Lessons in the New Year

I don’t know why it is so hard for me to write these blog entries.  But, Lord help me, I’ll going to keep trying.

I’ve been learning a lot – beneath the surface.  That seems to be the way God works.

I always want him to do the easiest work first (e.g. lose the weight), but God keeps reminding me that he is working to make me whole.  I need to look deeper.

Honestly, I think I ‘m healthier than I’ve ever been, despite looking like the opposite on the outside.

My heart is healing, and I’m learning to let my desire for health lead – from the inside out.

Learning to eat healthy foods – just because it is good for me, and not because anything may happen on the scale.

I’m being disciplined with my exercise behaviors, even trying to hit that 150/minutes per week mark (as recommended) – just because.

I’ve been running – regularly.  Always surprised to put running and my name in the same sentence.

I’ve been asking God to forgive me from bowing to the idol of the scale.  I always thought that if it said that I was ok, then I was ok.  Its approval was what I thought I needed.  God gently reminded me that I need to change that perception.

I was running in the gym the other day, and this older gentlemen told me, “good job, sister.”  I almost cried.

And yes, pizza.  Even been doing my best to limit my purchase of it to every other week.  My love for it may also be changing too.  Not what it used to be.

Yes, in total, I am healthier.  Learning and walking with God, and waiting for the beauty of the work on the inside to be reflected on the outside.

A Thanksgiving Blessing: 5 Tips to help you NOT Gain the Weight this Holiday Season

Think of me as your best friend who was sent from above to help you NOT gain those 5-10 lbs. that are usually associated with the holiday season.  It DOES not have to be like that this year! I write to you as one who has definitely BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, and WILL NOT be doing that (gaining any additional weight) this year.  NO.  While I still continue to work at my weight goals, I have figured out how to eat successfully during this season. Thus, I thought I would give you some tips to help you enjoy your family, enjoy the food, and NOT feel guilty and all self-deprecating once you get up from the table. This year can be different.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Be HUNGRY at the Thanksgiving meal.

 How many times do you waste your appetite on Pre-Thanksgiving snacks?  The chips, cookies, fruit, etc. that are just lying around.  Friends, this is called GRAZING. You don’t really even want those things! The goal – go into Thanksgiving meal HUNGRY.

Your Task: Find out what time you will eat (approximately).

Plan on cutting off all eating 2-3 hours PRIOR to that.  Yup.  Cut it off.  Go outside.  Call a friend.  Watch a movie.  Just don’t sit around eating all day.  Most of that stuff is just filler – not even that good.  Save your appetite for the food that really matters.

2. Eat what you want first.

Yes, so the holiday season is all about lots of yummy, high caloric foods that are typically present in ABUNDANCE. We kind of lose our minds when we see all of our favorites on one table.  And we haven’t even made it to dessert!  This year, BEFORE you go in on everything, I want you to STOP and think about what you want to eat more than anything. LOOK AROUND. Pay attention. Once you have narrowed down your choices, I want you to make sure you get a bite of those things first.  Savor the taste of _____ in your mouth.

This is imperative. Necessary. And it leads us to our next point…

3. No Stuffing (not talking about the Turkey kind)

Yup.  I said it.  This year, in order to win, you have to pay attention. As you are savoring your favorites, I need you to eat mindfully. Slowly.  And start to notice when you are getting full.  This year – don’t let yourself go over into that “I’m going to be sick.”  Remember – You CAN ALWAYS GO BACK FOR MORE. Leftovers are what this holiday is about! If you have eaten what you want first, it will be much easier to stop. Our goal?  To feel comfortable.  Satisfied. Content. This will take practice, but try to do your best.

4. Don’t linger in the DANGER ZONE

Once you have decided that you have had enough, and you are feeling good, it is important that you find something else to do.  The next temptation will be the, “Oh, one more bite won’t hurt thought.”  LIES, LIES, LIES! Get up from the table. Put your food in the microwave.  Throw it in the trash even (well, that may be going too farJ).  You get the point.  Separate yourself from the source of temptation. Remember – you will be hungry again, and then you can eat what you want.

5. Just say NO to the food pushers.

We all have that family member.  The well-meaning one who insists on you eating more than you would like.  They don’t mean any harm (I think), but it is still not helpful to have someone tell you to eat more. It sometimes goes like this:  “OH, is that all you are eating?” “You might as well eat the rest of that.”  “Here, have some more!”

Your response:  “No, thank you.  I’m full.”

Practice saying this.  Over and over again. No further explanation is needed.

Friends – I am praying for you today, and I hope that you can enjoy this holiday season! Many of us have so much to be grateful for.  You can do it!

Just eat right – please.

So, I’m here again.  Yes, writing another entry about weight loss.  I really thought I was done with these entries, but somehow, we’re back.  (sigh).

For the past few months, I have seen the scale go up, and I have not seen the weight come off.  Not that I haven’t been trying.  I’ve been working out, trying to eat better, you know . . .But, No. Nothing.  Its gotten so bad that I have stopped weighing myself. What’s the point of doing that, when I know nothing is going to change?  Its just a mood killer.

Today, in a rare moment of clarity, I realized I need to be better.  Eat better regularly– not because of what is happening on the scale, but just because I know better.  I know what I need to eat.  But, my endless struggle, is having the motivation to do so – outside of the results on the scale. If the numbers on the scale are not in my favor, I tighten it up nutritionally.  If things are looking good, then I give myself permission to be a little more relaxed.  Good strategy, right?

No. no. no. Not for someone who has a history of weight issues, and wants to achieve permanent weight loss. No. There has to come a point where it is about more than just the number on the scale.  I don’t know if I’ll truly remain free if I continue to base all of my decisions on what the number on the scale says.

There has to come a time when I am able to be mature enough to eat the things that I need to eat regularly.  Period.  On purpose.  Not with any stipulations or exemptions.  I just need to eat right.

Man, its funny.  When I had my son, the lesson was about physical activity.  And now, I’m learning about my nutrition.  So tired of these lessons.  I promise – one day I’ll get it right.

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.

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?


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


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.