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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Health (6)


Spring into a Healthier You!

Morgan Farr's passion and wise choices always inspire me. In this Health UPGRADE, she inspires us not only to better self-care, but also to consider how our bodies might better bring glory to God—and spring is a perfect time to make some fresh changes.

"God calls us to obedience and self-disciple, and your physical health plays a huge role in your ability to complete the task God has given you," Morgan says. “Is a lack of discipline with your body holding you back from serving God?”

A nutritionist challenged me (Dawn) with exactly that question more than a year ago. Then said, "How are you going to continue ministering when your body is falling apart?" It really got me thinking, and I came to the same conclusions Morgan did.

Morgan continues . . .

Many women spend a huge amount of time battling their bodies rather than bringing them under their control, and it doesn’t have to be that way!

Remember, God has given us the power of self control (2 Timothy 1:7).

God wants more for us than being enslaved to an unfit, sick, broken body.

Here are my top three ways to spring into a healthier you, and glorify God with the body you have been given.

1. Eat Real Food

Taking care of your body is going to start with what you put in your mouth.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

While we are not bound by levitical dietary laws, I do think we should be more discerning in what we consume.

God designed every intricate part of our bodies. He also designed what we should eat and how our digestive tract works. Did you know that roughly 70% of our immune tissue is located in our digestive system? Wouldn't it make sense then to show respect for our bodies by eating real foods rather than processed junk?

If you need an idea of what I mean by “real” foods, stick to the OUTER SIDES of the grocery store. If it can sit on a shelf for more than a week or so, it probably isn’t real food.

2. Move Your Body

Proverbs 31:17 says, “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”

This used to be true. But, the reality of modern life is that it can be very sedentary. We no longer have to spend hours to do basic things like gathering food and water. With the advent of household appliances life form many women has become a lot less physically demanding.

This means that we have to be intentional about moving our bodies daily.

It isn’t enough to count on chores to keep you fit.

This does not mean that you need an expensive trainer or a crazy gym membership. There are plenty of exercises that you can do at home, with zero equipment. (See note, below) *

3. Refresh Your Soul  

The final portion of your health that I want to address is your spiritual life.

Proverbs 3:7-8 says, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones”.

There are two parts to this in my mind—fearing the Lord and shunning evil.

To fear the Lord, here are some basic questions:

  • Are you in the Bible every single day—not a devotional or a Bible commentary, but a real Bible?
  • Are you, every day, in conversation with the One who gave up his life for you?  

For shunning evil, let me ask you these:

  • What are you watching on television? Does it honor God?
  • What are you listening to in the car? Does it proclaim His glory?
  • How do you talk about other people when they aren’t with you?

Now, here is the caveat.

You have to understand why you want to be healthy.

What is the goal?

Being thin isn’t a fruit of the Spirit.

A certain size isn’t listed in the Beatitudes.

And believe it or not,

God didn’t list a certain body fat percentage as the 11th commandment.

Health and fitness can easily become idols if you are not careful. Make sure that you are doing these things for the right reasons and to glorify God.

We are called first and foremost to live out lives:

  • For God’s glory, and
  • To see His purposes fulfilled.

How can you spring into health and fitness this year to bring glory to God?

Morgan Farr is an Army wife currently stationed in San Diego, California, with her wonderful husband Brian and their children. Morgan is a homemaker who dedicates her free time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one mentoring and physical training. Morgan writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood on her blog The Forgiven Former Feminist. You can find her training programs, nutritional information and meal plans on her blog, Farr Functional Fitness.

* At-home fitness is a real passion of mine, so I coach people in this everyday for free. If you need more help in this area, feel free to contact me personally, I would love to help you.

Graphics adapted, courtesy of Momental and OmarMedinaFilms at Pixabay


Create More Opportunities for Margin - Part 2

In Part 1 of the Self-Care UPGRADE, “Create More Opportunities for Margin,” Dawn Wilson, explained the importance of creating more “spacious opportunities” in our lives to counter the busyness and mindlessness that can lead to stress, over-commitment and exhaustion.

To repeat from Part 1: We won’t have wonderful, spacious opportunities unless we're purposeful in making room for them.

“Margin,” said Richard Swenson, M.D., “is the space between our load and our limits.” We want to intentionally fill that space wisely, even if it means “not filling” by allowing more space to grow.

In Part 1, we considered the need for more margin in our home, calendars and budgets. In Part 2, let's tackle four more areas: Health, People, Mind and God.

4. Create more space in regard to your HEALTH. For the Christian, this is important not only for ourselves, but as a testimony to others of the power of God working in our habits (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

How do we create margin for better health?

  • Leave more time at nightfall for quality sleep. Work toward a healthy nightly rhythm that leads to better and deeper rest.
  • Think: healthy eating! Stop stuffing your body with multiple snacks and processed foods. Give your stomach “room” to function efficiently. Intermittent fasting can be beneficial. So is mindful planning for a weekly caloric budget and sticking to it.
  • Carve out time to move your body with whatever exercise you find most enjoyable. Think in terms of freedom of movement and building core strength.
  • Practice deep breathing! Breathe in through your nose, hold that breath, and then exhale slowly through your mouth.

One of the strongest voices helping me create nutritional margin is Lysa TerKeurst in Made to Crave, especially her devotional based on the book. Also, Lean Body, Fat Wallet is a double-whammy for health and finances, writen by Ellie Kay and Danna Demetre. Danna is one of the founders of Ageless Woman Living.

5. Create more space for PEOPLE, especially for family and friends. Our office files can’t hug us, and the television won’t give us love. Creating margin for relationships is even far more than social media, although that can play a small part.

Time is limited, so aim for true connection. Quantity time AND quality time.

Shut things off and turn up the volume on face-to-face connections. These times together will feed our need for emotional growth, and they will help us understand how we can “spur on” family and friends “toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

We need one-on-one time to practice the "one anothers" of scripture.

Our busy lives leave us less than satisfied. God’s Word and people, it is said, are the only two things that last from earth into eternity; and that should give us a sense of what is truly important.

There are so many good books available on this topic. Just be sure their relationship counsel lines up with scripture truth. I learned a lot from Mary Kassian's Conversation Peace; Shaunti Feldhahn's book, The Kindness Challenge; and Gene Getz' book, Building Up One Another. And "Relationship specialists" Bill and Pam Farrel at Love-wise offer many, MANY books on building relationshps.

6. Create space for your MIND … time to think, ponder and meditate.

If we don’t want our brains to become mush, we need to feed them with truth and wisdom (James 1:5; Psalm 90:12). We need to renew our mind so we can know and do the will of God (Romans 12:2).

Spend time with a good book. The Bible, of course, will train our minds (2 Timothy 3:16); but biblically-based books or books of wise principles that do not contradict scriptural truth will also challenge us to think better. Or planning a social-mental “spacious opportunity” in a Bible or book study with a group of friends (Proverbs 13:20)

Think Biblically! (edited by John MacArthur) helped me think with a Christian worldview; and Lies Women Believe (updated/expanded edition) by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth helped me zero in on some foolish, unbiblical thinking. (Note: Lies Men Believe, written by Nancy's husband Robert, will come out in August 2018.)

7. And this is most important: create a greater margin of time for God.

  • We need space to pray and worship without distractions.
  • We need time for the Lord every day (Psalm 55:16-17) to feed our spirit, train our responses and calm our hearts.
  • We need to “Be still” and listen—to get to know our Father’s heart so we’ll know how to make wise choices (Psalm 46:10; Proverbs 2:6).
  • We need to live with eternity in mind, walk by faith, and aim to please the Lord (2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:6-10).

A life filled to the brim with a crowded or misguided schedule will never allow time for the Lord to fill us to overflowing with Himself.

By far, the book that helped me understand the need to create a daily time with the Lord was Seeking Him by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Wolgemuth) and Tim Grissom; but Experiencing God by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby also built that relationship.

Notice the word “create” in each of my seven points about margin.

Be creative. Be intentional.

How can you create more spacious opportunities? Ask the Lord what would be best eliminated or pared down in your life so you will have more room to breathe and grow.

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices TodayLOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts and a writer at She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe


7 Ways to Cope with Holiday Dessert Buffets

Danna Demetre is a health coach and wellness mentor who encourages women to discover the path to freedom in lasting weight loss and health. In this Health UPGRADE—which is longer than usual, but so needed—she shares the need for a balanced eating lifestyle and ways to cope during the fat-and-sugar-laden holiday season.

"Hundreds of years ago, people had no choice but to eat food the way God created it," Danna says. "Chocolate chip cookies and corn chips weren't on His list, and the greatest extravagance probably was the occasional feast on a fatted calf."

Actually, the fatted calf sounds pretty good to me (Dawn) right now, but I need help with the Christmas fatted fudge! The truth is, I want to glorify God even in my eating (1 Corinthians 10:31), and I know He promises to "provide a way out" when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13b), so I appreciate Danna offering some "ways" the Lord might use, if we are prepared to pay attention and be proactive.

Danna continues . . .

In days past, the average person burned thousands of calories each day just surviving. Today, our fingers, using all our high-tech conveniences, get more exercise than our feet.

Now, I am not a nutritional perfectionist, although I could teach you how to be one. I just don't believe it is necessary to throw every single empty calorie out of your diet.

I have my own weaknesses. I simply love my Starbucks decaf latte with one "pump" of mocha, which I enjoy several times a week. And a small taste of something sweet after a meal is another indulgence I satisfy on occasion as well.

The key to good health and effective weight management is the frequency and amount of the compromises you allow in your daily diet.

I believe it is possible to nourish your body for excellent health and still enjoy food for pure pleasure, if done in moderation. It is a matter of balance. Try to eat as much natural food as you can as frequently as possible.

If you could actually see what is happening inside your body when you eat too much sugar, white flour and saturated fat, you would be shocked!

We need to retrain our minds and taste buds to crave and enjoy natural foods more than all the decadent snacks we have come to love.

It's pretty simple to eat right. Most of us just need to get back to the basics.

You know, all the stuff your mom used to tell you, like "Eat your friends and veggies. Drink lots of water. Go easy on the junk food."

I love what Dr. James Balch says in his book, The Super Antioxidants:

"When God created humans, He also provided all the nutrients we needed to maintain a healthy body. He did not hide those nutrients from us, and He didn't package them separately and write a book to explain exactly how each one functions. He simply put an abundance of nutrients in the foods that we would eat."

I couldn't agree more. Just take some time to ponder all the variety of foods God has created.

That doesn't mean that we can never enjoy a decadent sugary treat or calorie-laden favorite food now and then.

During the holidays, we get bombarded by lots of empty calories almost daily, and sometimes we just give up and give in until January. That's a really dangerous strategy when you realize that many women gain close to five pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year.

So what can you do?

Here are 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain.

1. Put on your bathing suit once a week during the holiday season and look in a full-length mirror.

I'm not kidding! Something about an honest reality check helps us avoid the denial that is so easy during the winter months when we're wearing heavier clothes and pretending that the extra goodies aren't being layered onto our thighs and tummies.

2. Get daily exercise.

You already know that. However, many women get so busy this time of year that they exercise less. If you added 4,000 steps per day to your activity, you can actually burn off more than 20 pounds of fat in one year.

3. Give yourself an early Christmas present and get a FitBit or other form of activity monitor.

Make it your goal to reach at least 10,000 steps per day! Wear it at the mall while you're Christmas shopping and get motivated to grab that parking space way out in the "back 40."

4. Always take a healthy treat or snack to every party or activity.

Ensure there is something you can nosh on that is satisfying and not too fattening. One of my favorites is Nearly Naked Popcornopolis Popcorn made with Coconut Oil and Sea Salt at only 130 calories for three cups.

5. Skip the eggnog and sweet drinks and opt for a sparkling cranberry drink.

It can actually boost your metabolism! You can find the one-minute recipe here.

6. Be intentional with your indulgences.

Consider every decadent piece of fudge, small shortbread cookies, or various fat-laden snacks as about 100 calories each.

Ten indulgences add up to about 1,000 calories. (No wonder we gain weight so fast this time of year!) So choose the very best from all the good and savor them slowly!

7. Practice a 'Delay Strategy" when faced with that decadent buffet table or plates overflowing with goodies.

The moment you are tempted to grab a morsel, make a decision to wait at least 10 minutes. If you still want it after the delay, go for it. Then practice another 10-minute delay before you sneak another treat. Maybe try for 20 minutes during a longer party or gathering.

During your "delay," it is really helpful to step as far away from the treats as possible.

Those who hover near the goodies usually eat more!

Did someone say healthy chocolate?

Did you know that coconut oil is not only packed with tons of nutrients that feed your body and brain, but also is a very unique fat that is immediately used by the brain and liver, and therefore does not get stored as fat if you eat too many calories? Now, that is my kind of fat!

Here is a link to the Ageless Woman "Chocolate Bliss Truffle" recipe and video from Danna and her business partner, Robyn.

(Note: Danna says you can serve them right out of the freezer, or, if they have to sit out a while, set them on a plate or dish on top of a shallow container of ice.)

The holidays are going to be full of temptations, but if you're intentional in how you choose to indulge, you don't need to gain weight this year. I highly recommend choosing one week right after Thanksgiving to remove all grain and sugar from your diet as a pre-holiday jumpstart. It will help you drop a pound or two of fat—shed excess water weight—and give a great sense of well-being that may keep you motivated through December.

No matter how many ounces or pounds you gain or lose this holiday, I wish you the most blessed and healthy celebration of Christ's birth.

Danna Demetre is a former registered nurse and fitness professional with over 30 years' experience coaching others toward healthier lifestyles. A popular conference speaker, Danna has authored several books, including Scale Down, What Happened to My Life, and The Ageless Woman Jumpstart Diet. She and her business partner, Robyn Thomson, produce weekly videos and podcasts on their website, Ageless Woman Living. You can also learn more about Danna's speaking ministry at

Graphic of tarts and hot chocolate, courtesy of Pixabay.


Nurture Your Body-Soul-Spirit Connection

Corrie Thomas is a young woman of God with compassion and the skills to meet many physical needs, but in this Health UPGRADE, she reminds us—there is a spiritual connection too.

As a trained medical professional I am always assessing my patients needs every moment of the work day,” Corrie said, “but although they come to the hospital for physical symptoms, I realize at the end of the day they all just really needed Jesus in some way or another; the only true Comforter and Healer of their body, soul, and spirit.”

I (Dawn) am so glad Corrie gets and promotes this connection. So many people focus on physical, mental and emotional needs without ever considering how the spirit might be crying out with even greater needs. Our Heavenly Father wants us to center all of our life in Jesus.

Corrie continues... 

As much as doctors and health professionals attempt to treat physical symptoms, they often miss the primary symptom of the hurting spirit: a desperate need for love, peace and meaning which can only be perfected in God Himself through the redemption and healing of Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.

Long-term feelings of loneliness, anxiety and longing can enable people to seek fulfillment in food, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. All of these substances cause a variety of debilitating issues and diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, liver failure, lung cancer, or schizophrenia.

These feelings and behaviors are toxic to the body and remind us that choices can affect our bodies in small and big ways. Even the elderly remind us of the limits of our physical bodies as we observe the aging process.

Whether you consider yourself a healthy person or not, we can all recognize the limits of our physical bodies, and those around us.

God has amazingly given us a soul (our thoughts, mentality, heart), a spirit to connect with Him, and an amazing body to do a million different functions.

Each of these facets of our being are intertwined.

Unfortunately our physical bodies do not last forever, but God says our spirit can last eternally in Him, and we can choose today to continually recognize our need for God's forgiveness, mercy, and love as we make choices to function in our earthly bodies. 

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

It is difficult sometimes to make time to nurture a strong and healthy soul, spirit and body. Most of us are very busy and our time is limited. We may even choose other “good” extracurricular responsibilities to get done, but eventually our minds and bodies start to tire out, and our spirit is depleted as we attempt to connect with God.

There are two things you can do right away to nurture your body-soul-spirit connection:

1. Pray about Connection.

A good place to start in this process is a willingness to draw near to our Lord who loves and desires us. Ask, “How can I connect with God and hear His voice today?”

Remember that Jesus, our example, often retreated away to connect with His Father.

Sometimes this "retreating" might include reading and hearing God’s written Word, or meditating on God’s characteristics. Or simply saying to God, “Help, Lord. I need You.” Maybe it’s a combination of all these things.

2. Get Moving!

While there are many fitness and nutritional plans out there that can overwhelm us, just get outside and move. It will give your body energy and help your mind focus on how to live healthy in this world. This physical activity might be walking, running, gardening or swimming.

I think these are two great places to start in pursuing healthy living as you seek to nurture a strong and healthy soul, spirit, and body.

What are you doing today to nurture your eternal spirit? How can you turn around an unhealthy physical, emotional or mental habit?

Corrie Thomas is a practicing RN who has a B.A. in Communications and a B.S. in Nursing. As a follower of Christ, she finds joy in helping her patients in practical ways and through teaching. Corrie has been actively involved in missions from the time she was in high school. In 2012, she led a team of nurses to Uganda, where the medical team met health needs and shared the love of Jesus. She is married to Mike, and as a couple they serve their community through their local church.


Four Habits to Transform Your Body and Bank Account

Transform your body and bank account? How are they related?

My friends Danna Demetre and Ellie Kay explain in their book, Lean Body, Fat Wallet, how to transform (UPGRADE!) these two key areas of life.

Danna shares in this Upgrade post: “Losing weight and keeping it off. Getting fit and staying that way. Paying off consumer debt and remaining debt free. Isn’t that what we really desire – permanent, positive change?”

Although there is only one direct scripture reference in the text, the authors' biblical worldview about these practical matters is clear and helpful. I took an advance copy of Lean Body, Fat Wallet on a cruise in October, and followed their advice. To my delight, it helped me make better choices at all the cruise buffets and souvenir stores!

Danna continues …

Spending more than we have creates debt (and stress), and eating more calories than we burn results in lots of new fat storage. Yet this knowledge is rarely enough to motivate most people to change. Simple “self-discipline” is not so simple. Experts say that it we have limits on our capacity to exert self-control too long or too often. That’s the bad news.

My co-author, Ellie Kay—America’s Family Financial Expert—and I discovered that the same things that drive us to eat too much or fall into a sedentary lifestyle also propel us to spend too much and save too little; and the practices that help us get and stay healthy are similar to those which help us manage our money more responsibly.

In Lean Body, Fat Wallet, we share four habits that can transform your body and your bank account. They are:

  • The You Are What You Think Habit
  • The 3D Habit
  • The In and Out Habit
  • The Sustainable Lifestyle Habit

Habits silently influence our emotions and behaviors as if we are running on automatic pilot. The first and most important habit of all is the “You are What You Think” habit. It is foundational to the other three—my focus for this article.

You can begin to change your bad habits by changing how you think. When the new healthy habits of the mind are coupled with effective daily practices, amazing results can be experienced.

With the advances in brain science, we now understand that in about 21 days, the neuron pathways within the brain begin to physiologically change. If an old dominant message is ignored, the neuron pathway associated with that thought begins to atrophy. If a new message is repeated day after day, it will stimulate that neuron pathway to enlarge. Amazing.

For unhealthy thoughts to lose their power, you must squelch those thoughts and replace them with new healthier ones day after day for an extended period of time.

Over twenty years ago, I became fascinated with a story I read about Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D. In his personal research about high performance athletes, he discovered some Eastern European Olympians had full-time self-talk trainers that helped them develop new messages to drive them toward optimal levels of performance.

Helmstetter decided to try this method out on his battle of the bulge. He wrote detailed scripts related to healthy eating and living and had them professionally recorded in a studio. He began listening to them every morning while he shaved. Over a 10-week period, he lost 38 pounds—and never gained them back. More amazingly, his wife who was putting her makeup on at the same bathroom counter lost 25 pounds, eavesdropping on his self-talk messages!

When I heard this story, some of the dramatic changes I’d realized in my own life—both my ability to overcome panic attacks as well as the lasting victory I’d won over emotional eating and bulimia—started to make sense. I had been practicing healthy self-talk for many years without even knowing what to label it. In my case, I replaced old destructive messages such as, “I can’t stop eating. I’m losing my mind. I’ll never lose weight,” to more constructive ones such as, “I am in control of my food choices. I can eat small amounts and be very satisfied. My mind is strong and I am not afraid.”

After one year, the panic attacks were gone. Over the next few years, I gained total victory over not only bulimic behavior, but emotional eating altogether.

You’ve probably heard and even used the cliché, “Practice makes perfect.” A more accurate observation is:  Practice makes permanent. Whatever we practice continually will become ingrained in our neuron pathways.

Many people don’t know how to implement healthy thinking in a practical, time-efficient way. The four simple steps below are a great place to start to build a new, strong and positive habit.

1. Identify the lies you believe. (Follow the trail of persistent negative emotions.)

2. Take your negative thoughts captive. (Stop dwelling on them.)

3. Construct new healthy self-talk to counteract the lies. (It is well worth the effort.)

4. Repeat your healthy self-talk until new, dominant thoughts form—day after day after day.

What new habit do YOU want to build today?

Note: Have you considered what habit change would most transform your body or bank account? Leave a comment here, or on the Upgrade Facebook page to be entered into a DRAWING for Danna and Ellie’s new book, Lean Body, Fat Wallet (an advance reader’s copy). Drawing on November 18.

Danna Demetre is a former registered nurse and fitness professional with over thirty years experience coaching others toward healthier lifestyles. She’s a popular conference speaker, former health radio host and the author of several books to include Scale Down. You can learn more about her latest book, Lean Body, Fat Wallet at: