365 DAYS to Transform Your Life

IN OUR STRUGGLE WITH FOOD AND WEIGHT, TIME IS EITHER OUR FRIEND OR FOE, EVERY DAY COUNTS. Just think how quickly your next birthday or next Christmas keeps rolling around, while you still find yourself stuck.

All the promises that you can lose 20 pounds in 7 days are just not true. Even if you find that “perfect” diet and lose 20 pounds in 30 days, it’s bound to backfire, leaving you with more weight in the end and an even slower metabolism.


I have been at that place where NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK more times than I can count. Even after I dealt with many of my issues, I kept looking for ways to lose the extra weight I’ve gained over the years. It was a constant battle because after years of dieting my body was not doing quite what it was supposed to.

So I took up the challenge that I set before many ladies in my small groups and the ladies who joined my online membership site: GIVE IT ONE YEAR – 365 DAYS OF HEALTHY HABITS.

Now this way of eating has absolutely nothing to do with FOLLOWING A DIET.

It’s about changing your life, and especially your health,  by consistently eating healthy EVERY DAY FOR ONE YEAR. It’s especially about making up your mind to not be sidetrack by SLOW OR NO WEIGHT LOSS, STRESS, SICKNESS, HOLIDAYS, RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS, AND A BUSY LIFE. These things are difficult, but I’m afraid it’s part of life, so you can not let it become your excuse. During this year it is crucial to COMMIT to eat healthy NO MATTER WHAT CONSISTENTLY.

Of course I knew this would benefit me, and sure enough, it did. I lost weight, slowly, but the pounds kept coming off. Also, it was such a relief to be rid of the ever-present anxiety of “I messed up” or “I better eat all I can tonight because my diet will start tomorrow”. I had a year so I had time to recover from slip-ups.

Other benefits caught me entirely by surprise. After eating vegetables with lean meats and fruit as the main course of every meal for about six months, I realized that while people around me got colds and illnesses, I didn’t. This was huge. We have a big family, and as the mom, I always got sick alongside my “patients,” but not anymore.

Also, cravings all but vanished. Not in my wildest dreams would I ever have guessed that there would come a day that I would NOT WANT CAKE. After eating fruit often for months, I stopped craving sweets. So yes, sometimes I still eat sweets, and there had been times when I got myself into a bind and had to go through a time of resisting again, but my body is now working with me not sabotaging me. Getting up after a short relapse is so much easier because for the most part (at least 80% of the time) I eat healthily. Please note: You can fool others and even yourself, but you can not trick your body. If the food you eat is not truly healthy and in it’s purest form, I’m afraid nothing will change.

I also picked up the challenge to exercise CONSISTENTLY for one year. Not the kind of exercise where you work out like a maniac for three days and then take a break for three months (been there, done that). No, instead, the kind where you exercise 4 to 5 times a week, NEVER MIND WHAT HAPPENS AND NEVER MIND HOW MEDIOCRE THE EFFORT.

I agree that merely strolling forever will not help much, but it is the consistency that changes your life. After six months, I was excited to start doing more. Who would have thought that I would actually like exercise? However, this would never have happened if I didn’t first make it a part of my life. Make no mistake I felt sorry for myself EVERY DAY FOR THE FIRST THREE MONTHS, and I had to call out to God every day to help me.

Also, consistency in your Spiritual life WILL TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE: I always thought that this “pray-and-read-your-Bible” every day was just a legalistic thing that we don’t have to obey. It turns out, we don’t have to, but “eating” spiritual food can also transform our lives. Sure it might not feel good at first, and it might get “boring” after a month or so, but if you keep at it you will not believe what it will add to your life.

Every day the enemy, the world and the people around us pin “things” to our lives. We get saddled with stress, loneliness, pride, responsibilities, and temptations. Imagine yourself walking around with those things, and getting more piled on for a month or a year without being washed by the water of the Word or letting Jesus heal your broken heart with His Word and by his Spirit. It’s unhealthy, like eating junk food for a year. It clogs your spiritual arteries, and it leaves you depleted and sick. TIME IN GOD’S PRESENCE AND IN HIS WORD IT’S NOT FOR GOD’S BENEFIT, IT’S FOR US.

Eating healthy, exercising and most importantly, spending time in God’s presence are gifts that He gave us. However, the enemy blinds our eyes and the eyes of the people around us so that we believe those gifts are burdens.



TODAY CAN BE THE FIRST DAY OF YOUR 365 DAYS.  If I could do it, so can you. I’m just another girl like you with a lot of issues and a lifetime of struggling with food, but we have an awesome God.

Want Freedom? Fight for it!

So last week I had writer’s block… or so I thought…
I couldn’t write anything decent. Honestly, sometimes I’m just lazy, but this was not one of those times. I seriously felt unable to type a single sentence.

I knew that all you amazing ladies would forgive me for not writing, but it was a little more complicated than that. See, I am finishing up an ebook. Yes, the one about surrender that I promised you guys months ago! Also the one that was done a year ago, and the same one God has been laying on my heart to finish ever since. So I finally got it edited, and was just suppose to make a few last minute changes as recommended by my editor. But I had nothing…

And then, as if this was not enough, life came crashing down: Sick kids, problems at my husband’s job, computer hick-ups (not good if you have online businesses) and a few emails from “well meaning people” that made me doubt my own sanity …

I couldn’t understand why I felt so overwhelmed. Why didn’t I have any peace? Could I possibly be slipping? This could not be happening!

Now I have to admit that I briefly turned to a candy bar (only one, thank you Jesus!). After that I had a talk with myself: “Now come on Heleen, you should know better! What do you always tell your friends? Okay, stay calm, think! Of course, I have to get back to my program… ”

So for two days and two nights I scanned my program. I anxiously flipped through the Bible. I listened to Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer and all the other ladies of wisdom that I knew. Nothing. My peace was really gone!

Next I started talking to people: My husband pretended to listen to my strange rantings and my friends nodded sympathetically. Still, nothing! No major words of wisdom, and no revelation. I was not binging (yet) but I felt stuck and my anxiety escalated as the problems and relationship issues around me multiplied.

I’m sure you can see what went wrong, but I couldn’t see it for the life of me: I DID NOT TURN TO GOD!

When I finally connected the dots, I prepared myself for a long talk with the only ONE that can help me. I made sure the kids were otherwise occupied. I stretched myself out on my bedroom carpet, a box of Kleenex next to my right ear and my open Bible by the left ear. I waited…

“It’s the Devil”

Just that! No big revelation. No long heart-to-heart that makes me cry off all my make-up. All this time it was enemy attacks and I couldn’t see it?

When I got over my initial shock I saw it as clear as day. Indeed, the enemy knew I had to finish this. He also knows that PROCRASTINATION is the opposite of CONSISTENCY, something God has been teaching me in order for me to stay out of bondage!

In the past I would just PROCRASTINATE as a way of life, but since God has been showing me how crucial CONSISTENCY is, I tend to resist the urge to procrastinate. So the enemy knew he had to work a little harder, throw some pebbles and boulders in my path to wear me out and hurt my feeling. Sure enough, that did it.

I realized that my mistake was not in getting discouraged when all this trouble came my way. My mistake was in trying to fix it myself. As always God is teaching me to give up control and cling to Him. He has the answers, all of them, for every season of my life.

This time it was as simple as looking beyond human behavior and seeing the enemy’s evil scheme. I was reminded of Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (NIV)

Just having my eyes opened to the truth immediately set me free from the load of depression and anxiety. I got up from my face, rebuked the enemy and started praising God. Our amazing, loving God, the God of all Eternity who holds the universe in His hands, and is on our side! I was so relieved to realize, once again, that I don’t have to fear, He is in control.

Peace came flooding in and my fingers started typing, and you are reading the result of that peace right now:)

So I’m off to finish that book, no matter what. Please pray for me as I am praying for you that you will not be fooled by the enemy’s schemes but that you will take up your armor and rise up, Mighty Warrior Princess!

Fend off the 4pm Munchies

I battled the 4pm munchies for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried many things to fend it off, but in the end the best advise I got was to just go with it. Not go with it as in give in to visions of chocolate and french fries, but rather go with my body’s natural inclination to want food that time of day.

When it comes to eating at certain times, I found that eating six small meals a day and listening to my body’s natural clues works by far the best for me. It helps even out my energy levels, make me perform at my best and prevent overeating. I’ve tried skimming on snacks to loose extra pounds for years, but somehow it always turned on me: Never mind how big a plate of food I had at lunch time, by 4pm I would be wrestling with my cravings.

Now, I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve heard this same complaint from my working friends. A dear friend informs me that she hits the vending machine, every day, promptly at 4pm. What baffles her is that her days always go so great at first: Cereal for breakfast, sub sandwich or salad for lunch, and then boom! round about 4pm she throws all caution in the wind, head for the vending machine and gobble up a few candy bars.

For some of us who work from home the munchies can be ever so real. Never mind what you’re working on, being it the never ending laundry, lovin’ on those little ones, or typing away at your laptop, you are not immune.

The smart people tell me that it is important for our health and mental well being to keep our energy level steady. This can truly only be achieved by eating small amounts of healthy food, frequently. So diets, starvation, binging and overeating all sends us on a roller coaster ride that will put Six Flags to shame. Energy levels go up and come crashing down, emotions fly all over the place and our health is in serious danger.

So maybe you want to join me and “go with it” for a while. Follow your body’s signals, be ready for those 4pm munchies with snack that you love but that can also help to even out your energy level.

My favorite 4pm snack for the last few months has been my own version of Tiramisu. I pour a little bit of fresh decaf coffee in a fancy bowl, add some granola (the good kind made with oats and honey) add a few pecan nuts, a dollop of low fat vanilla yogurt, and on a special day, a squirt of light whipped cream. I sit down, put my feet up and give in to the 4pm munchies, and what do you know, afterward I can actually fold some laundry, type a blog, help with some high school math (not really) or jump trampoline with my two little “bundles of energy” before dinner!

Here’s a few Tips for you


1. Try drinking water, you might just be dehydrated

2. Get moving! Exercise is another great source of energy, and you might just be bored or in need of some fresh air. Going to the gym at 4pm actually helped me overcome huge carb cravings for a season

3. Make sure that you add enough lean protein and whole grain to your lunch meal, otherwise you will be starving just a couple of hours afterward

4. Check yourself to see if something upset you or made you anxious. Try lying on your bed or sitting in your favorite chair with music on. Talk to God or just wait in His presence. Your craving might have nothing to do with hunger after all

5. If this keeps happening every day, wise up, your body might need nutrition that time of day. Rather plan ahead to have a light mid-afternoon meal daily, this will put you at ease and prevent overeating at lunch time

6. You might simply be exhausted and a power nap (15-20 minutes of sleep) will perk you right up!

7. Make sure you really need to eat something, wait a few minutes, do something else that consume your thoughts, such as reading, talking to a friend or taking a long bath. The urge to nibble might just vanish!


1. Go grocery shopping when you have the munchies

2. Watch mid-afternoon TV. All the food commercials WILL bring on more cravings!

3. Eat a snack high in sugar, salt and fat. This will not satisfy you but rather increase your cravings and keep you grazing until bedtime (believe me, I know)

4. Move in the direction of the vending machine when the clock strikes 4!


Fresh or dried fruit
Low fat granola bar
Slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter and sliced banana! Yum!
Cereal with low fat milk
Vegetable/Bean soup
Pretzels and low fat string cheese
Low fat popcorn and a handful of nuts
Pitta bread with hummus

IF ALL ELSE FAILS TURN TO: Heleen’s Special “Tiramisu”

Alien Alone…

I’m sorry, but I can not, for the life of me, seem to put a “chipper” post together this week. I thought it best to not blog at all, but then I thought about all you amazing ladies who read my blog and that some of you probably have broken hearts right this minute that far outrank my own.

Honestly, I’m just too sad to pick myself up by the bootstraps (I’m wearing flip-flops anyway) My heart is still strapped to the picture of my Mom’s sad face, looking back at me one last time before she disappeared through the gate to board her plane back to South Africa. It was an emotional good-bye with lots of shattered hopes and unfinished business. I felt so helpless. I couldn’t fix anything! This girl, the self proclaimed “maker of plans”, couldn’t do a thing!

After ten years in America, I’m still not used to the goodbyes. The sight of an airplane and the smell of the airport still makes my stomach turn. Too many tears have been shed in that spot, always with the knowing that years will pass, our toddlers will be teenagers, and we will all be much older next time we meet. To be an alien in a different country usually means to be cut off from your loved ones. When you leave there are always promises and expectations of many visits, but you soon realize that it was just a dream. The reality: They are on the other side of the world, it’s expensive, it’s difficult to get a travel visa, and travel is not always easy or even possible.

After we dropped my Mom off I felt so alone… I wandered through the house aimlessly, and then I started crying, for one week straight! I cried every time I made tea in the polka dot tea mugs she bought me, I cried when I put a sundress on my little girl (a gift from grandma), and I cried once more when my nine year old said “Ouma gave me this camera Mom, I will treasure it forever”

Please understand, I’m so grateful my mom is still alive! I am so thankful that we can still skype and email, but it’s the hugs I will miss the most, and the smell of her perfume that still lingers in our home, and especially the picture of her holding my kids…

Goodbye would have been sad enough, but we all had a dream of having a family member in our lives after ten years of being “aliens alone”. When we said goodbye to my Mom that dream was shattered. For a short while we felt again the joy of having a grandma that would come to birthday parties, a grandma who would makes surprise visits, and a grandma who sees and believes only the best about her grand kids. Now that dream was gone, and my heart was bleeding for us, but more so for her…

Now of course I wrestled with God about this. Didn’t I beg him for a miracle for more than ten years? Couldn’t he have made me stronger? Couldn’t I have done more? Couldn’t He have turned defeat into a victory? I wasn’t really angry, just so broken…

Moving to a different country is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. Even if the people are as friendly as you guys, and the country is safe and wonderful, it’s just not yours and it’s just not familiar. Everything you ever accomplished in your life doesn’t matter, because it was done in a different language, in a different way, and it had different value. You feel as if you have just been born, and for many years you’re not sure what to do and where you belong…

So two days ago my eye caught a passage God used to bring healing to my heart when I was a brand new “alien” in this country. It’s in Isaiah 6 and it talks about how Isaiah saw the Lord, in all His majesty and glory, in the year that king Uzziah died. Beth Moore calls it “the passing of the King” or in my case “the passing of a dream” and how it can be a time to see God’s glory and get to know Him in a whole new way.

I cried so hard I’m sure the neighbors heard me! Here I was, at those crossroads again, and I had to choose. In the words of Beth “Will this hurt to hurt, or hurt to heal?” I want it to not just hurt this bad for nothing, but as the dream died in my heart, I begged God to bring life out of it. I am still asking Him to show Himself to me and my mom again, and draw us a little bit closer to His heart.

And then yesterday, there was an email from a brand new friend I’ve made in Houston Texas. She encouraged me to listen to Hillsong’s Desert Song on Youtube. Thanks so much Denni! While listening to that song, I felt it… the tug of His hand, pulling me closer to His tender heart of love once again…

Are you hurting today? Is your heart broken? Are you grieving the loss of something or someone? I’m so sorry… I wish I had something eloquent to say to you. But if I could, I would hug you and tell you:  “Hide, sweet sister, hide under the everlasting wing! He will turn your mourning into dancing again…”

Lots of love, Heleen

A picture of me and my Mom, many moons ago!

PS: I’m sure you would like to know how all of this affected me in the food area: I am glad to report that there were no midnight runs to KFC, Dairy queen or Krispy Creams. I am so grateful to God that He kept me on my knees with only a stack of kleenex between us. My lowest moment (food wise) was when I stole a handful of Cheetos from a stranger! Okay, it was my husband, but I couldn’t recognize him through the tears.

Seriously, if you struggle with food, you know that this was not a little thing for me, but rather a huge victory over the enemy!