Thanks for Helping Me Survive 2020: My YouTube Instructors

For the last few days, I have been feeling the need to show honor to those who have helped me make it through 2020. Who are some of those people? My YouTube workout instructors!  My, they have been absolutely amazing. These instructors have helped me to improve my commitment to physical activity, and have given me no excuse not to work out when the weather was bad. Thought I may never meet any of these people, I still want to let you know how amazing their workouts are!

#3: Jeanette Jenkins– Hollywood Trainer Club/PopSugar:

I just started with Jeanette a few weeks ago, and she is amazing. Her workouts are CHALLENGING. If I started with her back in March, I might have quit. However, now I feel ready!  She has an entire program if you would like to pay monthly ($20), but I have been just doing her free videos on YouTube through PopSugar. Her routines are less dancing, and more about focused sets of exercises to improve your cardio fitness and to sculpt your body. This sis did not come to PLAY! Jeanette is incredibly talented, focused, and makes me want to do my best every video.

#2: Mike Peele: Hip Hop Fit

Mike Peele is the creator of a program called “Hip Hop Fit.” This brotha’s hustle is STRONG. He has a new video out EVERY WEEK. This is your program if you like to dance more than you like to exercise. I always put on his videos when I know I need to complete my physical activity for the day, but I am not in the mood for anything really challenging. I just want to have fun. He typically has you learn a dance routine, and then he repeats it several times with you throughout the video. He has great energy, and also has a great spirit of encouragement. He even celebrated with his subscribers when he hit a recent milestone on YouTube.

#1: Tanju Koc: Fit711

This guy is my absolute fav!  If I had to pick one person to be my instructor, I would pick him. I consistently return to his videos. His instruction and routines are very friendly to those in larger bodies. He loves to dance and it shows. I always smile when completing his routines and I love that I get to exercise and have fun. I would rate his style as more fun than challenging, though I always break a sweat! A win for me! He also brings his Mexican heritage into his musical selections, and has exposed me to new music and artists.  If you are a person that just wants to move and have fun, rather than complete complicated routines and/or workout “boot camp style” then I would recommend his videos. He also ends many of his videos with Michael Jackson music. A win for me! He has several through FitSEVENELEVEN, and I have done most every one during this pandemic!

Sending you all joy and peace. Journey on.

A New Year of Practicing the Same Behaviors

Happy New Year!

For the past year, I have been pursuing weight loss. Though I lost 12 lbs., I believe the year was really reflective of my continued maturity in the regular practice of my health behaviors. Indeed, every weight loss attempt, I seem to add new skills. In 2020, I finally worked my way up to exercising 4-6 days per week, and eating a nutritionist-recommended meal plan nearly 90% of my meals. Wow, I have come so far.

This year is also the first year I have realized the continued need to focus on my health behaviors, independent of whatever happens with the scale.  Normally, I pay attention just long enough to lose the weight I desire. After I hit that goal, however,  I typically shift into weight gain prevention mode, which includes far less workouts and a much more relaxed eating plan (i.e., whatever I want!). I am never able to focus on maintaining my health behaviors with intensity after I am done pursuing my weight loss. THAT is a problem. It has made my pursuit of health and wellness very shallow, and one that is easily interrupted.

You see, as a rule, I exercise to either lose or maintain my weight. I choose foods, and eat a certain way because I am trying to lose or maintain my weight. I weigh on the scale regularly to lose or maintain my weight. On the surface, that seems like a good goal. Once the worry about weight is removed (i.e., hit my weight goal, pregnancy) however, I tend to not pursue my health behaviors with as much intention.

For my long-term health and freedom, it just has to be about more than the weight.

Well, I have finally matured to the fact that I am setting a goal to practice my health behaviors all year—no matter what happens with my weight. Lord, help.

So, this means that if I: a) meet or lose interest in my weight loss goal, or b) can no longer lose weight for some reason, I will still practice my health offer my worship to God with my health behaviors. I had to cross out “practice my health behaviors”, because it is going to have to be about more than that for me to make it long-term, ha!

I finally got it. This lesson has taken me YEARS. I have finally matured to what God has been trying to teach me. All of my health decisions need to be made as an act of worship to him, and one that is independent to whatever is happening with the scale.

I exercise to stay physically fit, and to keep my body in optimal condition as an ACT OF WORSHIP. God, thank you for my body.

I make healthful eating decisions as an ACT OF WORSHIP, and to keep the body he has given me strong and nourished. God, thank you for all the wonderful food you have given me to eat; please help me choose well.

I practice both of these behaviors regularly because God has given me my health, and has been so gracious to me over these years. It is a privilege to honor him with my behaviors. God, thank you for my life.

I am celebrating growth! Whoo!

Friends, I am sending warm thoughts and prayers for favor and hope to abound in this new year for you. Journey on.

Not today, cookies!

A couple of weeks ago, I learned about the newest dessert shop on our side of town. I remember the day when I found out about the news. I instantly started planning when I would visit. I always look up the reviews (they were amazing), and then I look at what people typically order, just to make sure I get the right thing when I get there.

Yesterday was finally the day. My son and I went after school. I started getting excited once I pulled in the parking lot. We often discuss the “curb appeal” of homes, but I think we can say the same for restaurants and/or bakeries. This place had IT. I could smell the cookies from the parking lot.

When we walked in, the cookies were on display so beautifully. Fresh. Right out of the oven. My son, who is a foodie just like me, started getting excited. So did I. Our wait was not long once we placed the order. We opened the box and just melted.

Now, you may be wondering – Aren’t you trying to lose weight? Why are YOU even in a place like this? Well, to make this journey more manageable, I typically allow myself 3 passes a week to eat a food that I enjoy. Its worked out pretty nicely for me, and I find I am able to enjoy a treat, and still make progress toward my goals.

I, however, still have to take caution. The “greedy” version of myself was already thinking about how I could have more than one cookie. I could just taste it alongside of the milk. I decided (it wasn’t easy!) that one would be enough.

The next day, the box of cookies was still there (we had gotten some for my husband). As I walked past the box in my house, I found myself looking in there from time to time. Just to see them again. Ahh. love.

I did not eat another cookie, however.

I have realized in season 55 of “Rachel’s weight loss journey” (ha!) that as much as I love cookies, I love myself even more. I haven’t always been there at the place of self-love in this weight journey. I am now though. I just cannot succumb to the old way any longer. I’ve gone too far and seen too much.

One of my friends posted last week about “choosing your hard” and it really resonated with me. It is hard to be at a weight where you don’t feel comfortable or healthy, and it is hard to make the daily choices that place you closer to your health goals. Choose your hard.

Well, I have chosen. I have to keep reminding myself daily of my choice, but that’s ok. I’m still moving forward, pushing myself closer and closer to my health goals. I hope you are finding your way to your goal too.

Journey on, friends.

Learning to Prioritize My WHOLE Health

It means so much when we can see the impact of our health behaviors. You change your diet, and you notice the scale move. You increase your physical activity, and you notice you are getting stronger, and your clothes are fitting better. It’s rewarding to see that it matters.

But, what if you are in a season where you don’t see the outcome of your behaviors? You eat differently, you work out, and you see absolutely nothing on the scale. Will you still go forward? Will you still practice your health behaviors? Will you still live with intention?

I believe I am preparing to enter one of the seasons. My heart drops just thinking about it. I was here before, and to be honest, it was no fun. However, I think I handled myself well. I was faithful. I worked out, ate as well as I knew how to in the season, and it didn’t benefit the scale. Not one bit. I remember regularly running laps with my workout partner, but actually ended up gaining weight. If it was not for the grace of God, I would have been so discouraged. However, I wasn’t it. For some reason, I just wasn’t.

I think we are coming to a place in the discussion about weight loss, where we realize, promoting health behaviors is way more important. Often, you don’t have control of your weight. Actually, you really don’t have control over it at all. You cannot tell your body to lose the pounds. All you can do is throw as much at it as you can and hope that it makes a difference.

I did learn one thing in that season—–I am so much more than that weight. It really doesn’t define me. Some days I feel like it does, but I am ever seeing that all of me is enough, whether it’s more to love or less of me to love. Though I look back and remember the seasons where I carried less weight, I also realize that carrying less weight did not automatically mean my life was any better. In fact, I was much happier in the last season I had where I weighed nearly 300 pounds. It was a great season in my life. God is healing, perfecting me, restoring me, all while the outside looked like death was near my doorstep. I was growing so much on the inside. It was beautiful. 

I prefer to be thinner. I also know that I prefer to be whole. And wholeness does not equate with a number on the scale. It doesn’t. Wholeness is the sum total of our soul ties, our heart longings, and the emotional and spiritual health that we have achieved in our inner most parts.

I’ve wanted to be thinner, but God has me on a journey to wholeness. Not necessarily the same thing. It looks so much different than I thought it would look, but as I continue to travel, I find I am at peace.

Defining Arrival

What does arrival look like?

Since I last posted, I feel like I have been making major progress toward my weight management goals. Visiting the dietitian was a very good decision; I finally got the chance to get a little guidance so I could tweak the nutrition content of my meals. Since doing that, and combined with a little physical activity, I have seen the scale begin to move again (yay!). I was finally on my way to arriving at my weight loss goals.

In these last few weeks, however,  I have not been doing as well. I have been struggling more with overeating, and saying no to things I did in the past. My once daily physical activity has transitioned to 1-2 days per week, definitely a far cry from what I know I need to be doing. It’s just, well….harder.

I gained a bit of clarity today after church. I can now see that along with the victory came something else that is often coupled with success: self-sufficiency. For a few weeks, I was thinking of my weight journey as nearly complete. Something in me started to believe “I got it.” It really was quite subtle. I had arrived, I told myself. My, it felt so good to think that way. I just stopped believing I needed any more help. I stopped asking for it. I stopped praying about my eating and weight. I quit seeing the dietitian.  I am doing a good job, I say. I can take it from here, God. Thanks for all the help you gave me–I now know what to do. I will let you know if I need anything in this area.  

Arrival has always meant the end. But, today, I was reminded that we are not built like that. God has made us all needy and dependent; We are ALWAYS going to need his help again. He made it like this on purpose. We are always going to need what he only can gives us (John 4). I am now seeing that arrival in its healthiest form looks a whole lot like dependence. I am practicing all I have learned, but am depending on God to help me do it. I make progress with all that has been revealed, but I remember that it is never my strength that causes me to prosper. As Jesus says in John 15:5: , “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

I finally am able to see again. My “not doing as well” is because I have stopped drinking from the source of my strength. I detached myself from the vine, and without knowing it, placed myself in a position to fail. The truth is this: making eating choices is just the surface of my freedom. I also have to contend with matters of the heart (e.g., loving food more than God), my worship (e.g, turning to food to make it better), and obedience (e.g., stopping because I know I had enough). Oh, God. Help.

I am now rethinking arrival. I recognize how that word does not fit when I think about my struggles and this journey. I am working hard to stay dependent. I will always need God’s help. And that’s ok–it’s how we are built. Journey on, friends.

Taking the Next Step

vegetables and tomatoes on cutting board
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Last week, I made an appointment with the nutritionist. It was my first one.

Since March, I have been maintaining my weight (mostly). Though I would have told you I had a desire to work toward weight loss, that was not apparent in my actions. I took a step in the right direction, but really wasn’t ready to move forward with the focus needed to lose weight.  I was just looking to not do further harm.

A few weeks ago, the baby stopped nursing. I realized I had a bit more free time. I had a long talk with myself.  If I was going to lose weight, I was going to have to change my behaviors.  I would have to do more. (sigh).

My accountability partner recommended I try the nutritionist. I first felt uncertain and maybe even some pride–I never needed the nutritionist before, why would I start now? But, I quickly pushed that thought away; I had enough evidence from the last four months to know that things are different. I quickly called and made an appointment.

On the morning of my appointment, I looked longingly at the pan of cookie bars in the kitchen, knowing my relationship with them was likely to change. Sigh. Thought about eating one “just because,” but I decided against it at the last minute. It was time to move in a new direction.

I logged into my appointment, preparing myself for the worst. It actually was nothing like I thought. I first went through a triage process, and the counselor I met with assessed my goals and current barriers. She asked me questions that were directed and logical–do you track your calories? Do you meal prep? How have you lost weight in the past? She then provided me with a meal plan to try for the next week, with some encouragement to use a tracking tool.

So, after reminding myself that my way wasn’t really working that well, I decided to try it. First stop?  The grocery store. I went and stocked the house with all the foods that I needed to eat. I followed the plan. I tracked my calories. I ate the foods on the recommended food sheet. I increased my physical activity. And as always, I prayed and asked God to help me.

As you can imagine, when I followed the plan, things went well. I felt better. I had more energy. It actually wasn’t that hard–I just needed a little support. Though I have traveled this journey many times, I am realizing that the way is different, every time. I have new stressors and new challenges that influence my relationship with food. I cannot be tied to the method that God uses to answer my prayers; I just move in faith, knowing that he is answering.

Sending well wishes to you all, friends. Keep going.

 

 

CHOOSING a new relationship with food

Every day I have to choose. Every day. I have to remind myself-not the old way. No longer. You have been raised to life in Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ that lives within me.

Some days are harder than others. Especially during COVID-19.

I remember and I still experience the sensation of  “just wanting to eat.” Food served as a pseudo-source; it was supposed to make things better, and it did…until it didn’t. I often felt like I made the “Ursula” deal (remember? From “The Little Mermaid”?) when I chose to satisfy my needs with food; at first, I felt like I won, but later awoke to realize more of my freedom had been taken, hastening my plight to end up in chains.

I have to choose.

Its the hardest when my heart is screaming. It is the moments when I am full of emotion, feelings raging like a river inside of me. My flesh raises up like a screaming toddler, demanding I satisfy it RIGHT NOW. DEMANDING.

But, I have learned. I ignore the voice. I turn aside. I move in a new direction.

Instead, I have learned to utter these words. Ever so softly. God help. Help your daughter. Aid this heart that is so overwhelmed.

And HE DOES. He really does. The way he does it looks different every time

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Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

, but often, I awake to see the storm has passed. Unbeknownst to me, somewhere between a crying heart and thunder clouds, my God has saved the day.

Isn’t that what we want? To be rescued? To be made whole? To breathe again once more?

Praise be to the God who does all things well. Selah.

Six Tools to Help you Manage your Eating during COVID-19

Friends, these are crazy, crazy times. I have been steadily learning how to stay a float during COVID-19. Extra time is rare these days. Between homeschooling, caring for a newborn, and trying to work my full-time job, I do not have a lot of time to be worried or super-focused on my weight and eating.

I had a good routine before corona.  Everything had to change.

First, I had to readjust my goals. Years later, I hope to look back and be proud I survived this pandemic, while remaining whole of heart and spirit. Survival.

I have committed to one thing–COVID-19 WILL NOT be setting me back RE: eating. Though I have every reason to give myself permission, I do not want to resurrect old habits and older versions of myself that I have worked to put to death. Versions of myself that use food inappropriately.   I wonder if you may be feeling the same as me–struggling with your eating, but being determined to not lose the momentum you had been making before the all this began.

I have been scared. Overwhelmed. Worried that the very fabric of my American life, and things that I had unknowingly relied upon (e.g., the presence of toilet paper whenever I wanted it) would  vanish. I am doing the very best I can. We all are these days.

I know two things: 1) I do not have a lot of time; and 2) I am not going backward. This is not the season for me to plan to run a marathon, or to try new healthy cooking methods. I need easy. I need quick. I need reliable. Maybe you do too.

I am implementing safeguards to help me control myself. I know that this is an EMOTIONAL season, and whenever I feel a flood of emotions, I tend to eat differently. I may not always realize that I use food to cope, or even know that is happening. Though I know eating may be my natural method to use to regulate my emotions, I have acquired a few more tools over the years–prayer, listening to encouraging music, calling a friend, taking a walk, journaling, getting out of the house, taking a nap.

Below, are some additional practices that help me stay in control:

1) Say no to seconds: I eat what I want, but I don’t go back for more. I hate this one. Really, I do. However, when I

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Photo by Lynnelle Richardson on Pexels.com

STOP going back for “just a little bit” more, my eating behaviors are much more manageable. A “little bit more” is often underestimated, and it turns out to be a whole lot more. I was doing this for a few weeks and seeing good momentum; I stopped (because I hate it!), but I stopped making as much progress. I realized and I am going to start do this again.

2) Stop eating at the point of fullness: I am ever realizing there is no benefit of eating past the point of fullness. It does not matter WHAT it is: I must stop when I sense my body telling me I had enough. I have to recommit to this daily, and ask God to HELP me because I often want to keep going.

3) Move 3-4 times/week: Some days, all I can do is take a walk. On good days, I try to do some type of workout video. Either way, I move.

4) Cut the Snacks (no grazing): This has been SO helpful. I have been focusing on eating every 3-4 hours. Period. No in-between. I try to aim for one snack per day, between lunch and dinner.  I cut out lots of tempting situations because of this. If I am really hungry in-between meals, I eat a piece of fruit. I practice this regularly, but not rigidly. Grace reigns in this season.

5) Weighing myself regularly: I step on the scale at least twice per week. This is my point of accountability. If I see the numbers going up, then I know I need to make some changes with my eating and physical activity behavior.  Regular weighing facilitates a healthy relationship with my weight. There are no surprises, and I see the consequences of my decisions. Regular weighing + long-term behavior changes = peace with my weight.

6) Weekly calls with my accountability partner. Every week, my partner and I confess (ha!) and tell how each other how our eating has been going. We set goals. We pray together about our struggles. We encourage one another. We swap ideas with one another. This has been one of my most helpful tools in my weight journey.

The end product? I have maintained my weight over these last few months. I wanted it to be more, but I have had to readjust my goals. We survive and care for ourselves in pandemics. I remember–I am doing the best I can. I am loving and being loved by my friends and family. I am enough at all sizes.  

Journey on, friends.

Creeping

I’m having that feeling again.

The one where I want to eat everything in my sight.

Its been slowing coming on since this coronavirus thing started.

Slowly. Creeping. Like a silent intruder. But still coming nonetheless.

I fight, but sometimes I don’t want to HAVE TO fight. I just don’t want to.

But if I don’t fight, IT wins. And I have to win, not IT.

So, no. I won’t eat that extra piece of pound cake. Nope, not today. And no, I won’t indulge myself in that thought, the one that says this “food” will make things better. Nope, I won’t do it. Its a lie.

I find myself taking comfort in food. Almost an attempt to find little bits of joy in each day. I know it won’t really produce joy, but it definitely serves as a mask.

Growing

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Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

I thought I would take the time to check-in about how I have been doing. The most important update is that I am growing.

I have been working on my relationship with food for about 15 years. I see now there is always more work to do. I must always work to keep from resurrecting behaviors and eating patterns that should be left dead. If I practice the chain-breaking things (e.g., eating only for physical hunger, turning to God for strength, limiting my self-indulgence, regular accountability), I walk closer to freedom in my heart and in my mind. My clothes fit better. I am stronger and closer to wholeness. I see another truth at work as well: if I indulge my flesh (e.g., overeating, self-soothing with food), I am inevitably on the road to slavery, and I will find myself at the place where I awake once again to chains.

The most difficult place for me? Times of stress. I still have this track that plays in my mind, rhythmically, almost like a song: “Food will make it better.” The track gets louder when I feel like I am overwhelmed and tired. I awake to ringing in my ears.

I saw this clearly once I had my second child about 6 months ago. The cravings were so intense and I thought about food all the time. I was planning my next meal before the last one finished. All I wanted to do was eat. I saw this pattern: I begin to believe I deserve a “treat.” Look at how hard things have been, I say. You have earned this.  And then my mind starts to plan. Though I have tried not to indulge that part of myself, I still have that path in my heart, and at any moment, I could walk down that road again. However, I know where it leads and I am done with all of that.

I now know to practice my faith in times of stress. I instead decide to pray, meditate on a scripture, or take the time to show my gratefulness to God. My go to prayer? “God give me strength.” And he does. I see the truth in my heart now; food is a counterfeit. Though I crave it at times of greatest vulnerability, I now know that it does not save. It does no more than to satisfy the desires of my heart for but a moment. My relationship with God, however, bears fruit. It gives me what I truly need, and I can see clearly the space food once occupied is and should be all HIS.

I have lost 7 lbs. since I re-started the weight loss journey. I’m ok with the pace, realizing that once the weight is lost, my son will likely no longer be a baby. Trying to keep things in perspective. I don’t want to rush or miss anything.

My focus is on practicing my health behaviors (e.g., at least 2 gym workouts weekly; no seconds (though I want them at EVERY meal), pizza and dessert alternate every other week; fresh fruit and vegetables for snacks. I am far from successful every week, and that’s ok. I just keep reaching for the goal.

I’m growing. I hope you are too.

Keep going, friends.