A Lesson from the Heart

This past weekend I was invited to travel to St. Louis, Missouri to speak at an event for Christian Hospital. It was a “Heart Fair” and several hundred people were in attendance.

I was asked to be a guest speaker to share “my story” and to educate others of what I had learned on my “journey from obesity to good health.” I think after having attended the function I realized that I probably learned far more than I taught.

The motto for the event was “Learn, Change, Live…a healthier life.” And there were so many incredible resources at the disposal of the attendees. In addition to presentations on the importance of health screenings, how to live longer, and what food to eat for a better life; there were informational displays where people could talk to health care professionals. I jumped right in, eager to soak in all the information I could. One in particular just about made my jaw drop.

There was a display of real human organs. I was flabbergasted to see the effects that excess fat has on the human body. Having been an obese person, I saw the detriments of fat on the outside. I never really considered what it was doing to my inside.

I never truly thought about the fact that fat accumulates around heart and leads to cholesterol build up in the arteries—and what that looks like in a healthy heart versus one affected by obesity. I’ve heard things like this for years as my own weight ballooned out of control. But seeing the organs was startling and took my head-knowledge to a whole new level. It truly reiterated to me the importance of being healthy and maintaining a healthy body weight.

I am always careful to give advice regarding diet, because I am not a dietician or a doctor and before you do any kind of weight-loss regime or diet program you should check first with your physician. But I did learn some practical, common sense things that I wanted to share with you. They are just some simple things that can make a difference, for example:

* Eat foods that are naturally low in fat such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

* Get plenty of soluble fiber such as oats, bran, dry peas, beans, cereal, and rice.

* Limit fried foods, processed foods, and commercially prepared baked goods (donuts, cookies, crackers).

* Limit animal products such as egg yolks, cheeses, whole milk, cream, ice cream, and fatty meats (and large portions of meats).

* Look at food labels, especially the level of saturated fat. Avoid or limit foods high in saturated fat.

* Choose lean, protein-rich foods such as soy, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, and fat free or 1% dairy products.

To be honest, I have never been a big fan of fish, but this past weekend as I heard of the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids in preventing cardiovascular disease I became convinced that I need to introduce these more into my own diet and into that of my family.

So I contacted a fabulous local chef in my hometown of Jacksonville—Chef Jessica Bright—to see if she would share a healthy recipe with me so I could share it with you. She was happy to comply. (And this sounds delicious to me!)


Grilled Salmon with Mustard Glaze and Grilled Broccoli


This quick and easy meal can be prepared in minutes and it is wonderfully nutritious, the recommended portion size for the salmon is 3.5 oz per person:


2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 ¼-pound salmon fillets with skin on

1 large head of broccoli, trimmed to medium florets

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


1. Preheat grill to high.

2. Pat fillets dry, place skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Combine mustard and brown sugar then apply paste to the top side of the filets.

3. Spray the grill with grill-safe non-stick cooking spray. Gently place salmon on grill skin side down and grill until skin turns black, about 3 minutes. Turn salmon over and cook until desired doneness.

4. While salmon is cooking toss the broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in grilling basket and stir occasionally until stalks are tender and florets are nicely browned. Serve immediately.

Note: If you are watching the sodium in your diet omit salt and substitute your favorite sodium-free seasoning.

This Heart Fair opened my eyes to many things. I hope that me sharing with you will give you “food for thought”—and a new recipe which will give you “food for your family.” Take care of your heart. And take care of yourself…until next time.

About Julie Hadden

I'm Julie Hadden and for the past few years I've been on quite journey. My experience on Season 4 of "The Biggest Loser" resulted in a total transfomation in my life. What started out being about what I could "lose" turned more into what I "gained." God revealed great truths to me about the infinite WORTH we all possess in His eyes and I'm passionate about sharing what I learned through this process. View all posts by Julie Hadden

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