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Nutrition

Stop Using These 7 Health Buzzwords

These days there are so many so-called superfoods and labels on packaged foods that it’s hard to know what’s really healthy and what’s hype. Why does a green juice need to have “vegan” on it or a salsa need to say “gluten free,” when both foods are naturally those things?
“On one hand, ‘buzzwords’ definitely work as far as traction and traffic go — they can help get someone to read an article that may be very helpful and informative, and they are what everyone is Googling,” says Keri Glassman, RD, founder of Nutritious Life. “But it’s important to keep in mind that many times a buzzword is just that and you need to read beyond the word.”
This is especially true because not all buzzwords have a standard definition, nor do they mean a certain food is healthy. “One of the things that happens is that they create a health halo around a particular food. We think, ‘Oh, that’s going to be better because it’s a non-GMO gummy bear,” says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, owner of Active Eating Advice. “So then we overlook the fact that it’s still a cookie or a cheese puff, and we consume unnecessary calories and spend more than we normally would.”
Be especially wary of these seven buzzwords dietitians are sick of hearing:

1. NATURAL

While it may seem as though, ‘Duh, who wants to eat something unnatural?’, this term isn’t defined by the FDA, so from a packaged food standpoint, it can really be anything, Glassman says.

2. CLEAN

“Clean means free of what?” Bonci asks. “This is not a term that provides any useful or helpful direction.”

3. SUPERFOOD

We can all admit this term is overused. First it was acai, then it was kale and then quinoa. Now almost anything gets labeled a superfood. “What makes one food more super than another?” says Bonci, noting that different foods are high in different nutrients, plus a lot of the claims about superfoods are just that — claims, not proven scientific facts. “Nobody can only eat acai berries and call it a day,” Bonci says. “And you’re not jeopardizing your health if you’re not eating superfoods.”

4. FAT-FREE

“Research has shown that fat is our friend,” Glassman says. “And it’s well known now that when fat is removed, other ingredients like sugar are added to make up for it.” That added sugar often makes fat-free or low-fat foods have just as many calories as the regular version. Plus, fats help the body absorb many vitamins in addition to keeping you full.

5. -FREE

Bonci goes a step further and says to avoid a label saying a food is “free” of anything. “It doesn’t mean it’s any better, and oftentimes the foods never had that ingredient anyway,” she says. “It’s one thing if you need to watch out for gluten or dairy, but we have transcended that. There’s gluten-free water.”

6. NON-GMO

“Here again, foods that would never have GMO ingredients in the first place get slapped with this label because food companies know many consumers are concerned about GMOs,” Bonci says. There are only eight genetically modified crops commercially available in the US: papaya, sugar beets, corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa and squash. If none of those foods are on the ingredients list, then of course it’s GMO-free.

7. SIMPLY MADE

“Nobody is going to put ‘complicated’ on the label,” Bonci says, adding that “anything in a package had to go through some processing.” That doesn’t make the food any better or worse per se. Plus, “you don’t see ‘simply made’ on an apple, but it grows on a tree from the ground,” Bonci says.

About the Author: Brittany Risher
Brittany is a writer, editor and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. She loves experimenting with new vegan recipes and believes hummus is a food group. To stay sane from working too hard, she turns to yoga, strength training, meditation and scotch.

Family, Personal Development

6 Reasons Why A Man Needs Friends

Most every culture in the world recognizes the value of friendship. Literature abounds with quotes on the subject.

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life.”

Thomas Jefferson

“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man, friendship.”

William Blake

So why is it, in our modern culture, so many men shortchange themselves when it comes to developing deep friendships? Perhaps we fail to recognize just how we are enriched by truly connecting with men of faith that God brings into our lives? Here are six things we miss out on if we don’t nurture healthy friendships with other guys.

1. Sharpening

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17

Some of the sharpening processes are intentional. We might “apprentice” with a friend who teaches us a new skill, or meet regularly with a brother as a mentor or mentee, or learn from a more advanced one-on-one Bible study partner. Or we may be challenged by someone we respect to see an issue from a different point of view, or to step out of our comfort zone in some way. Sometimes the sharpening is the result of healthy, good-natured competition. We tend to step up our game when in the presence of a better opponent — or teammate. Sometimes the sharpening happens just by doing life with and observing another brother, watching the way he interacts with others and handles challenging situations. Sharpening can change us, help us grow. And we may see benefits on all levels: mentally, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

2. Companionship

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 18:24

Clearly, it’s better to have at least one really good friend than to dabble here and there among lots of surface relationships. Even more important, though, is that we choose our friends well. You can either spend time with a companion whose influence makes you a better man, strengthening your faith, helping you along the way of life. Or you can hang out with guys who drag you down and get you in trouble having a detrimental impact on your character along the way. 

3. Acceptance

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

How good it is to enjoy friendship with another guy who is faithful no matter how badly we screw up; someone who appreciates us—flaws and all; someone who knows us well and loves us anyway. There’s nothing more healing than when a friend not only stands beside us but also helps us pick up the pieces and move on in the aftermath of disappointment or the consequences of poor choices. And we’re better men when we demonstrate that same consideration for other brothers in our lives.

4. Accountability

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”

1 Corinthians 15:33

I admit that it sometimes hurts to be admonished by someone we love, admire, and from whom we crave approval. But of course, we do each other no favors by winking at a brother’s questionable decisions or letting his sins slide by as if there’s nothing wrong. What kind of love is that? I’m not saying we should be judgmental, continually pointing out another guy’s weaknesses. But at the same time, really good friends will nudge each other, give each other a poke, intervene in some way when a brother seems to be veering off-course. We want to encourage each other in loving ways to behave well and make good choices. And if you’re really serious about overcoming some recurring bad habit, enter into an accountability arrangement with another guy, agreeing to check up on each other and be honest when you’ve stumbled, praying for each other and cheering each other on along the right path.

5. Wisdom

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

Proverbs 13:20

Again, so much rides on the company we keep. But when we walk with another man whose wisdom runs strong and deep — perhaps an older friend or mentor with a wealth of life experience and spiritual maturity — we can only benefit. We ask for wisdom, but we can’t expect God to make us wise suddenly. He often grants our request through our investment of time with a well-chosen brother. 

6. Encouragement

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

Hebrews 10:24

We need to be intentional about encouraging each other. It’s not something we should only expect from others. We need to look for ways to encourage the other guy, to perpetuate a mutual cycle of inspiration that motivates and generates enthusiasm for really loving and serving others with joyful hearts.

So find a friend. Be a friend. Let’s step further into becoming the men God designed us to be.

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 16 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God’s Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men’s Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org

Fitness, Nutrition

Losing Weight In Your 40’s And Beyond – 4 Tips

News Flash: People who may have maintained their weight easily in their 20s and 30s, start to feel more challenged when they pass the big 4-0. Can I get an AMEN?! We shouldn’t be surprised since we know we’ve begun to lose lean muscle mass and experience far more hormone fluctuations at midlife and beyond. So we ask ourselves:

Am I doomed to that middle-age spare tire and growing bigger in all the wrong places?

The golden rule of weight loss — eat less than you your body burns — is more difficult as you age because your body changes metabolically. The internal furnace simply doesn’t burn as hot as when you were younger. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up – as so many mid-lifers do.

As with any healthy habit, the key to success is consistency and mindfulness. So maybe you’ll need to be more focused and dedicated to your goals than when you were younger. Read on for some tips:

1. CONSIDER YOUR EATING PATTERNS
The good news about getting older is you’ve had time to understand how nutritional changes affect your health. You’ve gained experience about the impact of certain food choices, and now it’s time to put that knowledge to use. As metabolism slows with age, you might not be able to get away with some of the indulgences that your body used to forgive you for.

That doesn’t mean you must starve yourself or jump on the latest fad diet. Rather, it should prompt you to be more conscious about your choices and patterns, including portion sizes, the timing of your meals and snacks, and the choices of the foods you eat.
You are smart enough to know your unhealthy habits regarding food, so this is the time to address them mindfully.

2. ADDRESS PORTION SIZES
It’s no secret our culture works against our plans to maintain a healthy weight. Processed foods and fast food options abound, and our frantic pace of life increases the temptation to shove anything into our mouth NOW. Cooking at home is de-emphasized in favor of convenience, and portion sizes have changed significantly from even a couple decades ago.

Packaged food “serving size” doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how much you should eat. Tracking portion size is super helpful. Consider using the popular Beachbody Portion Fix containers and nutrition guide* to help you see what you should be eating every day. You will be surprised at how full you will feel when you eat the right foods in the proper portions.

3. WATCH CARBS AND CALORIES
Carbs and calories are not all evil. It’s the QUALITY of the carbs and calories that counts. Processed foods are often “empty calories” that offer the double whammy of little sustained energy, and only short term hunger satiation. Resist the temptation to choose pre-packed, processed foods with long ingredients lists on the label. At the same time, you need to eat, so resist the temptation to starve yourself to lose weight. Whole, real food is best.

When you’re older, keep in mind that your metabolism is already slowing down, and starving yourself will only reduce your metabolism. The ‘starvation effect’ means that your body holds onto fat when you don’t eat enough, so your suffering completely backfires.

4. LIFT HEAVY STUFF
Science: As you age, your muscle mass loss causes your resting metabolic rate to decrease, changing your calorie-burning mechanism. In other words, your internal furnace does not run as hot as it used to. That can be even more pronounced by a poor diet, smoking, alcohol use, sedentary behavior and genetics.

Further, as muscle tends to turn to fat when not used, you may also lose balance, coordination and strength. This is why it’s so important to keep active as you age. Don’t be one who retires to the lazy-boy because you are too weak to walk, pedal, travel, play with your grandkids, etc. But the good news is you can increase strength starting today, regardless of your starting point.

Resistance training performed a few times per week can not only help you regain what was lost, but can also increase bone mass, and studies have suggested it might improve sleep, help cardiovascular health, boost your mood and a list of other benefits.

It can be more challenging to lose or maintain weight as you get older. But getting more conscious about what, when and why you’re eating — and adding strength training* to your routine can help you age better.

*For more information about nutrition plans, exercise plans, building healthy habits, etc., reach out to me for personalized advice and resources.

faith, Fortitude, Personal Development

We Are All Addicts

Everyone is addicted to something. It’s human nature. That’s right. You are an addict. I am an addict.

Popular cultural defines an addict as someone addicted to illegal drugs or alcohol. But an addict is simply someone who is unable to stop some harmful or negative behavior.

Whoa.

Not only does that cover everything from gambling to porn, but also gossip/ drama, food, shopping, sex, TV/ gaming, risky behavior (aka adrenaline junkie), physical appearance/ vanity, internet & social media, your phone, etc. There is also addiction to comfort, control, safety, power, self-righteousness, self-loathing, the list goes on. You can fill in the blank with any negative behavior. It’s really anything that you “must have/ be/ do” so much that if something gets in the way, you will become upset and frustrated. What is the draw for you to engage in any of these activities or behaviors? What “need” does it seem to fill for you?

Maybe you identify some of the items above as being part of your life, but you don’t believe you are actually addicted to it, or you could stop if you wanted to. So what’s the big deal? Geez Chad, leave me alone already!

The big deal is that if you can muster the self-awareness that your behavior includes some addictions that are not healthy, you are already on the way to overcoming those addictions and being the person you were made to be. Free. Free to love, give, serve. Free to have, be, and do what really satisfies. Free from the slavery your addiction held you in. Free to be your very best self – for yourself and those you care about most. And maybe calling your “thing” an addiction may inspire action to change, because you don’t like to be called an addict, right?

In my personal experience, I realized something about my “things,” my addictions, that help me to see them for what they really are. One is feeling like I have to justify or defend my behavior – even if only to myself. Saying to myself things like, “What’s the big deal?” or “It’s not that bad.” or “Others do much worse than me.” If I need to justify (even to myself) that what I’m doing is fine or “not that bad,” then that’s a red flag to dig a little deeper into my motives. Time to ask some questions: What is the draw to engage in any of these activities or behaviors? What “need” does it seem to fill? Is this “thing” what I really want to be about- is it REALLY that important to me? Why?

The second is the truth that people spend the most time, energy, and money on the things that matter the most to them. In addiction, we find hypocrisy. What we SAY is the most important to us is often not supported by how we spend our time and energy. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, so I take a hard look in the mirror and reevaluate myself. Regularly.

I promise that if you take a sober self-assessment you can identify some negative behavior in your life that you really struggle with. I’m here to tell you that you (and I) have an addiction that keeps us from being our very best and we can beat it. But how?

There is a simple process to follow, outlined below. Simple, but not easy.

1. Decide

“I can’t tolerate it anymore.” Whatever is the “thing,” you’ve finally come to the end of your rope. It’s not serving you anymore, but rather enslaving you. You will never slay your addiction without this deep conviction that enough is enough. Find your personal compelling reason WHY you can’t tolerate it anymore and lean into it when temptation strikes.

2. Describe & Identify

This is about the trigger. The emotions or circumstances that precede the behavior or activity. It’s usually some form of stressor. For example, you realize that you go to the pantry for comfort when something stressful happens and you overeat junk food to cope. Name your trigger.

3. Make Advanced Decision

This is where it gets real. Ultimately you need to choose your next move the next time the trigger hits. It’s not enough to say, “NO, I won’t go to the pantry when I’m stressed.” Try replacing the action of eating with another positive action, such as going for a walk, or munching on some baby carrots. Having decided your course of action BEFORE the trigger strikes makes it way easier to choose well in the heat of the battle. Best option ever: PRAY! Tell God you are triggered and you need his help to choose well. God loves to hear such prayers, and will be happy to help you if you will trust him to do so.

4. New Reward

Recognize the many benefits of your good choice. You become closer to God having trusted him for help. You made another key step towards your healthy habit, which boosts esteem and confidence. You can do it!

Here are some excellent verses to remember about temptation:

Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself (Jesus) suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

I realize this is a heavy topic. Much more can be written for sure. My hope is to have provided a mental exercise for you to consider to help you be your very best. We don’t want to be addicts or hypocrites, so let’s do the hard work to slay our “thing.”

Family

Build Great Friendships | Letters To My Son

I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.

The secrets to building great friendships with others.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

—Proverbs 18:24

It Was Easier When You Were Younger

It was a lot easier when you were a kid. Kids just showed up, and because they were present, you built friendships. As you get older, it gets a little more complicated. Morality, media, work, activities, and distance separate us. These issues will make formal friendships more and more challenging. Some of this separation is good, and some is bad.

“I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”—One of the top five regrets of men.

Many men on their death bed have big regrets. One of the top five is staying in touch with friends. I believe most do not realize until it’s too late how vital friendships are to us. Good relationships with your family and friends bring immense human happiness, which results in deep human satisfaction. And I want that for you. In fact, God wants it for you.

During my childhood, I was desperately lonely. My father was gone. My mother was absent. My friendships were challenging for me. But I wanted to have them, just like everyone else. While I was at lost for great relationships, I discovered a few secrets over the years that have brought me great satisfaction, and I hope learning these now will benefit you in your future.

5 Secrets To Building Great Friendships

One | Don’t Search, Reconnect

One way to build great friendships is by engaging with friends you already have. I have several good friends that live a considerable distance from me. However, I have come to learn that while I rarely see these men in person, I can still have an active and loyal friendship with them. There are many reasons I stay in touch, but reaching out to them regularly (even just once a month) has kept the conversation going and our relationships alive. Many men never think of doing this, but we should. We should take ownership of the connection and reconnection. All you need to do is occasionally call, text, email, or ping them. Touching base like this means a lot.

Here is why this is important. Men need to learn to maintain friendships by taking small steps to nurture them. I think our lack of initiative in nurturing is what leads to this feeling of regret. I know “nurture” feels like an effeminate word, but it’s not. Nothing could be more masculine. But nurture requires forethought and intention that is others-focused. Most men, me included, get consumed by all the other activities of life that revolve around self and thus fail to nurture friendships because we are obsessed only with ourselves. This is just one of the ways pride’s insidious nature impacts reconnecting with our existing relationships. It’s essential to learn how to nurture connection and reconnection now before you get married—because marriage and family are all about nurture.

And by the way, it’s good to practice on us by calling your mom, sister, brother, and myself once in a while.

Two | Don’t Be Interesting, Be Interested

As men, when it comes to relationships, we think competitively. Because we think this way, we spend more time thinking about what makes us unique and interesting. We aspire to be the “most interesting man in the world.” And yes, we are our favorite subject matter. But to build great friendships, you may need to worry less about being the most interesting man in the world and be interested in others.

People love other people who are interested in them because, as I have already stated, every man’s favorite subject is himself.

If you want to build some great connections, get a guy to share a story about himself, and show interest by asking subsequent questions. I have found people are fascinating. Their interests, upbringing, experiences, and areas of expertise are crazy cool. And behind every one of these people is an interesting story. Dig it out. Ask questions until you find it; everyone has one. Before you know it, you may discover you have a connection with a person who could become a life-long friend. So, work at getting people you meet to share a story.

Sometimes, when I meet people, I often see how long I can get them to talk about themselves before they ask about me. It’s a fun little game I play, mostly for my entertainment. Give it a spin with others, and use this question frequently—“Could you tell me more about that?”

Three | Don’t Pretend, Be Real

“Being real,” as I call it here, requires appropriate levels of vulnerability. We have to be careful, though. There’s a balance we must strike between sharing too much (oversharing) and not sharing enough (pretending). We need to find ways to share and connect that build trust with others, and vulnerability is the tool for doing this. Vulnerability builds trust, which leads to stronger and healthier relationships. While many men wrongly think being masculine is about being invulnerable, invincible, and impervious to issues, real men are appropriately vulnerable and thus authentic. Being vulnerable means we drop our guard, and in doing so, invite others into a more intimate relationship with us. This leads to relationships that welcome an emotional exchange, not merely a transfer of facts and opinions. This is precisely why, on a plane, people will spill their guts to the person sitting next to them about how they feel. They know there is nothing to risk because, more than likely, they will never meet them again. What ends up happening is we build a quick emotional and psychological connection with this person. Often, we don’t take these risks with people we see every day because we are afraid, and as a result, we pretend because we think it is safer.

I would recommend that you learn how to develop the muscle of vulnerability in your life. I know life is not perfect, and I know you will probably not share everything with me, but you should with someone. If you spend too long pretending in life, you will end up being artificial—and people can sense this from a long way off. Lean into this with a trusted Godly man. You will not regret it.

Four | Don’t Neglect, Make Time

You need to be forging out a little time for relationships every day. College is not just about being consumed by studies, advancement in sports, and locating a spouse—it’s about getting a job. But all these activities touch on one crucial element, and that is your social development. You need to give just a little bit of attention to this each day. Your life is going to get busy—too busy. You’re going to become consumed by activities. And this will be an ongoing problem you will encounter, regardless of your stage or phase of life.

I am much older than you and deal with this every day. My problem is my ability to laser focus on tasks. While this is a tremendous strength, it can also be preventative to relationships. Often, I become so focused on the present task that I become oblivious to this need, and it has taken work and attention on my part to address this. I have had to give attention, a little bit each day, to get my mind off a task and care for the people God has given to me. They, after all, are the means and the end of every job I am trying to complete.

I would encourage you to spend time watching people who are experts in relationships. Men who are inspirational that others instinctually follow. There are small habits and behaviors that they embrace that others do not. They may be aware or unaware of these things, but spend time with these men and study them. Practice what you see in them that has Godly implications on your relationships.

Remember, all this requires time—so make time. First, make time learning how to master relationships as you spend time with people who are experts. Second, make time to invest in these relationships as well.

Five | Don’t Wait, Make Plans

I don’t know why men don’t do this, but we don’t make plans. Women make plans all the time. You may remember or trip to the Dominican Republic in your senior year of high school. I was blown away by how many women were there. I even turned to your mom and commented on this. I distinctly remember your mom saying, “It’s because women make plans,” and she is spot on. I think if men were smart, they would figure this out, as it’s a big missed opportunity.

Be a leader and get some guys together. Whether for road trips, ski trips, hunting trips, or mission trips, it doesn’t matter. See the world while you are young, but do it with friends. You can make plans; even something impromptu is excellent. In college, we called it “making a memory.” You can either sit around staring at a device or you can jump in the car and make a memory you will never forget. I have a ton of memories like this, most of which I may leave out of this letter and share with you privately.

In closing, you have limited time. You cannot have a hundred great friends. But you can have a few close friends.

I love you, son. Dad

Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 16 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God’s Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men’s Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org