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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Danna Demetre (5)


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


3 Ways to Keep Summer Sane

Women's ministry leader Cathy Horning loves the Word of God and making biblical truth practical. In this Summer UPGRADE, she shares three ways to keep the summer months sane.

“I love summers! I love long days of sunlight, warm evening walks, and so many other special summer delights,” Cathy says. “However, I also hate summer.”

I (Dawn) read that and thought, "Huh?" Who could hate summer? And why?"

Cathy continues . . .

I hate summer because as much as I like to imagine I am an easygoing, carefree, and flexible person, in reality, I thrive on routine, order, and schedules.

And every year, I am reminded how summer time, pretty much, throws a wrench into the regular rhythm and predictable plans in which I flourish the other nine months of the year.

This summer is no different. I have been out of town nearly every weekend since May.

My husband and I have attended out-of-town birthday and anniversary parties, graduations and weddings, as well as helping our daughter move into a new apartment in Los Angeles. When we happen to find ourselves at home, we enjoy time with those who come to visit our beautiful beach community, or being Grammy and Papa to our ten amazing grandchildren.  

Summers are crazy—full and busy!

However, unlike summers past, this year I hesitantly took a step of faith which, surprisingly, has kept me a little more sane in the craziness of this season.

The step I took was to accept an online invitation to become part of a group of ladies who would go through a book called 40 Days to Healthy Living, by Danna Demetre.

When I first saw the Facebook post, I thought, There is no way I can add this to my summer.

Yet, the day before the group began, I decided to order the book and jump in. And, I am so glad I did!

This book and the group have helped me upgrade my life and bring order to three vital areas that often suffer in the chaos of summer.

1. Make Time for God’s Word

As a Bible teacher, I love spending time in the Word of God. Still, with the busyness of  company, travel, and all the fun of summer, I confess my priority of spending intentional, daily time in God’s Word can slip.

Danna’s book begins each day with scripture. And, always, what she shares about the passage is a good reminder, or brings fresh insight, that I can apply to my life during these long, lovely summer days.

2. Make Time for Healthy Eating

Every year, I grow in wisdom regarding my diet, but with the many celebrations and lack of routine in summer, I find it extremely difficult to eat the right foods, as well as the right proportions.

The "40 Days to Healthy Living" group has given me daily nutritional tips and challenges that I discovered are guiding my food choices during these wildly-full summer days.

3. Make Time for Exercise

Finally, one of Danna’s strong recommendations is to simply eat less and move more.

Going through the book motivated me to be more diligent to use my Fitbit. It doesn’t happen every day, but most days this summer, I am hitting 10,000+ steps, sometimes by only adding little things like parking further away, taking the stairs, and choosing the long way to get where I am going.

1 Timothy 4:8 NLT says, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”

I love summer! It is my favorite time of the year.

However, I also hate that summer can rob me of investing in my spiritual and physical well being.

What a nice surprise it has been to discover help in this area from the 40-day devotional, plus the support and encouragement of other women online.

I have a feeling this may be my best summer yet!

What are you doing this summer to upgrade your spiritual life and health and keep summer sane?

NOTE from DAWN: I do not normally do "book promos" on this blog, but Cathy and I were both part of the group she mentioned, and I wanted to share how encouraging Danna's book was to me personally too. If you're looking for a new devotional book that will encourage your health as well as your heart for the things of the Lord, this is a good one.

Cathy Horning has been a women’s ministry leader, Bible Study teacher, speaker and writer for more than 25 years. She loves the Word of God. Nothing brings her greater joy than sharing with others how very precious, practical, and powerful the promises and truths in God's Word. Married for 34 years, Cathy has four grown children, 10 grandchildren, and many spiritual sons and daughters. She loves long walks by the bay, a good book or movie, Starbucks ice tea, and especially family get-togethers. Read more by Cathy at her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of rwalsh623 at Pixabay.


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.


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:








Two Frequently-Neglected 'Vitamins' that Keep You Young & Lean

God wants us to take care of our bodies as one way to bring Him glory (I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). Health advocate Danna Demetre teaches women how to stay lean for life and balance body, soul and spirit in her book, Scale Down. In today’s post, she addresses essentials necessary to help us upgrade our health, including two “vitamins” that are often neglected.

“Build wisely. Your body tomorrow will be the result of the choices you make today,” Demetre wrote. “To improve your energy, health and lose excess fat permanently, you need to address the essentials. I call them the “Nutrimax Six.”

Danna's Nutrimax Six include: (1) Water, (2) Plant foods, (3) Protein, (4) Fats, (5) Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants and (6) something she calls “Vitamins Z and X.”

Danna continues …  

Vitamin Z—better known as sleep—is a frequently neglected “nutrient” that plays a much more important role in our health than people have previously realized. And Vitamin X—better known as exercise—is essential for maintaining high energy, low body fat and overall health and vitality.  [Add graphic of vitamin bottle]

Okay, okay … I know neither are technically nutrients. But if these two lifestyle factors are not a high priority, even perfect nutrition will not bring you the health, vitality and fast-burning metabolism you desire.

Vitamin Z

Sleep is the time when you get both physical and psychological rest. During deep sleep, your body accomplishes its most important cellular renewal. Even modest amounts of sleep deprivation can diminish your immune system and ability to cope with the daily challenges of life.

If you want to look younger, feel better and live longer—get enough sleep!

How much is enough? Experts suggest that most people need close to eight hours of sleep every night.

I have found that chronic fatigue is one of the biggest factors impacting an out-of-control appetite. I think the body is saying “If you’re not going to give me enough quality rest to reenergize, I’m just going to beg for sugar and calories all day long to make up for it!”

My suggestion: Make sleep a priority. Try getting eight hours of sleep a night for a full month and see the impact it makes in your lifestyle. This is best accomplished by establishing a consistent routine of going to bed at the same time each night, turning off the television and other electronics at least an hour before bedtime, dimming the lights (to increase melatonin production) and taking a hot shower or bath before bed. If you are over 40, you may want to take a melatonin supplement which also has anti-aging benefits!

Vitamin X

Exercise is an incredible energizer. The more you move, the better you feel as your body releases endorphins – the “feel good” hormones. Feeling good motivates you to stay active, and activity tends to distract you from sedentary habits that include eating. To stay lean and fit for life, we need to work toward DAILY exercise unless our lifestyle is extremely active naturally. As we age, our metabolisms decrease because we lose muscle. If we are not exercising daily, we are losing fitness. Get in a positive cycle and get a good dose of Vitamin X every day!

Do you struggle more with getting enough sleep or getting enough exercise? What change/s can you make in the days ahead to get “enough” and UPGRADE Your Health to the glory of God?

Danna Demetre is a popular retreat and conference speaker and the author of the best-selling: Scale Down, The Heat is On, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life and What Happened to My Life? Her latest book co-authored with America’s Family Financial Expert, Ellie KayLEAN BODY, FAT WALLET – explores the common healthy habits that can positively impact both your health and wealth. She also blogs regularly about intentional living, the life of a Christian entrepreneur, and “growing young” – staying lean and healthy at any age. You can learn more about Danna at