Spring 2020/ Interview with Deborah Liter

NCHE: Deborah, you’re a pastor’s wife, a homeschooling mom to four, and you work from home. Tell us a little about yourself.
I love my family. They are my favorite people! I’m a certified coach for an online health and wellness program called FASTer Way to Fat Loss. Currently I’m working toward a certification to become an integrative health practitioner. I also make small batch coconut/soy wax candles under my brand name, Nook & Sash. Once a month, I serve alongside my husband on our church worship team. I have a heart for missions. I love reading, traveling, art, coffee, fitness, good food, and dogs.

NCHE: So, have you just always been a health and fitness guru? Is there really hope for people to be healthy and in shape even if they were never athletic or active earlier in life?
I have always been interested in maintaining my health and finding ways to optimize the health of my family. Up until about five years ago, my focus on fitness was very on again, off again, jumping from one thing to another. I was not very consistent, although desired to be fit. I just didn’t know how to get there. Absolutely there is hope! At forty-eight, I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m not talking about being thin. I mean that I have energy and strength that I didn’t have when I was in my thirties. It is never too late to start incorporating healthy habits. I have clients in their sixties and seventies doing so well! You start where you are and do what you can. Having a clearly laid out plan is helpful, but even just making it your goal to sit less throughout your day, or to drink more water will move you in the right direction.

NCHE: What are the staples in your pantry and fridge?
Low sugar nut butters, quinoa, brown rice pasta, monkfruit sweetener, coconut aminos, coconut milk, olive/avocado/coconut oils, oat milk, fresh green beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, salmon/mahi, chicken, Lily’s chocolate, Maldon salt flakes, good coffee!

NCHE: How can parents help set positive examples for their children in caring for their bodies?
Parents can model healthy habits. Prioritize moving your body and getting outside in nature as much as possible. Prepare meals based on whole foods (food that comes from the ground or had a mother). Try to minimize junk food, but it’s okay to enjoy treats. It is not a good idea to demonize any food or glorify physical esthetics. Choosing a healthy lifestyle allows you to show up in your life with energy and allows you to do all that you’ve been called to do in the best way possible. Our bodies are a gift and are meant to be used to bring glory to the Lord. Many things regarding our health are out of our control, but things like what we choose to eat and how we take care of our bodies is well within our control. Taking care of our health is one way we honor the Lord.

NCHE: Why is paying attention to diet and exercise so hard for parents?
There is so much info out there, and it’s often hard to know where to begin. We all lead busy lives, and it’s easy to do what’s convenient in the moment to get bellies filled. Drive-thru windows are cheap, quick and require no thought. It takes some planning and focus to prioritize a healthy lifestyle. We should view our health and the health of our family as an investment, not an expense.

NCHE: Do teenagers really need to eat more?
I think teens need to be eating better quality food. Because they are growing and active, they will have times of being hungrier. Providing good food options at home is important so that they are not always having to drive-thru. Of course, by the time they are teens, they should know how to make basic healthy recipes. Teach your kids to cook from a young age! Most kids really enjoy that time in the kitchen with a parent.

NCHE: How can a parent help a child who is struggling with weight, exercise, or dietary habits?
I think children pick up on the poor body image attitudes that we might carry around as adults, so sorting out our own issues is the place to start. Then modeling healthy food choices, involving your children in cooking, having a good attitude about exercise by viewing it as a privilege, not a chore, finding whole food options that your kids enjoy eating and getting them outside as much as possible are all good ways to help establish healthier habits.

NCHE: What are the big three things to avoid and the big three things to practice in order to make health a priority?
Avoid: Processed foods, restricting calories, and focusing only on cardio exercise.
Practice: Eating mostly whole foods a majority of the time, strength training, having a ‘progress over perfection” mindset toward your health goals.

NCHE: Is taking care of our bodies just as important as feeding our minds or spirit? How can homeschooling parents incorporate this idea into daily life the way we’d focus on daily quiet time for our mind and spirit?
We are whole people with our body, mind, and spirit connected. I believe we can’t really separate them. If you are struggling mentally or even spiritually, you often manifest signs in your body. A well-ordered day would include time to care for all of these aspects. When my kids were younger, we would try to spend some time outside every day. Going for a walk, going to a park to let the kids run around, and letting them workout alongside of you are all ways to get some movement in each day.

NCHE: What is the advice that you find yourself most often giving to people?
Focus on progress over perfection—meaning whatever health or wellness goal you set for yourself, focus on doing your best each day to move forward. Change doesn’t happen in a linear fashion; it’s often two steps forward, three steps back, but you can keep going. Don’t heap crazy expectations on yourself. It often takes us years to gain weight and lose strength. Many people unreasonably expect to have a whole new body in three months. Keep a long-term vision and celebrate your victories.

NCHE: Many people are sure to have getting in shape as a New Year’s resolution. What makes a person more likely to turn that resolution into a reality?
Having a clear, reasonable plan to follow. Also, a major predictor of success in reaching fitness goals is having a support system. We do better when someone else is holding us accountable, plus, it’s so much more fun to get healthy with your spouse or friends! Being around like-minded people who can share in your struggle and encourage you helps you to keep going when you are feeling discouraged and want to give up.

NCHE: Many of our members say that cooking and meal prep are exhausting and hard. Freezer meal recipes make life easier, but they are usually loaded in creamy sauces, canned vegetables, sugars, and hidden calories. Can eating fresh and healthy really be made simple—and not boring?
It does take some pre-planning, but healthy meals can be simple and delicious. There are tons of resources in the way of cookbooks, blogs, Pinterest, etc. It’s now easier than ever to pick up more convenient whole foods like pre-cut veggies, salad mixes, etc., in places like Trader Joe’s and most grocery stores. Find about ten meals that your family enjoys, that are made with mostly whole food ingredients, and put them into your rotation. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel each night. I really love Cook Once, Eat All Week by Cassy Joy Garcia.

Find Deborah on Facebook at Deborah Boyd Liter and on Instagram @deborah_fitlife and @nookandsashcandles