Goal Setting Part 1: Planning Makes Perfect

I  heard a story once about a guy who sketched the plans for his house on a paper towel.  He ordered the necessary materials and began to build.  After digging the basement, work began on the foundation.  As the foundation progressed, he realized that his plans were way off.  If he were to continue, the house would not be able to support the weight of the walls and roof.  He consulted professional plans, a contractor, adjusted his plans, and was able to build a very beautiful and safe home.

As we make our plans today, let’s remember that plans are subject to change and require flexibility.  It is not uncommon to make plans for the future and find out that the time needed to accomplish the task was more than anticipated.  It is also not uncommon to learn that you could accomplish a task in less time than was previously planned.  Planning is not just about the destination it is also about the journey.  How you handle the bumps in the road (setbacks) will determine how successful your plan will be.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

The first step in any planning process is to determine what you are trying to accomplish and how best to arrive there.  Let’s take for example weight loss. If you are trying to lose weight you would need to determine the necessary steps to lose the weight.

  1. Determine how much weight you want to lose
  2. Determine what steps you are going to take to lose the weight
    • change eating habits
      • drink more water
      • less fat
      • more fiber etc.
    • exercise
      • what type?
      • how often
      • when will you exercise?
      • where will you exercise?
      • Will you have a partner? If so who?
    • get enough rest
      • set a bedtime
  3. Determine length of time to accomplish the goal
    • month
    • 6 months
    • one year
  4. Set short term and long term goals (we will be dealing with goal setting in our next post)
    • 5 pounds in 2 months
    • 30 pounds in a year
  5. Determine how you will reward yourself
    • never use food as a reward
    • get your nails done
    • get a massage
    • buy a new book
    • buy a new pair of shoes
    • go to a concert
  6. Develop a contingency plan:  what will you do if you have a bad day?
    • Don’t throw in the towel begin again tomorrow
    • Everyone falls down at times, the key is not to stay down but to rise again and do battle
  7. When will you begin?
    • Begin today. Even if you only change one thing, it will bring you one step closer to accomplishing your goals
To succeed you must take the time to develop a plan.  Luke 14:28-33 says that in order to build a tower (building) you need to first count the cost (make a plan).  Your assignment today is to work on a plan for what habit you are trying to overcome.  If you have questions post a comment and I will respond.  We will be talking about goal setting in our next session.  Until our next session happy planning!
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Going To Battle Unprotected

Having an immune system without sufficient defenses to fight disease is like going to war without enough soldiers to fight the enemy. In the battle against disease, the estimated trillion bacteria in our gut represent some of the soldiers who fight disease.  Many individuals have damaged their gut defense system with poor dietary choices, overuse of antibiotics, stress and inadequate rest.

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Sauerkraut, a fermented cabbage and an excellent source of probiotics


Low amounts and inadequate varieties of bacteria in the gut has been linked to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, depression, eczema, asthma, fibromyalgia, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and allergies. A diet high in processed foods, unhealthy fats, and limited fiber are the biggest contributors to poor gut health.  The misuse of antibiotics also accounts for a large decrease in the amount of the gut’s healthy bacteria.  A great example of this is the C-difficile infection, which is common in patients who receive high-dose antibiotics. This is a bacteria normally present in the gut, but, after antibiotics kill off the healthy bacteria along with the harmful ones, it grows to dangerous levels and causes unpleasant symptoms in the patient. In addition to antibiotics and poor diet, research indicates that inadequate rest may cause the body to send signals to the gut which damage the healthy microflora.

There are over five hundred species of bacteria in the gut that create a microbiome unique to you.  This microbiome requires both prebiotics and probiotics to live.  Prebiotics are food ingredients that pass through the digestive system mostly undigested, like oats and bananas.  They act as a food source for bacteria and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.  Probiotics are active cultures or good bacteria found in certain foods, mostly aged or fermented, that help to replace and increase the number of bacteria (microflora) present in the gut.


Kefir, a fermented, yogurt-like drink high in probiotics


Some ways to improve gut health include: eating whole grains, limiting processed food, and choosing plant-based, high-fiber meals. In addition, choosing foods high in Omega-3’s such as walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines and healthy fat sources such as avocado, almonds, and olive oil have been shown to have a positive impact on the gut.  Since the gut is also influenced by sleep, getting the recommended 7-8 hours daily could positively impact gut health.

The chart below lists the best sources of both prebiotics and probiotics.  Consuming a variety of foods from this list can help restore gut health and decrease the risk of illnesses, therefore, increasing your bacterial army’s chances of being victorious in fighting the war on unhealthy germs and bacteria.


Blackberries, high in prebiotics 


Best Sources of Prebiotics and Probiotics

Type of Bacteria Food Sources
PREBIOTICS ·        Garlic

·        Bananas

·        Whole wheat foods

·        Soybeans

·        Jicama

·        Asparagus

·        Dandelion Greens

·        Barley

·        Oats

·        Flax seeds

·        Apples

PROBIOTICS ·        Yogurt

·        Kefir

·        Tempeh

·        Kimchi

·        Kambucha

·        Garlic

·        Sauerkraut

·        Miso/miso soup

One way to increase the intake of prebiotics and probiotics is a breakfast smoothie.  This recipe is quick and easy to prepare and can act as a meal on the run.

Healthy Gut Breakfast Smoothie

1 cup skim milk kefir

1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1 -2 cups spinach or kale

1 cup mixed fruit

1/2 Tbs flax seed

1 Tbs chia seeds

1/2 Tbs hemp seeds

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

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Provides: 341 calories, 31 grams protein, 10 grams of fiber.

Beans, Beans They’re Good For Your Heart

Beans are a superfood that have long been neglected and overlooked.  Often viewed as a poor man’s food and given a bad rap for their gas producing properties, many do not currently include them in the diet. Beans have been around for centuries and are a staple food in many cultures.  They are low in fat with zero grams of saturated fat.  Beans are also inexpensive with most varieties costing less than $1.50 per pound.  Their flexibility of use in various recipes make them a pantry staple. Their many uses include: soups, stews, chili, dips, spreads, pies, salads, pastas and as side dishes.

Beans are also nutritional power houses.  They are an excellent source of lean protein and fiber with 15 grams of protein and 13.5 grams of fiber per cup.   Additionally, they are high in B vitamins, copper, zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate and calcium.   Whenever possible purchase and prepare dried beans.  If you must use canned beans, rinse under running water in a colander for at least 1 minute to decrease the amount of sodium.  Rinsing the beans is said to decrease the amount of sodium content anywhere from 25-40%.


Benefits of Beans

  • Heart: Beans, beans the more you eat the better your heart.  I bet you thought I was going to say something else.  Research indicates that the soluble fiber in ½ – 1 ½ cups of beans has been linked to a 5-10% decrease in cholesterol.  For every 1% drop in cholesterol there is a 2% decrease in the risk of heart attack.  Beans have also demonstrated an effect on lowering the triglyceride levels.  Those who eat beans four or more times per week, decrease their risk of a heart disease 22% and their risk of a heart attack by 38%.
  • Increased Life Span: An intake of a ¼ of a cup of beans daily can increase the lifespan by 8%.
  • Cancer: Because of their high soluble fiber content bean consumption has been linked to decreased instances of colorectal cancers and colon polyps. It is recommended that women consume 25 grams of fiber daily and men consume 30-35 grams. Currently, the average American woman consumes just 12-13 grams of fiber a day and men consume only 15 grams.
  • Diabetes: Beans are a low glycemic index food and a major source of complex carbohydrates. This mean they cause a slow rise in blood sugar, especially when compared to simple carbohydrates like white pasta and white rice.  Their mixture of protein and carbohydrates results in slower glucose absorption and improved glucose levels.
  • Weight Loss: Individuals who include beans as a part of their diet are 22% less likely to be obese.  Beans are high in fiber, which helps you to feel full quickly and to stay full longer.
  • High in Antioxidants: Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, red beans and cranberry beans were ranked higher than blue berries and cranberries in levels of antioxidants.    


Cons of Beans

  • Increase gout flares due to high purine content
  • Can interfere with MAO inhibitors use to treat depression
  • Increase allergic reaction
  • Increase migraines
  • Can increase flatulence (gas)

To eliminate the gassiness and bloating associated with beans, it is recommended that you soak them overnight, discard the water, and then cook them.  You can also take Beano® a digestive enzyme to help alleviate those symptoms.  Researchers say that these symptoms lessen for 70% of individuals after 2-3 weeks.  Just hang in there this will soon pass (did you see what I did there?).

There are many benefits of incorporating beans in the diet and few cons.  It is an effortless way to plan more meatless meals, get more fiber, and decrease your risk of certain lifestyle related illnesses.  How do you plan to incorporate more beans into your diet?  Perhaps in a chili, or in a stew or maybe even a salad?  Whatever it is, your heart and body will thank you.