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The Nurse Perspective: 20/20 Health Report

It has been a while and I apologize profusely, and offer that the delay was due to unforeseen circumstances.  Today I am sharing a presentation I gave at our Family Vespers a week ago.  Just a reminder for us all about carrying on despite the times we are living in.

 20/20 Health Report: The Nurse Perspective

   Being raised in an Adventist home and attending 12 years of SDA schools, I always heard about the Health message but never questioned what it was.  Like my friends, we read about not eating meat in Leviticus, not eating swine, or web-footed animals, or those that didn’t chew the cud, or bottom fish or crustaceans.  I have on many occasions directed the curious or those who thought they knew us, to this book.  And I thought I was giving them the health message in a nutshell, since that is all I knew.

It was only in my second or third conversion as a SDA Christian, and as a read-up Christian nurse, that I began to examine what was this health message we have been so proud of all these decades of practicing it.  First, I had never been a vegetarian, except as it was forced upon me in my academy life as a student.  Every time I had campus leave, I begged Momma for fried chicken, oxtails, or beef something.  Sorry, don’t mean to make you meat-tarians salivate, but that was the way it was then…. some of you are looking at me like, Pastor Smith likes to say, ‘brand new’ But let me go on so you will get a better understanding.

A few years ago, when my body blossomed from a slim, youthful beauty to a fully mature, ok, obese one, my cardiologist called a halt to my poundage.  His words at each visit were intended to whip my conscience – ‘you need to lose 25 pounds’. But by this time, I was pleased with my roundness, comfortable with wearing larger sizes, and enjoying a meat and potato diet.  UNTIL…I encountered the From Sickness to Health program. I learned a lot as I promoted this program for our church and community, as the health nurse - taking vital signs, weights, discussing things like reducing blood pressure and so forth, handing out advice and recommendations.  How could I in good faith give advice that I obviously didn’t follow myself.  So about this time, I had a serious conversation with  myself about my obesity, my food choices, but most of all, not fully understanding or adhering to the 8 biblical principles of health.  I realized that with all my handing out medical/nursing advice and instructions, I was only paying lip service to this mandate for us to be a healthy people.  Though I never believed in nor do I now, believe in dieting to lose weight, I determined to change the way, the what, the how I ate. 

But after trying a vegan way of eating for about 6 weeks, I saw the pounds melt away, and even when I returned to a diet that included more meat and vegetables, I continued to lose weight because my taste buds had changed, and healthier foods became my go-to foods, things like more salads, fewer carbs, etc, until I had, not intentionally, lost 30 pounds.  And until this COVID-19 thing, I’ve managed to stay within 2-3 pounds of this weight loss for years. 

Some of you may already know what the 8 biblical principles of health are: nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest, and Trust in God.  These are the pillars of the SDA faith – In 3 John 2 we read: “Beloved, (that is us), I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health as thy soul prospereth,”and if you want more information, I can provide this at another time, but this evening I want to make this health message personal for you and me. Hence the 20/20 report. 

And so, the 20/20 Health Report was born.  The eye doctor examines your eyes to see if you have 20/20 vision, which most of us do not have, and then he will prescribe corrective lens to give you 20/20 vision.  Our 20/20 report this evening is designed to provide a corrective lens and thus improve our vision.  For the past 2 months, I’ve been writing a Blog for the church website, called The Nurse Perspective.  Some of you may have seen and read it.  In it, I’ve attempted to provide food for thought about how to improve your health by suggesting, recommending ways to rebuild your health and these follow the basic principles of health.  How do we know this is God’s health plan for us? 

Gen 1:29 – And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree yielding seed: to you it shall be meant for meat.  And again, in Gen 3:18 …and thou shall eat the herb of the field. 

More and more people are becoming vegetarian and vegan, desiring to eat healthier foods, and live a healthier lifestyle.  It is not so much about losing weight, but that is an added benefit of modifying the diet.  As a practicing holistic nurse, I realized there is more to the vegan/vegetarian diet than not eating meat or losing weight.  It is a total health outlook and includes eating heart-healthy foods, moderate and a regular exercise plan, drinking the right amount of water, eliminating fluids that are harmful to the body, getting sunshine  (some states you get overdosed on sunshine and some of us get it when we can get it; temperance – so what does that mean?  Not just staying away from alcohol, cigarettes, harmful drugs, it means doing all things in moderation– even controlling the portions of food we eat, the other things we put in our bodies.  (side note here): When I was growing up, not only did we have a garden with vegetables, but across the street at Pop’s house, there was a wealth of fruit, more vegetables, but daddy insisted on no white bread in our diet.  He bought the blackest bread – Rye, pumpernickel, - and he and momma showed us what white Wonder Bread looked like if you balled a slice of it up.  You could play ping pong with it because it was rubbery and bounced on the floor.  Something to think about now – I’m very choosy about the bread I eat – never buy white bread unless it’s sourdough.  And now most bread and many other things are made with soy products - the cheapest flours, oils around.  You can probably lube your car with soy.  I found out how deadly soy is when I ate an Impossible Burger from Burger King and became deathly ill. Unfortunately, we have filled our bodies with soy by eating all the so-called health products made from soy, and when our bodies blow up with fat, or we complain about certain ills, we never look at the culprit that may be causing this.  I won’t get on a soap box here about soy, but I want you to take a look at the ingredients in your store purchases and find out about the things that are slowly killing us.  SOY, (they call it allergy now) and its by-products, is not fit for humans, yet it is in just about everything we eat.  I spend long minutes in the grocery store reading the ingredients of everything I buy and come away with few of the things I desire because of the harmful ingredients – some written so small – it’s difficult to read. 

So here is some practical advice – not in any special order:

  1. Water replenishes what you lose by breathing, talking, exercising, just about anything that uses energy, so drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.  Your body will not function without it.  You can tell by your pee if you are drinking enough – the flow, the color, the odor, and frequency.
  2. Exercise – walking is the best form of exercise – it, along with your water intake, lubricates the joints, keeps the heart and lungs in good shape, and improves your sleep.
  3. Get the right amount of sunshine – more than 10 minutes at a time in direct sunlight, can damage the skin (something you may not realize until years later), too much sun leathers  or toughens the skin, the lighter your complexion, the more harmful.  Protect your skin – the largest organ of the body, by wearing a sunscreen of at least 30 spf. And wear a hat when out in the sun. Protect your brain!
  4. Rest – so important and seems so elusive as we get older.  Babies sleep 12 or more hours a day – half their life, and as we get older, we try to cram too many things into our day, including watching our favorite TV shows, and we (me included) think we can get by with 5-6 hours of sleep, but scientists say the older we get, the more we should revert backward to what we needed as children -7-8 hours per night.  (I’m trying but let me know when you can do this and how).
  5. Air – the lung capacity is important and you can increase this by the exercising you do – We should take time throughout our day to practice some breathing exercises.  I used to take my kids to the beach in the fall and winter to clear out the cobwebs in my brain, and it was really a form of getting in some air to help me think better.  Let’s practice some breathing right now - 3 breaths in and out.  Inhale, hold it, exhale slowly (whistling it out).  You can do these several times a day, to increase your lung capacity, but also to relieve anxiety, frustration, and just general malaise.
  6. Trust in God – begin your day with Him – watch how things improve – your attitude, your outlook on this life we are living now, less anime, more love for your fellow person.  You can talk to God any time of day, anywhere, all day!  You don’t have to go into a closet to pray.  I’m still learning the importance of sharing my heart, my thoughts with God, even though I know He already knows. 
  7. And lastly, I want to encourage you to know your numbers! What does this mean? Know your Blood Pressure readings, your weight, your blood sugar (even if not diabetic) for your blood sugar varies with the time of day, eating habits, and daily activities.  Sometimes if you feel a little light-headed, your blood sugar may need a little boost – drink some Orange juice or even increase your h20, also know what your cholesterol numbers are.  Knowing all of these will help you follow your health and improve it.  ASK your doctor what your medications are and what they are supposed to do.
  8. Take charge of your health, it may cut down on how often you must see the docs.  Healthcare ain’t what it used to be, and we have fewer and fewer doctors to provide that care so YOU have to captain your health, become the CEO that guides you to improved health and a longer and better quality of life.  This is important for whatever stage of adulthood you may be.  

 This is the 20/20 and I wish you a healthier improved lifestyle, one that God laid out for us.  Thank you all for listening. 

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