Daniel Plan 3/20/17: Relationships are Key to Improving Health and Fitness

Hello all!

Today, we embark this week on the final pillar of the Daniel Plan: friends.

It's a simple fact. We were created to be in relationships. Think about it. What was the first community? Father, Son and Holy Spirit in eternal communion. This is a mystery that we will not ever fully understand. Yet, we can see that even before the creation, God existed in a relationship and when He created man He created others with whom man could interact.

Jesus tells us that we are to:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.
— Luke 10:27

So, we have a vertical relationship with God that transfers into a horizontal relationship with each other with the pivot being love.

We are embarking on a journey of lifestyle change. Dr. Dean Ornish is a Harvard trained physician who famously discovered a regimen to reverse heart disease. It goes like this.

  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Eat a plant based diet
  3. Reduce your stress
  4. Quit smoking

However, he wrote that relationships ultimately are what motivate us to eat healthy and exercise. He wrote:

Medicine today seems to focus primarily on the physical and the mechanistic: drugs and surgery, genes and germs, microbes and molecules. I am not aware of any other factor in medicine - not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery - that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes than love and intimacy! Love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings us happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing. If a new drug had the same impact, virtually every doctor in the country would be recommending it for his or her patients.
— The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life

We find, in our practice, that people who attempt lifestyle changes together are far more likely to succeed than those who go it alone or, God forbid, have a person at home who is actively opposed to or sabotaging their efforts.

I am reminded of the verse in Ecclesiastes:

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
— Ecclesiastes 4:12

Healthy Blessings


Daniel Plan 3/16/17: Attaining Benefits and Avoiding Negative Consequences


Today, we are going to wrap up the focus pillar of the Daniel Plan.

What do you think is crucial to being able to succeed at this, or any other endeavor you undertake in life? 

In order to get healthy, you have to be able to know why it is important to you to get healthy. Ask yourself; what is my motivation to achieve a healthier lifestyle? Is it to honor God?

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
— 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Is it to avoid disease and the effects of aging? Is it because you are sick and tired of being sick and tired? Is it to be there for your family?

Write down your motivation and look at it often. The book suggests this is most effective if you look at it from two perspectives: to attain benefits and to avoid negative consequences.

"Effective decisions involve forethought in relation to your goals which helps you not only to live in the moment, but also to be living ten or even fifty years from now. Boosting your brain power and health will help you avoid troubled situations. Here are seven simple steps to boost your brain and renew your thoughts. 

1. "Then What?" The two most powerful words, when it comes to your health, are then what. These two small words can literally change your health in a positive way if you keep them at the top of your mind. If I do this, then what will happen? If I eat this, then what will happen? Does eating the third piece of pizza, skipping the workout, or staying up late help me with any of my goals? Think about the consequences of your behavior before you act.

2. Get 8 hours of sleep. Less sleep brings lower overall bloodflow to the brain and more bad decisions.

3. Keep your blood sugar balanced. Research says that low blood sugar levels are associated with lower overall blood flow to the brain, poor impulse control, irritability, and more bad decisions.

4. Optimize your omega 3 fatty acid levels. Low levels of omega 3 fatty acids have been associated with ADHD, depression, and Alzheimer's disease - all brain problems.

5. Read your purpose-driven goals daily. Ask yourself, "Is my behavior today lining up with my purpose?"

6. Practice using your brain. Self-control is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Just as good parents help children develop self-control by saying no, strengthen the self-control part of your own brain by saying no to the things that are not good for you. Over time your brain will make better choices more automatically.

7. Balance your brain chemistry. Getting help for problems such as ADHD, anxiety and depression can help you maintain control over your life."

Today's Bible verse:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
— Proverbs 4:23

In this case, the "heart" being the inner thoughts of a man.

Be blessed my friends.


Daniel Plan 3/15/17: My Goals for Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends

Well, it wouldn't be us without a few glitches.

Yesterday's message was supposed to go out the day before, but a button didn't get pushed and today's message vanished from my screen as I was trying to send it.

Technology. It giveth and taketh away.

So, here we go again. Trying to send today, the message that should have been for yesterday, so that we don't have to do it again tomorrow. 

I think.

Reflecting on yesterday's post, I now want to share with you my list of goals for the five components of the Daniel Plan.

Faith: I want to spend more time praying/studying scripture than I do reading/watching the news. I want to trust God with my circumstances and have faith that He is going to meet my needs. I want to be able to put myself aside and want what He wants more than what I want.

Food: I want to eat real food the way God made it. I want to grow as much of my own produce as I can and learn better management techniques for my garden. I want to avoid sugar and refined grains and eat simple wholesome food that nourishes my body.

Fitness: I want to walk, with the dog, a minimum of 2 miles every morning and 1 mile every evening. In three months, I want to be able to do 2 sets of 25 kettle bell swings with the 36-lb kettle bell. I also want to be able to do a Turkish get up on both sides with a 12-lb kettle bell. I will work with the kettle bells a minimum of 3 days a week.

Focus: I want to be able to be present each day with the people I am in contact. I resolve to not dwell on the past nor project into the future. I will try to focus on the positive and let the Lord work through me as He sees fit. I will avoid television shows that are negative, violent or graphic.

Friends: I will try to see Jesus in each person I meet. I will endeavor to be more encouraging and less judgemental. I will try to show the love of God as He has revealed it to me. I will try to avoid gossip.

Well that's a list for me.

I encourage you to take the time to do a list for yourselves. It can show you what is most important and maybe help direct your steps when you see it in front of you instead of rattling around in your brain.

Today's Bible verse (one of my favorites): 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
— Ephesians 3:16-19



Daniel Plan 3/13/17: Be Specific, Clear and Unambiguous

Hi! And welcome back! 

We had a great family get together over the weekend and my brother-in-law's wife was talking to me about following the Daniel Plan (Hi Amanda!). She said she really wanted a more specific plan that told you what to do each day. If that's something you're also looking for, there are tools on the website (danielplan.com) that can help.

Today's exercise is to write out your goal and purpose in each of the five areas of the Daniel Plan: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends. Try to be specific in your goals in regard to the five W's: who, what, which, where and why.

Specific goals are those that are clear and unambiguous. This is where you tell your brain exactly what is expected and why it is important. A specific goal usually answers the five “W” questions:

What: What do I want to accomplish? For example, to lose 30 pounds.

Why: Specific reasons, purposes, or benefits of accomplishing the goal. For example, to get truly healthy, have better energy, and be physically able to do God’s purpose in my life.

Who: Who is involved? For example, me, but it will also involve those closest to me.

Where: Identify a location. For example, at home and everywhere I go.

Which: Identify the requirements and constraints. For example, faith, food, fitness, focus and friends.

To set specific goals, you need to know the difference between pressure and priorities. You need to know the difference between activity and achievement, between what’s urgent and what’s important. You need to know what matters most. If you focus your energy on goals that aren’t God-directed, your energy won’t have much power. Energy that is focused has enormous power.
— The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life

See you tomorrow

Today's Bible verse:

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
— Proverbs 4:26


Daniel Plan 3/10/17: The Power of Thoughts

Happy Friday!

Over the past 50 years, the field of behavioral therapy has grown into a billion dollar industry. And it's no surprise. The power of thoughts is real...and critically important if we want to optimize the health of our brain.

One of the cornerstones to success on The Daniel Plan is to have control over our moment-by-moment thoughts. This helps us to have control over our behavior.

Neuroscience has taught us that the brain releases chemicals every time we have good or bad thoughts. Predictably, having good thoughts leads to a deep sense of happiness and physical relaxation. Likewise, bad thoughts tend to lead to feelings of unhappiness and tension.

One thing I've found incredibly helpful is thinking on God's character. It helps me to harness all of my good thoughts.

Here are a few tenets, along with examples of prayers and meditations, taken from the book:

God is all-powerful:

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched love. Nothing is too hard for you.
— Jeremiah 32:17

God is love:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord
— Romans 8:38-39

God is all-knowing:

Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
— Psalms 139:4-6

God is merciful:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
— Romans 8:1-2

God is faithful:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
— Lamentations 3:22-23

I hope incorporating them into your daily thought process brings you some peace.

Have a blessed weekend!