer needed to rely on aspirin.
I might not be worry-free every moment, but prayer – and not headaches – is now a part of every day. It’s a welcome change for anyone suffering from migraines and stress, and the worry that leads to them.
Kate is interested in blogging about health, health care, spirituality, science, religion, the importance of prayer in maintaining a healthy mind and body. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.
In most parts of the United States the season for planting and growing is in full gear. Tim Mitchinson, a spiritual thinker, shares his insight on another kind of seed planting- one that is not confined to a specific time or season. Here is Tim . . .
It’s planting time in Illinois! From rural farms to suburban backyards to high-rise city pots, it’s time to plant those seeds.
But there is another kind of planting you can do. Consider planting more spirituality in your life. Why? For one reason, spirituality has many health benefits. A Johns Hopkins Health Alert stated, “A growing body of research suggests that religion and spirituality may help some people better cope with illness, depression and stress.”
These questions come naturally to thought: 1) What are some seeds of spirituality? 2) How do we plant them? 3) Do we need to watch out for anything? 4) What can we expect to harvest?
Spirituality has many definitions. Physician and author Dr. Dean Ornish wrote, “When I use the word spirituality, … I mean whatever it is that helps you feel connected to something that is larger than yourself.” Others reference it as connected to the sacred or a higher power.
Kate is interested in blogging about health, health care, spirituality, Christian Science, science, religion, the importance of prayer in maintaining a healthy mind and body. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.
Today people are living longer than ever before. Research has revealed that positive thinking and continuing to see ourselves as interested and productive may be the key to living a long and healthy life. Don Ingwerson shares some inspiring and thought provoking insight on this topic. Here is Don…
I recently returned to my rural childhood home, where I hadn’t been for decades. I found I still had vivid memories of past events, even though buildings had decayed and schools were closed. I had a chance to catch up with those I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager: What were they doing with their lives? Were they fulfilling their dreams and achieving the purposes they had outlined years ago? How did they see themselves?
Each had a unique story – family, profession, children, marriage, all told with a sense of pride. No one mentioned age, only what seeds they had sown in life and how those seeds had grown and blossomed. Catching up with my friends, I found myself wondering how they could have achieved their goals there in that small town.
But what I realized is that people are unique in what drives them. And apparently researchers and psychologists agree: “What your purpose is does not matter, just to feel there is one could be enough.” Their conclusions from a 14-year study involving 6,000 people substantiate what you probably suspected all along: health and longevity correlate with keeping busy and living a life of purpose.
Keith Wommack, a colleague of mine, conducted an interesting experiment many years ago and came up with some promising results that affected both his mental and physical health. Trying this experiment might prove helpful to our health too. Enjoy this blog by Keith.
When in high school, I experimented, not with drugs, but with something quite different. My interest was not the norm. I wanted to see how long I could focus on divine concepts throughout the day.
I had become intrigued with the idea that spiritual thinking could have a direct impact on health.
My experiment took place several decades ago before published studies revealed the positive mental and physical effects attributed to prayer and spiritual living.
Here’s a brief description of my results:
Day 1: Got out of bed – ate a bowl of cereal – all the while, thinking about divine ideas. However, as soon as my brothers and I piled into our old ‘55 Chevy to head to school, I forgot all about the experiment.
Day 2: Got out of bed – ate a bowl of cereal – … Click here to read this article in its entirety
This year, before the first blossom was on the tree or the appearance of the first blade of grass, the media was the harbinger of impending illnesses.
The media vigorously reported that the highest pollen count was expected in recent years due to the amount of snow and rain we had last winter. And, this would undoubtedly cause severe allergy and asthma reactions. A description of each disease and its associated symptoms was expertly stated.
Many in the medical community along with alternative thinkers-be it holistic, religious or spiritual-have come to the conclusion that the suggestion of disease and the visual imagery it generates can affect our health and wellbeing for the better or for the worse.
An article written by Star Lawrence of WebMD and reviewed by Louise Chang, M.D., affirms “Various health bogeymen jump out of the newspaper pages every day. Threats are raised but seldom discounted…” And, Jesse Gruman, PhD, executive director and president of the Center for Advancement of Health in Washington, D.C. says that the media plays a large role in promoting health fears. “The problem is that mass media fly on news-meaning information has to be tarted up to be used. This plants the seed of fear instead of education.”
And, these seeds of fear can lead us to experience the very diseases highlighted by the media reports. A number of studies over the years have shown the link between fear and disease, including for example what is called “medical student syndrome”- where students studying a disease begin to experience the symptoms of that illness.
It can also lead us to limit our activity, missing the real joys of spring, summer and it seems now any season.
A member of my own family recently expressed fear that her allergies had already “kicked into gear”. She listed symptoms and the discomfort she was beginning to experience. She was considering not attending an outdoor party that was coming up and simply limiting her outdoor activities in general.
But what can we do if we want to be free of these images and of the symptoms they can produce? If like the medical experts quoted above, we are clear on the negative impacts these descriptions and images have on our health, there is no reason why we cannot reverse the images or paint new ones in our thinking. Wouldn’t this be likely to produce the opposite results – i.e. boost our health and well being?
Mary Baker Eddy, a Christian healer who investigated the mental and spiritual nature of health, came to this conclusion: “If you decide that climate or atmosphere is unhealthy, it will be so to you. Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take. Reverse the case. Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.” Science and Health 392:24 (1)
It’s really up to each one of us. When spring rolls around we can reverse the media-induced focus from the expectation of illness to a Spirit-based expectation of renewal.
We can ch0ose the image of spring that brings joy, goodness and a healthy body.
(1) Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy
Pamela enjoys writing and learning about health, spirituality, and the importance faith and prayer have on maintaining a healthy body and spirit. She is in the full time practice of Christian Science. She lives in Nottingham, Maryland with her husband and Siamese cat. She enjoys hiking and the outdoors.
There I was having dinner with my husband, his boss and the boss’s wife. I wanted to make a good impression and was fine until I saw out of the corner of my eye – a cat. I thought, “Oh, no. Please don’t come near me.” I was at that time so afraid of being near a cat. All of my friends and family knew I was allergic to them and made sure that when I came to visit, any cat was securely locked away. But the boss and his wife did not know that.
Sure enough, as cats are want to do, this one picked me to rub against. He wanted to even hop onto my lap. I gently tried to push him away, but he would have none of it. Having already touched the cat, I started to show signs of the allergy. I tried to ignore these irritating symptoms and vowed to make it through dinner without too much of a scene.
This incident happened many years ago and I can’t remember if I had to leave early but I do recall I was extremely uncomfortable.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies of all types are on the rise and more people suffer from this chronic condition than from heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. They also say that: “There are no cures for allergies.”
Yet, I’ve been free of allergies now for over 40 years, and we’ve had many beloved cats in our home.
A turning point in my illness came during a visit to my sister’s. She had dutifully locked her cat in the basement while I was visiting. However, unbeknownst to me, I slept in the bed where the cat usually rested. The first night, I was awakened with the familiar allergic symptoms and found the cat sleeping right by my face. At first I panicked. Then I got up and went into the bathroom to calm myself and to think- and pray – about the situation.
I was new at praying about things like sickness. But from my study of the Bible, I remembered two ideas that were helpful: God gave man dominion over every creeping thing (Gen 1:26, 31) and then it says God saw everything he had made and it was “very good.” I did not see the cat as a “creeping thing” but the allergy felt like that to me. So, I had power over such a thing that, clearly, wasn’t “very good” at all. I also remembered a statement by Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy that, while speaking of another type of allergy, still resonated with me that night. She said: “What an abuse of natural beauty to say that a rose, the smile of God, can produce suffering! The joy of its presence, its beauty and fragrance, should uplift the thought and dissuade any sense of fear or fever.” (1) S&H 175:9
I reasoned that the cat, like the rose and me, was a creation of the Divine. Its beautiful qualities such as grace, playfulness, softness, independence, and peacefulness were to be admired not feared.
I went back to bed confident that all was well. The cat was still sleeping peacefully and I slept soundly the rest of the night. And, that was the end of the allergy.
What a joy it was for my children to realize they could now finally have a cat for a pet without fear or concerns for my health.
My own experience tells me that we don’t need to suffer all our lives from allergies; they can be cured.
(1) Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy
Kate is interested in blogging about health, health care, spirituality, science, religion, and the importance of prayer in maintaining a healthy mind and body. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media, legislative and public contact for Christian Science in the state of Maryland.