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.

 

 

may12_18_uncgrad

  • 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.

Advertisements

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.

The Danger when the Scale goes Down

I am down 11 pounds – well, I was before the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I am still counting it though🙂.  You all just do not know how excited I was to the scale move down a few weeks ago.  This journey can be so long, and I have many moments when I wonder if what I do matters.

When I saw that I had finally lost 11 pounds, I felt happy – for a moment.  Then, I started to feel something else – pride. “I’ve got this,” I smiled inwardly.  That pride worked its way into my choices in the next week; I was a bit more willing to say yes instead of no. To dessert.  To getting another helping. To the behaviors that kept me overweight. It was almost like the fire under my drive to lose weight was gone.

The next week, I went to get on the scale. Up 4 pounds.  “Are you KIDDING me??!!!!.”  I could not believe it.  You know my first thought – “whelp, Thanksgiving is ruined.”  And why did I say that?  Because I knew.  All the latitude that I would take if the scale had gone down (and trust, my behaviors probably would have been even worse than the week before), was gone.  I was going to have to be “on my game.”  I was going to think a little more before taking an extra helping of macaroni and cheese.  (sigh). I felt so disappointed.  And then, all the negative, discouraging thoughts came too. “Am I ever going to lose this weight?”  (sigh).

But even though I was feeling bad, guess who did not miss one gym visit this week?  Yup, me. Guess who made sure to push away her plate when she knew she was full?  Yup, me.  Guess who practiced her health behaviors that ensured that she is one step closer to living free. ME.

I heard something in church today that made me reflect, “There is a difference between being free and living free.”  My, how that applies to my food journey.  And, God wants me to LIVE free, more than he wants me to fit into my old jeans. “Why, GOD?🙂.

This scale thing is tricky. I have to admit — as painful as it is to get on the scale and see the numbers remain the same or go up (gasp!), my health behaviors are typically far better in the following days.  I am more cognizant, I don’t miss any gym visits, and I am fighting for my freedom. Now please understand – I am not hoping that the scale will go up.  However, I can see how God uses that disappointment to shape me, and help me push toward the best health behaviors.  I think I win more (e.g. practice the most health behaviors) when the scale reports a number that disappoints me. I live freer when I get a read I don’t like.

So, here is the goal:  Live free (e.g., practice those health behaviors) no matter WHAT the scale says. I am pushing toward that goal, though sometimes it feels like I am on my hands and knees, and barely crawling.  I still don’t see it like that, but I am trying. More than that, God is fighting.  And he NEVER loses. Let’s keep walking.

Prayers for you friends.

God’s goal isn’t for me (or you) to be skinny

“God’s goal isn’t for us to be skinny. God’s goal is for us to be healthy – spiritually and physically.” – Lysa Terkeurst

Well, I should have known.  My goal, however, was to be skinny.  Healthy would have been nice, but skinny was what I wanted.  I remember when I first started losing weight.  All I wanted to do was fit “a size 14.”  Wear clothes in a normal size. Weigh anything under 200 lbs. Now that I reflect, I see how short-sighted my goal was.  Yes, accomplishing all those things were nice, but I also had back pain, hand pain, and made some poor choices in my relationships that caused me a lot of pain. I was lazy. I also carried a lot of fear.  Again, I was skinny, but was I healthy?

Fast forward about 10 years, when I was still in my goal weight, I noticed the Lord beginning to shift some things.  Again, I should have known.  My first warning sign should have been the challenges I had losing some of the weight I gained from my pregnancy.  His first stop – dealing with my “let’s do the bare minimum spirit.”  I had mastered my appetite by this time, but your girl had not stepped foot in the gym for MONTHS.  Almost YEARS.  Crazy, huh?  Buuutt, I was skinny.  My goal met. I remember when my gym called me after the birth of my son – asking me to come back.  Isn’t that something?

Then, the Lord began to deal with my diet.  It was so hard for me to lose even an oz. of my baby weight.  That process forced me to rethink my eating, and to acknowledge that my diet needed a tune-up.  Again, by that time, I had learned the master my appetite, but the wisdom in the foods I would choose was questionable. But, carrying more weight than I wanted, and having to work extra hard to lose it forced me to a place where I had to eat better.  I was on my way to being healthy.

Remember that back pain?  Well, because your girl was so lazy, I dealt with it for YEARS.  Went to chiropractors, physical therapists –ALL because I did not have a back-exercise regimen that I would do consistently.  When I started dealing with PCOS again, and started experiencing some weight gain, I then became interested in my back exercises.  Shame.  But finally moving.

And finally – the fear.  That was probably the hardest.  I knew God put the “Freedom Chasers” ministry on my heart years ago.  But I was too scared to really move forward.  I would take the smallest steps – only to have a setback that would undo the progress I had made.  By creating turmoil and complete chaos during the last years of school, God was finally able to do the work needed to “free” me from the fear of man that held me.  While I am still a work in progress, I am moving faster than I ever have been before.

So, as I reflect, and consider this journey, I can honestly say that I am HEALTHIER than I have ever been before.  It took SO much to get me to this place. Right now, I weigh more than I EVER have in my entire life.  But, I am also more whole, more disciplined, and sure of my work, and feeling FREE.  Even while the outside reflects chains.  Funny how that works.

When I was in the last phase of school, God placed this verse on my heart: “But he knows the way I should take, and when he has tested me, I shall come forth as pure gold” (Job 23:10). Looking forward to seeing what shall be revealed at the end of this journey.

 

 

Five pounds lost, 60 to go

I lost my first five pounds. Once I finally got in weight loss mode, it took me about 6 weeks to get there. I know it’s only the beginning, but I cannot tell you how excited I was to see that scale finally hit the mark. I have had seasons where nothing I did added up to even 2 pounds; Being here feels like quite an accomplishment.  I’m coming back, y’all! As promised, this is OUR weight loss journey.  I am going to walk you through everything I feel that has been helping.

BEFORE WE BEGIN:  I have learned this:  God first = weight loss. When I first started in August, I was in willpower mode, and was not doing very well. But then, I remembered my spiritual toolbox:  reading my bible, praying and seeking God’s help, following what he already told me (discipline, eating within hunger and fullness), and sharing my testimony with others (e.g. YOU ALL)

Alright, let’s start at the beginning:

  1. I fast one meal, one day per week.

I had done this when I first lost weight, but until I started the group, did not really think this needs to be incorporated.  Nope.  Still matters.  Here is why: Fasting denies the “flesh”, i.e. the part of me that usually is the reason why I gain all the weight in the first place.  By praying about my weight loss (e.g., praying for self-control, God’s help to make me stronger) and concurrently not eating when I really, really, want to, I am becoming stronger and increasing my SELF-CONTROL. I have been noticing I am less tempted to eat when I know I should not, and I find it easier to stop when I notice my body has had enough.

  1. When I can pick what I am eating, I operate by the 60/40 rule (totally made up by me, ha!)

 Over all my weight loss attempts, I have finally become mature enough to know that permanent weight loss is associated with eating more of the foods that I know are best for me (e.g., fruits, vegetables, brown rice and beans, light on the bread, no dessert).  So, Monday-Friday (4pm) (about 60-64% of the time), while still eating within my hunger/fullness, I eat with maturity.  I know what is best for my body, and I try to feed it accordingly.

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 8.26.11 AM

Now here is the fun part:

Starting on Friday at 4pm, I eat typically what I want, i.e. no food restrictions:  I just follow the rules:  Only eat when I am physically hungry, and stop when I had enough, pay attention to my body, and still use wisdom.  No calorie counting, no stress.  Just eating like a normal person without a weight problem:  within my hunger and fullness signals

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 8.26.40 AM

Also noteworthy, but KEY: I TRY MY ABSOLUTE HARDEST to not eat between meals and snacks. No grazing behaviors allowed. That usually keeps me in a good place of normalized eating signals (e.g feel hunger throughout the day, and can stop when I’m satisfied, knowing I’ll eat again in about 2-2.5 hours.

  1. I work out at the gym at least 3 days/ per week for at least 30 minutes

I have toyed with this rule, but have come to see, if I want to lose weight (e.g. 2 pounds/week), I MUST get a good workout (i.e. sweaty and gross afterward) at least 3 days a week.  I typically do a couple things: 1) use the rowing machine for about 15-20 minutes, and break up the time by walking fast on the treadmill 2) take a Zumba class 3) running intervals (run 2-4 minutes (speed: 4.4), walk 1-3 min (speed: 3.2), repeat until I get to 30). I also usually end the workout by either doing sit-ups or using 2-3 weight machines (reps: 10-12, 3 times). On a good day, I will work out for 60 minutes, but if time is tight, 30 will have to do.

If I am really on my game, I will take another walk at some point in the week. Usually while I am at work. Nothing strenuous – just brisk walking for at least 20 minutes.

NOTE: I have also started usually high interval intensity training (HITT).  That means:  I go as hard as I can for 1-4 minutes, and then I rest (1-4 minutes), and repeat.  I think this has also been helping. It is supposed to be a great fat burner.

  1. Talk to my Freedom Chasers Group, making videos, and praying for you all

I believe my weight loss is attached to you all.  We are in this together.  I know God did not bring me here just for me to have another self-focused weight loss story. I pray for your freedom, and know that the encouragement I receive from your stories, and likes and loves helps me to keep going.  Thank you, friends!

In summary, I walk around feeling free, no stress, no rules, just discipline and wisdom.  Could I lose weight faster if I followed all the diet rules?  Perhaps.  But, I know from previous experience, that this is a lasting 5 pounds. Not likely to come back.  I am building a strong foundation (Luke 6:46-49) that will bless me, and my family.  Prayers for you all as you journey!