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.

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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.

Thirty-five pounds of weight lost, but ever increasing in perspective…

 

 

Wow!  God is mighty.  And yes, I am saying that because he blessed me to lose 35 lbs., but also because of what I have been gaining.  It is hard to explain, but gaining this weight, losing the ability to fit into my old mold, and watching God form me into something else has been such a journey.  I find myself seeing clearer as I continue to move deeper in experiencing freedom.  I knew something had shifted when I hopped on the scale, noticed the weight loss, and did not feel my usual elation.  I am seeing. I thought I would use to post to share what I have gained from the last few months.

 

 

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  • I am learning to WORSHIP

 Yes, if I think about the most important lesson I have gained, I am learning to connect the choices I make about eating and exercise to being a visible demonstration to God of what I think about him. At this point in my life, I know what I need to eating, and how much exercise I should be receiving.  Why am I not doing what I know to be best?  I can’t control what the scale will do, but I can control what I offer in the form of my health behaviors to God.

  • Scale is NOT the final measure

I have really struggled with the scale over these past few months. I found myself beginning these patterns of stepping on the scale, and then looking to the number as THE measure of if I am meeting my goals.  If the scale provided a good read, then I believed I my behavior was acceptable.  I found two things happening: 1) I had a false sense of pride over my progress and began to make poor eating choices; and 2) If the number was not what I wanted, felt overly discouraged about the hope of me ever losing the weight. Not good.

God convicted my heart, and I had to learn how to align my “success” with my worship to him in my health behaviors.  If I focused on bringing my best sacrifice to God, then I have done my part.  Even though I still weigh myself 1-2 days per week, I now understand the scale’s purpose.  Accountability.  Not approval.  Not my God. Just a tool. The scale is not my final source of approval.  That is hard, but I am grateful that God has been faithful.

  • Hunger MATTERS

If I could point to one behavioral thing that I KNOW influenced my weight loss, I would have to say learning to eat ONLY when physically hungry (i.e., stomach growling) has made the most difference.  I thought I was doing this, but without the stomach growl, I was often operating from a “hit or miss” position. I found waiting for the growl a very clear indicator of when to eat.  It made the whole weight loss process simpler, and I have been working with my body instead of “jumping ahead of it” or “ignoring the signals.”

  • Becoming WHOLE

I have been concerned about fitting in my old jeans, gaining approval, and receiving affirmation from others.  I know there is more to life, but still, I have been concerned with the former. But God.  He has a way of taking my limited desires, and making them into something beautiful.  I had no idea how much I NEEDED to be freed from the desire to please people and fit into a mold that was socially acceptable (e.g., not being overweight).  Actually, becoming overweight was necessary to show me that I did not need to achieve IT to be whole.  I have learned to focus and worship God with my behaviors and am sitting in my worth just because He said that I have it. Not all the way there, but still moving in the right direction.

  • Keep the FIRST thing, the FIRST and ONLY thing

At first, I didn’t see it, but slowly my devotion to God was being rivaled by my desire to see the scale move.  It seemed to be the most important thing to me; I would weigh myself daily, and found my mood becoming heavily influenced by the number on the scale. Doing this blinded my heart and mind to experiencing true freedom; I became so focused on losing weight and found myself making decisions JUST because I wanted to the scale to be happy with me the next day.  I have since changed that and am working on offering my health behaviors to God as my act of worship.  This has made a significant difference in my spiritual health, and my ability to truly live transformed.

I am going to celebrate this accomplishment.  Almost 40lbs!  Wow.  So grateful to God.  Will look forward to enjoying the rest of this journey.  Prayers for you, friends.

Learning to use Your Appetite as your Guide

food-salad-restaurant-person.jpgWhen you hear the phrase, “eat when you’re hungry, stop when full,” I imagine a shudder runs down your spine. How on earth am I supposed to learn to do that? Rest assured, the process can be done. Below are a few tips that may be helpful as you begin your journey.

1. Pray a “new prayer” before you begin eating

It is common for many of us to pray before we eat, as we find it important to thank God for our food and express our gratefulness in his provision of it. As the prayer has become routine, is often marked by familiar and quick phrases. If you have problems overeating, this prayer simply will not do any longer. Imagine your meal times as new opportunities to mount up for battle. When you eat, you are either going to be victorious by not overeating, or you’re going to fail and feel discouraged at the end of your meal. Consequently, the words you say in the prayer before the meal need be purposeful and carefully selected. A new prayer should include a desire for the Holy Spirit to help you know when you’ve had enough, strength and focus in order to be obedient, and the grace that only God can provide for a victorious eating session. With the help of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to “gird up your loins” and be obedient.

2. WAIT until you are HUNGRY

Our bodies have been equipped with this wonderful tool to help us know when to eat: the stomach growl.  If you start to eat in RESPONSE to this growl, you will see a major shift in your relationship with food and your ability to learn to eat. This took me a great deal of practice, but once I learned to ONLY consume food when my body was calling out for hunger (i.e., stomach growl, burning, empty feeling), I saw significant progress in my weight loss attempts.

I think of the eating cycle like a dishwasher:  when you put dishes in and turn the dishwasher on, you usually do not touch the dishes until the cycle is complete. We should be the same way with our bodies. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING until you feel this sensation of hunger return.  At that point, you know your body is ready to consume food again.

 

3. Eat slowly. Savor every bite.

People who struggle with overeating, are often the same people who struggle with eating slowly. It is so easy to just “inhale” your food, devour every morsel on your plate, and then wake up at the end of the meal and realize you have gone too far. If you slow down when you eat, the first thing you’ll begin to realize is that you have a greater understanding of when you are “full,” as you can allow the food the time to travel down to your digestive system and your brain to get the message that you are nearing fullness. Secondly, you might actually get the chance to enjoy your food. You can savor the texture, flavor, and smell, while actually experiencing the experience of eating. This will make it a bit easier to be obedient when the sign comes that you are full and you need to stop eating. You will have no regrets, as you have had a chance to enjoy your meal and taste the food.

4. Drink between Bites

This will enable you to help digestion and slow down the food intake. You will also get the signal for fullness a little quicker. I recommend water, as it is calorie free, good for you, and allows you to just focus on the food. Remember – any beverage that you drink will contribute to your fullness and will decrease the amount of food you can eat. There are so many hidden calories in fruit juices and sodas. Be mindful as you make your beverage choices.

5. FOCUS

It is best not to be too distracted while you are eating. As you are practicing “normal eating,” it will be helpful to stay away from eating while watching TV, eating while talking on the phone, eating while reading, eating while having an intense conversation, and eating in the car. If you are talking or participating in another activity while you are eating, it will be so easy to “mindlessly” eat and quickly override your body’s signals of fullness. You must concentrate. Concentration may mean that you talk less, and are more focused during the period of eating. If you are talking, it is best to talk and then take bites, rather than trying to do it all at the same time. It will get easier. You have to be able to focus on the matter at hand: winning your battle with food.

6. When you first believe you feel full, stop eating immediately.

This is where the battle begins. Everything in you will want to continue to eat. Everything. This is where you either submit to God, or continue to do things your way. I guarantee you – you never regret not overeating. Yes, you may be tempted. And yes it may be difficult. However, you will have no regrets. You will always regret overeating. ALWAYS. Do whatever it takes to not eat another morsel. If you are at a restaurant, pack the food up. Go to the bathroom. Sabotage your plate. Pursue obedience at any cost. It will get easier, but at first this will probably be the most difficult step. Pray for strength and “take no prisoners.” If it helps, remember this may make the difference between seeing less pounds on the scale.

7. Remember – eating is not just eating for you

As a person with recurrent weight concerns, eating will be a place where one of your battles with the enemy will be fought every day. The more obedient you become, the more you decrease the chains that bind you. The converse is also true. If you continually overeat at every meal, you will continually feel more like a slave to food. This journey is about you taking a stance and waging war. You are naïve if you think you do not need to have that on your mind as you approach your food choices.

These tips are essential, as you already have a host of maladaptive behaviors that are natural and will take over if you’re not paying attention. This is a guide to help you take on your new way of living, under God, and learn to walk and freedom that he offers. If practiced, these behaviors will eventually become easier and will not feel as laborious as they do in the beginning. Think of these beginning steps as your training wheels on your road to freedom.

Being WHOLE-HEARTED in my weight loss journey

pexels-photo-207962.jpegI think it would be safe to say that MY #1 goal is to be released from this prison of weight, and to move forward to my next place, a land where I am free from the burden and shame of being overweight, and am at peace, and living a full life.  In my mind, that place includes being in a normal weight range, and having regular health behaviors.

However, I am realizing I often become discouraged because my focus is on the part that I really can’t control:  the weight loss.  Yes, I can contribute to it, or help facilitate it by my health behaviors, but overall, I cannot make my body release the weight.  That is God’s choice and doing ONLY.

So, where does that leave me?  In the past few days, God has been showing me my HEART.  And in it, I still believe that if the scale says I’m ok, then that means I AM OK.  The scale has become my validation. I recently had 2 weeks where I was able to lose a lot of weight rapidly.  It was exhilarating.  I was so happy, feeling like I was about to arrive to my destination sooner than I originally believed. However, I also noticed that I started to make accommodations for certain behaviors (e.g., pizza more often, dessert more often) because I thought it did not matter any longer. The scale was moving. And friends, THAT was all that mattered to me.

God was not going to let those behaviors go without addressing them.  About 2-3 weeks in, the scale stopped moving as quickly, and God took the time to show me why—my heart is still in bondage.  (Sigh). Oh, how dismayed I was to learn that! More, because I knew that my rapid weight loss would be ending, and I feared I would never make it to the end. But, the way I was acting, I wasn’t moving toward freedom.  Just bondage to a different master—the scale.

I can see more clearly now—the need to be wholehearted in my weight loss.  What is that?  I am serving God with fervency, right where I am, not letting the requirement for my health behaviors and actions be that I am losing weight.  No, I have ENOUGH reasons right now to worship God, and I am seeing that one part of my worship are the health behaviors that I choose to engage.

Here are three verses that describe what God says about actions and hearts toward him:

“As for you…serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts”.  1 Chronicles 6:38

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship.” Romans 12:1

When I read these verses, I am reminded of my posture, and the place where my heart needs to reside. My true worship is the LEAST I can give my God for all the He has done thus far.  My worship is my health behaviors and choices, no matter if God allows me to experience all the weight loss I would desire. This worship is where I will be transformed, and where I will experience freedom.

I have lost 24 pounds.  Wow!!  God, be praised. I am healthy, whole, safe, and have experienced more blessings than I deserve.  My worship is my gift to God. I will seek God first (Matthew 6:33), and trust that in time, he will decide the things that need to be added (or lost) unto me. I will keep moving forward, and I hope you will too.  Be encouraged, friends.

 

Four Things I have Learned about Losing Weight this Year

As we come to the end of the year, I think this a time for reflection.  I am praising God that I have lost 11 pounds since August. I am, however, still cognizant of the areas where I need to grow. While 11 pounds may be praiseworthy, I am not satisfied.  At this pace, we will have a LONG road ahead of us.  Below are the things I have learned in the last few months:

  1. It was harder than I thought it would be

 When I first started this weight journey in August, I thought I by now, I would have been down 20-30 pounds. Yea, no. That is not how things went. My weight loss was easier in some ways, but overall, these last few months have felt long.  Things have not moved as fast as I thought they would, and it was discouraging.  I thought I knew, but this 36-year-old body is much different than the 22-year-old body that was originally losing weight.  All my lessons are important, but the implementation is not the same.  There is something different I have to do in this season.

  1. I wasn’t ready to make a true sacrifice

I think I thought that if I just kept eating what I normally eat and work out, then I would lose the weight.  And I did—in the beginning.  But, now, none of what I was doing is working. I have officially plateaued, and I have been in the same spot for weeks now. I did eat my salads, and I did go workout, but OVERALL, I ate what I wanted to. And while that worked for me in my twenties, now that my foundation is not overeating, and regular exercise, I need to do more to push that number.  More intense working out, more often.  More healthful meals. More often. Less pizza and less dessert. More often. I think things just have to be a bit tighter.  My body is like “been there done that.”  I need to do something different.

  1. If it is in my house, I am going to eat it.

Yea, I can make cookies, dessert, and other “fun” foods all I want, but if it is in my house, I am going to find it really hard to not eat at least some of it.  No overeating, but still enjoying it.  And my old self was ok with that, but I just think all the rules are different.  I am really considering whether I need to make a hard cut to some of my favorites for a few months—just to get the weight down. I can always return later, or somewhat return later, but for now, I am getting to the place where “enough is enough.”  I don’t want to be this size in four months.  Like, NO. I REALLY DON’T.

  1. I have a rebellious spirit 

I don’t know when this started, but I have just realized that I have been rebelling against the traditions of nutrition.  In my HEART, I still operate from a “good to me” vs. “good for me” eating paradigm.  Yes, at times I make healthy eating choices, however, I know I still have not fully committed to a life of healthful eating. Even in these last few months, I have been engaging in behaviors that I KNOW in previous seasons I learned not to do (e.g., order pizza every week). For this reason, I have just started counting calories with the Lose It App.  It provides me encouragement and accountability to make more healthful eating choices.  It will also be my way of repenting from the arrogance in my heart that has peppered many of my eating choices.

I do feel hopeful about 2018.  I am grateful for all I have been learning, and know that this will benefit others, and myself.  Happy New Year, friends.