When we moved to Cambodia, God as He always does, showered us with an unexpected blessing: dirt, less access to medicine, and no processed foods. Today, we get to reflect on this lesson and share this unexpected healthy lifestyle with you!
Our first few years we craved it. At times we would drive through the city in our old beat up not air-conditioned truck to try to find it. And, our mouth watered to think of indulging once again. Sugar and processed foods. We left most of it behind in America. Not by choice but lack of access. Desserts were not readily available here and when they were did not taste anything like the American desserts we grew up with. What we didn’t know is that we were helping ourselves by being away. That craving is long gone and we now realize the energy and happiness we feel has so much to do with what we fuel.
This week, we both read a book called The Microbiome Solution: A Radical Way To Health Your Body from the Inside Out which completely opened our eyes to the new research about our gut, its relationship with most all diseases, weight, health, and what we are doing to destroy it.
Basically there are trillions of microbes living inside your gut. There are “good” ones and “bad” ones. The more we put things in and on our bodies that are not natural (antibiotics, antimicrobial cleansers, pesticides, food ingredients you can’t pronounce), the more we feed the “bad” ones. The more we fill our bodies with the most natural foods and contact the natural environment, we feed the “good” ones. And, the impact is on every aspect of our health.
“An immune system that doesn’t get up close and personal with enough germs early on is like a kid with overprotective parents, ill equipped to deal with problems when they inevitably happen. Inadequate exposure leads to defects in immune tolerance and a trigger-happy state of heightened activity where essential bacteria, proteins in food, and even parts of our own body are treated like the enemy and attacked.” Robyn Chutkan: The Microbiome Solution
As we apply these lessons to our lives, we love to teach and impact others lives with this teaching. The villages we work in know how to buy local, eat balanced, snack on whole foods, and plant the most nutritious foods such pumpkin instead of sugar cane.
What happens when the poor agricultural based countries outlive the wealthiest ones in the world? That is where we are heading today. We have over sterilized our lives and foods and need to return to a more natural way of life. Did you know that even living around concrete as opposed to grass or dirt increases allergies in adulthood? Our modern ways of living and convenience are catching up with us. That is why today we want to share with you the benefits of getting back to balance. You will be shocked about how this imbalance has affected your life and those you love!
70% of your body’s immune cells live in your gut. 1 A healthy gut can help to improve your overall health. 2
A healthy human microbiome consists of 10-100 trillion microorganisms. 3 Some of these bacteria are known for secreting serotonin 3 —the feel good chemical. 5 Just how much serotonin is produced in your gut? A whopping 90 % of your body’s mood-boosting serotonin is produced in your gut! 6
Regular consumption of probiotics contributes to healthy weight. The microbes in our gut produce even smaller molecules that are then sent to our blood. These smaller molecules boost the metabolism. Females using probiotics during a study lost 4 more pounds during a 12-week period. 6
One of the most popular “good” bacterium, lactobacillus, helps the body to maintain overall good health. In addition to regulating the digestive tract, lactobacillus also produces lactase and vitamin K, both of which are necessary to maintain good health. 7
Due to poor diets and misinformation about proper gut health, it’s no wonder that stomach discomfort is rampant in North America. Nearly 60 % of people in North America suffer from an imbalance of the gut flora. An overgrowth of the “bad” bacteria can lead to an unhappy tummy. 8
Unfortunately, experiencing stress at some point in your life is unavoidable; however, from yoga to yogurt, there are many ways to help reduce stress. Studies on mice continue to demonstrate that a healthy gut teeming with good bacteria tends to produce less stressed mice. 8 Grab that yogurt and de-stress! How much yogurt should you eat to get a healthy amount of probiotic? Message me to find out!
A healthy microbiome is linked to a sharper mind and improved mood. The microbes produce hundreds of neurochemicals; these neurochemicals are then used by the brain to regulate mental functions such as learning and memory. 9
Frailty is so prevalent in aging populations and your microbiome has so much to do with absorption and use of the calcium and Vitamins in your diet.
Our immune system is always on alert, always ready to fight any intruders. Again, the majority of the body’s immune cells are housed in the gut, which makes a healthy gut the perfect line of defense against toxins and “bad” bacteria.
Marc and I personally have decided the answer to this is “yes.” We have spent years putting in processed foods, sugars, and toxins, and our body needs to be cleansed. Because we cannot eat 6-10 servings of homegrown vegetables with a variety of colors each day, our body needs the nutrients, omegas, and probiotics to be at its peak. If you want to know what we do, please message me. We love to share.
The benefits of a healthy microbiome extend far beyond an effective digestive tract. In the spirit of good health, give yourself a gut check and experience all the benefits of a healthy microbiome; your trillions of microbes will thank you.
To receive health tips, weight loss information, coaching, and encouragement for better health join our Facebook group: Healthy Weight Motivation Community
Infograph originally published in: Trust Your Gut: Benefits of Healthy Microbiome.
“God did not make you a leader to respond to stuff all day. He made you a leader to move things forward.” Bill Hybels
There is something new in me and I can’t put my finger on it. As a leader, I use to find my myself preparing for each meeting, leadership events, and mentoring opportunities but these days I feel that I need less prep time because my leadership and ability to influence others is simply a part of who I am and flows naturally from me.
It reminds me of being a parent. You don’t have to prepare to be a parent. A good parent takes what they’ve learned from life lessons, prays for wisdom, and puts it to practice each day. We don’t rehearse what we teach our children. It’s there.
I now have a confidence and faith that what is in me is out-of-this-world powerful and needs to be gently packaged and delivered to the world. I have something to give. I want to give back. I’ve come to realize that this is what leadership is about.
After being in leadership roles for 18 years, I have come to realize a pattern. I am either moving upward in my leadership or downward. There is no stasis. At which point I’ve come to see a direct parallel with my spiritual maturity. In knowing all wisdom comes from God and all power to love and influence others comes from God, I realize that my leadership power comes from Him. Therefore, my spiritual maturity feeds others.
Spiritual Maturity impacts leadership. Leaders can be on an upward spiritual maturity or on a downward trajectory. There is no such thing as static spiritual maturity! Leadership by definition is leading others onward and goes hand in hand with spiritual maturity.
Lets put this into practice! With trajectory in mind, think back and compare 10 years ago till now. Where were you spiritually then compared to today?
Past Spiritual Condition vs. Present Spiritual Condition
Look at your own spiritual journey and the changes in you. These are your pearls of wisdom from God to help bring momentum and life to those you lead! These are teaching points but even more than that, they are powerful because they were learned through trial, pain, and fire. Even more incredible, your pearls of wisdom look different from mine! We all have something to give back as we grow. Take your journey and use it to lead others through theirs.
This reminds me of an incredible event that God puts in place each year to feed thousands of poor people in Cambodia. Their homes are over dry land with no water 6 months of the year and then a dramatic thing happens where a river suddenly and predictably changes directions to fill their land with an enormous lake teeming with fish and watering their rice fields.
What causes that switch? Monsoon rains push the fish into dry land where even puddles have food for the hungry! Give those you lead regular predictable God sized pushes. Encouragement. Gifts. Prayers. Love their children and family for who they are and not what they can do for you. Give good things to those who are out in far places.
What does it take to grow yourself spiritually? Studying hour upon hour on good leadership books and wisdom from the Bible is a piece of that growth, but don’t stop there. Don’t get comfortable behind a desk or your computer. The best “school” is to get out, love, and serve. Get uncomfortable meeting strangers and sharing your life with others. Then, you will grow leaps and bounds spiritually and in your ability to lead. Your circle and team will expand in all directions! Are you ready? Each of you is a leader in some form or another. What will you do today?
“Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me. . .” I often woke to the sound of beautiful hymns being sung in perfect soprano. My mother’s voice was angelic and comforting and her love for Jesus the same. I was blessed to have a mom gifted in music, excellent sense of humor, and Godly but who spent most of her life with one struggle she felt that she would never overcome.
For her, the journey began when she was young. The baby of 3, her older sister could do no wrong and was the jewel to her mother in all ways. Her brother’s hyperactivity and wild ways drained her mother thin. Reflecting back now, my mom has come to realize that her mom was struggling with anxiety and depression privately and was too ashamed to seek help but released her pain on my mother.
A beautiful woman in her teenage years with blond hair, a beautiful body, and perfect skin grew up seeing a different image in the mirror. Her mother’s voice of criticism was internalized in her mind causing an internal battle that would last for many years to come.
Fast forward to me, also the youngest of 3 but the only girl. I was precious to her and we enjoyed a close relationship from the beginning. We both shared our struggles with each other and have been best friends my whole life. But, there was one struggle that she’d keep to herself. As a young girl, I rode in the car many times to Weight Watcher meetings while waiting in a room and playing with my Barbie dolls. Many times I would sit in a waiting room of a women only gym while she attempted to burn off the calories that seemed to stick. But all the while, she never talked about this great battle of obesity that she faced every day and kept much of the pain from me.
At her peak, my mom weighed 280 pounds. It began as baby fat and what I began to see in her as a lack of self-confidence or self-worth. A beautiful woman was hidden behind layers of fat. The yoyo dieting consumed her and left her feeling defeated, hopeless each time. The old white scale in her closet was all over the place.
One funny memory was my young 5-year-old nephew who asked his dad “how many wives did granddad have?” This observation came from looking at pictures of my mother (his grandmother) through all her weight loss, weight gain photos. She really did change so drastically and so often that you would think she was multiple people.
There were many times that I found my mom on the couch for days with novels to distract her from the pain. Back then, I just thought she loved to read but now I know better. There was a day as a child that I found her diary by her bed and read a page. I realized that day that there was a side of my mom that was hidden from me. I was being sheltered from her pain. Most likely, she didn’t want me to be burdened from her hurt. She didn’t talk about it but used humor to deal with it verbally.
A day came when the “miracle drug” happened. It seemed to be magical in how quickly it took her weight off and how happy she was. It was Fen Phen diet pills and they worked. For the first time, the pounds were falling off and not coming back. It transformed my couch mom into a dancing weight losing machine! I liked this new mom and can remember her dancing in the kitchen as we all thought the battle was over!
Then one night I overheard my dad speaking firmly to my mom “You will not take that drug anymore. It will kill you!” I could hear my mom crying from my room. I knew the “miracle” was a trick. The medicine was taken off the market. It seemed like the weight came back overnight but not just that weight but much more.
The only good news is that the yo-yo dieting stopped. She gave up. We all accepted that this was who she was.
As a teenager, watching my mother with her battle and it created a fear for me. The fear of gaining weight caused me to obsess over my own weight for a time. It was fear that drove me to a guilt and shame relationship with food and exercise.
“On the outside so many people can look healthy but inside be hurting themselves.”
When Marc and I felt the call to Cambodia, my parents were excited. But, one pain held them back. My mom couldn’t fit on a plane to fly over and see her daughter and best friend. About the same time we were getting ready to leave, my family was building a lake house. We came to the realization that this lake house would need a wheelchair ramp as my mother would soon be in one. She was quickly becoming home bound and her future was short. By now she wore the pain on her face. She didn’t want to miss out on life. We prayed hard but for a time it seemed hopeless.
Gastric bypass surgery was a fairly new surgical procedure at that time and not a lot was known about it. My mom was desperate to continue to live life and we all felt she had no other choice. My mom went through the Roux-n-y gastric bypass surgery and had a difficult recovery due to her obesity. Though at the time, we felt the surgery went well except that the surgeon cut out too much and ended up taking most of her small intestines too. This accident left my mom with another problem: life long vitamin and iron deficiencies along with another underlying issue that wouldn’t be revealed until her near death experience.
Within months, my mothers weight came down to a healthy weight! She was able to fly over and visit me sooner than expected!
In fact, she lost so much so quick, that we met in Thailand where she had plastic surgery to remove her excess skin.
What seemed like a dream come true surgery had its downfalls but the greatest one was when she came close to dying as she lost over half the blood in her body.
This day took place at her home in America while I was in Cambodia. She had been not feeling well and started vomiting while home alone. The vomiting turned into bright red blood. She called my brother to take her to the hospital. By the time they arrived at the ER, she was constantly vomiting bright red blood. For some reason, the receptionist in the ER did not realize how sick my mom was and asked her to be seated. When my mom stood up to go to the bathroom, they found her passed out in a pool of blood.
Before I finish this story with you, I have got to say that this was not the first time my mother encountered death. When she was a teenager, she went swimming in a lake with her uncle. Jumping into the lake, she hit her head on a rock and lost consciousness. Her body drifted to the bottom. “The water was murky but I could see everything. It didn’t make sense. There was a car tire on the bottom away from us and a broken anchor another direction.” She began floating above her body and bright lights surrounded her. They felt peaceful. She felt safe. She could see her uncle throwing his shoes and watch to jump in the water after her but he couldn’t find her body. Then a strange event happened. Her future flashed before her for what seemed like a second but in that second she saw her future husband and the face of each child she bore years later. She realized one face was smaller than the 3 others. She felt the presence around her was God. “When I felt God’s presence, I headed toward His bright light flooded with joy, but He told me it wasn’t time, ‘look, your uncle is coming for you’.” She woke up finding herself on the shore being resuscitated by her uncle. After things calmed down, no one believed her. She told her uncle exactly where to dive to find the tire. He found it of course! That night at dinner, he reached on his wrist for his watch but realized he lost it at the lake. My mother told him she knew exactly where it was. They ran to the lake and she picked it up right where she saw him throw it. He was in shock as the only way she could have known was by observing from above not on the bottom of a lake. Interestingly, many years later, she did give birth 4 times but had a miscarriage once, the baby with the small face.
Back to the second time that God saved her. In the ER, they rushed her to a surgical room and opened her up to find that her stomach had burned a hole through her exposed intestines causing massive bleeding internally. The bypass almost took her life leaving her stomach in disrepair. Come to find out, her stomach had been reattached wrong. She fully recovered from that event but is still aware to this day that it could happen again.
My mom is not a woman to give into fear. 70-years-old, she is still enjoying her new body and life and is as active as ever. An encourager to all around her at her retirement village and traveling America singing her favorite hymns and songs. And Cambodia, well she still makes the trip to see me every year! Don’t assume she feels great! She struggles every day with fatigue but chooses the life she lives. She chooses to get out and change the world for good!
As I reflect on her journey, I am thankful for the research and information that has gone into obesity. I am thankful for the healthy and natural ways available today. After 4 kids, I faced gaining weight for the first time in my life. If you want to know the natural things I did to get my weight and health back, message me. I love to talk about the things that truly work and the gimmicks that don’t!
I want to walk you healthy weight journey with you. I have a sensitive heart towards this struggle and want every person to feel accepted and encouraged in their journey to a healthier body. If you are interested, join my Facebook group @Healthy Weight: A Motivational Community
“Leadership is the lifting of a man’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a man’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a man’s personality beyond its limitations. —PETER DRUCKER”
― Samuel Chand,
When did I come to realize that we were unusual? It was a personality test we took 17 years ago. Marc and I both scored the same score. Do you know how rare that is? But even more rare is that we were both strong leaders, strong thinkers, with determination as part of our profile. I wasn’t exactly excited about these results as I probably made the same face you are making now. What? We are going to offend the world. And, that’s where we begin.
Step forward to where we are now. Our leadership roles have many circles. We have family, colleagues, international partners, and gatherings from across seas. We interact within each of these circles as leaders. We both want to be the best leaders we can. If we are to accomplish the goal stated above “raising of a man’s performance” then we must understand who we are and who we are not. Apologize for our mistakes and work in our strengths 90% of the time. It is in these personalities where the pain and good play out.
My vision for what I want to accomplish is big. It better be. I know as a leader that not accomplishing everything I set out for will lead to regret. I also know that my vision is more than a man-made dream but a God given task and calling. Pushing towards that goal will make me and others uncomfortable. The discomfort is often misinterpreted by the one experiencing it. It is at that point where our gifts and calling can be the cause of great pain. But, as the following quote says. .
“1. Comfort is overrated. It doesn’t lead to happiness. It makes us lazy—and forgetful. It often leads to self-absorption, boredom, and discontent. 2. Discomfort can be a catalyst for growth. It makes us yearn for something more. It forces us to change, stretch, and adapt. 3. Discomfort is often a sign we’re making progress. You’ve heard the expression, “no pain, no gain.” It’s true! When you push yourself to grow, you will experience discomfort.” Michael Hyatt
Pain is absolutely necessary in good leadership but why? The people you lead must see that you are willing to suffer to meet the goal and that you will work hard to get to that goal. Then, they will believe what you teach.
I remember in the beginning of leading in our organization when my commitment was tested by those I led. Being a nurse practitioner in a third world country, a lot is expected of me by those I work with and those I serve. One day, the TV news showed a woman in a car wreck who couldn’t pay her medical bills. Being all over the news channels, I felt certain someone would care for her and she did not live near the areas that we were currently helping medically. I got a phone call from one of our employees telling me about this woman’s dire situation. I responded with my felt confidence that the woman would be cared for and that I did not feel she needed my intervention. Without my knowledge, I quickly became known us uncompassionate and not caring by several of those who we worked with. There were quite a few whispers and looks when I walked into the work place the next day but I could never seem to convince the employees that I was caring and compassionate. A month of quiet continued until the mother of the employee who stirred the pot, got severely ill. My husband and I drove far to visit her and walked her through her illness. After that month, the employees stopped the gossip and I was able to lead again with more trust and respect than I had had before.
Important things to remember from this example is that I am confident in what my gifts are. I am compassionate and caring and I don’t change my opinion of myself based on criticism. It takes loved ones in my life who can help redefine my gifts.
When it comes to your gifts as a leader, the key is to use these gifts sacrificially and never expect more from those you lead than you are willing to give yourself. Many will still choose to reject you but your true followers will be loyal to the end.
Some love us and some hate us. Not because of mistakes but often just because of who we are. You need to hear that. Because of this truth, rejection often doesn’t make sense. Because it doesn’t make sense, it is often even more painful.
“How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win. —G. K. Chesterton”
― Samuel Chand,
When you lead from your heart, this truth plays out: for every 1 that hates you, there will be 10 who love you. I don’t know where I’ve heard this before but it is true in my life. The sooner this people-pleasing woman figured this out and accepted it, the better leader I became.
I’ve also come to realize that when people fail, they seem to often blame their leader. I’ve never understood that but have found it true. I have had many different leaders in life and some are naturally good, some work at being good, and some just don’t try and therefore are pretty bad! But, if I fail in achieving my God given goals in life, then I am the only one to blame. Not my leaders. But, like it or not. Every leader will be blamed at times. But, I had to decide, what was I going to do with that blame?
“I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.” Elisabeth Elliott
When God chooses pain as part of our path in leadership, we have been chosen to a select group. A group of people who will enjoy His intimacy in a deeper way. People who are stripped of their desire to please all people but are plunged into a flow of people who live for eternity on their mind. I want to be that person. Do you?
People always say “be careful what you pray for!” I believe that’s true. As a kid, I was always the one to take the dare. Yes, I caused my mom and dad much leadership pain!
When it comes to prayer, I’m pretty much the same way. I want to always be purposeful for impacting lives around me physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I want to change this world and not be just a drop in a bucket. I want to be what He wants me to be even if it hurts. The pain I have felt and will feel, I trust Him. I truly believe that all pain is temporary and by His choosing. Because of the way I now view pain, I can accept it when it comes into my life.
My question back would be “why would you want to?” If the greatest leaders in life including Jesus choose pain to bring their followers the best things in life, shouldn’t we?
“The art of leadership is understanding what you can’t compromise on.”
― Samuel Chand,
Pain is a part of growth because we should have essential pieces to meeting our goal that are so important that we refuse to compromise. Everything that grows experiences pain. If I avoid pain, I’m avoiding growth.
Several years ago, as I was struggling with pain in my own leadership, my Khmer friend (and employee) saw the emotional weight I carried. Underweight, sunken eyes, red from tears, she could see the pain in me. She stared at me and pointed at the mango seeds lying on a mat in the road. The mango seeds were being dried of all life so they could be replanted. She described this process and said “death is necessary for that seed to bring about delicious fruit for all to enjoy!” How wise is she.
Avoidance of pain is a natural reaction. Being a good leader requires going for the bullet. I have had to make decisions that were right but not accepted by others. It’s those moments when you realize “I am going to say this but I know there will be fallout.”
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:28
Count the cost before stepping in. Leadership may or may not be your place at this time. Your time and emotional energy will be depleted. As mentioned many times, in order to lead it requires blood, sweat, and tears on your part. I meet many leaders who I truly believe if they had known how difficult it would have been, they would have turned down the offer to lead years ago! But, sometimes we are blessed by not seeing the future. The question for you is “are you willing to make the sacrifices required and continue to work hard when the pain comes?”
95% of leadership is endurance. What’s the 5%? The calling and vision! And, thats what will keep you there and the reason why there are those who want to follow you.
Lead on friend!
Many of the quotes seen in this article came from this very useful book: