I can’t do this alone

I need accountability. Maybe you do too.

I have realized that two forms of accountability are helpful: 1) person-to-person and 2) weighing myself on the scale.

I want to believe that I can do this on my own. But, if I reflect on all the times I have been successful at losing a significant amount of weight, I have always had help. Every single time. I just don’t think I can focus long enough to do what is needed without it. So now, my accountability partner and I talk on the phone weekly about our goals and troubleshoot the areas where we are struggling. It is so helpful. Sometimes the only reason I don’t make a poor health choice is because I know I’ll have to share it with my accountability partner. What a deterrent! I have learned God has not made us to be alone. This verse often comforts me: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. For if one falls down, his companion can lift him up, but pity the one who falls without another to help him up (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10).” I often see this verse applied to marriage, but it sure is applicable to this weight loss journey!

I currently weigh myself 2-3 times per week. Yes, I want to know if I am making progress, but more importantly, I am making myself accountable for my eating choices. I think of the scale as a visual “check me” session. This goes one step further than my accountability partner. She responds to what I tell her. The scale responds to what I would rather no one else know: The sum total of my eating decisions. I have had seasons where I have not used the scale regularly; in all of those seasons; I gained more weight than I thought I would. In all of those seasons. Without this measure of my accountability, I have no way of really knowing if what I am doing is helpful. When I step on it and the numbers are higher than I would like, I quickly make adjustments and make sure that I am engaging in disciplined behavior once again. If the scale is showing progress, I can look back on my most recent behavior and recognize something that needs to continue.

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I am a person who needs accountability. How about you?

 

Learning how to MEASURE progress

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“I don’t feel like I am making progress.”

Isn’t that how this weight journey typically begins? So often, our progress is invisible to us. In my experience, the beginning is SLOW. I often feel like I have lots of false starts.

I often measure my progress by the scale. If the scale is going down, then I must be doing well. If the scale is staying the same, then I must not be doing something right. Sigh. It can be exhausting.

Maybe I need to change my measure.

My husband and I went to Popeye’s and I DID not order anything. Oh, how I wanted a spicy chicken sandwich! Instead, I went across the street to Chick-fil-A, and got a grilled chicken sandwich. Growth.

 I realized it was a nice day outside. I was feeling good.  I decided to go and take a 30-minute walk with the baby. Growth.

 I ate my dinner last night, and I left the table feeling satisfied. I did not overeat, nor did I get seconds. Growth.

 I spoke with my accountability partner, and we both told each other how we had accomplished most, if not all, of our goals for the week. We ended the conversation praying and we also established new goals. We have been speaking consistently for 3-4 weeks now. Growth.

 After all that “growth,”  I hopped on the scale this morning. I had to see what my “measure” told me. I had lost .5 pounds from the last read a few days ago. Hmm. Not as much as I had hoped. But that’s ok. Thank you for the information, scale. I am learning—you are not my source of approval.

Am I improving my health behaviors weekly? YES

 Am I using food appropriately and NOT relying on it as a coping source? YES

 Did I increase my physical activity from the week before? YES

Did I JUST have a baby 4 months ago? YES

 Breathe, mama. Breathe.

I realize I am doing better than I thought. Maybe you are too. Let’s remember to measure a little more accurately the next time. Keep going, friends.

 

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.