How do I get started losing weight (part 2)?

stop sign

Now that we have established your foundation (How do I get started losing weight?)*, the next most important thing can be best explained by the metaphor of a STOP sign.

I think it is fair to say that many of us drive, and encounter our share of “STOP” signs on a regular basis.  By now, most of us have learned that when you see a STOP sign, more often than not, you need to STOP.  Or at least pause.  Why?  We may want to protect our safety, the safety of others, and/or prevent getting a ticket. We have learned that this is not optional.  Not based on how we feel.  No matter how fast we are going, or what else we are in a hurry to go and do – when we see that STOP sign, we hit the brakes on our car.

Similarly, our body sends up its own version of a STOP sign when we are eating.  In her treatment, Appetite Awareness Training, Psychologist Linda Craighead reemphasizes the importance of learning to recognize and abide by your body’s signal for fullness.

Unfortunately, in this culture, most of us have learned to ignore fullness.  We may not even know what it feels like anymore.   Our bodies may have even stopped trying to tell us.  All we know is the difference between “I’m starving” and “I’m stuffed.”  And when you feel like you are “stuffed” – you’ve gone too far.

When you start to feel like you are moderately “full” this is the body’s version of a STOP sign.  That means – no more food.  Your body no longer needs it.  Your work is to start treating the voice of your body with the same honor you have learned to give the road signs for your car. We must stop telling ourselves that this is “no big deal.”  That is not true.  And I’m sure you have experienced or know someone who has experienced the consequences of long-term consequences of eating too much (e.g. , weight gain, diabetes, heart disease).

So, what’s my next step?

Stop ignoring fullness. Begin to take the time to listen to determine when you are moderately full, and practice the habit of not allowing one morsel of food to cross into your mouth when your body has said STOP.

Will this be difficult?

Yes—at first.  We have grown quite accustomed to making our eating decision based on what we “want.”  But, as with any habit, once you keep doing it, and you start to see positive results, you will notice wonderful changes.  And remember – you can always go back for more!  In most cases, the food will be there in a couple of hours or the next day.

From my own personal experience, once I began to do this regularly, I found it much easier to be “in control” rather having the food control me. I would pray that God would help me learn how to “stop” when I had enough.  I really didn’t want to at first.  I failed often, and got discouraged.  But, God gave me strength to keep going – one meal at a time. Once I had my control back, I was surprised how easy it was to begin to make better changes to my health.  In my opinion, this is one of the most important things I learned to control my weight.

Give it a try.  Let me know how it goes.  I’ll be praying for you.

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Sometimes He Just Makes You Wait

I’ve been expecting God to move in an area of my life for over 1 year now.  As I write that, I realize that length of time is extremely short.  Extremely.  But when you are waiting – one day over what you wanted seems like an eternity.  As the months have progressed and I don’t have “the” answer, I find it easier to become angry and upset that God hasn’t answered my prayer.  He’s not moving fast enough.  Does he even care?

Just today I was reminded that the answer to my prayer is not the most important part of this story.  I want it to be – I have visions of the joy I will experience when I get to tell this story of how God made it happen; how he caused a miracle; how he parted my proverbial “red sea.” But, for some reason, things just don’t end up working out like I had planned.  The story just isn’t over yet . . .

Along the way, God has done his share of miracles. He’s met needs, provided endurance, given me hope to continue to press in further. There have been several times that I just knew this was it – He had to answer this exact way at this exact time.  But no.  God does not do boxes, and he always seems to show me that my human end is just that – human.  He is not defined by where I think I need to put my periods.  He is constantly putting an eraser to my ends, and using his red ink to insert commas, and clauses I never knew would exist.  Oh God.  But I still don’t have exactly what I have been praying for.  And it’s oh so frustrating and painful at times!

I had a moment of clarity yesterday (they are often short-lived), and God reminded me of the following: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:15). I was humbled in that moment.  What my anger often expresses is my belief that God does not know where He is going.  I imagine we are in a car, and we pass “my” exit.  Constantly. I often look over in frustration and exasperation.  But no – he reminds me – “I know the way Rachel.  Sit back. Steady your heart.  I won’t get us lost.  I can get you where I want to take you”. I silently fume.  Grrr.  But I know he’s right.

So I wait.  And sit back (at least try to) while we travel.  And if I’m honest – I’ve seen that this way has some unexpected sights of beauty that I didn’t realize would be present.  Some things that I know I shouldn’t have missed.  Even if I wouldn’t have initially chosen this exact path.  Oh God.

He providing the “thing” isn’t really what this is about.  I always think it is, but recently, I’ve seen that “the yes” just is not the true point of this story.  God is creating, revitalizing, and raising a person from a life that was initially headed nowhere great.  As he constantly molds me, and roughs out this edge and that edge, I see something beautiful forming – while on the journey.

I do think I’ll get there.  To my answered prayer.  But I also imagine that “my end” won’t be God’s finest hour.  No, instead, it will be the moment he finishes that final touch, right before he wakes me up, and says, “Daughter – we’re here.” God – please help me to wait well.

Rachel runs now?

running

Yes, you read that correctly – I have started to run.

I am just as shocked as you may be; running was never something that I believed should be part of my exercise regimen. I still think I was holding on to images of my past – horror stories of running in elementary and middle school, and my mental scars about its challenges when I weighed 250 pounds. Well, since I don’t weigh 250 pounds anymore, I think I can let go of some of those fears. I’ve been working out pretty regularly for over a year now. I think I can manage it.

I first started running last Friday, and I continued the momentum during my workout this morning. I still wouldn’t say I particularly enjoy the experience, but I was proud that I did it and got something new accomplished.

It was shortly after my work out that I realized the accomplishment was not in my running this morning. What I think I needed to applaud was the fact that I chose to unlearn some of my old fears, and allowed myself to move forward. To not continue to be defined by things that I “used to believe” or that I “used to do.” A commonly known Bible verse says the following: “If any man be in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come (2 Cor 5:17).

There are times I want to be this new creature and others where I would rather continue to be the Rachel I know. Not only is it easier, but I don’t’ have to keep running to these challenges that are scary, and stretching. I don’t have to keep doing things that I don’t have a blueprint for; I’d much rather do those where I can say “I’ve been there before”. “I know how it goes”. Kind of like believing that I don’t run because . . .well, because I just haven’t.

Truth: I can run, I’ve just be afraid that the experience would be so unpleasant that I decided to avoid it for many, many years. Truth: I’m growing up – letting go some of my “old Rachel” ways, and allowing myself to be prepared for something greater. Truth: The process isn’t that fun all the time, but I’ve just got to do it. That’s what it means to mature. And honestly, isn’t it just time for that?

Here’s to moving forward. . .

Not Ever Arriving

For much of life, I have believed that with any attempt to lose weight I was embarking on a plan that had a start date and an ending one. I took comfort in the fact that I would only have to do _____ for _______ weeks/months. I liked looking at my issues with weight like that. Temporary.

I have realized that by not accepting food and weight as something I need to consistently manage, I am more likely to become unexpectedly caught in its grasp. Whenever I believe that I have arrived (either by achieving my weight or clothes goal), I am already in a dangerous place. My sense of “arrival” ushers in a slow complacency that makes it easier to not eat the wise things, and not choose to physically exercise my body.

Additionally, you know when it has been the hardest to manage my weight? After I have lost it all. I think its challenging because I no longer have the power of motivation to work with me. My mind now tells me “I can eat this, and I don’t have to do that”. I start to believe that I’ve never had any weight problems (LIES). I become very, very comfortable. I start missing gym visits. I begin making food choices that are unwise – simply because I know that I have a bit of “room” to work with now. The crazy thing is that this process is almost automatic. I don’t even have to try to do it. It’s like the switch turns off – and I’m back to believing that the lie that living a healthy lifestyle isn’t hard for me.

Look at this passage with me. This was written by a man named Paul, who admitted to feeling that he had much to boast about. However, in this passage, he recounts something interesting:

“So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10)

Managing this “thorn” of self-control and food can be trying. However, what I am learning is that I need to accept that this may be a God-designed weakness/thorn (self-control around food), and keep offering God an opportunity to show himself strong. I will always be managing my issues of self-control. Always. And that’s not a bad thing. It keeps me humble. It keeps me praying and asking God for help. And that’s the thing – It is when we finally realize that we need God’s help with everything that we really start to be transformed. Oh, I love to think I can do it alone. But no – I cannot. And God has used my natural lack of self-control around food to remind me I will always need his help. The “power of Christ” working through me…

Guess when I’m doing the best with managing my weight and health – when I’m talking to God about it. Regularly. My best health decisions are made when I realize my ability to take care of myself well is fleeting, and I know I need God. When I am humble enough to say that, I usually start to turn things around. And I am fully aware that things are starting to turn around now because I am now relying on God’s help.

What about you? What weakness do you consistently manage that may really be an opportunity to seek God?

Sick of Being in the Same Place

“What growth is being stunted because you won’t embrace a discipline for fear of the sacrifice it will require? Steven Furtick, Crash the Chatterbox

Can anyone relate to this? This quote makes me cringe just a little.  I think it’s because of that “D” word again – discipline. I don’t ever want to be disciplined about anything.  Especially eating.  Don’t even form your mouth to say the word:).  However, as I grow “up” in this weight management thing, I find discipline is not so bad to have around.

Over the last year, I have become more disciplined about several things: eating more vegetables on the weekdays, choosing to have pizza every other week, exercising 3 times per week, and limiting my dessert.  When I was just starting my weight loss journey, you couldn’t get me to be disciplined about anything.  It felt like such a burden! I didn’t want to work out regularly.  I didn’t want to eat the things I should most of the time.  I just wanted to weigh less.  But I didn’t want to do all the work.  Sound familiar?

The only thing about my “plan” is the weight never seemed to stay off.  Funny how that works.  Despite having a front-row seat to watching the plan unfold (eat poorly, stop exercising, gain weight) with regularity, I still would continue with my poor discipline.  For many years.  Sigh.

This year, I’ve just learned I need to grow up. No more complaints without taking the action to make healthy lifestyle changes. I’ve realized my root problem – I just don’t want to give anything up.  I want it all.  To eat the cake, pizza, and fit into my jeans.  To be free to be lazy, and feel good physically. What I continue to learn is that as long as I was afraid to let go, I was also unable to gain what I truly wanted. Freedom. Peace. No burdensome thoughts. As long as I was unwilling to be mature and set some necessary boundaries, I seemed to be unable to take hold of the things that I know are good for me.  What a surprise.

Allowing discipline more of a role in my life has taught me several new things. I’m learning that sometimes you just have to say “no” to a food choice.  No big explanation – just a no. And sometimes you just need to set the alarm and make yourself exercise. On a regular basis.   And if I want to be at a healthy weight for the long-term, I need to be less vegetable-adverse than I have been previously.  Discipline.  Growth. No big rewards.  Just little sacrifices that help me enjoy the freedom that I really want.

What about you?  What do you need to be disciplined about?

Stop Passing Us By

Dear Friends with Racial Privilege (you know who you are;),

I am writing with a request. This blog will deviate from my usual posts about food. I write especially to those of you who identify as loving Jesus and label yourself with the name of Christian. This morning, I just felt compelled to write about race. Your help is desperately needed with the events our country has been experiencing lately.

Remember the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)? Remember how the man lay by the side of the road – waiting on someone to help? In 2015, this story mirrors what is happening with racial and ethnic minorities in this country. Blacks. Hispanics. Asians. American Indians.

I’m sure you know the story – two people passed him by without helping him. Two. Guess who the first one was? The priest. Yup – the spiritual one. The one who was supposed to have access to God. And the second? Just another who was also spiritual – the Levite. He was supposed to be assisting the priest in worship. He passed right on by too.

As I sit with my brothers and sisters on the side of the road, I need to say something to you. When you are silent, you are passing us by. When you refuse to acknowledge the pain by the side of the road, you are passing us by. When you blame us for being on the side of the road, and use that as an excuse to not help – you are passing us by. Please stop it. If anyone should stop – it should be the Christians.

You know what we need – your hand and your love. That same love that God has for you. We need you to stop long enough to look at us on the side of the road, and do as Jesus says – have mercy. I know you may not know what to say. I know you may feel inadequate. Guilty even. But please don’t walk by. Don’t let that be an excuse for you to do nothing. Please. If you can think of no other first steps – get on your knees and pray. Ask God to guide your footsteps and reveal to you how you can help and use your racial privilege to make a difference. We really need you now.

New Branches, New Fruit

royalty-free-tree-clip-art-83838

It has been a long road, but today, I can finally say that I lost 5 lbs. You just don’t know how good that feels!  Any other time in my life, those 5lbs were just the beginning – small stuff, nothing big.  But today, I feel like those pounds were labored over!  Now that I reflect, I’ve learned so much about being healthy and losing weight – by not losing any weight.  Ha!  I am honestly surprised by how much I have learned by not meeting my goals.  God is always up to something.

Here is a verse that comes to mind, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2).  My attitude – pruned.  My laziness – pruned.  My eating habits – pruned.  Exercising regularly – pruned.  The funny thing is that none of those things are visible to someone who does not speak to me about my weight. The scale doesn’t say it.  My clothes don’t report it.  Its practically invisible.  Seems a bit unfair;).

Several months ago, I was fortunate to hear Rev. Nichelle Nelson preach a message about how God often places us in situations where he causes us to “dig deep so that we can build high.” In the message, Nelson used the illustration of the story of the Three Little Pigs to describe the outcome of building a house made with straw compared to building a house made with brick.  The story is common:  the big, bad wolf was able to destroy the pigs’ houses that were made with straw, but was unable to destroy the house made with brick. As I applied this to my recurrent struggle with weight loss, I realized that often I was building a weight loss “house” of straw.  Straw houses.  How many of us build straw houses with our weight loss attempts?  Our habits?  Our health behaviors?  Our structures are weak.

Here’s the thing – I cried and pouted the whole way through, but with every gym visit, I was building a brick house. Hated picking salad over pizza, but I was building a brick house. Every walk I took instead of taking the bus – a brick house. Practicing this behavior for MONTHS with no changes – a brick house. Every single time I read my Bible and spoke to God about my weight – a brick house. Praise be to God!

Three years ago, I was at my goal weight, but more unhealthy than I had been in a long time.  My back hurt constantly.  My gym membership grew cold.  I made eating choices based on my desires, rather than what I know to be good fuel for my body.  I wasn’t doing well.  But the scale said things were fine.  So, based on my measuring stick – things were fine. I had quite a bit to learn. And then I got pregnant.  And gained a whole bunch of weight.  Never thought I would thank God for that – but I do.  And now, 15 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, I can see the purpose.  I understand the reasoning.  I can accept the pruning (e.g., frustration, lack of changes in weight) as love.  Thank you God for pushing me to become the Rachel you always knew was there.  Things are looking better over here :).  Thanks for the prayers friends.