Monday, January 31, 2011

Resturant Guide to Success

Here is a summary of my Weight Watchers meeting January 18, 2011.

The Restaurant Survival Guide
Article By: Duane Swierczynski

Use these insider tips to be a finer — and wiser — diner.

If you eat in a restaurant 4.2 times a week you are officially an average American. And you've spotted one big reason why the average American is overweight. Restaurant portions tend to be oversized. It's also hard to monitor the ingredients and means of preparation, which often means high fat and calories. Armed with the following info, however, you can stay in control of what you eat — even if it's out.

It’s French for “loaded with calories.” These words are hints that a dish contains plenty of PointsPlus™ values.

• au fromage
• au gratin
• au lait
• battered
• bisque
• cream of
• dipped
• double-baked
• hollandaise
• just like mom’s
• Newburg
• pan-fried
• parmesan
• sautéed
• tempura

Avoid unlucky number 7
Open the menu, and trace a large, imaginary "7" with your finger from edge to edge. Research shows that the average customer's eyes follow this path first upon opening a menu, says Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York and author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think (Bantam, 2006). You'll usually find the items that yield the highest profit (food cost vs. menu price) along the 7 line. The better values will tend to be nearer the left-middle and lower-right corners of the menu.

Hold the butter
Must raid the bread basket? Use olive oil, not butter. A University of Illinois study of 340 patrons in an Italian restaurant found that those diners who dipped their bread in olive oil ate an average 23 percent less bread than the butter users, and reported feeling full sooner. They escaped the bread basket with 50 fewer calories overall; olive-oil users ate an average of 264 calories in bread and oil, while butter spreaders consumed 319.

Nix the prix fixe
Ordering the three-course prix-fixe is just another way of super-sizing, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, a nutritionist in New York and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. The addition of an appetizer and dessert adds PointsPlus™ values and is harder to resist—after all, you've paid for them.

Mean greens
Salads are supposed to be good-for-you choices, right? Here are some things you need to know if you want to go green:

Cobb salad
It tastes great because it's loaded with bacon, dressing, egg yolks and blue cheese. At 11 PointsPlusvalues in a 3-cup serving (and that's without the dressing!), you might as well go for the steak.

Caesar salad
Expect to find around 8-10 PointsPlus values in just a quarter cup of the caesar dressing alone — before the croutons or any other special extras. If they offer a low-fat caesar dressing on the side, order that with a plain salad.

Chef's salad
There could be 1,000 calories in that festive bowl of cold cuts, says Taub-Dix. Depending on the types and quantity of meats and cheeses the restaurant uses, it could vary from 2 PointsPlusvalues per cup to five times that with dressing.

Stomach crunches
Adding Asian crispy noodles or croutons to your salad? Depending on where you're eating, they can add 2 PointsPlusvalues to your salad — and sometimes more.

Don't pour it on
When possible, order salad dressings and sauces on the side. Dip your fork in, instead of pouring it on, and you'll consume far less without noticing much of a difference in flavor.

For starters
Stick with a classic; get the shrimp cocktail for 4 PointsPlus values. (A quarter cup of cocktail sauce = 2 PointsPlus values; 4 ounces of large shrimp is 2.)

Entrée vous
Surf and turf redefined
Steamed fish and grilled chicken breast are the champs of sea and land, at 3 and 4 PointsPlus values respectively for a 4-ounce portion. But be careful: "'Grilled' can mean it was 'grilled' in frying pan with oil," says Taub-Dix. Ask for it "grilled dry."

Roasted chicken surprise
"Very often I have seen chefs lift the skin and put butter or oil under the skin," says Taub-Dix. Chefs also put butter on steak to give it glaze. Ask them to refrain when you order.

Halve it
Cut your entrée in half and put it aside in a doggy bag. What's left on your plate will probably still be larger than a "standard" portion size.

Make it a spud light
A plain baked potato has 5 to 6 PointsPlus values, depending on size. The wad of butter or sour cream it cries out for has twice that. Squeeze a lemon wedge or spoon salsa onto that tuber instead.

Just desserts
If you and your loved one traditionally close a restaurant meal with a shared dessert, go for the sorbet.

Made to Crave Winner

The winner of the Made to Crave giveaway is....

is Emily over at Scribbles from Emily

I know you will love this book!

Please email me at with your information! You have 48 hours to respond!

Thanks for everyone who entered!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Picking a Health Club

Here is a Get Fit email from Dr. Jacobs, that I received while I was gone.

If part of your new year’s goals includes exercising at a private health club, please read the article below.

Health clubs — are they right for you?
In a sense, a health club is just a big, expensive piece of exercise equipment. If you use it, you’ll feel great and enjoy many health benefits, but if not, you’ll just feel guilty and wasteful. Here are a few tips to help you decide about joining a club — and to help you get the most from your club after you’ve signed up.

The benefits of membership
A health club can provide three major benefits: motivation and companionship, instruction and supervision, and equipment and facilities.

Motivation is the most important, especially for those who are just starting to exercise. The first steps to fitness are the hardest. It can take two to three months for people to really enjoy exercising; going to a club can make those initial workouts easier to take.

Instruction is an important feature, both for beginners and people who are ready to move up to a new level. Most clubs offer free hands-on guidance to get you started on a piece of equipment, and many offer personal trainers to plan and supervise an individualized regimen, usually for an extra fee. Group classes are also available at most clubs, providing companionship, motivation, and instruction all at once.

A third reason to join a club is to get your hands — or feet — on their equipment. Home exercise equipment is great, but few homes can support more than one or two devices. Every health club worth the salt of your sweat will have ellipticals, treadmills, bikes, climbers, resistance machines, and weights. Many offer even more, from rowing machines and cross-country skiers to swimming pools.

Picking a club
Exercise facilities range from old-fashioned, hard-core gyms, to neighborhood centers and Ys, to fancy clubs and sleek spas. Here are some tips to help you find the club that’s best for you.

• Find a club that’s convenient. A long commute is a dagger in the heart of good intentions. If at all possible, pick a club within 10 to 15 minutes of your home or work. Location is everything, or at least nearly everything.
• Be sure the club is open when you want to use it, and that it’s not too crowded at your favorite times.
• Be sure the club has what you want, but don’t pay for more than you need. If you’re a treadmill, bike, and Nautilus guy, you can save big bucks by staying away from clubs that have racquetball courts and steam rooms. On the other hand, if your stroke is the crawl, seek out a club with a lap pool.
• Check out the atmosphere. Intangibles can make or break a club. A club should be inviting — clean, bright, and upbeat. That goes for the showers and lockers, too. If TV or music will help you work up a sweat, be sure the club has what you need.
• Choose a club that’s appropriate for your age and health. A good club should ask you to fill out a medical questionnaire, possibly including an okay from your doctor. If you have medical problems, find a club that has the equipment and personnel to provide first aid. But be leery of a club that insists you take an expensive stress test from them, whether you need one or not.
• Check out the staff. Are they just bodybuilders who look good, or are they well-trained fitness experts? A good credential is certification by a credible organization such as the American College of Sports Medicine.
• Talk to club members to find out how they like it; be sure to ask if the club delivers on its promises.
• Ask for a free introductory workout or an inexpensive trial membership. It’s the best way to see if the club works for you.

Look before you leap
Health clubs want you for your body, but they want you for your money, too. Most clubs impose a one-time initiation fee, then a monthly or yearly charge. Costs vary widely; a no-frills gym may ask for $100 to join and $25 to $50 a month, while a spa with all the bells and whistles might accept $1,000 for the privilege of belonging, then $100 to $200 a month. Buy only what you need, and pay only what you can afford. And even if the price is right, exercise a little care:

• Join an established club that’s unlikely to close suddenly, leaving you with a prepaid invitation to a locked building.
• Read the contract, even the fine print.
• Evaluate the payment options. A monthly or quarterly fee will give you more security than a prepaid annual fee. Ask if there is a finance charge. Look for specials or negotiate your own deal.
• Sign the shortest contract you can, particularly if it’s your first. Try to find a plan that will allow you to opt out for a small charge or one that you can sell to a friend for a modest transfer fee. Don’t ink a long-term agreement unless you get a discount — and even then, be sure you’ll actually use the club and that it will stay open and up to date.
• Check with your local Better Business Bureau or consumer affairs agency to see if people have complained about the club.

Exercise your options
Checking out a health club sounds formidable, but it’s actually much easier than buying a car or filing your taxes. The most important investment is not your money but your time, and the most important dividend is your health and happiness. Exercise is essential for optimal health and longevity; an investment of 30 to 45 minutes nearly every day will earn the best returns.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flashback Friday: Chinese Hot Pot

Today's flashback takes us back to China! Over Christmas break Jon's family took us all out to eat a very traditional Chinese meal, hot pot. I have explained the meal below using the pictures I took while we were at the restaurant.

This is a Chinese Hot Pot. The outer ring is a very spicy soup and the inner most container is a non-spicy soup.

We all got up from the table to go look for the raw ingredients that we wanted to cook in our hot pot.

They had brains. I do not know what kind of brains these are, but we did not eat these.

Whole fish...gross. We did not eat this either.

There were four different displays filled with different meat and veggie choices. The men behind the counter were in charge of preparing everything.

Three trays was what we started with! We ate a lot that night and just kept going back for more. Look at all that yummy food!

Next, you add the raw meat and veggies to the soup. The soup is on a gas stove so it is boiling. It cooks the food. After it is finished cooking you get what you want out with a spoon or your chopsticks. 

Jon and I love hot pot! We have this for dinner even in the U.S!

We all had a lot of fun!

Michelle is going to demonstrate the final step. After you pull out the cooked food, you put it in a bowl with soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and garlic. You love let the food cool off and then eat it!

See, some people dig their food out with chopsticks and other people, like me, use the spoon.

It was great! As you can see there really isn't anything left, because it is all in our bellies!

Visit Tia for more flashbacks.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Recipe Review: Angel Food Bars

I have been wanting to make this recipe since before Christmas. I had it on my list to make around Christmas time, but we were so busy that I just didn't get to it. Oh well. That's life. However, now that things have returned to normal I knew that it would be the perfect time to make this recipe!

I found the recipe for Angel Food Bars on the Weight Watchers message boards. I am telling you that is one of the best resources for low points plus recipes. I've said it before but those ladies always have great ideas.

For the complete recipe, click here.

This recipe is extremely easy and you only need three ingredients! What could be better than that?

I mixed together the dry ingredients first. The original recipe calls for chocolate pudding, but I am not eating chocolate this year so we decided to use french vanilla pudding instead.

Next, you add two cups of slim milk and stir.

This mixture got very foamy and expanded quite a bit.

Put it in a 9x13 pan and bake!

I thought that these bars would eventually shrink and get shorter, but they never did. When it was finished baking it looked just like a cake.

The finished product! It was yummy! The cake was very moist and tasted great. We will be making this again for sure. It is only three points+, so I thought it would be great with some berries on top or sugar-free jam. Feel free to experiment and let me know how it turns out.

I hope that you enjoy this as much as we did!

. . . . . . . . . .
Angel Food Bars
Source: DORIEDO2

16 ounces angel food cake mix
1 (1 1/2 ounce) package fat-free chocolate instant pudding mix
2 cups skim milk

Mix together. Pour in a 9 x 13 inch sprayed cake pan. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Good with a little fat-free whipped topping.

Serves 18; 3 pointsplus+

NI: Calories 105 Total Fat 0.2g Dietary Fiber 0.1g

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Corn Icecream

In China they make corn flavored ice cream, it was good!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dating My Man

Do you date your husband? I do on special occasions, however most of the time our life gets busy and marriage becomes routine. We do the same thing over and over, because that is what makes us comfortable. Being comfortable is good, but not if you take that to an extreme and become lazy.

I want to date my husband this year!

Yes, you heard me right, I have decided to date my husband this year! I am so excited about it that I had to share it with you.

The four years we have been married I have placed very high expectations on Jon in the area of romance. I wanted him to plan romantic dates for us, like the kind you watch in chick-flicks. Much to my dismay, I discovered that my husband is not a natural romantic. The truth is that he cannot read my mind and therefore has a hard time trying to figure out what to plan when I do not tell him what I want.

I’ve been listening to a sermon series titled, “The Peasant Princess” by Pastor Mark Driscoll. In this sermon series Pastor Mark digs deep into the heart of the Song of Songs. Something that surprised me more than anything else is that Pastor Mark talks about how the wife in this book, takes initiative in her sexual relationship with her husband. She did not wait for her husband to figure out what she wanted, she told him. She was not ashamed or embarrassed to show her husband that she loves him by taking the lead in this area.

I want to be a woman that is confident enough to take the first step to love my husband in creative and fun ways. Thankfully, my friend Elise was telling me about this website called, The Dating Divas. You must check out this website.

Here is what The Dating Divas say about themselves:
In a nutshell, each Monday the Divas will offer an awesome date already completely planned for your upcoming weekend! {Aw geez… you’re totally welcome!} Throughout the rest of the week we’ll also post quick & easy ideas to serve your spouse, unforgettable family outings and activities with the kids, intimate moment ideas to spice things up in that room, and fun “romance” crafts to boot! There is definitely something for every couple! {Don’t forget to check out our archives for dates you may have missed!}

This sounds like so much fun! At the risk of being a little cheesy I tried one of these dates this past weekend. I tried The Spouse Sleepover Date, because it an inexpensive and fun idea for an evening together. Jon loved it!

We played Guess Who? I baked Jon's favorite cookies and we watched a movie!

I got a mixture of junk food for Jon and healthy veggie straws for me to eat during the movie.

I moved our bed out into the living room so that it could really feel like we were having a sleepover.

I want Jon and I to be able to go on more fun dates like this one. I pray that God would make me more like the woman in the Song of Songs and give me the courage to love my husband in more fun and romantic ways this year!

P.S. Don't forget to enter in the Made to Crave Giveaway! Click Here to Enter.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Made to Crave Giveaway [Closed]

It is time to host my very FIRST giveaway!!!

I will be hosting this giveaway in honor of Lysa TerKeurst's new book, Made to Crave.

A huge THANK YOU goes out to Holly at Proverbs 31 Ministries who sent me two copies of Lysa's new book. One of those copies was for me to read and the other to use for a giveaway!!

I have been reading, Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, and I just love it. All of it! I think it is a great book and a must read for anyone struggling to lose weight.

Here are some great quotes from Made to Crave.
"Eve craved what she focused on. We consume what we think about. And what we think about can consume us if we’re not careful."

"Incomplete people think that putting on their skinny jeans will right all their wrongs and fill up all their insecurities."

This book also has a section at the end of each chapter asking you to answer questions and take time for personal reflection. It helps you to take the truth that you have learned and apply it to your life. This is one of my favorite parts of this book.

If you missed Lysa's guest post last Monday, click here to get a taste of her new book.

Here's What You Need To Do To Win:
1. Leave me a comment and tell me about the food you crave more than anything else.

For Extra Entries (separate comments)
2. Follow my blog. If you do already, let me know!
3. Blog or Tweet or Facebook about the giveaway and post the link in your comment.

Comments will be closed this Sunday, 1/30 at 9pm!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weight Watchers Strawberry Pie

Weight Watchers Strawberry Pie
Source: Gail M.

4-5 cups cut strawberries
2 cups water
1 package fat-free sugar-free vanilla pudding mix, Not Instant pudding
1 package Jell-O Sugar-Free Strawberry

NO crust!

Spray a pie pan with PAM

Cut up fresh strawberries, enough to fill the pie pan, about 4-5 cups. Put into the pie pan.

Mix together 2 cups of water with 1 pkg of Vanilla Fat Free/Sugar Free Cook and Serve Pudding- not instant!

When it begins to boil and thickens, remove from heat and add 1 pkg of sugar free strawberry jello- stir until dissolved. Pour over the strawberries and refrigerate until set.

The whole pie is about 8 points+.

Serves 8; 1 pointsplus+

For Recipe Review, click here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Planning for the New Year

Here is a Get Fit email I received from Dr. Jacobs while I was gone.

Tips for a longer life
No matter what your age, you have the power to change many of the variables that influence how long you live, and how active and vital you feel in your later years. Actions you can take to increase your odds of a longer and more satisfying life span are really quite simple:

1. Don’t smoke.
2. Enjoy physical and mental activities every day.
3. Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and substitute healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats.
4. Take a daily multivitamin, and be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
5. Maintain a healthy weight and body shape.
6. Challenge your mind. Keep learning and trying new activities.
7. Build a strong social network.
8. Follow preventive care and screening guidelines.
9. Floss, brush, and see a dentist regularly.
10. Ask your doctor if medication can help you control the potential long-term side effects of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, or high cholesterol.

Smoking: An enemy of longevity
If you want to live a long, healthy life, make sure you’re among the nonsmokers. Smoking contributes to heart disease, osteoporosis, emphysema and other chronic lung problems, and stroke. It makes breathing during exercise much harder and thus can make activity less enticing. It appears to compromise memory, too.

The news does get better. People who quit smoking can repair some, if not all, of the damage done. After a smoker quits, the risk of heart disease begins to drop within a few months, and in five years, it matches that of someone who never smoked. Stroke risk drops to equal that of a nonsmoker within two to four years after a smoker quits, according to one study. The death rate from colorectal cancer also decreases each year after quitting. At any age, quitting progressively cuts your risk of dying from cancer related to smoking, although this drop is most marked in those who quit before age 50.

Diet and aging: Gaining a nutritional edge
Plenty of research suggests that eating healthy foods can help extend your life and improve your health. Studies reveal that a healthy diet can help you sidestep ailments that plague people more as they age, including heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and cataracts.

There is no shortage of new and conflicting advice on diet and nutrition. Stick to the basics with more broad-based changes, such as cutting back on meat; eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; and striking a healthy balance between calories in and calories out.

Choose fruits and vegetables wisely
Get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. When filling your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose from a full color palette. For even more health benefits, aim for nine servings a day. To get there, choose vegetable soups and vegetable or fruit salads. Sprinkle fruit on breakfast cereal, and select it for snacks or as a sweet end note after meals.

Choose fats wisely
Whenever possible, use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. Avoid trans fats entirely. Limit saturated fats to less than 7% of daily calories and total fat to 20% to 30% of daily calories.

If you don’t have coronary artery disease, the American Heart Association recommends eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout, or mackerel, twice weekly. If you have documented coronary artery disease, consume roughly 1 gram a day of EPA or DHA from oily fish and supplements if your doctor advises this.

Choose carbohydrates wisely
Choose whole-grain foods over those made with refined grains, such as white bread. Look beyond popular choices like whole oats and brown rice to lesser-known whole grains like barley, bulgur, kasha, and quinoa. Limit your intake of white potatoes.

Choosing protein wisely
Emphasize plant sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and grains, to help you bypass unhealthy fats predominant in animal sources. Enjoying a wide variety of vegetables and eating beans and grains helps you get a full complement of amino acids over the course of a week. Shy away from protein sources high in saturated fat. Favor fish and well-trimmed poultry. If you do eat beef, pick lean cuts.

Don’t char or overcook meat, poultry, or fish — it causes a buildup of carcinogens. Cutting off fat, which causes flames to flare on the grill, can help avoid charring; try gently sautéing, steaming, or braising these foods in liquid instead. Grilling vegetables is safe, however.

Turning the tide on weight gain
Turning the tide to lose weight — or just holding the line at your current weight — can be difficult. The following tips may help:

Line up support. Work with your doctor and, possibly, a nutritionist or personal trainer. Ask for help in setting a reasonable goal and taking small steps that make success more likely. Tell friends and family about your goal, too.

Shut down the kitchen. Make your kitchen off-limits after dinner — even if you need to run a strip of crime tape across the door to do so.

Aim for a small change. Trimming 5% to 10% of your starting weight is a realistic goal with excellent health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lowering the risk for diabetes.

Eat well. Focus on vegetables and whole grains, which are digested slowly. Limit refined carbohydrates. Enjoy moderate amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Cut down on saturated fats and avoid trans fats.

Watch the balance. Taking in more calories than you burn off adds extra pounds. Burning off more calories than you take in shaves pounds. A moderately active person who gets about 30 minutes of exercise a day needs 15 calories of food for each pound of body weight. To lose a pound a week, you need to lop off about 500 calories a day by becoming more active and eating less.

Step up activity. If you are struggling to maintain a healthy weight or need to lose weight, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 60 to 90 minutes a day of moderate activity. You can work out in one daily session or shorter bouts at least 10 minutes long. Walking is safe for practically everyone. Talk to your doctor if you’d like to include more vigorous activities, which give you twice the bang for your exercise buck — that is, one minute of vigorous activity equals roughly two minutes of moderate activity.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Working for Weight Watchers

The day that we left for China, I received an email from a woman at Weight Watchers. I had filled out an application a while back, but did not think it would be the right time for me to get a second job. Apparently they had saved my application on file. I was told that they were looking for new receptionists and were wondering if I would be willing to consider the job.

Over a month went by before I responded to this woman. I took time to pray while we were gone to see if this would be something that would be worth my while or not. I do not want to overwhelm myself with all of the things that I am involved in. However, I want to be able to help lighten our financial load as much as possible.

After we got back from our trip I decided to reply to the email to see if the positions had already been filled. I was told that they were not filled yet and that if I wanted an interview I would have to do it within the next week. I scheduled my interview for Saturday, January 15, 2011. The interview went so well. I was not nervous and had told the Lord that I just wanted to be myself. If they did not like me for who I am everyday then I did not want to work for them. I explained to the woman I met with that I would love to work for Weight Watchers, because my weight loss has made such a HUGE impact on my life. However, if they had chosen not to hire me that would not change my desire and drive to encourage others around me who are trying to lose weight.

This morning I received a phone call from my favorite Weight Watchers leader, Amanda. She told me that I had been hired and was calling to welcome me to the team! I was simply speechless. Look at the amazing work that God has done in my life through weight loss. I am so excited for what He has in store for me as I begin to work with Weight Watchers part-time.

Hug Someone You Love

In honor of such an awesome day we are going to take a break from flashbacks and focus on hugging those you love!

My favorite person in the world to hug is Jon! What can I say? I am obsessed with hugging him.

What about you? Who do you love to hug? Jesus lead by example and I believe it was His desire that we love the unlovable. We should pray and be on the lookout to see who God would bring across our path that we can hug.

I'm not saying you have to hug every homeless man on your way home from work, though I am sure they would enjoy that. But look for someone who is down and having a hard time, that you might be able to encourage by just simply wrapping your arms around them. If you hug someone today, I want to hear about it!

This morning, when I got to work I opened an email titled, "Italian Hugs". Normally, I hate forwards, but I was curious about what was so special about this video. I think this video is great and am wondering if I should try doing this in my own town. Be sure to check it ouy!

If you want to learn more about hugs click here to visit Wikipedia.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Do You Think I'm Beautiful?

I am so thankful that my beauty is not defined by anyone else other than the Lord! There have been so many times in my life where I can recall the deep shame I felt for who I was and what I looked like.

Middle school is hard no matter who you are, however each year I was in middle school my family moved. Three different times I tried to make friends and just as I would finally feel like I was fitting in, Mom and Dad would announce that once again we were moving. Yes, I was angry about this, but we can save that for another blog post.

In fifth or sixth grade we lived in upstate New York. One of our neighbors, a man by the name of Bill, said something to me that I have never forgotten. He told me that I had a double chin. I am sure I did have a double chin, because I was overweight at the time. However, his words hurt me a lot and I can still feel their sting today. As a result, I have been self conscious about this every since!!

As I have grown in my walk with the Lord, I know that others cannot define my beauty. I try to walk in the truth of what God’s word says about me, but Satan uses these memories to pick on me when I am vulnerable.

Friends, please read the devotional below. It was such an encouragement to me. I know that we all have had encounters like the one I described, but I needed to be reminded that the Lord is the one who made me and His opinion is the only one that matters!

. . . . . . . . . .
Do You Think I’m Beautiful?
18 Jan 2011
Melanie Chitwood
"The king is enthralled by your beauty..."
Psalm 45:11 (NIV)

My sons and I dance in the kitchen as we put away dishes while loud music blares. The sanctuary of our home is the only place I can dance without embarrassing them lately, a fact which usually doesn't stop me from car dancing when a good song comes on.
Besides, today I would dance anywhere because I'm in a dancing mood.

Why? I got a new pair of boots. And these are not sensible, forty-something year-old boots. These boots are high-heeled and impractical. Today they make me feel beautiful.
I hope you don't dismiss this devotion because you want to tell me real beauty comes from within. I know. Please keep reading.

I remember another pair of boots that made me feel beautiful once upon a time. Somehow I had convinced Granny to buy me what was the height of cool and grown-up in third grade: Go-go boots. They were white with a bit of a heel, zipped up the side, and stretched up my leg to just below the knee. Mere walking was not good enough for those boots—I pranced.

After going out to dinner, I strutted my nine-year-old self around in those boots, laughing and twirling, intoxicated with the attention from the adults along with the delicious satisfaction of feeling beautiful.

Do you remember a moment like this? Whether in third grade or in our third-plus decade, our feminine hearts long to feel beautiful, don't they?

Sometimes we hide from this longing. We wonder if a good Christian woman is vain if she admits she wants to feel beautiful. Shouldn't we be more concerned with our character than our outward beauty? Besides, every woman knows how easily we can be filled up with attention and admiring looks one minute, but deflated and insecure the next.

I remember vividly how that night in third grade, prancing in my go-go boots, ended with feeling just that, deflated. In the blink of an eye the enchanted night evaporated when an older relative rebuked me with her sharp comment: "That's enough. Quit showing off like that and come sit down." And that's what I did for the rest of the night. Quiet, ashamed, no longer feeling beautiful.

As little girls, and big girls, our beauty sometimes gets buried beneath critical comments like that of my relative. Or, it becomes the victim of our duty-filled lives, broken hearts and unfulfilled desires. So we try to discard our longing by telling ourselves that physical beauty is a useless pursuit.

But deep down this doesn't ring true.

I think what's more true is this: We don't want to be admired exclusively for our outer beauty, nor do we want it dismissed.

We desire to display both inner and outer beauty. One without the other is not really who we are, and we want someone to see who we really are. What we really long for is for someone to be enchanted with our entire being, our very essence.

What if instead of discarding this longing to be admired for our beauty, we embrace it? What if we recognize this longing as a God-given desire which distinguishes our feminine heart?

When I turn this over in my mind and heart, I find something incredible: Not only does God give us this desire, He also satisfies it. You see, the King is enthralled with our beauty (Psalm 45:11).

The King sees me completely. He sees the effort I put into creating a scrapbook of my teenager or revising a writing submission until the words line up perfectly. He sees me taking time to encourage a friend, or love my husband. And He sees my efforts to exercise and take care of my body.

Our heavenly Father is the One who created and fulfills the longing of our hearts. God sees us inside and out, and He's not disappointed or critical. He is delighted and enthralled. By you!

The King is enthralled with our beauty. That's why I'm dancing in my new boots today. Won't you join me? Put on your favorite stylish shoes, crank the tunes, and dance. His eyes are on you!

Dear Lord, nothing makes me more beautiful than Your love. Thank You for being a Heavenly King who sees me completely and loves my whole essence. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Civil War Ball Story

Alright, here are some details about the Civil War Ball.

After Jon and I first arrived in China his family informed us, that if we wanted to, we could participate in the home school hosted, Civil War Ball. My first question was whose Civil War are we talking about. They explained that it was an American Civil War Ball in China. Awesome!

The worst part of it all is that they did not tell us about the ball before we arrived! I never expected that I would need to pack fancy clothes for a ball. I am good at being prepared, but no one could see that one coming.

There were a lot of things I needed to get: a dress, shoes, hoop, jewelry, make-up, gloves, shawl, and something for my hair!

Right away I tried on my sister-in-law's dress to see if it would fit. You see the Chinese are short, small, and petite. That's not your typical American build. I tried on Hannah's dress and to our surprise it fit!! Isn't it pretty?

Now that we knew I could fit into a Chinese dress we made a trip to the Northern Market to go dress hunting. It took a long time to find what I wanted, because I am really picky. But that's okay. We found a beautiful dress! Then, Jon went shopping with his parents and found a tuxedo that matched perfectly!

Wordless Wednesday: Civil War Ball

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TV Debut and the Importance of Power Foods.

Here is a summary of my Weight Watchers meeting January 11, 2011.

My Weight Watchers leader Amanda was interviewed by our local news station last Friday. Click here to check out her TV debut.

Pile on the Power Foods
Article By: Melissa Sperl

There's a reason we made all fruits and most veggies Power Foods – and 0 PointsPlus™ values: They're a fabulous tool for weight loss. Here's how to get them into your meal plan.

If you're like many people, you may find it hard to fit five servings of fruits and vegetables into your menu each day. It makes sense: When you're more used to extra breads, meats and cheeses than veggies and fruits, it's a big adjustment.

But it's an important part of the Plan, so do what you can to make the change. It's worth it. In addition to all fresh fruits and most vegetables having zero PointsPlus values, fruits and veggies offer the following perks:

• They make you feel fuller.
• They're rich sources of disease-fighting antioxidants.
• They reduce the risk of heart disease.
• They provide folic acid, vitamins and minerals.
• They increase energy, fight infection, improve regularity, keep skin healthy, promote normal blood clotting and build bones!

Fitting them in
There are many ways to include more fruits and vegetables into your meals. Variety is key. When you go grocery shopping, pick up a fruit you've never tried before or spice up your green beans with a fiery peanut sauce instead of the usual butter spray.

Here are some tricks to try:
• Add vegetables to frozen entrees, pasta dishes, soups or wraps.
• Use frozen veggies to save time. Add them to recipes or use them on their own.
• Snack on crudités with salsa, hummus, low-fat dip or dressing.
• Buy fresh seasonal, local or organic veggies, which are often more flavorful.
• Mix fruits into salads for a surprising new taste.

Click here for a list of power foods that can be found under your toolbox on etools. For maximum satisfaction and nutrition, make the extra effort to try to incorporate these into your daily food choices.

Our MLK Weekend

Jon and I were so excited to have a three day weekend this week. We needed it. We have been going to bed very early each night. However, I think that we are finally over jet lag.

On Saturday morning, I had an interview with Weight Watchers. I received an email while I was in China asking if I was interested in Weight Watchers employment. After praying about it I replied to the email and received an opportunity for an interview. I went to the interview and it went great. I was not nervous and just tried to be myself. I should hear something back about it this week sometime.

After my interview, Jon and I got together with friends that were in our Bible study this past fall. We decided to have a twelve hour Lord of the Rings marathon, because John and Elise had never seen those movies. It was fun! We started around noon and did not finish until after one o'clock in the morning.

I did not even make it through all of the movies. I ended up taking a two and a half hour nap during the first disk of the third movie. I have been doing that a lot recently, maybe I really am turning into my mother.

The rest of the weekend consisted of resting! We watched two football games on Sunday. The team we wanted to win, won. The team we wanted to lose, lost. It was a good football day for us.

Monday was relaxing too, even though I had some house work to do, it was nice to not have to be anywhere. Jon even got off early and came home to hang out with me. I really love those kind of days!

Well, this morning we are headed back to work. I am going to be really busy with Probation/Suspension. I want to post more China pictures, I just haven't done it yet. I will, don't worry!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Made to Crave: I'll Start Again on Monday

Day 8: I’ll Start Again on Monday
Based on Chapter 2 of Made to Crave

Thought for the Day: “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for  help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you with expectation.” (Psalm 5:1–3)

“I’ll start again on Monday” are the ill-fated words that I’m certain have passed through every woman’s mind since the beginning of time. Whether it’s an excuse regarding our diet, exercise, temper, or devotional time, this phrase cycles through our lives on a regular basis. Or, is it just me?

For example, on a Saturday morning, I head down to my kitchen vowing to do better, eat healthier, and make good choices, only to have my resolve melt like the icing on the cinnamon rolls my daughter pulls from the oven. So I conclude the weekend is the worst time to begin eating healthier and tell myself, “I’ll start again on Monday.”

However, I find myself nagged by the subtle feeling of defeat, disappointment, and frustration. This crushing cycle of powerlessness that I’ve come to hate continues. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to wander around on a fruitless path unable to enter into the abundant life God has for me.

Today I challenge you to start a new cycle of making God your focus, rather than food. Each time you crave something you know isn’t part of your plan, use that craving as a prompting to pray. I crave a lot. So I’ve found myself praying a lot. Potato chips and brownies now prompt me to pray! God gave us the gift of prayer to turn our times of desperation into relationship opportunities with Him. This cycle is far more promising than distancing ourselves from His goodness with our own sense of self-loathing and defeat.

For example, when we make God our focus, we can wake up in the morning and say “God, I want a biscuit this morning. Instead, I’m eating poached eggs. I’m thankful for these eggs, but I’ll be honest in saying my cravings for other things are hard to resist. But instead of wallowing in what I can’t have, I’m making the choice to celebrate what I can have.”

What better way to live than fully in today rather than always looking to start over on Mondays!

For more information about Lysa TerKeurst and her book Made to Crave, please visit:

To purchase this book, Made to Crave please click here.

For information on webcasts, please click here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Zesty Hamburger Soup

Zesty Hamburger Soup
From: Amanda R.

1lb lean ground beef(90% lean)
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cups hot water
2 medium red potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups frozen corn
1 ½ cups uncooked small shell pasta
4 picked jalapeño slices
4 cups V8 juice
2 cans(10oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies(Rotel)
1 to 2 TBS sugar

In a large Dutch oven, cook the beef, celery and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in water, potatoes corn, pasta and jalapeno.
Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until pasta is tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook and stir until thoroughly heated.

1 ½ cup= 222 calories 5 g. fat, 28 mg cholesterol, 542 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 14 g protein.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Here is a Get Fit email I receive from Dr. Jacobs on 12/17/2010 while I was gone.

Know the signs of stroke
Stroke has always been a much-feared medical emergency, and rightly so. Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies of a stroke every four minutes, amounting to 795,000 strokes and 137,000 deaths annually. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer.

Not all strokes are preventable, so it is very important to recognize the early signs of stroke and get treatment as rapidly as possible. Stroke damages brain tissue, but that loss can be minimized by getting quickly to an emergency room that can connect to a rapid-response stroke center.

Stroke warning signs and symptoms
Everyone should learn the following warning signs of stroke. If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately dial 911 or go to an emergency room:
• weakness in an arm, hand, or leg
• numbness on one side of the body
• sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye
• sudden difficulty speaking
• inability to understand what someone is saying
• dizziness or loss of balance
• sudden, lasting, excruciating headache.

What to do when stroke happens
It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of identifying and treating a stroke as soon as possible. Warning signs can begin anywhere from a few minutes to days before a stroke (see “Stroke warning signs and symptoms,” above). In a Gallup survey, 97% of people over age 50 did not recognize the warning signs of a stroke. Everyone, especially those who are at increased risk for stroke, should learn these warning signs and know what to do if they occur. The National Stroke Association has devised the FAST checklist (see “Act FAST”) to help determine whether a person is having a stroke.

If the answer to any of the questions below is yes, there's a high probability that the person is having a stroke.

Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Does he or she fail to repeat the sentence correctly?

Time If the answer to any of these questions is yes, time is important. Call 911 or get to the hospital fast. Brain cells are dying.

When stroke symptoms occur, quick action is vital. If you think you or someone with you is having a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), call 911. You should be taken to a hospital emergency room, preferably one that specializes in treating stroke as it occurs (called acute stroke). If you know you are at risk for stroke, find out ahead of time the name and location of the nearest hospital that specializes in treating acute stroke.

Since the 1980s, researchers have developed rapid, safe, and effective diagnostic techniques that accurately identify the extent and location of a stroke and the nature of the blood vessel (vascular) problem causing it. The goal of treatment is to restore blood circulation before brain tissue dies. The time frame for reaching this goal is frighteningly slim. To prevent brain cell death that is significant enough to cause disability, treatment is most effective if it starts within 60 minutes of the onset of symptoms.

One of the main clot-dissolving drugs, recombinant tissue-plasminogen activator (tPA), must be given within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms, but earlier is better. An important goal of research is to find treatments that can buy time by protecting the patient’s brain until blood circulation is restored, thus improving the odds of survival and decreasing disability.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flashback Friday: Made to Crave

Something REALLY awesome happened while I was gone in China and I wanted to share it today as a unique kind of flashback.

Let me refresh your memory for a moment, because for months I have been telling to you about a new book coming out called, "Made to Crave" By, Lysa TerKeurst.

Yes, that one. I told you about it in June 2010 and again in October 2010. Feel free to follow the links if you do not remember what I am talk about.

In addition to talking with you all about this book I have been following Lysa's blog to hear the latest about this book and it's release. I have commented on Lysa's blog many times, especially when she is offering a free book! I would share my thoughts and enthusiasm for the new book, but I never won anything.

I was completely shocked when I received an email from Holly (Lysa's assistant) while I was in China. Holly was writing me to inform me that I had been chosen to be apart of Lysa's blog tour!! No way!! I was so excited that I ran out of the room to my husband telling him the good news.

Two copies of Lysa's new book were mailed to me. One for me to read, which I have started and it is amazing! The other is for me to use for a giveaway, which I will do after my life settles down a little bit.

God is awesome!

This coming Monday I will be sharing a blog post with you that Lysa TerKeurst wrote. She is such a talented author and I am excited for you to get a taste of something that is very close to her heart.

See you Monday!

Visit Tia for more flashbacks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cooking and Baking in China

While we were in China we did quite a bit of cooking and baking. One of my favorite things is to cook with other people. I was so excited to be able to try my baking skills in a Chinese kitchen.

Jon and I brought chocolate chips with us for Christmas. Lisa, my mother-in-law, requested that we bring them. It is very difficult for her to get items like these in China. When she does find chocolate chips they are extremely expensive.

The second morning we were in China, Jon, Josh, and I woke up early to make chocolate chip pancakes for everyone.

Jon and Josh made the chocolate chip pancakes, while I took pictures. There is a limited amount of counter space so they decided to work at the table..

This is the kitchen in Jon's parents apartment. The counters are very short.

This is the other half of the kitchen. In this picture you can see the gas stove, microwave, and part of an oven. My mother-in-law has three ovens, because they are about the same size as a microwave.

This is the rest of the kitchen. To the right you can see their fridge and freezer, it is white. Next to that at the very top is the dryer and two ovens. To the left are cabinets that store dishes and various baking/cooking supplies.

This is the view from the kitchen window. We were five stories up. Jon's parents apartment looks just like those outside the window.

I was in charge of washing and cutting strawberries, so that we could have them with our pancakes.

Jon starting the gas stove. He prefers cooking over gas, which we do not have at home.

Jon and Josh finishing up the chocolate chips pancakes. They were so yummy!

Later the next week on Christmas Eve, Michelle and I were put in charge of making all of the cookies. Michelle and I worked hard to get lots cookies made. We made Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, DeBlaeij Cookies, and Sugar Cookies.

It was weird baking in China, because the ingredients are different. The white sugar in China is much more coarse than the white sugar in the U.S. The cookies tasted great, but they just turned out a little bit differently then they do when I make them at home.

Michelle and I wore each wore an apron. She is such a cute baker.

While trying to melt chocolate, Michelle caught the potholder on fire.

Thankfully, my mother-in-law was gracious to forgive us for our carelessness.

Maddy came to help us too!

Michelle and I with the sugar cookie dough.

When it came time to bake the DeBlaeij Cookies, we told the guys that if they wanted to eat, they needed to help us bake.

The guys added a lot of jam, which makes the cookies taste even better!

The cookies baking in the tiny little oven. The guys were determined to get as many cookies on the pan as possible. The cookies almost looked square, because they were so close together. It was so nice to have their help!

The finished product!

By way of an updated I just wanted to let you all know that I only gained 3 pounds over the three weeks I was gone. I am so excited about this!!


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