Seeking Rest

I don’t know about you, but there are often times when I need shelter in this whole weight journey thing. I can think of so many seasons of weariness. A sense of sheer exhaustion with a recurrent battle that often seemed pointless and wearying to fight. I was just so tired. Tired of caring. Tired of it mattering. Just tired. I did not want or did not know how I could even imagine life without this battle continuing. It was just too much.

In the past, beginning my weight journey meant that I was starting a new diet plan. THIS was going to be it. All I have to do is follow these few rules, and not eat________ . Easy, right?

Child, please. If there is ANYTHING that feels like a burden, it is the act of following a diet. Oh, my. It always seems doable at first, but after the first few days, the burden of slavery has finally settled. I just traded masters. Instead of being bound to food, I am now bound to this new set of rules. These rules are oppressive. I feel doomed to fail, scared that if I don’t follow the rules exactly then I will not see the results I hope to achieve. I have done SO many of these diets, and I believe they are ALL the same. Burdensome.

There is a passage in the Bible that talks specifically about this:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentile and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Ok, God. Your promised me rest. Where is it?

When I started asking God for his help with my weight, he gave me one rule: “Eat when you are hungry and stop when you have had enough.” When I started, it was not about what I was eating, but rather, when and for what reason. At first, I felt that this rule was burdensome, just like all of other diets. However, once I decided to listen, I quickly saw the freedom that followed. As long as I ate within these boundaries, God allowed the choices to be mine.

Since that first step of obedience, I have seen God honor my efforts. He saw that I was trying,  and even though I was not perfect, it seemed that my small step toward trying to listen, would reap bigger rewards. I had his help. I was his friend. He wanted to help me win. I just needed to do it his way.

Now that I am beginning yet another journey out, I will begin as I learned– by asking him where I should start. God, what would you have me to do? How should I move forward this time?  I need your help. As I listen for the answer, I would encourage you to consider asking him the same thing. Remember, He wants to help you. Just let him.

 

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Why I am losing weight

When making a behavior change, we often discuss the importance of finding your “why.” I think we just need a focal point, a factor that motivates after the intrinsic motivation wears thin. There are several reasons why I have decided to take this weight loss journey, yet again. I write because I know I’ll need to be reminded, and maybe this will help you too.

First, I’ve lived in both places–carrying excess weight and not carrying excess weight.  I like the peace and focus I feel not carrying excess weight. There is this slow process that begins once I gain weight, and without knowing it, I often awake and realize I feel like a slave around food. Even if I wanted to be free, I cannot see a way out. It just feels impossible. Or, I find there is a point where my weight becomes a distraction in my mind. I will think about it A LOT. I will look in mirrors more–trying to assess my appearance from different angles. When I am carrying more weight than I should, I tend to think about weight and food more than I should. I do not like my mind being consumed by any individual thing. In previous seasons, vile, incessant, and attacking thoughts about how “fat” I was often accompanied my thoughts about weight. While those feelings are no longer, I do find myself looking in mirrors, wondering if this particular outfit is flattering, and second-guessing taking pictures ( you know how pictures NEVER lie). These are all signals that my weight needs some attention.

When I was younger, my reason for weight loss was simple: I just wanted to be thin. I assumed thin people had better lives, and if I attained a certain size, then all would be right with the world.  I now know that is untrue. Problems and pain accompany all seasons. I remember joking with my sister that I wanted to be able to wear a sleeveless shirt, and have my arms out in the summer. Or I just wanted to wear a size 14 jean instead of 20, and not have to shop in a plus size store. I wanted options. Some people dream of being famous; I dreamed of being thin.

I remember visiting Paris in early 2001 with my friends. Being in Paris in the early 2000s equated to traveling to a place where there was NO “big girl” love, i.e. no plus size options in stores.  We went clothes shopping, and it was absolutely dreadful. NOTHING fit. I could not try on any clothes. I was humiliated. Oh, that feeling!  I remember it distinctly. Now, you can argue, that the Parisians not having clothes that fit plus size women was more of the problem. Maybe it was. Either way, that experience is seared in my mind. I DON’T want to experience that again.

I want to lose weight because I want to abolish the perceived barrier that now exists in my mind. I often think, “because of my weight, I can’t do xx. I won’t feel as comfortable doing xx.” I will second guess wanting to run, swim, take pictures, go on rides, sit in chairs etc. It is SO much easier for me to think self-deprecating thoughts. Also, I always have the “what if” clause–what if I were smaller? Would I be experiencing ______ differently right now? Or, because of my weight, will my husband be as attracted to me?  Or, will I be taken seriously in my work? These thoughts are just TOO much.

Health reasons also push me to lose weight. My knees hurt, and I know injury is not too far away if I place too much strain on my knees. Also, I have polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, and I will not ovulate regularly or at all when I reach a certain weight, thus making it harder to plan for pregnancy. In fact, regulating my ovulation cycle pushed me to lose weight this last time;  I knew if it was not regular, it would make having more children biologically either extremely difficult or impossible. Furthermore, my excess weight was increasing my risk for diabetes. During my last weight loss journey (2017), the doctor told me that I was pre-diabetic. After I lost about 30 pounds, however, I was no longer pre-diabetic. Simply put, I have learned that body just does not operate as well at a higher weight.

And last, I also want to lose it for YOU. I know there is at least one person who is reading my blog who feels that freedom from excess weight is a hopeless endeavor. I had to come back yet another time ( this will be my 8th time having to lose weight) to let you know that, while understandable, that feeling is untrue. It can be done, and you can be free, healthy, and whole, while maintaining a weight that is best for your body. Don’t give up, dear weary one.

So, yes, I have my reasons that push me forward. I felt it was necessary for me to answer the question of why weight loss BEFORE I get started. The journey is long, and I will have setbacks that discourage me from accomplishing my goal. I also have a list of victories to encourage me that this is not in vain. We can do this.  Let’s push on together.

What is your “why”?

A Hope for the New Year

I am back trying to lose weight. I had a baby in September, and the dust has settled to where it is now time to move forward again.

Things have changed, however, since I last traveled this road. Weight loss is now bad? Fat acceptance and body positivity is now in? Who knew things would shift this way?

This time around, I have access to one thing that previously felt in low supply: hope. I’ve been down this road SO many times; I know its sharp turns, endless plains, and dark, despairing nights. I also know how the story ends, and have experienced some victories.  It makes the journey that much easier.

But, what of those of you who decided to sit this one out?  Those of you who decided that this particular journey is far too long, and far too difficult, or maybe even not worth it. First, let me say this–I get it. This road is very daunting; the journey can be filled with too many false starts. To much hard work for what often amounts to nothing.  And some of you have decided that taking this journey is more than many of you can bear. So, you wave at me, wish me well, and settle into your new home, vowing to make the best of it.

Well, wait one minute. Please. Before I go.

Please reconsider coming with me.

You see–there may be a shard of hope that may still exist in your heart.  A piece of you that believes that this can happen. The hope you place can be worth it.  You CAN experience victory.

We may have to make a few modifications though.

First, though you have an image of what this looks like, or is supposed to look like, I encourage you to “tear it up.” Yea, I know, you want THIS picture, and this whole journey may not be worth it to you if it doesn’t turn out the way you desire. Again, from a seasoned traveler, THIS doesn’t exist. And the end may not look exactly like you hoped. Still come.

Just to be transparent–“ideal weight loss” was the land I was hoping to go to. I’ve heard it was pretty great there –at least that’s what they say.  Seems that people will do whatever it takes to get there.  I should let you know–I no longer try to make the trek THERE.  I’m going to try to go to a different place this time. Took me awhile, and couple of previous attempts, but I believe I have been convinced.

God has previously traveled with me on all my trips.  His companionship has made all the difference. He just had a WAY ABOUT him, you know? He helped me see things differently or push through my despair and fog with someone who encouraged me to hope again.  His voice calmed and his presence guided. He introduced me to freedom and peace; two places that were so comforting for this weary traveler. He just helped, and I will be taking him with me again.

Since I have been to the destination before, it is tempting to just leave others behind. But no. It is not enough for ME to be free if others are not.

So, I guess I’m getting ready to leave. Along with my companion, we will be traveling to, well, I guess I’m not entirely sure. God promised it would be worth it, and that I’ll be whole and free at the end. I’ll be writing about this journey, and encourage you to join me.

Just think about it.

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Yes. Free.

I think I’m at the place where that is good enough for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Deeper Sense of Freedom

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I think I am feeling free? Maybe? Perhaps? In past years, freedom has been something that I thought I had, but realized that I hadn’t quite obtained. With as many times as I have lost or gained weight, I should be an expert. When I was bemoaning all the extra weight I was carrying, I didn’t understand. What more could I need to learn? I now see that God was trying to give me a deeper sense of freedom.

The first time I lost a significant amount of weight my focus was only on keeping the scale in a certain place. As a result, my habits were not strong. I often re-gained the weight, and seemed to only have a superficial level of “health.” I appeared healthy because my weight was in a normal place, but it wasn’t very deep.

The second time I worked on my physical activity behaviors, and learned to exercise just because it was and is good for me. This was right after I had my son, and my weight loss was very limited. I remember when my gym called and asked where I had been.  I lived 2 minutes away!  No excuse. In that season, I was not motivated to work-out.  I had learned the bare minimum maintained my weight (e.g., eating within the bounds of hunger), and that’s all I did. I, however, was still immature and had to learn to practice health behaviors just because my health mattered. That led to a season of regular physical activity, but no real changes on the scale. Painful, but necessary for my growth.

So, this time around, after gaining 65 pounds, and losing about 80% of it, I think I finally learned a couple of things. Yes, my weight matters, but it also doesn’t matter. I’m still Rachel. Still full of all the wonderful things that make me unique and special, loved by my family and friends. Ten more pounds won’t change that. Freedom.

It is, however, more important than ever that I practice my health behaviors.  This REALLY matters.  When I at my heaviest, the doctor told me that I was pre-diabetic. Wow, her words were a hit to my heart. When I was younger, it was only about fitting into a certain size or type of clothes.  However, now that I am closer than ever to 40, I am learning to make wise choices–just because they are wise. So, when I choose whole foods, or decide to take a walk, I find the decision is far less about achieving a certain number. The scale is a form of accountability, not my source of approval. Freedom.

I imagine there is likely more (with God there always is), but I think I see more clearly now. I can fly a little further on my journey without carrying this excess emotional, spiritual, and physical weight. I can worship God by making choices that honor all he has allowed me to learn, and act accordingly. I will continue to help others do the same. Thanks for journeying with me, friends.

 

Six steps to keep you moving in your weight loss goals

It has been a long road, friends.  I have been SO TIRED of being on my weight loss grind. It has been over a year since I have had my head firmly planted in the realm of “I need to lose weight, and I MUST do something about it NOW”.

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Since moving my bags to this weight loss realm, however, I have realized 5 things that I need to do to keep that scale moving in a downward direction. Now, I have vacillated between my consistency in doing these things, but I have come to realize that these things must be done if I am to continue to make progress on this journey. Here it goes:

1. Meal prep

Nobody (certainly NOT I) wakes up and eats healthy without work. I will never wake up and eat healthy without a PLAN. I am sure you all know the cliché: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I have found this to be consistently true in my eating. I have to have spent the money, planned the meal, have the fruit and vegetables on hand, and have an idea of what I am going to do with the ingredients in my cabinet. All must be in reach. I am still working on how to actually do this all the time, but I know that it works.

2. Regular weighing
No scale avoiding here. I have learned that I need to get on it at least once per week. Even if it hurts. I must know the number. Knowing gives me a small window to make a shift, to change my behavior, to plan a different meal. When I was in weight maintenance season (much, much, more fun!!!), I had a 5-pound range. As long as I was in that range, I was considered safe. Since I have been focused on losing weight, I see the scale as accountability. I don’t always want to know, but I need a friend who will tell me the truth. I have found the scale to never lie (at least not without a little help from me). The honesty, even when it hurts, has been an incredible help to keep me from not gaining weight.

3. Watch the snacks

I love snacks. Love them. I, however, find myself to be easily deceived when eating them. I am prone to misjudge the amount and impact of what was eaten. I always think that it is just a “little bit.” Also, I think that this won’t make that much difference toward my weight loss progress. LIES!! Since early summer, I have restricted my snacking between meals to the weekend. I eat 3-4 times per day during the week. That leaves room for 3 meals and 1 snack. Once I started to do that, I found several things to be easier: 1) my sense and feeling of hunger before I ate a meal, and 2) maintaining my weight.

 

4. Consider my eating as an act of worship
If I consider what I eat to be a reflection of what I think about God, I am instantly shifted into a new place of accountability. I have been blessed to have knowledge, means, and an environment to access foods that are nourish my body. If I choose not to use those resources, then I am just either being lazy or negligent. I know better and I am learning to honor God with all that he has given me.

5. Don’t ignore fullness

There is no weight loss when I am also experiencing the sensation of “having eaten too much.” Over the years, I have learned that must be in tune to my body’s physiological signals of hunger and satiety. I must choose to listen and I have to re-center my body’s stop sign as a signal to not be avoided. As I have learned to do that, I have made significant progress in maintaining my weight.

6. Daily physical activity

I know–this sounds like a bit much!  However, my mind shifted once I realized that daily physical activity could include just a walk around the block. Since then, I have really worked to move more days than not, even if its just a 30-minute walk. In fact, that “walk” has been the easiest thing for me to do, rather than feeling pressured to make daily gym visits. It can be done!

This journey is so LONG friends, but God has been faithful to keep sending me help along the way. Thanks for all your support. I’m going to keep moving. I hope you will too.

Steps to #winning: #5–Regular Weighing

I have had to lose at least 20 lbs. at least 7 or 8 times in my lifetime. After this last weight loss attempt, I think it is safe to say that weight loss is one thing in which I hold expertise. Thus, I am beginning a series of my top 5 things that have been helpful to me in this season.

We have a great deal of insight on how to lose weight, but far less information on how to keep off weight that was lost. This, I believe, is the critical insight that is missing from our guidance.  It will be difficult to lose the weight, but it is far more challenging to create a lifestyle where that weight loss will be maintained.

scale helpThis, dear friends, is where I hope to provide guidance. Particularly for those of you who are lovers of food, and begrudgingly participate in exercise.  If you have a strong affinity toward food, weight loss is that much harder. But be encouraged—from one food lover to another, this can most certainly be done.

Think of me as your coach.   Pushing you and praying you to a better version of yourself.  Let’s go.

Two questions.

Do you own a scale?

Do you get on it regularly (regularly = at least once per week)?

If you answered no to either of those questions, AND you have excess weight to lose, please continue.

Anytime I have gained at least 20 lbs. (including this most recent weight gain in 2016), I usually was not getting on the scale regularly.  There have been seasons where I did not own a scale, and/or was afraid to look at a scale.  I have learned, however,  that regular weighing is essential.  When I make myself get on the scale (no matter what I ate) at least twice per week, I ensure several things: a) no surprises; b) I can catch weight gain before it becomes permanent; c) I am accountable.

No surprises

I usually love to be surprised, but NOT in the case of my weight. I never think I am going to be surprised, because I usually think my “head math” is as good as the real thing.  I often believe I can tell if I am gaining weight by the way my clothes fit.  However, if my clothes are fitting differently, I have likely already gained 10 lbs. Much, much, too late to learn this information.  Losing 10 lbs. vs. losing 2-3 lbs is much, much different.

When I maintained my weight for about 3 years, I gave myself a range of 5 lbs. Whenever I stepped on the scale, if I was in my range, then I gave myself the “proverbial thumbs up.” If I noticed I was creeping up in my range, then I knew I needed to make some changes over the next few days.

It is not enough to have a scale at a location (e.g., someone’s house, the gym, the doctor’s office).  You need to invest in a good scale at YOUR home.

Don’t be scared

 Fear was usually the reason why I avoided the scale. I was so scared of how I would feel if I saw the amount of weight I had gained. I always thought the information would overtake me.  And often, if I had been gaining weight, I was not happy with the results. However, similar to what the Bible says in Hebrews 12:11: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who are trained by it.”  When the scale would “discipline” me and tell me the consequences of my eating behavior, I often did not enjoy the experience.  However, what I did after I received the information was what mattered.

I learned to listened.  I made changes. And typically that moment when I felt the worst often turned into a catalyst for a change that set me up for some better news later on—weight loss. The truth hurts. That phrase is a cliché for a reason.  The truth also sets you free. Live in it friends. Get on that scale.

I don’t like the scale.

 Hmm. Why? I imagine because some of you have experienced some unwanted weight gain and have been “surprised” by seeing numbers you did not expect. Truth: I have found my experience with the scale to much more pleasant when I get on it regularly, and understand my pattern of weight.  I now know that after I eat Chinese food, my weight is going to be higher.  If I eat anything with a lot of salt, my weight is going to be higher.  Before I start my monthly cycle, my weight is going to be higher. It will go back to normal, but it is just going to be higher at certain times of the week and/or month. I understand my normal weight fluctuations now. This all came by me getting on the scale regularly. It is easy to not like something from a distance.  Lean in, and get to know you and your scale a little better.

Accountability.

 Weight strugglers—you NEED someone or something to hold you accountable. You are not enough. For an area that causes so many of us a great deal of pain, I am often amazed how cavalier we can be about taking as much control as we possibly can.  Most of the time—we have full control over this area.  Yes, there are exceptions, but “paying close attention” can solve a great deal of problems.

Take your first step.

Get your scale.

Nearing the end of the journey

It has been 1 year since this journey began!  And my, how good it feels to have lost 42 pounds!!  Wow!  When I started in August (see video below), I was confident that I knew exactly what it took to lose this weight, and that the process would move smoothly and quickly. I, however, was woefully underprepared. Woefully. Losing weight this time was much more difficult.

In the beginning of this process, all I wanted God to do was return me to my former self. I just needed to lose 67 pounds and then I could continue the life I was leading.  Carrying all this extra weight left me feeling quite a bit of shame and embarrassment. My, how I mourned the loss of my “old self.” All I wanted to do was hide.  I avoided people I had not seen in years.  I just wanted this all to go away.

God, however, wasn’t quite signing off on my plan.  The first few months were SLOW. I settled into the extra weight.  I started a new job, and was relieved to be around people who did not have a “before” picture to compare with my current state. After I started in August, I was able to lose 10 pounds by Christmas.  At that rate, I was going to be on this journey for a much longer time than I expected. I ended 2017 determined to do something different.

In January, we started accountability challenges within my Facebook group, Freedom Chasers. Throughout each challenge, there was a new lesson, and a new discipline I needed to master. I spent time focusing on nutrition and calorie counting, and then on learning to only eat for hunger, becoming more comfortable with my appetite.  We also tackled physical activity, and I surprised myself by committing to walking almost 5 days per week. The final challenge was to cease snacking.  I love snacks and this was quite an experience. However, I saw the difference that it was making once I stopped.

While the journey is still not over, I am glad that I can stand in the victory of achieving a significant portion of my goal. A friend of mind recently said, “Its no longer good enough for me to experience freedom.  I want others to have it too.” This, too, has been in my heart this season, and has kept me going. And my, how it give me peace to watch others walking closer to freedom and moving forward in their weight loss goals.

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At times in this journey, I have felt as if I have been in a prison cell.  Stuck, and not knowing when or if my “freedom” as I remember it would arrive. However, as Psalm 119: 71 says, “it was good for me to be afflicted.” This was good. No, I would not have chosen it, but I am confident that this was good, worked for my good, and was used to bless others. This helped me obtain a greater depth of freedom, and learn to focus on my behaviors, working to practice daily choices that will continue to ensure that I will not walk back to those chains.

So, while the journey is not over (still have about 25 pounds left to lose), I celebrate.  Thank you for joining me for this ride, friends.