Doing Life Together

504540_businessman_cell_phoneRick was feeling discouraged. He tried to make a significant change in his life, but was struggling. As a friend, Jerry wondered how he could help.

There are times in our lives when we want to be that supportive person who gives a friend a pep talk or helps motivate that family member to change. Here are five tips that will help toward those goals.

1) Listen and then encourage. If someone only needs a pep talk, listen first and then offer words of encouragement. Your support and physical presence makes a difference. Sometimes you can help problem-solve if that is needed, but ask before you launch into suggestions. What doesn’t work is minimizing the issue or avoiding it all together.

2) Offer to be available. So many people need someone to trust, to talk out life problems and simply give them their time. Be that go to person. Set up a follow-up time or a regular time to check on how they are doing. Basically, you show someone you care by your availability and investment in them.

3) Affirm the person and his/her strengths. Play to the positive. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t listening to the problems involved, but help the person focus on their personal strengths that help during a time of discouragement. Affirmation is often needed as we forget our strong points, our previous ability to solve an issue, or personality traits that help us make change. I like to ask, “What have you done before that has worked for you?” It reminds the person of past success.

4) Give hope. We cope better when we know there is something to hope for in the middle of a struggle. Sometimes that hope involves developing character, becoming more intimate and dependent on God, looking at the bigger picture, or resting in the assurance that all things can be used for our good.

5) Take the cue. If you offer hope and some ideas towards change  and the person rejects your help, don’t continue. You are probably pushing too much or the person isn’t ready for change. Instead, go back to listening and shift the conversation to their thoughts, “What do you think you need? What has helped you in the past? When you have tried to change and what worked before?” It is much better to get the person generating ideas for change. If they aren’t ready to think about change, empathize, ” I see how difficult this is for you. This is really bothering you, etc.”

When someone struggles, the temptation is to get in there and problem-solve for the person or tell the person what to do. To motivate change, the person has to be in a stage of change that is ready for action. Getting ready might mean working through the pros and cons of change first. Often, we move right to action before the person is ready.

weightWe all know that the number on the scale isn’t suppose to define us, but that doesn’t stop us from thinking about how much we weigh on any given day. And the number often influences our mood.

So how often should we weigh? Every day, once a week, once a month?

The answer depends on your goal–to maintain, lose or work on developing a healthy relationship with food and not defining yourself by a number.

When to weigh: The best time is right when you wake up. You’ve been resting all night, no hydration or extra calories, so the morning weight should be the most consistent and typically the lowest. And Wednesday is a good day as it is midweek, not right after the weekend where heavier consumption may occur.

How often? If you look at the obesity research, the recommendation is usually to weigh once a week. Keep track of your food and eating triggers and then evaluate yourself once a week on a scale to keep weight in line.

To lose weight. The recommendation is to weigh about three times a week. In my book, Lose it For Life, we looked at the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks more than 10,000 people in the U.S. who have lost and kept off significant weight for long periods. Those people tend to weigh three times a week. The reason is to get handle on how their eating habits are tracking with weight loss. You can see if you are losing or need to cut out a few more calories, etc. It’s good feedback for your weight loss plan.

If you have an eating disorder: Jumping on the scales regularly is not a good idea. In fact, we discourage daily weighings unless you are in a hospital getting your food prescribed. Your body naturally fluctuates in weight so daily weigh ins can be discouraging. In addition, daily weigh ins tend to reinforce obsession with the weight number rather than focusing you on healthy eating habits.


child runningHyper parenting is a relatively new concept. One that may be doing more harm than good when it comes to preparing our children for life.

When I was growing up, we came home from school, played outside until we were called for supper. Games of Kick the Can, Red Rover and tag occupied our after school time for about 2 hours. Our parents didn’t see us until the dinner table.

It turns out that this strategy of allowing your kids to play outside is a good one to counter the hyper parenting we see today. Instead of hovering over your child’s every move, let them get physical.

Why? Because a study in April’s Prevention Medicine says hyper parents have less active kids. So stop overloading their schedules and let them have play time! It’s during play time that many kids improve their emotional intelligence by having to get along with others, deal with the mean kid and work in teams.

So stop worrying about your 5-year-old being admitted to an Ivy, let them listen to music other than Mozart, don’t mortgage the house for special tutoring to get ahead–send them outside to play and get them to bed on time!

Reduce your fear!  Stop fretting over creating a successful child and let them be a child!

Somehow with parents who were busy doing life and not hovering over my every move, I managed to figure out things that built my problem-solving skills. I had to think independently, deal with people without parental interference. I played, didn’t attend an Ivy and still built a good life.

Come on parents, take some of the pressure off of you and your children. Let them play a little and be kids!


4july_20120519-01As we celebrate this Independence Day, it is important to remember the freedom we have in this country to openly embrace our religious beliefs. For the Christian, true freedom is found in Christ. But with this freedom comes responsibility as noted in Galatians 5:13. The last part of this verse is often quoted, but the first part ignored. Yet, the beginning of the verse is a warning to use our freedom in a way that doesn’t destroy it.

Galatians 5:13 (MSG) It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.

The Apostle Paul warns us to not use our freedom to do whatever we want. That was the opposite message of the serpent to Eve in the garden. Don’t follow God’s instructions, do what you think is best. Then Eve was deceived and ate the fruit. Satan got Eve to think and act independently from God and her husband — sin resulted! Satan himself acted independently from God and was cast out of heaven. He continues to push this message-do whatever you want.

The Bible teaches interdependence … we are not alone, and we don’t grow alone … we are built together as a Holy Temple, upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets. Nothing good happens spiritually with Christians who are not dependent on God … it is a contradiction in terms! There is no power in being independent.

Instead, we are to preserve freedom by following Christ and His example and serve one another in love. Freedom grows through service, not through self-satisfaction. Freedom is based on a dependence on God and an interdependence on each other.