Doing Life Together

scaleI’ve been working with weight loss for years now and was excited to see what the TV show, The Biggest Loser, would do in terms of helping those with obesity. I stopped watching the show because I feared what would happen in the long run–people would regain the weight after a year or so. And that is what has happened.

As I read the stories of those who were on the show now struggling to keep the weight off, my heart sank for them. It’s tough to keep the weight off because the solutions to obesity are not as easy as reducing calories and exercising.

Weight loss has to do with so many factors including resting metabolism and hormones. Resting metabolism is the calories a person burns when at rest. Quick weight loss slows down that resting metabolism and the body fights to stay at the new weight.

Then you add hormones to the slowing of metabolism and you have a person who is hungry and whose biology tells them to eat more.  One of those hormones, leptin, is supposed to say, “Hey, we have enough food and fat storage, stop eating.” But in obese people, the body doesn’t say we have enough so stop. Obesity involves a malfunctioning metabolic system that researchers are still trying to figure out in order to  know how to correct the metabolic problems.

When we are dealing with obesity, Dr. Rosenbaum, obesity researcher from Columbia University,  says, “The difficult in keeping weight off reflects biology, not a pathological lack of willpower affecting two-thirds of the U.S.A.”

Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center  at Boston Children’s Hospital is looking for new approaches to weight loss. He agrees, the person who can ignore the biological signals for hungry and continue to restrict calories, has a tough road ahead. A slower metabolism and constant hunger make weight loss maintenance difficult for the average person.

So let’s be careful not to cheer The Biggest Losers for their valiant efforts to lose weight, but then condemn them for regaining the weight. The biology operating against them is a significant factor in the weight gain-one that researchers are still trying to figure out.

If you are unaware of the news story about the Stanford athlete, Brock Turner, convicted of sexual assault, you need to read what happened . The victim wrote a compelling statement describing the impact of the assault. Every student, parent and grandparent should read what she read aloud in the courtroom to her perpetrator. This will help you understand the trauma involved in sexual assault. She needs our prayers, as does the perpetrator.

Nothing excuses sexual assault. Nothing! But I have to ask, how did we get to the point where college age men become so calloused to violence toward women?

Do we really believe that moral failure, which is the root of the problem, is not a reflection of changing influences in our culture? Don’t get me wrong. Young Turner is fully responsible for his actions. His behavior was unconscionable, but is there any cultural culpability that needs to be addressed in order to prevent sexual assault from happening in the future?

These days, college students are coddled with “safe spaces” where no offense is to ever occur. When a student is offended, micro aggression charges fly with impunity. Thus, if a professor attempts to correct disrespectful or inappropriate behavior, micro aggression is now the defense. These professors are then vilified as intolerant and even fired. The voices of common sense and accountability are being silenced and eliminated because we don’t want to offend anyone. College, which used to be the place where students learned debate, critical thinking, and wisdom from their professors is now a one-sided diatribe of political correctness run amuck. The result is a lack of challenge to immoral thinking and basic values.

The notion of tolerance has been grossly distorted.  In order to be tolerant, you have to have disagreement. The point of tolerance is to disagree with civility and respect. You “tolerate” a difference of opinion.  Yet tolerance has become a one-sided concept–you agree with me or I will label you a bigot and a hater. You label my behavior and I will find a way to discredit you–just look at our presidential campaign if you want incessant examples. Someone decides which side of the argument is correct, and anything other than that will be attacked–the very essence of intolerance. Consequently, rudeness and disrespect run rampant.

Now let’s add the confusing and perverted messages related to sexuality promoted on college campuses. Universities support such outrageous events like Sex Week in which everything from sadomasochistic porn, demonstration of sex toys, lectures on how to have a threesome and live nudity in classrooms are promoted. This is a week in which women are objectified, reduced to objects and treated like sex toys. Pornography, which is reinforced and rampant on our campuses, activates the part of the brain that sees a person as a tool, an object. It creates unrealistic expectations regarding sex and is self-gratifying.  Then we are surprised that hormonal boys see women as objects for their pleasure? Again, not an excuse, but perhaps we need to address how this thinking gets molded.

And the biggest lie of all is telling women that if you willfully decide to participate in your own sexual objectification, this is empowering. Why is this allowed on campuses? Where are the feminists and protestors? Who in their right mind believes this is sex education? Objectification of women, pornographic training in a vacuum of morality–sex and lust apart from intimacy– and we think this doesn’t impact the way our students think when it comes to doing the right thing and treating each other as valuable? We think that by asking someone if they consent to a casual hook up on a campus, this will solve the problem of assault. We see no connection of the perversion of sex as only a physical act for someone’s self-gratification and sexual violence.  We eradicate the connection between sex and intimacy,  feed the perversion and call that normal.

And why do universities turn a blind eye to rampant illegal drug use and underage drinking since both are most often involved in sexual assault? We have decades of experience with unbridled substance use that characterizes our college campuses. Ask any college town emergency room doctor how many cases of alcohol poisoning and overdose he or she sees. But let’s just go with the solution of legalizing more drugs and push the message that drugs do not impact judgment or impair a person, and are harmless. Let’s continue to ignore the damage to the developing brains of undergraduates and view illegal substance abuse as a “right of passage”on campuses.

And finally, as long as I am ranting, let’s never be allowed to discuss the politically incorrect view that taking God out of culture results in the removal of the development of a moral compass in peoples’ lives.  We can’t present the position that left to our own devices, we are sinners, not good people who don’t get better without God; we are depraved and sinful people in need of redemption. We have to go off campus to say this because it may offend someone and violate the wrongly interpreted separation of church and state argument. It also flies in the face of secular humanism, the allowed religion on college campuses. Christianity is taught to be oppressive, bad, an illusion, only for the weak. Yet, look at the fall-out of excluding God from the public square.

A relationship with God gives people the power to stop doing bad things, to look at a drunk and unconscious woman and say, “I won’t take advantage of her. I won’t do horrific things to her. I need self-control. I won’t excuse drinking as a right to defile her. I won’t treat her as an object, as she is made in the image of God.”

God help us!



family teensWe all want our children to grow up to be happy and successful adults. And we know that parenting has much to do with that success. So what have researchers found to be key issues in raising successful kids?

  1. Kids need to develop a sense of independence. Parents, help them by encouraging them to work through their conflicts and develop peer relationships that are healthy. Don’t do for them. They need to learn how to handle problems themselves. Let them make decisions and feel the consequences. Controlling parents feed into low self-confidence, making it more likely to have children who listen to peers instead of them.
  2. Save the yelling for sports teams. Kids who are yelled at and verbally criticized have behavior problems and develop discipline problems. If you have an anger problem, get help. No one likes to be yelled at and it doesn’t help develop a secure attachment.
  3. Watch the overprotection or what is called helicopter parenting. When kids are too protected and hovered over, they become dependent on you to fix things and make life easy. This can play into entitlement later on. Allow them to fail and grow from their mistakes.
  4. Consider your parenting style. If it is authoritarian or permissive, you want to think about making some changes. Children do best with an authoritative style. Explaining to children why we do what we do, helps them learn better than telling them what to do. That is a major difference between being authoritative (explaining) and authoritarian (telling).
  5. Develop a strong emotional bond with your children. A detached, cold parent doesn’t create the security and attachment children need to thrive. If you are too busy, neglecting their emotional lives or emotionally depleted yourself, your relationship will be affected in negative ways and create insecure kids.
  6. Make them do chores. Kids who learn the value of work early on in life, carry it over to later life. They also tend to be more empathetic and better collaborators at work. It’s true, hard work doesn’t hurt anyone. In fact, it builds character and skills for later life.
  7. Develop their emotional intelligence along with their cognitive intelligence. Teach them social skills. Children who learn how to be effective in their interpersonal relationships do better in life. So focus on helping them read social cues, be aware of their emotions and how to use them in productive ways, deal with conflict and manage their relationships.
  8. Aim high. Expectations matter. If you expect them to go to college, they have a better chance of doing it. And college education does prepare them better for a successful career or job. Tell your children that you expect them to succeed. Many adults will tell you that having parents who believed in them and told them was important to their success.
  9. Manage your own stress. Kids feel the stress of their parents and tend to take it on or respond to it by becoming focused on you versus their personal development. Managing family stress helps children concentrate on learning and models how to handle such stress. It also frees them to be children and develop in a positive home.
  10. Provide spiritual training. Teach a biblical world view so they have a lens from which to organize the world and think critically about what they see. Practice the spiritual disciplines and lead them to a saving relationship with Christ. This has eternal value, but also helps them flourish in ways not possible with no spiritual anchor.

A Bosnian couple met online — only to be repulsed when they met in person?  It wasn’t that they found each other unattractive. The surprise was that the on-line daters turned out to be married to each other in real life.

Unhappy with their marriage, they each created online identities under fake names and had an “affair” with each other — each complaining about their miserable marriage and thinking they had finally found their soul mate.

But when they met, reality hit. Realizing they had only found the person who had disappointed them in marriage, they decided to get a divorce — claiming marital unfaithfulness!

There’s a lot you could say about this story, but consider what the couple was quoted saying about each other:

I thought I had found the love of my life. The way this Prince of Joy spoke to me, the things he wrote, the tenderness in every expression was something I had never had in my marriage.

To be honest I still find it hard to believe that the person, Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things to me on the Internet, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a nice word to me for years.                                                                

Could it be that the time and effort they put into their online conversations were the necessary work needed in their marriage? Instead of looking for a way out, a way in was to rekindle that friendship and expressions of fondness they did online. The novelty brought out positive feelings towards each other. Same people, but different responses to each other–they were open to seeing each other with new positive eyes.

In person, our couple couldn’t see passed their negativity and built up resentment. their negativity overrode any positives that may have surfaced. When couples don’t deal with negativity and escape to new relationships, the problems follow with the next person. There are no short cuts to working through problems. Avoiding and starting over is an escape.

The lesson in this story. Find a way to forgive, deal with problems and build back the positivity in the original friendship and attraction. When this couple had a fresh start on-line, positive feelings emerged again–this was something that could have been worked with in couples therapy had they been willing to repair the damage and try again.

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