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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net>

Prayer-School Course #31

Thoughts From Teresa

By Teresa Seputis

Lesson 7
My Eating And Workout Strategy

I hope you are not getting tired of this topic. I don't intend for this teaching series to be abouy diet, but I have had so many email questions about my "diet" (or eating strategy), that I thought I should share it.

The Lord helped me to develop an eating strategy in response to a health problem I was having. My cholesterol had gotten dangerously high and my doctor wanted to put me on medicine, but I did not want to do that. In addition, God had been sort of nagging me to get in better shape. So when I brought my cholesterol problem to Him, He told me that if I wanted to get better then I had to get my body in better shape. God told me that He was not going to heal me, but that if I changed to a healthy/fit lifestyle, the problem would go away.

So I began to pray for wisdom and I began to do research on the internet and look at what all the different experts had to say about controlling cholesterol. The results were not very encouraging at first. For one thing, the experts did not agree at all and seemed to contradict each other in many areas, including how much cholesterol I could have in my eating each day. So I began asking God for divine wisdom of how I should eat and what parts of my internet research I should pay attention to.

Once God gave me that clarity, so I began my new "eating lifestyle." But God still was not satisfied. It was not enough to simply change my eating, God wanted me to exercise as well. I through I was a reasonably active person because I walked about 1 to 1.5 miles a day, 4 to 5 days a week. I thought that was adequate exercise, so I was quite shocked when God told me to join a gym. I told Him I could not afford it, so He even led me to this program that provided free gym access for 8 weeks, called the National Body Challenge. I did not have any excuses left, so I had to obey.

I signed up for the Challenge and went to Ballys Gym with my free 8 week pass. They had this promotional going that worked out to about $24 a month for 3 years if you paid the entire amount up front. God told me to take that package, so I did. I ended up purchasing a membership before I ever worked out there even once. I asked God why He told me to do it that way and He replied that the gym was to become part of my daily routine, and I was more likely to stay committed if I'd already paid for it. (By the Way, He was right. God knows me and how I think!)

The plan that God has for me might not be the best plan for you. Your body might have different needs than mine. But I want to share the plan that God helped me to come up with. I don't view this as a "diet" to stay on until I reach some weight goal, but as a permanent change in how I eat. The total number of calories per day will increase to however many calories I need to maintain once I loose all my weight. But they types of food I eat won't change.

My Eating Strategy

In my case, God told me to go with a nutritionally balanced and low-fat strategy. Instead of a specific number of calories per day, God gave me a range to shoot for. I was not to go below 1,000 calories a day and I was to try to stay under 1300 a day. (Some expert say you should not go below 1200 a day, but other experts say it is safe/ok to have as few as 1000 calories per day if you are careful to eat nutritious calories.)

Of those 1000-1300 daily calories, I have at least 2 whole grains (things like oatmeal, Oraweat 12 grain bread, etc) a day. I also have at least 2 fruit a day. My favorites include fresh bananas and frozen blueberries. I also have at least two vegetables a day -- not salad but real vegetables ... usually fresh and steamed. I also try to have 2 fat-free milk products a day, such as skim milk (in cereal or in a cafe au lait), fat-free yogurt, fat-free cheese. And I have protein every day.. usually from soy but sometimes from fish or turkey or chicken. I also allow myself some sugar-free candy each day because I have a bit of a sweet tooth.

My nutrition guidelines are:

1000 to 1300. (I have occasional days where I go under 1000 or over 1300, but my average for the week stays in that range.)
max of 20 grams a day (14% of my daily calories)
22 to 25 per cent of my calories or 71 to 81 grams
61-64 per cent of my calories or 198 to 208 grams
Max of 100 grams per day, but I usually intake 10 to 25 grams.
64 ounces a day.

Also, various experts said that certain foods help lower cholesterol, so I tend to try to eat these as often as possible. They include:

I view these a guidelines, not as strict rules. There have been days where I was hungrier, so I eat more than 1300 calories. In fact, one day I was so hungry that I at 1900 healthy calories. There have also be days where I just was not hungry and did not get my whole 1000 calories in. Some days I exceed my protein allowance but stay within my calorie count. Other days I exceed my fat allowance but stay within my calorie count. But on the average, I have stayed between 1000 and 1300 calories and have the above percentages of fat, protein and carbohydrates.

Here is what that looks like in terms of the foods I frequently eat...

One of my favorite breakfast foods is Trader Joe's Oatmeal Complete, which is soy protein fortified oatmeal. It is much more filling/satisfying than regular oatmeal. It is sugar free and has 150 calories per package. I usually sweeten it with 2 packets of Splenda, but sugar free maple syrup is also good in it.

Go Lean cereal with fat-free milk is another good breakfast food. It is filling and satisfying and only 185 calories for a serving. The cereal has 13 grams soy protein and 10 grams fiber and only 1 gram fat. The 1/2 cup of skim milk adds another 3 or 4 grams protein, so it is a high protein meal. In addition, the fiber in it is filling. The only drawback is that you have to get used to the taste. It doesn't taste that great at first, but it grows on you after 3 or 4 bowls and eventually it starts to taste good to you.

Another good breakfast is the egg whites (you buy them in a carton) mixed with fat-free cheese and maybe some chunky salsa or some fresh vegetables. I love grated carrots and grated zucchini my omelets, but it is a bit of work to grate the veggies. One cup (using a measuring cup) of this egg white is 120 calories and 24 grams of protein and is cholesterol free. You can add 2 slices of Kraft fat-free cheese for an additional 60 calories (be sure to break the cheese into small pieces so it melts evenly in the eggs). If you want you can add a little fat-free milk to make it more watery (I personally don't do that). The plain cheese breakfast omelet I usually is only 180-190 calories, depending on whether or not I add veggies to it.

I also eat lots of different types of steamed veggies. I got a rice cooker and a vegetable steamer tray (the foldable kind available at grocery stores for steaming veggies). I put that in the rice cooker and put about an inch of water in it, and I use that to steam my vegetables. I steam things like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, squash, snow peas, bell pepper (red and orange bell peppers add great color). I steam each type of vegetable separate (because each type requires a different amount of time to cook just right), then I mix them together. It takes over an hour to steam up a large bowl of mixed veggies, but that will usually last me almost a week. I just dish out 6 to 7 oz servings anytime I want one, and heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes. It is fast and easy.

You can make different combinations of veggies for different meals, so you get variety each day. Let me share two of my favorite steamed veggie mixes. Mix 1 (55 calories per 6 oz serving): broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, snow peas. Mix 2 (48 calories per 6 oz serving): broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, red bell pepper and snow peaks. A 6 ounce serving of these veggies tends to be pretty filling and satisfying. If you can't stand the taste of the plain veggies, you can use any type of fat-free salad dressing as a glaze (at it when they are still hot just out of the steamer) or you can use salsa as a mix for the veggies, but realize that adds about 15 calories per serving.

Occasionally I have baked potatoes or sweet potatoes. There are things like low calorie spreads and fat-free sour cream that you can use on the potatoes. However, be sure to get at least 1 serving of green vegetables on the days you eat potatoes, because potatoes are a starchy vegetable, not a green one.

Fruits.. lots of fruits. Most people like things like apples and oranges, but not me. Oranges are too much work to peal and I don't like the taste of most apples. I do like bananas And then there are always the fresh fruits that are in season at certain times of the year at a reasonable price. I frequently have 3 fruit servings a day, sometimes 4 and sometimes only 2.

I tend towards frozen fruits because they are cheaper than fresh. The brand Big Valley (available at Costco and most grocery stores) sells frozen mixed fruit -- peaches, pineapple, grapes, strawberries and one other fruit. Each serving is only 60 calories. You just take the fruit out in the morning and put it in a bowl and leave it on the counter, and it is thawed and tasty for lunch.

There are also other frozen fruits that are actually yummy to eat frozen. My absolute favorite is frozen blueberries, which taste like little balls of blueberry flavored sherbet. Each serving is only 70 calories. And there is a berry mix this is also quite good frozen: blueberries, boysenberries and raspberries. (By the way, you can get creative and mix fruit and fat-free yogurt together to create a tasty "sauce" for the fruit.)

Breads... despite popular diet fads, breads are not the enemy -- providing you eat whole grain breads. But stay away from white breads, sour doe French breads and other baked products made from white flour. My personal favorite bread is Oraweat 12 Grain Bread. Each slice is 110 calories and loaded with all sorts of whole grains. I seldom eat any other type of bread, though Healthnut bread is also very tasty. If I have a soy hamburger, I toast the 12-grain bread and use it instead of a bun. Sometimes I melt fat-free cheese on the bread and eat it as an open faced sandwich. Sometimes I have it as toast (with low-calorie cholesterol-free spread instead of butter). I usually have at least 1 or 2 pieces of bread unless I eat a lot of oatmeal that day.

Protein -- I mostly have soy protein because I am really limiting my cholesterol. Most of the time that comes as a Boca Burger (a soy hamburger substitute) or in soy-protein fortified cereals. I like the taste of Boca Burgers better than the popular Veggie Burgers, and I prefer the Big Boca Burgers, which are 1/3 larger than the regular size. I eat them like a hamburger: cook in the microwave and put between two pieces of toast, also add lettuce and tomato and 1 tbs of Fat Free Ranch salad dressing. That burger is about 350 calories. Sometimes I eat them without bread and just melt some fat-free cheddar cheese on top. Other times I put a little bit of soy sauce on top and eat them plain, sort of like a sausage with eggs.

In addition to the soy protein, I sometimes eat fish or chicken or turkey. If you are not trying to control your cholesterol, then you would probably prefer the fish/chicken/turkey to soy protein. Also, I just discovered something yesterday called Trident Salmon Burgers. They are 4 oz of Salmon with some seasoning in there. Each salmon burger is 180 calories and 40 mg cholesterol, and they are really tasty and easy to prepare.

For snacks I usually use dry cereal and occasionally low fat popcorn. If you eat 25 grams of Honey Nut Cheerios, that is only 100 calories. I have a little kitchen scale, and I pre-measure several 25 gram baggies of Honey Nut Cheerios, then I grab one when I want a snack. They are easy/fast and taste good when you eat them dry. You could do the same thing with granola.. add a little dried fruit or raisons and you have trail mix. On those days where I find myself really carving fat, then I spread peanut butter over a few low-fat Ritz crackers. (If you don't like the taste of the low fat Ritz, you could do it over regular Ritz crackers. They taste better but they also have more calories.) But be careful not to use too much peanut butter, as 2 tbs is 180 calories.

There is another snack. I haven't tried them yet, but I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who told me that frozen peas (eaten frozen) are another great snack for a hot day.

I have three primary sweets... decaf coffee with fat-free Half and Half (1 tbs) and 2 packets of Splenda to sweeten it. I usually have one of those a day. The fat-free half and half is only 10 calories and 2 mg of cholesterol. I also allow myself 1 package of Carbolite Candy Coated Chocolates a day. These are a sugar-free version of chocolate M&Ms that were developed for the Atkins diet. They are tasty and each packet has 100 calories and 5 mg cholesterol and 6 grams fat. Most days I only have 1 packet, but when the sweet tooth really kicks in then I have 2.

The other sweet I developed is my own invention that is sort of a substitute for cream puffs. I take 5 low-fat Ritz crackers and dab a little 0 Carb whip cream on top of each one. The crackers are 70 calorie and I use two servings of whip cream spread over the 5 crackers, which is another 40 calories. They kind of taste a bit like cream puffs, and 5 of them is 10 mg cholesterol and 110 calories.

There are other assorted foods that I eat from time to time... carrot or vegetable juice, orange juice, very small quantities of some pasta dish that everyone else is having, etc. In general I try to stay away from sugar-free soda and drink carbonated water instead. I probably have about 1 can of sugar-free water every 10 days, or about 3 a month.

There are some foods that I stay away from -- even in small quantities. That includes any non-sugar-free-sweet, white flour products, and red meats and most empty calories. I occasionally have nuts, but they are really dangerous for me because just a handful is about 200 calories and a lot of fat, and who can limit themselves to just one handful?

Let me say a little about water. Water is important to good health, assuming you don't have a kidney condition. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water (8 glasses) is important. It helps your complexion and it helps your weight loss and it helps your muscles stay healthy by flushing out toxins. I know it sounds crazy, but the more water you drink, the less water you retain (except for certain health conditions like kidney problems). If your body thinks there is a water shortage, then it clings to water as much as possible (e.g., water retention). But when there is an ample supply of water passing through your system each day, then your body thinks there is plenty and won't try as hard to retain it. (If you do have a problem with water retention when you drink the recommended 64+ ounces of water, then you might want to look at your sodium (salt) intake. Sodium is hidden in a lot of foods, so even if you don't use salt as a seasoning, you still might need to eat less sodium.)

When you eat smart, you will be amazed at how much you can eat for 1000 to 1300 calories. You should not go hungry on this diet if you drink your water -- it should be satisfying. If you do feel hungry all the time after the first day or two, then you need to up your calorie count. I am told that the many people loose effectively in the range of 1200 to 1500 calories per day. So if you are hungry at 1000 to 1300, try 1200 to 1500. If that is still not enough food for you, then try 1300 to 1600, etc. You will know when you are in taking too many calories because you will stop loosing weight. But you should not go hungry all the time in the process of weight loss, that will make you want to binge later on.

In short, your diet needs to be "doable" or you won't do it for very long.

My Exercise Strategy

I work out either 5 or 6 days a week. My typical workout is at a gym and it usually takes me about 90 minutes. I have two different types of workouts that I alternate between. One is my cardio workout and the other is my strength building workout. Most people probably won't want to exercise as much as I do. They say you should do it a minimum of every other day -- which means one week you exercise 4 days and the next week you exercise 3. Your weekly exercise should include three components: cardio (works the heart and respiratory system and reduces fat), strength building (builds new muscle and tones existing muscle) and flexibility (stretching). I have all three elements in both of my workouts, but one workout emphasizes cardio and the other emphasizes strength building.


Sometimes I use the stair climber or elliptical, but most of the time I do my entire cardio workout out the treadmill. I put it on manual instead of using one of their programs. The first 5 to 7 minutes, I just do a nice slow/easy pace to warm up. Then I begin doing what is called interval training, where I do short intense intervals followed by short easier intervals to let my body rest a bit. I vary both speed and incline on the treadmill. I have been doing this for a while now, so I am up to the max incline and a speed of 3.8 mph during my most intense interval.

I use 5 minutes intervals -- I really push myself for 5 minutes then I do 5 minutes that are easier and I repeat that cycle 10 times. (Some experts say your easy interval should be shorter than your hard interval and recommend 3-4 minutes of hard followed by 1-2 of easier. I might switch to that some day, but for now I am happy with 5 minutes of hard followed by 5 of easy).

At the end of my 1 hour workout, I do about 8 minutes of cool down on the treadmill. This is where you decrease the speed and intensity every 60 seconds so that by the end of the cool down period you heart rate is not fast and you are not breathing hard or sweating any more. The treadmills at my gym do an automatic 5 minute cool down at the end of your workout, but I often increase the cool down period to anywhere between 6 to 9 minutes, so that I feel really good/rested when I step off the machine. My total time on the treadmill is roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes: (7 minute warm-up, 60 minute workout and 8 minute cool down).

Then I do about 5 to 10 minutes of ab work (tighten my stomach) and then I stretch for about 10-12 minutes. Stretching at the end of your workout is very important. It helps shape your body properly and it also keeps you from being sore the next day. In addition, it feels really good when you do the stretching after you have exercised and you are still warm. Never wait to cool down before you stretch, do it while you are still warmed up from the exercise as that feels best and is also best for the muscles.


I start my strength building workout with about 10 minutes of cardio to warm up my muscles and get them ready to work safely. This is either the treadmill or the stair climber or maybe running in place or using a a jazzercise step or doing things like jumping jacks, etc. It gets the heart rate up and gets the blood flowing to the muscles.

My actual strength building routine varies from week to week. I am told that if you do precisely the same workout week after week, you body gets used to it and you won't get as good of a workout. This week I am working on my thighs, quads, rear and stomach (e.g., abs and obliques). Some weeks I focus on my upper body.. chest, back, shoulders, triceps. Other weeks I do the general body workout that this all the major muscle groups but does not stay on any one group very long. Personally I prefer to do my strength training on the weight machines (not free weights or dumbbells or exercise balls) and some are exercises I do on the mats. If you decide to use weight equipment or free weights then invest in a trainer to show you how to use the machines safely. You can probably learn what you need to know in 3 sessions if you pay careful attention and ask questions about how to set up the machine and when to breathe in/out, what how many reps and sets to do at what weight, and any general technique stuff you need to know.

I usually strength build on the machines for about 50 minutes. Now, the very nature if strength building is that you spend more time resting than you do working. A set usually takes less than a minute and I usually do 3 sets on each machine. You need to rest about 45 to 60 seconds between sets and they recommend you rest 1.5 minutes before you start on a new machine. But during the time when you are working, you are really working hard. Normally a set has about 10 to 15 reps and if you are at the right weights, those last 3 or 4 reps are pretty hard. But do them anyhow, even if you make funny sound effects while doing them... because that hard part at the end is where the real value of strength training comes it.. it is where you are pushing your muscles to be stronger. But at the same time, you don't want to use too much weight (the first 3 or 4 reps should be fairly easy) or you can hurt yourself. That is why it is a really good idea to do your first few sessions with a trainer to make sure you are working at the right level and safely. When I am working, I really feel like I am working, but within 30 seconds of when I stop, I feel pretty good. And I am not usually sore after the work out or the next day.

After the workout on the weight machines, I usually do about 15 to 20 minutes on the thread mill and then I stretch for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Ideally I alternate between days of strength workout and days of cardio workout, going to the gym 5 to 6 days a week. Occasionally I have weeks where I only work out 4 days.

My Results

I have been doing this for about 7 weeks now, and so far I have lost 18 lbs. In addition, I am feeing great and have more energy and I am going great spiritually. And it is not hard to stay on this program, because I am not hungry and I don't get cravings for certain types of foods that I am not allowed to eat. That is part of why I like this eating program so much -- it doesn't require will power. It is easy to do.

I may make adjustments to my eating or exercise over time, but for now what I am doing seems to be working well for me so I plan to stick with it until there is some reason to make changes.

I don't know if all this is actually lowering my cholesterol, because I haven't had a blood test since early December. I am scheduled to have my next test in about 3 weeks and I will know more about the cholesterol after that. But even if this doesn't lower cholesterol, it is working well for me weight wise and energy wise and the Lord seems to be pleased with what I am doing.

Anyhow, I wanted to share my program with you because so many people have been asking me about it. My program is not the only good program out there, it is just the one that works best for me. So please pray about it and discuss things with God and then select the program that works best for you.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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