Friends… who needs em?

imagesAre relationships really necessary?  And what defines a relationship anyway? I mean, I’m married, I have three kids and I go to work every day. I am surrounded by people I am in “relationship” with constantly. My husband is my best friend. My kids are great conversationalists. My team at work is entertaining and engaging and frankly when I’m alone, most of the time I enjoy hanging out with myself. What more do I need?

That is the million dollar question. If my time is so full of people I enjoy, why do I feel like I am missing something? Is that “something” the reason I catch myself fantasizing about having lunch with people I haven’t had a conversation with in years? Is it that “something” that triggers euphoric happiness when I daydream about a yet to happen get together at my home with long-lost, what do you call them again… oh yea, friends?

I guess it’s not as bad as it could be.  I met for a visit with a friend (two different ones mind you) twice last year. So I have those memories to go on. I figure I’m at least on a par with prison inmates, registered sex offenders and people on house arrest. I’ve got to be one up Amanda Bynes. She can’t have more than a couple of outings with friends a year what with her unfortunate expressions of multiple personalities and all. But wait! What about her multiple personalities?? If I count her daily interactions with her “inside friends”… she DEFINITELY has me on this! And I just have this nagging feeling that even registered sex offenders rub shoulders and hang out with people they meet in their mandatory meetings. Don’t prisoners get at least a weekly visit from a friend? What if you include their gang allies and visits in the yard every day? Ok, deduct time if they are in solitary and lose their yard privileges. So let me add this up: seven days a week in the yard with buddies, plus a possible weekly visit from an outside friend, minus a spotty week here and there for bad behavior with lost visitations privileges and I come out with… MORE TIME WITH FRIENDS THAN ME!! Shut ins?? What about shut ins?? This is pointless.  Instantly I can think of several opportunities they probably take advantage of that I don’t i.e. visits from church volunteers who bring them meals and offer pity conversations and probably concerned neighbors who really want to know if they are still feeding themselves and their several cats,  but masquerade as friendly house-guests and to the shut in, you guessed it… it’s all friend time.

So there you have it. The most isolated of society enjoy more time with friends than I do. So back to my husband and my kids. Aren’t they my “friends”? I think if I’m honest, I have to say that those relationships, even though I enjoy them tremendously, are attached for life in my mind. Obligated by nature of either origin, or legal covenant. I won’t let them fade into memories of happy times past and just let them try to stop hanging out with me. S to the T to the AULKER. Yea, they aren’t going anywhere. My co-workers? Since my company is reluctant to pay me if I don’t go there and hang out with those people every day, I guess even though I like them,  those connections are  on lock down too.

That leaves me forced to admit that a kind of relationship; the kind with people who get to go home anytime they want and whose underwear I don’t have to wash, is missing.

I know what happened. My life got complicated and as a once leader in my circle of friends, I became ashamed that some things were falling apart for me.  I let time pass while I hashed out the hard parts alone.  Now that I finally feel like I have something to offer friends again, it’s hard to pick up where I left off.  I sit here stunned that I have spent the past ten years– TEN years working through rebuilding my life without my friends.  It wasn’t until my husband got a job out-of-town that I realized what I’ve let happen. Suddenly he wasn’t there to talk to at all times and sadly, no one else was either.  Except my three teenage boys and as smart as they are, I have a limit of how many farts I can hear in a discussion, before I tune out.

For my own good and to drive home my commitment to living out my word for the year (others) I’ve done some research about why we need  true friends and here is what I discovered:

  • The more friends a person has, the less likely they are to become debilitated as they grow older
  • More quality social ties increases longevity– some studies say 15% or more
  • Companionship releases oxytocin, a calming hormone that creates a sense of well-being. Several studies show highly connected people have healthier hearts– probably because oxytocin is cardio-protective. It also combats depression and lowers cortisol levels, the damaging stress hormone
  • In studies related to surviving disease, ongoing interaction with good friends made recovery four times more likely (family/spouses were not an influencing factor but greater numbers of friends were)
  • People with strong friendships are less likely to get colds and recover from viruses more quickly (likely due to less cortisol and more oxytocin)
  • Worldwide studies show that the larger a persons friend network, the higher they rate their overall happiness with life
  • People with more friendships are likelier to make and keep good habits and more likely to follow through with personal goals

It appears we were simply designed to thrive in community with others, above and beyond our biological family. It’s obvious that interacting with people who enjoy us and aren’t obligated to us, imparts wholeness to our entire being. It is literally a medicine to our soul. Is it because the necessary feedback loop of valuing and being valued by friends is hard-coded into our DNA? I think so.

I’m convinced it is a vital key in reaching our full potential.  We. Need. Friends. More inspiring is the fact that they need us. We each have a deep well of wonderfulness and it seems it was meant to quench the thirst of our friends. Perhaps we are much more designed for others than we realize. Great news for me! Now I don’t have to feel guilty when I look for lunch with a pal, instead of enduring yet another fartathon at home.  Sorry kids.


A Health Creed

I won’t be sick. I won’t  feel bad. I won’t ache. I won’t be lethargic. I won’t be moody. I won’t have cancer. I won’t have headaches.  I won’t have diabetes. I won’t have high blood pressure. I won’t have a stroke. I won’t have thyroid problems. I won’t have constant symptoms that drain me.  I will not be another disease statistic. I won’t be a prisoner in my own body.

I want energy.  I want to be alert. I want to be happy. I want great sleep. I want to feel attractive in my clothes and out of them. I want to have great skin. I want to feel connected to life. I want to be up for anything. I want to feel young. I want to bounce out of bed to face the day. I want to attract healthy people.  I want to feel so good that I can take on any project or adventure I choose.  I want to experience life to the fullest and I will. Because my body is healthy and fit for all the purposes God has for me.

I am not a victim to circumstances, or weak will. I have the power of choice. I have a strong mind, a powerful spirit and a loving heart and I act as such by making choices that reflect the highest purpose for my body, temporary though it may be; I respect the fact that God gave it to me as a tool to accomplish my greatest dreams and His highest calling.

I eat food full of the best nutrition I have access to, in order to fuel my body to its fullest potential and seeing as how I was made in the image of God, that’s a lot of potential. Moderation means something different to me than it does to others. I don’t moderately poison myself with processed or fatty foods and sugar on a daily basis; simply because it tastes good- I’m smarter than that. I take full responsibility for my health, because it’s my happiness and my future.

I am powerful and full of promise. I owe it to myself to see what I am truly capable of, when I give myself the kind of nurturing I deserve.  I don’t make excuses for making bad decisions. I head them off at the pass, by being prepared and having a plan for every situation, every day. I continually educate myself about health and wellness, so that my self care can evolve daily and I can defy age expectations and thwart illness and disease, forever.

I do not eat for comfort, because I am comforted by a loving God and the knowledge that I am in control of this body. I do not eat from boredom, because I am excited by the prospects of the future I have planned. I do not eat poorly for fun, because I am entertained by feeling good and enjoying the people around me. When I have time to myself, I plan for a successful tomorrow or I enjoy pampering myself with things that are good for me and will make me better.

I am not tempted by others poor choices. They are not my example; I am theirs, because I am a leader and a strong one. This life was made for me and I was made to conquer this life, in this healthy body, with this strong mind, this heart and this spirit. No one will keep from me what is rightfully mine.

Victory is mine.

Three Confidence Killers

Helping people regain their confidence in one form or another has been my profession and my passion for over 10 years. The “job” has taken different forms at different times. Some have yielded paychecks, others made me wealthy in spirit but the theme has been consistent and  the truths I have learned on the journey are universal.

Looking bad, feeling bad, being bad. Bad, bad, bad. These are the three confidence killers I have found at the root of many peoples low self esteem. When any one of these parts of  self are out of whack, our confidence sinks like the great Titanic. The good news is that even when we hit an iceberg of ugly or sick or sin, we can still patch things up and continue our voyage, just as strong as ever.

Let me first establish that the confidence killers I will talk about and the methods for changing them are based on the understanding that each of us have a personal best. It is not other peoples measure of our best or their expectation of what our best should be; it is ours alone, and thus serves as a frame of reference we can only measure within.

Looking bad. Working with weight loss and hair restoration clients has taught me that when someone doesn’t like the way they look, it gives them shame and shame robs confidence.  This goes for every appearance frustration someone can have: missing a tooth, hair, bad skin, overweight or a general feeling of frumpyness. It is NOT vanity to want to look as good as you believe you can. If anything outward improvements reflect a sense of personal value. Others sense that and put their confidence in you as well.

  • Pay attention to the little things: manicure your nails, whiten your teeth, put on lotion, freshly shave and smell good
  • Commit to fix that one nagging outward insecurity- that scar, tattoo mistake, missing tooth, whatever distracts you!
  • If it’s not a 10 get rid of it. If you feel stylish and handsome/pretty when you put it on, it’s a keeper. If you make excuses for why you keep that outfit, like a bad boyfriend… get rid of it. You’re better than that.
  • Get professional advice. Not sure what to wear for your body type or how to style your hair, what colors you look good in, how to clear up your skin or get your hair back? Ask someone who does.
  • Decide to find, love and accentuate your best features
  • Be willing to invest in yourself.  Sometimes change costs money… decide how much you value your confidence and the investment should make sense

Feeling bad. It’s hard to focus on heaven when you feel like hell. In other words, it’s very difficult to pursue ambitious goals or take risks when you feel tired, sick or have painful symptoms. When I have energy, mental stamina and feel fit, my confidence is through the roof.  Life can be a battle in many ways and feeling sick or tired is like showing up to a gun fight with a dull knife. When I managed weight loss clinics, I saw first hand how diet effects mental sharpness, creativity, mood, overall health/healing and energy/stamina, sex drive, which ALL in turn give us the fuel to conquer our giants and enjoy life to the fullest. I firmly believe our body is the equipment we have been given to carry out our God given purpose. If it’s broken,  then naturally our confidence in our ability to win our personal races takes a hit. Get fit. You’re better than those big pants and tired mind. Even a few steps in the right direction will perk your confidence, as your inner man says “yes! I’m doing the right thing!”.

  • Read books on health/weight loss/healing
  • Start some form of exercise
  • Get more sleep, eat more vegetables and “fast” from fast food
  • Quit fad diets and make it a goal to be strong and healthy
  • Make yourself accountable to someone who cares about you who can support your commitment
  • Join others on this journey somehow to create a support system that will nurture success

Being Bad. About that shame thing. As polar opposites, shame and confidence just can’t co-exist. They will duke it out in your head until one of them gets knocked out! A conscience is a terrible thing to waste. Sometimes we don’t feel like holding our head up and can’t pin down why. There are two types of “being bad” that will rock even the most successful, fit, geniuses world. 1. Actually doing bad things that your conscience tells you not to and 2. Believing bad things about yourself that aren’t justified. If we are “being bad” then how can we expect our inner man to stand up and walk tall as if we know we are good? The “bad” can range from simply being negative and thinking judgmentally about others to lying, cheating, breaking laws or hurting people in word or deed.

  • Gut check- let that still small voice have a moment on the floor and really really listen and refuse to make excuses
  • Confess- to yourself, to those that matter and even to God and ask for forgiveness
  • Promise-yourself and others to be better
  • Act differently- now. Don’t wait. Change. The way you think, the things you do or the way you treat others

Now, on believing bad things about yourself that aren’t justified.  As a women’s counselor, it was obvious that when someone believed they were bad, it was  a wall between them and their potential.  Only the truth could break it down. Find the source of the negative voice in your head. Who told you, you were bad? Do they deserve to define you? What trauma happened that broke you? Does that event deserve to write your future? You must discover the truth about yourself in order to confidently step into your dreams.

  • Read books that renew your mind, renew your outlook and renew your faith
  • Spend time with people who renew your mind, your outlook and your faith
  • Settle on the truth that you were born for greatness and forgive those who’ve held you back. Choose to take that power back.
  • Act in a new direction and feelings often follow… Decide to let yourself look your best and feel your best so that the new you is expressed

Look better, feel better and be better. You were born for unique greatness. Confidence is your birthright!

“Self confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings”

~Samuel Johnson

School rules for eating right


Now that we have those kiddos back in the swing of things, let’s regroup and address a game plan that can help us all stay on track with healthy snacks and meals. Here are several ideas that can keep your weight loss engine rev’d and everybody feeling good.

  •  Sit down on Saturday or Sunday for 30 minutes or so and plan a menu for the week.  Figure out the correlating grocery list so you’re prepared for healthy breakfasts, afterschool snacks and dinners and not planning on the fly what to eat
  • Eat breakfast with your kids! This is great for your metabolism, since you will be getting your first meal of the day usually by 7:30 or so and your body will burn burn burn calories better throughout the day
  • Prep your own lunch when you make theirs.  Don’t forget to take care of mom/dad too!  If you need a lunch for work, put the same amount of love and thought into your own meal as for the kids. Always include: Healthy protein, a veggie or two and a healthy starch w/ a healthy fat… fruit for desert is perfect!
  • Say no to Little Debbie and other junk at the store when choosing kid foods. Not having low quality snacks at home makes the battle of the bulge much less daunting. Why face the enemy (low quality, fattening snacks) in the cabinet daily when you could bypass them altogether? WARNING: KIDS MAY WHINE! But you have the power to educate them now about all you are learning and help transform their lifelong habits while it counts. Make how to “count” a serving of healthy food (starch, protein etc.) a casual topic of conversation, so they can understand exactly what healthy eating looks like. Just skip the part about portion control, so they don’t think that they need to be watching their weight!  Keep in mind, they will feel better, get sick less often and perform better in school as well.

Keep in mind the “counts” are based on a few general portion rules for weight loss, adjusted to your particular weight and weight loss goals. Most people need daily: 5+ veggies, 2+ fruits, 2-3 proteins, 1-2 dairy, 2-3 healthy fats, 5-6 high fiber complex carbs/starches.

  1. low fat part skim cheese sticks (2 sticks = 1 dairy)
  2. strawberries and other very sweet fruits ½ cup cut = 1 fruit
  3. zone, solo or kashi bars (1/2 bar usually = 1 starch)
  4. fruitaboo (fruit leather) 1 strip = 1 fruit
  5. baby carrots, celery sticks, sliced cucumbers veggie tray w/light dipping dressing
  6. pre made tuna salad for topping crackers (prep 1 can with 1 Tbsp mayo and ¼ cup chopped celery) (1 protein, 1/2 fat, 1 starch)
  7. boiled eggs mixed with mustard and stuffed in 1/2 whole wheat pita (1 protien, 1 starch)
  8. Thomas brand mini whole wheat bagels w/ horizon brand low fat cream cheese (1 whole bagel =  1 ½ starch) w/ 1 Tbsp low fat cream cheese = ½ fat
  9. Make a smoothie for everyone as an after school snack and give them some whole wheat crackers or a side of bagel w/ natural peanut butter with a teaspoon of honey drizzled on top.
  10. Let them do whole wheat crackers hors d’oeuvre style w/ a buffet of natural deli meat, low fat cheese, cream cheese, peanut butter, jelly, laughing cow cheese spread and anything else they may like to put on top that’s healthy
  11. central market brand sea salted pre popped popcorn 2 cups = 1 starch
  12. boca burger or other vegetarian meatballs on toothpicks with a cup of spaghetti sauce to dip
  13. Apple slices with 2 Tbsp nut butter and 1 teaspoon honey to dip  (1 fruit, 1 fat)

 When many parents are blaming “parenting” and all it’s demands and the desires of their kids appetites on their weight and health issues, you can be slimming down, fighting off cold season and teaching the kiddos how to eat to live! They’ll thank you some day… you’re thighs will thank you next summer.